Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Join the Burger King campaign

Help end the injustice perpetrated by the Burger King/Hungry Jacks company.

Farm workers who toil to pick tomatoes for Burger King's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in nearly 30 years. Workers would have to pick 2.5 tons of tomatoes just to earn minimum wage for a typical 10-hour day.

But instead of joining other fast-food chains in paying an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, last Christmas Burger King worked to undermine those chains' existing agreements with the Coalition for Immokalee Workers. As a result, tomato pickers in Florida are facing the prospect of losing the first significant raise some of them have seen in nearly 30 years.
Tell Burger King to stop being a scrooge and start paying farm workers fair wages!

The head office address is Burger King Corporation5505 Blue Lagoon Drive Miami, Florida 33126 - they won't accept email correspondence.

Friday, 28 December 2007


This was a great editorial:

"A Visa that lowers the bridge on asylum seekers" in The Age
IT IS not much of a choice: return to the country where you may have a genuine fear of persecution or stay in Australia where you will be prevented from living with anything resembling dignity. While your application for refugee status is being processed you will be allowed to live in the community but prohibited from earning a living and supporting your family. Access to Medicare or income and housing support will be denied. You will either have to work illegally and risk being detained or rely entirely on charity. The fear of destitution, family breakdown and physical and mental illness will hang over you like the terror from which you may have fled.This is the cruel reality for the nearly 3000 people who are living on bridging visa E, which provides them with legal status while their applications to remain in the country are being determined or reviewed, a process that can take several years in some cases. For some, their crime is that they have failed to apply for protection within 45 days of what is usually their lawful arrival in Australia. This punitive and draconian provision was introduced to encourage genuine claims for refugee status to be made quickly and to deter those that are not. What this fails to take into account is that applicants affected by trauma, who fear authority, do not speak English or lack the proper documentation may be unable to meet this requirement. The result is that they have few rights, except, perhaps, an abject day-to-day subsistence.The Rudd Labor Government has moved quickly to introduce a more compassionate system for those seeking asylum in Australia. It has pledged to dismantle the "Pacific Solution" and has already ended the nightmare of the seven Burmese asylum seekers held for more than a year on Nauru and given them refugee status. It is also re-examining the cases of the 74 Sri Lankans deemed by former immigration minister Kevin Andrews to be refugees, then told they would not be allowed into the country. Now, and with equal haste, it needs to resolve the many problems inherent in the country's overly complex, and in the case of E visas, inherently unfair bridging visa program that not only condemns many of those seeking protection to poverty and homelessness, but denies them basic human rights.The first step should be to abolish the 45-day rule and entrench the right to work and have access to medical and social security benefits in the E visa. Mindful of an immigration system that needs to, and should, protect Australia, the Government could then consider introducing an appealable process whereby work rights may be revoked if there is reason to believe an application has not been made in good faith. Such changes are necessary in a society interested in treating all people humanely. Practically, they would also lift the considerable burden of ensuring these asylum seekers' welfare from the shoulders of charitable community and religious groups who have assumed what is rightly the government's responsibility and who are, not surprisingly, buckling under the pressure. The benefits to the economy of these people being allowed to work are obvious.It is not in Australia's best interests to deprive people of their dignity and the right to earn a living. This can only reduce them to a state of fragility that would leave them ill-equipped to make sensible decisions about their future, and, should their applications to remain here be successful, seriously undermine their integration into society as strong, independent and resourceful citizens with existing and beneficial links to the community. Similarly, this country has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that those who are finally compelled to leave these shores do so not as broken people, but as people who have been given every opportunity to gather the financial resources and emotional strength needed to embark on a fruitful life elsewhere.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Think about Indigenous culture this Christmas

No Room At The Inn

An Open Letter to the Australian Nation from the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission of the National Council of Churches in Australia

At this time of the year, as we turn our minds to Christmas and reflect on the year that was (and what a year it was) and look forward to the year to come, I cannot help but think of many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters. This season of peace, hope and joy leads me to ask, ‘what peace, hope and joy will be given unto us with the coming of the Christ Child into the world?’ Over the last 237 years since Lt. James Cook arrived, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been denied a proper place within our own country. Just like Jesus’ family on returning to their home country we also have not been able to find a proper place for ourselves in our own land.

Too many other interests seem to distract the country where we once roamed freely. We have been turned away at the door and given scant attention and meagre generosity by the new Innkeepers. It is interesting that we, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, were not part of Federation, were forgotten about as the new wave of Immigrants came from the Mediterranean during the post war years and were not on the radar until the 1967 referendum. Except, of course, when we were allowed to lose our lives fighting for this country, or when we were seen as strange curiosities of a bygone era. Mostly, we were labelled as a troublesome few dissidents who should not expect the same rights as everyone else. Children were removed from their families because it was perceived that they were not being cared for to acceptable western standards. Or they were taken away simply so they could be given the ‘western makeover’ to fit better into western society. The only problem was that they still had a different colour than those holding up the bar of mainstream society.

This brings me to the question of an apology. The former Howard Government was against any apology as it was seen that the mainstream should not be held accountable for the past, and such an apology could hold the State open to litigation. It’s an interesting irony that in this corporate world we live in, mainstream Australia will hold accountable corporations for their past organisational failings, and yet the nation cannot live up to its own corporate responsibilities. As for the apology itself, the Nation is either Sorry or it’s not. Putting provisos on it (we regret etc.) is not an apology. If we are going to move forward then it is very important that the Nation says Sorry and accepts any consequences that might result. The present Rudd Government must take the lead on this and soon. The continual denial of the rights of Indigenous peoples, as Australian Citizens, has gone on for too long.

We have a right to education, health and the many opportunities that most Australians take for granted. Governments need to act now to correct these situations, which occur around the country not just the Northern Territory, and close the gap between us and the mainstream. As I’ve often said in other Forums, how can Australia set out to save the world when there is so much to be done at home? What credibility does Australia have if it is not working to correct the situations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? There needs to be a plan, not knee jerk reactions, to address these situations. The Millennium Development Goals help us in this area. These eight time bound and measurable goals discourage empty rhetoric. They encourage us to formulate concrete plans to build a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The first step to any action is recognition of what is currently happening. We have no real voice or say or control in what is happening to us. Outsiders are dictating our future. There is no national representative voice to carry our hopes, dreams and desires forward into the future. Hand picked advisors are not a representative voice. A process needs to be put into place where a representative voice can be heard and acted upon. National conventions need to be held so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can contribute to the process of forming this new voice and eventually own the outcomes.

People say that there is not one voice in Indigenous Australia, but surely that can also be said of mainstream Australia. Our Federal Parliament, with different parties and different factions, continues to exist. The one voice comes when these groups are allowed a forum like Parliament to reach compromise and consensus for the good of all. This forum will help lead us into a better tomorrow for our children and children’s children. The issue of whether we should be included in the preamble to the constitution of Australia can also be debated in these forums and a proposition then put forward to the Australian people in a future referendum.

These issues cannot be put off until tomorrow for tomorrow may never come. Many of our great Indigenous leaders are already passing on and we need their valuable input into these forums. As I reflect this Christmas time, I wonder if Australia will place their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians again in the stable, as Jesus was over 2,000 years ago, or will we be invited in to share fully in the Australia which is so gifted, diverse and forward looking. Will we begin to “Make Indigenous Poverty History” this Christmas? May the peace, hope and Joy of Christmas fill all Australians with the hope of a new tomorrow!

Graeme MundineExecutive SecretaryNational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical CommissionNational Council of Churches in Australia

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

A Change!

Well I for one think the change in government is a step in the right direction. And given the absolute landslide result, it seems plenty of us all agree! With wall to wall Labor governments now, the Libs must be wondeirng when they became obsolete. I think they have simply moved too far to the right - I am a Kevin 07 fan, but I have to admit he's not really left enough for me. But I do acknoweldge that the country will ultimately be run by moderates - a truly left of centre candidate is not going to win. But niether is the far right-of-centre party - and I think the IR legislation tipped the balance over the edge, not to mention the US alliance etc etc. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing Labor now implement their policies - and who the Libs chose as their leader. It'll be some time before we see them in power again!

Thursday, 22 November 2007


The following is an excerpt from the Sojourners: Faith, Politics and Culture website. In it, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis comments on the bizarre move made by conservative Christian Coalition preacher Pat Robertson to endorse Republican presidential nominee Rudy Giuliani.
“ Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president is simply astonishing. Robertson - the television preacher who founded the 700 Club and once ran for president himself - has made opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage his political north star and has been a relentless champion of traditional marriage and family values.
“Remember Robertson's merciless attacks on President Bill Clinton's lapses of sexual morality with Monica Lewinsky? Or his comments about how the 9/11 attacks were the result of America's tolerance for homosexuals and abortion?
“Now Robertson is for Rudy, a thrice-married adulterous husband, who is estranged from his own children and is both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. According to Robertson's twisted moral logic, forgiving the social conservative shortcomings of Republicans is a Christian virtue, so long as the same virtue is never applied to Democrats. But Pat thinks Rudy can beat Hillary, and Pat really cares about winning for the Republicans.
“What exactly goes on in Pat Robertson's head has puzzled many of us for a long time. This endorsement ranks as one of the most unprincipled in recent political memory. Maybe principles never mattered much to Pat Robertson after all. Perhaps the pro-business economic conservatism of the Republican Party was always more important to the televangelist than saving unborn lives. Robertson's long-standing support of murderous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, and his diamond investments thanks to Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko speak louder than words when it comes to Robertson's ethic of life. And that's not to mention the more than $400 million Robertson's empire made when he sold his International Family Network to Rupert Murdoch, after building it on tax-deductible contributions of thousands of CBN donors, many of modest means. He has put profits over principles for years.
“Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, has taken a more consistent position. Land has clearly said that he won't support Giuliani if he becomes the Republican nominee, explaining, ‘I'm not willing or able to violate my moral conscience. It would be like asking an African American to choose between Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, or asking Abe Lincoln to vote for a pro-slavery candidate. I personally can't do it.’
“Land predicts that many social conservatives will just sit out this election if the Republicans decide to run Rudy. That's called standing for principle. Pat Robertson clearly has taken another position. His endorsement of Rudy Giuliani will seem to many to be unprincipled hypocrisy.” see www.sojo.net
It did not come as any surprise to me that all of Pat Robertson’s posturing about family values was a put-on, designed to hide the fact he has a radical right-wing agenda and will happily manipulate the Christian vote in order to keep the Republicans in power. What does disappoint me is that I fear so many Christian voters simply will not think through the issue for themselves– Robertson’s endorsement will be enough for them. They’ll go blindly to the polls comfortable in the knowledge that someone else has done the “hard yards” of thinking through the election issues. They’ll vote Republican because that’s what good Christian voters do.
While things aren’t as bad as that in Australia, I fear many Christians simply do the same thing. They get the “Christian Values Checklist” put out by the Christian Democratic Party and, without really asking whether or not they agree with Fred Nile’s stance on school prayer and abortion, are just happy someone else has done the thinking for them, and they don’t need to bother.
It also worries me that Christians don’t seem to be aware of when their vote is being manipulated. Anyone who knows me knows that The West Wing is my favourite show. In Season Six, the Republican Party makes the unusual decision to run a presidential candidate who is, in fact, an atheist. This character, called Arnie Vinnick, is played by Alan Alda. Worried he will estrange the evangelical right if he does not profess some kind of faith, Vinnick’s advisors pressure him into attending a church service. After much soul-searching, Vinnick has this to say: “If you demand expressions of faith from your political leaders then you are just asking to be lied to...and it will be the easiest lie they’ve ever told”.

Twice during this election I’ve heard pastors banging on about “godly leadership” and choosing a prime minister based on whether or not they’re “godly men”. I hope for their own sake they are—but this will not influence my vote. Checklists may be useful in gaining a general picture of where parties stand on various issue, but at the end of the day if we vote based on a simplistic list we are just asking someone else to do the thinking for us. I hope we would vote based on our convictions, whatever they may be, after thinking good and hard about what sort of country we want Australia to be in the next four years.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Election Newsletter

The November/December edition of the Progression newsletter will be out next week, and will feature news, articles and opinion editorials about the upcoming election. If you would like to contribute any thoughts or comments please email us at the above address and we would be happy to include them.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Musings on Dobson and the next election

Here are some interesting thoughts from Proegression member Alan Matheson.

How is it possible to link James Dobson,Iran and World War 111,and CofC, in one breath? Far fetched!

Does the partnership and promotion by NSW and Vic Conference boards of Dobson's Focus on the Family(Aust) really matter and after all isn't FOF Aust somehow, different?
Should it be of any concern?
What if Dobson and FOF frighten Christians across Canada and the USA?

Well it has to be admitted that most members of Australian CofC wouldn't have a clue about Dobson or the state conference links.However for our sister churches in Canada and the USA,Dobson and his FOF are a frightening species to be avoided at all costs.

Dobson is leading an aggressive,nation wide campaign to ensure his man gets the prize. The past few months have seen him involved in everything, from closed door meetings with President Bush (May);to the secret maneuverings of clandestine groups like the Council for National Policy and the Arlington group(September);organising the religious right's "Values Voters Summit"(October),and mounting a highly visible and well organised media blitz(NY Times op ed etc). And his 6 million mailing list will not be far behind.
There's an arrogance about Dobson which is almost delusionary. As the Republican Party considered Giuliani's run, Dobson declared,"go ahead,nominate a candidate who does not share our values on abortion and gay marriage.Then try and beat Hillary without us".
US presidents have taken Australia into wars in Vietnam and Iraq on the basis of lies and deception.
Who becomes president,then, has implications not only for CofC, but for all Australians.
And CofC is the only denomination in Australia in a formal partnership with Dobson!

2.IRAN & WW111!
As scary, is Dobson's support for WW111.
Having failed in Iraq,and intoxicated with messianic dreams,the theocratic religious right,is now hell bent on war with Iran.
In October,Bush warned,"if you're interested in avoiding WW111,it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing Iran from having the knowledge necessary to make nuclear weapons".
In May,Dobson met with Bush to talk about Iran.Congress has set the scene(Kyl-Lieberman Senate resolution),and commentators,such as Seymour Hersh are spelling out in detail how the White House has requested,"that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long standing plans for a possible attack on Iran"(New Yorker 8.10.07;check "The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran....."Esquire 18.10.07)).Conservative commentator,Podhoretz(also close to Bush) was on SBS(30/10) predicting an invasion before the end of Bush's term.
Scott Ritter(former UN Weapons inspector) notes,"that Dobson, one of the most powerful and influential evangelical voices in America,would be invited to the White House to discuss President Bush's Iran policy is absurd,unless one makes the link between Bush's personal faith,the extreme religious beliefs of Dobson and the potential of Armageddon like conflict-WW111.At this point,the absurd becomes unthinkable,except it is too real".(Common Dreams 22.10.07).
Brian McLaren (Sojo 25.10.07/Beliefnet blog)):"I am disgusted,concerned,appalled and furious at the sabre rattling of our government......I suspect that many of my fellow Christians will in the name of God and Jesus, support and justify a preemptive war on Iran......no matter how unprovoked,no matter how brutal and no matter how costly,both financially and morally".

It's sophistry at best, to try and argue as do the NSW & Vic Conferences, that FOF-Aust is different and separate from Dobson and his FOF, in the USA. FOF-Aus is an affiliate of FOF and directly linked and related to Dobson in the USA.

And if this doesn't worry you,then do some googling around (or Wikipedia it) Dobson and Joel Rosenberg and "The Ezekiel Option" and the breeding program for "red heifers".(Might need to have a yarn with your friendly OT lecturer to check the latter one out)!!.

All pretty disturbing really. And we're "related" to it.