Grubby and heartless in the local rag

I hate grubby journalism.

Here’s some photos, and the text of an article in our local rag, “The Northern Times”.

The full text of the article can be viewed at (unless they delete it).

Click on the photos for larger versions. The text of my letter to the editor follows the article.

The Northern Times 24 August 2007.
AUGUST 24: The controversy surrounding campers pitching tents in Wyllie Park looks set to continue until the future management of the reserve is finalised.Residents have called for action to be taken against people camping in the park, in defiance of signposted rules governing the use of the green space.They say people camping in tents should be moved on, while campers themselves say they are doing no harm and just want to enjoy a peaceful stay before moving on in their travels.One resident, who asked not to be named, said the rules of the park were clear and should be enforced by council officers.

“We’re not saying everyone who camps down there is a troublemaker, but there are clear rules about who can and can’t stay overnight at the park and we just want the rules to be enforced,” the resident said.

“And it clearly says that camping in tents is not allowed.

”Pine Rivers Shire Council CEO Ray Burton said the land the park was located on belonged to the Queensland Department of Main Roads.

He said council did not have any power to take action in relation to camping on state-controlled land.“The legal tenure of Wyllie Park is declared as state-controlled road, however, council is currently negotiating with Main Roads to gain legal control of the park,” Mr Burton said.

“Council will continue to maintain the facilities within Wyllie Park
which includes the collection of rubbish, cleaning of toilets and showers and
also regular mowing.“This is part of an historical agreement.”

Here’s the letter I sent on 29 August 2007.

Dear Editor

Your front page story, “Our Tent Ghetto” (NT 24 Aug 2007), is an indictment on the standard of journalism of your paper, and the level of heartlessness that exists in our community.

With no by-line, your anonymous reporter claimed that tensions had “again surfaced between residents living near Petrie’s Whllie Park and people erecting tents within the grounds”.

“Residents”? Which residents? You only quoted one nameless resident. Was there anyone else? One anonymous undated quote does not demonstrate that the community has “called for action to be taken”. If the claims are true, surely someone (even your reporter) would have the courage to pin their colours to the mast and speak without the shroud of anonymity?

You claim these residents live “near Petrie’s Wyllie Park”. Have a look on a map. Wyllie park is triangular, bounded on one side by the North Pine River, beyond which is yet another park. On the other side it is bounded by Gympie Road, beyond which is a cricket field and a paper recycling plant. On the third side it is bounded by a railway line, beyond which is a football field. The nearest houses are several hundred metres away in Mundin Street on the other side of the railway line and embankment.

In the middle of winter, during one of the wettest weeks of the year, your photos show large tracts of water on the ground in what is supposed to be a camping ground. Several unfortunate people found it necessary to live in the middle of this flood in tents. A nameless journalist, and an anonymous resident claiming to live nearby (in a warm dry house, no doubt) want “the rules to be enforced”. The council, who claims to be powerless to do anything about it simply turned off the hot water.

That’s the real story.

How unkind.

By the way – feel free to publish my name.

Neil Ennis

We know what you’re upto in Papua

The Indonesian Government “is surprised, disappointed and deeply deplores” the decision by the Australian goverment to grant temporary protection visas to 42 asylum seekers from Papua.

As Dr Phil would say, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

So taking into account the thuggery that the Indonesian army committed in East Timor and Aceh, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that the Papuans were telling the truth when they complained of brutality at the hand of the indonesians.

If I had to chose who to believe between a Papuan who braved the ocean in dugout canoe, and an Indoneisan military thug with a past history of brutality, it’s a no brainer.

It’s good news for lovers of freedom that politicians in Indonesia are upset about this.

They know that we know what they’re up to. And they don’t like it. Nice of them to let us know that we’re getting under their skin.

It’s good to see the plight of Papua in the mainstream media too.

Getting smarter about Capital Punishment

Full marks to Robert Richter, QC, and Brian Walters, QC.

They have come up with a plan to extradite the Bali Nine to Australia to face conspiracy charges. The goal is to get them out of Indonesia before they’re charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.

I hope the Department of Public Prosecutions in Victoria co-operates, as should other state / territory governments and the Federal Government.

Our government may not have the political will to lobby Asian governments to forsake Capital Punishment, but with some smart legal manoevering we may be ale to use international law to make it more difficult for them – even if it is only when dealing with our own citizens.

More info

For Van Nguyen



Singing The Spirit Home

  • (Eric Bogle)They came for him in the morning, an hour before dawning
    The pale white moon was waning in the African sky
    The cell door flew wide open, they stood looking at him
    He saw no mercy in their hearts, no pity in their eyes

    As they took him and they bound him, tied his trembling hands
    behind him
    He felt his courage leave him, his manhood disappear
    His legs would not support him, so from the cell they dragged him
    He sobbed and screamed and cursed them in his loneliness and fear

    Chains, chains, chains
    How many souls have died in freedom’s name
    To some it is a way of life, to others just a word
    To some it is a snow-white dove, to some a bloody sword
    But until the last chains fall, freedom will make slaves of us all

    With faces closed and hidden the white guards walked beside him
    Indifferent to his pleading – they’d been down this path before
    But other eyes were watching, other ears were listening
    Other hearts beat with him in his final desperate hour

    From the darkness of that prison came the sound of his brothers
    Courage, their voices told him, you do not walk alone
    From their cells beyond the shadow he heard their voices echo
    As in love and pride and sorrow they sang his spirit home

    Chains, chains, chains
    How many souls have died in freedom’s name
    To some it is a way of life, to others just a word
    To some it is a snow-white dove, to some a bloody sword
    But until the last chains fall, freedom will make slaves of us all

    And their song of hope and freedom, it rang inside that prison
    It beat against the iron bars and crashed against the stone
    As in their fear and hate they hung him, the last sound that filled
    his being
    Was his brothers singing, singing his spirit home

    Courage, brother, you do not walk alone
    We shall walk with you and sing your spirit home

Bring Jovicic Home

Opposition Immigration Spokesman, Tony Burke, and his leader, Kim Beazley are totally correct. The immigration department was wrong to deport Robert Jovicic, and they should bring him home.

Until he was forcibly repatriated, Jovicic had never been to Serbia in his life, didn’t speak the language, and had lived in Australia for 35 years.

He’s as Australian as I am.

If he’s guilty of crimes, then we should be dealing with the problem here – not exporting our woes to Serbia.

Why does the immigration department get it so wrong so often? Consider the cases of Vivienne Solon, Cornelia Rau, and now Fatih Tuncok who is facing deportation to Turkey after spending the last 33 years of his life in Australia.

I don’t think its enough to say that the Immigration Department (DIMEA) “got it wrong” or “made a mistake”. These are malicious actions by a dictatorial department that is drunk on its own power.

Someone with guts has got to take drastic action and sort DIMEA out once and for all – starting with the Minister and working right down to the gratuitous gnomes who perpetrate these mean and nasty policies.

Enough is enough.

Deport McGauran, not the Vaingolos Family

Peter McGauran must have rocks in his head to deport the Vaingolos family for visa infringements that occurred almost 2 decades ago.

Mafi and Hiki Vaingolos came to Australia just under 20 years ago on tourist visas. Since then they overstayed, married and have had 4 children. The eldest, Keliti, is a 14 year old boy who has shown outstanding sporting and acedemic achievments at Sydney’s prestigious Newington College.

Their last chance to stay in Australia was an appeal to junior citizenship minister, Peter McGauran, who said “The Government is not going to reward people who knowingly and deliberately flout Australia’s immigration laws and avoid detection for many years.

My guess is that unlike his relatively articulate predecessor, Philip Ruddock, Pete is finding the job a bit challenging. Rather than use scarce brain cells thinking about the issue, it’s much easier just to say “no”. Almost all the time. In fact of the 740 cases that have come to is short little span of attention since the election, he’s only intervened 27 times.

And so, the junior minister who prides himself on the “Pro Family” policies of his party is breaking up the Vaingolos family. Mafi, Hiki and their two youngest children have to leave the country by the end of March, while the older children Keliti and Na’a are now Australian citizens and are allowed to stay.

Good on ya Pete. It’s a literal “no-brainer”. No need to think about it. Say “no” and send those illegals back to where they came from. Split the family up even though they paid their taxes, supported their local church, and (in Keliti’s case) were chosen to play sport for Australia.

Brilliant! Especially considering the government is raising its skilled migrant intake because of a local skills shortage. (See ABC news article

Obviously there’s a skills shortage in competent citizenship ministers. Perhaps we should deport the current plodder and get a real one.

Grieg shows guts over Habib reply issue

Democrats Senator Brian Grieg has shown courage in supporting Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans’ decision to allow Mamdouh Habib the right of reply to a senate committee investigating allegations made against him.

Evans said that Habib would be given the right of reply in writing to a Senate committe which had heard evidence of involvement in terrorism that had been been given against him.

Both the Goverment and the ALP don’t want to be perceived as supporting someone who has been accused of supporting terrorism. Beazley said that he didn’t think Habib should have a right of reply, and that “we shouldn’t waste a minute on him in the Senate”.

On the other hand, Senator Greig showed good sense in stating that Parliament needed to play the issue with “a straight bat”, and that Habib was entitled to “natural justice” on the issue.

At least one parliamentarian was prepared to actually stand up for justice.

Is is a sad state of affairs when politicians make allegations about any citizen, but then don’t want to “waste time” listening to what he might have to say for himself in reply. Perhaps it could be one of us in a few years time at the centre of public allegations made under parliamentary privilege. Goverments must always be held accountable. That means giving people a right to speak out, even when you don’t like what they say. It’s the sort of duty you expect a credible opposition to perform.

Unfortunately, in this situation, it was a bit too difficult for the opposition. Especially with such a hot issue as terrorism allegations.

Good on you, Grieg, for having the guts to say what most of your colleagues were too afraid to say.