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Archive for August, 2011

View from the West, Edition 1

Posted by cegan on August 4, 2011

Welcome to the new weekly column where I focus in on WA Politics, looking at the biggest issues within state government and offering some political thought.

What’s with Troy Buswell, the man who has been internationally condemned is facing up to all the hot issues for the state government now. Taxis and Public Transport. Confronting these issues and wanting answers. Makes a change from a minister who seeks to hide away from these issues.

Kim Hames announced that the WA Government has signed up to the health agreement and the James Price Point project has shifted away from the news cycle.

I thought I’d deliver some of the complexity of Western Australian Politics and Western Australia itself. Front page news in Perth, would be a waste of time in the rest of the country…Productivity Commission condemning the cities retail hours – A policy that has caused a polar divide stronger than any carbon tax and was only released today

I then question, why is it that on political debates, Western Australia will fire up on issues such as Colin’s pipe, the Mandurah Railway, Shopping Hours and that ever hated topic Daylight Savings…

Future blogs will explore these changes as I get into more local content on a state that flirts on the crux between viewing itself as its own country and embracing Australian traits.

Firstly though on recent conversations, I’ve seen the reality of the Basque circumstance, where immigrants to the Basque region have become more parochial than the native residents. Indeed the last few debates I have had with people favouring WA Independence have ties to New Zealand and England. What makes them fall into the trap of parochialism, I’ll theorise in later blogs. But first is the topic this week, why in such a parochial state does the city celebrate Australia Day with the largest fireworks display in the country?

One of the most puzzling aspects of Perth, is that its major fireworks celebration is not New Years Eve, but Australia Day, a day that represents a total contradiction to how its History curriculum has been taught.

Who is Macquarie? James Cook is left to the east coast to read about how he discovered much of the east coast.WA Maritime Museum to learn about the dutch explorers such as De Vlamingh, D’Entrecasteaux the Frenchman and of course the infamous Batavia uprising on Dirk Hartog Islands. Even our funding ensures that our history is different, WA spends more than any other state in the country on Maritime Archaeology yet has one of the poorest preservations of colonial archaeology in the country. You see that stuff in the ocean legitimises our ‘independent thought’, while South Australia will employ one Maritime Archaeologist, Western Australia will employ nine. While our WA State Museum is underfunded and restricted from what it shows, Fremantle has the best Maritime Archaeology department in the world. Another contradiction of a baffling state.

Yet we celebrate Australia Day on such a disproportionate level? Why? How Come?

When you go to the WACA, there is a quasi game going on, you go for the Aussies, but you cheer louder and scream harder for those whose blood are oozed in black and gold. Much like Australia Day

A few years back me and a mate were on the South Perth foreshore and listening to the commentary before the fireworks display, which is one of Australia’s biggest and the FM radio goes through a spill

“The world’s greatest city in the greatest country in the world”. A ha, we celebrate Australia Day to show the rest of the country that we are not just a little sleepy backwater, this is our day to shine, even if we don’t give a crap about the history behind Australia Day.

Indeed it seems Nationalism in Western Australia, full of the Australian flag and tatoos, drinking and fights, little amounts of WA flags in the audience is all about hype and showing off to the rest of the country.

I suspect CHOGM will be likewise, it will be full of Western Australian style parochialism (as is the $1 coin they have produced) and the hype in Perth is not about being recognised as a significant city in Australia, it is to deliver a ‘Western Australian’ element to the world. Significantly the Federal Government has incorporated national sporting events into the program to ease this counter program of aiding in WA Pride.

To the layman who doesn’t understand the desires of the ‘WA’ agenda to show the world its greatness. It would look at its celebration of Australia Day as a sign of nationalism, not so. Its more a cry for recognition.

Indeed its role in the nation continues the path of bygone eras, its elaborate fireworks display hides the hidden pain of a state that wishes to be loved, but is seen as nothing more than a quarry.

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Najib Razak’s non response, mis-interpreted or just a different news agenda?

Posted by cegan on August 1, 2011

I was interested to read the recent people’s forum in Malaysia and the video footage of a Q&A session with mostly young students asking questions about the future of Malaysia.

One of the questions provoked a news story on malaysiakini.com revolving around his Deputy Prime Minister saying he was Malay first and Malaysian second, the questioner was asking whether Razak also believed this.

The resulting comment was I don’t want to answer this question because it would not be a good for the country to see division between the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Maybe it can say this because of the tightly controlled mainstream media, but I find the reaction in the media was more of an outrage that he didn’t deliver his viewpoint.

Whereas in Australia when Peter Costello said nothing and said “I am not interested in having this discussion” in regards to his leadership challenge, it continued the fire blaze of speculation .

Razak mentioned aspects such as ‘Malaysia is going through a transitional phase.” meaning that he is seeking to moderate his political party, but the reaction of the online media questions the ability to question internal power structures and opinions.

It was clear that Razak was more moderate than his Deputy PM, but refused to make a statement that would put more heat on the party. The media’s response was also muted, particularly because malaysiakini is noted for its advocation of free speech.

As Malaysians force a more accountable government on its leaders, maybe the pressure and analysis of ‘pollie speak’ will get better and Razak’s article headline instead of reading

‘PM DODGES ‘MALAY FIRST’ POSER FOR FEAR OF RIFT

‘PM REFUSES TO BACK ‘MALAY FIRST’ ASSISTANT PM’

When internal division is promoted as a badge of honour by the press gallery, that is when you have a media that feels totally free to ramp up the rhetoric to put more pressure and more accountability on their political representatives. When this happens, Malaysia will truly have a press they so dearly desire, free and transparent that holds their government and opposition to account.

Chris Egan

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