Friday, May 23, 2008

Art World Needs Reality Check

An exhibition of photos by artist Jim Henson had its opening delayed after NSW police raided an Art Gallery in Paddington. They reportedly seized 20 of 41 photos - nude photos of a pubescent children aged 12-13, some photos showing sexual behaviours betwen boy and girl. It seems likely that charges of publishing an indecent article will be laid under both the NSW and Commonwealth Crimes Acts.

Some in the "art world" cried foul; "It's censorship of the worst kind" they said . Defenders of the nude children's photos included the Gallery's owner, an arts journalist, and some members of the "arts community". A blog site discussing Henson's art, Junk for Code, argued that it's not pornography, but art. Defenders say Henson is one of the best artists in his field (digital media and photography).

True, much of the media reporting has used the word 'porn'. Whether or not they constitute pornography from a social or legal perspective is less important than the questions:
  • "Is it right to photograph pubescent children in that way?"
  • "Is it right to then put images of nude children on display?" (in a gallery or using the Internet)
  • "Is it right to display images of children in erotic poses?"
I think the answer is 'No', because responsible adults recognise that, as a society, we believe such actions to be innately wrong. Henson, and his defenders, might see a message about the vulnerability of pubescent children, but I believe that the photos are an abuse of that very vulnerability, and are inappropriate in a civilised society.


PS some of the images have been posted on the Internet, but I will not display them on this site, because I believe that would be inappropriate.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ill-Devined Article for Della Bosca

After NSW Minister for Education & Training, John Della Bosca, had his licence suspended for serial speeding offences, columnist Miranda Devine launched a "poor John" defence. (Driven to Distraction for Revenue)

She argues that public humiliation, lampooning and unflattering photos in the tabloid press is "the price you pay for driving a few kilometres over the speed limit as you go past a speed camera in NSW." Certainly Mr Della Bosca had suffered from poor press and lampooning from the Opposition, but that is not the case for everyone, as implied in her statement.

She asserts that slowing down for speed cameras, then deliberately breaking the speed limit again, is just a "silly game motorists play". Pardon - an act to habitually, consciously and deliberately break the law is a silly game? Ms Devine then goes on to refer to such people, including Mr Della Bosca, as "law-abiding". People who make conscious decisions to repeatedly break the law are NOT "law-abiding".

She then argues that when caught speeding on a probationary licence, "He had been going to a work function from his Central Coast home". As if that made speeding socially acceptable!

Mr Della Bosca was asked for comment for the article, and one can't help wondering whether Mr Della Bosca's, or the Premier's, office or media staff asked for the article. That is, was this a politically-motivated article designed to manipulate public opinion in favour of the Minister.

Many people cry foul of P-Plate (probationary) licence holders. It's not just P-Platers - there are some who do drive responsibly - it's everyone who deliberately and repeatedly ignores the laws of our roads; including those in public office. They should be fined, and they should lose their licences.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Opposition Irrrelevent to Federal Budget 2008

As Treasurer Wayne Swan delivers his, and Kevin Rudd's, first budget, it seems he was right - there are "no surprises". that's because most of the important news had been leaked to the media. In doing so, the government has avoided attacks on any surprise elements.

So, as previously reported in the media there is money for: education, health, infrastructure, tax cuts, child-care rebates, means-testing of some government benefits and rebates, preventive health programmes were all flagged.

Given the Auditor-General's concerns about lack of accountability (& ethics?) in the former Coalition Government's regional programme, it is not surprising that they have been dropped, and replaced.

This afternoon, the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson,, used Question Time to ask:
"Isn't this a Budget of confusion from a Government that doesn't know what it's doing?" The Liberal/National Party Opposition is critical of the Government's spending cuts (about $33 Billion), saying it will slow down the economy and cost jobs. Spending growth is the lowest in almost 10 years - 1.1%.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd responded by saying: "It (the Opposition) is no longer articulating any credible economic policy position in the lead-up to this Budget."

The Opposition is critical of the lack of spending, because that was always its policy - dump ever-more money into the economy. It was a policy that contributed to economic demand exceeding GDP, and contributing to the inflationary pressures, and interest rates, we are now experiencing. They might well remain without economic credibility for some years yet.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Burma - Junta Refuses Aid Workers

One week after the terrifying storms left a trail of destruction and death in Myanmar (Burma), and left tens of thousands missing or destitute, the military junta still refuses to let in suffiient international aid workers, and aid, to help the people.

There are a few, but a coordinated releif and support effort needs both immediate aid and experienced people. The Junta has restricted both.

The Foreign Ministry, through a state-owned newspaper said it would welcome aid (relaity doesn't match the statement), but would deliver it themselves. Yet most of the images that have been shown, it is the monks and a few foreigners that have been providing immediate aid. The military, which should have been doing it, have been nowhere to be seen! Perhaps they were tending to the Generals?!

A week later and Richard Horsey (UN Office of Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) was reported in The Age as saying: "There are large swathes of the lower Irrawaddy delta completely under water. We are talking 5000 square kilometres under water. It's a vast area" . That's about 40% of the area of greater Sydney!

It is time the military dictators let in appropriate numbers of international aid workers "- people and organisations that have the experience and expertise to manage disaster relief, and medical and rebuilding assistance. China, as a major financial supporter of the Junta, has a role to play in facilitating outside assistance.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iemma & Costa Lose Conference Vote

At the NSW State Labor Party Annual Conference, held at Darling Harbour, NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa were resoundingly defeated in their motion to privatise NSW electricity assets. The vote was 107 for, and 702 against. That is, 88% of delegates voted against privatisation of NSW's electricity assets, assets which generated a return (dividend and 'income tax equivalent') of more than $1.2 Billion in 2006-07.

It is a significant defeat for Treasurer Costa, who has been the driving force: Premier Iemma has just been along for the ride, but nevertheless spruiking the sale. This has been a difficult issue for Morris Iemma. If he did not adopt Costa's policy, he risked internal Government ructions, but became beholden to Costa to keep him propped up. Having spruiked it, he could not then back down: he would be criticised for being "in the pockets of the unions", and weak. So he chose to be in Costa's pocket.

Morries Iemma has a dilemma! The Labor Party Conference has set a policy of not selling. If he backs down, be seen as weak, and the Opposition (remember them?) will drive home his weakness in and out of Parliament. If he proceeds with privatization against the Party Policy, he will risk both a public and Party backlash; possible expulsion; and exacerbate internal party divisions; and Opposition ridicule. Saving face will be almost impossible.

The actions of Morris Iemma, Michael Costa, and others, have been driven by politics, and power. The real, long-term interests of the people of NSW have not been a consideration.

Late Extra:
Premier Morris Iemma told media this afternoon:
"I'm advising that we are proceeding down the path ( to privatise NSW electricity assets, against Party Policy) that the Government had started"

PS I am not a member of any political party, nor have I ever been.