Tsunami in our region

27 December, 2004

When viewing this terrible event, there are several other things to remember. The body count isn't the whole story:

– The number of injured is something like 12-15 times the number of dead. A much higher percentage of the injured or sick could die or suffer disability because they don't have our first-world hospital/medical infrastructure. This also trickles into my second point.

– The number of homeless or people whose livelihoods (work etc) have been destroyed is far greater. This will chuck productive people into possibly permanent poverty in a way that's quite difficult for us Westerners to comprehend.

– Many more people will die or suffer from water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera because the infrastructure of the country will not be able to cope.

– The tourism infrastructure will cop a second blow in cancellations from mostly First World tourists, who will take their tourist dollars elsewhere (even though the risk of recurrence is low, as we saw in Bali).

Makes you put things in perspective… while we're off fighting a “war on terror” because some bunch of psychos flew a plane into a building in one city, these things destroy entire cities, destroy homes and facilities and societies, etc, usually in precisely the sort of places that really can't afford it (we've discussed Turkey, China and Iran, and with this tsunami *alone* Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, eastern India, Burma, western Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra/Aceh and probably other places).

One final note: We as Australians have a long history of being generous when our mates are down, regardless of who they are. You may not think you can make a difference – but even though I'm unemployed at the moment, I think that a $100 donation from each person (or even $20 if the former is beyond your means) to the Red Cross to help them manage this crisis. For the cost of a single restaurant meal or a day's parking in the city or a couple of CDs or DVDs, you could be helping real people in a time of need. It's easy to think “it's on the news, I can't make a difference” but don't forget, things are cheaper over there so a small amount can make a bigger difference than you'd expect.

http://1.redcross.org.au/?fuseaction=newsroom.latestnews&sub=339
or https://www.redcross.org.au/Donations/onlineDonations.asp if the above fails to work

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My state is going backwards :(

7 December, 2004

This front-page article from the West blatantly disturbs me.

Barnett pledge to repeal gay rights
STEVE PENNELLS

The Liberal Party plans to roll back key sections of WA’s gay law reforms if it wins the State election – raising the age of consent for gay men to 18 and barring same-sex couples from adopting.

Gay couples would be banned from settling property disputes in the Family Court and access to the court by de facto heterosexual couples would also be reviewed.

Opposition Leader Colin Barnett confirmed the party’s position yesterday, saying there was “nothing more fundamental in our society than the institutions of marriage and family”.

The move effectively throws the contentious issue of gay rights back into the political arena in the lead-up to the election and reopens the debate that raged two years ago when the Gallop Government’s gay law reforms were introduced.

Gay rights groups are expected to mount an aggressive campaign against the plans and described the Liberals’ position yesterday as an attempt to recriminalise homo- sexuality.

They said that if the moves went ahead, WA would once again have the highest homosexual age of consent in the country and be the first jurisdiction in the world to wind back gay rights since the military coup in Nicaragua in 1990.

Mr Barnett denied the party’s position discriminated against same-sex couples and said attempts by sections of the gay lobby to paint the Liberals as homophobic did the gay community a disservice.

“I recognise that about 5 per cent of the population is gay,” he said. “They are probably born gay and I don’t support any discrimination on the grounds of age, religion, sexuality, whatever.

“What I don’t agree with is when activists try and undermine the institutions of society in the name of equality.

“I do not support gay couples having adoption rights. I don’t doubt the ability of gay couples to be very caring (but) parenthood is essentially a man and a woman.

“I also happen to believe that the age of consent for homosexual relationships is 18.”

He said any changes to the age of consent would be designed to prevent predatory behaviour by older men and the law would not apply, for example, to two 17 year-old boys.

The Gallop Government introduced the controversial reforms two years ago to remove legislative discrimination against homosexuals. It extended in-vitro fertilisation and adoption rights to same-sex couples and lowered the homosexual age of consent from 21 to 16.

Attorney-General Jim McGinty, who ushered in the reforms, said the Liberals’ plans would be a regressive step for the State.

“These provisions were introduced to give equal rights to all West Australians,” Mr McGinty said.

“It is a pity that Colin Barnett wants to bring discrimination back into our society in the 21st century.”

Premier Geoff Gallop said: “My Government is about getting more police on the street. Colin Barnett is about getting more police into people’s bedrooms.”

Openly gay Democrats Senator Brian Greig accused Mr Barnett of pandering to anti-gay groups and the religious right as a “preference grovel” ahead of the State election.

Sue Fisher Hendry, co-president of gay group Pride, said the Liberals’ position was unjust.

“Mr Barnett, to be fair, is operating on the basis of his beliefs rather than that which is for the social good,” she said.

“In a perfect world the Liberal Party would be acknowledging that the majority spoke last time law reform was passed.”

Mr Barnett said he did not believe the Liberals’ position would become an election issue.

“I don’t think the wider community really wants to be confronted with gay issues,” he said.

This is from a guy who does star-jumps in the chamber when he’s bored of what the other side’s saying. Does anyone else feel worried about this guy possibly becoming premier in 2 months? I notice also that he fails to address the issue of gay teen suicide, which was far worse under the Foss Amendments laws during the 90s, or discrimination in workplaces and schools on the basis of sexuality.