The Sydney Morning Herald – How Labor booby-trapped Australia’s future

This is a well written summary of why someone like me who once admired both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and also once thought highly of Kevin Rudd, came to the conclusion that Labor is not to be trusted at all when it comes to fiscal management of the country. Labor thinks the world owes it and its supporters a living.

Paul Sheehan in the SMH today:

When Joe Hockey was growing up and dreaming of becoming prime minister, he would not have imagined that his dream would lead him to joining a bomb disposal unit. Tomorrow, he will unveil the first bomb he must dismantle and it is almost nuclear in its capacity for destruction.

At 12.30 on Tuesday, Hockey, who has also been the stand-out thespian of the new federal parliament, will unveil the real horror, dysfunction and narcissism of Kevin Rudd’s contribution to Australian political history, disably assisted by Julia Gillard. Hockey will release the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, known in the trade as MYEFO, which will show a budget deficit much worse than Labor led us to believe, probably close to $50 billion, debt obligations much higher than Labor led us to believe, and unfunded liabilities that are so irresponsibly crushing the government will have to walk away from many of them. The most monumental folly is the National Broadband Network, whose economic rationale was worked out on a piece of paper by Rudd. The scheme subsequently created by former communications minister Stephen Conroy would cost more than $70 billion and never recover its cost of capital. The Abbott government will have to start again.

Rudd also authorised the spying on the President of Indonesia and his wife, a booby trap that duly exploded in the face of his Coalition successor. Rudd also poisoned the relationship with China, with his lectures to Beijing, which has also come back to haunt the Coalition government. Then came Gillard, who directed a decisive shift of funding and power to the unions. She exposed the Commonwealth to a massive unfunded financial obligation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

She provided political cover for the disgraced union official Craig Thomson. And she set up and then stacked the Fair Work Australia bureaucracy with former union officials and Labor lawyers.

Labor booby-trapped the future.

It is also busy booby-trapping the present, putting improvised explosive devices everywhere, with the help of the Greens. Together, they have engaged in scorched-earth, rearguard, morally bankrupt obstructionism as if the 2013 federal election was a meaningless exercise, the will of the people has no moral authority, and the idea of a mandate, delivered by the only poll that matters, is an empty ideal to be ignored. The worst among equals in this cynicism are Labor’s leader, Bill Shorten, his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, and the Minister for Gutter, Anthony Albanese, assisted by the deputy leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

Contrast their scorched-earth cynicism with the response of the defeated Coalition government in 2007, when it conceded the public had rejected its Work Choices industrial relations policies and Labor had a mandate to create what would become Fair Work Australia. This was the great issue in 2007 (after the unions spent millions to make it so) just as the carbon tax and curbing people-smuggling were the great issues of 2013.

For the past year the Coalition restricted itself to a small but emphatic range of policies that clearly differentiated it from Labor: repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining tax, re-introduce temporary protection visas (which closed off asylum status), re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission and end Labor’s deficit spending. This was the message. These policies became the mandate when Labor was thrown out of office in a landslide and the Greens suffered an even more emphatic 28 per cent plunge in their vote and lost the balance of power in the Senate.

And what do we get? Labor and the Greens opposing all four mandates, and everything else, and some of Labor’s booby traps already exploding. Rudd’s authorising of spying on Indonesia’s President and his wife blew up on Tony Abbott, who suffered further damage as he doggedly covered up for Labor. Labor’s multi-billion-dollar expansion into school education, a state issue, also exploded when Education Minister Christopher Pyne ineptly fumbled his attempt to rein in its costs and impositions.

The government must now wait until July 1 next year, when the new Senate is sworn in, and hope the independents and the eccentric Palmer United Party senators are more moral and pragmatic than the Greens, who think 8 per cent is a moral majority and a mandate to obstruct everything. Everything, that is, except removing the debt ceiling, where the Greens sided with the government, but only because they feared if they did not the government would start slashing spending with a chainsaw.

The key figures in dealing with Labor’s booby traps are Hockey and Eric Abetz, the leader of the government in the Senate. Hockey has shown the most ticker in dealing with debt and deficit, and Senator Abetz has carriage of the crucial reform agenda in industrial relations. After Hockey, he has the most bombs to defuse.

Crucially, in addition to restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and tackling the tainted culture of Fair Work Australia, Senator Abetz must navigate the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill into law. This is the bill that will drag the unions out of the 19th century. It establishes an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission, with powers modelled on those of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to bring union governance into line with corporate governance.

The bill is designed to create a stronger, cleaner and more transparent union sector.

Labor and the Greens are opposing the bill at every step.

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Being there

Cover of "Being There (Deluxe Edition)"
Being There

I had a meeting last Friday arvo from 3pm and when I got back to my desk at 4pm, I couldn’t believe what I saw on the screen – England had crumbled and had lost something like 6 wickets for 9 runs. After checking I had no urgent calls or emails to respond to, I quickly went to the tea room and joined a few other blokes who have been watching the game.

The day ended with Australia well on top so the unpleasant scenes of Australia’s first innings were well and truly erased.

As usual, I was very tired on Friday night and when we met up for dinner at the Enrik café with Jason and Mel, I was just happy to be in a busy but pleasant restaurant so close to home with Tress and some very dear friends. Dinner was very good and we just stayed on and chatted for a bit before leaving.

It was raining on Sat – the weekend forecast had been a wet one – so I couldn’t work on the garden. After the usual dry cleaning run, I said to Tress the wet morning would mean less congestion at the new fruit and veg market on Canterbury Road at Forest Hill (Strawberry Point) so we quickly went over and got our green grocery for the week, and then we drove to Mount Waverley and met Simon, Tress’ hairdresser. A hair cut had been long overdue for me and much as I was sure Simon had barely woken up when he worked on my mop top, I was glad I had it done.

After lunch (at Madam Kwong’s Kitchen of course) and a quick visit to a property auction, we (or I) spent the rest of the arvo just vegging out in front of the telly, watching the cricket. My right Achilles had caused me grief anyway so it was a perfect excuse to just spend a cool and wet Sat arvo doing nothing except watch Michael Clarke and David Warner chalk up satisfying tons.

The rain continued pouring on Sunday. There was an AGM after the service and Tress and I decided to stay for that meeting, to get a soak in of some of the issues the church had faced in the past year. It ended close to 2pm. We went to Madam Kwong’s Kitchen again after that and since it continued to pour, we just decided to go to a shopping place and walked around.

The service was a thanksgiving one and numerous people publicly gave thanks for a whole range of matters. A familiar pattern emerged very quickly – that of life’s many challenges. Often, these challenges require solutions. A way forward to resolve the matter at hand would always bring relief and pave a way towards a brighter future.

What’s become crystal clear however is that other than solution or a way forward, often those facing life’s challenges just need someone at their side. This person need not have any answers – just being there to provide support and perhaps add strength, clarity of mind to deal with the issues or challengers and the assurance that no matter what happens, there is someone who would be there for them. That someone would certainly help countervail any tendency to over-internalise the challenges one faces.

Facing challenges is probably another one of life’s certainty. In recent weeks, we have seen a cancer patient succeeding, heard about another patient failing, seen a young man battling depression, been with a couple who lost their first born infant child, and been touched by other departures of others who have spent considerably more years.

In all of these experiences, the presence of another as they navigate their paths in dealing with the challenges, has always been what’s deeply treasured. Being there for someone matters. Praying for someone is often a throwaway line used in such circumstances and prayers may or may not happen. The Lord may or may not intervene. But as members of the community we find ourselves in, being there for one who is faced with these challenges, is often what we can and ought to do. Sometimes, like Peter Sellers, “Being there” is what matters. I need to think about responding to this more meaningfully.

Lake Burley Griffin becomes a friend.

I had the alarm set for 5am on Sat morning but Tress was up at 4.30. I decided to get up a few minutes later and just before 6am, we were in the car and started the trek up again. We only made a couple of stops for toilet and coffee and by 1pm we were at Burton and Garran Hall again. It was great to see Kiddo again.

We unloaded the stuff we brought up with us, and then Kiddo jumped in the car and we took the much shorter drive across town to Campbell to our B&B (sort of). After lunching at a Korean joint at the Civic we went to the shops for a bit before going to Weston Park at the Lake Burley Griffin, for a walk/jog. The little black jedi had a whale of a time as we let him run around off lead for a while. The late afternoon scene lakeside was really nice and it was just great for the 3 of us (plus the little pooch) to be there together. The lake is huge and to get to know this place takes quite an effort.

That night we went to the Civic again, and looked for a place for dinner. We settled on “The London Burger and Beers”, a place bustling with young people. The burgers were gorgeous, as were the salads. We were to return the following night as well – another discovery of a nice eatery in Canberra. Later that Saturday night we drove to the Old Parliament House which had an architectural projection type of show on, and the building was opened as well for touring so we walked around and outside the building and it was really late by the time we got home.

On Sunday we went to the Old Bus Depot, went to the Fyshwick food markets for lunch and then went back to the Lake, this time to walk around the Carillon and also took a ride around that area on a paddle bike which took all 3 of us (and Scruff). The bike was christened “John”, a reference to John Howard. All of the bikes were named after past Prime Mnisters of Australia and we saw “Billy”, “Paul” and “Malcolm” go past us. As far as past Prime Ministers go, I cant wait for a “Julia” to appear. The Lake has truly become something more familiar. It is very large and I guess it will take loads of effort to know it really well.

We went to the Crossroads church on campus (at the Manning Clark Lecture Theatre) on Sunday evening, then went back to the London for a late dinner. We again drove around to catch more light projections on buildings and went to the National Gallery.

On Monday morning we spent some time in Kiddo’s dorm room, with some housekeeping stuff and then went to the “Scholar” – a Chinese restaurant for Yum Cha. It was pricey but the food was very good – another discovery of a good place in Canberra.

We left Canberra close to 3pm, and got back to Melbourne just after 9 – a record time for us. I guess we have become accustomed to the drive.


The Crossroads church was very impressive, content wise. All of the songs were unfamiliar to us but they all had strong emphasis on Christ, the cross, the Gospel message and such themes. There were very little material on power for us, our needs, how much he means to us… in other words, the worship was all about God, not about me or us. What a refreshing change.

The message (“The King’s Speech” – Matthew 5 & 6) was also Kingdom centred and focused on what it really means to be godly and not just religious – again it was all about taking the focus away from us and turning to God.

It was a refreshing change, again.

So often, our church life is centered on ourselves – what the church can (or even ought) to do for us. If a church somehow misses the mark in terms of addressing our daily needs, we turn our backs and maybe even become bitter. I guess when we have needs which appear to be overwhelming and no one seems to care it would appear that we have a legitimate expectation that the church ought to do something. Maybe to a large extent the church ought to, and perhaps the local church ought to take its eyes off lofty notions like discipleship and mission and tend to the daily needs of its flocks. To some church goers, that would be a reasonable ask. Can we discuss discipleship without caring for members’ needs? I dont know.

I’m not sure I know how to deal with needs of church friends and “quasi church” friends. Especially needs of Christians who have been Christians for a long time. Life in Australia is often busy with cares of everyday living. One wakes up and goes to work, comes home and potters around the house with 101 things to do, leaving the “big jobs” for weekends. Many take up further courses of studies like yours truly and whatever free time in the evenings is taken up by work on these studies. Weekends see us catching up with more everyday living stuff – grocery shopping, house cleaning and other such or related chores. Then we have a little bit of time to catch up with friends and be socially alive. Often this means dinners on Sat nights or lunch on Sunday arvo. Either event means more time needed to plan, shop, prepare,  clean etc. Often this has to be rotated around so that different friends of different family members get time spent on them and we maintain our social networks that way, no matter how pained or little “value-add” in terms of strengthening these relationships.

One cant be doing that on every weekend either as some weekends are taken up with other stuff which invariably crop up – school events, weddings and birthdays, farewells, or even spending a Sat night at home catching up with work or with each other at home.

So the best one can do is maybe spend a bit of time, every few weeks, with some friends. I dont know if that is enough. I dont know if it is reasonable to expect more. It does become a bit of a pain when one has to work all these out, just to be satisfied that we’re ok. I would have thought it is a no brainer but apparently not.  Maybe we are meant to give up our everyday living demands, so that others can have their needs met. Maybe the answer lies in foregoing everything just so your friends are kept happy. I have to work that out further. Maybe keeping some friends happy requires a bit of effort. Much like getting to know Lake Burley Griffiin well.

More “running” from Malaysia, and my (closer to “proper”) run…

It rained all day on Saturday. I was a bit restless as a result, itching to go out into the gardens to organise the pruning which has accumulated in a couple of corners in the backyard. The council’s “hard rubbish” week was to start today and I had wanted to clear my backyard off those pruning.

After our usual coffee at the Coffee Club at the Chase, we rang a new migrant couple and invited them to dinner. They were probably too polite or maybe they didn’t want to miss out on an evening of time with the kids (they have 3 young ones) so they suggested afternoon tea instead. It was a novel idea – albeit an very English and therefore old one – but as the idea was to get to know them and see if we can be their friends, we agreed and set it for 3.30. We then checked with Jason and Mel to make sure our suspicion that they would give this a miss was ok. We had asked them the previous night when they were at our home for the first cell meeting of the year, but we thought it was going to be dinner. Our dear friends spend Saturday afternoons swimming and/or playing badminton so dinner was going to suit better. The previous Sat had been taken up with another do at our mate’s home so two Saturdays in a row was always going to be tricky. So it was just Tress and I and the new family.

So we had “tea” on Saturday arvo. The family was lovely. They’re both IT professionals – very highly successful ones with large MNCs, but remained very pleasant and courteous. Their kids were a joy to be with. Extremely courteous, curious and obviously intelligent, they were very warm too, to boot. They would be such wonderful additions to the local community. They have been here only a few weeks, but they are one of probably half a dozen or so families we have met in the last 6 months or so, who have chosen to leave Malaysia. The trend is a continuing one and appears to be escalating. All Australia’s gain and Malaysia’s loss for sure, but I dont think those idiots who pretend to run the country care very much at all. Someone told me Idris Jala, a Malaysian government minister, recently went back on his views that Malaysia faced bankruptcy unless fuel subsidies were removed. No one in Malaysia thought this reversal had anything to do with any notion of an improving economy, and more to do with another minister who either did not know what he was talking about or one who lacked courage to defy his band of thieving and lying manipulators.

Anyway, this family appears to have settled in well and quickly and will no doubt contribute to Australia more positively and will be appreciated here more than they were in Malaysia. At least their kids can attend university courses of their choice and which they qualify for strictly on merit, instead of seeing buffoons take up places they dont deserve, in hopelessly narcissistic universities anyway.


Yesterday in church someone asked me if I can recommend his grandson a job. He just finished his law course in a local uni and is probably having a testing time looking for work or deciding on the next step. I mentioned to his parents before, about roles in the State Revenue office but I’m not sure if he’s into that sort of stuff. Like I always suspected, if you finish law school without ever securing a summer clerkship at anytime or locking up an article clerkship, you’re in for a rough and yet very ordinary careeer. That is not a bad thing as lawyers who work their entire lifetime in suburban practice can do well and be happy but it does tamper with a young man’s often rose tinted view of a law career.

Having said that, I’m still struggling with what to do myself. Increasingly, spending time in my present role is just that – spending time. It is still underwhelming, uninspiring and I often go home with a flat feeling not from exhaustion but from being flat all day with little push or excitement. How one needs to be happy with one’s work.

So I’m hoping to make up for all that flatness by running a little bit more. I have previously resorted to food to do that for me – to provide something to look forward to each day – which has been a bit of a problem. Last week I clocked a 32km total, which is something I had not done for months and months. To run 8km a day again, for 4 days a week, feels a little better. It was laboured and it took a lot longer than it used to, but at least the run was clocked up.

This morning I did a 9.6km, albeit still at a slow time of just over an hour. I wonder if those 11km-12km an hour days are well and truly over. At least it made me feel a little better.

Laurie Oakes – The Sage – tips…

Gillard has apparently called for a ballot on Monday. The old sage Laurie Oakes from Channel 9 was commenting on the Today Show this morning, and he said Rudd and his supporters need not respond to that. They could tell Gillard there will be a challenge but it would not to the PM’s timing. The reasons are simple – firstly, there would be no time for campaigning. Secondly, parliament is still sitting and should the ballot result in a change of PM, negotiations with independent MPs would be required and parliament could not simply be suspended for that to happen.

All very sound arguments to a lay person like me.

What was interesting however, was the sense that Laurie Oakes sounded like he was advising the Rudd camp on the appropriate response. Oakes is a known Rudd fan and he doesnt mince his words in showing his disdain for Gillard. Rudd supporters would be all ears when Oakes speaks, Oakes probably knows that.

Whatever the outcome, at least Australian politics is a little bit more interesting. Interesting stuff that the country can do without however… just bring on the elections.

Rudd and Ponting

K Rudd and R Ponting. They once held the highest and second highest offices of the country respectively. Each of those offices are now held by someone else. In the case of Rudd, it is now held by someone immensely unpopular, disliked and not trusted. Ponting’s successor has now won over the populace. Michael Clarke has through the course of this summer which saw a comprehensive victory over the Indians – an Indian Summer for Aussie cricket indeed – earned the affection of Aussies. Gillard however, remains a turn off for many. Poor judgment and liberty with the truth are a deadly combination as far as public trust and affection is concerned.

Both Rudd and Ponting however, are not happy little vegemites when it comes to exiting the scene graciously.

There comes a time for everyone, when the spotlight is trained on someone else. No matter the level of success, one soon becomes a has been. I bet the late  Whitney Houston will very soon – if not already – disappear from public forum, great singer that she was.  If only Rudd (in particular) learns how to be contented with what he is doing and not look at what lies at the next corner. That can be a really hard thing to do. To win confidence and affection however, that is what one needs to do.

Backpack from North Melbourne

Kiddo wanted a backpack for uni and was looking up some online sites for it a couple of nights ago. She settled on an STM model – STM Convoy laptop backpack – which is olive in colour, holds the MacBook pretty well, has loads of compartments and great features like a waterproof bonnet, and looks well made.

So yesterday morning I did some digging around and found one in North Melbourne – under Maxfixit site. The person on the email was responsive so I drove over to their site to pick it up during lunch. The transaction went okay but dealing with the staff was something else.

When I walked into the office, a young lady was typing away on a computer and barely looked up, face grim and all. A young man from another corner of the room walked across towards me and I mentioned the email exchange earlier. That young girl muttered something about the bag being at the back of the room somewhere and did not greet or look at me. The young man just went and took the bag, took down some details and processed my payment. This all took a quick 10-15 minutes but it all happened without the slightest occurrence of pleasantries.

I got back to the office just a bit after lunch, and emailed kiddo that I got the bag. So the transaction went ok in that we got the bag pretty quickly and at a reasonably ok price. If you don’t mind the sour puss personnel it would be a perfectly good place to get your Mac stuff but if you want a bit of friendly exchange, look around online and wait for the parcel to be delivered FedEx or something like that. Avoid the Maxfixit North Melbourne office.

Kiddo got her backpack and I think she’s happy with that.

Rockbank Woes

I was sleeping in this morning and caught the 6.30am news on the bedside radio. The news which caught my attention was that somewhere in Melbourne someone has been charged for butchering and selling meat illegally, notably dog meat.

It turned out it was in Rockbank, a suburb on the north west of Melbourne, near Deer Park.

I have to confess I feared the offender being Chinese, but thankfully (hopefully) this seems unlikely. Admittedly the data I looked up was from the 2006 census but there appears to be no Chinese population in this town. Maltese, Italians, English, Kiwis and Cypriots were the major groups.

I hope the offenders get dealt with properly and this sort of thing ceases to be a problem here.

Australia Day

Australia Day yesterday brought perfect weather to Melbourne. A top of 24 deg with a slight cool breeze and picture perfect sunny conditions saw a few of us sitting by the poolside of Gerry and Jesslyn’s new home, sipping a crisp white and nibbling at fruits and Chinese New Year biscuits. It was a little farewell party for Jesslyn’s mum, who was returning to Singapore after spending close to a year helping them with their beautiful 2 year old. The mum is affectionately known to all of us as Poh Ma Ma and we’re all better for having known her this past year.

We were there from noon, after Tress and I spent the morning grocery shopping and preparing a salad – with yummy barbequed chicken breast marinated in lemon pepper, paprika and tumeric. We only left after 7.30pm, got home and took Scruff to the park for a little bit, before settling down to watch the Federer v Nadal semi-final of the Aussie Open.

It was a perfect day in so many ways.

Racism – Australia and Malaysia

I’ve often heard friends and acquaintances relate stories of prejudices they experience in relation to race and ethnicity. Many bemoan the fact that despite having lived in Australia for years, they are still viewed as foreigners.

So the observation by the famous brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo that Australia still demonstrates streaks of racism (see Herald Sun story below), probably strikes a chord with many. I think many of my contemporaries, from either Malaysia or Singapore, would quietly nod in agreement.

Yet many of my contemporaries themselves unfortunately, demonstrate even more explicit racism than the forms I have encountered (yes I have encountered them) here in Australia.

In Malaysia it was common practice for both the dominant races – Malays and Chinese – to look down on Indians and belittle them. Indians are viewed as confused, convoluted and untrustworthy in the sense that they say something and do something else. “Keling Account” means messy account keeping. “Black Skin” is often used to denigrate them as outsiders of a community. Many Chinese in Malaysia hardly step into an Indian eatery on their own. Even now, I often cringe when people I like make racist jokes against Indians.

Malaysian Chinese are often the guilty ones in maltreating foreigners such as Indonesian maids. I know of church leaders whose wives mistreat them, and “respectable” community leaders think nothing of dishing out the worst working conditions. Working 18 hour days, sleeping in small dirty corners, eating meagre food out of dirty utensils, total lack of personal freedom – these were common working conditions.

A recent news story on The Age tends to suggest this terrible treatment of maids is still going on in Malaysia – see second story below.

I guess it isn’t a problem with Australia as much as it is a problem with humanity.


Racism very much alive in Australia, says Dr Charles Teo

  • by: Stephen Drill, Henry Budd
  • From: Herald Sun
  • January 18, 2012 9:19PM

Dr Charlie Teo speaks out on racism – FULL VERSION

Listen to the FULL nine minutes thirty interview with Dr Charlie Teo where he discusses some of his experiences being Australian.

PlayDr Charlie Teo speaks out on racismListen to the key moments of the Dr Charlie Teo interview where he discusses some of his experiences being Australian.

Dr Charles Teo says it’s wrong to deny that there’s racism in Australia. Herald Sun

UPDATE 12.19pm: RACISM still plagues Australia and migrants are being victimised, one of Australia’s most respected neurosurgeons says.

Dr Charles Teo, the son of Chinese immigrants, who prolonged the life of Jane McGrath and has saved the lives of hundreds of Australians, said it was wrong to deny there was racism.

At a launch of Australia Day Council celebrations yesterday, Dr Teo said that racism was still “very much alive in Australia”.

“I don’t quite like it when I hear politicians reassuring the Indians that there’s no racism in Australia. That’s bull—–,” he said.

What do you think of Prof Teo’s comments? Tell us below

Former premier Jeff Kennett, former Australian Medical Association president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, singer Kamahl and ex-police commissioner Christine Nixon have all said that racism exists.

Results: Inconvenient truth

Thanks for voting!

Do you agree with Dr Charles Teo that racism is still alive in Australia?

  • Yes 82.8% (5337 votes)
  • No 17.2% (1109 votes)

Total votes: 6446

But Premier Ted Baillieu said he did not think Australia was a racist country.

“I don’t deny, and I don’t think anyone would deny, that there are in any community people with racist attitudes,” Mr Baillieu said.

“My message to them is that Victoria has a very, very proud record of defending our multicultural base and promoting that multicultural community.

“We will not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

Dr Teo said his daughter had been a victim of racism.

“My daughter was just saying to me the other day, very sadly, she doesn’t like Australia Day because she has in the past dressed up, got into the spirit of things, put a sticker on her face, worn the green and gold and been told by drunk Australians to go home because she looks Chinese,” he said.

“That’s so sad, because you can’t get more Australian than my daughter.”

He knew of an Indian neurosurgeon who had come to Australia to study for three months who was spat on in the street and told to “go home”.

But Dr Teo, who holds the Order of Australia, said migrants also had a responsibility to integrate into Australian society.

Mr Kennett said that racism occurred among children, but he taught his own grandchildren to be tolerant of other races.

“I think there always will be elements of racism and it is often manifest itself in different ways,” he said.

Kamahl, who came to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1953, said: “Of course there are bad apples, people who are racist … Educated minds and educated hearts are required to stop racism.”

Melbourne was gripped by a wave of racist assaults on Indian students in 2009, which has been blamed for a drop in the number of students from that country enrolling here this year.

Dr Haikerwal, victim of a vicious bashing in 2008, said Australia was overall a welcoming society, but racism did exist.

He was in “the wrong place at the wrong time” when he was attacked, but Indian students were racist targets.

“Attacks shouldn’t happen against guests of our nation,” he said.

Former Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon said all Australians had come from other countries.

“There is racism particularly against our own Aboriginal people and it always surprises me since we’ve all come from other places,” she said.

With Gemma Jones and Ashley Gardiner



Maid in Malaysia: a story of beatings, abuse

Lindsay Murdoch

January 18, 2012

Cambodian maid Orn Eak, 28, with her son Ho Bora, 5. Orn Eak was abused for almost two years by her Malaysian employer.

BEATEN, starved and treated as a slave in a Kuala Lumpur apartment, Cambodian maid Orn Eak says a one-metre snake ended her almost-two-year nightmare in Malaysia.

”When the snake crawled into my employer’s apartment she blamed me and kicked me out,” says Orn Eak, 28, one of thousands of Cambodian domestic workers who have been exploited and abused in Malaysia. ”I got the blame for everything, including the death of my employer’s elderly mother,” she says.

Orn Eak’s body is covered in scars from beatings by a Kuala Lumpur woman who employed her through a Cambodia employment agency in early 2010. Single with a five-year-old son, Orn Eak says she joined 30,000 other young Cambodian women and girls working as maids in Malaysia because her mother was struggling to survive in their village in Kompong Thom province.

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In Kuala Lumpur, Orn Eak had no days off and worked from dawn into the early hours of the next morning caring for her employer’s disabled mother. She says she was frequently beaten and often hungry.

The mistreatment worsened after the old woman died in hospital. ”I missed my son and mother very much, but I knew I had to keep working for them,” she says.

But her mother, Ee Tha, 55, says she received only two payments in almost two years from her daughter’s Malaysian employer totalling $US270 ($A262). The employer deducted Orn Eak’s flight home from her salary, which was supposed to be $US180 a month.

When Orn Eak arrived back in Phnom Penh in November a woman picked her up at the airport and took her to the employment agency.

”I told the story about the snake to a director … Five men came into the room and beat me … they pushed my head into a glass door and kicked me on the ground,” she says.

Ee Tha received a message to come to Phnom Penh to take her daughter home.

”When I saw that my daughter’s face and body were cut and bruised my heart dropped,” Ee Tha says. After Ee Tha refused to leave the employment agency’s office with her daughter until she was given the money she was owed, a director finally handed over $1200 – meaning Orn Eak earned only $1470 for nearly two years’ work, half what had been promised.

Social workers have verified her claims of abuse. Nine Cambodian domestic workers died in Malaysia in 2011, according to human rights organisations.

Malaysian opposition MP Charles Santiago has accused the Malaysian government and police of ”totally disrespecting” laws by conducting only cursory investigations into the deaths.

Human Rights Watch says common abuses include excessive work hours with no rest days, lack of food and irregular or non-payment of salaries.

Many have reported sexual abuse, restrictions of movements and bans on contact with other maids.

A Cambodian government ban on sending maids to Malaysia has been ignored by unscrupulous recruitment agencies.

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