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A Samoan woman coming to New Zealand on a seasonal work visa had a baby on the plane over. She left the baby in a rubbish bin before coming through immigration.

Questions are being asked (understandably) about why no one noticed she was pregnant – how she came to be granted a seasonal work visa, how she got through immigration on the Samoan side, why Pacific Blue staff did not question her before putting her on the plane.

Someone once told me that, no matter what her appearance, you should never assume a woman is pregnant unless you see an actual baby appearing between her legs. That’s good advice for social interaction, but surely immigration and airline staff are expected to take a little more responsibility?

Apparently both mother and baby are in hospital in Auckland and are doing well. But surely questions should also be asked about whether a woman who tossed her new born baby in the garbage to ease her passing through immigration has the willingness and ability to give this child the ongoing love and care it deserves?

When I first read about the Baz Luhrmann tourism ads for Australia, I shared Andrew Bolt’s concern that they were both unattractive – ie, not likely to attract visitors to Australia, and that they sent the wrong message about Australia. They sounded dull, even morose.

Of course, I hadn’t seen  them then.

I was watching TV a couple of nights ago when one of those ads came on. It wasn’t immediately clear what it was. I thought it was a station promo for a movie or a new series. And without knowing what it was, Amanda and I both decided that it looked interesting and that we would check the time and turn the TV back on to watch it later. I was astonished when I realised it was an ad inviting people to visit Australia.

OK, so there are no well endowed young ladies bouncing along Bondi Beach. There’s no Paul Hogan throwing another shrimp on the barbie. But Australia is more than buxom blondes, beaches and practical jokers.

As a nation, Australia clings to the edges. There is a vast blankness inside, which can be both scary and liberating. A journey to the geographical heart of Australia lends itself to being a journey of self-discovery – through the vast wrenching dust and hopelessness to the sacred rocks and waterholes. This is part of what it means to be Australian – it is more authentically ‘us’ than the Gold Coast. It is a gift we have to share.

Eighteen year old New Zealand golfer Danny Lee could become the first amateur winner of an Australian PGA event for ten years.

I’m not much of a sports fan really, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the final round today.

Good luck mate!

That is, I’m happy for Harry Nicolaides that he is out of prison in Thailand and back in Australia with his family.

But I can’t see what he has to be angry about. He certainly knew the law in Thailand – he had lived there for some time. You can’t be in Thailand for more than a few days without knowing that insulting the royal family is considered a bad thing. So when you hope to make money by writing a book thats insults a member of the royal family, even if no one buys it, and then you are arrested for doing so, you might be disappointed you didn’t get away with it, but you have no right to be angry.

The Australian government acted with all due speed and care in requesting Mr Nicolaides’ release, and this was granted almost immediately, and with considerable generosity, by the Thai king.

Mr Nicolaides apparently intends to write a ‘tell-all’ book. Perhaps he’ll be less angry if this one sells more than seven copies.

That is, I’m happy someone found peace through the ministry of ‘maverick cleric’ Peter Kennedy. It’s nice to feel empowered. Whatever that means.

But if you are a Catholic Christian who is serious about your faith, then you have a responsibility to your children, your fellow parishioners, and yourself, to take your part in ensuring that what is taught and practised in your parish really is the Catholic faith.

Baptism in the name of the ‘Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer’ is not Christian baptism, no matter how personally gratifying you may find it. Christianity is not about moulding God and our worship of God to fit our own whims, but about allowing ourselves, body, soul and spirit, to be renewed in the image of Christ.

I have no objection to anyone believing anything they like. But it is simply dishonest to call yourself a Catholic priest, and lead your parishioners to believe that the personal philosophy you are teaching them is the Catholic faith, when you know very well it is not.

As I said earlier, if you want to do things your own way, there are plenty of Anglican Churches which will welcome you with open arms. There are a few different franchises to choose from, you should find one that suits. Try one. Or start your own. Just leave off the false advertising.

An earlier headline said that services around the nation were expected to bring comfort to those who had lost homes or loved ones in fires in Victoria two weeks ago.

Expected by whom the headline did not say. There is not much that can compensate for the death of someone you love. But the milllions of dollars raised, the thousands of services around the nation, and other public expressions of sorrow and support, are an indication of real care. And perhaps the knowledge of that care may bring some small light of comfort. I hope so.

Cornelia Rau was briefly detained in a detention centre for illegal immigrants by Australian offcials four years ago. She did not appear to speak English, said she did not have Australian citizenship, had no identification, and could not explain how she came to be in Australia. It was soon recognised that she had a mental illness and treatment was provided.

Her family, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, made a thundering row about her having been illegally detained (it turned out she had dual German and Australian citizenship) and Cornelia was granted $2.6 million dollars in compensation. It was never quite clear to me how the government or people of Australia (the compensation money comes from tax payers) had done anything wrong.

Now she has travelled to Jordan, where her behaviour has caused her to be arrested. She has refused Australian assistance. Yet somehow this is all still Australia’s fault.

But if you can’t or won’t teach the Catholic Faith, you have no business being a Catholic priest.

If you want a do-it-yourself faith, and a do-it-yourself Jesus, why not be an Anglican?

Who would have guessed?

Alarmingly this simple fact still seems to be escaping the current US administration.

Kelsey Grammer is absolutely right. The ‘stimulus’ package is about rewarding people who are unproductive, or who have been irresponsible, by taking money from people who are productive and responsible.

This has two effects.

First it discourages responsibility. Why should states, corporations or individuals bother to save money, spend wisely and live within their means, if when they do so money is taken from them to give to states, corporations and individuals who have not?

Secondly, taking money from those who are productive, who are generating wealth, investment and employment, means that investment and employment will be reduced. And this in turn means the recession will be deepened and prolonged. And this means that the people who are most in need will suffer more and longer.

You can’t spend your way out of debt. Even when it is other people’s money you are spending.

According to the Australian ABC, MacDonalds is doing well in Australia, so soon everyone will be obese.

This is another one of those increasingly frequent (especially when it comes to health and climate scares), headlines that look alarming, but when you read the story, you find that nothing has happened at all. It’s just some ‘expert’ saying ‘If this happens, then this might happen.’

Let me know when it does, and then I’ll start worrying.

Via Kathy Shaidle, this story from the Toronto Sun.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has time to investigate and comment on stories published in national magazines over which it has no jurisdiction. It has time to condemn writers like Mark Steyn because their criticisms of radical Islam makes them Islamophobic (whatever that means – being critical of something doesn’t mean you are irrationally afraid of it).

But investigate and comment on honour killings in a state where they do have jurisdiction and could make a difference?

Sorry, too busy. From the Sun article:

It was her response to Steyn’s criticism of OHRC’s silence on honour killings that shocked me.

“There are thousands of things that happen in the province of Ontario on a daily basis and we don’t comment on all of them,” she said.

But, I spluttered, women are being murdered.

“As I said, we are a small commission.

“There are many problematic things that happen in our community and we have to make choices because we can’t respond to everything,” Hall said.

So honour killings are merely “problematic”?


The people who lit the fires are immediately responsible. But a measure of responsibility also lies with environmental activists who pressured local councils and other governement agencies to reduce or disallow prescribed (that is controlled protective) burning and other clearing of highly flammable scrub from residential areas. 

‘The green movement is directly responsible for the severity of these fires through their opposition to prescribed burning,’ said David Packham, former supervising meteorologist for fire weather nationwide at the Bureau of Meteorology.

At a community meeting in Victoria yesterday, Warwick Spooner, whose mother and brother were killed in the fires, told council members ‘We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down.’

Meanwhile, another family who disobeyed government regulations, cleared bush from around their home, and were fined $50,000 for doing so, said that their home and lives were saved because of the action they had taken – action which is simply reponsible in high fire risk areas.

The argument is that clearing of bush around residential areas reduces bio-diversity and increases the risk of extinctions of native animals through loss of habitat. This is nonsense. The areas cleared in prescribed burning are very small – just enough to prevent fires jumping to buildings. The real risk to native wildlife is massive uncontrolled fires like those which have just occurred.

Via Andrew Bolt, this story of the banning of Geert Wilders from Britain.

‘It seems that in Britain the public debate has already been smothered to the extent that a democratically elected politician from another EU country is not allowed to come to Britain to adress a private meeting with British politicians in the Palace of Westminster.’ 

Wilders is not a violent man, and has never even remotely encouraged violence.

He is sometimes over the top (see my earlier post) but many of his criticisms of the Koran, Mohammed and violent Islamism are right on target. This is probably exactly what makes his views so offensive to some.

No one expects Geert to do anything wrong. The fear is that his presence will cause violent protests, and possibly attempts to kidnap or kill him.

When you are faced with a violent rabble, it is much easier to blame and restrain the victim than the mob. And this strengthens the mob by reinforcing that threats of violence are an effective way to get what they want, including the stifling of debate.

For an idiotic comparison of the division between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, who spend their spare time killing one another, stealing aid (largely given by Israel) and plotting against the ‘Zionist entity’, and different parties in Israeli politics, whose members are often personal friends despite their political differences, and whose differences are talked over in a civilised way in a fully democratic society.

‘Israeli Divisions’ are not what is making peace-making harder, but Hamas’ determination, repeatedly expressed in both words and actions, to kill Jews and destroy Israel.

Even though Victoria has cooled a little, there are still about twenty fires still out of control.

A fifth of the residents of the town of Maryville may be dead. Many bodies are still in burnt homes. Many of the fires are thought to have been deliberately lit. That means some of those homes  are crime scenes. Investigations will take time, which adds to the pain for families.

But the investigations have to be done. Lighting fires in the Australian bush when there are high fuel loads and hot windy conditions is something any rational person would know is likely to cause widespread destruction and or death. The people who did these terrible things must not be allowed to get away with them.