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If bad things come in threes, idiocy does too. It galloped across Friday's finish line in a terrible trifecta of nonsense.
First out of the barrier was property developer Tim Gurner. Remember him? The multi-millionaire with the heroic forehead who triggered a generational war years ago by suggesting Millennials couldn't afford to buy homes because they spent too much on smashed avocado on toast.
On Tuesday he told a property summit unemployment needed to rise by 40 to 50 per cent, and that pain was needed in the economy.
"We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around," he said. "There's been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around." Those proles are revolting.
To absolutely no one's surprise, his comments attracted scorn and condemnation from all sides of politics. So by Thursday, he issued a grovelling apology: "I made some remarks about unemployment and productivity in Australia that I deeply regret and were wrong." Also: "My comments were deeply insensitive to employees, tradies and families across Australia who are affected by these cost-of-living pressures and job losses."
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price was next up.
The No campaign's lead spokesperson told the National Press Club on Thursday she could see no disadvantage or generational trauma for Indigenous Australians stemming from colonisation. They now had running water, she crowed, and food. It was an assessment that could have come straight from the mouths of Sky News' late-night crazies yet here it was being repeated in prime time by a leading light of the Coalition.
I wonder what the Barkandji people of Wilcannia in western NSW would have made of it. Their river, the Baarka (or Darling) ran dry a few years ago - thanks in part to upstream extractions for big cotton. The town had to truck in drinking water. The stuff that came out of the taps was causing skin inflammation. This "running water" was making people sick.
The Murray cod with which the Barkandji supplemented their diet disappeared and when they returned once the river started flowing again the fish were inedible, their stomachs full of mice - a species introduced during colonisation - after a plague of Biblical proportions.
Which brings us to the third idiocy.
On Friday, I discovered that the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church had ruled that the Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country were out of order in services of public worship. A "Christian" Acknowledgement of Country was permissible outside services of public worship.
Denying the church had been "overwhelmed by a fit of racism", a convoluted statement on its website went on to say the Welcome to Country "has been turned into a money-earner, with hundreds, indeed thousands, of dollars being charged to perform a Welcome".
The acceptable acknowledgement reads in part: "We acknowledge the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Creator of heaven and earth and His ownership of all things (Psalm 24:1). We recognise that He gave stewardship of these lands upon which we meet to the indigenous occupants of the land."
In other words, it's God's country, not yours, and you're here by his grace. And, by the way, we Christians have freed you from your traditional beliefs: " ... without the work of the missionaries, the Aboriginal people would have remained in spiritual and moral bondage". I wonder what the Stolen Generations taken from their parents and put to work on missions would make of that?
And further on: "All versions of a WtC and AoC tend to be lavish in their praise for past Elders (the capital letter is insisted upon in some circles). We must ask of WtC and AoC: Do they constitute unholy fire? (Leviticus 10) The common warning we hear about viewing Aboriginal dead persons is linked to disturbing their spirits. The Christian will be sensitive to this, but that does not mean that it is acceptable." Paying respects to Elders past and present might be summoning the Devil?
Then this: "The much-cited 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart manages to be moving in its language, disturbing in its politics, and repellent in its theology."
The church is entitled like everyone else to take a position on the Voice referendum. It's entitled to rule the Welcome and Acknowledgement out of order in its own services of worship. And it's entitled to reveal itself as completely out of touch with modern, secular Australia and its cultural etiquette.
I'm perfectly comfortable with Acknowledgement of Country, as long as it's delivered sincerely. I like to learn of the traditional custodians of the country on which I'm standing. My faith isn't shaken one bit by acknowledging who was here first. When a Welcome to Country is performed well, I feel enriched and often informed about something I didn't previously know. Both are simply good manners and seem like Christian things to do.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Does the Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country offend you in any way? Has their adoption into common practice helped raise awareness of Indigenous culture and history? Is the Presbyterian Church eroding its own relevance by taking such a hardline stance against them? Email us: email@example.com
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- Peak thunderstorm asthma season is upon us. October to the end of December is the main time for asthmatics to be on alert, experts say. Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with one in 10 people affected by the condition that causes distressed breathing.
- The Albanese government has slammed the federal Coalition's attempt to override the territory's drug decriminalisation laws as a "stunt" and ridiculed the tactic to keep ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee in the dark on the plans.
- Federal police officers have been caught up in a major cyber attack that's exposed a number of government departments. The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) confirmed some members had their data breached in the hack on law firm HWL Ebsworth earlier this year.
THEY SAID IT: "When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land." - Desmond Tutu
YOU SAID IT: Ageing politicians losing focus begs the age old question: when is old too old?
Garry writes: "If we always embrace opportunities of adaptation and learning, advancing age can be offset by growing experience with people and processes. After 50, I welcomed the challenge of two further fields of employment, and two further uni degrees.. Beyond 63, becoming fully self-employed with my life partner was most satisfying personally and most rewarding financially. At 80, although still stimulated by work project ideas, the wish to slow down is winning. Selecting employees and contractors, I have found age much less significant than responsive adaptability and willingness to learn. Keep mining the rich lode of life experience."
"I wonder how many managers and business owners will fork out hundreds of dollars to see one of the rock music legends in their 70s that have been touring the country of late but, won't employ someone older than 60," writes John from Newcastle.
Jennifer writes: "Having worked as a head-hunter and recruiter in the tech industry for a few years, I am not surprised at the unscientific approach to hiring older workers. That is exactly how it was in the late 90s, with a preference for young men, a rejection of women and middle aged men despite the fact that it was the latter with solid business expertise who could have prevented many of the internet based companies from going bust. There was a belief that only very young men could understand the internet, which was ridiculous. There were highly qualified women and mature men with more technical and business experience who were rejected purely because of their age or gender. The old biases continue for many employers, despite the fact that many mature people are actually more open-minded (due to breadth of experience) than many young ones with their narrowly based inbuilt biases."
"There is a basic flaw in the question - How old is too old? - in McConnell's case and you expose it by referring to his concussion," writes Malcolm, 75. "From what I've read, this was a case of a disability and was not necessarily age-related. There may be other age-related impairments in McConnell's case but this incident may not have been one of them."