The seventh anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations was an opportunity for a new relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. It was a landmark moment in modern Australian history and the beginning of a new partnership between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility. The Apology transformed the way in which the nation thought about itself. It was a profound re-appraisal of our collective belief system and brought to reality the genuine prospect of true reconciliation.

Today is an important anniversary in our nation’s history and one which should encourage both reflection and renewal among contemporary policy-makers and activists.

Building on the Apology was the Closing the Gap initiative. Closing the Gap is an ambitious but absolutely vital framework agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) at a meeting in 2008 to address indigenous disadvantage. Unfortunately, the latest Closing the Gap report shows that little or no progress has been made on reaching many of the closing the gap targets agreed to at COAG. Sadly, indigenous Australians are still dying younger, going to jail more often, earning less, experiencing disability more frequently and attending school less regularly than their non-indigenous counterparts.

It’s 2015 and this is not okay.

On this, the seventh anniversary of the Apology, it’s time we as a nation, re-committed ourselves to the big challenge of reconciliation that lies ahead. Closing the Gap requires an intensive, long term sustained commitment from all of us and we cannot afford to waiver. To quote former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s famous Apology speech: “There comes a time in the history of nation when their peoples must become fully reconciled to their past if they are to go forward with confidence to embrace their future. Our nation, Australia, has reached such a time”. Good work has and continues to be done, but we must to do more to close the gap on life expectancy, educational achievement and employment opportunities for indigenous Australians.

In addition, we must undertake the next step toward national reconciliation by changing the Australian Constitution to fully recognise our First Australians. Like the Apology, this is more than just an important symbolic step, it is about equity, it is about justice.

As Bill Shorten recently said, Closing the Gap is our national responsibility, it is a shared journey. The job will not be done, the reconciliation journey will not be over, until our two Australia’s are one.

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Only Labor will deliver Melbourne Metro Rail

There is a misleading report on the front page of today’s Age newspaper alleging that Victorian Labor is not committed to the Melbourne Metro Rail Project (read here).

This is nonsense.

An Andrews Labor Government is committed to delivering Melbourne Metro Rail. This is Victoria and Australia’s number one public transport infrastructure priority.

$300 million has been allocated to kick start the project in this term of Government. A further $3 billion will follow (together with investment from federal government and private enterprise) in the next term, as the project moves to the construction phase.

The Former Federal Labor Government set aside $3 billion for this project in 2012. The current Abbott Government is now playing hard ball with the new Victorian Government about releasing the funding for this project.

Clumsy attempts by the Liberal and Greens Party to paint a different picture about Labor’s commitment to delivering this vital transport project are false and misleading.

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Read my previous blog on Labor’s Melbourne Metro Rail commitment here.

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One year on.

One year ago today, Australia lost a good reforming Labor Government.

Locally, we also failed in our bid to win back the seat of Melbourne from the Greens party.

Over the past 12 months Tony Abbott and his government has set out to undo much of the good work done during Labor’s six short years in office. They have embarked on their own cruel, narrow ideological agenda, perhaps best characterised by the savage cuts unleashed on unsuspecting Australian families and some of our most vulnerable people in this year’s federal budget.

All the while, Adam Bandt and the Greens party, elected on a mantra that they would “stand up for what matters” have stood idly by, impotent and powerless as they have always been.

I firmly believe Labor can win the next federal election. I also believe we can return a Labor MP to Melbourne. A Member of Parliament who can take their place on the government benches, ensuring the people of Melbourne can have a strong local voice in Canberra who doesn’t just talk a good game, but can actually deliver tangible results.

The hard work of winning the next federal election and winning Melbourne has already begun and the next critical step to achieving this goal is fast approaching.

We must ensure Tony Abbott’s man in Victoria, Denis Napthine gets the boot in November and to do that we absolutely must retain our inner city seats.

We must do all we can to ensure our hard working inner-city Labor MP’s occupy the government benches in State Parliament and that are part of a strong Labor State Government led by Daniel Andrews who will stand up against this Abbott Government.

There has never been a better time to get involved.

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Labor’s vision of Melbourne’s transport future: putting people first

The following is a speech I wrote but was not ultimately required to deliver at the Victorian Labor State Conference at Moonee Valley Racecourse, Melbourne on Saturday May 17 2014.

Delegates, Victorian Labor understands that Melbourne’s growing population is putting huge strain on our metropolitan transport infrastructure. Congestion on our roads and longer than necessary public transport commutes effectively rob us of precious time we could otherwise spend with friends and family and drive down our collective productivity.

I’m here today as Secretary of the Melbourne Labor FEA. The Melbourne electorate is perhaps the biggest consumer of public transport in the whole country. People in Melbourne rely on sustainable and efficient public transport to go about their busy daily lives. However, our inner city neighborhoods withstand the worst of traffic bottlenecks while our urban train network suffers from overcrowding and routine delays.

Delegates, my own experience catching a train into the city every day at Newmarket Station is an example of this. Newmarket Station is located in the state seat of Melbourne in the heart of the Flemington/ Kensington area.

All too often, morning commuters at Newmarket face lengthy, often unexplained delays. And often when trains do finally arrive, they are overcrowded and while some of us may be lucky to squeeze in the door, the less able bodied are forced to wait for the next service.. and wait and wait they do.

For too long, transport infrastructure under this Liberal-National Government has been treated as a second class priority and public transport users as second class citizens. Public transport has been a political football for the conservatives, impeding the development of long term, strategic infrastructure policy.  

We in the Labor Party understand the need for a train system that is more reliable and can carry more passengers. Delegates, our Melbourne Metro plan is designed to do just that.  

The former Federal Labor Government established Infrastructure Australia to provide independent and transparent advice about the economic, social and environmental costs and benefit of particular projects and to consider the best way to get value for taxpayer investments.Infrastructure Australia identified Melbourne Metro as a priority to meet Melbourne’s future transport needs.

Labor’s Melbourne Metro is a nine kilometer rail tunnel that will link the Sunbury and Pakenham/ Cranbourne rail lines. Under our plan, there will be five new underground stations at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain. The rail tunnel will join the Dandenong corridor to the east of South Yarra Station and the Sunbury line west of South Kensington Station.

Stations where people need them, not where gambling interests want them. Our transport priority is to put people first.

 

Artists impression of Melbourne Metro CBD North station

 

The vision behind Melbourne Metro is relatively simple: simple timetables – modern signaling to maximise the number of trains that can operate on each line – higher capacity trains – better integration with connecting buses and trams.

The project would “untangle” our current rail system and create four independent rail corridors. Services operating along these corridors will be able to run at higher frequencies without interfering with other routes.

Labor’s Melbourne Metro would provide 19 extra services on our passenger rail networks across Melbourne. This translates to up to 20,000 more passengers on our trains each hour. 

It is also a necessary first step in other critical transport projects such as a train line to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

I am immensely proud of the fact that I am a member of a political party that has been a long-term supporter of the Melbourne Metro project.

Our previous Federal Labor Government in its first term allocated $40m to the Melbourne Metro project. In May last year, Federal Labor allocated a further $3 billion towards the cost of building the link. We did this because Labor understands the important of public transport to nation building and nation-building is what Labor Government’s do best.

By contrast, the stale, visionless conservatives on our right do not understand the need to invest in our future.

Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National Government will never fund any urban rail projects. Further, Dennis Napthine’s State Liberal Government has walked away from its earlier position supporting Melbourne Metro.

Instead, they want to build an $8B East-West tunnel to nowhere that will do nothing to ease Melbourne’s congestion problems.

Shame delegates, shame!

The Liberals East-West tunnel was not even on the radar when Infrastructure Australia identified Melbourne’s transport priorities.

They have plucked it out of thin air, presumably due to some neo-liberal ideological disdain for public transport infrastructure, to the detriment of all Victorians.

On all available evidence, the economic, environmental and social costs of the Liberals East-West project significantly outweigh any benefits. By committing to this project, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his mate, Premier Napthine have failed to listen to the expert advice of Infrastructure Australia and turned their back on the hundreds of thousands of Melburnians who rely on public transport to go about their daily lives. 

Despite frequent requests, they have also refused to release their figures for public scrutiny. The little we do know about their dud tunnel suggests that taxpayers will be left to carry all the risks in building and operating the road. Surely, there are better uses of $8 billion of taxpayers’ money? 

Delegates, Labor is categorically opposed to the Liberals East-West project. 

Our vision of Melbourne’s transport future is backed by the experts.

We understand that Melbourne Metro is essential to Melbourne’s transport future and we know only an Andrews Labor Government will build it.

The fight for a better transport future for all Victorians begins now.

Thank you. Brenton Baldwin

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My Socceroos Squad for Brazil 2014

Allow me to daydream for a  moment that I am the head coach of the Australian national football team, the Socceroos.

Today I will be announcing the most important team selection of my career: the Socceroos squad who will compete at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, less than two months away.

My selection policy will be guided by the principle that in order for players to be considered for selection, players must be playing regular football for their clubs at a strong competitive level. However, I also need to be conscious of the fact that some positions on the park and in the supporting squad may need to be filled by players who are of a high calibre but may not be necessarily earning consistent pitch time at their club. This has always been a conundrum in Australian football. I will not however under any circumstances pick a player on past reputation.

I am also acutely aware of, but undaunted by the fact most pundits have declared that Australia’s chances of progressing past the group stage of the World Cup are extremely remote. Spain, Netherlands and Chile are all excellent football nations. Spain in particular is a World Cup favorite. Realistically, Australia will aim for a second place finish in the group, allowing for progress to the next round. However, the prevailing attitude will of course be to win every game.

I must select an Australian World Cup squad that is consistent with the FIFA approved amount of 23 players. In addition, I will need to consider an additional 7 standby players in the event of injury/other withdrawals from my squad of 23. This brings the total number of potential players to 30.

I am picking the best team possible to compete at the world’s biggest sporting event, but I also want to ensure we build a strong foundation for next year’s Asian Cup tournament (of which Australia is host) and the 2018 World Cup in Russia. I firmly believe that the squad I select for this World Cup will defy expectations and do Australia proud.

I present my selection of Socceroos for the 2014 Australian World Cup squad.

BRENTON’S 2014 AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Mat RYAN, Adam FEDERICI, Mitch LANGERAK

Defenders: Matthew SPIRANOVIC, Curtis GOOD, Jason DAVIDSON, Ivan FRANJIC, Alex WILKINSON, Lucas NEILL, Nikolai Topor-Stanley

Defensive Midfielders: Mile JEDINAK (C), Mark MILLIGAN

Midfielders/ Wingers: Massimo LUONGO, Matt McKAY, Mark BRESCIANO, James HOLLAND, Tommy OAR, Michael ZULLO, Tom ROGIC

Attacking Midfielders/ Forwards: Tim CAHILL (VC), Matt LECKIE, James TROISI, Brett HOLMAN

Reserves: Brad JONES (Goalkeeper), Sasa OGNENOVSKI (Defender), Luke Wilkshire (Defender), Aaron MOOY (Midfield), Josh Kennedy (Striker), Dario VIDOSIC (Attacking Midfielder), Mile STERJOVSKI (Winger/Forward)

(See below comments for an updated squad as at 13/05/2014).

Formation The team should look to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, with both roving wing backs and at least one, possibly two defensive midfielder’s. While individual strategy will undoubtedly exist to counter each opponent Australia faces, the focus of this formation will largely be on a counter-attacking style of football, deploying attacking midfielders and wingers in a versatile manner with regular switch play, as match conditions allow.

PLAYER PROFILES

Goalkeepers: World Cup squads traditionally consist of three goalkeepers and this squad is no exception. With the retirement of long-term custodian Mark Schwarzer, there is a great opportunity for one of the three players selected to take the number one position for the Socceroos, not only in this tournament but in the longer term.

Name: Mat Ryan, Position: Goalkeeper, Club: Brugge (Belgium), Age: 21, Socceroo’s appearances: 5

Ryan

Ryan completed the move to Belgian Pro League side, Club Brugge in June 2013 after a successful stint at the Central Coast Mariners and has not looked back since. Likely Socceroos #1.

 

Name: Adam Federici, Position: Goalkeeper, Club: Reading (England), Age: 29, Socceroo’s appearances: 8

FedericiFederici plays his club football at English Championship club, Reading where he is the number one goalkeeper. He is an experience gloveman who would have played more games for Australia if it weren’t for the long custodianship of Mark Schwarzer. Alternative #1 to Ryan.

 

Name: Mitch Langerak, Position: Goalkeeper, Club: Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Age: 25, Socceroos appearances: 3

LangerakLangerak made the big move from Melbourne Victory to German giant, Borussia Dortmund in May 2010. Langerak has struggled for game time at Dortmund making just 8 senior team appearances. Likely 3rd choice Goalkeeper at  this tournament but future #1.

Defenders: This has been a problem area for the Socceroos over recent years with inconsistent selection policies mostly to blame. A settled central pairing remains a key issue. The players selected represent some of our brightest prospects as well as reliable, senior veterans.

Name: Matthew Spiranovic, Position: Central Defender/ Defensive Midfielder, Club: Western Sydney Wanderers (Australia), Age: 25, Socceroo’s appearances: 17

SpiranovicBack home after stints in Germany, Japan and the Middle East, Spiranovic has been a consistent performer for WSW this season. Likely starting CB at World Cup.

 

 

 

Name: Curtis Good, Position: Central Defender/ Left back, Club: Dundee United (Scotland) on loan from Newcastle United (England), Age: 21, Socceroo’s appearances: 1

Good Good is a bolter in this World Cup squad. After a successful season at Melbourne Heart in 2011-12, Good signed with EPL side Newcastle in 2012 before going on loan, firstly at Championship outfit, Bradford City and more recently with Scottish PL side, Dundee. Likely substitute/ reserve player at World Cup.

Name: Jason Davidson, Position: Left Back/ Wing back, Club: Heracles Almelo (Netherlands), Age: 22, Socceroo’s appearances: 5

DavidsonDavidson is a bright prospect who has been playing regularly for his Eredivisie team. A product of Japanese football academy whose father (Alan Davidson) was also a former professional and Socceroo. Davidson will likely start for Australia in a crucial wing back role.

 

 

 

Name: Ivan Franjic, Position: Right Back/ Wing back/ Winger, Club: Brisbane Roar (Australia), Age: 26, Socceroo’s appearances: 7

FranjicFranjic has had an excellent season at A League Premiers, Brisbane Roar. Franjic is a bolter into the World Cup starting 11 where he will likely feature in a crucial wing back role. One to watch.

 

 

 

Name: Alex Wilkinson, Position: Central or wide defender, Club: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea), Age: 29, Socceroo’s appearances: 1

WilkinsonAfter a successful period at the Central Coast Mariners, Wilkinson has excelled as a centre-back in the K-League. His good form and regular playing time at Jeonbuk should ensure he will challenge for a starting spot at the World Cup.

 

 

 

Name: Lucas Neill, Position: Right back/ Centre back, Club: Doncaster Rovers (England) on loan from Watford (England), Age: 36, Socceroo’s appearances: 96

Neill Former Socceroos captain and without doubt the most controversial selection in this squad. Neill is a highly decorated player who has struggled for consistent football in recent years. However, his determination for selection has surprisingly seen him earn a contract with Watford in the English Championship. A recent short term loan opportunity to fellow outfit, Doncaster Rovers should see Neill earn at least one month of regular football. Neill must accept his role as a squad player and mentor for young defenders. Unlikely to be a default starting player.

 

Name: Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Position: Central defender, Club: Western Sydney Wanderers (Australia), Age: 28, Socceroo’s appearances: 2

Topor-Stanley A solid option for the Socceroos in the heart of defence. Topor-Stanley has had an outstanding season with Western Sydney Wanderers and will battle the likes of Wilkinson and Neill for a CB spot partnering his club team-mate, Spiranovic.

 

 

 

Defensive Midfielders: Two selected, just one certain to be a starting player. Possibly one of the most important positions in the Socceroos line-up.

Name: Mile Jedinak (c), Position: Defensive Midfielder, Club: Crystal Palace (England), Age: 29, Socceroo’s appearances: 43

Jedinak Jedinak is the new Socceroos Captain and the only player in the entire squad playing regularly at top flight level in the English Premier League. A strong, consistent and reliable midfielder who is also more than capable of scoring spectacular, long range goals.

 

Name: Mark Milligan, Position: Defensive Midfielder/ Central and wide defender, Club: Melbourne Victory (Australia), Age: 28, Socceroo’s appearances: 27

Milligan A natural leader and fierce competitor who has proven himself capable of playing at a higher level. After a successful spell in Japan, Milligan returned to Australia and has led from the front for Melbourne Victory, attracting interest from a number of European clubs including in the EPL. Won’t start ahead of Jedinak, but could play alongside him or in defence ahead of other candidates.

 

 

 

Midfielders: The Socceroos midfield is without doubt the engine of this Socceroos line-up. It will feature both attacking and defensive minded central midfielders and wide players who will need to bring the wing back’s into the game. How they fare will be crucial to Australia’s overall performance in Brazil.

Name: Massimo Luongo, Position: Central Midfielder, Club: Swindon Town (England), Age: 21, Socceroo’s appearances: 1

LuongoLuongo is a product of EPL side Tottenham having featured for them at under 18 level. He has since enjoyed a successful stint at Championship outfit, Swindon Town and is playing good, regular football. Not yet a starting player but will possibly get pitch time.

 

 

 

 

Name: Matt McKay, Position: Central Midfielder/ Left Back, Club: Brisbane Roar (Australia), Age: 31, Socceroo’s appearances: 45

McKayMcKay is a solid A league midfielder but owes most of his Socceroos experience to the fact he has filled a Left back position for an extended period following the retirement of Scott Chipperfield and fading David Carney. His experience and versatility is good insurance for the tournament though he is unlikely to be a preferred starting player.

 

 

Name: Mark Bresciano, Position: Central Midfielder/ Wide Midfielder/ Attacking Midfielder, Club: Al-Gharafa (United Arab Emirates), Age: 34, Socceroo’s appearances: 73

BrescianoA talented and hugely experienced veteran of the Socceroos. Bresciano is no longer at his peak. However he provides leadership and class for an inexperienced team. A lack of match fitness is possibly the only hindrance preventing Bresciano from starting in midfield for his third consecutive World Cup.

 

Name: James Holland, Position: Central Midfielder, Club: Austria Wein (Austria), Age: 24, Socceroo’s appearances: 12

Holland Holland has established himself as a consistent performer, beginning in the A-league before signing contracts in The Netherlands and now Austria. Holland is playing good, regular and will be a certain starter for the Socceroos.

 

 

 

 

Name: Tommy Oar, Position: Left sided Midfielder/ Winger/ Left back, Club: FC Utrecht (Netherlands), Age: 22, Socceroo’s appearances: 13

OarOne of the standout players in the squad. Tommy Oar is a consistent performer at club level. Fast, agile and able to provide a constant crossing threat. Oar will most certainly start for the Socceroos.

 

 

 

 

Name: Michael Zullo, Position: Left Winger/ Left back, Club: Adelaide United (Australia) on loan from FC Utrecht (Netherlands), Age: 25, Socceroo’s appearances: 10

ZulloZullo is a versatile left-sided player who possesses speed and creativity. A solid season on loan at Adelaide United has enabled Zullo to build match fitness and he deserves late game pitch time in Brazil.

 

 

Name: Tom Rogic, Position: Central Midfielder/ Attacking Midfielder, Club: Melbourne Victory (Australia) on loan from Celtic (Scotland), Age: 21, Socceroo’s appearances: 9

Rogic A technically gifted play-maker. Rogic has been loaned to Melbourne Victory to allow him to gain match fitness with the World Cup in mind. He has however failed to sparkle to date despite several promising displays. He should however, be fit to play a big role in Brazil, either as a starting player or impact player off the bench.

Forward’s: Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation means there are less opportunities for centre forward’s and out and out attacking players. The players selected are a mixture of attackinf midfielders/ false 9’s and out and out strikers.

Name: Tim Cahill (vc), Position: Attacking Midfielder/ Striker/ Central Midfielder, Club: New York Red Bulls (USA), Age: 34, Socceroo’s appearances: 67

Cahill The most recognisable face in this Socceroos squad. Cahill is Australia’s all time leading goal scorer and can still be regarded as one of the best Australians players. He will be a leader on the field and a certain starter who will look to emulate past heroics on the world’s biggest stage.

Name: Matthew Leckie, Position: Striker/ Wide Right Forward, Club: FSV Frankfurt (Germany), Age: 23, Socceroo’s appearances: 6

Leckie Leckie is the in form Australian Striker, playing at a quality level. A product of Adelaide United, Leckie has made a big impact on the Bundesliga, together with injured Socceroo, Robbie Kruse. Likely starter.

 

 

Name: James Troisi, Position: Attacking Midfielder/ False 9/ Striker, Club: Melbourne Victory (Australia) on loan from Atalanta (Italy), Age: 25, Socceroo’s appearances: 9

TroisiTroisi has lit up the A League this season with consistent high performances and a proven goal scoring record. He is a creative player and versatile in attack. Expect him to get minutes as an impact player for the Socceroos and good form may help force his way into the starting team.

Name: Brett Holman, Position: Attacking Midfielder/ False 9, Club: Al Nasr (United Arab Emirates), Age: 30, Socceroo’s appearances: 63

Holman Holman starred at the 2010 World Cup and was looking at bigger and better things, signing for EPL side Aston Villa after the World Cup. However, Holman failed to establish himself in the team and went elsewhere in search of regular football. Unlikely to start ahead of Leckie/Cahill.

 

Reserve list: The following 7 players are officially on stand-by as injury-replacements for the above list of 23 players.

Name: Brad Jones, Position: Goalkeeper, Club: Liverpool (England), Age: 32, Socceroo’s appearances: 4

JonesThe Liverpool FC number-two goalkeeper is a proven, reliable choice to replace any of the three selected goalkeepers.

Name: Sasa Ognenovski, Position: Central defender, Club: Sydney FC (Australia), Age: 35, Socceroo’s appearances: 22

OgnenovskiPlayed a pivotal role for the Socceroos in the post-Craig Moore era. Unlucky not to be picked ahead of fellow veteran, Lucas Neill.

 

 

 

Name: Luke Wilkshire, Position: Right back/ Right Midfield/ Central Midfield, Club: Dynamo Moscow (Russia), Age: 32, Socceroo’s appearances: 79

Wilkshire Another experienced Socceroo who continues to play regularly for his Russian club and is unlucky to earn outright selection. Wilkshire can also play as a Right sided midfielder and centrally and has in the past taken long crossing set pieces for the Socceroos. Would be a reliable choice to fill either a defence or midfield injury holes.

 

 

 

 

Name: Aaron Mooy, Position: Central Midfield, Club: Western Sydney Wanderers, Age: 23, Socceroo’s appearances: 3

Mooy Mooy is an intelligent and creative midfielder with a bright future. Another player who is unlucky not to gain outright selection but one to watch for the 2015 Asian Cup and 2018 World Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Josh Kennedy, Position: Striker, Club: Nagoya Grampus (Japan), Age: 31, Socceroo’s appearances: 33

KennedyKennedy is unlucky to miss out on selection outright, however his aerial prowess in the J-League will be less effective against Australia’s confirmed group opponents.

 

 

 

Name: Dario Vidosic, Position: Attacking Midfielder/ False 9, Club: FC Sion (Switzerland), Age: 27, Socceroo’s appearances: 20

VidošićVidošić is a strong, creative player. If not for the evergreen Bresciano and Cahill, Vidošić would be a confirmed final squad player. He would also be the first on the plane to Brazil if Rogic is proven unfit.

 

 

Name: Mile Sterjovski, Position: Attacking Midfielder/ Winger/ Striker, Club: Central Coast Mariners (Australia), Age: 34, Socceroo’s appearances: 43

Sterjovski For all intents and purposes, Sterjovski’s career as a professional footballer will be over in the next few weeks. However, such has been in form and prowess of late, it is impossible to ignore his credentials and versatility on the pitch for a shock Socceroos recall.

 

 

(See below comments for an updated squad as at 13/05/2014).

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Former Governor-General exhibited modern Australian values

*Submitted to the Bendigo Advertiser on 03/04/2014 and published on 15/04/2014*

Dear Editor,

I write in response to the letter by Mr Alan Howard of Strathfieldsaye on April 3 on the matter of former Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

Mr Howard alleges the former Governor-General is a hypocrite for accepting the title of Dame and for being a Republican.

I suspect that Ms Bryce would share the view shared by the vast majority of Australians that Knights and Dames are anachronistic and their reintroduction helps to foster a culture of elites, completely at odds with our democratic values and modern identity as Australians. However, Ms Bryce probably had little choice but to accept the title of Dame from the Prime Minister. In her final days in office, it would have been churlish not to do so, given the title is now embedded into the office of Governor-General.

Mr Howard then goes on to provide crude commentary on the former Governor-General’s appearance. Frankly, I am disappointed the Bendigo Advertiser saw fit to publish. Ms Bryce’s elegant style is almost universally admired. The irony of Mr Howard excoriating Ms Bryce for her clothing is that Ms Bryce is a past sex discrimination commissioner. Perhaps Mr Howard needs to, in the words of former Prime Minister Gillard, “look in the mirror”.

Quentin Bryce was Australia’s first female Governor-General and a dignified presence in our public discourse. She was also a powerful advocate for the less fortunate and champion of many charities and social causes.

I think one thing both Mr Howard and I can agree on is a mutual hope that Quentin Bryce will also be Australia’s last female Governor-General. She is an extraordinary Australian and would make a fantastic President in a future Australian Republic.

Sincerely,

Brenton Baldwin

Melbourne

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Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370: a pawn in the US-China geostrategic battle for South China Sea supremacy

School students light candles for passengers of MH370, in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, China

School students light candles for passengers of MH370, in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, China

I am reluctant to entertain conspiracy theories surrounding the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, yet it is becoming more and more obvious that this is not your typical aviation disaster.

Behind the scenes of the ongoing and seemingly fruitless search for MH370, a complex, geostrategic intelligence ‘Cold War’ between the US and China appears to be furiously raging, with neither side willing to reveal to the other its surveillance capability in the South China Sea region. The stubborn refusal to cooperate and share satellite information has severely impacted the effectiveness of regional search efforts and caused anger and frustration for all, not least the Malaysian Government.

It is a high-stakes power struggle between the US, as the incumbent global superpower and its up and coming rival in China. Now, for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, US naval supremacy is under serious challenge in the Asia-Pacific region. The South China Sea is the focal point of this geopolitical struggle and has been at the epicentre of the world’s attention due to the disappearance of MH370. The missing Malaysian Airlines plane is just a pawn in this long-running and highly complex power play.

Yesterday it was revealed that China had taken three days to release satellite imagery purportedly showing three large pieces of plane debris in the ocean (this was later investigated and subsequently dismissed). Further, today’s comments from the White House indicate previously undisclosed intricate knowledge of the missing plane’s communications status following its disappearance from radar with some suggestion the plane flew on for a number of hours after radar communication was silenced.

There are also other reports that distraught relatives swear they were able to succesfully call the mobile phones of their missing loved ones, only for the calls to ring out, long after the plane was officially declared missing.

Authorities are most likely searching for a wreckage, however the possibiliy of a hijacking cannot be discounted.

While the US and China and its satellitte allies refuse to blink, friends and relatives of the missing passengers are anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones. We may never know the full story.

*Update – here is a good piece in The Diplomat on ASEAN intelligence gathering and cooperation in light of missing flight MH370.*

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