WHAT’S BIG IN AUSTRALIA THIS WEEK?

1. Refugees, People Smugglers, and Illegal Immigrants. By boat or plane, by fair or foul means, hundreds of people from around the world, especially those stressed nations to our north, Sri Lank, Afghanistan, Iraq, but even India, Eastern Europe and Africa – are trying to get to the top of the long queue of refugees and migrants applying to Australia. We should welcome everyone coming to Australia as one of us, but that strictures should apply for three reasons:
a) noone should prevent another more worthy from being here per force of their audaciousness;
b) corrupt and criminal elements must be guarded against but I suspect most of these come by ordinary means ie plane;
c) Even at the maximum population growth rate that Australia could handle, it is a small amount compared to the great numbers of refugees and would-be migrants, so a disciplined entry is absolutely important. Australia’s immigration policy should represent one prong on a policy fork that helps the whole world deal with the massive social changes it is undergoing.

2. Human Rights legislation. A report looking at possible legislation has divided the national view. It seems expert opinion is leaning to the ‘against’ argument. What has come to the fore is the essential need for a robust democratic process, policy to advance the disadvantaged, separation of government and judicial powers, clear law-making and equality under those laws, and strong anti-corruption processes. Indeed, what are our rights: to clean air, clean water, nutrition, shelter, and to have control of our own lives within the society. There are also society’s rights: to make rules, everyone to contribute, society to advance. At the interface of these rights are social principles that laws should either support or not interfere: unfettered intercultural interaction, elimination of prejudice, equality of men and women, education of all from infancy, allowing unfettered investigation of truth, compatibility between science and religion, economic justice, and community justice and peace.

3. Climate Change. A big 4 experts in the field of climate change have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to have any accuracy in predicting the 30 – 40 year climate change scenario, not to worry about inundation of coastline for the next hundred years, and that it will take 50 years to get to a CO2 stabilising level with the most pro-active energy change measures. They suggest piping 100,000 tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere to create cooling of the poles, and they have designed the technology to do, along with very modest cost (11 billion per year). I like the sheer geekiness of this solution but I worry about any solution that send out a message, “Keep being destructive, uncaring, greedy, some scientists have your back.” We don’t really know what we’re up against. We need to be increasingly more considerate, and more adaptable, to get through the next 500 – 1000 years. Highly likely that over that time we will actually be entering another ice age. Should we stop it happening by early artificial cooling of the planet?

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