The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

If it looks like a duck and swims like a duck…

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There was a report published in the Medical Journal of Australia today with a finding which will come as no surprise to anyone, but will hopefully force those responsible to admit there is a problem. The topic of this report: lead pollution in the city of Mount Isa and the associated health impacts, especially for children.

According to the report, co-authored by Associate Professor Mark Taylor from Macquarie University, there is no doubt that the major source of environmental lead pollution in the city is from “the historic and ongoing mining and smelting activity” – activities which have formed a main focus in the community for over 80 years. The report then goes on to say that the “purported lack of knowledge of the lead source is no longer a tenable response” from stakeholders.

Can Xstrata and the State Government honestly affirm that they didn’t think the pollution – and resulting health problems – was primarily being caused lead production in Mount Isa? Is it just me, or is the smelting stack that rises over a quarter of a kilometre into the sky over the city a somewhat obvious clue? Not according to Xstrata, who have been fervently suggesting that the main cause of the problem lay with the high natural mineralisation of lead in the Mount Isa area. Plausible deniability seems to be a good angle, especially given the current legal action taking place against the mining giant.

In the lead screening program run by Queensland Health in Mount Isa during 2006-7, it was found that:

Results of the study show that the average blood lead level for the children tested was 5.0 μg/dL, the lowest with 1.3 μg/dL and the highest with 31.5 μg/dL. Forty-five children (11.3% of those in the study group) had blood lead levels greater than or equal to 10 μg/dL. Of these, two children (0.5% of the study group) had blood lead levels greater than 20 μg/dL.

To make sense of this, consider that μg/dL is a unit of measurement which equates to the micrograms of lead per 100 millilitres of blood, and that similar testing of children in uncontaminated, urban areas returned a result of around 2 μg/dL. That’s right, the children tested in Mount Isa as part of the study had lead levels, on average, twice that of those in other areas, with the highest result being over fifteen times the norm. There is undoubtedly a major problem in Mount Isa with lead pollution, and it would now seemingly be confirmed that the primary cause of the pollution is the mining operation taking place in the city. Given that there hasn’t been any testing on older children in Mount Isa, it is impossible to ascertain the full impact the lead levels will have, but Associate Professor Taylor states in the report that “”…there’s an effect on their behavioural patterns, ADHD, school scores and lifetime outcomes.”

One can only hope that the release of this glaring report in such a well-respected publication prompts an authentic reaction from both the State Government and Xstrata, instead of the specious response to date. I am surprised Bob Katter, the Federal Member for Kennedy, hasn’t made more of a noise about this issue. One of the qualities I admire most about him is his predilection to call a spade a spade. He generally doesn’t seem too fussed with who he upsets in trying to be heard, but I am at a loss as to why the man under the ten gallon hat has been so quiet about an issue which is having a direct impact on his constituents.

NB: I have sent Bob Katter an email with a copy of/link to this post in the hope that he will respond with his thoughts – we will see what happens.

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God: Liberal candidate for Chifley

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I didn’t realise that elected members had the ability to bestow their votes, let alone to a fictitious, omnipotent being. If that’s the case, why doesn’t someone run in the next election and then give their votes to Batman – at least then things will get done, albeit in an unconventional, vigilante manner. As far as I can ascertain, the only person aware of this apparent loophole was David Barker, the dumped Liberal candidate for Chiefly, who – according to his now defunct Facebook account – believes that the Almighty would be an excellent candidate for Federal Parliament.

Religion has no place in politics. It never has and never will, because religion at its core promotes (even if inadvertently) the notion that only the values and beliefs that it is based on are correct, and that any non-believers or those of differing religious affiliation are wrong and misguided. David’s bigoted attitude certainly backs this observation up, as he has stated that non-Christians are “worshipping a false god” and that if elected, would give his votes to God. He has openly asserted that he believes there is no place in Australian politics for either an atheist or someone of Islamic faith, but that he, as someone of strong Christian faith, can push our country in the right direction.

The individuals we need in Parliament to develop and administer policy for the collective population as a whole need to be able to transcend their personal religious ideologies for the greater good. They need to work alongside those who are of a similar religious persuasion and those who are not – some will even be non-religious. People have a predisposition to distrust and cynicism when it comes to politicians, and we need more voters to take a genuine interest in politics. Having someone like David Barker using the political forum as his own personal pulpit does nothing to aid the cause of politics in Australia, especially when he comes out with nuggets of wisdom like “Voting should only be voluntary for Liberal and National voters the rest can not bother since with every vote they bring the nation closer to the brink of disaster and closer to the hands of a [sic] muslim country.” If I understand this correctly, he assumes that all Liberal and National Party voters are Christians? So by his reasoning, if one were to vote for Labor or (heaven forbid, the Greens) we would be dooming Australia to certain disaster? Where the fuck did the Liberals find this moron?

I am a big advocate of free speech and free choice. The concepts are part of what make Australia a great place to live. You can essentially believe and say whatever you wish – this of course includes religious choice. My biggest gripe is when people choose to push their thoughts and beliefs on the rest of the population without any regard for whether the masses want to hear their message, or whether they agree with the beliefs. The only thing that pisses me off more than this is when some clown uses religion as the base for their political platform and sees fit to subtlety attack anyone who doesn’t align themselves with the beliefs of the aforementioned clown. While I do agree that Julia Gillard isn’t our best option as Prime Minister, it’s not because she’s an atheist. Actually, the fact she doesn’t reference everything she does to God is one of her most endearing qualities – I just don’t agree with the ALP policies or her as a leader. That’s the difference Mr Barker – some of us base our votes and decisions on more than what religious figure a candidate does or doesn’t believe in. Did you actually have a strategy to win votes David, or were you just running for selection because God had told you to? I guess God neglected to mention that coming across as an unintelligent, bigoted, religious nut case with your constituents was never going to wash.

For some obscure reason, I’ve got an inclination to watch Star Wars. Damn, I nearly got through the whole post without a Jabba the Hutt reference. Oh well, I guess I’m going to be condemned to the depths of hell. What’s new?