The Guardian 20 July, 2005

Dingo bytes

Rewarding the torturers #1. Can anything the Howard Government does still shock the sensibilities? Thus last week Bill Farmer, who was the head of the Immigration Department while it carried out violations of people's human rights was rewarded for his dirty work and made Australia's next ambassador to Indonesia. PM Howard had already given him a "thank you" with an Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours. Farmer left the job only days before the release of findings from the inquiry into the wrongful detention of more than 100 people by the Department. Said Howard, ""He's been a great foreign affairs officer in the past and he's done a good job in immigration." Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone must have a huge present bearing Howard's name waiting for her.

Rewarding the torturers #2. The head of the secret police, ASIO, is another great mate of Howard's. Paul O'Sullivan is a career diplomat who has been stationed in Rome, Cairo, Geneva, Berlin and Washington (where no doubt he was given expert training in the abuse and torture of prisoners). He leaves his position as Howard's senior international advisor to take up the ASIO job. He'll have plenty of resources for his dirty job: ASIO's budget has been increased by $90 million since 2001, to $150 million.

Rewarding the torturers #3. Nick Warner is Howard's new senior international advisor. He led Australia's invasion and occupation of the Solomon Islands last year, and also headed the group the government sent on that mysterious little mission to rescue Douglas Wood, the parasite who was in Iraq profiting from the war and occupation when he was kidnapped by insurgents.

In the wake of the complete abandonment of Indigenous rights and the wilful destruction of their organisations and services, the Howard government now has a record the European colonisers in Africa two centuries ago would be proud of. An investigation by the Council of Australian Governments reports a litany of shame. Aboriginal men and women are the victims of violence at twice the rate of other Australians; life expectancy for Indigenous men is 59 years and women 65 years; Aborigines are 11 times more likely to be imprisoned than other Australians; Indigenous juveniles are 20 times more likely to be detained than other juveniles. The list goes on.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Warren Mundine. An appointee to the Howard government's National Indigenous Council, a rubber stamp for the government's racist policies, Mundine is a proponent of the individualism promoted by capitalism, including individual home ownership in Aboriginal communities. He promotes the involvement of private enterprise including private land ownership and summed up his untenable position in a speech last week in which he told Aboriginal people they had to realise that non-Indigenous Australians are "here to stay".

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