The Guardian 20 April, 2005

Dingo bytes

Insult and arrogance dept #1: In a television interview before his visit to Australia this month, the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi remarked quite rightly that Australia talks about wanting to be part of the Asia-Pacific region but has not shown it in practice. During the visit, in a speech at a dinner for the Malaysian PM, John Howard kept calling him Dr Badawi. But he should be referred to as Dr Abdullah, as for example his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, was referred to as Dr Mahathir. Such is the Malay convention. Howard is known in the region for his mixture of arrogance toward Australia's neighbours and obsequiousness before the US. That he can't even get the name of a visiting Prime Minister right is a reflection of a much larger issue.

Insult and arrogance dept #2: Papua New Guinea is still demanding an apology from Australia for a violation of its Prime Minister's person. Sir Michael Somare was partially strip searched during a security check at Brisbane Airport last month. This humiliation saw protests outside Australia's high commission in Port Moresby and has led to the PNG government cancelling an aid program from Australia. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey heaped insult and paternalism on the humiliation, saying it is "the people of Papua New Guinea who need the aid". The Howard government, in fact, is using the program to interfere in the internal affairs of PNG, not to help its people. The arrogance of the Howard government in this case is that of the bullying colonial master.

Insult and arrogance dept #3: Following on the heels of the Somare incident, the speaker of the Indian parliament, Somnath Chaterjee, has called off a planned visit to Australia after he was told that he and his wife, Renu, would be subject to metal detector tests and searches of their persons. Mr Chaterjee, a member of the Communist Party of India, was coming to Australia for a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the lead up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. "What is the good of Governments if we do not respect each other?", asked Mr Chaterjee.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is John Tingle, gun advocate and member of the NSW Legislative Council. Tingle, the parliamentary representative for the firearm manufacturers and retailers, has introduced a Private Member's Bill that would stop the automatic suspension or revocation of firearms when an Apprehended Violence Order is served. The Bill would force the court to make a separate order to revoke the possession and ownership of a firearm from the person being served the AVO, rather than the current automatic suspension system. "This bill is an example of Mr Tingle putting his own selfish desires above the safety of women and children", says a statement by the National Coalition for Gun Control. "Firearms and domestic violence are a deadly mix."

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