Ten Flag Tony

Australian flag producers prepare for a lean season after Team Australia decides that it could maybe spend less than $500,000 on flags in six months.

Perhaps we can use our nation’s collective flag stocks as shrouds for people who have died from domestic violence or who have died because of a lack of funding to essential services. 

Okay, that was a little black. Restarting the positivity drives. Have a glorious summer day in lieu of kitten videos.  

The space to be who we are and become who we want to be as a nation

Australia’s brand new shining piece of legislation – Australian Border Force Act 2015. It is, as the Liberal and Labour Parties and Sky News would say, what the majority of people in Australia voted for. It combines customs, immigration and border protection under one department and commissioner with a great deal of power and a great deal less judicial oversight. Certain provisions of the Act, if appropriately implemented and regulated, could mean that individuals working in borders and immigration might actually be qualified for the tasks they are employed to do – a boon given that in the past Australian contractors have been employed in detention centres to deal with victims of war, trauma and rape with no formal qualifications or a Certificate II in Security. But then the Act defines secrecy and disclosure provisions not just for individuals working at sea but also for those managing and working with asylum seekers. Disclosure of information outside the provisions of the legislation may result in two years imprisonment. Criticisms of the Act include that: doctors, nurses and teachers who go public about inadequate management of abuses in detention centres may face two years imprisonment; guards and security forces could potentially beat asylum seekers to death with impunity.

The Act states that:

Immigration and Border Protection workers will make decisions that affect the safety, rights and freedoms of individuals as well as trade and commerce in Australia.  They will hold a privileged place at the border and in the community, with access to secure environments and law enforcement databases.  They will also exercise significant powers under the Customs Act 1901 , Migration Act 1958 and Maritime Powers Act 2012 and other Commonwealth law, such as detention, arrest, boarding a vessel, entry, search, questioning, seizure, use of force and removal from Australia.  The community and government trust Immigration and Border Protection workers to exercise these powers reasonably, lawfully, impartially and professionally.

The Bill, therefore, contains a number of integrity provisions to increase resistance to criminal infiltration and corruption and to enhance government and public confidence in Immigration and Border Protection workers, as well as the confidence of other partners including intelligence organisations and foreign governments. The Bill also includes provisions that enable the setting of standards for a highly trained, disciplined and flexible workforce.

Australia’s choices to date in how it manages its borders and those individuals who choose to enter them have resulted in:

The above events came into public scrutiny due to journalism, whistleblowing, senate inquiries and lobbying. Are these the actions of government and industry that deserve trust and confidence? Or these?

The government’s commitment to secrecy should be a concern for everyone. Secrecy is completely inadequate for democracy but totally appropriate for tyranny. If the minister will not inform the public, then we are within our right to assume the worst. No free and fair nation operates with secrecy as a blanket policy position. Democracies are based on the foundation of public scrutiny and open government.

Malcom Fraser

If, “in short, our border creates the space where we can be who we are and become who we want to be as a nation,” we should not keep what happens in that space a secret.

Plaza de las Tres Culturas

The many phases of construction. Several phases of the Aztec temple destroyed after the conquest of Cortes. 16th century church built from the stones of the Aztec temple


Detail of a dated panel


Steps of the church damaged by the 1985 earthquake


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On the 2nd October 1968, an unknown number of students were massacred in the plaza by the Mexican army and police. 10 days later Mexico held the opening ceremony for the 1968 Olympics.


My Entry into America

30 November 2010

We began our descent into San Francisco, California after thirteen and a half hours on Flight UA870. I had managed to sleep through most of Eat Pray Love. Lined up on my jeans were a row of Starburst jellies. I ate them one by one, stopping to yawn and swallow. The pressure was building up in my ears and not releasing. I felt like crap. It hurt to swallow. Outside, the shores of America were in sight. “Oh my gawd!” the Hillsong couple behind me exclaimed, “We’re home. I love America. God bless America.” They broke into a soft rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. I chewed on more lollies. The pressure build-up was getting uncomfortable. The Star Spangled Banner turned into the theme song from Full House as we flew over the suburbs. Julia Roberts shouted at Javier Bardem on the overhead screens. I started to panic – if my ears didn’t pop soon I might rupture my eardrums. “The land of unlimited internet, unlimited SMS and Walmart.” I held my nose and blew into it hard. A thin bubbly squeal like that of a balloon releasing air followed. My ears were still blocked but they no longer hurt. The Hillsong girl noted her intent to kiss the ground when she landed. “We so should.”

We landed smoothly and taxied to the gate with my eardrums intact. As we gathered our luggage from the overhead compartment, the overheads screens turned on and off one last time. One of the crew members came on over the loudspeaker. “We’re having some video technical difficulties but we would like to show you our appreciation for flying with United Airlines. Go to http://www.unitedairlines.com/appreciation for gifts and discounts. Choose from a wide range of duty free items, discounts on future flights, rewards and more” I gave a friendly wry smile to the blonde girl in front of me, wishing to share my suspicion that to redeem our so called gifts of appreciation we would have to spend more money. The girl returned my smile. I felt like I had made a connection. The girl then turned to her boyfriend. “Isn’t that good. Did you hear that? Remember http://www.unitedairlines.com/appreciation.”