Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Australia is in deep doggie---you know the rest!

The announcement that Ford may be moving out of Australia by 2016 is a sign that things are changing for the ‘Lucky Country.’ Not only is the price for what they ‘dig out of the ground’ dropping like the proverbial brick SH, but their manufacturing base; one that has been an integral part of their economy is coming under threat. That threat comes from countries that can do what the Aussies do, only much cheaper. International giants don’t give a rats butt when it comes to caring about workers or regional economies.
We in New Zealand lost our car manufacturing base many years ago and since then, mush of our other manufacturing businesses have gone the same way. Our agricultural sector has adapted to the brave new world and what we grow is still in demand.
We should not be smug about the position our ‘across the ditch’ cousins find themselves in, because what happens in that country, affects us hugely. Yes, China has overtaken Australia as our main trading partner, but if recent events that show how volatile that market can be become the ‘new norm’ then we too are in for a rough ride. Perhaps this is the time to strengthen our ties so that we can weather the storm together. Treating our two countries as one market and manufacturing base may just be the start of defending our South Pacific patch.’ This is one gang that I support!
NZ and Australia compete in many ways but when the chips are down the ANZAC spirit comes to the fore. Now is the time for relationship to grow even stronger. Our sense of ‘mateship’ must go beyond the jokes and barbs we shoot at one another. This time it must be far more than a mere ‘tweaking’ of the bonds that

London's horror----let's try to take a 'balanced' approach.

The horrific attack on a young man in London will stir up a great deal of anger in the UK and that is understandable. When the Brits are attacked we all know that the effect is to solidify opinion against the aggressor, in this case, possible Jihadists type terrorists. However one has to look at the bigger picture.
In many parts of the Middle East, there are on-going conflicts, most of which have their roots in History, political and religious. There are unresolved ‘land issues,’ and of course underpinning this is the access to oil question. The latter is often the driving force h=behind much of the policies followed by the West and China.
Put these issues aside for a moment and we are still horrified at the nature of this latest attack where the young man was hacked to death in a style reminiscent of some of the video execution footage we have seen form extremist groups. The vast majority of the UK populace will be sickened by this attack, including a huge proportion of the Islamic community. There will be a backlash from misguided groups and the target will be innocent victims who are easily identified as Muslim. This is unfortunate and the PM must move quickly to prevent this happening.
At the same time, we need to acknowledge that the actions of the two ‘suspects’ do not arise from a void; they are driven by a belief that their community in the wider sense is being treated unfairly. That is a weak description of the long term problems that have led up to such attacks, both on a small scale and in a more widespread ‘war on the West.’ Such attacks happen because of the unresolved issues and we will continue to see them. Now we await the reaction of the Government and no doubt we will see counter reactions from home grown anti-Islamic groups, some of whom are nothing more than ignorant, uninformed and dangerous ‘haters.’
The history of the UK is ne whereby many groups have arrived in this ‘fortress island’ and slowly become part of the culture, going back to well before Roman times. At some stage the large Islamic group will truly feel ‘British.’ It is the minority hard-line sympathizers of Taliban-like groups that will grab the headlines and force the Government to take actions that are more designed to placate a voting public than result in any real change. To achieve a real co-existence with Islam, the Government of the UK, the USA and China, along with much of the remainder of the community of nations, must come to terms with the mistakes of history and seek a real and lasting understanding. That will involve ‘undoing’ those mistakes.
The Islamic world too will need to move away from the extremist actions that fuel a continuance of these sad events. Will we witness such an ‘accommodation’ in our life time? I guess that depends on whose life-time we are talking about!
It is hard to remain positive about the future, for all of us, while the streets of London are witness to the horrors of the last day.