Australian Politics 2022-12-30 04:00:00


US comedian's controversial Welcome to Country clip saying 'give it back or shut up' divides Australians

It's just tedious tokenism as far as I can see. It accomplishes nothing but it seems to give Leftists a warm glow. Tokenism is their thing: Very shallow

An American comedian's take on traditional land acknowledgements has exposed division among Australians over whether they are worthwhile or empty of meaning.

A video by US comedian Bill Maher talking about land acknowledgement - used in America and Canada as it is in Australia - on his show Real Time includes him telling the audience the statements are void of meaning when actual action isn't taken.

'To all the people who start every public event now with one of those land acknowledgements where they say, 'I'm standing on land that was stolen from the proud Indigenous people of the Chumash tribe', I say either give it back or shut the f*** up,' Maher said.

The clip has gained more than 48,000 likes since it was uploaded on Sunday.

The acknowledgement of land, or acknowledgement of Country, is typically used in Australia to recognise the traditional owners of the land on which an official ceremony is held. It is usually spoken at the beginning of an event.

While Maher was referring to Native Americans, his words also struck a chord with Australians who flocked to the comments section to share their thoughts.

'Australia has been doing this for years. I think the same thing every time,' one person wrote. 'It reminds me of a prayer before dinner or something,' another said. 'Every single event in Australia, at first I was like 'cool', now I'm like 'I'm done'. 'I did a course at TAFE and every single class our trainer had to do it,' another wrote.

However, not everyone was convinced stripping away the acknowledgement is the right way forward. 'Not exactly in our power to give it back. It's the least we can do,' one person commented. 'Honouring the treaties and relationships,' another said.

Earlier in the episode, Maher said he wished there was more focus on the progress countries - specifically the US - has made in its relationship with Indigenous people than its bloody history.

'That's what's so odd about this time that we're living in,' he said. 'For all the talk of fighting for the soul of America, nobody seems to like it very much.

'A country that started out bad and will always be bad and unable to change, but we have changed. A lot.'


A young woman has died from complications related to contracting Covid on a holiday with her partner

Heart damage was long played down as an effect of Covid but it is no myth

image from

Sad to lose a redhead

The 24-year-old woman from Aldinga in South Australia, Hayley Beadman, passed on Thursday, December 27 at an Adelaide hospital after going into a myocarditis-induced cardiac arrest.

Ms Beadman and her partner, Ben Moore, unknowingly returned Covid-positive from Bali on November 23 and soon after, she started experiencing chest pains.

Her family and friends believed she was 'slowly coming back' after her condition seemed to improve in mid-December.

She is being remembered by friends and family as 'one in a million', with a GoFundMe page started by Ms Beadman's friend, Moni Burrell, raising over $11,000 for her partner.

Ms Burrell wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday: 'You have left a hole in all of our hearts.'

Ms Beadman was rushed to Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide's south when she couldn't control her breathing and was experiencing chest pains.

She went into cardiac arrest soon after reaching emergency, doctors diagnosing her with myocarditis due to a positive Covid test.

'We didn’t know we had Covid because we didn’t have any symptoms,' Mr Moore told The Advertiser.

She then underwent 50 minutes of CPR before doctors places her into an induced coma, one nurse dubbing Ms Breadman as 'one of the sickest patients in Adelaide'.

She stayed in the coma for just under a month, waking on December 16, responsive and blinking her eyes. Her family were hopeful for her future.

'She is now awake. She is blinking on demand and her eyes are moving around the room watching everyone,' an update from Ms Burrell on the GoFundMe reads.

Just under two weeks later, Ms Beadman would unfortunately suffer a lethal second cardiac arrest.

She and Mr Moore had been together for five years and recently purchased a house together in Aldinga, south of Adelaide.

'Do the right thing, wear a mask if you're in areas with lots and lots of people, you never know who has COVID,' Mr Moore told the ABC.

'It can happen to anyone.'


Christian couple who were banned from adopting after saying they would force their child to 'fight the sin' of homosexuality win payout

A devout Christian couple denied the chance to have a foster child because they believe homosexuality is a sin, have been awarded hefty compensation for their 'humiliation and hurt feelings'.

Byron and Keira Hordyk, from Perth, sued the Western Australian government for religious discrimination and received a $3000 payout each, after Wanslea Family Services denied their application in 2017.

The independent agency contracted by the state refused their request after the couple, who have kids of their own, said they would tell a child who says they are gay to 'fight the sin'.

The Hordyks are members of the conservative Free Reformed Church, a denomination that told the Tasmanian law reform institute in February 2021 that they practiced 'conversion therapy' for which they issued 'no apologies'.

Conversion therapy, which has been banned in the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, attempts to change a person's identified sexual orientation through Bible study and prayer.

The Hordyks had responded to a theoretical question about fostering a gay child by saying they would try to convert them to heterosexuality and that if this was unsuccessful the placement would have to be terminated, the State Administrative Tribunal heard.

'We certainly would not drop them off that day to another home,' the Hordyks said. 'However, we are taught and do believe that all LGBTQ identities are wrong and sinful but there will be people who have to fight against this sin,' they wrote in their answer.

'We will therefore offer our help and try and do what we can to help this child, but if the child continues to be gay and goes on to date etc. the placement will not work as this goes against our beliefs.'

Wanslea denied the Hordyks a foster child on the grounds that they could not provide a physically or emotionally safe environment for a young person who might identify as LGBTIQ+.

In response the Hordyks took the agency to the State Administrative Tribunal claiming religious discrimination. They asked for $3000 each in compensation 'for hurt feelings and humiliation'. Mrs Hordyk told the tribunal she felt 'gutted' and 'devastated' that her beliefs were labelled 'dangerous'.

In his testimony Mr Hordyk said the rejection of the core principles of his life left him feeling 'deflated'.

'It feels unfair for me to have to throw away my beliefs on these issues just so I can be acceptable to Wanslea. My religious convictions take centre stage in all aspects of my life,' Mr Hordyk told the hearing.

Wanslea argued that the couple's rigidity on issues of homosexuality and gender did not flow from their religious convictions.

However, the tribunal did not agree and ordered both the Hordyks be paid 'for the loss and damage they suffered as a result of Wanslea's discrimination'.

At the time they were knocked back by Wanslea, the Hordyks said they were speaking up for other people of faith.

'We do feel we have been discriminated against and also we felt that if we were quiet about this and didn't say anything about it, it could potentially harm or limit any people with the same Christian values as ours from fostering,' Mr Hordyk told The West Australian.

'We hold traditional Christian views on how the Bible teaches us on sexuality and marriage.


Backpackers in priority lane as numbers near pre-Covid levels

Working holiday visas are being rushed through within an average of 24 hours, lifting backpacker numbers closer to their pre-Covid levels as the government faces calls to raise the eligibility age to 50 to plug critical labour shortages and attract more skilled professionals.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the number of backpackers working in the country had bounced back from lows of just 20,000 during the pandemic to about 120,000 as of last week.

Mr Giles said that, in addition to fast-tracking holiday-maker visas, he had changed the rules to allow backpackers to stay with a single employer for as long as they remained in the country rather than limiting them to one job for six months at a time, arguing Australia was in an international competition to attract talent.

“This is not simply an Australian skill shortage, so it’s important that we have our system moving effectively, because we’re in a global market,” Mr Giles said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re competitive with countries like Canada and like the UK.”

“And I’m really pleased that we are in that space now, that people are getting their visas turned around quickly and that employers can now approach this competence as well.”

The changes come as new figures from peak tourism bodies show more than 70 per cent of Australians will be holidaying domestically this summer, ratcheting up demand on tourism and hospitality businesses across the country which have already been struggling for months to find workers.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond sounded the alarm, saying she was pushing the government to halve or remove all visa fees and increase the age of those eligible for working holiday visas from 35 to 50.

“A lot of businesses are still suffering in terms of getting the number of people optimal to run them,” Ms Osmond said.

“This is a massive competitive global market. Many countries have halved or removed visa fees.”

Increasing the age eligibility for working holiday visas to 50 would also give businesses a “wider pool of people with a bit more money likely to be able to afford to travel”.

“We need to fill other jobs as well. It’s not just pulling a beer at front of house; we need professionals,” Ms Osmond said.

Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce chief executive Andrew McKellar welcomed the faster visa-processing times, but called for new requirements forcing backpackers to work in the sectors that needed them most.

“With many businesses unable to satisfy the demand for workers, the government should consider including three months of work in the tourism and hospitality sectors as qualification for extending working holiday maker visas,” Mr McKellar said.

Prior to the pandemic, Working Holiday Maker visas contributed about $3bn a year to the economy, with a usual pool of backpackers of between 150,000 and 200,000. But border closures during the Covid-19 outbreak drove down the number of working holiday visas by 85 per cent – the biggest drop of any visa class.

To fill skills shortages quickly, the government has prioritised Working Holiday Maker visas over others such as international student visas, which the Home Affairs Department in November reported were processed in about 14 days.

International students have played a major part in plugging skills gaps during the pandemic, following a move by the former government to lift the working cap of 20 hours a week.

However, higher education experts have expressed concern that the ­uncapped hours were creating a “de-facto work visa” for students coming to Australia ­primarily to earn money rather than study.

While Mr Giles said the practice of visas being used for collateral purposes was of concern and the capping of hours would return by June next year, Ms Osmond called for the uncapped hours to remain for at least all of 2023, if not longer.

“While I perfectly understand this was an interim measure because of problems we were facing, we’re not over those problems,” Ms Osmond said. “The measure should be in place for the full year. That would give industry and students certainty.”

Mr Giles said “people coming here to study should be coming here to study”.

“We have through the pandemic extended the hours that students can work,” he said. “That will continue through to 30 June (next year).

“We are constantly working with universities and other providers to make sure that the integrity of the system – and then fundamentally also the integrity of our schools and education system – is maintained.”

Mr Giles said the decision to process working holiday visas within a 24-hour timeframe was the result of new processes and investments in human resources in the department, arguing the shake-up had “finally got our visa system moving”.

“It’s got people connected to jobs and critically connected ­people to businesses … to address the skills shortage we are facing,” he said.

However, he recognised the challenges of backpackers getting to Australia, given the cost and availability of flights and accommodation.

“All of these are issues,” he said. “I don’t presume for a minute that changing the migration system in Australia can deal with all of these issues. But … the availability of visas … and turning around working holiday maker applications in less than a day, we are giving certainty to people who are coming here.”

Mr Giles revealed the government had fulfilled its promise to get the total visa backlog down to 600,000, with the number of visas now on hand down to about 599,000.