Monthly Archives: June 2009

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Achievements Should Be Recognised

Monday 29 June 2009

NAIDOC 2009

NAIDOC 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics in the Archdiocese of Brisbane to take more interest in learning about the achievements of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

The Commission made the call in the lead-up to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on 5 July and NAIDOC Week which runs from 5 to 11 July.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday is marked in the Church in order to celebrate the culture and contribution of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to the Church and the community.

He said that NAIDOC Week also provided an opportunity within the wider community for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to celebrate the ancient and living culture of the first peoples of Australia.

“At other times in the year like National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week, we can reflect on the serious injustices faced by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and NAIDOC Week is a time for celebration and for honouring the first peoples of our land,” Mr Arndt said.

“In no way are we trying to downplay the seriousness of matters like the level of Indigenous poverty or the big life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, but it is important to take some time to reflect on the gifts and achievements of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders,” he said.

“How many of us know about the stories of the local Aboriginal people in our own community?” he asked.

“How many parishes and schools have made an effort to develop relationships with the local elders?” he also asked.

“Do we know about the wonderful achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in sport, the arts, medicine, the law and business?” he said.

“There are so many great initiatives developed and run by Aboriginal people that we should be celebrating too,” he said.

“How many of us know about the native salad project of the Dhugamin Aboriginal Corporation on the Fraser Coast which is growing and selling traditional bush tucker to local restaurants?” he said.

“We should all know about the establishment of the Traditional Credit Union which provides personalised quality financial services to individuals and organisations in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory,” he said.

Magabala Books is a tremendous initiative of Aboriginal people in Western Australia which publishes the work of Aboriginal authors and encourages Aboriginal communities to record their history and culture,” he said.

“The Brisbane Indigenous Media Associaton has been an invaluable resource supporting local Indigenous people who want to get involved in the media and the Murriajabree Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Association is doing wonderful work providing support to Indigenous mothers and families in Deception Bay,” he said.

“Indigenous Australians face many significant problems, but they are also a proud people with a rich culture and a commitment to taking the initiative to do some great things for their benefit and for the benefit of the whole community,” he said.

“This is something worth recognising and celebrating,” he said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and NAIDOC Week could be a launchpad for efforts by many Catholic communities in our Archdiocese to learn more about local Aboriginal people and the initiatives they are taking,” he said.

All are welcome to participate in an ecumenical NAIDOC Week service on 5 July next to Jagera Arts Hall in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, at 2 p.m.

Everyone is also welcome to come to the NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day at Musgrave Park from 9 a.m. on Friday 10 July.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

 

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

 

Commission Calls for Re-Think on Queensland Public Asset Sale

Monday 22 June 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, to reconsider her plan to sell a number of publicly owned assets in Queensland.

The public assets will be sold within 3 to 5 years after the Queensland Government rushed a vote on the sale through the Parliament last week.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that many Queenslanders are angry and upset about the decision because the Premier did not reveal her plan during the March State election campaign.

“When Premier Bligh told the Parliament of the asset sales earlier this month, she repeatedly said that she had been frank with the people of Queensland, but her failure to say a word about this action during the election campaign shows anything but frankness or respect for the people,” Mr Arndt said.

“This is a major decision with significant implications for many Queenslanders and such a proposal needs to be given a thorough examination,” he said.

“Using the Government’s numbers to rush the legislation for the sale through the Parliament has only made matters worse,” he said.

“There are so many questions which should have been carefully considered with a thorough enquiry so that we could all be sure that the proposal was the best one to deal with Queensland’s financial problems and ,most importantly, so that the interests of people on low and middle incomes could be protected,” he said.

“Some of the questions we think deserve answers include:

  • Are there any other options for dealing with our State’s financial problems?
  • Will these asset sales actually solve the problem?
  • Will we get the sort of sale prices the Government estimates?
  • What guarantees will be in place to ensure that the level of services provided by the entities when sold will be adequate?
  • What guarantees will there be that the prices charged by the privatized entities will be fair and reasonable?
  • What guarantees are there in terms of employment provided by the privatized entities?
  • Will some regional communities be negatively affected by any of the asset sales?
  • Will we be forced to sell more public assets when the next down turn occurs?” he said.

“We have heard these sorts of questions from  unions, businesses, regional communities and many individual Queenslanders and they deserve proper answers,” he said.

The Premier has given us some information on the reasons for the asset sale, how the sale will help us financially and why particular assets were chosen for sale,” he said.

“But we have not had any time to look at the proposal in detail, to hear from a broad range of experts and to listen to concerns of community groups and ordinary Queenslanders,” he said.

“This proposal was announced and voted on within the space of a couple of weeks and this does not give Parliamentarians or Queenslanders the chance to make informed judgments about it,” he said.

“It is clear that the Government has lost a lot of respect within the community because it has not treated the people with respect in its unholy haste to get this proposal approved,” he said.

We urge the Premier to show the courage to admit that she was not totally frank with Queenslanders and that she rushed the process,” he said.

“Considering that the sales are not due to happen for a couple of years, there is time to hold a proper inquiry into the proposal,” he said.

“Our principal concern is to ensure that the people with little power will not have to pay a high price for this hasty decision,” he said.

“The Government told us that its electricity retail competition model would deliver lower electricity prices to ordinary Queenslanders and this prediction has proved very wrong,” he said.

“The haste of this decision and the Government’s lack of honesty does not give us confidence that its predictions about the current asset sale are any more reliable,” he said.

“We would feel more secure about the value of these sales if the proposal was examined in great detail with contributions from a broad range of experts and community groups,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Catholics Encouraged to Take Action on Climate Change

Monday 1 June 2009

World Environment Day 2009

World Environment Day 2009

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has encouraged Catholics to take action on climate change as part of their faith commitment.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that caring for the Earth and its resources is an important part of our Christian responsibility.

The call was made with the approach of World Environment Day on 5 June.

“We must take the threat of dangerous climate change seriously,” Mr Arndt said.

“It is very easy to create doubt in people’s minds and, unfortunately, that is exactly what a number of very vocal climate change skeptics have been doing,” he said.

“It is simply not sensible to embrace the views of a handful of scientists challenging the reality of accelerated climate change  and to dismiss the collective views of several thousand climate scientists from around the world who have assessed all the data and say that climate change is happening and is a serious threat,” he said.

“Too often, we hear the skeptics pointing to limited evidence to support their case and we do not hear the substantial counter arguments from eminent climate scientists,” he said.

“With so many eminent climate scientists supporting the case for accelerated and dangerous climate change on the basis of a wealth of scientific evidence, it is prudent for us to take action now as individuals, as a country and as a global community,” he said.

“If the  scientific evidence is right, there is no time to waste,” he said.

“We have a moral responsibility to take action now to protect the interests of future generations and the whole planet,” he said.

“To ignore these predictions, based on so much scientific evidence and supported by so many climate scientists, risks leaving our grandchildren and great- grandchildren with a truly awful legacy,” he said.

“one of the greatest obstacles to action on climate change is that it requires significant changes in the way we do things as individuals and as a society,” he said.

“But we know that we can deal with change if it is needed,” he said.

“Look at the magnificent way in which people in South-East Queensland accepted the need for change when we faced a serious water crisis in the last few years,” he said.

“We cannot afford to wait for ten or twenty years to see if the climate change models of scientists start to come true because we will have gone too far down the track by then,” he said.

“We encourage Catholics to make an effort to look at all the scientific evidence and not just the limited information put forward by a handful of scientists or by others who deny the reality of  climate change,” he said.

“When people see the overwhelming evidence presented by so many respected scientists, we believe that they will seek out information on what can be done by individuals to address the threat of dangerous climate change,” he said.

“And more and more people will add their voices to those calling for governments to act quickly and effectively on climate change,” he said.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Charter which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.