Australian telecommunication provider Telstra’s Now We Are Talking blog announces:
Telstra will offer a telecommunications assistance package to customers who may be affected by unrest in the Gaza area. In announcing the relief package today, Telstra Chief Executive Officer, Sol Trujillo, said the assistance would be in the form of free telephone calls from Telstra retail customers’ residential fixed lines (home phones) to the Gaza area.
This offer will apply for calls made from 12.00am AEST on Wednesday 7 January 2009, and finish 12.00am AEST on Thursday 15 January 2009. The offer applies to calls with the area code 0011 970
Spiked-Online runs through their best and worst of 2008, and it’s good to see our Prime Minister gets a mention:
Voted in on a groundswell of post-Iraq War disgust towards former Australian PM John Howard, Kevin Rudd has proven even worse than his despised predecessor. In February he did what Howard had infamously failed to do; he apologised to the Aborigines for the ‘stolen children’ policy. Well, who needs employment and healthcare when you can get an apology from the prime minister? In that shift from the BC to the AD eras (that’s Before Clinton and After Diana), Rudd personifies the replacement of proper socially concerned politics with apologetic performances of emotional correctness.
If reducing the Aborigines to objects of special pleading wasn’t degrading enough, he also set out to implement the Great Australian Firewall, an attempt to block unsuitable online content from the presumably all too easily influenced, monkey-see-monkey-do Australians. Both more patronising and more censorious, Rudd outstrips Howard at every step – and is a lesson in not allowing our understandable fury with the Iraq War to blunt our critical political faculties.
Fred Nile is something of an oddity in Australian politics. The NSW politician represents the Christian Democratic Party, a party supposedly established to represent people who support “Christian and Family values” and “the sanctity of life”. Nile also has a history of making some outrageous comments about Muslims.
In 2002, Nile told that Australian media that he wanted to ban women from wearing veils in public. He told the ABC:
FRED NILE: I’m saying they shouldn’t be allowed to wear it in public places. If they wish to wear it at the mosque, if they wish to wear it in their home, walking down the street in Lakemba or Auburn, that’s a different matter.
I’m talking about six women walking into the Opera House. There’s no…
He stood up in parliament and asked the government to investigate introducing French-style bans on hijab in public schools.
In 2007, an organisation linked to Nile was revealed as being behind the campaign to stop Muslims building a school in the town of Camden in New South Wales.
In the same year, Nile was calling for the government to start discriminating on the basis of religion and preventing Muslim immigrants from coming to Australia.
Further to wanting to see veils banned, Muslim schools banned and Muslim immigrants banned, Nile came out this week calling for topless bathing to be banned on beaches.
Conservative MP Fred Nile says he wants topless bathing banned in NSW to protect Sydney’s Muslim and Asian communities.
Protect Muslims? He explains further:
“Our beaches should be a place where no one is offended, whether it’s their religious or cultural views,” he said.
“If they’ve come from a Middle Eastern or Asian country where women never go topless – in fact they usually wear a lot of clothing – I think it’s important to respect all the different cultures that make up Australia.”
A few short years ago, Nile was ranting and raving about Muslim women wearing a “lot of clothing” and calling for them to be banned from public places. Now that the political climate and community sentiment towards Muslims seems to have softened somewhat, Nile is jumping on a different bandwagon and trying to recast himself as a ‘conservative’ protector of Muslim sensibilities.