According to Mr Walterlin ‘Other countries are not blind to Australia's many faults, ranging from politics to the environment’. The Haneef case, David Hicks, Tampa, our treatment of aboriginals and our environmental vandalism have, it seems, damaged Australia's reputation all over the world.
'There are, of course, many other issues that have over the years grabbed the attention of overseas readers: Australia's seemingly blind support of the US, its treatment of David Hicks and the introduction of draconian anti-terrorism legislation that has brought one of the highest levels of loss of individual rights presently observed in a Western country. And then there is the shameful plight and treatment of indigenous Australians that still has the capacity to shock audiences around the globe.'Finally, our international reputation suffers too because of the way we trash the environment:
'It will simply not be possible for a country, on the one hand, to market itself as a 'clean and green' destination, and on the other hand to have the highest per capita pollution in the world. It will be unacceptable to clear fell-native forests and wastefully use other resources simply because they are cheap and abundant. In the end, only real action will convince the world, not taxpayer-funded PR coups. It will not be enough to send satellites over Asian rainforests and change to "green" light bulbs. This country will have to do better - much better - or the environment could become Australia's next 'Tampa'.'What really foolish exaggeration this is.
Haneef was justly dealt with by our legal system and our Immigration Minister and, despite serious concerns about his criminal associations, was home in India in under 4 weeks. The Times of India congratulated Australia for the speed with which it dealt with this issue. David Hicks is a convicted terrorist who took up arms against his country. He will be out of jail by Xmas. The Tampa issue was an attempt by our Prime Minister to stop queue jumping and illegal migration. Australia has, per capita, one of the most active immigration policies in the world with 144,000 coming here in 2006/07 and 13,000 refugee and humanitarian immigrants. These intakes are much more generous than most countries and much larger than occurred when Labor was in power in Australia.
Australia has problems with its indigenous communities as do the US, Canada and Asian countries like Malaysia. These are intractable problems that have not responded to huge levels of government spending but which are being addressed. We do have an active greenhouse gas policy and controls on emissions will be made. Our environmental record generally is quite good because we are a rich prosperous community that can afford to spend much on the environment.
The Age is in the business of selling newspapers. Why is there a national market for this type of deceit and self-hatred? How could anyone believe such nonsense. If Australia is such an ugly country in the eyes of the international community why do so many skilled and unskilled migrants seek to live here? Why are international tourism levels so high? Why is it that as an Australian citizen I feel happy and anything but someone who is suffering?