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January 3, 2014

Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball player Tina McKenzie

Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball player Tina McKenzie

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Friday, January 3, 2014

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Preston, Victoria, Australia — On Saturday, Wikinews interviewed Tina McKenzie, a former member of the Australia women’s national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders. McKenzie, a silver and bronze Paralympic medalist in wheelchair basketball, retired from the game after the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Wikinews caught up with her in a cafe in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Preston.

Tina McKenzie
Image: Australian Paralympic Committee.

Tina McKenzie: [The Spitfire Tournament in Canada] was a really good tournament actually. It was a tournament that I wish we’d actually gone back to more often.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Who plays in that one?

Tina McKenzie: It’s quite a large Canadian tournament, and so we went as the Gliders team. So we were trying to get as many international games as possible. ‘Cause that’s one of our problems really, to compete. It costs us so much money to for us to travel overseas and to compete internationally. And so we can compete against each other all the time within Australia but we really need to be able to…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png It’s not the same.

Tina McKenzie: No, it’s really not, so it’s really important to be able to get as a many international trips throughout the year to continue our improvement. Also see where all the other teams are at as well. But yes, Spitfire was good. We took quite a few new girls over there back then in 2005, leading into the World Cup in the Netherlands.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Was that the one where you were the captain of the team, in 2005? Or was that a later one?

Tina McKenzie: No, I captained in 2010. So 2009, 2010 World Cup. And then I had a bit of some time off in 2011.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The Gliders have never won the World Championship.

Tina McKenzie: We always seem to have just a little bit of a chill out at the World Cup. I don’t know why. It’s really strange occurrence, over the years. 2002 World Cup, we won bronze. Then in 2006 we ended up fourth. It was one of the worst World Cups we’ve played actually. And then in 2010 we just… I don’t know what happened. We just didn’t play as well as we thought we would. Came fourth. But you know what? Fired us up for the actual Paralympics. So the World Cup is… it’s good to be able to do well at the World Cup, to be placed, but it also means that you get a really good opportunity to know where you’re at in that two year gap between the Paralympics. So you can come back home and revisit what you need to do and, you know, where the team’s at. And all that sort of stuff.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Unfortunately, they are talking about moving it so it will be on the year before the Paralympics.

Tina McKenzie: Oh really.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The competition from the [FIFA] World Cup and all.

Tina McKenzie: Right. Well, that would be sad.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png But anyway, it is on next year, in June. In Toronto, and they are playing at the Maple Leaf Gardens?

Tina McKenzie: Okay. I don’t know where that is.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I don’t know either!

Tina McKenzie: (laughs)

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png We’ll find it. The team in Bangkok was pretty similar. There’s two — yourself and Amanda Carter — who have retired. Katie Hill wasn’t selected, but they had Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy back, so there was ten old players and only two new ones.

Tina McKenzie: Which is a good thing for the team. The new ones would have been Georgia [Inglis] and?

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Caitlin de Wit.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah… Shelley Cronau didn’t get in?

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png No, she’s missed out again.

Tina McKenzie: Interesting.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png That doesn’t mean that she won’t make the team…

Tina McKenzie: You never know.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You never know until they finally announce it.

Tina McKenzie: You never know what happens. Injuries happen leading into… all types of things and so… you never know what the selection is like.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They said to me that they expected a couple of people to get sick in Bangkok. And they did.

Tina McKenzie: It’s pretty usual, yeah.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They sort of budgeted for three players each from the men’s and women’s teams to be sick.

Tina McKenzie: Oh really? And that worked out?

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Yeah. I sort of took to counting the Gliders like sheep so I knew “Okay, we’ve only go ten, so who’s missing?”

Tina McKenzie: I heard Shelley got sick.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png She was sick the whole time. And Caitlin and Georgia were a bit off as well.

Tina McKenzie: It’s tough if you haven’t been to Asian countries as well, competing and…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The change of diet affects some people.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah. I remember when we went to Korea and…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When was that?

Tina McKenzie: Korea would have been qualifiers in two thousand and… just before China, so that would have been…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png 2007 or 2008?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, 2007. Maybe late, no, it might have been early 2007. It was a qualifier for — Beijing, I think actually. Anyway, we went and played China, China and Japan. And it was a really tough tournament on some of our really new girls. They really struggled with the food. They struggled with the environment that we were in. It wasn’t a clean as what they normally exist in. A lot of them were very grumpy. (laughs) It’s really hard when you’re so used to being in such a routine, and you know what you want to eat, and you’re into a tournament and all of a sudden your stomach or your body can’t take the food and you’re just living off rice, and that’s not great for anyone.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Yeah, well, the men are going to Seoul for their world championship, while the women go to Toronto. And of course the next Paralympics is in Rio.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I know.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png It will be a very different climate and very different food.

Tina McKenzie: We all learn to adjust. I have over the years. I’ve been a vegetarian for the last thirteen years. Twelve years maybe. So you learn to actually take food with you. And you learn to adjust, knowing what environment you’re going in to, and what works for you. I have often carried around cans of red kidney beans. I know that I can put that in lettuce or in salad and get through with a bit of protein. And you know Sarah Stewart does a terrific job being a vegan, and managing the different areas and countries that we’ve been in to. Germany, for example, is highly dependent on the meat side of food, and I’m pretty sure I remember in Germany I lived on pasta and spaghetti. Tomato sauce. Yeah, that was it. (laughs) That’s alright. You just learn. I think its really hard for the new girls that come in to the team. It’s so overwhelming at the best of times anyway, and their nerves are really quite wracked I’d say, and that different travel environment is really hard. So I think the more experience they can get in traveling and playing internationally, the better off they’ll be for Rio.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png One of the things that struck me about the Australian team — I hadn’t seen the Gliders before London. It was an amazing experience seeing you guys come out on the court for the first time at the Marshmallow…

Tina McKenzie: (laughs)

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png It was probably all old hat to you guys. You’d been practicing for months. Certainly since Sydney in July.

Tina McKenzie: It was pretty amazing, yeah. I think it doesn’t really matter how many Paralympics you actually do, being able to come out on that court, wherever it is, it’s never dull. It’s always an amazing experience, and you feel quite honored, and really proud to be there and it still gives you a tingle in your stomach. It’s not like “oh, off I go. Bored of this.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Especially that last night there at the North Greenwich Arena. There were thirteen thousand people there. They opened up some extra parts of the stadium. I could not even see the top rows. They were in darkness.

Tina McKenzie: It’s an amazing sport to come and watch, and its an amazing sport to play. It’s a good spectator sport I think. People should come and see especially the girls playing. It’s quite tough. And I was talking to someone yesterday and it was like “Oh I don’t know how you play that! You know, it’s so rough. You must get so hurt.” It’s great! Excellent, you know? Brilliant game that teaches you lots of strategies. And you can actually take all those strategies off the court and into your life as well. So it teaches you a lot of discipline, a lot of structure and… it’s a big thing. It’s not just about being on the court and throwing a ball around.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When I saw you last you were in Sydney and you said you were moving down to Melbourne. Why was that?

Tina McKenzie: To move to Melbourne? My mum’s down here. And I lived here for sixteen years or something.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I know you lived here for a long time, but you moved up to Sydney. Did your teacher’s degree up there.

Tina McKenzie: I moved to Sydney to go to uni, and Macquarie University were amazing in the support that they actually gave me. Being able to study and play basketball internationally, the scholarship really helped me out. And you know, it wasn’t just about the scholarship. It was.. Deidre Anderson was incredible. She’s actually from Melbourne as well, but her support emotionally and “How are you doing?” when she’d run into you and was always very good at reading people… where they’re at. She totally understands at the levels of playing at national level and international level and so it wasn’t just about Macquarie supporting me financially, it was about them supporting me the whole way through. And that was how I got through my degree, and was able to play at that level for such a long time.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And you like teaching?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I do. Yeah, I do. I’m still waiting on my transfer at the moment from New South Wales to Victoria, but teaching’s good. It’s really nice to be able to spend some time with kids and I think its really important for kids to be actually around people with disabilities to actually normalize us a little bit and not be so profound about meeting someone that looks a little bit different. And if I can do that at a young age in primary school and let them see that life’s pretty normal for me, then I think that’s a really important lesson.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You retired just after the Paralympics.

Tina McKenzie: I did. Yeah. Actually, it took me quite a long time to decide to do that. I actually traveled after London. So I backpacked around… I went to the USA and then to Europe. And I spent a lot of time traveling and seeing amazing new things, and spending time by myself, and reflecting on… So yes, I got to spend quite a bit of time reflecting on my career and where I wanted to go.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Your basketball career or your teaching career?

Tina McKenzie: All the above. Yeah. Everything realistically. And I think it was a really important time for me to sort of decide sort of where I wanted to go in myself. I’d spent sixteen years with the Gliders. So that’s a long time to be around the Gliders apparently.

Tina McKenzie (No. 8, at right) listens to the Australian national anthem prior to the match against the United States at the 2012 Summer Paralympics
Image: Laura Hale.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When did you join them for the first time?

Tina McKenzie: I think it was ’89? No, no, no, sorry, no, no, no, ’98. We’ll say 1998. Yeah, 1998 was my first tournament, against USA. So we played USA up in New South Wales in the Energy Australia tour. So we traveled the coast. Played up at Terrigal. It was a pretty amazing experience, being my first time playing for Australia and it was just a friendly competition so… Long time ago. And that was leading into 2000, into the big Sydney Olympics. That was the beginning of an amazing journey realistically. But going back to why I retired, or thinking about retiring, I think when I came home I decided to spend a little bit more time with mum. Cause we’d actually lost my dad. He passed away two years ago. He got really sick after I came back from World Cup, in 2011, late 2010, he was really unwell, so I spent a lot of time down here. I actually had a couple of months off from the Gliders because I needed to deal with the family. And I think that it was really good to be able to get back and get on the team and… I love playing basketball but after being away, and I’ve done three Paralympics, I’ve been up for four campaigns, I think its time now to actually take a step backwards and… Well not backwards… take a step out of it and spend quality time with mum and quality time with people that have supported me throughout the years of me not being around home but floating back in and floating out again and its a really… it’s a nice time for me to be able to also take on my teaching career and trying to teach and train and work full time is really hard work and I think its also time for quite a few of the new girls to actually step up and we’ve got quite a few… You’ve got Caitlin, and you’ve got Katie and you’ve got Shelley and Georgia. There’s quite a few nice girls coming through that will fit really well into the team and it’s a great opportunity for me to go. It’s my time now. See where they go with that, and retire from the Gliders. It was a hard decision. Not an easy decision to retire. I definitely miss it. But I think now I’d rather focus on maybe helping out at the foundation level of starting recruitment and building up a recruiting side in Melbourne and getting new girls to come along and play basketball. People with… doesn’t even have to be girls but just trying to re-feed our foundation level of basketball, and if I can do that now I think that’s still giving towards the Gliders and Rollers eventually. That would be really nice. Just about re-focusing. I don’t want to completely leave basketball. I’d still like to be part of it. Looking to the development side of things and maybe have a little bit more input in that area would be really nice though. Give back the skills I’ve been taught over the years and be a bit of an educator in that area I think would be nice. It’s really hard when you’re at that international level to… you’re so time poor that it’s really hard to be able to focus on all that recruitment and be able to give out skill days when you’re actually trying to focus on improving yourself. So now I’ve got that time that I could actually do that. Be a little bit more involved in mentoring maybe, something like that. Yeah, that’s what I’d like to do.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png That would be good.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah! That would be great, actually. So I’ve just been put on the board of Disability Sport and Recreation, which is the old Wheelchair Sports Victoria. So that’s been a nice beginning move. Seeing where all the sports are at, and what we’re actually facilitating in Victoria, considering I’ve been away from Victoria for so long. It’s nice to know where they’re all at.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Where are they all at?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, dunno. They’re not very far at all. Victoria… I think Victoria is really struggling in the basketball world. Yeah, I think there’s a bit of a struggle. Back in the day… back in those old times, where Victoria would be running local comps. We’d have an A grade and a B grade on a Thursday night, and we’d have twelve teams in A grade and B grade playing wheelchair basketball. That’s a huge amount of people playing and when you started in B grade you’d be hoping that you came around and someone from A grade would ask you to come and play. So it was a really nice way to build your basketball skills up and get to know that community. And I think its really important to have a community, people that you actually feel comfortable and safe around. I don’t want to say it’s a community of disabled people. It’s actually…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png It’s not really because…

Tina McKenzie: Well, it’s not. The community’s massive. It’s not just someone being in a chair. You’ve got your referees, you’ve got people that are coming along to support you. And it’s a beautiful community. I always remember Liesl calling it a family, and it’s like a family so… and it’s not just Australia-based. It’s international. It’s quite incredible. It’s really lovely. But it’s about providing that community for new players to come through. And you know, not every player that comes through to play basketball wants to be a Paralympian. So its about actually providing sport, opportunities for people to be physically active. And if they do want to compete for Australia and they’re good enough, well then we support that. But I think it’s really hard in the female side of things. There’s not as many females with a disability.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Yeah, they kept on pointing that out…

Tina McKenzie: It’s really hard, but I think one of the other things is that we also need to be able to get the sport out there into the general community. And it’s not just about having a disability, it’s about coming along and playing with your mate that might be classifiable or an ex-basketball player. Like I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she’s six foot two…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Sounds like a basketball player already.

Tina McKenzie: She’s been a basketball player, an AB basketball player for years. Grew up playing over in Adelaide, and her knee is so bad that she can’t run anymore, and she can’t cycle, but yet wants to be physically active, and I’m like “Oooh, you can come along and play wheelchair basketball” and she’s like “I didn’t even think that I could do that!” So it’s about promoting. It not that you actually have to be full time in the chair, or being someone with an amputation or other congenitals like a spinal disability, it’s wear and tear on people’s bodies and such.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Something I noticed in the crowd in London. People seemed to think that they were in the chair all the time and were surprised when most of the Rollers got up out of their chairs at the end of the game.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Disability is a very complicated thing.

Tina McKenzie: It is, yeah.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I was surprised myself at people who were always in a chair, but yet can wiggle their toes.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, it’s the preconceived thing, like if you see someone in a chair, a lot of people just think that nothing works, but in hindsight there are so many varying levels of disability. Some people don’t need to be in a chair all the time, sometimes they need to be in it occasionally. Yeah, it’s kind of a hard thing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Also talking to the classifiers and they mentioned the people playing [wheelchair] basketball who have no disability at all but are important to the different teams, that carry their bags and stuff.

Tina McKenzie: So important, yeah. It’s the support network and I think that when we started developing Women’s National League to start in 2000, one of the models that we took that off was the Canadian Women’s National League. They run an amazing national league with huge amounts of able bodied women coming in and playing it, and they travel all over Canada [playing] against each other and they do have a round robin in certain areas like our Women’s National League as well but it’s so popular over there that it’s hard to get on the team. They have a certain amount of women with disabilities and then other able bodied women that just want to come along and play because they see it as a really great sport. And that’s how we tried to model our Women’s National League off. It’s about getting many women just to play sport, realistically.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Getting women to play sport, whether disabled or not, is another story. And there seems to be a reluctance amongst women to participate in sports, particularly sports that they regard as being men’s sports.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, a masculine sport.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They would much rather play a sport that is a women’s sport.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, it’s really hard. I think it’s about just encouraging people, communicating, having a really nice welcoming, come and try day. We run a… like Sarah [Stewart] actually this yeah will be running the women’s festival of sport, which is on the 30th of January. And that’s an amazing tournament. That actually started from club championship days, where we used to run club championships. And then the club championships then used to feed in to our Women’s National League. Club championships used to about getting as many women to come along and play whether they’re AB or have a disability. It’s just about participation. It’ll be a really fun weekend. And it’s a pretty easy weekend for some of us.

Tina McKenzie (No. 8, at right) on the court in the quarter final against Mexico
Image: Laura Hale.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Where is it?

Tina McKenzie: Next year, in 2014, it’ll be January the 30th at Narrabeen. We hold it every year. And last year we got the goalball girls to come along and play. So we had half of the goalball girls come and play for the weekend and they had an absolute brilliant time. Finding young girls that are walking down the street that just want to come and play sport. Or they have a friend at high school that has a disability. And it’s just about having a nice weekend, meeting other people that have disabilities or not have disabilities and just playing together. It’s a brilliant weekend. And every year we always have new faces come along and we hope that those new faces stay around and enjoy the weekend. Because it’s no so highly competitive, it’s just about just playing. Like last year I brought three or four friends of mine, flew up from Melbourne, ABs, just to come along and play. It was really nice that I had the opportunity to play a game of basketball with the friends that I hang out with. Which was really nice. So the sport’s not just Paralympics.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How does Victoria compare with New South Wales?

Tina McKenzie: Oh, that’s a thing to ask! (laughs) Look I think both states go in highs and lows, in different things. I think all the policies that have been changing in who’s supporting who and… like, Wheelchair Sports New South Wales do a good job at supporting the basketball community. Of course, there’s always a willingness for more money to come in but they run a fairly good support and so does the New South Wales Institute of Sport. It’s definitely gotten better since I first started up there. And then, it’s really hard to compare because both states do things very differently. Yeah, really differently and I always remember being in Victoria… I dunno when that was… in early 2000. New South Wales had an amazing program. It seemed so much more supportive than what we had down here in Victoria. But then even going to New South Wales and seeing the program that they have up there, it wasn’t as brilliant as… the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, cause there there good things and there were weren’t so great things about the both programs in Victoria and in New South Wales so… The VIS [Victorian Institute of Sport] do some great support with some of the athletes down here, and NSWIS [New South Wales Instituted of Sport] are building and improving and I know their program’s changed quite a lot now with Tom [Kyle] and Ben [Osborne] being involved with NSWIS so I can’t really give feedback on how that program’s running but in short I know that when NSWIS employed Ben Osborne to come along and actually coach us as a basketball individual and as in group sessions it was the best thing that they ever did. Like, it was so good to be able to have one coach to actually go and go we do an individual session or when are you running group sessions and it just helped me. It helped you train. It was just a really… it was beneficial. Whereas Victoria don’t have that at the moment. So both states struggle some days. I mean, back in 2000 Victoria had six or seven Gliders players, and then New South Wales had as many, and then it kind of does a big swap. It depends on what the state infrastructure is, what the support network is, and how local comps are running, how the national league’s running, and it’s about numbers. It’s all about numbers.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png At the moment you’ll notice a large contingent of Gliders from Western Australia.

Tina McKenzie: Yes, yes, I have seen that, yeah. And that’s good because its… what happens is, someone comes along in either state, or wherever it may be, and they’re hugely passionate about building and improving that side of things and they have the time to give to it, and that’s what’s happened in WA [Western Australia]. Which has been great. Ben Ettridge has been amazing, and so has John. And then in New South Wales you have Gerry driving that years ago. Gerry has always been a hugely passionate man about improving numbers, about participation, and individuals’ improvement, you know? So he’s been quite a passionate man about making sure people are improving individually. And you know, Gerry Hewson’s been quite a driver of wheelchair basketball in New South Wales. He’s been an important factor, I think.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The news recently has been Basketball Australia taking over the running of things. The Gliders now have a full time coach.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, which is fantastic! That’s exciting. It’s a good professional move, you know? It’s nice to actually know that that’s what’s happening and I think that only will lead to improvement of all the girls, and the Gliders may go from one level up to the next level which is fantastic so… and Tom sounds like a great man so I really hope that he enjoys himself.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I’m sure he is.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I’ve done some work with Tom. He’s a good guy.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did you do some work with him?

Tina McKenzie: Ah, well, no, I just went up to Brisbane a couple of times and did some development days. Played in one of their Australia Day tournaments with some of the developing girls that they have. We did a day camp leading into that. Went and did a bit of mentoring I guess. And it was nice to do that with Tom. That was a long time before Tom… I guess Tom had just started on the men’s team back them. He was very passionate about improving everyone, which he still is.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Watching the Gliders and the Rollers… with the Rollers, they can do it. With the Gliders… much more drama from the Gliders in London. For a time we didn’t even know if they were going to make the finals. Lost that game against Canada.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, that wasn’t a great game. No. It was pretty scary. But, you know, we always fight back. In true Gliders style. Seems to be… we don’t like to take the easy road, we like to take the hard road, sometimes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Apparently.

Tina McKenzie: It’s been a well-known thing. I don’t know why it is but it just seems to happen that way.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You said you played over 100 [international] games. By our count there was 176 before you went to London, plus two games there makes 178 international caps. Which is more than some teams that you played against put together.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I thought I’d be up to nearly 200. Look, I think it’s an amazing thing to have that many games under your belt and the experience that’s gained me throughout the years, and you’ve got to be proud about it. Proud that I stayed in there and competed with one of the best teams in the world. I always believed that the Gliders can be the best in the world but…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You need to prove it.

Tina McKenzie: Need to get there. Just a bit extra.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Before every game in London there was an announcement that at the World Championships and the Paralympics “they have never won”.

Tina McKenzie: No, no. I remember 2000 in Sydney, watching the girls play against Canada in 2000. Terrible game. Yet they were a brilliant team in 2000 as well. I think the Gliders have always had a great team. Just unfortunately, that last final game. We haven’t been able to get over that line yet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You were in the final game in 2004.

Tina McKenzie: Yep, never forget that. It was an amazing game.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What was it like?

Tina McKenzie: I think we played our gold medal game against the USA the first game up. We knew that we had to beat USA that day, that morning. It was 8am in the morning, maybe 8:30 in the morning and it was one of the earliest games that we played and we’d been preparing for this game knowing that we had to beat USA to make sure that our crossovers would be okay, and knew that we’d sit in a really good position against the rest of the teams that we would most likely play. And I think that being my first ever Paralympic Games it was unforgettable. I think I’ll never, not forget it. The anticipation, adrenalin and excitement. And also being a little bit scared sometimes. It was really an amazing game. We did play really, really well. We beat America by maybe one point I think that day. So we played a tough, tough game. Then we went into the gold medal game… I just don’t think we had much left in our energy fuel. I think it was sort of… we knew that we had to get there but we just didn’t have enough to get over the line, and that was really unfortunate. And it was really sad. It was sad that we knew that we could actually beat America, but at the end of the day the best team wins.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The best team on the court on the day.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. And that can change any day. It depends where your team’s at. What the ethos is like. and so it’s… Yeah, I don’t think you can actually say that every team’s gonna be on top every day, and it’s not always going to be that way. I’m hoping the Gliders will put it all together and be able to take that way through and get that little gold medal. That would be really nice. Love to see that happen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I’d like to see that happen. I’d really like to see them win. In Toronto, apparently, because the Canadian men are not in the thing, the Canadians are going to be focusing on their women’s team. They apparently didn’t take their best team and their men were knocked out by Columbia or Mexico or something like that.

Tina McKenzie: Wow.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And in the women’s competition there’s teams like Peru. But I remember in London that Gliders were wrong-footed by Brazil, a team that they had never faced before. Nearly lost that game.

Tina McKenzie: (laughs) Oh yes. Brazil were an unknown factor to us. So they were quite unknown. We’d done a bit of scouting but if you’ve never played someone before you get into an unknown situation. We knew that they’d be quite similar players to Mexico but you know what? Brazil had a great game. They had a brilliant game. We didn’t have a very good game at all. And it’s really hard going into a game that you know that you need to win unbeknown to what all these players can do. You can scout them as much as you want but it’s actually about being on court and playing them. That makes a huge difference. I think one of the things here in Australia is that we play each other so often. We play against each other so often in the Women’s National League. We know exactly what… I know that Shelley Chaplin is going to want to go right and close it up and Cobi Crispin is going to dive underneath the key and do a spin and get the ball. So you’ve actually… you know what these players want to do. I know that Kylie Gauci likes to double screen somewhere, and she’ll put it in, and its great to have that knowledge of what your players really like to do when you’re playing with them but going into a team like Brazil we knew a couple of the players, what they like to do but we had no idea what their speed was like or what their one-pointers were going to do. Who knows? So it was a bit of an unknown.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They’ll definitely be an interesting side when it comes to Rio.

Tina McKenzie: I think they’ll be quite good. And that happened with China. I’ll always remember seeing China when we were in Korea for the first time and going “Wow, these girls can hardly move a chair” but some of them could shoot, and they went from being very fresh players to going into China as quite a substantial team, and then yet again step it up again in London. And they’re a good team. I think its really important as not to underestimate any team at a Paralympics or at a World Cup. I mean, Netherlands have done that to us over and over again.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They’re a tough team too.

Tina McKenzie: They’re a really tough team and they’re really unpredictable sometimes. Sometimes when they’re on, they’re on. They’re tough. They’re really tough. And they’ve got a little bit of hunger in them now. Like, they’re really hungry to be the top team. And you can see that. And I remember seeing that in Germany, in Beijing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The Germans lost to the Americans in the final in Beijing.

Tina McKenzie: Yes. Yeah, they did.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And between 2008 and 2012 all they talked about was the US, and a rematch against the US. But of course when it came to London, they didn’t face the US at all, because you guys knocked the US out of the competition.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, we did. It was great. A great game that.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You won by a point.

Tina McKenzie: Fantastic. Oh my God I came. Still gives me heart palpitations.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png It went down to a final shot. There was a chance that the Americans would win the thing with a shot after the siren. Well, a buzzer-beater.

Tina McKenzie: Tough game. Tough game. That’s why you go to the Paralympics. You have those tough, nail-biting games. You hope that at the end of the day that… Well, you always go in as a player knowing that you’ve done whatever you can do.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thankyou very much for this.

Tina McKenzie: That’s alright. No problems at all!



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


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January 27, 2013

Australian Manns Mitre 10 hardware store closes after rent dispute

Australian Manns Mitre 10 hardware store closes after rent dispute

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mitre 10 logo

Store closed notice.
Image: Gryllida.

Warrant to distrain.
Image: Gryllida.

Notice of re-entry and termination.
Image: Gryllida.

A photo of the store.
Image: Gryllida.

A photo of the store.
Image: Gryllida.

Wednesday, an over-90-year-old Manns Mitre 10 hardware store, run by Alex P Mann Pty Ltd, closed until further notice after a rent dispute in Port Adelaide, South Australia. The rent dispute involved $315,060.70 of rent for months of September 2012 to January 2013 unpaid to the landlord, Fourteen Sails Pty Ltd. The site was distrained. The store had to fire about 40–50 employees without a warning in advance.

The store was closed three days before Australia Day, January 26, Saturday.

The store administrator, Tim Clifton, said they had to ring the workers out of the blue: “I was advised the landlord had distrained for unpaid rent over the business and that left the directors in the position where the business was untenable. I presume at this stage trading was poor and the company just didn’t have the money to pay the rent. … Unfortunately they had to terminate their employment this morning and we’ve rung them all. We’ll do our best to get them their entitlements under the government schemes, and we calculate what they’re owed in the next few days and hopefully get that underway for them. … It’s a sad day. It’s a sign of the times isn’t it. Things are tough out there.”

Inventory schedule.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 1.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 2.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 3.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 4.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 5.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 6.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 7.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 8.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 9.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 10.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 11.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 12.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 13.
Image: Gryllida.

Inventory page 14.
Image: Gryllida.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Dave Kirner said workers were not allowed to collect their personal belongings left inside of the store: “I spoke with a worker who said the locks have been changed, they were asked to leave and all their personal belongings are in there”.

On Saturday, Wikinews took photos of the documents available at the store entrance. The rent dispute details and an inventory were available for everyone to read. During the ten minutes of taking photos, around seven people visited the closed entrance and read the documents a first time. One of them commented, “oh hey, Bunnings will be stronger”.

The store owner, Jarred Spearman, reported negotiations ongoing with the landlord and said he would “hopefully try to work [our] way out of this … We are pretty lucky to have the customers and staff we had”.

Port Adelaide Mayor Gary Johanson said the loss of the store is a significant loss as Port Adelaide is being redeveloped: “Their staff were extremely good, the service levels were high, the store was always well stocked and it was a great example of a family business. That will be a great loss to the Port.” “The landlord is not at fault here. The landlord is acting within their rights. … This is the sort of thing we cannot afford to lose if we’re serious about the Port being redeveloped. This is not a multinational company. This is a franchise of a bigger company but it is a family franchise and it employs a lot of staff. The staff that they employ are local people and they’re employing large amounts of staff in relation to their turnover. We need to take stock of what local businesses we have left and say, how can we ensure they stay with us?”



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May 14, 2012

Sydney\’s \’Angel of The Gap\’ dies after decades rescuing the suicidal

Sydney’s ‘Angel of The Gap’ dies after decades rescuing the suicidal

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Monday, May 14, 2012

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Australian man Don Ritchie, dubbed the “Angel of The Gap”, has died. He earned his nickname after spending decades talking people out of jumping from The Gap, a cliff famed as a suicide spot beside his house in Watsons Bay, Sydney.

The Gap, where Ritchie spent much of his life rescuing people from suicide.

Credited with at least 160 rescues, though his family suggest the true figure is 500, reports carry conflicting values of Ritchie’s age; he was in his mid eighties. He moved to a house beside The Gap in 1964 and lived there the rest of his life, quickly earning his first award after tackling a man who was about to jump. At first he held back would-be jumpers whilst his wife summoned help, but then took to approaching them with his palms out and saying simply “Is there something I could do to help you?”

Ritchie had no relevant formal training, but he said last year to “Never be afraid to speak to those who you feel are in need. Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear and a kind word.” According to his daughter, Sue Ritchie Bereny, “that was all that was often needed to turn people around, and he would say not to underestimate the power of a kind word and a smile.” He would then “bring people back to our place for a cup of tea and breakfast.”

Cquote1.svg I was a salesman for most of my life, and I sold them life Cquote2.svg

—Don Ritchie

Rewarded last year with a Local Hero Award from the National Australia Day Council, Ritchie explained “You couldn’t just sit here and watch them. I mean, I couldn’t. So I would go out and try and help them.” He and his wife Monica were named Citizens of the Year by Woollahra Council in 2010.

Ritchie often clutched at those who jumped in an effort to hold them back. He recently described to The Sydney Morning Herald one nineteen-year-old who was friends with Ritchie’s grandchildren; “He said ‘no’ and stepped straight off the side. His hat blew up and I caught it in my hand.” Much of his time was spent watching the cliff for those in distress; Bereny noted his “sensitivity, he could read some people needed help.”

Cquote1.svg He said ‘no’ and stepped straight off the side. His hat blew up and I caught it in my hand. Cquote2.svg

—Don Ritchie

Ritchie’s “courage delivered small miracles,” said Cr Susan Wynne, Mayor of Woollahra. National Australia Day Council’s interim head Tam Johnston has issued a statement saying “Don’s story touched the hearts of all Australians and challenged each of us to rethink what it means to be a good neighbour… Don was a true gentleman with a smile that could light up the room.” Local politician Malcolm Turnbull, who united with Ritchie and mental health workers to demand suicide prevention measures at The Gap, said “His work lives on forever not just in the lives of those he saved but in his heroism and example of public service.”

Diane Gaddin, whose daughter killed herself at The Gap and who works to prevent suicide, called him “a beacon and inspiration to not only us in Australia but the world because it takes courage, bravery, tenacity… he was a gentle, persuasive man who offered them hope with warm, embracing words.” She describes the former life insurance salesman, who also served in the navy, as saying “I was a salesman for most of my life, and I sold them life.” She said he advised those faced with the suicidal to “Smile. Be friendly and say can I help you in some way.”

Ritchie died on Sunday local time at St Vincent’s Hospital, with his wife, three daughters, and four grandchildren by his side.



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January 27, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 27, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 27, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: January 27, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, January 27, 2012.

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

Medicins Sans Frontieres announces partial withdrawal over Libyan torture abuses

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have announced a partial withdrawal from Libya. The medical charity announced they will no longer work at Libyan detention centres due to facing treating torture victims in order to make them well enough to be further tortured. MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said: “Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions”.

The United Nations estimates that some 8,500 former Gaddafi loyalists are being held by a number of unregulated, and unaccountable, armed groups.



Jagger tells World Economic Forum, “can’t always get what you want”

Lead singer of The Rolling Stones Mick Jagger has withdrawn from the ‘Great British Tea Party’ in Davos, Switzerland.

Cutting short his visit to the 2012 World Economic Forum, as well as pulling out of Prime Minister David Cameron’s event intended to promote UK creativity, Jagger complained of both “being used as a political football” and “comment[s] about my political allegiances which are inaccurate.”



UK Prime Minister calls for European Union to be more competetive

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron called on European Union leaders to be “bold” and “decisive” to boost growth and promote business.

Labelling a proposed financial transactions tax as “madness” he attacked “unnecessary” regulations on business, telling attendees that “Europe’s lack of competitiveness remains its Achilles heel.”



Coup in Papua New Guinea fails

A military coup in Papua New Guinea failed with the capture of at least fifteen mutineers. These supporters of deposed former Prime Minister Sir Michael Thomas Somare seized a military barracks, and the nation’s military head, early on Thursday morning and demanded Somare be reinstated.

The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea previously ruled that Somare be reinstated, concluding that current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was unlawfully appointed.



Australian Prime Minister rescued from protesters

During an Australia Day function, the country’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard — and the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, had to be rescued after they were surrounded by as many as 200 aboriginal rights protesters at a Canberra restaurant.

The protesters, from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, appear to have been angered by Abbot’s suggestion that it was time for the Embassy, now in its fortieth year, to come down.





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January 26, 2010

Cricket: \’Politicians and Pals\’ defeat Buderim XI in Australia Day Twenty20 match

Cricket: ‘Politicians and Pals’ defeat Buderim XI in Australia Day Twenty20 match

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Member for Buderim Steve Dickson won the toss. he elected to bat

January 26, 2010
Cricket Club XI 9/211 (20)
Politicians and Pals 10/220 (20)
Buderim Mountain State School
Buderim, Queensland
Attendance: 100

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Buderim, Queensland — A Buderim Cricket Club XI played a team of local “Politicians and Pals XII” at the Buderim Mountain State School as part of wider Australia Day celebrations. The Politicians won the match after they won the toss and batted.

The “Politicians and Pals” team had twelve players, rather than the usual eleven, with Buderim’s agreement. The club provided two-thirds of the players in the Politicians’ team – Queensland State Parliament Member for Buderim Steve Dickson and Sunshine Coast Councillors Ted Hangerford and Chris Thompson were the only politicians in the team.

A four over ‘retirement’ rule was implemented in this match. This meant that the opening batsman, who had scored 38 to that point, had to allow other team members to bat. This seemingly caused a middle order collapse with five wickets being taken in as many overs. 53 runs were scored in this time. The team managed to stabilise the innings compiling a further 130 to finish with 10 out (of 12 available batsmen) for 220 runs.

Requiring just over eleven runs an over to win, the Cricket Club XI scored 26 off the first over. After ten overs however they were five out for 107, still needing 114 to win – a run rate of 11.4 and over. The Cricket Club XI did not make the required score of 221. After 20 overs, the were nine out for 211.



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  • “Cricket: Buderim to fill half Politicians team on Australia Day” — Wikinews, January 20, 2010

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January 20, 2010

Cricket: Buderim to fill half Politicians team on Australia Day

Cricket: Buderim to fill half Politicians team on Australia Day

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Buderim lost to a Chamber of Commerce XI in 2008

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Buderim Cricket Club in Queensland, Australia will field a side against local politicians on Australia Day while providing half the team. Not counting local Councillors, there are seven politicians (two in federal parliament, four in state parliament) within a ten kilometre radius of the Buderim Mountain State School, the games venue.

January 26, 2008
Buderim 114 (15.2)
Chamber of Commerce 162 (18.3)
Buderim Mountain State School

The last Australia Day match played was between the Buderim Cricket Club and the local Chamber of Commerce. On that day, the Chamber of Commerce batted first scoring 162 all out off 18.3 overs. The Cricket Club XI were all out for 114 off 15.2 overs in reply.

Buderim Cricket Club currently field four teams in the Sunshine Coast Cricket Association competition. They field a third division side and two fourth division teams in multi-inning competition; and a fifth divsion side in a limited overs competition.

The match will be included in an overall Australia Day celebration at Buderim Mountain State School which included Sunshine Coast Idol, kids’ rides, barbecues and food stalls.



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February 13, 2008

Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations

Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

People queuing at Parliament for the Apology

Crowds gather at the Redfern Community Centre in Sydney to watch the live telecast

A motion has been passed in the Parliament of Australia to make a formal apology to the Stolen Generations. Thousands of people converged on Canberra, the capital city, to witness the event. Many Indigenous people set up camp on the lawns outside Old Parliament House at the site of the Tent Embassy which has been on the site since Australia Day 1972.

The front doors of Parliament House opened at 7:30 a.m. with many people queuing from before 7 a.m. to gain a place inside. With the House of Representatives public gallery packed, about a thousand people watched a live telecast of the event on screens that had been set up for the event in the Great Hall. A special area was set up at the front of the Hall for members of the Stolen Generation. Thousands of others watched outside Parliament House, gathering on the lawns of Federation Square. Some members of the crowds wore t-shirts with the word “Thanks” on the front. Many more people watched at venues across the country.

Crowd building in the Great Hall.

All living past Prime Ministers, with the exception of John Howard, were in the chamber to witness the apology.

The Prime Minister’s speech was received warmly by the crowds and received a long standing ovation at its conclusion. During the Opposition Leader’s speech, a majority of the audience in the Great Hall and Federation Square turned their backs.

There are more images in the .

The Apology

Camp outside Old Parliament House

The motion was presented to the house as the first item of business at 9 a.m. on the second day of the new Parliament. It was read by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and said (in part):

Cquote1.svg For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.

Cquote2.svg

After the formal apology, Rudd gave a speech in which he referred to specific members of the Stolen Generation, and also addressed some common arguments against the apology.

He told the story of Nanna Nungala Fejo, an Aboriginal woman born in the late 1920’s. “She remembers her earliest childhood days living with her family and her community in a bush camp just outside Tennant Creek. She remembers the love and the warmth and the kinship of those days long ago, including traditional dancing around the camp fire at night. She loved the dancing,” Mr Rudd said. “But then, sometime around 1932, when she was about four, she remembers the coming of the welfare men …. What they had not expected was that the white welfare men did not come alone. They brought a truck, two white men and an Aboriginal stockman on horseback cracking his stockwhip. The kids were found; they ran for their mothers, screaming, but they could not get away … Tears flowing, her mum tried clinging to the sides of the truck as her children were taken away to the Bungalow in Alice, all in the name of protection.”

Mr Rudd criticised the former government for refusing to apologise. “These stories cry out to be heard; they cry out for an apology. Instead, from the nation’s parliament there has been a stony, stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade,” he said.

Responses

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson spoke in Parliament after Kevin Rudd. He reiterated the apology made by Rudd. “We formally offer an apology to those Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their families through the first seven decades of the twentieth century,” he said.

Nelson had a different take on the issue of inter-generational responsibility. “Our generation does not own these actions, nor should it feel guilt for what was done in many, but not all cases, with the best of intentions,” he said. “But in saying we are sorry – and deeply so – we remind ourselves that each generation lives in ignorance of the long term consequences of its decisions and actions. Even when motivated by inherent humanity and decency to reach out to the dispossessed in extreme adversity, our actions can have unintended outcomes.”

Nelson spoke against compensation to children forcibly removed from their parents. “There is no compensation fund, nor should there be. How can any sum of money replace a life deprived of knowing your family?”

In the Great Hall the crowd grew uncomfortable during the Opposition Leader’s speech and the majority of the audience stood and turned their backs to the screens on which he was being broadcast. As the speech progressed a slow clapping began which drowned out Dr. Nelson’s speech.

The crowds in Federation Square, the gardens outside Parliament House, also turned their back on the Opposition Leader.

One of the first to stand and turn his back in the Great Hall was Chris Osborne, representing the State Executive of the United Services Union of N.S.W. Mr. Osborne told a Wikinews reporter that his son had Aboriginal heritage and his sister-in-law was a member of the Stolen Generations. Regarding Dr Nelson’s speech he said that the Opposition Leader “had not learnt and understood the fundamental issues” and said that he had presented a “begrudging apology”.

A member of the Stolen Generations interviewed by Wikinews said that she had personally resolved the issues in her life and had made a success of it, but was pleased that the Nation had made the apology. She said that she did not turn her back on the Opposition Leader as she believed that it was better to listen to what people said and then take from it what was useful. Another Indigenous person said that he felt that people would leave the event with a spirit of hope and optimism. Of Dr. Nelson’s speech he said that the Opposition Leader: “…had us for a nano-second and then he lost us. He lost the spirit.”

Live telecast

The audience at Redfern Community Centre in Sydney applaud at the conclusion of Kevin Rudd’s speech

Thousands of people gathered throughout the country to watch a telecast of the apology.

In Sydney, 1,000 people gathered the Redfern Community Centre in Redfern, an inner city suburb that is a focal point for Sydney’s aboriginal community. The event was organised by the City of Sydney and number of Indigenous organisations.

An aboriginal smoking ceremony was performed before the telecast, and attendees were welcomed to the land by a member of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

As the live telecast began it started to rain. This didn’t deter the participants, who sheltered under ponchos and umbrellas. Rudd’s apology was met by cheers and applause. The crowd booed at the mention of former Prime Minister John Howard.

The sound of the live telecast was turned down after Rudd’s speech, so that the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore could speak. She acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and declared her support for the apology, but also said that it was a first step only and that there was much work to be done on the way to reconciliation. “For the first time, we have acknowledged the history of this country, and the privilege to live in this country,” she said. “But we have to ask ourselves: what’s the cost of that privilege? Who paid the price?”

“In our hearts we know the costs, whether in child-abuse, in petrol sniffing in remote communities, and drugs, and alcohol in the city districts.”

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  • “Australian parliament to apologise to Stolen Generations” — Wikinews, February 11, 2008

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February 24, 2006

Australian treasurer makes \”extremely divisive\” comments

Australian treasurer makes “extremely divisive” comments

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Peter Costello.
Image: Parliament of Australia.

Australian Federal treasurer Peter Costello, next in line for Prime Minister, has called for Muslim extremists to be stripped of their citizenship. In a speech to the Sydney Institute on the 23rd February, he described multiculturalism as “mushy and misguided”.

Politicians from all sides have spoken out at the remarks and many from the Islamic community say they’re offended by Mr Costello’s comments, with Muslim leaders saying that it is “extremely divisive” and a blight on Australia’s international reputation.

Mr Costello particularly singled out Muslims in his remarks, saying extremists should move to countries where they feel more comfortable. Mr Costello’s comments targeting Muslim extremists, won support from Prime Minister John Howard, and controversial ex-politician Pauline Hanson.

“Before entering a mosque visitors are asked to take off their shoes,” Mr Costello said. “This is a sign of respect. If you have a strong objection to walking in your socks don’t enter the mosque. Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objection to those values don’t come to Australia.”

Abdul El Ayoubi, a director of the Lebanese Muslim Association said, “it’s upsetting to hear such comments, especially when you consider that the majority of Muslims have accepted the Australian way of life and Australian values.”

45 per cent of Australia’s population are from culturally diverse backgrounds. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) has called for tolerance rather than division. “Peter Costello’s comments are divisive, arrogant, provocative and do nothing to unite the nation at a time when responsible leadership on this issue is called for,” ECCV chairman Phong Nguyen said.

“To have the leaders of our nation, such at the Prime Minister and Treasurer, making gratuitous comments about race and religion based on ill-founded perceptions rather than facts, is extremely divisive and will harm Australia nationally and internationally,” he said.

Mr Nguyen said Mr Costello appeared to be aligning himself with the “now discredited argument of his colleague Danna Vale – that Australia is in danger of becoming a Muslim nation”.

In his speech Mr Costello made a public call for Muslims who want to live under sharia law to find another country, while also referring to “mushy multiculturalism”.

Justin Li, vice chair of the NSW Ethnic Communities’ Council, said Mr Costello’s comments had deliberately and unfairly targeted Muslims.

“Obviously nobody supports violent people in our society, but what we don’t understand is why allegedly violent Muslims are any different from any violent people of other cultures or religions,” he said. “What about deporting the people who participated in riots in Cronulla last year? Those people did not exhibit any Australian values in their actions.”

Mr Li added the comments were “political point scoring” made to sit well with sections of the community which do not support multiculturalism. “Our political leaders think that there is advantage to be gained making comments against our Muslim Australians at this stage in time,” he said.

Malcolm Thomas from the Islamic Foundation of Victoria says it’s the fact that Mr Costello singled out Muslims. “If you remove the word Muslim from what he said, well then I totally agree with Peter. Yeah, I’m prepared, just as much as Peter, to be as intolerant to anyone who wants to attack Australia and the Australian values, irrespective of their race or religion or ethnicity,” said Mr Thomas. “Language is everything. The words are marginalising a segment of our community and creating division within the community.”

Mr Thomas also points out that the suggestion to strip people of citizenship has limited potential, given that a third of Muslims living here were born here. “Australian Muslims are Australian. We can’t differentiate that. And I think people need to keep that in mind.” he said.

Another Muslim community leader said Costello is promoting division and Islamophobia and should be censured. Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, has said he genuinely hoped the Prime Minister would censure Mr Costello.

Mr Trad said nobody was protesting Australia’s secular laws through any other means than the normal democratic process. “We have not asked for sharia law to be imposed. I don’t know anyone in this country who is asking for sharia law to be imposed and I don’t known anyone in this country who has rejected the rule of law,” he told ABC radio. “Rather than try to promote understanding and harmony in this society, his comments are highly divisive and he is stirring up Islamophobia, and these comments should really be beneath any decent politician.”

In his speech, Mr Costello said where there was reason to believe people were not truthfully or honestly meeting their citizenship test, there was every right for them to be denied citizenship.

“If by subsequent conduct they show that they don’t meet the test then we could invite them to forfeit their Australian citizenship,” he said. “Now you can only do this if they have another citizenship.”

But Mr El Ayoubi said: “If you’ve come to this country, you’ve come to this country to live under a democratic system and you’ve come into this country to abide by the rules, the principles and the values of this country, and you should do that.”

Mr Costello emphasised that Australia is a secular state under which the freedom of all religions is protected. “But there is not a separate stream of law derived from religious sources that competes with or supplants Australian law in governing our civil society,” he said. “The source of our law is the democratically elected legislature. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia.”

Mr Costello said there were some beliefs and values which were so central to Australian society that those who refused to accept them refused to accept the nature of Australian society.

“If someone cannot honestly make the citizenship pledge, they cannot honestly take out citizenship,” he said. “If they have taken it out already they should not be able to keep it where they have citizenship in some other country.”

His comments follow Prime Minister John Howard’s claims this week that a fragment of the Islamic community is “utterly antagonistic to our kind of society”. Last week Liberal backbencher Danna Vale said that Australia could become a Muslim nation within 50 years because “we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence”.

Mr Costello said he had attended an Australia day citizenship ceremony at the Stonnington Town Hall in his electorate of Higgins during which a state MP “extolled the virtues of multiculturalism”. He said the MP said becoming an Australian did not mean giving up one’s culture or language or religion — and it certainly did not mean giving up the love of their country of birth.

“The longer he went on about how important it was not to give up anything to become an Australian, the more it seemed to me that, in his view, becoming an Australian didn’t seem to mean very much at all, other than getting a new passport.”

Islamic Council of Victoria president Malcolm Thomas said he was disappointed at Mr Costello’s speech. “We have had the uninformed comments of Danna Vale, we have had the comments made by the Prime Minister and now we have these comments — all they do is reinforce a stereotype which doesn’t exist.” Mr Thomas said that singling out Muslims was pandering to a conspiracy that Muslims wanted to overtake Australia.

“Australian Muslims are Australians first,” he said. “They abide by the law and they want to live here in peace and harmony. They are not interested in taking over the country. They are not interested in creating a theocracy”.

Ikebal Patel, an executive member of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said the comments were “inflammatory”. “Islam law teaches that when you go into a country you embrace the laws of that country,” Mr Patel said. “I hope we are not going away from multiculturalism as the founding stone of our immigration policy.”

Mr Patel said the timing of the comments smacked of an attempt by the Government to deflect attention from the AWB scandal.

Mr Costello said Muslims who did not like the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in newspapers should recognise this does not justify violence.

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January 27, 2006

Aboriginal Sovereignty Day Declared

Aboriginal Sovereignty Day Declared – Wikinews, the free news source

Aboriginal Sovereignty Day Declared

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Representatives of Australian Aboriginal Sovereign Nations at a gathering in Canberra, have declared that the 26th of January would be known as Aboriginal Sovereignty Day. January 26th (Australia Day) is Australia’s official national day – commemorating the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788.

While the rest of the country celebrated the Australia Day holiday with medals, barbecues, fireworks and beer under the Union Jack and Southern Cross, hundreds of people at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra lit a ceremonial fire and discussed the land that once belonged to their ancestors. Indigeneous Elders have gathered this week at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the Corroboree for Sovereignty convergence, in response to what they say is the continual Government threat to control the historical Tent Embassy site.

The gathering identified the 34-year-old Tent Embassy on the grounds of Old Parliament House in Canberra, as a significant place of social, spiritual and political importance to Aboriginal Peoples – a symbol of the assertion of Aboriginal Sovereignty. The Aboriginal Embassy, not considered an official embassy by the Australian government, has come under review recently in a bid to remove the campsite and dwellings originally founded on Australia Day in 1972.

The Tent Embassy calls on all Aboriginal Sovereign Nations to “stand up against the illegal occupation of our country and continue to resist the oppression of our people.” The Tent Embassy say that “until there is true justice for our people, these issues will not go away and we will continue to resist.”

Members of the Embassy will take a sacred fire to Melbourne in March for the 2006 “Stolenwealth Games” campaign, in an effort to highlight the plight of Aboriginal people. The fire will contain a “message of peace, healing and justice, and create a focal point for unfinished business.”

The group calls on all Aboriginal Nations to send representatives to the Embassy to commemorate and review the issues of Land Rights in Australia. The Tent Embassy also announced the establishment of the National Tribal Law Council.

The High Court of Australia has on a number of occasions rejected any actual legal notion of Aboriginal sovereignty.

“Invasion Day”

Indigenous leaders, including Marji Thorpe, Gary Foley, Robbie Thorpe and Michael Mansell claim that Native Title and Reconciliation haven’t adequately addressed Indigenous rights. They say: “Native Title has mainly embroiled Indigenous peoples in complex legal processes where they have (generally unsuccessfully) had to prove their fundamental human rights to the land.”

The campaigners, known as the Black GST, say the process “puts the onus on Indigenous peoples to somehow prove continuous connection with their land, an impossible task in many situations given the effects of our dispossession and attempted genocide.”

On Australia Day the diverse and vibrant group marched peacefully through Canberra, gathered at the Embassy on the lawns in front of Old Parliament House and called for recognition of indigenous sovereignty over the land. “We’re wanting to let all the people know that all the land in Australia has been given back to the Aboriginal people… and the sovereignty now lies with all Aboriginal nations,” a spokesperson Robert Corowa said at the Embassy.

To many Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people, Australia Day is labelled “Invasion Day” – in recognition of the colonisation of the continent by the British, he said. “We call it invasion day. The most important thing is that everybody in Australia who’s now living here… we strongly encourage them to come to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and place a leaf in our fire.”

Legal director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), Michael Mansell, says the current Australia Day celebrations should be scrapped and a new national day chosen. Mansell said Australia Day would forever remain a racist blot on Australia’s political landscape as long as the event was held on the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet.

“There can never be reconciliation between whites and Aborigines so long as the anniversary of the coming of white people is the basis for celebrating Australia Day,” he said. “A fair and just society cannot be built on celebrating gains by one race at the expense of another.”

Mr Mansell has also reported the theft of an Aboriginal sign from the TAC premises. The sign reading: “AUSTRALIA DAY Yes, let’s celebrate: MURDER, INVASION, RAPE, THEFT” was removed on the 25th of January hours after being installed on the Launceston premises.

Mansell says that he will replace the sign in an effort to “the obvious need to expose the myth, as expressed in the national anthem, that Australia is a free and fair country” and called for “white society” to punish the offenders.

“This is another instance of the continuing trend in Tasmania of racist attacks on both people and property by extreme elements of white society who don’t like the truth, who don’t like Aborigines and other races. As with the racial attacks on middle Eastern people in Sydney, these Tasmanian incidents show how Australia under the Howard government is becoming more openly xenophobic,” he said.

Flag Burning

Activists in Brisbane yesterday burned an Australian flag to protest against celebrations marking European settlement in Australia. Around 300 protesters staged an “Invasion Day” demonstration. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie condemned the action.

“I don’t care whether they’re black or white … I don’t believe we should burn the Australian flag, particularly at this time (when) we all know we live in an unsettled world,” he said.

One protester said he believed the wrong flag had been burned: “I just felt deep down that it should have been the British flag they burnt not the Australian one.”

Compulsory National Anthem

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has strongly opposed the compulsory singing of the Australian national anthem in schools.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma wants to make it compulsory for NSW schoolchildren to sing the national anthem each day before class. The plan has strong support from both sides of Parliament in Tasmania as well as the Multicultural Council of Australia and the Australian National Flag Association.

However some Aboriginal support groups say forcing the singing of the national anthem diminishes individual enthusiasm for participation.

Michael Mansell says, “more importantly, the anthem is about the white people and immigrants and excludes Aborigines.” He said the words “for we are young and free” were a clear reference to the last 200 years of colonisation by Europeans and dismissed the ownership of the country by Aboriginal people.

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December 13, 2005

Sydney racial violence continues

Sydney racial violence continues – Wikinews, the free news source

Sydney racial violence continues

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

“No Lebs” handwritten on t-shirt. Much of the violence last night was in retaliation for riots in Cronulla on Sunday.

In a second night of racial violence in Sydney, residents have been bashed and property damaged throughout the eastern suburbs. Hundreds of men, some armed with guns and crowbars, damaged cars and businesses, and attacked people randomly. Five men have been arrested and charged.

Police called in riot equipment and extra officers saying car loads of people arrived in the area with many taking part in attacks on property. A witness said police with guns drawn arrested a number of people. There were reports of gunshots near North Cronulla beach, but police said there had been no shots fired.

Hundreds of men congregated around Lakemba Mosque at 4:30pm after rumours spread that it would be attacked. The men scuffled with police, and three officers received minor injuries.

There have been more reports of SMS messages promoting further violence against against the opposing parties circulating.

“Carloads of men” terrorise eastern suburbs

In an escalation of yesterday’s conflict, up to 70 cars invaded Cronulla and Brighton-le-Sands on Monday night – following the vicious attacks by Cronulla locals on Sunday. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Twenty carloads of men arrived at Cronulla by about 10.30pm, smashing shops and cars and threatening people who got in their way.

A woman was reportedly stabbed in Carringbah. Four men attacked patrons of a Pizzeria, knocking a woman unconscious on the footpath and smashing windows. Around 100 Cronulla locals surrounded a car carrying men of Middle Eastern appearance. Police dispersed the mob and let the car escape.

At Brighton-Le-Sands, about 100 men in cars arrived in the area, throwing objects at cars and shops. Mobs ripped out garbage bins, police dogs and helicopters were called as furious locals began to gather, threatening to take back the streets from “wogs and Lebanese”. Police yelled at local residents to stay inside.

A police media release listed these assaults occurring:

  • A 27-year-old Bexley woman and her 30-year-old husband were attacked at a restaurant at Caringbah both suffering facial and head injuries.
  • A 35-year-old Lansvale man suffered head injuries and severe facial bruising after being attacked at a Cronulla youth hostel.
  • A 45-year-old Cronulla man suffered fractured ribs and head injuries as he attempted to place garbage bins outside his Hume Street home.
  • A 49-year-old Woolooware man suffered a fractured forearm after being struck by a baseball bat at Cronulla.

Five men were arrested and charged. The men were from Guildford, Sandringham, Ashcroft, and Hurstville, and the charges included assault police, not comply with directions, driving in a manner dangerous, being in custody of a knife, assault, breach of bail, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, affray and malicious damage. The men charged were between 22 and 30 years of age.

Lakemba Mosque

Earlier, about 200 men had assembled outside a Mosque – some armed with pistols. The group said they had gathered to protect the Lakemba mosque because of a threatened attack on it by a gang from the southern beaches. Another group said they were preparing to travel to Maroubra Beach, where up to 300 locals, many armed with crowbars, waited for an arranged fight.

Police confiscated iron bars and other weapons and blocked roads around the mosque. About 20 police cars surrounded the mosque, where four men showed their pistols and ammunition to a news crew, and boasted that others were carrying arms. Police were pelted with rocks as the crowd dispersed, but no one was injured.

Fears of a third night of violence

Amidst fears of a third night of violence in Sydney some 450 police officers have been deployed in the city to respond to any disturbances. The New South Wales Deputy Commissioner of Police Andrew Scipione says that while they have no specific intelligence, Police expect more unrest tonight. He has also said that if needed he will seek assistance from police in other states.

Police to gain new powers

The New South Wales Parliament will be recalled from their Christmas-New Year holiday on Thursday 15 December, 2005 to pass legislation giving police the power to shut bottle shops and hotels, lock down areas and impound and search vehicles.

At present police in New South Wales can ask bottle shop and hotel owners close their doors but can not force them to do so.

Organising via SMS and Usenet

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: 2005 Sydney race riots

Police are also investigating SMS messages calling on young Arabs to start another round of attacks at Cronulla Beach next Sunday. Another congratulated Australians for the fight against the Lebanese, but called for more attacks. “We’ll show them! It’s on again Sunday,” the message said.

A Usenet posting signed by an unknown entity “Action for Australia” is calling on Australians to become “True Blue Patriots” and rally on Australia Day in 2006. “We will assert our democratic right to march through the streets of Lakemba,” the posting said.

Claiming that the Sydney suburbs of Bankstown and Lakemba are the true source of the “Lebanese and muslim trouble”, they are wishing to arrange a march through Lakemba to demonstrate that “Australians wish to reclaim the streets”.

Related Wikinews

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
2005 Sydney race riots
  • “Violence at Cronulla Beach as 5000 people gather” — Wikinews, December 12, 2005

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