Cancelled: Advertising material from the commemorative event. Photo: SuppliedBeijing: A planned concert series glorifying the life of Chairman Mao has been cancelled in Sydney and Melbourne after strong backlash within the Chinese community prompted police concern over public safety were it to go ahead.
The tribute to Mao Zedong, marking the 40th anniversary of his death, touched a raw nerve among many Chinese-Australians, whose families suffered under the former Communist Party’s brutal legacy, with the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward contributing directly to the deaths of tens of millions.
Demonstrations had been planned for outside the Sydney and Melbourne town halls, where the concerts were to be held next week.
“The International Cultural Exchange Association’s booking at Sydney Town Hall on 6 September is not going ahead due to concerns over public and patron safety,” a spokesperson for the City of Sydney said, adding it had concerns over the “potential for civil disturbance” after consulting with NSW Police.
“The organiser’s plans for ticketing are also of concern to the City, with many tickets already having been distributed for free through community networks, with no standard controls such as numbering, bar-coding and/or counterfeit prevention and no specified conditions of entry.”
The Melbourne concert has also been cancelled by organisers.
The row has highlighted the widening divide within the local Chinese diaspora, with some seeing the Mao concerts as the culmination of an increasingly pro-Beijing tone in their community brought on by an influx of Chinese migrants and business interests in recent years.
The schism is broadly between two camps: those who migrated in the 1980s and 1990s with the spectre of the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 fresh in their memories, and more recent emigres who have been enriched by China’s economic development and are emboldened by their country’s rise as a major international power.
“As Australian-Chinese, we see this trend happening as Chinese-language media in Australia become largely influenced by Chinese government with all sorts of commercial linkages; pro-China groups emerge in Sydney and Melbourne; the incoming of Confucius Institutes in our universities which have spread to high school and primary schools in the name of teaching Chinese,” Embrace Australian Values Alliance spokesman John Hugh said.
“We are not here to be against certain groups, we are here to protect our Australian values. We choose to live in this country so we need to protect our home.”
The concert organisers, the International Cultural Exchange Association Australia (ICEAA), was also behind a high-profile commemorative event last year marking the 70th anniversary of China’s war against Japan, coinciding with a massive military parade in central Beijing.
But Christina Wang, chief executive of the ICEAA, denied any links with the Chinese government and said all key organisers had been in Australia for decades. “We are artists, we just want to put on a good display of song and dance,” she told Fairfax Media.
Just as there was freedom to protest in Australia, she said, people had the right to choose whether to like Chairman Mao. She said she had filed a police report after her car was vandalised.
“We don’t want there to be a split in the Chinese community. If this does cause a divide we are willing to abandon the performances.”
Danish defender Michael Jakobsen is the latest European recruit to Melbourne City, the 30-year-old joining up with his former international teammate Thomas Sorensen as John van ‘t Schip looks to strengthen his defence for a tilt at the A-League title.
With the retirement of captain Patrick Kisnorbo, the departures of Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo to Sydney FC and the long-term injury to Socceroo fullback Ivan Franjic, Melbourne City’s rearguard has been in need of an off-season shake-up.
The club has already brought in Manny Muscat, the ex-Wellington Phoenix defender, and former Central Coast left back Josh Rose, but Jakobsen’s recruitment will increase competition for places in a team that was last season renowned as much for their porous defence as their freewheeling attack.
Only the bottom-of-the-table Mariners conceded more goals than City, although their potent attack, led by Bruno Fornaroli, managed more than two goals a game on average.
Jakobsen is, at 30, a good age – not too old to be slow and injury-prone – and he has experience not just on the international stage, where he won five caps for Denmark, but in his own domestic league and in Europe.
The left-footed central defender was signed from Danish Superliga team Esbjerg but has also played for Aalborg BK (Denmark), Almeria (La Liga), and Lillestrom (Norway).
He has joined the Melbourne City on a two-year deal after being scouted by the Manchester City-owned club’s scouts in Europe. City said on Thursday that the defender had been seen as a priority by the Melbourne team’s director of football, Michael Petrillo, when he attended a recent scouting summit in Manchester.
Jakobsen won the Danish title with Aalborg in 2007-08 and qualified for the 2008-09 UEFA Champions League. He was there at the same time as another former Melbourne Heart/City defender, ex-Socceroo Michael Beauchamp.
Following 153 appearances for AaB, Jakobsen secured a permanent move to Spanish La Liga side Almeria, before returning to Denmark with Esbjerg fB.
City has been busy discarding players and signing new ones, headed by big name arrival Tim Cahill. As well as the Socceroo talisman, Jakobsen, Muscat and Rose, van ‘t Schip has brought in Neil Kilkenny, Bruce Kamau, Daniel Arzani, Ruon Tongyik and Luke Brattan, as well as re-signing of Dean Bouzanis, Nick Fitzgerald and Anthony Caceres.
The Dane will occupy one of the club’s visa spots, and will join his new teammates during the pre-season tour of Townsville next week.
Douglas “Dougie”Heywood Heart of gold: Cardiac rehabilitation volunteer Dougie Heywood was honoured for his dedication and service at the Hunter New England Health Excellence Awards.
WHEN Douglas Heywood had a heart attack in 2005, his doctor recommended he do six week’s worth of cardiac rehabilitation at the John Hunter Hospital.
After he had finished the program, the Windale man fondly known as “Dougie” asked the staff if they’d like him to stay on and give them a hand as a volunteer.
He has been helping out “the girls” – the nurses and physios – who work in cardiac rehabilitation for the past 10 years.
“I asked the girls if they’d like me to hang about and help them out with moving around some of the weights and things like that. They said yes, and I’ve been with the girls ever since,” he said.
“You do get a male nurse or physio in there occasionally too though, by the way.”
Mr Heywood was recently recognised for his contribution to the hospital at the Hunter New England Health Excellence Awards, where he was named Volunteer of the Year.
Having recovered from a heart attack himself, Mr Heywood hoped he provided cardiac patients with peer support, an understanding of their physical and emotional needs, and a healthy dose of good humour.
“Going through it motivated me I suppose,” he said.
“At the time, you’re thinking, ‘I’ve just had a heart attack, am I going to die?’ You get a bit frightened.
“Of course I got through it alright, and there is other people coming in – men and women too – and you can tell they are frightened and a bit scared about what’s going to happen.”
Mr Heywood, 77, said the gentle exercises in the rehabilitation program helped patients start moving again in a safe and monitored environment.
“I just more or less calm them down and show them that it’s alright to do the exercises because the girls are always there, and if they feel any pain at all, to just stop and sit down and the nurses will check them out,” he said.
Mr Heywood also offers help and support to the carers and families – whether it is getting them a cup of tea, or a shoulder to cry on.
“I’ll put out the weights and make sure the machines are on,” he said.
“I’ll walk around and talk to everyone, and offer cups of tea or coffee to their partners. And a drink of water for the patients. If the girls need any help with a patient, like if someone collapses, I’ll help out.”
Cardiac patients who did not take up the opportunity of doing the rehabilitation course were doing themselves a disservice.
“If they do it at the hospital, and feel a bit weak, then at least they can get looked at straight away,” he said.
He enjoyed helping out.
“I feel like I’m giving back something,” he said.
TIGHT LINES: Recreational fishers could soon have to spill their guts on their catch habits.A NATIONAL survey could aim to determine the size of the recreational fishing take.
While recreational fishers have long pointed to the commercial sector for taking the lion’s share of stocks a draft Productivity Commission report suggests otherwise.
The Marine Fishing and Aquaculture report will aim to strike a balance between community benefit and industry profitability.
But the survey threatens to open a “tin of wriggling grubs”.
“You can talk to a fisher and he’ll have 10 snapper in his bag, but all he’ll say is, ‘oh, no I didn’t have a real good day’,” Port Stephens fishing columnist John“Stinker” Clarke.
“You’ll ask him whereabouts and he’ll just say, ‘up north’.”
The Productivity Commission’s best guess is that the number of recreational fishers nationally runs into the millions.
And it’s alleged their catching more fish duetothe rising sophistication and affordability of fish finding sonarthat has “increased recreationalfishers’ ability to fish further offshore and more intensively”.
Commissioner Melinda Cilento saidhistorical attitudes thatprefer one group over another will need to change if Australia is to sustain both recreational and commercial fishing into the future.
“Controls over commercial fishing in most fisheries are too prescriptive,” she said.
“Conversely, there is an attitude of almost benign neglect toward recreational fishing.
“This is despite there being millions of recreational fishers in Australia and that, with the help of technology such as relatively cheap locating sonars, recreational catch now rivals or exceeds commercial catch for some species.”
The commissionerrecommends that regular and systematic collection of evidence on recreational fishing is required every five years. And it’s proposed a national surveyin 2017-18 with the state and territories to meet the cost.
Mr Clarke disagrees.
“If they’re going to do a survey it needs to be done right; you can’t just ask a dozen fishers on one day what they’ve caught, it’s always changing,” hesaid.
“In NSW they need to start at the Tweed and work their way south past every estuary. It would take a year to do it right and it would cost a fortune.”
The draft report also notes the growth of aquaculture as a food source. In 2001 aquaculture produced 30 per cent of the national catch but now stands at 40 per cent.
That’s expected to grow, albeit modestly,with projects like the Port Stephens kingfish farm in the pipeline.
A final report to the Treasurer Scott Morrison is due in December.
A series of public hearings are scheduled nationally includingSydney onOctober 5.
For more information go towww.pc.gov.au.
Save our Rail head Joan Dawson.SAVE our Rail were trying to “save our parliament”, lawyers for the group have argued.
The group is seeking to have theCourt of Appeal judgement in favour of the governmentset aside,along with an order that the community group pay the government’s legalcosts, thought to be more than $800,000.
Save our Rail’s lawyers have arguedthat last November’s judgementshould not have been givenbecause the government passed legislationto close the line in the meantime.
In a Notice of Motion hearingin Sydney’s Supreme Court on Thursday, Save our Rail’s barrister Shane Prince arguedthe matter had become “moot” before the judgement, and that the group would never have brought the case before the courtif the legislation had been brought to the parliament.
Mr Prince said it was “not correct” that the group’s legal case –launched in late December 2014 –was designed to stopthe closure of the rail line, rather it was to “ensure compliance” with the Transport Administration Act.
“The litigation was to preserve the sovereignty of the parliament, and to ensure compliance with [the Act],” Mr Prince said. He said Save our Railhadbeen“vindicated” by the government’s decision to pass legislation.
Justice Robert Macfarlan asked Mr Prince whether the group’s name –Save Our Rail –undermined that argument, at which one of the government’s lawyers remarked “save our parliament”.
But Mr Prince disagreed.“It was always our position that, had the legislation which has been passed been passed, then proceedings would never have been commenced,” he said.
In Thursday’s hearing Acting Chief Justice Margaret Beazley suggested both parties could “walk away” if they could agree on costs.
“If [the government parties] had come to the court and said don’t worry about it, this was fixed up in some other way, we could have walked away,” she said.
But the government–led by the Transport department and Hunter Development Corporation–want the judgement to stand, and for full costs to be paid.
Save our Rail head Joan Dawson told the Newcastle Herald before the hearing that the group’s lawyershad made a number of attempts to settle the matter of costs.
After a two-hour hearing on ThursdayJustice Beazley reserved judgement for a later date.
A key issue was whether the court had been given advice prior that the legislation had made the issue “moot” prior to the judgement.
Both parties disagreed about the result of an email trail that discussed informing the court about the legislation, butJustice Beazleysuggestedthe court had not been given sufficient adviceabout its impact prior to the judgement.
“I think there was a single letter to the court saying the Act had been passed [there was] no suggestion as to what the court ought to do, or not to do,” she said.
Mr Prince arguedthat he had asked the court not to deliverthe judgement before the hearing was closed, but Acting Chief Justice Beazley said that was “another matter”.
“This case had gone right through…the parties had incurred every aspect of cost by the time the legislation was passed,” she said.