Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jenny Macklin

I know Jenny Macklin is in the Labor Party, because I ran into her name while researching Julia Gillard.

Her name doesn't sound like a politician's name to me. It sounds like a child you'd find in someone's third grade class picture. Little Jenny with her braids. The boy who sat behind her would tease her by pulling them. She'd cry and her nose would make little snot bubbles.

All right. My imagination is running away from me here.

Let's get down to business.

Macklin was born on 29 December 1953.

Birthday Website time!

She's a 5 in numerology. In astrology, she's a Capricorn.

5 is about freedom. What's a Capricorn? I forgot.

Lord Wiki says their ambitious, hard-working, and career-oriented. That's pretty fitting for a politician.

Macklin was born in Brisbane, but grew up in Victoria. I wonder why the family left Brisbane?

She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in economics! Oh. That's something different for a change--no art and law. Although I think other people I've researched have gotten degrees in Economics. William McMahon! I think? By the way, now I'm dreaming about him instead of his son. I might as well start dreaming about the whole damn family.

Macklin spent time in Japan as a student.

She was a Marxist and Lord Wiki says she's part of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party. He says this is kind of like a group within the party. They advocate for things such as gay rights, reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians, and women's rights.

Before entering politics, it seems Macklin was into research.

From 1976-1978 she was a researcher at Australian National University. I guess that meant she moved to Canberra for awhile.

From 1978-1981, she was still in Canberra. But now she was working for the library...more research though.

She returned to Melbourne in 1981. Now she was the research coordinator at the Labour Resource Centre. I wonder if that's referring to the Labor Party.

In 1985, she became the adviser for the Victorian Minister of Health. Why? What did she know about health? Her thing was economics. Maybe she advised the Minister about the economic aspects of health? Is that it?

The health thing must have been a good fit for Macklin because next she became the director of the Federal Government's Health Strategy.

In 1993, she became the director of the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review.

Lord Wiki doesn't say when she was elected to Parliament. But he says as soon as she was, she became elected to the Opposition Cabinet.

In 1998, she became Shadow Minister for Health.

Then in 2001, she became Simon Crean's deputy leader. Lord Wiki says she's the first woman in one of the major parties to hold this type of leadership position.

Somewhere in all of this she became Minister of Education.

There was some leadership switching in the Labor Party. The leader was Crean, then Latham, and then Beazley. Macklin remained Deputy Leader for all three of them. I wonder which of those guys were her favorite?

Julia Gillard challenged her as leader in December 2006. When Kevin Rudd became leader of the party, she stepped down. Maybe she had decided she had been the Deputy for too many different leaders.

With Rudd as Leader, Macklin still remained an important part of the party. She took on the role of Shadow Minister for Family and Community Service, and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation. Once the Labor party was in power, Macklin kept these positions. But now she no longer had to be in the shadow.

Because of her role as Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation, she played a big part in Sorry Day.

Okay. Now I'm done with Lord Wiki. It's time to move on to other things.

Here's Macklin's website. She has the seat for the division of Jagajaga in Victoria. That's in the northeastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Little Jenny went to primary school in a small town in Victoria called Cohuna. It's about two hours north of Bendigo. She moved east to Wangaratta for high school. Why did they move?

Macklin likes camping, surfing, jazz music, bushwalking, and Australian Literature. I like Australian Literature too!

This government website has her speech from the World Indigenous People's Conference. The speech is from December 2008. That's not too long ago.

She says, The national apology to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations, was the first step to build a bridge of respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I like how she says first step. It's not the end. It's not like you should say sorry. Okay. I said it. Now get over it. An apology without a vow to change and make amends is pretty meaningless.

Macklin tells the story of a man named William Cooper. He was an Indigenous Australia from Victoria--a Yorta Yorta man. He left his mission school too early to get a formal education. He did physical labor. When he was an adult, he realized the power of education. He realized that reading and writing would help his fight for Aboriginal rights. So, he learned. He founded the Australian Aborigines League.

Cooper didn't just fight for Aboriginal rights.

He read about The Night of Broken Glass; a precursor to the Holocaust. While most of the world remained silent and indifferent, Cooper did not. He got a group together and walked to the German Consulate in South Melbourne. He went there to speak out against what was happening. Unfortunately, they refused to listen or talk to him. But at least he tried. That means a lot.

I love Macklin's speech because it emphasizes the use of education to enhance compassion and make the world a better place. I think too often education is seen as a way to get ahead...way ahead. You buy educational videos for your baby so they can get smart enough to get into the top preschool. They go to the top preschool so they can get into the most prestigious private school. They go to the best private school so they can get into one of the top universities. They go to the top university so they can get a law degree and/or medical degree. Then you can feel you did a good job raising your children. For your reward, you can visit their huge house and watch a game on their big screen TV.

Now I'm going to look at the Parliament website.

She did a lot of traveling in the Autumn of 2006....UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark. I wouldn't mind going to those countries. I prefer going to Australia though.

Now I'll read her first speech. I wonder if I'll like it. I have a feeling I will.

I do like what she says here, The message is that growth is more likely to occur in places which are cohesive and equitable, places which are pleasant and attractive — not just for the elite, but for everyone.That makes a lot of sense to me. I don't think humans need luxury. But I think we feel better when we're in a place that's comfortable and not completely disgusting.

She says Labor's better cities program has shown us that we can rejuvenate disadvantaged areas by getting the community, the private sector and all spheres of government involved. I think this is what needs to happen in Redfern.  

She also says, It is equally imperative that we give more attention to the education and training needs of adults. People need the chance to acquire new knowledge and new skills throughout their lives. We can give them that chance by turning our schools into learning centres for the whole community.  

 I think this is a brilliant idea.

 In my little idealistic utopia, the majority of families homeschool their children. Instead of schools, there'd be community centers where people could learn what they'd want to learn. Maybe it would be open in daytime as well as the evening. People who work could take night classes. They could have parent-child classes. Instead of sitting around and watching television together, a mother and son could learn how to decorate a cake together. A father and daughter could take a statistics class together. Husbands and wives (or husbands and husbands/wives and wives) could take martial arts together while their kids take television production classes.

I think that would be so awesome.

This ABC website has a transcript of an interview with Macklin regarding the abuse of children in Aboriginal communities. It was done when Howard was in power.

She says, I just want to say at the outset that we do support the urgent introduction of additional police into these communities. Many of the women, the grandmothers, the aunties, the people who have been protecting or doing their best to protect these children over the years have been crying out for additional police resources for a long time. So we certainly support getting extra police in there

I remember, when I read about Redfern, that it seemed they resented the strong police presence. I think this is because the police seemed to be there to arrest people. There's a huge difference between feeling the police are around to catch you doing something illegal, and having the police around to protect you.

The interview is interesting. Macklin strongly sticks up for the Liberal Government policies. The guy doing the interview seems to be trying to get her to stop being supportive. He does a lot of probing.

Here's an editorial that doesn't seem to be very pleased with Macklin. So far, I'm getting that Macklin makes general promises without specific plans. Similarly, the proposal for Governments to "reset their relationship with Indigenous people based on genuine consultation, engagement and partnership", while a clarion call, is not a prescription for specific action. Once again, the devil must be in the detail.
That makes sense to me.
The editorial says a lot of other important stuff, but most of it goes way over my head.

Here's another opinion. Maybe I'll understand this one better. It's an open letter from an Aboriginal woman to Macklin. She starts off very positive. She thanks the government for fixing a church, helping them create an arts building, and helping with more houses in the community. Then she says, We appreciate the help the governments are giving with these things. We believe that you know that they are the tip of the iceberg. Hiding under the water are the same old problems - bigger than ever.
I like how she said that...very eloquent.

I like this bit too. I believe the reason why all our lives out here have become so difficult and painful over the last 30 years is that governments, who have the power over us because they have the money we need to make the changes from old ways to new ways, have stopped listening to us. Listening properly. Taking the time. Working with us. Trusting us to be responsible for our own lives - since we know them best.  I think the issue is people need outside help, but at the same time they need control. They need the community to belong to the people who actually live in the community.

Here. I just thought of an analogy.

A woman has a baby. She's financially fortunate enough to be able to afford a baby nurse. This is great, or it has the potential of being great. Baby nurses have different types of personalities. One baby nurse might be very controlling. She comes in with the idea that she understands babies more than the mother. She often criticizes the new mother. She constantly gives the new mother directions. She even grabs the baby at times when she feels the mother isn't doing things the right right. The nurse doesn't listen to the mother. She doesn't pay attention to what the mother wants or fears. She doesn't care. What could this ignorant mother know? All she should know is how lucky she is to have such a brilliant nurse available to help her.

Now let's look at another baby nurse. She's been at the job for a long time. She has a lot of knowledge and abilities. But she recognizes that each baby is different. She realizes each mother is different. She listens to what the mother wants. She listens to what the mother fears. She steps in when needed and steps back when the mother and new baby need their space. She gives her services without being controlling. She helps without insulting. She sees herself and the new mothers as equals. She doesn't see the new mother as being inferior.

What happens to these two mothers? I imagine the first mother will feel degraded. I think her self-esteem will sink. She'll become extremely dependent on the nurse. She'll stop trusting her own instincts. I think the second mother will feel empowered.

Some people know how to help in a way that makes us feel empowered. Other people help in a way that makes us feel foolish, worthless, and hopeless.

What the author of the letter asks for is the government to listen. She feels they come for a quick visit and then they leave again.

This article is a bit more positive. It says that the government is putting $200,000 towards a grant that will help young Indigenous Australians who play football. She says, They can use their sporting talents to become leaders in their own communities and in the broader Australian community. We understand just how important sport is for young people's health. That makes sense to me.  It's a good way to empower people.

I think this article here is saying that Macklin doesn't believe a new Indigenous Representative Committee should have legislative abilities. She feels it would be unconstitutional. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. Would that make a situation where there's two separate government bodies? Is it better when people work together under one government?

I don't know. It has made me think though. Why is a white woman the Minister of Indigenous Affairs? I'm not trying to be racist. It just seems like it would make more sense if the Minister was Indigenous herself. Speaking of that, how many Indigenous Australians are in Parliament right now? Well....according to Lord Wiki there are none right now, and there have been only two in history.

That's not good.

America has only one Native American right now in Congress. That's not too good either.

Anyway, I'm not the only one who feels the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs should be actually a member of the Indigenous community. This Aboriginal teenager agrees with me. Jenny Macklin, you are a white woman who does not understand, or want to understand what will work best for our people, your time is up, move over and let an Aboriginal person be in charge of Aboriginal affairs.

This website is about the Northern Territory Intervention. They're very much against it. I don't know enough about the program to give an opinion. And I don't have time right now to research it. I'll have to come back to that at a later date and then I'll have a better idea of whether I'm for or against it.

Regardless of that, I do feel white people should be very much involved in the improvement of Aboriginal communities. I just don't feel they should be the leaders in this whole process. I think they should listen and assist in a way that's not ethnocentric and/or controlling.