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.


  1. I just love your analogy about the mum who needs help with her baby. That is SO perfectly simple and true. Unfortunately, there is nothing about government (and therefore government intervention) that is simple and true.

    Jenny Macklin is a politician that I've followed closely, as one of my oldest friends is her Chief of Staff. When the Labor party won the last election, I was so excited about the potential for change that I knew Jenny had been pushing for. And I have been disappointed in nearly all levels of our govt (not just Jenny) about their lack of action.

    My friend, Jenny's Chief of Staff, explained to me that once you're in government, you are so snowed under by the red tape and the opinions of others that change is incredibly difficult to achieve. I was disappointed in her explaination, but I accept that this is true.

    All I know is that those IN government are incredibly frustrated too.

    I was so proud of our "Sorry" day, as it was organised by Jenny's staff... and I thought it was done incredibly well.

    But I wish they'd listen to your analogy about the government intervention in the Northern Territory and convince everyone involved to be simple and true.

    Beautiful post Dina.

  2. Fe,

    I was talking to someone else about this--all the red tape in government. I'm wondering if you can make more changes on the outside of government. It's very frustrating.

    Thanks for saying you like the post.

  3. I really like this:

    "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 & husbands/wives & wives) could take martial arts together while their kids take television production classes."

    Schools do not work for so many kids. They are regimented places of 'product in, product out'. Does learning really happen? The kid with the good memory remembers the necessary dates and formulas, the kid with the not so great memory scores lower. Not every kid is a maths whizz; but that does not make him or her any less eager to learn.

    Make learning a community thing - not just drop the kids off at school for six hours and ask at the end of the day "how was school?"

    I'm not a parent, but I can only assume that some of the best bonding a child and parent can have is learning together.

  4. I didn't think Jenny Macklin was very interesting until I read this.

    That assumption would have deterred me from bothering to look any further. Thanks for the revelation.

    About the whites running aboriginal matters: That's a Catch-22. If Aborigines could provide a large enough managerial class from among their own ranks to do what needs wouldn't need doing.

  5. I don't like Macklin - or anyone from the Labor party for that matter. They're all a bunch of conservative invertebrates with less clout than a pack of frozen peas.

  6. Anja: I love learning with Jack. I agree. It is one of the best bonding experiences. What I think is sad is we view learning as a necessary evil that must occur during childhood. There's this idea that if children didn't go to school, they'd never choose to learn. But what about adults? I think most of us DO choose to learn everyday.

  7. Retarius: I think they'd just need one or two--someone to take Macklin's place. I think what often occurs in situations like this is one where someone says "I wouldn't have to do this for you if you were more capable." But the response might be "I would be more capable if you didn't do this for me." Unless we believe Indigenous Australians are racially inferior to white people, there's no reason to believe they couldn't be capable of handling politics.

    RVB: What I find when I do research is that every politician is a complex human being. It's easy to judge people if you see a small aspect of them. It's easy to just put people in categories and say I like these people and I dislike those people. On the surface, I don't like Liberals or Republicans. But when I read about them and their whole lives, it's hard for me to dislike them entirely.

  8. Hi Dina how ya been? Im not a big fan of the intervention, but do agree with some things. The main problem i have with the intervention is that it is racist. The same problems happens in all levels of society regardless of race, so why aren't these measures the same for all Australians. The changing of the anti-discrimination act just to get these laws passed is the real cause for concern and also the government taking control of the lands in 5 year leases, i dont understand why this had to be done. As for the lack of aboriginal MP's, i think most aboriginal people join there land councils, which is like local government councils, and for almost 20 years we had ATSIC, which was like an aboriginal government that ran all aboriginal affairs separate from the federal government but with government funding, sort of like and autonomist government so most aboriginals joined ATSIC rather than mainstream polictics but unfortunately John Howard disbanded ATSIC and it no longer exists

  9. Dina, I don't care about their personal lives. Nobody should. It's their policies (or in the case of Labor, lack of them) that make me want to put a steam-roller to good use. I think George Bush has a lovable personality - but politically, he's no more astute or logical than a turd in an evangelical church.

  10. RVB: I don't much like your personality yet, but I might like your policies. What are they? What do you believe in? Maybe if I learn more about you, I'll find something I like.

    Matt: Thank you for sharing your opinion. It helps me get some insight into things. I still haven't researched the subject, but from what you said...I have a feeling I would feel the same way as you. It does seem racist to me. Why did Howard get rid of the ATSIC? I do think it would be best if there was one government, but I definitely believe that government needs more indigenous representation.

  11. I'm not a politician. I can remain accountable. Surely you'd agree that policy matters most and personality is just a side-interest.

    I'm not a very agreeable chap. The ideas you've expressed on this blog are the most abstract I've encountered yet...but that's cool.

  12. RVB,

    Yes, I agree that policy matters more than personality. I actually think the entries I write concentrate more on policy than personality. I do try to write about childhood and background information because I want to get an idea of where people are coming from.

    Do you disagree? Do you think my posts talk more about personality than policy?

    I'm not quite sure what you mean about my blog being abstract. Could you please explain that. Thanks!

  13. If you'll allow me to be frank and blunt, I think it's exceptionally scary that someone devotes an entire blog to a desert with a population one eighth the size of California. I think it's audacious and I'm cool with that; I'm just a bit stunned and thus I call it abstract. I don't think I could ever bring myself to become so enthralled by a country, writing or anything that isn't the love of my life.

    I think you were focusing on personality a bit too much. But I don't blame you. It's hard to understand other country's politicians and politics without decryping their personalities.
    Just looking at McCain's ad campaign (obviously before the election), and I was completely disgusted. Prop. 8 disgusts me. The fact that creationism is actually given breathing space for discussion is also disgusting. But that's just various American political policies. If I were to move to America (and believe me, it's unlikely...despite my citizenship), I'd probably struggle quite a bit. I'd need to learn the people to really 'learn' the policies...if that makes any sense.
    Mind you, from what the Australian media tells us about your average American, most people there do indeed care about personality before policies (either that or there was a statistical malfunction when they were counting McCain's votes).

  14. John Howard never supported ATSIC from day one and as soon as he got the chance to get rid of it he did. I also think that he didn't like the fact that he had no control so he started taking back control of ATSIC before he disbanded it. We now have a new body called ATSIS but it doesn't have the same powers that ATSIC had. I think what needs to happen is that each tribe has its own representive in ATSIS and to maybe have something like New Zealand where the Maori have three permenent representives in parliament just so the aboriginal voice is heard.

  15. RVB,

    I don't mind frank and blunt as long as you don't mind me being frank and blunt back at you.

    I can't quite understand why you'd find my blog scary. I can understand you calling me (or my blog) weird, strange, unusual, annoying, etc. But scary? War is scary. Racism is scary. Food Poisoning is scary. But my blog? What frightens you about a blog that's dedicated to Australia? And if it does frighten you or disturb you, why do you read it?

    It's not that you're not welcome here. But I feel you come here just for the purpose of telling me that you feel it's wrong that I have this blog.

    It seems there are better things to do with your time. I personally would find it a waste of my time to visit various blogs just to tell the writers I think they're scary for writing what they're writing about. In my eyes, they might be wasting their time dedicating a whole blog to a canceled TV show or a celebrity. But if I spent my time doing this, wouldn't it be me who is truly wasting my time?

    I respect your perception--or at least I respect that it may differ from mine in terms of whether I write too much about personality. I'm not going to change that though. I like what I write. I personally feel I do talk about policy. And I personally feel I don't dedicate too much time to personality.

    If my posts bother you, you don't need to read them. If there's something about my blog that you do like, you're welcome to stay. And even if you simply like to come here to see how ridiculous or scary I'm being, that's fine too. I just think it's a waste of your time.

  16. Matt,

    I think the three representatives in Parliament is a good idea. And then maybe they can have regular meetings with ATSIS. In this way, maybe ATSIS won't have direct power, but they'd have indirect power.

    Then again, I'm not sure if having representatives in Parliament would necessarily help.

    Israel has 12 Arabs in their Parliament. I'm not sure that has done anything to improve the lives of Palestinians.

    But it's kind of depressing and hopeless to look at it that way. I would like to think that if you could get representatives in the government, that this would be a positive step towards helping the marginalized group.

  17. No, I actually enjoy reading your blog - and you seem to know more about the politicians than I do (though I'm not sure about policy).

    But yes, I see your point. I'm only scared in the sense that your angle on Australia is so completely different to mine that it's a bit shocking...maybe 'scary' wasn't quite the right word. Until Australia can do better at the things that Europe can (e.g. health care and social services), I remain disgruntled by Australia and I'd hope others would see the country in the same way I do. Obviously that can't be the case. I get the feeling you're not particularly critical of Australia. I think you should be.

  18. RVB,

    I love Australia so I can't imagine myself becoming too critical of it. I have been critical at times though.

    When I first fell in love with Australia, I was a bit idealistic and naive. I pretty much hated America and I had this idea that Australia was better.

    Now I've done a lot of research and I've seen the dark aspects of Australia. I don't like these aspects of Australia, but I don't go TOO far in criticizing because there's not much Australia has done that America hasn't done worse.

    Anyway, despite knowing the bad stuff I don't love Australia any less. In some ways, I love it more. I now love Australia for what it truly is instead of what I wanted it to be.

    The more I learn about Australia the more I love it and the more it fascinates me....even though it didn't live up to my earlier idealistic notions.

  19. Disillusioned during the Bush years? Or is American culture not conducive?

  20. RVB, I'm not sure if I'd use the word disillusion, just because I associate that word with previously having faith in something. I was never patriotic or a big fan of America. I never had faith in politics or politicians. I was pretty apathetic and ignorant of the whole thing. Then I started educating myself and I was disturbed by what I read.

    What about you? What do you dislike about Australia? How would you like it to change? What are your favorite European countries? I find Sweden to be incredibly impressive. I think Australia and America should look to them for guidance.

  21. That's the problem of trying to squeeze an intelligent comment into this little box - you can overlook nuances.

    When I said "could" I should have pointed out that the disability is simply a product of the history you've seen revealed in First Australians, not an ethnic shortcoming. When Aborigines wanted to acquire these skills they were thwarted. Now we deal with the consequences of starting 150 years late.

  22. Retarius,

    Yeah. I get what you're saying. It makes sense. But I think this is another good reason to get them into politics. If they've been thwarted for all these years, why add more years to it? You gotta start somewhere.