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By Patrick Troy, Australian National University

 

READ MORE: Tom Uren, the fighter who loved

Tom Uren was a “Big Man” not only in stature but in his public life.

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Uren, who has died at the age of 93, was born into a working-class household. Typical of the 1920s and ‘30s, he had a limited formal education and received his training in what he called the “university of adversity”.

Uren did not support or engage in personal diatribes or vendettas. Instead, he tried always to be true to what he saw as important social issues but in ways that were built on respect for others.

Uren first came to prominence as a peace campaigner. He had been a Japanese prisoner of war, having been captured early in the Second World War. His experience working on the Burma-Thailand railway and later outside Nagasaki, the site of the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan which he saw from the nearby prison camp, was significant in shaping his world view.

Uren was not a pacifist but stood against those who argued that resorting to force was a way to resolve differences between nations. He had experienced and witnessed the depths to which men could sink if they were denied the ordinary civilities of human relations, incarcerated and treated with little respect. He was one of the many who benefited from the example provided by Weary Dunlop, seeing him as someone who retained his integrity and decency in even the most appalling conditions.

Taking a stand on principle

 

Once falsely smeared as a ‘commo’ sympathiser, Tom Uren was invested as a Companion in the Order of Australia in 2013. Government House, Canberra, CC BY-NC-ND


 

Uren’s left-wing views brought him to the attention of the press and of some of the more extremist elements of the Menzies government. He was the subject of a claim that he and other ALP members of parliament were close to Soviet embassy officials. Newspaper reporting of the slander led to legal action against the Australian Consolidated Press and Fairfax, which Uren won.

The leadership Uren provided in the struggle over whether Australia should be involved in the Vietnam War was significant. In 1970 he took part in an anti-war demonstration, during which he felt that he had been assaulted by a constable. He took legal action against him, but the charge was dismissed.

Uren felt that the issue was politicised because of his stand against the war and refused to pay the costs awarded by the judge. Turning up to be jailed for non-payment of a fine for participating in an anti-war demonstration dramatised the way in which laws introduced to limit freedom of expression were being used to stifle dissent. It is a salutary reminder of the direction current initiatives could take us.

Uren’s fine was paid anonymously but clearly by someone aware of the damage that could be done to the government’s position if he was not released from jail.

Championing the fair go

Part of Uren’s approach to issues that he saw emerging in Australia was to try to understand the processes that produced the manifest inequalities to be found in the nation, in particular in those areas of Sydney in which he lived.

Uren lived in an outer-Sydney suburb near the home of Gough Whitlam. They were not close friends or factional allies but they shared the frustrations and indignities of living in areas that lacked the most basic of services.

Uren found compelling Whitlam’s analysis and articulation of the problems confronting urban Australia. He began to respond to his challenges by developing his own complementary position.

Whitlam’s setting out of the urban planning challenge in the Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture of 1968 energised Uren. Building on his experience of having to build his own house in suburban Sydney, as so many families in western Sydney had, he recognised the fundamental inequality of access to a wide variety of urban services.

Recognising the role of government

 

Tom Uren’s pioneering legacy as minister for urban and regional development endures to this day. National Archives of Australia, CC BY


 

Much of the inequality grew out of the failure by the Commonwealth, especially during the Menzies years, to help the states develop housing and infrastructure services. This arose from the failure by the Menzies governments to recognise that their policies were the immediate cause of the lack of quality services.

Whitlam and Uren saw that the post-war re-conformation of the national taxation system left the Commonwealth in control of investment in the cities and, through its control over migration, gave it significant control over the demand for urban services. Both immediately recognised that the Commonwealth had a major role to play in improving the quality of life in and operation of Australian cities.

Both were also determined to develop a national role in improving the protection of the environment. Uren often referred to his concern for environmental issues; the National Estate provided opportunities to give effect to what he saw as the gentler side of his personality.

Although Uren had made a name for himself as a boxer of some ability, he reserved that aggressive side of his nature for the ring. He would often caution his departmental staff that he wanted “no hairy-chested behaviour” from them in negotiations with state officials or politicians.

Uren’s larger view of and respect for the abilities and sensitivities of his Commonwealth and state colleagues was the reason he enjoyed productive relations with state governments on a wide range of urban programs.

We could do today with Tom Uren’s skills, integrity and commitment.

Patrick Troy does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Miss Colombia crowned Miss Universe

Posted by admin on 09/30/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿网 

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega has been crowned Miss Universe, beating out first runner-up Miss USA Nia Sanchez and contestants from more than 80 other countries at the pageant in Miami.

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Vega, a 22-year-old student of business administration from Barranquilla, Colombia, said on Sunday the contests leading up to Miss Universe were the first she had participated in.

She also said they would be her last as she would be eager to return to her studies in Colombia after her reign.

“It will be a dream come true to represent the woman of today,” Vega had said earlier in the week in talking about the role of the winner.

“A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person.”

Following Sanchez, the 24-year-old Miss USA from Las Vegas, Nevada, the second runner-up was Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha.

Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell and Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen were also among the top five, emerging from the field of 88 contestants.

Sanchez, a 24-year-old resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, had spoken earlier of looking forward to the often-dreaded interview portion.

She had been running practice questions all week with her roommate Miss Australia Tegan Martin, who made it to the top ten.

Sanchez has a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has travelled the country teaching others. She spoke previously about equipping women to defend themselves against crime.

“It’s just something that’s so prevalent in our society and why not empower women to take control of a dangerous situation into their own hand,” she said.

Miss Colombia was crowned by the outgoing Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler of Venezuela.

Eight former Australians of the Year have penned an open letter urging for the immediate release of asylum seeker children from detention.

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Prominent Australians who have signed the letter included:  Ian Kiernan (1994), Professor Peter Doherty (1997), Professor Gustav Nossal (2000), Professor Fiona Stanley (2003), Professor Ian Frazer (2006), Professor Pat McGorry (2010), Simon McKeon (2011) and Geoffrey Rush (2012)

The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, writes: 

“Australia is a country that justly prides itself on our commitment to fairness and equality. We are a country of hope, with a commitment to the freedom and dignity of all people, embracing the strength in our diversity, that strives to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.

“Indefinite detention of children and babies is at odds with these hopes and principles. 135 children, including babies who were born in Australia, are currently held indefinitely in harsh and unsafe conditions on Nauru.

“Late last year, we were encouraged that the government took the welcome step of announcing the imminent release of child asylum-seekers, scheduled to occur before Christmas. However, we are now concerned that despite this promise, 333 children remain behind wire.

“These children and their parents came to us in desperation, seeking our help. They came to us seeking safety, knowing of Australia’s reputation as a fair, inclusive and just society and knowing we are a people who are never afraid to lend a hand to those in need.”

The letter was organised through UNICEF, which has consistently argued against children in detention. 

“Children who have sought asylum and been detained for many months are extremely vulnerable and should never be used as political leverage as has been alleged here. Detention causes harm to all children, and no children should be left behind,” the organisation has previously said.

Watts wins and slips at SAG Awards

Posted by admin on 09/30/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿网 

Naomi Watts has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, but almost fell flat on her face while walking to the microphone for to accept the award.

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The Australian actress and her cast in Birdman won the SAG ensemble award, upsetting the favourite Boyhood, at Sunday’s ceremony at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium.

The ensemble prize is the SAG equivalent to the Academy Awards’ best picture trophy and boosts Birdman’s campaign at next month’s Oscars.

“Oh my God,” Watts laughed after recovering her footing on stage.

“Almost tripped.”

The slip continued an up and down night for Watts, who was nominated earlier in the ceremony for her supporting role as a pregnant Russian prostitute in the film comedy-drama St Vincent.

That award went to Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette.

English actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays wheelchair-bound theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, scored an upset win over Birdman’s Michael Keaton for best actor.

Redmayne’s win turned the Oscar best actor race into a thriller, with the Englishman and Bradley Cooper, bolsted by his $US200 million-plus box office hit American Sniper, making a late charge at Keaton.

Keaton didn’t appear fazed, as the jubilant Birdman cast won the ensemble prize.

“This is very, very exciting,” Keaton said on stage with Watts, Ed Norton, Emma Stone and Birdman’s other cast members.

“It is the ultimate team sport, what we are doing.”

Best actress was won by Oscar favourite Julianne Moore for Still Alice and supporting actor JK Simmons continued his march to the Academy Awards with a win.

Australia can also claim a SAG win with the stunt team from the Australian-shot, Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken claiming the outstanding action performance by a film stunt ensemble.

The 21st SAG Awards are voted on by more than 100,000 actors.

Murray to play Open party pooper role

Posted by admin on 09/30/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿网 

Andy Murray is unbeaten against Australians, but admits he’s never taken on 15,000 at once.

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That’s the challenge Murray faces when plays Nick Kyrgios in a blockbuster Australian Open quarter-final at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night.

And having ridden a wave of emotion all the way to his 2013 Wimbledon triumph, the British ace is bracing himself against a similar tide of patriotic fervour as he sets about reaching the last four in Melbourne for the fifth time in six years.

“Obviously the crowd will be right behind him. Understandably so,” Murray said on Monday.

“That’s just something that I’ll have to deal with in my way. I’ve played a lot of matches. I’ve played in French Open against French players where the crowd can be very difficult.

“I’ve experienced it before, so hopefully I’ll deal with it well.”

Murray thumped Kyrgios 6-2 6-2 in their only previous meeting, in Toronto last year, but the dual grand slam champion acknowledged that win came in altogether different circumstances.

“Obviously it’s best-of-five sets and it was a fairly empty stadium when we played in Toronto,” Murray said.

“I think Nick enjoys playing in front of a crowd. So that will probably change things a bit, too.”

Kyrgios has lit up Melbourne Park with his electrifying run to the last eight and even Murray says the teenager’s charge has been exciting to see.

“I enjoy watching him play. I think he’s entertaining,” he said.

“He’s had an unbelievable tournament so far. He’s only going to get better and I’m going to have to play a great match to win against him.

“I read that he felt like he could win the Australian Open this year a few weeks ago, so he obviously backs himself a lot.”

But Murray backs himself too, the sixth seed happy to be into his 14th consecutive grand slam quarter-final having dropped only one set in four matches to date this campaign.

“I think my results have showed I have played my best tennis, or played very consistent tennis, at the slams,” he said.

Murray will carry an impeccable 10-from-10 strike rate against Australian opponents into the match.

The winner will face either 2009 champion and third seed Rafael Nadal or seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals.