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The Correspondent January-February 2003 PDF Print E-mail
The Correspondent
(Journal of The Foreign Correspondents' Association)
January-February 2003

Newsletter Index Live life, but be alert! by Agneta Didrikson
"How good is your front line"? American journalist Saul Lockhart asked the question we all were thinking when Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs addressed the members of the FCA on the very timely subject "Terror at our doorsteps".
"It is as good as any other country's, but it is not perfect and not as good as we would like it to be", was the Minister's answer.
Alexander Downer & Agneta Didrikson
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in conversation with FCA president Agneta Didrikson.
Photo credit: Peter Kelly
Around 70 journalists and consular people had gathered at DFAT´s Sydney office to listen to and talk with Alexander Downer. The Minister talked about Bali and the co-operation between the Indonesians and Australians in trying to find out the Who and the Why behind the tragedy. The two countries will next year co-host a conference about "Financing of Terror" for the region.
Australia also works together with Japan to find ways to educate people in the developing countries to counter terrorism. It has signed agreements to work together against terrorism with Malaysia and Thailand and there is one in pipeline with the Philippines.
"In Malaysia there have been 51 arrests based on charges of terrorism since September 11 last year", said Mr Downer, defending the raids made by ASIO on homes of suspected persons with terrorist-links.
"We believe that it is our duty to pass on to the people of Australia what intelligence we receive from our sources. We do not want to start a panic, but we want Australians to have the same basic knowledge as the Government", Mr Downer said, adding "It is hard to find the right balance. We must not let the terrorists change our way of life, but we have to keep alert".

Newsletter Index Mellow minister lifts mist off myths by Agneta Didrikson
No, it was not a "do it yourself" Lego Detention Centre in the box delivered by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
The new kit, which can be picked up from the Sydney Media Centre as soon as it opens on December1, had instead video and pamphlets about how to "Manage Migration". Philip Ruddock, the minister for the department, had asked to address the FCA on the matter of "managing migration" and so he did one morning in November at the Sydney Media Centre. Sadly, too many members missed the opportunity to listen to the Minister. Much mellower than at earlier times with the FCA, Mr Ruddock described how Australia was managing immigration across its borders. For the past 12 months, there had not been a single boat with illegal immigrants on our shores. And some of the people arriving on the famous Tampa are now returning to their home country, mainly Afghanistan.
The small group of journalists and the Minister discussed business immigration which was very successful, but the numbers were small. "Why would a successful businessman in say Singapore move to Australia?" asked the minister and answered the question himself: "Only if you fear for your future would you consider moving to another country".
Before the return of Hong Kong to China there were many business migrants coming from Hong Kong, but now they mostly come from Taiwan, Indonesia and South Africa. Australia gets around 2,500 with families each year. The country today accepts between 70,000 and 100,000 migrants a year. Out of these 60 per cent are skilled migrants compared to 30 per cent six years ago. The new rules for international students coming to study in Australia has raised the intake of skilled migrants. According to the Minister, Australia is a generous immigration country. It also takes 12,000 refugees in a country of 19 million people, whereas USA takes about 25,000 refugees!!
We also discussed the list of more than 200,000 persons on the "watch list". The minister said that on that list there are about one million persons some with lost passports.
As to raising the population of Australians in future through immigration, the minister said there is competition for the skilled migrants of the world and we don't want to lower our standards when it comes to accepting immigrants. He thinks that by 2050 there will be around 25 million Australians.

Newsletter Index Eco Tourism: the Ultimate Con Trick? by Mark Chipperfield
You may not have noticed but some months ago the United Nations declared 2002 the Year of Eco Tourism. Sustainability is the new mantra of world tourism. Far from despoiling the environment, we're assured that today's hotels and resorts are now its most loyal custodians.
Cynics like myself may wonder if anyone really takes all of this talk about eco-tourism seriously. Is the tourism industry really a torchbearer for the environmental movement? Or could this be a crude manipulation of our eco-guilt?
The real problem with eco-tourism is that no one quite seems to know what the term actually means. Eco-tourism seems to cover everything from living with an Inuit tribe to only flushing the toilet once in your Kuala Lumpur hotel. Although some countries, such as Australia, have established accreditation systems, the eco-tourism sector is largely self-regulated. The result is that any operator who installs a solar panel or puts a dolphin on the letterhead can claim eco-tourism status.
Many countries are also starting to realise that indigenous cultural tourism is a useful and lucrative -- adjunct to nature-based travel. The Canadian Tourism Commission estimates that First Nations tourism could be worth at least $US1 billion to the national economy by 2009.
The problem is that many indigenous people do not want to work as bit players in a cultural theme park. At Uluru, Australia's pre-eminent indigenous icon, the cultural centre is inundated by requests from foreign visitors to meet or even see one of the Aboriginal custodians. "It's just a nightmare," said one harassed worker. "We get about half a million visitors a year and there are only 250 Anangu. We just don't have enough Aborigines to go around."
The politics of eco-tourism were enthusiastically debated at an international tourism conference in New Delhi earlier this year. Many delegates embraced eco-tourism as a global tooth fairy which could bestow wealth, long life and happiness to all of God's children.
"Tourism is not merely leisure or entertainment or physical invigoration or mental rejuvenation," the Indian minister of tourism and culture, Shri Jagmohan told the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) conference.
"It could also serve as a potent instrument for the elimination of poverty, for ending employment [and] for promoting dialogue among civilisations."
As the minister explained, the problem with eco-tourism is that to date only affluent nations can afford the sophisticated infrastructure required to satisfy today's discerning traveller.
But Australian futurologist Richard Neville says post-World War II tourism which had brought neither enlightenment to the West or justice for the downtrodden. "The world seems a much more dangerous place than it did when I first hit the overland trail [to India in the 60s] and the gap between rich and poor seems to be growing even wider," he said. Despite his reservations, Neville still believes that sensitive, humane and "authentic" travel experience has much to offer modern society and a population deeply inculcated in the creed of global consumerism. "How can you entice people out of their suburban cocoons? By recognising and nourishing the deeper meaning of travel that goes beyond manipulated shopping tours, themed restaurant and fake cultural performances. There is a huge market out there wanting to touch, feel and experience the world as it really is, as opposed to merely accepting official replicas of the world portrayed in the media," he said.
If eco-tourism does indeed respond to that human yearning for connection and authenticity then it is to be applauded. One suspects, however, that we may be the victims of a fad which will soon look as ridiculous as the safari suit. "Eco Tourism? That was pretty big a couple of years ago," a senior tourist bureaucrat told me. "The wave has passed."
Maybe it's simply that in an industry built on escapism, indulgence and fantasy, no one really wants to be reminded of environmental degradation, indigenous suffering and economic injustice. Another glass of Chardonnay?

Newsletter Index Thoughts of a Saltwater Fella by Mark Chipperfield
A small but enthusiastic audience turned out to hear John Moriarty OA address the Foreign Correspondents' Association at the Sydney Media Centre on November 19.
While he based his talk on the theme "Can Tourism Save Indigenous Culture?" Mr Moriarty also delved into what he called the wider political issues facing Aboriginal people today.
As a member of the Stolen Generation, the respected Aboriginal entrepreneur said he had witnessed the white welfare system first-hand and understood its shortcomings.
John Moriarty
Thoughts of a Saltwater Fella
Photo credit: Jimmy Pozarik
Mr Moriarty, the founder of Sydney-based design firm the Jumbana Group, said that government should certainly help foster Aboriginal-based tourism, but leave the major initiative with the people themselves.
"I believe that the government should support but not dictate," he said. "We must learn from past mistakes." Having served as a senior public servant in Canberra, Mr Moriarty argues that in developing their own businesses Aboriginal people are better served by private enterprise than by government intervention.
This was especially true in the burgeoning tourism sector where Australia's tourism authorities had failed to grasp the full potential offered by indigenous cultural tourism.
"Numerous surveys show that when tourists to this country are asked what they most what to experience, they say Aboriginal culture," he said. "And why should that be so surprising? We have the oldest continuous living culture on the planet."
The enormous success of the Wunala Dreaming Qantas 747 (and its three successors) were a perfect illustration at the level of international interest in Aboriginal life and culture.
"The first landing of that plane in Japan [in 1994] caused an enormous amount of excitement," he said. "The next day the Yomiuri Shimbun, the daily newspaper in Tokyo with a circulation of 10 million, carried a front-page story with a picture of Wunala Dreaming."
Since that time Mr Moriarty has worked closely with coach company AAT Kings developing a range of indigenous cultural experiences around Australia. "We've had great success with these tours," he said. "You can even do an Aboriginal tour of the Sydney Harbour many people don't realise that Sydney has the biggest Aboriginal community in Australia."
In response to questions from the floor, Mr Moriarty said he did not underestimate the problems facing Aboriginal people living in remote areas, but felt that tourism offered the perfect way of maintaining culture while providing much-need income and employment.
Indeed, the eloquent designer is currently working with members of his own people at Borroloola to develop small-scale tourism in East Arnhem Land. "It's going to take time," he said. "But I'm confident with enough good will and encouragement we'll get there in the end."(John Moriarty's autobiography 'Saltwater Fella' is published by Viking Books, Melbourne.)

Newsletter Index Free trade, barriers for media by Neena Bhandari
Australia in recent years has come under much criticism for its detention centres created to house illegal immigrants. This week, local and international journalists reporting on the informal meeting of World Trade Organisation ministers got the feel of a `detention centre' of a different kind.
Urs Bucher
Photographer and FCA member, Urs Bucher.
An email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had informed all journalists to collect their accreditation between 4.30 am and 5.30 am on the day. Most of us thought the time listed was a typing error and got back to the sender with the hope that it was 4.30 in the evening.
Alas! prompt came the reply that for security reasons it had to be at that unearthly hour.
In the garb of darkness, before the anti-globalisation protesters would arrive, we would be transported to Homebush Bay in special buses. With most of the foreign media having only one country representative, the question was as to which side of the fence should one be?
As the Indian Minister for Disinvestment, Commerce and Industry, Arun Shourie, was here and India, as most felt, would be the leading voice for the developing world, I decided to set my alarm for 3 am.
After days of scorching heat, that morning I woke up with the sound of raindrops falling on my window. As the cab rolled on the streets of a city still asleep, I strained my ears to hear `No war, no WTO' and the like, but the 15-minute journey to the registration desk at Novotel in Darling Harbour was uneventful.
Within minutes, I had my badge with my photograph hanging on my chest, which was constantly swirled like a pendulum by the wind. The scrutinizing eyes of the security personnel would always miss it. Time and again, I was stopped, "Your accreditation, madam".
Security cordon
Security cordon keeping the anti-globalisation protesters at bay.
If only I had a glue stick or gum, I would stick it on my shirt for good. Television crews and cameras on tripods stood still in the rain, awaiting the protesters, who were probably not as conscientious as us, to arrive at that hour. At the stroke of 5 am, the bus departed for the Novotel Hotel at Homebush Bay, the site of the Sydney Olympics, which had been transformed into a virtual impregnable fortress. A 30-minute trip took over two hours as we were constantly asked to alight, making way for the anti-bomb squads, special security dogs and metal detectors. So much for security, there was no coordination. The security guards never searched us, the bags and the bus together, giving one the opportunity to sneak that `gun' from the coat pocket to the bag and then under the seat and into the `impregnable fortress', where amidst unprecedented security Trade Ministers from 25 countries including India, China, Japan, the United States, European Union and Head of the WTO Supachai Panitchpakdi were engaged in serious deliberations.
A three-foot barbed wire fence around the hotel had been erected to keep the protesters at least three km away from the cosy confines of the ministers meeting room. All public and private transport access to the area had been closed and there were over a thousand policemen and five helicopters keeping vigil.
As my German colleague, who had reported for many years from Eastern Europe during the Cold war said, "It would turn the communists green with envy to see what the Australians have managed to achieve with the media".
Security dog
A security dog sniffs journalists' bags. Urs Wälterlin, South Pacific correspondent for German language media in Europe, captures through his lens the mood at the Novotel hotel in Homebush, where the WTO ministers met last month.
Once inside, you couldn't get out until 8 pm, when the first bus was to head back to the city. Another Swedish colleague, who had reported on various American and Russian summit meetings, said she had never seen such "overkill" of journalists.
While many managed to get page one bylines and major displays in their respective print and electronic outlets. Filing a story from a room packed with journalists and photographers like sardines in a box, entailed great amount of manoeuvreing and skill. Only the fortunate managed to plug their laptops to one of the only 20 power points. I decided to use the two computers provided with internet access.
Thinking straight amidst the din of tape-recorders and moving the fingers on the keyboard without elbowing your colleague was achieving a major feat. Just when I had finished my long report for the Press Trust of India, the modem refused to function and the A: drive wouldn't recognize the floppy. So there I was stuck with the story in the system without an outlet, envying the AFP reporter next to me, who had managed to send her's out.
At the final media briefing, India's viewpoint was much in demand and that was evident in the number of reporters and NGO representatives, who had been escorted to hear Mr Shourie in his hotel room.
Soon after, we caught the 8 pm bus back home, but for me it was few more hours on the computer making up for the lost stories, but of course the lost time on the wires was not to be retrieved.

Newsletter Index When Santa came to town... Photograph and text by Jimmy Pozarik
Back in the late 80's, just prior to Christmas, all Time Magazine correspondents around the world were encouraged to submit a holiday essay idea. Only one would be chosen globally as the front of the book essay for that issue. It was very competitive and considered a great honour for the 'winning' reporter/photographer team. At the time, John Dunn from Melbourne was Time's Australian correspondent and I was Time's South Pacific contract photographer. John had submitted his proposal and won.
Every year at Christmas the Tea and Sugar freight train that ran across the Nullarbor would put on an extra car at the end of the train for Santa. Santa was a retired railroad employee, and he and his wife and his best friend and his wife, would gather donated toys to bring aboard to pass out to the children living in the tiny outback settlements along the way. Aboriginal kids would walk for days to meet up with the train to get their presents as well.
But Santa liked a drink. Actually, he liked lots of drinks. The reality was he was pissed for the entire journey. But this did not stop him from being a great Santa. For John and I this was a trip to remember forever. Though many hours were spent just watching the desert go by, other moments were so poignant it left a lump in the throat.
One late night at about 11 pm, we pulled into the tiniest of remote settlements. The whole 'town' turned out. Totally bewildered and rubbing the sleep from his eyes, a little boy nervously walked up to Santa and stared up, unable to speak. Finally he gathered his courage and said, "Santa, how did you ever find me?" And John knew then and there, not only had Santa found the boy, but he had found the lead to his story.

Newsletter Index Merry Christmas...It's party time!
Nina Fudala, Paul Ham, Esther Blank and Robert Milliken
Nina Fudala, Paul Ham, Esther Blank and Robert Milliken
It was early Christmas for the FCA. The turnout for the luncheon wasn´t the largest, but those who came ate, drank and made merry and some returned home with doorprizes! Esther Blank, vice-president took home the Macquarie Bank Hamper! Joe Mellis of Orlando Wines, Wyndham, generously donated the wine for the lunch, which also catered for a few raffle prizes. Thanks to members and sponsors for their support during a rather difficult year, Merry Christmas and lots of good wishes for 2003 from Agneta Didrikson President
Photographs: Jimmy Pozarik
Paul Lockhart
Paul Lockhart won one of the wine door prizes
Urs Wäand Urs Bucher
Urs Wälterlin and Urs Bucher
Esther Blank & Joe Mellis
Esther receiving the Macquarie Bank Hamper from Joe Mellis
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