View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday 18 September

A man who caught burglars red-handed in his home in Cheshire killed one of them by repeatedly stabbing him with a knife last night. There has been an on-going discussion in the UK whether a home owner or occupant is allowed to use force to defend himself against intruders. I can imagine that this could have fatal consequences, but whether murder or manslaughter is condoned in such circumstances is an extremely difficult call to make.

I have been watching a series of programmes on BBC TV highlighting the on-going discrimination of Australia's indigenous population. The circumstances under which those "Aborigines" are living defies all description. A British GP, Dr Mary Fortune, spent 11 weeks at Kununurra, Western Australia, last year, with a camera team in tow. It painted a bleak picture of a community slowly succumbing to alcohol abuse, inadequate or non-existent housing, and systemic government neglect. It made the apology by former Australian PM Kevin Rudd, made three years ago to the Aborigines, sound rather hollow.
However, that all meant nothing to the family who had travelled 600 km (370 miles) to their nearest clinic, with sick children. One, a kiddie of about 3, had pus pouring out of his ears. Number 2, aged about 6 or 7, just wanted to lie down all the time, and was found to be thirsty, hungry and suffering from a chest infection. How can a nation like Australia, which is very like Western Europe in many respects, treat its own citizens like that?