Saturday, September 15, 2018

QuickFacts: Australia


I wonder whether we are the only country that eats its national symbol?


In 1992, Doug Mulray hosted Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos, a spinoff to Australia's Funniest Home Videos. It showed such classy home videos as people having sex in public, animals trying to mount people and a child touching the genitals of a kangaroo. Following a commercial break, Mulray quipped "I'd like to sincerely say that if we've offended just one of you, we've failed. We were hoping for half a million offended viewers by now." But one particular viewer was offended: Kerry Packer, the owner of the Channel 9 network. Just 34 minutes into the episode, Packer rang the station and ordered “Get that shit off the air." The broadcast abruptly cut to a Channel Nine ID still and a network announcer reading the following message: "We apologise for this interruption. Unfortunately, a technical problem prevents us continuing our scheduled program for the moment. In the meantime, we bring you a brief alternative program." A Cheers rerun then began. 

Kerry Packer (left), seen here arriving at the Costigan Royal Commisssion with his then lawyer, Malcolm Trumble Turnbull, 1984

HMAS Melbourne, a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier of the Royal Australian Navy, sank two ships but never fired a shot in anger. 

Although purchased by the RAN in 1947, she was not commissioned until 1955 due to works and enhancements. The Oz Government had purchased two aircraft carriers from the Brits after the end of WW2 - HMS Terible and her sister ship HMS Majestic.  Terrible was commissioned without modifications and was renamed HMAS Sydney.  Majestic, when refitted and commissioned, was renamed HMAS Melbourne.

On the night of 10 February 1964, a RAN destroyer, Voyager, passed in front of HMAS Melbourne during Voyager’s post-refit sea trials off Jervis Bay, NSW. Voyager was cut in two by the collision, sinking with the loss of 82 of the 314 people aboard. This was the largest loss of Australian military personnel in peacetime. The subsequent investigations resulted in the holding of two Royal Commissions, the only time in Australian history that two Royal Commissions have been held in respect of a single incident. The second RC came about after pressure from the public, media and politicians that the first RC had been poorly handled, combined with revelations by Voyager's former executive officer as to questionable capabilities of Voyager’s Captain Stevens. The second commission found that Stevens was medically unfit for command and that some of the findings of the first Royal Commission were therefore based on incorrect assumptions. Captain Robertson and the other officers of Melbourne were absolved of blame for the incident 

The collision, artistic depiction

HMAS Melbourne on return to port following the collision. 

The Melbourne was involved in a second collision in the early morning of 3 June 1969, when Melbourne rammed the United States Navy (USN) destroyer USS Frank E. Evans in similar circumstances. Seventy-four American personnel died, and a joint USN–RAN Board of Inquiry was held. The Board found Evans partially at fault for the collision, but also faulted Melbourne for not taking evasive action sooner, even though international sea regulations dictated that in the lead up to a collision, the larger ship was required to maintain course and speed. It was learned during the inquiry that Evans' commanding officer was asleep in his quarters at the time of the incident, and charge of the vessel was held by Lieutenants Ronald Ramsey and James Hopson; the former had failed the qualification exam to stand watch, while the latter was at sea for the first time 

The bow of HMAS Melbourne after her collision with USS Frank E Evans. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a milestone was reached on 7 August 2018 at about 11.00pm when Australia's population hit the 25 million mark. The tally was reached in record time as migration continues to outpace births. Australia's population has grown by 400,000 a year over the past three years, the ABS saying that the Oz population is increasing by one person every 83 seconds. 

While we cannot know for certain who the 25 millionth person was, author and political commentator George Megalogenis said they were most likely a young, female Chinese student or skilled worker. "The two biggest migrant groups in Australia are Chinese and Indians since the turn of the 21st century," he told The World program. "So we're getting an extraordinary number of Chinese and Indians from two countries that are actually rising. Since about 2005, we're receiving more people from overseas than have been added to our population through natural increase, so more migrants than babies.”

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