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Job Number 1

By 2353NM 

They say it’s nice to start with a win. So as we get down to business for another year let’s celebrate a small win (‘I told you so’ is so 2018!).

In May 2015, The Political Sword discussed the release of Anglicare’s annual rental affordability snapshot, which highlighted that 8 of the 65,614 properties available for rent across Australia met the affordability requirements for a single person on Youth Allowance. The results in 2018 were no better. As a part of the 2015 discussion, we highlighted the concept of governments (specifically Utah, New York City and other jurisdictions in the USA) giving the homeless a place to call home as a mechanism to improve the quality of life of those that need a hand. Among the benefits stated at the time were reductions in health expenditure, justice costs and the ability of those who received a place to live to participate to a greater extent in their society as they had a ‘place to call home’. We noted in 2015:

If a person has a home, they are in a better position to access government services, a job application is easier (as personal hygiene is better and the potential employer has a contact point) and a person can make plans for the future.

In the general discussion around cricket teams, which city’s fireworks were better and other first world issues that seem to be front and centre in the Australian media around the beginning of the year, you might have missed that ACT Housing is partnering with tenants to convert rental homes into owned homes by sharing the costs involved with a home purchase. The tenant stumps up the repayments for 70% of the value of the home, the housing agency covers the rest. The ABC reports:

Around 100 public housing properties have been sold-off as part of the scheme, and in half of those cases, tenants have completely bought-out the government — breaking them out of the public housing cycle altogether.

While it’s not quite the same as providing homes for the homeless, it will help. Those that just need a hand to gain home ownership are given what they need and ACT Housing can reinvest the sale proceeds into more housing stock for those that can’t fund private rental homes and therefore meet the greater need with no additional budget. While the ABC article suggests that the implementation may need a bit of work, the concept is sound.

Again we have a progressive (in the non-partisan sense) government showing the current LNP federal government how it should be done. As well as the ACT’s housing policy, South Australia’s former ALP Government managed to introduce alternative energy sources into the state while encountering a F(ear), U(ncertainity) and D(eception) campaign from the current federal government and the then South Australian Liberal opposition. When the opposition became the government in South Australia, they kept the alternative energy generation systems.

During January, Victoria gave planning approval for a wind generation plant that could generate up to 10% of the state’s power requirements (subject to federal government approval) and what do you do with an old gold mine in North Queensland? Turn it into a 320MW solar farm of course!

In May 2015, we also noted:

The Australian Government is in contrast withdrawing money from social service providers. Conservative states in the USA demonstrate that the current Australian Government’s policy is deeply flawed and doesn’t help anyone. At the same time, the Abbott government — to the detriment of our economy — supports processes such as negative gearing, novated leasing and capital gains.

So, four years or thereabouts later, there’s not much different apart from the name of the Prime Minister. The current LNP Government is still sucking funds from non-government organisations that make a real difference to their communities, supporting fossil fuelled electricity generation, woefully inadequate welfare payments, negative gearing, and capital gains policies that actively discriminate against those on lower incomes, as well as kicking own goals on issues such as taking citizenship off ‘alleged terrorists’ that don’t really have dual citizenship (seriously, a simple phone call would have saved Dutton from that particular embarrassment).

While Morrison was on leave over Christmas, leaving the country in the ‘capable’ hands of the National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, he did admittedly slap a racist Queensland Senator (the one that Hanson complains about) across the face with what seemed to be a wet lettuce leaf when he used taxpayer funds to fly to Melbourne in business class to attend a meeting with assorted other right wing zealots while claiming to represent his Queensland constituents (possibly all the 19 people that voted for him but not many more).

As soon as Morrison came back to work, like most leaders he announced his plan of attack for the new year. Is it something that will improve the standard of living for a large number of us that live in Australia such as adoption of an energy policy that will see Australia meet or exceed our commitment to the Paris agreement (meeting or exceeding the Paris agreement is entirely possible by the way); is it sorting out the mess whereby Australians can’t find out about the machinations of government that affect them; is it increasing welfare payments so those that receive them receive a realistic amount to survive with some dignity; is it devising or implementing a solution to the taxation mess where negative gearing and other ‘legal options’ for high income people distort the ability of the government to help those in need, or even sorting out the mess that is the Liberal Party in Australia so they represent more than their mythical ’base’ at the election later this year?

Of course not. Morrison’s self-proclaimed first item of business is to propose new regulations that require citizenship ceremonies must be held on Australia Day.

Give us strength.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Beware the Yellow Vests

By Christian Marx  

Any keen observer of geopolitics will by now be well acquainted with the Yellow Vests in France. This remarkable movement is primarily anti-capitalist in tone. The French people have had enough of the crippling austerity of neoliberal capitalism. Unlike America or Australia, the people of France have a robust class consciousness.

Unfortunately, Australia is not so blessed. Years of adulterated consumer culture and an almost universal monopoly on our media landscape has produced a culture of extreme narcism and a lack of the most rudimentary insight into our political landscape and the machine driving it.

The French have a deep history of tackling extreme inequality. The most famous period in their history is the period of 1789-1794, known as the French Revolution. The rich were disposed of in a prolonged and very bloody coup. How did it become so frenzied and bloodthirsty? Millions wanted to eat and were starving, while the decadent bourgeoisie filled their bloated bellies with the blood of the working class. One could argue that they were metaphorical vampires. Feasting on the carcasses of the poor, this elderly, the sick, and even children’s misery.

Australia is not quite at the levels of poverty the French had to contend with circa 1789, but alarm bells should be ringing among the populace. Take a walk through the streets of any major city during the day. You will see hundreds of rough sleepers in the main streets. Contrast this with 25 years ago and there was not a single homeless person in sight. I can remember Melbourne of the late 80s/early 90s and it is unrecognisable compared to today.

How did it get this way? The cancer of neoliberal capitalism. Basically, an economic and social theory that puts the profits of the few ahead of the needs of a society. Social safety nets are smashed, jobs are outsourced, and public utilities are sold off to crony offsiders. See here for an in-depth description.

While the Yellow Vests in France are to be lauded for their courage, an insidious synthesis has created a new breed and very different beast of Yellow Vest movement in Australia. Instead of tackling the prime cause of our current dilemma (neoliberal capitalism), these nefarious agents are scapegoating immigrants and pushing a very dangerous notion of ultra-nationalism. This author has visited many Yellow Vest pages and movements operating in and around Australia. Many are ignoring rampant inequality and misrepresenting the true meaning of the Yellow Vests in France.

The far-right and Libertarian capitalists have used the very left-wing France Yellow Vests as a cover for their own agenda of either scapegoating minorities or as in the case with the Libertarians blaming the Macron government for being too socialist. This is absurd as Socialists do not work as investment bankers and they do not enforce austerity on the working class while providing massive tax subsidies for the very rich. Macron has done both. Also, for those who may be intellectually challenged, just because a political party has the word “Socialist” in their title does not make them in any way socialist! A classic example is the Nazi Party who were the “National Socialist Workers Party.” Funnily enough the Nazis hated unions and threw Marxists, Socialists and Unions into the concentration camps along with the Slavs, Gypsies, Jews, intellectuals and anyone else who challenged their Fascist agenda.

Using mere semantics, we could argue that the Democrats in the U.S are democratic. Their railroading of Bernie Sanders in favour of Hilary Clinton would suggest otherwise.

The same could be said of The Democratic Republic of North Korea. Is it truly democratic?

The only Yellow Vests page I have found to be close to the ethos of the French Yellow Vests is this page. This movement is actually exposing neoliberal capitalism and fighting against racism, Fascism and other right wing movement who are piggy backing onto a legitimately progressive movement in France. I urge you all to be very careful when visiting the array of Yellow Vest pages springing up in Australia. Many are not what they seem.

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

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The LNP can’t see the difference

By Jim McIntosh

“Asked about Ms Banks’ complaints of bullying, Senator Hume said: ‘I – like the Liberal Party, like the voters of Chisholm – invested a lot in Julia. And she has betrayed all of us.’ ” (SMH, 31/01/2019)

Which is pretty cute, coming from the first government in this country’s history to have comprehensively betrayed Australia and its people. Think Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison; think destruction of the environment, the unprecedented damage done to the country’s essential river systems. Think the results of a Banking Royal Commission whose findings are apparently so dire that Morrison refuses to release them until he and his criminal spivs have had an extra three days to spin the story they will try to put to the population.

Think the decline of living standards for ordinary Australians as wages flatline and fail to keep up with rising prices and costs of living; think the huge increase of labour-hire companies who seem to prefer to have foreign visa-holders on their books instead of locals; think the sacking of Australian seafarers who have been replaced by cheap labour from overseas, and finally think the rhetoric around job creation in a landscape where anyone who works just one hour per week is considered ’employed’.

They never understood it, this mob. Worse, they never understood the difference between truth and untruth, or even why there ought to be any difference.

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“Wouldn’t the world be a better place if … ?”

By Margcal 

As one who steps back from The AIMN from time to time, I appreciated Michael and Carol’s post about setting some standards, or reviving ones that have been breached too often.

My particular gripe is to do with religion, on two fronts: the belittling of those with any sort of religious belief, and the way that Christians are denigrated that would be deleted if it were directed at any other religious group, most particularly, in the Australian context, Muslims. Additionally, I find it offensive that so much criticism is theologically illiterate and/or just plain ignorant. On that last point, no serious biblical scholar believes that the bible is a blow-by-blow history book. And for those whose last encounter with “religious instruction” was in their school days, like everything else, times have changed: questions and debate are not so much allowed as encouraged. That some remain unconvinced by the time they leave school is no different now than way back when.

Context: I am a Christian. I identify as Catholic but not a “good” one. I’m critical of the current and very critical of the last two leadership régimes. I rarely go to Mass but every so often go to a Lutheran church which has a magnificent music programme that incorporates Bach cantatas into its services, as they were intended when written. I also have a B Theol, for my sins, and continue to read in that vein from time to time.

I find it offensive when Christians are regularly mocked for believing in some ‘fairy in the sky’ or ‘imaginary friend’. I, and other Christians, are well aware that, some earlier Christian writings to the contrary, we cannot prove that what we call God exists. But equally, mockers cannot prove that God does not exist. The only logical and defensible position to hold is agnosticism.

I find it ignorant when a ‘straw man’ is held up as a Christian, and Christianity and all Christians are thereby dismissed. Such was the position of AC Grayling in one of his books when I decided to read what someone from his school of thought (which includes Dawkins) actually had to say. On the basis of what he offered, I could agree with his position. But that was trumped by finding so many flaws in that position.

It’s rather like holding up Morrison and Abbott and other self-proclaimed Christians in Parliament and saying these are Christians, this is why religion is bad. There are atheists who are equally as bad, but critics do not therefore denounce atheism. In the past I have commented on The AIMN site that I only wish that those who are not religious, who are anti-religious, would challenge the hypocrites in Parliament, getting them to justify their policies and practices when held up to the light of their professed beliefs. They could bullshit all they liked but, bottom line, Morrison, Abbott and Co deviate so far from Christian beliefs that it is sickening.

Christians are also well aware that their “how to live well” instructions are not unique to that religious group. Does that matter? I don’t think so. “The Good” is pretty much generally agreed by all, giving rise to many guides to leading a good life. Some of these are codified in some form, both in the tenets of religious organisations and in non-religious spheres such as civil and criminal law.

I’m no historian but my impression is that in most times and places in recorded human history, humans have believed in some sort of deity or creator. By extension, for most of recorded history all the bad, and good, actions in the world have been caused or done by people who have a religious belief or practice. I’m not saying that no wars have been fought on religious grounds, that would be absurd. But it is just as absurd to say that all wars are religiously inspired. If you leave it at that level, nuance and reason are totally lacking. Similarly for all the lesser evils of daily life. People are flawed humans before they are flawed believers. Lust for power and possessions, fear, envy, jealousy, anger and all the rest are common to all humanity, whether believer, agnostic or atheist. To blame the ills of the world on religion seriously short-changes the search for peace and cooperation.

As I have also commented on The AIMN, being so insulting to people of faith only puts them off-side. In spite of religious leaders not speaking out, in the case, for example, of Manus and Nauru; or speaking only too loudly, for example regarding marriage equality, grass-roots Christians overwhelmingly support social justice, fairness, inclusion – the same thing that many, but not all, atheists support. Why alienate your allies?

As a not entirely irrelevant side issue, I have no objection to churches paying tax. I would only warn that a cost-benefit analysis might be a wise undertaking before legislating. We know about the rotten church leaders and the rotten followers of religion. But we don’t hear so much about the grass-roots followers of religion who donate so much time and money to serving all in the community, not only their co-religionists. If paying tax forced some services provided by churches to close through lack of funds, (a) would the government pick up the slack? I’m sceptical. Taking but one example, where are all the facilities that were promised when deinstitutionalisation was in vogue? And (b), would all those volunteers and donors want to become part of any government run replacement, should such miraculously occur?

The harm that religious believers have done must be admitted. But all the good they have done must also be admitted. To not do so is dishonest. You could say the same about atheists but that is rarely if ever heard. I can understand that anyone hurt by a religious person (who, by hurting, is betraying their beliefs) would abandon a church they were brought up in, even criticise it. Some, hurt or not, stick with their beliefs even while leaving their church. Others stay in their church and work from within to bring about change.

Even if you have no religious belief, wouldn’t the world be a better place if you helped those of faith to be their best selves, living up to their beliefs, rather than attacking them?

Diannaart made a comment following Michael and Carol’s piece with which I am in hearty agreement:

There are many people here I’d like to meet because I find them very interesting compassionate and intelligent. There are also a very small number of commentators I would like to meet face to face and discover if they would say the same things to my face, the things they have had no compunction writing.

So if you could reign in the bigoted, insulting and ignorant articles and comments about religion, then you would be doing more good than harm, whether Google notices or not.

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Pie in the sky

By Stephen Fitzgerald 

Greenhouse gasses trap energy from the sun and drive global warming. A one degree increase in global temperature equates to a 7% increase in atmospheric water vapour. Increased temperature and water vapour drives extremes in weather. Floods, wild-fires, droughts, hurricanes, ice melt and sea level rises as we are experiencing right now. The only way out is to stop burning fossil fuels but, we have a major fight on our hands.

As part of the climate-change picture, I have previously mentioned the oil wars ravaging entire nations in the battle for control of fossil fuels worth 10’s of trillions of dollars. This is driven by greed and the selective ignorance of a few oil and war barons plus the governments who pander to them. Companies generating electricity by burning fossil fuel are driven purely by profit and they have a total disregard for the future of civilisation, the natural world, and us. The big question is: “How do we stop them?”

Let’s look at the main offenders in relation to burning the fossil fuels that drives global warming. Check the pie chart below. At 2% of total green house gas emissions, Germany have just now surpassed their 50% renewable energy target and aim to phase out all coal powered electricity stations by 2028. They are well underway to a sustainable energy future and, if they can do it, what’s wrong with the rest of us? I’m suggesting it’s miss-information by government and big business plus our own ignorance.

Here’s another shock. The top five fossil fuel burning countries create a staggering 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s have a look at where they stand with action on climate change:

China: Are in the process of setting up a national power grid so every capable citizen can generate and contribute renewable solar and wind energy to a national grid. On the “Climate Action Tracker”, at the moment, they are still considered highly insufficient.

America: A war economy whose government fully supports the fossil fuel industry and not climate action. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered critically insufficient. The pinnacle of capitalism. It’s all about money and screw everything and, everyone else.

India: Aims to develop solar energy for power generation with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered 2°C compatible and on the right track.

Russia: Wants to protect itself from climate change with better weather forecasting and not by reducing carbon emissions? On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered critically insufficient. Clearly obsessed with self-interest and not self-preservation.

Japan: Action on climate change on the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered highly insufficient. Well, they eat whales and apparently don’t care much about the natural world so, what else can we expect.

That then brings us to dear old backward Australia. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered insufficient. We are shamefully worse than India! What is our LNP government doing to play their part and help save the world? The answer is a resounding nothing! They are doing quite the opposite by promoting fossil fuel to exacerbate global warming and, I am personally disgusted with all of them.

So, in exasperation, what do we do? What can we do? We can’t trust the government, we can’t trust the fossil fuel and power industry and, we can’t trust those other mongrel dogs fighting over fossil fuels. That would be Russia and America. The only solution we have, is to trust ourselves.

Collectively, every conscious human on the planet needs to generate renewable energy and then, feed the surplus into their national power grids and, eventually a global power grid. We did it with communication and the internet and it can be done with electricity supply.

You see, there is hope but, we can’t leave it to governments or big business. We must do it ourselves and only we can save us. At the moment Australia runs on 15% renewable energy. Start generating your own power and sell the surplus to the national grid. If every capable Australian does this, we can force out the fossil fuel giants and save us but, we need to act together and quickly.

Individually, we can’t change the governments, we can’t stop the murderous war machine and we can’t shut the door on fossil fuel conglomerates but, collectively and with a collective consciousness, we can work around them and shut them down. It’s people power! Put up those solar panels, feed electricity into the grid and fight for the future.

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Recycling is better than wasting

By Rosemary J36 

Waste and built-in obsolescence will be key issues for any generations to come which survive the increasingly disastrous climate conditions that past and present generations have allowed to happen.

In the UK during WWII, every scrap of paper was recycled and I also remember scrap metal yards doing great business.

At secondary school, we were issued with all the necessary exercise books, one for every subject, plus one, made from recycled paper, which was to be used for general note-taking in any subject.

When we had filled one of these books, we were only issued, free, with a replacement if we had clearly filled every available space and not thinned down the book by tearing out pages! If we did not pass inspection, we had to pay for the replacement!

The profligate waste in today’s world, and the pollution resulting from our indiscriminate disposal of unwanted matter are adding to the climate damage, which is dooming us to ever more extreme weather events and damaged food sources.

In the Northern Territory, our remoteness, and lack of imagination, means that our recycling is very limited and far too much goes to landfill.

The other aspect of waste is our failure to harvest the abundant sunshine which we enjoy.

At great expense, we have a railway link to Adelaide in the Ghan railway, which is underused.

If I had the power to get together a group of commercial representatives and NT and Federal politicians, I would urge them to develop recycling facilities here in the NT. We no longer ship our waste to China but if they could recycle it, why cannot we? Bring it here on the Ghan! Or ship it to our port.

We could provide renewable energy to service any facilities required for the recycling process, we could turn suitable plastics into the material required for road surfacing, glass into a substitute for sand in concrete making and in the process we could also power manufacturing facilities for creating renewable energy resources. And while we need to reduce food waste, any that is thrown out should be recycled appropriately to put back into the earth what came from the earth!

With increasing temperatures, evaporation leads to water shortages, yet I understand that film that floats on water and which acts as a solar panel could simultaneously reduce evaporation and supply power! We could manufacture that film!

Our population is diminishing in the Top End, but this could be rapidly reversed if we were to develop industry. Also, ripe for further research is tidal and wave energy. The Top End and the north of WA have massive tides which could surely generate a different form of renewable energy. If you have ever felt the power of waves, you will know how much energy is going to waste! Such a pity that the CSIRO has lost so many scientists to other parts of the world, where wave power is being harnessed!

We are – praise be! – on the threshold of a national election. Inevitably one of the major parties will garner enough votes to be able to form a coalition to form government, but we need consensus government, not adversarial government.

Let us support independent candidates who have a vision for the long-term future, not limited to the electoral cycle, who also have integrity and are determined that government will be transparent.

I hate to think of people as a resource – in the way that economists talk of capital and labour – but we are wasting one resource in ways that damage people. The refugees offshore and who are living in the community but not allowed to seek work – this is costing the country billions and destroying people’s potential in the process.

In the long run, humanity repays a hundredfold!

Current government is responsible for increasing the gap by giving more to those who do not need it and penalising those who desperately require assistance.

Helping those who need help pays enormous dividends over time, morally as well as financially.

We must change course or we will be rapidly overtaken by events!

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Some Myths Presented by Climate Change Deniers, Part 2

By Keith Antonysen 

Comments such as … “Indeed, the AGW theory posing as ‘settled science’ in in fact the greatest science fraud in human history.” It is just a meaningless comment that offers no evidence, and is quite infuriating. It is a form of comment often provided by anthropogenic climate change deniers.

Each point made has lots of further details, but I’m trying to be brief.

Deniers argue climate science is just modelling

Tell that to divers in Antarctica, or scientists tramping up and down glaciers, or scientists working in other inhospitable places gathering data. Modelling has been used in the past to provide an idea of what is happening. The grids used were quite large two hundred kilometres square, now they can be as small as ten square kilometres. A few years ago quite a number of glaciologists were complaining about modelling not keeping up with the pace of decline in snow and ice regions. Erosion of coastlines, river banks or valleys requires observation and measurement, nothing to do with modelling. Noting how fish species are moving North or South from their habits depending on which hemisphere they are in, requires observation.

Deniers like to promote problems with temperature measurement; but, when the artefacts of temperature are pointed out, they claim that is out of order. Examples of artefacts … thawing of permafrost; where greening of tundra areas is taking place, lakes and ponds forming, marshes are forming, infra-structure is breaking down, and glaciers disappearing.

Anthropogenic climate change is not happening

Often the response is just, it is not happening without any kind of evidence provided. It’s a case of knowing better than the millions of scientists over the years who have come to the conclusion that humans do have an effect on climate. Sometimes it is expressed as humans do have a little effect on climate, though not enough to do much damage. The point particularly came to mind after watching a BBC interview with Myron Ebell, a strong Trump supporter. He had no better response than in his view climate scientists are wrong.

Science is not based on opinion, it is based on hypotheses being shown to be correct through observations and data collected.

Satellite data shows that temperatures are not increasing to any large extent

New data in relation to warming of Oceans almost makes temperature readings from land-based weather stations and satellites superfluous. Oceans comprise 70% of the Earth’s surface, and they act as a sink for CO2 and temperature. Satellites do not actually measure temperature; they provide inferred data which then needs to go through a modelling process. Remember, denialists do not like modelling. There is controversy in relation to the accuracy of satellite inferred temperature relating to the process the data needs to be processed by. There has been controversy for many years in relation to the processing of inferred temperature. The other factor is that as satellites age they move out of their orbits causing difficulty in accurately interpreting their inferred temperature.

There is no consensus between climate scientists in relation to anthropogenic climate change

The comment seems mainly directed at John Cook, he began the successful Skeptical Science web site years ago which provides a thorn in denier arguments. The consensus view was first spoken about by Naomi Orestes, it was an observation she made without any objective proof. The consensus view created much attention and several studies were completed to verify the opinion including one by Naomi Orestes. The studies varied from 91% to greater than 97%; the studies assessed were from recognised peer reviewed climate science journals. Consensus studies: Orestes 2004, 100%; Doran 2009, 97%; Andregg 2010, 97%; Cook 2013, 97%; Verheggan 2014, 91%; Stenhouse 2014, 93% and Carlton 2015, 97%. (From Skeptical Science).

Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas.

As with the claim that the climate has always changed it is a true observation.

But, water vapour doesn’t just happen without a particular processes occurring. There is the normal water cycle operating with the add-on of warm marine waters and warm atmosphere. The warm atmosphere is created by extra greenhouse gas emissions which then allow for extra water vapour to be carried. Warming waters allow for more evaporation to take place. Water vapour once created is a powerful greenhouse gas, and a positive feedback system is developed. Wet micro bursts, jargon for “rain bombs” in the past were quite rare, and occurred for a short time frame; now, they are very common and  can last for long periods; for example, Hurricane Harvey 2017.

Some Myths Presented by Climate Change Deniers, Part 1

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Gilmore, race, and shameful Liberals

By Henry Johnston  

My long association with the Federal seat of Gilmore commenced a few years before 1984, a seminal time for the Royal Australian Navy and the City of Shoalhaven which lies to the south of the industrial hub of Wollongong in New South Wales.

The cessation of the navy’s fixed wing operations in this year, marked the start of a long and painful economic trough for the Shoalhaven, and especially Nowra, the regional provincial city.

Nowra was, and to a large extent still is, a navy town. Nowadays real estate and tourism are the dominant industries. Spin-off businesses associated with the military while important are barely on the economic radar.

When departing neighbouring Kiama and entering the Shoalhaven region, it is easy to mistake the lush surrounds as a National Party stronghold. Far from it. The Federal seat of Gilmore which encompasses Nowra and its satellite towns is or was blue ribbon Liberal. But Gilmore is about to cross into the Labor column for the first time in many decades.

How do I know?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently parachuted Mr Warren Mundine into the seat, metaphorically stabbed the endorsed Liberal candidate Grant Schultz in the back, and earlier allowed the sitting Member Ann Sudmalis, to be thrown under the political bus.

By so doing ScoMo unleashed in Gilmore a full blown death match struggle for the future of Liberals in Gilmore and across Australia.

Gilmore / Nowra tell the tale of two sides of a river. North of the Shoalhaven lie the moneyed bastions of Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Gerringong and Geroa. To the south live some of the poorest, most deprived citizens of New South Wales, who struggle in soul-less housing commission estates. Many of these citizens are expelled from housing commission accommodation in western Sydney.

Nowra, like many rural communities, suffers from the scourge of ice. In my south coast community, a 40 minute drive south of Nowra, 26 houses were robbed in one night. Mine among them. The culprit after an inevitable arrest had his house fire bombed by local vigilantes. In my tiny community, arson, murder, robbery, serious drug dealing, spousal abuse and random acts of violence, are the norm. But most visitors and tourists to the south coast never see this dark underbelly. They are rightly mesmerised by the region’s stunning natural beauty.

Until recently the local Liberal clique of Shelley Hancock (the NSW Parliament’s Speaker), Federal Member Ann Sudmalis and her predecessor Joanna Gash, along with their developer-cum-real estate lackeys were happy for this dreadful state of affairs to continue. Then along came Warren Mundine about whom I make no comment. But I do say this: The Aboriginal citizens of the Shoalhaven / Nowra / Federal seat of Gilmore are among the most put-upon Indigenous people in New South Wales.

Mundine an Aboriginal man who claims ancestral ties to the south coast, lives in Sydney and was the former national president of the Australian Labor Party

There are too many examples of out-and-out racism deployed against the Yuin of the south coast, but the most egregious in my time there, occurred in 1982, when accused anti-Semite councillor Greg Watson, took down and burnt an aboriginal flag made by local auntie, Maude Moore. Watson called the flag a “revolutionary piece of rag’.

Speaking of Jews, Watson reportedly said, “You can say, ‘why don’t you jack the price up? Why don’t you be a good Jew? Why don’t you screw the price of the last dollar out of it like private enterprise would?’” Track down the report on ABC Radio’s PM program of Thursday 1 May, 2008 here and make up your own mind about this less-than-charming individual.

Greg Watson was a key member of the local Liberal clique I mentioned earlier and needless to say Pauline Hanson is very popular in Gilmore. Thus a Liberal candidate of Aboriginal extraction faces endemic racism, even before the poll is announced.

By contrast I make a few observations about the woman whose name adorns this unhappy Federal Liberal seat; Dame Mary Gilmore.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography describes her as a “patriot, feminist, social crusader and folklorist; she has now passed into Australian legend”.

The dictionary also says ,“Mary Gilmore campaigned in the Worker and any other available forum for a wide range of social and economic reforms, such as votes for women, old-age and invalid pensions, child endowment and improved treatment of returned servicemen, the poor and deprived and, above all, of Aboriginals.

“She wrote numerous letters, as well as contributing articles and poems, to the Sydney Morning Herald on these causes and such diverse subjects as the English language, the Prayer Book, earthquakes, Gaelic and the immigration laws, the waratah as a national emblem, the national anthem, and Spanish Australia”.

Read more here.

Of all the aspiring and former politicians who’ve held sway in Gilmore, only the ALP candidate Fiona Phillips comes close to the legacy of the Federal seat’s namesake. And of the soon-to-be-defunct Liberal clique of Gilmore, good riddance to your shameful and wasteful history.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain an at Forty South Publishing.

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26th Jan … What does this day signify?

By Khaled Elomar 

To me, and I’m sure to you as well, it signifies everything that is contrary to a Celebration.

This is the first day where theft, murder, torture, torment, pain and suffering was inflicted on the Great Indigenous people of this land.

A day where Indigenous communities were ripped apart. A day where Indigenous people lost their lives. Children become orphans. People were shackled and imprisoned for no reason other than being non-white and defending their land and families.

Today, along with the other 364 days, is a day that every Australian should be crying and commemorating the FNP for the Terrorism they’ve experienced and are still experiencing unfortunately.

You want to celebrate Australia Day? There are 364 other days in the year to do so. Just not this day.

Today is definitely not a Day to celebrate but more so a Day of Sadness and Pain.

To the Indigenous People of this great Land, on behalf of the Members and Admin team of this Group, I Truly Am Sorry. I know it can’t, and won’t, fix the past and present but I hope we can fix the future.

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Some Myths Presented by Climate Change Deniers, Part 1

By Keith Antonysen

We all want to believe that Earth will remain a safe place to live, it has in the main provided a stable climate since man has inhabited Earth. Yet, now, deniers do agree that the climate is changing, ten years ago that was not the case. They now pick reasons for the change in climate that scientists have already considered and found not to be the case. They deny the impact of greenhouse gases on climate. There has been talk of setting up a colony on Mars, could human exist there without any technological ways of creating an atmosphere in shelters? Clearly, the answer is a resounding no. We are able to survive on Earth as greenhouse gases allow for temperature to be moderated to allow for human, and flora and fauna survival.

Greenhouse gases do not have an impact on climate

Climate science began through Fourier in the 1820s. Later, Foote and Tyndall experimented with various gases and found that CO2 retains warmth. Much more sophisticated experiments have upheld their findings since. A 1912 short article in a New Zealand paper discussed what impact coal would have on climate.

Scientists working for ExxonMobil in the 1970s, found that fossil fuels do impact on climate, as have scientists contracted by the American Petroleum Institute prior to denial becoming a thriving Industry from the late 1980s.

The Climate has always changed

Here we have a statement that we all know is true. The fact is that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere change over, time as a percentage of the atmosphere. CO2 takes a huge number of decades to break down. The “great dying” 252 million years ago is an example of greenhouse gases being created through coal seams being ignited. Unsurprisingly, artefacts are created through such a process. Dr Benjamin Burger acknowledges prior studies, and through breaking down samples shows chemical and mineral artefacts consistent with coal burning and the creation of greenhouse gases. Dr Burger suggests that his study provides an analog for what is beginning to happen currently.

Information provided by deniers is often distorted

Dr James Hansen has been fraudulently misquoted in relation to paradigms  he set out in the 1980s where two of his paradigms were very close to the mark, and the other two are the ones deniers use. Deniers often do not understand nuances climate scientists state, they cherry pick statements from Reports they believe fit their pseudo science. For example, a study might clearly establish that anthropogenic climate change is happening, yet comments from deniers use the Reports anyway. Astro-Physics being an example where this has happened.

Climate scientists distort temperature

Deniers complain that temperature readings are homogenised, they would apparently prefer inaccurate records to be made. Weather stations are influenced by what is around them, if trees, asphalt, or buildings are placed; or taken away from the vicinity of a weather station, then readings change. Environments do change after more than one hundred years. The US has placed weather stations in areas where change is extremely unlikely to happen as datum points so menaces such as Anthony Watts from WUWT are silenced. They have found their homogenisation of temperature readings have been accurate. No longer do deniers use 1997 as a datum point for their arguments, they would be laughed at if they did. Temperature has increased since the El Nino year of 1997, even in years since when El Nino was not a factor.

Climate scientists make a fortune

Climate scientists do seek funds to allow for research; as do other scientists in a myriad of other disciplines. However, their salaries are what can be expected in any Professional position. The message is put out to shift the focus off the Fossil Fuel Corporations making huge profits at the expense of a liveable environment.

Any commentary provided by deniers needs to be checked against what science says. I would hope that anybody reading these comments checks what I have written against science, not blogs.

Some Myths Presented by Climate Change Deniers, Part 2

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The rise of underemployment in Australia

By Thierry Berger

We talk of underemployment when people work less hours than they would if they were employed full time or when their occupation doesn’t match their skills or education level. Let’s take two examples to illustrate this definition.

​Our first example is a worker who would like to work more hours than he or she currently does, but can’t get full-time employment. This often leads the individual to accumulate jobs if the number of hours worked is not enough to meet their basic needs.

Our second example is a qualified worker who can’t find a job in his or her area of expertise and is forced to take a job that is below their skills or education level. For example a university graduate who works as a delivery driver because he can’t find a job in his area of expertise. This is what we refer to as an overqualified worker.

The relation between unemployment and underemployment

Underemployment has been steadily going up for the last 30 years. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 1.1 million workers who were considered underemployed in the first half of 2018. This represents about 9% of the working population. In comparison, the underemployment rate in the 1980’s was only 3% of the working population, almost 3 times lower than what it is today.

In order to get a complete picture of the current employment situation in Australia, we need to consider unemployment and underemployment figures together. The combination of both is called the under-utilisation rate. It is the  proportion of the workforce that is not utilised by the economy. With the unemployment rate at 5.3% in the first half of 2018, we add up the underemployment rate and the result is an under-utilisation rate of about 14%. This means that 1 out of 7 people of the  Australian workforce is either unemployed or working part-time.

Young workers and women are the first concerned

Underemployment is directly linked to the economic health of the country. As such,  underemployment and unemployment have evolved together in the 2000s. However, the gap between the two seems to have increased significantly over the last 3 years. While unemployment figures have been slightly going down since 2015, underemployment figures have maintained their steady upwards trend. This means it is very likely that we see double digit rates in the number of underemployed people in the next couple of years.

Workers aged 15 to 24 and workers with the lowest skills or education levels are the first affected by underemployment. Individuals living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by underemployment than people living in cities. What’s more, 6 out of 10 underemployed people are women. People who were or are currently underemployed are also more likely to be underemployed in the future.

What are the causes of underemployment?

One of the main causes of the rise in the number of underemployed workers is that the number of part-time jobs has been growing faster than the number of full-time jobs. From the 1990s, there has been a shift in the dominant industries from mining and manufacturing to services such as retail, health and tourism. The nature of work has slowly changed and a lot of full time jobs have been replaced by part-time jobs.

When we look at the proportion of part-time jobs across various industries, this  transition from traditional full time employment to more casual part-time employment is quite clear. Between 2012 and 2018, the accommodation and food services industry has been the third industry to create the most jobs, behind healthcare and construction. However, it is also the industry where we find the highest number of part-time workers. In the first half of 2018, more than 60% of all the jobs were part-time jobs.

The situation is very similar in the retail sector. Retail is the second biggest industry with the most people employed, and part-time jobs account for more than 50% of all jobs. Healthcare and social services, which I mentioned earlier, is the industry with the most people employed in Australia. It is also the industry that has created the most jobs in recent years. However, 45% of the people employed in healthcare and social services work part-time.

There are other causes that explain why underemployment is going up. Advances in technologies and automation have reduced the number of workers required to do the same amount of work. For example in manufacturing. The high cost of labour means that it is more affordable for a business to employ two workers on a casual basis rather than a full-time worker for the same number of hours.

Competition, changes and uncertainty in the market place means businesses have to adapt if they want to be successful. Businesses need to be more efficient in order to stay competitive. They need employees who are ‘flexible’, who can work more hours when business is booming and fewer hours when things slow down.

The consequences of being underemployed

The first consequence of underemployment is that it creates a situation of job insecurity and financial instability for the workers. The number of hours worked and the income perceived can vary from one week to the next depending on the need for workers and how business is going. Jobs that offer irregular working hours and variable income put workers at risk when they don’t have other sources of revenue. This can become problematic when applying for a mortgage for example.

The second consequence of high underemployment is that it keeps a lid on wages growth. When people think that a part-time job is better than not having a job at all, they are less likely to negotiate their wages or ask their employer for a pay raise. The increasing number of workers who would like to work more hours holds wages down. Low wages growth means households have less money to spend which eventually has a negative impact on the economy.

How to avoid becoming underemployed?

The good news is that solutions to the problem of underemployment exist. At the government level, developing policies that provide incentives for companies that hire full-time workers rather than part-time could prevent further growth. However, workers themselves can minimise the risks of being affected by underemployment by being proactive. They need to adapt to changes and new trends in their business place. This means keeping their skills current and relevant for the market. This is achieved through ongoing education, extra training and additional experiences.

Casual is the new normal

Full-time employment is becoming a thing of the past. Casual employment is becoming the norm in a lot of industries such as healthcare, retail or hospitality. Working part-time can be a personal choice and not all workers in this situation necessarily want to work more hours. However, while this ‘casualisation’ of work allows businesses to be more flexible and efficient, it also puts more stress on the workers and can lead to precarious situations for many of them.

Looking at the numbers, it appears that the jobs are there, that jobs are being created. The three industries mentioned above are employing more and more people every year. The problem seems that despite the number of jobs, there aren’t enough hours for the workers. It will be interesting to see how many jobs will be created this year, and more importantly what proportion of these new jobs will be full-time.

This article was originally published on FITNOLOGIC.

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Redefining Your Limited View of Racism and White Supremacy

As we look at the news coming out of America (or the tweets from the President) we are aggrieved that the country is more than ever gripped in the claws of racism, and even worse, that of a white supremacist society. Chicago-based activist Karla Thomas tells us of a country that is “erroneously predicated on white as ‘good’ and black as ‘bad’.”

There is no denying that America is strung collectively tight. Marginalised people have had an extra-large orange boot stepping on their backs, and they are rightfully angry. Immigrants, African Americans, people with disabilities, women, Muslims, and Indigenous people speak out in frustration and the Right, wavering centre and the oh-so-woke but not really Left, are all muting, ignoring, or tone policing their anger respectively. We are at war. And in the centre of this cauldron, there are some very triggered white folks who are tired of people insinuating that their actions have anything what so ever to do with racism.

Oh, the White Tears! The agony this causes because we have erroneously been socialised to believe that racism is a binary state of being. It’s either you are ALL bad and racist, or ALL good and non-racist. When in fact racism is a system.

Racism is a system held together and sustained by biases, privilege for some, oppression of others, power and those who wield it, economics and those determined to control it, all on a thick foundation of a very reprehensible history.

American has been socialised to believe that racism is predicated on negative intent. This is just false. Impact on the oppressed group is the only measure of racism that matters.

Case in point, the way most schools are funded is steeped in racism. It is the government’s responsibility to fund schools and fund them equally for all kids. However, they chose a school funding system based on property taxes in each individual community, which results in poorly funded schools for people in poorer neighbourhoods. While this may or may not have been the initial intention, this systemically disadvantages black and brown kids who are statistically more likely to be in these under-served communities. So the way our education system is funded in much of America is racist.

When the focus, however, is thought to be on the intent held by the perpetrator, defensives come out in abundance. Here’s the reality, if you are avoiding, deflecting or negating any progression towards a more just society, and you are presently on the privileged end of the inequality, the impact is reduced progression for people of colour. I repeat, if you are committed simply to just being a non-racist, and you are sitting by idly as racism is perpetuated around you and for your benefit, you are indeed racist. It is not enough to be a non-racist, you have to be an Anti-racist. There are no spectators in this sport, you are either Anti-racists and Racists.

I know that was a hard pill to swallow, so you may want to buckle up for this next bit.

We live in a white supremacist society.

Take deep breaths and try not to explode. When I say white supremacist, your mind conjures up dudes in white robes with cones on their heads, and tiki torches in their hands. Your next thought is, “Come on, that is a very very small percentage of crazy white people, not ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”

But while we will all, (save a few tiki-torch carrying cone heads,) deny that we cognitively believe in the superiority of white people over other races, study after study has shown that the idea of white as good and black or darker skin as bad seeps into the psyche of kids as young as 2 years old. Take a look at the doll experiment first done in the 1940s and since repeated in many different countries.

No one in particular explicitly taught those kids the messages they are displaying in that video. That bias is everywhere and nowhere in particular. It’s available as easily as the air they breath.

White Supremacy is defined as the idea that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Colour and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

“We don’t all believe that!” you shout as your defences kick in. Now stop for a second and think about the following:

  • What culture’s idea of beauty dominates the media?
  • What culture is seen as the “girl next door” or simply non-threatening?
  • What culture’s vernacular is considered the “acceptable” way to speak?
  • What culture holds the majority of power in almost every room?
  • What culture is our education system built around and for?
  • What culture created the concept of race with the names “white” meaning “pure”, when you know their skin is tan or yellowish at best, in juxtaposition to a people they then called “Black” meaning “dirty,” knowing darn well their skin is multiple shades of brown?
  • So what culture have we collectively agreed is Superior?

So tell me how you are going to sit there and say that we are NOT in a white supremacist society? How are you going to act shocked and offended when that term is used? White America wants so desperately to confine the racial wrongdoing to a small group of vigilantes, (preferably in the past), so they can absolve themselves of taking a cold hard look at the part that they play in the ongoing modern-day reenactment.

You have to see it and own it before you can change it. You cannot even dream about committing yourself to racial justice work without first owning that this entire society is erroneously predicated on white as “good” and black as “bad.” We are living in a white supremacist society! What are you going to do to dismantle it?

This article was originally published on Quad-Rants 4 Change.

Karla Thomas is a writer, speaker, and real estate entrepreneur. As Black, Gay, Immigrant Woman (Quad Minority), she speaks truth to power every day yet still finds a way to maintain her BLISS! She lives in Chicago with her wife and two incredible daughters. She can be followed on Twitter @Quadrant4change.


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A Personal view of Education, Politics and Religion

Or a ramble through 83+ years of memories

By Rosemary J36

I was in my third year of life (in England, on the outskirts of London) when WWII was declared, and it heavily coloured the rest of my life. Growing up with rationing and shortages has led to habits of minimising waste. I even wore to university in 1954 a blouse, home-made from the fabric of a dress which my mother had made for me to wear to Junior school when I was 9!

In order to provide a background to the views I have formed over the years – which include the need to invest heavily in education, the destructiveness of adversarial politics and law and the need to replace the pseudo-science of religion with real understanding of how knowledge evolves from scientific research – I venture to provide a (possibly boring) slice of my autobiography! After all – everything comes down to cause and effect, and how life treats you affects what you think and believe.

My mother was born in England in 1896 to a minister of the Church of Christ, so her version of Christianity was verging on the puritanical. However, to my gain, she was, unknowingly, a pioneer of feminism, whose misguided marriage led to her determination that her two daughters would never have to be dependent on another! My father was in a technical branch of the Civil Service with a background in mechanical engineering.

The older I get, the more I appreciate that my mother (who, sadly, died in 1975) is truly my hero!

The timing of my arrival in this world was also critical, because it enabled me to benefit from radical changes in England to the education system – Scotland is fiercely independent in many things!

Many small, private secondary schools were invited to become state-aided Grammar schools, retaining their charters as long as this did not conflict with the government approved syllabus, drawn up by the relevant regional university groups. Many of these schools were single sex, generally seen as being to the benefit of girls more than boys.

Can I stress at this point that my parents were both reasonably intelligent people but, with three children, had they had to pay for our secondary and tertiary education, it might not have been possible for them to do so for all of us. My mother’s father had moved to a new church every two years, so her own education had been very fragmented. She had also been employed in the Civil Service before having to resign on marriage in 1931.

Back to the history.

We did little in the way of current affairs at school, as the curriculum was geared towards achieving university entrance standard, but my mother was very much a conservative supporter, while my father was a died-in-the-wool Labour supporter. I learned early in life that both sides have much in common but taking sides was dangerous!

Also, in my teen years, the little I knew of the USA indicated that anyone, from any background, could aspire to be President. Nowadays, of course, only multi-millionaires – preferably with strong ties in the corporate world, have a hope in Hades of rising to those heights.

By my third year in Grammar school, (equivalent to Year 9) having had a smattering of Latin and Chemistry mixed into a very broad general education, we had to choose between science and the arts. With Maths as my best subject, I chose science, leading to Chemistry and Biology in ‘O’ Levels and Pure and Applied Maths and Physics in ‘A’ Levels, along with a whole lot of other subjects at ‘O’ Level, the most critical being English Language, without which no white-collar employment would be available!

In the last 2 of our 7 years in secondary education, those of us on the science side had to keep up English Literature as a non-examinable subject, although those on the arts side did not have an equivalent requirement to continue with a science subject. Personally, I think this is a grave mistake, particularly with girls, because they then regard science as a mystery – as do an alarmingly high proportion of our current national politicians!

The other invaluable part of my education in those last 2 years was the study of Comparative Religion. In my opinion, understanding and tolerance require a base of knowledge, while ignorance too often leads to bigoted attitudes and prejudice.

I still use my knowledge of the human body and its systems, which I gained in school biology, although it fell really short in only teaching us about reproduction in rabbits! Dangerous for pre-pill young women! My older sister was later of much help, as she went on the study medicine, finally specialising in surgery, so her greater knowledge of human sexual matters was invaluable!

Although I failed to pass the entrance and scholarship examination for Oxford and Cambridge, which would have enabled me to follow in the footsteps of my brother, who won a State Scholarship to the latter university, I did pass the entrance exam for what was then the Imperial College of Science and Technology (now simply IC) in London University. Distracted by a mixed sex (overwhelmingly male) social climate, I struggled to achieve highly in my studies but did complete a BSc (Special) Mathematics in 1957.

By this time, I was well on the way to becoming an agnostic!

On and off from then until 2004, I taught maths at both secondary and early tertiary level and have helped many mature-aged young women who always thought, wrongly, that maths was beyond them. Male maths and science teachers have a lot to answer for in this context!

Because of the space race and the British government’s need to recruit more maths and science graduates into teaching to raise the standard (does this sound familiar? It should!) I taught my first year on probation to acquire qualified teacher status. This, of course, even with 5 years full-time and 3 years part-time maths teaching experience under my belt, did not make me ‘qualified’ by Australian standards so, after arriving in Australia in 1971, I only taught part-time or casually, all at secondary level, until I completed my Grad Dip Ed (Secondary) as an external student at Mitchell College (now Charles Sturt University).

I succeeding in gaining a position at the fledgling NTU (now CDU) in 1989 and later undertook, successfully, an MSc (Science Education) by thesis through Curtin University.

Here I must make the point that my entire education, up to the age of 68, was paid for by the relevant governments.

Because the formerly private secondary schools, which moved under the government’s control, had been modelled on the British Public Schools – Eton and Harrow etc – they had a House system with a highly competitive points system in sports and other areas, and an expectation that growing maturity required increasing responsibility – for oneself and for others.

This also, because of the no fees situation in state-owned schools, imbued in many of the beneficiaries a realisation that they had a moral debt to repay the nation – not financially but in service! This is a grave lack in a user pays system! The latter fails to encourage an active involvement in voluntary organisations.

I have dual British and Australian citizenship, my family having moved to Australia when my husband, a civil engineer, was appointed to a position here in 1970. I followed him with our children, arriving at the start of 1971.

I cannot honestly say that I have a great deal of pride in either country – entirely due to the nature of politics!

I realised in middle life that a significant number of people have had their lives affected adversely because of the prohibitive cost of seeking legal advice. So, in my last semester as a maths lecturer, I commenced study for an LLB – little knowing that you cannot give legal advice (without risking expensive claims against you if that advice is faulty!) unless you have a current practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance! So, I continued on to cover that last requirement for admission by completing a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. I had also completed the necessary requirements to be an accredited mediator, and I practiced law in a small firm for a little over 4 years, but continued mediating for a few years longer.

This fulfilled a dream I can trace back to 1975, when I started study in a Diploma in Accounting and completed, among other units, a year-long Business Law unit.

Anyone who tells you that you are too old to learn is misleading you. Life is a continuous learning experience even if it is at its best up to age 5!

I have my own theories about how religions were developed, but underpinning all religions it seems to me there four factors.

  1. A desire to explain natural phenomena.
  2. A desire to find a meaning for life.
  3. A need to have some rules for a community to live in peace.
  4. A desire for power which enables an individual to claim the capacity to translate messages from some supernatural being(s).

My own belief is that the ethics – do as you would be done by, etc – which appear to underpin the teachings attributed to an individual (who may/may not have existed) known as Jesus Christ, are, in fact very desirable ethics and I think it a pity that our current would-be leaders do not practice them.

They give a meaning to life – help others!

But, human nature being what it is, ‘greed is good’ prevails over unselfishness!

Modern science is well on the way to providing answers to many questions and Stephen Fry has issued a video which effectively de-bunks the concept of a loving, omnipotent god!

When I consider the adversarial processes for law and politics, inherited from the British colonisers, and which have controlled our lives, I find them way short of desirable.

We also have a Constitution, designed to designate which of Commonwealth and States can use which powers – a totally inadequate document in the modern world.

We have politicians more interested in retaining power than setting our systems to rights or helping you and me and our fellow voters, the stupid people who elected them!

I firmly believe the scientists on climate change.

I am torn between wanting us to act urgently, so that my 3 great grandchildren will be able to enjoy their lives, and hoping that we bumble on to be rapidly overtaken by events and the selfish, greedy corporations will have their comeuppance!

One last thought!

Karl Marx is quoted as referring to religion as ‘the opium of the people’.

Nowadays I think it could be fairly claimed that big business has invested heavily in making entertainment the opium of the people – and it reminds me of the Decline of the Roman Empire!

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The internet has for some become a dangerous place

How do we put this?

We have always prided ourselves on the site we have built, and those hundreds of commenters and authors that have become part of The AIMN family. As a family we have engaged with respect and maturity.

But lately … not so much.

Over the last six months there has been more of a tendency to attack rather than debate. The number of emails we receive from people – and there are dozens of them – that despair at the way they are treated on our site, forces us to act.

We are at fault for not doing something earlier.

We are extremely disappointed that people (mainly women) are leaving this site after years of contributing here. And why are these people leaving? Simple: they didn’t come here for denigration and abuse. But that’s what they have had to contend with. What’s worse is when these people reveal what is happening in their own lives and the difficulties they face (mainly with serious health issues). What fun (not!) it must be then to come to our site only to be denigrated, ridiculed, harassed etc. They simply don’t deserve it.

The internet has for some become a dangerous place. We don’t want to be such a place.

We are not trying to quell free-speech. As one of our commenters used to say: “Free-speech doesn’t give you the right to be an arsehole.” But we also have to weigh up the options: Do we give a dozen or so contributors the platform to debate in the manner they want, or do we shut down aggressive debate in order that a few hundred extra people would feel safe to contribute here? We have no choice but to run with the second option.

Surely we can all again debate with the respect and maturity that set this site apart.

We ask that you help us turn the trend around. We can do it.

Next time we won’t be asking.

On a different note, you would be aware that this site survives because of the wonderful support we receive from those making donations (including our own financial contribution), and from the income from Google ads. We couldn’t survive with just two of those income sources – we rely on all three.

We have a G-Rating with Google, and they regularly scan our site to ensure that we are complying with the conditions of that rating. The slightest little thing – such as aggression or a threat in the comments or the articles – sees us receive a Violation Report. One of those sets us off in a mad panic to remove or edit the offending material, and to respond to Google to review the violation again. The number of violations we can have before we lose Google ads is not unlimited.

We can’t afford to reach our limit.

If we may indulge ourselves allow us to conclude with the ‘disasters’ of not treating people with respect:

Michael related a story here the other day, of when he and a few of his footy mates – deciding to go up-market and drinking in the lounge of the Belair Hotel – found themselves in an argument with a well-dressed businessman after Whitlam was dismissed by Kerr. The gentleman – about 55ish – was pleased over the dismissal, but rather than debate the issue with him the boys fired off abuse after abuse (mainly words that shouldn’t be repeated here). It didn’t stop there: each encounter with him at the local invited abuse from the boys.

Twenty-five years later, on one ANZAC Day, one of the Adelaide stations included a story in the news about a young pilot who had been shot down over Germany in WW2. The now elderly war hero described his escape from Germany. It was a story to give you goose bumps.

Who was this war hero? It was the same man who Michael and his footy mates abused relentlessly back in the mid 70s. A hero who fought for Australia … was continually abused over something much less trivial than being shot down over Germany.

Michael cannot express the guilt he felt.

Oh how easy it is to make an idiot of one’s self.

But he didn’t know who he was talking to. A bit like us here, don’t you think?

Michael and Carol

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The Liberal Party and Women

By Aerchie 

The Liberal Party does not have a problem with women.

It has a problem with white, middle-aged males. They do make up the vast majority of the elected members of the Liberal Party, as well as the vast majority of the un-elected hidden party apparatchiks. The few women who are involved with the Liberal Party are probably accepted because they can make the tea and cook the after-meeting cakes.

This has been politics since the time of Athens. Sadly for the Liberal Party, times have changed just a little in the past 2,500 years. Not that they have noticed. Just as they have failed to notice many other changes in society.

Kelly O’Dwyer herself told her colleagues last year that the Liberals were widely seen as “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

White middle-aged males have always held the power in white Anglo-Saxon society. They are mentored by old white males who have graduated from middle age. And the one thing they all agree on is that women do not belong in Parliament, unless it is to bring them a glass of water.

Maybe, one day, just before their extinction, the Liberal Party will suddenly wake up to what has created the success of both the ALP and the Greens. The electorate is slightly more female than male!

Of course, if the Liberal Party were to allow roughly equal numbers of women into the Parliament, then the Liberal Party would totally change its abilities, attitudes and aims. The Party would become unrecognisable.

Perhaps this is why the current Liberal Party is so opposed to change. In a new equality-based Liberal Party, there would be no room for the dinosauric white middle-aged white males!

This article was originally published on Aerchie’s Archives.

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