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She said what!

Senator Hanson recently implied that children on the autistic spectrum should be shunted off to ‘special schools’. However Hanson wants to spin it, she said

These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention,

Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education.

That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them.

I am not denying them. If it were one of my children I would love all the time given to them to give them those opportunities. But it is about the loss for our other kids.

I think that we have more autistic children, yet we are not providing the special classrooms or the schools for these autistic children.

In case you believe the ABC is biased – this link will take you the same text in a Fairfax publication, or you could try The Guardian here.

Hanson claims she was taken out of context – the context seems pretty clear here. It is an attempt by an irrelevant media manipulator to be seen to have a position on the latest ‘hot button’ issue.

There has been lots of outrage, mostly by those who have some idea of what they are talking about including Labor MP Emma Husar who has a son with autism. It is well worth watching the entire clip.

Fairfax reports that a number of people who actually do have a clue absolutely disagree with Hanson’s ill-informed attempt at bigotry. For example

Children and Young People with Disability Australia chief executive Stephanie Gotlib labelled the Senator’s comments “ill-informed and deeply offensive”.

“Senator Hanson should also be mindful that access to inclusive education is a human right,” she said.

“Ignorant remarks such as these demonstrate that she clearly needs to take up this offer as soon as possible.”

Fiona Sharkey, chief executive of Amaze (Autism Victoria), accused Senator Hanson of “advocating for a more segregated school environment rather than an inclusive one”.

In response to Senator Hanson’s speech, Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, read out an email to Parliament from a parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

“To hear one of our parliamentarians argue that kids with disabilities don’t belong in mainstream classes doesn’t shock me – but it does break my heart all over again,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how many times it has happened before I feel the knife twist again.”

You would expect the Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, would be one of the first to decry Hanson’s attempt at relevance. He didn’t. Even though

Dr David Roy, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle’s School of Education, said studies had shown “the exact opposite” of Senator Hanson’s comments.

“Children with a disability may have a deficit in one area, but will often and regularly have an asset in the other so they can support other children in the classroom who aren’t good with language or literacy, who aren’t good with maths … and see an alternative way of doing something.”

You see, Hanson’s political party which somehow claims to represent all Australians despite only receiving around 500,000 votes across the country (and attempting to justify a Queensland Senator, Malcolm Roberts, elected on 77 direct votes) is voting in favour of what is so far Turnbull and Birmingham’s single success – Gonski 2.0.

Gonski 2.0 is not as good as the ALP’s Gonski policy as significant funding has been removed from the plan to adequately fund school education across Australia – but it is a start. For some reason the ALP and Greens couldn’t see the wood for the trees and didn’t vote for something they could ‘re-adjust’ following a possible election victory inside the next couple of years – so Birmingham needed the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation xenophobic and narrow minded Senators to pass the legislation, as well as a number of other cross-bench Senators.

Sean Kelly, who writes for The Monthly, calls the Liberal Party response out for what it is – a complete abrogation of the requirement to govern for all. As Kelly suggests

That’s why you should ignore any Liberal MP expressing outrage this week about Hanson’s latest comments on autism. The comments should not have been a shock. She’s the same Hanson she was when Cash hugged her, when Abbott recorded a video with her, when Turnbull indicated his party might preference her, and when Sinodinos said her party had changed.

Hanson wants a royal commission into whether Islam is a religion. She has encouraged parents to “do their own research” on whether to get their kids vaccinated. She supports Vladimir Putin, whose government murders and assassinates people. And that’s before you get to the views of her other senators, or candidates.

Kelly goes on to comment

As with all of Hanson’s rhetoric, this was about the ugly, ugly politics of envy. It was classic Hanson: feeding off the resentment felt by those doing it tough towards those doing it even tougher. Hanson’s entire governing philosophy is that there is only so much sympathy (and government funding) to go around, and her voters deserve the lion’s share.

And he’s right. Hanson has been preaching hatred and bigotry against groups of Australians for years. It is all that she knows how to do. As far as representing ‘average’ Australians – that’s crap – Hanson and her party have been attached to the teat of public funding of election candidates for over a quarter of a century.

In the world according to Hanson, for you to be acceptable to the community you must be exactly like her. Despite claiming to be an ‘average’ Australian, her only real job for the past 25 years or so is running for political office. She attempts to divide our community on racial stereotypes and seemingly will do anything to get her name on the front page of the paper. If she isn’t just stupid, she is manipulating and conniving without any real demonstrated ability to put her policies into legislation.

At the very worst, any class with a mixture of non-ASD and ASD students would teach all the students the ability to understand and practice tolerance. Non-ASD kids may have to wait a few minutes longer for the entire class to finish a task, the ASD kids would learn that others don’t necessarily have an extremely detailed knowledge of subjects that are near and dear to them.

Fairfax reports that Autism advocacy bodies estimate that one in 100 Australians are diagnosed with autism and Emma Husar made the statement linked above outside Parliament House the other day – it finished with the following words, addressed directly to all the estimated 164,000 Australians who register on the Autistic Spectrum

even on the days that are hard – when you’re frustrated, and your disability makes you angry – you are still better than she is on her best day.

Husar is correct. Australians diagnosed with ASD are better on their worst day than Hanson is on her best. It’s high time the Liberal Party found a backbone and treated Hanson as the irrelevance she truly is, it might help them regain some popularity from the genuinely ‘average’ Australians who believe in tolerance and an inclusive society and who rightly believe Hanson will never speak for them’.

Disclaimer – the writer’s daughter has been diagnosed with ASD. She attends a mainstream high school and is achieving average or better academic and behavioural results in the same classes as her non-ASD age cohort.

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Another really great week for our politicians

By Terence Mills

They tell me that our politicians pulled an all-nighter on Thursday and had to hang around on poets day – a most unusual occurrence – to tidy up some loose ends and for the blokes to find their ties – you can always tell when a male politician is pretending to be hard at work, off comes the tie and up go the sleeves, not so much with the ladies, it seems. Still, it was worth it as the parliamentary tooth-fairy also known as the Remuneration Tribunal made a determination to boost politician’s pay by 2% from 1 July. This follows a 2.4% increase granted in July 2013 and a further 2% in January 2016. A pious George Christensen [you can tell this is satire, Eh?] told reporters that this modest increase was in lieu of penalty rates. Barnaby Joyce mumbled to him, behind his new Akubra, that politicians don’t get penalty rates as they only work Monday to Thursday and George explained to the assembled media that this modest increase was in lieu of the penalty rates that politicians had historically foregone.

I’m told that a pensioner on the steps at Parliament House, with a begging bowl, asked if she, could share in a little of this largesse, to help pay for increases in rent electricity and gruel? They sent Peter Dutton out who told her in no uncertain terms that she was a Labor stooge and if she wasn’t careful he had a nice little tropical island where she would spend the rest of her days and that, like Oliver Twist, she could eat cake – Peter was never good with his metaphors and under a certain new regime of English proficiency would be unlikely to be granted citizenship.

Meanwhile the deficit levy on high earners has been lifted – another reason for high-fives in Aussies Cafe in Parliament House – as the deficit is now a thing of the past and, thanks to Modern Monetary Theory, we no longer have a debt problem as we have a new colour printer in the parliamentary annex churning out fifty-dollar bills for all and sundry – except pensioners and Labor stooges – Peter Dutton is the monetary monitor so watch it.

Malcolm has said he will put all his additional loot to good use and invest in a third world economy; not Australia as you may have been thinking, but a nifty hedge fund in the Cayman Islands that he recommends as being well away from the scrutiny of the tax office who, it appears, are far too preoccupied with organising their own investment rorts anyhow.

Overall, an excellent week with Malcolm flying high and the coalition delighted that it has been able to take a Labor policy, chisel off a few sharp edges, apply a bit of spin, cut the funding – which Labor had never funded anyhow we are told – slip in a lazy $5 billion extra, found behind the couch cushions in the Joe Hockey’s old office and cut the roll-out period for Gonski 2.0 from ten years to six: high fives and low fives all round!

Pauline Hanson, Nick Xenophon, Derryn Hynch and the Greens all claim credit for the coalition’s amazing new education breakthrough although, surprisingly the Greens didn’t even vote for it.

The curious incident of the bigot in the Senate

By Damian Smith

I’ve been reluctant to comment on Pauline Hanson’s noisome remarks regarding autism and schooling. Like wildfire her vacuous bigotry requires oxygen and I am loath give her the attention she so desperately desires.

However, there are times when one must stare into the abyss.

I have what was once known as Asperger’s Syndrome, now coalesced into the all-encompassing autism spectrum.

I’m one of what Hanson calls ‘those people’.

I’ve built my career around being on the spectrum, on de-stigmatising a condition that doesn’t render you inferior – just different. I’ve tried to make myself an example of achievement, that being on the spectrum doesn’t limit you and can in fact empower you, that you can be ‘normal’ if you want to be, but more importantly that there’s no need to be normal at all.

And in this capacity it is incumbent on me to retort.

I also went to a public school. One with something of a reputation. A school that stands to gain a lot from the Gonski program.

School was a brutal experience. Aside from the regulation systemic bullying, there were the problems stemming from lack of funding. Our classes would regularly contain over thirty students, sometimes two to a desk. Half of our classrooms were temporary demountables, lacking heating in the winter and pushing 35 degrees in the summer.

Hardly ideal conditions for learning in the formative years of your life.

In this post-apocalyptic hellscape of a high school were students held back? Were students denied the attention because of the disruption of their peers? Of course they were.

Were the students causing these disruptions the ones with special needs? Absolutely not.

In my experience it wasn’t the special needs students who were the problem at all.

The problem was the idiots.

The racists, the xenophobes and homophobes; the kids who were terrified of anything different, who translated that terror into anger and violence.

Does this sound familiar, Senator Hanson?

The disruptions in maths class did not stem from an autistic tantrum. A child with autism can find comfort in numbers, in the honesty of mathematics. He doesn’t yell and throw paper demanding to know when he’ll need to use algebra in ‘real life’ (hint: it’s always). That was left to the so called ‘normal kids’.

No class was ever cancelled because of an autistic child not grasping the fall of the Wiemar Republic, however there were classes cancelled because a group of boorish thugs stole a Muslim student’s taqiyah and passed it around while chanting ‘we grew here, you flew here’ (the student in question was born in Randwick).

No science class was held back for an autistic student needing to ‘feel good about himself’ but a biology lesson resulted in a class wide detention when a student was pelted with sheep hearts because his peers suspected he might be gay (he wasn’t, he just participated in Rock Eisteddfod).

So from my admittedly anecdotal experience is it the special needs students who are holding the rest back? No. It’s the ones who were weaned on ignorance and hate who were the problem. The ones whose parents praised One Nation during its first inception, before Pauline Hanson’s myopic monomania had resolved into a weathervane for things she’d read on breitbart.com that morning and leaned more towards a general hatred for the greater humanity.

But now, more than ever, there is a pressing need for those with special needs to actually feel … special. Because when they look at Pauline Hanson they see a bully winning. They see that the student who doesn’t get the point of the lesson and vindictively disrupts the rest of the class can grow up and become a senator.

I’ve never held back anyone’s education. I value knowledge and learning above all, and I encourage it in everyone. But our students are being held back by those that don’t prize learning, those that see education as a chore and a prison sentence and lash out at anyone seen to be enjoying the experience.

Those like Pauline Hanson.

So take it from me, Senator Hanson. Autistic kids aren’t a detriment to the standards of education in this country. I should know. I lived it. But if I ever need an opinion on dropping out of school at 15 because of unprotected sex you’ll be the first person I call.

Pauline says segregate, I say integrate. Who would you trust?

By Jane Salmon

Piling on against Hanson is hard to resist. She’s under-educated and holds the entire nation back.

There is not a vulnerable or minority group she hasn’t tried to isolate or turn the white middle Australian bogan pack on. This is more of the same.

However, disability parents owe her thanks for this high profile discussion.

Our family has operated on the knife edge of this debate for at least 13 years.

My kids have been excluded and included along public/private funding lines and along resource lines from playgroup to preschool to primary and high schools.

The needs of the specific child are usually overlooked. Stereotyping occurs.

Each child is different. Some have more to gain from autism specific settings. Others need the challenges of the mainstream with extra teacher supports.

My kids have varying degrees of ASD. Like their father and paternal uncles and cousins. (this wasn’t known at the outset). My genes contributed the learning challenges like dyslexia and moodiness. It’s quite a package.

Upon diagnosis, we got told to collect our massive cash deposit from the local WASP school (that had already accepted them) and bugger off. They could not access federal funding for intellectual disabilities we were told. I went into shock.

Should we pretend to be Catholic? I found that the reputation of Catholic educators was too mixed to take that risk.

Then we got told to mainstream at a local school with few trained aides or teachers trained in behavioural and additional learning support.

We fought for segregation in a public system support class 4 suburbs away.  This expensive but rather bland option was wonderful, a cocoon. We were all on the same page. Parents paid for music therapy as an extra. We were a cohort and a unified lobby. (We were also a threat to the department).

Then after 2 years, the NSW Dept Education demanded we switch back to mainstream. The kids had potential. They must go to special school (with their videos, pottery and colouring in) or mix it with neurotypicals. Nothing in between was available.

So it was back to the local primary school where we drowned. For about 4 years.

Some teachers were superb. Basically, the kids survived on good will. Others were unimaginative, rigid and lazy. A large proportion of parents were stand offish or resentful. No birthday parties for us.

Fortunately the enlightened souls mucked in.  When I got Stage 3 cancer and people treated us with kindness. Breast cancer is easier to connect with than autism.

The education system continued to rearrange itself. Funding models & policies were altered. Aides disappeared as undertrained behaviour support specialists came in. Spot funding for trendy courses and apps came and went.

The P&C paid for remedial classes. We raffled up a bloody storm. When Mum died, I donated $20k. Cheaper than private school, right?

Now we are in a big high school and back on the knife edge. Should B2 retreat to a behaviour school (public or private)? Can he grow into a school with 1600 kids? Will external therapies be enough?

Teaching the system to look at the child not the label is important. Each has a unique set of strengths and capacities.

B1 is thriving. He has a strong work ethic and strong interests. Teaching careers advisors to look at the real person is a current challenge. Some keep holding him back.we mop up any bullying as it occurs.

Can B2 cut it? We’re still not sure. Stay tuned.

To begin with, cosy and small specialist support classes were what we needed. Moving to the mainstream away from this community was overwhelming and ironically isolating. Later, after a lot of teacher resources were soaked up, they began to thrive. They rose to many of the challenges.

We might be on track to create productive little taxpayers.

However the determinant should not be funding. Quality options should be available in quality.

Empathy and respect must be taught in the mainstream. Integration does that.

And each kid is different.

Ben's Graduation Speech | Autism Speaks

Ben has autism and, in his graduation speech, thanked his classmates for being accepting…

Posted by Autism Speaks on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jane Caro is right. This debate is really about teacher training, teacher supports, flexible options and class sizes.

Bogans like Hanson would have benefitted from the Finnish model of education where teachers explore innovation, hold Masters degrees, command good wages and enjoy respect.

Gonski won’t work unless the full disability education is funded.

Under Gonski 2.0 my local school loses a quarter of a million a year. I pray to God that this funding is diverted away from rich private schools towards inclusive or specialist schools in low SES areas.

Turnbull and the private school lobby are indeed ruining educational progress in this country. Redistribution is necessary.

As usual, we need a more nuanced debate. If kids need special schools or support classes, let them be good. If they need more support in the mainstream, tolerate a few tanties to create the taxpayers of the future. The potential of the entire country is at stake.

We all rise of the same tide: with or without floaties.

As Father Bob says, “Who Cares Wins”.

This article was originally published on Independent Australia as Hanson’s autism remarks miss the point of NDIS, Gonski and so much more.

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Gaziur (Gazi) Rahman – the brutal treatment of a worthy New Australian.

By Keith Davis

“I have never had to flee my country in order to save my life. How lucky am I? I have never had to fear being returned to a country where the likely consequence of such an unwanted move would be my death. How lucky am I?”

I wrote those words many months ago in support of my friend Gaziur (Gazi) Rahman. Since that time I have moved away from the Gympie region, where Gazi lives, and I have returned back to the Sunshine Coast.

The time and distance thing – it is easy to forget isn’t it? It is easy to turn inwards and only focus on issues that affect one’s own personal welfare. Well, because of Gazi’s circumstances, and the humility of his approach to battling adversity, I refuse to forget, and I refuse to turn inwards and away from him.

Here is a little of what I wrote a while ago:

“Once a week here in Gympie a group of us blokes get together over a coffee to support each other through the usual regional malaise of social isolation. We all, for a million different reasons live alone-type lifestyles, and it is good to get together with other men and have a chat about everything from cars to the meaning of life.

A few months ago a new bloke by the name of Gaziur Rahman joined the group. Naturally, being Australian, we all called him Gazi. He was quiet, didn’t say much except about cricket, but he kept coming back.

And over time, out came the facts of his life.

Because of political issues he fled Bangladesh in fear of his life in 2012. Then he did what anyone of us would do if we were fleeing to save our lives, he jumped on the first available mode of transport, which happened to be a boat, and arrived in Australia in 2013. Yes, just like my European ancestors, Gazi was a boat person. Mind you, my ancestors were convicts, he wasn’t.

After the usual detention centre reception Gazi found work in Nolan’s Meatworks here in Gympie. From all accounts he was a valued and hardworking employee. I imagine that at that stage he was simply very thankful to have survived, and to have found safety, refuge, and a job here in the local Gympie community.

As life does, in 2014 life threw Gazi one heck of a curve ball. It involved his bicycle and a car, and Gazi did not come out of the collision all that well. One of his legs was incredibly mangled.

Recuperation from such a damaging event takes time, and Gazi was not able to return part-time to work until early 2016. Good on Nolan’s Meatworks for standing by Gazi I say because that is the true measure of the nature of Gympie people.

Then came the further curve balls. Gazi was denied a Work Visa and forced, against his and just about everybody else’s will, to give up his job at Nolan Meatworks in January 2017. He cannot receive any sort of income support because he does not have a Visa.

Now I can tell you this, we here in the group are just a normal collection of blokes. We do not have financial or political power. But we do have one thing. We have a very clear understanding of what is Right, and what is Wrong. What is currently happening to Gazi is very definitely Wrong.

Gazi is a decent man and he has proven his worth. He has paid his way and contributed to the local community. We want him to stay. If he is forced to go back to a very uncertain fate then that would just about have to be the most un-Australian thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Since I wrote those words Gazi has had to endure yet another operation on his leg. The recuperation is painful but he barely mentions that. Gazi has never asked anybody else to speak on his behalf, but I would like to say this.

Gazi has been, and is still being, treated in an appalling manner. He is hardly what I could call fully ambulatory, and as far as I understand it, WorkCover has informed him that he is now cleared to return to work.

So … one Government Department revokes his work visa and cuts him off from any sort of social welfare support through Centrelink … and another Government Department says back to work you go old son even though you can barely stand and even though we are fully aware that our friends over the hall have revoked your work visa.

In a very bad way it reminds me of the English show Yes Minister. That show was not just a comedy series – underneath the intelligently glib lines lay an expose of the brutality and viciousness inherent in some governmental policy implementation.

What is happening to Gaziur Rahman is vicious, brutal, and totally undeserved. Essentially he is being told to either return back to an uncertain fate … or stay here and starve.

I am beyond ashamed with the actions of our government.

Remember the Art of Compromise?

By Warwick O’Neill

Unlike a lot of people who follow the political and media ramblings of this country I like to ensure that I’m informed about issues from as many perspectives as possible. I don’t just stick to the tried and trusted papers and sites which comfortingly reaffirm my point of view and lead me to believe that the rest of the known world shares those views. I read and listen to various outlets, even though the opinion expressed may run counter to my own. Why?

It’s quite simple really, how can you form a valid and intelligent opinion if you haven’t bothered to hear all the arguments? How can you have an open and robust debate on vital issues if your only tactic is to shout down and silence dissenting opinion, simply because you don’t know enough about that opinion to debate it fully?

So what’s my point here? Well through looking at all these various sources and opinions, particularly the comments section of many on line media sites, I’ve come to realise that both sides of some of our most pressing issues have some very good points, some very ill-informed points and some wildly and incredibly dangerous attempts to take things to the extreme. But the one thread that runs through all these debates is this – no one acknowledges the good points in the other side’s opinion, they only attack the bad and attempt to crush the entire proposal because a percentage of it is no good.

Remember that old saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”?

And so what is the end result of all this? We keep devoting hours and hours of time and possibly millions of wasted dollars (remember that we’re paying politicians to resolve many of these issues – which remain unresolved), for years and years and go nowhere. One side has a win and the other side then goes about dismantling that progress while Australia floats around neither moving forward nor moving back.

The most obvious example of this is/was the ‘carbon tax’. Whether you agree with it or not, you can’t deny the fact that millions of tax payer dollars were thrown into its implementation, infrastructure was being installed and things seemed to be running OK. This was back in 2012. The debate was had, Labor/Greens won and that should’ve been that. But nay. Along came Tony and in 2014 the whole thing was scrapped, and here we are in 2017 still arguing about carbon emissions etc.

This is indicative of the state of public debate in Australia these days. The art of compromise has been annihilated, not just in politics but also in the court of public opinion. It has become a story of ‘if you’re not with me 100%, you’re against me’, ‘if I can’t have everything the way I want, then you can’t have anything’. We have developed tunnel vision where the only valid point of view is apparently the one to which you subscribe.

Let’s take this whole climate change, renewables versus coal thing as an example.

In the Green corner we have the great unwashed, three hugging, social justice warrior lefties. In the Brown corner we’ve got the greedy, power hungry capitalist environmental vandals. The lefties want all coal fired power stations switched off ASAP and mining and exportation of coal to be ceased yesterday, if not sooner. The vandals on the other hand want an indefinite future for coal, no need to invest in renewables and only coal can lift those poor third world peasants out of poverty.

Each side of the debate will tear out the throats of the other if they dare to imply there is a different way of viewing things. There is only one way and that’s either renewable now and to hell with the jobs of miners and power station workers (Green corner), or coal all the way and to hell with creating a cleaner world (Brown corner).

But what if, shock horror, both sides admitted that the other had some valid points? Jobs are important, particularly to the economy of rural and remote communities. Renewables, at this point cannot carry the full load. Climate change is real. Coal is not the way of the future. What if they managed to agree on all these basic points?

Well they’d compromise, wouldn’t they? They would say let’s invest as much as possible in renewals, while maintaining the current coal fired power and as more and more renewable projects come on-line, gradually reduce the reliance on coal. Natural attrition as coal workers retire will ensure a gradual reduction in numbers to coincide with the reduction in operations without causing too much misery to people whose jobs are on the way out.

On the other side, employing and training fewer people to work in coal will keep the numbers down, and those who would otherwise enter the coal industry can instead enter into and be trained in the renewable industries in which they can look forward to life-long careers.

And imagine if this approach had commenced twenty years ago. We’d be close to completing the transition by now, instead of still arguing about it. As it is, if everyone put their own bullshit aside and decided to act like intelligent human beings, we’re still looking at twenty to thirty years to end up where we should be now. All because of everyone’s ‘no compromise’ attitude.

But this isn’t the only area where real results and being delayed due to an inability to compromise. Immigration is either a ‘keep them all out’ or ‘let them all in’ approach, each of which is just as ludicrous, but each side will scream at the other in an attempt to stifle debate. Same sex marriage is suffering the same thing when an obvious solution is staring people in the face – ie most of the objections are based on religious grounds. So, the simple solution is one side allows that same sex marriage be legalised while the other side allows that the various churches can decide whether or not they’ll allow a religions service. If they won’t, then so be it, do what the rest of us do – have a non-religious marriage.

The inability to acknowledge other people’s point of view as being valid, and working with them to reach real solutions, in my opinion has reached crisis point in Australia. We have radio personalities having pies shoved in their faces while launching books, or CEOs having pies shoved in their face for supporting gay marriage (what’s with all the pies?). Apparently, daring to have an opinion in Australia means you can be assaulted by the self-righteous. What a sorry state of affairs.

Recently a movie producer attempted to bring a film to Australia which dared to suggest that men don’t necessarily have it all their own way. Did the SJWs take time to actually view the movie, or did they just simply decide it was an anti-feminist/pro domestic violence construct of the mythical Patriarchy and pressure theatres to cancel screenings and have the sweet and beautiful faces of a militant left wing media (The Project, Sunrise) lambast the whole thing and viciously attack the young LADY who made the film? Yup option two was the preferred option. Don’t even debate it, just attack it and tear it down so that the least number of people as possible get to see it. The funny thing is, due to the righteous indignation of all the bleeding hearts, more people found out that it was actually in Australia than otherwise would have. Something of a Pyrrhic victory I’d suggest.

Now I don’t think for a moment that people on either side of any number of divisive debates in this country are intrinsically nasty horrible people. I’d even go as far to say they actually believe they’re interested in what is in the best interest of the majority. I’ll admit myself to automatically adopting a stance in relation to various issues without necessarily considering the full story, but hopefully more often than not, before I start jumping on people I take the time to fully consider their position and I try my utmost not to look upon them disparagingly for having a differing point of view. Unfortunately I think I’m in the minority.

Until we all hold our own egos in check, until we all start encouraging open debate, until we start to accept that our point of view may not be the only correct one, then Australia will end up going round and round and round and going nowhere. I’m reminded of the old joke, ‘my dog just spent ten minutes chasing its own tail and I thought to myself how easily amused dogs are. Then I realised I just watched a dog chase its own tail for ten minutes’. So before you attempt to force your opinions on others to shut down debate, ask yourself is that really going to be productive, or do you just enjoy watching the dog chase its tail?

Warwick O’Neill’s passion lies in exploring the nooks and crannies of Australia, both physically and historically and combing it all into writing historical fiction novels which showcase the colourful history of this country. His first novel; “Flames of Rebellion” is a fictional tale set amongst a real life backdrop of the Victorian Goldfields and the Eureka Stockade.

His blog site contains a collection of tales relating to his experiences over the last twenty years of parenting, off-roading/camping and occasionally managing to avoid incarceration by the skin of his teeth. He also hosts the YouTube video blog “On This Day In Australia” showcasing the lessor known events and people in Australian history.

What is wrong with our doctors?

By Christopher Kennedy

It does not surprise me that young doctors have mental problems at twice the rate of the general population. It was only one hundred and twenty years ago that doctors figured out what the heart did. Two hundred years ago they were also the town barber and surgeon. They had no idea. Doctors may look confident and capable but it has not been very long since they figured out, what looks like to us now, some fairly simple deductions.

Another example is the washing of hands between births. A young doctor come up with the idea in Germany in the 18th century but it took thirty years before the bloody-minded mainstream medical establishment agreed with him that some sort of basic hygiene would save the lives of now millions of babies. That is thirty years of needless deaths of infants. Let us be frank, the medical establishment is not particularly enlightened quite often.

Let us take vaping and e-cigarettes. I vape. I am fifty years old and my friends are starting to die of cancer and I want to try other options. So I tried vaping. My teeth are now clean, as is my fingers, I have my breath back, I am doing more exercise. All good, I have a much better life. Yet the doctors are demanding that I give up that because they don’t like any type of cigarettes. To justify this they argue that anyone can give up cigarettes. They support a large and well-funded anti-smoking lobby; I have yet to see another schizophrenic give up cigarettes, though all have tried very hard. The medical establishment doesn’t give a toss about that though either.

Another contentious area is cannabis. The argument put up by the head of the AMA recently was that cannabis had not been tested in controlled experiments. If one in six people are smoking pot in this country then the doctors must either be blind or neglectful if they can’t see it in their own patients.

One morning I went to the psychiatrist and noticed that the files for patients he was seeing that day laid out on his desk. On the files where the names of a group of people I shared some cannabis with that morning. I pointed out to the psychiatrist that he was in for an easy day. Like me they where going to come in, grab the script for their medicines and get the hell out of there as soon as possible.

This particular psychiatrist, a very good and empathetic healer in my and my friends opinions, was pushing a rock up a hill trying to stop people from smoking cannabis.

As for the theory linking schizophrenia and cannabis, don’t make me laugh. The increase in cannabis use has been so widespread that the number of schizophrenics would go through the roof. But it hasn’t changed. As for them going mad after a joint they are mad to start with and they are simply mad and stoned when they have a joint. They are alright but their carers tend to get annoyed. The stoned schizophrenic sit in their rooms laughing to themselves. I should know, this complex I live in has seventeen schizophrenics in it.

It’s simply the cheapest and most effective drug around for many ailments. For some people it may not be suitable but no one has died from trying it. And the fall in opoid addiction rates and the general well-being of people where it has been legalized is becoming more and more newsworthy.

I would like to get this medicine, which is fairly tame compared to the anti-psychotics I am on, proscribed to me with an intelligent discussion from a doctor outlining what the suitable levels of CBD and THC (the active ingredients in cannabis) are for my anxiety and depression are. Buying off the street you have no control over that. Yet every doctor in Western Australia refused to undertake training in medical cannabis. This has no medical basis; it is a political statement. The rot has set in.

How far has this rot gotten? Take a story on the second page of the West Australian newspaper from last year which caused a ruckus among the pro-cannabis group. A professor from the University of Western Australia, associate Professor Stuart Reece, announced that cannabis caused inter-generational genetic defects. This is a professor from what I use to think was a good institution, however once you put his name into the computer you find that in “September 1999 he was raided for his reckless naltrexone, addictive benzodiazapine and faith healing caper. Threatened with closure he claimed that the QLD government would have blood on its hands if he did not get his way. 20 months later, 25 patients where dead …. He was raided and closed down again.“ This is quoted from the website “Losing in the Lucky Country” written by Paul Gallagher.

Heaven knows what department of voodoo Dr Reece runs and how he came to be running it but a professor is supposed to be a medical leader. I cannot see how he got to be an associate professor. Mind you, this is the university that was going to give a chair to a climate denier in return for a government grant (but that is a whole other story). Definitely the department of voodoo.

So we are faced with the same bloody-minded mainstream medical establishment, which as far as I can tell doesn’t give a bugger about our predicament. So much for the medical establishment but I cannot say I hope the doctors enjoy their brushes with mental illnesses, as it serves them right for pretending to be God, but rather feel pity for those young doctors who are being put under so much pressure by such an unyielding establishment.

 

Hanson displays her ignorance – again

By Jane Salmon

In suggesting that ‘autistic kids should be removed from mainstream classes,’ Pauline Hanson has reached a new low.

The view Hanson reflects is one of ignorant prejudice, scarcity and austerity.

Yep, my tackers with ASD are sometimes disruptive or especially emotional. They have painful struggles. This is easing with time, skill, therapy and care.

By embracing students with additional needs we all grow. We grow in empathy and we grow more taxpayers.

Teachers need the skills and training to support all kids who go under the radar in mainstream (as well as those who are diagnosed). Our kids have potential whether in the mainstream, support classes or special schools.

Too often the potential of PWD is wasted. Colouring-in and DVDs are no substitute for growing into the challenges of a mainstream cohort. Students with additional needs deserve stimulus and opportunity as well as specialised help.

That was the vision of Gonski for Disability. A whole generation is missing out on this. It benefits everyone.

The Finnish education model creates a global brains trust.

Our system creates a workforce that is less innovative, less capable and less competitive on a global scale.

We need to skill up, not down, if we are to meet the challenges of modernity and artificial intelligence.

My firstborn with ASD in Year 10 recently undertook a standard school occupational test. This child was segregated in an autism support class to start off. He often skips classes; volunteering to set up assembly, doing light and sound, going to TAFE automotive lessons, enjoying woodwork, doing group projects in the library. His citizenship is terrific. The Principal says he helps keep the school of 1600 running. I think having challenges as a family has taught him about what matters.

The occupational testers acknowledged that he wants to go straight into the workforce as a train timetabler or busdriver. However the same testers suggested that his Plan B should be something like aeronautical engineering. And both the Automotive Instructor at TAFE and the Modern History teacher have BEGGED for him to stay on for the HSC although he has chosen advanced maths, physics, chemistry, engineering.

I couldn’t be happier.

The struggle to cross from support classes to the mainstream has paid off. The special diet, the therapies, TLC and fuss have paid for themselves if he becomes a useful taxpayer.

Hanson is missing the point of the NDIS and much else. She misses empathy.  She misses the value of us all rising on the same tide of opportunity.

We grow as a group.

Imagine if Hanson had enjoyed access to expert teachers interested in her intellectual and emotional development.

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The Universal Basic Income: No poverty. Dignity for all.

By Keith Davis

Why are some Capitalists looking at the concept of replacing our Welfare System with a Universal Basic Income?

Well, it is not because they are natural allies of the poor, or altruistic benefactors of those citizens who have to rely on welfare benefits to try and survive. It is because they want to know where their own next dollar is going to come from.

As the divide between rich and poor widens, as more and more people are thrown out of work, and as automation takes over from humans in many workplaces, there is no longer a guaranteed ever-growing pool of happy consumers out there with the capacity to … spend, spend, spend.

In other words, the people who manufacture and sell consumer products are starting to look ahead, and they are worried because the number of people with the spare cash to spend on products and services is starting to decline. Peoples’ pockets are starting to feel the grand pinch and household debt is flying higher than Virgin Galactic.

Capitalists believe in economic growth. For that economic growth to roll around and reach ever higher levels the people who manufacture things or supply services require other people to buy those things. Things like televisions, fridges, cars, houses, mobile phones, computers, online media access, holiday units, and airline tickets.

The Capitalists and Economists want people to not only buy all of those things, they want people to throw out many of those things after only a year or so of use and buy a whole new bigger and better range of those same old things.

But what has all of this got to do with the Universal Basic Income? As it happens it has an awful lot to do with it. There are many figures bandied about internationally and locally for how much the Universal Basic Income should be. I’m proposing an average figure of $30,000 to $40,000 per citizen per year.

Now let’s think about how much the welfare system costs Australia each year.

Remember that this Welfare System covers the whole range of benefits and tax breaks that are out there – Negative Gearing Benefits, Business Subsidies, Rich Peoples’ Tax Dodges, Government Protection for Non-Tax-Paying Corporations, Family Tax Benefits, Unemployment Benefits and other pensions, and we might as well throw in the extent to which Politicians’ Perks are subsidised by the populace. All of those things add up to Welfare.

To that incredible National Welfare System Bill now add the cost of Government funding to all those organisations who are connected to the National Welfare System. As an example the Unemployment Industry of JobActive Providers costs over 5 billion dollars alone.

But think past that and add on all the costs of all the Community Groups beavering away to pick up and support every human and every business that falls through the cracks. We’re getting up to Himalayan heights of expended dosh here and I’d love to see a gifted economist, which I’m not, dive in and come up with a real-world figure for our Welfare system expenditure – and then compare that figure to the annual spend of a Universal Basic Income.

Under the Universal Basic Income scheme I am proposing that each and every Australian citizen 18 years old or higher receives a flat out yearly payment of $30,000 to $40,000. No other Government payment or subsidy is given to anyone, and I mean anyone, for any other reason. You get your Universal Income Grant and that’s it. Period.

The scheme is modified to the extent that the more you earn over that level then you will be subject to a sliding scale that diminishes your amount of dollars received. It might mean that a millionaire, subject to the sliding scale, still gets $50 per week but so what, they are citizens too.

And here is what would then happen …

There would no longer be a welfare system in Australia – though there would need to be a support network in place for youth, and for any citizens in the unfortunate situation of not being able to look after themselves.

Poverty, as a blight on our social landscape, would be eradicated. And as an added bonus – the Government would have to cease demonising the disadvantaged people in our society.

The ludicrous government-funded unemployment Industry of JobActive Providers would disappear.

A Universal Basic Income is an egalitarian scheme. Every Australian would have access to it and there would be no ‘us’ and ‘them’.

But would there be people around who would abuse the scheme?

Yes, of course there would be. We currently have many highly paid corporate CEOs running around doing little else but demolishing their companies and their shareholders’ expectations – and I imagine that these bludgers on the system would continue to do that while pulling in their own share of Universal Basic Income dollars. But … apart from getting ACA to door-stop them, what can you do?

So I can well understand why some capitalists and economists are starting to support the value of a Universal Basic Income, because the implementation of such a scheme would allow even the poor to buy the things that the capitalists want to sell – the fridges, televisions, etc.

The poor, the unemployed, and the disadvantaged would also, and this one is far more important than any silly unending economic growth mantra, would be able to live their lives above the poverty line and with a modicum of dignity. How good would that be?

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Citizen Shadow Parliaments – an alternative planning approach?

By Matthew Mitchell

Do you ever wonder what our society would look like if everyday people were calling the shots? If everyday people had more influence rather than a few privileged rich and large corporations? Would we have sold our public utilities? Would the centre of Melbourne look less like Manhattan; have less poorly constructed and dangerous residential towers? Would citizens be forced into selling off the backyards of family homes to pay their outrageous mortgages? Would we ever have allowed negative gearing and its looming financial tsunami?

Well we might not be able to go back in time, but citizens may have good ideas of how to fix this mess and minimise the damage of past decisions. What planning decisions should be made now? What planning proposals should be stopped or allowed now? This article presents an idea for citizens to form their own representative decision making bodies, and if we wish we can see how real democratic decision making compares with our current donation driven party based system.

All you need to start a democratic process in your own area is just 5 people. From this it can grow to include up to 2 million people. The system proposed below would be extremely difficult to corrupt. It is a system that truly allows ‘rule by the people’ as it consists of everyday people, not career politicians.

It would allow communities to make and express their own decisions. For example, as to whether a particular planning proposal should be allowed or not.

If you are interested, read on.

Purposes of the Proposal

The proposed ‘alternative’ system may serve the following two main purposes:

  1. Offer an alternative decision making forum where communities could make their own decisions in contrast to (or perhaps support of) the current official structures. Kind of like a community ‘Shadow Parliament’.

  2. Provide a community decision making framework that could be transitioned to if needed in an emergency situation.

It is intended that this system should also model a possible feasible replacement for our current representative democracy should communities ever hold a constitution convention. As mentioned above, it can start with a very small group of volunteer participants, but it is designed to be ‘scalable’ should it get more popular.

Basic Outline

Here is the basic idea:

That parliaments should be formed of people selected for duty in the same way people are selected for juries. No political parties, no donations needed or allowed. No political campaigning by representatives.

So here is how it would start:

All citizens over 18 years of age (defined as permanent residents of Australia – i.e living here for 2 years or more with an intention to stay at least 3 more years – verified by sworn witnesses and affidavit – the system is not linked to any current Australian authorities) are able to voluntarily register themselves on the Parliamentary role. Once registered the parliamentary representatives are selected at random from the role/list. The number of representatives is determined by a combination of the number of registered enrolments and discretion of the existing representatives.

The initial parliament cannot consist of less than 5 people. Parliaments must increase this number as the role grows, annually adding (on May 1st) at least one other representative for each additional 10,000 people enrolled (to be selected by the random selection process which is described below). Once the number of registrations reaches 1,000,000 people the parliament must consist of no less than 100 representatives. If the number of registrations exceeds 2,000,000 the parliament must be split along geographical lines into two or more smaller parliaments within 2 years (otherwise the parliament is dissolved). In such cases the number of fractures and the borders are to be decided by the original parliament. Each fracture inherits all the passed Acts of the original parliament. No parliament can be subordinate to any other, although they can possibly create subordinate authorities – but as you will see in the next paragraph, they cannot do this off their own initiative.

Representatives can propose no new legislation. But any enrolled citizen who is not a member of parliament can compose and put a bill to the parliament for them to pass into law (or not), or place amendments for existing laws. The parliament can appoint a panel (consisting of any citizens) to assess whether laws are well prepared or not, the panel can reject poorly formed laws, or recommend them for improvement, but the citizen always has the right to place his or her bill before the full parliament. If such as request is made the enrolled citizen’s bill must be included on the list of bills to be considered by the parliament within 3 months of the placement request being lodged (i.e lodged with the parliamentary secretary or his representatives – details below).

Thus if any area has at least 5 willing volunteers, they can compose such a parliament. Thus once formed, and as others enrol, this parliament can accept various planning proposals and make their rulings almost immediately. They maintain legitimacy by increasing the number of representatives as the enrolment grows as described in the next paragraph.

If there are only 5 members on the role at the time of foundation, they are automatically all selected as representatives, in which role they stay until the 3rd passing of May 1 after they assumed office (i.e a maximum of 3 years), or until they resign, die or are otherwise incapacitated. Once they have completed any period of office they are ineligible to be selected for the parliament for at least three subsequent 3 years from the date of completion, but must be added to the role within 5 years of completing their term or partial term.

Each initial parliament can determine its own boundaries of authority provided no existing community parliament already claims coverage of that geographic area. Under the rules no new parliament can initially claim an area that contains more than 1,500,000 people who are eligible to enrol. Parliaments can vote to merge or break up as they please within the rules. Parliaments can pass acts that include agreements with other parliaments or sovereign bodies, but no such act can ever reduce or remove the sovereignty of the enrolled citizens or it is invalid. Citizens of parliaments can lodge a dispute. If the number of enrolled citizens is greater than 100 a dispute can only be lodged if it is signed as approved by 9 other citizens. Disputes between parliaments or citizens and parliaments are to be decided by a citizen jury consisting of at least 3 and up to 12 people (must be 12 if the jury role allows for 12). In these cases, the parliament(s) involved in the dispute can draw from citizens on the role of other parliaments or can initiate the construction of a role specifically for the purposes of solving the dispute (which would essentially rely on volunteers from other areas). The citizen jury role should be comprised of volunteers (the call for which can be advertised by the parliamentary secretary or his or her nominated representative). The role can include any citizen from outside the areas of authority involved in the dispute, as long as those citizens are over 18 years and have not been residents of the areas involved in the dispute for at least the last 10 years. All volunteers of sound mind must be added to the jury role. Jurors are selected by lot by a selection panel which can be composed of any 3 enrolled citizens. The jury must be selected within 3 months of the dispute being lodged with all affected parties. If parliaments are disputing each other, the parliament lodging the dispute must organise the jury. The selected jury must provide each party in the dispute with the jury’s selected process for reaching a decision within the first month following their selection. All jury decisions (i.e including on process) must be passed by a simple majority. A jury’s decision can be appealed once, in which case the entire process must be repeated with another citizen jury. The parties to dispute must be notified within 7 days of a jury’s decision being reached, appeals must be lodged within 14 days of a decision. The jury must provide each party to the dispute with two copies of their decision transcript signed by all jurors. The transcript must include minutes of all decisions made by the jury. The minutes must include the voting majority for each decision on process and the outcomes of the dispute. A jury must provide its final decision to all the parliaments/citizens involved in the dispute within 3 months of its selection. The jury decision must obeyed by the parliament.

How it works

Here are some details clarifying the above:

  1. To propose legislation, a citizen must be on the role. Once the number of registered citizens on the role exceeds 10,000, citizens require the signature of 9 other enrolled citizens (who are not selected representatives in parliament) to propose legislation. Any revisions also require the signatures of all 10. Bills must be presented to the secretary or his nominated representative. They are marked as received on that date and time and must be added to the list of bills to considered by parliament.
  2. If the number of people on role is exactly 5, these 5 can form a parliament – see Point 9) below. If there are more than 5 on the role, the selection of representatives is to be done by a panel of any three people who are not on the role. Any random analogue device can used eg: die rolls. These three people on the selection panel must not have any family relationship that is less than 4 times removed (eg: 3rd cousins are out).

  3. Legislation cannot be retrospective. Acts can be repealed retrospectively if appropriate legislation is introduced in the parliament following the process in 1) above. Thus ‘bad’ laws can be undone as if they never existed.

  4. The selection panel must provide four copies listing the elected representatives and the date and time of the selection: one to the secretary and one to his or her second (once they are appointed) and one to each of two randomly selected members of the parliament. If there are disputes regarding the creation of a parliament these are to be resolved using the inter-parliamentary dispute mechanism described above. All four copies must be signed by all members of the selection panel. The secretary or his second or nominated representative must honour at least the first request to see his copy received after 9.00 am on Monday of each week. If the secretary or the second resigns, dies or is incapacitated the parliament must select another secretary or second from its ranks at its next meeting. If the secretary position becomes vacant from any of these circumstances, the second assumes the role of the secretary until the next parliamentary meeting.

  5. Other selected representatives who are not given a copy of the list, must produce their own copy which is to be verified as accurate with the signatures of no less than 4 of any of the other elected representatives.

  6. Legislation that is approved by parliament must be signed by all voting representatives. No less than 80% of representatives must be present for legislation to be passed. The proposer must provide three copies. One copy is kept by the parliamentary secretary (selected from among the ranks of the representatives – item 7 below – the term of the secretary and his second is one year). The other two copies are to be kept by the citizen who initiated the legislation. All three copies are to be signed by all representatives who voted, and also a list of current representatives at the time the legislation was passed is to be provided to the citizen who proposed the legislation. This list is to be signed by no less than 5 representatives. In effect, it is up to citizens to ensure copies of the Act are retained, if no copies signed as above can be produced on request within 30 days of a such a request (i.e by the end of the 30th day including the day the request was lodged) by the parliament or another citizen, the Act is null and void. The parliamentary secretary can and must produce his copy if is in existence and is requested, as must the citizen who proposed the law, but in each case only the first request for a particular law received each week, as of 9.00 am each Monday, is required to be honoured. New copies can be made on request by any citizen, with no one requesting a copy more frequently than every 5 years, and no more than 5 copies of the same Act being provided in total each calendar year. Copies are to be validated in the same way as the passing of original legislation, i.e signed by all members present when the request was presented to parliament by the secretary, which must be at the first meeting following the request, and a certificate of representatives as of the date of voting also provided signed by 5 representatives. The secretary can nominate one or more representatives (assistants) from anyone on the role (i.e these could be representatives) with the clear written consent of the nominees. This must be treated in the same way as introducing a bill into parliament. Such a bill must be passed.

  7. Parliament can sit to a schedule of its own devising, but must ensure a rate of voting on legislation that allows for at least 100 bills to be voted on each year. Any bills that have not been voted on within 3 months of being lodged with the secretary, his second or representatives, must be placed in a prioritised list in order of introduction. Bills can be reintroduced if voted against, in such cases they are treated as new bills. Once selected, on their first sitting, parliament must make arrangements for a secretary and his second. This can be voluntary or through a process of nomination, or some other process determined by parliament. No one can be secretary for two years in a row, no one can be second for three years in a row. The secretary must take responsibility for the storage of all laws passed, current, future and past and the provision and making of copies for citizens as required above and at his or her discretion in other cases (i.e to replace decaying laws, or to make backup copies).

  8. If a member of the parliament dies, resigns or is incapacitated, then a new member must be appointed within 3 months. A member who does not attend parliamentary meetings for 12 months, other than for reasons of poor health, must also be replaced. All new appointments should follow the process in 2) above. Members may resign in writing only, resignation must be provided to the secretary, his second or a representative. Resignation takes place immediately upon receipt.

  9. The role is maintained by the secretary, his or her second or a nominated representative. Any 5 or more people forming and initial parliament can appoint a secretary and a second from their members using whatever process they wish. The minutes must record this. Minutes must be dated and signed by all 5 or more members with the time of the meeting conclusion recorded. The parliament is recognised and authorised from this point on.

  10. Once a Parliament is formed under this constitution, the constitution cannot be modified. The constitution must be noted as “Community Parliamentary Constitution” in either the minutes of the initial formation of the first parliament, or on the list of selected parliamentary representatives by the first selection panel. Once formed no other “Community Parliaments” can be later formed or recognised for the same geographic area. If a particular Community Parliament with at least 100 representatives and 1000 enrolments should pass an Act affirming the sovereignty of the Community Parliament formed under this constitution, the Parliament shall be recognised as the only sovereign authority for those enrolled and their descendants. This allows for a natural transition in times of emergency or should a peoples’ constitutional convention endorse this constitution.

  11. All documents must be hard copies. Signatures provided on hard copy documents must be made in person and in the presence of at least one witness. No digital signatures are to be recognised under this constitution.

Why the limit on 2,000,000 people?

For a parliament to be really responsive to the community it must share the concerns of the community and it must understand the unique features of the community. It might be difficult for example, for a very urban population to appreciate the problems faced in rural populations. This could create unnecessary tension in the parliament and slow down, or prevent the passing of, good decisions. For organisation required over larger areas and between areas, there is always the possibility of setting up agreements between parliaments, eg: for defense. But having small jurisdictions has other benefits. For example, a financial collapse is less likely to be as extensive if each area is managing its own banking (with perhaps a shared currency, or perhaps not. There are critics of ‘legal tender’ money, and perhaps a return to silver and gold based currencies will prevent the massive printing of money – and debt – that we have been experiencing over the past 150 years).

Localness has the additional benefit of low costs, as selected members can stay living in their local communities (i.e in their own homes) and travel to parliamentary meetings is likely to be much less onerous than travel to a distant capital.

For further arguments in favour of smaller communities please see Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered by E.F. Schumacher and related ideas at the Schumacher Institute .

This article was originally published on (We) can do better.

A universal basic income would be good for everybody

By Neil Hogan

If there was a universal basic income there would be no more unemployed, no more people on welfare, no more pensioners. There would be workers and non-workers, and no more demonising people on welfare as dole bludgers, no problems about what the retirement age should be, and the size of the Dept. of Human Services (or “Inhuman Services” as I like to call it) would be greatly reduced, if not abolished.

All those people above the age of 50 looking for work because they can’t exist on Newstart, but can’t for the life of them gain any employment whatsoever might then decide to be a part of the grey nomad scene and set off on the great journey to explore this big beautiful country of ours and that in itself would be good for the tourism industry Australia wide as well as adding to the economies of all the places they travel through.

While the life of a grey nomad isn’t for everyone, other people might think it’s time to start a small business of their own knowing that they have the security of the universal basic income and who knows just how inventive some people might be in creating a regular income from something that is too small for big business to get involved with.

Volunteering in the local community or even in far off places could also see an increase in involvement of those happy to live on the universal basic income and that would be good for everyone concerned and help to create a happier society in which to live.

Governments could still set about trying to create jobs and growth, I say “trying” because the current government has no idea how to do that, and those not happy existing on the universal basic income could set about gaining the expertise they need to to fill those positions.

Businesses might then think it’s a good idea to actually take on apprentices again as an apprentice’s wage would only be a small addition to the universal basic income, think about that for a minute and see if there would still be a need to bring in so many people on 457 visas.

Of course for this to happen businesses and high income earners would have to start paying their fair share of taxes and the tax department could actually employ more people to make sure that actually happens. And wouldn’t that be a good idea?

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Can Australia really afford the ‘luxury’ of a Coalition government?

By Terence Mills

Call that a debt explosion … This is a real debt explosion!

Over the weekend Australia’s gross debt reached a record $500 billion – that’s half a trillion dollars – representing a massive loan repayment obligation for future generations of Australians and highlighting the monumental hypocrisy of the Coalition.

When gross debt reached $250 billion in 2012 the then opposition were howling about Labor’s ‘Debt and Deficit Disaster’. Joe Hockey – at the 2013 election – was bemoaning the massive imposition on future generations due to Labor’s debt catastrophe which he considered would put at risk the sovereignty of the Australian economy. But look at what’s happened since the Coalition came to office: gross debt has been increasing by $1.66 billion a month faster than under Labor and has grown by $381.7 million a week or $54.5 million a day quicker under the Coalition.

Before the 2013 election, Coalition MPs were scathing on Labor debt levels, paying no heed to the challenges of the global financial crisis (GFC) — the worst economic downturn in 80 years.

Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce were apoplectic about the interest payments of $6 billion a year depriving the people of Australia funding for schools and hospitals due to Labor’s delinquent and uncontrolled borrowing and drunken sailors were allegedly everywhere in Labor’s ranks when it came to profligate spending by a debauched government.

Interest payments are now $16 billion for this financial year and will be even higher next year and if global interest rate move upward, as it seems they may, the situation could be even worse.

But haven’t we been told constantly by our mainstream media that the Coalition are much better economic managers than Labor? Just last week, Turnbull said – when avoiding questions in Question Time – that the Coalition were committed to fixing Labor’s legacy of debt and dysfunction. This falsehood would soon be exposed if our major media outlets were doing there job but today’s Australian doesn’t even consider the debt explosion worthy of mention and the usual suspects who would be front and centre screeching doom and destruction if Labor were in office have nothing to say.

The debt ceiling has had to be lifted to make room for the record debt and yet the Coalition remain committed to their big-business tax cuts which, in May last year, Treasury secretary John Fraser told a Senate hearing would cost $48.2 billion over the 2016-27 period. But Mr Morrison has revised that figure to $65.4 billion for the decade (2017-28). This means that it will cost Australians $5.4 billion in extra interest for the government to borrow the money required to pay for its huge tax handout — the equivalent of $220 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Can Australia really afford the ‘luxury’ of a Coalition government?

 

Respect the culture

Representatives of our First Peoples recently gathered at Uluru to discuss potential methods for recognition within the Australian Constitution. The final document is here and really worth a read, as it is an aspirational document that should be a roadmap for the future of all Australians. Sean Kelly from The Monthly recently wrote an article where a number of different ‘elders’ of society commented on how the Uluru Statement from the Heart was conceived and will affect our entire society going forward. Certainly there was politics involved in the process and seven delegates did walk out of the process, but in reality that was to be expected.

Our late colleague on this site, Ken Wolff, and blogmaster of The Australian Independent News Network, Michael Taylor, both have considerable experience in public policy in respect to the Australian First Peoples and, in all likelihood, will have forgotten more of the history and politics of the First Peoples than I will ever know, but it is ludicrous to suggest that there should have not have been a number of different groups suggesting different outcomes (or ‘pushing their own agendas’ to be blunt), because there is never a completely homogeneous group of people.

Those who manage fleets of mechanical devices (regardless of the device being vehicles, hospital beds or point of sale machines) will tell you that despite each individual device coming out of the factory meeting the same specifications, there are differences and some units will break down in different ways at different times. There are variations in the material used to construct the device, the actual methods used to build the device and the usage the device is put to. For example, a six-year-old Toyota Camry used as a taxi in a large city would exhibit considerably more distance driven and faults that a six year old Toyota Camry used by a private individual to travel around the local area.

If you think that any particular religion is completely the same around the world, consider this. ISIS recently claimed responsibility for a ‘terrorist’ attack in Tehran, Iran (which incidentally killed and injured more people than the similar recent attacks in London England). While the US issued a statement

in the President’s name that laid blame for the attack on Iran’s own “evil” policies. “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times,”

Iran also released a statement claiming

that Saudi Arabia and the United States were ultimately to blame, even as it acknowledged the claim by Isis.

reasoning that

Public opinion in the world, especially in Iran, recognizes this terrorist attack—which took place a week after a joint meeting of the U.S. President and the head of one of the region’s backward governments, which constantly supports fundamentalist terrorists—as very significant.” It charged that the isis claim of responsibility “reveals (Saudi Arabia’s) hand in this barbaric action.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are predominantly Muslim countries and, as such, follow the same holy book. In theory, they are the same religion, however, there are different ‘brands’ of the Islamic faith just as there are conceptual differences between the Christians who attend a Hillsong and a Catholic church each week. There are fundamental differences between the ‘brands’ of Islam the majority of the citizens of Iran and Saudi Arabia practice, as discussed in The New Yorker article linked above.

There is nothing wrong with difference. The world would be a very boring place if everyone that was 35 was married with 2 children, a Labrador and living in a suburban street in a city with over 1.5 million people. We recognise this in all sorts of ways. Toyota gives recommendations for maintenance on their products based on either time or distance driven so both the taxi and privately driven Camry’s can be kept mechanically safe and durability of the individual vehicle is to the level required by the individual owners. In a similar way, each of the 5 television networks broadcasting in Australia have a system where they multicast a number of different channels so you as a consumer can choose to watch either MasterChef or The Living Room on a Saturday at lunchtime – both broadcast by the same network. Others don’t drink coffee or like ‘smashed avo bruschetta’ breakfasts, some prefer to fly on Qantas aircraft, others don’t.

So why is it that we can tolerate differences in our choice of favourite beverage, breakfast, TV show, how we use our car (or in fact what brand of car we buy) but feel it necessary to hate or kill to ‘convince’ others to follow a particular brand of religion, determine that all living in an area have to subscribe to a particular set of cultural beliefs or follow a particular line of discussion when it comes to the current ‘hot button’ issue?

Logically we shouldn’t. Generally, people are the beneficiaries and victims of their upbringing. In the majority of circumstances, a person’s particular choice of homeland, religion as well as ethics and moral beliefs is that chosen by their ancestors. While some people actively choose to change religion, homeland or belief, most of us will generally conform to the standards, ethics and morals of those around us. Generally, a society will change values gradually based on compelling (to each individual) evidence being presented that there is a more logical or attractive view than the one previously held.

Yet some can’t see the forest for the trees. As an example, former Prime minister Tony Abbott came out swinging (pun intended) ahead of the release of the Finkel Report claiming as part of his motivation, “The last thing we want to do is let ‘electricity Bill’ off the hook”. Regardless of his views on the need to pump less carbon into the atmosphere, conserving a limited supply of fossil fuels by using renewable energy alternatives where possible is a logical argument. Abbott is obviously ‘out to get Shorten’ and if he gets Turnbull out of the way as well, that’s a bonus. Abbott has a history of being a bully to get his own way and you would have to suspect that his pre-emptive strike on the Finkel Report was really another example of his belief that he should have the keys to the Prime Minister’s Office, rather than any concern over the future of the environment we live in.

The human race should be better at the big things such as not stuffing up the environment to support those with interests in the mining industry, accepting that others worship a different ‘god’ or at least a different brand of the same ‘god’ or some groups have cultural needs that are not obvious to others – but are to the group concerned. We can happily accept that some people do purchase Toyotas over Holdens, or prefer coffee to tea but we apparently can’t accept that others have different cultural beliefs, skin colours or different opinions on fundamental issues. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

We all expect others to respect our culture, be it a culture of being in an alcohol induced haze or attending church services for the majority of the weekend. That’s fair enough and there is nothing wrong with it – however the reverse also applies. If you are the one attending church services you have no right be judgemental to those who choose to drink to excess. Both Turnbull and Shorten seem to be of a mind to bury the hatchet on emissions trading and while it obviously is a step too far for Abbott, it’s probably nowhere near far enough for Richard De Natalie of the Greens. If you drive a Rolls Royce or sit on a bus, you’re still going to get stuck in the same traffic jam on Monday if you take the same route to work. At times, you just can’t beat the law of averages.

When someone challenges your particular culture, it is normal to feel uncertain about the outcome and to attempt to defend it. Some changes have a greater ‘greater good’ than others and it’s probably fair to suggest that living in a peaceful society is one of the best reasons to accept that you have as much need to respect other’s culture as you need them to respect yours.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a roadmap to document that all citizens of this country respect the cultures of other groups that live here, as they should. First Peoples understanding of sustainable land management practices are just as important to the future of this country as the technology provided by the culture that immigrated here nearly 230 years ago. Australian First Peoples clearly can benefit from the benefits of ‘white’ civilisation and culture just as much as ‘white’ civilisation can benefit from First Peoples civilisation and culture.

We should all welcome and assist the Uluru Statement from the Heart to be gradually implemented, rather than obstruct it. There is a better option than political games to victimise and dehumanise others. How about we just respect each other’s cultures and beliefs, embracing everything that it will bring to all our lives? All our lives will be immeasurably richer as a result.

This article by 2353NM was first published on The Political Sword.

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Media’s fatal gambit

By Christian Marx

With the announcement that Channel 10 had gone into administration, many in the media were in deep shock. This author was not shocked at all. In fact, I was surprised this hadn’t happened much sooner.

There are many and varied reasons why mainstream media is collapsing: The internet, online streaming, endless repeats of 30 year old programs, terrible reality shows, and a declining revenue base from advertisers. However, arguably the biggest factor is the fact that the media largely omit massive amounts of information in their news coverage.

This happens for a number of reasons. The first and primary reason is that all mainstream media is corporate owned and ultimately serves the personal and business interests of their owners. It seeks to push a far-right discourse, particularly on economic matters. For example, how many programs are there a week on the unemployed and the so-called “dole bludgers”? These “exposes” are a dime a dozen. We never get a hard-hitting investigation on the top ten tax dodgers in the country!

The power brokers work hand in glove with big business interests. Not surprisingly, as they are part of the same club. Far-right economic policies (such as austerity), attacks on the vulnerable, neo-liberal economics are the order of the day, and the gospel according to television programmers.

Fortunately, their propaganda machine is beginning to show some very large cracks.

This was glaringly apparent during the election campaign and final outcome in the United Kingdom. Jeremy Corbyn was mercilessly savaged and smeared relentlessly. Phrases such as ‘being dirty’, ‘scruffy’, a ‘dangerous Marxist’, and even an ‘IRA terrorist sympathizer’ were used.. Rich words coming from the press when Theresa May is now in bed with a little known terrorist group from Ireland. Of course, media won`t talk about this though! That narrative is not for public ears!

Mainstream media has made a fatal error: They no longer control the information flow yet behave as though they do. For those under 50 (and increasingly even older cohort groups) television and newspapers are superfluous … rags that are good to clean the windows with. The lies and spin are now so bad, even those who are more trusting now need to verify their information via the internet. This is why, during the election in the UK, the public began doing their own research, not satisfied with the media lies and spin.

The UK has been almost destroyed by Tory economics over the past 35 years. The wreckage is easy to see. The National Health System is at breaking point, millions are now getting food from the food banks, and the final insult was the proposed dementia tax on the elderly. Not content with smashing the poor via a bedroom tax (those who were living in a house with multiple bedrooms were slugged with a tax if no one was using the bedroom!).

The empty slogans are ridiculous. “Strong and stable”!(?) … My god, tens of millions are below the poverty line while the elite continue to steal the rug out from under the poor and the middle-class. Theresa May should get out of her ivory tower and just walk the streets of London … full of homeless and malnourished children. Their media spin of attacking the most vulnerable backfired.

Did the poor remove funding from the National Health System? No, it was the parasitic 1%, lobbying both “New Labour and the Tories” to put a razor to all social services.

Australia too is constantly bombarded with attacks on the poor, immigrants, almost everyone except the real criminals. Those who run and control the system are the real parasites. The definition of a parasite is one that cannot be detected … one that burrows itself into the organism and leeches off the host. Yes, the real parasites are those who own and control the media and the large corporations and work in tandem with both major political parties. Difficult questions are never asked.

Journalists are no better. If they do not tow the neo-liberal and US centric foreign affairs propaganda, they are usually sacked or marginalized and ridiculed. Real hard-hitting journalism is left up to grass roots organizations such as Democracy Now. Even The Guardian was shameful in its reporting of Jeremy Corbyn; certainly not what one would expect from an “independent” media outlet.

Unfortunately’ the order of the day is sock-puppets such as Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi. These people are not journalists, merely corporate mouthpieces that spruik the will and views of the rich and powerful. Facebook news and information pages such as DLATP (Don`t Look At This Page) expose these charlatans. Fortunately there are hundreds of thousands of pages such as DLATP, and people are networking among themselves across the globe via Twitter, Facebook and blogs. They see the lies and spin and will no longer tolerate the misinformation.

Ultimately mainstream media has hastened its demise. They have a credibility problem that won`t go away. The future of news and investigative journalism will be grassroots, low-cost digital media. Mainstream media made a fatal error and now they will sow the seeds of their own irrelevancy and destruction. Ultimately, truth is the mightiest hammer!

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.

Sekisui: Under the spirit of the Uluru Statement, return the Yaroomba land to the Traditional Owners.

By Keith Davis

The ‘Uluru Statement From The Heart‘ is a very powerful document. It re-affirms Indigenous spiritual connection to land and nature, and explains how Indigenous people possessed this continent under their own laws and customs.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”

The Yaroomba Beach Sekisui Development Site has many hectares of vacant land which are currently tied up in a Development Application proposal to Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Eventually there will be a public consultation process and Council will ultimately vote to accept or reject the proposal.

Under non-Indigenous Australian Law, Sekisui (Japanese development giant) has every right to submit a proposal, Council has every right to assess that proposal, and the local Yaroomba Community, in their droves, has every right to stand firm against any modification to the current Planning Scheme.

But there is another set of Laws pertaining to that largely vacant Sekisui owned plot of land at Yaroomba isn’t there? There is another group of people, First Nations’ People, who also just happen to have the right of vacant possession under their own laws and customs, don’t they?

Modern Australian law is a very nimble thing and it generally precludes First Nations’ People from submitting any sort of Native Title claim over freehold land.

 

 

Because of all that the Kabi Kabi First Nation’s Native Title Claim QC2013/003, which covers a reasonably large area and includes Yaroomba, seeks to claw back some rights but does not seek to throw anybody out into the street. Our ancestors may have pinched the land, and we might be the beneficiaries of that pinching, but the Claim does not seek to wind the clock back. The Native Titles Act ensures that, except in exceptional cases, freehold land remains immune from claim.

Which brings us back to the Sekisui Development Site at Yaroomba. The land is just sitting there patiently waiting for a bureaucratic planning mill to go through certain motions, make certain decisions, and ultimately say yay or nay to the possible ingress of tsunami waves of high-rise concrete over that beautiful largely vacant plot of land.

And that brings us back to the Uluru Statement From The Heart, and that notion of a sovereignty that was never ceded or extinguished. It is Makarrata time.

“Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.”

I feel very uncomfortable with the notion that this land – this land currently owned by Sekisui, and all of the living things that it contains – is seen as no more than an exploitable product by wealthy people seeking to increase their own wealth even further. It borders on the obscene.

This particular area of land has endured a chequered history of being horse-traded, bequeathed, sold and re-sold, and generally being treated as a plaything of one too many groups simply seeking to profit from it. It is nothing short of amazing that this land has survived all that and largely remains intact and pristine.

I believe that this land represents one of those rare exceptions allowed under the Native Titles Act. Returning it will not place any of the rest of us, or our property, at risk.

Sekisui is a very large and wealthy firm. The return of this land under the spirit of the Uluru Statement From The Heart would not be too hurtful financially for them. It would allow Sekisui to exit Yaroomba with some grace and dignity.

In my view this block of land, this exceptional block of land, should be returned by Sekisui on our behalf to the Traditional Owners so that they can exercise their own historical rights and interests over it.

 

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