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I am a writer and commentator, with a background in Indigenous sector project management and tabloid newspaper publishing.As a retired older-age Australian I use my time, and my voice, to highlight the level of social injustice that exists in this country. I seek a better, more humane, more progressive Australia.I do not limit myself to any one topic, and my writing style gives whimsy and left-field thought at least as much power as logic, fact, and reason.

The Bog Rolls of Armageddon …

As we all know, I’m a bit of a hermit. Which makes me somewhat of a specialist at the social distancing thing. Handy these days. But, on occasion, I do foray out.

Went to my local supermarket this morning. Could not believe my eyes. Right in front of me were the products of one of the finest education systems on the planet, otherwise called people, biffing each other up over … of all things … bog paper.

What is it about bog paper?

Most people like me who are solely reliant on the old age pension, and let’s not forget those struggling along on the lower levelled Newstart, cannot usually afford luxury goods like that. I’ve always thought that a soft spray from the garden hose accompanied by a judicious swish around the pucker point from gently swirling fingers was all that was required. Very cheap. Doesn’t clog the drains. Still! I walked away from the supermarket in a state of thoughtful mind.

Perhaps the frenzied masses obviously knew something that I was totally ignorant of? If you don’t have thirty years worth of bog paper squirrelled away in your survival bunker/pantry then you’re simply gonna die!

Gosh, I thought. I don’t have thirty years worth of bog paper squirrelled away anywhere. I don’t even have two hours worth. Gosh, I’m gonna die!

The worries then became exponential, which means they get bigger and bigger real quick. If thirty years worth of bog rolls would protect me from Coronavirus, would forty years worth protect me from cyclones and tsunamis? Would fifty years worth protect me from the ravages of nuclear war? Maybe I should build my whole house out of toilet rolls and bunker down inside?

No.

It is a little stupid of people to think that bog rolls can do anything other than be bog rolls. If we ever do have to seriously consider bending over and kissing our arses goodbye due to a calamity of biblical proportions – it only takes a couple of sheets to make all things nether presentable. But I still say the hose is cheaper.

Panic buying is dumbness personified.

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Another woman dead. What can we as a society do about it?

Somewhere around Australia, behind a closed door in one of our suburbs, right now a woman is being beaten. There is no guarantee that she will not soon be dead.

I do not say that just to make you stand up and take notice. I say that to make me stand up and take notice of how appalling the level of violence directed at women within Australian society really is.

When I think about my daughter, when I think about the women in my life, when I think back over the years of my life, when I think about how when those women raised the issue of violence against women I was verbally supportive of their efforts to both highlight and then attempt to stem the tide of violence directed at women.

It made me realise that I am part of a large cohort of people who verbally oppose the level of violence against women. It also made me realise that as an individual human being, who happens to be a male, I had never translated my own supportive words into ‘action’.

When such realisation happens, it happens, and cannot be ignored. So, as an older man, with all of the wobbles and vulnerabilities that taking such a step would entail for any human being, I decided to take action.

A week or so ago I thought up a concept, created a Facebook page called The March of Decent Men, and sought to place an ‘idea’ out there for the public to discuss and think about, or even to improve upon.

The concept is uncomplicated. It accepts the premise that violence against women is wrong. It accepts that the majority of the violence against women occurs in our suburbs behind closed doors. It asks people to join me in doing something that addresses the issue on the very ground where it happens.

On Saturday the 28th March at 11 am I am going to stand in my own street in my own suburb (on the footpath for safety reasons) with a sign that says, and I’ve had to re-think my wording many times – VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS WRONG. PERIOD. NO EXCUSES. And I have invited everybody else, man or woman, to do the same with a sign of their own wording.

Doing such a thing as one person will change nothing. But imagine if the majority of us did it at the same time. Such a collective expression of will could not easily be ignored. Where is it written that we cannot all band together and make an effort to begin a process of positive change?

Support for the concept has been, in the majority, supportive. What is interesting though, perhaps in a sad way, is how some people respond to a clear and direct question. The question ‘Is violence against women wrong?’ cannot possibly draw in any sort of answer but yes it is wrong. Surely no human being could say that it is a good thing?

The range of answers to that so direct a question has educated me to the negative power of ‘Whataboutism’. Whataboutism happens when someone simply does not want to answer the question posed, because it does not directly address an issue that they feel heartfelt about, and they respond by saying ‘but what about’ violence against men, ‘but what about’ every other permutation of violence that human beings are capable of visiting upon each other. To someone who answers with ‘what about’ all I can do is encourage you to get out there yourself and do something about the issue that is of prime concern to you, you have the power to do that.

Is violence against women wrong? Yes it is. I invite everybody, man or woman, to stand up in their own suburb on 28th March at 11 am and say so. The perpetrators of such violence may just start to begin to get the message.

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The Killing of Women and Children must stop

I’m putting the call out for a National March of Men against domestic violence.

No more can we decent men just stand safely in the background behind the effort of women to end the scourge of domestic violence. We have to get out there as a gender and stand against the criminality and the terrorism of our fellows.

While I see this March as a male initiative called something like The March of Decent Men (on FB under that tentative heading)both men and women would be welcome to march together on the day … in fact such a coming together may well prove to be a very powerful thing for our society to witness … if this March can be organised. As men though I think we need to be prepared to get out there and stand up against the daily tide of violence and murder perpetrated by far too many of our fellow men. We MUST repudiate the repression of women, the attacks on women, and the ongoing attempts to manipulate and control and diminish the lives of women. This should have happened a long time ago, but it did not. So now is the time for it to happen.

The events in Brisbane a few days ago should have scoured the soul of every decent man. It is time for us to rise up and say THIS CRIMINALITY, THIS KILLING, THIS TERRORISM, MUST END, AND MUST END NOW.

I’m prepared to. Are you as a man?

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Australia Day 2020 … Boycott!

On Australia Day 2020 I intend to sit that one out, preferably out in the bush somewhere, as far away from the flag-waving and nationalistic hype as I can possibly get. I find the whole charade sickening.

It is not that I have anything against the existence of an Australia Day as such. A stipulated day where we celebrate who we are as a people, celebrate our national hero types, and celebrate our collective achievements in art, science, social progressiveness (there must be some), and industry. There is nothing wrong with that, it is a worthy enough pursuit. But that is not the sort of Australia Day we currently have.

Firstly, the chosen date has insensitivity written all over it, and secondly, it has become a day where the behaviour of Ugly Nationalistic Australia is given permission to reign free. Neither of the two are worth celebrating or being around.

It might help if we developed a greater understanding of the history of the months of January/February 1788 and got the actual date of so-called settlement right.

On 26th January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Port Jackson, along with a small crew of marines and oarsmen, and apparently took possession of everything he could see in the name of King George III of England. Perhaps we will grow up as a nation one day and no longer do it, but 231 years later we are still tugging the convict forelock in the direction of those English Monarchs.

But back to Phillip … it all sounds such a stirring landing event but most flag-wavers forget, or have never even bothered to find out, that the actual proclamation ceremony for the formal establishment of the colony of New South Wales, and the investiture of Arthur Phillip as first Governor, did not occur until 7th February 1788.

Before 7th February 1788, Phillip was far too busy protecting the female convicts who had recently been disembarked off the ship Lady Penrhyn from the rum-sodden predations of the male marines and convicts to have any time to formally declare or grab anything in the name of anybody.

And what was it that he formally established on 7th February 1788? He established a penal colony. He established a prison. In some ways, depending on how you look at things, Phillip quite unknowingly to be absolutely fair to him, established the Australian prototype for Manus.

So … on Australia Day we celebrate the formal opening of a prison, and we can’t even get the date right.

Before any sensitive folk tell me to go back to where I came from, I’m a sixth-generation Australian whose ancestors were boat people who got a free ride to the prison of New South Wales because they stole from the wealthy in England in order not to starve. As a progeny of convicts, I’m not inclined to celebrate Australian Prison Day on either the 26th of January or the 7th of February … why on earth would I?

(You cannot make origin statements like that these days without scrutiny, whether you want to get into Parliament or not, so for fact-checker types see the notes after this article.)

Many conservative fear-mongers say that 26th January has always been the date for Australia Day and that it should remain unchanged otherwise the world as we know it will belly-up tomorrow. What a load of nonsense. Prior to 1935, each state celebrated the foundation of the Prison on a different day, and it was only in 1935 that they all agreed to crank up the BBQ on the same agreed date. There are hundreds of other days Australia Day can be celebrated on.

Meanwhile …
Meanwhile …
Meanwhile …
While all the drinks slide down and the nationalistic self-congratulation gushes forth …

Thrust into the background of the celebrations that we currently observe on the 26th of January is an entire culture of human beings, the Aboriginal custodians and owners of this land, who may have a thought or two about what they see paraded before their eyes. And what do they see each and every Australia Day?

They see, on the anniversary of the day Phillip stuck his foot on the shore of Port Jackson, the modern beneficiaries of that invasion of Australia, and that happens to be some of us, swilling beer and waving flags in memory of the day when the rapes, and the poisonings, and the massacres, and the stealing of land, and the dismemberment of a culture, began. They see the dark truth of our own history promoted up as a moment worthy of celebration.

The 26th of January is not a day of national celebration, it is a symbolic day of the memory of a national ugliness that started on that date.

To further compound the supremely insensitive error of judgement that the choosing of the date 26th January was, we still persist in refusing recognition and a voice to the very human beings whose culture and people were raped, poisoned, massacred and desiccated. We throw the hopes of Indigenous people back into their faces, and we walk all over our own much-touted Australian principles of egalitarianism, fairness, and humanity, as the drinks slide down and the self-congratulation gushes forth.

Many people say that oh you cannot say this, or you cannot say that. The problem with modern Australia is that the wrong sort of powerful voices are out there being heard in the political and media spheres, and that not enough of us are prepared to stand up and oppose them with courage.

I oppose the current iteration of Australia Day for a number of reasons given above. And here’s another one. I mention it to simply illustrate a point.

As a Survivor of child abuse, I can assure you that I do not get out there on a particular day and celebrate the anniversaries of those horrific deeds, and I am deadly bloody sure that you would understand why I would not want to do that.

My experiences inform my thinking. So I do find it beyond belief that we as a whole nation get out there on a particularly insensitive day and celebrate what was clearly the beginning of the attempted destruction of an entire Aboriginal people and their culture.

I’m not against the idea of an Australia Day. I’m against the date it is held on.

The date for celebrating Australia Day in 2020 should be changed. If not, I’m borrowing a line from a Jethro Tull song and sitting that one out, I’m boycotting it, and I’m heading for the bush.

Notes:
Mary Geer (1789-1851) arrived on the William Pitt in 1806. She was sentenced to hang for pilfering but the sentence was changed to transportation for life.

William Davis (1780 -). William was convicted of burglary and sentenced to death by hanging, but this was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in Sydney Cove in 1800 on the Royal Admiral.

There seems to be a bit of a correlation between the treatment of the poor in England in the 1780s and the treatment of the poor and the disadvantaged in Australia in 2020. If both of my ancestors were alive in modern Australia I’m absolutely convinced that they’d be front line activists for the raising of Newstart.

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Who are we … the people?

Oh gosh … two very wealthy people have pulled out of the royal (background German) royal British family. So what. It is a very nothing thing. Who, with half a scintilla of intelligence really cares when you move beyond the celebrity feed-fest for dumbo absorbers of monarchist PR stuff and moves on to real events in the real world that happen to affect real people.

A plane crashed. Real people died … innocent people paid the price for the umbrage between America and Iran.

Here in Australia we have paid the hard price for political leaders who did not have the right stuff when the right stuff was needed. Real people paid the price.

We live in a world where the Americans are fading, where the Chinese think that their empire will last forever when their own history should teach them that it will not, and where the Russians have never accepted that WW2 ended an awful long time ago.

We need a global view of everything that is happening … yet we are tied in to a parochial view ,,, we are such small-minded backyard types of people … whether we live in Sydney or Vienna or Peking … we all miss the possibility of the future.

I actually don’t care what anyone thinks. This is my view.

The West is not right, never has been. The Middle East is not right, never has been. The East is not right, never has been.

The standard normal people, wherever you look around the world, have continually refuted the actions of those in power. Not with much success it must be admitted. Yet, we the people, are still here, still fighting against the accumulative negativity of the accretion and the expression of power. As hard as it is, we should not give up, we should not give way, and we should continue to put our beings on the line.

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The appalling leadership of Australia.

Perhaps, finally, we have hit the point in Australia where the attitudes of our past are seen to be the undeniable scourers of our future.

We have a moribund political class. A grouping of people who came in too late with too little. We have a tranche of people who are well paid to lead our nation, yet, when the embers fly, and the lives are lost, and the homes explode, and the people, the very people, grasp for breath, the putative leaders of this nation feed us political ideology and butt-saving efforts to protect their own tenure in the soft seats of our political institutions in Canberra.

We, as a people, deserve better than this.

No longer is it ok to excuse the inaction on climate change from a Prime Minister who is held to ransom by the proud deniers within his own party of mindless and dangerous conservatism, by the small minds who are so disconnected from science, from truth, and from global agreeance on the peril that this planet faces. The fires that are currently scouring us need to change this nation.

Here we are, as a people, in a period where the shit really hits the fan, faced with the fact that you, as volunteers, are truly the only ones who can be relied upon. You were the deliverers of hay, and food, and water. Our politicians were well informed prior to this fire season, they were told about what was likely to come, yet they sat on their comfortable arses and played ideological games.

I will never forget the vision of a young Australian woman who had been through so much and who simply hoped that the leader of this nation would ask her – ‘how are you?’ – yet all the man could do was force her into an unwelcome handshake and then turn his back on her. It was the most appalling example of what is wrong with the leadership of this nation.

The fires have scoured us. That is undeniable. All of us have felt it. Our front-line people on the hoses are incredible human beings. Our State leaders, our local government leaders, our emergency personnel, are all incredible people.

Our federal leaders came late to the situation, while our country burnt they thought that holidays in Hawaii and Bali were more important to them than the welfare of us, the people. Appalling!

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The stitching-up of Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg.

So while we sit on our arses and fiddle with our fingers a brave son of Australia is about to be thrown to the wolves.

It would pay us well to read, and reflect upon, the following transcript between the President of the United States, his National Security Adviser, and his Attorney General.

The background to the transcript is that a journalist had just published an article in The New York Times. The article was the first installment of seven thousand pages of highly classified documents that exposed the decision-making process that had led the United States into an interminably long and destructive war.

Earlier, on the same day that the transcript was recorded, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the First Amendment, ruled 6-3 that the Times had the right to publish the stolen documents.

The journalist who published the article stated that “It was just an exquisite moment of vindication for the freedom of the press in this country and how important it is.”

The President, on that very same day ordered his Attorney General to discredit the source of the documents, a man who had just been indicted by a federal grand jury under the questionable strictures of the Espionage Act of 1917. Sound familiar?

The redactions in the transcript are mine.

President: Don’t you agree that we have to pursue the … (redacted) case?

Attorney General: No question about it. No question about it. This is the one sanction we have, is to get at the individuals …

President: Let’s get the son of a bitch into jail.

National Security Advisor: We’ve got to get him, we’ve got to get him …

President: Don’t worry about his trial. Just get everything out. Try him in the press. Try him in the press. Everything, … (redacted), that there is on the investigation, get it out, leak it out. We want to destroy him in the press. Is that clear?

Attorney General: Yes.

So even though the highest Court in America ruled that the release of the documents was both lawful, and in the public interest, the President and his administration sought to go after, jail, and demolish those who were involved in the leaking of the documents.

And so Julian Assange sits rotting in a British jail while a case is concocted against him. And so our Australian Government sits on its arse and does not have the fortitude to confront Trump and his administration, and so the majority of our Quiet Australians (those perennial supplicants at the altar of the Big Lie) sit on their arses, while a brave son of Australia is thrown to the wolves.

There are some here in Australia who have had the courage to speak up, but far too many more of either political persuasion have not had the moral courage to speak up.

I don’t know what books Julian Assange has access to in his jail cell, but if he has access to the one I have just read, I don’t doubt that he would be reflecting upon the depth of betrayal, and the rankness of the betrayal, that has been sent his way by his own people, his own Australian people. Let alone what his thoughts also might be about the Americans at the highest level of power who are going for his jugular.

We all like to think that the ability of those in power to suppress truth and to threaten the journalists who publish that truth is diminished by a long societal memory of previously exposed scandals, and by the very vigilance of an informed and concerned populace. Well, that is simply not so. We live in an era where truth is far more strongly suppressed than it ever was, where the populace is apathetic and supportive of political populism, and where the journalists who expose that suppression of truth are pursued with the full force of the State.

Those of you with a knowledge of history might well ask what parallel is there between the cases of Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange, between the release of The Pentagon Papers and the Wikileaks Documents? For that is the question that I have unfolded above for you to think about. The transcript quoted above was recorded in 1971 and Daniel Ellsberg was the target. The transcripts concerning Julian Assange are being recorded right now.

I think you are intelligent enough to work out the multiple parallels between both cases for yourselves.

The transcript participants (recorded on June 30, 1971): President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, John Mitchell.
The transcript and other relevant information quoted from the book: The Vietnam War – An Intimate History, by Geoffrey C. Ward & Ken Burns, 2018.
The documents: The Pentagon Papers.
One source/author of the documents (target of the transcript): Daniel Ellsberg.

Here in Australia some of our journalists and others are currently being pursued by the full force of a middle-ranking state because of the disclosure of secrets that our government wished to keep quiet about – think East Timor and Afghanistan. Internationally, one of our journalists, for that is what he is, is being pursued by the full force of the American State because he published material, damning material, that the American State wished to keep quiet.

The stitch-up of Julian Assange is well underway. But it will be many decades before the transcript of the tapes of White House manoeuvring to indict him are released for public reading.

We, the people of Australia, need to step in right now and stop the tapes. We need to bring Julian Assange home to freedom.

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We, the unheard.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

And so we, the unheard, sit alone at home on Xmas day and try to endure the silence, the loneliness, and the loss. We try not to hear the happy celebrations of our neighbours, we leave the television off because of the swamp of festive visual fare that shows happy contented people singing carols and exuding joy, and we avoid any sort of human contact simply because we no longer have the ability to pretend that we can either contribute to or benefit from what is meant to be such a day of happy and relaxed and innocent celebration.

Many of us have drifted away from our families, or they have drifted away from us. Our children have drifted away from many of us, or we have drifted away from them. On Xmas day we think about, and live, the loss. We sit on our verandahs, and we stare at the sky.

And who are we, the unheard?

We are a grouping of men and women who as children back in the 1950s, yes back in the 1950s, that long and far away reach back in time, we are the human beings who endured unspeakable abuse experiences while under the care of religious institutions. We are now in our late sixties or seventies by physical age, but we are much older and worn down under the effects of the inescapable legacies that we have carried over the stretch of a full lifetime.

And so the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

Our abuse experiences do not stand unique against those who were abused in the 1970s, the 1990s, the 2000s, or yesterday. The horror of the crimes committed against us in the 1950s are equal to the horror of the crimes committed against other children in the 1990s or in the present era. Nobody, no victim or survivor depending on how you as a society wishes to view us, escapes the legacy imposed by those crimes. The only difference for we, the unheard, is the fact that we have carried those legacies, those legacies of depression and PTSD, and the acute memories of what happened to us, for well over sixty years now.

Did some of us escape from under the weight of it all? We would like to think so, we would hope so, some must have surely, but for many of us, such cut through did not come our way.

The Royal Commission came far too late for us, the reach out from society via the Parliamentary apology was woefully too late for us, and both those events combined simply served to remind us how isolated, unheard, and unbelieved we were over that more than half a century ago.

We lived, as young children, and as teenagers, in an era where the churches and their clerics were venerated, and where those who had experienced scouring trauma were expected to just suck it up and move on, and, under no circumstance, speak out. We lived in a conservative and hypocritical society.

For us, back then, there was no inrush of supportive therapists and counsellors such as automatically happens today immediately post any sort of traumatic event. Society was quiet during our abuse, society was quiet after our abuse, society did not want to listen, society did not want to know. There was no such thing as early remedial intervention in our day, with the result that many of us carried our load of depression and post-traumatic stress for far too long in silence, and that long period of silence ensured for many of us that the state of those afflictions would become permanent.

As we hit our fifties and sixties, and as we saw the unfolding details of the Royal Commission, and as we sensed the new move within society to listen and believe, we started to open up. We approached therapists and psychologists, and for many of us, it was the first time in the totality of our lives that we were able to speak of what had been done. Our speech may have been halting, but at least for us, it was a welcome crack in the veil of silence.

After sixty years of being pushed aside, we were faced with the very new experience of being listened to. We had to try and draw ourselves out from under the blanket of silence imposed upon us by the society of our era. And it was at that very time, at a time when society was prepared to listen to our words, prepared to listen to our stories, when the Royal Commission was at its height, well, that was the exact time because of our decision to engage with the remedial therapies that many of us received the news from our therapists, our psychologists, and our psychiatrists that the damage done to us had been untreated for far too long, and that the damage could not be undone.

That blow was shattering for many of us. The last vestige of our hope for some internal relief or sense of normality was taken away.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone a happy and merry Xmas …

So our anger rose, and many of us entered the legal redress system, either under the civil system or the government promoted and subsequently watered down Redress Scheme. For many of us, our mental state was such that we could not clearly discern the ramifications for us of the decisions we made about the various levels of settlement offered to us by the religious institutions. For many of us, it was a depressing experience that added to the level of abuse that we had received from those institutions. We saw, and felt, their response to our requests for justice as an extension of our abuse at their hands. Many of us simply signed settlements in order to stop the further perpetration of abuse upon us.

As the Royal Commissioner recently stated, the problem with the largest abusive church of them all, the one that affected so many of us, is the fact that they saw and still see the molestation of children as a moral dilemma, and not as a crime. Well, we, the unheard, are the living proof of the effects across our whole lifetimes of the crime of childhood sexual abuse that was perpetrated upon us by representatives of that church. A church that does not have the moral courage to change itself from within.

This new era of societal redress and focus on abuse will end, as all things do, and society will move on to other things, as in this era society more and more quickly does. But we remain here locked into a world, not of our own creating, and many of us are faced with the impossible reality of accepting that how it always was for us, then so it will always remain to be.

On Xmas day many of us will just sit on our verandahs, and many of us will just stare at the sky. We remain quiet, and hidden away. It simply IS our IS. A bit of a brutal truth the churches don’t care to acknowledge. The age of being listened to arrived too late to be of benefit for many of us, and within ourselves, we feel and remain unheard.

And the priests stand up in their pulpits and wish everyone, including one assumes us, a happy and merry Xmas …

So we, some of that grouping of men and women who were children way back then in the 1950s do not in any sense wish you to not enjoy your festive season. But there is something that we would ask of you.

We want you to enjoy Xmas with every fibre of your being, and we want you to appreciate the beauty of your family, the beauty of your children, the beauty of your friends, and the beauty of being able to laugh and dance and celebrate and shout with unaffected joy at the freedoms that you have. We want you to fully appreciate and live your lives well. We want you to spread love and kindness to all you meet, and we want you to extend to and receive compassion from all on Xmas day. We wish you much success in the raising of your children and in the creation of positive legacies for them.

We, the unheard, would take it as a wonderful Xmas present to see you manage to do all of that.

Peace and love to all of you from all of us.

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Smart Bullets: No more boots on the ground?

We are continually told that AI and autonomous robotic entities will put people out of work. Modern factory floors full of robots and not full of people, and modern mines full of driverless vehicles and robotic diggers (oh, hello Adani) attest to the truth of all of that.

But what about in the military sphere? Because we are also told that no matter what level of sophisticated weaponry one decimates enemy territory with, the only way to secure and hold territory is to put boots on the ground. The boots on the ground maxim has been a staple military requirement for thousands of years. If you don’t get your garrisons in you don’t get to hold the ground. To a great extent the maxim still holds true.

But for how much longer?

It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that there are multiple forms of smart weaponry patiently sitting out there waiting for either a sweaty or an eager finger to dab down on the red or coloured otherwise button. Smart Weaponry, AI controlled, and not necessarily endowed with an attached ethics module. Press. Boom. Goodbye worrying about the skyrocketing ascension of your next power bill.

But those weapons, multiple nuclear or biological warheaded ICBMs and the like represent the delivery of armageddon from a distance. They take off on the other side of the planet, or from some hidden sub somewhere, and blow the crap out of our happy beach side BBQs on this side. Splat, we’re gone, and then in come the enemy soldiers to eat up what’s left of the snags. The boots on the ground maxim gets another trot out.

But Smart Bullets will kill off the maxim in a nanosecond.

Our army is currently investing heavily in the design of autonomous driver-less military vehicles. An AI controlled jeep or somesuch with a menacing popgun mounted on the prow, fair enough, it means our military personnel can project force from a distance without having to duck flying bits of metal themselves. Not a bad plan.

But what about close-in defence? What about when the maxim supplied snag eating enemy are taking pot shots at us with their rifles and bullets? What do we do when things get a bit up close and personal?

Why, we use Smart Bullets of course. Swarms of the little buggers. Controlled by AI.

Have you ever noticed how missiles fired from military jets swerve and home-in on their designated targets, and chaff and desperate avoidance aside, usually get to splot the enemy jet. Well, why cannot that technology be miniaturised down, and for all we know it probably already has, and be applied to the humble old bullet?

Bullets at the moment get to be fired out of pistols and rifles and they generally follow a gravity dropping path from A to B over a fairly short distance in military terms, but further than a bayonet can reach of course. But once those bullets are fired they are on their own. Thine aim was true or not becomes the deciding factor, and the ducking ability of the snaggers comes in to play as well. Dumb bullets can’t think, they just go where they are sent.

But imagine a little bullet that can think. Imagine a little bullet that can see. Imagine a little bullet that has a two stage propellant system on board, one to launch it out of a barrel, and then the secondary one to allow it to swerve. Of course you’d have to add miniaturised little vanes to the thing to allow it some cornering ability, and the AI on board would have to be robust enough to recognise that, yes, that is indeed a snagger, and not you or me, lurking behind the change shed at Bondi.

The Smart Bullet would search for the hidden snagger.

But if you can imagine all of that, then you could probably also imagine that the invention and utilisation of Smart Bullets might make the need for rifles, and the soldiers who bear them, just a tad obsolete.

The bullet is a drone in other words.

A fleet of large predator drones loaded with zillions of little Smart Bullet Drones could on the one hand waft happily and lazily over all of the important areas of Australia, Sunshine Coast where I live included, and could on the other hand also put the wind up any potential snagger who wants to come here and disrupt our BBQs. It would also enable us to save an awful amount of dosh by dumping the purchase of our obsolete french subs.

Ok, we are talking about the future. A not too far distant future. And I’m aware that the little theory I’ve suggested here has enough holes in it to drive an old Leopard Tank through. But, so what? Why not give the thought a run?

I can’t help but feel that we are equipping our military with weapons systems that would be excellent at helping us to win the the last war that we were involved in, but that would be totally inadequate to meet our needs in a future war that we all hope that we can avoid.

The threat of the use of nuclear weaponry has not receded, it still sits there. However, we are now faced with the next generation of smart AI controlled autonomous weaponry that will seek us and our soldiers out in a remorseless and unethical manner (ethical war? surely a debate in itself). We are hardly prepared for such a prospect.

I’d prefer that no snaggers come here in a boots on the ground mop-up operation, I’d prefer that no snaggers of any nationality go anywhere in the world on a boots on the ground mop-up operation, I’d prefer that none of our soldiers get killed for any reason in any war, I’d prefer that war be consigned to the dustbin of history, I’d prefer that the maxim of boots on the ground be head-butted into irrelevance, but until all of that happens I’d prefer that we work out ways to defend ourselves.

Nanotechnology. AI. Drones. Smart Bullets.

Cheaper than wasting the lives of our Soldiers I’d have thought.

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Hot Blasts From The Desert

The mythical ‘they’ say that we all have a book in us. Well, after many years of procrastination, I have finally started mine.

Months ago when I published The Desert of Redemption on AIM I vaguely remember that I promised someone that I would follow up with some snippets from the Desert Road Trip. So here they are … I’ve simply pulled an excerpt out from one of the chapters in the book.

“Salvation for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions, and elsewhere? Well, that is such a bullshit question, and later in the book, I will address that issue. But for now, I’m happy to do a tiny copy of a Bill Bryson and talk about my recent epic (for me) journey alone out into the Australian Deserts.

The god I don’t believe in is perhaps the only entity who truly knows why I did it. All I can say is that on a given day an impelling force appeared under my arse and launched me on a 7,000 kilometre Road Trip to the land of spinifex and red sand. My butt and I simply jumped in the car and vroomed westwards, and, the impracticality of it all and the total lack of forethought and planning was quite touching in a way.

Seriously though, I embarked on that trip because I knew that I had to break, or at least to attempt to minutely fracture, a mould that had been made for me by others.

Agoraphobia, depression, PTSD, and fear are all millstone necklaces in their own right, and combined they had kept me sitting on verandahs, hiding on lounges, and fearfully skulking through open spaces and supermarkets. None of that was a decent way to live. It was all a legacy of my childhood sexual abuse. However momentary it might prove to be, I wanted the taste of freedom.

Vroom.

As a person who was well used to a searing bright coastal light, I was amazed by the flatness and open blue sky once I started to hit the inland plains of Queensland. I thought I knew how flat a landscape could be but as I reached each new horizon it was flatter and more featureless than the preceding one. It was like driving towards the embodiment of nothingness, which was fairly apt considering that I was trying to leave so many things behind.

This whole book could simply be about that trip, but I have other things to talk about. So here’s a one chapter precis, where each place of note only gets a paragraph, bookended by an article containing my existential musings on the whole deal.

Goondiwindi surfaces because I met and had a beer in a hotel there with a man whose camper van had broken down. He was stuck in the town for a few days while repairs were underway. He was travelling alone but he had a female companion, and house, in Townsville, and a female companion, and house, in Melbourne. He sojourned between the two and he had the biggest shit-eating grin I have ever seen on a human face. A happy, travelling, man. According to him either end could only stand him in short stints, and he could only stand either of those ends in short stints as well, so all needs met I guess. His life consisted of joyous, brief, unending, reunions. There are many ways of living and one doesn’t have to be a Mormon to live them.

Wilcannia. You have to go there to understand what sadness and dispossession truly means. Went into the only pub not realising that it was mainly an Aboriginal pub. Whites are supposed to go to the bowls club. I was not refused service, but the can of light beer was thumped down with anger and hate, and since I’m a reader of the truth of our history, I simply nodded acknowledgement. An old bloke there must not have thought that all whites were arseholes because he happily engaged me in conversation while I disappeared the beer, and then myself, as quickly as I could.

When you enter Broken Hill from the east you drive along a section of highway that is paved with the exploded carcasses of kangaroos. We are all used to seeing the occasional example of roadkill, but that road into the town was something else, ten kilometres of smashed animals. A local told me that such things are not talked about because it might frighten off the tourists. The Miners’ Memorial in Broken Hill lists out all of the causes of death of far too many of the early workers, and it is a salient reminder of why the pursuit of greed/profit in any era is not a good thing, and of why Unions always did, and still do, have relevance.

At Coober Pedy, I met an Aboriginal man. We accidentally ended up sitting opposite each other in the underground bar. Cold beer and smiles and all of that. He was a tiny wizened coal-black man who did not speak English, and I was a tall wizened white man who did not speak his language. It was all in the eye contact, and we clinked our beers together at the ludicrous sight of us both sitting there pretending that we were rich inhabitants of opal heaven and I learnt that eyes, indeed, can chortle in unison. Also met a female travel writer in Coober Pedy who had chortling eyes as well.

The road to Lake Eyre, beyond the edge of the outer reach of nowhere. Totally alone. Flat tyre. Tested the finer points of agoraphobia. Walked about a kilometre out into the desert (yes, I could still see the car), and just stood there. Aloneness had been a negative neck scarf for all of my life, and I wanted to confront it. Confronting it was.

On the road to Uluru, I was flagged down by a group of Aboriginal men whose car had run out of fuel. Endless empty horizons in all directions. We tried to siphon some out of my vehicle but that didn’t work. I drove their leader into a local Settlement to pick up a can of gas. On the way back he told me that the others wanted to beat me up, do me in, and rob me of my dollars and all of my camping gear. He told me that he said to them ‘Really? This white bastard is the only one who bothered to stop, so pull your heads in.’ He also told me that ‘We hate you white fellas because of what you did to us, but you stopped, so you must be one of the ok ones.’ We got on like a house on fire after that.

Uluru. It has presence, it has energy. I did not, and would never, climb it. I peered over the sign asking people to please respect the sacred nature of the place and not tramp all over it, and watched all the tourists, and dumb bucket-list pillocks, and brainless nationalists, selfie their way to the top. Dumb, insensitive, shits. But Uluru will outlast them. The Uluru Statement from the Heart will outlast them all.

Drove out to Kata Tjuta. Forty-degree heat. Trekked into the gorge and absorbed as much of the energy as I could. Go there. Absorb. Ran into a bush fire on my way back to Uluru and I was stuck behind a petrol tanker of all things. Fast run through hot spots, and thankfully no explosion. The resort at Uluru prides itself on the number of employees of Aboriginal descent that work there. Most of the Aboriginal workers I spoke to said that most of them were from NSW, or coastal Queensland, and that the local Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people did not feature heavily on the books. If that is true, you would have to wonder why.

Countless other places visited of course, and countless other people met, but space is at a premium so here’s the short version of things …

The Red Centre. It still exists. You cannot fly over the deserts and expect to pick up any real sense of what they are, and how they ‘feel’. You have to traverse them at ground level. You have to experience the rolling out of the miles. You have to immerse in the endless unfolding of the blue sky and the red earth. You have to understand that, out there, distance and time lose meaning.

And as for the long-cherished mythical belief that Outback European Australia is peopled with hardy folk who have no interest in, or sophisticated understanding of, issues that take up the minds of us oh-so-important urban coastal dwellers, well that bullshit myth is soon placed to rest when you go out there.

Outback people might be mightily more attuned to the vagaries of nature than the rest of us combined, but that is where the difference ends. Their sophistication level is dead even with ours. Which leaves open the question of how sophisticated are we as a people, all together as a blob, and as a Nation, which is a question that cannot even begin to be answered in a book as short as this.

I must admit that it was fascinating to see during the trip, except in the smallest of smallest two-house towns, that just about anywhere out there are Indian, or Vietnamese, or Thai, or Filipino or Anglo-Celtic cafe families who are prepared to dosh up a reasonable meal for you at a reasonable cost. And your expresso is likely to be produced by a top-knotted hipster dude who just as easily could be plying his trade in Lygon Street, which he probably recently was. Australia in some ways is changing for the better. Salt of the Earth Australians come in many happy forms these days.”

Right. Vague promise vaguely kept. Back to the book!

 

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We older ‘burdens’ on society

Here we go. Here we go. Yet again. Doesn’t pay to be over 60, does it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will on Tuesday signal a drive to get people in their mid and late 60s to work longer and undertake training to keep in touch with the jobs market as the government confronts long term pressures to the budget bottom line. Mr Frydenberg will use an address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to argue a “new dynamic” in the way the country’s population is ageing will require new policies to ensure the nation’s economic heavy lifting is not left to a diminishing number of younger people.”

I get it that the balance between older and younger in our society is changing, and that in the future the number of older people in our society will increase, and that the Government needs to take all of that into account when planning future health, education, housing, and ‘where’s the revenue going to come from’ type policies.

What I don’t get, and don’t like, is the frequency with which words like burden, and economic heavy lifting, are used by politicians to condescendingly swipe us oldies over the head.

Are we burdens on society? Have we not heavy-lifted and contributed to the economic well being of the country over the course of our working lifetimes? Now that we have been pushed aside into the invisibility of older age are we, now, to be targeted and punished by this Government because employers steadfastly refuse to hire us?

The major problem with this Government is that they hold vulnerable cohorts within our society solely responsible for the condition that they find themselves in.

The unemployed for example, of any age, are tagged as bludgers and burdens and are subject to such a punishing regime of compliance including: the bad joke that is JobActive, the deliberate suffering that is imposed by the starvation level of Newstart, the restriction of even the tiniest amount of freedom of choice left available to the unemployed by the imposition of the Indue Card.

When you are an oldie caught up in all of the mess that is the Government’s Welfare Policy, whether you are currently stuck on Newstart, or whether you have managed to transition to the marginally more welcoming climes of the Old Age Pension, which at least allows you to breathe with some dignity at least once a week, it is enough to make you tear out whatever hair you are lucky enough to still have left.

Frydenberg and Co need a reality check.

We oldies who want to work are not the problem, the employers who will not hire us are the problem.

We oldies who are not rich are not the problem, a society that measures the worth of a human being by the level of their ability to consume, and spend, and accumulate wealth, and a society that denies the most basic social dignities to the disadvantaged and the old, is the problem.

And what is the Government’s answer to the issue of older Australians whose job applications are continually rejected? Well, we have a startlingly new brilliant idea, we’ll re-train you. Gosh … we’ll all be re-trained up as coders and data analysts and rocket scientists in order to secure our share of the ‘jobs of the future’. It would be funny if it wasn’t what it actually is – sad and demeaning.

And where will we be re-trained up? Not in the TAFES, they’ve been gutted. We’ll be re-trained up in the profit-making private training industry, that plethora of Registered Training Organisations with happy and profitable links with the JobActive network.

Josh and Co need to sit in on some of the job interviews where employers tell us oldies that we are too over-qualified for the job. Already too over-qualified for the job. And the Government’s answer to that pernicious form of ageism is to offer to add to the level of our qualifications thereby ensuring that the employment door that has shut closed on our feet, will shut even harder.

The fact is that the proportion of older people who cannot find a job is going to increase, and increase, and increase. It is not going to increase because we are burdens, or bludgers, or light-weight lifters, or any of the other crap mantras that this Government throws towards our aged bones. The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.

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Yaroomba Beach. Dark deeds on the edge of paradise?

Do you live in a small beach-side community anywhere along the beautiful coastline of Australia?

If so, it might advantage you, and your community, to pay very careful attention to a court case that begins this week in the Planning and Environment Court on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

This week The People of Yaroomba Beach and surrounding areas will attempt to protect their residential beach-side communities by appealing against a decision by the Sunshine Coast Council to approve a high-rise development proposal. The proposal was put forward by Sekisui House, a major Japanese owned development company.

In the normal cut and thrust of life some might think that the case of Yaroomba Beach is nothing special, nothing newsworthy, and not deserving of a very acute and forensic analysis of the pathway to approval that this development so easily slipped along. If some think that, they would be wrong.

This case, yet again, highlights the ability of developmental power and money to impose inappropriate development on a decidedly unwilling populace.

The Yaroomba Beach community is protected from inappropriate high-rise development under the regional Town Plan/Planning Scheme which was negotiated, and agreed upon, by both the community and the Sunshine Coast Council. I reiterate, the Yaroomba Beach community is protected under that Town Plan.

However, flying in the face of concerted community opposition to the proposal (a record number of over 9,000 objections were lodged), and flying in the face of the protections afforded Yaroomba Beach under the Town Plan, the Sunshine Coast Council duly pressed the approve button. Hence the appeal court case that is now underway.

The Yaroomba Beach community is faced with the parlous financial situation of having to defend their community, their way of life, and their own Town Plan, from the actions of a Council that is supposed to protect and serve the residents of that local government area.

The Sunshine Coast Council is using ratepayer funds, including the ratepayer funds supplied by the residents of Yaroomba Beach, to oppose the appeal against the development in the Planning and Environment Court.

If even the softest of fingernails is used to scratch the surface of this case then the rankness of a very questionable stink starts to waft up. The Sekisui Yaroomba Beach case is preceded by the earlier Sekisui West End and Sekisui Ipswich cases.

Sekisui House has a long history in Australia, and a long history of gaining successful development approvals here in Queensland despite determined community opposition, and here are but a few media published snippets of that history. Your friend Google will unveil much more.

From: 4ZZZ.ORG.AU 2 Feb 2017
Australian Electoral Commission returns show QLD Labor declared $51,700 in donations from
Wingate Properties. … … , Director of Wingate Properties, has also been the Australian Executive Director for Sekisui House, the major developer on the West Village project.

In November, the development was conditionally approved after review by Trad as Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. As State MP for South Brisbane, the development also sits within her electorate.

Coolum & North Shore News 12 September 2014
IF Mayor Mark Jamieson, Premier Campbell Newman and Japanese developer Sekisui House thought a deal to allow high rise development at Yaroomba could be stitched up behind closed doors, they are badly mistaken.

Sunshine Coast Daily 28 April 2015
Mayor Mark Jamieson, in explaining the council’s process over the past two years, said the then-LNP State Government would have approved of the council slipping a planning scheme amendment into the town plan back when Sekisui House first delivered its proposal.

Make of that what you will. Of course, those few snippets are but a small example of the published public domain material out there that highlights events around prior, and current, Sekisui House developments, and those snippets also highlight the input of local government representatives and state-level politicians here in Queensland into such developmental matters.

One hopes that history does not repeat itself. The Sekisui West End project was subject to appeal from the community, however the relevant State Minister ‘called-in’ and approved the project, and community objections along with their appeal were thrown out the window.

The reality is that the Yaroomba Beach community has to self-fund an appeal against an inappropriate high-rise development that was approved by a Council which ignored the high-rise restrictions in the regional Town Plan/Planning Scheme. The community stuck to the letter of the law, the agreed and negotiated letter of the law, and it is a pity that others did not do the same.

To keep up with news on this matter I highly recommend that you view the following two websites below. They represent the Voice of The People. Yaroomba Beach is well worth preserving.

Other beachside communities around Australia may one day face the unfair developmental predations that the Yaroomba Beach community has had to endure over the last five years or so. Those communities should keep a very careful eye on the outcome of this case.

It is important that the community wins.

www.developmentwatch.org.au

www.saveyaroomba.com

 

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No money? No justice for Survivors!

Pell’s right to appeal has been upheld by the High Court of Australia. I have no problem with that. Any Australian citizen has the right to appeal to a higher secular power … in this case our legal system and its variety of ascending higher-level courts.

That’s called a reasonable statement.

My statement, however, is only momentarily polite on such matters as the rights of citizens to appeal, to seek redress, and to seek justice, and to seek fairness.

George Pell has the right to appeal. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Religious Institutions also have the right to appeal.

And here’s where the absolute bloody bullshit of equitable appeal for justice for all here in Australia starts to kick in.

Whatever the source of those dollars, the fact is George Pell’s appeal has been buttressed and supported by a well-heeled appeal fund. Engaging high-flying barristers and solicitors are not cheap.

I, and many other Survivors of the heinous crimes that have been committed against us, would love to have our cases, and our stories, and our quests for justice, heard in the highest court in this land. Of course, we have a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

The majority of the Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are mired in poverty. They are beaten down not only by their punishing experiences, they are also gutted by years, decades, and in many cases, lifetimes swamped by the negative legacies of depression, and PTSD.

Of course, the defenders of the clergy, legal and otherwise, would point out that Survivors have equal right of access to the legal system. There are probably people out there in our society who believe such nonsense.

Here are some legal realities for Survivors of childhood sexual abuse when they embark on a path for justice.

Many Survivors, when they initiate a claim against an Institution for historical instances of childhood sexual abuse, are mired in poverty and cannot afford psychologically or financially to hang on long enough for their cases to receive a fair hearing in Court. It often takes years for the cases to be heard.

Institutions such as the Catholic Church etc are well aware of this fact and they put the pressure on Survivors to accept unsatisfactory Settlements via the mediation process.

I know what I am talking about because that was my direct experience in dealing with the Church. They knew I was mired in poverty as a result of enduring a lifetime of effects from my abuse, and they utilised that fact to pressure me into accepting a compensation figure that was woefully lower than what would have reasonably been awarded by a Court.

I can understand that most people simply do not understand the process that Survivors have to go through to seek justice. The system, via Gag Orders etc, is designed to keep us quiet, and the techniques and methods used by the Churches to minimise or defeat claims are rarely aired in the public arena. They need to be aired.

I was, and am, very unhappy with the Settlement terms I was offered. The compensation figure was low and it did not compensate me for a lifetime lost, there was no apology offered, no remorse shown, and no offer of remedial therapy was included. I felt brow-beaten into accepting their ‘offer’, and I felt pushed aside and treated as an annoyance who needed to be quickly silenced.

Well, I am not an annoyance. I am a human being. I have a voice. And, where possible in a legal sense, I intend to use my voice to highlight the methods used by Churches etc to suppress legitimate claims.

Some will say that ‘nobody forced you to sign the thing’. My response to such nonsense is that my impoverished state, and the unending pressure from the Church, did indeed force me to sign the bloody thing.

There is a partial legal Gag Order placed on me, as it is on many other Survivors, but that gag order does not stop me from speaking my mind.

The majority of Survivors are not rich people, they are poor people, they cannot afford to hire a Legal Team to stand against the bevy of Lawyers and Barristers used by the Churches and other Institutions to fritter down and negate justified claims.

Survivors are caught in a bind because of poverty, they have to rely on the ‘umbrella’ afforded by No Win No Fee law firms, and unless those firms are very sure that the case will be won they have to utilise common sense and decline to take the case on. Which leaves some Survivors with a justified claim that they cannot afford to pursue on their own.

Survivors in that position are forced to rely on the National Redress Scheme. I’m not surprised that a lot of Churches and Institutions have signed up to that Scheme, because if any sort of compensation is paid out to an individual under that Scheme it is going to be an awful lot less than what a Court would reasonably award. In my opinion only, the Scheme unintentionally favours the Churches etc and disadvantages the Survivors. The Scheme has unintended consequences attached. Religious politicians, religious institutions, not the best of combinations where redress is concerned.

Many Survivors are riddled with depression and PTSD, and I am one of them. And our condition often precludes us from taking on behemoth institutions like the Catholic Church.

It is important to note that I believe that most religious people are decent folk, and that any action I have taken, or will take, is against the Institution that made no effort whatsoever to protect my younger self from incessant abuse.

To initiate another round of legal action is not an easy thing for me to do, or for any other Survivor to do or countenance. It would be far easier to stay hidden away in the background.

Many people might not realise that when you initiate a claim, in order for a medico-legal report to be produced, your whole life and being is subject to a rigorous forensic examination by Psychiatrists appearing for either side of the case. Sometimes that examination is empathetic, and sometimes it is acidly adversarial.

Either way, you are forced over a number of years to continually live and recall the instances of your abuse in full never-ending detail simply to prove that your claim is justified. No wonder the process so completely demolishes so many people.

Churches etc drag out claims for as long as possible and subject the Survivor, who is in a very vulnerable position, to begin with, to a long period of sustained pressure. My initial experience with my claim against the Church drove me to the edge, and I learnt a lot from that. They will not do that to me again.

I will not be silent.

People out there, those of a well-meaning mindset or otherwise, need to understand that when Survivors approach the legal system to attain justice, they are hamstrung from the get-go because they simply do not have the dollars to hire a high-flying legal team. The Churches do.

It has taken me over 60 years to get to the point where I can say the following. Today’s High Court decision in favour of George Pell is the trigger.

I cannot speak for other Survivors but I can at least guess about what many of us might be feeling. The anger at how we have been treated is starting to appear. The anger is real. It comes from a deep well-spring of imposed traumatic experiences, and from the way we have been demeaned, sidelined, denied fair justice, and pushed aside by Religious Institutions over the course of our lifetimes.

It is a well-justified anger.

 

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How many NSW fires were deliberately lit?

Well, there was no ‘dry lightning’ was there?

A few days ago there were seventy or so fires burning across NSW. The results were catastrophic. Lives lost. Properties lost. Many of those fires are still burning.

There are a myriad number of natural reasons why a fire would start. Since I’m not a fire-cause scientist I can only lump all of those reasons under the general heading of Spontaneous Combustion. It is a natural phenomenon. It happens. Always has. Always will. Nature’s bush clean out so to speak.

Other things happen too. Human things. Accidental things. Cigarette butts get dropped in the wrong spot, broken shards of glass out in the bush act as magnifying lenses, the blades of mowers strike rocks and produce sparks, the wind blows embers out of campfires, electrical shorts happen in power lines. Unintended consequences. Totally accidental.

However, on television, when I look at the grime-weary faces of firefighters, when I look in the eyes of those who have lost all, when I listen to the words of the fire and emergency management authorities, and when I hear about the efforts of the police to ensure the personal safety of the members of their communities … I cannot help but ask that question that is not yet being asked.

How many of those fires were deliberately lit?

Naturally, it is my hope, that only a very small number were deliberately lit.

A short while ago, here in Queensland, at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast, a fire roared up to the boundaries of the Peregian Springs residential estate. The residents who had to flee, the firefighters who had to fight the blaze, and the police who had to risk their own safety to ensure the rescue of others, were all subject to a terrifying experience. Who can forget the nationally shown footage of the ember attack as it was propelled across suburban streets by a strong and relentless wind.

That fire at Peregian Springs was deliberately lit.

The climate science is in. Long in. Our climate is changing. Our fire season, our natural-cause fire season is extending in length. The ferocity of fires is increasing. All of the authorities tasked with bush fire and emergency management deal with those facts. Deniers are short on the ground on that particular front line. The climatic conditions that contribute to the frequency of natural-cause fires are getting worse.

Naturally and accidentally occurring fires are hard enough to deal with, and yet we have people out there who seek to amplify the affect of all that, who seek to gain some sort of vicarious thrill by striking a match and standing back to observe the consequences.

So what can we as a society do about all of that?

I’m not talking about what do we as a society do with the perpetrators if identified and caught. I’m talking about how do we minimise the potential for it happening in the first place.

Education in our schools? Yes. It is probably already done. Also, there are obviously laws already in place that criminalise the deliberate starting of bush fires. Yet deliberate lighting still happens.

As a person who lives slightly on the centre-left of politics I am naturally wary of willingly lining up to give the Australian Government any more terrorism related powers, largely because I question who they target those powers at … refugees being a case in point.

However, when you look in the eyes of the firies, the traumatised residents, the police, the emergency service personnel, how could it not be said that in the case of a deliberately lit fire they were all exposed to to a rank act of terrorism.

I believe that as a nation we should identify gross acts of arson as acts of terrorism. Arsonists are not simple little breakers of the legal code. Their acts have the capacity to kill innocent people, their acts have the potential to burn out communities.

If bush fire arson is deemed to be an act of terrorism, and if it is subject to that kind of national law, then perhaps it might give the would-be perpetrators serious pause for second thought before the match is struck.

What do you think? What other approach, the thoughts above aside, might help to address the vexing problem of deliberately lit fires?

Note: The following information was supplied by another AIMN writer. You can read her full summation in the comments section below. As well, you can read her articles if you do an AIMN search.

“Proportion of deliberate bushfires in Australia

The Australian Institute of Criminology found that,”on average across the country, approximately 13 percent of vegetation fires are recorded as being deliberate and another 37 percent as suspicious. That is, for all vegetation fires for which there is a cause recorded, 50 percent may be lit deliberately.”

https://aic.gov.au/publications/bfab/bfab051

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Do not blame the ALP … blame The People!

In the next day or so the ALP will release their post-mortem on why they lost the election. I am sure it will be a very erudite document. It will probably blame Shorten, it will probably blame the breadth of policy that the ALP took to the election, it will probably blame the ALP for over-reach. It will probably blame the Palmer affect.

Well, as a person who splits his allegiance between the Greens and the ALP I have my own view on the whole deal.

There was nothing wrong with the policies that the ALP took to the last election. Their policies were well overdue. Their policies did not represent a case of over-reach, if anything, their policies (given their fear of losing votes) represented a case of under-reach.

The problem with the last election was not the ALP. The problem at the last election was with The People.

Here we are in the 21st Century, with a populace that has been exposed to world-class education over the last 30 years or so, who voting-wise expressed their incredible ability to sideline critical thinking and analysis, and who subsumed the good of the nation for the good of their own venal pockets and wallets, and who voted for a group of political representatives who are repressive, subversive, and who are overtly promulgating the mores of Fascism.

This country that we love, and hold dear, is not under threat from easily swayed swinging voters. Our country is under threat from Intelligent People who made a very considered decision to support our current Coalition Government. Those people willingly voted for the draconian policies that are now being run out.

The problem in contemporary Australia is not with the ALP, the last election was lost because venal people put themselves, and their wants, before the good of the nation. And they don’t give a toss about the cost of their decision

 

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