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Rosemary Jacob Born and initially educated in England, arrived in Australia, 1/1/71. She has always loved maths and graduated from Imperial College London with a BSc (Special) Mathematics in 1957. Early influences have made her a strong supporter of social justice, a feminist and a believer that education is a lifelong pursuit. In 2008 she was admitted as a solicitor and barrister, practising law until 2012, while she also became an accredited mediator, practising until late 2017.She is concerned for the future of her 3 great grandchildren under the climate emergency.

The THREE certainties in life

There are not just two certainties in life – there are actually at least three, and the third is one that conservatives try to ignore.

Yes – number one is death, which is inevitable, and the only options we have are to preserve life as long as possible by avoiding accidents and looking after our health as far as we are able. This has been a high priority in recent times, with national government negligence in caring for our elderly having to be held responsible for many unnecessary deaths in that cohort.

Number two – taxes – are usually viewed in the wrong light, as, rather than being a burden, rightly balanced they provide a means of ensuring that essential services are provided for rich and poor alike, and people whose circumstances are less favourable can be offered assistance to make life bearable. Disability and disadvantage can be lifelong situations, and those subject to them should be assisted as far as possible to enjoy a better quality of life.

So what is number three?

CHANGE!

Every parent is aware of change from the moment a child is born. Change in the child her/himself, change in the priorities and degrees of freedom in the parents’ lives and change in the very way they regard a multitude of situations in the world around them.

And you do not need to be a parent – simply look at the world around you and think about what has changed – physically or in attitudes – in your own lifetime.

Knowledge leads inevitably to change.

We now have the opportunity to accept that age-old prejudices have no foundation.

Members of the LGBTIQ community, as well as conjoined twins, are not evil, to be shunned or punished for their difference, nor are those in the latter category  either evil or, conversely, manifestations of a reborn god. They simply demonstrate the fact that the development of a foetus before birth does not always lead to a clearly gendered, single human being.

We have science to thank for so much of our expended knowledge, so that it is a source of constant puzzlement that governments pick and choose between which scientific evidence they promote and which they refuse to accept.

Additionally, perhaps it is because Australia is an island that we seem to be unable to think globally.

At least – SOME of us do – but interest groups like the fossil fuel lobby and the CFMEU have taken control of the ‘right’ and ‘left’ of politics while the majority of Australians – who are urgently seeking action on global warming – are being held hostage, as Australia rapidly becomes a pariah in the eyes of the developed world, most of which has accepted the need for action on climate change – AND IS TAKING THAT ACTION!!!.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT!

CLIMATE CHANGE IS INCREASINGLY MAKING ITSELF FELT!

PEOPLE ARE DYING IN CONSEQUENCE, WHILE DROUGHTS, FLOODS, FIRES AND STORMS ARE RAVAGING THE ENVIRONMENT.

BIODIVERSITY IS UNDER ATTACK.

OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE BY BLINKERED GROUPS FOR WHOM MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DEVELOPING THE POTENTIAL OF A CHILD.

THIS IS NOT ALARMIST TALK.

Yes – the Australian Premiers can congratulate themselves that, despite unhelpful interference from the Coalition government, Australia is one of the top countries in the world in terms of subduing the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have, of necessity, damaged our economy in the process, but which is least desirable – having a government in debt, or filling our hospitals and morgues with the dying and the dead?

Interest rates are low. Selling government bonds to provide funds to save people’s lives should take priority over pushing people into penury when there are too few jobs for everyone to be in employment.

If you really want to feed the economy, the solution is simple – make sure people have money to spend on more than the bare essentials!!

We really do need an effective Universal Basic Income.

We really do need government to recognise that the states and territories need much more support in providing – urgently – social housing and priority infrastructure.

We really do need a humane and compassionate approach to government, not a future seen through $ eyes.

We have genuine refugees who have – for at least seven years in many cases – I repeat – FOR 7 YEARS – been treated less humanely than are murderers held in prisons to protect society.

I do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear people like Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Stuart Robert, Josh Frydenberg, et al talk about Australian values – as if they shared with the rest of us what they regard as ‘values’.

Robodebt, the cashless welfare card, support for private school education while public schools are starved of funds, undervaluation of the range of vital caring services, predominantly performed by females and refusal to set ideology aside and accept scientifically based evidence.

These are clear evidence that the values they waffle on about are not ones we would even consider sharing!

We have criticised the alternative facts and conspiracy theories which are alive and well in the USA, but we are far from immune from their thrall, and our refusal to deal properly with inevitable change is leading to inevitable problems – both in Australia and between other developed countries and us.

Just as there is a high level of co-dependency among all the elements of our environment, so there is also a co-dependency between the multitude of nations on this planet.

If we continue on a selfish path that ignores the needs of those less highly valued by the ideologues, most of us face a bleak future.

I don’t give a fig about a life after death – but I care one hell of a lot about the future of my 4 great grandchildren, all presently under 10 years old – as well as all the other children all round the world whose lives will be affected disastrously if we do not act on global warming – starting NOW!

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The role of psychology in recruiting

My career has brought me into contact with many people and many attitudes to life, so the thoughts expressed here are based on personal observation rather than in-depth expertise.

My own personal experience has also taught me that, in the wrong circumstances, I can be a horrible person! Most of the time I work very hard to try not to be! I do not always succeed!

It bought me to a realisation that we all have the potential to display a whole range of personas, depending on where we are, what is happening and who we are with, or influenced by.

As a first-time mother, I was thrown into a world I had never experienced, and with which I did not cope well. A crying child, who cannot be in any way comforted, has a disastrous effect on me!

My kids are tired of hearing me say that it is a miracle that they survived their childhood, because I do not like small children!

It is true – but they did survive and become good citizens – despite!

Yet, normally I can take problems in my stride and behave rationally! But small children delightful though they can be, take a long time to become rational beings – if they ever do!

In the 1970s, when metrication, across the board of of all types of measurement, was being introduced, I was asked to provide a short course to police cadets, to enable them to adjust their thinking to the new parameters for, for example, body measurements, or climate conditions, vehicle speeds etc, required for reporting purposes.

I worked on the basis of providing a few, easily remembered, benchmarks so that, for example, a male, 6 foot tall, weighing about 16 stone, became a male, 180 cm tall weighting about 100 kg. (Colloquially, we do use weight when we should use mass, so let that one pass!)

(Remember – a 12 inch = 1 foot ruler is 30 cm long. Weight is not quite so easy, but 2.2 lbs (pounds) = 1kg and 1 stone = 14 lbs.)

Similarly a daily temperature of 61 deg F, clearly a cool day, or 95 deg F – during a heatwave – became approximately 16 (transpose the digits) and exactly 35 deg C, (over 40 deg C is VERY hot) respectively. Of course freezing temperature is 0 deg C and 32 deg F, while boiling temperatures and 100 deg C and 212 deg F, respectively.

A car travelling at 50 mph was now moving at 80 kmph, a neat 5:8 ratio.

The group I worked with included a fairly wide age range, and was, I dimly recall, exclusively male.

As an aside – in teaching a bridging maths unit to mature age students, primarily female, I found an alarming proportion of women who thought they were no good at maths – because that was what they had been told by a male maths teacher

“Women can’t do maths!”

The fact of being a female with an honours maths degree has raised my status enormously in the “she’s only a woman” stakes!

So – back to my cadets!

They could be divided in roughly 3 groups.

There were the ones who had served in the defence forces, were used to obeying rules and commands, were comfortable with discipline, but wanted to be back in civvy street.

Then there were the younger ones, minds set on becoming whizz bang detectives, and willing to soak up knowledge.

And lastly there were the bullies.

The ones who wanted to strut around, gun on hip, and whip everyone into their idea of shape.

They would not be there to protect the law.

They would BE the law!

And, IMHO. they should not have been recruited on psychological grounds!

I had one student in this category who refused to accept the information I was giving. and argued black was white in order to not have to back down!

Underlying his aggressive attitude was clearly the fact that I was a woman, who would not cede ground to him, because my expertise was superior to his.

When, as a mature age student myself, and with several years of teaching behind me and 3 children of my own, I did my Grad Dip Ed, we did a fascinating unit on psychology, and I have since read several books by psychologists on how the brain develops, how it can repair itself to an amazing extent, even after severe damage – and, in particular, how lack of development of or damage to the part of the brain, which allows the development of empathy, can lead to psychopathic behaviour.

In today’s world, it seems, from observation, that many in control, whether in government, in services like the armed forces or the police – and particularly in security services outside the ADF – display the symptoms of psychopathy.

Certainly there are situations when preserving one’s life demands actions which would not be regarded as normal in other circumstances.

But I think serious thought has to be given to finding a suitable way of measuring psychological reactions to a whole variety of situations before giving anyone power over the lives of others.

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Scott John Morrison – End of Term (if only!) report card – 2020

As Christmas approaches, it is time to provide Scott Morrison with an indication of his progress through his second year as Prime Minister.

This has been a year of considerable upheaval, not just in Australia, but in the world.

While it is unlikely that any changes in policy which are beneficial to the country’s progress would have any impact in these remaining weeks of 2020, there are plenty of areas where changes are urgently needed.

Morrison began his life in NSW – which has always regarded itself as the Premier State – and while for a time, under Joh Bjelke-Petersen, properly known as Sir Johannes, but better known for his improper behaviour, Queensland usurped the title of the most corrupt state in Australia – and, believe me, there was stiff competition – the Fitzgerald Inquiry succeeded in returning the title to NSW, where it has been fought over by both major parties.

It currently remains with the Liberal Party, which is Morrison’s party of choice.

His approach to entering a political career was not above reproach, and there have been many occasions where he has displayed some confusion over where his loyalties lie, as between the national government, his family and NSW. He clearly shows little support for any state which has a Labor leader – which is not acceptable!

He is a proud family man and is clearly determined that we will recognise that he has duties to perform in that regard, an attitude which he reinforced by secretly leaving Australia in late 2019 – while unprecedented bush fires were ravaging massive areas, particularly but not exclusively in the south east – in order to keep a promise to his daughters that they would have a holiday together.

Now fighting fires is State business, but that approach becomes messy when fires fail to recognise state boundaries.

In these circumstances, any sensible person would see that the national government might have a role to play in coordinating the actions of state authorities and, if appropriate – as it definitely was in this instance – mobilising defence forces to assist as required.

And – as the head of the national government, Morrison was in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Morrison seems (misguidedly) inclined to believe that being popular is necessary for a national leader, and, after apologising for not seeing sooner that we missed his presence and guiding hand, he concentrated on making sure that we could see pictures of him shaking the hands of the people who had lost their homes and livelihoods, while he assured them that help was on its way.

Well, that was December 2019 and Christmas 2020 is nearly on us, but help seems as distant, while being even more desperately needed, than it was then.

Ah – but let’s be fair. He did not know that COVID-19 was waiting to pounce, globally, and proceed, metaphorically, to throw the world into a chaotic mess.

It snuck up on us and, to give him his due, he did fairly quickly close national borders, and kept a firm watch on them ever since.

His favourite Minister (the one he beat for the Prime Minister’s job, and who can do no wrong, can get all his appalling secrecy and surveillance legislation rubber stamped and generally work on turning Australia into a police state) was ostensibly in charge of the borders, but nobody has yet put up their hand to take overall responsibility for the Ruby Princess fiasco.

As far as Australia’s success in being near the top of the list of countries which are handling the pandemic well, the credit has to go to the Premiers and Chief Ministers.

In many cases, Morrison has been a hindrance rather than a help, and his refusal to recognise that the world is experiencing an upheaval, in the process of which we have to completely change our thinking about what is ‘normal’ now, is actually holding us back.

Cutting assistance to people with no hope of finding a job is outright cruelty.

Living, fortunately, so far from Canberra, it is hard to know whether the Coalition parties see Morrison as their best hope for retaining power, or whether, for some unknown reason they dare not criticise him.

Certainly, in the 2019 election campaign, there were few senior members of the Coalition who got anything like as much exposure to the public as Morrison did, while he pranced around the country being Daggy Dad, or the best friend of the farmers/miners/local interest groups and – above all – the fossil fuel giants.

A close inspection would reveal that he offered little by way of policy for the future, distorted the intent of the ALP’s policies – ably aided and abetted by Clive Palmer and his millions – but ensured he told everyone what they wanted to hear – not what they needed to know!

The budget was not in good shape, wages had stagnated, tax cuts would give little help to any other than the already well-off, and many government policies favoured any and all but those most in need.

Anyway – back to more recent events.

The Coalition is nothing if not besotted with privatisation.

Why?

Because it enables them to ensure lucrative opportunities for their mates to invest in totally unsuitable businesses – and become grateful donors.

(You really do need to investigate how much of Job Keeper payments – ostensibly intended to permit business owners to retain and pay for the services of existing employees- has actually ended up in the Cayman Island accounts of shareholders via extra dividend payments.)

IMHO no ‘caring’ organisation should ever be run by a for-profit organisation.

Surely it is obviously an oxymoron for a corporation, whose first duty is to make a profit for shareholders, to invest in a business which requires that those hired to manage the business, should  put those served by the business as top priority. It is definitely a moronic idea!

We have all wept for victims highlighted by the Banking Royal Commission.

As an aside – remember how all its recommendation were to be honoured?

I challenge you to find any that have been, or any sign that they might be and, in fact, Josh Frydenberg is now planning to remove the very restrictions on lending which Justice Heyne said must never be removed. This is policy making on the run to keep donors happy!

So now you can seek a loan and no one will care that you cannot afford to service it, will possibly end up a bankrupt and lose everything.

Back to caring organisations and the Aged Care enquiry.

If banking customers were deserving of sympathy, what about our elderly, some of whom, during the worst of the pandemic in NSW and Victoria, were abandoned, unfed, unmedicated, unwashed, cut off from family and locked in!

And only today I was reading of the shocking treatment and fraud being visited upon many NDIS recipients.

When did Australians stop caring about their fellow human beings?

There has always been an element which resented the latest group of immigrants or refugees.

Why, is a source of puzzlement, since the only people who have any viable grounds for resentment of new arrivals are the members of our First Nations, whose lands were usurped and who have yet to have their rights recognised.

Until yesterday I had never heard of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, whose death has just been announced.

He is quoted as saying:

“God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims,” he wrote. “No one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.”

When you think of the damage, wars and worse, which are triggered by disagreements over over what is the ‘true’ religion, he and his ilk are sorely needed.

Morrison, who apparently sees his religion as a personal matter, quite separate from whatever guides his policy making, has much to answer for in making policy decisions which are so biased against those most in need.

The National Cabinet – before it reverted to political infighting – was a good move, but it also created a smokescreen.

While, for ostensibly good health reasons, parliament was not meeting, Morrison used the time to sow the seeds of a dictatorship, with a compliant Coalition who saw it as beneficial to them – stuff worrying about us!

Knowing he was on a winner with conservative supporters, Morrison ignored the fact that a majority of the world’s governments are recognising and taking action to deal with global warming.

But Trump will no longer provide Morrison with an idol, an example and a buffer.

Average world temperatures are steadily rising.

Adverse weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity.

Opportunities to move away from fossil fuels and improve our production and storage of renewable energy are being ignored.

So, what is the End of Term Report (how I long for July 2022 – must we really wait that long?) looking like?

Actually, pretty poor.

We have massive unemployment, with 10 job hunters for every job.

We have a privatised employment agency system, run by staff whose training and procedures leave much to be desired.

Centrelink is also part-privatised and you can bet your bottom dollar – since they glumly accepted that Robodebt was illegal (they have, even though they won’t say it in so many words) – they will be looking for some other way to take money from the needy and gift it to their mates!

NDIS is an absolute mess, as is the Aged Care system.

The Coalition dislikes having to regulate the bodies it establishes, so corruption and fraud are running riot.

Your government is encouraging investment in what will become stranded assets.

We are about to have another mass adoption, this time in the NT, of the cashless welfare card – completely ignoring research which has found that it does not achieve any of the outcomes it was claimed would result from its introduction.

Ideology is a very damaging tool!

While supporters of the Americanised approach to life, which demands that if you cannot stand on your own two feet, then you will be pushed aside, might feel positive about Morrison’s time in office. I suspect I would find few friends in their ranks.

But those who believe in good governance for all – transparency, integrity, compassion for the helpless and who abhor corruption but demand ethical behaviour – would have a different response.

Scott Morrison – you need as a matter of urgency to accept global warming as fact, to ensure the homeless get a roof over their heads, that those in need get necessary support and that you take a much closer look at yourself and your policy vacuum.

You are on notice to shape up or ship out!

And if you do not want the shame job of being voted out, as Trump has been, and John Howard before him, then please resign, take on that cushy sinecure you have been offered and call an early election ASAP!

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Economies of scale, glacial progress and a heatwave!

What the hell is all that about???

Those are the thoughts, linked together under the theme of devastation as a consequence of global warming, which are buzzing around in my head at present.

In 42 days’ time, I shall be celebrating having lived in Darwin, the capital of the NT, for 50 years.

Arriving in the early stages of the wet season, forewarned about daytime temperatures reaching into the low 30s, and leaving snow on the ground when I left London (Heathrow) Airport, I acclimatised rapidly.

I never want to be near snow again! Living in the tropics, and not being addicted to travel, I doubt whether I shall ever be likely to do so!

By June, 1971, when, on the rare cloudy, ‘dry’ season day, temperatures struggled to reach 30˚C, and dropped well below 20˚C on many nights, I complained of the cold!

We are now in the build up to our ‘wet’, season, and have just set a record in Darwin of 11 consecutive days of temperatures reaching 35˚C or more!

And, because Darwin is so near the Arafura Sea, we are fortunate to not (yet) experience the extremes of temperature which are the norm for those who live further from the coast.

Yesterday we saw, in the ABC News, an example of flexible solar film which is enabling solar ‘panels’ to be glued to surfaces which are not smooth and flat, opening up possibilities of a far greater use of solar energy.

Incidentally, solar film can be floated on water, with efficiency of production being potentially enhanced by the contact with water in cooler areas, while evaporation of the water is reduced – win/win! Alternatively, it can be used on a swimming pool to both produce electricity and raise the temperature of the pool water!

It can also be used on windows and let this freak you out!! …

 

 

If the current Coalition government is making any progress at all towards accepting the need for adopting renewable energy on a sufficient scale, it is making, ironically, glacial progress. In fact, the existing glaciers are melting faster than Morrison and Co are moving towards recognising the bleeding obvious!

So where do the economies of scale come in?

Just hang in there a bit longer.

The many critics of solar power – and they are both many, and misguided in intent – express concern (not necessarily in any order of priority) over issues like:

  1. Solar panels have a limited life and will be hard to recycle;
  2. Energy produced is intermittent, which puts pressure on the grid to even out the flow of electricity;
  3. Solar power is only available while the sun is shining.

All true – BUT:

  1. We are currently struggling to recycle massive amounts of waste, so the government should, as a priority, be putting money into the CSIRO and research facilities in universities to facilitate rapid development of recycling systems for all waste products. Plus, the flexible solar system might be less problematic than the glass panels;
  2. The energy should be directed into storage from which it can be fed into the grid in a continuous stream, and
  3. This can occur, irrespective of whether of not the sun is shining – which is where economies of scale come in.

Replacing PV panels by the flexible model will massively enhance the range of use of solar power, as it can be used on trains, roads and roofs. This will make it more cost effective, while exactly the same applies to batteries, currently more costly because of insufficient demand.

I have not mentioned wind but it has a place in the scheme of things, as the Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries will bear witness.

Now all the naysayers will jump in with negative comments which will further delay progress in dealing with a problem which is, inexorably, becoming more and more intransigent.

Do you really think last bush fire season was an anomaly?

Think again!

How long did the recent drought last? And have the rivers and dams yet been replenished?

What is the status quo in the Murray Darling Basin, where water intended to support the environment is being stolen, and corporations are growing water-hungry crops for profit, ignoring the detrimental effect this will have on production of essential foods?

For those people who still commute to work by car, leaving their vehicles to bake in the sun – what about this?

Put a roof over all parking lots, and cover the roof with solar panels. Not only will the cars be less likely to be overheated, but the power generated will be available for lighting at night, to provide greater security for those using the park after dark.

There are loads of people out there who are aching to produce even more valuable ideas to both tackle global warming and simultaneously make life more comfortable during the interim period.

Conflict of interest is ignored, when governments allow those profiting from fossil fuels to persuade them (how, I sometimes wonder? Does money change hands, or promises of future employment in a lucrative sinecure?) to use gas as a means of transitioning from coal – only we will still need to use coal for some time to keep Joel Fitzgibbon happy.

If the Opposition Leader had any sense, he would reduce the white-anting phenomenon by sacking Fitzgibbon from the ALP.

You cannot hope to satisfy everyone, but big, bold policies, which echo successes elsewhere in the world, would surely have to produce some converts.

Millions of people have suffered in one way or another through COVID-19. They should not be expected to put up with further pain because we have a government which picks and chooses which science it will pay heed to.

We need to look forward to a Happy Christmas in a few weeks’ time.

Would it not be marvellous – not to say a miracle – if that happiness came from hearing that Scott Morrison has seen the light and will take serious action on global warming?

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Australia – The Lucky Country? – Please excuse the hollow laugh!

Lucky for whom?

Not for our First Nations, who still battle to overcome the disadvantages of an invasion which stole their lands, massacred much of their population, treated them as slaves in chain gangs, raped their women and stole their children.

Not for the refugees, fleeing war, persecution and discrimination who sought safe haven and a better life, only to be incarcerated in detention centres, run by an organisation whose personnel are at least one step less caring than a high proportion of Corrections Services employees, denied a proper hearing for their claims for refuge and, in too many cases, returned to death in their land of birth.

Observation has taught me that many people who are recruited into the police forces of any country should be screened out because they are psychologically unsuited.

Peter Dutton is such an individual, and every cruel edict that he issues screams out that his suitability for the level of power he has acquired is woefully nonexistent.

What has brought on this tirade?

News that a cohort of refugees who were being held in detention in Darwin are just being whisked away to detention in a Melbourne hotel, despite that fact that they included many brought here for medical treatment. And at least one of their number had the long-waited-for medical appointment lined up, here in Darwin, for the day after they will be removed.

Those who honestly believe in the benefits of a true democracy are currently distracted by the farce being enacted in the USA. An immature man whose desire for power was nourished by the Republican Party, has just thrown a hissy fit because not enough people were convinced by his claims to be working for their benefit, and he is now required to step aside for a preferred candidate.

Deluded, as he is, that he is god’s gift to the USA, he is raising fears that a civil war might erupt as the rump of his followers are looking for every opportunity to start a fight.

What has this got to do with us?

The USA has, for years, been a close and strong ally of Australia, although that relationship is now putting us in conflict with China, up to now a strong trading partner.

We are between a rock and a hard place, and the situation is made more difficult by the fact that the Coalition government, which currently holds power, is more supportive of policies which are disadvantaging us, because they are matching those of Donald Trump’s USA.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT OF LIFE!

The rate of warming is increasing.

The occasions of severe weather events are increasing in frequency and in level of severity.

The Coalition is pushing a policy of increasing use of gas, while all the real experts are assuring us this is not good policy.

The Australian Premiers have fought the good fight against COVID-19, and their level of success has been remarkable, particularly when compared with much of the rest of the world (being a large archipelago does help!), but the Prime Minister, together with several of his Ministers, is happy to claim the glory for this outcome, despite having played politics in most despicable ways during the worst of the second wave in Victoria.

The Coalition government and its Ministers are regularly forfeiting our trust and respect by their open corruption and their obvious lack of intention to rein in their bad behaviour.

If anyone were to compare the numbers of citizens who were proud to be Australian, say, 40 years ago, with those feeling the same level of pride today, the outcome might not be flattering for the government!

There is a total lack of understanding of the fact that the action taken to fight the pandemic has destroyed hundreds of jobs, that people are bearing increasing debt levels through being forced to delay paying rent and mortgage payments.

That the threat of eviction or foreclosure is a continuing nightmare.

That support provided by government is being reduced, leaving many in truly parlous circumstances.

That access to continuing education is becoming an increasingly impossible dream for many.

The national government is failing to accept that the future will never fall back into a familiar routine.

Life has changed due to the pandemic, and life will continue to change because of our failure to take appropriate action by reining in use of fossil fuels.

We cannot afford to be led by a Prime Minister whose idea of leading is to delegate everything he can to the States – including desperately needed social housing – but then criticise if perfection is not achieved and claim the credit if it is!

There is much which we can do. We actually have more power than we realise – and it is not only vested in the ballot box.

We desperately need a strong Opposition in Canberra, but it seems that all political parties seek power for themselves, as first priority, and looking after the needs of the homeless and desperate is left for the charities to pick up the pieces.

Was Australia ever ‘The Lucky Country’?

For some, maybe, but only occasionally.

Is it now?

No way!!!

When might it be?

When we all start acting as a community to help those who need help and share the wealth and opportunity more equally.

Is this possible?

Of course.

Why isn’t it happening now?

Because we are all too bloody selfish!

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Momentum and global warming

Batillus – This supertanker was built for Shell Oil in 1976. The condition of the international oil market did not improve between 1977 and 1980 and the number of voyages undertaken by the Batillus was considerably reduced to just 4 trips round the year; which were further reduced to 1 or 2 trips by 1982.

Have you ever realised how far out from port a super-tanker or an ocean liner needs to start reducing speed, to ensure it can safely dock?

Check it out – the answer might surprise you.

But think about the last time you were approaching traffic lights in an empty lane, as the lights change to green.

Moving your foot from the brake to the accelerator, you sail through, ahead of the pack – because of the momentum you are carrying.

Students of physics know that momentum is calculated by multiplying velocity by mass, so the greater the mass of the vehicle or vessel, the greater its momentum – and the higher that is when it meets an obstacle, the greater the damage done.

“So what?” you might say.

Well in many ways, this is analogous to the situation we face with global warming.

Unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases have been building momentum and causing ever greater forces to spark fires, boost floods and create droughts, with increasing levels of damage resulting.

We need to apply the brakes to this process, yet the longer we delay, the harder it will be to dissipate that momentum.

AUSTRALIA’S CLIMATE HAS WARMED ON AVERAGE 1.44C SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1910, LEADING TO AN INCREASE IN EXTREME HEAT EVENTS (STATE OF THE CLIMATE 2020 REPORT).

And we have barely touched the brakes, despite our awareness of the consequences of failing to do so!

A change of President in the USA, to one with a commitment to tackling climate change, and, believe it or not, a growing awareness in China that more needs to be done – and remember, the ruthlessness of the current leader in China can be turned to produce good results, just as forcefully as it is being used to less desirable effect – both give us a hope that all is not yet lost.

Whether it is stupidity, ideology or some other flaw that drives our current leader in Australia, we have got to force a change of policy, if our children’s children are not going to inherit an uninhabitable world.

Concentrating on ‘growing the economy’ is a total waste of time and effort if, in doing so, we totally destroy the quality of life of a majority of those who survive the increasingly hostile environment which our government’s efforts are creating.

The failure of the Coalition government to use the hiatus caused by COVID-19 to enable a whole new approach to planning for the future – instead they are refusing to accept that ‘normal’ is a memory of the past and the future is uncharted territory – has got to galvanise us to take over the reins and plan for a realistic future.

The very way they are proceeding to penalise those least able to help themselves – re-introducing the ‘mutual obligation’ approach for job seekers, and extending the introduction of the cashless debit card – shows their contempt for those who are unable to aspire to have all they want – let alone an abundance!

Greed is NOT good.

Caring for the welfare of others is NOT a weakness.

Being guided by a sincere moral compass is NOT related to religious beliefs, but to a desire for a cohesive society, where at least a majority strives to live in harmony, following a ‘do as you would be done by’ approach.

Recent events and disclosures make it very clear that those who boast of their religious affiliations are, too often, among those whose behaviour is truly selfish and antisocial.

Do we really want people like this in control of our lives – particularly when it seems their selfishness is destroying lives?

Now that borders are opening up and – with suitable social distancing, as the pandemic is merely in abeyance – activism is becoming an option, those who care, need to be out there making it clear that the current national government is out of step with what is needed.

Step up, shape up – or go!!

We CANNOT change the past but we CAN change the future!

This is the message we need to get out there!

Look to the future and avoid the mistakes of the past.

Change is inevitable.

Embrace it!

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Australia is being dragged into the gutter

The latest case of outright cruelty to migrants and refugees makes my blood boil!

I am well aware that it was the ALP’s Kevin Rudd who brought in the ruling that refugees who came by sea would never be allowed to settle in Australia, and I wonder how often he has regretted a decision which has allowed subsequent Coalition governments to display levels of cruelty which the Gestapo would applaud.

His action was taken to try to recover political advantage, but at what cost to the lives of those affected?

That the latest threat of deportation should occur at a time when the NSW Premier is suggesting some sensitive amendments to a National Anthem which makes wildly misleading claims about the aspirations and lofty offerings of this country, is highly ironic.

In recent years we have had issues like same sex marriage reveal incredibly levels of hatred and bile from people who claim to follow a loving, all-inclusive god. We have had lengthy discussions about protecting people’s right to follow a religion – which is already protected in the Australian Constitution – while we have had approval given to treat innocent refuge seekers with appalling cruelty.

The thin veneer of religious-based ‘respectability’ of elected politicians has been torn aside, to reveal a level of depravity, misogyny and contempt for women which would leave Donald Trump looking almost angelic.

We have innocent children, sequestered for nearly a year on Christmas Island, denied normal life with friends, while refuge seekers have been denied any sort of freedom for years, incarcerated offshore or in isolated hotels awaiting much needed medical treatment which seems to remain a distant dream.

Corruption in government in Australia is nothing new and is not confined to any one state. A few seem less steeped in it than others, but, for more recent arrivals, the concept of a ‘fair go’ seems to have no foundation in reality.

Each successive Minister in charge of Immigration seems to vie with his predecessor – sorry, Amanda – I forgot you were also part of this story – to show more stubborn cruelty and less enlightened humanity than his/her predecessor.

Dan Andrews has borne two massive burdens in recent times.

Not only did he have an uphill battle to defeat the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria – in which his success is to be applauded – but he had to fend off politically biased criticism from a man who has manifestly failed as a leader for his country.

Morrison is a control freak who is more than uncomfortably reminiscent of  Trump in his management – or mismanagement – of policy and people.

He is reactive, not proactive, and his desperate search for photo ops is an embarrassment – particularly when they occur in crisis situations.

He has given free rein to Peter Dutton and Border Force, whose ability to function within budget and with appropriate efficiency, not to mention humanity, is notable by its absence.

Hundreds of people are, or shortly will be, struggling to survive in a physical climate which is becoming increasingly hostile, and a political climate which is also increasingly unfavourable.

Yet, business is being showered with assistance – including assistance to reduce conditions of service for their employees. Job Keeper has been too often diverted away from employees pay packets and into shareholders pockets, while Job Seeker payments are to be reduced, even as those relying on them are running out of savings to ensure they can pay for rent or mortgage to ensure a roof over their heads.

Can I throw in a personal perspective?

I am a pensioner and a taxpayer.

I do not subscribe to any online media.

Yet I am forced to increase the profits of Foxtel, since my taxes are contributing to a generous donation of taxpayer’s money – money which is denied to the ABC to provide essential services to the entire population in times of crisis – to a company which is expected to operate using the fees it charges subscribers.

Cushioned by a comfortable and guaranteed salary, with over-generous entitlements and, often, no real understanding of life in the real dog-eat-dog world, politicians in general, and Ministers in particular are making ignorant decisions about often life-threatening situations.

And they are, simultaneously, making sure that, in the absence of decent anti-corruption measures, they benefit to the maximum at every end and turn.

Having watched the Wicked Witch from the West in action, I find it really hard to believe the assertions by Michaelia Cash that she has not been responsible for manipulating a situation of redundancy giving rise to a complaint against her as well as, for separate reasons, AG Porter.

There are few shining lights of integrity on the Coalition side of politics and, sadly, the faction system in the ALP reduces hope for high standards in Labor’s ranks.

If Albo wants to wrest power from the Coalition, he needs to assert his authority – though not by mimicking Morrison! – sack Fitzgibbon from the Party – if he refuses to accept caucus decisions he has no place remaining inside – and come out with a forceful global warning action policy which would gain support from President Elect Biden.

Accept the science, accept the diminishing time frame in which action might have some hope to reduce the excessive temperature rises and other effects of climate change, and give our children and their children a hope for a viable life.

The current Coalition government is on the High Road to Hell!

Don’t let then drag us there with them!

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Integrity is dead, buried and cremated

We are doomed to an uphill battle of trying to rid this country of all the morons who have manoeuvred their way into government – and some into opposition – and who consequently have the ability to determine our fate.

On 9/11/20, the ABC ran an exposé – Inside the Canberra Bubble on Four Corners – which raised serious and legitimate concerns over national security, when it revealed the less than savoury proclivity of the current Attorney General for extramarital sexual relations, and an equally unsavoury attitude towards the status of women.

This is the man who ignored the decision of the previous AG, then Senator Brandis, and decided to proceed with prosecution, in secret, of Witness K and his lawyer, the former ACT AG, Bernard Collaery.

The ‘crime’ for which they have been indicted is is less important than the reason he has taken this action.

Few in Australia would be unaware that the Australian government acted illegally while negotiating the boundary lines between Timor Leste and Australia, the purpose being to gain a commercial advantage.

No issue of national security was involved, but the embarrassment of government Ministers for being caught out has smouldered and finally burst into flames, at least in the mind of our rather grubby AG.

Witness K is a genuine patriot. Bernard Collaery is, appropriately, a highly regarded lawyer. Both men are ones to whom all Australians can look up with pride.

The current AG is altogether something else.

A hypocritical sleaze only touches the surface of his undesirable nature.

Today, when the issue was raised with the PM, we were regaled with the advice that we should make allowance for human frailties, or words to that effect!

And AG Christian Porter was not the only Minister in the headlights. Minister Tudge, another spokesperson for the sanctity of marriage – as long as it is between a man and a woman – has also totally ignored the strictures of the ‘bonking ban’.

Pathetic!

We already know that the PM’s religion is not allowed to influence his duties as PM.

We also know that he is very closely connected to a Hillsong Pastor who failed to report his own father’s paedophile activities.

This ability to believe that integrity and a moral compass can be ignored at will is more than disturbing.

We already knew that the Integrity Commission which was being promoted by the AG was going to give parliamentarians total freedom from any investigation into corrupt behaviour – unless they dobbed themselves in!

The flying pigs are becoming an aviation hazard!

How long are we prepared to be treated as gullible fools?

And as if it was not enough to have a government in power which is totally untrustworthy, we have a self-serving member of the Opposition who claims the limelight by refusing to accept party policy and forcing the opposition to rearrange its front bench, competing for headlines over the Four Corners revelations.

Sorry, Albo – but until you sack Fitzgibbon from the ALP (he cannot challenge for the leadership if he is not even a member!) and prove to the Australian people that you can offer government free of corruption and in-fighting, you will be doomed to stay in Opposition.

We deserve better – when will we get it????

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A letter to Donald Trump’s children

I have a limited knowledge of the history of the USA but I did think that the American War of Independence was fought in order to cast off the yoke of a foreign, constitutional and hereditary monarchy, and establish a republic, under the control of an elected President.

Post WWII, when I was in my early teens, my understanding was that any American citizen could aspire to become President.

Times change. Only those with many $millions have a chance of running in the race to the top.

The growth of globalisation, of massive commercial giants, of monopolies and influential social media, has transformed the world to one which is ruled by financial interests.

The USA may pay lip service to a god, but it more often seems to be the almighty dollar, rather than than some ephemeral being, which guides politics.

That said, America does not seek for an established dynasty, except in its TV fantasies, and its most recent President – Donald J Trump – has seemed unable to distinguish between the seductions of power and the duties created by responsibility.

POTUS is not elected to look after those who voted for her/him but for all USA citizens.

And the increasing death toll from COVID-19 shows how poorly Trump has managed his responsibilities.

A glance at other democracies would reveal that the outcomes of many elections take days to be determined. Postal, absentee and other forms of voting which can be conducted before Polling Day will always delay the determination of the final outcome, particularly if an election is closely fought.

It is a display of ignorance of the process to expect an instant result and call foul when it does not occur.

Donald Trump may have been popular with a certain cohort of the US population, but popularity and competence are not necessarily synonymous.

Trump had no prior experience of working in government – being a director of a board carries some similar responsibilities to those of a publicly elected government officer, but they are far from identical.

Throughout his term in office Trump has displayed a woeful ignorance of the USA Constitution, the legal system and diplomatic processes.

Being popular, by entertaining the crowd, does not cut it when it comes to developing and maintaining international relationships.

At no time, even before his incompetence was so clearly displayed, did Trump’s election give any room for members of his family to have any grounds to believe that he could pass his mantle on to them.

Yes – several members of the Bush family have risen to high office in State or Federal politics, but they all did so through their own efforts from a variety of government backgrounds.

Being President should never be regarded as a means to promote one’s own interests – rather, one has little time to perform the job of President as well as promote one’s own interests!

The present display by the President’s children (let alone his legal counsel!) of petulant refusal to accept the legality of the process by which their father has been denied a second term, is a clear indication of their unsuitability to ever think of, themselves, standing for high office.

Acceptance of defeat is the honourable course to follow.

Only a mountebank refuses to accept the truth and seeks to subvert it!

But then again – truth and Trump have never been comfortable bedfellows!

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Let the good times roll!!

We have moaned and groaned through nearly 4 years of the time in office of a POTUS whose lack of civility, ill-treatment of a wide range of people whom he obviously and carelessly disdained, and broad ranging incompetence in office, has endangered or destroyed the lives of thousands of his nation.

He was not alone in his malign approach to government.

The leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has a record of opposing all policy changes proposed by Barack Obama, while he was in power, and has aided and abetted Trump in destroying as much as possible of Obama’s legacy.

McConnell remains at the head of the Republican party control of that body, and is unlikely to be supportive of a Democrat President.

Nevertheless, it is now time to turn back from the dark path government was led down under Trump, and remember that civility, consideration for others and diplomacy, rather than acting the bully, are the traits of a true leader, and desirable in a caring community.

The USA has a third rate health system which has been being slowly reduced to catering only for those who could afford to pay. It is time now to bring it back to a viable condition!

Trump will not go without a fight and he will probably seek to pardon as many as possible of his cohort whose criminal behaviour has been established.

Hopefully he, himself will face court for his own misdemeanours, one of which, surely, has been using his time in office to gain financial advantage.

Where are those tax records???

It is likely that Joe Biden, once handed the reins of power, will be working towards appropriate action on climate change, which might (one can but hope!) persuade the Australian government to shake off the influence of the fossil fuel lobby, and also take appropriate action in reducing emissions.

But, above all, let us all pull back from the vile discourse which has been triggered under a man whose own people have, wisely, denied a second term in office.

Also cause for rejoicing is the election of the first ever female Vice President, who, it appears, may well be groomed to stand for election as the first ever female POTUS!

China is now seriously jockeying for world dominance, and a diplomatic approach from America might ease the economic pressure currently being applied on Australia.

All will not change overnight, nor will all the necessary changes be easy, but we do have clear light at the end of the tunnel on the world stage.

Now let’s try to bring our own nation back onto the path to a better future.

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Without transparency, corruption flourishes

Scott Morrison played on the general ignorance, as regards politics, of many members of the public, when he performed a one-man-band election campaign in 2019.

A closer inspection of his message would have revealed no policy promises, except for cutting taxes. For the unthinking, that sounds like a good idea.

For the more thoughtful, it raises questions as to which services will be no longer available if the government has insufficient income – from taxes – to fund them?

By contrast, the ALP had developed a whole series of policies, some of which were well thought-out and worthwhile, but most of which were quite complex, and were largely aimed at restoring some semblance of equality to the general population.

It cannot have gone unnoticed, that the gap between the rich and the poor has become a chasm. Regular use of ‘average’ incomes instead of ‘median’ incomes has blurred the picture and created a totally false picture of the extent to which the rich are getting richer.

Check this out! Given the Prime Minister’s situation, how well to you think he understands what the people for whom he governs have to cope with?

And that was before COVID-19 and the massive range of job losses and consequent loss of income.

When I studied law, late in life, I was advised that, if I planned to engage in criminal law, it was important to work both as a prosecutor and for the defence.

That way, I was advised, I would learn to predict the arguments which would be raised by the other side, and be prepared with a stronger case for my side.

The same message would, no doubt, apply to members of a debating team, because your opponents will wax as eloquent as your team for their side of the argument, so you must be prepared to pre-empt and counter their arguments.

Like law, our political system is adversarial.

The ALP was too certain that its policies had merit, and failed to prepare for the extent to which they would be subjected to criticism – and was even less well prepared to counter the lies.

Unless you have a population which is well-educated in political theories – which Australia, and most other so-called democracies, are not – then a scare campaign is pretty certain to be effective.

One exception is possibly when it is run by Clive Palmer at a State level!

His ‘death taxes’ stunt in 2019 did a lot of damage to Labor at a Federal level, but he was ill-advised to think it would work again in Queensland, in the just-run October state election, and he has paid the price for his poor judgment.

The level of support for Daniel Andrews in Victoria, and for Annastacia Pałaszczuk in Queensland, has highlighted the desperate need for people to feel that their leaders in a crisis need to have their best interests at heart.

And, as a broad generalisation, Labor governments are more likely to be perceived as being there for the have-nots

Just as strict parents are often later thanked by their post-teenage children, so voters can recognise when unpleasant policies are actually being developed in their best interests.

The USA, Brazil, India and now Europe, are demonstrating clearly that premature efforts to get ‘back’ to what used to be normal commerce, is liable to be totally counterproductive.

Possibly linked to his ability to be an ardent adherent of a very un-Christian cult, Morrison is blindly addicted to worshipping the ‘economy’ and subjugating the needs of members of the population to those of the leaders of business and industry.

Yes – people need jobs – and many are now out of work because of government policies, designed to reduce the spreading of infection. The concept was good, but the range and duration of support has been woefully lacking.

And in all this, evidence of corruption and lack of transparency keeps raising its ugly head!

Before the pandemic took hold, Morrison was fighting accusations that he had colluded with Bridget McKenzie in the Sports Rorts affair.

 

Image from Independent Australia (Via YouTube)

 

Even greater discrimination in selecting recipients for the award of community development grants has also been exposed.

Regular audit reports of Border Force have noted an alarming level of failure to apply correct procedures and contain costs.

Just recently, senior personnel in ASIC have resigned or stood aside over expenses claims which have not stood the test of scrutiny.

And of course there was that land which might be needed for the extensions of Sydney airport – assuming planes will be flying in sufficient numbers in some distant future!

When you add that the Audit Office is being subject to reduction in funding, one is left wondering what other evidence of lack of transparency, maladministration or outright corruption is being concealed from view because of ANAO’s lack of funds to audit departments thoroughly.

I know, from living through all the rationing and restrictions imposed on UK citizens to support the war effort in WWII, that if there is a serious national threat, people will accept limitations on their behaviour in order to ensure the threat is properly dealt with.

Pressure from Morrison, for restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, to enable the economy to recover ASAP, were very ill-judged.

We only now have to look at those countries mentioned earlier to realise that responding to that pressure merely delays the desired outcome, putting lives at risk in the process.

Many of the Australian deaths have been of elderly people who were supposed to be being cared for in their twilight years – only it turns out that the conditions which should have applied to their circumstances were ignored under the Coalition government.

Many Aged Care Homes employed no trained nurses.

Care staff, trained to a very basic level, were so poorly paid that they needed at least two jobs to get a sufficient income.

Ratios of staff to residents were not defined for the most part and certainly were not appropriate.

Decisions about sending residents to hospital were not made appropriately.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg of problems.

Running a caring service will never be cheap, and if it is run by a for profit body, funds that should go into the caring service will, inevitably, go instead into the pockets of the shareholders. In fact there is evidence that extra monies given by the Commonwealth government to aged care homes were immediately diverted into increased dividends.

Are government Ministers really so stupid as to not see this?

On another front, in families with children, it is most often the mothers who have to make suitable arrangements for childcare if they are going to be able to work.

For a short time, early in the pandemic, the government provided free childcare.

But that was the first benefit to go in the Coalition’s drive to ‘snap back’, and the situation as regards childcare accessibility has spiralled downwards ever since.

Morrison’s wife has choices which the majority of mothers do not share.

I wonder if she has made any attempt to explain to her husband the desperate plight of many working mothers – always assuming she has any understanding of their situation.

He seems to be totally blinded by ideology, and gets photo ops showing him building a cubby house or a chicken coop, in order to prove that he is a just an ordinary, down to earth Daggy Dad who understands what life is like for the rest of us.

I wonder how much time Daniel Andrews had for family matters over these last few months?

From what I have seen and heard of her, he is blessed with a wife who truly understands the mammoth task her partner had to shoulder, and she provided him with all the support he needed to cope.

In fact – what the hell was the PM doing, getting up to these antics, when there were still desperately important issues to be resolved?

Looking back at Morrison’s early career clarifies his desire for power doing whatever it takes. If you missed this, read it and ask – who who would have been the more honourable candidate?

We should not take it for granted that politicians cannot be trusted!

In fact it says little for us that we let it continue.

Incidentally – who owns Australia Post?

We do – and its employees are Public Servants, bound by Public Service rules!

We need to rid the governments of this country of corruption – which will not be an overnight task!

As individuals, there are clear limits to what we can achieve.

As a group, we have power – which we must use!

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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A Dangerous, Devious, Deluded, Disastrous, Domineering Dunderhead

I wonder if his hubris would ever allow Scott Morrison to recognise himself from that description?

Silly me! Of course it wouldn’t!

Just as Trump has a rusted on ‘base’, which lets him feel he is universally worshipped – except by the foolish few who believe ‘fake’ news – so, too, has the Coalition enabled Morrison to believe he is doing a good job of managing the economy, the country and our place in the world.

One of the major problems we have today is a refusal by so many to recognise that we really are all – in a global context – in it together.

And we all have two major problems to negotiate – COVID-19 and Global Warming.

In Europe, over the period most significantly affected by WWII, whichever side any particular country was on, supporting their government through a massive war effort was the sole concern of each nation. And their governments had to balance the needs of the war effort against providing sufficient support for those at ‘home’.

Personal needs had to be put on one side in order to allow all necessary resources to be available to stay on course for victory.

Sadly, only one side in a war can ‘win’, but efforts by the USA to help Germany, in particular, and to some extent its allies, to rebuild after the war, made it less likely that there would be any comeback attempts, as there had been after WWI.

No one society can ever expect to live in total harmony, so it is not surprising that the countries in the European Union experience friction and disagreement from time to time.

However, there is a high degree of agreement between the members of that Union as to how they need to deal with both major problems.

In Australia, Victoria has been the State which has had the most severe second wave of the pandemic to deal with – and in part that situation has arisen because modern societies are less cohesive than is really necessary to deal with a crisis.

Personal rights might be important, but not when insistence on freedom to act at will puts the lives of other members of society at risk!

Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand for anyone who wishes to remain an accepted member of society.

For sure, mistakes were made in handling that second wave, but praise is flowing in from outside the country for the success that Daniel Andrews has achieved.

Of course – politics blinds antagonists, and, just as the Coalition rubbished the way Labor dealt with the GFC (although it did not stop them from going down a similar path to deal with the current crisis!), so too the Coalition are still criticising the Victorian Premier’s actions, in contrast with the rest of the world.

One thing which has gone badly wrong in Australia has been having someone so stubborn and self-opinionated as Morrison in the role of PM at this stage in our history.

By preventing Parliament from meeting – ostensibly because of social distancing – and choosing his own ‘executive’, selected from too narrow a field, he has succeeded in creating his own power base which is totally resistant to input from others.

A petty tyrant would best describe him!

The government’s agenda is his agenda and his ‘vision’ – apart from aiming to hold the reins of power as hard and as long as he can – is so limited that we are going to lose lives for reasons other than the pandemic if he is not reined in!

Yet look at how small his majority actually is!

He refuses to be involved in developing an appropriately constructed and powered body to deal with corruption and abuse of power – why? – because he wants to be totally in charge.

How much do we hear of any other government Minister these days?

Barnaby Joyce made a pathetic attempt recently to raise his head above the parapet, but he made little or no impact.

Despite his earnest hopes and desires, Clive Palmer is no part of the government, but his dishonest campaign against Labor makes him a useful weapon for Morrison when it comes to State elections.

That man is a crook and the sooner he is off the scene the better!

With such a high level of unemployment, with so many enterprises out of business, and with the continuing threat of another wave of COVID if we do not closely guard against importing it, the only thing the government should be concentrating on is keeping people alive, fed, housed and job-ready when an opportunity presents itself.

Stop throwing money at businesses rather than the unemployed.

Look at all the Job Keeper funds which have been paid out as bonuses and dividends, rather than helping to keep desperate people in work!!

What is going to happen about people paying rent if they have no income?

What is going to happen when banks start foreclosing because people are having to choose whether to eat or pay the mortgage?

Have you noticed that food prices are going up?

Have you also noticed that the government is in cahoots with employers, to use every opportunity to keep a tight cap on wages and conditions?

Why cannot the government members get their heads round the fact that median income has been about $60,000 pa for those able to find a job, that many families are lucky if one member has a job, and child-minding costs are now out of reach for many, which means looking for a job for many is not even an option?

Pressures to return to ‘normal’ come from a cloud cuckoo land mentality, because we no longer have a normal.

Ignorance about statistics is such that people do not really understand that if ‘median’ income is $60,000, that means half the adult population receives LESS than $60,000 per year!

Think hard about that one!

There are quite a few very wealthy people who want for nothing.

And there are a great many far from wealthy people who lack for basic needs!

Does the government really care?

Have you noticed any pigs in full flight lately?

Until we can make the government do its job honestly and compassionately – am I asking for the impossible? – ‘normal’ will remain a shambolic mess for most of the population.

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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How do we restore democracy?

Democracy has been destroyed by globalisation!

The massive growth in size and power of monopolistic organisations, and collusion over issues like prices and interest rate fixing, means that commercial interests now have more power than governments.

The inducements they are then able to offer – which extend to cosy sinecures post-politics for many senior Ministers – almost inevitably result in an increasing level of corruption in government.

The stubborn refusal of leaders like Morrison to introduce any version of integrity oversight – let alone a truly effective one – is even more alarming, when you examine the extent to which individual rights are being eroded and penalties increased for whistle blowers.

Julian Assange is wanted by the USA because he revealed the venality and illegality of their actions, while Witness K and Bernard Collaery have embarrassed former Coalition politicians by showing that they sought commercial advantage over the world’s poorest new nation under the cloak of national security!

Many of the wars in which we tagged on the tail of the USA, were at the behest of the munitions industry in the USA.

Countries like Saudi Arabia are allowed to – literally – get away with murder because of their importance to the oil industry.

If governments were doing the right thing by taking action on climate change, oil would lose its importance, as would other fossil fuels – and there would be a much greater chance that women in the Middle East might have the opportunity to move into a modern world environment!

COVID-19 might be a virus which is causing major disruption all round the world, but it truly pales into insignificance when you compare it to the adverse effects, world-wide, of the greed associated with globalisation, and, in particular, the worship of fossil fuels!

China might seem to pose a threat, but look more closely at Amazon, Google, Facebook and all the oil and gas conglomerates and ask yourself – how can the environment and society survive unless something changes really soon.

Is allowing the Australian government to see its term in office all the way through, really an option, or do we need to be using people power to bring on desperately needed policy change?

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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Integrity, transparency, honesty – and ethics

In addition to studying ethics as part of my law degree, I have also served on two university ethics committees, the second one as the required legal member.

The material detailing the requirements of those serving on these committees, which has to be read and responsibly applied, should be required study for anyone aspiring to a political career – most particularly on social science policy issues.

A university, depending on the range of disciplines on offer, would have at least one ethics committee.

If research is in the context of social science, there will be a Human Research Ethics committee, which is required, among other issues, to ensure avoidance of harm, protection of privacy and protection from disclosure which might adversely affect the participant. The committee would have a much wider brief if medical research is involved, to ensure that participants are fully aware of any risks to health which might be involved in participating.

In the veterinary side of research, there would again be important safeguards on the animals’ well-being.

If you think deeply about it, every policy developed by any government has implications for, mostly, the health and well-being of the people affected by the policy and, occasionally, the animals involved in – as seen recently – areas like horse or dog racing.

So politicians engaged in approving policy ought to be aware of the ethical issues raised by proposed legislation and take care to avoid causing unintended harm.

The significant problem with a political system which has two major parties, is that, belonging to a party requires the individual to accept the party policy. There might be an opportunity to voice individual views at party meetings, but, once policy guidelines have been determined, the individual mist toe the line – or resign.

If we had at least three parties of similar size, opportunities for compromise and consensus might occur, but the permanent Coalition between the Liberal Party and the plethora of other, smaller conservative parties, has totally thwarted this possibility.

So any attempt to reach consensus when discussing policy is unlikely to succeed when ideology trumps any desire to best serve the nation – rather than wealthy donors.

In years gone by there used to be reference to ‘small l’ liberals and the more conservative ‘hard L’ liberals – but now we seem to be driven by a blind ideology based on power at all costs.

We NEED legislation to control donations.

We NEED ethical behaviour and transparency in policy making.

We NEED Ministers to resign when they are found guilty of wrong-doing.

And – in the absence of leaders with integrity, who will enforce ethical behaviour standards – WE NEED AN ICAC WITH TEETH!

Integrity within the Public Service is also in doubt, and no public servant or elected parliamentarian deserves to be exempted from public scrutiny when there is clear evidence of possible corruption.

Before she married at age 35, my mother was in the UK Civil Service.

Her position, prior to mandatory resignation on marriage, (thank goodness times have changed!) was as Personal Private Secretary to the Controller of the Stationery Office. A quasi-government organisation, responsible for printing and storing all manner of government issued materials, my mother worked for William Codling and Norman Scorgie, 2 of the senior people mentioned in this article.

With her boss out of the office most of most days, she had the task of having to deal with requests for papers of varying degrees of confidentiality from variously important people, and to deny a request without offending.

Had she ever been guilty of accepting a gift, she would have been out on her ear, quick smart!

That ruling applied to all members of the Civil Service. They had permanent positions, with the possibility of promotion, so that provided a strong level of motivation to not break the rules.

Politicising the Public Service here, so that permanence and promotion no longer have any certainty, has potentially two adverse effects – it reduces the motivation to behave ethically and it destroys the accumulated knowledge and wisdom. “Yes, Minister” and “Yes. Prime Minister” might have been based on a measure of truth, but, when you think about it – no Minister, appointed for a few years, often to handle several portfolios, has the depth of knowledge required to make complex decisions, and to engage external bodies for policy advice runs the risk of accepting suggestions which are  biassed by the advisors external interests.

Why are we not surprised that we have a Prime Minister who is developing energy policy which ignores all scientific evidence of the need for greater use of renewable energy, when he is relying on advice touted by a gas and oil magnate?

If you want reliable advice from the Public Service, you must give them the certainty that disagreeing with the Minister will not end in their dismissal!

And they, in turn, need to be people of integrity – which is not guaranteed if the advice is coming from political staffers!

The recent continuum of disasters – a failing economy, high un/under-employment, wages flat-lining, unprecedented bush fires, followed by COVID-19 – has shown, in all its glory, the ineptitude of the Coalition government and its failure to use appropriate advice.

No major country has handled the pandemic well, except, possibly, China – and of that we cannot have any certainty, because so much secrecy surrounds their actions.

Part of the confusion in Australia has arisen from history – the separation of powers between Commonwealth and States or Territories but – much more importantly – further muddied by political differences.

Just as the ALP’s handling of the GFC earned praise from other OECD countries, while being rubbished by the Coalition, so, now, Daniel Andrews’ hard lock-down in Victoria is being praised and copied by many European governments, where the resurgence of the virus is causing chaos, yet the Morrison government is throwing mud at him at every opportunity.

I am sure Morrison was reluctant to follow advice for a spending campaign which echoed the GFC actions – maybe that is why it started so late – but his plan was so ill-designed that there are hundreds of people in despair because they are at risk of becoming totally destitute.

And those numbers include non-Australian citizens, with no means of leaving Australia, and no government help to keep body and soul together.

The ONLY way we are going to get a decent corruption policy will be through people power and, possibly, civil disobedience.

I will update my regular sign off!

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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A chink of light in the darkness

In a recent Letter to the Editor of the NT News, I mentioned my weekly sessions outside NT Parliament House.

[As an aside, it never ceases to surprise me that most of my letters get published in a Murdoch paper, and it is interesting to see how the resulting complaints about my views on the need for climate change action are slowly reducing, as the reality becomes more and more widely accepted.]

On another contentious issue, Alan Kohler’s Insight in today’s paper (21/10/20) drew attention to the tacit acceptance by international authorities of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) while, in the same article, reporting ‘“I don’t subscribe to MMT,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said last week.”

Anyway – back to the chink of light – our youth!

On session 38 today, I had a visit from a very articulate 20 year old who had noted mention of my sessions and came to see me – expecting a 20 – 30 something year old!

He still stayed, and we had a very lively conversation!

We had a long chat, during which he asked me how I saw us making progress. When I mentioned the need to persuade governments to act, he countered with a plan for people power.

He drew attention to the idea that if everyone with bank accounts with the Big Four, or with superannuation and/or other investments, including shares, in dirty fossil fuel industries, and who wanted change, were to move out into clean investments, the pressure against the fossil fuel entities would be sufficient to completely change the viability of fossil fuels.

That is crudely worded, but I am sure you can see that if shareholders sensed that the winds of change were blowing, they would dis-invest in fossil fuels and – BINGO!

I am sure we overlook the potency of people power – it is the power of many individuals, acting in unison to achieve a common good.

Although not recommended as a perfect model, and I am not a promoter of violence, but the French Revolution worked, because enough people had had enough of being downtrodden and impoverished.

I am not normally a fan of the dirt file mentality but there comes a time when exasperation at people’s ignorance of the deception and downright evil behaviour of those in power has to be highlighted.

Many of us are convinced by science that global warming is really happening, that we must take action on it, but those currently in power appear to have no concern about anything which adversely affects their god – the economy.

Many of us are aware that the longer we wait to take effective action, the less likely it is that rising global temperatures and the resulting and increasingly adverse climate events, will be consistent with a truly acceptable lifestyle for future inhabitants of the planet.

We are, I am sure, all aware that climate disasters to date have done massive damage which is far from having been remedied. And please note – THAT HAS DAMAGED THE ECONOMY!

Those made homeless or having their livelihoods destroyed by last southern summers’ fires are yet to get back on their feet, despite promises from on high!

(I stress the ‘southern summers’ because in the tropics we have the ‘Wet’ – which is not always wet enough to replenish the dams and the groundwater – and the ‘Dry’ – which has been getting both hotter and more humid.)

Does your bank have shares in fossil fuels? What sort of interest rates does it pay? I suspect that for most of them it is next to nothing unless you have really large amounts invested. How about a local credit union? How does it compare?

Many of us have shares in Telstra – suckers! – but if you or your superannuation or pension fund have shares in other investments, do they include fossil fuels?

If we personally cannot be bothered to do our own due diligence, then we are being hypocritical if we complain about others failing to act appropriately.

Perhaps the finance advisers in some of the charity organisations could assist in this one, by doing some research and providing the resulting information to the public.

But – to return to the dirt file – we have all listened to members of the Coalition throw accusation after accusation at the ALP. And we are all resigned to the fact that politics is a dirty game and many politicians are out and out sleazy.

But have you checked this out?

It is a long read, and might have been better constructed, but it reminds us of much that we have – and should not have – forgotten.

Before I close – a reminder: sun and wind and hydro are far from being the only sources of renewable energy. So much of the Australian population live on or near the shore line, yet how much use do we make of tidal power – particularly in the NW of Australia where the tidal range is really significant?

Stop talking about piping water and gas about the continent and start thinking seriously about piping renewable energy!

Start by looking at some of this guy’s ideas and let your imaginations roam freely! And then act to save the only planet we already have!

Please remember – ‘time is of the essence’ is a good legal saying which is very pertinent as we near the end of another year without action!

 

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