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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.

Let’s get religion off the agenda – NOW

The dictionary meaning of ‘to believe’

1 accept that (something) is true, especially without proof.

“the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story”

2 hold (something) as an opinion; think.

“I believe we’ve already met”

I was recently listening to a discussion on radio between members of various religious groups in relation to the latest revision of the proposed Bill to protect the freedom to practice religion.

Hold on!

I know – and you know – that there are much more important issues to be discussing – and so should the government.

Their agenda ignores our best interests and concentrates on keeping their supporters happy while Australia burns.

So, it is clear that our job is to ensure that religion takes a back seat (hopefully, permanently) while the government makes a very late start on guaranteeing the future for our children.

To get the ball rolling, let’s get this pesky subject of religion out in the open and settled, once and for all, and then forget it!

Section 116 of the Australian Constitution states:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. (My emphasis)

Now I could ‘believe’ that the moon is made of green cheese, and you could point out that mankind’s technology has enabled it to land a spaceship on the moon, and the exploration there did not even suggest the existence of any green cheese.

So other people might not agree with my belief but, as I am unlikely to ever go to the moon, that need not stop me from believing that I am right. And we can still all be happy with our own conclusions. Please note that the definition at the beginning shows that lack of proof or acceptable evidence does not inhibit belief.

Many people all around the world believe in the existence of one or more gods who, the people believe, can somehow act to affect the people’s lives. Some of the people even claim to have had experiences which prove to their satisfaction that their beliefs are well-founded.

They believe they have been given directions as to how their gods expect them to behave and some of these directions were recorded centuries ago, in many cases in languages no longer in common use. Over the years there has been much discussion as to the accuracy of the translations and also as to the meanings of the transcripts.

The major monotheistic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and, again over the years, followers of these religions have splintered into multiple sects which frequently disagree violently with each other.

That alone would lead me to have grave doubts as to the values of these religions if, despite their claims to the contrary, they are responsible for so much strife.

In the radio discussion I referred to, there were representatives of different Christian sects, and, in my opinion, the one who spoke from the perspective of the Uniting Church made most sense, suggesting that what we need is a Bill of Rights, which incorporates all human rights – including religion – something most other advanced nations have already achieved.

Because the Australian States have retained certain powers following federation, s 116 could be interpreted as meaning that the states can do what they like about religion but the Commonwealth is to some extent restricted.

And until the issue of same-sex marriage, itself a human rights issue – the Commonwealth was not unduly interfering on religious issues. It had allowed schools and other institutions established by religious organisations to have exemptions from some of the sections of discrimination acts – unwisely, in my view, in a country which is supposed to have a secular government, which implicitly overrules canon law!

Now we get to the nitty-gritty!

Our knowledge of our world, the universe, life on earth, evolution – an endless list – is incomplete, and we are making new discoveries and correcting past misunderstandings every day.

Many Christians believe that everything in their Holy Bible is the word of god and is truth which cannot be denied.

Some of them realise that this cannot be true, because we know the sun does not go around the earth and we have discovered a few other errors as well.

Looking back to my reference as to our knowledge being amended and added to as and when new discoveries are made, then rational thinking says that facts, as stated 2 or 3 thousand years ago, might well be open to revision.

And when it comes to human sexuality, it is only in the last few years that we have been able to understand that variations from binary are a natural phenomenon and members of the LGBTIQ+ community are ‘normal’ human beings whose uniqueness as individuals is no more surprising than is true of skin or hair colour.

Now we have come to the nub of the problem!

It people’s religious beliefs are so rigid that they refuse to accept that the Bible got it wrong, homosexuality is not an abomination, and all human beings have the right to love another without being confined to the traditional male/female bonding, then it is the rational non-religious members of the community who need protection from their bigotry and ignorance.

Let’s be honest!

It is no skin off my nose if my best friend is lesbian and she lives with another lesbian.

As long as she accepts that I am a straight female, then live and let live.

The only exception in this area is in relation to paedophiles.

Why? Because, if they follow their predilections and seek a sexual relationship with a child, they are doing a massive amount of harm, and we must ensure that this be prevented or punished.

All of us, if we wish to live in a harmonious community, must respect the rights and needs of others in a reciprocal way. If you want to follow a religion, just please leave me to live my life in my way.

I know when I studied law a decade or two ago, a Bill of Rights was, and remains, a contentious issue. But the lack of a Bill of Rights is now encouraging our government to concentrate on satisfying the minority who opposed same-sex marriage, to assure them that they will be protected if they speak in a derogatory fashion or refuse to employ an individual who does not conform to their definition of ‘normal’ as regards sexuality.

Look at what the Royal Commission exposed of the damage done by religious paedophiles. Think about the resignation of the headmaster of St Kevin’s College, Melbourne for effectively supporting a paedophile and punishing his victim!

When you hide criminal activity beneath a religious cloak, we are all at risk!

What is it about religion in Australia? In 1957 I was employed to teach maths in the Sacred Heart Grammar School for Girls in Hammersmith, and discussed progress with my classes with the Mother Superior, who was the Head Mistress, despite my being a non-Catholic! I was employed for my academic qualifications and was not involved in any way in religion.

Even Eire is divorcing government from religion more effectively that we seem to be doing!

Get this issue off the drawing board and concentrate on trying to prevent temperatures rising to unlivable levels!

Prime Minister: Please forget about protecting those who practice religion, concentrate on implementing an effective plan to phase out fossil fuels while creating new job opportunities for those who will be displaced, and get the lawyers on to developing a really good Bill of Rights which will ensure that I – as an agnostic – am not at risk from religious bigots!

PS: Much of the above applies to other religious groups who cling on to habits founded generations ago, and no longer valid in the modern world. And when it comes to their recognising equality of the rainbow range of genders – there is a long way to go!

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Political donations: buying votes?

Listening to ABC’s QandA last night (17/02/20), I had a light bulb moment.

When the politicians whom we elect are members of a major party, we elect puppets.

What makes me think that?

In discussing questions concerning donations, Jacqui Lambie drew a direct connection between a donation and the desire of the donor to influence her campaign.

The Labor and Liberal party members, however, knew they received donations but saw no direct connection between the source and their performance.

Why the difference?

(Drum roll, please!!)

(Light bulbs flashing!!)

Because the donations to the major parties go straight into party coffers, to be doled out when and how is deemed appropriate.

Because behind the scenes party apparatchiks have considerable influence on party positions on policy matters. (Why do you think so many people like Phil Gaetjens are political advisers before becoming Public Servants?)

Because Labor and Coalition politicians are told how to vote – that is why those parties have Whips!

I think the Greens have a consensus approach.

I just remembered, there was an interesting situation, I think in the Senate, some months ago when the how to vote message did not reach the Coalition members in time and the matter had to be raised again the next day so they could change to the ‘correct’ intention.

Yes!! My memory is better than I thought! This is the record from 16/10/2018 – the day after the incident!

For anyone who really thought that elected politicians, as individuals, have to examine their brains and their consciences when voting on Bills and motions – relax! They merely follow the Party directions, and any dissent is kept in the party room, to ensure a united front in the House or Chamber.

In reality, the amount of money we spend on bringing politicians to and from Parliament is a total waste. They could just stay in their constituency offices, travel to regional centres, cut ribbons etc and stay in contact with the Party by Skype.

They can get more information that way as to their constituents’ wants and needs and email them back to the relevant (Shadow) Minister’s office.

Meanwhile the Ministers and Shadow Ministers could be in a smaller and cheaper to run building in Canberra, connected to their Party HQs by mobile, and nut out the discussions at a more intimate level.

We have lost trust in politicians because we no longer vote for individuals if we vote for a member of a major party.

They have no choice but to vote on party lines or leave the party – and without the party, and all its influential donors, they lack the funds, at least in most cases, to cover the cost of the campaign.

And because such massive donations are allowed – and reducing them will be fought, tooth and nail by all major parties – it is hard to impossible for an honest candidate, who genuinely cares for the country, and acts with integrity and transparency, to raise sufficient funds to establish a public profile and gain a seat!

As each day goes by, I find it harder and harder to remain optimistic about the future for my great grandchildren!

We do not trust the government which we have ourselves elected.

We are told by Scott Morrison that he ‘believes’ in climate change.

Now if he said he accepts the science on climate change I might be a little happier, but I still would have difficulty in accepting he means what he says.

Why?

Because there is so much planning needed and he has not even started.

Also, because he says he ‘believes’ in Jesus Christ and that is not true.

Because if he did, he would be following Christ’s teachings and that he most definitely does not do!

Once more – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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Acceptance and Action

What is the world coming to!

Even Andrew Bolt – maybe in a somewhat half-hearted way – is showing signs of accepting that he can be wrong, and maybe there is, after all, some truth in this climate change nonsense.

But Andrew – actions speak louder than words.

The knowledge of the long-term effects of climate change have actually been out there for decades, although a good many people remained in ignorance of them, while others found it politic to ignore them.

This article provides a clear picture of the way in which information has been accumulated and is still being updated.

What we also know is that Exxon was aware of the links between global warming and fossil fuels over 40 years ago, but it took that whole 40 years of continuing ‘research‘ before it came clean, and acknowledged the need for action.

Just think – what could have been achieved during that 40 years?

Of those who did know, and who accepted the facts, it was an enormous and largely unsuccessful uphill battle to persuade authorities of the need to take steps to reduce use of fossil fuels, and, despite the continuing research by the oil companies, they not only concealed their findings but they paid for and encouraged agents to spread disinformation.

Why?

To continue amassing profits for as long as possible!

And they encouraged governments to ignore the facts by plenty of sweeteners, including massive donations to political parties.

But some countries have governments which did not turn a deaf ear, and they are well down the path of abandoning fossil fuels. However, their efforts are hampered by too little – if any – action by many countries like China, India, USA, Russia – AND Australia!

If you ever again start believing that you elect people to govern in your best interests, just kick yourself really hard, and remember that we have yet to start action which is already 40 years behind schedule, and that, during that 40 years, the job has become a helluva lot harder than it would have been had we not delayed.

I started using a computer for work in the middle of 1989, when the AARNET (Australian Academic Research Network) was available to Australian academics, and no doubt similar networks in other countries also preceded the World Wide Web.

We now take WWW for granted but do we use it to full effect?

Short answer – NO – otherwise every man and his dog would have known long since that the wool has been being pulled over our eyes in just the same way as it was by the tobacco companies.

I know that I am banging on about an issue which I have already done to death. But that is for good reason.

While Andrew Bolt and his company of climate sceptics might now be recognising the error of their ways, that does not change the picture until they start doing something about it!

Anyone with any influence on governments, must reinforce existing efforts to stop Scott Morrison using a distraction like Covid19 to distract attention from the urgency of the matter.

The Coalition has shown itself to be fixated on the economy – although that has been at the cost of the people who do the dirty work and to the benefit of those who already have more than enough.

Out of the blue – but not without warning – Australians are faced with massive costs for restoring life to something like normal for those whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by fires and floods. Meanwhile the government is muttering that it is not willing to take action on climate change without having some idea what it will cost.

Well – HALLO!!

Did you budget for post-bush-fire and flood restoration?

No – because you were thinking about what you regard as more important issues such as protecting the ability to practice a religion without interference!

Few of us share that concern – we just want to have a life which is not full of misery half the time  because of ill-devised policies like the cashless welfare card (a mega-source of income for its provider), the ‘illegal’ Robodebt and the failure of NDIS to deal as a priority with those who have no support whatsoever.

Let’s face it – global and local corporations have bought out government and dictated its policies and none of them give a s**t about you or me unless we are buying their goods and services.

Saturday 22 February is Climate Crisis: Nation Day of Action, and Climate Action Darwin, together with Extinction Rebellion Darwin, and representatives of other local Climate Action groups will be out there on the street – as will groups all round Australia.

Let’s make sure the government hears that fossil fuels must go and they are way overdue to start planning how to do it as painlessly as possible – not for THEM, but for the people whose jobs and livelihoods will be adversely affected by the changes.

Once more – this is my 2020 new Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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The 3 Cs: Collusion, Corruption and the Coalition

Don’t get me wrong.

I do not think for one moment that the Coalition parties are the only political parties in Australia which lack integrity, transparency and a desire to benefit the electors more than themselves.

However, on Thursday 13/02/20, during the Senate inquiry into the sports grant awards, the following, fairly lengthy, exchange, as reported in Crikey Daily on Friday 14/02/20, took place between Senator Abetz and Brian Boyd, an Executive Director in the Auditor General’s Office:

‘SENATOR ERIC ABETZ (Liberal Senator for Tasmania): ” … I seek to clarify, you did find that no ineligible project or application was funded?”

BRIAN BOYD: “No Senator that’s not what we found. So if you go to the start of chapter three, which is the chapter on assessment, the finding there was ‘ineligible applications were identified and no applications assessed as ineligible were awarded grant funding’.

“So that’s the Sport Australia eligibility assessment process. What then happened subsequently was there’s applications, late applications were taken on board, which were ineligible under the guidelines.

“Amendments were made for existing applications which were ineligible under the guidelines and they were funded.

“But at the time — this relates to the Sport Australia assessment process. Sport Australia removed from its list those assessed as ineligible — that’s what that finding is.

“Subsequent to that there were the five new applications, the four amended applications. And then because things took longer — because you are now running two rounds, rather than three, and funding agreements are in place — you had eight projects where, according to the details provided by the proponent, the project had been completed before the funding grant was signed. They’re ineligible under the program.

“And there were 270 something where the project had started before the funding agreement was signed, which is also ineligible under the program. So we get to around 43% of those which were awarded funding, by the time the funding agreement signed, were ineligible.”’

It will be really interesting in due course to actually read in full what is revealed to the Senate Inquiry concerning the extent of communication between the PM’s office and the Sports Minister and the inquiry by Phil Gaetjens. The latter has clearly been significantly paraphrased by the PM in reporting the findings to Parliament.

We already know that this is not the first time that slush funding for sporting bodies in the run up to an election has been abused. Ros Kelly, the 1993 Labor Sports Minister was forced out of office in 1994 and later resigned from Parliament altogether.

First as a university lecturer and later as a lawyer, I have served on three different University Human Research Ethics Committees, which have really strict guidelines. Those guidelines apply whether the research is medical – where they are even stricter – or in social science areas but still collecting date from human beings. In the veterinary sciences there are similar research ethics committees.

As a lawyer, a compulsory unit of study is ethics and I doubt that is the only discipline area to which this applies. Most professions have requirements regarding continuous reaccreditation, as I know from firsthand experience both as a lawyer and as a mediator, and most also have disciplinary bodies with the power to limit or prevent practice by a member of that profession.

Yet when it comes to politics – it is horribly clear that anything goes!

Thus we have to drag a government, kicking and screaming, to a Royal Commission, when it comes to issues like banking and aged care, where poor regulation and supervision can be literally a life and death situation and where the terms of reference seldom fully encompass the needs for enquiry and the following up is seldom effected satisfactorily.

Why?

Because politicians of most flavours receive party donations on a significant scale which discourages them from being too critical to the donors.

Why else did we wait so long for smoking to be curtailed?

Why else are we still waiting for action on phasing out fossil fuels?

And what is the background of most politicians?

Once upon a time, politicians had a wide variety of backgrounds, and usually some work-life experience before entering politics. Nowadays we still have a significant number of lawyers – which is a mixed blessing! – but are represented mainly by political apparatchiks who have spent most of their adult lives to date in a political party environment.

On the pretext that they have nobly abandoned a lucrative career in order to work for the common good, they vote themselves generous-to-a-fault superannuation schemes which the average working person could only dream of and have generous allowances, claims for which depend on their integrity.

I am leaving out a lot of detail here, because most of us who ever stop to look closely at politics know only too well that the balance between public duty and personal benefit leaves none of them short changed.

So – where are we?

Looking back over the last few years, I would sum it up like this:

We have a prime Minister who is not interested in honesty, does not seek the best for the Australian people, and has a single focus which is keeping his party – and himself – in power.

Integrity? MIA.

Transparency? MIA.

Suitability for office? Absolutely none!

Once more – this is my 2020 new Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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Local solutions for global problems

The world is in a mess, which is getting worse as each day goes by. In Australia, recent fires and inundations (just as predicted by the climate scientists our governments choose to ignore!) should be a call to effective action.

I live in Darwin, where the memory of Cyclone Tracy is a constant reminder of our greatest threat from the climate. We are sparsely populated, have little industry and are rapidly becoming a near-bankrupt basket case.

Yet we are ignoring opportunities offered by existing transportation services and abundant sunshine.

One of the contributory problems to the world’s mess is a massive level of pollution due to inadequate recycling.

I am sure I am merely repeating an idea which I have sought to promote before, but I still think it is worth repeating, because it just might catch someone’s eye and become an ‘AHA!!!’ moment!

The NT could become the recycling centre of – not just Australia but – Oceania!

Many materials can already be recycled, paper and glass being the most obvious, but the rare earths used in modern technology clearly cry out as needing recycling, and plastics must be either phased out or recycled if we are not to destroy our marine ecology.

Many metals can be, and already are being, very usefully recycled and we need to be alert to the fact that planning needs to take care not to design for short term use using materials which cannot be recycled effectively.

The Port in Darwin provides an entry and exit point for materials to be recycled and shipped out to coastal and offshore locations, while the Ghan, running from Darwin to Adelaide, provides an alternative overland route for these purposes.

And as for energy sources – we already have plans in train for a massive solar farm which will export electricity to Singapore, while we have sunshine going to waste when it comes to powering the recycling industry. South Australia has set the gold standard – sorry, ScoMo, they were not chasing a dream! – when it comes to renewable energy and battery storage, and a glance through the Twitter account of Mike Hudema will open your eyes to the incredible number of ways in which renewable energy can be generated, in addition to solar panels, solar thermal and hydro.

If we do not think outside the box, and continue to ignore the information from the climate scientists, we run the risk of committing genocide. We cannot afford to lose our moral compass.

What is your plan for action by your State?

People are already dying from climate disasters and pandemics – which the cynical will say is nature’s way to cope with over-population.

But most of us have young family members for whom we wish the best in the future – but their lives will only remain viable if we act – NOW!

We have pretty much reached the point where we have no choices left.

People power is our last resort and you can join Extinction Rebellion wherever you are.

Not every country has its government’s and court’s hands as effectively tied as does Australia, with its disastrously cosy relationship with the fossil fuel lobby. 

We are all selfish to some degree, as well as having our serious biases.

But we are all citizens of the world and everything we do affects others.

Please watch this video.

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

Will you join me and get out on the streets and tell those whom we rashly elected that they need to go because they are not governing for us!

The clock is ticking.

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Deaf, Dumb and Stupid

Last night’s ABC Q & A program (10/02/20) was, IMHO, brilliant!

It highlighted the extent to which intelligent people are fully aware of the problems we face as a result of climate change, which is finally being openly recognised as being anthropogenic.

The speakers – whether the questioners or the panel – demonstrated that we have solutions which, if put in train, might give our grandchildren a hope of a future, and they showed acute awareness that much more could be done, and sooner, if we did not have a government paralysed by the fear of losing popular support in (to them) key areas of the political landscape.

I find it positively nauseating that a significant number of our elected leaders can allow their personal and political affiliations and financial interests to override their stated purpose of governing for the benefit of the country, that they can pervert the government’s policies to their own ends – and in so doing, breach their oath of office.

The fact that they are – through general ignorance – supported by an also significant number of the electorate is no excuse for ignoring the fact that their role is to lead – particularly in a situation like the current emergency.

First the drought.

Then the fires.

Now the floods.

Plus, I guess the coronavirus comes into the category of pestilence.

Maybe the locusts are lining up to complete the catalogue of disasters on a truly Biblical scale.

Did Josh Frydenberg take all these disasters into account in drawing up his budget? After all, following decades of warnings, he has no excuse for not realising that these eventualities were becoming increasingly likely – if not absolute certainties!

No country in the world can afford not to reduce emissions. The fact that some major culprits are lagging behind does not excuse the rest of us from facing up to the truth and actually makes it even more necessary for us to put our shoulders to the wheel.

The ABC is often criticised as being run by a bunch of lefties.

If being aware of problems adversely affecting people’s lives, and seeking to expose them and stimulate effective action, makes you a leftie – then thank goodness they are stepping up to the plate!

Most State and Territory governments are more advanced in their forward planning than is the Federal government.

Our present Prime Minister shows a complete lack of understanding of how to compromise and work with others for the benefit of all.

To fail to recognise an emergency and stand back, waiting to be asked to give a hand would be laughable – if it were not tragic.

When he, not exactly speedily, returned from Hawaii he seemed to feel that we had felt lost without him and would be relieved by his presence.

In truth, the fact of the matter was well summed up in the slogan he created – “Where the bloody hell are you?” in the context of his having gone AWOL! His very absence, when the bush fires were already blazing before he left, shows his inability to recognise that bearing high office means putting duty before personal matters.

When we are led by a person who sees his mission in life to be a leader – without the first idea of what the role of a leader is – then disaster is inevitable. And in the present circumstances, this is the last thing we need.

Is it possible to get the idea into his opinionated skull that time is of the essence and urgent action is the only priority?

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

The clock is ticking.

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The despair of having a Morrison government

The Coalition took very few policies to the last election – which left them plenty of space to use in vilifying the ALP’s long list of policies, using lies and misinterpretations as weapons.

And, to be honest, the ALP did a very poor job of explaining their really complex policies, correcting the lies and adjusting to valid criticism on the so-called ‘retirees’ tax’.

But one very personal undertaking by ScoMo was to tackle suicide.

True – he has put in train action relating to veterans, because there has been very effective – and necessary – lobbying from distressed relatives of family members of veterans. How well his plan will address the issue is another story, but he is still ignoring, for example, the high level of youth suicide, particularly in Aboriginal communities.

Throughout his ministerial career, whichever portfolio might have been his responsibility, one thing ScoMo has demonstrated, in spades, has been a total lack of compassion and empathy. Which reinforces the fact that his ‘religion’ is a cult, so clearly unrelated to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Bible, as to make it a perversion to call it Christianity.

But suicide in the general public is set to rise because of the despair that follows living through the cataclysmic events of recent months, particularly in the almost certain knowledge that they might just be the beginning of a sequence of similar events.

The government has over-emphasised the importance of the economy during its time in office, making unfounded claims as to its superiority over Labor in managing the finances, yet clearly without factoring into their planning the costs of dealing with disasters on the current scale.

They had been warned.

Yes – the efforts of volunteer firefighters have been incredible, and the funds donated by the community to go to those volunteer services’ needs, and to help the victims of the fires, has also been magnificent.

But why the bloody hell are we paying taxes – a horrifying amount of which disappears into politicians’ pockets – when those in charge forward plan so woefully?

They simply refuse to accept scientific evidence in an amazingly ignorant way.

I find it beyond puzzling that supposedly intelligent, educated people can accept the amazing advances in one specialist branch of science – medicine – while refusing to accept the results of rigorous research and modelling by climate scientists. Particularly when predictions, based on rigorous modelling and made decades ago, are proving to be spot on!

I appreciate that the fossil fuel lobby donate generously to party funds, but the government is elected for the benefit of the population not the political parties. Letting money persuade them to close their minds to important knowledge is criminal.

More than 30 years ago, in order to be a driving instructor in the Schools Driver Education program, I undertook a defensive driving course. We were taught that accidents do not happen, because the essence of safe driving is anticipation. What we refer to as ‘accidents’ are inevitable outcomes of failure to be observant, and to anticipate the possibility that other drivers will not behave as might normally be expected.

And that is a brilliant rule in life in general! Totally necessary when we are dealing with events over which we have limited control – as is the case with climate, when we have been warned that increasing adverse weather events are most certainly going to result because of increasing emissions from the use of fossil fuels.

The Coalition continues on the path of claiming, quite falsely, that its policies are adequate to meet the very minimal goals in emission reductions it has undertaken. Our emissions are not reducing fast enough to meet those goals and the fact the reports on those results are invariably late, and issued in ways that often escape attention, simply underlines the fact that the government is deliberately lying.

We have a Constitution which was written to define the particular areas of responsibility of the States and the Federal government, and it was written at a time when technology was in its infancy. It has no Human Rights provisions, and it has no clauses to enable action on corruption and malfeasance by governments while the means of challenging legislation through the High Court are cumbersome.

We are currently stuck with a lying, corrupt government. It refuses to act in our best interests – and when more than 50% of the population is crying out for action on climate change and yet the government refuses to listen, we have limited ways of forcing the government to act – or go!

In one or two periods in my life, I seriously considered suicide. I could not think of a fail-safe method which would ensure that I would not end up alive but disabled and I also realised how selfish such an act would be in my particular circumstances because of the people who would be affected.

But for an increasing number of people for whom the prospect of surviving in viable conditions seems totally remote, it is a different story. And we have a government which is oblivious to their extreme distress and desperate need.

If ScoMo was sincere about reducing suicide, he needs to appoint a national, non-partisan government which includes non-political experts in charge of relevant areas who accept the reality of the climate emergency and who will, as a matter of urgency, institute policies to step back from use and export of fossil fuels and work with like-minded governments to assist countries like India to significantly speed up emission reduction.

He won’t, of course. He has achieved his dream of supreme power over this country, is best mates with a similarly obnoxious leader in POTUS, and doesn’t give a fig about the fate of those affected by his selfish ignorance.

The result of the last election was not a miracle. It was an inevitable disaster in a country which struggles to accept truth.

It is beyond frustrating to know that, by letting off steam in order to reduce the pressure which I feel, whatever I write or say is not going to affect the actions of those who are destroying lives and livelihoods.

I still feel that if enough of us feel the same and are prepared to march, lobby, demonstrate through acts of civil disobedience and use every available method to make the politicians listen, we just might change minds. But – will it be in time?

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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Mission launched

Today, Extinction Rebellion Darwin commenced peaceful protest at the NT Government’s agreement to allow fracking to commence in the NT!

We are as yet a fledgling group, from which 2 of us were free from other commitments and able to turn up for what is to become a weekly event outside the NT Parliament.

We also are planning to join the National Day of Action on Saturday 22 February.

It was fairly quiet, because a major NT event today was the funeral of a former Chief Minister, Ian Tuxworth, so traffic to and from Parliament was limited, but next week should see more traffic as Parliament will be in session.

We were heartened by the number of those who did pass by and who gave us the thumbs up. Some of them actually stopped to chat and we ended our session with a long discussion with a young Englishman on a working holiday.

Our talk really highlighted the complexity of the situation into which the world has drifted, because misinformation and apathy have clearly created an enormous task – I hesitate to say impossible – for world leaders.

Over-population is an issue which has long needed more serious consideration. Here our conversation touched on the malign influence of religion over issues like contraception, abortion and the status of women. This is clearly a massive problem in countries where a particular religion is officially recognised, whether it be Islam or Christianity, but Australia pays too much attention to religious mores and not enough to commonsense requirements.

At least we are a fraction better than the South American countries where a woman can be sent to prison for having a miscarriage!

We talked of countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia where rising sea levels may well trigger mass migration – which is unlikely to be welcomed by developed nations!

Necessarily we touched on fossil fuels and the urgent need to restrict dependence on them, developing effective renewable sources of energy.

Pollution could not be ignored, particularly in the context of its adverse impact on marine life.

We talked of the needs of some countries, like the UK, to import food, while there will be food shortages in other areas, particularly Africa – while major corporations require excess food to be dumped to maintain profits.

And this in turn triggered the source of so many problems – the extent to which the corporate world dominates national policy making and the fundamental principle of greed discourages help for those in desperate need of help for a multitude of very ‘valid’ (in hip pocket terms!) reasons.

I was left feeling simultaneously stimulated and depressed!

So many problems and so few solutions.

I cited the UK WWII situation, where a non-partisan National government, well supported by experts, was set up to deal with the war effort. For a whole variety of reasons, the world changed for UK citizens, despite winning the war, but at least, as a nation, they survived.

Unfortunately, in developed countries, too few politicians in ‘normal’ circumstances have any incentive to look at problems on a global scale or to consider actions which require them to cede power to others.

I have long realised that mankind is the world’s most dangerous predator.

I now fear that we are liable to self-destruct – and only hope that we do so soon enough to leave enough sustainable habitat for the rest of the world’s life forms which survive the apocalypse.

The problem is of our own making.

Governments bleat on about the economy as if mankind’s sole role in is to act as worker ants, nurturing the Queen Bee ECONOMY!

What use is money in an off-shore haven when your house is burning down above your head?

Money was invented as a medium of an exchange of goods and services when direct barter was too clumsy.

Is having enough money to more than satisfy your needs really so important that you are prepared for others to die for you to satisfy your greed for power and status?

Please will someone suggest some means of our ridding ourselves of a selfish, thoughtless, greedy, policy-less, ignorant collection of politicians, elected by stupid us!

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Between the devil and the deep blue sea

First – let’s settle one matter for once and for all.

There is no debate about climate change.

The scientists – whom we trust on virtually every other issue (so why not this one? – more on that later) – have told us it is real, they have told us why it is happening, they have told us what we need to do and they have told us what will most likely happen if we fail to take action.

From there it should be simple – but necessarily painful, because it means we have a lot of lifestyle adjustment to undertake in very short order.

Now – to why so many are refusing to accept the scientists’ findings.

Greed! Pure and unadulterated greed!

The fossil fuel companies – and that means the millions of individuals who have shares in those companies as well as their CEOs and directors – have been making massive profits from ever-expanding businesses, even after allowing for the significant amounts they have spent to misinform the public about the damage for which their product is responsible.

Coal mining, drilling for gas and fracking have all created major problems on the way by devastating landscapes, polluting air, land and water and – via black lung and mesothelioma, etc – killing some of those involved in the processes. They have employed fewer and fewer people as automation has taken over and affected more and more as the emissions from their products have released increasing quantities into the global atmosphere.

Wherever Australian coal is burned, the greenhouse gases emitted pollute the global atmosphere.

The scientists have described clearly the effects of those emissions on global warming.

They have detailed the influence on climate which follows, how this changes weather patterns, producing prolonged drought which dries out the terrain to an extreme extent, meaning that fires are more intense and more likely than has been the case in the past.

Anyone with access to the internet can find out for themselves exactly what the relevant scientists are arguing and can fact check dubious claims.

But at the same time as the climate scientists are pleading with governments to act on the issue, the fossil fuel lobby is pouring money into political party funds to encourage the decision makers to ignore the scientists’ arguments and open up more coal mines, frack new areas and drill for oil in pristine marine environments.

And the decision makers are choosing to accept the bribes and ignore their duty to govern for the benefit of the electorate.

The level of corruption in government has reached astounding levels. The Sports Grants rort has left many people convinced that the former Sports Minister has taken the fall for the Coalition cabinet. There are indications that the Prime Minister’s office was complicit in the method used by the Minister to apportion the funds, but by choosing the ‘conflict of interest’ issue, they have thrown Bridget McKenzie under the bus and saved their own skins.

You might like to Fact Check the following post I read on Twitter today (04/02/20):

 

Why is the Prime Minister so pig-headed in his refusal to even consider the submissions from the climate scientists?

Perhaps the inept comment last night on Q and A by Jim Molan “I’m not relying on evidence” (for climate change) says it all. The whole rotten lot of them are locked into a ‘belief’ that they can safely ignore the scientists because if they do so the money will keep rolling in! And tomorrow is another day!

Today the PM has announced a Royal Commission into the bush fires – a total waste of time and money because the ‘findings’ are already in the public arena and the almost certain recommendations have already been ignored!

What has been increasingly evident over recent years – certainly since John Howard was in office – is that being in government is not sought after for any socially responsible reason but purely for self- aggrandisement. (Like wanting to be the President of the USA – which once was the dream of all American males but is now the purview of billionaires!)

Many had high hopes with Rudd, but his micro-managing, fingers on every issue, no consultation approach was destructive. Gillard, despite all the brick bats thrown at her, probably achieved more that any other recent PM, but the constant undermining from her own party, let alone Abbott’s disgusting and continuous attacks on her, cut short a productive period of government. Since then it has been all downhill, with every leader being more interested in being Prime Minister than in looking after the needs of the country.

And at this moment, the country’s greatest need is a leader who accepts the facts of climate change and has the courage to create a non-partisan, National government to take the steps necessary to massively reduce the rate of emissions, and with it the rate of temperature rises.

And – NO – Australia cannot achieve a favourable outcome on its own but it can join the other countries which are already making far greater efforts then we are.

And – NO – we cannot undo the damage which we have allowed to happen but we can to some, possibly significant, degree limit the extent of further damage.

You never know what you can achieve until you try – but you will achieve nothing by failing to try!

And what we need to try in the immediate future is a civil disobedience campaign until this corrupt government is forced out of office!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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Make a friend of change

For many people, change is a threat, because it means you have to abandon comfortable habits and learn to live with unfamiliar ones.

For others it is a challenge which many feel ill-equipped to manage and for many who have lost property and livelihoods, as in the recent catastrophic bush fires, it can be traumatic.

But change is an inevitable feature of life, and if we embrace it, rather than shun it, we can actually find the challenge is truly beneficial.

I was 3 years old when WWII broke out in 1939. We were enjoying a late summer holiday in the Isle of Wight, and within a very short time after we returned home, the car was laid up in the garage, not to be driven again until 1946!

For those who are unfamiliar with the UK, relative to its population size, the country is too small to provide for all everyday needs. The extent to which food, raw materials and fuel is imported is significant, and both their import and the export of manufactured products is necessarily by sea.

Not much of an option when you are at war with a country which is besieging your waters with U-boats and gunships.

We imported much of our beef from Argentina, lamb from Australia and New Zealand – as well as butter and cheese and some moderate climate fruits like apples and pears, while tropical fruits, plus tomatoes came largely from more exotic lands which were generally current or former parts of the British Empire.

Cotton for the mills in Lancashire came largely from India, as did tea, and, while coffee was not yet as common a beverage as it is nowadays, the coffee beans were definitely imported.

Wool for the Yorkshire mills was partly homegrown but well supplemented from Antipodean sheep.

In consequence, with the high seas in turmoil, our manufacturing efforts were largely redirected to the war effort, women took the place of men in the factories, we all tightened our belts and learned to live with food rationing, clothing coupons and general shortages.

Civilians could not buy petrol for personal travel use and, even as restriction eased at the end of the war, it was rationed.

Throughout the war, apart from the bottles of fresh milk delivered to schools for daily consumption, both milk and eggs were largely presented as a dried product. And while the war might have been declared over in 1945, we continued to have supplies limited by rationing right up to 1951.

I remember my wardrobe was limited to school uniform, something old to change into after school, to help the uniform last longer, and something good to wear to church on Sundays – or to such other special occasion which might arise.

If, as children, we had a growing spurt, and out-grew our uniform, we had to be measured up to prove the fact before we could ger extra clothing coupons

Parties, even birthday parties, were incredibly rare because you could not save up enough food coupons to cater for too many visitors.

Believe it or not, this has its positive aspect! Because such events were rate and required careful planning, we often knew about them weeks or months in advance and the excitement derived from anticipation was often greater than the enjoyment of the event itself!

We used to shop at the same dairy/grocery store every week, and once in a while the owner, if it was quiet in the shop, would pull out from under the counter a jar of something rarely available, like, say, strawberry jam, and ask my mother “Would you like one of these Mrs Melville?” (Did you know that was where the “under the counter” phrase originated?)

I think many shortages were less in country areas, where the farmers ran sheep and cows as well as keeping chickens and ducks, while growing crops like wheat, hay and potatoes for sale or for stock feed. They were clearly able to provide much of their own food requirements and sell the surplus.

In 1947, we spent 3 weeks of our summer holiday in rented rooms in a farmhouse in North Wales. It was a revelation! The first time we went to the village store, my mother spotted jars of jam and marmalade in full sight on the display shelves and, very tentatively, asked if she could have a jar of marmalade. With a lovely lilting Welsh accent, the shopkeeper said “Of course, my dear! Have as many as you want!”

Because my sister had been very ill and our doctor recommended that she have a holiday away from city life with unlimited fresh air (we still burned coal in open fires in those days, hence the famous smogs!) we had been able to get the necessary extra petrol coupons to enable us to make the trip.

In those days, of course, there was no television, because of food rationing, all cafes were closed and few hotels were operating, so eating out was not an option. On a long journey you took your own food and drink to picnic on. You also had to make your own entertainment and my siblings and I all learned to play the piano.

While this may all sound very austere, and my parents would have been very conscious of the loss of the amenities to which they had been accustomed, for me it was all ‘normal’ as it was all I had ever known – although my older brother and sister might have noticed the changes more than I did.

We lived in a dormitory suburb to the west of London about 8 km closer to London than then London Airport – now Heathrow. The famous English highwayman Dick Turpin reportedly rode his equally famous horse Black Beth on Hounslow Heath long before we learned, in 1940, to distinguish between the sound of an RAF plane engine and a Messerschmitt while the Battle of Britain was fought overhead.

The Doodlebugs came later and the distinctive sound associated with them was the silence when the engine cut out, and in that ensuing silence, we tried to work out how far from our location it would drop like a stone.

One I remember very clearly because we had all been in the back garden when it droned over. We rushed indoors, shutting behind us the back door – which opened inwards. When the blast hit us, it blew the door open and shook the house. I would have been 8 or 9 then.

I am waffling on with these old memories because I am trying to make the point that having to make drastic changes to our lifestyle because we are at war is not all bad news.

We know we have to make adjustments in order to cope with significantly changed conditions.

And it is totally relevant to refer to wartime, because we are now at war – at least nature has declared was on us because we stupidly ignored all the warnings and carried on the good life.

Now we must scramble to make up for lost time, but if you look up Mike Hudema on Twitter, you will find a never-ending catalogue of inventions which will enable us to generate renewable energy and collect pure water from the atmosphere – two necessary adjuncts of a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. All we have to do is put these ideas into production – and there is a source of employment waiting to happen.

Those of us who have been able to have rooftop solar for electricity supply know that the capital outlay is quite rapidly recouped.

For many of us, growing our own vegetables and herbs in the garden or in pots on the balcony is viable. And there is something very satisfying about our connection with the planet in these pursuits.

If we had a halfway intelligent government, all these things and more would already be underway.

Parents are often far from popular with their children because they limit the child’s freedom by enforcing discipline. But once the children have matured to the point that they understand what underlay the discipline, they appreciate the love and care behind it.

In the same way, a government which actually cares about the future of the population, can pass laws that cause grumbles and groans, but when it can be seen that the restrictions on waste and pollution and the promotion of protection of the environment and all other living creatures are in fact beneficial, then the grumbles die down.

If we do not now commence serious action to reduce emissions, as well as limiting population growth, and do all that is necessary to prevent inexorable global warming, then life on this – our only Planet – will become unbearable.

I end as always – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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The value of a life

As soon as people start talking seriously about taking action on the Climate Emergency, an early question is “How much will it cost?”

I will come later to what I assess is the correct answer, but first, let us examine the question.

We have, for a considerable time now, been brain-washed into a frame of mind that if we can be convinced that the economy is doing well, then everything in the garden is lovely.

For whom?

For the families and pensioners living below the poverty line?

For the young people, kicked out of home and living on the streets?

For the young, mainly Aboriginal, children with FASD?

For the young people who cannot find any work other than low-paid casual work?

For the adults over 55 years old who have been made redundant and have to scrape a living on Newstart?

Wow! That adds up to a lot of people for whom the garden is far from lovely and for whom a Coalition government seems to have nothing but contempt.

And I have not even mentioned the NDIS clients still waiting for a package which might alleviate at least some of the disadvantage under which they labour.

Nor have I mentioned the elderly people in for-profit aged care accommodation who often endure appalling treatment and conditions in their final years of existence.

So – if a group of well-paid politicians, CEOs and senior executives are laughing all the way to the bank (Which Bank? – don’t ask!), does that really mean all is well in the world?

What is a life worth?

Is there an answer to that question that can be justified in any way?

Why, in fact, do we feel that money is ever an appropriate way to measure ‘worth’?

What do we mean by quality of life?

So – back to the original, unanswered question in relation to action on the very real climate emergency – “How much will it cost?”

I suggest the best and most accurate answer is “It will cost enormously much less than would failing to take action.”

And if that answer is queried, you ask the questioner “How much have the still continuing bush fires cost in terms of current to date and future losses? Can you quantify that yet, before the fires have even died down for this season? And can you guarantee there will be no more disastrous events?”

I am disgusted with the behaviour of the most influential politicians who refuse to bite the bullet and accept that

  • we are effectively at war with the climate
  • fighting a war has a cost which may mean that people will have to adjust their lifestyles in order to ensure their descendants have a halfway decent life and
  • politicians must sell unpopular policies in order to ensure a future on this planet for which we have shown so little regard.

Greta Thunberg – being a high-functioning autistic person – has the ability to examine evidence forensically and reach logical conclusions. And expert scientists have provided abundant evidence on the climate emergency!

Politicians are surrounded by political advisers, whose role is to massage the ego of the politician and ensure that they succeed in being re-elected, and this insulates the politician from reality – particularly when the reality is far from pleasant!

We can none of us predict accurately exactly how the future will pan out. But we ignore advice from experts at our peril!

At present, in Australia, we have issue upon issue piling up, to be dealt with efficiently and simultaneously.

Climate change, linked to which the disastrous bush fires demand immediate but well-thought out action; the growing coronavirus pandemic; international issues which are increasing tensions among trading nations – the list goes on!

Are our current elected politicians up to a job which requires all-hands-on-deck and consensus over the essential aims?

In a crisis situation, expert advice must be heeded and politics banished until the crisis is resolved. Is anyone asking the right questions and are the people answering them properly equipped to provide appropriate answers?

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Politicising the Public Service: Nobody does it better than the LNP

As an observer, I am becoming convinced that current government ineptitude is the price we are paying for the politicisation of the Australian Public Service (APS).

Just stop a moment and reconsider those three words.

The APS is there to serve the Australian public!

By reducing staff in the APS, appointing politically oriented (Department Secretaries) Heads of Departments, employing numerous political advisers and paying massive sums for reports prepared by wealthy firms of consultants (which also helped the banks hone their tainted policies and audit their books – a clear conflict of interest!), transparency, consistency and honesty in government have all fallen by the wayside, while politics dominate policy to an unhealthy extent.

What does it say about the integrity of the consultants when their substantial income is dependent on giving welcome advice?

I appreciate that “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” portrayed the picture of politicians being manipulated by well-established senior public servants, yet surely, in the interests of the public, in whose service they are employed, that is actually their job! To protect the public from the extremes of politics!

Just ask yourself, how often have you heard Coalition politicians tell you how hard they are working to put things right after Labor messed things up?

And when did Labor last have a chance to mess things up?

And how big was our debt in 2013?

And how big is it now?

And how has Labor managed to be responsible for the continuous worsening of our economic situation?

And is not the Coalition making Labor the fall guy for their own incompetence?

And don’t stop at incompetence!

Then Sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie, was warned that her involvement in assessing the applications for the Sports Funds grants was inappropriate. Clearly her choices were driven by political expediency and the merit of applications was totally ignored, which – in case it needs to be spelt out – is C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N!

The whole point of the Public Service it to give advice to current Ministers on policy choices made for the benefit of the public.

Our politicians have turned that idea on its head and they now only seek the advice which benefits them! They tell us how hard they work on our behalf but – Boy! Do we pay for it!

We have a former political adviser investigating whether Minister McKenzie broke the rules government ministerial conduct.

If the verdict turns out to be “Guilty” it would be a most unexpected breath of fresh air!

And I am not barracking for Labor, here. They are as guilty as the Coalition on many issues – the most egregious being the case of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – two honest and worthwhile individuals whose whole careers have been destroyed because of corruption on both sides of politics.

I am currently torn in two between wanting some miracle to occur, so that the nations of the world cooperate in fighting global warming, while, at the back of my mind, a little voice is telling me that mankind, with its infinite cruelty and greed, taking all and giving little back, deserves to be wiped off the face of the earth and the sooner, the better!

And, ironically – those most loudly professing some sort of religious beliefs seem to be those showing the lowest levels of integrity while demanding protection for their religious rights! Let’s just hope that the Catholic church ceases recruiting altar boys!

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Time for action

Recently, a friend of mine had problems with his AIMN subscription, but when I later asked if it was sorted out, he responded that he was thinking about cancelling it, because all the writers were preaching to the converted.

And with a few notable exceptions – in the case of some of those who leave ignorant comments – he is right.

And I know only too well the frustration he feels, and which I share – that so many of us care about the world’s future and are confident that we know what governments should be doing – while they deny the issues even merit discussion!

Kaye Lee wrote about her despair at being expected to be proud of being Australian. It rang so true for me but I have double trouble on that one!

I have dual British/Australian citizenship, and the older I get and the more I see of the damage done to so much of the world by English colonisation, I am not proud of my inheritance from that source, either.

Other recent articles have been informative rather than expressing opinions, detailing facts that should be keeping our leaders awake at night.

Schools are back in the immediate future but for how much longer can we rely on our children marching for climate, only to be rubbished by so-called adults with dollar signs for eyes?

It is time!

It is time for us – every single one of us – to be out there, on strike if necessary. Filling the streets and telling our ignorant politicians they have got to shape up or go!

And we need to stay out there until those who are supposed to be leading us start to listen to the experts and seek their advice.

Every day that passes puts more emissions into the atmosphere than the day before.

We have rampant population growth, we have out of control pollution, we have corrupt political leaders who don’t give a damn about us as long as they can milk the system – preferably without being found out, but even then, in the certain knowledge that their comrades in arms will cover up for them.

Global corporations call the tunes and governments just say; “Yes Sir!”

We are saying the same things, over and over and over and nothing is changing.

We cannot make other countries take action – although many of them are doing a damned sight more than we are – but we cannot blame them for not doing so if we are not taking action ourselves.

SO!!

We must force change in the attitudes of our politicians!

Civil disobedience is the only way to go now or we will be saying the same thing while the elements explode around us.

STOP asking – “How much will it cost?”

START telling them “We cannot afford the cost – in lives, livelihoods and property – of failing to take action!”

We have the knowledge of a massive variety of sources of renewable energy.

Some of us have experienced having to put normal life on hold while we deal with a life-threatening emergency and we know it can be done.

We are sick to death of one-upmanship in politics and we need and want leaders who are prepared to listen to the experts and let them provide the necessary policies.

Without action in the very near future, we might just as well cut our throats now, because if we continue on our present path, we are going to find existence becomes unbearable.

If Greta Thunberg can work it out and we ignore the message, how can we face our grandchildren?

Climate change is influencing the elements to present us with extreme and devastating weather events and the prolonged drought and the ferocious bush fires are the entrée!

Out rivers are running dry while scarce pure spring-water is being bottled from the few remaining untainted sources to sell for profit while people in remote areas cannot even shower regularly!

How sick can we get!

We have witnessed heroism from our firefighters on an unprecedented scale but we have a long way to go before we all recover and we cannot take their efforts for granted the way that our useless PM is doing.

Let us make a commitment.

Choose a weekday when we can all walk out of work and home and fill the streets for at least 2 hours to demand action.

Every week until we succeed.

Talk gets us nowhere.

Violent action gets us to the wrong place.

Inaction dooms us.

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

Can we all commit?

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Cyclone Tracy: a disaster in another time

It is just over 45 years since Cyclone Tracy virtually destroyed Darwin. It was the event which put Darwin on the map for many Australians and the place looked like it had been hit by an atomic bomb!

I am writing from memory and others who experienced the event may have very different recollections. Some of my memories may not be 100% accurate, but I am recounting a picture from a disaster zone.

My family was in many ways very fortunate. We lived in a high-set house, of a type of which many fared very badly. But it was very well constructed, and, apart from some broken windows, we only lost most of the corrugated iron from the roof, while the ceilings managed to remain in situ, sagging in some places. Although it was very wet inside, we actually lost very little, but we heard harrowing tales from friends and acquaintances whose houses has disintegrated around them while all their possessions were scattered to the winds.

Remarkably few people lost their lives and quite a few of those who did, died out at sea. We had invited some of the crew from a ship in the harbour to join us for Christmas dinner, but the ship and all aboard her were lost at sea and only found years later.

Our older two children, who were both under 12, and so still eligible for a cheaper air fare, had flown to England to stay with family over Christmas while their 7-year old brother stayed home in Darwin, on a promise to make the same Christmas holiday trip, in his case solo, when he was 11.

When light broke through the following morning it was to a world where all traces of green seemed to have disappeared. Leaves and palm fronds had been stripped from the trees and the grass was hidden by debris.

But, frightening as the cyclone had been and devastating as was its aftermath, it could not begin to compare with the horrors of being surrounded by fire, as experienced in recent times by so many Australians.

This occurred before the NT was granted self-government, so we were the responsibility of the Federal government.

We had no power for days and no running water. This happened before mobile phones were an item, but there was the odd landline round Darwin which somehow stayed connected – and whose owner received an astonishing bill from then Telecom weeks later, after the phone had been well used by those who found it and shared the knowledge of its location!

On Boxing Day, we learned from the bush telegraph that we could go to the Telecom exchange in the CBD and send, for free, to relieved relatives, a 6-word telegram. Ours, sent to my sister-in-law, with whom the children were staying, said “All well. Tell parents. Keep children.”

At that time, the only flights in or out of Darwin, mostly RAAF Hercules planes, were bringing in officials and supplies and taking out evacuees and we had no idea when the children would be able to return. Once the rush was over, we put our remaining son in the charge of a neighbour’s teenagers to fly down to Sydney and stay with family friends there – a sojourn which he thoroughly enjoyed after the Christmas trauma.

Gough Whitlam was PM and he returned to Australia in short order and, very quickly, Major General Alan Stretton was appointed to be in charge of restoration procedures. I will not dwell on that side of things as others would be far better informed of the way that was managed, but we lived in a money-free community for quite a time while the government was responsible for evacuating those wishing to leave – and some who did not! – and provisioning those who remained.

It was not long before the Navy arrived to clean up the debris, and meantime two High Schools, which had not been badly damaged, were used as supply stores for packaged goods for collection at need, while a cold store at Stuart Park, an inner suburb, was commandeered to provide meat on request. There are always people who abuse such a situation but they are a very small minority.

Many houses had missing doors or swollen door frames, so occupied homes were left unlocked, keys were left in the car ignition and, for a short time, it was an amazing world where we shared the chores, helped with the clean-up, and made sure there was food ready for the workers when they returned after a long and often very laborious day.

In fact on many evenings, while the light lasted, a friend who had scoured the neighbourhood  looking for sheets of corrugated iron in reasonable repair, would turn up and join my husband in covering the roof. I remember when they had finished, they asked me to go up the ladder to look through the hatch to see if there were any obvious holes.

There was, of course, none of the usual sisalation (insulation reflective sheeting) under the iron and the view was of a starry night – the stars being the light seen through the myriad nail holes in the iron! The pair looked so crestfallen when told, but even holey iron was an improvement on none!

Those who stayed in Darwin to help with restoration were allowed two R & R trips in that first year. We took our first one in February, flying down to see the friends who were sheltering our son and have a few days break before welcoming back the older children – there were by then still no overseas flights into Darwin – spend a few days all together before returning for the children to go back to school.

I have always found that unpleasant and painful events seem to be less clearly remembered than do pleasant ones. It is probably a mental safety valve! After all, if a woman clearly remembered the pains of natural childbirth, there might be far more single child families!

What I have written above has highlighted some of the humourous, even enjoyable features of the experience. But what I have also remembered is the help that we received from the Federal government and the defence force members.

There is much more of the story and many other personal aspects which others could add.

But my recollection is of a government which did not hold back in helping, provided us with free food, and transport out for those who could not stay (many had family down south) and the people down south in general, who welcomed strangers from Darwin with open arms.

And whatever it cost, help was seen as the priority.

Those currently suffering loss of family members, homes and livelihoods as a result of the massive bush fires deserve the same. And help must be provided with the realisation that we will suffer similar or even worse disasters until we recognise that global warming is real, is dangerous and costly and cannot be ignored – or denied.

We may need to learn to live with it but we truly cannot afford to ignore it.

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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The economy is not our master

I have a very dear family member, who subscribes to The Australian, and with whom relations have been heavily stressed in ‘debating’ what I see as a cut and dried issue – climate change.

This is part of an email I have just sent:

“Throughout the ages, scientists have been doubted, sometimes sanctioned to the point of being burned at the stake – this being usually because of the church’s insisting that the Bible is truth and the word of god – but time has proved the scientists were right.

Research into the effects of fossil fuel emissions on the atmosphere and the climate has been going on for well over a century and it is documented fact that the corporations with a vested interest in mining, drilling, fracking etc are fully aware of that research and its outcomes – and have deliberately put money into supporting bogus reports that indicate that climate change is not related to those fuels.

Scientists in other discipline areas have supported the oil companies in this (has that been for financial gain or other support?) and this has added credence to the lies.

The major point is time.

Because the Industrial Revolution started the Greenhouse Gas phenomenon, as industry has expanded, so the effect on climate has increased, at a now verging-on exponential rate, in terms of raising temperatures. This in turn has resulted in changing weather patterns and encouraging increasingly severe adverse weather events.

To stop – or even (hopefully) reverse – this process, becomes a matter of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, replacing them with viable alternatives, adjusting our behaviour to fit with these changes and generally abandoning life as we have known it and entering into a changed way of regarding life – noting not only that greed is not good but we are the custodians of earth, not its owners.

There are additional issues, with increasing consumption of meat and accompanying increases in emissions of methane, another, more intense but with a shorter life, greenhouse gas, and, of course massive levels of pollution across the world causing severe damage to marine life as well as land-based flora and fauna. Recycling is not even in its infancy as yet!

These issues have to be addressed worldwide, virtually simultaneously and urgently.

And that is verging on the impossible.

Yet we cannot afford to give up, because life will not be viable for children born 20 years from now if we fail to act. Look at how many children, alive today, will suffer health problems in later years because of the current daily inhalation of the bush-fire smoke!

China is actually doing far more than most people realise, as are many USA states, and other countries, like India, are likely to make more effort if they see other, more developed, countries making major changes.

Leading by example is critically important and we have the means and the ability – but not yet the political will – to do this.

I fear my frustration with people’s unwillingness to not only accept that this is truth, not fevered imagination, boils over into impatience with having to argue the same points over and over.

I am not a fanatic with some impossible story to sell.

I am one of a (fortunately) growing group who are trying to find how best to force our current decision-makers into realising that the need to make decisions and commence effective planning and action NOW is beyond essential – and failure to do so is criminal.

We need every intelligent and informed person out there forcing the government to act – and, if it will not, forcing a change of government.

Sitting idly by and accepting the status quo is no longer an option!

The recent bush fires have seriously damaged our economy but earlier action and preparation could have reduced the severity of the nature and impact triggered by the existing drought.

I fully appreciate that hindsight is a marvellous teacher but complaining about past failures has to be abandoned in favour of rapid and effective planning for future success.

The economy is not our master. It should be our servant, but, under Coalition governments, that is unacceptable!

So, given the above, I do not see a debate on the reality of climate change as possible.

I see it as a question of accepting the facts and acting on them.

The only discussion then becomes one of action priorities.

Because the Murdoch empire is widely recognised as being at the forefront of climate change deniers, (despite Rupert Murdoch’s statements to the contrary!) and being well aware of the Goebbels techniques of brainwashing intelligent people into accepting and promulgating lies and falsehoods. I have been concerned about its influence on you on an issue which is not a ‘debate’ but one of acceptance or denial of fact.

I am not likely to change my views and can only hope you are not swayed by deliberate misinformation.”

Having written that, I proceeded to read an article in the SMH:

”What is ‘real’ action on climate change?”

And, clearly, an important further question “what would it cost?”

How long is a piece of string?

How long will full recovery from the bush fires disaster take?

Can we guarantee that recovery will not be hindered by more disasters?

Can we afford to keep asking questions to which there are no clear answers when the absolute priority is action?

The economy is not our master and if people are suffering and in need of help, that help has to be provided.

And that is true at all times.

Australia is a wealthy country yet we have homeless people living on the streets.

We have disabled people waiting endlessly for adequate help.

We have a shortage of housing for low income people while we pay out money to property owners using negative gearing.

We have women who have been unable to contribute effectively to personal superannuation, who are now living below the poverty line, while wealthy retirees pay accountants to reduce their taxable income to zero so that they can receive a cheque for franking credits.

We have inherited too many of the American attitudes that admire those who can make good and sneer at those who fail to do so, ignoring the fact that a true community spirit ensures that those who can and have, help those who cannot and have not.

We, superior white people, invaded the land of people who saw themselves as custodians of their country. We have raped and pillaged that land and deprived those people and now we are rapidly destroying that land.

I am a dual British/Australian citizen, and I am not proud of either the country of my birth nor the country of my current residence.

Both have embraced greed and selfishness while simultaneously claiming Judaeo-Christian values! What utter hypocrites!

I have joined – but not yet had an opportunity to join action with – Extinction Rebellion.

Non-violent civil action appears to be the only way we can unite those seeing policy change as essential in order to force the government to act – or go!

There is only one priority.

A flexible action plan to deal with emissions, phase out the use and production of fossil fuels, reduce pollution and increase effective recycling, use the defence forces to assist recovery activities, change tax laws to ensure our billionaires and multi-millionaires contribute effectively to the country which has helped them accumulate their wealth and, above all, establish a National, non-partisan governing body which will oversight the change and draw on all expert resources.

And how will we achieve this?

If you really want it to happen – that is where people power comes in!

The economy is not our master. It is our servant and politicians who fail in the integrity and transparency stakes should be booted out!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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