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A 'Fair Go' is now a Myth

Perhaps I have not lived in Australia for long enough to know…

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The best laid schemes

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us…

So, How Will You Do It Better?

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A personal view of a failed democracy

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Reverse JobKeeper cuts and protect working people, say…

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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.

A ‘Fair Go’ is now a Myth

Perhaps I have not lived in Australia for long enough to know how the rot set in!

While we are far from being the only part of the world where the adverse effects of increasing levels of inequality are destroying society, that is no cause for complacency.

So many issues in recent times, many of them pre-COVID-19, have highlighted how the Australia, which we tried to project to the world in 2000 as a Dinky Di paradise is dead, buried and cremated. (Thank you, Tony Abbott, for the quote! You certainly helped the rot set in!)

A large part of the problem has stemmed from the politicians – but we elected them!

So, quite clearly, some, at least, of the blame lies with us!

Look at the greed of shareholders which led to the revelations of the Royal Commission into Banking. Remember – the directors, who are responsible for choosing the CEOs,  are voted in – and out – by the shareholders.

True, the most influential shareholders and the directors whom they elect are, in many case, all part of a tight knit circle with fingers in many pies, so that the shareholders with smaller holdings cannot make their voices heard.

Look at the increase in numbers of our prisons, which signifies not – as many would have it – an massive increase in crime, but rather a failure on the part of society to intervene in ways which divert individuals into more socially acceptable paths.

Too many children are growing up in dysfunctional homes, and effective interventions seem to be beyond the imagination of the relevant government departments.

Take one example: Drugs!

The minute a drug is illegal, it is immediately attractive to many, and if the drug is one of addiction, future prospects are not good.

Many turn to drugs because they feel life holds nothing for them, sometimes because of mental illness and sometimes because of failure to get necessary help and support.

And because there is always an element in society which is happy to make money out of other’s misery, when an addict cannot afford a fix, theft is the obvious route to satisfying the craving. Decriminalise drugs, and the prices tumble!

Many involved in law and law enforcement have tried  – and, sadly, failed – to explain to politicians that other countries have gone down the path of decriminalising drugs and – lo and behold, the sky did not fall down! In fact the prisons were no longer overflowing!

Most recently, the pandemic has revealed the long term failure of governments to ensure proper services, staffing and care levels for elderly citizens spending their last days in Aged Care Homes run by for profit organisations, which have been subject to totally inadequate supervision and regulatory processes.

And another issue, which has been a running sore during the pandemic, has been the failure to recognise the very limited ability of many security firms to offer a higher standard of security service than can be expected from a nightclub bouncer.

I was asked the other day whether I had been as involved in politics when John Howard was PM.

I was not.

And as I answered the question, I realised it was because, at that time, I had been working full time, and while I was aware of the unpleasant policies which were being increasingly adopted, I had other things foremost on my mind.

Now I am in the enviable position of having retired, with a comfortable superannuation scheme – of a type which is no longer available to young people starting a career – with a home which cannot be taken away from me – short of an earthquake or another Cyclone Tracy – and with time to watch what is happening here in Australia as well as elsewhere in the world.

So I am wrong to be critical of younger people, who often have far too much on their plates to even notice what is going on around them.

That might change, however, with so many people unable to find work and so few jobs available for those seeking them.

I do wish to highlight two particular areas where I think the cruelty of the government must be addressed.

The first is one of which many out of work are only too well aware.

Fortunately many people have been able to survive, up to date, because the Coalition copied the ALP’s actions in the GFC, in providing financial assistance to at least some of those whose jobs were lost because of government decisions to shut down anything which prevented suitable social distancing, and so reduce the cross infection rate.

Not everyone was looked after. Many were totally ignored, while some benefitted from unintended generosity because the program had been developed in haste.

Without any ability to prove that things are, or soon will be, improving, the government has just embarked on reducing the support currently available to some – but not all – of those out of work, or on Job Keeper and any who now seek unemployment benefits will again be expected to be looking for work in order to continue receiving support, and probably have an unrealistically low level of assistance, replacing Job Seeker.

But reducing support will harm those who have benefitted from a partial moratorium on bank foreclosures and rental evictions, now that they will be expected to resume payments – plus interest accrued – with no hope of doing so. It is insane and downright cruel.

How does the government expect these people to survive.

They also appear to plan to bring forward tax cuts – completely ignoring the fact that the people who most need financial help – which, by being spent on necessities, would go straight into improving the economy – will get very little, while the greater share will go to those who will tuck it immediately into savings – so not helping the economy by one iota!!

How on earth did we elect such idiots?

Finally I want to raise the issue of a neglected group of people, who are being deprived and cruelly tortured, and who seem to have been pushed to the back of most people’s minds.

You might have an inkling of who I refer to when I say that if Peter Dutton were to appear in public wearing jackboots and waving a swagger stick I would see that as a truthful representation of him and his policies.

And, remembering that Scott Morrison headed up Immigration before Dutton, his facade of religious conviction could be seen as a consequence of indoctrination, similar to that which produced the Nazis and the SS!

Yes – I know it was Kevin Rudd who stated that no refugees who came to Australia by boat after a certain date would be allowed to settle here.

I wonder if he regrets that decision and the damage and death that has been the consequence?

He did it to save himself from a barrage of criticism over a flood of boat arrivals.

Why should so many people suffer so much in a futile attempt to save one individual from embarrassment?

We have seen many die, from suicide and from neglect. We have seen billions spent to maintain this cruel policy.

We have seen hours of court time – and more millions of our money – wasted by government attempts to prevent sick offshore detainees from getting urgently needed medical attention in Australia.

The pandemic has prevented – hopefully only temporarily – the relocation to other countries of some of the refugees, so they languish in offshore or onshore detention, under the control of security contractors who seem to regard themselves as sharing the role of corrections officers – even though the detainees have committed no crimes.

It is so sad that Australia has no Human Rights laws to protect those suffering these human rights abuses.

Refugees from some countries – Iran springs to mind (remember – an Australian is being detained there for no apparent crime!) – cannot return home because they would be put to death for fleeing their homeland. The conditions under which they are detained here are inhumane. They are denied time out of doors, they cannot exercise properly, they are, in fact treated more cruelly than murderers – yet we let it happen.

Is ability to feel compassion totally dead in us as well as in our leaders?

In a recent article I wrote “We need a government which does not ask “What will it cost the economy?” but, instead asks “What more do we need to do to make sure people are not struggling to survive?”

I end as always – 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 best laid schemes

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! (A portion of To a Mouse – by Robert Burns).

Scott Morrison might be well advised to remember this quote, and cease trying to set in concrete any plans for some sort of restoration of the system.

Job Keeper and Job Seeker CANNOT be phased out yet or even soon – not without some appropriate alternative measures being offered.

Nor can anyone on ‘the dole’ survive on the pre-COVID-19 rate, so don’t even think about it!

While some people might have been being overpaid and others may have got back into regular employment, there is a more than a significant number of people whose circumstances are already dire, and would become even more so if government-funded benefits were reduced or withdrawn. And there are some who have already been totally ignored!

Why cannot Morrison and Frydenberg stop best-guessing the future – which would be a nightmarish task for anyone – and accept that life now consists of living with changing circumstances which carry one imperative – keeping people alive, fed, clothed and housed?

During WWII in the UK, lives for civilians were necessarily put on hold in order to prioritise the war effort.

Food rationing began in January 1940, and followed fuel rationing, which began almost as soon as the war was declared, while it was 1958 before all rationing ceased.

YES!

For nearly 20 years, life in the UK was anything but ‘normal’ but we survived – and thrived in beating the challenges.

And having spent my pre-teens life living though bombing and shortages, I actually feel many benefits from not having been able to have what I want, when I want it!

You would be amazed how much more pleasure you can get from anticipating and preparing for a rare treat, rather than having so many options, you get bored!

Surprise, surprise! There was a Mandarin orange or a pomegranate in the toe of my Christmas stocking.

The UK has always been dependent on importing food and many other requirements, and, clearly, wartime conditions at sea had a massive impact.

Australia is basically self-sufficient in many of the necessities of life, but many of the jobs available here are dependent on tourism.

Close the borders and what happens?

What the government should be doing is making use of incredibly low-interest rates to issue bonds to raise funds to develop manufacturing, giving priority to areas like renewable energy, making our own steel and recycling, while also legislating to make it mandatory for single-use plastics to be totally phased out.

Training courses, funded by government, to re-skill those whose jobs are related to the fossil fuel industry must be a top priority.

In fact, if the government were to throw open the doors of all educational establishments and see education as an investment rather than an expense, they might be amazed at the benefits which might ensue!

At a practical level, the skills needing to be developed are largely related to the survival of the planet – and us with it!

Marine life is suffering from waste plastic in our oceans and this has to be ended.

We have to stop thinking that we are wasting our time making an effort because so many others are not.

While that might be true in some areas, many other countries are already making efforts.

What the present situation is proving, beyond reasonable doubt, is that the old system is broken.

Neo-liberalism has failed. The ‘market’ is only serving shareholders, and privatisation of ‘industries’ like hospitals, aged care homes and medicine generally only serves to further enrich the wealthy, while denying vital services to those who cannot afford to pay.

Over the last few decades, ‘user pays’ attitudes have defrauded the disabled and the needy of services they urgently need, and the continuing failure to build a sufficiency of social housing has left too many living on the streets in poverty.

Yes – we have problems with drug abuse – but that should be seen as a health problem. Criminalising drugs and drug users usually fails to catch the dealers, yet decriminalising drug use would put the dealers out of business!

Punishing people, without offering opportunities for rehabilitation is a total waste of resources.

There will always be people who cannot live peacefully in society, but the vast majority of those who appear before magistrates and judges could, with appropriate resources, have been diverted from becoming a problem.

We have an ideal time now, with reduced numbers of visitors to our shores, to re-think what matters in life – and find ways of increasing equality of opportunity, to which we are all entitled.

Introduce a Universal Basic Income, to replace the ridiculous mass of benefit categories.

Refine and simplify the tax laws – after all, it is the loopholes in the tax system which enable the already wealthy to further deprive the needy of resources for the services they desperately need.

Somehow we need to develop a coherent Human Rights Law.

We need to look more closely at the calibre of people we employ in our police services – and elect to our Parliaments!

We need to more highly value compassion. In general, people do not choose to steal unless they are either without necessities or they have mental problems.

Victoria has shown us, without a shadow of a doubt – as has the USA! – that we cannot assert our rights as individuals if that means damaging the health and lives of others.

We are a society – no apologies to Maggie Thatcher! – and that places obligations on all of us to respect other people’s rights.

What we need from government at present is acceptance that we do not know what will be regarded as ‘normal’ in future.

What we must be doing is making people’s lives as livable as possible, with everyone having somewhere to live, enough to eat, sufficient clothing, the ability to be educated as appropriate, and the opportunity to obtain work which is compatible with their talents, as soon as possible.

It is definitely not acceptable to have government members, whose income has remained unaffected, to be prepared to force people out on the streets because they cannot find a job, cannot pay rent and cannot even afford to feed their children in many cases.

If we are going to be pushed in that direction by current government policies, then let’s have an election before Christmas!

We need a government which does not ask; “What will it cost the economy?” but, instead asks; “What more do we need to do to make sure people are not struggling to survive.”

I end as always – 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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A personal view of a failed democracy

I sometimes wonder if it is in becoming a parent, responsible for the health and well-being of a tiny morsel of humanity, that we first experience a real awareness of the interdependence of human beings.

For those who wait until they are reasonably mature adults to give birth the first time, it is often a total life-changer.

The fact that, without your almost continuous monitoring and attention, the baby’s very life is at risk, takes an enormous amount of adjustment.

My first child was born with a stridor, and I was regularly asked by total strangers if my baby had whooping cough. At 9 or 10 weeks old, he was admitted to hospital for 10 days for assessment of his condition. I had been struggling with breast-feeding, and, by the time he was discharged he was totally bottle fed.

I felt a total failure – a feeling I can imagine has been shared by many new mothers over the years! And – now that many men are – thank goodness! – becoming more actively  involved with their children from a much earlier stage of their development than was traditionally the case – they, too, are more emotionally involved in many of the earlier adjustments.

Children need a level of structure in their lives, IMHO, if they are to become self-sufficient as they themselves mature, and part of that structure is awareness of how their behaviours affects others.

Learning to share toys, for example, and generally learning empathy from as early an age as possible make it much easier for the child to be aware of the needs of others, which can often be even more important than their own!

Recent events in some exclusive schools plus regular reports of bullying in schools give us a much clearer picture of why sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace are the eventual outcome of parental – and educational – failure to encourage the child to recognise the needs of others.

The problem is not exclusively male, either. Schoolgirls can have social cliques and be remarkably cruel to ‘outsiders’!

And it might be appropriate to add that increasing awareness of the conditions applying to those in the ASD spectrum, add a further nuance to what can be expected from an individual who might be supremely intelligent, but oblivious to their impact on others.

So, however independent we might become as adults. we still live in a world with massive variations in needs and aspirations, so, without rules, life can be very hectic and often unpleasant!

A cursory reading of the new Testament of the Christian Bible, reveals that the Jews practised a form of Sharia Law, as do countless Muslims all round the world to this day.

Many countries have, however started (and I stress the word ‘started’ – we have still a long way to go!) moving away from the real cruelty associated with the ‘eye for an eye’ thinking which underpinned the foundation of ancient laws. Even the death penalty, now seen in some some countries as being actually judicial murder, is being abandoned, in part on the basis that, if the law has been administered unjustly, you cannot bring back to life someone who has been wrongly subjected to the death penalty!

But Australia is far from having properly embraced human rights – despite our government preaching to countries like China and Russia – and the USA – of their failure to do so!

If we operated under a proper Human Rights system, we would not have refugees incarcerated both offshore and in onshore detention centres, or released into the community with no right to any benefits nor to seek work. Just think about the utter cruelty of that scenario!!

And, most importantly, the Biloela children would be living in the community!

We have politicians who are strong on touting values, but if the laws they devise are based on their values, I do not wish to share them!

I value compassion, tolerance and empathy, but the laws I see added to the Statute Books, and the behaviour I observe from those in power, do not coincide in any way which what I see as values related to human rights.

Given the plethora of complaints available online, I am far from alone.

To be a democracy means the people are responsible for forming a government from the adult population which bases its laws on the wishes of the people.

Somewhere along the line, the question of having a majority rears its head, and the smaller the margin, the more important it is to take note of the minority views.

All polls in recent years have moved the numbers of those wanting the government to introduce, as soon as possible – because time is of the essence – realistic policies to counter global warming. These policies would have to include reducing, as quickly as possible, reliance on fossil fuels.

We cannot force other countries to follow suit , but we are actually lagging way behind many other countries who have long since realised the need for action.

We could lead the tail-end Charlies – but, instead, we have, it appears, a cohort in power who believe that, by supporting the policies of the fossil fuel giants, they might be assured a financially beneficial sinecure, post-politics,  and to hell with the rest of us!

The actions of the former Minister for Sport, and others in Cabinet, in openly ensuring grants went to those most likely to support the Coalition, has left us in no doubt that we are led by a corrupt government.

I heard the first mutter yesterday that an early election might be in the wind.

Should that transpire, we need to look incredibly closely at the integrity and aspirations of the candidates, because both major parties are failing us badly!

The old cliché that you get the government you deserve, irks me greatly, because I am fairly sure that a majority of us do not deserve the government we have been lumbered with!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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

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The death of hope

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
John Donne, No man is an island – A selection from the prose

When politicians use the power, given to them by the electors, to benefit themselves rather than than the people as a whole – not even exclusively those who voted for them – we begin to lose hope in any likelihood of integrity, transparency and compassion being displayed by our governments.

There is, in my mind, no doubt that there is serious corruption across our whole system, starting with politicians, progressing through business and industry (look at the latest news about Westpac) and replicated by many with more limited power, particularly in local governments.

The consistency with which the Coalition government has refused to institute a Corruption Commission, while, pre-COVID, giving priority to trying to protect those whose religion enables them to reject scientific fact about sexual diversity, is cause for major concern.

Maggie Thatcher has much to answer for!

While we have never had a truly cohesive society, few people can exist in isolation, and many individuals, for a variety of reasons, need help far beyond anything they can achieve alone.

There will always be people who rort the financial system – by whatever means they can muster – but they are not exclusively people who are unjustifiably on social security benefits!

Look at Clive Palmer! How many have been damaged and defrauded by his actions while he seeks to further enrich himself by carrying on unfounded litigation?

Look at the millionaires who avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Look at politicians who raise their own incomes while reducing welfare payments for  people with no hope of finding employment.

We can be ‘wealthy’ in many ways – in terms of financial assets, in terms of depth of knowledge and in terms of friends and acquaintances.

Each has its merits, but for any who enjoys any of these benefits, there is – or, I think, should be – an obligation to allow other to share in them.

Those with power, likewise, have a moral duty to use it in ways which minimises harm and maximises help to others.

We currently exist, precariously, in a system where it seems that those with most power use it to benefit those with least need of support, while the majority, whose needs are greatest, are closely scrutininsed and heavily penalised if they even only appear to have stepped out of line.

Prime example is Robodebt – where a system, using an algorithm which could be seen, from the very beginning, to be fatally flawed, wrongly forced powerless people to ‘give back’ money they did not owe. The government finally admitted it was illegal and undertook to return the money that had been wrongly demanded (is that process yet fully completed???) but some lives, lost in the process, are gone for ever.

The most recent protection racket is for Alan Tudge who will, hopefully, be sued for his treatment of an Afghan refugee.

My blood boils when I think of the use by Dutton and others of ‘character tests’ in relation to those seeking visas,when the ‘character’ of Morrison, Dutton, Tudge, and several others in government, is so dubious that even the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ does not begin to cut it!

As a child, I always wanted to be a teacher. In fact I think that various professions – usually among the so-called caring profession, like nursing, medicine and teaching – are a vocation. Because maths was always my best subject at school, I became a maths teacher, but,when in later life I studied law, it was because I wanted to help those whose lives were being damaged by being unable to afford good legal advice. Given the chance of using alternative dispute resolution methods, I chose to concentrate on mediation, because it assists people to sort out their own disputes and develop appropriate negotiation skills in the process.

I have been incredibly fortunate in having been able to have a very thorough and broad-ranging education and, at risk of sounding conceited, being called a leftie and a busybody, I see it as important to help those who have not shared in the advantages I have been able to access.

I grieve over the number of people who do not realise how corrupt the Coalition is – and, sadly, it seems, Labor has lost its way, some of the Union bosses are as corrupt as the corporate bosses! – so there are few with the public’s ear, other than, for example, a few like John Hewson, who have any real care about the issues and the necessary solutions and who are are working on trying to get the integrity, transparency and compassion necessary for good governance.

If we care, we all have a part to play. We cannot afford to let the Coalition go down the policy path they are currently espousing.

Time is not on our side!

Eventually we will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and once more mingle with the rest of the world. But, without energetic action by politicians throughout the world, keeping down global temperatures remains massively important and our chances of doing so are diminishing with every day which passes.

I am beginning to understand the loss of hope which drives too many to suicide.

It feels like someone insists they do not need water in the radiator of an internal combustion engine. They refuse to recognise that the absence of water will guarantee the engine might be permanently damaged with all the consequent problems they will then experience.

Please join in helping others to realise the Coalition government must change its policies or get out of government!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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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Pedantry and selfishness

For some of my readers I will undoubtedly come across as a snob, because I grew up in the UK at a time when how you spoke, dressed and presented yourself was important – particularly if you were looking for a job.

England is, traditionally, much more class conscious than Australia, and, in my youth, in order to get a white-collar job required your spoken and written English to be impeccably correct.

Even to get a job in the BBC, it was once also necessary to have a Southern Counties accent, but fortunately that is no longer true.

Marrying in 1931, my mother had to resign from a job as Personal Private Secretary to a very senior Civil Servant, for which she had required high level skills in shorthand and typing – from dictation.

So, long before we had school lessons in English Grammar, my mother had instilled into my siblings and me most of the finer points of spoken and written English (as soon as we could write, we had to pen, on Boxing Day, ‘thank you for my Christmas present’ letters to every relative, with spelling and grammar up to standard!) – and a few other subtleties as well, which are too often overlooked.

I still wince when I hear someone say something like “Me and John went out to dinner last night.”

I realise that saying ‘I and John went out to dinner last night” sounds both clumsy and just plain wrong, yet if she had gone alone, she would have said “I went out . . .” and sounded perfectly correct.

Now I am not trying to give a pedant’s grammar lesson, but pointing out a far more important point in my upbringing.

Always put other people first.

“John and I went out to dinner where we were joined by friends who gave John and me an anniversary present” embodies correct grammar – plus a modest degree of self-effacement.

But when it comes to politics – self-effacement flies out the window, and what is good for the politician in government is much more important than what is good for those governed.

Again, in England, the monarch was also head of the Church of England, Catholics were kept in the background and lip-service was paid to the idea that the United Kingdom was a Christian nation, which tolerated all other religions.

(Much may have changed, but I have only visited the UK on holiday twice in the last 50 years.)

And being Christian embodied the idea that we have a duty to help others and, when possible, put their needs and interests before our own.

Hard work, in truth, and failure to meet those obligations was not uncommon – but nowadays it seems to be completely forgotten!

The most important duty of any modern politician, it seems, is to himself and his party  – in ensuring re-election and a cushy retirement.

I have watched Morrison’s performance this year with dismay and disbelief.

Having used social distancing as an excuse, he has manufactured a situation which has enabled him to be transformed into a petty dictator.

He has cut himself off from the people he is supposed to support – the electors and their families – and curried favour with industry giants – no doubt in the hope that he will reap the benefits once he decides to leave politics.

He clearly – like many others in government – does not understand the meaning of a ‘conflict of interest’.

I personally believe that without the National Cabinet, we would now be in a much worse mess than we are.

Not only in terms of physical health, but also on financial grounds, because the Coalition’s continuing criticism of Labor’s hand-outs and policies in the GFC would not have allowed Morrison to follow a similar path unless forced to by the Premiers.

My personal opinion is that now is the perfect time to introduce a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and adjust the tax system so that the payment is taken away from those whose incomes have not been drastically affected.

Easily done, much more equitable than the current plethora of welfare payments, and it allows for the fact that the financial crisis will not be over in a matter of weeks!

But I have spent the past 7 or 8 months talking to people, face-to-face and through social media, about Global Warming, which, for most of them, is at least as great a crisis as is COVID-19, and they almost unanimously want to phase out of fossil fuels into renewable sources of energy NOW – not after months and years of pouring more fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere, thereby ensuring more and greater crises from extreme weather events.

Current discussions are already indicating that bush fire containment is not exclusively an issue for the states.

State borders are not respected by fire, and we need a national system which recognises that.

Planning now should be concentrated on dealing with the known consequences of fire, flood and drought while also developing every available weapon to ensure that power moves completely away from short term and long term dependence on fossil fuels.

Our politicians can, to our knowledge, work their butts off to ensure they pour money into the electorates which support them and to ingratiate themselves with business and industry which supports their party.

PLEASE PUT THE NEEDS OF THE ELECTORATES ABOVE YOUR OWN. POURING MONEY INTO YOUR FAVOURED ELECTORATES DOES NOT BENEFIT THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE, AND THE RIDICULOUS IDEA OF USING GAS TO TRANSITION INTO RENEWABLES HAS TO BE KNOCKED ON THE HEAD HERE AND NOW.

I don’t apologise for shouting because people seem to have been distracted and deafened by misleading propaganda from the fossil fuel lobby.

We elect governments to satisfy OUR needs – we are not there for THEIR convenience or as a stepping stone to a bigger and better career!!

And before I am accused of bias – I think the Opposition has made a pitiable attempt to keep the government honest.

Forget about policy for the next election – you need to start convincing people NOW that you can offer anything worth voting for!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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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We need truth and facts – not lies and spin

It seems that people have lost sight of the purpose of electing a government.

I say this because it appears that too many are voting for a party representative because they have always voted for that party.

But they do not first stand back and look, in a dispassionate way, at the party’s policies and record, and they are too ready to accept derogatory statements by their ‘own’ party about the ‘other’ parties, without bothering to seek an independent fact check.

While most, if not all other, developed countries praised the ALP’s handling of the GFC crisis, with its instant provision of funds to everyone to ensure the economy slowed down as little as possible, and with its funding of community projects to keep business functioning, the Coalition kept up, and maintained, long past its use-by date, a barrage of criticism over mounting debt.

The Coalition then came back into government, promising we would soon be in surplus – as if that was actually an important if not vital goal. At least one Coalition Treasurer (who should not have been in that job if he believed what he was saying) likened budgetting for the nation with a household budget process.

There are serious consequences for households which run up debts, whereas a country, particularly with a high level of employment, need not incur any serious consequences.

Hockey’s grasp of economics would appear to be nonexistent, (you absolutely must read this brilliant article!) but, instead of being demoted, he was shuffled off to a cosy sinecure as Ambassador to the USA!

Would you not appreciate such a reaction to being sacked as incompetent?

Only governments can afford to show that level of stupidity!

I wonder how many of those ardent supporters of the Coalition have registered the massive increase in our deficit created PRIOR to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course the government was about to confirm a budget out of the red, until the pandemic hit, but do people really understand what that means?

Big fanfare – BACK IN BLACK – somewhat prematurely as it turned out!

The normal annual budget, estimates how much the government plans to spend (expenditure), on projects and services, and to receive (income), through taxes and other sources, in the coming financial year. They do make some allowance for unexpected contingencies and they try to reach a balance between income and expenditure.

So – a balanced budget applies to the year in question, and means the government spends all it receives in that year.

If receipts exceed expenditure, we generate a surplus – which can be used to pay off existing debt.

If the reverse is true, then we increase the deficit, which, in turn, increases our interest payments.

One of their annual outgoings, therefore, is interest on the loans which are responsible for our deficit, and, since interest rates are at an all-time low, increasing debt is not as much of a concern as the Coalition makes out.

Despite the slagging off at Labor by the Coalition, simply because of debts accrued to maintain the economy through an unexpected crisis – namely the GFC – the Coalition now finds itself in the same situation through COVID-19, and has to go down a similar path.

Have they done as well as Labor did?

NO!

Why not?

They were not so quick off the mark, they created policy on the run, giving to some to an unreasonable extent, while failing to support others. And, with no clear path to recovery, they ignored the need to go in fast and go in strong.

They were probably urged to follow Labor’s example by the National Cabinet, and it must have been a bitter pill to swallow, given their extended criticism and the fact that it was quite contrary to their fundamental ideology.

They have left a massive number of people – those on certain types of visas, refugees in the community, the majority of people, whether performers or support staff, in the arts community – without much, or, in many cases, any support, and they have raised levels of anxiety unnecessarily.

Because they have such a rigid mind set – debt bad, economy master, people servants – they do not know how to adapt to a long and painful recovery period.

From the beginning, Morrison’s snap-back attitude has refused to accept that the world has changed, permanently, as a result of COVID-19 AND – and it is a VERY BIG AND – they are doing their damnedest to ignore GLOBAL WARMING.

I will not buy in here on the major change that has resulted from China’s ambitions for world dominance and its effect on Australia’s economy.

By surrounding himself with advisers, predominantly from the Fossil Fuel Supporters league, (an entirely appropriate use of FFS!) Morrison has now committed himself to the wrong energy policy, despite having ignored the fact that business leaders have been pleading for so long for one which takes climate change into account.

Whatever else happens, the grid must be reviewed.

Ideas about carbon capture and storage have been proved to be misguided.

The relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming is now accepted by an increasing number of our population, and one of the most harmful of these gases – methane – is linked to fracking.

Yet the top of the Coalition government’s current policy is fracking in the Beetaloo Basin in the NT, and elsewhere, as well as developing a gas pipeline across Australia.

Ar the same time, one of the co-founders of Atlassian is planning to back a project leading to exporting solar energy to Singapore, generated from the NT.

While export dollars are important, why not use Australia’s share of solar energy, plus the associated battery storage, rather than a fossil fuel gas pipeline, to lower our power prices – and significantly reduce our emissions?

People like Trump – who continues to beaver away and undo every positive contribution to the people of the USA made by Obama – and Morrison – who, inexplicably, can use science against COVID-19 but is not even prepared to discuss action on global warming with any conviction, and puts out highly inaccurate summaries of our non-progress to meeting out Paris target – are prepared to use fake news accusations and spin to convince people that positive future-looking policies are misplaced.

IF we do meet the target, it will not be a result of government planning, but a consequence of public action in installing rooftop solar, which could create problems unless the grid is properly upgraded and battery use expanded.

While at the start of 2020 the expectation was not good, the pandemic led to a reduction in a variety of emission types, duly changing predictions. But that trend has now reversed.

We cannot afford, for the sake of those who come after us, to let the ideologues’ blindness and prejudice destroy the world.

Recourse to the legal system to reduce access to fossil fuels is beginning to show signs of success in several states, and one of the most recent cases against Adani, initiated by a group of teenagers, backed by the Environmental Defenders Office, based on human rights is currently before the courts.

We should not have to fight so hard to preserve the world in a viable condition, but greed and selfishness are mighty barriers to achieving fairness in life.

Antarctic glaciers are being undercut by warmer water.

Polar ice is retreating and Polar bears are struggling to survive.

Siberian tundra is defrosting and releasing methane.

Australian bush fires have reduced some species to the verge of extinction.

The West coast of the USA is ravaged by wildfires while the East coast is being damaged by storms.

This is just a sample of the global warming related events which are occurring in greater numbers and with greater severity.

And you can fact check all of these claims!

But numbers matter! And we need to think what action we can take to force governments to act in OUR best interests – WE being the majority who are doing it tough!

People power does not only apply at the polls, and those who accept that government policies need reversing have got to help in the work of challenging the lies and spin!

Your voice matters if you want Earth to have a future!

Mars is not a real option, just a pipe dream for a few.

I end as always – 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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Why is Morrison like the 3 monkeys?

Years ago the “I see no evil, I hear no evil, I speak no evil” 3 wise monkeys ornaments were frequently on display.

Abbreviate that to “Blind, Deaf, Dumb”, drop the word ‘wise’ and use the modern connotation of Dumb as being Stupid, and you have summed up Morrison.

The news this morning included warnings that cutting the levels of current Job Seeker payments would damage the economy, and statements by Morrison that, if industry did not invest in a new gas-powered electricity generator on the East Coast, the Coalition government would step in and do so.

In relation to the first point, Morrison is so besotted by the ‘economy’ that he ignores the fact that wealthy people increasing their wealth is actually less important than ordinary people – for many of whom, finding work is like looking for a needle in a haystack – being able to put food in front of their children and replace their worn-out school shoes.

In relation to the second point, I do not know whether he ever listens to any experts who have no conflict of interest in the recommendations they make, but I have seen a myriad of reports from banks and insurance companies which warn of the dangers of putting funds into what will certainly become stranded assets.

Even Adani is building up his renewable energy business!

When you never mix with people who are not well off, only with those owning the roof over their heads (or at least knowing they cannot lose it, other than in a storm, for which they are well insured!), able to satisfy all basic needs and spend on luxuries, you lose all understanding of what it is like to be struggling to see any light at the end of the budgetary tunnel.

If you believe the ALP, when they instituted the policy denying life in Australia to those who arrived by boat, they anticipated being able to find appropriate refuge elsewhere.

As with much in politics, that was ill-thought through.

Billions later, in times when the Coalition is begrudging funding to keep alive people whose jobs they have destroyed, they continue to pour money into torturing by hope those whose only error was to believe that the Australian government has integrity, and, being a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, would grant them safe haven.

I am one of the fortunate few who are retired, have a certain and secure pension, outside the Age Pension, have certainty of accommodation and no desire to travel or spend lavishly. So the two payments of $750 which I received, quite legitimately, as I am entitled to a small portion of the Age Pension, were passed on to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.

The government wanted us to spend the money to support the god ‘Economy’, but I had no need to spend, whereas the ASRC needs every cent they can get, to help those refugees so cruelly treated by our government.

Please don’t accuse me of big-noting myself. I follow no religion but I was brought up to believe in social justice and helping those in need – particularly through no fault of their own.

The Coalition moans about the debt which will be born by generations to come. They careful ignore the extent to which the debt which they inherited was massively increased BEFORE the pandemic forced them to shut down business activity.

They also ignore the billions they are wasting, by locking away and cruelly guarding genuine refugees, who could have become productive members of society, instead of desperate, suicidal wrecks.

Has anyone been able to put a figure on what it has cost to date for the Biloela family to be snatched from their home, and the lives of their children permanently damaged? And I don’t only mean in money terms! The cost in quality of life is on-going for their lifetimes!

Morrison is definitely not following in the steps of Jesus Christ.

He is trampling lives underfoot while he worships false gods.

I do not remotely believe in a life hereafter, particularly with Heaven, Hell and Purgatory as the choices lined up.

I do think we will all be judged by those who come after us and I think most members of the current Coalition are unlikely to be judged as having achieved anything worthwhile.

Most of those who subscribe to the AIM Network posts would have similar views to mine, and I do not wish to preach to the converted. So, if you have friends who struggle to understand why Morrison is on the nose, perhaps you could consider passing this on to them.

I end as always – 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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Priority in this pandemic must be solving people’s problems, pontificating on politics and profits must be postponed

The current crisis has fully disclosed the inability of the Coalition government, led by Scott Morrison, to understand how to develop adequate policies.

This comes as no surprise, when the only policy on the table before the last election was a tax cut to benefit those in least need of help!

Through government actions, millions of people are out of work, and this means the government must take responsibility for those whose livelihoods have been destroyed.

Victoria has provided a very clear explanation as to why that policy was well-founded.

Morrison and Frydenberg are probably still licking the wounds inflicted by their being denied the long promised surplus – in itself an inappropriate and unnecessary goal – but then, they have been besotted with the financial side of government, without fully understanding what the purpose of government is.

The end of 2019 saw the start of unprecedented bush fires in Australia. Many lives were lost and many who lost their homes are still homeless.

In America’s west, whole towns are disappearing in flames.

The world faces two existential crises.

Global warming and the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the world is facing disaster, surely the least we can do is try to help people keep – or get! – a roof over their heads, be able to feed the family and at least try to weather the storm without being held back by a government trying to balance the budget?

We MUST force the government to the realisation that accruing national debt now, and saving lives in the process, is the moral path to take.

And we help the economy have a better chance of recovery if people here and now have enough money in their pockets to pay the rent or mortgage, put food on the table and maintain an acceptable standard of life.

The fact that CEOs are still being paid bonuses, and shareholders, some already very wealthy, are receiving dividends, while people are living on the streets and dependent on charities for a meal means, that there is something very wrong in the system the government is operating.

There are no cheap, quick and easy solutions to current problems but the highest priority is enabling people to live in a condition well removed from dire poverty.

And when it comes to the suffering of our elderly and the grief of their families who see loved lives fore-shortened – the government has a moral debt to which it must give priority.

I end as always – 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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Problems demand solutions

It is one thing to criticise, when those in charge are failing to act in ways which seem likely to reduce existing problems.

It is another to be constructive and suggest possible solutions.

And then again – on the part of those whose failure is being criticised – refusal to listen to suggestions has to be dealt with in some effective way. And that may prove to be the biggest problem we face!

Since the start of February 2020, I have sat outside the NT Parliament House on 32 Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm, to remind people that global warming is a major issue, requiring urgent action, and it cannot be ignored because of COVID-19 taking priority!

It is worth explaining that the Northern Territory is the safest part of Australia as far as COVID-19 is concerned. We have had no community transmissions, we quarantine visitors effectively, and we rarely, if ever, have double digit numbers of active cases arising from those visitors.

We also have warm weather in the Top End, which includes Darwin, and I cannot remember when it last rained – possibly a sprinkle in May – so I use an umbrella as a parasol to be sun-safe!

We will get rain later in the year – so the umbrella will perform its proper function when that happens. At least it is warm rain!

Not unexpectedly, I am deliberately ignored by a few people, but many stop to chat. They generally agree on the need for action, and criticise the refusal of the national government to make appropriate plans.

I have permission from the Speaker of the House to repeat this exercise until Christmas and have every confidence that I shall continue to do so for as long after Christmas as I feel necessary.

Each week I wear my Extinction Rebellion T-shirt, and my expectation is that, once larger crowds are no longer a threat to public health, the XR organisers will be getting members out on to the streets to increase pressure on governments to take the action which is increasingly urgent.

This is being reported as already happening in other counties!

I am willing to be involved in civil disobedience, as long as it does not involve violence on my part, and also avoids damaging property.

The problems which we are facing are many-faceted, affect nearly everyone, and will not be solved by following any of the policies the current Coalition government is recommending.

The first thing that strikes me is that the government does not seem to realise it has a part in the process of recovering from the pandemic shut-down and the chaos it has created, apart from throwing financial support, mainly to business.

Talk of a ‘return to normal’ shows a total misapprehension of the current state of affairs.

We are in this mess because of the way governments were behaving before the pandemic!

I read this article today (09/09/20), in the New Daily and it sums up the government’s attitude to perfection.

The ECONOMY is the permanent centre of attention, followed by ensuring that business is enabled to ensure that it returns to a state of constant growth.

Increasingly, Scott Morrison has shown his true colours as a would-be petty dictator.

This was never more clearly shown than when he used his slim majority in the most recent session to try to ram legislation through the Lower House, cutting short ‘debate’ and denying the Opposition a chance to speak.

How much longer can we tolerate this refusal to act democratically?

To solve problems, we first have to identify them, then we have to consider possible solutions.

There are plenty who are far more expert than am I who can carry out this process but – if we really are a democracy – it must be done in a non-partisan way, so we are not ruled by an ideology which, for many of us, is an anathema! Again I refer to the article mentioned above.

We are all equal before the law and are entitled to equality of treatment.

If the government needs money, then perhaps it should consider ways in which those with the greatest wealth should make the greatest contribution! Staying good mates with millionaires while children sleep on the streets is not on!

Economics is not a science, but those who have studied it could still make a useful contribution to discussions.

All discussions have to both lead to solutions which will relieve people of poverty, brought about by necessary government actions, and also take account of the lifestyle changes needed to combat global warming.

As a member of the general public, I have a fair idea of the overall sources of anxiety – particularly for women – that need urgent attention.

We all need the security of a home.

The present rather shaky moratorium as regards mortgage payments, rental arrears, and accumulated debt that flows on from that, must be stabilised and clarified ASAP.

An initial step could be to stop putting financial assistance for individuals into a ‘welfare case’ situation, and introduce a Universal Basic Income.

It can be set up in ways that enable taxation to balance it out for those who really don’t need it, but ensure that everyone can afford to pay their housing costs and other essential basic expenses.

(Oh! And by the way – have all those defrauded by Robo-Debt been fully recompensed yet? And did they get paid interest on the money, just as they were expected to pay interest if they failed to pay a claimed debt on time?)

A top priority should be government funding for social affordable housing!

Many jobs have not only been lost, but disappeared for ever.

Many businesses are being propped up by government grants when it would have been better had the business owners gone into receivership.

That situation can be closely examined and decisions made on realistic grounds – not using across the board rules that businesses should not be allowed to fail.

Early Childhood Education is an essential that government has again ignored. By reducing or removing assistance for childcare centres, the government has damaged the most important stage in the lives of our children.

Free childcare must be reinstated, salaries of all employed in the caring sectors – childcare, aged care, nursing, etc, must all be significantly increased, and numbers employed could be among the first ways to enable the ‘economy’ to start to recover.

I can only assume that neither Scott Morrison nor Josh Frydenberg regularly helps with the weekly household shopping.

If they did, they might appreciate that shopping needs money, and many of the goods purchased carry GST. And where does GST go? And does the government need money? So is refusal to provide the needy with succour a sensible policy?

We are not mendicants at the knees of a ruler.

We are citizens who demand to be treated fairly and we should not sit back and allow inferior policies from a government which is clearly out of its depth.

For example, here is another source of investment which is being spurned because superannuation is, for some strange reason, not in favour with the Coalition!

Let’s see the necessary, multi-partisan bodies being established to ensure that everyone has a roof over their heads, sufficient food and clothing, a proper education – particularly for the very young – and equality of opportunity.

I haven’t heard any tales of politicians complaining of not having enough of the necessities of life so why would they not accept that we are also entitled to respect and opportunity for a viable life?

I end as always – 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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Lest we forget

We have been here before – and we must not forget it.

At least, the world has, and some of its older residents remember at least one lengthy  period when we have had the world turned upside down by events outside our control.

We do not need to repeat the mistakes of the past.

There is no returning to ‘normal’, because the most normal thing in the world is constant change, and our failure to adapt to change is the cause of most of our problems!

Greta Thunberg has been the leading voice of young people telling us that we have to take action on climate change.

They, rightly, tell us that it is they who will be most affected by the inevitable costs and changes which we will experience, because we have tried to harness the universe to meet our needs for possessions, convenience and power.

And in the process we have unleashed the dragon!

Interestingly, the current greatest problem in most people’s eyes is COVID-19, yet it is, indirectly (and, hopefully, temporarily) our best friend.

Because of the reduction in manufacturing and travel resulting from the pandemic, we have benefitted from a reduction in greenhouse emissions – nothing like as much as we need, but – never look a gift horse in the mouth.

[I wonder whether younger people know the origin of that saying?

The age of a horse can be fairly accurately gauged by the state of its teeth, so a good diplomat would never examine a horse’s mouth, if gifted a horse – and wishing to sound sincere in expressing gratitude!]

The real gift from COVID-19 is time.

And the benefit will be undone if we let a group of neo-liberals stick to their policies of putting money, power and convenience ahead of the need to care for and properly protect people’s lives.

The economy is their god, but it is no friend to the lower paid majority of the population!

The talk of using gas as a transition to renewables is a smokescreen for a total avoidance of necessary policy change.

And as for building a pipeline across the country – ?????

We know change is being resisted, because, having had RoboDebt clearly declared to be illegal, what was Human Services – and now more accurately named Services Australia (possibly having recognised that the very title of that Department was an oxymoron!) – is still beavering away trying to find out who has been overpaid benefits, when everyone out of work is struggling to make ends meet on hand-outs!

Before the pandemic, unemployment was high, as was insecurity for those fortunate to have employment, wage rises were a distant memory for all but those who did not need them, and numbers of active job seekers far outnumbered the numbers of positions available.

Privatisation and out-sourcing in the name of efficiency are two of the means whereby the world of work has been de-humanised.

As each day goes by at present, PM Morrison appears closer and closer to the concept of a petty dictator.

Every time I see the video of his ignominious attempt to make a woman shake his hand for a photo-op, when he belatedly returned from an ill-timed holiday overseas (‘must keep my children happy while other peoples’ kids are being terrified by out of control fires” – such a good look!) I feel sick!

I was born well after WWI – the Great War to end all wars – some hope! – and the Great Depression, but for almost all of WWII, I lived in the western suburbs of London.

Food rationing came in very early on, concentrated orange juice for children was essentially medicinal, eggs and milk were dried, only once during the entire war did we have rump steak in the house – which my father brought back from Dublin after attending his father’s funeral in Belfast and visiting his older brother in Eire – and ‘offal’ was a regular source of protein on the weekly menu.

The car was laid up for the entire period with no petrol available except for those designated as needing private transport.

Clothing coupons meant our basic winter and summer wardrobes consisted of school uniform, one on, one in the wash, something old to change into after school and something suitable to wear to church on Sundays.

If you grew out of your uniform or your shoes, you had to be measured up to prove you needed additional coupons.

Years after the war was over, I was horrified to read the story of a boy who was probably about 12 and living in London when the government evacuated children to the country. I think his father was in the army, his mother was working in a factory and he was sent to one of the more western counties to a farming family, to be well away from the areas being regularly bombed by the Luftwaffe..

He was underfed, made to work like a slave and got the strap if he stepped out of line.

The contrast between the appalling conditions he suffered and the much more limited discomforts we had faced made me feel ashamed that I might have ever complained.

And there was no magic switch back to normal when the war ended.

Clothing coupons were required from 1941 to 1949, while food rationing did not end until July 1954.

Our first real summer holidays, post-war, were in North Wales from 1948 to 1952, and we had to take sandwiches to eat en route because cafes and restaurants were not yet open.

We were hardly destitute as far as my family was concerned, but waste and extravagance were definitely off the menu.

But the plus side was that we had to make our own entertainment, events and parties were almost non-existent – food coupons prevented catering for more than immediate family – so the pleasure obtained, from anticipating the very infrequent treats, more than offset their rarity!

It is not until you cannot have something that you really appreciate how much you can go without.

And if you are doing so as part of a whole-of-society set of restriction, there is readier acceptance.

We expect so much that we do not need, and if we accept that we have to forego some activities and lower expectations – well – we are capable of biting the bullet and accepting the facts of life.

But we need to be led by people who are explaining what and why we have to do without and leading by example.

What riles many people at the moment is that those who are out of work, as result of government policies, and likely to remain so for an uncomfortable amount of time, are being reluctantly provided with limited assistance – at least some of them are! – but face having the amount reduced without any likelihood, that their living costs will also be reduced.

The government’s strategies seem to indicate that business get top priority, when it comes to financial assistance, but people are regarded as bludgers if they are not making umpteen job applications daily.

Do any of those devising these policies have the first idea how soul-destroying it is to complete job application after job application, often getting no acknowledgement nor hearing if the vacancy has been filled?

To say it is demeaning would be a gross understatement!

AND POLITICIANS ARE CONTINUING TO DRAW THEIR FULL ENTITLEMENTS, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ATTENDING PARLIAMENT, AND HAVE SUPERANNUATION FLOWING INTO THEIR ACCOUNTS.

What is going to happen to rental and mortgage payments if unemployment increases?

Stop blaming Dan for Victoria and start putting your own house in order, Josh Frydenberg!

And PM – when will you take responsibility for the private Aged Care Home debacle – resulting from your hatred of over-sighting regulations?

If I started listing all the wrong moves the Coalition governments has made since the pandemic hit, I would be up all night!

I will mention the worst, which, in my opinion, was allowing young people to draw on their superannuation. Thereby the government has cheated many of them out of comfort in their old age!

In fact I think the Coalition government is pretty ignorant about superannuation generally!

I see that Extinction Rebellion is starting to get active in the UK and I am sure that events in Australia will be publicised as soon as mass action ceases to be illegal because of COVID restrictions.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to put pressure on the government to remember what the past has taught us – that change is good and inevitable and we will not survive unless we recognise that.

We need to learn from the past not try to return to it!

Alone, we have limited power.

Together we can change the world!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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Energy and power

I was 10 when I started my first year in the Secondary Grammar School in the UK.

The school system at that time saw us spend 2 years in the Infant School (I missed out on optional kindergarten because I was ill!), and in our time there we learned how to read and write and recite our multiplication tables.

The basic 3 Rs!

Then, normally, another 4 years in Junior school where Arithmetic was almost exclusively spent doing calculations involving the Imperial measurement system – and learning useful short cuts like 12 stamps at tuppence ha’penny cost 2 shilling and six pence, while 1 cwt (hundredweight) of coal at £3/10s per ton cost 3s/6d, there being
12 d (pence) in a shilling (s) and 20 s in £1.

Older, Anglo readers may remember the mass of arithmetic this involved! Non-Anglo readers will wonder why the hell we did not latch on the the metric system – or, better still the Système International – a whole heap sooner!

That is by the by – except that is helps to explain that, while we did study some history and geography, as well as reading and spelling, during that 4 years, we did not get round to science until secondary school.

My recollection is that in my first year at the Grammar school, we studied Art, Biology, General Science (as a precursor to Chemistry), English (Language and Literature, separately), French, (Latin came with Chemistry in the second year), History, Geography, Mathematics (as 3 strands – Arithmetic and Trigonometry, Algebra and Geometry (which was the beautiful logic of Euclidean geometry), Music and Scripture (that was a requirement of the Charter of the C of E school I attended). And, of course some form of Physical Education – sport or gymnastics, nearly every day.

No time for boredom when you add on homework!

But a fantastic background to learning across the board.

Later we streamed into Arts and Sciences and I dropped Latin, Art and History while keeping Biology, Chemistry, English, French, Geography, Maths, Scripture, Phys Ed and Music (goes with maths I will come back to this later), Geography and, later, Physics.

Early learning (PLEASE TAKE NOTE IF YOU ARE THE MINISTER RESPONSIBLE  FOR PLANNING EARLY EDUCATION) is really important as it is usually the most firmly embedded. I have had no occasion since I originally learned about photosynthesis to describe it in detail, but it is firmly fixed in memory!

So I come to the crux of this exercise ~ solar energy and sources of power generally.

In Biology, among other things, very early on we studied the oxygenic version of photosynthesis. This explains how, employing the chlorophyll in the green leave of plants as a catalyst, the plants use the energy from the sun to combine the water drawn up through the roots and the carbon dioxide entering the leaves through the stomata (I was not sure I had remembered that term correctly, so I checked it out before writing this, 70+ years later) to form carbohydrates for use in growth, and in storage, sometimes in roots – all the root vegetables – or in fruit.

A bi-product of this daylight process is oxygen, exhausted via the somata, from which we benefit. At night, some of the carbon dioxide is excreted through these same stomata.

This is a simplified version of a complex process and there are other varieties of photosynthesis, since, among other things, not all plants have green leaves.

The important constituent of the air we breathe is, of course oxygen, and the damaging part, is the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane.

Destroy the trees and reduce the oxygen available, while retaining the carbon dioxide, no longer required for photosynthesis. LUNACY!

Solar energy is readily available to us in most parts of the world – the North and South Poles are a bit short during their winters while the sun stays below the horizon – but it is far from being the only available form of natural energy.

We grossly under-use wind energy, which, in the Northern Hemisphere is providing an increasing source of renewable energy.

The strongest winds in Australia are not necessarily blowing in areas of high occupancy, but we are surrounded by sea, and most of our major cities are close – sometimes too close! – to the coast. Tidal energy is a constant source of energy which is greatly under-used, and even the currents in streams and rivers – provided our inefficient water policies have not destroyed the flow of water – can be enough to generate a modest amount of energy.

I sometimes wonder how much Australians know about what is happening elsewhere in the world?

I know that social media has, sometimes quite reasonably, become a pariah, yet I have found Tweeters of high educational value. One is @MikeHudema and if you opened a Twitter account to browse through his site, you would find the exercise valuable beyond measure. His theme is “We have the solutions. Let’s implement them.”

 

 

Now, Tom Lehrer, is the link to tie music and maths together.

When I did my maths degree, my thesis was on Non-Euclidean Geometry.

The very word ‘maths’ has the effect of making many shudder and tune out. Please hang in there!

Euclidean Geometry is a series of propositions and theorems which relate strictly to relationships between lines, shapes and angles on a flat surface. You will all have encountered several aspects of this in school geometry, and if you have ever used an atlas, you will have seen the problems that arise when you try to transfer a portion of the curved surface of Planet Earth on to a flat piece of paper.

This situation can be handled by using spherical geometry, and while for ease of use, if we are trying to calculate distances from a map, we can use trigonometry, if we want to be more accurate, we need spherical trigonometry – which I have taught in the past to those studying cartography.

But when it comes to space travel, we are in a whole new place!

Now please – just hang in there because I want you to enjoy Tom Lehrer as much as I do, but you need a bit of background to do so!

The two branches of non-Euclidean Geometry which I studied were one which was developed by Bernhard Riemann, on which Albert Einstein founded his Theory of Relativity. Hence the reference to space!

The other was more curious, in that it was developed, simultaneously and independently by a Russian called Nikolai Lobachevsky and a Hungarian called Janos Bolyai.

Scientific research of any kind abhors plagiarism, but the existence of that in this particular case has never been substantiated.

But it makes a delightful basis for imagination to run away!

So enjoy Lehrer’s take on the possibilities!

And never again say maths is dull – but PLEASE take scientific research seriously and tell the government to act on global warming!

I end as always – 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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Staying alive

When my children were young, and referred to anything that happened before they were born, they used to talk about “in the olden days”.

I grew up reading fairy stories, myths and legends – King Arthur and his knights of the round table – with distressed damsels being rescued by white knights in shining armour, and princesses on white horses with tall, pointy hats, trailing a veil – so these were the pictures my imagination conjured up by the ‘olden days’ reference.

But the real olden days were the times before money was invented as a universal medium of exchange of goods and services. When the rulers of the land had absolute power over the majority of the people.

Were they good times?

For most people – no, they were not.

Many governments around the world are currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through social distancing, mass testing for infection, hand sanitising and public mask-wearing.

For this to be effective, many types of work cannot continue to be carried out and many people are facing drastically reduced – or total loss of – incomes.

THIS HAS BEEN A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES.

Few, if any, countries had fully prepared plans for dealing with a pandemic – certainly the Australian government had none – so decisions are being made blindly, on an ad hoc basis.

Without much clear forward-thinking, the Coalition government urged banks to come to an arrangement for deferred payment of mortgages and landlords to desist from evicting tenants unable to pay the rent.

The effectiveness of these suggestions depended on more concrete enforcement action by state and territory governments, and completely ignored the issue of the applicable time frame.

Understandably, most policies were being predicated on the assumption that, sooner or later, we would have a vaccine, but when and how effective it might be was unknown.

Not much has changed in that regard.

Financial institutions and landlords need more certainty than is provided by this situation, and it is becoming evident that, in the very near future, mortgagees will be receiving demands for payment, on the threat of foreclosure, while tenants will similarly be receiving ‘pay up or get out’ messages from landlords.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the National Cabinet discussed financial arrangements, leading to the massive program the government finally introduced.

I would bet my bottom dollar that the plan was agreed to but not initiated by Morrison and Frydenberg.

After all – all the policies of the Coalition government have been based on reversing and crtiticising the policies initiated by the ALP when in power – just as Trump has been beavering away undoing every socially responsible policy introduced by Obama.

Because the policies offered by the Coalition, are developed by people, few, if any, of whom have ever been severely deprived, they are blind to the effects they will have on the people most adversely affected.

For years there have been demands from many areas that Newstart was totally inadequate, for many people and many reasons.

To the relief of many, the initial payment approved by government, for the unemployed who were not entitled to other categories of payment, was an improvement on Newstart – but had the threat hanging over it that it might later be reduced.

What the Coalition government does not seem able to comprehend is the scale and extent of the problem it faces.

Prior to the pandemic, wage levels for many – but not for CEO’s salaries and bonuses! – had been stagnant, if not going backwards, for years. So people had been unable to save, had, in fact, accumulated often massive levels of debt in a climate where the number of those unemployed was massively greater than the numbers of available jobs.

The people who were best supported in this situation were those employed by the out-sourced employment agencies.

Employees of these agencies were often eligible for bonuses if they placed an applicant in a job, and a further bonus it the person remained in that employment for a specified period.

The person who benefitted most was a shareholder in the company which was required to help those unemployed.

Attempts are now being made by government to cut more ground from under the feet of those who have already lost working conditions which unions fought hard to gain for them.

Australia is a wealthy country – but much of that wealth is squirrelled away in tax havens, allowing the account holders to use their money to make money, which is never subject to tax in Australia. The gap widens, day after day.

We need a variant of the universal basic income (UBI) to ensure that the increased number for whom no jobs exist can avoid becoming a homeless underclass. through no choice of their own!

The government could encourage a recovery which creates jobs, starting in those states which are reasonably clear of COVID-19 – WA, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, with Queensland and SA champing on their heels.

Those jobs must be linked to dealing with the other existential crisis – global warming.

And taxation MUST return to being progressive.

OK – I know. I expect miracles – and not the kind Morrison looks for!

The vast majority of those supposedly planning for our future are all receiving regular incomes, living in a secure situation with solid plans for the future.

Until and unless they consult more effectively with those organisations which know at first hand the misery and hopelessness of those who are out of work, unlikely to find work in the near future, desperate for their families’ welfare and suffering enormous stress, Australia will remain a basket case with an ideologically biassed government which is blind to its failings.

SCOTT MORRISON – FOR THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN WORKER, STAYING ALIVE SHOULD NOT BE AS HARD AS YOU ARE MAKING IT!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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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Australian policy needs consistency

I am a dual national – one advantage of which is that I cannot ever sit in the Australian Parliament – but nothing can stop me from being as critical of government in Australia as I am of the UK government.

Both suck – big time!

Because both follow inhumane neoliberal policies.

Having been here for almost 50 years, I find it impossible to remember how much I knew about Australia before I came, as compared to how much I now know.

I am fairly sure I knew about Australia having begun its life, as part of the ‘Western’ world, as a penal colony – or series of colonies – which has led to its current fractured government systems.

The prison hulks in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations alerted me to that unsavoury beginning, just as Dickens’ books – a full set of which lived on the mantlepiece in my bedroom while growing up – generally alerted me to the needs of the poor and the arrogance of those who regard themselves as born to rule.

I learned about the corruption in the NSW colony, and corruption was still really out there in Queensland, courtesy of Joh, when I arrived.

That political parties and corruption are bedfellows is daily detailed in the national press!

We kid ourselves when we try to persuade others that many other countries have corrupt governments but we are above all that.

Power corrupts – wherever.

I learned about Australia’s shocking treatment of its First Peoples quite rapidly, living, as I do, in the Northern Territory, which has the highest proportion of any state or territory of these indigenous people, many of whom prefer to live on country and try, against the odds, to preserve their culture and native languages..

Growing up in a Christian household, I have ethical standards which I do not see echoed in many of those in power in Australia.

I am now an agnostic, sharing the view that there is no way any worthwhile god could exist, which was omnipresent and omnipotent and yet unwilling to allow mankind to be denied the right to free will.

Man has developed god in his own image – and that god is not benevolent.

In fact the human race has given Planet Earth its most despicable and dangerous predators.

If I did not have grandchildren and great grandchildren, I would seriously welcome the world’s being rapidly overtaken by global warming, as, given our failure to protect the planet as carefully as would our First Nations, the rest of life on Earth might be able to recover some balance without us.

I write this as an optimist in the hope that enough other people might realise the urgent need for action to completely change course.

Everything is valued in dollar terms.

Wealth is put ahead of quality of life.

The economy is our master – not our servant.

The immigration policy which has evolved under the Coalition is cruel and capricious.

Reading about Australia’s early settlement, we read of a level of cruelty which still underlies government policies today.

I am sure our current government ministers feel very negative towards the Prime Minister of New Zealand because she makes them feel inferior in their standards – and they are!

She cares for her people and behaves as any caring parent does.

I cringe every time I hear people like Peter Dutton and Christian Porter – not to mention Scott Morrison – bleat on about Australian values.

If Australian values existed in any acceptable form, those three and their loyal cohort would not be in power!

We now have legislation which says, among other things, that a dual national, who commits a crime which warrants incarceration for 12 months or more, is liable to be deported.

We also now have a character test under which people may be arbitrarily removed from Australia, such as New Zealand citizens who have some reciprocal rights relating to residence status.

[As an aside, there is a right of appeal against being deported or removed from Australia under existing legislation, but, during their time in power, the Coalition has stacked the AAT with many who do not even have the necessary legal qualifications, to an extent that significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful appeal.}

In recent years, a considerable number of New Zealand citizens have been found to not meet the Character Test requirements and they have been deported to New Zealand, irrespective of however long they might have lived in Australia.

Jacinda Ardern has, on more than one occasion, objected to this practice.

The just-completed trial of an Australian terrorist in New Zealand  has resulted in his being given a life sentence with no parole.

Several relatives of victims of this terrorists actions have asked that the man be required to be returned to Australia to serve his sentence there, as has Winston Peters, the NZ Deputy Prime Minister..

New Zealand is a much smaller country than Australia, and the cost of life-long incarceration would be proportionately greater to them than to us – PLUS we send back to NZ a significant number of its citizens who have committed offences in Australia.

To date, both our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and our AG, Christian Porter, have shown a degree of reluctance to consider any request.

In view of the low level of integrity which both have displayed in relation to the secret trials of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – when everyone who seriously examines the facts would accept that the secrecy is designed, not to protect national security issues, but to reduce embarrassment to past and present government Ministers – it would be unsurprising but totally in character if the request were to be denied.

Jeez! They make it hard to be proud to be Australian!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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

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The Blame Game – only it isn’t a game!

When things go wrong in a political context, the finger finally points at the man at the top of the ladder of responsibility.

In life, in general, we have to pay the price as individuals if we break a law.

Our prisons are full to overflowing with those whose refusal to behave according to the laws, has been deemed serious enough to warrant loss of liberty.

Government coffers are regularly replenished by fining those for whom a monetary penalty is seen as more appropriate – mainly because the public is not seen as being at major risk if the offender remains at large.

Back to politics – and despite his having used every reasonable coercive power to discourage the public from breaking the COVID-19 rules – social distance, wear a mask in public, etc – Dan Andrews is being held responsible by the Prime Minister for the upheaval in Victoria created by a second wave of the coronavirus.

Yet at the same time, funerals are being held, prematurely, for elderly people who met their deaths in Aged Care Homes which were not provided with adequate safety plans for COVID-19 by – guess who?

SCOTT MORRISON – YOU ARE VERY UNWISE TO PLAY THE BLAME GAME FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES WHEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR SO MANY DEATHS CAN BE LAID FIRMLY AT YOUR DOOR.

TIME TO STEP DOWN AND PASS THE REINS OF POWER TO SOMEONE MORE COMPETENT.

AND THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT IS TO CALL AN ELECTION, AND SEE IF YOUR POLICIES ARE VINDICATED BY THE RESULT.

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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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What goes around, comes around

Another definition of Karma?

As a child, I remember reading of highwaymen – Dick Turpin, with his horse Black Beth, who was notorious for his antics on Hounslow Heath, near where I grew up.

Then there was Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

“Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!”

And now we have the dilemma created by COVID-19 – do we save lives or the economy?

Those who do not want for anything which money can buy, are the most eager to protect their wealth, and the institutions which have helped to create it, and if lives are lost in the process – well – we are over-populated, in the estimation of many!

The wealthy (interpret this as – those who are extremely comfortably endowed with worldly goods) tend to be jealous of their status, unwilling to lose it, and ready to brand the poor as being lazy and incapable of managing their lives.

The Indue Card policy bears witness to this attitude, as does the general law and order cause.

I accept that this is a sweeping generalisation and we do have genuine philanthropists, but the balance is basically towards inflicting a punishment which does not necessarily fit the crime.

If children grow up to be rebellious, lawless and perform criminal acts because they have not been properly cared for, guided and protected as small children, then they must be punished and dealt with in ways which guaranteed they continue in a life of crime.

Is that really the right approach?

It seems to be far too hard for the law-and-order brigade to realise, that early intervention, support for parents and young children, and mentoring, together with proper health support and guidance through a mother’s pregnancy, could have a real impact on the problem.

I often wonder how many of the Indigenous youngsters who get on the wrong side of the law in the NT have been affected by FASD – Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disease – through the mother’s over-dependence on alcohol during pregnancy?

Almost any parent of teenage children will tell you that, at times, they are at their wit’s end as to what to do with their rebellious kids. But that rebellion is a normal part of asserting independence, after years of absorbing the lessons their parents have been trying to instil.

It may take time, but sooner or later those parents are usually heaping praise on those children’s achievements!

None of us ever has adequate access to a “How to be a parent” course, and we depend on our own parents for clues as to how to go about the job. If our own parenting has been erratic, or worse, we are not going to do as good a job with our children – and there is nothing wrong with being offered help.

All children are individuals, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another – and that is without taking into account those who are afflicted with physical and mental health issues, or are just plain ‘different’.

And, as an aside – sexual abuse is not exclusive to institutions. More rape and abuse occurs in the family circle than is committed by outsiders. And whoever the perpetrator, the damage done, is enormous.

With government, it is a similar story. Ideology is not necessarily enough, because policies are not developed in a vacuum – they have to be appropriate to the circumstances.

Horses for courses.

And never has this been more evident than now, when we are faced with a global pandemic, at a point in our history when greed for the illusory benefits of constant growth has left us facing the existential crisis represented by Climate Change.

In one fell swoop and with limited warning, we are facing a world which demands attention to an extent we can barely grasp.

‘Normal’ no longer exists, and arriving at a ‘new normal’ will be much more difficult for those chained to beliefs and ideologies than it will be for those adjusted to change as a permanent feature of life, and willing to think progressively.

Our present government is showing signs that it is incapable of acting as required in by current circumstances.

We have really lost touch with what is needed to be a true democracy.

We have a Constitution which is not fit for purpose, government thinking requires us to ‘snap back’ – which, in the circumstances is impossible – and everyone is too timid to stand up, en masse, and tell those in charge that we need a massive change in approach and they need to hand over the reins to experts, more able and willing to ensure that we concentrate on saving lives, not fortunes!

It is a sad irony that, in recent years, there has been growing concern that we have an imbalance in the population and may end up with too few younger people in employment to support those on the Age Pension.

Now we face a world with too few jobs, because so many businesses have been forced to close, by policies (rightly) designed to save lives, no certainty of an effective vaccine, but a reducing population of elderly people as they succumb to COVID-19!

Ironic indeed!

PLEASE, MR MORRISON.

YOU HAVE SPENT YOUR WORKING CAREER TRYING TO MANIPULATE SITUATIONS TO ENSURE YOUR RISE TO POWER.

BUT YOU ARE INCAPABLE OF EITHER DEALING WITH BOTH OF THE CURRENT CRISES OR TO RECOGNISE THAT THAT IS THE CASE.

YOUR CHOSEN ADVISORS IN THE COVID-19 COMMISSION ARE GEARED TO SAVING THE ECONOMY AND WE NEED TO SAVE A NATION!

PLEASE RESIGN ASAP!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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!

Donate Button

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