The Hollow Man

We have a Prime Minister who has no idea how to lead.In…

A letter to Michael Sukkar from a Deakin…

Dear MichaelI saw you on the 9 news last Saturday evening telling…

How deep does corruption in high places go?

There might be a 'fine, fine line between pleasure and pain' but…

Budget Cockups in the Time of Coronavirus: Reporting…

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like…

Not so Covid Safe

By John Haly  The CovidSafe app has triggered innumerable privacy and security concerns amidst the…

We are being conned if we believe the…

In my recent article I concluded with:Confronted with the fact that no…

A light bulb moment!

In trying to catch up on my emails before going to bed…

Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach

It has been a withering time for the airlines, whose unused planes…

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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.

We have a Prime Minister who has no idea how to lead. In campaigning for the last election – It feels like eons ago, but it was just over a year! – Scott Morrison was here, there and everywhere. Seldom did he have other Ministers with him – he was the genuine one-man band. He…

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There might be a ‘fine, fine line between pleasure and pain’ but there is most certainly a very fine line between self-interest and corruption – and too many present and past politicians are straying to the wrong side of it. “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” portrayed the Westminster system as it once operated in…

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In trying to catch up on my emails before going to bed – late as always – I started reading the lead article in  The New York Times – Opinion Today – which, as it is probably pay-walled you might not be able to read here. I had one of those light bulb moments! The…

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When so many in business started stressing the need for the government to tackle the COVID-19 recovery and action on climate change, simultaneously, I foolishly let my hopes rise that the government might, for once, recognise that planning for the future took priority over courting favours from the fossil fuel industry. Silly me! Clearly the…

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I never choose to watch the televised version of Parliamentary Question Time because I find, most of the time, that the appalling behaviour, of so-called adults, makes me shudder at the thought that groups of children might make a visit from school to see how the country is run. They might quickly understand why it…

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Australians are now paying the price for undervaluing education! After fighting a losing battle in relation to action on the climate emergency, against a government which appears to have no respect for, and therefore ignores, science – except when it involves medical science – the next step in dumbing us down is denying any support…

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Don’t thank Morrison – thank COAG

The current crisis has revealed many aspects of Australia and Australian life which were less clearly defined before.

We have become much more conscious of the fact that, among those who are most important to our survival, are those who are least well remunerated for the thankless tasks they perform, or looked after if they cannot work.

Modern life has resulted in massive changes to the ways our community works.

Before I was born, few women aspired to a career, because their role was seen as marrying, having children, then staying home to look after them and their wage-earning husband. Some, in industrialised areas, might have continued work in a factory, but still carried the full burden of home duties.At least that was true in urban societies.

In country areas, agriculture was largely family business, but for me, growing up in England, where agriculture could never hope to provide food for the nation, but manufacturing industries were significantly present, has made me more aware of the urban scene.

In those days, families looked after their own. If daughters did not marry, theirs was inevitably the role of looking after elderly parents.

Some countries in Europe, many of whose citizens have migrated to Australia, are very family conscious and respect for their elders has been very strong.

But, increasingly, and in part because growing longevity has resulted in larger proportions of our elders suffering from dementia, our elderly are placed into care.

The government does provide funding assistance to support some of these institutions, but many, while receiving government funds for some less wealthy patients, are run by both for-profit and charitable organisations.

Regulation does exist but is not always adequately enforced, funding is not over-generous – and the for-profits have to satisfy shareholders – so many of the staff, employed, and trained, to perform some of the most basically personal aspects of care, are poorly paid and often do not have English as a first language.

Hospitals would have cleaning contractors, whose employees would be drawn from similar, though less well qualified, sources. And these are some of the people who, along with the more highly qualified nursing and medical staff, have been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19.

Their risk of becoming infected themselves has been magnified by the failure of authorities to ensure an adequate supply of Personal Protection Equipment, and the mental strain of not wishing to carry home the infection to family members has been particularly strong for many.

We also in this country have many jobs, often seasonal or temporary, for which employers have trouble recruiting, so they turn to temporary visa holders. Again, they are too often exploited, the women having to rebuff sexual advances and many of them exploited to an unacceptable level, while foreign students, doing part-time work, too often experience wage-theft.

Writing all this, I am reminded of Charles Dickens books and the years he spent trying to improve the lot of the poor and disadvantaged.

Have we really progressed?

One massive change I have seen in my lifetime, has been the growth of dependence on entertainment – whether it be watching professional sport, TV and radio, music gigs, major concerts or, for niche audiences, stage and opera productions.

While some who provide this entertainment are successful to a superstar level, a majority perform on the fringes, supported by backroom support, pretty well all of which is casual or temporary.

These, along with many foreign students whom we lured to our shores, and our temporary workers, have now joined the forgotten people.

Many of them are totally without work or, having a job, have no leave entitlements and have either been unable to work or have to continue to work while themselves infected with Covid-19.

And then we look at the privileged side of society.

Those who holiday abroad, party while they are there, and keep partying on their return, with scant regard for the possibility of spreading infection. In some cases they have even being exempted from going into social isolation after emerging from their private jets!

Clearly one rule for us but no restraints on the privileged!

And I need to say here – I am not a believer in Communism, I have yet to find a political party I respect but I strongly support social justice.

And our politicians – what do they have to offer?

They grant themselves privileges which are way beyond those claimed by politicians in many other countries, they are slow to refund allowances that they wrongly claimed, they pork barrel to a corrupt extent and they refuse to ban political donations or set up an effective ICAC.

They have no idea how awful life is for many people and they presume to pass policies to ‘help’ us in crisis situations without any clear idea of what help is needed.

And they now want us to get back to work ASAP – despite the enormous numbers for whom no job now exists!

They are refusing to recognise that action on the climate emergency – we have a brief interregnum in emission levels but not sufficient to stop the global warming process – would allow the creation of clean, green jobs, rather than continuing to support fossil fuel extraction and export.

Where are the plans to boost TAFE – run by the states and territories NOT by private providers who rort the students too often! – and concentrate on training courses that look to the future not the part.

Until the current COVID-19 crisis reared its head, no member of the Coalition, including Scott Morrison, had a good word to say about the way that the Rudd Labor government handled the Global Financial Crisis.

Practically every other government of a developed country praised Australia but the Coalition had nothing but criticism.

It was only successful, they said, because the Howard/Costello government had left a surplus.

They did not mention that the surplus was achieved by selling assets and outsourcing services, both of which have proved to be a disservice to us – the people.

They were critical of infrastructure spending which improved things like school facilities.

They were highly critical of the pink batts affair – and while no unnecessary deaths of employees are acceptable, do not employers have a responsibility for their employees safety, too?

Ironically the Labor government was criticised for inadequate supervision of the process – but who opposed an inquiry into the banking industry?

At every opportunity over the intervening years the Coalition criticised everything which Labor had done under the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd regime. And the mainstream media has persistently supported these attacks, while the ABC walks the tightrope of truly balanced journalism under constant threat of further funding cuts!

Then – having also been scathing about Labor’s revolving door of leadership, with 3 leaders spanning 6 years – blow me down with a feather, but we then have 3 Coalition leaders over the next 5 years!

And over that entire period back in power, and right up until the current crisis blew up, blame for every problem Australia was facing was laid, by the Coalition, at the door of the Labor Party!

It just hit me – about the only significant policies which the Coalition have developed involved tax cuts for the largest corporations – intended, so they claimed, to create more jobs.Yet unemployment and, more importantly, under-employment has stayed stubbornly unchanged while wages stagnated!

Do you remember we had it in black and white that we were to have a surplus announced at the end of the 2019/20 fiscal year. In fact it WAS announced by Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer, in 2019.

Do you remember Labor’s treasurer, Wayne Swan being lambasted because he announced a surplus which, because of a change of circumstances, did not materialise?

He was pilloried by the mainstream media.

What are they saying now when the Coalition government faces the same situation?

Sweet FA!

Clearly the necessary policies in relation to protecting the population against the crisis have not been proposed by Scott Morrison.

The one thing he can be congratulated for is setting up a National, cross-party cabinet.

Consensus politics is essential at all times but particularly in an emergency.

The rapid changes in the policies developed are clear indications of reactive thinking, yet, even in a crisis, it is surely wise to think it through and get it right first time.

We are being told that the increase enjoyed by WorkSmart recipients will be short-lived, no one has yet looked at the fate of casual and temporary workers who have no entitlement to any part of the package released to date, and the needs for help by a massive number of those now unemployed are just that – massive!

Yes – we have not got rid of the virus – and we may never do so.

Yes – we may never even have a vaccine.

Please do not fall over backwards to thank Scott Morrison for the job he has done.

Do you honestly not realise that he would have to have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into accepting the package which is so clearly modelled on the Labor response to the GFC?

And do you think he is man enough to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Labor for blazing the trails?

In your dreams!

Power corrupts so let’s limit the power of the politicians!

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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Caring for the carers and others in distress

Watching the Four Corners program (ABC 04/05/20), I was struck by the extent of the potential mental and physical health damage that will have been suffered by so many of the medical personnel who were interviewed.

And there were other groups which were not included in those interviews – cleaners in those hospitals, and low-paid staff in the many Aged Care facilities, where protecting the elderly from infection has not always succeeded.

Throw the net wider, and and there will be many in the community both citizens and visa holders alike, whose loss of work and income has left them destitute and often homeless.

For the sake of the exercise, let all these people register in what, for convenience, we will call the Pandemic Victims group, which will entitle them to assistance, and maybe it would be best situated in the Future Fund.

Then my thoughts turned to a couple of wealthy suburbs of NSW, where several residents, having enjoyed skiing holidays in Aspen, Colorado, USA or holidayed in other overseas locations, continued to party on, carelessly ignoring social distancing and creating a hot spot for spreading COVID-19.

We have one of the most effective national health schemes in the developed world and it has been stressed almost to the limits by the pandemic – with no certainty that there will be no more major outbreaks.

People like our wealthy party-goers put unnecessary stress on its resources – and put others lives at risk!.

In the next few months we will, hopefully, start to move on to a new normal and it is critically important that we learn from this experience that the old ‘normal’ is no longer valid.

For starters, expert health science has been our guiding light in manoevering our way through the chaos created by the pandemic. That same pandemic, while it has destroyed many lives, also did us a favour by indirectly reducing emissions.

For the last 10 years the Australian government has reacted too often to political pressure from their back bench, and turned a deaf ear to the rising demand to develop an energy policy and take action on global warming. Scientific advice supporting these demands has been readily available and ever more urgently offered over time.

Listen to it!

Australia is not alone in being affected by the pandemic. Very few countries have remained untouched, and countries like Russia, Japan and the USA, which were reluctant to recognise the need to combat the existential challenge of climate change, have also been behind the 8-ball in tackling COVID-19.

Whatever we do in the immediate future – and which might act as an incentive to those countries named above – we need to build climate change policy into every action.

It is too soon for anyone to have put forward a clear plan for moving on, let alone for paying our way, so I would like to throw in some suggestions.

Firstly, a regular cause for complaint has been the extent to which major corporations seem able to avoid paying much or any tax, yet some of the allowable deductions are ridiculous.

One of these is the cost of preparing a tax return.

There is no cap on the amount that can be claimed!

There is a source for significant saving!

My apologies to all the accountants whose incomes will be decimated by such a change, but the days of champagne and caviar are over!

Secondly, at present the Medicare surcharge, in addition to being levied on those who are without Private Health Care cover and with an income above a certain level, is also used to help fund NDIS.

Unfortunately, because of the Coalition’s predilection for privatisation, this is currently run very inefficiently, and many of those with a disability, and in desperate need for a funding package, are getting a raw deal.

So provide government employment for properly trained assessors to operate the scheme, and, at the same time, increase the Surcharge Levy further.

The additional funds which are generated should be invested in a fund to be drawn on by the Pandemic Victims.

Some of these Pandemic Victims, the gig workers, those employed in the arts and entertainment plus non-citizens, will have been dependent on charity or loans and may be in need of immediate assistance.

Some will not need help for a while but may find that they need to take earlier retirement than anticipated and may need a boost to their superannuation.

At least we should try to repay all those whose labours and suffering was on behalf of others, or, in the case of those not eligible for current government assistance and relief, loss of employment for which they had no choice.

Australia’s multi-millionaires and major corporations could also be invited to donate to the fund, as it needs to be available to be drawn on, long before the Medicare Surcharge levy will reach its coffers!

They could gain great kudos by contributing to the fund rather than making political donations!

This is only intended as a very sketchy outline of something this country has a duty to do. It is surely a matter of honour?

The above needs a lot of refinement but, one way or another, many people have been damaged, both by working to combat the pandemic and because of the necessary actions taken by government to prevent a greater disaster.

We owe them – in the case of the carers – big time!

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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Government is in business and must follow the rules

Yesterday, Greg Hunt was embarrassed by ‘Twiggy’ Forrest turning up to a press conference, accompanied by a representative of the Chinese government.

Forrest is one of Australia’s top 10 richest Australians, he is former CEO and current non-executive chairman of Fortescue Mining, which is heavily involved in trading with China, and, under the Corporations Act 2001, his first duty is to his shareholders.

The Australian government wishes, understandably, to have a clearer picture of how the novel coronavirus pandemic started, as it is not the first, and will not be the last, and it has caused massive damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.

For a variety of reasons, they have handled the issue with a significant lack of diplomacy, and business people like Forest do not want to be caught in the subsequent crossfire.

China is upset by the Australian government’s approach to the issue and the last thing Forrest wants is a backlash to his business enterprises which adversely affects shareholders.

Now when you think about it – our nation is, in a sense, a massive corporation, and the PM and Ministers of the currently elected government are the active directors of that corporation – and their first duty is to their shareholders, the electors.

They were elected by individual members of the population who are eligible to vote, and, while corporations are legal entities, with all the rights that implies, that does not include giving them the right to vote for the members of Parliament!

Neither does it – at least to date – preclude them from making donations to political parties in the hope of thereby gaining more favourable treatment! Pity! This matter needs urgent attention!

Now, Forrest and his wife have committed themselves to donate a majority of their fortune to charities in their lifetime – a very commendable decision – which gives them a significant amount of clout with governments.

But that does not necessarily mean that the government should accept all the initiatives Forrest proposes, without doing their own due diligence. While the thinking behind the Cashless Welfare Card might appear noble, no one-size-fits-all solution to a problem is ever perfect and the many flaws in the current system are cause for considerable concern.

But – and much more importantly – the COVID-19 infection is not the only issue which has caused massive damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.

Preceding the pandemic, Australia experienced an extended bush fire season of unmatched and unprecedented ferocity. Fewer deaths might have resulted than from the pandemic – but even one unnecessary death is one too many.

People who lost everything – home, possessions, livelihood – were promised help.

The only help most of them have received so far has been from family, friends, neighbours and charities.

Yet we have an elected Parliament which should have been dealing with their needs while the National Cabinet dealt with issues related to the pandemic.

The southern part of Australia has just had a very chilly foretaste of the coming winter – and displaced people are living in tents and makeshift accommodation.

And then, apart from the forgotten victims of the bush fires, there are those on visas who came to Australia – at our request – but who, not being citizens – are ineligible for any of the government’s assistance packages related to the pandemic.

To be told “Go home!”, when they have been paying taxes while working here, is way beyond shabby!

I am no admirer of our current Prime Minister – nor of most of our politicians of all persuasions. I constantly sense that their self-interest outweighs their desire to do the right thing by the electors!

In the case of Scott Morrison – in the 2019 election, he was conspicuously here, there and everywhere as the daggy dad who knew how we felt. Conspicuously absent was virtually every other politician of note – particularly Peter Dutton, the one-time pretender and the current incompetent head of the largest, most poorly run government department of Home Affairs. Malcolm Turnbull’s promotion of this unpleasant man has been one of the greatest disservices ever done to this country, IMHO!

Now – Lo and Behold! We have a National Cabinet with representatives of both major parties – although not the Opposition Leader himself! – but, occasionally accompanied by an expert or a relevant government Minister, announcements are reserved to Morrison.

To the casual observer, HE is solely responsible for the decisions which are guiding the country through the pandemic crisis – even though some of those decisions have obviously been ones which he would never have willingly supported, because they were so like those Rudd made during the GFC!

A true leader acknowledges his sources, gives honour where honour is due and does not seek the limelight.

But the average voter does not necessarily analyse a particular situation.

Government is there to make policy decisions which benefit the people – ALL OF THEM, OR AT LEAST AS MANY AS POSSIBLE!

Support given to businesses should be limited to help which benefits the nation.

The economy is supposed to serve the people.

Those devastated by the bush fires need help – NOW!

Climate change has not gone away, and future policies must be developed which take it into account.

Biodiversity took a big hit in the bush fires, and if we ignore the need to protect the environment, we will be losers as well!

We should not even try to return to the old ‘normal’ but make sure that the new ‘normal’ is better suited to the needs of those who are now destitute, including those invited to our shores who are not our citizens.

Compassion and caring for others should not be confined to the many underpaid members of the ‘caring’ professions.

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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Over the last century or so, various parts of the world have suffered major catastrophes through extreme climatic events, financial crises, wars and pandemics. The following musings are based on my personal observations and therefore significantly limited in scope, and I am sure readers could add enormously to the situations I refer to. I think…

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Why are our leaders so ignorant about life outside their bubble?

Because, increasingly, governments seem to be relying for advice from political advisers – whose job is clearly designed to enhance the chance of the politician’s being re-elected – decisions made, based on that advice, are informed from a very narrow knowledge and experience base.

How many politicians, who are eventually promoted to Minister, have studied at university?

How many of those do not have a HECS debt, thanks to Gough Whitlam’s now abandoned policies?

Is there more than a handful of them who have first-hand knowledge of the problems experienced by a close friend or relative, suffering from a serious disability?

How many of them have been out of work for any length of time, struggling to cope with a truly inadequate income?

How many of them have spent enough time in an ATSI community to have a glimmer of understanding of life in that community?

How many of them have suffered racial abuse and discrimination or have close friends or acquaintances who have?

How many of them have spent any significant period of time having to make seriously important decisions on priorities because of extraordinarily limited funds availability?

How many of them have been dependent on carers, or themselves have been a carer for any length of time?

How many of them rely on advice from the Public Service departments rather than from their political advisers?

For generations, home-based mothers were regarded as not having a job!

What a travesty of truth!

Being a hands-on parent means you not only look after your children’s hygiene, nutrition, safety, attention to homework and general progress at school, keep a close eye on the children’s friends to ensure there are no detrimental influences on the child, talk to teachers, and – in between trying to ensure your children head towards a viable future – do the shopping, cooking, transport the children to any sporting venues more than a bicycle ride away – and, particularly if you are (as many women are) a sole parent, fit in part- or full-time employment outside the home as soon as the children can be properly supervised in your absence.

Few men are in a position to begin to understand what that is like, and if you receive little or no support from a partner, even the part-time work is a significant problem when the children are small.

That is just for starters, in detailing the knowledge not necessarily available to our decision-makers from firsthand experience.

And there are still men who see everything to do with managing the household and the children as the mother’s job!

Then there are those who cannot find work.

In some areas there are few jobs available, particularly  for those relatively unskilled, yet for them to move elsewhere and look for work, they need first to find accommodation, have some decent clothes to wear to a job interview and be able to afford transport to interviews. That is before they have started earning! And the paltry amount offered by WorkSmart will be re-established once we emerge form the COVID-19 lock down!

The state-run TAFEs of bygone days did at least offer those who did not think in terms of university, a realistic chance of becoming qualified in a trade. Today’s privatised organisations require up-front fees, with no likelihood of a refund if the organisation goes belly up – as too many have done.

The current incarnation of Centrelink is also in part privatised, and in consequence sees its role as satisfying shareholders rather than helping human beings in need.

RoboDebt was a prime example of profit-motivation driving an illegally designed program which damaged people in desperate need of support. How many have already  been refunded money they did not owe?

The cashless welfare card puts money in the pockets of the card supplier (money which ought to be going to those in need!) while making life even more difficult for people struggling to manage their finances, on the pretence of helping them to budget.

Not everyone is out of work by choice, but if you have grown up in a household in which your parent(s) has/have been unable to find work, you do not have a model to guide you, as is the case with those whose parents are in continuous employment.

If you have a serious disability, from birth or acquired, assistance from NDIS is way short of optimal – again because privatisation and outsourcing means you are not necessarily being helped by appropriately trained and motivated people. And this is also true for able job seekers who have to follow unrealistic regimes while competing for jobs in a market with more job seekers than jobs!

How many of those, planning the legislation which demonises the jobless, have had an firsthand experience of the effect of their policies?

Just to throw in another very pertinent issue, thanks to very poor decisions about the NBN, there are many parts of Australia where access to the internet is difficult or impossible. And on top of that, despite valiant efforts to remedy the situation, many of our more elderly still do not have the ability to use the internet and miss out on government information, posted online in the arrogant assumption that it will reach everyone.

I have a friend, only months younger than I am, who never checks her emails or uses a browser because, following a stroke, causing some cognitive impairment, it is too challenging. And she is also, in consequence, cut off from MyGov and similar websites.

It used to be that people from all political backgrounds, stood for election in order to promote policies to help people in ways that matched their political ideals.

Now, we have a few political parties whose adherents attach themselves, early in life, after possibly a brief taste of a ‘real’ world career, become a party apparatchik, assist the local branch, stand for pre-selection – preferably in a ‘safe’ seat – and enter parliament with a limited picture of the world outside their ideological group.

I grew up at a time when communism was a live issue. When I studied mathematics at Imperial College in the mid-1950s, the head of my Faculty and several of the lecturers were members of the British Communist party (BCP). The invasion of Hungary in 1956 was a turning point and the BCP dwindled thereafter, but the picture we had in the UK at that time was of communism being designed to help those oppressed by the power of the establishment, and to attempt to share wealth more equitably. Potentially noble aims, but Stalin and his successors merely established a new, utterly authoritarian regime, while the underlying concepts of socialism lingered on, raising suspicion because of events.

The idea now that an individual, independent of any party structure, could in any way influence national policy agendas is a pipe dream. Yet, when I was a teenager, it was still seen in the USA that even a lowly cow-hand could aspire to be President!

Not too many billionaire cowhands around to seek election these days!

The market rules, and international corporations call the shots so our elected politicians rush to do their bidding while ignoring the needs of the electorate!

Like the UK, but not quite as completely, we have followed too closely in the USA’s policy footsteps and unless we backtrack, we will pay a very high price.

The current disastrous state of the world’s heath, as regards people and also the economy, must surely give us pause to think – we could do better than this.

The lowering of emissions because of the slowing down of industry and the significantly reduced use of transport – particularly airplanes! – MUST be used to change our trajectory.

The economy is NOT the major consideration. Not unless it is being restructured to assist fighting global warming and improving people’s lives.

We have representatives on the National Cabinet who do not share the Coalition’s ideology – and the Coalition, in any case, only has a one seat majority – far from overwhelming! – which means there are effectively as many who oppose them as support them. (The Coalition did NOT win a majority of votes!)

As a member of Extinction Rebellion Darwin, I am aching for the lock down to be lifted so that we can be out on the streets demanding policy changes which will give our grandchildren hope for a 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

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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God save America – ‘cos they look likely to go to hell in a hand basket, left to their own devices!

There were snippets on the news yesterday  (21/04/20) showing thugs in Michigan – and it might not have been the only State capital – bearing what, to my untrained eye, looked like assault weapons, demanding that their Governor lift the Covid-19 movement restrictions.

Then there was the ABC Foreign Correspondent program, interviewing nurses and health care staff, who were risking being dismissed by protesting at the lack of provision of adequate PPE (personal protective equipment), which lack, in turn, was putting their own lives at risk while they were trying to save the lives of others.

And the pictures of refrigerated trucks being filled with bodies.

Has there ever been a clearer example of the abject failure of the capitalist, user pays, approach to government?

And the USA claims to lead the world!

Here in Australia, we were heading towards this approach, with crazy talk about herd immunity being bandied around, but, fortunately, a national cabinet had enough balance to steer more towards the humane and away from the ideological.

Is there a total breakdown of communication in the USA, so that people are not provided enough information for them to understand the need for the lock-down?

Or is their insistence on personal rights so strong that it overrides any means of persuading them that they need to moderate their behaviour in order to save lives – including, possibly, their own?

To me there is something totally alien about a country which claims to be Christian – which the USA does, while tolerating other faiths – which then is so selfish as to put hundreds and thousands of lives at risk by pressuring state governments to end the lock-down and allow freedom of movement when the infection rate is still rising.

And that is on top of having a health system which can barely cope with the current caseload, and which may be placed in the position of refusing help to those who cannot pay, while simultaneously sacking experienced staff for publicly, and understandably, criticising health institutions and their management.

I find it truly mind-blowing!

And the strange thing about American political attitudes is that they accept that the wealthy can be philanthropic, yet the minute anyone tries to persuade them to help other people themselves, they are accused of being communist.

Even the words ‘social welfare’ are interpreted as socialism in a derogatory way!

I have met some charming and thoughtful people from the USA but I would never in a blue fit choose to visit, let along live, there!

The final kibosh is their – IMHO – insane love affair with guns!

I think the developed world is hoping that reasonable arguments prevail and the current President is not given another term to swing his wrecking ball through democracy!

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We are being pulled in several directions by varying vested interests and moral issues. There is absolutely no doubt that a lengthy lock-down will cause severe damage to the economy, while we need to keep in mind that we did not have a particularly healthy economy before the pandemic hit. There is equally no doubt…

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Who would have ever predicted that Australia would become a socialist state under a Coalition government? Well – actually, the socialist-style policies have been adopted, as a temporary measure, in extraordinary circumstances, by a multi-political group of politicians and advisers (possibly with some of them having to firmly grit their teeth before agreeing to the…

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We have a breathing space to plan. We are dependent to a large extent on other countries for manufactured goods, often made from raw materials which we have exported. The need for Australia to establish more industry is definitely a subject being currently discussed. particularly as the extent of our dependence on China for imports…

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