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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 are destroying the future for our descendants

This is the third time in the last 8 weeks that I have started to write an article to be published on the AIM Network.

The first two I junked, because I did not think they were worth publishing.

Hopefully this time I will be able to say what I think needs to be said.

Some relevant background.

I was born and initially educated in England, arriving in Australia on 1/1/71, with an honours degree in Mathematics from Imperial College, London and 5 years full time, and 3+ years part time, experience of teaching maths – plus three children.

Just 2 weeks after my arrival here, I celebrated my 35th birthday.

All told, I had 19 years out of mainly full-time work while my children were growing up, because of the fact that, despite my work record, I was not ‘qualified’ to teach in Australia without a Dip Ed!

I was able to teach part-time, which I continued to do somewhat spasmodically.

Thanks to Gough Whitlam, I was able to study in the late 1970s, for my Dip Ed in secondary mathematics through external studies, and, by the time I had achieved that, I was faced with the prospect of working with teenagers and living with teenagers!

So in the intervals, I completed the first year in a Diploma in Accounting, which introduced me to Business Law, and spent 3 years working for AMP – then a respected body in Australia as a Mutual Provident Society.

I re-entered the teaching profession, full-time, in 1984, in the secondary system, moved to the ITAFE portion of NTU halfway through its first year of existence, and remained with that body (now, of course, Charles Darwin University) for a total of 151/2 years.

During the1990s, I also completed a Master of Science (Science Education), having submitted a thesis on Mathematics Education.

In my last few years of teaching, I was also teaching mathematics to first year engineering students.

By this time I knew I wanted to study Law, because I had encountered so many people whose lives were damaged by their inability to get timely and affordable legal advice.

So in February, 2008, having completed the LLB (Graduate Course), I was admitted, aged 72, as a Barrister and Solicitor, and spent nearly 5 years practising as a lawyer in a small law firm.

I had also gained accreditation as a mediator, and I continued working as a mediator for 2 more years after quitting the law practice.

Then life changed.

I became an activist – albeit on a modest scale.

I had been involved in a quite wide variety of community organisations, these included Lifeline Top End, The Darwin Community Legal Service, Life Education NT and the Environmental Defenders Office NT.

My younger granddaughter, who lives in the UK, joined Extinction Rebellion, and took part in their activities in Edinburgh and London and I started, for the first time, really noticing what was going on in the world.

When you need to concentrate on finding and maintaining a job, it is not necessarily easy to keep watch on what is happening elsewhere.

But – when you do start keeping tab on the events unfolding everywhere – you have to choose what to believe.

Truth or lie.

I have a comfortable income, but an acute awareness of mortality, particularly enhanced by having had a really mild stroke on the eve of my 85th birthday.

I had 3 nights out all lined up – all, as it turned out, spent in RDH!

I lost my driving licence for a month, but am, happily, back behind the wheel again as the doctor checked my eyesight and reckoned that if I could still play bridge and do Sudoku, my brain must be good enough for me to drive – and MVR accepted his recommendation!

Since 5 February, 2020, I have spent 2 hours on every Wednesday afternoon (bar one), sitting outside Parliament House, talking to anyone who stops, about Global Warming and the need for action.

While I am aware that we can all take some effective action, clearly the attitude of government and the policies it adopts are going to be critical.

AND WE HAVE ELECTED A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WHICH HAS NO INTEREST IN WHAT REALLY MATTERS AS LONG AS THEY GAIN AS MUCH POWER AS THEY CAN!

I winced at the Attorney General’s mock turtle tears when he revealed himself as the Cabinet Minister who has been accused of raping a young woman when she was 16.

She committed suicide last year so no legal action can be taken – BUT and it really is a very big BUT – there is no good reason why an inquiry cannot be held.

In fact, if the AG is innocent, it would be to his advantage to be able to establish that.

But that is yet another instance where we have been sadly let down by the calibre of our politicians, and totally in line with their inadequacies when it comes to climate change.

The world is facing an existential threat, and it will only be by a combined efforts – strongly led by the developed countries – that we have any hope of living in viable circumstances in 20 or 30 years time.

I am in the Top End of the NT, and everyone here is currently complaining of the heat.

A glance at world news reveals a continuum of first-time-ever events, glaciers melting, permafrost melting and releasing methane – one of the greenhouse gases which are causing global warming – the list goes on, and the COVID-19 pandemic has distracted us from watching these events as carefully as we should.

Having lived in wartime Britain, I know that, if governments provided a truthful explanation for the need for massive change, we would accept the loss of convenience that would result from meaningful policies to help control the world’s climbing temperatures.

And make no mistake.

The fact that some states in the USA have recently suffered an extreme cold spell, is the result of equally unusual increases in temperatures elsewhere.

Overall, we have increasing amounts of greenhouse gases causing what will become permanent climate changes which, in turn, will ensure that the adverse effects of global warming will become more severe.

We need to step back and look at what we are passing on to those who will follow us.

We all need to be taking responsibility for ensuring that we choose a government which will lead us back into safer waters, not simply bow down to the fossil fuel masters and deny our grandchildren a viable life.

We need to stop using fossil fuels to the greatest possible extent.

We need to stop seeking convenience when it carries an ever increasing cost.

We need to savagely reduce waste and pollution.

Our oceans are being irreparably damaged yet we need to support and feed an ever increasing population.

And we are still concentrating on increasing the size of our arsenals, while we avoid the vital steps to empowering women to contribute to controlling population.

Actually – when you stand back and look at how our governments – particularly here in Australia – are making such a mess, maybe we do not deserve to survive!

These are personal views which I know are largely shared by many others.

But, if we are going to achieve change, it will be a fight and the longer we leave it, the harder it will be.

My mini-stroke has definitely affected my brain, and I know I no longer have such a strong drive to force change, but I think I have not said anything here which I would not have said, over and over again, before the stroke occurred.

We need to unite, force change in government, accelerate action to ban fossil fuels – and keep the pressure on!

Let’s stop complaining and get stuck into effective action.

NOW!!!

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Is Scott Morrison a Donald Trump lite?

Donald Trump and Scott Morrison have much in common.

Their policies and decisions show them both to be opinionated, self-centred, dangerously narcissistic and lacking in empathy.

Trump, as President of the USA, till now, a major world power, has more power in his own country than an Australian Prime Minister, for whom Cabinet’s backing is required – although Congress can still veto some of Trump’s Presidential decrees.

COVID-19 has been a godsend for Morrison, because it gave him the opportunity to cancel sittings of Parliament, and, now that sittings have resumed, his small but sufficient majority in the House enables all motions stating “I move that the speaker can no longer be heard” to be waved through, to stifle discussion points being raised by the Opposition.

This is destroying whatever vestige of democracy might have survived after 7+ years of Coalition rule, and is turning Morrison into a petty dictator.

Worse; because his majority is wafer thin, he cannot afford to call out the idiots in his ranks, truly moulded in Trump’s image, and including the Deputy Prime Minister, no less, who spout insane and dangerous lies and conspiracy theories.

Morrison’s National Cabinet served the purpose of his being able to claim credit for any worthwhile policies agreed to, while passing national responsibility for issues like quarantine – for which the Federal government is responsible – onto the states and territories, brushing aside the appalling level of deaths in Aged Care accommodation – again a Federal responsibility – and generally doing little but appearing to be in charge.

Because of Trump, the USA has experienced a massive loss of respect from the rest of the world.

Recent events have brought out very clearly the extent to which Trump’s Presidency has been a total disaster.

Because of Morrison and his stubborn refusal to properly review his policies on emissions reductions, Australia is also losing respect in the developed world.

The economy should be the servant of the citizens – instead of which, the Coalition government, under Morrison, puts the economy front and centre in its world, subsidises major fossil fuel companies, financially assists businesses more generously than human beings and is responsible for turning the gap between rich and poor into a chasm.

 

Image from cnn.com

 

Interestingly, many businesses – apart from the fossil fuel related ones, of course! – are doing much better than the government at moving to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

But how much more effective might that be if it was properly backed by government.

Morrison claims to keep his religion apart from his role in government, but many are wondering – and I do not want to embrace another conspiracy theory! – whether his belief that the faithful will enjoy some glorious extension of life in the embrace of the almighty – the ‘rapture’ – results in his disregard of the need to intervene to help undo the damage mankind is doing to our climate.

Today was the 50th consecutive Wednesday of my self-imposed, 2-hour weekly vigil à la Greta Thunberg (only I cannot sit on the steps!) outside the NT Parliament House, talking to all who stop by about the need for action on global warming. Many do not stop but give me the thumb’s up sign or wave. A minority go to great pains to not see me!

The Speaker has given me permission to be there, has approved a party – for which she will provide a cake – on 27 January 2021, the end of my first full year of activism, and, today, her PA came to see me and discuss arrangements.

We have a Labor government but, sadly, following the moratorium on fracking before the last election, it is being allowed. Stringent conditions are supposed to be met, but if it is discovered that they have been breached, will the damage be reparable?

Please don’t just bewail the failings of governments.

All that I have said here has been said by others before me.

We know what should be happening.

It is up to us to keep the pressure on until it does. I shall be 85 on Saturday and I aim to continue my vigil until policies change. I do not want to die on the job!

Please do your part to make others realise that policy change is vital and delay dooms the future of all life on earth.

Don’t you, also, care about your – or other people’s – grandchildren and their children?

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The Economy, COVID-19 and Global Warming

And – when it comes to importance – the issue of greatest importance is – Global Warming.

Clearly the economy has a very significant importance, but we have already established, in the GFC, and in the early stages of the pandemic, that we can break the normal ‘rules’ when we need to.

The pandemic itself is not the first we have experienced, although it is ramping up to being trickier than we anticipated, but our scientists are doing a sterling job at creating vaccines. The anti-vaxxers will cause some problems, no doubt, but, if we use enough commonsense – I will come back to that later – we should get things under control.

But, when it comes to global warming, Australia hasn’t begun to handle the necessary action at federal level, and the delay in establishing a clear strategy is causing damage all round – including to the economy.

Now let’s run through those again.

Is our economy being handled as well as it might be, if people are to be able to put food on the table, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads, get to and from work – if they are fortunate enough to have a job – and have a reasonable quality of life?

Sadly – the answer is NO!

We have government policies designed to encourage those who have shown a capacity to make lots of money, to continue to do so – and a blind eye is turned to how little tax they pay – while at the same time generating a perception that all the rest – if they are struggling and in need of any form of income support – are bludgers, who cannot be trusted to look after their own money and spend it appropriately.

The fact that there are many more people looking for jobs, than there are advertised job vacancies, is brushed aside. Just go to our agents and let them send you off to apply for jobs you cannot qualify for, to ensure the agents have a good enough income to continue stuffing up your life.

And if you are uncooperative, we will take all your money away from you until you are ready crawl to back and beg for help again.

Exaggeration? Not really!

If you are receiving money from the government, you are on welfare, the lowest of the low. Even if you are getting some or all of your income from the Age Pension – which used to be seen as an entitlement for those who had worked hard all their life, paid all their taxes, and finally retired – you are still watched like a hawk to ensure you do not get one cent more than your entitlement.

Has any serious consideration been given to the Universal Basic Income concept?

I am glad you asked that question.

A lot of people have given it a great deal of consideration, but none of them it seems, are in government.

Just think about it a moment.

You decide what the average individual needs to receive to be able to cover all basic costs, without being extravagant, adjust the amount required for a child, who clearly has fewer responsibilities and consequent needs for finance (although a child needs more frequent wardrobe expenses as it grows!), and then the government pays that basic amount to each and every adult, plus, the lesser amount for each child for whom the adult is responsible.

Too easy!

But in some cases you will be giving money to people who already have more than enough!

Then adjust the tax system so it is returned to the government coffers. That is not so hard surely?

Now everyone is being treated by the same system and organising that would be incredibly much less complicated than the current system.

Why?

Well may you ask!

You have obviously never been in the clutches of Centrelink!

You lose your job.

You try desperately to find another.

You have nearly run through all your savings.

In desperation you go to Centrelink.

There you are put through the ringer.

Do you own or rent your house? How much do you pay each fortnight for your rent or mortgage? How many bank accounts do you have and how much do you have in each account? What debts do you have? How about your partner?

It seems to go on forever, until the Centrelink Officer knows every little detail about your assets and income.

And heaven help you if you leave something out!

If you have had to go through this process, you know what I am on about and if you have been so fortunate as to never having had to do so, just get hold of the form and check it out!

Now Centrelink has so much work on its hands that it has to outsource some of it – just think what that costs in terms of personnel salaries and superannuation – not to mention recreation leave and sick pay, maternity leave and so on as well as office accommodation.

And there is a wide variety of bases on which you may have entitlement to some sort of pension or relief, each with its own criteria.

Has anyone troubled to take all that into account when considering the UBI?

And one visit to the Centrelink office does not see the matter settled.

While you are on ‘income support’ of any kind, you have to advise Centrelink of any variation in the amount you receive each fortnight lest the government pay you more than you are entitled to.

No wonder people who had obeyed all the rules, but were informed – under the Robo-debt scheme – that they had received hundreds more than they were entitled to – might have committed suicide.

Now hang on a moment. We are still talking about financial issues – ie the economy – and yet you said it was not the most important issue.

You are right – but it crops up in all sorts of contexts and it could so easily be made less important through, for example, policies like the UBI – which is why commonsense was flagged earlier!

The COVID-19 issue has clearly impacted the economy.

In a genuine attempt to reduce transmission of infection and avoid unnecessary loss of life, the government closed down a whole heap of businesses, and put a lot of people out of work.

I am not sure whether you have noticed this, but it seems to me that the government, when it finally woke up to the fact that people with no jobs had no money to keep buying things that helped the economy keep rolling along, the schemes which it devised were more beneficial for businesses than for employees. Not just businesses, either, as shareholders did very nicely, thank you in many instances.

And there were very specific categories of employees and other workers who were eligible for any benefits.

Foreign students and refugees were ignored , as were hundreds in the wide range of gig economies.

Just think a moment. In the 2020/21 bush fires many people in the entertainment industry raised funds for bush fire victims.

The government also promised assistance to those victims, too, but there are many still waiting.

And those in the entertainment industry would mostly have been outside the categories which the government did assist.

Equality has well and truly gone out of the window.

A vast number of people had a seriously reduced or even no income for quite some time, and it is an on-going situation for too many.

Yet Parliament was cancelled for months and all the politicians happily received their regular payments for income and superannuation and leave entitlements and… and…

It really makes me sick!

So – calm down!

We have now established that the pandemic is also closely linked to impacts on the economy, and there will be many people who are waiting for the axe to fall – or even struggling to recover from its fall – as their payments from the government are being periodically reduced, while the moratorium on evicting tenants for late payment of rent or foreclosing on mortgages is not going on forever.

So why do I still maintain that the issue of greatest importance is Global Warming.

Like the pandemic, it affects the whole world.

The scientific evidence is there that we are experiencing, in different parts of the world, increasingly severe droughts, storms, floods, coastal erosion, all of which are linked to our failure to move away from using fossil fuels.

The greenhouse gases which we are emitting not only cause global warming, which, in turn, causes the increasing severity, but the pollution itself is causing damage to health as the quality of the atmosphere is deteriorating.

Now we might be able to achieve an appreciable reduction in infections from the pandemic if the vaccines can be widely distributed. And remember – the developed world can afford to look after its people, but poorer countries might not be able to achieve a sufficient level of vaccination, so that there will be a continuing risk of fresh waves of infections, since people from these countries are often employed outside their country of origin, in areas like transport and other low skilled jobs.

Although in terms of population, Australia is smaller than countries like China, India and the USA, our per capita emissions are higher than in those countries. We also rely on selling coal and gas overseas, and, as other countries increase their rejection of fossil fuels, we need to find other sources of income quick smart, as we are already in financial strife after depending too heavily on trade with China.

Every time anyone suggests that the government must take action to reduce our emissions to a greater extent, the question comes back – “How much will it cost?” – and the answer is to be given in dollar terms.

But please can we stress that the 2020/21 bush fires caused massive damage and cost lives – and the victims are still waiting for help.

And all the costs associated with that event – and with the previous prolonged drought, and the increasingly severe storms affecting the East coast and eroding the foundation of mansion with ocean views, and a whole load of recent climate related events – those costs are the costs of not taking action over the past 40 years!

Just yesterday, the USA paid the price of electing a man as President who was incapable of doing the job properly. And, seemingly for personal or party advantage, the Republicans, who could have supported the impeachment motion some months back, chose to defeat it, and not attempt to rein in his increasingly dangerous behaviour.

There is a strong parallel there!

And unfortunately, the history of the current Prime Minister gives me no confidence that he is the right person to lead this country through the process we need to follow.

It will require us to change many of our patterns of living, in order to reach the level of reduction in emissions which will leave a world for our grandchildren to enjoy as good a life as most of us have had!

It will most certainly not be easy but it will be worth the effort!

But we will not be ‘getting back to normal’ – or even achieving a ‘snap back’ – but creating a new world order!

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Where have all the flowers gone?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
. . . . .
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?

The mind works in mysterious ways!

For some reason, this Pete Seeger song slipped into my thoughts earlier today – immediately followed by the question

Where on earth has the Australian Opposition Party disappeared to?

Now I am fully aware of the dilemma faced by the Labor Party.

Unless circumstances take an unexpected turn, the Murdoch media will support the Coalition and denigrate the Opposition – just as Morrison praises Liberal NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, lauding her to the skies and supporting her allowing the SCG to be used for the next Test Match, while demonising Labor Victoria Premier Dan Andrews, and ignoring the fact that Victoria’s most recent cases of infection have come from NSW!

And the Murdoch Media in most parts of Australia controls a majority of the media outlets!

Perhaps some hidden memory of the words of the song was triggered by the ‘what goes around, comes around’ nature of the Pete Seeger verses, matches the circular nature of the COVID-19 infections.

We are so not out of the woods!

Just as the current hiatus could have been put to good use in developing urgently needed policies to avert the worst consequences of global warming, but was not, so too our current situation is the result of ineffective leadership for the country from a Prime Minister who chose to pass the buck to the Premiers and Chief Minister, while demanding to be congratulated whenever things turned out well.

We need a national policy on quarantine because that is an issue firmly in the national domain.

We also need a much more serious discussion on the universal basic income concept, as it could have been the perfect solution to our current economic mess with its many seriously damaged damaged lives.

We need an Opposition which is actively criticising – and praising when praise is due – the government policies.

Is it so scared of putting forward alternative policies in case they will be stolen?

If it has publicly proposed them and – in the unlikely event that the Coalition does make use of them – they are put into effect, and are successful – then what is going to stop the Opposition from drawing attention to the fact that they are pleased to see their policies being put in place and reap some benefit?

There has been some publicity recently over a connection between Industry Super and a non-paywalled online publication, The New Daily, (TND) which has been going now for some 7 years.

As print newspapers die out, and people must, increasingly, turn to the internet for the latest news, Albanese would be smart to direct press releases exclusively to TND and the ABC.

As a political fence sitter (as noted elsewhere – mother Tory, father Labour) I am amused to see how those who follow the Murdoch media see the ABC as ‘lefties’, while those who see themselves as lefties bewail the way the ABC has moved to the right – which tells me the ABC has probably done its balancing act moderately well!

One of the jobs of a national news outlet is to hold the government – of whatever flavour – to account. That is not showing bias. That is doing its job, because, goodness knows, few governments, if any, are above criticism and the Murdoch media only ever offer at most muted criticism!

Morrison’s only skills are in marketing and he uses them most often in marketing himself.

Peter Beattie designated himself as a media tart.

Scott Morrison is a media hog!

He will get as much personal publicity as he can get.

Labor has got to smarten up, throw out Joel Fitzgibbon, who is loudly opposing acceptance of action on climate change, develop an effective set of policies in this regard – enough European countries have done so to provide a viable model – concentrate on policies which will win votes – inequality is increasing apace and not many Labor votes will be lost if the ultra-rich are taxed more heavily – and, above all advertise the errors in the way the Coalition has handled the pandemic.

It is a fair bet that Morrison will choose an auspicious moment in 2021 to call an early election – he has virtually signalled this by saying he won’t – so Labor has got to have already outlined, and headlined succinctly, a viable policy platform.

If it is already in the public domain, they can start answering question immediately, not in the heat of an election campaign, and have more time to counter the lies that will be generated by those attacking it.

In recent days I have spent quite a bit of time with people who are trying to promote the concept of lived experience in terms of developing policy which meets needs. For example, NDIS is being delivered by people who have no lived experience and have not run their procedures through with people who have had lived experience. Hence the list of failures and disasters.

Labor must be aware of this need and make sure it consults appropriate people in developing its policies.

I do not belong to any political party, but, if I could find one which believes in social justice and has a truly effective concept for a national ICAC, I would be a foundation member!

Too many people have suffered severely under this government – and are continuing to suffer – and they include Australian citizens, many of whom are in the arts and entertainment industries, who have performed to raise funds for others, like after the 2020/21 bush fires, but who have been given no support by government; foreign nationals on work visas with no work.now available; refugees deprived of freedom to a greater extent than murderers, and those caught out overseas who have definitely not been returned to Australia by Christmas!

We need a ray of hope that the Coalition can be voted out – so we need an effective Opposition!

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Wake up, Australia!

It is true that 2020 is behind us and that various vaccines for COVID-19, claimed to be effective, are in the process of being distributed – BUT – we still have a Coalition government, which is ruled by the same power group which has, initially under Nick Minchin’s influence, and for at least two decades, denied us government support for realistic action on climate change.

I suspect that being in power is an incredible aphrodisiac – at the flick of a pen you can refuse to accept valid advice and expect that your popularity in the right quarters will then ensure a comfortable retirement from politics – and to hell with all those powerless fools whose lives will be forever damaged in consequence!

Inequality, in addition to lack of action on global warming, is a vicious menace.

We have a government which takes a jackboot attitude towards the poor and the disabled.

Don’t for a moment believe that the proof of illegality of Robodebt will stop this government from enforcing draconian laws on those who lack the skills and the finance to protect themselves from government mistreatment.

The current push – which, once more, is possibly illegal – is for a cashless welfare card to be imposed on many communities, and individuals, on the arrogant assumption that the people affected are incapable of managing a budget and need protection from themselves because they will fritter money away on drugs and alcohol.

And this is not being applied only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people, yet no one notices that it goes way beyond arrogant paternalism, as it smacks of an assumption that these people are incapable of learning how to manage their own money!

Too many decision makers – be they government Ministers or bureaucrats – lack lived experience. If you have never lost a limb, been born with a disability, suffered extreme poverty, etc, you are not really in a good position to understand the effect of these situations on others.

Particularly when it comes to dealing with people with any sort of mental illness, when to lose patience with them because they are not behaving – in your personal opinion – in a rational manner, is the height of stupidity on your part.

No person with any sort of mental impairment should ever be interviewed by officials in the absence of an advocate known to the interviewee. Have you ever heard of the Anunga rules in the NT in regard to Indigenous people in police custody?

This is an approach which needs to be adopted in all cases where any issues raised might affect the ability of either party in an interview to understand the other – whether it be language or mental capacity which is the applicable issue.

Our ATSI people are, in many parts of Australia, among the most disadvantaged people in the world. They struggle to maintain – or, in many cases, recover – a culture which is extremely important to them. As with many migrants, English is not even not necessarily their first language at home, it is often their third or fourth language.

Have you ever seen this map of Australia before?

Many ATSI people can speak in multiple languages. If they do not understand English, it is not because they are any more stupid than you are if you cannot understand a Chinese speaker – because you have never learned to speak fluent Chinese!

If the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted one thing, it is that the government’s main interest is in the economy. This is, in some instances, understandable, but governments MUST multi-task!

People are in second place – or, for particular groups, even lower down the priority list – so that the only thing admired by too many of our politicians is the ability to acquire, and enhance the nature of, wealth! If you are in entertainment or politics, being wealthy makes you the darling of the media but if you are disadvantaged in any way, neither media nor politicians really give a damn about you!

I subscribe to Crikey and, over this past year or two, they have been following research into NDIS.

This has not been well received by official circles, yet when these findings have been obtained, is the research not warranted?

We live in an era where the advice on which government Ministers seem to rely does not come from experienced Public Servants, but from political advisers, whose duties are centred – not on “What is best for the country?”, but “What is most likely to help win the next election?”

When people’s lives are being damaged in consequence of a totally flawed policy approach, something has to change.

And we who are electors have got to be much more vocal in making it clear that what we are being offered doesn’t begin to meet the pub test!

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A vision of a new world

“Beware of what you wish for” constitutes a wise warning!

Updating our view of the future is an essential element of moving into a New Year.

We have yet to see how much damage the current POTUS will be able to inflict on his country – and the world – before he reluctantly exits the White House, while, no doubt, immediately launching a new campaign for re-election in 4 years time!

It is worth noting that there has only ever been one US President who has served two non-consecutive terms in office

We have the misfortune to have, as our current Prime Minister, a man who shares many of the traits of Donald Trump, which does not bode well for our future.

Both are narcissists, both of whom demand constant attention – one through an almost constant flow of tweets (the pauses seem to coincide with his going into a sulk because things are not going to plan) and the other through an insatiable demand for photo ops (he even took his personal media staff into ‘self-isolation’), justifying the process as only he could!

Both have an ability – admittedly shared by a high proportion of politicians – to tell lies when the truth would be inconvenient.

Both are climate change denialists which may prove to be their undoing.

In the case of Morrison, he will be seeking re-election long before Trump, and it is vital that Labor and the Greens (why in hell cannot these people realise how much they have in common, settle their differences and join forces to defeat the Coalition before it is too late?) work their butts off to convince themselves and the electorate that, without effective action on climate change, Planet Earth has no future.

Even Biden will have an uphill battle to undo the damage already done by Trump’s actions in reversing so many policies which were designed reduce emissions.

Australia seems to rely on being an island – which, in relation to COVID-19, has some advantages – to avoid sharing policies adopted by an increasing number of countries which share ideas as well as borders.

I still maintain we need to expand our views of the world in many regards.

There are now 3, not just 2, certainties in life, and the newcomer is the most important one.

These certainties are – CHANGE, DEATH & TAXES.

Adapting to change is sometimes so automatic that we co not realise we are doing it – and, unfortunately, there has been a massive amount of change which has happened quite subtly in the last year that we have not questioned what is going on.

Just look at Parliament.

How often has it met this year?

Why?

What is its function meant to be?

Has it been able to meet those requirements?

How often has the Prime Minister refused to allow debate to continue?

Is the Parliament being allowed to act as a democratic parliament is intended to act?

How much evidence of corruption has been detected?

How much action has been taken to deal with that corruption?

How many Ministers ought to have resigned and yet, in nearly all cases, have merely been moved or even promoted?

While accepting that China’s administrative changes have been an obvious reason for our current lack of rapprochement, who in the Australian government have been responsible for unnecessarily undermining that relationship?

And can we afford to have such a tenuous relationship with a country with the capacity to destroy our economy?

Since retiring, I have come to realise that, when I was working, I did not have the time or interest to follow what was going on in national and international affairs.

Climate change, in particular, was an issue I had not troubled to examine in sufficient depth.

So I can see why so many people, who are struggling to find and keep work in order to survive, cannot afford the time to look seriously at how our government is handling its job of running the country.

Now that I actually have time to do so, I am far from impressed with any political party policies and desperately concerned that we are becoming increasingly reactive, and running out of time to develop proactive and progressive policies.

We need our brightest minds from science, economics and business to insist on forcing the government to introduce more appropriate policies, ensure people are not forced into abject poverty, create jobs directed to avoid the disastrous outcomes which will be inevitable if we do not adjust to slow down global warming and – above all – stress policies that ensure we act to benefit all – not just a favoured few.

We are all in this together and we want to all benefit from plans which are inclusive not exclusive.

Is an early election in Australia likely?

Do politicians tell the truth?

At present the prospects for a peaceful New Year are not looking good!

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Our PM is incompetent, insensitive and incapable of good judgment

Millions of people in the world are struggling to survive, while a very small minority are working furiously to acquire millions, to salt away their wealth, and secure themselves recognition and a place in the super rich category.

In reality, many in this group are totally insensitive to the fact that their greed is causing genocide in many nations, destroying the environment all round the world, including an alarming assault on biodiversity, while ignoring the existential threat of global warming.

And we have a PM who is a happy member of that minority – gladly rubbing shoulders with and kowtowing to a wealthy elite, while trying to be seen as the leader who cares.

Actually he is – but not because he cares about others in need, but because he cares about his own needs for praise and recognition.

He is a mini-Trump – and that is no compliment!

Last year, about this time, he quietly sneaked away to Hawaii – note this is not only outside Australia, but actually a USA State – so far from home. This year he plans to remain within Australia but his plans might be flawed, given the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Northern Beaches of NSW, yet he seems to be totally resistant to any idea that we cannot yet stop worrying about the pandemic.

Repatriation of citizens, who have been trapped abroad, is regularly bringing in people who are infected. Human nature being what it is, it is like playing Russian roulette to believe that their infection might not be passed on. Despite precautions, the wearing of PPE, etc, mistakes are made.

And, in this climate of uncertainty, to cut allowances to people who are un- or under-employed is, itself, directly challenging his precious economy.

The people who spend back into the economy the highest proportion of their incomes are those whose incomes are lowest. Economics 101!

Tax reductions are most generous to those on highest incomes and therefore least beneficial to the economy – but most beneficial to encouraging support for the Coalition!

I can only deduce that any whose incomes are low and who see Morrison as doing a good job, are people who are also susceptible to conspiracy theories and alternative facts – or, maybe, they are ones whose sources of information are both limited and misleading!

Tell me one policy that was announced before the 2019 election, other than tax cuts?

And tell me one policy announced since the election other than transitioning through gas – which is an oxymoron in itself?

We had a banking RC, which made many recommendations. One – which related to responsible lending, to ensure that a loan was to someone with a confirmed ability to repay – is one government now seeks to overturn, while dragging its heels on acting on all others.

Of course – the banks have to be kept happy, so that the donations – which are unrestricted – can continue to roll in. Reports on Aged Care and the Elderly are not producing any realistic policy changes from government, nor are the current trends in NDIS policy.

How many Royal Commission recommendations are still awaiting action – and how much was spent on the RCs?

If you stand back and look dispassionately at Coalition policies, it is blatantly obvious that corruption is built in, to ensure that those inclined to support the government will enthusiastically continue to do so, while those with greatest needs – the poor, pensioners, veterans, the disabled, the elderly, visa holders, refugees, students and universities are – without exception – short changed!

The political party of the majority forming government will, inevitably, bias policy development, but that does not mean that the policy has to ignore the needs of those who did not help elect the government!

Even more so does this apply when the government has so slim a majority of seats, and sometimes even a minority of votes!

Because the Coalition has won government 3 times in a row, this does not give it the authority to ignore the needs of those whose only source of support is access to government resources!

The hubris and selfishness of our Prime Minister is absolutely staggering.

His policies lack substance to assist on a universal basis, he is oblivious to the loss of lives consequent on his incompetence – including lives lost and damaged through the illegal Robodebt policy.

He obstinately pursues Centrelink beneficiaries, seeking to recover money from them and reduce payments to them, while ignoring those who fail to pay tax and misuse government money.

How many corporations in receipt of JobKeeper payments also paid dividends to shareholders – or did not pass on payments to employees?

Without a change of government, we are doomed to live in a society where the rich become obscenely rich, and the poor live on the streets.

So we need to call on the ALP to lift its game. We are not out of the woods, but the breadcrumbs we are following will lead us nowhere worth going, unless the Labor Opposition develops a spine!

COVID-19 is still a real threat.

A vaccine has yet to prove a viable solution.

Global warming, and the severe weather consequences remain an increasing threat which every country in the world must challenge.

Everyone who has a moment to spare should acquaint themselves with what is happening all round the world as far as climate change is concerned – and then pressure politicians to take realistic action!

Survival of the fittest is not a moral plan, when suitable action can ensure a less drastic outcome!

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Christmas bombshell cements Australia’s pariah status

THE federal government is putting $50m on the table to speed up gas exploration and development in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo sub-basin 600km south of Darwin.

NT News 17/12/20

The link is probably pay-walled but the report is almost certainly available through other online searches.

I have just listened to a report on the ABC’s Country Hour (also 17/12/20) which clearly detailed the future wealth which will be generated by this initiative.

Why do not journalists ask the hard questions?

How can the Prime Minister not see the connection between his policies on fossil fuels and his failure to be invited to the climate change summit?

At a time when we are in deep debt, following necessary action on COVID-19, when we are, rashly, ignoring the need for increasing action to counter global warming, consequent on use of fossil fuels, where is Morrison’s logic in subsidising massive increases in the release of more fossil fuels?

Early in his Presidency, there were serious suggestions that Donald Trump lacked the mental capacity to perform in the office. His niece’s assessment certainly showed a picture of a truly unsuitable candidate for the role of POTUS.

There are alarming similarities between Trump and Morrison, and the latter’s faith in Pentecostalism, if genuine, presupposes that he does not see science as a more certain source of knowledge than is faith without evidence.

It is also apparent that Pentecostalism is a much more individual source of faith than is normally assumed when individuals call call themselves Christian.

Indeed, many of the standards of importance to members of the Pentecostal cult run completely counter to the teachings attributed to Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible.

Like Trump, appearances indicate that Morrison’s first priority is to have power, and our misfortune is that enough in the Coalition are happy to let him make all the decisions, while the COVID pandemic gave him the excuse to sideline parliament for months during which he cemented his position as the Grand Pooh-Bah.

Being the Supreme Leader allows him to claim credit for all favourable outcomes, which were actually engineered by the Premiers and Chief Minister, while all unfavourable outcomes could be sheeted home to those same state and territory leaders.

IMHO, Morrison is totally lacking in moral standards, enjoys being a dictator, while not giving a tinker’s cuss about who is hurt – the refugees being bullied by Serco are just collateral damage, while the treatment of the Biloela family should be investigated by the UNHCR – and he is supported by a front bench which seems to be full of hypocrites.

After all the publicity that has been given to the bugging of the Timor Leste cabinet offices, leading to the secret trials of Bernard Collaery – a senior lawyer of impeccable integrity – and Witness K, (both of whom have had their lives and careers maliciously destroyed) how anyone can claim the secrecy to be justified, because the issue is one of national security, leaves my head in a whirl!

Pure and simple – it is a failed attempt to avoid embarrassment to former Cabinet members whose actions were motivated by commercial concerns.

The government’s own criminality is breath-taking in issues like ignoring High Court orders, establishing an illegal scheme to raise funds from innocent and vulnerable people through the enforcement procedure of Robodebt, and now, the latest, attempting to foist the cashless welfare card on a similarly disadvantaged group of people, quite contrary to the government’s own laws on the issue of credit/debit cards.

Australia has become a pariah in the developed world – and it is low on the popularity lists of many Pacific Island nations for very good reason!

I have no medical qualifications but observation makes me suspect that Morrison is a pigheaded bully and a narcissist who also uses his limited marketing skills to manufacture spin and conceal the truth.

He craves power, avoids giving any answers – let alone straight ones – to questions which really ought to be answered.

Our media have got to stop letting him get away with obfuscation and really press for answers.

Stop letting him mirror Trump!

As a dual British/Australian, I am struggling to see anything admirable in either nation.

And in both cases this is because of the leaders elected by those two nations.

Like those leaders, too many in the electorate have a limited understanding of science and a willingness to believe lies, because the truth is uncomfortable.

Recent severe weather events are not accidental and passing.

They are a consequence of global warming, and examination of information about what is happening in the Arctic and Antarctic regions would show that there is worse to come.

We have known about this for 30 to 40 years and have ignored the issue because it means we have to change our lifestyles, and forgo some of the conveniences to which we have become accustomed.

Australia is going to be shunned by the developed world as we get left behind, led by idiots whose self-belief is overwhelmingly misplaced!

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

China has plenty of ammunition to punish us, because our claims of being superior on human rights issues are totally hollow.

We have regularly, as a nation, prided ourselves on being so much better than so many other countries where corruption is endemic.

Please take note!

Corruption is, and has been since settlement, alive and well in Australia!

If we followed the government’s suggested anti-corruption legislation, it would become protected, and no government, however corrupt could be challenged!

Is that a good look???

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Fact, Fiction, Faith – and the Future

Growing up in the UK, in a Christian household (my mother’s father had been a Minister in the Church of Christ and my father’s family had belonged to the same faith group), I accepted as fact the existence of God, the history of the ministry of Christ and his disciples and, actually, still remain happy to follow the basic ethical principles I understood to have been espoused by those of that faith.

I attended a C of E Secondary school where we studied the scriptures and, more importantly, Comparative Religion.

In my teens I was actually a Sunday School teacher, but – with increasing maturity and awareness of conflict between what I was taught to ‘believe’ and a greater understanding of the place of evidence in science – I have ended up an agnostic.

Scott Morrison believes in miracles.

I have a different interpretation of some reported ‘miracles’, which is almost certainly not unique to me.

For example, the parable of the loaves and fishes implies that there was some magical appearance of enough food to feed the throng, whereas I see the probability that, once a few people started sharing with others the food they had brought for their own consumption, others overcame their selfishness and joined in sharing, so what might have a generous amount for individual family groups proved enough for the entire congregation.

And in some contexts you might regard overcoming innate selfishness is, indeed, a miracle!

Our understanding is so often limited to our own experience, and it is only when we start allowing ourselves to explore other possibilities that we start to see how much we do not know.

Maths was always my favourite subject, but it was not really until I started teaching it that I fully appreciated the importance of the logic which it embodies – particularly in Euclidean Geometry.

There are 5 basic postulates which form the foundation of this topic, which assumes that we are working on a flat surface – on which parallel lines can never meet – and the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees.

But we live on a planet which is roughly spherical, so if we wish to navigate its surface, we need to appreciate that Euclidean geometry no longer applies.

Imagine drawing a triangle on the surface of an orange. You can immediately see that the triangle you could draw on a flat sheet of paper has to be stretched out in such a way that its angles must now necessarily add up to more than 180 degrees – so a whole new world of spherical trigonometry (I know – trigonometry was, for many of you a nightmare, but that was largely because it was often taught badly!) has to be developed to ensure a safe arrival at the required destination.

And we can go further – as was indicated in the reference above – we can change the basic postulates, as was done by Riemann – so enabling Einstein to develop his Theory of Relativity – and, simultaneously, hence leading to claims of plagiarism, by Bolyai and Lobachevsky.

It is worth making the point here that much research is not valued by governments because they cannot see an immediate, commercial, application for the theory.

A great deal of research in the mathematics and science context fits into this category, and – as with Einstein’ s theories – the outcomes can be world changing, even if the initial research appeared to be purely based on suppositions.

There would be few people in the developed world who would not accept that advancements in scientific knowledge have led to massive social change.

And the basis of scientific research is evidence.

A theory is defined, and the means of ‘proving’ it valid, requires research which shows that the likelihood that it is NOT valid is so small that it must, indeed, be true.

That implies a possibility that it actually is not true, which is why scientific research is carefully documented to ensure that others can repeat the procedures that have been followed and compare their outcomes.

Some research is less easily conducted, particularly if it involves a possibility of destroying the subjects! Testing medical procedures on living beings does not always allow a process of going back and trying a different procedure if the first one does not produce an acceptable outcome!

But what is important here, is that the people who offer themselves for election, and, subsequently, are involved in making decisions which affect people’s lives, are often ill-acquainted with scientific procedures and fail to appreciate the critical importance of evidence.

In one context, this has been horribly illustrated by the attempts of Donald Trump and too many of his supporters, whose firm belief – based on sentiment rather than fact – that he would, by right, win the recent election, and the fact that there was no evidence to support their claims of fraud in the election process was brushed on one side as irrelevant.

The ‘divine right of kings’ comes to mind, and how many of those lost their heads in consequence of their obstinate refusal to accept the facts?

And exactly that same approach is being applied by the Australian Coalition government when it comes to accepting that there is evidence that mankind’s actions in relying on fossil fuels as an energy source, has affected – and increasingly continues to affect – the process of global warming.

The evidence is there!

I would argue that if a particular course of action appears to be having deleterious effects, that is a strong argument for changing to a different course of action.

The alternatives here are, IMHO, to continue using fossil fuels, with a high likelihood of destroying lives as a result of severe climate outcomes and ill-health resulting from increasing air pollution – all of which has been clearly documented by appropriately qualified scientists – or, as speedily as possible, introduce policies to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, while also working as fast as possible to reduce pollution from all sources – particularly the manufacture and over-use of plastics.

The argument then becomes between which is the worse outcome – lives lost through climate change or damage to an economy currently based on inaction on global warming?

The government has already demonstrated that, by issuing government bonds, it can rapidly raise money to provide support to business and, selectively and on a very ad hoc basis, support individuals.

It has also demonstrated all too clearly that its ability to have plans ready to deal with a disaster is far from adequate, and its selectivity over who receives support is dangerously biased.

One of the functions of a national media service, like the ABC, is to ensure that – whoever is in government – criticism of inappropriate behaviour by government is publicised.

The Murdoch media ensures that the current government can tear the Opposition to shreds, yet the government, and the NSW Liberal government can happily pervert justice in favouring funding to their supporters, while screaming lack of balanced reporting at the ABC for criticising this behaviour.

So why the title of this rant?

Fact is found through scientific research, which continuously and ethically follows a path of updating knowledge.

Fiction is a consequence of mental processes which do not rely on fact or logical thinking.

Faith is dangerous because it too often ignores the need for evidence.

The Future is looking singularly bleak unless and until integrity overcomes the hubris of a Prime Minister whose belief in himself and his preferred policies is ill-founded and who has modelled his behaviour on one of the world’s least qualified leader, who is currently fighting to retain his status as POTUS.

May their god save America, because Trump sure as hell won’t!

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What is the purpose of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament?

Many of the policies presented by the ALP at the 2019 election were based on a genuine attempt to achieve social justice.

Their presentation failed as a consequence of being both flawed, and disrupted by lies from the Coalition, plus intervention by Clive Palmer, who spent literally millions ensuring that the ALP campaign would fail.

I recently realised that the reason I am able to keep up with politics, both nationally and internationally, is because I am now retired, and have enough time to read, watch and absorb what is happening in the world.

And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people without jobs to occupy their time, being unemployed, and struggling to cope with the consequences, leaves them in no fit state to be able to really dwell on the world’s current circumstances.

Over the last 12 months, politics in Australia has been manipulated by a very devious Prime Minister, whose marketing skills have enabled him to start dismembering our democracy – which, even at its best, was heavily flawed.

Just as Donald Trump had his ‘base’, which largely consisted of people who were forgotten by the ‘establishment’, and were understandably drawn to someone who professed to understand their needs and promised to make their lives better, so in Australia we have people who do not want to accept the inconvenient truth – that our home, Planet Earth, is warming and, at the same time, growing inequality is destroying lives and livelihoods.

Because too many people believe what they are told, without taking steps to verify the real ‘facts’ – remember, we now have facts and alternative facts! – a leader like Scott Morrison, whose primary interest is being in control of power at whatever cost, can manipulate the population into ignoring the fact that we are standing on the edge of a crumbling cliff edge.

The other major problem we have to contest is a concentration of media influence in the hands of a former Australian who aspires to influence world events. His world view and lack of a moral compass – recognised and opposed by one of his own sons, James! – reduces the possibility that arguments against government policies and actions will be given enough publicity to encourage people to question their verity.

So while we currently need an Opposition which is as strong as it could ever be, enabling its press releases to gain attention is just that much harder than if the MSM were less unbalanced.

These days I am often reminded of the old Roman ‘Give them bread and circuses’ adage – distract people from the true state of affairs and they will be discouraged from complaining.

Perhaps that is the lure of reality TV. Being able to vote contestants in and out gives a sense of power over events which is totally mythical but really effective as a distraction!

Now is one of those times when we need a really strong Opposition, and, sadly, we do not have that need fulfilled.

We need a clear policy on climate change.

Global warming ishappening!

It is becoming increasingly less likely that we can reduce the rate at which it is happening.

The consequent climate disasters will become more severe.

Bush fires in 2019/2020 were disastrous and a foretaste of worse to come.

The major cause is atmospheric pollution by fossil fuel emissions.

We must stop mining, drilling and fracking for fossil fuels and then exporting them, so we must prepare for retraining workers in those areas to perform other jobs in renewable energy.

We must immediately cut subsidies to fossil fuel industries.

The Coalition has led us down the garden path – as it has done over issues like Robodebt and the Cashless debit card.

I have studied both mathematics and law.

I wrote the following letter to my local paper on 01/07/18:

It is some time now since Centrelink’s Robodebt fiasco was in all the headlines. Sadly, despite all the criticism, it continues.

People are still receiving false debt statements and being put through all the agonies of trying to prove that they owe Centrelink nothing – but a whole lot of grief!

At the time a person, out of work and desperate, seeks help from Centrelink, all their current assets and sources of income are exhaustively assessed before they receive a cent in benefits. Providing they have delivered the necessary information accurately, that should be the end of the matter.

Instead, the system being applied by Centrelink to hunt down overpayments is totally flawed.

They take the individual’s ATO return, average their income over the calendar year and compare the fortnightly average with the amounts received from Centrelink.

Clearly, when a person is out of work for the period relevant to being eligible to claim benefits, their income in those weeks is way below the average calculated from the ATO payments. It only requires a relatively basic understanding of statistical averages to see that the method Centrelink is using is totally inappropriate. But to perform an accurate assessment requires skilled operators who understand the system.

So – management chooses to continue using a process, which they know to be unfair, to damage the very people they are supposed to be helping, wasting money in that process!

If businesses sent out false invoices, wrongly claiming debts owing there would be hell to pay!

We deserve a government which protects the most vulnerable members of our society.

It took weeks and months after I wrote that letter for public complaints to escalate to a stage where court action was undertaken – and rather than have their sins aired in court, the government agreed to a compromise which was less than generous to those who had gone through hell over the issue!

AND we deserve an Opposition which shouts from the hills when the government fails to offer that protection.

The Coalition is promising to enact all the recommendations in the Aged Care RC report – just as they promised the same for the Banking RC.

They are currently overturning the most important recommendation from the latter, by allowing banks to lend without reference to the capacity of the receiver of the loan to repay!

Where is the Opposition?

The Coalition is about to change the NDIS assessment process in ways which will be incredibly harmful to a high proportion of those desperately needing promised help.

Where is the Opposition?

And I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick to death of seeing the smirking face of the PM over some self-congratulatory article about how he is helping us.

I am not alone!

Today on Twitter, this was tweeted by @Michael Springer:

 

 

To which I responded:

 

 

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Morrison – the crooked enabler

While the Sports Rorts are still fresh in people’s minds, despite the COVID-19 hiatus, we are also very clear about the failure of police to investigate adequately Angus Taylor’s unfounded slur on the reputation of Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Then prior to that was Michaelia Cash, who refused to respond to police requests for an interview, subsequently the incompetence of the Aged Care Minister, Richard Colbeck – ignorant of the numbers of deaths in Aged Care Homes under Coalition Government supervision.

You will all be aware of the litany of misfeasances by Coalition government ministers – and equally aware of the number who have lost their ministries.

Even Bridget McKenzie, the one and only who was demoted, (I cannot remember any others – were there any?) lost out on a technicality, and there has been no redress over politically misdirected grants.

Reigning over is all has been the King of Spin (accompanied always by his personal photographer) who has demonstrated to the world that being honest, respecting a need for integrity, presiding over transparency in government, and ensuring that ministerial appointments are dependent on behaving honourably, are all for the mugs.

Winning, by staying on top and making your own rules, is the name of the game – and has been for Morrison from long before he entered politics.

No wonder a rogue group in the Special Forces ran amok.

After all – the Prime Minister is the most important person in the country and his example must be one to follow.

Scott Morrison -you fully deserve the opprobrium implicit in the Chinese cartoon and your fake anger in response is patently dishonest.

You are an enabler of the worst kind.

And – disastrously – you are also enabling a reluctance to act on our greatest challenge – global warming.

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We cannot afford a narcissistic fool for Prime Minister

When dealing with countries like China and Japan – members of the inscrutable Orient – an issue which must never be forgotten is that of ‘losing face’.

Xi Jinping has, for quite sometime, made it very clear that China resents its past treatment by western countries.

Like Morrison, Xi is a bully and, having secured lifetime tenure as the supreme leader in China, he clearly has no intention of turning China into a democracy, so Australia’s big mistake has been allowing our economy – which is currently in pretty poor shape – to become so dependent on trade with China.

About our only weapon in a diplomatic brawl with China is iron ore.

Rather than demanding apologies for an offensive, online post – knowing full well that it will never be offered, so making Morrison the one who loses face – or getting into a childish brawl over who is the worst offender on protecting human rights, Morrison should shrug off the insult by making little of it (“such a pity China should choose to be insulting over an acknowledged human rights issue when it constantly lies about its own”) and, instead, be beavering away to reduce dependence on trade with China.

If we manufactured our own steel, we would not need to export iron ore.

We have abundant renewable energy and a desperate need to create more employment, so what is holding us back?

We absolutely must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which means manufacturing electric vehicles and establishing recharging stations at frequent intervals – as well as looking at road trains having their own solar panels.

As far as agricultural produce is concerned, what crops would find a good market in other other Asian/Pacific countries? Most crops are seasonal so a switch of crop and market could solve some problems.

Xi is justifiably proud at the progress made in China in bringing people out of poverty and can, currently, look pityingly at the chaos in Europe and the Americas, where so many countries – claiming to be democracies – have failed to handle the pandemic anything like as effectively as has China – and Australia, thanks to the Premiers!

At our 2019 election, we were ourselves foolish in allowing the wool pulled to be pulled over our eyes by a man who offered no policies, projected the ‘Daggy Dad’ image, bribed all but the poorest with offers of tax cuts, and conned us into a dead end.

The pandemic gave him the chance to brush Parliament on one side to the maximum extent, enabled by an Opposition Leader who ought to resign, and he has become increasingly a petty dictator, who is all bluff and marketing, and no substance when it come to leadership.

Former finance minister Mathias Cormann held a barbecue during a stop in Berlin as he campaigned for the top job at the OECD.(Twitter)

Former finance minister Mathias Cormann held a barbecue during a stop in Berlin as he campaigned for the top job at the OECD (Photo from Twitter)

The last Q and A for 2020 highlighted his total failure to fulfil promises of help to those who were victims of the 2019/2020 bush fires – and whose temporary homes, in caravans and make shift humpies, will shortly be again at risk in the current bush fire season.

He is all bluff and bluster and becomes more Trump-like every day, with his personal photographer shadowing him round and keeping his increasingly narcissistic image on the front pages of the Murdoch – and some other – press.

Now that COVID-19 is under control, and we seem to be making sufficient plans to maintain that state, we need to be spending money in a much more effective way, creating new markets and jobs and enabling the economy to benefit from people having money for non-essentials.

Germany has its Oktoberfest so why cannot Australia offer some carnivals around wine – and, with cruises starting up again, offer wines to the cruise lines on terms they cannot refuse!

And – most importantly – now we can, let’s get out in the streets and protest the Coalition’s failure to do what is necessary for our support, instead of spending our money on buying votes and supporting a climate-change denying Mathias Cormann OECD job campaign!

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Scott Morrison – you are a fraud

The man in charge of our government at present is far too similar to Donald Trump for comfort.

He tells lies – as do, it seems, far too many politicians – but he does so with a frequency and purpose that makes his behaviour seem unexceptional, because it is consistent.

His hubris is such that he does not even perceive, or, if he does, he does not care, that his plans to achieve, and retain a firm grip on, power are seriously damaging the future for most of those affected by his policy decisions.

He is, in consequence, a dangerous man to be allowed to hold the reins of power.

Recent revelations, by Gladys Berejiklian, give an alarming insight into the ready acceptance of ‘pork-barrelling’ as a political ploy – which is not confined to one side of politics and highlights the need for a Federal ICAC with teeth – as well as show-casing the way in which governments limit the effectiveness of existing corruption bodies, as in NSW, by cutting available funding.

The Coalition government has done just that in relation to funding for the ANAO.

Hence the Sports Rorts affair – which still requires attention!

Without access to party meetings, I can only conjecture that there is a sufficient majority of Coalition members for whom being in power is more important than the methods by which they attain and retain that power.

I suspect that Malcolm Turnbull’s level of ethics was the reason for his downfall, as the concept of retaining power, by any means available, would have sat less well with him than, it seems, it does with too many of his fellow Coalition politicians.

The inquiry into Aged Care Homes was established before the pandemic, and it has confirmed what other evidence supports – that institutions subject to Federal Government regulations have been responsible for a majority of COVID-related deaths among elderly residents.

But there are even more important, international issues affecting life at present, which affect more than our economy.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT OF LIFE AND A GROWING DANGER TO ALL LIFE ON EARTH.

That is a really inconvenient truth.

Ignoring it, and continuing to do so, in the face of mounting evidence, is criminal irresponsibility.

It is possibly even worse than leaving children and defenceless women in the control of abusive fathers and partners.

But of course, the relentless list of deaths from domestic violence spells out clearly that our ability to take effective action lags far behind our awareness of the need to take it!

To believe in anything, including the existence of a god who is all-powerful, requires an ability to ignore lack of evidence of any truth in the ‘belief’, and predisposes that believer to wash his hands of responsibility for his own actions.

The apparently warped mind of the soon to be ex-POTUS, enables him to believe that he has an entitlement to be re-elected, and the evidence indicates that he is incapable of accepting that he is no longer favoured for that honour by the majority of citizens of the USA.

We need to concentrate on facts.

A majority of observers of the voting process, plus, so far, an almost total majority of Courts to which the election process has been appealed, have failed to support Trump’s claims of fraud.

He has failed to produce the necessary evidence.

His unwillingness to take any effective action in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in escalating numbers of infections and death – clear evidence of faulty policy.

The USA is not alone in this. Second waves are common all round the world – only a few countries have managed as effectively as has Australia – and in our case, that has been despite the Coalition government’s policies, not because of them.

Immediately political point-making takes over from rational assessment of a situation, we are in trouble. Had Victoria had a Liberal government, the Coalition would have been in there, backing it to the hilt!

Putting the country’s economy above the lives of the population is literally putting the cart before the horse.

The government has a balancing act to perform, and all decisions have to put the lives of the people before the health of the economy.

Ideology prevents the government from seeing that a Universal Basic Income, balanced by tax reforms that mean those who do not need it, refund it, is essential IMHO.

It is not a perfect solution – what is? – but spending so much time and effort categorising people in order to determine which Centrelink benefit category they fit into, and ignoring the needs of many who are less readily categorised, is cruel.

We are a wealthy country.

No one should be forced to live on the streets or go without sufficient food.

No child in Australia should be allowed to live in poverty. Sorry, Bob Hawke, but your promise was an empty one.

Tax havens have to be controlled to ensure that we do not have a small minority able to use existing wealth to create more wealth, while others are living in abject poverty, reminiscent of Charles Darwin’s writings begging for a social conscience.

Perfection will never be attained.

Improvement should be a continuing goal.

And saving life on Earth from extinction should currently be government’s top priority.

Getting re-elected is really dependent on proving that the government is doing a good job for all of us – not just for those who vote in its candidates!

Life will never be perfect, but we all need to be making a massive effort to ensure that it has the right conditions to continue to be viable – along with all other life on earth!

We live in extraordinary times and we need to take extraordinary actions to ensure that life on Earth continues – and if that means overturning a corrupt government – so be it!

Now the fire season is once more upon us, is the PM planning a vacation?

And – just one last aside – when did Ministerial responsibility cease to be an issue, with almost automatic resignation being a consequence?

In other words – when did we stop expecting integrity from elected politicians?

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The THREE certainties in life

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

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

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

So what is number three?

CHANGE!

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

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

Knowledge leads inevitably to change.

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

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

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

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

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

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT!

CLIMATE CHANGE IS INCREASINGLY MAKING ITSELF FELT!

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

BIODIVERSITY IS UNDER ATTACK.

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

THIS IS NOT ALARMIST TALK.

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

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

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

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

We really do need an effective Universal Basic Income.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The role of psychology in recruiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Women can’t do maths!”

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

So – back to my cadets!

They could be divided in roughly 3 groups.

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

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

And lastly there were the bullies.

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

They would not be there to protect the law.

They would BE the law!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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