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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 need a Brave New World that cares!

There are many who are better qualified than am I to try to change the world, while we have a brief moment in time to do so.

I do not believe (a word I normally try to avoid!) anything is impossible but I am well aware that significant change is a seriously hard battle.

It is patently obvious to an observer that the spread of Covid-19 is accelerated by selfish and thoughtless behaviour. Some can be excused because they do not fully understand the way the pandemic works or because they live in circumstances where the operation of social distancing is, itself, impossible.

Singapore is currently doing well, because its relatively authoritarian government is accepted by them, but only time will tell whether their taking precautions but pretty much continuing life as normal will enable them to avoid infection from spreading to a significant level.

China, also with an authoritarian government, once it accepted that the Corona virus needed urgent action, has been singularly successful in finally reducing its impact to manageable levels. Full recovery is some way off but it has been more successful in controlling it than have been many other countries, both some in Europe and the mighty USA.

By contrast, Indonesia, with an enormous, close-packed population, many members of which listen more carefully to their religious leaders than to the government, is likely to experience massive levels of infection and may well then also experience equally  massive civil unrest.

Some other countries, where people were infected early on, seem to be breaking the back of the disruption, but life is not yet back to normal and infection is not yet fully eradicated.

Within Australia, significant differences between states and territories are evident. The more populous states are obviously most heavily affected, while, for example, the NT has (at the date of writing) only had 21 cases of infection, all acquired overseas, all, again to date, responding to treatment. But the low level of immunity for many in our more remote communities makes if imperative that the infection not be allowed to spread.

It is concerning that issues such as higher prices for many food items in the communities is significantly higher than in the main centres, which is likely to motivate them to travel to town for cheaper goods. In fact for those living in remote locations, lack of many services is likely to make staying away from the major towns much more difficult.

Many of the policies which the National Cabinet has approved have much merit, but the almost ad hoc way in which they are being announced, highlights the reactive nature of the planning. Had we still had CSIRO operating at optimal levels, planning for a contingency such as this pandemic would have been executed long ago, updated as necessary, and ready to roll out efficiently.

Forward planning for all contingencies is essential.

A petition is currently circulating, planned to be tabled during Parliament’s brief sitting next week, calling for the establishment of an oversight body to monitor the performance of the unelected National Cabinet while Parliament is not in a position to do so.

During the period that the Coalition has been in power, many changes have been made that give rise to major concerns over the whittling away of our freedoms. A national emergency provides a golden opportunity for a government, bent on retaining control, to have the excuse to introduce restrictions and prohibitions which might prove difficult to remove once the emergency situation abates.

Many people on our island are being ignored in the planning. Those on some kinds of visas are often overlooked, those who already destitute are also ignored and the time lag between realisation of their needs and making any effort to support them is inappropriately long.

We, too, must use this time well.

If we were not happy with the status quo before, we now have to crystallise our concerns, look really closely at what was wrong and how it can be rectified, and recognise that this brief respite from the number one concern of global warming remains just that – brief.

I was in Darwin for Cyclone Tracy and experienced being in the eye of the cyclone. Once it had passed, all hell was let loose again, leaving little time to even take breath.

We are in the eye of the storm as regards climate change and we have to be prepared to deal with it more effectively than we have been doing.,

The pandemic will not suddenly end – reinfection will keep it going for quite some time and it must take priority, for now, in our planning and thinking.

But not to the exclusion of necessary planning for action on climate change.

Just maybe a positive effect of the Covid-19 pandemic might be an increased awareness that we all live on the same planet and share, not necessarily equally, in its conditions. So we also share in the responsibility to maintain its ability to support life.

The future of Planet Earth is in our hands.

We must make a good job of it.

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

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

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As a long-time agnostic, I remain unconvinced that there is an omniscient, omnipresent being, responsible for creating the world and over-sighting all that takes place there. That said – if indeed there is such a being, it certainly moves in mysterious ways! Before I continue, I will state some basic attitudes and concerns that steer…

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Pride goes before a fall

No one who becomes a leader of a country is expected to know everything. What they are expected to know is when they are out of their depth and need help from experts.

In the UK, the leading universities – with regard to both the standard they offer and their longevity – are Oxford and Cambridge.

London University comprises a multitude of Colleges, each of which has its own particular speciality areas, and includes a number of hospital-based medical colleges. The constituent Colleges offer a London University degree, and when I graduated with a B.Sc. (Special) Mathematics in 1957, as well as an MRCS, it was following study at the Imperial College of Science and Technology (IC).

IC’s name was derived from the fact that it was the result of an amalgamation of the Royal College of Science (RCS), which covered the natural sciences – botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc – the Royal School of Mines (RSM) – offering geology, mineralogy, metallurgy, etc – and the City and Guild College (C&G) – for studies in all branches of engineering.

It offered no arts faculties, which were amply provided for by other Colleges of London University. It was also a hotbed of scientific research, recognised world-wide.

In 2007, the College detached itself from London University, having by then added medicine to its offerings, and is now the third ranked university in the UK, as well as having an extremely high international standing.

That is the College which offered definitive advice on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic which our Prime Minister is ignoring.

This excerpt from a biography is illuminating:

Morrison grew up in a devout Christian family in the beachside eastern suburbs of Sydney. His father was a police commissioner and independent politician who served 16 years on the local council as well as a tenure as the mayor of Waverly. Morrison’s political career began at age 9 distributing “how-to-vote” cards in support of his father. During his childhood Morrison also acted in television commercials. He attended the prestigious Sydney Boys High before matriculating at the University of New South Wales, where he studied economics and geography.

Recently, quite a few exposés of Morrison’s career have made it clear that his obvious levels of enthusiasm have not necessarily been matched by his level of success in the performance of his duties.

He has studied no sciences in depth – economics is often included among the arts since it has closer ties to philosophy than to physics, and regular use of graphs and statistical analysis is its most significant link to mathematics – and his religious background would seem to allow acceptance through belief of the unprovable, rather than certainty through evidential proof.

When my own children were in their teens and my marriage was breaking up, I spent 3 years working as an insurance representative with AMP, when it was still a Mutual Provident Society.

I was reluctant at that time to be both working and living with teenagers but needed to be back in the full-time workforce.

Annual conferences, teaching us to be better at creating business, taught me to recognise the hallmarks of a salesman, and when I resigned from AMP to go back to teaching, I was able to relax into encouraging others to enjoy increasing their knowledge in a subject I loved, rather than trying to persuade them to persuade themselves that they wanted what I had to offer and were willing to pay for it.

Scott Morrison is a salesman who is totally out of his depth, because he has no idea what his message should be.

He is no doubt relieved that this dreadful pandemic has come along, because he was running out of arguments against accepting that the climate emergency is for real.

We are now getting dictatorship by instalments. The very ad hoc way in which decisions are being made on the run makes it very clear that the whole approach has not received careful analysis but is being thrown together with minimal certainty that they will work.

In other words, it is reactive not proactive,

A typical anecdote of the consequences: in NSW, a couple, who live together, were travelling together in their car and were being fined by police for not self-distancing!

The fact that much of the decision-making centres around business, makes it crystal clear that people are a problem for Scotty from Marketing and Horizon Church. He is more familiar with preaching to the converted and we are an unruly bunch of heathens.

The other reason behind the regular press sessions announcing new or revised regulations – apart from the obvious narcissistic aspect of his nature – is that it prevents other issues of concern from sneaking through.

Why isn’t Christmas Island still being used for quarantine, apart from possibly the lack of seriously important medical facilities? Well – maybe the fact that the Biloela family are still sequestered there – out of sight is out of mind, so why draw attention to them? – and, most importantly, the incredible damage being done to two innocent little girls should not be allowed to distract from the main game of convincing Australia how well Scomo, in consort with Dutton, is managing a major crisis – or not!

The other issue needing to be kept out of discussion is, of course, global warming.

Temporarily, emissions are not increasing, but they will, once China, initially, and the rest of the developed and developing world, eventually, get over the virus and get the wheels of industry turning once more.

It is being ignored that we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to not only address the current global pandemic, but take a deep dive into thinking how to create a more caring, cohesive, less combative society once the urgency associated with this specific crisis is past.

While we do this, in isolation or in sharing ideas through the internet, please remember – only go out if it is really essential, practice keeping your distance while you are out, no hugging or kissing when you see a long-lost friend, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, if you feel unwell, contact your doctor for advice, stay safe and sane and, if you cannot go out to work, use your time in as valuable a way as possible!

Best wishes till we come out at the other side!

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

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Over recent years, it has seemed that China has been entrenching strategic bases in increasingly far flung areas. I am not an expert in these matters, nor am I a conspiracy theorist, so I am merely drawing possibly erroneous conclusions from observation, and I leave it to you to judge. The Belt and Road initiative,…

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All at sea, with nowhere to go

Do the members of the Coalition government not realise what idiots they appear to be when they announce a decision and, within 24 hours, amend that decision?

Act first and think later is not a good look in a crisis!

What is abundantly clear, in all the current goings-on, is that those making the decisions do not have the first idea of what life is like for most of the population. Almost certainly they rely too much on political advice, designed to help them win another election, rather than truly expert advice, designed to benefit the electors!

If you have never been out of work for any length of time, have a more than comfortable income, and you also own your own home – or at least have assets, like major property investments, which could pay off your mortgage – plus you know you will get your next pay transferred into your account on the due date and have no worry about financial commitments, I suppose it might be easy to overlook the fact that thousands of people do not share your good fortune.

Apart from those below the breadline, who, if they are not already living on the streets, often go without food to pay the rent or to buy new shoes for a growing child; even for those in regular work, when they have the rug pulled out from under them overnight, because they lose their job, with no warning and with no likelihood of finding another, their whole world is destroyed in a flash.

They have no significant savings to fall back on, any government relief will not be instantly available but the regular bills still have to be paid.

Many employed in particular industries, such as entertainment, are used to a high level of job insecurity – but that is very different from the certainty that you will not be able to work at all for the foreseeable future.

Apart from the actual performers, there is a contingent of back-stage staff or, in the gig economy, the roadies, whose normal pay would leave them with little to save and whose work history is just as precarious.

A small, but significant, point – the largely male decision-makers clearly pay little attention to the females in their families, for them to be so blissfully unaware that a visit to the hairdressers is a more significant event than a short back and sides at the barber’s.

I was pleasantly amazed that Boris Johnson, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, was perceptive enough to realise that massive unemployment would not only be bad for the economy, but, more importantly, for the individuals most affected! His decision to pay 80% of the wages of those losing jobs because of the Covid-19 restrictions was clearly beyond the comprehension level of our Prime Minister.

Morrison seems to grab every opportunity to be in the spotlight, at the same time that he is casually closing down Parliament – a truly alarming eventuality – but making no move to share in the austerity conditions he is imposing on thousands.

Having excluded the Opposition Leader from his Emergency Cabinet, he is now behaving like a totally self-interested petty dictator. Small wonder that the Premiers of the larger states are making their own decisions about issues like school attendance.

The ‘experts’ who seem to be called on to back the PM’s policies are, a closer examination might show, not necessarily ‘expert’ in the fields in which their advice is sought.

Why, when so many are being thrown on the scrapheap for an unknown period, should we be paying full salary and entitlements to a collection of jerks who are not even participating in meaningful government activities for months at a time?

If you are a single parent, or you and your partner have young children and both need to work, the argument for immediate help is overpowering – and, under this government’s proposals, ignored.

The Age Pension was once seen as a merited payment, acknowledging a lifetime’s contribution to society. Coalition governments now grudgingly pay it as ‘welfare’ and treat the unemployed as criminals who are responsible for their own failure to find work.

As a part-pensioner, I shall receive a lump sum which I do not need and cannot, in any case, spend, because the shops for non-essential goods are closed! How good is that, Mr Morrison?

Because politicians can be elected to a cushy position, with a guaranteed salary, plenty of additional perks like comcars, accommodation and travel expenses, and a to-die-for in many cases superannuation scheme, they totally ignore the facts of life out in the real world.

For years, now, there have been about 19 people seeking employment for every job that becomes available. Many are counted as employed, even though they only work 1 hour per week. Many more are working part-time in 2 or more jobs in order to make ends meet. Few of them have a realistic superannuation scheme and the Age Pension will be essential for their survival after work.

The official retirement age is unrealistic in this climate as a person made redundant in their 50s, let alone their 60s has limited opportunities to find meaningful work.

Over the years, the Coalition has courted the global corporations and a concerning level of corruption has crept into the lobbying business.

We are experiencing a crisis for which no adequate preparation was made, as a result of the Coalition having starved of funds vitally important organisations like CSIRO.

We are still experiencing the effects of climate change, and masses of people have yet to receive appropriate assistance, following the disastrous bushfires, but the behaviour of the government implies that these issues are of no concern to them.

Normally, charitable organisations step up to the plate to assist those in dire circumstances, but, with so many losing their jobs, many will have to cease donating to charity, so that the charities, too, will be short of funds to help the needy.

The money we need to be in circulation is salted away in places like the Cayman Islands!

Well!! Thank you for nothing, Scott Morrison!

You have clearly demonstrated why you have quit every job you have ever had before your contract formally expired.

You do not have what it takes to lead – although, looking around the available material – it’s hard to see any of our elected Parliamentarians who could do the job well in present circumstances. The behaviour of too many of our elected members has meant that many of integrity, who have the appropriate skill levels, are understandably reluctant to join the rat race of politics.

Australia is in a mess and present policies and expectations are unlikely to see that mess cleared up any time soon. If the schools close, let’s hope our children are astute enough to use the extra time available to work out how to do a better job than the adults who are failing them!

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

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

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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Competence in short supply

Any person, when writing about historical events, necessarily introduces a personal perspective, influenced by their own history.

My first 34+ years were spent in the UK, where I had a very good (free from 5 to 21) education, married, started my career as a maths teacher and had three children.

At the end of 1970, the family left the UK to come to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. I expect to spend the rest of my life (since I do not plan on moving again) in this city, which, IMHO, is uniquely special.

Two of my children are still here, the third being currently overseas, having been unable to find work in Australia, in his specialist area, when he was made redundant in his mid-50s. Many will resonate with that! He was lucky that he is a dual national! Their father has moved on and moved away and we are both happier in consequence!

It is never cold here, the people are incredibly varied, being both cosmopolitan and cohesive, and we live cheek by jowl – but not always 100% harmoniously – with the world’s oldest continuous culture.

That said – we currently live in a time of severe stress.

The NT has just closed its borders, because the COVID-19 crisis puts at risk the indigenous people in remote communities, who share a high level of compromised immune systems, making them uniquely susceptible to serious harm were they to become infected.

Less than 24 hours ago we were hearing the Prime Minister listing all the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ to which we are to be subjected and, only minutes ago, as I write this, the NT Chief Minister has announced some of the appropriate modifications to the national constraints, necessary to ensure that our NT culture is taken into account.

And this brings me to the crux of my concerns with government – particularly at the national level in Australia.

The PM has excluded the Opposition leader from his National Cabinet, while, admittedly, some of the State leaders in that decision-making body represent the ALP perspective. Since the PM and his Ministers will predominate in implementation of policy, the political balance is missing.

Just as there is a shortage of female representatives in Coalition ranks, so issues such as hairdressing are being decided in the absence of informed discussion. I am fortunate in letting nature decide my hair colour and in having been able to cut my own hair for many years. But for many women, hair colouring and styling are an essential part of their well-being – and half an hour is far from enough!

Our life style in the NT is largely outdoors, with markets and outdoor dining, which introduces a serious problem when looking at the national prohibitions. Again, we will be making modifications.

It seems to me that the whole national government approach is big stick, and fails to accommodate people’s needs. Whole industries, like entertainment, are being closed down, but, whereas in the UK, Boris Johnson is guaranteeing 80% of the wages lost by employees in industries which are being closed down, no such succour is being offered to employees here. It is the business owner who will receive a handout and all that is required in return is an unwritten, and unenforceable, agreement to re-employ its former employees when business restarts.

We have already experienced too long under a Coalition philosophy which supports business – and the economy, which is, surely intended to serve the people’s needs rather than vice versa – while ignoring the needs of employees and the self-employed.

Today, for the first time, we heard Hank Jongen, CEO of Centrelink, provide clear directions for those needing to contact that organisation, because they had become unexpectedly unemployed. That was after 2 days of news headlines over queues outside Centrelink offices and uninformed claims by the responsible Minister, Stuart Robert, that the MyGov website access to Centrelink had been subjected to a cyber-attack!

No – Stuart – the internet just could not cope because of insufficient foresight by government! We once enjoyed a brilliant service from the CSIRO, which has been stunted by massive funding cuts by governments which ignore the value of science, except when it suits them.

I recently joined Extinction Rebellion Darwin. I have 3 great grandchildren whose chances for a good life are being stunted by the climate emergency.

As part of my visible protest, I sit outside our Parliament House in Darwin for 2 hours every Wednesday afternoon, usually with at least one friend. Last week we got drenched (Top End rain is not cold!) and this week we packed up 5 minutes early as we had to collect up our posters before they got drenched by an ill-timed shower.

We are distancing ourselves, as required, and we are not attracting crowds, but we are ensuring that the campaign for action on Climate Change is not drowned out by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Satellite pictures show that the epidemic has resulted in a reduction in emissions – which is good but temporary. As soon as the crisis has passed, vested interest will ensure that industry ramps up again to former proportions, but we need to make sure that does not happen in a harmful way.

We do not want to return to increasing emissions, but increasing use of technology which will decrease emissions!

The current health crisis has demonstrated the extent to which our governments have become reactive, not proactive,

Now we need to use this interregnum to ensure that recovery is proactive in supporting the urgent need to ensure our grandchildren have a viable future.

We need to watch this government like a hawk! They have already indicated their view that activism should be illegal – but how can it be illegal, in a democracy, to protest publicly when an ignorant and incompetent government makes people’s lives harder than they need to be?

If you agree with me, then please, if you can, get out there, get vocal (legally!), email your MP, email the PM, do everything in your power to ensure that the government itself acts legally (Parliament is closed down until August – WHY????) and generally insist that we need an economy which supplies OUR needs – not those of the major corporations – and we need an honest and competent government!

I am just an ordinary citizen but I care about the lives and rights of others – and the need to ensure that those who take on responsibility do their job properly!

And – hey! While we are about it – how about the politicians having their salaries and allowances cut while they are not following their normal routines????

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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Keeping a safe distance

Maybe I am being hyper-critical of the Prime Minister but I wonder whether his desire to be totally in charge is over-reach, given that he has a finite skill-set.

I actually live alone but most people do not.

If a family, all of whose members are living in the same house, goes to a restaurant for a meal, how does social distancing affect them?

Clearly, if any of them has picked up the Covid-19 infection, just living under the same roof pretty much guarantees the others are at high risk of becoming infected.

Yet the restaurateur might feel that (s)he is breaking the law if they are allowed to sit closer together than the regulations allow.

Will they have to provide proof that they do live under the same roof, even in some cases sleep in the same bed?

Or will whatever laws or regulations which are eventually released, make it clear that it only applies to people who are not in the same household?

I live in the Top End, where, to date, the number of Covid-19 cases notified requires only the fingers of one hand. There are also others in self-isolation who will shortly be emerging into the public.

We are about to close our borders – and rightly so, as the compromised health of so many of our remote Aboriginal people would lead to a disastrous outcome were the virus to gain a foothold among them.

In these circumstances, some of the restrictions being proposed at the national level may become, if you will pardon the inappropriate term, overkill.

I fully appreciate that the virus outbreak has a deadly potential – but so has driving on Northern Territory roads!

In fact, with the recent introduction of fracking, climate change leading to lower rainfall totals, water table levels reducing and growing fears of running out of potable water, we have other really major concerns needing to addressed in our backyard!

I do not wish to seem flippant, but I also feel that if regulations are not very carefully drafted, they might run the risk of making the law seem like an ass.

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The pensioners who might be overlooked

The Coalition government has never openly acknowledged, as the rest of the world has done, the effectiveness of the financial management of the ALP in the GFC, in their payments to business and lower income groups to sustain the economy.

The fact that the government has now implemented a similar package has, however, given unspoken recognition to those actions.

And they should be applauded for that.

There was one further step taken by the ALP which cannot be overlooked.

When we speak of pensioners, the picture conjured up varies from one individual to another.

As a migrant, my knowledge of Australian history is pretty shaky, but I believe it was Menzies, as Opposition Leader in a Chifley government who insisted that the stigma of welfare should not be attached to the Age Pension, as it was a payment which recognised the contributions to the national economy made by recipients during their working life.

Sadly, the low level of payment for those whose sole source of income is the Age Pension, indicates that their lifetime contributions are not valued adequately!

For many people, these are the group referred to when talking about pensioners.

But income and asset testing allows many other retirees to be entitled to a part-Age Pension.

These people include a group who have rolled over their superannuation into an Allocated Pension, or similar fund, and these people require immediate attention.

Their fund is invested in the market which is currently beyond volatile!

They are required to withdraw a minimum amount, based on their age, designed so that – in theory – the fund will be exhausted when they die.

Actuarial calculations of age expectation do not match individual situations, and when, as now – and as was the case during the GFC – the market nose-dives, withdrawing any funds, let alone the stipulated minimum is potentially disastrous.

The government needs – as an emergency issue – to review the policy concerning mandatory withdrawals.

Since many of these pensioners make regular withdrawals, maybe they should get financial advice as to whether they should reduce the regular amount or even leave any withdrawal to the end of the financial year.

Meanwhile, the government must hasten to re-think their situation, since, if these individual funds are exhausted prematurely, the government will have greater Age Pension costs further down the line.

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We are at War

We are at war with multiple enemies, some of them far too close to home for comfort.

Some of them are more tangible than others but the most dangerous is greed.

Driven by ever-expanding corporations, capitalism has driven the concept of everlasting growth, ensuring that a minute proportion of the world’s population corners the vast majority of the world’s wealth.

In this process, politicians have succumbed to corruption and developed policies which benefit them and their wealthy supporters, not the majority of the people whom they pretend to represent.

Consequently, one of the early victims has been democracy.

Religion, too, has been a significant ally of the corporations. Don’t forget that the Roman Catholic Church is one of the world’s wealthiest organisations and its promotion of blind faith in its teachings, ably assisted by the happy clappers who promote the concept “through creating greater wealth for ourselves, we prove we are the chosen people”, has helped to keep the disadvantaged under their thumb.

In more recent years, women have fought against ruthless male dominance with some measure of success, but – with a few exceptions (think – Gina Reinhardt, Maggie Thatcher and some other prominent female politicians, here and elsewhere) – the fact that they are more likely to stress the need for care and concern for others has diluted their impact.

(A disclaimer: I am well aware that many men also care about others, but, unfortunately, they tend to be drowned out by the others!)

The fact that our predominantly male leaders seem to regard serving the economy as their dominant purpose, rather than seeing it as being in the service of the population, is a serious concern. True, it is reasonable to expect that a healthy economy is more likely to enable people to remain healthy, but the current pandemic puts a big question mark over that supposition.

My mind keeps returning to the way in which the British government guided policy during WWII.

Much of the food was imported from former colonies so was in short supply. Consequently, we had severe food rationing and few ways to circumvent the system.

We also made many of our own clothes, sewing and knitting, while we also had restricted access to clothing coupons to enable us to purchase what we could not make. Again, to get extra coupons was essentially restricted to growing children whose body measurements established that they genuinely needed a larger size!

As now, out of home entertainment was barely available as regards cinemas and theatres, but for rather different reasons!

Civilians had no access to petrol during the war but we were discouraged from travelling, anyway. Much as now.

Given a valid reason, most people will accept shortages and the need to be economically compliant.

Rationing also prevents the thoughtless stockpiling which enables the greedy few to have an excess, while others are left without items which, like Ventolin, might be essential to their well-being.

One obvious solution to the present crisis, with many losing their jobs or losing income through having to self-isolate, would be the UBI. It is highly unlikely that the Coalition would even consider such a solution, because they are so bound by their ideology.

It is not just the greed of corporations which damages the lives of others! And governments have been complicit in enabling corporations to avoid regulation to an alarming extent, which was amply illustrated in the banking Royal Commission. And how many of its recommendations have been followed up???

And – forgotten in all the Covid-19 issues – the need to fight a war on climate change has not gone away!

The silver lining – and this is not entirely a nice thought – is that China’s draconian approach to limiting the spread of the infection has resulted in a downturn of manufacturing with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. And their slow recovery will enhance this positive outcome.

Multiple factors in addition to emissions, and including population growth and pollution, are contributors to global warming, and, again, an unpleasant aspect of the way in which Covid-19 has been indirectly beneficial, has been an increased mortality rate.

Some people have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to dealing with a problem, but we really should not be relying on a disaster, which is taking lives, to achieve an outcome which our government’s have proved reluctant to tackle.

Sadly, for too many people, their interest in politics ends when they have cast their vote at a general election.

We are all part of a nation, which is only governed well when those least able to care for themselves are properly assisted.

Is that now the case?

If not, what should be happening and why is it not?

Those whom we elect are only human beings, and, if they are driven by ideology and political bias, then they are as liable as anyone else to develop faulty policies. When these result in harm to the vulnerable, then there has to be some means to ensure those policies change.

In recent years, the Coalition government has been obsessed with protecting our borders against potential terrorist invasions, while ignoring the very real needs of the vulnerable within our borders.

The Fair Go and the Lucky Country are echoes of a past which is now dead and gone, while we live in a ‘what’s in it for me’ environment, where children can be trampled underfoot while selfish adults rush to grab their share.

Shame on you, Australia!

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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I am not a great believer in coincidences. In fact, I had a medical saga last year which started with my losing my voice, coincidentally with being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I pursued every available avenue until I finally received radioactive iodine treatment, which, after nearly 12 months, has alleviated the thyroid condition – and –…

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UBI and COVID-19

In recent years and in many countries, the issue of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been discussed, and for the most part, dismissed.

Another issue, recently raised by Labor, and ignored by the Coalition, has been the almost obscene amounts paid by many wealthy individuals and corporations to cover the costs of managing their tax affairs. These amounts are eligible for considerable refunds as they are tax deductible.

There must be many Chartered Accountants who remember the Coalition’s tax policies in their nightly prayers and who are living a really good life!

Sorry, guys! The good times are coming to an end! At least if my idea catches on.

Now, in the current gig economy and for many lower paid workers, the need to self-isolate, for an individual who might have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, might mean a battle to survive financially. It may even mean a total long-term loss of employment.

The government is becoming more acutely aware of the dangers of a slowing economy and realising the need to put more money into people’s pockets to try to boost that economy.

Sadly, this government seems to have no long-term vision and only plans for short-term fixes, yet the growing awareness that climate change is real, that more disasters are becoming highly probably and that people are crying out for proper planning, cannot and should not be ignored.

So how does the UBI come into this?

If, instead of paying one-off lump sums to individuals, the government introduced a realistic UBI, then those without work, for whatever reason, would all have basic costs covered.

If this coincided with putting a realistic ceiling on the amount that can be claimed for the costs of managing tax affairs, as a preliminary for a long overdue revision of the tax laws, the cost of the UBI might suddenly seem more realistic.

I am sure that the archives contain records of all the research that has been put in, over time, in relation to the costs, benefits and processes involved in introducing a UBI, so we only need to dig the records out, dust them off and polish them up.

If the Coalition can grit its teeth and copy a policy from Kevin Rudd, then, surely, they can catch on to Malcolm Turnbull’s theme of innovation?

Joking aside – we really do need to look really seriously at the plight of an, as yet unknown, number of people affected seriously – and not necessarily only medically – by the Coronavirus.

The suggestion I am putting forward should not be brushed aside as unnecessary, given the number of unknowns with which we will be faced in the immediate future.

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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In the later half of 1970, our family was dispatching our belongings to Australia and selling our old 25-ton Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Cariad, as she would have had a hard time making it to Oz by sea, let alone surviving in tropical waters, being an unsheathed wooden boat. Her name meant Sweetheart in Welsh,…

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In 1789, France changed forever. The process was bloody and was far from instantaneous and Madame Guillotine removed many heads from those who had defrauded, betrayed and damaged the peasants and their families. In the modern world, there might be revulsion at the very thought of repeating such an event in a similarly bloody manner,…

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Morality

Because my maternal grandfather was a Minister in the UK Church of Christ – very similar to the Methodist Church – I grew up in a household with a library of moral tales.

Books like Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, with its Mrs Do-as-you-would-be done-by and Mrs Be-done-by-as-you-have-done, were the underpinning for developing a conscience and an awareness how our own behaviours affect others.

Like C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, which was read by my children’s generation, there is an implied overtone of Christian values, yet it is actually morality rather than Christianity which is at the core of the message.

IMHO you do not need to believe in a god or gods in order to understand that, living in a community, we need rules for communal living which avoid covertly or overtly harming others.

Where I feel the religious have led us astray, is in planting themselves, as ‘believers’, between us and the goal. And by making the goal an after-life, they avoid a lot of awkward questions!

After all, no one has returned from that after-life to confirm its existence, and to think we can hurt other people, even killing them on too many occasions, say sorry to some omniscient being, directly or through some often self-serving intermediary, and waltz off to paradise when we die, is at the very least naïve. Or so, as a now agnostic, I am inclined to think.

I have my own philosophy on this issue. I try to help, not harm others, and if, after I die, a few people remember me favourably – for however brief a period – then I will have life after death!

I hasten to add, I am no saint, I have many regrets over past behaviours and I try (sometimes successfully!) not to repeat past mistakes.

Ethical or moral behaviour involves empathy and a high degree of selflessness to be truly effective, and leading by example is necessary if the message is to have an impact. If you hypocritically say “Do as I say, not as I do” then your message will fail.

My doubts over Christianity were probably triggered by the religious organisations’ strong linking of morality with sexuality.

When I was growing up, unmarried mothers were shunned and shamed, children born out of wedlock were bastards and would remain so for life, homosexuals who put a toe outside the closet were vilified and chastised, even killed, in many cases, and the fact the Christian missionaries followed closely behind ‘Christian’ colonisers has meant that a totally undesirable legacy for those colonised has been warped attitudes and ignorance about human sexuality.

Any education expert will tell you that what is learned early in life is best remembered and has most effect on future attitudes. The, in my opinion, appalling reaction of religious people – Muslims and Hindus as well as Christians – to the same sex marriage debate, highlighted how hard it is for deeply ingrained beliefs to be cast aside and new knowledge embraced.

In speaking or writing these days, I try to avoid using ‘I believe’, preferring to say ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I accept’ or ‘it appears to me’, because in my mind, to say ‘I believe’ implies acceptance without proof.

The Catholic Church ‘believed’ the Bible was the source of truth, so they accepted that the sun went around the Earth, and fought long and hard against the proof that they were wrong.

Countries like Australia are, IMHO, very slow in accepting that, as a multicultural country with no national religion, government must leave religious issues to individuals and develop Human Rights laws to ensure that people are free to follow a religion – or not – while avoiding adverse effects on others of the choices they make!

The law of Australia imposes on ALL its citizens an obligation to report to police if they know or suspect that an adult is abusing a child sexually, or if an adult is being abused by a present or former partner in a domestic relationship.

It is my understanding that the canon law of the Catholic church requires that anything divulged to a priest in the confessional cannot be disclosed to anyone. Therefore, if, during a confession, the priest learns that the one confessing his sins might be guilty of child sex abuse, the Vatican insists that cannot be reported to police.

The offender can be recommended to self-report, but who, if anyone, polices that?

What is so special about one group of religious believers that they can deny the law of the land?

What is more – what human being is entitled to judge that someone has truly repented of their sins and may then be forgiven?

The history of child sex abuse has clearly revealed that priests who preyed on children for sexual gratification, regularly did so over and over again, and the offender was often moved on by a hierarchy which was well aware of the offending, and of the likelihood of further offending.

What value can you put on a religious organisation which allows damage to children in preference to having its power limited?

So, we now have the Attorney General, Christian Porter, being tasked with over-sighting the drafting of legislation to protect people who wish to practice a religion! He has been so unsuccessful to date that it might be better if he instead drafted a bill to ensure the non-religious were safe from the religious practices of the rest!

Actually, it appears that defining a religion is a precarious business, because many genuinely harmful cults would seem to be covered by the definitions attempted to date.

Please can we have something simple like:

Each and every adult Australian citizen is entitled to worship such gods as (s)he chooses, and live according to the laws which her/his faith has dictated, if and only if, in so doing (s)he does not harm, mentally or physically, any other living being and (s)he continues to obey all laws of Australia.

Feel free to try to re-word that but, in my opinion, it captures the essence of what is required.

Because some cults and religion have practices and beliefs which contradict those accepted by mainstream Australians, it is my opinion that no religion should be taught in schools by religious leaders, but, instead, a syllabus leading discussion on Comparative Religion should form part of a common curriculum, required by all government funded schools, at least at secondary level.

At the same time, I think a group of educators and religious leaders should agree on the content of a course on ethics and ethical behaviour which, again, should be part of the common syllabus.

Whatever our current leaders might have learned during their own paths through education, ethics and morality must have been conspicuously absent or totally ignored by many of them.

There have been fears for many in recent years that we have been moving ever closer to fascism and a police state.

Under an immoral and clearly corrupt governing body, which fails to be bound by ethics, this is a frightening prospect. Given the urgent need for a proper policy to combat global warming and an equally urgent need to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I am deeply concerned that the current government lacks both the motivation and the skills to lead us effectively – which is why I am exhorting everyone who shares my fears to engage with their local Extinction Rebellion group!

Once more – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

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

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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