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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.

Economies of scale, glacial progress and a heatwave!

What the hell is all that about???

Those are the thoughts, linked together under the theme of devastation as a consequence of global warming, which are buzzing around in my head at present.

In 42 days’ time, I shall be celebrating having lived in Darwin, the capital of the NT, for 50 years.

Arriving in the early stages of the wet season, forewarned about daytime temperatures reaching into the low 30s, and leaving snow on the ground when I left London (Heathrow) Airport, I acclimatised rapidly.

I never want to be near snow again! Living in the tropics, and not being addicted to travel, I doubt whether I shall ever be likely to do so!

By June, 1971, when, on the rare cloudy, ‘dry’ season day, temperatures struggled to reach 30˚C, and dropped well below 20˚C on many nights, I complained of the cold!

We are now in the build up to our ‘wet’, season, and have just set a record in Darwin of 11 consecutive days of temperatures reaching 35˚C or more!

And, because Darwin is so near the Arafura Sea, we are fortunate to not (yet) experience the extremes of temperature which are the norm for those who live further from the coast.

Yesterday we saw, in the ABC News, an example of flexible solar film which is enabling solar ‘panels’ to be glued to surfaces which are not smooth and flat, opening up possibilities of a far greater use of solar energy.

Incidentally, solar film can be floated on water, with efficiency of production being potentially enhanced by the contact with water in cooler areas, while evaporation of the water is reduced – win/win! Alternatively, it can be used on a swimming pool to both produce electricity and raise the temperature of the pool water!

It can also be used on windows and let this freak you out!! …

 

 

If the current Coalition government is making any progress at all towards accepting the need for adopting renewable energy on a sufficient scale, it is making, ironically, glacial progress. In fact, the existing glaciers are melting faster than Morrison and Co are moving towards recognising the bleeding obvious!

So where do the economies of scale come in?

Just hang in there a bit longer.

The many critics of solar power – and they are both many, and misguided in intent – express concern (not necessarily in any order of priority) over issues like:

  1. Solar panels have a limited life and will be hard to recycle;
  2. Energy produced is intermittent, which puts pressure on the grid to even out the flow of electricity;
  3. Solar power is only available while the sun is shining.

All true – BUT:

  1. We are currently struggling to recycle massive amounts of waste, so the government should, as a priority, be putting money into the CSIRO and research facilities in universities to facilitate rapid development of recycling systems for all waste products. Plus, the flexible solar system might be less problematic than the glass panels;
  2. The energy should be directed into storage from which it can be fed into the grid in a continuous stream, and
  3. This can occur, irrespective of whether of not the sun is shining – which is where economies of scale come in.

Replacing PV panels by the flexible model will massively enhance the range of use of solar power, as it can be used on trains, roads and roofs. This will make it more cost effective, while exactly the same applies to batteries, currently more costly because of insufficient demand.

I have not mentioned wind but it has a place in the scheme of things, as the Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries will bear witness.

Now all the naysayers will jump in with negative comments which will further delay progress in dealing with a problem which is, inexorably, becoming more and more intransigent.

Do you really think last bush fire season was an anomaly?

Think again!

How long did the recent drought last? And have the rivers and dams yet been replenished?

What is the status quo in the Murray Darling Basin, where water intended to support the environment is being stolen, and corporations are growing water-hungry crops for profit, ignoring the detrimental effect this will have on production of essential foods?

For those people who still commute to work by car, leaving their vehicles to bake in the sun – what about this?

Put a roof over all parking lots, and cover the roof with solar panels. Not only will the cars be less likely to be overheated, but the power generated will be available for lighting at night, to provide greater security for those using the park after dark.

There are loads of people out there who are aching to produce even more valuable ideas to both tackle global warming and simultaneously make life more comfortable during the interim period.

Conflict of interest is ignored, when governments allow those profiting from fossil fuels to persuade them (how, I sometimes wonder? Does money change hands, or promises of future employment in a lucrative sinecure?) to use gas as a means of transitioning from coal – only we will still need to use coal for some time to keep Joel Fitzgibbon happy.

If the Opposition Leader had any sense, he would reduce the white-anting phenomenon by sacking Fitzgibbon from the ALP.

You cannot hope to satisfy everyone, but big, bold policies, which echo successes elsewhere in the world, would surely have to produce some converts.

Millions of people have suffered in one way or another through COVID-19. They should not be expected to put up with further pain because we have a government which picks and chooses which science it will pay heed to.

We need to look forward to a Happy Christmas in a few weeks’ time.

Would it not be marvellous – not to say a miracle – if that happiness came from hearing that Scott Morrison has seen the light and will take serious action on global warming?

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Australia – The Lucky Country? – Please excuse the hollow laugh!

Lucky for whom?

Not for our First Nations, who still battle to overcome the disadvantages of an invasion which stole their lands, massacred much of their population, treated them as slaves in chain gangs, raped their women and stole their children.

Not for the refugees, fleeing war, persecution and discrimination who sought safe haven and a better life, only to be incarcerated in detention centres, run by an organisation whose personnel are at least one step less caring than a high proportion of Corrections Services employees, denied a proper hearing for their claims for refuge and, in too many cases, returned to death in their land of birth.

Observation has taught me that many people who are recruited into the police forces of any country should be screened out because they are psychologically unsuited.

Peter Dutton is such an individual, and every cruel edict that he issues screams out that his suitability for the level of power he has acquired is woefully nonexistent.

What has brought on this tirade?

News that a cohort of refugees who were being held in detention in Darwin are just being whisked away to detention in a Melbourne hotel, despite that fact that they included many brought here for medical treatment. And at least one of their number had the long-waited-for medical appointment lined up, here in Darwin, for the day after they will be removed.

Those who honestly believe in the benefits of a true democracy are currently distracted by the farce being enacted in the USA. An immature man whose desire for power was nourished by the Republican Party, has just thrown a hissy fit because not enough people were convinced by his claims to be working for their benefit, and he is now required to step aside for a preferred candidate.

Deluded, as he is, that he is god’s gift to the USA, he is raising fears that a civil war might erupt as the rump of his followers are looking for every opportunity to start a fight.

What has this got to do with us?

The USA has, for years, been a close and strong ally of Australia, although that relationship is now putting us in conflict with China, up to now a strong trading partner.

We are between a rock and a hard place, and the situation is made more difficult by the fact that the Coalition government, which currently holds power, is more supportive of policies which are disadvantaging us, because they are matching those of Donald Trump’s USA.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT OF LIFE!

The rate of warming is increasing.

The occasions of severe weather events are increasing in frequency and in level of severity.

The Coalition is pushing a policy of increasing use of gas, while all the real experts are assuring us this is not good policy.

The Australian Premiers have fought the good fight against COVID-19, and their level of success has been remarkable, particularly when compared with much of the rest of the world (being a large archipelago does help!), but the Prime Minister, together with several of his Ministers, is happy to claim the glory for this outcome, despite having played politics in most despicable ways during the worst of the second wave in Victoria.

The Coalition government and its Ministers are regularly forfeiting our trust and respect by their open corruption and their obvious lack of intention to rein in their bad behaviour.

If anyone were to compare the numbers of citizens who were proud to be Australian, say, 40 years ago, with those feeling the same level of pride today, the outcome might not be flattering for the government!

There is a total lack of understanding of the fact that the action taken to fight the pandemic has destroyed hundreds of jobs, that people are bearing increasing debt levels through being forced to delay paying rent and mortgage payments.

That the threat of eviction or foreclosure is a continuing nightmare.

That support provided by government is being reduced, leaving many in truly parlous circumstances.

That access to continuing education is becoming an increasingly impossible dream for many.

The national government is failing to accept that the future will never fall back into a familiar routine.

Life has changed due to the pandemic, and life will continue to change because of our failure to take appropriate action by reining in use of fossil fuels.

We cannot afford to be led by a Prime Minister whose idea of leading is to delegate everything he can to the States – including desperately needed social housing – but then criticise if perfection is not achieved and claim the credit if it is!

There is much which we can do. We actually have more power than we realise – and it is not only vested in the ballot box.

We desperately need a strong Opposition in Canberra, but it seems that all political parties seek power for themselves, as first priority, and looking after the needs of the homeless and desperate is left for the charities to pick up the pieces.

Was Australia ever ‘The Lucky Country’?

For some, maybe, but only occasionally.

Is it now?

No way!!!

When might it be?

When we all start acting as a community to help those who need help and share the wealth and opportunity more equally.

Is this possible?

Of course.

Why isn’t it happening now?

Because we are all too bloody selfish!

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Momentum and global warming

Batillus – This supertanker was built for Shell Oil in 1976. The condition of the international oil market did not improve between 1977 and 1980 and the number of voyages undertaken by the Batillus was considerably reduced to just 4 trips round the year; which were further reduced to 1 or 2 trips by 1982.

Have you ever realised how far out from port a super-tanker or an ocean liner needs to start reducing speed, to ensure it can safely dock?

Check it out – the answer might surprise you.

But think about the last time you were approaching traffic lights in an empty lane, as the lights change to green.

Moving your foot from the brake to the accelerator, you sail through, ahead of the pack – because of the momentum you are carrying.

Students of physics know that momentum is calculated by multiplying velocity by mass, so the greater the mass of the vehicle or vessel, the greater its momentum – and the higher that is when it meets an obstacle, the greater the damage done.

“So what?” you might say.

Well in many ways, this is analogous to the situation we face with global warming.

Unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases have been building momentum and causing ever greater forces to spark fires, boost floods and create droughts, with increasing levels of damage resulting.

We need to apply the brakes to this process, yet the longer we delay, the harder it will be to dissipate that momentum.

AUSTRALIA’S CLIMATE HAS WARMED ON AVERAGE 1.44C SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1910, LEADING TO AN INCREASE IN EXTREME HEAT EVENTS (STATE OF THE CLIMATE 2020 REPORT).

And we have barely touched the brakes, despite our awareness of the consequences of failing to do so!

A change of President in the USA, to one with a commitment to tackling climate change, and, believe it or not, a growing awareness in China that more needs to be done – and remember, the ruthlessness of the current leader in China can be turned to produce good results, just as forcefully as it is being used to less desirable effect – both give us a hope that all is not yet lost.

Whether it is stupidity, ideology or some other flaw that drives our current leader in Australia, we have got to force a change of policy, if our children’s children are not going to inherit an uninhabitable world.

Concentrating on ‘growing the economy’ is a total waste of time and effort if, in doing so, we totally destroy the quality of life of a majority of those who survive the increasingly hostile environment which our government’s efforts are creating.

The failure of the Coalition government to use the hiatus caused by COVID-19 to enable a whole new approach to planning for the future – instead they are refusing to accept that ‘normal’ is a memory of the past and the future is uncharted territory – has got to galvanise us to take over the reins and plan for a realistic future.

The very way they are proceeding to penalise those least able to help themselves – re-introducing the ‘mutual obligation’ approach for job seekers, and extending the introduction of the cashless debit card – shows their contempt for those who are unable to aspire to have all they want – let alone an abundance!

Greed is NOT good.

Caring for the welfare of others is NOT a weakness.

Being guided by a sincere moral compass is NOT related to religious beliefs, but to a desire for a cohesive society, where at least a majority strives to live in harmony, following a ‘do as you would be done by’ approach.

Recent events and disclosures make it very clear that those who boast of their religious affiliations are, too often, among those whose behaviour is truly selfish and antisocial.

Do we really want people like this in control of our lives – particularly when it seems their selfishness is destroying lives?

Now that borders are opening up and – with suitable social distancing, as the pandemic is merely in abeyance – activism is becoming an option, those who care, need to be out there making it clear that the current national government is out of step with what is needed.

Step up, shape up – or go!!

We CANNOT change the past but we CAN change the future!

This is the message we need to get out there!

Look to the future and avoid the mistakes of the past.

Change is inevitable.

Embrace it!

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Australia is being dragged into the gutter

The latest case of outright cruelty to migrants and refugees makes my blood boil!

I am well aware that it was the ALP’s Kevin Rudd who brought in the ruling that refugees who came by sea would never be allowed to settle in Australia, and I wonder how often he has regretted a decision which has allowed subsequent Coalition governments to display levels of cruelty which the Gestapo would applaud.

His action was taken to try to recover political advantage, but at what cost to the lives of those affected?

That the latest threat of deportation should occur at a time when the NSW Premier is suggesting some sensitive amendments to a National Anthem which makes wildly misleading claims about the aspirations and lofty offerings of this country, is highly ironic.

In recent years we have had issues like same sex marriage reveal incredibly levels of hatred and bile from people who claim to follow a loving, all-inclusive god. We have had lengthy discussions about protecting people’s right to follow a religion – which is already protected in the Australian Constitution – while we have had approval given to treat innocent refuge seekers with appalling cruelty.

The thin veneer of religious-based ‘respectability’ of elected politicians has been torn aside, to reveal a level of depravity, misogyny and contempt for women which would leave Donald Trump looking almost angelic.

We have innocent children, sequestered for nearly a year on Christmas Island, denied normal life with friends, while refuge seekers have been denied any sort of freedom for years, incarcerated offshore or in isolated hotels awaiting much needed medical treatment which seems to remain a distant dream.

Corruption in government in Australia is nothing new and is not confined to any one state. A few seem less steeped in it than others, but, for more recent arrivals, the concept of a ‘fair go’ seems to have no foundation in reality.

Each successive Minister in charge of Immigration seems to vie with his predecessor – sorry, Amanda – I forgot you were also part of this story – to show more stubborn cruelty and less enlightened humanity than his/her predecessor.

Dan Andrews has borne two massive burdens in recent times.

Not only did he have an uphill battle to defeat the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria – in which his success is to be applauded – but he had to fend off politically biased criticism from a man who has manifestly failed as a leader for his country.

Morrison is a control freak who is more than uncomfortably reminiscent of Trump in his management – or mismanagement – of policy and people.

He is reactive, not proactive, and his desperate search for photo ops is an embarrassment – particularly when they occur in crisis situations.

He has given free rein to Peter Dutton and Border Force, whose ability to function within budget and with appropriate efficiency, not to mention humanity, is notable by its absence.

Hundreds of people are, or shortly will be, struggling to survive in a physical climate which is becoming increasingly hostile, and a political climate which is also increasingly unfavourable.

Yet, business is being showered with assistance – including assistance to reduce conditions of service for their employees. Job Keeper has been too often diverted away from employees pay packets and into shareholders pockets, while Job Seeker payments are to be reduced, even as those relying on them are running out of savings to ensure they can pay for rent or mortgage to ensure a roof over their heads.

Can I throw in a personal perspective?

I am a pensioner and a taxpayer.

I do not subscribe to any online media.

Yet I am forced to increase the profits of Foxtel, since my taxes are contributing to a generous donation of taxpayer’s money – money which is denied to the ABC to provide essential services to the entire population in times of crisis – to a company which is expected to operate using the fees it charges subscribers.

Cushioned by a comfortable and guaranteed salary, with over-generous entitlements and, often, no real understanding of life in the real dog-eat-dog world, politicians in general, and Ministers in particular are making ignorant decisions about often life-threatening situations.

And they are, simultaneously, making sure that, in the absence of decent anti-corruption measures, they benefit to the maximum at every end and turn.

Having watched the Wicked Witch from the West in action, I find it really hard to believe the assertions by Michaelia Cash that she has not been responsible for manipulating a situation of redundancy giving rise to a complaint against her as well as, for separate reasons, AG Porter.

There are few shining lights of integrity on the Coalition side of politics and, sadly, the faction system in the ALP reduces hope for high standards in Labor’s ranks.

If Albo wants to wrest power from the Coalition, he needs to assert his authority – though not by mimicking Morrison! – sack Fitzgibbon from the Party – if he refuses to accept caucus decisions he has no place remaining inside – and come out with a forceful global warning action policy which would gain support from President Elect Biden.

Accept the science, accept the diminishing time frame in which action might have some hope to reduce the excessive temperature rises and other effects of climate change, and give our children and their children a hope for a viable life.

The current Coalition government is on the High Road to Hell!

Don’t let then drag us there with them!

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Integrity is dead, buried and cremated

We are doomed to an uphill battle of trying to rid this country of all the morons who have manoeuvred their way into government – and some into opposition – and who consequently have the ability to determine our fate.

On 9/11/20, the ABC ran an exposé – Inside the Canberra Bubble on Four Corners – which raised serious and legitimate concerns over national security, when it revealed the less than savoury proclivity of the current Attorney General for extramarital sexual relations, and an equally unsavoury attitude towards the status of women.

This is the man who ignored the decision of the previous AG, then Senator Brandis, and decided to proceed with prosecution, in secret, of Witness K and his lawyer, the former ACT AG, Bernard Collaery.

The ‘crime’ for which they have been indicted is is less important than the reason he has taken this action.

Few in Australia would be unaware that the Australian government acted illegally while negotiating the boundary lines between Timor Leste and Australia, the purpose being to gain a commercial advantage.

No issue of national security was involved, but the embarrassment of government Ministers for being caught out has smouldered and finally burst into flames, at least in the mind of our rather grubby AG.

Witness K is a genuine patriot. Bernard Collaery is, appropriately, a highly regarded lawyer. Both men are ones to whom all Australians can look up with pride.

The current AG is altogether something else.

A hypocritical sleaze only touches the surface of his undesirable nature.

Today, when the issue was raised with the PM, we were regaled with the advice that we should make allowance for human frailties, or words to that effect!

And AG Christian Porter was not the only Minister in the headlights. Minister Tudge, another spokesperson for the sanctity of marriage – as long as it is between a man and a woman – has also totally ignored the strictures of the ‘bonking ban’.

Pathetic!

We already know that the PM’s religion is not allowed to influence his duties as PM.

We also know that he is very closely connected to a Hillsong Pastor who failed to report his own father’s paedophile activities.

This ability to believe that integrity and a moral compass can be ignored at will is more than disturbing.

We already knew that the Integrity Commission which was being promoted by the AG was going to give parliamentarians total freedom from any investigation into corrupt behaviour – unless they dobbed themselves in!

The flying pigs are becoming an aviation hazard!

How long are we prepared to be treated as gullible fools?

And as if it was not enough to have a government in power which is totally untrustworthy, we have a self-serving member of the Opposition who claims the limelight by refusing to accept party policy and forcing the opposition to rearrange its front bench, competing for headlines over the Four Corners revelations.

Sorry, Albo – but until you sack Fitzgibbon from the ALP (he cannot challenge for the leadership if he is not even a member!) and prove to the Australian people that you can offer government free of corruption and in-fighting, you will be doomed to stay in Opposition.

We deserve better – when will we get it????

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A letter to Donald Trump’s children

I have a limited knowledge of the history of the USA but I did think that the American War of Independence was fought in order to cast off the yoke of a foreign, constitutional and hereditary monarchy, and establish a republic, under the control of an elected President.

Post WWII, when I was in my early teens, my understanding was that any American citizen could aspire to become President.

Times change. Only those with many $millions have a chance of running in the race to the top.

The growth of globalisation, of massive commercial giants, of monopolies and influential social media, has transformed the world to one which is ruled by financial interests.

The USA may pay lip service to a god, but it more often seems to be the almighty dollar, rather than than some ephemeral being, which guides politics.

That said, America does not seek for an established dynasty, except in its TV fantasies, and its most recent President – Donald J Trump – has seemed unable to distinguish between the seductions of power and the duties created by responsibility.

POTUS is not elected to look after those who voted for her/him but for all USA citizens.

And the increasing death toll from COVID-19 shows how poorly Trump has managed his responsibilities.

A glance at other democracies would reveal that the outcomes of many elections take days to be determined. Postal, absentee and other forms of voting which can be conducted before Polling Day will always delay the determination of the final outcome, particularly if an election is closely fought.

It is a display of ignorance of the process to expect an instant result and call foul when it does not occur.

Donald Trump may have been popular with a certain cohort of the US population, but popularity and competence are not necessarily synonymous.

Trump had no prior experience of working in government – being a director of a board carries some similar responsibilities to those of a publicly elected government officer, but they are far from identical.

Throughout his term in office Trump has displayed a woeful ignorance of the USA Constitution, the legal system and diplomatic processes.

Being popular, by entertaining the crowd, does not cut it when it comes to developing and maintaining international relationships.

At no time, even before his incompetence was so clearly displayed, did Trump’s election give any room for members of his family to have any grounds to believe that he could pass his mantle on to them.

Yes – several members of the Bush family have risen to high office in State or Federal politics, but they all did so through their own efforts from a variety of government backgrounds.

Being President should never be regarded as a means to promote one’s own interests – rather, one has little time to perform the job of President as well as promote one’s own interests!

The present display by the President’s children (let alone his legal counsel!) of petulant refusal to accept the legality of the process by which their father has been denied a second term, is a clear indication of their unsuitability to ever think of, themselves, standing for high office.

Acceptance of defeat is the honourable course to follow.

Only a mountebank refuses to accept the truth and seeks to subvert it!

But then again – truth and Trump have never been comfortable bedfellows!

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Let the good times roll!!

We have moaned and groaned through nearly 4 years of the time in office of a POTUS whose lack of civility, ill-treatment of a wide range of people whom he obviously and carelessly disdained, and broad ranging incompetence in office, has endangered or destroyed the lives of thousands of his nation.

He was not alone in his malign approach to government.

The leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has a record of opposing all policy changes proposed by Barack Obama, while he was in power, and has aided and abetted Trump in destroying as much as possible of Obama’s legacy.

McConnell remains at the head of the Republican party control of that body, and is unlikely to be supportive of a Democrat President.

Nevertheless, it is now time to turn back from the dark path government was led down under Trump, and remember that civility, consideration for others and diplomacy, rather than acting the bully, are the traits of a true leader, and desirable in a caring community.

The USA has a third rate health system which has been being slowly reduced to catering only for those who could afford to pay. It is time now to bring it back to a viable condition!

Trump will not go without a fight and he will probably seek to pardon as many as possible of his cohort whose criminal behaviour has been established.

Hopefully he, himself will face court for his own misdemeanours, one of which, surely, has been using his time in office to gain financial advantage.

Where are those tax records???

It is likely that Joe Biden, once handed the reins of power, will be working towards appropriate action on climate change, which might (one can but hope!) persuade the Australian government to shake off the influence of the fossil fuel lobby, and also take appropriate action in reducing emissions.

But, above all, let us all pull back from the vile discourse which has been triggered under a man whose own people have, wisely, denied a second term in office.

Also cause for rejoicing is the election of the first ever female Vice President, who, it appears, may well be groomed to stand for election as the first ever female POTUS!

China is now seriously jockeying for world dominance, and a diplomatic approach from America might ease the economic pressure currently being applied on Australia.

All will not change overnight, nor will all the necessary changes be easy, but we do have clear light at the end of the tunnel on the world stage.

Now let’s try to bring our own nation back onto the path to a better future.

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Without transparency, corruption flourishes

Scott Morrison played on the general ignorance, as regards politics, of many members of the public, when he performed a one-man-band election campaign in 2019.

A closer inspection of his message would have revealed no policy promises, except for cutting taxes. For the unthinking, that sounds like a good idea.

For the more thoughtful, it raises questions as to which services will be no longer available if the government has insufficient income – from taxes – to fund them?

By contrast, the ALP had developed a whole series of policies, some of which were well thought-out and worthwhile, but most of which were quite complex, and were largely aimed at restoring some semblance of equality to the general population.

It cannot have gone unnoticed, that the gap between the rich and the poor has become a chasm. Regular use of ‘average’ incomes instead of ‘median’ incomes has blurred the picture and created a totally false picture of the extent to which the rich are getting richer.

Check this out! Given the Prime Minister’s situation, how well to you think he understands what the people for whom he governs have to cope with?

And that was before COVID-19 and the massive range of job losses and consequent loss of income.

When I studied law, late in life, I was advised that, if I planned to engage in criminal law, it was important to work both as a prosecutor and for the defence.

That way, I was advised, I would learn to predict the arguments which would be raised by the other side, and be prepared with a stronger case for my side.

The same message would, no doubt, apply to members of a debating team, because your opponents will wax as eloquent as your team for their side of the argument, so you must be prepared to pre-empt and counter their arguments.

Like law, our political system is adversarial.

The ALP was too certain that its policies had merit, and failed to prepare for the extent to which they would be subjected to criticism – and was even less well prepared to counter the lies.

Unless you have a population which is well-educated in political theories – which Australia, and most other so-called democracies, are not – then a scare campaign is pretty certain to be effective.

One exception is possibly when it is run by Clive Palmer at a State level!

His ‘death taxes’ stunt in 2019 did a lot of damage to Labor at a Federal level, but he was ill-advised to think it would work again in Queensland, in the just-run October state election, and he has paid the price for his poor judgment.

The level of support for Daniel Andrews in Victoria, and for Annastacia Pałaszczuk in Queensland, has highlighted the desperate need for people to feel that their leaders in a crisis need to have their best interests at heart.

And, as a broad generalisation, Labor governments are more likely to be perceived as being there for the have-nots

Just as strict parents are often later thanked by their post-teenage children, so voters can recognise when unpleasant policies are actually being developed in their best interests.

The USA, Brazil, India and now Europe, are demonstrating clearly that premature efforts to get ‘back’ to what used to be normal commerce, is liable to be totally counterproductive.

Possibly linked to his ability to be an ardent adherent of a very un-Christian cult, Morrison is blindly addicted to worshipping the ‘economy’ and subjugating the needs of members of the population to those of the leaders of business and industry.

Yes – people need jobs – and many are now out of work because of government policies, designed to reduce the spreading of infection. The concept was good, but the range and duration of support has been woefully lacking.

And in all this, evidence of corruption and lack of transparency keeps raising its ugly head!

Before the pandemic took hold, Morrison was fighting accusations that he had colluded with Bridget McKenzie in the Sports Rorts affair.

 

Image from Independent Australia (Via YouTube)

 

Even greater discrimination in selecting recipients for the award of community development grants has also been exposed.

Regular audit reports of Border Force have noted an alarming level of failure to apply correct procedures and contain costs.

Just recently, senior personnel in ASIC have resigned or stood aside over expenses claims which have not stood the test of scrutiny.

And of course there was that land which might be needed for the extensions of Sydney airport – assuming planes will be flying in sufficient numbers in some distant future!

When you add that the Audit Office is being subject to reduction in funding, one is left wondering what other evidence of lack of transparency, maladministration or outright corruption is being concealed from view because of ANAO’s lack of funds to audit departments thoroughly.

I know, from living through all the rationing and restrictions imposed on UK citizens to support the war effort in WWII, that if there is a serious national threat, people will accept limitations on their behaviour in order to ensure the threat is properly dealt with.

Pressure from Morrison, for restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, to enable the economy to recover ASAP, were very ill-judged.

We only now have to look at those countries mentioned earlier to realise that responding to that pressure merely delays the desired outcome, putting lives at risk in the process.

Many of the Australian deaths have been of elderly people who were supposed to be being cared for in their twilight years – only it turns out that the conditions which should have applied to their circumstances were ignored under the Coalition government.

Many Aged Care Homes employed no trained nurses.

Care staff, trained to a very basic level, were so poorly paid that they needed at least two jobs to get a sufficient income.

Ratios of staff to residents were not defined for the most part and certainly were not appropriate.

Decisions about sending residents to hospital were not made appropriately.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg of problems.

Running a caring service will never be cheap, and if it is run by a for profit body, funds that should go into the caring service will, inevitably, go instead into the pockets of the shareholders. In fact there is evidence that extra monies given by the Commonwealth government to aged care homes were immediately diverted into increased dividends.

Are government Ministers really so stupid as to not see this?

On another front, in families with children, it is most often the mothers who have to make suitable arrangements for childcare if they are going to be able to work.

For a short time, early in the pandemic, the government provided free childcare.

But that was the first benefit to go in the Coalition’s drive to ‘snap back’, and the situation as regards childcare accessibility has spiralled downwards ever since.

Morrison’s wife has choices which the majority of mothers do not share.

I wonder if she has made any attempt to explain to her husband the desperate plight of many working mothers – always assuming she has any understanding of their situation.

He seems to be totally blinded by ideology, and gets photo ops showing him building a cubby house or a chicken coop, in order to prove that he is a just an ordinary, down to earth Daggy Dad who understands what life is like for the rest of us.

I wonder how much time Daniel Andrews had for family matters over these last few months?

From what I have seen and heard of her, he is blessed with a wife who truly understands the mammoth task her partner had to shoulder, and she provided him with all the support he needed to cope.

In fact – what the hell was the PM doing, getting up to these antics, when there were still desperately important issues to be resolved?

Looking back at Morrison’s early career clarifies his desire for power doing whatever it takes. If you missed this, read it and ask – who who would have been the more honourable candidate?

We should not take it for granted that politicians cannot be trusted!

In fact it says little for us that we let it continue.

Incidentally – who owns Australia Post?

We do – and its employees are Public Servants, bound by Public Service rules!

We need to rid the governments of this country of corruption – which will not be an overnight task!

As individuals, there are clear limits to what we can achieve.

As a group, we have power – which we must use!

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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A Dangerous, Devious, Deluded, Disastrous, Domineering Dunderhead

I wonder if his hubris would ever allow Scott Morrison to recognise himself from that description?

Silly me! Of course it wouldn’t!

Just as Trump has a rusted on ‘base’, which lets him feel he is universally worshipped – except by the foolish few who believe ‘fake’ news – so, too, has the Coalition enabled Morrison to believe he is doing a good job of managing the economy, the country and our place in the world.

One of the major problems we have today is a refusal by so many to recognise that we really are all – in a global context – in it together.

And we all have two major problems to negotiate – COVID-19 and Global Warming.

In Europe, over the period most significantly affected by WWII, whichever side any particular country was on, supporting their government through a massive war effort was the sole concern of each nation. And their governments had to balance the needs of the war effort against providing sufficient support for those at ‘home’.

Personal needs had to be put on one side in order to allow all necessary resources to be available to stay on course for victory.

Sadly, only one side in a war can ‘win’, but efforts by the USA to help Germany, in particular, and to some extent its allies, to rebuild after the war, made it less likely that there would be any comeback attempts, as there had been after WWI.

No one society can ever expect to live in total harmony, so it is not surprising that the countries in the European Union experience friction and disagreement from time to time.

However, there is a high degree of agreement between the members of that Union as to how they need to deal with both major problems.

In Australia, Victoria has been the State which has had the most severe second wave of the pandemic to deal with – and in part that situation has arisen because modern societies are less cohesive than is really necessary to deal with a crisis.

Personal rights might be important, but not when insistence on freedom to act at will puts the lives of other members of society at risk!

Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand for anyone who wishes to remain an accepted member of society.

For sure, mistakes were made in handling that second wave, but praise is flowing in from outside the country for the success that Daniel Andrews has achieved.

Of course – politics blinds antagonists, and, just as the Coalition rubbished the way Labor dealt with the GFC (although it did not stop them from going down a similar path to deal with the current crisis!), so too the Coalition are still criticising the Victorian Premier’s actions, in contrast with the rest of the world.

One thing which has gone badly wrong in Australia has been having someone so stubborn and self-opinionated as Morrison in the role of PM at this stage in our history.

By preventing Parliament from meeting – ostensibly because of social distancing – and choosing his own ‘executive’, selected from too narrow a field, he has succeeded in creating his own power base which is totally resistant to input from others.

A petty tyrant would best describe him!

The government’s agenda is his agenda and his ‘vision’ – apart from aiming to hold the reins of power as hard and as long as he can – is so limited that we are going to lose lives for reasons other than the pandemic if he is not reined in!

Yet look at how small his majority actually is!

He refuses to be involved in developing an appropriately constructed and powered body to deal with corruption and abuse of power – why? – because he wants to be totally in charge.

How much do we hear of any other government Minister these days?

Barnaby Joyce made a pathetic attempt recently to raise his head above the parapet, but he made little or no impact.

Despite his earnest hopes and desires, Clive Palmer is no part of the government, but his dishonest campaign against Labor makes him a useful weapon for Morrison when it comes to State elections.

That man is a crook and the sooner he is off the scene the better!

With such a high level of unemployment, with so many enterprises out of business, and with the continuing threat of another wave of COVID if we do not closely guard against importing it, the only thing the government should be concentrating on is keeping people alive, fed, housed and job-ready when an opportunity presents itself.

Stop throwing money at businesses rather than the unemployed.

Look at all the Job Keeper funds which have been paid out as bonuses and dividends, rather than helping to keep desperate people in work!!

What is going to happen about people paying rent if they have no income?

What is going to happen when banks start foreclosing because people are having to choose whether to eat or pay the mortgage?

Have you noticed that food prices are going up?

Have you also noticed that the government is in cahoots with employers, to use every opportunity to keep a tight cap on wages and conditions?

Why cannot the government members get their heads round the fact that median income has been about $60,000 pa for those able to find a job, that many families are lucky if one member has a job, and child-minding costs are now out of reach for many, which means looking for a job for many is not even an option?

Pressures to return to ‘normal’ come from a cloud cuckoo land mentality, because we no longer have a normal.

Ignorance about statistics is such that people do not really understand that if ‘median’ income is $60,000, that means half the adult population receives LESS than $60,000 per year!

Think hard about that one!

There are quite a few very wealthy people who want for nothing.

And there are a great many far from wealthy people who lack for basic needs!

Does the government really care?

Have you noticed any pigs in full flight lately?

Until we can make the government do its job honestly and compassionately – am I asking for the impossible? – ‘normal’ will remain a shambolic mess for most of the population.

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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How do we restore democracy?

Democracy has been destroyed by globalisation!

The massive growth in size and power of monopolistic organisations, and collusion over issues like prices and interest rate fixing, means that commercial interests now have more power than governments.

The inducements they are then able to offer – which extend to cosy sinecures post-politics for many senior Ministers – almost inevitably result in an increasing level of corruption in government.

The stubborn refusal of leaders like Morrison to introduce any version of integrity oversight – let alone a truly effective one – is even more alarming, when you examine the extent to which individual rights are being eroded and penalties increased for whistle blowers.

Julian Assange is wanted by the USA because he revealed the venality and illegality of their actions, while Witness K and Bernard Collaery have embarrassed former Coalition politicians by showing that they sought commercial advantage over the world’s poorest new nation under the cloak of national security!

Many of the wars in which we tagged on the tail of the USA, were at the behest of the munitions industry in the USA.

Countries like Saudi Arabia are allowed to – literally – get away with murder because of their importance to the oil industry.

If governments were doing the right thing by taking action on climate change, oil would lose its importance, as would other fossil fuels – and there would be a much greater chance that women in the Middle East might have the opportunity to move into a modern world environment!

COVID-19 might be a virus which is causing major disruption all round the world, but it truly pales into insignificance when you compare it to the adverse effects, world-wide, of the greed associated with globalisation, and, in particular, the worship of fossil fuels!

China might seem to pose a threat, but look more closely at Amazon, Google, Facebook and all the oil and gas conglomerates and ask yourself – how can the environment and society survive unless something changes really soon.

Is allowing the Australian government to see its term in office all the way through, really an option, or do we need to be using people power to bring on desperately needed policy change?

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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Integrity, transparency, honesty – and ethics

In addition to studying ethics as part of my law degree, I have also served on two university ethics committees, the second one as the required legal member.

The material detailing the requirements of those serving on these committees, which has to be read and responsibly applied, should be required study for anyone aspiring to a political career – most particularly on social science policy issues.

A university, depending on the range of disciplines on offer, would have at least one ethics committee.

If research is in the context of social science, there will be a Human Research Ethics committee, which is required, among other issues, to ensure avoidance of harm, protection of privacy and protection from disclosure which might adversely affect the participant. The committee would have a much wider brief if medical research is involved, to ensure that participants are fully aware of any risks to health which might be involved in participating.

In the veterinary side of research, there would again be important safeguards on the animals’ well-being.

If you think deeply about it, every policy developed by any government has implications for, mostly, the health and well-being of the people affected by the policy and, occasionally, the animals involved in – as seen recently – areas like horse or dog racing.

So politicians engaged in approving policy ought to be aware of the ethical issues raised by proposed legislation and take care to avoid causing unintended harm.

The significant problem with a political system which has two major parties, is that, belonging to a party requires the individual to accept the party policy. There might be an opportunity to voice individual views at party meetings, but, once policy guidelines have been determined, the individual mist toe the line – or resign.

If we had at least three parties of similar size, opportunities for compromise and consensus might occur, but the permanent Coalition between the Liberal Party and the plethora of other, smaller conservative parties, has totally thwarted this possibility.

So any attempt to reach consensus when discussing policy is unlikely to succeed when ideology trumps any desire to best serve the nation – rather than wealthy donors.

In years gone by there used to be reference to ‘small l’ liberals and the more conservative ‘hard L’ liberals – but now we seem to be driven by a blind ideology based on power at all costs.

We NEED legislation to control donations.

We NEED ethical behaviour and transparency in policy making.

We NEED Ministers to resign when they are found guilty of wrong-doing.

And – in the absence of leaders with integrity, who will enforce ethical behaviour standards – WE NEED AN ICAC WITH TEETH!

Integrity within the Public Service is also in doubt, and no public servant or elected parliamentarian deserves to be exempted from public scrutiny when there is clear evidence of possible corruption.

Before she married at age 35, my mother was in the UK Civil Service.

Her position, prior to mandatory resignation on marriage, (thank goodness times have changed!) was as Personal Private Secretary to the Controller of the Stationery Office. A quasi-government organisation, responsible for printing and storing all manner of government issued materials, my mother worked for William Codling and Norman Scorgie, 2 of the senior people mentioned in this article.

With her boss out of the office most of most days, she had the task of having to deal with requests for papers of varying degrees of confidentiality from variously important people, and to deny a request without offending.

Had she ever been guilty of accepting a gift, she would have been out on her ear, quick smart!

That ruling applied to all members of the Civil Service. They had permanent positions, with the possibility of promotion, so that provided a strong level of motivation to not break the rules.

Politicising the Public Service here, so that permanence and promotion no longer have any certainty, has potentially two adverse effects – it reduces the motivation to behave ethically and it destroys the accumulated knowledge and wisdom. “Yes, Minister” and “Yes. Prime Minister” might have been based on a measure of truth, but, when you think about it – no Minister, appointed for a few years, often to handle several portfolios, has the depth of knowledge required to make complex decisions, and to engage external bodies for policy advice runs the risk of accepting suggestions which are biassed by the advisors external interests.

Why are we not surprised that we have a Prime Minister who is developing energy policy which ignores all scientific evidence of the need for greater use of renewable energy, when he is relying on advice touted by a gas and oil magnate?

If you want reliable advice from the Public Service, you must give them the certainty that disagreeing with the Minister will not end in their dismissal!

And they, in turn, need to be people of integrity – which is not guaranteed if the advice is coming from political staffers!

The recent continuum of disasters – a failing economy, high un/under-employment, wages flat-lining, unprecedented bush fires, followed by COVID-19 – has shown, in all its glory, the ineptitude of the Coalition government and its failure to use appropriate advice.

No major country has handled the pandemic well, except, possibly, China – and of that we cannot have any certainty, because so much secrecy surrounds their actions.

Part of the confusion in Australia has arisen from history – the separation of powers between Commonwealth and States or Territories but – much more importantly – further muddied by political differences.

Just as the ALP’s handling of the GFC earned praise from other OECD countries, while being rubbished by the Coalition, so, now, Daniel Andrews’ hard lock-down in Victoria is being praised and copied by many European governments, where the resurgence of the virus is causing chaos, yet the Morrison government is throwing mud at him at every opportunity.

I am sure Morrison was reluctant to follow advice for a spending campaign which echoed the GFC actions – maybe that is why it started so late – but his plan was so ill-designed that there are hundreds of people in despair because they are at risk of becoming totally destitute.

And those numbers include non-Australian citizens, with no means of leaving Australia, and no government help to keep body and soul together.

The ONLY way we are going to get a decent corruption policy will be through people power and, possibly, civil disobedience.

I will update my regular sign off!

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

 

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A chink of light in the darkness

In a recent Letter to the Editor of the NT News, I mentioned my weekly sessions outside NT Parliament House.

[As an aside, it never ceases to surprise me that most of my letters get published in a Murdoch paper, and it is interesting to see how the resulting complaints about my views on the need for climate change action are slowly reducing, as the reality becomes more and more widely accepted.]

On another contentious issue, Alan Kohler’s Insight in today’s paper (21/10/20) drew attention to the tacit acceptance by international authorities of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) while, in the same article, reporting ‘“I don’t subscribe to MMT,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said last week.”

Anyway – back to the chink of light – our youth!

On session 38 today, I had a visit from a very articulate 20 year old who had noted mention of my sessions and came to see me – expecting a 20 – 30 something year old!

He still stayed, and we had a very lively conversation!

We had a long chat, during which he asked me how I saw us making progress. When I mentioned the need to persuade governments to act, he countered with a plan for people power.

He drew attention to the idea that if everyone with bank accounts with the Big Four, or with superannuation and/or other investments, including shares, in dirty fossil fuel industries, and who wanted change, were to move out into clean investments, the pressure against the fossil fuel entities would be sufficient to completely change the viability of fossil fuels.

That is crudely worded, but I am sure you can see that if shareholders sensed that the winds of change were blowing, they would dis-invest in fossil fuels and – BINGO!

I am sure we overlook the potency of people power – it is the power of many individuals, acting in unison to achieve a common good.

Although not recommended as a perfect model, and I am not a promoter of violence, but the French Revolution worked, because enough people had had enough of being downtrodden and impoverished.

I am not normally a fan of the dirt file mentality but there comes a time when exasperation at people’s ignorance of the deception and downright evil behaviour of those in power has to be highlighted.

Many of us are convinced by science that global warming is really happening, that we must take action on it, but those currently in power appear to have no concern about anything which adversely affects their god – the economy.

Many of us are aware that the longer we wait to take effective action, the less likely it is that rising global temperatures and the resulting and increasingly adverse climate events, will be consistent with a truly acceptable lifestyle for future inhabitants of the planet.

We are, I am sure, all aware that climate disasters to date have done massive damage which is far from having been remedied. And please note – THAT HAS DAMAGED THE ECONOMY!

Those made homeless or having their livelihoods destroyed by last southern summers’ fires are yet to get back on their feet, despite promises from on high!

(I stress the ‘southern summers’ because in the tropics we have the ‘Wet’ – which is not always wet enough to replenish the dams and the groundwater – and the ‘Dry’ – which has been getting both hotter and more humid.)

Does your bank have shares in fossil fuels? What sort of interest rates does it pay? I suspect that for most of them it is next to nothing unless you have really large amounts invested. How about a local credit union? How does it compare?

Many of us have shares in Telstra – suckers! – but if you or your superannuation or pension fund have shares in other investments, do they include fossil fuels?

If we personally cannot be bothered to do our own due diligence, then we are being hypocritical if we complain about others failing to act appropriately.

Perhaps the finance advisers in some of the charity organisations could assist in this one, by doing some research and providing the resulting information to the public.

But – to return to the dirt file – we have all listened to members of the Coalition throw accusation after accusation at the ALP. And we are all resigned to the fact that politics is a dirty game and many politicians are out and out sleazy.

But have you checked this out?

It is a long read, and might have been better constructed, but it reminds us of much that we have – and should not have – forgotten.

Before I close – a reminder: sun and wind and hydro are far from being the only sources of renewable energy. So much of the Australian population live on or near the shore line, yet how much use do we make of tidal power – particularly in the NW of Australia where the tidal range is really significant?

Stop talking about piping water and gas about the continent and start thinking seriously about piping renewable energy!

Start by looking at some of this guy’s ideas and let your imaginations roam freely! And then act to save the only planet we already have!

Please remember – ‘time is of the essence’ is a good legal saying which is very pertinent as we near the end of another year without action!

 

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SCOTT MORRISON IS GUILTY!

I am sure that I can rely on readers to add to the list of the multitude of sins for which, if he were a Catholic, he would be doing penance – if he only admitted that he had done wrong.

Looking back over just the past year, there are far too many things for me to hope to encompass them all, let alone dig back further into his very grubby history, so let’s go over that year roughly chronologically.

He put himself forward to be elected, first as an MP and later, as PM.

Ergo – he voluntarily took on responsibility for this country’s government, then, in the middle of an unprecedented fire season, he skived off to Hawaii with his family, and left his office pretending they did not know where he was.

When it finally filtered through to him that his absence was a really bad look, he crawled back – he could have come back faster – and made out that he had not realised how badly we had missed him.

Actually it was not him, personally, whom we missed, but a competent leader, and his return did not even begin to fill this gap.

In the last hour I have been watching a program which included graphic shots of those fires, and recent news indicates that the people whose homes were destroyed in an end of world type scenario – and among whom were many to whom he personally promised help in the recovery process – are far from even part way towards being properly helped and accommodated.

And some of his photo ops left the very unpleasant impression in our minds that – like Trump – he thought it was all about him.

So for a few weeks he argued with state leaders as to who was responsible for handling fires – refusing to recognise that fire does not respect state boundaries, and arrangements to bring in foreign water bombers, and firefighters, is a national not a state responsibility, as is mobilising assistance from the defence forces.

So far this is succeeding in highlighting the fact that he primarily sees his job as expecting to be able to delegate, and then just ensure he gets some headlines, photo ops and good press, courtesy of Murdoch.

Then COVID-19 let its presence be felt – but there was no ready-made action plan, because during the period since 2013 in which three Coalition Prime Ministers had been in power, no effort had been made to ensure that government plans for emergencies such as a pandemic were brought up to date.

When Morrison established a National Cabinet, many of us heaved a sigh of relief, thinking that we might have, at last, a sort of consensus government, and for a brief moment that did appear to be the case.

But Morrison is all about power and politics and not at all about people.

He established the Australian COVID-19 Coordination Committee, loaded with industry heavyweights and biased towards fossil fuel supporters.

He also decreed, on health grounds, that Parliament should go into recess, ensuring that he could beaver away, working towards policies which ignored the increasingly urgent need for action on global warming, and instead piloting policy towards increasing use of gas – with no clear end in sight – in the guise of transitioning to renewable energy.

Can I just throw in here, that the numbers denying climate change might be decreasing, but so is the time available to tackle it and save what is left of the Reef!

When – and before Victoria’s second wave – the pandemic seemed to be coming under control, despite mess ups like the Ruby Princess fiasco, he then became insistent that we had to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible.

The guilt here lies firmly in his insistence that we can ‘snap back’ or ‘return to normal’, after the massive disruption to employment, and also lies in the extent to which Federal government responsibility for Aged Care Homes was so non-existent as to cause massive grief to the many families who lost their elderly loved ones unnecessarily because a pandemic protection plan was completely ignored.

Because states were allowed to close borders, in many cases a much needed action, to limit community transmission of infection, friction between national and state governments over policies to be followed arose and was badly handled.

Without a hint of an apology for years of bad-mouthing the ALP for their ‘debt and disaster’ resulting from their successful financial handling of the GFC, Morrison, almost certainly at the urging of the National Cabinet, developed a partially successful program to provide assistance to selected groups.

The policy should have been introduced earlier, certainly should have been much more inclusive, and is being cut short long before it should be.

Much of the above shows the PM to be guilty of hubris and, more importantly, really bad judgment.

Hundreds of people are dependent on assistance from charities and, in turn, charities are running out of funds because so many unemployed can no longer afford to make donations!

Above all Morrison is guilty of using the wrong criteria in developing policy.

People, who are barely managing to feed a family, cannot put money back into the economy, because every cent goes on essentials.

Free child care was a brilliant idea, not least because it enabled many women to return to work. But it was short lived, being the first really good idea that was scrapped for all the wrong reasons.

At present, the honeymoon on rent and mortgage payments is ending, and many people may well be losing their accommodation unless the government come to the rescue.

Is the government even contemplating providing much needed social housing?

Of course not – because it fails to begin to understand the dire situation so many face.

Morrison is guilty of allowing those who stand for Parliament to be almost exclusively white males, who have largely come up through party ranks, and have little, if any, first hand experience of holding down a job – let alone losing it – and whose willingness to follow party lines leaves little room for integrity and innovative thinking.

Given that this is a pandemic, that Australia is far from alone in being in a financial mess, what Morrison is most guilty of is putting the economy as a higher priority than people’s lives.

Hundreds of jobs cannot be created overnight but the sheer insanity of expecting people to return to having to apply for non-existent jobs to justify receiving help from Centrelink – and to be offered a level of help that would not begin to cover essential basics – is more than insane.

It is cruel beyond belief.

Are we surprised?

Sadly, not really, because we have seen the depths of cruelty in the treatment of refugees who have committed no crimes.

I am continually flabbergasted by the fact that Morrison’s approval rating in handling the COVID-19 pandemic is going up.

If I was dubious about polling results before, I have now lost any vestige of belief in their accuracy.

As restrictions are released, please think seriously about protesting publicly about the utter failure of good governance exhibited by Morrison and his den of thieves.

And feel free to add to the list of missteps for which he is guilty.

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One law for them – and a massively different one for us!

‘Gordon Legal launched the [Robo-debt] action on behalf of an estimated class of up to 600,000 people last year [2019], claiming the government unjustly enriched itself and breached its duty of care to people who “were vulnerable to any unlawful or unreasonable” action by the government.’

 

‘Last year, a Senate inquiry into the scheme took evidence that more than 2000 people died after receiving their initial robodebt letter, of which a third were considered “vulnerable” by the Department of Human Services. Chair of the inquiry, Greens senator Rachel Siewert, wrote a piece for Crikey saying that while correlation was not causation, she had been “told of five families (and there have been other media reports) who believe their family members’ suicides are connected to receiving a robo-debt letter”.’

And the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison “expressed regret”.

The way many people are treated by Centrelink officers – particularly after so much of their business was outsourced – means that people often have to be pretty desperate before they seek help from that organisation.

They also include in their numbers, many people who are not necessarily well-organised in their financial affairs. When you are desperate, you can easily make mistakes, and it is probably an insignificant proportion of beneficiaries of welfare packages who go out of their way to rort the system.

But, even if there was an innocent mistake, they are then faced with a government which, reluctant to alienate the wealthy – who include generous donors – turn a blind eye to the underpayment of tax by high earners, and turn, instead, to develop an openly illegal system to claim money which, in many case was not owing.

And when people cannot survive without their welfare benefits, they cannot afford to question the validity of the claim so, in many cases, they paid up.

The government was guilty of claiming money on false pretenses and they not only owe a refund – plus interest! – or a cancellation of the debt demand, they owe a bloody big apology!

(I am just a former maths teacher, but I could see, right from the start, that people receiving a regular income, but who lost their jobs, would have many weeks while in work when they were definitely not entitled to Centrelink benefits. But add in the weeks with no income, and the average fortnightly amount was not a true picture of actual income.)

A less than delicious irony in this matter is that the Minister responsible for authoring the scheme – Stuart Robert – is clearly a technology connoisseur, running up massive bills for home computer use, for which he then claims a refund (at our expense) from government.

Was he chased by debt collectors or subjected to the public shaming issued to Peter Slipper?

Does Christmas really fall in July?

Watching current events in NSW, we have a front seat view of how Ministerial conduct should be held in check.

And NSW is not the first state which normally comes to mind when you are trying to find any jurisdiction in Australia which is, or has been, not partly or wholly corrupt!

Mr Morrison has got too big for his boots.

His party has, rashly, allowed him to swan around in 2019 being variously Daggy Dad, or Mr Nice Guy, as well as telling porkies about Labor policies, and – because the ALP managed to make their campaign too complicated – the Coalition won the election against all the odds.

Miracle – my hat!

He blotted his copybook with the Hawaii trip, which his office initially denied was happening.

He did not make a good fist of the bush fires but he was saved by the bell from further criticism on that front when COVID-19 took centre stage.

We are now into the next bush fire season and I am sure the bookies are taking bets on whether rainfall from the La Nina will suffice to dowse the fires before they get out of hand.

Morrison’s current preoccupation is with trying to ensure no State Labor government gets re-elected.

The NT is a minnow and they are being useful in helping quarantine the returning Australians who have been desperate to get back, so they are not currently being under attack.

The result in Queensland will soon be known.

WA has always wanted to be separate from the rest of Australia, and it has massive resources which means that it does more to support the rest of Australia than do most states, so it avoids the extremes of Federal harassment.

The whitening of the reef continues apace, as does the melting of ice at the Poles.

Some islands on the USA coastline are disappearing into Chesapeake Bay, but those interviewed still blindly support Trump and his dismissal of the causes of the adverse effects of global warming.

And Morrison is a supporter of Trump – a side effect of which is the current trade attacks on Australia by China.

Let’s face it.

The world is in an almighty mess.

The desire for power and the greed of those who already have more than enough are pushing us closer and close to the abyss.

Maybe the Romans had it right – ‘Eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we die!’

How is it I usually end?

I am still trying, but time is running out!

What do we want?

ICAC!!

How do we want it!

With real teeth!

When do we want it?

NOW!!

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We now have three crises to deal with!

  1. Almost the longest running crisis is Global Warming, which clearly is a global issue, requiring the cooperation of all nations.
  2. The more recent, but also intractable crisis, which is being tackled individually by practically every nation on earth, is COVID-19.
  3. The third also affects many countries by differing degrees, but has to be handled by each affected country in different but appropriate ways. It is corruption and it appears to be deep-seated and endemic.

Much has already been written about Global Warming and it is dispiriting that Australia has a government which – at least up to a point – has been willing to seek scientific advice on health, but refuses to even consider seriously scientific advice on the causes of climate change.

With the exception of a decreasing number of journalists, most articles available online and in print, are increasingly accepting the existence of climate change as an issue requiring increasingly urgent attention, and some countries are very positively engaged in trying to reduce emissions and move towards becoming carbon neutral.

Australia is not among them.

Consensus on COVID-19 appears to be that we are dependent on a vaccine to help bring it under control, and measures taken to date to reduce transmission have had seriously adverse effects on our economy.

The current Australian Government sees acquiring a reputation as a good manager of the economy as being the most important issue that faces them, and, to that end, has closed national borders reluctantly, while criticising Premiers for closing State/Territory borders, is pressing for a rapid return to ‘normal’, and seems to be prepared to destroy lives in the process – if not through infection, then by the damage done through inadequate financial support for hundreds of people their policies have necessarily thrown into unemployment.

Just as it has relentlessly pursued a hostile course of action against genuine refugees, whose only ‘crime’ has been arriving by an unacceptable method after some arbitrary date – and Kevin Rudd must share the blame for the damage that has resulted – the government now dreams of a rapid return to higher employment and higher productivity in a climate where waves of infection make any rapid changes non-viable.

When our Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, talk about Australian values, I hear a hollow laugh echoing in my brain, when I regard the total lack of compassion or interest in general well-being which is exhibited in the Coalition government’s actions.

While I think that, in general and in the past, the ALP have generally shown more signs of putting people before profits when it comes to the crunch, I feel absolutely uncertain that the ALP would, if in power, be able to fight the self-interest power-seeking habits of the Coalition, if the latter were in Opposition and led with anyone with the gutter instincts of a Tony Abbott.

The achievements of Labor through the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments were remarkable, given the destructive attitude of the Opposition.

In times of crisis such as this, attempts to achieve a reasonable degree of cooperation and consensus is vital, but almost impossible in a constantly adversarial framework!

Seeking valid amendments to legislation when significant points have been overlooked is the job of the party which does not win a majority.

No party is ever always right and constantly seeking to overthrow a properly elected government which is not behaving corruptly is unacceptable.

So there we come to the elephant in the room.

Too many of our governments are and/or have been corrupt.

The Sports Rorts affair should have gone to an ICAC and heads would have rolled.

Many other programs which have been run by government have been similarly and severely biassed in blatant attempts to buy votes in the next election.

Both major parties have been guilty and neither of them is falling over backwards to install a truly effective Independent Commission Against Corruption – which is alarming, because that reluctance to be answerable for their actions indicates that they fear being found out!

Many decades ago, before I became completely disenchanted with religion, I used to attend a very low church C of E, where services were conducted by a very fatherly Vicar.

I recall reference being made to seeking forgiveness for both sins of commission and sins of omission – and this came clearly to my mind in the revelations this week into Gladys Berejiklian’s life.

When she advised her partner not to give her the details about his business interests, I wonder which of these reasons applied?:

  • She was in a personal relationship with him and wanted to leave both his and her work outside the door, or
  • She was aware that he might not be acting entirely appropriately and did not want to know.

It the latter applies, then she has been guilty of the sin of omission, because, knowing both of them shared the same behavioural constraints as do all MPs – but with her having the greater Parliamentary authority – she should not choose to ignore illegal behaviour on his part.

Many of Australia’s governments have been under the corruption looking-glass – in fact I am struggling to think of one which has not at some time or other – but, when a nation is struggling – as we are – under the pandemic and the economic fall-out, the last thing we need is a corrupt government.

And – folks – you and I both know that is exactly what we have got!

We have had a threat of legislation for religious protection thrust down our throats – which might not have been corrupt but was straying well beyond the proper parameters for government.

Disgusting actions by government are prosecuted in secret – primarily in a useless attempt to minimise embarrassment to the government.

When it come to parliamentarians misbehaviour, we have had people like Bronwyn Bishop chartering helicopters and expecting us to pay – and that is the tip of the iceberg in the parliamentary rorting of allowances.

Too many Ministers have had a tap on the wrist when they should have been consigned to the back bench or asked to resign.

Inconsistencies about who can repay a debt and who will face prosecution are strictly decided on the basis of party allegiance.

The pre-pandemic Sport Rorts must be re-examined, as must some of the other grant systems which have been being biased to Coalition supporters.

Clive Palmer should never have been allowed to act as he has and donations to political parties, and transparency about from whom, how much and to whom, are desperately needing attention to ensure a higher level of integrity.

Politicians deserve to be on the nose because too many of them see entitlement where it does not exist.

There are some – a few – grass roots members who do stick to the rules, do the best they can for their constituents and probably resent being treated with the opprobrium which the majority of politicians thoroughly deserve.

I am sure the Victorian government has made some mistakes in their handling of the second wave of infections.

I am equally sure that Daniel Andrews has lost a lot of sleep and seen little of his children. He certainly has not had time for photo ops building a cubby house or a chicken run – let alone enjoying a holiday in Hawaii.

But because Mr Andrews is a Labor Premier, he has been lambasted with criticism and hassled to open up his state by the PM and Treasurer Frydenberg.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, NSW reported more new infections than Victoria, and, had the NSW Premier been Labor not Liberal, as the revelations of her relationship with a corrupt former Victorian MP were revealed, as sure as eggs is eggs, Morrison and Frydenberg would have been demanding her resignation!

Ministerial responsibility, codes of behaviour, resigning after wrong-doing – all seem to be ancient history.

Getting away with all you can and never admitting you were wrong is the current look in politics, and it has been turning us right off the people who – far from acting for our benefit – seem to see us as a necessary evil to be noticed when they need votes.

Surely we cannot put up with all this much longer?

However long we keep putting it off, realistic action on Global Warming is essential – and other countries lagging behind know this all too well. But the outcome may never be as good as it might have been if we continue to delay.

The pandemic is going away no time soon, and we have got to concentrate on planning to slowly opening our borders, while controlling the levels of infection.

As far as corruption is concerned, we need an ICAC – NOW!

The people making decisions seem to have no understanding of the damage they are doing because their eyes are on the ultimate prize – a sinecure with generous benefits in a branch of a global corporation whose bidding you have been doing in return for generous donations.

And if those at whom I am pointing a finger want to deny any truth in what I say, then please establish an ICAC and clear your name in public!

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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