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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.

Values and change

History gives us an imperfect picture of time past. Perspective and purpose of the author of public records can distort the view of what has gone before, but some recorded facts are incontrovertible.

Evolution and increasing levels of understanding of science have enabled societies to change over time, although, as currently being illustrated in China, the disposition of a country’s leader can seriously pervert local and world events.

Over the centuries, adventurers and governments have explored and colonised, with little regard for their impact on the existing local population of the countries they have visited – whether in peace or in war.

Power has been a significant driver for much of these activities, and nationalism has distorted the moral perspective of the methods used.

They say you reap what you sow – and the current crop of outcomes has a bitter taste.

Human rights are not recognised by many nations, while others only pay lip service.

The Australian politicians of the far right, as well as some of less extreme persuasions, who readily spout about Australian values, are rarely admirable role models. Our treatment of genuine refugees is – IMHO – disgusting, and the inhumanity of many of the policies foisted upon us, reek of the sense of privilege of those in government – and their disdain for all who do not share their view of life.

We currently face an existential threat from global warming, while we also struggle to ensure containment of the spread of Covid-19 in a population which, in some cases, has lost all faith in government.

I am by nature an optimist, but, until and unless our leaders start to show a greater sense of genuine humanity – putting the needs of the desperate ahead of the leader’s  need for self-aggrandisment and power, then we deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth by natural forces more powerful than anything puny mankind can create.

Toppling statues of (almost exclusively) men who have been renowned, but have also committed offences against humanity, will not change our future, unless current leaders develop coherent policies which truly recognise human rights.

Democracy is in its death throes and there is no sign that life-support is available – so it is up to all of us who care, to ensure that it recovers.

That is what ‘being a citizen’ demands.

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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Day 22

Day 1 was Wednesday, 5 February, 2020.

I am 84, and Greta Thunberg’s activism on climate change has been one of the few things which has given me any hope that my 3 great-grandchildren – and all subsequent generations – might have a faint chance of a life worth living.

So I decided that I would follow her example, on a modified scale, and set myself the challenge to sit outside the NT Parliament House from 1:00 to 3:00 pm every Wednesday afternoon.

I obtained permission to do so until Christmas, and, if things have not taken a turn for the better by then, I shall continue into 2021.

I wear my Extinction Rebellion T-shirt – so no one is any doubt as to my political orientation – and for quite a few of the 22 weeks, I have had one or two like-minded friends joining me.

Our Parliament House is off the beaten track, so there has been no danger of creating a crowd during the Covid-19 crisis! Where I sit, I am looking straight at the end of the Supreme Court with the Parliament House to my right, and, as you can see from the photo, at this time of year, being outdoors is delightful, and an umbrella doubles for a parasol!

The wet season is less pleasant, but I only got soaked on one occasion, in March, I think, and that is no hardship in our temperatures!

Having practiced law a few years back, several of the legal fraternity who recognise me, stop to chat occasionally, plus some I have not met before, tradies walking through give me a thumbs up when I wave to them, a few members of the public also stop by to talk and even the occasional politician or staffer comes out briefly!

Among those who stop for a discussion, the general feeling is that we have an uphill battle to overcome greed and self-interest before it is too late to have an acceptable outcome in developing a valid climate change policy.

A tall order!

Yet – why is it that Australia always wants to reinvent the wheel?

Other countries are making great strides in reducing the use of fossil fuels so why is it so hard for us???

The leader of a newly formed local political party, took time out a few weeks back to try to impress on me that we could not withdraw from existing contracts for CSG fracking, referring, inappropriately, to ‘sovereign risk’.

Subsequently, polling indicated a high level of opposition to fracking in the NT, and we have an election in August, so there has been a complete policy change, well documented in the press.

Last Wednesday, Mr Mills went out of his way to make sure I knew of his change of policy – which is generally regarded as a political stunt.

Without a fully thought out policy to combat climate change, simply deciding to oppose fracking does not really cut it.

Fracking in itself might be a problem on several scores, particularly if the myriad requirements laid down by the enquiry are not adhered to, but the real problem is the releasing of CSG – a fossil fuel – the use of which will further increase emissions into the global atmosphere.

I had a very pleasant conversation today with a young woman who has been contemplating starting a family in a few years time. She and her partner are having second thoughts, and, unless major steps to curb emissions are taken in the very near future, I suspect that they will change their plans.

We are wasting valuable time.

We have a government which looks at dollar signs before it considers people’s well-being.

Thousands of people are currently living on a knife’s edge, having no clear idea what the government’s plans for the future are.

Yes – it was necessary to put us into shut down – and it is really sad that some people are so self-centred as to ignore the fact that acceptance of testing might save someone else’s life.

No – we do not have an energy crisis. As long as the sun shines, the wind blows, the rivers run, and the tides rise and fall, we have energy and to spare. It is the lack of will to harness it that causes the crisis. The UK is streets ahead of Australia in using renewable energy while we still fiddle around talking about transitioning.

If mankind has learned anything, it is that if something needs doing, you do it – now.

Remember Chamberlain’s appeasement policy?

Transitioning is a process of postponing, which far too often means no further progress is made.

Increasingly, today’s economists are referring to Modern Monetary Theory, which can be utilised by any country which prints its own currency, so was never an option when we lived under the gold standard.

Alan Kohler discusses this in the NT News 01/07/20, page 38 – and possibly in the Business section of other news.com outlets – pay-walled, of course.

Government’s fear of debt is actually totally misplaced. Just as they regard education as an expense rather than an investment, they do not appreciate that their spending money to get business up and running – thereby employing people, and – in turn – people having money to spend in the market – puts the economy on its feet again.

Scott Morrison went to the last election with one policy – cut taxes.

There will be precious little tax paid while people are out of work, except that the GST will be a greater burden on those with slashed incomes as compared to those with high levels of savings.

He also had a few other irons in the fire, like protecting religion (and he is doing that now by paying job keeper to priests, while ignoring the needs of university lecturers), and further reducing the power of the unions.

Ideology not rational policy is driving the government agenda, and I am one of many who are deeply grateful that the National Cabinet has been able to prevent some of the potentially more damaging policies being implemented, and to push the government to adopt policies similar to Labor’s in the GFC, policies which the Coalition have torn to shreds for over 10 years!

To think that the government could appoint an advisory group with a composition which denies a serious interest in renewable energy is mind-blowing!

The only way we will survive the current chaos is by giving people hope for the future.

They need to be sure of a roof over their heads, without worrying themselves sick about the rent or the mortgage.

They need to have work as soon as possible – and that means that childminding services – which includes early education – are provided by the government, so that women can safely return to work.

Because Covid-19 will remain a threat for some time – if not forever – then working from home should remain an option where appropriate.

Life is never going to return to how it was. Too many people have died or suffered permanent damage to their health, and too many businesses have folded.

But that is actually good in some ways, because it leaves a clean slate on which to plan completely new initiatives and avoid past mistakes.

Politics and the law are based on an adversarial approach which is liable to be highly destructive.

Cooperative debate of policy options cannot afford to be on a win/lose basis.

We need a bipartisan government – hang it all – neither major party has an overwhelming majority of seats, which clearly says that the people do not all support all the current government’s policies!

I suspect the National Cabinet might prove to be the saving of Australia’s future.

You will probably tell me that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that this Coalition government will change its tune.

But in some respects it already has! And with the national Cabinet continuing in existence, it is more likely that it will continue to do so.

Just to help it along, maybe a few more retirees like me can sit on their Parliament’s steps or forecourts on a regular basis – or outside their federal parliamentarian’s offices.

Being visible is important. Greta established that very firmly!

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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Information and influence

This post might be usefully be sub-titled

“Communication, consultation and cultural connections”.

We have not learnt our lesson from dealing with our First Nations, because we continue to try to impose policies and procedures on cultural groups without adequate explanation of the relevant background.

COVID-19 appears to have several important characteristics in the context of trying to minimise harm. People can be, and many are, asymptomatic, and there is no certainty as to the extent that these people may pass on the infection.

The people most likely to die, if they become infected, are in our more senior ranks and those with impaired immune systems – but that does not mean that the infection cannot both be passed on to and be serious for younger age groups – including children.

We do not know for certain how infectious a person might be if they are infected but not yet displaying symptoms.

All of these variables mean that an offer of free testing should never be refused.

COVID-19 is only like flu in a few respects, and is much more likely than flu to leave the person who becomes infected, with quite serious after-effects, resulting from damage to the lungs or the cardiovascular system.

Once infected, if social isolation is not adhered to, there is a virtual certainty that the infection will be passed on and may be responsible for a massive increase in cases. This, in turn, puts severe pressure on the health system – and puts at risk the lives of all health care workers.

I watched the other day a news report showing interviews with Victorians in the hot-spot areas being invited to be tested. I was horrified by the casualness with which the offer was brushed aside “I have no symptoms”, “I don’t care if I catch it” were the sort of phrases used by those denying the need to be tested.

I was left wondering how much clear information had been given to these people about the reasons for and importance of the testing process. Do they understand the difference between being in contact with other household members, as opposed to with other members of the family, for example?

Centrelink gets criticised over many things, but when they put out an information pamphlet, they make it available in just about every language (actually over 60)  used  in Australia, except possibly those of our First Nations.

The point of being tested is not exclusively to find out if the person is her/himself in need of treatment, but to prevent or reduce cross-infection and avoid soaring numbers requiring hospitalisation.

I know that people are often very self centred, and do not immediately consider the possible impact of their actions on others. All the more reason to ensure, in the pandemic context, that they are fully aware that being tested may save the lives of other people, including ones to whom they are related.

This is where tribal and religious leaders need to be brought into the picture, because they may well be able to explain the importance of testing more effectively in a community context.

After all, most religious leaders have been cooperative in holding religious services other than in crowded churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.

We look like being limited to travel inside Australia for some time to come, while also limiting the countries from which we will accept visitors.

If we are going to be able to move around reasonably freely inside Australia, then it has to be a joint effort by everybody to ensure that we reduce to an absolute minimum the possibility of further waves of infection and consequent deaths.

Communication of the reasons why testing everyone – not necessarily only once – is incredibly important and every valid means of getting that message across should be used.

We have more than enough laws already, so we should try to use firm persuasion whenever possible – carrot rather than stick!

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Prejudice springs from ignorance

Before coming to Australia, I lived for just over 10 years in Gravesend, Kent – directly across the Thames from the Tilbury docks.

This was a time when anyone born in the British Commonwealth, was entitled to a British passport, and Tilbury was the destination for hundreds of Indian and Pakistani migrants.

It is still standard practice in both these countries, for marriages to be arranged by the families. I was briefly acquainted with a young woman from the Punjab, who had been sent to Gravesend to marry a man whose wife had died, leaving him with one or two small children needing a mother.

We had no common language, but I did establish that she was in hospital over a threatened miscarriage.

It was quite normal in Gravesend for schoolchildren to shop with their mothers to act as translators, since the women lived fairly secluded lives, socialising only with family and other women. It took a few generations for the women to become fluent in English and adapt to their new environment.

There was a degree of mild discrimination in the local ‘white’ community, but it was never intense. It often related to different food practices, as some of the possibly over-sensitive objected to the smells of the spices used in the preferred foods of the migrants.

Those migrants who worked hard and were able to buy a house, generally decorated the house in the distinctively bold colours that were also used in their clothing. More conventional members of the local community rarely even used bold colours for the external doors, let alone on the brickwork! These houses were mostly semi-detached, 2-storey houses, with small front and larger back gardens.

Some existing residents, fearing their properties might be de-valued, sold out and moved elsewhere, until one street was locally dubbed the Khyber Pass!

I was never aware of any real hostility, but when the migrant families form what is virtually a ghetto, and the women do not speak English well enough to socialise outside the migrant community, it can be hard to bridge the gap, and even harder for the ethnic community to keep up to date with official information.

There would be similar situations in Australia. Just as some older Australians lack internet skills and often fail to receive information from governments – which now rely heavily on the assumption that everyone can be contacted electronically – so too there will be pockets of migrant groups which require particularly close attention in a situation like the current pandemic.

I get the feeling that Daniel Andrews is falling over backwards to avoid any remarks  about the cluster of COVID-19 infections currently causing concern, where prejudice about the communities involved might be the outcome.

I have a friend, who is only a smidgen younger than I am, but whose aversion for most forms of technology means that I have to make sure she knows when notices to members of the bridge club where we both play have gone out!

I do not know to what extent governments use ethnic community groups to help ensure that those for whom English is not a first language receive accurate information about matters of community concern. I hope they do so to a meaningful extent.

To ensure that both the facts and the gravity of the situation are fully disseminated among all communities is a matter of real concern for us all.

Last night’s Four Corners exposé of the Newmarch Nursing Home debacle was a clear reminder of the dire consequences of failing to ensure that plans and communications which affect life and death have to be well thought through and delivered.

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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Ignorant, ill-informed or just plain stupid?

I wonder how many of you share my feeling of desperation over our failure to elect a government which believes in research, science, evidence, improving life for those who need help and generally doing a good job of governing – for our benefit, not theirs?

They have just announced a policy designed to ensure some categories of undergraduates get a better deal than do others.

They argue that we should enable those most likely to be employed following graduation as matter of priority.

Does research support their rationalisation? NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! – to echo a former, never to be forgotten worst-ever (but Scomo is rapidly challenging that status!) PM!

We have made such a botch of our choices of governments, that we manage to have one in charge of the country which clearly believes that the poor would rather live on welfare than seek a job – when the only people who benefit from the job seeking process are the private firms who get paid every time they place a job seeker.

And not to mention the heart-breaking process of job applications which get no response, or those to employers who are inundated by applicants, given the unfavourable ratio of job seekers to job vacancies.

What is more, if they are currently on benefits then they surely must have rorted the system – this is not exclusively the prerogative of government Ministers who dole out community grants with a clear bias towards those recipients whose vote you are likely to get.

And if a welfare recipient has rorted the system, then they must be punished. That punishment is specifically reserved for those who are already at the end of their wits as to how to survive, while unpaid taxes owed by wealthy corporations are not pursued and others gain by selling non-existent water which they do not own and hide their ill-gotten gains well offshore to avoid ever paying tax on interest.

We all know all these stories. They do not hit the headlines because the MSM has a vested interest in keeping a conservative government in power.

Morality, transparency, integrity, competence – are a few of the qualities we should be able to identify in our politicians.

It increasingly becomes like looking for a needle in a haystack!

I sincerely hope that pressure from the Premiers in the National Cabinet will prevent any decisions to cut benefits by the originally suggested dates, as charities and other NFPs totally lack sufficient resources to make up the desperately needed shortfall that would create!

We might be coming out of shutdown, but many businesses will not have survived, and their demise adds to the long list of required vacancies being anxiously sought by the increasingly desperate job seekers.

Yes – Black Lives Matter. Yes – Hong Kong – is being given a bum’s rush by China. Yes – we have much to protest about.

What we need to be out on the streets protesting, is lack of action on climate change. Because that guarantees a massive increase in jobs – in manufacturing powered by renewable energy.

It also ensures a healthier population when we cease pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, so benefitting from reduced pollution in the air we breathe.

We cannot afford to wait another 30 years!

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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Optimist, pessimist – or realist?

I have not always been an optimist, but serendipity has intervened so often in my life, that I now see helpful outcomes as more likely than less favourable ones – at least, most of the time!

I try to avoid pessimistic thoughts because that way lies depression and damage to mental health – which is currently far too common for many who have not experienced good fortune at any stage in their lives.

Politically, I guess I am a progressive who sees social justice, and active efforts to reduce inequality, as essential goals, ones which do not appear to be embraced with any conviction by our major political parties!

But I see ideology as a serious enemy to progress – and progress is not necessarily achieved through continuous growth.

Human beings are the only animals where perpetual population growth is an expected outcome – with no thought for what that means in the context of limited resources.

If we were to stabilise population growth, which could now be done humanely, without wars and pandemics, we would reduce the pressure for continual growth.

‘Growing the economy’ has been the political mantra for too long, and we are achieving that growth through creating more and more waste and pollution, exploiting less developed countries to provide what verges on slave labour, and generally guaranteeing that future generations will be less and less likely to have a life worth living!

When I graduated with a maths degree in the UK in 1957, there was a high demand for maths and science graduates to go into secondary teaching, to raise the standards – this being the time of the space race.

Nothing has changed. Skills in STEM subjects are still in short supply, and those who have those skills are not attracted into a profession which undervalues teachers – just like it undervalues all caring professions.

It has been an eye opener to see a Coalition government actively rely on specialist advice from the medical sciences in planning a path through COVID-19. Doubly surprising, because the almost total lack of understanding of any branch of science (politics and economics are not sciences!) among our politicians, has resulted in their dismissive response to any suggestion that they listen to scientific advice.

OK – almost all of us come from a background where doctors have been held in high regard because of their power of controlling life or death situations.

But our climate scientists are in exactly the same situation, knowing that we are on the path to self-destruction, just as much as any drug addict or diabetic who refuses to follow medical advice.

I am not a psychologist, so cannot begin to even hazard a guess as to why our ideological Coalition government is so addicted to promoting fossil fuels as the continuing preferred source of energy.

The growing consensus is that we are fast running out of time to make serious steps to cease using fossil fuels beyond the essential – as in making steel – and advances in the development and use of renewable energy make this a realistic goal.

Pessimism starts creeping in when I am forced to realise that this is most unlikely to happen under the current Coalition government and we are stuck with them for the best – or worst – part of another two years.

If you, or close relatives, have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren – surely you want them to have the best lives possible?

The pandemic has disastrously affected our economy, and there will be slow progress in recovering, with so many now unemployed and so many jobs no longer available.

But this is where we cannot afford to look back and seek to return to ‘normal’, because the old ‘normal’, with a sluggish economy and increasing inequality, was dooming our kids’ futures, anyway.

Experts are telling us that now is the time for a massive move towards developing and refining all forms of renewable energy, creating job opportunities in the process.

I am pessimistic that Coalition policies will lead us in this direction – so we have got to make it possible – through civil disobedience, if necessary (let’s not go as far as the French Revolution).

Black Lives Matter is an issue we should support, if we have a moral bone in our bodies. That ties in with working our butts off to reduce inequality, whether in wealth or related to ethnicity.

We do not deserve to seek a comfortable life if we can only do do at a cost to the lives of others.

Morality is not a religious issue. It is the foundation stone of a viable society. In fact the apparent absence of morality in many who claim to follow some religion or cult is seriously high.

We elect governments to develop policies to support our lives – for all of us, not a select few.

If they cannot do this effectively, it is up to us to make them!

That is realism!

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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How real is history?

Even witnesses to an accident have a different perception of what happened, and the more they try to remember what they actually saw and heard, the less certain they become. Ask any crime scene investigator!

Catching a photo or a video might appear to provide a more accurate picture of the event, but, again where precisely the individual recording the scene is located, in relation to the recorded event might, and often does, affect how the picture can be interpreted.

We cannot change history – but we can never be certain it has been recorded or reported accurately, and it is rare for the record to not be influenced, at least to some extent, by the personal perspectives of, and choices made by, the recorder, even if only in what to include and what to exclude..

What is indelibly ingrained in the first memory of someone hurt in an accident, is the pain.

I have fallen many times. I could not tell you how I looked, as I fell, but I can tell you – if I survive the fall (clearly I always have done, so far!) – exactly which bits of me hurt as a result of the fall.

You can see where I am bruised – I bruise very easily and the bruises appear remarkably quickly! – and, if you have medical knowledge, you can assess whether I have broken any bones or possibly incurred more serious internal injuries.

But you can never experience or record my pain.

However nature has a remedy. If we recover from the fall, we remember that we were hurt, but no longer feel the pain.

Around the world, wars, invasions and catastrophic events have left people bereaved maimed, grieving – or dead. The survivors each have an individual story and for many the pain never really goes away.

The concept of human rights is a relatively modern phenomenon, even though, through the ages, there have always been people who sought to help others, just as there have also always been people who seek a goal, carelessly destroying any who get in their way while they stride towards it.

Some countries – even ones like the USA, which regard themselves as being modern and enlightened (laughter off-stage) – still have the death penalty for certain crimes. Yet those same countries often have a very flawed justice system. And if you execute someone who is not the real culprit, that situation is not open to reversal.

We are all imperfect beings, who make mistakes, hurt other people – sometimes deliberately – and experience many emotions. Much of our experience is not recorded, and those records are often questioned.

What is – IMHO – indisputable is that descendants of those forced into slavery by invading Europeans, and transported to Europe and the Americas, are members of the human race and entitled to as much care and respect as all other members of that race.

No – revise that statement – they are entitled to more care and respect, to recompense them for much of what they have been denied because of their origins.

What is done, cannot be undone is a trite but true statement.

When the First Fleet, and those that followed it, arrived in Australia, in their ignorance they regarded our First Nations as savages and made a good fist of trying to destroy them.

Yet we now know that they have a long history of developing a culture which saw nurturing the land as their duty. Their culture is, in fact, very complex and contains many elements which are far superior to our money-centred life-style.

I personally feel that is not really fair to judge the past by standards which we have adopted only recently.

Pulling down statues of slave traders, or others who are no longer regarded highly, is not necessary, because it does not change what they did. What would be more effective would be to erect an easily-read plaque which critiques the damage done through their actions.

In our criminal law system, intent to cause harm is a critical element of finding guilt. If a political climate sanctions certain behaviours, then where does the guilt lie?

We are at a watershed in history as regards discrimination in first world nations.

If we genuinely support human rights, then surely we need to sanction all – be they Presidents, police officers or governments – who promote or condone discrimination on racial grounds, particularly if it leads to harm, or death, of anyone subject to that discrimination.

In Australia, our education system MUST incorporate the history of our First Nations if we hope to change our attitudes to any significant extent. We need to consult community leaders and involve them in decision making and we need to stop allowing mining companies from destroying heritage treasures tens of thousands of years old.

If we stopped worshipping money, just think how much better our world might be!

We cannot change the past but we can and should make a real effort to ensure our behaviour in the future leaves a history which does not make our descendants ashamed of their ancestors.

And if we are to have a future, we need to start listening to the experts in all of the sciences, not just health!

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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Women must not be ignored

Have you ever felt you are being ignored by everybody – or, even worse, treated like a doormat?

If so, then you are probably female!

All generalisations have to allow that there are exceptions, but on a proportionate basis, I stand by my statement.

The vast majority of people who work in the ‘caring professions’ are women. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Because, for the most part, few men are interested in taking on the required duties, for the pay that is offered!

Early childhood and primary teachers, nurses and health care workers are among the most obvious – and have been the most needed workers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

How much gratitude have they been shown by government? About as much as the volunteer firefighters who ‘enjoy their work’!

The most important years in a child’s life are the first 5 – with the first 3 being the stand-out years.

Guess who spends the most time with the child, during this period, in most cultures?

The mother, and other female relatives, closely followed, in the case of a working mother, by an early childhood educator.

Increasingly fathers are taking more interest in their children from an early age, but as a broad generalisation, mothers spend more time than fathers – and practically all early childhood teachers are female.

So what – you might ask?

Well, the latest government decision in relation to child-care would never have been made by a woman. In fact, a woman would have been offering higher pay to early childhood educators and ensuring that access to the child care service remains free in the future.

Many are now criticising the government for its poor treatment of those employed in education, whether it be in universities – which have had no support from government –  or in early childhood education – which should be a compulsory and government-provided part of state education.

Among women who become national leaders, Jacinda Ardern is a stand-out, having become a mother so soon after becoming Prime Minister of New Zealand, and having so successfully steered her country through the COVID-19 crisis.

OK. She had a lot going for her.

Like Australia, her country is an island – a massive advantage in keeping out a viral infection – but hers is smaller. She has a partner who is willing to let his own career take a backseat to his taking on a larger than usual part of the role of parenting a small child.

Being a woman has almost certainly given the New Zealand PM a greater sensitivity to the impact of the policies she developed, on the people affected by them. After all, that is another aspect of the preponderance of females in the caring professions, who are regularly just taken for granted under male policy-makers! They feel for the pain of others.

It is not enough to do the right thing. It is incredibly important that you work to minimise any adverse impacts your policies have, and ensure that everyone understands how and why the policy was formulated, while ensuring that pressure is relieved as soon as it can be, and resisting pressure to move too soon.

Here in Australia, there are so many occasions when a predominantly male group of decision-makers are clearly tin-eared and lacking in empathy when it comes to making policies which significantly affect certain groups adversely, that I am sure women will have a lot of similar reactions to those of many Indigenous groups.

The assistance packages which the Australian government belatedly implemented have proved incredibly inequitable, again demonstrating the lack of sensitivity in government.

It has often been said that fewer if any countries would go to war if they were governed by women.

I would venture to suggest that a great deal of current policy decisions would be vastly improved if more input from women was incorporated.

Well – maybe not from Bridget McKenzie unless you, too, support the Coalition!

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

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

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The governments of Australia condemned for incompetence

I am sure I am not alone in having a high opinion of Alan Kohler, who regularly reports on business and finance issues.

Hopefully many of you will have read the article published today (10/06/20) in the Murdoch press Business section, titled What we’re facing is not a ‘recession’.

If you can get behind the paywall to read the whole article on page 32, please do. Copyright does not permit me to reproduce the whole article here but this is a taster.

It’s not just the Federal Government. All Australian governments have made a series of decisions over the past four months that have destroyed thousands of businesses and put more than a million people out of work, and none of them have properly compensated all of the afflicted.

In fact, targeted support for those affected by the business closures should have been announced simultaneously with the closures and it should have been unlimited.

It is a disgrace that this wasn’t done, that so many lives have been devastated while others have sailed on unaffected because their employer doesn’t happen to rely on travel or crowds mingling together to make money.

Mr Kohler has no quarrel with the fact of the closures, which have almost certainly saved hundreds of lives, rather he says “The problem — the only problem — is that having decided to make people unemployed, reduce incomes and close businesses, they did little to help those affected for weeks, and when the help came, it was untargeted and capped.”

He goes on to offer a clear solution and to criticise the fact that the government is pretending it is being generous in giving help to anyone at all – instead of openly admitting that we all need help, that it is not our fault but theirs – if fault is the right word, because the reason was to prevent a more serious crisis.

But governments at all levels are complicit in the decisions made, and the implementation of those decisions, without a ready-made plan to minimise the damage.

Any government worth electing must be prepared for disasters. The Ruby Princess was another example of unpreparedness.

When you board any commercial plane, you are advised of the process to follow in the event of a disaster. It is very rare for any flight to experience a disaster, and we all know that the probability of surviving one unscathed is slim. But at least we have been provided with a hope of survival.

It would be an interesting exercise for someone to list all the disasters which can affect the whole population of a country, and a pandemic would have to be high on the list.

So procedures to follow have to be prepared in advance, ready to put into immediate effect – and we did get fair warning of the corona virus disaster!

But if governments are going to require the population to take actions which put their lives and livelihoods at risk, then it is those governments which have to wear the cost – and Alan Kohler’s article indicates a simple process for doing this (was that beyond the thinking of government officials?) and the outcome must be equitable.

If my memory serves me well, after the Bali bombings, a special unit was set up, based at the Royal Darwin Hospital to be immediately available in the event of another similar occurrence.

In the present crisis, public servants and many other workers have kept their jobs and are minimally affected.

But many in the arts and entertainment areas and in tertiary education have had their lives and their futures shattered.

And as for those non-nationals on visas, along with refugees in the community, and those poor souls, normally incarcerated offshore, but currently packed into hotels, and essentially forgotten while waiting for medical treatment –  they are being damaged with no avenue for recompense.

PLEASE do not praise the Prime Minister for doing a good job.

Tell him to listen to the appropriate experts – and that also applies to developing policy to tackle the inexorable path of climate change.

I have noted in a previous article, how Darwin, looking like it had been hit by a nuclear bomb after Cyclone Tracy, was restored by the Federal Government (this was before the NT gained self-government) and experienced a cashless society for weeks, with the government covering the cost of establishing food drops for those who stayed and also assisting those who were evacuated inter-state.

Of course, there will be critics who say this occurred on Gough Whitlam’s watch and he spent money like water!

Well – none of us can survive without water, either, and the cost of caring is usually far less than the cost of ignoring a desperate situation.

PLEASE read Alan Kohler’s article if you can and pressure governments to seek advice from qualified sources rather than fumbling and bumbling along with ill-thought out plans, developed on the run.

What is always apparent with this Coalition government – it is reactive not proactive – and if we ever needed proactive policies it is NOW!

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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In whom can we trust?

According to Ernst & Young (EY), the renewable energy sector is approaching a situation where it does not need government subsidies.

By contrast, “G20 countries are subsidising oil, gas and coal explorers to the tune of $US88 billion ($100 billion) annually through grants, loans, and tax deductions.”

We have to ask ourselves – WHY???

Have governments sold their collective soul to fossil fuel and mining companies for a post-politics sinecure?

They sure as hell do not put the electors high in their list of priorities when it comes to providing much-needed assistance!

As far as Robo-debt is concerned, the government has not only admitted it acted unlawfully, and has undertaken to repay the money demanded from a multitude of Centrelink beneficiaries, many of whom paid up while not accepting that the demand was legitimate, but it has gone further, and is trying to head off a class action seeking damages for their illegal behaviour.

There will always be a few bad eggs in every basket, but the flawed process used by the government to identify those whom they then accused of having defrauded Centrelink, wrongly identified hundreds who either owed nothing or at least less than was being demanded from them.

And this is in a situation where Gestapo-like tactics are being used with people who are largely highly vulnerable.

It appears that the ill-fated algorithm was developed by Centrelink in response to a requirement from government that Centrelink raise revenue by recovering funds over-paid to recipients.

And this is the same government which has been begged to take action to recover outstanding tax from corporations.

Almost simultaneously, it is alleged that the ATO required its tax collectors to issue garnishee orders on hundreds of debtors, ignoring the circumstances of those affected. An investigation is underway, but the whistle-blower who revealed the situation is being sued by ATO, with more than 100 years imprisonment at stake.

What faith can we have that our elected government develops policies for our benefit, when it creates super-departments like Human Services (a ludicrously mis-named organisation, the way it offers its services is far from humane!), the ATO and – it has to be added – Home Affairs, all of which appear to create more misery than happiness, while allowing the corporate sector to flout the rules.

Is this really the sort of government we want?

And the fact that they are currently hiding from scrutiny, by preventing Parliament from doing its proper job, is further cause for concern.

The National Cabinet has done a good job to date, but they must still prevent the Coalition from withdrawing desperately needed financial assistance, and throwing thousands if not millions into penury.

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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When I went through my secondary education at a state-funded C of E Grammar school in the UK, we had a very good general education, which included Art, Biology, Chemistry, English Language, English Literature, French, Geography, History, Latin, Mathematics, Music, Physics and Scripture. We also, being an all-girls school, spent a year on needlework and…

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With apologies to Lewis Carroll aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: “The time has come,” the PM said, “To talk of many things: Of jobs—and pay—and work for dole— Of billionaires—and flings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings.” “But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried, “Before we have our chat; For…

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Democracy or Dictatorship?

I wonder if you have read this interview with The Honourable Justice Margaret White AO in which she excoriates the Coalition government for ignoring Parliament?

Morrison has rejected her criticism by essentially ignoring its substance.

In doing so he has clearly indicated that while Justice White deserves the title ‘Honourable’, he does not!

A cursory glance at the government’s recent activities leaves a clear – and unsavoury – impression that the Coalition is intent on ignoring any immediate need to make rapid steps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Quite the contrary.

They are avoiding listening to any dissenting voices, by excluding any involvement, other than by manufacturing and fossil fuel magnates, in the COVID-19 Commission.

They are also ignoring the needs and interests of a significant proportion of the population by only involving in the Commission a limited range of expertise – coming from people with a significant interest in promoting their own area of concern.

They are denying Parliament any involvement in oversight and discussion on the plans being developed – and please remember that we are still paying our Parliamentarians to represent us, as well as handsomely reimbursing the efforts of the members of the Commission.

This smacks of government by Prime Ministerial fiat.

This is not democracy.

This is not good governance.

This is not acceptable!

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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Precedent

There is a strong connection between the cattle export ban and Robodebt.

Precedent.

“Reckless” disregard of consequences has resulted in the Federal Court finding the Australian government guilty of causing financial damage to the cattle exporters affected by the decision.

Damages are yet to be determined.

The government has also admitted to being guilty of illegal action in imposing the Robodebt regime on Centrelink clients.

A class action has yet to be heard.

Court rulings and judgements are guided by many factors, one of which is precedent.

And there is now a clear precedent set in relation to the effect of government decisions on those adversely affected by them

Watch this space.

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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When is a miracle the ultimate disaster?

When it results in a man who is bent on destroying all that we hold dear, becoming the one in charge of our fate.

We once were the Lucky Country.

There have been hiccups on the way to now, where we can finally see the luck is all where the money is.

Increasingly, whenever we have had a conservative government, the assets got sold off and services were privatised or out-sourced, the idea being that we would get more efficient services.

About the only people who ever benefited were shareholders, particularly in global corporations.

Costs for services generally went up, standard of services generally went down, institutions like banks and insurance companies got away with appalling behaviour, with only the occasional slap on the wrist, and Ministers of the Crown behaved in ways that dis-entitled them to be called honourable.

When was the last time a Senator or MP resigned for misleading Parliament or committing any other misdemeanour that breached her/his obligations?

You are right! It was some time ago – and I am fairly sure he was a Labor senator.

Corruption crept in, to the extent that, with no national watch dog to keep the government honest, blatant rorts are being perpetrated, with government gleefully distributing funds to where they will buy most votes.

Findings from Royal Commissions are ignored, if it does not suit the government to take action, and Ministers are seldom sanctioned – or even criticised, for actions which clearly lack integrity.

The trail of corruption and poor policy which has followed Scott Morrison’s ultimate elevation to the prime seat of power has been documented – and ignored, because, it seems, self-interest dominates over any sense of purpose to benefit Australians.

Scott Morrison was in charge of Immigration when “Stop the Boats” was the government’s watch cry. Under his rulings, massive breaches of human rights have occurred, resulting in the deaths and ill-health of numerous innocent refugees, for want of taking effective steps to find proper sanctuary for them.

Treated like criminals, with no hope for a future, the trail of suicides and mental health breakdowns would weigh heavy on the conscience of many – but not our fearless leader.

Taking over from the useless Joe Hockey (isn’t it great how being a useless Treasurer enables you to become the Ambassador to the USA?), Scott was in charge of Treasury when Stuart Robert, whose history of incompetence includes an inability to work out how much of his home internet costs should be charged to the country, introduced the policy now known as RoboDebt.

Any experienced Centrelink Officer could have told him, that the process of determining the entitlement to payment for someone who was out of work, took account of all relevant issues, and if the recipient of a Centrelink payment provided all income details, no over-payments occurred.

Ah! you will say – but not every recipient was honest. And that is true. But their number pales into insignificance in comparison with the majority who reported accurately – and were still accused of owing money.

In any case, and more importantly, averaging annual income as reported to ATO, cannot begin to provide an accurate picture of the individual’s fortnightly income receipts, if the person has been in and out of work.

A basic understanding of arithmetic would be enough to realise that the algorithm which was developed was totally inappropriate for the purpose for which it was developed.

Issues arising from false demands, debt collectors being employed – the whole soul-destroying attack on vulnerable people – was played out in the media. To what effect?

The government held its ground until the lawyers got involved.

The PM now wants legislation to ensure that the ability to fight a class action is curtailed – chiefly, I suspect, because one has been brought against them – and they have hastily admitted that the system was illegal and they will – or say they will – refund all the monies that were paid.

I, for one, would like to see an oversight body being established to ensure that every cent – plus, preferably, interest – is properly refunded. But some of those people will have borrowed money, possibly at exorbitant interest rates, some of them will have endured problems from stress and it is possible that some are not able to benefit from the repayment of falsely claimed ‘debts’ because they have died!

What about compensation?

And now the crowning moment!

Our aspiring would-be leader, drapes his arm around his predecessor’s shoulder, says “You are my leader” – and promptly ensures he has the numbers to seize the position from him.

Now, unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull, who should be credited with having a greater sense of what being honourable means than do many of his fellow politicians, misread Peter Dutton.

He did not realise the Machiavellian depths to which Dutton can sink, or that creating a mega department for Dutton to control was – in a nutshell – not a good idea.

If there is one department that regularly spends over-budget, lets contracts without due process, and generally wastes scarce resources with gay abandon, its name is Home Affairs. The auditors must wonder why they bother to audit it, as no action seems to be taken, ever, to rein in the excesses and follow the rules.

And, possibly because Scomo may suspect that Dutton sees the now PM as having stolen the job from him, Dutton is allowed to act like a spendthrift with our sparse resources.

We are now in an interesting, if potentially disastrous, stage in our history.

Since the GFC, the Coalition has been hitting Labor round the head, with totally ill-founded arguments about their financial policy to ensure our economy recovered as swiftly as possible.

Actually, the rest of the developed world recognised the skill with which Labor achieved the desired outcome, but our Coalition politicians seem incapable of seeing facts through their warped ideological vision.

I secretly wonder whether Scomo realises his lack of ability as a leader – and this is why – without fanfare or acknowledgement, he accepted a suggestion to establish the National Cabinet (NC).

This has been such an inspired idea that I am sure it cannot have come from him.

Getting the glory is, after all, the reason to wish to be PM!

He has taken care to be the front-man for announcing all policy decisions, ensuring he appears to be the initiator, while, in the case of the Robo-debt back-down – letting Robert do a very inadequate job of advising that the government recognised that the policy was illegal.

Please remember – as Treasurer – Morrison signed off on the policy, saying that their advice was that they had good grounds to introduce it. I assume they got nether mathematical nor legal opinion!

The NC is to be congratulated in steering government to enable the country to get through this phase of the COVID-19 crisis with so few deaths.

I say ‘this phase’ for a reason.

Before the NC was established, Morrison had dithered about initiating a lock-down, and the members of that Cabinet must have worked really hard, to ensure Morrison accepted a policy which went even further than Rudd’s, in dealing with the GFC.

I am also grateful that the NC is to continue, because we now have three major problems.

The first is the elephant in the room – climate change – and gas is not a saviour, it is a fossil fuel which enriches people like Andrew Liveris. (Conflict of interest? Surely not!)

The second is that we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, so are likely to continue having to deal with periodic quarantining and restricting overseas visitors, affecting our economy.

And the third is, of course, enabling the economy to recover, in a situation of incredibly high un- and under-employment.

And I trust Scott Morrison’s ability to develop appropriate policies about as much as I trust Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again!

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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