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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.

Staying alive

When my children were young, and referred to anything that happened before they were born, they used to talk about “in the olden days”.

I grew up reading fairy stories, myths and legends – King Arthur and his knights of the round table – with distressed damsels being rescued by white knights in shining armour, and princesses on white horses with tall, pointy hats, trailing a veil – so these were the pictures my imagination conjured up by the ‘olden days’ reference.

But the real olden days were the times before money was invented as a universal medium of exchange of goods and services. When the rulers of the land had absolute power over the majority of the people.

Were they good times?

For most people – no, they were not.

Many governments around the world are currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through social distancing, mass testing for infection, hand sanitising and public mask-wearing.

For this to be effective, many types of work cannot continue to be carried out and many people are facing drastically reduced – or total loss of – incomes.

THIS HAS BEEN A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES.

Few, if any, countries had fully prepared plans for dealing with a pandemic – certainly the Australian government had none – so decisions are being made blindly, on an ad hoc basis.

Without much clear forward-thinking, the Coalition government urged banks to come to an arrangement for deferred payment of mortgages and landlords to desist from evicting tenants unable to pay the rent.

The effectiveness of these suggestions depended on more concrete enforcement action by state and territory governments, and completely ignored the issue of the applicable time frame.

Understandably, most policies were being predicated on the assumption that, sooner or later, we would have a vaccine, but when and how effective it might be was unknown.

Not much has changed in that regard.

Financial institutions and landlords need more certainty than is provided by this situation, and it is becoming evident that, in the very near future, mortgagees will be receiving demands for payment, on the threat of foreclosure, while tenants will similarly be receiving ‘pay up or get out’ messages from landlords.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the National Cabinet discussed financial arrangements, leading to the massive program the government finally introduced.

I would bet my bottom dollar that the plan was agreed to but not initiated by Morrison and Frydenberg.

After all – all the policies of the Coalition government have been based on reversing and crtiticising the policies initiated by the ALP when in power – just as Trump has been beavering away undoing every socially responsible policy introduced by Obama.

Because the policies offered by the Coalition, are developed by people, few, if any, of whom have ever been severely deprived, they are blind to the effects they will have on the people most adversely affected.

For years there have been demands from many areas that Newstart was totally inadequate, for many people and many reasons.

To the relief of many, the initial payment approved by government, for the unemployed who were not entitled to other categories of payment, was an improvement on Newstart – but had the threat hanging over it that it might later be reduced.

What the Coalition government does not seem able to comprehend is the scale and extent of the problem it faces.

Prior to the pandemic, wage levels for many – but not for CEO’s salaries and bonuses! – had been stagnant, if not going backwards, for years. So people had been unable to save, had, in fact, accumulated often massive levels of debt in a climate where the number of those unemployed was massively greater than the numbers of available jobs.

The people who were best supported in this situation were those employed by the out-sourced employment agencies.

Employees of these agencies were often eligible for bonuses if they placed an applicant in a job, and a further bonus it the person remained in that employment for a specified period.

The person who benefitted most was a shareholder in the company which was required to help those unemployed.

Attempts are now being made by government to cut more ground from under the feet of those who have already lost working conditions which unions fought hard to gain for them.

Australia is a wealthy country – but much of that wealth is squirrelled away in tax havens, allowing the account holders to use their money to make money, which is never subject to tax in Australia. The gap widens, day after day.

We need a variant of the universal basic income (UBI) to ensure that the increased number for whom no jobs exist can avoid becoming a homeless underclass. through no choice of their own!

The government could encourage a recovery which creates jobs, starting in those states which are reasonably clear of COVID-19 – WA, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, with Queensland and SA champing on their heels.

Those jobs must be linked to dealing with the other existential crisis – global warming.

And taxation MUST return to being progressive.

OK – I know. I expect miracles – and not the kind Morrison looks for!

The vast majority of those supposedly planning for our future are all receiving regular incomes, living in a secure situation with solid plans for the future.

Until and unless they consult more effectively with those organisations which know at first hand the misery and hopelessness of those who are out of work, unlikely to find work in the near future, desperate for their families’ welfare and suffering enormous stress, Australia will remain a basket case with an ideologically biassed government which is blind to its failings.

SCOTT MORRISON – FOR THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN WORKER, STAYING ALIVE SHOULD NOT BE AS HARD AS YOU ARE MAKING IT!

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

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

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Australian policy needs consistency

I am a dual national – one advantage of which is that I cannot ever sit in the Australian Parliament – but nothing can stop me from being as critical of government in Australia as I am of the UK government.

Both suck – big time!

Because both follow inhumane neoliberal policies.

Having been here for almost 50 years, I find it impossible to remember how much I knew about Australia before I came, as compared to how much I now know.

I am fairly sure I knew about Australia having begun its life, as part of the ‘Western’ world, as a penal colony – or series of colonies – which has led to its current fractured government systems.

The prison hulks in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations alerted me to that unsavoury beginning, just as Dickens’ books – a full set of which lived on the mantlepiece in my bedroom while growing up – generally alerted me to the needs of the poor and the arrogance of those who regard themselves as born to rule.

I learned about the corruption in the NSW colony, and corruption was still really out there in Queensland, courtesy of Joh, when I arrived.

That political parties and corruption are bedfellows is daily detailed in the national press!

We kid ourselves when we try to persuade others that many other countries have corrupt governments but we are above all that.

Power corrupts – wherever.

I learned about Australia’s shocking treatment of its First Peoples quite rapidly, living, as I do, in the Northern Territory, which has the highest proportion of any state or territory of these indigenous people, many of whom prefer to live on country and try, against the odds, to preserve their culture and native languages..

Growing up in a Christian household, I have ethical standards which I do not see echoed in many of those in power in Australia.

I am now an agnostic, sharing the view that there is no way any worthwhile god could exist, which was omnipresent and omnipotent and yet unwilling to allow mankind to be denied the right to free will.

Man has developed god in his own image – and that god is not benevolent.

In fact the human race has given Planet Earth its most despicable and dangerous predators.

If I did not have grandchildren and great grandchildren, I would seriously welcome the world’s being rapidly overtaken by global warming, as, given our failure to protect the planet as carefully as would our First Nations, the rest of life on Earth might be able to recover some balance without us.

I write this as an optimist in the hope that enough other people might realise the urgent need for action to completely change course.

Everything is valued in dollar terms.

Wealth is put ahead of quality of life.

The economy is our master – not our servant.

The immigration policy which has evolved under the Coalition is cruel and capricious.

Reading about Australia’s early settlement, we read of a level of cruelty which still underlies government policies today.

I am sure our current government ministers feel very negative towards the Prime Minister of New Zealand because she makes them feel inferior in their standards – and they are!

She cares for her people and behaves as any caring parent does.

I cringe every time I hear people like Peter Dutton and Christian Porter – not to mention Scott Morrison – bleat on about Australian values.

If Australian values existed in any acceptable form, those three and their loyal cohort would not be in power!

We now have legislation which says, among other things, that a dual national, who commits a crime which warrants incarceration for 12 months or more, is liable to be deported.

We also now have a character test under which people may be arbitrarily removed from Australia, such as New Zealand citizens who have some reciprocal rights relating to residence status.

[As an aside, there is a right of appeal against being deported or removed from Australia under existing legislation, but, during their time in power, the Coalition has stacked the AAT with many who do not even have the necessary legal qualifications, to an extent that significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful appeal.}

In recent years, a considerable number of New Zealand citizens have been found to not meet the Character Test requirements and they have been deported to New Zealand, irrespective of however long they might have lived in Australia.

Jacinda Ardern has, on more than one occasion, objected to this practice.

The just-completed trial of an Australian terrorist in New Zealand  has resulted in his being given a life sentence with no parole.

Several relatives of victims of this terrorists actions have asked that the man be required to be returned to Australia to serve his sentence there, as has Winston Peters, the NZ Deputy Prime Minister..

New Zealand is a much smaller country than Australia, and the cost of life-long incarceration would be proportionately greater to them than to us – PLUS we send back to NZ a significant number of its citizens who have committed offences in Australia.

To date, both our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and our AG, Christian Porter, have shown a degree of reluctance to consider any request.

In view of the low level of integrity which both have displayed in relation to the secret trials of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – when everyone who seriously examines the facts would accept that the secrecy is designed, not to protect national security issues, but to reduce embarrassment to past and present government Ministers – it would be unsurprising but totally in character if the request were to be denied.

Jeez! They make it hard to be proud to be Australian!

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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The Blame Game – only it isn’t a game!

When things go wrong in a political context, the finger finally points at the man at the top of the ladder of responsibility.

In life, in general, we have to pay the price as individuals if we break a law.

Our prisons are full to overflowing with those whose refusal to behave according to the laws, has been deemed serious enough to warrant loss of liberty.

Government coffers are regularly replenished by fining those for whom a monetary penalty is seen as more appropriate – mainly because the public is not seen as being at major risk if the offender remains at large.

Back to politics – and despite his having used every reasonable coercive power to discourage the public from breaking the COVID-19 rules – social distance, wear a mask in public, etc – Dan Andrews is being held responsible by the Prime Minister for the upheaval in Victoria created by a second wave of the coronavirus.

Yet at the same time, funerals are being held, prematurely, for elderly people who met their deaths in Aged Care Homes which were not provided with adequate safety plans for COVID-19 by – guess who?

SCOTT MORRISON – YOU ARE VERY UNWISE TO PLAY THE BLAME GAME FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES WHEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR SO MANY DEATHS CAN BE LAID FIRMLY AT YOUR DOOR.

TIME TO STEP DOWN AND PASS THE REINS OF POWER TO SOMEONE MORE COMPETENT.

AND THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT IS TO CALL AN ELECTION, AND SEE IF YOUR POLICIES ARE VINDICATED BY THE RESULT.

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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What goes around, comes around

Another definition of Karma?

As a child, I remember reading of highwaymen – Dick Turpin, with his horse Black Beth, who was notorious for his antics on Hounslow Heath, near where I grew up.

Then there was Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

“Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!”

And now we have the dilemma created by COVID-19 – do we save lives or the economy?

Those who do not want for anything which money can buy, are the most eager to protect their wealth, and the institutions which have helped to create it, and if lives are lost in the process – well – we are over-populated, in the estimation of many!

The wealthy (interpret this as – those who are extremely comfortably endowed with worldly goods) tend to be jealous of their status, unwilling to lose it, and ready to brand the poor as being lazy and incapable of managing their lives.

The Indue Card policy bears witness to this attitude, as does the general law and order cause.

I accept that this is a sweeping generalisation and we do have genuine philanthropists, but the balance is basically towards inflicting a punishment which does not necessarily fit the crime.

If children grow up to be rebellious, lawless and perform criminal acts because they have not been properly cared for, guided and protected as small children, then they must be punished and dealt with in ways which guaranteed they continue in a life of crime.

Is that really the right approach?

It seems to be far too hard for the law-and-order brigade to realise, that early intervention, support for parents and young children, and mentoring, together with proper health support and guidance through a mother’s pregnancy, could have a real impact on the problem.

I often wonder how many of the Indigenous youngsters who get on the wrong side of the law in the NT have been affected by FASD – Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disease – through the mother’s over-dependence on alcohol during pregnancy?

Almost any parent of teenage children will tell you that, at times, they are at their wit’s end as to what to do with their rebellious kids. But that rebellion is a normal part of asserting independence, after years of absorbing the lessons their parents have been trying to instil.

It may take time, but sooner or later those parents are usually heaping praise on those children’s achievements!

None of us ever has adequate access to a “How to be a parent” course, and we depend on our own parents for clues as to how to go about the job. If our own parenting has been erratic, or worse, we are not going to do as good a job with our children – and there is nothing wrong with being offered help.

All children are individuals, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another – and that is without taking into account those who are afflicted with physical and mental health issues, or are just plain ‘different’.

And, as an aside – sexual abuse is not exclusive to institutions. More rape and abuse occurs in the family circle than is committed by outsiders. And whoever the perpetrator, the damage done, is enormous.

With government, it is a similar story. Ideology is not necessarily enough, because policies are not developed in a vacuum – they have to be appropriate to the circumstances.

Horses for courses.

And never has this been more evident than now, when we are faced with a global pandemic, at a point in our history when greed for the illusory benefits of constant growth has left us facing the existential crisis represented by Climate Change.

In one fell swoop and with limited warning, we are facing a world which demands attention to an extent we can barely grasp.

‘Normal’ no longer exists, and arriving at a ‘new normal’ will be much more difficult for those chained to beliefs and ideologies than it will be for those adjusted to change as a permanent feature of life, and willing to think progressively.

Our present government is showing signs that it is incapable of acting as required in by current circumstances.

We have really lost touch with what is needed to be a true democracy.

We have a Constitution which is not fit for purpose, government thinking requires us to ‘snap back’ – which, in the circumstances is impossible – and everyone is too timid to stand up, en masse, and tell those in charge that we need a massive change in approach and they need to hand over the reins to experts, more able and willing to ensure that we concentrate on saving lives, not fortunes!

It is a sad irony that, in recent years, there has been growing concern that we have an imbalance in the population and may end up with too few younger people in employment to support those on the Age Pension.

Now we face a world with too few jobs, because so many businesses have been forced to close, by policies (rightly) designed to save lives, no certainty of an effective vaccine, but a reducing population of elderly people as they succumb to COVID-19!

Ironic indeed!

PLEASE, MR MORRISON.

YOU HAVE SPENT YOUR WORKING CAREER TRYING TO MANIPULATE SITUATIONS TO ENSURE YOUR RISE TO POWER.

BUT YOU ARE INCAPABLE OF EITHER DEALING WITH BOTH OF THE CURRENT CRISES OR TO RECOGNISE THAT THAT IS THE CASE.

YOUR CHOSEN ADVISORS IN THE COVID-19 COMMISSION ARE GEARED TO SAVING THE ECONOMY AND WE NEED TO SAVE A NATION!

PLEASE RESIGN ASAP!

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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What have we learned from COVID-19?

A message given to those who are selling or promoting commodities and ideas, and trying to succeed in gaining a client, is along the lines of “You have two ears and one mouth and it’s best to use them in that proportion”

Listening is so important, and without doing so, we run the risk of failing to understand other people’s needs, or to encourage them to see the value in the message we are hoping they will hear.

This is a lesson many of our politicians have yet to learn. They are far more skilled at telling us what they think we need and what they are prepared to offer, than they are at listening to us telling them what we know we need!

One thing we have learned from this crisis is that the people who have been of most value to us, as individuals, are the ones who are least well paid, often less highly regarded and certainly least interested in promoting themselves in the process of helping us.

They are the undervalued health care workers, cleaners and many others doing essential but often menial work.

Many more people would have died, or been permanently and adversely affected by the novel coronavirus, had not these carers put their own lives on the line to help us.

This year’s Australian of the Year should be granted, en masse, to this group of people.

And they should be recognised by a significant review of their pay and conditions!

Those of us living in the NT have had no community transmissions of COVID-19, but we have listened in horror to what has happened elsewhere in Australia – particularly in Victoria and NSW.

We closed our borders because a significant proportion of our population is comprised of ATSI people, whose health and living conditions would make them singularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

We have had pressure exerted, by tourism, politicians of various flavours, and by mining, with its FIFO workers, to relax restrictions, but we have, rightly, resisted, because the mighty dollar does not have a value sufficient to cover the cost of the lives that would be put at risk by opening our borders.

This country, in recent years, has seen an alarming growth in government policies which exhibit an attitude of outright cruelty.

Cause and effect are a phenomenon which we have become very bad at understanding.

How long has it been that scientists have been warning us that there would, sooner or later, be another pandemic like the Spanish flu?

Is it not a responsibility of governments to take precautions and prepare plans for likely eventualities?

And to regularly update them – after all we have had warning signs through SARS and MERS, not to mention HIV-AIDS and a host of other less recent ones. 

The Coalition government has been complimented on the extent to which it has been listening to the appropriate scientists in dealing with the pandemic, but how thoroughly was it prepared to think these through properly?

It has also not been sufficiently proactive in ensuring that we have an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or that those most at risk in fighting the pandemic and protecting us are properly informed in the appropriate use of PPE.

The disastrous situation in those ‘private’ Aged Care institutions, which are the responsibility of the Federal government, has been appalling, including the lack of plans, the lack of inspection and control and the conditions which applied to staff.

The Disability inquiry is finding these same criticisms apply to service for the disabled, who, along with the elderly, are the most vulnerable members of society. Because the NDIS is a more recent introduction, this might be excused, but for the fact that it shares so much in common with Aged Care needs that, had plans for the care of the elderly been in place, the needs of the disabled could have followed on similar lines.

For a normal household, living with and adhering to a budget is important. But many households do not receive enough to be able to set down a budget and are forced into a hand-to-mouth existence of choosing between putting food on the table or paying the power bill.

In a wealthy country like Australia, this is inexcusable, and it is often the result of policies being made by politicians with no experience or understanding of situations which face a large proportion of the population.

The real cruelty has crept in most obviously in two areas, and politicians of more than one persuasion must be held guilty here.

Not surprisingly, these two areas are linked – they are refugees and the Department which is responsible for administering Immigration and Citizenship – Home Affairs.

Those refugees arriving here by sea after a certain date have been denied the right to ever settle in Australia.

Maybe the Labor government of the time thought it might be able to find homes for them elsewhere, but they made the really big mistake of failing to line up those prospects before making that decision.

Big mistake!

Some limited efforts have been made subsequently by the Coalition – although the massive gift to Cambodia must have been a result of a regrettable brain storm – and the lives lost and damaged by this policy is a black mark on Australia’s history which can never be erased.

Is the mind-set which supports this attitude a consequence of the cruelty underlying the foundation of Australia as a penal colony?

Who knows.

But the malign forces which led to the establishment of the appallingly-managed Department of Home Affairs, and even more evil decision to put Peter Dutton in charge, have left most people of conscience confused as to the path Australia is following to Hell!

The entire Department should be sub-titled Cruelty Incarnate!

Families remain separated by unbelievably idiosyncratic decisions about visas, while families with a child suffering an incurable – but manageable – disease are deported.

And let us keep hope alive hope that the Biloela family will be quietly returned to the community where it has been so loved.

Some of the problems can probably be laid at the door of an AAT, which has been loaded with members lacking legal experience but being ardent adherents of the Coalition parties!

Most recently, carelessness by an official of Home Affairs, resulted in the release to a member of the public, in a seriously criminal breach, information regarding a whistle blower and – wait for it! – which has been passed back by the Ombudsman to Home Affairs for them to investigate and deal with.

HELP!!!

How inappropriate can you get?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it was Malcolm Turnbull who created Home Affairs and put Dutton in charge, in order to remove Dutton from the pool of those seeking to be rid of and/or replace Turnbull. If so, then that may well prove the greatest disservice to the people of Australia in Turnbull’s entire career.

The Coalition government, no doubt due to heavy pressure from the national Cabinet, has provided financial relief, temporarily, to most people, but has inexplicable excluded some specific groups.

These include non-citizens on various types of visa, Australians in various specific categories of employment, including the vast majority of those engaged in any and all aspects of the arts and entertainment, and university staff.

Incidentally – I am sure that the government has a moral responsibility to provide continuing financial assistance to those people forced out of work by government decisions. Is there also a legal responsibility placed on the government?

The only aspect of education which appears to have support from government, is private schools – a puzzling conundrum.

And for those seeking past-secondary education, beware, as a wrong choice of specialisation might leave you with a debt you cannot repay.

The ideology underlying the government’s most recent policies is really dangerous and is one of the issues which leaves me hoping against hope that the Pandemic will abate sufficiently that we can get out in the streets, en masse, to protest coalition mismanagement.

When it comes to the Coalition’s favourite – the economy – we have yet to learn how many people will retain a roof over their heads.

The banks and landlords are getting antsy over lost mortgage payments and rental revenue, and, as yet, the government has done nothing to provide mortgagees and tenants with any sense of security for a future, while unemployment soars.

The published figures bear no relationship to the truth. (Is the ABS revising its website because of the pandemic, or was the process underway before disaster struck?)

Being an optimist, and having had the most incredible run of lucky breaks in my own life, I realise that a reality check would reveal that my hopes that this government would even consider, let alone act on any of the above, stem from La La Land!

Before I go – my last vain hope is that, having used scientific advice during the pandemic, maybe, just maybe, the government might follow suit in reassessing action on climate change!

Oh! Another thing we have learned – the Australian Constitution is well and truly out of touch with the modern world and needs to be totally replaced with one including a Bill of Rights!

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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Time to think

Week 29 provided some interesting conversations with passers-by, with breaks between, giving time to think.

The first thought that came to mind was the apparent inability of government to deal with two really major issues for Australia – Climate Change and Closing the Gap.

Living in the NT, where 30% of our population is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, and to do so at a time when recent, unprecedented bush fires have brought to prominence the ignored skills of our First Nations people in managing fire and land, the two issues are easily linked.

But they are also ones where governments cannot see easy answers, so they dump the issues in the ‘too hard’ basket and ignore the fact that time is their enemy.

Do you remember Tony Abbott’s reference to ‘lifestyle choices’ in relation to the WA government threatening to reduce or remove services from remote communities?

We are daily damaging the lives of those in remote communities by failing both to support their right to their culture and to include them in discussions on how best to achieve that end.

To state the bleeding obvious, those whom we elect to provide us with our laws and security, seem blind to all but those issues which relate to increasing wealth – and not necessarily for everyone!

The extent of animal life lost in the bush fires was horrendous, and valiant efforts were made, by those who care, to nurse back to life as many as possible of those victims of the fires which were badly burnt.

These included many koalas, whose habitat was also decimated by the fires.

But the embers had not yet cooled, when that habitat was further denuded for profit!

Untampered with, the environment provides many people – and other life forms – a quality of life which money cannot buy, yet governments are hell-bent on supporting those who are happy to destroy the environment in the search for a profit.

COVID-19 has, indirectly, been a friend to conservatives, as dealing with the pandemic, making it a headline issue, allows the Coalition government the ideal opportunity to ignore everything else, and, secretly, plan greater levels of support for fossil fuels.

I have read The Lord of the Rings many times and, as with CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, have felt the good vs evil theme underlying many aspects of the works.

Certainly, the picture of Scott Morrison, fondling a piece of coal, is etched in my mind with Morrison’s features replaced by those of Gollum, as portrayed in the film of JRR Tolkien’s famous book!

As a progressive, I welcome necessary change with open arms. I was 3 when WWII began, was briefly evacuated, with my family, away from London during the Battle of Britain, enjoyed a complete revision of the education system under Clement Attlee and escaped the UK before the Iron Lady’s disastrous reign of terror, so the changes I have seen and experienced at first hand in my time to date have been both awesome and troubling.

Awesome, in terms of the almost exponential rate of developments in technology.

Troubling, because of the extent to which conservative forces have driven a wedge between those who have much more than enough, and those who can barely support life! And in the process tried to destroy the trades unions.

Unions, like corporations and governments, have their heroes and their villains. But improvement in working conditions, across the board, was achieved through union actions, and those improvements are being steadily removed by conservative governments at the urging of employers.

Some countries manage to find a far better balance and achieve lower levels of inequality than exists in Australia, without losing a democratic process.

There is really, IMHO, no doubt that the love of money is the root of all evil.

And many of those who measure themselves by the level of their wealth, heap scorn and disdain on those who have, by neither inheritance nor good fortune, been able to match them.

Clive Palmer is placed firmly in our sights, when we think of people whose undivided self-interest ignores the needs of others – and we are lumbered with the current Coalition government, courtesy of Palmer’s ill-gotten wealth!

Now he reminds me of AA Milne’s Kenneth Grahame’s **Toad of Toad Hall – and when that was written, cane toads were not Australian residents!

Two more year’s of misgovernment by Morrison and his cohort is a daunting prospect, but, short of a revolution (YES PLEASE! I’ll be in that!), we do have an opportunity to plan for the downfall of those whose only source of pleasure and security is derived from the economy.

I have seen many tweets recently from John Hewson – a small ‘l’ liberal and a decent man – and, but for the GST, we might have been enjoying a much more satisfactory approach to government than was engineered by Howard and Costello, once Paul Keating departed the scene.

We have an election in the NT on Saturday 22 August, 2020, and many have already voted.

Whoever wins, I shall continue my weekly Wednesday vigil outside the NT Parliament House, because Climate Change is not just a local issue, it is not even just a national issue – it is a global issue, and ignoring it will create a far worse burden for our great-grandchildren than will the COVID-19 debt!

And as for our First Nations – there are growing signs of progress, but we all need to be more aware of the need to properly recognise their right to genuine recognition in whatever forms they seek.

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.”

** Correction courtesy of a reader.

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Is the concept of a caring corporation an oxymoron?

Ian Yates, former CEO of COTA SA, suggested recently that we need a levy, like the Medicare levy, to provide funding for Aged Care Home.

If all Aged Care Homes (ACHs) were under government management, his suggestion might have merit. It is, after all, an extension of the idea of providing funding for NDIS – which, as an aside, needs a complete overhaul!

It currently vies with private provision of Aged Care for levels of inefficiency, ignorance and outright cruelty

But examination of all the recent reports has left me with the impression that we have two classes of ACHs; those run by government and those run by corporate bodies.

The former class have strict regulations regarding staff/patient ratios, qualifications of staff, and, in consequence, a greater number of properly qualified, appropriately trained and better remunerated staff.

The latter class have far fewer regulations, far fewer regular checks that they meet requirements – and shareholders!

During the crisis in Melbourne, some residents in private ACHs have been left unfed, unwashed, un-cared for and bereft of human contact.

And they are still charged for no service!

Remember the banks and fees for no service?

My understanding is that all ACHs have actually received a funding boost  from government in the past, but, in the case of the non-government ACHs, there has been no requirement that the funds must be employed for the benefit of residents, so shareholders have enjoyed a welcome increase in dividends.

In one sense, governments – particularly conservative ones – act like corporations, which might account for the fact that they are so lenient on misbehaviour exhibited by corporate bodies – and so slow to assess standards and demand improvements.

For generations, there have been criticisms of Public Servants as being inefficient and lazy. And most certainly, when you have an organisation where you are guaranteed a permanent job for life, with greater benefits, in terms of leave and superannuation, than are offered in the private sector, and reasonable prospects of regular promotion, there will be a minority who abuse their privileges.

But the Public Service no longer offers anything like the security which was once the case, and its employees are not driven by the need to make ever-increasing profits for shareholders – which is a two-edged sword.

In the private sector, increasing profits requires one or both of two things – cutting service costs or charging more from the client.

When the government mandates some aspects of the costs to the client of the service provided – which is, I believe, the case with ACHs – then the inevitable consequence is a reduction in the standard of service.

Staff are paid less, which makes employment unattractive to the better qualified staff, and/or fewer staff are employed and/or less is spent on ensuring that staff are properly qualified and equipped.

For years I have argued that privatisation of service provision ensures a lowering of standards of service and an increase in cost to the receiver of the service.

I am yet to be persuaded that I am wrong, and to that I would add my belief that the fact that shareholders’ needs are put ahead of all other demands on the corporation, no service which involves caring for vulnerable people should ever be in private hands!

The Indue Card, Robo-debt and NDIS spring instantly to mind, never mind Aged Care!

In the present instance, if any ACHs are to remain under the control of a corporate body, it should only be possible if that body has to meet the same standards as the government controlled institutions.

It is interesting that the white majority of Australians as a whole, tends to see itself as superior to our First Nations.

Yet their respect and care for their elders puts us to shame!

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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Bias and balance

My parents only agreed on a very small number of issues. They both believed in god and followed a branch of the non-conformist Christian faith.

After a near disaster in my father’s mishandling of the mortgage payments, they agreed that my mother was the more competent money manager.

I had (intentional past tense) an older brother and sister, a year apart in age, with a nearly 3 year gap between my sister and me.

My father taught us all to ride a bike, to strip it down and service it (he was a mechanical engineer), to swim – a sport in which the 3 of us all later engaged at a competitive level –  and to drive the car – having first been required to get a good understanding of how an internal combustion engine worked!

My mother had held a driving licence pre-WWII, without actually learning to drive, but she held it for long enough that she was automatically regarded as qualified. She put the fear of god into the local lamp posts if she ever did get behind the steering wheel, and her brief efforts to learn did nothing positive to her relationship with my father!

The plus side was that later she could accompany us when we were on L-plates and we could then replace my father as driver whenever was convenient.

My mother was responsible for ensuring we all learned to play the piano, which was a passion of hers, and she played well, and my brother later went on to play the violin and any other musical instrument you put in his hands!

When he was at Cambridge (he won a State Scholarship), he got involved in Morris Dancing and played the piano accordion, for that and folk dancing as well.

Politics was also a bone of contention between my parents, so an important part of my social education was learning that there are always at least two points of view on anything which cannot be definitively described as fact!

Although they were poles apart – Tory mother vs card-carrying Labour father – their Christian faith did leave them with a drive to help others, although their methods might have varied.

My sister studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, which was part of London University, as was the Imperial College of Science and Technology (now Imperial College, London) where I later studied maths. So while my brother effectively left home when he went to Cambridge, my sister and I travelled up to college, daily, via the London Underground.

My brother moved on to design aircraft engines for Rolls Royce, my sister became a surgeon and I went on to teach maths – and, much later, practice as a lawyer and mediator.

In my parent’s home, we listened to the BBC radio, and I left home to get married a year after graduating and before television was an established household necessity.

At times in later life I have listened to commercial broadcasts on radio and TV and found the breaks for advertisements unbelievably unacceptable.

While still in England and after we had a family, we still did not choose to get television, as we had family and friends nearby, spent our weekends working on the boat (a long story attaches to that) and later sailing it, so we were quite happy to confine our radio news to the BBC.

Not surprisingly, after coming to Darwin nearly 50 years ago, we kept the same pattern – in fact when we first arrived, we preceded TV to Darwin – but we did succumb to renting a back and white TV later in our first year. The ABC replaced the BBC – but then, many ABC offerings are from the BBC!

My dislike of being inundated by ads means I rarely watch commercial TV and never listen to commercial radio.

When I started work at the then Northern Territory University (NTU), in mid-1989, I was given an Apple Mac for my exclusive use (as were all education and maths lecturers) – it had graphics packages which were particularly important for maths, but not then available in DOS – and I have morphed through all the changes in following years.

So now  – years later – I can access news from a variety of sources and identify the extent to which bias distorts information.

Because the Murdoch media, which dominates the commercial media in Australia, is unashamedly hard right conservative, the ABC’s efforts to introduce balance in reporting is perceived, by conservatives as being left wing.

‘If you are not with us, you are against us’ is a typical attitude in a culture which, through its law and politics, encourages an antagonistic approach to contentious issues.

I have studied maths, which emphasises logic.

I have studied law, which highlights the adversarial approach.

I have trained as a mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolution –  which I am happy to say is an approach into which the Courts are now diverting some disputes, particularly ones in the area of civil law and, less successfully because of the emotions involved, Family Law.

Mediation has so much to recommend it, because it directs you away from conflict and insistence on getting what you want, and requires you to consider the other party’s needs and wants, and to reassess your important priorities.

The question is “What can you live with?” rather than “What do you want?”

I listen to the ABC news and comment programs and note that they employ an increasing number of conservatives including former politicians, like Amanda Vanstone.

Yet conservatives as a whole continue to accuse the ABC of left-wing bias!

And because it is so obvious that the ABC is not offering exclusively left wing opinions, those who are firmly left-wing in their personal beliefs, see the ABC now as becoming right-wing!

It is a crazy situation when each side of politics demands balance in their national broadcaster, and, when they get it, interpret it as bias!

It is worse than crazy, it is dangerous, when that results in the government effectively introducing strong right-wing bias into media, by cutting funds to the ABC and giving funds to blatantly right-wing Murdoch media outlets.

You have to ask yourself – how, in a democracy, can this be seen as legitimate? – particularly when that same government is passing increasingly dictatorial legislation which reduces our freedoms.

Not a good look from a government with so slim a majority!

No wonder they do not want Parliament to be sitting and discussing the government’s flawed program!

It is clear that the current Coalition government is living from moment to moment, with no clear understanding of the need for a flexible plan which will minimise harm to those who become infected, to those who care for them, or to those who have lost income – and many also the ability to find a source of income.

We do not want politicians who sit comfortably in their ivory towers, unaware of the extent of people’s traumatic situations, any more than we want ones who force a handshake on a victim of unprecedented bush fires for the sake of a photo op.

We need a leader with vision of positive outcomes, who can, with a like-minded team,  plan for a variety of potential situations and make rapid and appropriate adjustments as situations change.

I cannot see any in the Coalition who begin to measure up to what we need and they are not going to allow anyone else to step up, even though they clearly cannot cope.

Sadly, COVID-19 is their friend.

We ought to be out on the streets demonstrating but that might do more long-term harm than good!

At least we can be preparing for action as soon as it becomes less likely to put lives in danger.

What say you?

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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Mr Morrison – are you a sadist?

One issue which has been vividly revealed by the current crisis in Aged Care, is the underpayment of carers in private Aged Care Homes (ACH), which are controlled by the Federal government.

Mostly, but not exclusively women, these staff have largely been inadequately trained for pandemic conditions resulting from COVID-19, and expected to work on a basis that has necessitated their working in more than one ACH.

Recipe for disaster when a long promised pandemic hits an ill-prepared system!

The glaring need for loss of  income to be compensated for, if a worker has to self-isolate with no sick pay, was only evident to the government way down the track. How blind can you be and still claim to be competent?

DIRECTING these organisations in what they should do, and providing extra funds, without having any adequate over-sighting of whether the instructions are followed and the funds properly spent, highlights the nonsense which is small governments.

I bet the shareholders are happy!

We now have a situation with far more people seeking work than can ever hope to find a placement, and the government is looking for ways to help businesses pay lower wages and reduce conditions!

Paradoxically we are also being urged to get back to work and help the economy recover!

Unlike those in the top tax bracket, who are on a promise of a tax cut, most people are spending all they dare in order to try to survive, and they are, in many cases not succeeding.

Everyone is living in suspense, not knowing when or where the infection will next occur, dreading the day when they will be expected to start paying rent or the mortgage – if they have been fortunate enough to have been allowed a moratorium on payments – and the government is constantly changing plans to meet circumstances, so raising stress levels.

Face facts.

  • Do we know if there will ever be an effective vaccine? – NO.
  • Do we know how soon we might know for sure? – NO.
  • Has the government any plans to persuade those with wealth to invest, to do so, in enterprises which will provide jobs and boost the economy? – Who knows, because they are making no announcements on the issue.
  • Will we soon hear about this issue? – See the last answer.
  • If Job Keeper and Job Seeker are going to be reduced, and the moratorium mentioned above ceases, how does the government expect people with no job to cope? – See the last answer.

What we NEED is a commitment from the government on the lines of a universal basic income.

That way people know they can feed and clothe themselves and, if they have one, their family, until they can find a job.

And the vast majority of people are NOT bludgers and feel a sense of self-respect when they can support themselves without assistance.

Between the ATO and Centrelink, the government has more than enough information available to be able to come up with plans for appropriate means-tested payment levels.

One frustrating thing in all this is the government’s incapacity to understand that normal is something we must now create.

Everything has changed.

We have to adapt to a new world order or go to the wall.

This is not a short-term problem, it is a long term crisis which we need to use well if we are to survive.

Even more frustrating is awareness that those whose wealth could contribute to solving many problems, include among their ranks many who have fought, tooth and nail, against paying a cent more tax than they have to, while still availing themselves of all the facilities and services which have been provided by tax payers!

Morrison is sitting pretty – at least until the next election – with a more than adequate income, a roof over his family’s heads, ability to take a holiday and enjoy life for brief spells, so he appears to be one of two things: the first is – someone totally lacking in empathy and compassion – which is bad enough – while the second is – an out and out sadist, getting pleasure from other people’s pain!

How do you see yourself, Mr Morrison, and do you sleep well at night????

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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Prevention is better than cure

I was reminded of this old adage, when I heard it reported this morning, on ABC radio, that the new approach to mental health should be to prepare people to cope better with the adverse effects of the present stressful situation, as compared with treating those who have already developed mental health issues.

Then, later in the day, I read Alan Kohler’s Insight article on page 33 NT News, (12/08/20), Covid-19, needs inquiry, fiscal fix – which should be compulsory reading for anyone with any involvement in economics. (I am sure this article can be easily obtained from other News Corp publications, even though it is probably pay-walled for non-subscribers.)

If I were to be unkind, I would suggest that Scott Morrison is deliberately waging war on universities because he thinks he knows all the answers and does not want to admit that there might be – let alone really are – many people who are far more knowledgeable than he is, on the areas which are vitally important in establishing a new order which might deliver us from the current crisis situation.

To a large extent, since everyone has grown up knowing that doctors know more about the human body than do most laypeople, expert medical advice has been accepted in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because it is caused by a novel coronavirus, approaches to controlling the pandemic have changed as knowledge has grown. To wear or not to wear a mask has become a contentious issue, partly because of the reasons put forward for doing so.

An infected person wearing a mask is less likely to infect others if wearing a mask. And people can be infected without showing symptoms.

Wearing a mask will reduce the probability of becoming infected – but not guarantee total success.

PPE is worn by most health care workers, yet even some of those become infected, sometimes because removing PPE carelessly can enable the virus from infected patients to be transmitted.

It really is a silent enemy.

Look at what has happened in New Zealand after 100 days of no infections!

It is hard to change the habits of a lifetime. In many cultures, greeting a family member or friend automatically involved making contact. Yet this is the quickest way to pass on an infection.

Human beings, by their very nature, mostly enjoy company, yet one person in a group may be infectious and pass on the infection to all within the group. The larger the group, the greater the number of infections.

Then we come to the issue of needing to be concerned about others, not just ourselves.

If you unwittingly get infected, before any symptoms show – if they ever do – you can pass that infection on to everyone you spend time with.

Without a mask, every time an infected person breathes out, they send a spray of microscopic particles which can be inhaled by anyone in their vicinity – or land on their skin, clothing or nearby surfaces and find their way into the bloodstream of those nearby.

Insisting on having fun, in company, risks spreading a virus which not only might kill someone, particularly but not exclusively an older person, or it might infect someone who goes through a nightmarish illness from which full recovery is not guaranteed.

And that is just the medical side.

In order to reduce the extent of infection spread, the Commonwealth government closed down many business and social activities and tried to persuade mortgagors and landlords to allow mortgagees and tenants some latitude in relation to payments due.

Not all states have necessarily followed up on necessary directions and legislation and not all mortgagors or landlords have seen fit to comply.

Given the thousands who are currently out of work or struggling with a reduced income,  I do not know who gains anything if mortgages are foreclosed or tenants evicted.

Hold it!

Remember how reducing taxes and allowing millionaires to pay minimum tax has led to a massive wealth gap?

Millions – probably billions or even trillions are stashed away in tax havens, ready to be poured into buying property in a market where house prices will be dropping, at least initially.

The buyers can still make use of negative gearing and can afford to sit on their property empire as long as it takes.

They will recoup little in the short term, but that is no problem as they have more than enough to ride out the crisis.

Government MUST intervene to ensure this currently hidden wealth is put to better use than further impoverishing the already poor!

Alan Kohler’s article is important in at least two regards.

One is the point about re-thinking the whole economic approach and the other is the issue of Modern Monetary Theory.

We are hearing too many horror stories about debt and disaster without realising that the solution is in our hands.

When I studied economics, two early units were microeconomics and macroeconomics – simplistically the household and business aspects vs the issues affecting countries and governments.

I am fortunate in being retired, with an adequate pension from a secure source which is topped up by a portion of the Age Pension.

When I received my two $175 relief payments, I was not in desperate circumstances and I understood that the money was intended to go back into the national economy to stop the wheels from grinding to a stop.

So I passed it all straight on to the Asylum Seeker Refugee Centre.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO of the ASRC, and his valiant group in Melbourne are struggling to help many who have no other means of support, having been continuously ignored and ill-treated by government…Every cent I sent will have already been well spent!

I tell this story, not to make myself out as a do-gooder, but because the government desperately needs people to spend, while the stagnant wage issue, preceding people’s losing their jobs, means that people can barely afford to buy necessities, let alone spend up big to boost the economy.

I do not doubt that some, not necessarily all, of the really wealthy, are also philanthropists, but there is a mass of wealth – in property and tax havens – which will not get back into circulation, unless the government persuades those holding it, that now is the time to invest in the country’s future.

We have accepted medical advice.

We need to accept advice from climate scientists, because, while a reduction in travel (including by aircraft) and industrial has serendipitously reduced greenhouse gas emissions, it is not enough to allow us to postpone action to further reduce levels.

Gas is a fossil fuel. It might pollute slightly less than coal but fools rush in!

Alan Kohler has provided a very valid suggestion as to how to get some effective economic advice – which is incredibly important at this stage of the crisis.

To be talking now about reducing support payments, without first analysing the impact on rent and mortgage payments, and making more certain arrangements with the banking industry, would be negligent to a possibly criminal extent.

What good are empty houses which people cannot afford to live in?

Get real!

Some of you, reading this, might agree with the underlying theme but assure me that it will never happen.

I am maybe a foolish optimist, but I cannot see any government brazenly pursuing policies that will end in the destruction of society.

If enough people with appropriate expert knowledge can show them that investment for the future, using money held by the already wealthy, plus using MMT approaches to issuing bonds, in order to ensure people can receive enough to survive AND enable the economy to recover, then the government might even survive the next election – perhaps the message might get through!

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 toll taken by corrupt practices

Nearly 40 years ago, long before we fully realised the level of corruption in high places and in corporations, and when AMP was still a Mutual Provident Society, I worked for that organisation for 3 years.

For personal reasons, I needed to get back into full-time work, but the profession for which I was qualified – teaching maths –  involved working with teenagers – and I was living with three at the time!

The likely stress levels associated with that option were unacceptable – my own children and I survived their childhood only because I have a strong sense of responsibility, and children do become human – eventually.

Three years was enough to convince me that I was better occupied teaching maths than selling insurance and superannuation packages, and the legacy of that time was a Personal Superannuation Portfolio (PS) and a Whole of Life Insurance Plan -the latter of which is already fully paid up and will ensure I can have a great celebration in about a decade, as it pays out when I am 95!

The proceeds of the PS scheme was eventually rolled over into an Allocated Pension, with AMP (their reputation had not yet been shredded) accompanied by my compulsory contributions to a Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme, and I continued using the advice of a qualified Financial Adviser with AMP whom I knew personally – as youngsters, he and my younger son had both played cricket in local teams = and whose advice I found satisfactory.

Another legacy was shares in a now demutualised AMP, which are currently of little value, paying no dividends as a result of AMP having its reputation well and truly trashed in the Banking Royal Commission!

A whole lot of reorganisation has gone on with AMP, as a result of which they have dismissed a significant number of their former financial advisers, including mine, under massively unfair circumstances.

I wish to continue using my adviser but AMP denies him access to my account. In fact it appears that they have denied him accreditation as a financial adviser.

I so not know how long it will take for the courts or tribunals and regulatory bodies involved in this issue to rectify matters, so in the meantime I am managing my own portfolio, which essentially restricts me to AMP linked products.

I am familiar with spreadsheets, can work online, understand the concept of trends and long term growth, but would still value advice from time to time – particularly in today’s financial upheaval.

Organisations which manage money need much more oversight from government appointed regulators than seems to be the case.

The aversion displayed by the government, into accepting the need for the Banking RC, gives us no confidence that the Coalition has any respect for integrity, transparency, or, in fact, any values which are respected by Australian people – excluding Peter Dutton.

And now they are denying us a Parliament using specious arguments to which they daily give the lie by their own behaviour.

I find it sad – I actually am appalled by the fact – that so many voters do not understand that this Coalition government lies and cheats its way into power, is supported by the most corrupt media empire the world has ever known and uses Gestapo-like propaganda tactics to smear the Opposition – which, to be truthful, is not exactly helping itself.

Oh for a magic wand, which would enable us to see a Fact Check result in a cloud above the head of every politician who tells a blatant lie. The down side of that is that we might never see the sun again!

AMP appears to have acted in a way which has quite wrongly put former advisers into massive debt, denied their ability to continue working as advisers, and denied clients the right to employ an adviser whose integrity they can trust.

Part of the new normal should be putting these wrongs to right!

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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Living with uncertainty

Over 20 years ago, Paul Kelly published ‘The End of Certainty’, about power, politics and business.

The title would be totally appropriate, in a broader context, today!

There no longer is a ‘normal – of that we can be certain!

Those currently in power are wasting their time looking back into history for a pattern to follow, because there is no record of past history which even begins to provide a path forward. And Josh – please refrain from suggesting we return to Thatcher and Reaganomics. You are exposing your ignorance of real life!

We have been pitched into uncertainty, comparable with having suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a war.

In fact we are fighting a war for our lives and livelihoods against one of the most insidious enemies ever.

In order to save as many lives as we can in this country, we have cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, in terms of face to face contact, but, thanks to modern technology, we can still communicate freely.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a fresh start and rethink what life is about.

The three things which stick in my mind as being of concern to Australians prior to being hit by COVID-19 are:

  1. Corruption in government, as evidenced by the Sports Rorts – and other extreme, politically biased imbalance in sharing of government grants;
  2. The need to support those whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed by the bush fires, and to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence, and
  3. Connected with the bush fires, growing evidence of the need to act in relation to global warming.

Australia is an island with limited influence (apart from abundant resources) on a global scale.

New Zealand, which has two islands, and is much smaller, has something which we do not enjoy – a leader who has a vision of helping the people for whom she governs to enjoy a future as a united nation.

Since the current Prime Minister of Australia abandoned COAG for a National Cabinet, there has been more, but not enough, input into policy making from other political perspectives.

But the reliance on advice from a group of business leaders, biased towards fossil fuels, particularly gas, is positively alarming!

Despite having barely 50% of seats in the Parliament, Morrison insists on trying to be the prime mover in policy making, yet he just does not understand that the world has been turned on its head.

He is, in many ways, as blind to the impact of the coronavirus as is the current POTUS.

We are never going to ‘return to normal’ because ‘normal’ was part of a world which has gone forever.

On our own we are not going to save the world from the increasing sequence of disasters which are predicted as a result of global warming.

But we are not alone in the world, and we have a chance to lead others to realise that the economy is only of value if people are properly cared for – which is far from the case at present.

Just think how many of our elders who have died in Aged Care Homes might still be alive if those running the homes had not put profit before compassion.

And why did they?

Because governments passed laws saying a Corporate body is a legal entity which is required to prioritise making a profit for its share holders.

And many family members could tell you that caring for an elderly relative is an arduous, sometimes distasteful and often expensive process which they do through love.

Paid carers are expected to perform the most intimate tasks, often with insufficient training and always with insufficient recompense.

If salary scales worked on the basis of paying most to those performing the least sought after jobs – guess who would be best paid?

The way in which many, who are far from wealthy, particularly those who depend on Centrelink payments to scrape an existence, are treated, is not conducive to making them feel part of a caring community. So it should come as no surprise that they do not automatically recognise a need to care about the problems of strangers.

Much unnecessary criticism has emerged in recent months. COVID-19 is a Novel coronavirus – an unknown quantity, about which knowledge has been gleaned the hard way – by trial and error.

We did not know for sure how the infection was transmitted.

We did not appreciate that someone could be infectious without displaying symptoms.

We did not realise how randomly different the effects could be, with some dying without being regarded as particularly at risk, while others have been left with permanent damage to various organs.

We were slow in gaining certainty about how the virus is spread.

So the importance of wearing masks was not initially recognised, and the fact that doing so might save the lives of other people, other than just the wearer, was not always seen as essential!

We are not all selfish, but we are often persuaded to put our own needs first, because those whose role is to help and support us, do not display compassion for others.

How many politicians have taken a salary cut, while millions are forced out of work or suffered a significant loss of income?

The government acted to save lives, while in the process reducing the ability for many people to cover their needs.

It is therefore essential for the government to ensure that people are properly recompensed!

Over 7 years of Coalition policy making, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened astronomically. Wage stagnation has ensured an inability to save against a rainy day, and casual employment might pay lip service to the idea that holiday pay and sick leave are ‘covered’, but cost of living pressures means the money for those contingencies is swallowed up in everyday necessities.

Zero hour contracts should be banned, as they ensure living in a continuous state of stress – just as many of us are now doing – with no certainty of having enough to cover necessary expenses!

The government has gone so far in ensuring that employers have the whip hand,that the idea that the unions are of concern is ludicrous.

Sadly, as always, power corrupts, and the few union leaders whose militancy has verged on the criminal, has blinded the average wage earner to the universal benefits which were won for workers by the unions – and which, by reducing union membership, have now been largely lost again!

Anyone who has been a parent know that it is usually for life.

You might heave a sigh of relief once the offspring have launched into flight from the nest, but, if they get hit by adversity not of their making, you will always be there for them.

Well, Mr Morrison, you should be counting your blessings.

You have taken away from us and you need now to support us.

If it were not for the need for social distancing, we would be out on the streets demanding that you listen to the climate change scientists.

You need to be creating jobs through re-establishing the steel industry, developing renewable energy – heaven knows there are a myriad ways in which clean energy can be generated – mining the rare minerals which are needed for modern technology, building electric and solar powered trains, and generally heeding scientific advice as carefully as you have been doing during the pandemic!

Forget politics and ideology.

This is a life and death situation and we rely on the government to keep us safe!

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?

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“Money is the root of all evil”

Suddenly, quite out of the blue, this phrase popped into my head, and I looked up the source – a song which I remembered from my youth.

I know we pride ourselves on the extent to which modern society has benefitted from inventions stemming from research, IT, space exploration – an endless list – but I fear we do not often enough look at the flip side of the coin.

The concepts of good and evil are often regarded as old-fashioned and linked to religious thinking, and certainly the words are more often used by those who claim religious beliefs.

George W Bush referred to ‘the axis of evil’, yet the harm done by his administration in the Middle East and Asia – from which he amassed a fortune through his interests in oil and armaments – belied any claims he might make to be a fervent Christian.

Australia currently is suffering under an administration which is led by another man who claims to be guided by his religious beliefs.

We are part of a world which is battling a health crisis which can only be subdued if we recognise the interconnectedness of people – and the fact that we can derive more pleasure from helping others than from hurting them – unless, of course, we are psychopaths!

Those people who proudly claim the right to refuse to wear a mask, for example, have a totally wrong conception of community obligations.

We wear seat belts to protect us in the event of an accident – and many people would be able to attest to their having benefitted from ensuring they complied with this restriction on freedom.

Wearing a mask in the context of COVID-19 is to fulfill a mutual obligation – that neither party, if infected (knowingly or not), will transmit the infection to others.

To refuse to do so is to put lives at risk – including your own.

That is care at a personal level.

But governments have duties at a community level, and it is when they concentrate on the financial implications of their concerns, rather than the human effects, that we are afflicted by bad policy making.

Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) is a clear example of government lack of awareness of the need to protect people from the greed of corporate entities.

The Act imposes a strict duty on a Corporation to put the interests of shareholders as a top priority.

No mention is made of any need for a corporation which offers a service to give any high priority to the needs and rights of the individuals using those services.

The banking Royal Commission bore clear witness to the damage that can – legally – be done in those circumstances – not only through banking practices but also and particularly in the area of insurance – and in the absence of effective regulation.

And, despite the existence of the Fair Work Commission, the power imbalance between employer and employee ensures that the employee gets the short straw in times of financial crisis.

Economists over the years have done people a grave disservice in their discussions involving Capital and Labour, which appears to totally equate Capital, an amorphous entity, devoid of any significant human characteristics – save possibly greed! –  with people, capable of emotional reactions.

Capital = money, a non-human entity which is usually shared around very unevenly and can continue indefinitely in circulation.

Labour = living, human beings whose lives, always finite, can be brought short in accidents which can then affect other people quite disastrously.

Many entrepreneurs, hoping to establish a profitable enterprise, seek risk capital to underpin the launch of that enterprise. If they are unsuccessful they end up poorer, but still living. The very term –  ‘risk capital’ – indicates the foreknowledge and acceptance of likely loss.

People, on the other hand, when thrown out of work through a crisis, with no prior warning or notice, such as with COVID-19, usually have dependants and commitments requiring support.

The way in which the Coalition government has handled the current crisis has been very ill-thought out, with thousands offered no help at all.

And this occurred at a time when bush fire victims were (and still are !) waiting for promised help to materialise and those defrauded by Robo-debt are mainly still waiting for their money to be refunded.

Governments MUST have contingency plans for disasters, particularly ones like pandemics, which may be few and far between but which are, sooner or later, inevitable.

To have a government which looks after the wealthy with greater care than it does the needy could be seen as incompetent or even evil.

And the next election is still almost 2 years away!

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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“Life wasn’t meant to be easy” – but does it need to be so bloody unfair?

Mr Morrison – you are the current leader of a party with a philosophy for life which grabs every opportunity and cares not one tiny jot for those unable to do so.

Over a long period now, the goal of your party has been to ensure that those who support you are really well looked after, while those who disagree with your policies are derided and denied a real chance in life.

The rot, both in reality and metaphorically, began under John Howard. He scored a lot of contempt and criticism and paid back his critics in spades when he got the chance.

Undermining the rights of the poor and disadvantaged has been carried out in ways which have massively increased the gap between the seriously wealthy and the undeservedly poor. Unions have been castrated, many lower paid employees are defrauded by employers, a strong resistance to establish a meaningful Commission Against Corruption at Commonwealth level has allowed corruption in government to flourish, and Scottie from Marketing has ignored any requirements for integrity, transparency and reasonably unbiassed policy-making which should be expected of democratic governments.

The reason the Coalition could proudly boast of a massive surplus when they lost government to Labor, was because they had privatised so many services – and, in the process, increased the cost to the user.

Just think a moment. Income tax rates mean that those on lower incomes pay lower tax rates, and services provided by government are provided by public servants whose salaries are paid by the government.

When that service is privatised, the new management has to cover all costs, usually reduces them by employing fewer staff, make a profit to meet the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) – AND keep shareholders happy. Few of these services offer a means tested system, so the contribution paid by users is effectively more for those in the population on lower incomes – if they can afford the service at all!

Another example of the way that income distribution ensures that the poor may be denied a service or, if they use it, pay a higher proportion of their income than do the well-to-do!

The current crisis affecting Victoria, and possibly NSW, so seriously has been the creation of Coalition policies.

Federally ‘regulated’ Aged Care Homes have not so much been starved of funds, but provided for in ways which allows fund increases to flow on to shareholders, while failing to ensure that regulations require minimum standards of training for and numbers of staff.

A majority of staff are poorly paid, and the nature of their contracts guarantees that they will need to have second, and even third jobs in order to make ends meet.

Most developed countries which run a democracy, recognise the need for reliable child-minding facilities, which also offer early childhood education. Consequently the well-qualified staff offer an important service, allowing adults to be able to work in the knowledge that their children are being well looked after and educated – at government expense.

Australia has increasingly gone down the American path, regarding government assistance as a first step to Communism, and the recent, brief, willingness to provide the service for free has been abruptly, prematurely and disastrously terminated.

Women, and families on lower incomes have, of course, been most affected.

People have three choices about where they live: they might be able to buy a house, which usually involves taking out a mortgage; they might be renting, probably privately because the country has been starved of social housing; or they couch-surf, between living on the streets.

In partial recognition that there would be severe financial implications for the first two groups if job loss hit the household, the government did introduce some temporary policies, without really thinking them through.

Victoria has established that Australia, as a whole, is far from out of the woods in relation to COVID-19.

Morrison, lacking any real understanding of the likely consequences of the long-term effects of the pandemic, has it firmly fixed in his mind that we can ‘snap-back’, with minimum side effects.

He has shown no understanding that, quite apart from the not insubstantial number of people requiring serious help following their bush fire losses, those who lose their jobs during the shut-down are living with the high stress levels associated with uncertainty.

He falsely raised hopes by introducing short-term plans concerning payment of rent, and mortgages, being safe from eviction or foreclosure, without thinking through whether there was any certainty that landlords and mortgagors would respond favourably, or that states and territories would enact legislation to ensure tenants and mortgagees were, in fact, protected. Or for how long this could continue.

Banks have demonstrated without a shadow of doubt that they are entrepreneurs, not philanthropists. What motivation has the Coalition offered to encourage them to defer mortgage payments and not charge interest on late payments?

Both households where the house is mortgaged, and landlords who are leasing properties on which they have a mortgage, are at the mercy of the banks on this one, while those who are tenants have no certainty that they will not be evicted and/or charged interest on overdue rent.

And how long will this situation last?

How long is a piece of string?

We do not know – and neither does the government.

And for how long will our borders be closed to non-Australians?

And, incidentally – what does it say for the morality of the airline business that they are charging exorbitant fares for returning Australians, or those moving within Australia, because of government-imposed restrictions on passenger numbers?

MR MORRISON – YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE CREATED THE CURRENT SITUATION, THROUGH YOUR IDEOLOGY AND THROUGH YOUR REACTION TO THE PANDEMIC.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF TRYING TO SAVE PEOPLE FROM INFECTION IF THEY ARE GOING TO LOSE THE ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS AND HAVE TO FORGO VITAL HEALTH CARE BECAUSE HOSPITALS ARE OVER-STRETCHED WITH COVID-19 PATIENTS.?

THE WORST FAILING OF AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS IS THEIR REFUSAL TO LOOK TO OTHER COUNTRIES WHO MORE SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE SIMILAR PROBLEMS.

AND THE WORST FAILING OF THE CURRENT PRIME MINISTER IS REFUSING TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS MISTAKES AND INCOMPETENCE.

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.”

PS – Have the Robo-debt victims been reimbursed – with interest – and have those promised help after the bush fires received it yet???

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“Keeping the bastards honest” – Royal Commissions and government transparency – or lack thereof!

Since 2012, there have been eight Royal Commissions established, of which 5 have been completed.

The first of these, established by Julia Gillard’s government, was the RC into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. There was strong opposition to this move, possibly by those more interested in protecting the churches than in protecting the children from abuse by the churches.

The findings were horrific, and, rightly, severely damaged the reputation of most religious organisations, as well as other institutions which had the task of protecting vulnerable children.

What has been even more damaging to some of these institutions, is the lack of interest shown by many of them to support the program designed to compensate the victims for their sufferings, however insufficient that financial compensation might be to those badly damaged by their abusers – or even, in too many cases, the families of those victims now deceased as a consequence of the abuse.

And many of these institutions are still receiving tax relief, because of their claimed purpose of providing charitable services.

If they cannot provide substantial compensation for those whom they have damaged, then they should not be eligible for any favourable tax treatment!

This is an ongoing issue, nearly 3 years after the report was received by government.

Many RCs are sought for political motives, as was the RC into the Home Insulation Program, instigated by the Coalition government – as have been all the following RCs discussed in this post.

There were many faults found in the program, but when the report is examined closely, it becomes clear that the period preceding the GFC, when the Coalition government had been in power, had allowed regulations and controls to be neglected, so that

[Commissioner] Hanger found the training regime and regulations at the time of the first of four fatalities in October 2009 to have been seriously inadequate:

“With the exception of South Australia, which had a licensing regime for insulation installers, there was no insulation-industry specific regulation beyond the generally applicable occupational health and safety regulation.”

That is not to suggest that there was no fault in the Labor government’s handling of the processes, but, having been out of power for 12 years, and barely settled into office when the GFC crunch came, Labor had an uphill battle to reverse the neglect, while trying to prevent the country sliding into recession.

The RC into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was most definitely established for political purposes. Despite serious attempts to smear the reputations of Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten – as well as attack the integrity of several unions – particularly the CFMEU (now the CFMMEU) – this costly exercise appears to have resulted in only one conviction and little damage to reputations.

The next RC into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory has yet to bear fruit in terms of the NT government’s ensuring that the recommendations are implemented. Sadly, throughout Australia, historical handling of the lives of our First Nations and failure by governments at all levels to form effective avenues to address Indigenous disadvantage – plus the continuing insistence that children between 10 and 14 are capable of deliberate criminality, and far too little emphasis on appropriate early intervention and diversion – means that this issue will not be addressed adequately overnight.

The RC into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was long overdue. The refusal by the Coalition government to consider establishing this was long drawn out, and when, reluctantly under Malcolm Turnbull, it eventually proceeded, politics motivated an (unsuccessful) attempt to use it to damage the reputation of industry superannuation funds.

The revelations were startling, reputations in the banking world, in particular, were damaged, numerous resignations followed, and the retail superannuation funds integrity suffered, while the industry funds processes were vindicated.

The government promised to follow through all the recommendations but lack of transparency, and the intervention of the COVID-19 pandemic, have left us uninformed as to progress.

Now for the currently most important one – the RC into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

It goes without saying, that if government agrees to establish a Royal Commission, it is aware that all is not well. In relation to reporting, the following describes the requirements:

An Interim Report is due no later than 31 October 2019 and a Final Report due no later than 30 April 2020. An Interim Report (v.1, v.2, v.3) was published on 31 October 2019. Amended Letters Patent of 13 September 2019 appointed the Hon Tony Pagone QC as an additional Commissioner and as Acting Chair in the absence of the Hon Richard Tracey; and amended the date that the Final Report was due to 12 November 2020.

The timetable has been disrupted by the pandemic, but if only the matter had been begun sooner, Victoria might not be in the mess that it is at present.

The states are responsible for health issues but it is the Commonwealth government which is responsible for how Aged Care facilities are regulated.

It is also the Commonwealth government which established legislation governing workplace issues.

Traditionally, and as a broad generalisation, occupations followed almost exclusively by females – Early Childhood Educators, Nurses, Care Workers, Carers – have received lower wages and benefits than have been enjoyed by those in predominantly  male occupations.

In addition, Conservative governments have worked hard to undermine – and if possible, destroy – unions. Consequently, employers have been able to drastically reduce the numbers of jobs where employment is permanent, contracts abound, and negotiation is almost always weighted in favour of the employer, while zero hours employment leaves people at the beck and call of the employer with no certainty of a regular income.

Seriously – when you stand back and look at the employment situation for the lowest paid, it smacks of slavery and exploitation.

A high proportion of Aged Care Homes are for profit, so, if government increases payment to the management, far from all of it goes to improving the service offered.

After all – any corporation owes its  duty first and foremost to satisfying its shareholders.

So in these circumstances, the carers cannot afford to take time off work because they are feeling poorly.

The other issue which the government introduced was ending free child care – and child care, particularly if there is more than one child, does not come cheaply, so providing another disincentive to the carer to take time off if they feel poorly.

I am sure that, if Parliament was still sitting, as it should be – everyone else has had to adapt to different work situations – Senator Steele-John would be ensuring that the RC into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability would be progressing as planned.

4 April 2019 (Letters Patent). An Interim Report is due no later than 30 October 2020 and a Final Report due no later than 29 April 2022. Amended Letters Patent of 13 April 2019 appointed the Hon Roslyn Atkinson as an additional member and the Hon Ron Sackville as Chair. Other states (NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA) have issued their own Letters Patent.

Again, the pandemic induced crisis has obscured the situation.

I do not doubt that many of those whom we have elected to form our government might be intelligent and well-meaning people.

What I am sure most of them are not, is aware, at first hand, of the conditions which our lowest paid employees face, day to day.

Not only do most of them have no hope of ever owning the roof over their heads, they lack the knowledge and resources to handle bullying from landlords and others who have the power to destroy their livelihoods.

And then there are the homeless – of two varieties.

Firstly there are those who have been temporarily accommodated to enable them to social distance, but who will be back, sleeping rough, once that assistance is withdrawn. These need a massive increase in social housing to be made available – as soon as possible. This is an urgent government responsibility.

But the other group is in many ways more tragic.

They lost everything in the the unprecedented bush fires of 2019-2020, and were promised help was on its way.

Clearly, that help has been loaded on to a slow train to nowhere, while the government diverts its attention to the other outstanding investigation – a RC into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

20 February 2020 (Letters Patent). Final Report is due no later than 31 August 2020.

The money spent on a few of the RCs was probably worth it, providing the recommendations are acted on as promptly as possible.

I fail to see how, with all that needs to be done, the Coalition government can possible justify preventing Parliament from sitting, while refusing to cut their salaries.

Clearly, there is one rule for them and another for us!

Meantime, the Prime Minister, the Honourable (?) Scott Morrison, has lavished care on a select few who support his ideology and who, with no over-sighting by Parliament, are making plans to perform a miracle – returning life to ‘normal’ for those whose businesses are profitable and whose savings are invested to generate more wealth, and who do not have a clue about the stress levels being encountered by millions of Australians.

THERE IS NO NORMAL ANY MORE, MR MORRISON.

IF AUSTRALIANS ARE TO HAVE A FUTURE, YOUR JOB IS TO START UNDERSTANDING WHAT WE NEED, BECAUSE YOUR POLICIES AND ACTION INDICATE YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA!

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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