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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.

Ignorant, ill-informed or just plain stupid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cannot afford to wait another 30 years!

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

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

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Optimist, pessimist – or realist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is realism!

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

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

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

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How real is history?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But you can never experience or record my pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Women must not be ignored

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

If so, then you are probably female!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what – you might ask?

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

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

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

OK. She had a lot going for her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 governments of Australia condemned for incompetence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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In whom can we trust?

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

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

We have to ask ourselves – WHY???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this really the sort of government we want?

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

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

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

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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

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

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Democracy or Dictatorship?

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

Morrison has rejected her criticism by essentially ignoring its substance.

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

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

Quite the contrary.

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

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

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

This smacks of government by Prime Ministerial fiat.

This is not democracy.

This is not good governance.

This is not acceptable!

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

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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Precedent

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

Precedent.

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

Damages are yet to be determined.

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

A class action has yet to be heard.

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

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

Watch this space.

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

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

Like what we do at The AIMN?

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

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

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When is a miracle the ultimate disaster?

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

We once were the Lucky Country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The government held its ground until the lawyers got involved.

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

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

What about compensation?

And now the crowning moment!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say ‘this phase’ for a reason.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Change and difference

I would like to amend the statement “The only certainties in life are death and taxes” to read “The only certainties in life are change, death and taxes” and add the suggestion that a short cut to a peaceful life is through acceptance of difference.

The whole world is currently in chaos.

Some of the chaos is, of course, due to the latest pandemic, and disputes over how best to deal with it, based on differences in ideology.

Another significant factor is a desire for global power by major figures on the world scene.

There are no easy answers in life, but better education does provide an avenue to improvement. However, to ensure universal improvement requires access by all – which in turn demands that governments cover the cost for those who cannot afford it.

There will always be those whose wealth and status drives them to access elite facilities for which they are prepared to pay. There is no reason why the state should support them further, whatever view of equality might be misguidedly called into play.

If a long-standing, well-endowed private school can afford its own swimming pool, stables, playing fields and other facilities, all well out of the aspirations of any public schools, it should not receive further support from government – unless it also offers a significant number of scholarships, available to students who could never dream of attending anything other than a local public school.

If the elite, in this context, have no contact, while going through their education, with those from widely different backgrounds, and then go on to senior decision-making positions, how can they possibly design policies for people from backgrounds so different that those policies evolve in total ignorance of how they might work out for those affected by them?

The Gonski Report has only ever received lip-service support – the government has totally failed to ensure that extra funding goes to the locations of greatest need for help.

Whether for better diagnosis or some other factor, we seem to have a growing cohort of children who are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder , who definitely need specialist support, at school and at home, and who should be prioritised for assistance.

The ABC series ‘Employable Me‘ demonstrated clearly that many of this group have extraordinary talents in specific areas, which can be effectively matched to particular employment areas.

Are we doing all we can to help this disadvantaged group?

All children, whose education does not allow them to reach their full potential, have been short-changed by governments! And another critical aspect of education highlighted here is acceptance of difference. Not just tolerance, but embracing the difference.

Many children with disabilities suffer discrimination in subtle – and less subtle – ways, which discourages them from remaining in education.

We have had numerous cases revealed where failure to recognise that a child suffers from dyslexia has resulted in their being classified as stupid, where, once the problem has been revealed and action taken to deal with it, the child has blossomed. Sadly, for too many, the discovery came too late.

As report after report comes out, detailing the failures of the NDIS system – largely it seems, with problems arising by using inadequately trained advisers with insufficient oversight – how long does it take for governments to recognise that out-sourcing does not guarantee an appropriate level of expertise?

And I am sure I am far from being alone in finding that when I wish to discuss a problem with an organisation like, say, Telstra, having to do so with someone for whom English is clearly not a first language, and whose training does not appear to have provided them with knowledge of my particular problem, does little to make me heap praise on Telstra as a service provider.

I know – you get what you pay for – and the telephone service is cheaper, to offset the frustration of a help service which doesn’t!

In the past, Australia has prided itself on being the Lucky Country, giving everyone a Fair Go, but it has buried the facts.

Terra nullius is now dismissed as a fantasy. The talents of our First Peoples, in their role as guardians of the land, has been ignored, while the invaders rape and pillage those nations and their lands, and desecrate their sacred places. This is ongoing!

We regard ourselves as superior because we have invented the steam train, the bullet train, the car, the airplane, the great ships which traverse the seas for recreation or commerce, the ability to communicate across the globe through the ether and to land a man on the moon.

But are those really matters for pride?

In the process we are destroying our ecosystem, causing a massive loss of biodiversity, polluting the global atmosphere and creating greater divisions between groups of people.

The British were the first migrants, imposing their rules and systems on people whose simpler life was, in reality, incredibly complex.

Each further wave of migrants, from the Chinese, to work in the gold mines, the Wogs from southern Europe, to help build the Snowy Mountain scheme – although in truth, anyone with less than white skin, like an Egyptian, is called a Wog –  through the Vietnamese, on a guilt trip for our involvement is the USA’s war to keep communism out of Asia – that went well, didn’t it? – and now refugees of all colours and countries, some of whom are accepted, while others are so cruelly treated that, along with many others of my fellow Australians, it leaves me to hang my head in shame that I cannot force a change in policy.

What do we actually have to be so proud of?

Most of our endeavours have resulted in significantly increased wealth for a small group, while the numbers of homeless on the streets has equally significantly increased.

We have politicians who seldom come from a background of engagement in trade, commerce or a profession – apart from lawyers, maybe – but who largely joined a political group at university, worked for whichever party in the backrooms, sought and won – not always in straightforward or honourable ways – eh, Mr Morrison? – preselection, and were eventually elected.

Many of them, as they moved up the ranks, courted support from influential people outside politics and – lo and behold! – when they eventually resign or lose their seat at an election, they not only walk away with a tidy superannuation income but also fall into a well-paid sinecure.

Is it any wonder that politicians are on the nose?

It sticks in my craw that they are addressed as the Honourable Member/Senator, when integrity, transparency, honesty have been displaced by untruthfulness, concealment and outright dishonesty.

Are they all like that?

Not quite all, but far too many for comfort.

John Howard fought for small government, sold off assets, spied on and defrauded Timor Leste, privatised a chunk of health care, and the CBA, for starters, while his successors have demonised refugees, privatised services under the Human services umbrella (which has now become the dehumanised services department, responsible for Robo-Debt and the Indue card) and worked overtime to reduce the value of the ABC by merciless funding cuts. Given the value of the ABC in disasters – few of which can be accurately forecast – this is dangerously shortsighted.

And Labor is a long, long way from blameless, but it is currently not in a position to determine policy!

So where from here?

Priority number One must be climate change.

The temporary lowering of atmospheric pollution, as an unexpected side-benefit of the COVID-19 crisis, must be built on.

Putin is losing popularity, Trump might not be re-elected – and anyway, many USA states are doing their bit for the climate – India is in a pickle and might see the light, and we can only influence China by taking a lead over them and challenging them to come up to the mark.

Many countries smaller in population than ours are doing a hell of a lot more than we are.

Climate change demands we change our behaviour, or we will destroy the future for our children’s children.

We also need to embrace inclusiveness, accepting that difference carries more advantages than disadvantages, if we approach it in the right frame of mind. In fact it is a source of enrichment, in non-monetary terms!

Hell’s teeth! The lack of understanding between males and females from the same ethnic background is surely enough, that we do not need to compound it by expanding it to take into account different colours, creeds and languages?

We are all of one race – Homo Sapiens – although it is sometimes hard to believe that the wisdom implied in that term is even skin deep!

We not only live in interesting times. We also live on the edge of a volcano.

If we kick a stone into the heart of it, we will be engulfed in the consequent explosion.

Please can we tiptoe back from the edge, work our butts off to develop clear policies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use the existing knowledge of our First Nations to reduce likely future damage from fire and drought, stop worshipping wealth and look after our disadvantaged, embrace change and difference, and look to the pleasure that comes from gratitude expressed by those whom we have helped!

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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There might be a ‘fine, fine line between pleasure and pain’ but there is most certainly a very fine line between self-interest and corruption – and too many present and past politicians are straying to the wrong side of it. “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” portrayed the Westminster system as it once operated in…

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In trying to catch up on my emails before going to bed – late as always – I started reading the lead article in  The New York Times – Opinion Today – which, as it is probably pay-walled you might not be able to read here. I had one of those light bulb moments! The…

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