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COVID-19 child care crisis

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A Serf in the time of plague ...

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Category Archives: Your Say

COVID-19 child care crisis

By Melissa Underwood  

I am writing to request your urgent assistance to ensure child care remains viable and means tested. Families that continue to earn an income should pay a fee proportionate to their income.

Educators are on the front-line in this war against COVID-19. We are being asked to risk our lives every day to stay open to support the children of essential workers. I am one of them. Any minister that supports a policy that takes money from front-line soldiers in this war on COVID-19 is un-Australian.

On the 1st April Scott Morrison announced that all child care would be free from Monday 6th April. This is a lie. More accurately, Mr Morrison announced that he was going to take money from the service I am employed by to pay the parent child care levies.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that transferring money from the bank account of my employer’s service to the parents is not free. This policy is not targeted, appropriate or equitable. It is a poorly thought out reaction to gain popularity amongst working families.

I understand that the policy was written without any consultation with the operators of our sector.

Under the announced model, services will receive 50% of their income revenue (that is child-care centres and family fees) based on the last two weeks of February, and families will receive free child care. Our service is expected to take on new enrolments and additional days that families require yet our revenue is capped at 50% of our February income.

The reality of this package is that we have essential workers seeking care for their children and we will have to turn them away. We also cannot provide extra days for our existing families because we cannot afford to take them on for free. These families have nowhere else to turn and so cannot engage with their employment. Our employer is already financially struggling to provide adequate care for our existing families while receiving only 50% of our daily revenue.

Every extra child in care increases a services expense.

If services do take extra children on from Monday and receive $0 for them this is a massive economic saving to the government at the expense of services and educators, like myself, who will be basically providing charity. The government is already saving money from reducing all their current child care centres funding to 50% so this is a double saving for them. They have omitted the truth with this announcement.

This will have tragic consequences for services.

The Government believe that this, along with the proposed wage subsidies will allow services to operate viably, but they have it very wrong.

The wage subsidy is flawed. Every worker, regardless of what their wage is will receive a $750 per week subsidy. Those who earned less than this such as part time and casuals will receive the full subsidy, whilst those who earned more will receive this whilst my employer has to still make up the shortfall.

So, we receive 50% of our revenue and services have to foot the bill for the balance of wages and the full cost of salary on-costs.

I face having to reduce my working hours, or worse still, losing my job altogether. This will have a huge effect on my colleagues and I economically and forces a predominantly female workforce to provide charitable work.

Myself, like many others in this sector are highly qualified and this system exploits us economically and socially. Our working families are in shock and want to pay for their child’s right to adequate and quality care. They want a fair remuneration system in place for all essential workers during this pandemic.

Again, I want to reiterate this system is disturbingly flawed, and not only did our sector not have a say, our employer does not even have an option as to whether to opt in or out of this new system. It places services on the brink of closure.

I understand that we are living in extraordinary times and that I am being called into service and will need to make sacrifices to support the battle against COVID-19. I am ready, willing and able to do so, and am already doing everything possible to provide care to the children within our service whilst maintaining a healthy and safe environment for myself, my colleagues and children.

If this policy is allowed to pass parliament and our service has to subsidise the care for families that we know are earning sufficient money to afford our fees, then this will have a significant financial impact on my employer and the ability to remain operational. This will ultimately mean my job!

Please make sure that any child care fees paid by families continue to be means tested. Families that continue to work from home and earn an income should pay a fee proportionate to their income, and those who choose to remain at home to keep their family isolated should still be entitled to child care centres but to have their gap fee waived.

To expect services to operate on half their revenue, to continue to provide child care to families and keep their staff in work, under this new scheme is outrageous, and will result in the demise of many services, including ours.

I implore you to reconsider this package. It is not the solution that services were looking for in these unprecedented circumstances and it will have the opposite effect that the Government was looking for.

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A Serf in the time of plague …

Greetings, and salutations on vellum even, to my fellow manorial slaves. There be plague in the realm!

Just did my six-monthly visit to the village market, the one held in the shade of the Baron’s castle, but there was nothing there. No skinned lamprey or skewered rabbit stewing with high and lovely rancidness in the heat of the sun, there were no regaling bards, the only other Peasants I saw were fighting over small rolls of parchment squares. The days of woe are upon us! Thank Boudicca of old that I grow my own turnips!

Met the Town Cryer on my way back to my hovel. He yelled at me from a great distance …

“Hey Serf, yeah you. Normally I don’t waste time acclaiming at you lot but today I’m delivering a new proclamation and I’m exclaiming it all across the realm, in a really loud voice. The King, queen, baron, lord, knight, duke, or whoever else last razed the land, and had their foot firmly on your yokel neck, now officially loves you for all to see!”

I confess to having had unkind hovel type thoughts upon hearing his words. They didn’t love us Serfs yesterday, predictably they will not love us Serfs tomorrow, so what is so different about today?

I summoned up the best of my speech and said the medieval equivalent of “Huh?” – I even reached forward in time and said the Elizabethan equivalent of that wonderful profanity “God’s Teeth!” – all of which flew blithely over the Cryer’s head. He stuck to the script.

“’tis true Serf. The realm is in peril. The plague be upon us. Here’s a golden coin from the Baron, buy up big on the lamprey and rabbit and parchment squares, keep his cess-pit cleaners in work cleaning his cess-pits, save his Manor, and his power over you, and his exalted way of life from ruin!”

Oh, I thought, in a Serf sort of way, once the plague passes the plan is for everything to revert back to the way they always were. Foot on the neck of the Peasants. Continue to starve-up and tax to death the minion serf-labourers. Allow the Barons and Knights to get back to doing the best of their worst – demonising the Serfs and blaming the Peasants for being lowly poor Peasants. Now where’s the goodness in that deal I thought?

The Town Cryer, being fast and mean, must have read my thoughts …

“But be warned Serf! That gold coin shall be returned in full, and then some, once the plague passes. And there be new surveillance constables lurking the land. Anybody seen in the company of Wat Tyler is dungeon bound!”

Wat was a revolting Peasant back in 1391. He wanted all these new ‘we care for you Peasants truly ruly’ proclamations to become permanent after the plague passed. He wanted the newly dropped hovel taxes to stay that way. He wanted the Barons a little poorer and the Peasants a little richer and all standing a little closer together on fiscal common ground. He wanted, back then, this new rush of empathy for all us Serfs to become fixed in the consciousness of the realm.

Perhaps, in the modern era, he might have wanted a UBI, or a Jobs Guarantee?

From the Barons: “Keep ’em housed. Keep ’em fed. Promise ’em anything to keep ’em quiet. Once the Plague has passed we’ll march right back in again and walk all over ’em. The power, and the entitlement, remains ours!”

So stuff the exhortations of the Cryer on behalf of the Barons, I’m having a meeting and a mead with Wat Tyler tonight!

From Wikipedia: (some words about what happened just after the Black Death scoured the land) – Walter “Wat” Tyler (died 15 June 1381) was a leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in England. He marched a group of rebels from Canterbury to the capital to oppose the institution of a poll tax and to demand economic and social reforms. While the brief rebellion enjoyed early success, Tyler was killed by officers loyal to King Richard II during negotiations at Smithfield, London.

Subsequently Richard II revoked all the concessions he had made.

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We need a Brave New World that cares!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forward planning for all contingencies is essential.

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

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

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

We, too, must use this time well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The future of Planet Earth is in our hands.

We must make a good job of it.

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

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

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

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Pride goes before a fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This excerpt from a biography is illuminating:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words, it is reactive not proactive,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes till we come out at the other side!

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

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

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

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Keeping a safe distance

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

I actually live alone but most people do not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The shopping spree and a 12-pack prize

There were the experienced women of the blue rinse set all manoeuvring their trolleys with gifted skills. Then there were the men whose driving skills more than made up for their inability to find the elusive prize – the 12 pack.

Arriving late on the grid I would be forced to use all my wily experience if I were to be in the contest. Then it came, the announcement that the prizes had all been distributed.

Putting my disappointment aside and trying not to listen to my wife’s exaggerated and non-stop opining about our lateness for the opening, we got on with our shopping.

“What if we don’t get any?” she asked for the umpteenth time. In turn I reminded her about the “cut in half phone books” that used to suffice when I was a kid.

I always preferred the Pink Pages. My mates always used the White. Anyway, they called me names for which I had no understanding at the time but later when I did I always checked the names on the sheet before using it in case the word Toorak appeared.

Anyway, I digress.

Coles was particularly frantic at 8am in the morning with all manner of folk hustling and bustling for position on every isle. Staff were filling the shelves with gusto. That not a brand, by the way, it’s just a word to describe how enthusiastic the staff were.

The only thing we overstocked on was food for our Ellie. Nothing’s too good for her.

So, with a couple of months supply of premium dog food in the trolley we headed for the deli.

When eventually we got to the wine shop my heart sank. There wasn’t a cask of pensioners’ piss in sight. “You will just have to go without,” my wife sternly said.

I must say there are some rude bastards in this world. Twice I nearly hit the deck after two of the blue-rinse set attacked me with a pincer movement from isles 11 and 12.

Mixed up in my thoughts of reporting them to management something deep down in my conscience was worrying me. Just how the rise of narcissism, inequality and the demise of compassion illustrated the state of the world.

Anyway, just as I was shirt-fronted with charge from isle 5 a mate of mine from the bowling club whispered in my ear:

“The deli, mate, they are in the deli.”

“What are?” I answered.

“The toilet rolls, you silly old bastard.”

All of a sudden things clicked together. I sped off down isle 1, soups, spaghetti and tinned fish, past the bakery and arrived just in time to see a 12 pack hurtling toward me.

Being the fast leading full forward that I once was I took it on my chest way above the pack and quickly put it in its place.

As we were exiting the centre Virginia’s friend from the medical clinic stopped us. I knew this would require time and patience. Now Virginia and Veronica are not ones to judge but they do form their own opinions.

Anyway, it appeared that the clinic was experiencing a run on its services with people wanting tests that were not as yet available, and prescription renewals that were not yet due. On top of that the Chemist Warehouse had a two and a half hour prescription wait.

I swear without exaggeration that this is what our town of Traralgon is going through.

Our behaviour is, I believe, symptomatic of what capitalism and the right-wing media has created.

Conversely, here is a little poem I wrote. I thought it might help:

The Hand

The hand is extended

To those who are but poor

The hand is outstretched

To those who have no more

The hand seeks the ill

Without the means to pay

It is its obligation

When society has a say

The hand is extended

To those unloved anymore

The hand reaches out

Prosperity belongs to all

The hand reaches out

To the hungry one and all

The hand it will feed them

In this we all should share

The hand is stretches out

So the homeless shall not fall

The hand offers a place of sleep

No matter what the cost

The hand is extended

To those who grieve and mourn

The hand offers mercy

Loss it will not ignore

The hand is freely given

To the righteous falsely accused

The hand it offers more than hope

It offers labour too

The hand it should be taken

When through the net they fall

When society sees a need

That was not their fault at all

The hand is the government

For everyone to grasp

Not just for those who have

But for those who have nothing at all.

My Thought For The Day

At some time in the human narrative … in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you.

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There is a silver lining to the Coronavirus Cloud

By Dr John Töns  

I received my Telstra account today. Irritated that they were asking me for money I rang their number to dispute the account. Now if you have rung Telstra you would probably have been greeted with the same message: ‘due to the high volume of calls blah blah.’ It advised me that I would be placed in a queue and the anticipated wait time was 20 minutes – 37 minutes later my call was answered.

Normally when you are running a business you do not have time to hang on whilst Telstra decides to contact you but thanks to the coronavirus what else was I going to do with my time? So, I hung on and finally was able to explain why I was disputing my account.

The bushfire came through our area on December 20. Since that time I may have had a total of ten days when customers could actually ring me. Small businesses like mine rely on the phone – if the phone is dead your business may as well be dead.

Most businesses in fire-impacted areas are either small businesses or micro-businesses. All of us have been doing it tough. You may not have been burnt out but the fact that you are close to the bushfire-impacted areas is enough to put customers off. Just as the gum trees were beginning to sprout fresh growth, so many of us began to see the first signs of a recovery – customers were coming back.

Then nature followed up with the coronavirus. This time the trees are not affected but the many small businesses are affected; we were already well behind we are now even further behind as many people simply stop using our services.

The key word here is ‘many’: There are still people who want to use our services. Our existing customers have our email address and mobile numbers, but new customers rely on the landline. When they ring the landline it seems it is a lottery – they will either be told that the number has been disconnected – great when you are running a business or they actually get to speak to someone. A kind person called Glen has complained to Telstra that his phone is not working – but he sometimes gets our calls – he now lets people know our mobile number. Meanwhile, every time I ring Telstra I am told that the problem has been escalated and the A team is on the job. I will be told as soon as it is fixed.

So, receiving an account today was the last straw. I was determined to get answers. Whilst I was on hold, I realised that one of the reasons for the long delay was probably that there are quite a few people working from home. Nothing like beating the boredom to hold companies like Telstra to account. But was my 1 hour and 6-minute phone call worthwhile? Well at last I did get an answer: “the problem has been escalated and the A team is on the job. I will be told as soon as it is fixed.”

So, the virus has given me the luxury of the time to be left dangling on the line to be reminded yet again that privatisation has destroyed Telstra.

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The Bog Rolls of Armageddon …

As we all know, I’m a bit of a hermit. Which makes me somewhat of a specialist at the social distancing thing. Handy these days. But, on occasion, I do foray out.

Went to my local supermarket this morning. Could not believe my eyes. Right in front of me were the products of one of the finest education systems on the planet, otherwise called people, biffing each other up over … of all things … bog paper.

What is it about bog paper?

Most people like me who are solely reliant on the old age pension, and let’s not forget those struggling along on the lower levelled Newstart, cannot usually afford luxury goods like that. I’ve always thought that a soft spray from the garden hose accompanied by a judicious swish around the pucker point from gently swirling fingers was all that was required. Very cheap. Doesn’t clog the drains. Still! I walked away from the supermarket in a state of thoughtful mind.

Perhaps the frenzied masses obviously knew something that I was totally ignorant of? If you don’t have thirty years worth of bog paper squirrelled away in your survival bunker/pantry then you’re simply gonna die!

Gosh, I thought. I don’t have thirty years worth of bog paper squirrelled away anywhere. I don’t even have two hours worth. Gosh, I’m gonna die!

The worries then became exponential, which means they get bigger and bigger real quick. If thirty years worth of bog rolls would protect me from Coronavirus, would forty years worth protect me from cyclones and tsunamis? Would fifty years worth protect me from the ravages of nuclear war? Maybe I should build my whole house out of toilet rolls and bunker down inside?

No.

It is a little stupid of people to think that bog rolls can do anything other than be bog rolls. If we ever do have to seriously consider bending over and kissing our arses goodbye due to a calamity of biblical proportions – it only takes a couple of sheets to make all things nether presentable. But I still say the hose is cheaper.

Panic buying is dumbness personified.

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UBI and COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how does the UBI come into this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Perhaps the extent to which members of the Coalition generally back each other up, establishes that there is truth in the proverb of ‘honour among thieves’, which dates back at least as far as Cicero. Certainly, when it comes to the policies pursued by the current Coalition government and its treatment of the electorate, honour…

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Truth doesn’t have the same importance it once did

Lies are so commonplace now that people just discount them or factor them into whatever context they read into various methods of communication. Many believe them.

It is a shame that I and many other writers for The AIMN find it necessary to write on the subject but we do and will probably do so until some semblance of normality returns to the body politic.

Such was my upbringing that using the ‘F’ word in front of elders was taboo. Using it in front of women was outlawed.

Using the ‘C’ word was totality forbidden. Even by men, but both are as common now as red, green and amber lights at intersections.

Like lying and good manners, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

The Rod Laver Tennis Centre now dominates an area of land where the Melbourne Olympic pool once stood. To its east massive Elm trees occupied the adjacent land.

It was under these huge trees that fierce political debates once took place.

Rather like Hyde Park in London. It was there that as a teenage boy I spent many a Sunday afternoon. Politics has been for most of my life something that had within its existence the means of making things so obviously wrong or unequal, better.

Other than what one might do in bed I can think of little that politics doesn’t invade in society in one way or another.

The circumstances of my growing up defined my future. I was exposed to injustice, inequality, unfairness and prejudice at an early age. Lying always seemed to underscore it all.

We may have been poor but we were taught values like truth, manners and honesty.

In my growing I became wise enough to understand that in a democracy the party I didn’t support had as much right to power as the one I do.

I am of the Left because social inequality is anathema to me.

There was, however, a time when I had a guarded tolerance for things Liberal and got on with life. But somewhere along the way things went horribly wrong.

Like rust finding its way, hate and untruth insinuated its way into the Australian politics.

It is now a cesspool of lying and ideological corruption where politicians use it as a legitimate political weapon. They just, in Trumpish fashion, brush aside their lies, and tell another one or repeat the same one.

At a time when the world is screaming out for collective answers to complex problems our government isn’t listening because it’s so busy telling lies.

Probably because I don’t understand the “why” of it is the reason I have developed a particular loathing for all this lying – this self-righteous attempt to corrupt the business of government.

Time and time again history would record the failure of lies yet the temptation is ever present. It seems to have worked for Donald, so why not give it a go.

Children learn from the age of four how lying works and one might argue that men who lie in copiousness have never grown up.

Having said that, I’m not naive enough to think that it is curable; lying has and probably will always exist.

However, Trump has taken political language into a new dimension. One where the craft of nefarious persuasion and communication has reached into a bucket of his sewerage and take from it the stench of his own bullshit.

Lying in American politics is now a legitimate and acceptable part of the cut and thrust of it. Because lying is a choice it would be unfair to suggest we have inherited it from America, but it is a fair assumption.

Lying in Australian politics has also reached unprecedented levels. The Prime minister and his Cabinet have taken lying to such depths that it is not disingenuous to suggest that this government under Morrison no longer has a moral compass nor any understanding of truth.

If this means I am saying that our Prime Minister is a pathological liar then so be it. I’m not it the habit of calling anyone a liar without proof (I do so with a heavy heart) but we are dealing with truth here.

It’s not so much that he is a serial offender, he is.

That he professes a practising belief in the Christian faith at the same time is both insulting and hypocritical.

He makes truth the victim. You can shape truth by telling lies in a way that embellishes crap and you can use the contrivance of omission to create yet another lie but when they are exposed they have little value.

However, the ability to admit you are wrong when found out is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.

Admitting a lie requires a truthfulness foreign to conservatives. If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information the public has a democratic right to be aware of, it destroys the very democracy that enables it to exist.

And if humility is the basis by which intellectual advancement is made then it is only on the basis of truth that we make any human progress.

Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it. It is far better to be comforted by truth than to be controlled by lies.

Is it plausible? Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it? We make judgements based on our life’s experience.

Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ … your inner conscience dictates your judgement. But in itself your emotion can never be a substitute for facts.

My thought for the day

Faith is the residue of what is not understood but can never be a replacement for fact.

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The smirking arrogance of the LNP

By Kathryn 

Not a single day goes by that we are not confronted with yet another LNP rort, another criminal act of fraudulent misappropriation of taxpayer funds, yet more and more revelations about LNP depravity, more lies, ceaseless broken promises, relentless chaos and inner-party political back fighting, treacherous instability and traitorous, power-hungry backstabbing!

Every day, never-ending news highlighting the LNP’s unspeakable bible-thumping hypocrisy, incidences of sniggering, smirking arrogance, barely disguised misogyny, the appalling defence and support of predatory paedophiles (like George Pell). Not a day goes by when we are not bombarded with endless examples of the LNP’s hopelessly inept mismanagement and waste of countless millions of hard-earned taxpayer funds that have been channelled into their own “pet” projects (thus enriching themselves) or used to further enrich and empower the LNP’s obscenely rich and powerful donors!

Never before in our history have we seen a government so steeped in corruption, so depraved, so condescending and so arrogant! Make no mistake about it, this is a morally bankrupt, born-to-rule pack of barbaric, callously inhumane fascists who have exhibited an absolutely appalling disregard for the laws and moral codes that bind the rest of us. The fact that this monstrous regime have the undisguised support of the, now, thoroughly discredited AFP and dubious judiciary, says so much about the inexorable decline our country is now undergoing in every imaginable way!

Our international reputation as a (once) respectable leading democracy has found its way into an open sewer ranking us almost on the same level as corrupt dictatorships like Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan. Morrison is now modelling himself on the self-deluded and openly corrupt Donald Trump – not surprising, considering that Morrison openly paraded himself as a cloying, salivating lapdog to Trump on SlowMo’s (internationally embarrassing) recent trip kowtowing to the worst president in America’s history!

Our police force are now militarised with semi-automatic assault rifles in order to enforce the acceleration of our deteriorating “democracy”;

  • Our economy is in tatters with a national deficit now nearing one trillion dollars.
    Everything we once owned now sold to the highest foreign-owned bidder (including our precious water resources),
  • Our rivers polluted, our environment pillaged, raped and vandalised by foreign-owned predators for the sake of a transient profit that none of us will ever share in – a profit quickly exported and all of us betrayed because these predators are filling the coffers of the LNP with $millions in underhand parliamentary donations!
  • Every day supermarket prices are skyrocketing, Australian icons are shutting down or privatised;
  • Huge rates of unemployment or under-employment totally denied by the lying, conniving Marketing Monster and his self-deluded, smug and entitled cabinet of rorting, thieving political parasites!

In less than seven years, the LNP have created nothing, achieved nothing, given nothing. A pack of stone cold neo-liberal capitalists whose regime has benefited no one except, of course, themselves and their billionaire, non-taxpaying donors in the coal and iron-ore mining industries and the rapacious grubs in the Top 1%.

Under the fascist jackboot of the LNP, Australia has gone from hero to zero in a terrifying short time!

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