Grief for the Present, Grief for the Future

By Elizabeth Dangerfield  Like so many in Australia at this moment my anxiety…

Comedy without art (part 4)

By Dr George Venturini  At its heart, Australia is a system of representative…

The economy is not our master

By RosemaryJ36  I have a very dear family member, who subscribes to The…

Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision

“This is a bold bet – a moonshot – for Microsoft.” So…

Asking Peter Dutton ...

A couple of days ago I received this message from a Facebook…

My Kangaroo Island

The looks of excitement on our faces was sure evidence that Mr…

Let's Just Ignore The Bushfires!

This may seem like a strange question but can we afford the…

A Matter of Quality: Air Pollution, Tennis and…

They are disgruntled and have every right to be. Whatever one’s feelings…

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Category Archives: Your Say

Grief for the Present, Grief for the Future

By Elizabeth Dangerfield  

Like so many in Australia at this moment my anxiety about the future has impacted on my mental health. But those who have borne the brunt of these catastrophic fires; those who have lost their homes, property, livestock; those who have been fighting fires for weeks; those who have been trying to save animals so cruelly affected by the fires; those who have been evacuated and wondered what was ahead of them; those who do not know where their next meal is coming from, where they are going to live or how on earth they are going to start again; those who are totally despondent and exhausted: their mental health must be severely compromised by their harrowing experiences over the last months. We have all, in our way been impacted by the horror of this gigantic disaster as we have watched it unfold.

When I watched Andrew Constance, NSW MP, express his heartbreak over the devastation in his electorate and the impact on his and his family’s mental health I could not help but suffer with him. Here was a man who had stared unflinchingly into the stark reality of what had happened as a result of these bushfires and felt the suffering of others on his shoulders. The reality is that what has happened is absolutely appalling and there is no quick fix, no platitude, no forced handshake that can make the hurt go away quickly. Neither should it, we need to remember this event for what it is and recognise that people will need a great deal of support over a long time to get over this, physically, mentally, socially and economically.

My mental health issues come from a slightly different place. They started in earnest three years ago when I realised that the Earth I knew and loved was slipping away and with it a decent future for people as well as all the other wonderful living things on this planet. I am a trained zoologist with an interest in ecology, I have studied geology at university and taught science, understand probability and risk assessment, so I have been able to read the reports and research that have been coming out for many years warning of human induced global warming, its impact on our climate and the terrible consequences of not acting effectively to slow down climate change. They are compelling.

I know what the world will be like if we exceed 2°C of global warming – for example just about all coral reefs will die and ecosystems will collapse; at 3°C we are likely to have severe impacts on people with massive numbers of climate refugees, many deaths and the breakdown of our economies and societies; at 4°C, which could happen by the end of this century, the Earth may no longer be able to sustain life as we know it.

Not only that, the impact of global warming is already more severe than anticipated and although we have not yet reached a global average of 1.5°C the impact on our ecosystems has been severe. The hottest year on record, the driest year on record, the hottest decade on record, have resulted in prolonged drought, water shortages, high temperatures, longer fire seasons and exacerbated the conditions for mega fires. We have the greatest amount of CO2 in the atmosphere than we have had for millions of years. Biodiversity is plummeting. And there is great concern that we are already seeing tipping points that will accelerate climate changes such as changes in ocean currents, loss of sea ice and the thawing of the tundra.

What does it do to your mental health to know that we are squandering one of the most precious things in the whole universe; our unique planet with its remarkable biosphere What do you do feel when you have read all the predictions made about over population, over consumption and climate change since the 1970s and still there is a lack of will to do what needs to be done to fix the problem? Imagine how it plunges you into a black despair when you realise the fires we have experienced, needn’t have been so catastrophic. It is mind-numbing and it certainly keeps me awake at night. I am not the only one. One of our foremost climate scientist Joëll Gergis, a lead author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report, and an expert adviser to the Climate Council, recently said we are seeing the worst of our scientific predictions come to pass in these bushfires and she can’t sleep at night worrying about it either.

I know that there are strategies to deal with my grief and anxiety. You can recognise that you are not alone, and many other people feel similarly and that lots of people are working hard to change things. You can recognise that you are powerless to do anything but change your own behaviour and having done your utmost you can feel good about that. You can put worrying thoughts to one side and enjoy life in the present. You can practice gratitude. Of course, there is refuge in meditation, exercise, social events and laughter. You can seek counselling and read self-help books or join a group. Most strategies involve accepting that that’s life and making the most of it.

But one thing I cannot do is to pretend, like climate change deniers, that this catastrophe is not happening, or to do what many people do and is to go about their lives not thinking too much about it and hoping that someone will come up with a solution before too long. I cannot bury my head in the sand and nor should anyone else regardless of the mental health costs. It is not for me that I am anxious, it is for future generations, I have had a great life and climate change will not bother me too much before I die. It is not me that I grieve for but for the loss of something irreplaceable, wonderous and precious – life on Earth. We are facing an existential crisis and it is not alright and we should all be terribly upset about it.

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The economy is not our master

By RosemaryJ36  

I have a very dear family member, who subscribes to The Australian, and with whom relations have been heavily stressed in ‘debating’ what I see as a cut and dried issue – climate change.

This is part of an email I have just sent:

“Throughout the ages, scientists have been doubted, sometimes sanctioned to the point of being burned at the stake – this being usually because of the church’s insisting that the Bible is truth and the word of god – but time has proved the scientists were right.

Research into the effects of fossil fuel emissions on the atmosphere and the climate has been going on for well over a century and it is documented fact that the corporations with a vested interest in mining, drilling, fracking etc are fully aware of that research and its outcomes – and have deliberately put money into supporting bogus reports that indicate that climate change is not related to those fuels.

Scientists in other discipline areas have supported the oil companies in this (has that been for financial gain or other support?) and this has added credence to the lies.

The major point is time.

Because the Industrial Revolution started the Greenhouse Gas phenomenon, as industry has expanded, so the effect on climate has increased, at a now verging-on exponential rate, in terms of raising temperatures. This in turn has resulted in changing weather patterns and encouraging increasingly severe adverse weather events.

To stop – or even (hopefully) reverse – this process, becomes a matter of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, replacing them with viable alternatives, adjusting our behaviour to fit with these changes and generally abandoning life as we have known it and entering into a changed way of regarding life – noting not only that greed is not good but we are the custodians of earth, not its owners.

There are additional issues, with increasing consumption of meat and accompanying increases in emissions of methane, another, more intense but with a shorter life, greenhouse gas, and, of course massive levels of pollution across the world causing severe damage to marine life as well as land-based flora and fauna. Recycling is not even in its infancy as yet!

These issues have to be addressed worldwide, virtually simultaneously and urgently.

And that is verging on the impossible.

Yet we cannot afford to give up, because life will not be viable for children born 20 years from now if we fail to act. Look at how many children, alive today, will suffer health problems in later years because of the current daily inhalation of the bush-fire smoke!

China is actually doing far more than most people realise, as are many USA states, and other countries, like India, are likely to make more effort if they see other, more developed, countries making major changes.

Leading by example is critically important and we have the means and the ability – but not yet the political will – to do this.

I fear my frustration with people’s unwillingness to not only accept that this is truth, not fevered imagination, boils over into impatience with having to argue the same points over and over.

I am not a fanatic with some impossible story to sell.

I am one of a (fortunately) growing group who are trying to find how best to force our current decision-makers into realising that the need to make decisions and commence effective planning and action NOW is beyond essential – and failure to do so is criminal.

We need every intelligent and informed person out there forcing the government to act – and, if it will not, forcing a change of government.

Sitting idly by and accepting the status quo is no longer an option!

The recent bush fires have seriously damaged our economy but earlier action and preparation could have reduced the severity of the nature and impact triggered by the existing drought.

I fully appreciate that hindsight is a marvellous teacher but complaining about past failures has to be abandoned in favour of rapid and effective planning for future success.

The economy is not our master. It should be our servant, but, under Coalition governments, that is unacceptable!

So, given the above, I do not see a debate on the reality of climate change as possible.

I see it as a question of accepting the facts and acting on them.

The only discussion then becomes one of action priorities.

Because the Murdoch empire is widely recognised as being at the forefront of climate change deniers, (despite Rupert Murdoch’s statements to the contrary!) and being well aware of the Goebbels techniques of brainwashing intelligent people into accepting and promulgating lies and falsehoods. I have been concerned about its influence on you on an issue which is not a ‘debate’ but one of acceptance or denial of fact.

I am not likely to change my views and can only hope you are not swayed by deliberate misinformation.”

Having written that, I proceeded to read an article in the SMH:

”What is ‘real’ action on climate change?”

And, clearly, an important further question “what would it cost?”

How long is a piece of string?

How long will full recovery from the bush fires disaster take?

Can we guarantee that recovery will not be hindered by more disasters?

Can we afford to keep asking questions to which there are no clear answers when the absolute priority is action?

The economy is not our master and if people are suffering and in need of help, that help has to be provided.

And that is true at all times.

Australia is a wealthy country yet we have homeless people living on the streets.

We have disabled people waiting endlessly for adequate help.

We have a shortage of housing for low income people while we pay out money to property owners using negative gearing.

We have women who have been unable to contribute effectively to personal superannuation, who are now living below the poverty line, while wealthy retirees pay accountants to reduce their taxable income to zero so that they can receive a cheque for franking credits.

We have inherited too many of the American attitudes that admire those who can make good and sneer at those who fail to do so, ignoring the fact that a true community spirit ensures that those who can and have, help those who cannot and have not.

We, superior white people, invaded the land of people who saw themselves as custodians of their country. We have raped and pillaged that land and deprived those people and now we are rapidly destroying that land.

I am a dual British/Australian citizen, and I am not proud of either the country of my birth nor the country of my current residence.

Both have embraced greed and selfishness while simultaneously claiming Judaeo-Christian values! What utter hypocrites!

I have joined – but not yet had an opportunity to join action with – Extinction Rebellion.

Non-violent civil action appears to be the only way we can unite those seeing policy change as essential in order to force the government to act – or go!

There is only one priority.

A flexible action plan to deal with emissions, phase out the use and production of fossil fuels, reduce pollution and increase effective recycling, use the defence forces to assist recovery activities, change tax laws to ensure our billionaires and multi-millionaires contribute effectively to the country which has helped them accumulate their wealth and, above all, establish a National, non-partisan governing body which will oversight the change and draw on all expert resources.

And how will we achieve this?

If you really want it to happen – that is where people power comes in!

The economy is not our master. It is our servant and politicians who fail in the integrity and transparency stakes should be booted out!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

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

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Insanity rules

By RosemaryJ36  

Just how blind to reality are these people who currently strut the stage as elected Members of Parliament, selected to govern Australia?

Grieving relatives of those firefighters and other citizens who have died in the current devastating fires, plus all the farmers, business owners and residents whose homes, other property and businesses have gone up in flames, deserve much better than a few hundred dollars and prayers.

The world stared in dumb disbelief when Craig Kelly was interviewed on British Television, with his crude and ill-informed criticism of the incredibly well-qualified physicist, who knows more about accurate weather forecasting than Kelly will ever know about any subject under the sun.

The time delay between statements and response made it appear that the interviewers were talking over Kelly – which, to some extent they probably were, to try to interrupt the flow of uninformed nonsense he was spouting.

Most informed Australians would have cringed in utter shame at the stupidity and ignorance he portrayed.

In recent days there has been criticism of the way the Murdoch papers have been misreporting climate change issues on their front pages, and in seeking the above video, I came across this example!

Didn’t Murdoch recently state that his organisation had no climate deniers?

I feel that the Australian bush-fires have alerted many parts of the world to how dedicated we must be in taking action to tackle the Climate Emergency.

Handing out money, without rapidly and thoroughly assessing priorities in relation to recovery from the devastation, is a very poor look from a government which has always tried to brainwash us into believing that they are better managers of the economy than anyone else.

Whole industries like tourism have received an incredibly serious blow. Not only are beauty spots going to be a lot less attractive for a long time, but tourist accommodation, if it has not been destroyed, is not going to have visitors knocking on the doors in significant numbers, either!

Plus, so much agricultural land, already damaged because of water woes in the Murray Darlin Basin, has been devastated, while feed vital stocks have been devoured by flames.

We do not need a Royal Commission anything like as much as we need an ICAC, in order to investigate the extent to which Government Ministers have been derelict in their duty in consequence of political donations and lobbying from the coal and fossil fuels industries.

Back in April, when retired expert Fire Chiefs sought to warn of pending danger, because of the narrowing window of opportunity for preparation for the next fire season, our Prime Minister refused to meet with them.

What utter arrogance!

He has no grasp of his role. If a fire starts in NSW and travels across a mythical border into Victoria, who is responsible for it? And if fire crews can work across State borders, does that not indicate very clearly that the situation requires national coordination? And major assets like water-bombing planes should be available to all states at need.

The fact that such a high proportion of our firefighters are volunteers is utterly amazing, but to have a Prime Minister who says they do not require compensation payments because ‘they want to be out there’ is mind-blowingly gauche! They offer the country a level of service which Scott Morrison could never aspire to and our gratitude to them is as great as is our condemnation of his failings. I bet he claims every cent he can justify for expenses, despite his having a substantial income.

During the last election campaign, about the only Coalition member in evidence, here, there, and everywhere, was Scott Morrison, yet, when this dire crisis began, he was not only not in evidence, his office even refused to inform us where he was!

His promise to return as soon as possible, once he finally realised that he was in the wrong place, was immediately broken, because he could have been back at least 24 hours earlier.

Apart from Kelly’s woeful performance, few other Coalition members have made any appearance in public, just a few being dragged along on Morrison’s coattails while he rushes from here to there for photo ops in his usual seeking-the-limelight style!

Oh yes! The temporarily Acting Prime Minister did speak up once during the PM’s absence, but we are grateful it was only once!

Given his Ministry responsibilities, I think many are curious that Peter Dutton, a formerly eager aspirant for the post of PM, appears to have vanished into the ether. It appears the actual PM does not believe in an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, or maybe he just does not want to share the limelight.

They have had a much-shortened amount of sitting time this last 12 months and it would be good to see them all hard at work, seeking solutions through genuine debate. Sorry! Another pipe dream!

I was delighted, in a very unkind way, when the less than welcoming reception he received on visits to some devastated areas led to his rapid withdrawal to limit the unwelcome publicity which has gone viral.

As pointed out in references to his earlier career, he lacks staying power and when the going gets tough, he is off to new endeavours – only this time he is forced to take on a job he does not want and which, frankly, many of us believe he is not competent to do.

Instead of muttering about Royal Commissions, he should have already established a non-partisan Recovery Commission, stacked with all relevant experts from CSIRO, universities, business and industry and have already declared policy to cease all subsidies to fossil fuel companies and discontinue support for the development of new mines like Adani.

The other incredibly important issue needing urgent attention is water.

A Recovery Commission should already be discussing the viability of constructing desalination plants all around our shoreline, because not only are we running out of water, more importantly we are facing a future with seriously polluted water.

The massive destruction of animal and plant life has left the ground covered with soot and decaying bodies, which will necessarily pollute such water supplies which we do have.

To allow miners and frackers to operate using scarce water resources is criminal.

All of these issues need really urgent attention and one person cannot begin to cover all that is necessary.

Sorry, ScoMo – you need to share the glory and just maybe some really competent people could be allowed to pick up the threads! If you choose well, you might, eventually, deserve our thanks – but I am not holding my breath!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

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

 

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Don’t Forget Me. Inside I Scream

A poem about the impact of natural disasters on mental health and a plea to us all to be there for the long haul.

Don’t Forget Me. Inside I Scream.

By Trish Corry

When the last ember dies in a wet embrace.
Don’t forget me. See my face.
As the smoke wisps away to kiss Venus and Mars.
Don’t forget me. For I am scarred.

When you no longer smell burnt earth and hollow bough.
Don’t forget me. My heart, it races now.
As the flames stop burning as hot as the sun.
Don’t forget me. In my mind I run.

When the blades of grass breathe green new life.
Don’t forget me. My anxiety runs rife.
As the sky smears away lipstick of scarlet red.
Don’t forget me. I’m drowning in dread.

When the cool air gently plays upon your ear.
Don’t forget me. Closed spaces I fear.
As the stars dance around a moonbeam so bright.
Don’t forget me. I’m flight, flight, flight.

When my life is no longer a tweet and a meme.
Don’t forget me. Inside I scream.
As the rain washes away the soot in my hair.
Don’t forget me. I’m deep in despair.

When the happiness returns of a brand new day.
Don’t forget me. I push everyone away.
When the birds sing, creatures nestle, and furry eyes peep.
Don’t forget me. I’m in a hole oh so deep.

When my story fades behind other lives on screen.
Don’t forget me. My anger causes a scene.
As my resilience is treasured for the fight I gave.
Don’t forget me. I don’t feel so brave.

When the dew drops fall onto luscious ground.
Don’t forget me. Even my fingertips pound.
As you see new leaves upon sunlight’s kiss.
Don’t forget me. Why am I like this?

When you fly high above me and see colour, not grey.
Don’t forget me. Why won’t these feelings go away?
As the perfume of the bush is a sensory delight.
Don’t forget me. My eyes snap wide open three times a night.

When the fire roared all around me and stole my breath.
You were there when I faced uncertain death.
I have inner scars like tentacles that twist and bend.
I need you for the long haul. Just be my friend.

Help and Recovery – Natural Disasters

“Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Some people will be able to manage the stress but for others it may be difficult to cope. Most people eventually heal and recover and go on to rebuild their lives.” (Lifeline)

Please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or see toolkits information and and helplines here –

Recovering After a Natural Disaster

 

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Beyond reasonable doubt

By RosemaryJ36  

While a far from perfect system, trial by jury has certain important features which should be taken into account in making our own judgements on issues which affect our own lives.

Firstly, the system requires that the jury be comprised of the ‘peers’ of the accused – that is people from a similar enough background to that of the accused to be able to assess the evidence using similar standards to those which governed the circumstances of the accused’s actions.

And, secondly – and more importantly – the unanimous verdict reached by the required minimum number of members of the jury must be “beyond reasonable doubt” – and here the critical word is “reasonable”.

This means that the discussion by members of the jury must not be founded in emotional responses to the reported actions of the accused but on a logical examination of the facts, and must result in a decision requiring certainty that the accused intended to commit the offence and was, in fact, properly identified as the perpetrator.

And to establish the case against the accused, the prosecutor depends on the facts as evidence of the intent and action on the part of the accused.

The system falls over backwards to protect the accused, who is regarded as innocent until proved guilty, by avoiding publicising any previous criminal history until such time as the jury finds the accused guilty and the judge then proceeds to consider the history of prior offending in deciding an appropriate penalty.

The scientists have presented the world with a case against fossil fuels in relation to the cause of global warming, which is predicted to inflict considerable damage through its effects on the world’s climate.

The issues here are, firstly, whether the world’s climate is actually experiencing increasing temperatures – and, with evidence of polar ice melting and ‘hottest days on record’ being reported, few of us are in doubt on this point – and, secondly, whether the burning of fossil fuels by human beings is the most significant factor responsible for rising temperatures.

The climate scientists have also predicted that, if we fail to reduce emissions, we will experience increasingly frequent and severe weather events, including floods, droughts, fires, storms, landslides and inundation by rising oceans.

Here the word ‘increasingly’ becomes highly significant.

Do we just report events as they happen, allowing the list to lengthen until we are convinced that the scientists are indeed correct?

The alternative is to examine closely the evidence and arguments so far documented and decide, on the evidence, is the wisest course of action to accept the advice of the scientists and start following their recommendations, before temperatures have increased beyond our power to subsequently lower them, or, again, can we safely ignore the possible harmful effects on our descendants and postpone action until we feel the proof is strong enough to require that action?

What is holding us back from making that decision?

We have governments in many countries which see maintaining or improving current living standards as being their first priority.

Or they believe the actions deemed necessary will cost too much and adversely affect their country’s economy.

Or we have governments which simply refuse to accept the facts presented by the scientists because to do so will require them to accept they have been wrong or, in some cases, they have a deep-rooted but misguided ‘faith’ in what they have accepted as directions from some supernatural being in which they have placed their trust.

They make no attempt to provide evidence for their insistence on denying the truth of climate change and they seem impervious to the damage and destruction that is currently occurring as predicted.

To ask what it will cost to take the recommended action on the climate emergency is the old – ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question.

Far more pertinent is to look at what is occurring currently in Australia and ask – how much will it cost to rebuild lost homes, redevelop agricultural – and other – businesses, restore trade and – for the bereaved – assure them that governments are doing everything in their power to ensure no more lives will be lost unnecessarily because of a lack of proper forward planning?

It appears that too many politicians, once elected, feel no further need to consult their electorates or outside experts.

How can people, with no or little scientific knowledge or experience, be allowed to make decisions which require expert knowledge?

A halfway-decently qualified, apolitical public service would make it an unlikely event, but when political advisers and contracted consultants guide the policy, their highest priority is not necessarily the public interest!

I lived through WWII in the UK under an apolitical National Government, established to ensure that all expert advice was utilised as effectively as possible and the war effort was the paramount issue.

Winning the war was the only priority and civilian life was directed to assist that end.

The elements have declared war on us and we are not using resources efficiently in order to fight back, because our present government refuses to accept that it is priority number one.

We need proactive policies, not delayed reactive policies.

We need someone in charge who is better at leading than in creating slogans.

The answer to “Where the bloody hell are you, Prime Minister?” is clearly “Hiding from the truth!”

To be fair – many are also asking “Where is the Opposition?”

If they have coherent plans to put forward, now is the time, because they sure as hell are getting no opposing plans from the so-called government!

Latest announcement from the PM, as I write, concerns troops staying in Iraq.

OK – the rest of life must go on, but without more, careful attention to action on the climate emergency, life won’t go on for our great grandchildren!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

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

Will you join me and get out on the streets – maybe Australia Day would be appropriate? – and tell those whom we rashly elected that they need to go because they are not governing for us!

The clock is ticking.

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Skiddy leaves his mark

By Grumpy Geezer  

It was Tony Abbott’s ludicrous, bow-legged saunter that encapsulated the man; some wag once remarked that he looked like a cowboy leaving a rodeo portaloo. His gait was an asinine affectation, the purpose of which no doubt was to reinforce his self image of a macho man, a tough guy in red dick-stickers, but instead the ape-like amble simply highlighted the novelty of his adoption of bipedalism.

A dung flinger, a wrecker and mendacious saboteur, an idiot, a practised liar and humbug Abbott was without a doubt Australia’s worst ever Prime Minister. Until now.

Abbott and his trademark I-shat-myself swagger has been superseded by a smirk on a jerk – Scott SkidMark Morrison.

The caps, the thumbs up, the pie-gobbin’, the beer kneckin’ and the stunts; none capture the real Morrison. It’s the supercilious, omni-present smirk that does. Arrogance, smugness, disdain and uninterest all in one self-satisfied facial expression that says “I was elected to rule not to serve”. The smirk is who Skiddy is. Even in the most dire of contexts he struggles to control it but there’s only one thing that will remove it – his inevitable and welcome demise.

Many will see the beginning of the end times for brother Skiddy as being marked by his clandestine abandonment of our burning country to flee to a beach chair on Waikiki. Others may see it as marked by his New Year’s eve partying at Kiribilli House with his dubious pals frolicking in the pool while firies were putting their lives on the line; or maybe it’s his subsequent photo op with cricketers who he saw as more deserving of his presence than those who had lost everything in the flames.

For me, the beginning of his end was Nelligen heroic firey Paul Parker’s spray. This is the start of the death spiral of a dodgy salesman, the smirk removal shovel to the face of a self-serving grifter.

 

The calamitous bushfires have brought out the best in many people and the worst in others. The worst-of-the-worst is Morrison – a gutless grub who hides from crisis in Hawaii and uses his missus as a human shield. He thinks of the fires as a backdrop to the cricket and describes his presence at a firey’s funeral as “tremendous”. He ran from aggrieved victims who objected to being used for a photo op and the prick’s funded empathy extended to a single bag of Woolies’ groceries for the thousands of displaced fire evacuees.

This is a brazen coward, a liar, a gobshite and a parasite whose only interest is self-interest. What sort of worm, after being humiliated into responding to the crisis then produces a self-congratulatory TV ad praising himself for all those things he for so long refused to do? The chutzpah is staggering.

Morrison the rapturist may believe that the drought and the fires are signs of the Apocolypse but he needs the status of the office of PM and its fat salary to guarantee his seat in the heavenly chariot and a poolside sun lounge in his members only celestial paradise, so he’ll continue to propagandise, politicise and gaslight until summoned by the ethereal choir.

His Tory cronies will sort through the ashes looking for  way to make a quick buck. A promised $2 billion recovery fund will have the leeches such as Angus Taylor and Barnaby Joyce drafting their business plans and opening new accounts in the Cayman Islands.

The vandalism of our environment will continue as this regime introduces legislation to crack down on environmental litigation and class actions and cuts “green tape” to let loose the vandals to monetise what’s left of our natural environment. It will continue to demonise protest and dissent, and its goons will continue to threaten 13 year old girls with arrest.

This is no time for politeness, there is no reason to respect Morrison or his office. This is a time for anger and outrage. When Skiddy is eventually extracted from office he will have left his mark – a scorched Australia, smoke-stained glaciers in NZ, Chile and Argentina and a legacy as Australia’a worst PM.

Skiddy, you are unprecedented. You are a wretched, despicable bastard.

Never forget, never forgive (image from ozzyman.com : photo credits AAP/Channel 7)

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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Never has there been a greater need for Aboriginal fire-stick farming

As the bush fires rage so too does the debate on how land should be managed, specifically to prevent the repeat of these catastrophic fires.

On the Left we have the realists who believe the scientists that have warned there is a link between bush fires and climate change; and on the Right we have those who deny the link and so are furiously looking for someone to blame. They are blaming the usual suspects: Lefties and greenies, for they are the ones – apparently – who have stopped hazard-reduction burning in the cooler months. I’ve never known it to happen (which is not to say it hasn’t) but the Right want someone to blame regardless.

We all know that fires kill wildlife, whether it’s through hazard-reduction burning or through uncontrolled fires. Ideally, what we want is bush fire prevention with the absolute minimum (or no) loss of wildlife, and which also reduces the future loss of all life, including human life.

This can still be achieved through hazard reduction burning. It’s by ‘who’ that is the key.

Aboriginal Australians hold that key.

As traditional Aborigines were not land owners they felt that they had a responsibility to the environment. The environment, the land, and even the sky were created in one – as were the people – and all were related. With this attitude (belief) is it any surprise that the Aboriginal people never took anything from nature? Aborigines were the original conservationists and their use of land management promoted ecological health.

An example of this was fire stick farming: The low-intensity burning of undergrowth in wooded areas that would promote the germination of new plants, and thus attract the animals that were an important part of an Aborigine’s diet. This burning was carried out before the dry season and was done carefully and systematically. No more was burned than necessary. Burning was also more than just sound land management; it was evidence that the land was healthy and being fully utilised. There was also a religious significance to burning: As the Ancestral spirits of the Dreaming still inhabited the land, the burnings provided these spiritual inhabitants with lands on which they could hunt. But fire-stick farming had another purpose: to decrease the risk of the wild fires now all too common in modern Australia.

Conservation was also extended to all practices of hunting and gathering. No more food was taken than required and no food source was over exploited. In some societies prohibitions were placed on the taking of immature plants or animals. In times of crisis, such as drought or flood, land ownership need never be relinquished. The resources have been preserved. Critics of fire-stick farming would argue that forest burning kills wildlife. This was not the case. For example, the koala – the tragic face of the current bush fires – was an important source of food for traditional Aborigines, so the areas chosen to be burned would not have contained a population of a valuable food source. It defeated the purpose of their land management practices. Why kill what they were trying to preserve? After burning, the regrowth of vegetation attracted wildlife to the area, so Aborigines were actually producing an environment that was more suited to them. As an Adnyamathanha man told me today of those practices; “Burn an area of scrub where there’s no koalas, within 5-6 years the koalas would be there.”

Conversely, the western attitude to the land did not encourage sound management or preservation techniques. Whereas the Aborigines were careful in their exploitation of resources, the westerners unwittingly created vast tracts of land devastation. For instance, the over grazing of stock has rendered many areas infertile. The senseless chopping down of forests has destroyed delicate eco-systems. The salinity of the waterways is largely due to pollution. It is evident that no consideration had been given to the protection of natural resources. Land exploitation was used to advance British colonisation and became the rationale for European land ownership.

And slowly, as land was seized from the Aborigines, the land management techniques of our First People and the practice of fire-stick farming were discarded.

In his book Aboriginal Environmental Impacts, James Kohen explains the demise of the latter:

While Aboriginal people used fire as a tool for increasing the productivity of their environment, Europeans saw fire as a threat. Without regular low-intensity burning, leaf litter accumulates and crown fires can result, destroying everything in their path. European settlers feared fire, for it could destroy their houses, their crops, and it could destroy them. Yet the environment that was so attractive to them was created by fire (p 42).

In fearing fire, they – and we – have succumbed to it. We need to turn back the clock two hundred years and return the keys to the Aborigines to manage this delicate continent. We have failed.

The author has a BA in Aboriginal Affairs Administration, a BA (Honours) in Aboriginal Studies, spent three years as a Project Officer for Aboriginal communities in the Flinders Ranges, Batemans Bay and Eden, and three years as a Policy Officer in ATSIC, Canberra.

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The damage Scott Morrison and his policy vacuum are inflicting on this country will be felt for decades

By RosemaryJ36  

You could probably divide the world’s adult population into three groups. Those who have minds open to accepting new knowledge, those who have trouble absorbing anything that requires re-thinking what they have always accepted – and those who refuse to even consider that what they already know might not, in reality, be correct.

The essential scientific process is based on probability – an area which leaves many people a lot poorer after backing the wrong horse! In fact, the failure of education authorities to provide as many as possible of their students with a proper grounding in statistics and probability, enables a great many charlatans – political and otherwise – to flourish!

The scientist formulates an hypothesis to explain certain phenomena, gathers and then examines all possible evidence for the null hypothesis (i.e. that their hypothesis is false) and finally tests the power or probability that the null hypothesis is indeed true. They set a very high bar, and the whole process is very clearly documented so that fellow scientists, in the same specialist area, can repeat the process and compare results – this is what is known as peer review.

This makes it clear they are actually going in to bat for the opposition, as it were, and trying to prove their hypothesis is false – which should reassure those who believe that scientists are trying to prove their own theories!

You need to understand that peer reviewed research, when published, provides evidence of research which has been repeated and/or checked by other than the original specialist scientist, and which establishes scientific knowledge or fact – until and unless subsequent research updates those facts. Opinion has no place in this process and opinions provided by scientists in other discipline areas – unaccompanied by peer reviewed reports – carry no weight whatsoever.

Opinions published by those with neither scientific credentials nor, in particular, expert knowledge in the specific specialist area, should carry no weight and are simply smoke and mirrors, attempting to discredit, for whatever motive, information about the real scientific facts. Sadly, this succeeds far too often. The shock jocks are a source of misinformation for the gullible and should be banned, IMHO! They won’t be, because the profit motive beats social responsibility hands down!

Science and religion have fought many wars over the centuries.

Clearly documented, and available to all, is information on how the Catholic Church (and other Christian sects) have promoted the Holy Bible as being the word of god, and everything in that book is regarded as incontrovertible fact.

In fact, some religious so-called educators still promote the creationist theory – in flat contradiction of accepted knowledge of the development of the known universe.

Belief and opinion are often enemies of truth and at present we are witnessing the consequences of letting belief, opinion and vested interests, subvert public information and delay action which was shown, decades ago, to be necessary to avert catastrophic climate conditions.

Our current Prime Minister proudly boasts of his religious affiliations – a boast which should at once raise our suspicions that his judgement is biased and therefore faulty in any area which involves science!

His background as a failed marketer is responsible for his current, underhand way of promoting himself and fund-raising for the Liberal party in the guise of an information post on social media, linked to the Liberal party ‘Donate’ page!

He can’t help himself, because, on the evidence, he apparently is incapable of understanding the image he projects.

His party members are happy, because he has succeeded in leading them to an unexpected third term in government, but the damage he and his policy vacuum are inflicting on this country will be felt for decades – and may shorten many lives.

Throughout their current dominance in politics, the Coalition have promoted themselves as being better at managing the economy – and compliant media have supported this myth.

It seems that few people are aware of how massively the Australian debt has blown out since the Coalition undertook to restore the economy to balance. People do not understand national finances enough to realise that achieving a surplus is simply saying that, in the current fiscal year, the government will actually receive in taxes of all sorts – and from the sale of the country’s assets (thank you so much Peter Costello!) – more than it actually spends on services, while failing to mention that “As at July 1 2018, the budget estimate of net debt in Australia was about A$341.0 billion, up from A$174.5 billion in September 2013, when the Coalition took office. That’s an increase of A$166.5 billion, or roughly 95%, over almost five years.”

Fact Check: has Australia’s net debt doubled under the current government?

And when it comes to cutting services to achieve a surplus, what is the cost of damage to lives engendered by processes like Robodebt?

Emphasis on ‘fiscal rectitude’ has camouflaged incredible human damage, wherein the poor lack support and the borderline are actual driven into poverty and suicide.

And looming over all this is a genuine existential crisis which our government refuses to recognise by promoting appropriate actions.

It is worth repeating what everyone knows – Australia’s efforts alone will have minimal impact on world conditions but if every country took that same attitude, we are all doomed.

In fact, a significant number of countries, and States within a country in the case of the USA, are making great strides in developing policies which radically reduce the use of fossil fuels and counter pollution.

The start of serious efforts has come so late that we will be playing catch-up if we are to bequeath to our grandchildren a world in which they can do better than merely exist.

We need every innovation to be explored and every viable invention put into action.

We still have time – just – but, under this government, Australia appears to totally lack understanding of what is required.

The Prime Minister only returned early from a totally ill-timed holiday because his reputation was taking a public battering.

He only developed a policy to support the fire-fighters because he was pressured into doing so.

Initially he only offered financial support to volunteer firies in NSW – his home state – until he was made aware that it had to be a national offer.

Instead of having an experienced Public Service to advise him, he has been relying on advice from political advisers.

Their advice is directed to keeping him in power – not into doing what is right for Australia!

There are so many things on which we could expect our national government to be formulating national policy, while we have a Prime Minister who seems intent on throwing all responsibility to the State governments!

If our accidental PM had a vestige of commonsense, he would be forming a national, non-partisan government, including representatives from all states and political areas, plus experts from the CSIRO and other appropriate scientific and service organisations to deal with the climate emergency, housing those displace by the fires, related employment and food production issues – you could make your own list – it is endless and needs careful prioritising.

We are at war with the elements and the country needs to be on a wartime footing.

Can you do it, Prime Minister?

If you do not have the bottle, then step aside and let others take on a job which appears to demand more than you can give.

Once more – this is my Resolution:

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

Will you join me and get out on the streets – maybe Australia Day would be appropriate? – and tell those whom we rashly elected that they need to go because they are not governing for us!

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We told you so …

By Jane Salmon  

“I Told You So” Isn’t That Much Fun in This Heat. But we DID. 

It is so tempting to point out the facts, having been part of the small “alternative” and often science- educated chorus warning for 4 decades that if homeowners and businesses don’t convert to renewables, they are partly to blame for global warming.

First Australians have every right to be really, really pissed off. It’s their country we’ve wrecked.

Anyone who drives long distances in cities or invests in coal shares, is certainly culpable.

Big coal miners and campaigners against a “carbon tax” have been especially damaging. They usually hide their hefty profits offshore.

Where are Gina, Twiggy and Clive now? Not on the end of a fricking hose or even a rejected handshake, that’s for sure.

But it’s easy for ecologists to feel glum, angry, smug and self-righteous. We mainly vote Green. Some are not driving cars or investing in coal. We may rent only one dusty place to live instead of owning several. Some stick to public transport most of the time.

Many almost coped living off-grid in the 70s and 80s. Having immersed ourselves in favourite bush places for more than a fortnight, we’ve seen flood and fire before.  We saw this coming decades ago.

We relinquished contact with most family members who put “progress” in the form of mindless “development” and a fast buck ahead of their planet, their childrens’ and grandchildrens’ futures, we prefer not to befriend/employ people who are LNP voting sheep.

Then again, no one is pure. Who knows where the super is invested? We use too much shower water, reuse too little grey water, have a large domestic footprint and STILL find it hard to resist cheap crap from China instead of sewing sustainably produced ethical fabrics ourselves. This is selfish too.

Even I remember Val Plumwood predicting climate doom at our family Christmas table in 2003 and thinking “Geez, lighten up, Val. Take the day off. The kids don’t want to hear this”.

I remain cross with those who own multiple roofs and put solar on none of them.

But maybe we should have focused on the more recent cuts (by the same short sighted LNP government outfits) to hazard control and firefighting resources.

The idea that trees create cooler micro-climates seems to escape bogans bent on blaming forests for also becoming “tinder” dry once they’ve endured logging or been otherwise interfered with.
(“Boo hoo, the holiday home! I’m a climate refugee!” Puhlease! Ever heard of Maslow? Or Syria? Some of you are temporarily displaced, not homeless”).

Anyone who wants to blame ecologists for fires or greenies for bad park management is desperate to avoid self-examination.

And so, frankly, are the hordes who, alienated from nature, blindly drive to bush or beach in warm car convoys just as our drought-stricken country heats up each year. The signs of fire danger are there in crisp, brown scrub every August.

I understand, you’re in a tiny apartment all year … but regional Australia exists even when you’re not looking.

It’s also irresponsible to drain vital local water systems in periods of peak evaporation … so rich city folk can enjoy their summer coastal binge. (Yes, we know, the water can be crystal).

But you … you … you also voted for coal, you dicks.

You really need to own that.

Gondwanan beeches, bees, rare marsupials are gone because of you. It’s not like nobody told you. You just had to switch off your mindless “reality” tv and read a few factual articles. New Scientist is there online right next to Insta and Tinder.

And maybe after you’ve flagellated yourself a bit, you can interrogate Big Coal and the IPA about what they can do to mitigate the harm, about switching to renewables and reversing warming from here.

You owe it to the rest of us crusty eco-bores who saw all this coming and acted accordingly. Because, smug as we are, we’ve lost so much that we truly, truly love, too. Our hopes for the future were sacrificed first. You took that.

Thanks to Jackie French for pointing out the difference between short term fire reduction failures and those of coal huggers.

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What a competent government would have done …

Who said there’s no difference between Labor and the LNP? I thank Henry Johnston for pointing me to this media release by Bill Shorten (on 17 March, 2019) which provides us with one glaring difference. Read on, and be the judge:

A Shorten Labor Government will boost Australia’s firefighting capabilities with a national fleet of aircraft and dedicated smokejumper units to keep Australians safe from bushfires.

All Australians understand the devastating impact that bushfires have. Lives are lost, homes destroyed and communities shattered.

Our firefighters and emergency services personnel are among the best in the world, and they do a tremendous job, often putting their own lives at risk. But they need more support from government.

At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas.

The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril.

At the same time, the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre has plummeted from 50 per cent of funding to just 23 per cent, reducing our overall firefighting capability.

The Bureau of Meteorology has identified this summer as Australia’s hottest on record, which included devastating bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. Now is the time to invest in giving our firefighters the resources they need to keep us all safe.

Labor’s national firefighting package will deliver:

$80 million to establish the National Aerial Bushfire Fighting Fleet of aircraft

This fleet will provide standing aerial firefighting capacity that can be used on demand in emergencies.

It will include retro-fitted Black Hawk helicopters as they are phased out from active use by the Australian Army and Erickson S-64 Air-crane helicopters (or ‘Elvis’ as they are commonly known) which has a 2,650 gallon tank capable of snorkelling or scooping fresh or salt water.

It’s expected that the national fleet will include a standing capability of up to six Large or Very Large Air Tankers, and up to 12 heavy rotary wing helicopters.

The benefits of aerial firefighting are clear. Aircrafts offer speed, access and observation advantages over ground crews. Containment is more effective and the final fire burned area minimised using aerial capability, thereby reducing demand on ground crews.

Australia’s first ‘smokejumper’ units

Smokejumpers are firefighters trained to be rapidly deployed by helicopters at remote fires during the short window during which those fires can be contained.

Smokejumpers usually rappel from helicopters and use chain-saws, hoes and other dry firefighting tools to establish a containment perimeter around the fire. They then patrol the perimeter to ensure the fire does not jump containment lines while working with water-bombing aircraft to ensure the contained fire is fully extinguished.

California and other US states currently have a number of smokejumper units which have proven successful.

As part of the $80 million commitment to establish a fleet, Labor will work with the states and territories to establish smokejumper units across the country.

$21 million for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC)

A Shorten Labor Government will stop the Federal Government’s reduction in funding for our firefighting capabilities by returning to a 50-50 funding split between the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Labor’s investment will ease the burden on state and territory governments, develop new national programs including a national risk management model, and national research and development programs including trials of new aircraft and night firefighting activities.

Labor can pay for new firefighting aircraft the smokejumper units because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes for the top end of town.

 

Well, at least people who receive franking credits are happy and Clive Palmer will get his mine.

 

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We were once the envy of the world, but look at us now

By RosemaryJ36  

Politics is a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to group of members. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. … Politics is a multifaceted word.”

Our current Prime Minister needs to read the paragraph above very carefully. His very position and all activities in which he engages are political and both affect and are affected by the policies which he and his cabinet formulate.

A caveat: I have not studied politics in an academic context, merely observed and read widely about it over an extended period.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time for issues such as the effects of climate change to be discussed – unless you take into account the need for policies which will ensure minimal adverse impact. In that case, sooner is better than later, and, if later, then greater urgency is required to put those policies into effect.

The Westminster system on which our government was established is far from perfect and has been altered by successive governments in highly undesirable ways.

The underlying concept was that politicians elected to government needed expert advice (Thank you, Sir Humphrey!) and this was best provided by apolitical advisers. Recruitment to and advancement in the APS was on merit, and permanence was a useful device to avoid politicisation of the advice.

The concept was good but those served by it have destroyed it through blatant politicisation and outsourcing. Our governments now rely on a bevy of non-APS advisers who tell Ministers what they want to hear, for the most part, and are totally politically biased. Heads of Departments are political appointments, successive governments have privatised services which do not work well in a for-profit world and paid huge fees to consultants to provide advice which is far from unbiased.

Human Services, in particular, require human – and humane – supervision and they are ill-served by algorithms!

Job seekers are people, not numbers or boxes to be ticked, and an ever-expanding population guarantees that, however many new jobs might be created, there will neve be enough to meet demand. And pushing round pegs into square holes destroys lives!

Expensive Royal Commissions (except for the purely politically motivated ones, which have revealed little of note) have exposed massive problems which regulatory bodies have ignored or failed to punish.

Our Constitution was devised to accommodate transfer of some powers from the existing States to the newly formed Commonwealth government, and the means of amending it made no allowance for the rapid technological and social changes which were to follow in rapid succession.

Now, at the start of 2020, we are still arguing over the recognition of our First People in the Constitution, we have a highly politicised Public Service, we have also politicised and gutted many oversight bodies like the AAT, we have established a soulless and incompetent mega Department of Home Affairs, which threatens to lead us into a police state, our foundation concepts of a Fair Go, mateship and egalitarianism have been warped out of all recognition, and we have growing poverty with massive corporate wealth while children live on the streets.

Hello, Charles Dickens! Are you still around?

In tying ourselves to the coattails of the USA, we have adopted a great many attitudes which are destroying the Lucky Country.

Only a decade back, we were the envy of the world in economic terms.

We were riding high through the GFC and we had a brilliant public health system which was also the envy of other countries.

But the Murdoch media empire supported the Coalition and the Coalition was more interested in tearing down than in building up, and privatisation was the name of the game. And look where that got us!

We are now invested in a world, ruled effectively by global corporations, which are generating multi-billionaires, mainly in the USA, but a growing number here, too.

Sneering conservatives refer to anyone who tries to help the needy, as a bloody leftie or – if the issue involves environmental issues – as a bloody greenie!

The fact that the health of mankind depends on a healthy environment, biodiversity supporting a complex food chain, clean air and water, proper sanitation, adequate resources to provide universal education and proper accommodation – all this is brushed aside by those whose wealth relieves them from the stresses of day to day living while they watch their millions grow!

And – NO!!!

I am not envious!

Growing up in the UK under wartime restrictions, going without luxuries – and many necessities – was normal. We had virtually no parties and limited entertainment, outside that which we created for ourselves, so that we appreciated those rare occasions when we could enjoy them.

I have had a very fortunate life in many regards for which I am most grateful, and, while now I am not even close to being ‘wealthy’, I want for nothing and can afford to support not for profit organisations, which are dependent on public support, because governments under the Coalition have withdrawn previously promised support!

I have nothing but scorn for a man like Scott Morrison whose words and actions are so incompatible.

How can you call yourself a Christian when your every action is in conflict with the recorded teachings of Jesus Christ?

That clearly makes you, by definition, a hypocrite, and not deserving to be addressed as Honourable.

I hope, Prime Minister, that it is a long time before you enjoy another holiday.

People are dying while you still ‘believe’ that we need to do nothing about the climate emergency.

Of course, we are a small cog in a very big and complex system. But – guess what? A whole machine can be destroyed because one small component fails!

We are one of many countries which have relatively low emissions in the big picture (although our per capita emissions are appallingly high) but that does not mean our efforts are not required. The more people on the rope in a tug-o’-war, the greater the chance of beating opposing forces!

In fact, we need to make a greater effort, partly to make up for those not so able to reduce emissions themselves, and partly to shame into action those others not yet doing enough.

THAT is what morality is about.

Doing something because it is the right thing to do, whatever the cost!

If I am repeating ideas about which I have written before, I make no apology.

I am watching pictures of people’s lives being destroyed, literally and metaphorically – shades of WWII – but this time we have the knowledge why, we have known for several decades, we have people claiming to be leaders who do not have the understanding to make appropriate decisions and I feel as though my pressure valve  must be released!

We ALL have a duty to put pressure on the current (hopefully for not much longer) government to form a National government, non-partisan and including appropriate experts, to prioritise an agenda for doing our share and more on reducing emissions, replacing fossil fuels, re-training fossil fuel workers for employment in industries which, using renewable energy, can manufacture the resources required, deal effectively with recycling and generally lead us away from a destination which will deny our grandchildren a future life!

Once more – this is my Resolution:

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

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Australian Labor, the CFMEU and its secret money

By Hungry Charley  

As Australia burns, corporate-sponsored climate denialism it seems, has been working overtime. It is also becoming more and more obvious that the current government is taking its public cues on this topic from the likes of the IPA and the Murdoch Press.

But what about party donations? People are increasingly unwilling to accept that all political donations are benign and do not generate favours as the political parties would have us believe. In fact, the need for greater political transparency has never seemed more urgent. Attention has rightly been on the influence that the fossil fuel sector has over the Liberal and National Parties (LNP) – and it is considerable. So, I think it’s now time to look at Labor and who is donating to their war-chest.

Why? Simple. Climate change is the most pressing issue we and future generations will face. Labor is the alternative government, they should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the LNP. As public trust in democracy crumbles, we need to ask, are Labor offering a real alternative or will a future Labor government just be more of the same? These are real questions that deserve analysis. Labor have a couple of years to make some adjustments, so let’s compare the major parties and see how their donor mates stack up.

Firstly, the LNP get slightly more money via large donations, by large I mean over $13,500, because that is the minimum parties are required to disclose to the AEC. By the way, even though the last financial year ended on the 30th of June last year, disclosures for that period have not yet been released by the AEC – so we’ll have to be content with the previous financial year records (2017-2018).

Over the last 30 years since records have been kept, the LNP has received $ 542,303,641, while Labor has received $518,174,402 in donations and ‘other receipts’. Ok so similar amounts over 30 years but, what sectors dominate for each party?

For the LNP, the sectors of decreasing importance are: associated entities, $121,741,277; intra-political party donations, $89,297,765; finance/insurance, $69,620,607; resource and energy $23,055,402; pharmaceuticals $11,308,890; media companies, $6,752,947; and tobacco, $3,454,294. The LNP has received only $199,117 from unions over the 30 years.

For the Labor Party, the largest donations and receipts are from: unions, $125,998,804; associated entities, $118,809,074; finance and insurance sector, $67,690,231 (mostly as ‘other receipts’); media companies, $18,457,276; resource and energy companies, $9,277,312; pharmaceuticals, $5,615,431; and tobacco, $697,805.

So for the finance (mostly banks) and insurance sector, it seems they are having a bet each way as far as donations to the major parties are concerned. And it seems to have paid off. Up until the banking royal commission and other subsequent scandals last year, banks have been well looked after by both camps. Both majors also received similar amounts from ‘associated entities’, which I will discuss a little further on.

But as the Guardian’s Transparency Project indicates, the vast majority of money received by both the Labor and Liberal Parties are “undisclosed donations” – money from sources which parties are able to avoid reporting on using disclosure loopholes, such as use of ‘other receipts’, split donations and party front groups registered as ‘associated entities’.

But there the similarities cease. Resource and energy companies, pharmaceuticals and tobacco clearly favour the LNP. The LNP also relies significantly on ‘intra-political party’ donations for its revenue, that is donations mainly from state branches to the federal party. Unions clearly favour Labor, as would be expected.

If we look at the resources and energy sector, while the LNP receive donations from a wide range of coal, gas and iron ore companies, Labor, on the other hand, receives the bulk of donations from the gas sector, principally players such as Woodside, Santos, Origin and Chevron.

How has this investment paid off for the gas sector? As Simone Marsh explains, very nicely indeed, with Queensland gas reserves signed off to China, prior to any assessment or transparent process, and key Labor figures, Martin Ferguson and Craig Emerson now making pretty good money from the gas sector. Now Labor supports the opening of the Beetaloo Basin in the NT to fracking and will not oppose the expansion of the sector in the Bowen Basin in Queensland. Development of gas fields in Qld has not stopped since the initial approvals 15 years ago. Anyone who still contends that lobbying and donations do not bear favours is talking to blue fairies in the garden.

So, what about the union donations to Labor, such a significant amount of money must be burning holes in members pockets? Well, not really, most of this money actually comes from corporations.

In the first place, while union donations are significant, the majority comes from a small number of large unions, primarily the CFMEU, Mining and Energy and the CFMEU Construction and General Divisions. The CFMEU mining branches contributed $4,640,103 to the Labor Party over the last 30 years according to AEC disclosures. But Labor may have received much more from the CFMEU through the unions’ registered ‘associated entities’ than is publicly acknowledged. The Queensland District associated entity have receipts for more than $23,000,000 and NSW the Northern District entity of this union has received more than $34,000,000 in 2017/18 alone.

Where did this money come from? AEC listed Associated Entities are required to detail receipts, donations and debts on annual returns, but disclosure is not always transparent. For the Qld District in 2017/18, while they state that income exceeds $23 m, receipts are provided for only $945,000 of this amount. Disclosed providers include miners Anglo American, Austrack and the Gladstone Port Authority. What of the rest? The answer is unclear and where this money went is also not clear, as while the annual return states that the district paid over $24m in ‘payments’ details are not provided. Total debts for the year are said to be over $3.6m, while details are provided for only $1.3m. It is interesting to note that while these organisations are registered Labor Party associated entities, the AEC register records that the Labor Party did not receive any funds from these entities in 2017/18.

For the NSW District, of the $34 m received in 2017/18, $28 m is accounted for in receipts and the primary ‘donors’ are AGL (both as Macquarie and Bayswater Power Station which AGL acquired in 2014), and various Hunter Valley mining operations including parent companies Rio Tinto, Yancoal and Glencore. Again, while payments amount to some $33.5m, details of payments are not disclosed to the AEC.

A cursory glance at other year’s statements show that of all organisations in Australia, including the LNP, it is these unions, registered as ‘associated entities’ which receive the largest amounts of money from the fossil fuel resources and energy sector.

‘Associated Entities’ are now the primary way in which lobby money is provided to the major parties in Australia. While the LNP has entities such as the Cormack Foundation, the amount of fossil fuel money flowing into union registered associated entities puts this to shame.

Besides Unions, Labor also has a number of other entities which provide funds, particularly the John Curtin House Ltd, which has provided $32,279,330 over the last 30 years and Labor Holdings Pty Ltd which has provided over $55,703,665 to various branches of the Labor Party in the same period.

In the 2017/18 financial year, John Curtin House Ltd received $639,859 in receipts, though provides details for only $408,102. Payments are given at $1,487,017, though no details are provided. According to AEC, nearly all the money received by this associated entity was from the National Labor Party head office.

A similar pattern can be found with the largest associated entity contributor to the Labor Party, Labor Holdings Pty Ltd. While receipts are provided for nearly the whole amount in 2017/18 (amounting to some $4,508,278), no details for the $6m in payments are provided on the AEC entity register. Receipts show that the primary sources of money received are National Labor Party Secretariat and Morgans Financial Limited, a private equity and financial management firm.

Not to be confused with Morgan Stanley, whose Australian subsidiary has provided substantial funds (~ $5m in the last four years) to the CFMEU NSW Mining and Energy associated entity.

Given the extent of money flowing into Labor’s associated entities, questions remain to be answered by the AEC as to the destination of the payments made by these entities.

What is also clear is that the money flows in a circular fashion between the various Labor branches and associated entities. One can’t help drawing a comparison with the way laundered and dirty money is put through a casino ‘washing machine’ to be legitimised. One thing is clear, the lack of transparency in our political donations system is disturbing. One can only imagine what the most recent AEC disclosures prior to the last election will reveal, or not reveal.

But what has all this union money achieved? One only has to look at Labor’s support for the gas sector and mining in Qld and NSW (come on down Joel FitzGibbon) and draw your own conclusions.

Until the political donations process in this country, particularly through ‘associated entities’ is made publicly accountable, we can only guess as to the extent our politics is being influenced by vested interests.

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Tropical winners

By RosemaryJ36  

On 1 January 2021, I shall celebrate having lived for 50 years in Darwin, the Top End capital of the Northern Territory. Just a year to go!

I left snow on the ground at London Airport on 29 December, 1970 (it was a 24+ hour journey in those days!) when our 3 children and I flew to our new home in Darwin to join their father, who had taken up a position there a few months earlier.

Clearly the children are now in their mid-life, their father moved on to a new relationship a few decades ago and I now enjoy living on my own, in independent living, in a delightful retirement resort, within walking distance of the beach!

As a child, once WWII, with all the rationing and shortages, air raids and broken nights, was over, we were able to buy petrol again, put the car back on the road (you would not believe how many punctures we had to mend on our first long drive in 1947, after the car had been laid up for 8 years!) and head off – that moment when we crested a rise and saw the sea for the first time – that was the real beginning of our first real holiday since 1939!

Every day, here in Darwin, when I have occasion to leave home, I repeat that experience of glimpsing the sea, several times a day! Magic!

I arrived in the middle of the Wet, and yes – it was warm – but by the middle of my first Dry season, I was complaining of the cold when the temperature dropped below 20 deg C! While I do not enjoy continuously sweating, I really would much rather be too warm than too cold, and, now that I have installed rooftop solar (it is pretty standard here to have rooftop solar hot water systems anyway), I have cheap air conditioning available when I need it.

If you do not really enjoy cold weather and you have never been to the Top End, you are missing out on a gem!

We have probably the most non-racist, cosmopolitan population anywhere in Australia. There are frictions from time to time – nowhere on earth is Paradise! – but in general you will meet people in a social setting from an amazing range of nationality backgrounds.

About 30% of our population is composed of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders people and a high proportion of them live in remote communities. Because that provides us with a large number of Aboriginal rangers, with Indigenous knowledge of land management, added to the nature of the flora in the Top End, we suffer few, serious bush fires. People living on rural blocks are usually dependent on bore water, need to maintain fire-breaks and do experience an occasional bush fire situation.

Like the rest of Australia, our rainfall levels, together with our water table, are below average – which is a concern.

The fact that our government has just opened the door to fracking in the Beetaloo Basin is further cause for concern.

To look at a locality, and changes in its climate conditions over time, is not a scientific way of establishing the existence (or not) of climate change. Nevertheless, recent trends do arouse suspicions that our average temperatures are increasing and our wet season rainfall is also increasingly more variable.

We have recently experienced a significant fall in population numbers. For a great many reasons, our population and workforce are both decreasing and we need to regenerate.

Self-government has, IMHO, been a mixed blessing – apart from anything else, we have a small population from which to choose our representatives and, like everywhere – since politicians are not highly regarded – the most suitable potential candidates do not necessarily step up to offer themselves as candidates.

Reading of the horrendous bush fires, in virtually every State, with lives and property – and livelihoods – destroyed, I wonder whether the NT government should not be discussing, with other governments, ways in which industries involved in renewable energy and waste disposal could be established in the NT – we have superabundant quantities of solar energy available to supply power to manufacturing facilities – and those displaced and not wanting to re-establish in their original locations would be welcomed with open arms!

If we had a half-way competent Federal government, its leader would by now have established an oversight body to plan for recovery and for avoidance of repeat disastrous situations.

Given that the Commonwealth government seems to be fixated on religious issues and blind to urgently needed policy development, we have to put on our thinking caps to bridge the void!

My deep sympathy goes out to all those who have lost family members, their means of supporting themselves and their hopes and plans for the future.

We all need to help – we are, after all, a nation which once prided itself on its mateship.

We must now all pool resources and ideas and try to bring something good out of cataclysmic disaster.

Here’s wishing that the New Year brings healing and hope fulfilled.

My New Year’s Resolution:

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

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Divided we fail – united we can achieve miracles!

By RosemaryJ36  

There are so many questions to which we seem unable to find answers, despite learning more and more about the human brain and the processes of evolution.

We know how we are born but there is no universal answer to the question “Why was I born?”

Research on the brain in recent decades has shown that the part of the brain which relates to empathy appears to have failed to develop in psychopaths.

We know, from work done with stroke patients and others who have sustained brain injuries that, while certain areas of the brain generally control specific functions, it is sometimes possible to train other parts of the brain to take over the function of an area which has been damaged.

The brain is, in itself almost mystical, although technicians are working really hard to develop AI which can perform as well as the brain.

I wonder whether it will develop irrational processes as well as rational ones? Certainly, early computing processes were based on logic, whereas, particularly when it comes to beliefs, the human brain is clearly capable of highly irrational processing.

Under the current government, religion has become an issue to an extent we have never before experienced. Sadly, it seems that the irrational, witch doctor approach has won out.

Having, as a teenager, studied the Scriptures – as an academic exercise – I was left with several very clear impressions.

The Old Testament, the first five ‘books’ of which form the written part of the Jewish Torah, the Law of Moses, is essentially the history of the Jews, their exile from the Promised Land during the reign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, then going on to the teachings of their prophets and their belief in a future Messiah.

The New Testament opens when Rome occupies Israel, the gospels record the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ, whom his followers believe is the longed-for Messiah, and much of what was written was far from being contemporaneous with the events recorded.

The writings of the disciple Paul dominate the rest of the NT, and there are question marks as to whether he actually penned all that is ascribed to him. Certainly, many of his teachings were not in harmony with those of Christ himself.

There is a degree of confusion as to whether his followers thought that Christ came to help throw off the Roman yoke or to promise a future life after death. The Jews did not accept him as their Messiah, although, later, the also monotheistic Muslims, at the time of Muhammed, accepted Christ as a great prophet.

What came through to me, loud and clear, was that Moses provided a set of rules in the 10 Commandments, which, to a group who believed in one god, formed the laws by which they were bound.

All of the teachings were based on the knowledge of the time, which was clearly very different from current knowledge derived from ever-expanding scientific research.

Some in today’s world, are taught that every word in the Bible is god’s word, to be believed implicitly.

Yet the New Testament, recording an occasion when Christ was ‘asked by one of the religious leaders to identify the greatest commandment in all of the law, Jesus replied by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.Matthew 22:37-40 (HCSB)

In many ways, Jesus’ response summarised the heart of the Ten Commandments. The first four of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship to God, while Commandments six through ten addresses our relationship to one another.’

So, it is clear he was changing the approach to fundamental rules governing the Jews, making clear that change was not only possible but essential, and laws are not, like those of Moses, set in stone.

A lesson that too many of those who claim to follow him fail to accept.

What was also clear throughout his ministry – at least to me (but, remember, there are many translations of the scrolls on which the Bible is based, and also many interpretations of the resulting scripts!) was that Jesus was opposed to violence and had a message of love.

And with many Christian sects, their behaviour gives the lie to their claim to be following his teachings!

This is obviously to our detriment, now that we have a collection of religious nutters in power whose behaviour gives the lie to their claims to be religious zealots!

It seems that, in some perverse way, their twisted beliefs in eternal life are leading them to encourage events that will hasten the end of the world and deliver them their weird rapture!

They should be locked up and the key thrown away!

Their failure to accept the urgent need to take action (let alone actually take that action), to massively reduce emissions and deal with all pollution, is destroying lives and livelihoods of those suffering the ravages of unprecedented bush-fires – with no end in sight.,

Scott Morrison is not remotely proactive, and delayed reactions are his trademark.

He is far from alone in stamping flawed policies on his country. Modi in India is motivated by Hindu zeal to the disadvantage of Muslins in India and Kashmir. Some Muslim countries are headed by strict and intolerant religious administrations. Other countries have authoritarian leaders for whom money appears to be the god they worship!

Meanwhile – there is no Planet B.

Yes – we are bound by a Constitution which requires us to elect our governments and makes no provision for ousting a government which is incapable of taking the actions which are essential to benefit the electorate.

Not all revolutions have been 100% successful – but this current government is a 100% failure!

Growing the economy is the only thing which interests it and its methods are systematically damaging the economy.

We have a totally incompetent – read the Auditor General’s reports – Department of Home Affairs which is steering the country into a police state (don’t start me on the Department of (IN)Human(E) Services!) and we have media baron Rupert Murdoch very effectively opposing truth and progressive politics.

The French have Juillet 14 – Bastille Day.

The USA have 4 July – Independence Day.

Here in Australia there is division over celebrating 26 Australia as Australia Day, when our First Nations regard it as Invasion Day.

So, let us unite the nation by making it Australia’s People’s Day by getting out en masse to tell the government they are doing a lousy job and we want them out!

Change is scary – but not half as scary as the current bush fires.

Our children have been pleading for action and we are letting them down.

Grit your teeth, defy the government and let your children know that you really care for their future.

Please use this Australia Day to tell the government enough is more than enough and they are leading us to destruction!

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

Divided we fail – united we can achieve miracles!

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Tories – a taxonomy

By Grumpy Geezer  

Taxonomy is the practice of categorising and naming of species. The official scientific name of an organism consists of its Genus and its Species Identifier, for example Corvus corax for crows, Homo sapiens for humans and Homo phobias for Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Taxonomies are useful for understanding the relationships between species and their behaviours so I am somewhat surprised that there has been no scientific classification of the Tory family of organisms given the devastating affect they have had on the environment. In the absence of such I have drafted my own take on Tories which perhaps the boffins can finesse with further studies.

The Tory family is believed to have branched off from hominids at about the time money was invented. Whether sea shells or bit coins, money provided a valuable evolutionary tool to those creatures who were prepared to use it to advantage themselves at the expense of others – Darwinism in action. Tories are great believers in the survival of the wealthiest.

Note: Tories are not endemic to Australia. They are common also in the UK (Tory bloviatus) and the USA (Tory magamentalis).

Two sub-families form the Australian grouping (Tory avariciousi and Tory yokelensis). Avariciousi is found in urban areas while yokelensis’ natural habitat is the countryside. They have been known to interbreed, producing rather bizarre hybrids known as Darians and Clarissas, identifiable by their lack of a chin and their fondness for chinos.

The best time for Tory spotting is when they gather together in the Australian Capital Territory each year to gorge on taxpayers’ money and drink themselves to stupefaction – the gutters of Kingston and Manuka are ideal places for Tory watching.

Trivia: We Tory watchers call ourselves twatchers.

There are some commonalities across the genera and species that comprise the Tory family: an aversion to light, their call of “labor labor labor, look over there”, a staggering incompetence, an insatiable appetite for money (other people’s) and a beligerent hostility when cornered.

Rattus fabricatus

Beehive ridiculousii

Warringahi wreckus

In a strange twist of devolution they are cold blooded. As with Darwin’s finches from the Galapagos Islands they have evolved into various genera, a process that sped up noticeably upon the appearance in 1996 of Rattus fabricatus, commonly known as the lying rodent. The lying rodent is thought to have bred with Beehive ridiculousii – the lumpen Bronnysaurus Bishop from Sydney’s northern beaches whose Spakfilla features and red-lipsticked rictus made her look as if she was 3 days late for her own funeral.

The offspring from the coupling of fabricatus and ridiculousii is Warringahi wreckus colloquially known as the feral friar who has an appearance similar to the early hominids. Covered in hair with an ape-like gait and a staccato cackle it resurrected rumours of the legendary yowie. It is now thought to be extinct.

A creature that is on the brink of extinction – the agrarian bloodsucker (Barnabus rortii) is found in the northern tablelands of NSW rummaging through the wheelie bins of Tamworth public houses after dark. It has an easily recognisable call – “caaaarp, caaaaarp”, a stumbling gait, gelatinous white thighs, fetid breath, bulging eyes, florid facial features resembling a baboon’s backside and teeth like a leper’s toes. It was displaced from its Canberra mating grounds by the bobble-headed booby (no-one can remember its proper name) from the Riverina region whose comatose demeanor is often mistaken for a constant state of hibernation. The booby has recently learned to walk on 2 legs.

The most prominant example of Tory avariciousi is Happi-clappus mammonitis – the smirking tit. Mammonitis is a migratory specimen, flying to Pacific islands in the Australian summer & only returning when the heat reaches all the way to Hawaii. Mammonitis marks its territory with its own excrement and habitually displays both thumbs in a gesture that is taken to mean “how good are these? I just took ’em outta me own arse”.

One species known for its aversion to light is Dodgi asfukkus, or the black angus. The natural habitat for this species is large holes in the ground and dead native grasslands. The black angus also frequents the Cayman Islands where it stashes its reserves of money for leaner times.

The black angus’ call is a loud “ka-ching”.

The red gladys, also known as the purple flyer is an introduced species from Hong Kong. The red gladys was released into the wealthy suburbs of Melbourne after being bred in captivity by the Chinese Communist Party who hope it will spread its genes throughout the Tory avariciousi family while distracting them with wads of cash.

The screeching shrew is from the west coast and is characterised by a helmeted crest on its head, not dissimilar to that on a cassowary, and with a shrill call that peels paint – “oil noime noimes”.

The screeching shrew has other similarites to the cassowary – it’s shy, hiding from the AFP and behind whiteboards, yet is vicious when cornered.

Nobody has witnessed the mating habits of the screeching shrew and nobody wants to. We’ll simply leave it as rumours that it prefers the ‘reverse cow-girl’.

Kipfler autocratus, the potato-headed boob, is known to become aroused (evident from a slight upward movement of the left side of its mouth) in the presence of dark uniforms and semi-automatic weapons. It’s best to approach autocratus dressed in civvies.

When out of sight it is believed that autocratus likes to adorn itself in a gimp mask and neck-to-ankles black latex accessorised with a riding crop.

This Taxonomy is a work in progress. There are many other species yet to be covered, including those of the related family Corporatus rapaciousii with which the Tories have formed a symbiotic relationship in order to steal water, poison the atmosphere, pollute the oceans, destroy habitats and share sun beds with on the French Riviera.

It’s difficult to get direct involvement from the species as they resist the science of evolution so this is an observational exercise and there’s only one of me.

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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