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Category Archives: Your Say

Replacing Neoliberalism: A model for the future

Neoliberalism is in its death throes around the world.

In the United States the wealth gap between the poorest and the richest is at an all time high, and in Australia – though the gap is not yet as bad – we are heading in the same direction.

Increased globalization has led to a massive offshoring of jobs. Compounding this problem is the casualization of the workforce and increasing part-time work. Full-time jobs are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

The weakening of unions has also contributed to flat-lining wage increases and poor working conditions.

As Karl Marx once posited, if the majority have limited income, then they have no money to spend in the economy. This is now starting to affect Australia, with retail figures continuing to flat-line.

Privatization has also eaten into peoples’ wealth. Utility bills continue to skyrocket, leaving little in the way of spending power on luxuries and non-essential items.

What is to be done? Is it time that Australia began a move away from the Neoliberal, capitalist model? What would this new model look like in the future? Below are some possible scenarios.

State Owned Utilities

Privatization has been a dismal failure in Australia.

It is high time that all utilities and essential services were put back into public ownership. The Commonwealth Employment Service was one such institution that was extremely effective in getting people back to work. They worked for the benefit of the people they were serving and not faceless shareholders and greedy CEOs. Real jobs were to be found, not just job agencies looking for advertising space, or to get clients on their books for jobs. (What jobs?)

Government Created Industry

With unemployment and underemployment at approximately 20%, it is clear that private enterprise has failed in creating more jobs. What is needed is a huge investment in creating employment. This has been successful in the past from post WW2 until the 1980s. By rolling out government funded initiatives, we can create jobs and help stop the poverty trap.

The elites want mass unemployment as it drives down labour prices. When people are desperate they are forced to work for very poor wages. A robust government-owned system will eliminate unemployment and provide the infrastructure for community-owned systems, such as the old Commonwealth Employment Service and the once great TAFE system. Privatization has ensured the complete decimation of services and allowed parasitic private operates to provide shoddy, almost non-existent service and make off like bandits.

Alternative Energy

Fossil fuels have been proven to be one of the major causes of man-made global warming.

Lobbyists for these companies must be exposed and removed from government influence. We as a nation need to transform ourselves into a solar/ wind power energy nation. This, combined with battery technology for every household will eventually ensure almost zero reliance on the grid. It is also much cheaper for the consumer in the long run. Compare such a system to the current energy system, which has fixed costs rising as much as 15-20% a year!

Universal Basic Income

With the increasing casualization of jobs, globalization and the erosion of jobs via technology, perhaps it is time to implement a Universal Basic Income. If governments can no longer guarantee high levels of employment, this could be the next logical step to ensure people do not fall below the poverty line. The current unemployment benefits system is estimated to be $160 below the poverty line a week!

This is just not adequate, and it either needs to be raised to a minimum of $400 a week or a UBI of an equal amount introduced. With a UBI, we could do away with the parasitic job agencies. They don’t appear to be doing their job of finding people work, so why not scrap them altogether?

Dismantling/Decreasing the Relevance of the Mainstream media.

Mainstream media is the single biggest impediment to Australia’s democracy. All our commercial media is owned by very wealthy capitalists, with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and intent on deceiving and dividing the populace over racial, religious, cultural and class lines. Increasingly the ABC is also under attack from a hard right government and all the IPA/LNP apparatchiks infesting its organization at every level.

While commercial media is increasingly being exposed for the shameful propaganda that it is, many are still under the strangle/hold of its iron grip. It seems that it is easier to hate the other, rather than question the legitimacy of the system. What is to be done?

Firstly, alternative media is beginning to encroach on the information gatekeepers. With tens of thousands of progressive pages on Facebook, hundreds of thousands on Twitter and many serious journalists now ditching the mainstream and working for excellent pages such as The AIMN, New Matilda, and Independent Australia, the word is beginning to get out. Real investigative journalism is now available cheaply and instantly. No corporate gatekeepers protecting the wealth of the establishment, but passionate citizen journalists exposing the lies of our sick corporate system.

Forming Collective Workplaces

This is not going to be easy, but it must be implemented if people are to be truly free of huge corporations. The entire structure of a company could be democratized and all who work in said company get a share in its profits. Any surplus is placed into a fund and put back into the business and the local community.

Utilize the Ancient Greek Parliamentary Practice of Direct Democracy.

The difference being that all citizens can vote and have a direct say in the running of the country. (In ancient Greece only adult men could vote) banning all those who lobby for big business for ten years.

Strengthening the Power of Unions

Ultimately our ridiculously low rates of pay and conditions is the direct result of the decreasing power of unions in Australia and around the world. Casualization and underemployment are out of control. Workers have no bargaining power anymore. The current LNP government has lead a full frontal assault on unions.

End the Property Ponzi Scheme

Shelter is a human right and should not be a commodity. End negative gearing completely and ban outright any ownership of residential and business real estate for non-citizens. Also ban any non-Australian citizen from buying up our farmland. Invest in government subsidized properties for the poor.

This is the kind of vision we must start to formulate if were are to survive as a robust, egalitarian society. Every Western society is in the grip of the deathly Neoliberal paradigm. Only the people can save us from a dystopian collapse. Turn off your television, and get active and begin to educated others on the dangers of the current trajectory of free market capitalism. The future will be created by you!

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

‘Spring clean’, anyone?

By Kyran O’Dwyer

There is an old adage, “Lie to me once, shame on you. Lie to me twice, shame on me”. Day after day, I, like every other Australian, am assured, or reassured (depending on my disposition), by our ‘leaders’ that everything’s alright. No matter the problem.

Day after day, politicians parade themselves in front of an ever compliant media, with ‘photo-ops’ supported by nothing other than a slogan, to assure me, or reassure me, that everything’s alright. No matter the problem.

Those in government assure me nothing is wrong and those in opposition say they can fix anything that is wrong. Everything’s alright.

I’m losing my mind.

These ‘people’ are not just self-confessed liars, they wear their dishonesty, their duplicity, as some sort of badge of honour. It’s hard to believe that it was once requisite of a politician to resign for failing to disclose a teddy bear. That was 1984, and came off the back of the Fraser government losing two ministers over a colour TV.

As with all matters relating to erosion, there is no defined ‘start date’ to this dishonesty.

Whether the erosion started in 1975 with Fraser’s duplicity is hard to say. It remained incumbent on ministers to accept responsibility for their actions after that event. It was, however, the first time in Australia’s history that political ambition was blatantly promoted over the good of the nation. That the good of the nation was unashamedly discarded, even as a pretence, so easily is troubling.

Then along came John Howard. On his second try at leadership, in 1996, he went into the election offering all sorts of things. After the election, he wasted no time in reneging on many undertakings.

In his defence, he explained that he gave ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises. In his defence, he stated he didn’t know how bad things were until he got in. In his defence, he stated he had not lied, he just hadn’t told the whole truth.

Whilst the erosion may have started before then, he ‘normalised’ it. It has never been acceptable for politicians to lie. When caught, the process required they at least acknowledge their dishonesty. But that was prior to John Howard. To this day, I have not heard or read a report of John Howard saying he lied. He was misled. He didn’t understand the question.

More often than not, apparently, I didn’t understand the answer.

Often clothing the lies in nothing other than a veil, ‘the national interest’, he made questioning of any deceit un-Australian.

And it worked. It wasn’t until 2005 that Don Watson produced a dictionary to explain this phenomena, with very specific regard to John Howard:

Weasel words: “A weasel word, or anonymous authority, is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific or meaningful statement has been made, when instead only a vague or ambiguous claim has actually been communicated. This can enable the speaker to later deny the specific meaning if the statement is challenged. Where this is the intention, use of weasel words is a form of tergiversation. Weasel words can be used in advertising and in political statements, where it can be advantageous to cause the audience to develop a misleading impression.”

He and his ministers wasted no time in implementing programs that they had not disclosed prior to the election. Whether it be the Industrial Relations ‘reforms’ emanating from the waterfront dispute in 1996, the introduction of a GST in 2000, the ‘Tampa’ incident in 2001, the ‘Iraq War’ in 2003. The NT Intervention in 2007. To name but a few. The pattern was set. It became a matter of daily occurrence that politicians would lie and deceive. Any occurrence became subject to manipulation to satisfy an increasingly ideological agenda. Policies were often made to suit the opportunity, rather than the need.

Their constant assurance, or reassurance, was that everything’s alright. They didn’t lie, it was just that the answer was beyond me.

That I, like most Australians, was deprived of any opportunity to clarify any aspect of his answer was of no consequence.

It was, after all, the job of the media to make such enquiry. To question and to clarify the answer. The Fourth Pillar of Democracy.

Whether it was coincidence or conspiracy, there had been a shift in our media over the previous decades. The Fourth Pillar had started to see themselves as a part of the political landscape, rather than an independent pillar supporting democracy. The transition from objective reporting to subjective reporting was every bit as stealthy as the political transition. Over a period of time, reporters went from genuinely teasing out a proposition to merely reporting a proposition. It was no longer requisite that a reporter test the validity of what they were told, they would simply report what was said. Then it shifted, ever so subtly, again. Their language would offer endorsement, both overt and covert. They became compliant. That media morphing is still underway. They now not only offer endorsement, but wilfully engage in the ridicule and belittlement of any detractors. Our media has now become complicit in perpetuating institutions and practices that no longer have any pretence of serving the public good. Their sycophancy is now on full display, without even the pretence of concealment.

And then along came Tony Abbott. A ‘man’ whose dishonesty was so blatant, he didn’t even pretend to conceal it. Whilst Howard may have been dishonest, he at least had the mental capacity to conceal his dishonesty in a deluge of words. Lacking any such capacity, Abbott only had one approach when his blatant dishonesty proved too much even for the ‘media’ to ignore.

“So what? I lied.”

Shame on me. It’s now 2017. Our politicians have been lying and deceiving for decades now. Our media haven’t been independent for decades now. That does not excuse my shame at being lied to so often. It is nothing more than an explanation of how that shame was created.

That much of this change occurred in ‘affluent’ times is of little consequence. Whilst it may be true that people tend to question less when times are good, it is absolutely no excuse for acquiescence. So many of the protections, fought for and won, over the preceding decades have now been frittered away.

The obscenity of it is that the argument for the vast majority of these changes was security. The great big lie that was peddled was that my security, our security, was under threat from ‘others’. Religious nutters, ideological nutters, or just plain nutters. To be ‘secure’ from them, the ‘Four Pillars of Democracy’ (Justice, Equality, Freedom, Representation), had to be changed, to be amalgamated. That by foregoing access to any, or all, of the Four Pillars, it was strengthening security. It was, somehow, strengthening democracy.

The illusion that ‘politics’ is the same as ‘democracy’ had been created. Agencies charged with oversight were weakened or dismantled. Agencies charged with the protection of any of the ‘Four Pillars’ were amalgamated, the end result being that those ‘Four Pillars’ were merged into one.

Security.

There is another adage about lying. “I’m not upset that you lied to me. I’m upset that, from now on, I can’t believe you.”

It’s now 2017. For decades now we have had a global system of government’s playing a pea and thimble trick, where government money is allocated for the supply of government services through ‘private providers’. The economy, the efficiency, the efficacy of these arrangements can never be known. ‘Commercial in confidence’ has become an impenetrable cloak, impervious to enquiry, let alone scrutiny.

It is, apparently, unreasonable for me, or anyone else, to question the absence of governance. Whether it be the government or the corporate sector, the absence of governance is not a problem, because the ‘market’ will sort out any problem.

Our dystopia is their utopia. One negates the other, evidenced every few years with an appeasement for ‘the people’. An election.

There is much comment about ‘left’ and ‘right’, with their attendant extremes. There is, apparently, a ‘centre’. There is much discussion about the demise of ‘democracy’, yet little thought given to the rise of ‘politics’. Any attempt to extricate ‘politics’ from ‘democracy’ will likely degenerate into a discussion on ‘lefties’ and ‘righties’.

We have now had decades of demonstrable experience. ‘Trickle down’ is acknowledged as somewhere between fanciful and farcical. The ‘rule of the market’ is an oxymoron when the market is reliant on an absence of rules.

Yet it persists as a justification for the status quo. Very large companies have reported a 40% increase in profits, which was predominantly returned to investors. Worker’s wages have not increased in line with inflation, let alone profits. Security of work tenure largely disappeared when the ABN was used as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to introduce a casualised workforce, foregoing access to leave and superannuation entitlements and much needed PAYG tax revenue by reclassifying workers as sub-contractors.

To my knowledge, the building industry is the only industry with any ATO oversight of payments to sub-contractors. Whether the ATO uses that information to enforce the 80/20 rule is beyond me.

What does that have to do with ‘trickle down’ theorem? If companies have increased their profits by up to 40% and wages have not moved significantly, how can any government argue that giving those companies (many of whom already don’t pay tax or pay a miserable rate of tax) a 5% tax cut and further removing workers protections will create more jobs and growth?

Australia has an even more peculiar problem. A relatively small population spread over a huge expanse. With three tiers of government. This enables a constant ‘blame shift’ in both the delivery of service and the manner in which those services are funded. Why do we need education, health, law, judiciary, etc at both a state and federal level? Doesn’t that very system enshrine different standards for Australians dependent only on their geography?

Such a small population, so easily manipulated by obfuscation.

Ironically, at the moment, this is actually a good thing. As the Federal government increasingly relies on ‘regulatory’ amendment rather than parliamentary scrutiny, the states and territories are the last defence against a rampant IPA.

In addition to the conversation about ‘left’ and ‘right’, there is discussion about a ‘pendulum’ that swings in some mystical cycle between the two. This is the ‘social mood’, which is subject to the sentiment of the voters at any given point in time.

Our ‘politicians’ love this. It allows emotion and sentiment to become the arbiter of their decisions, with complete disregard for fact or reason. Science and evidence are now dirty words, politicised beyond any recognition.

How any semblance of order, with no other intent than the public good, is re-established is a discussion we desperately need to have. How do we restore the faith of people in a system that has done nothing but abuse their insecurity and remove the very freedoms that should make them feel secure.

A Federal ICAC would be a start. A ramping up in both the independence and resources of the AEC, the ABS, the CSIRO, the Auditor General, the Human Rights Commission, and numerous other agencies would be a start. The introduction of a First Peoples parliament for the purposes of establishing Treaty and overseeing the implementation and enactment of ANY legislation effecting them would be a start. The creation of a Bill of Rights would be a start.

Feel free to add your own ‘start’.

How does all of that aspiration relate to dishonest politicians and corrupt corporates?

My contention is that they have been lying for so long now that I no longer believe a single word they say. Even worse, I have not got the slightest interest in what they have to say. As to the media, or the facsimile on offer, contempt is simply too nice a word.

Their collective behaviour over many decades should deprive them of any seat at the table.

We desperately need that discussion. But the participants need to be motivated by genuine belief in government of the people, by the people, for the people. Simply put, democracy over politics.

It’s 2017. It’s Spring. Why can’t we ‘Spring Clean’?

Send in the clowns

“Isn’t it rich?” … “Isn’t it queer?”

I could weep for humanity … I could just f#cking … weep for them … for us. If you were to look at it objectively, you’d have to agree that most of the advancements made for the betterment of society, have been made not on the successes, but on the back of failures of experience. Hence, perhaps, the old adage: “Experience is the best teacher”. The absurdity reaching great heights, surely, in this current LNP cabal of idiots and fools.

I was down the Central Market a couple of weeks ago and while my paramour was buying veggies at the Chinese stall there, I was perusing the posters on a board advertising live theatre, bands and such, and I was most amused by this one poster announcing a farewell tour by a “tribute singer”. There was a comic/tragic air to the poster announcing that the Elvis impersonator was doing his … his “farewell tour” … also a touch of absurdity, considering that the performing artist, having talent enough to impersonate, but not quite enough to create his own original show, has nonetheless accumulated enough of a fan base to announce his own farewell tour … A “farewell tour” of a farewell tour.. And I am reminded of that wonderful ABC satire; “The Librarian” where the librarian’s partner is mocked for his tribute band ”Oils ain’t Oils “ … And then just below this announcement is another poster of a tribute act by three blokes impersonating “Great voices of Pop” (or some such) … what is it with all this nostalgic impersonation?

Are we so run out of originality that impersonation is all the go? Our politics, our relationships, our love and affection … or is even that now a shallow impersonation of what it once really was? Has that essence of deepest affection and loyalty become more a convenience of companionship … temporary and carnal? Which of us would really suffer, or even die for another person that we say we love? Yet our greatest literature passed down from time immemorial is bleeding with examples of the supreme sacrifice for; “Le don de l’amour” (always sounds better in French) … or is this just another example of a hunger for a lost sentiment?

“What has brought this on?” you may ask . It was in a conversation about science and I had this theory about how life-forms were spread about the universe … pretty big stuff … I thought, but it seems my “theory” was not only unoriginal, it had been first prognosed by a Greek bloke named Anaxagoras back in circa 500BC. F#ck! … Now that is a bit late coming on set! But you see … what I concluded now, was thought of back two and a half thousand years ago … so one has to conclude that the human thought pattern of logic and reason was the same then as it is now: There is nothing new under the sun. And this is where we as a species have become so tragic … a farce! … If clarity of thought was so prevalent in the earliest days of civilisation and so many calculations done and achieved back so long ago, what have we been doing since then? F#ckin’ asleep on the job … that’s what! Christ! … We got idiots spruiking stupid political shit, climate denial shit, social compatibility denial, capital, civil, international and anything else that is divisive and conflicting FFS! … Where oh effing where is the originality of thought? … Why do we have these great big f#ckin’ universities when we are only turning out “tribute education”?

Another “great big idea” I had, only to have that also ruthlessly quashed, was the theory that an organic life-form (us!) can only develop so far, in a physical sense, before it reaches “max-evolution capacity” and then self-destructs by imploding within itself or by becoming too overbearing on its environment and destroys all around it and therefore … But it seems this too has not only been thought of a long time ago, it even has a name … I forget that now … but hey … it just goes to show..there’s nothing new under the sun … no siree, Bob! So I suppose the only thing one can do is to try to be personally original … it was something many of us in the seventies strove to achieve … hence all those weird clothes and flairs … I mean. Who in their right mind would wear heavy, brocaded strides in summer in Oz? You’d have to be nuts. But talk about nuts … here, helvitnyi, a little escape for you:

Mrs Hancock

It’s funny, you know; the image of adults one has as a child, compared to the actual reality known by the adults of the time around you. Mrs Hancock used to cut our hair when we were children … the four of us; from the oldest brother (about 10 yrs), down including to my sister, then myself (the youngest about five yrs). We would be marched down across the railway-line by the eldest (“hup-two three four”), each clutching a bob (one shilling) in our sweaty little hands to get that one generic haircut for which Mrs Hancock was infamous: “The Basso” … about once every couple of months, it seemed, most of the kids in the district would sport a Mrs Hancock “special”. And we’d be lined up on the railway station going to school, looking like a lot of miniature “Moes” (as in The Three Stooges) waiting for the train … girls included! I wonder that some social science person didn’t do a study on “Demographic by haircut” kind of thing for those days. Truth be known, I believe most barbers – like most architects – have one basic style … and everything else is a derivative there-off.

The image I had of Mrs Hancock as a child was of this frumpy old lady, dressed in ‘lop-sided’ cardigan and dress, living in this dreary old fibro house, with creepy shadows and dull lighting … she would sit us in an old stuffed, armless chair next to one of those “side tables” of dark timber and curved legs and armed with scissors, a smelly fag and the endless glass of water, she would attack our tangled locks with all the tactics of “Tojo in a Zero” coming out of the sun! The fag-end would send an endless swirl of smoke past her wincing eye … she’d take a gulp of water, vice-clasp our head unceremoniously with her left hand and her right hand would start with the then continuous ”snipsnipsnipsnip … snipping” as she dove into the job, to come out the other side in an undisturbed arc, the arm ascending upward to hover above our heads somewhere “sit still, child!” … mechanically, continuously, snipsnipsnipsnip snipping! One sat in a horror of anticipation for the next “strafing” (and you know, I can’t stand being “dive-bombed” by mozzies to this day … I don’t mind so much the bite … it’s the hovering, whirring, buzzing that drives me crazy). Her house was the last one on that side of the road … behind the train station … I think it was called “Cygnet Terrace” before it was pushed through and became “The Cove Road” … a cold wind would cut down through the barren gullies there in winter.

But it wasn’t till years later, when I first started going to the pub as an older youth, that I realized that the “glass of water” always at her beck, was gin and tonic. Yes, poor old Mrs Hancock was a gin-soak … and, going by her familiarity with her fellows in the front bar of The Seacliff Hotel, where a cluster of “oldies” were mangling that Englebert Humperdinck (I mean; really?) song “Please release me” … Christ … it’s tragic … I could just weep; she was an old hand at the game. I suppose that is why her front parlour where she “scalped“ us kids always had the curtains drawn … but, you know … my mother would have heard of that. But then again, many in that “fringe district” where we lived were escapees from reality … my old man bought there because it was cheap land … not now though! It was at the end of the railway line … hang on, that’s not quite true … there was one more stop … ”Hallett Cove” … but that place only got two or three trains a day then and it was the refuge of bankrupts, hermits and criminals. I got to meet quite a few in later years, so can confirm the statement!

Back to the mistaken image of adults one has as a child … I remember also being taken into the front-bar of the Brighton Hotel by my dad as a very young boy … he having a beer and me a raspberry … and this man bending down to me and saying in a beery voice ”hello, little fellah..what’s your name … eh? Eh?” And I got real scared, but my dad was just smiling … I couldn’t then understand why he didn’t chase the ugly man away! Poor old bastard was just another drunk saying hello to a kid … but then … I was a sensitive child! … Still am!

Our priorities need a serious rethink

By Warwick O’Neill

Just in case you’ve been living in a shoe box today, let me take this opportunity to advise you that Lisa Wilkinson quit Chanel 9’s Morning Show. Now you know. Whoopie …

A lot of the talk has centred around gender pay gaps and all that, and fair enough. Two people sitting in front of the same camera, sprouting the same inane conversations should get paid the same amount. It’s a no-brainer.

But surely we’re missing the main travesty in all this. Karl Stefanovic is reported to be on a $9 million, three year contract, which Wilkinson also thought she should be on (according to the media, who as you know are always trustworthy). It was like a few years ago when Samantha Armytage (if my memory serves me correctly) reported that she believed she should be earning the same $800,000 dollars per year that her co-host David Koche earned. No doubt old Larry Emdur is on a pretty good wicket as well, which his female colleague no doubt wishes she was on.

On the face of it, yes those women should earn as much as their male counterparts. But on what planet is the contribution which any of these people has made to society in general, regardless of gender, worth anywhere near the obscene amount they get paid? Why does sitting in front of a camera every morning, talking gibberish and presenting an occasional news article entitle these people to wages that the real contributors to society can only dream of?

Your average soldier’s starting wage, at the rank of Private, is roughly around $60,000 per year. Now these are the men and women (who, coincidentally, receive the same wage regardless of gender – yay Go Army!), whose job sometimes involves putting their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Even when not on deployment, these troops train constantly, enduring all kinds of hardship, often resulting in life-long injuries, spending a large amount of their time away from family, just so they can ensure that when their country needs them, they’re ready to go. TV celebrities have to dodge the shots from a paparazzi camera, while our soldiers dodge the bullets of enemy soldiers. Yet the TV ‘personalities’ get at least ten times the yearly pay packet.

Our police officers? Depending on the jurisdiction, they start at about the same wage as your average soldier. Time after time, these people put themselves in danger to protect the rest of us. It was only a few months ago in Queensland that one of these wonderful people lost his life in attempting to apprehend a violent and extremely dangerous criminal in order to prevent that criminal posing a threat to society. The incident was reported on these morning shows, with the presenters all donning solemn and respectful faces and voicing their respect for the officers involved. Meanwhile in the time it took them to report on the incident, they probably earned more than the deceased officer would have made in a full day’s work, with overtime.

How about those unsung heroes who work long hours, on their feet all day or night, in un-glamorous and unflattering uniforms as they  tend to every need of our sick and injured family members in hospitals? Our nurses sometime bear the brunt of abuse from patients or their families, spend so much of their lives cleaning, dressing and patching up the damage people do to themselves and again forfeit much of their family time, in order to serve the community. All for roughly $40 an hour for a Registered Nurse, less for an Enrolled Nurse.

The list goes on. Paramedics and fire officers, teachers, garbage truck drivers, sewerage operators, bus and train drivers, council workers who keep our infrastructure functioning and the whole gamut of workers without whom our society would collapse. Take away any one of these professions and we all crumble. Take away a few morning TV presenters and we all carry on as though nothing of import has happened, because it hasn’t.

So really the question being asked shouldn’t be “why don’t the female presenters get paid the same as their male counterparts?” The question being asked should be, “why don’t the male presenters get paid the same as their female counterparts?” And then, “why don’t they all take a pay cut?”

Actually, bugger it. Chanel 7, 9 and 10 Executives, if you’re reading this (who am I kidding, of course you are …) I’ll host your morning show for you, and I’ll only ask $200 000 a year, which incidentally is four times what I earn now as a public service employee. Just get your people to call my people, alright? Shit, I gotta find some people.

Warwick O’Neill’s passion lies in exploring the nooks and crannies of Australia, both physically and historically and combing it all into writing historical fiction novels which showcase the colourful history of this country. His first novel; “Flames of Rebellion” is a fictional tale set amongst a real life backdrop of the Victorian Goldfields and the Eureka Stockade.

His blog site contains a collection of tales relating to his experiences over the last twenty years of parenting, off-roading/camping and occasionally managing to avoid incarceration by the skin of his teeth. He also hosts the YouTube video blog “On This Day In Australia” showcasing the lessor known events and people in Australian history.

Sacred Site

Ahh! … Yes … I can see that you are all a tad jaded and tuckered out with the political shenanigans. I tell you what … sit back and relax and I’ll tell you a story. It is constructed from two events: one, when a friend told me of finding a very old woomera in the cleft of a very old tree on the edge of the Simpson Desert … as told in the story below; the other was told me by a Italian brickie mate of two brothers who actually did go through the described scenario below … only difference was; they drew straws.

I hope I never have to be given such a choice … but then … there are farmers and the like who have done the same. I put this story up as a leader into some broad discussion on this touchy subject, following on from my recent article; “The Corporatizionn of Women” … I want to try and explain that much of the problem with male aggression can be sheeted home to the rise in right-wing authoritarian expectations of what a man must achieve to be considered a “winner” … rather than a “loser” … not to make excuses for terrible behavior, but to try to understand the predicament some men find themselves in.

It goes like this:

Sacred Site

Two men stood side by side at the rear of the four wheel drive truck. The setting sun was behind them. Their shadows stretched out in front like long thin pencil lines over the salt-bush and stubble.

“Come over here Bob, I’ll show you something.”

Antonio stepped away at right angles to the track and fence. The desert air was cooling, and the distant horizon purpling with the coming of evening, the darkness was tumbling towards them from the east. After a short distance the first man stopped suddenly and stood with his hands in his pockets but the thumbs outside. Bob strode up next to him and gazed at where Antonio was looking, he saw nothing but one lone, long dead tree amid an expanse of desert shrubbery.

“See there?”

“What?” Bob queried.

“There at the base in that small cleft.”

At first Bob didn’t see anything unusual, but then an object took shape, a man crafted object of symmetrical design. He moved a few steps closer so he was only yards from it, in the dusk he made out clearly the shape.

“Why … it’s a woomera” he said surprised “ an … an Aboriginal woomera … but it’s old … so old”.

He spoke in awe, and indeed it was old. At least a hundred years old because the wearing of the elements on it, it had been sun- baked and sand blasted, the resin and fibres holding the spur onto the body had deteriorated and the patterns cut into the body of the woomera were now obscure. Bob leant forward as if to touch it but Tony gripped his wrist fiercely.

“No, Bob … don’t touch it, let it lie there. I haven’t touched it ever in all the years I’ve known it’s here, you’re the first I’ve ever shown it to … it must remain as it is till time takes it back to the earth … as it will take us all … as it will take Francesco.”

Antonio released Bob’s arm and straightened up still gazing at the woomera.

“Come, we will camp nearby for the night it will soon be dark.” Both men turned and walked back to the truck.

A soft fire glowed in the centre of a ring of stones, but its light seemed too frail to penetrate deep into the darkness, unable to wash into the deeper crevasses of their eye sockets and the hollows of their cheeks, so the men’s faces quivered into grotesque shadowy masks.

“Who’s Francesco?” Bob asked.

Antonio squatted, one arm on his knee with the other hand prodding a stick into the coals.

“Pass me that piece of branch, Bob … ta … Francesco was my older brother … he died a long time ago … twenty years now … or rather tomorrow.”

Bob stretched one leg out in the cool sand and made himself more comfortable.

“You never told me you had a brother” Bob remarked quietly, in a tone that suggested he was a little bit piqued that this close friend would keep such a secret from him. Antonio didn’t look away from the flames, his eyes didn’t blink as he stared into the syrupy yellow.

“It’s why I asked you along on this trip actually,” Antonio solemnly spoke.

“Oh?”

“You’re a priest I want you to help me bury him again …”

“Who?”

“Francesco … my brother! …”

“…You alright, Tony? I mean; where’s the body?”

Antonio leant back and felt inside his clothes bag and swung back with a small wooden urn.

“Here …” he said quietly. “His ashes!”

Bob squinted at his friend with one eye closed.

“In there?”

“In here”.

There was a pause in the conversation and the fire crackled and hissed, the silence of the desert night crowded in all around them, listening.

“So what did they bury all those years ago?”

“Ashes … plain wood ashes!” Antonio smiled and leant back to place the urn into his duffle bag. Bob let out a slow, low whistle.

“You better enlighten me, Tony.”

“I’ll get the billy boiled first.” Antonio dropped a palmful of tea into the boiling water. He slowly stirred the contents with a piece of stick.

“I’ll tell you Bob not as a confession, but still … maybe for Francesco’s soul!”

“How did he die?”

“He shot himself.”

“Suicide?” Bob raised his eyebrow Antonio leapt up angrily

“No! … No, … No, a thousand times no …” he strode two steps away then turned and strode back, the ball of his cupped left hand slapping onto his right fist, he shook his head emphatically as he spoke. “Not suicide, … no! his was a sacrifice … yes, a sacrifice to the filthy God security!” Antonio stopped suddenly, hands frozen apart, his heavy breathing noticeable in the still desert night.

“Security,” he whispered. His shoulders slumped and he sat back down by the fire, reached over, took the billy and filled two mugs with the brew.

“Sugar, Bob?” his voice still tense.

“Please … and milk”.

“I take mine black.” Antonio leant back on his duffle bag and stretched one leg out comfortably, his boot pushed up a little mound of the red sand..

“Dammit Bob, it still upsets me after all these years.” He guffawed, “Suicide!” and he guffawed again. He took a sip of his tea and a deep breath.

“Francesco … was ten years older than me and we were partners in a building company before the recession. We started out as brickies you see, then it just grew from there “Collossus Constructions” we called ourselves and it did get colossal! Ended up flat out and just organising the other trades. We did a lot of estate housing projects in those days for those big real-estate companies. We were in it up to our necks when the recession hit and it all went bust! Oh God did it go bust! Overnight, two of our biggest contracts went into receivership and left us holding the bag. Subcontractors to be paid, contracts to finish etcetera, etcetera and it cleaned us out … or nearly …”

“Didn’t you see any signs of the impending collapse?”

“Nah, they were still signing contracts up till the day before … so someone was pulling a shonky!”

“It’s always the way” Bob chipped in.

“Anyway we were running around like scalded cats all week, cajoling this one, pacifying the other, putting someone else off till finally on the Friday night Francesco comes ’round in his ute and says to throw in a sleeping bag and the billy and let’s go bush for the weekend. I couldn’t have agreed more. Hey, isn’t it good out here in the desert? serene, peaceful. It was at this very spot that we camped … right here, the same place I come to every year since then … but this will be my last … this will be my last.”

“You look good for a few years yet Tony.”

“But I feel tired Bob, so bloody tired.”

“You been carrying some of the weight?”

“In a way … it could’ve been me … it could have been me that died.” Antonio sighed. “He found that woomera, not me, he wandered over there to go to the toilet, after a while he called out to me: ”

‘Tony … come here, have a look at this!”

“No thanks!’ I called in disgust.

“‘Nah … not that … it’s interesting.” He had found something.

When I got there he was squatted in front of the woomera, staring at it.

“Hey!” I said, “that’d look great above my mantelpiece” and I reached out for it but he rapped my knuckles with a piece of branch.

“Don’t touch!” he barked. “Have respect for the dead.”

“What dead? It’s only a woomera.” I said.

“Oh he’s dead alright, after all these years, and its still his..it was probably left here by mistake.”

“Finders keepers …” I began, but Francesco wasn’t listening to anything I said, he just stared at that thing.

“He was a hunter … and he rested here … for a camp maybe … maybe he speared a ‘roo, he leant his woomera against the tree … it would have been a sapling then surely …” and Francesco went on in this quiet monotone, building up a picture of this lone Aboriginal hunter and the desert and the need for food that sent him on long journeys …I just stood there listening to him talk and it was enthralling in it’s depth of feeling. I’d never known Frank to think of these things before.” Antonio stopped and stared into the fire, it’s flickering glow so enticingly rich and comforting under the stars. When he finished, Francesco stood up, turned to me and  said: “We’re still all hunters, you know,” then turned and walked back to the camp.”

“It seemed to have touched a spot in him,” Bob remarked.

“I’ll say,” Tony agreed. “He went back to look at that woomera again and again over the weekend. But he said no more about it. Then on the Sunday afternoon as we were packing up he said to me:

“‘Tony … we’re done for, you know that don’t you?”

“How do you mean … financially?”

“Yes financially stuffed..but I’ve thought out a way to beat the bastards!”

“Like how?” I asked.

“You remember those insurance policies we took out on each other two years ago?”

“Yeah, in case one of us kicked off, but they’re not worth a quid yet … unless one of us dies … say! you’re not thinking of faking a death, then disappearing or something?”

“Not faking … but a death, yes.”

“What are you talking about, – you lost your marbles or something … what are you talking about …” I was shocked I can tell you. Francesco got angry.

“Grow up Tony” He yelled “Grow up, we’re finished. In less than a month they’ll have our business, our houses, our cars … our balls … everything .”

“But Frank”

“Don’t Frank me … you know what it’s like to live in  poverty? Do you? and your wife and your kids … what’re you gonna tell them … “sorry kids, sorry honey but we gotta go live in a shack and eat porridge and potatoes!” hey? you tell them that … listen, you’re too young to remember back home, but I can tell you; I remember and I don’t intend to have my family go through those times,” and he slammed his hand against the side of the ute.

“What … what do you intend to do”

“Better you don’t know.” But I knew.

“Frank … no … be reasonable … Stefania … the kids …”

“It’s them I’m thinking of “ he said softly, then; “Listen Tony, I’m fifty eight, been working in building since I was a kid in shorts … what’ve I got; ten, fifteen years left, what of it? Fifteen years of nothing for me and my family, or else … I’ll never have more than I got now, never, I’ve reached my peak and I don’t want to go down into the depths, it’d kill me anyway.”

“We argued back and forth and I followed him around the ute talking to his back, but he was stubborn.

“Listen,’ he said “You wanna go live in a ditch you go live in a ditch. What do you think the old people suffered in their lives for? So you could have it easy and to hell with your kids? Every comfort has its price, Antonio, what do you want your kids to be? tramps? bums? No, … I don’t want my kids to battle out of a poverty trap like the old people had to. If there’s a price in it I’m prepared to pay everyone pays sometime … it seems my time is now.”

“But me, Frank, what would you have me do, sit by and see you knock yourself off and then reap the reward .. what sort of man do you consider me?! No, we’re both of us in this together, I won’t let you take it on your own …”

“It’s the only way Tony, you’re ten years younger, you’re family’s younger.”

“Give me a risk on it … toss a coin Frank, you always like to toss a coin for a decision, toss a coin now and we’ll take equal risk!” …

“Alright” He relented. “We’ll toss … and the winner loses!” He grimaced at his own joke.

He pulled a few coins from his pocket and picked out a twenty cent piece.

“I’ll call, since it was my idea” he said and he flipped the coin.

“Heads!” he cried.

Bob..Bob, have you ever been so scared that your stomach was just one big knot wrenching your innards together so they just ached? Well, that’s how mine were. Don’t ask me why I agreed to that madness but I knew the loser wouldn’t back out. The more I think of it, the more I refute it, but strangely, strangely the quick fix of the idea attracted me then and I loved my family enough to kill anyone that would hurt them, so why not kill myself to save them from hurt?! … all those kind of thoughts went through my mind in the split seconds of that toss as that coin flickered in the light. Of course it came down heads and Frank bent down and picked up the coin. He slapped his hand on my shoulder and said.

“Now, it’s decided. let’s not talk about it on the way home. Who knows, maybe I won’t have to go through with it after all,” and we packed up and left.

“On the Monday afternoon I was in the office when I got a call from the insurance agent.”

“Mr Gustoni?’ the agent asked.

“Yes” I replied, thinking it was me he was after.

“Yes..I was right, I inquired into the policy agreement and yes, your accident indemnity does cover accidental death outside the working site and hours.”

I went weak at the knees … and almost speechless. I could just mutter into the receiver

“Oh … right … thanks … thanks” and I hung up and raced out of the office and drove to Frank’s place.

“Oh mother of God! mother of God!” I prayed as I drove through that endless traffic. I didn’t think it would be now not straight away! Give it a bit more time please! Please!

Stefania, his wife, was there.

“He’s gone out Tony he said to give you this contract to look at …’”she handed me a fat manila envelope, then I knew it was too late.

“Is there anything wrong?” Women, they’re so sharp.

“No more than usual,” I remarked and quickly left in case I betrayed my feelings.

“He didn’t give me a chance to say goodbye, Bob, not a chance, not a chance. “Why?” I asked myself … He made it look like an accident..like the gun went off as he was climbing through the fence …”

“In the envelope there was a goodbye note and a few items he wanted buried with him and – also this!” Tony tossed a coin to Bob’s feet. Bob picked it up examined it and turned it over.

“Why … it’s a double headed twenty cent piece, it’s been cut and another face glued on to make one coin! …”

“The cunning bastard … I always wondered how he won all those tosses, and you see that nick on the edge, that’s how he picked it out amongst others with his fingers.” Bob snorted and tossed it back.

“Well he did go through with it and in the note he asked that I somehow get his ashes and bury them with the few other personal items next to that woomera up here.”

“And did you tell Stefania of it all?” Bob asked.

“What do you tell the women? Frank knocked himself off so we can pay our bills? What did that hunter tell his people if he came home without any tucker ‘I lost my woomera’? … ‘left it somewhere’? No Bob, Frank was right, we’re all hunters and each must guard his secrets. No, I didn’t tell them, but she’d guess, women have their damned intuition.”

“Why didn’t you bury him, then?”

“I couldn’t bring myself to put an end to it all, I didn’t understand the connection between that hunter’s primitive woomera and our own highly complicated lives, that is till now. Now I know what Frank realised that weekend twenty years ago. That woomera over there is a totem of men’s responsibilities, the women bear the children, the men provide, that is the base line of our cultural life. Some women die in chldbirth some men die in the seeking of provisions. I’ve  been on building sites myself where workmen have been either killed or badly injured. They’re taken away and another fills his place. No-one can shirk his responsibilities, we all take our risks. So the hunter’s woomera left here by accident must have wrought danger to that whole family’s existence so was that recession the calamity that befell our family’s existence … The insurance policy was just another means to provide … at a price, everything changes, but nothing is changed. The immortality of all things mortal … ashes to ashes, dust to dust. He lost his fear of death.”

Antonio sighed.

”And this is where you come in, Bob … would you mind … a simple ceremony?”

The dawn laid silver sheets across the sky as the two men stood before the tree that held the woomera in its cleft. Tony gave the wooden urn to Bob who lay it in a shallow hole near the woomera. Then he gave Bob a flick-knife with a carved ivory handle.

“He bought that in Italy years before, and you see that carving … here, give it to me for a sec … this carving of a woman, he’d sometimes take the knife out amongst a group of us men and he’d rub the ball of his thumb over the tiny breast there and he’d sigh and say, ‘Ah, my Stefania, she once had breasts like this,’ and then he’d press this button here, like so: “

Swish! the silvered blade of the flick-knife shot out of the handle so it made Bob jump.

“And Francesco would sigh sadly again and nodding his head say: ‘And me, my cock once sprung up like that!’ … he’d always get a laugh.” Tony smiled and folded the blade away and gave the knife to Bob.

“And last of all this” sneered Antonio as he flung the double headed coin into the hole.

Bob pushed the sand over the urn and knife and coin. He stood up and spoke in a clear concise voice:

“Let this site remain sacred to the memory of Francesco Gustoni …”

“Could you say the prayer in Latin Bob, he preferred Latin.” Bob nodded and began:

“In nome il Padre e Filio e Spirito Santo …”

The Corporatization of Women

Before I go here, let us agree to lay our weapons at the door and seat ourselves quietly and not interrupt until the speaker is done … agreed?

Right … let me make an observation about the outrage and disgust concerning certain male behaviour, not naming those individuals accused, for they have to answer for their own crimes, but as for the heterosexual male of the species in general, we have to ask: “Why do we sometimes act so stupidly around women?” Now, I admit I am entering dangerous territory with this article … but let’s start a conversation anyway.

So let us begin:

There was a time in the mid-sixties – and right into the seventies – where young males (myself included) grew their hair very long and individual styled, and wore radical coloured and styled clothing that outraged the older males in society and there were frequent bashings and abuse and homophobic accusations committed against many of those young men … even to the point of sackings from their jobs. For a while there, it was full-on. This attitude and the abandoning of the old social mores and habits of employment led many young people to opt out and start collective life-styles in out of the way places … I helped build several mud-brick structures-including my own in these communities.

Of course, males and females both joined in the search for a different, “better” lifestyle. Places like Nimbin in NSW became one of the most famous, but there were many. Unfortunately, the fact that there was only the one generation to sustain the dream left it vulnerable to economic necessity and open to a decay of entropy through generational change and loss of sustained enthusiasm.

The need for one or other of the partnership to go out for work re-introduced “role-structure” back into the home. And since children came along with usual progress, the male mostly assumed … again … the role of “bread-winner”. This situation, once women had finally taken the early steps in the sixties toward liberation from male-dependency in economics and marriage, naturally bred resentment and more radical liberation theory and practice. The conservative mood of politics in the Menzies/Fraser governments exacerbated the anger … a ready pool of misogynist males in media and the workplace and in many social circles did more damage. There were those men who did support women’s liberation who often found themselves lumped together with the worst of the worst of the males … of course … how does one discriminate this from that of a herd of similar gender … and if those particular males did make their voice heard, they were many times attacked by other males with more aggression both verbally and physically.

A “lose-lose” situation …

A tragic end to a noble ideology.

But now the political theatre is shifting the plot … changing the scenery … With the rise of social media putting a spotlight on the gender inequality, those female “assistants” to media front-men “news anchors” have gained their voice. No longer the petite “bimbo” or the older “classy dame” to attract the early rising “sportsmen” of the breakfast shows, we are seeing stylish women making conversation in many platforms at equal level to the males … certainly … we have to acknowledge that mostly there is a male “behind the scenes” either owning or overseeing the network. But gone mostly are the likes of Kerry Packer’s shouting abuse and sexism into the intercom phones. All is certainly not equal (as can be seen by the recent gross accusations in the news) but the lumbering wagon has been set in motion.

However, this is an early-warning call to women … and I give it as a male who has lived through those years of suspicion, threat, abuse and retaliation by other males against what is seen as revolution against “the norm” … I am seeing the early warning signs of the “Corporatizing of Women” …

Corporation:

noun: corporation; plural noun: corporations

  1. 1.

a large company or group of companies authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law.

“the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation”

synonyms:company, firm, business, concern, operation, agency, office, bureau, house, guild, institution, organization, trust, partnership, federation, conglomerate, consortium, syndicate, group, chain, combine, multiple, multinational; More

informaloutfit, set-up

“he was chairman of the corporation for three years”

  1. 2.

British

a group of people elected to govern a city, town, or borough.

“the City of London Corporation”

synonyms:council, town council, municipal authority, civic authority;

authorities

“the corporation refused two planning applications”

 

As political power is not only gained, but recognised to be present and available to those who “seize the day”, one finds that strangely, that power seems only to gravitate toward a certain group of citizens … not to the collective … and from that certain self-elected group, there comes forward certain “authorised” edits and demands of behaviour, language, style and conformity to protocol. In short; the febrile energy of the mass is gathered to a central power of management … a corporation.

Nothing, neither masculine stupidity at high-governance, macho brutality at low socio-economic levels nor any religion foolish enough to demand obedience to their patriarchal God will slow down this “Vishnu’s Juggernaut” from rightfully taking what is theirs by human destiny.

“What is born of equal pain has right to equal reign.“

But I tell you this for free … there are those in these groups, of either gender, who do not hold the best interests of the whole group, no matter the ethical philosophy, in their hearts. Many good, sensitive males have been crushed and destroyed by those men of power who know how to hold onto that power, and neither wisdom, faith nor decency has been able to save them. Ladies … watch your backs!

I would always gratefully stand to one side to let those most qualified do the task … but I do have regrets that when we boomers had our moment in the sun, and we shed those chains of social bondage in regards of work, play and life-style, we did not also take the opportunity to once and for all rid ourselves of this ponderous burden of gender oppression and religious patriarchy … we blokes should’a seen it right there in front of us … and we should have busted the bastards!

With just a bit more sacrifice we could have all been free! … But were too drunk on our own vain masculinity to comprehend the state of our sisters plight in our midst … fools that we were. Now we pay the price.

Mea culpa.

The bottom of the barrel

By Christian Marx

Once again Murdoch attack dog, Rita Panahi has outdone herself with her article (pay-walled) on Harvey Weinstein. Weinstien is at the centre of a series of sex scandals and has been sacked from his own company. While Weinstein should be rightly condemned for his actions, it is the extreme partisan nonsense coming from the sock puppet Panahi that grows tiresome.

Never one to let an opportunity go when it comes to putting the boot into the left, she has bizarrely tried to tie in left-wing politics with Harvey`s conduct. What has this got to do with the left?

Yes, Weinstien was a donor of Clinton’s campaign, but so what? Is Rita suggesting that the left are more deviant than the right? This man has done some disgraceful things, but so too has right-wing poster boy, the pedophile apologist, Milo Yianapolous. The silence was deafening when Milo’s shocking interview surfaced, in which he appeared to advocate 13 year old sex with an adult.

So too was the silence and defence of George Pell. Apparently, according to the right-wing zealot, Andrew Bolt, “Cardinel George Pell was the victim of a witch hunt.”

Panahi goes on to put the boot in to progressive causes and rants like a demented chicken over “virtue signalling against the NRA.” This woman is a hoot.

Towards the end of her article, she then goes onto say, and I quote; “Hollywood’s moral compass is so warped, you are more likely to be ostracized for being a conservative than a sexual predator.” What asinine crap! Weinstien has now been exposed for the deviant that he is. Unfortunately he was allowed to continue on his way for far too long. This had nothing to do with what side of the political fence he sat on, but everything to do with the power that he wielded in Hollywood.

The silence is also deafening when it comes to Murdoch’s Middle Eastern war interests, via his company Geanie Energy. Why are Muslims demonized constantly in his grotty rags? Why is Murdoch ludicrously pro Israel, when the human rights abuses in that country are now known around the world? It wouldn’t have something to do with his drilling rights in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, would it?

But oh no, let’s focus on the deviant left. Two can play this game, Panahi!

The hypocrisy as always from the usual Newscorp ghouls is breathtaking. If you are going to throw stones, Rita Panahi, best you move out of that glass house.

Not only do these hacks scrape the bottom of the barrel … they go underneath it looking for more grime. Clean out your own shithouse before you go conflating issues and pontificating on the so-called deviant left.

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

Expect Future Storms to Intensify

By Keith Antonysen

Malcolm Turnbull says that the LNP is doing everything possible to keep Australians safe in relation to terrorism (ABC, A.M. 4/10/2017). There are risks, but for an individual reasonably remote.

Yet, in relation to anthropogenic climate change the LNP and Queensland Labor government are seeking to increase existential risks through promoting the huge Adani mine and suggesting the need for new coal powered energy plants. The new coal plants are provided with all sorts of exotic names (e.g. HELE, carbon capture and storage); but, they still void significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Oceans are often not widely discussed in relation to anthropogenic climate change, though they have a significant role in the creation of extreme weather.

There has been much discussion about the hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in relation to what influence climate change has had in relation to their ferocity; scientists state that warm oceans have a great deal of influence on the creation and strength of tropical storms.

Kevin Trenberth, one of authors of a new  study on Oceans, has stated: “The higher temperatures are driving marine life toward the poles in search of livable habitats, bleaching coral reefs, and causing severe impacts on fisheries and aquacultures. They also contribute to more frequent and intense extreme weather events.”

Several scientists have stated that a warm Ocean leads to the creation of higher levels of water vapour in the atmosphere.

It is commonly understood that oceans only gradually build up warmth, or shed warmth slowly in comparison to the atmosphere.

Quote: “Earth’s temperature is rising, and it isn’t just in the air around us. More than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed into the oceans that cover two-thirds of the planet’s surface. Their temperature is rising, too, and it tells a story of how humans are changing the planet.”

Satellite altimentary displays how sea level is rising; commonsense informs us that water when warmed expands its volume. The point being that a rising sea level is an important factor in leading to worse impacts from storm surges.

Through warming oceans, the strength of storms will become stronger.

Creating new coal mines and coal fired power plants is a completely reckless pursuit; Turnbull definitely has not had safety in mind when spruiking these new potential developments.

“Catastrophic neglect”

By Julie Grint

The death of a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee in Papua New Guinea is the sixth fatality on Manus Island in just four years. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border protection (DIBP) confirmed the death at Lorengau Hospital but handballed all inquiries to the PNG authorities. It’s believed the 32-year-old man took his own life early on Monday morning. Former Manus Island MP Ron Knight said the magistrate on the island will be conducting a coroner’s investigation over coming days.

This man’s body needs to be brought to Australia immediately for a proper forensic autopsy and a coronial inquest. Unlike the last death on Manus a few weeks ago where nothing eventuated and the matter was handballed to the PNG government. The detainees remain the full responsibility of the Australian government as our Minister for Immigration makes all the decisions regarding the treatment, welfare and freedom of movement of the detainees The PNG government simply does as it is told by Australian officials as they are heavily dependent on financial aid from Australia and do not want to offend.

“It seems like a suicide but it’s not confirmed yet,” Mr Knight, former MP for Manus told AAP. He said locals had become increasingly frustrated with the problems that have come with hosting the immigration detention centre, which is slated for closure at the end of this month. “When people have to resort to something like this to prove a point, it means that something is terribly wrong with the whole detention system,” Mr Knight said. Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) spokesman Ian Rintoul said the man had been sent to the East Lorengau hospital (ELH), a very basic facility like an Australian bush nursing hospital but with fewer resources, three days earlier and subsequently discharged back into the community.

ELH has no psychiatric nurses or facilities to deal with the mentally ill despite the presence of the Manus RPC for the past 4 years and its cohort of troubled men. IHMS did not provide adequate psychiatric and psychological care as evidenced by two deaths within a matter of weeks.

Greens senator Nick McKim said the case was “catastrophic neglect” from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. “This man had suffered for four (4) years in a system that Australia’s Labor and Liberal parties deliberately designed and operated to cause men harm.”

A system deliberately designed to cause both physical and mental harm

Physical harm via the provision of inadequate and poor-quality food for which the Australian taxpayer was paying a great deal; $500,000 per detainee p.a., to be exact.

This money was meant to be for the provision of meals, clothing, shelter, cleaning, sanitation, recreation, medical care and security. Methinks that the contractors, Broadspectrum subsequently taken over by Ferrovial a large Spanish infrastructure company, Wilson security and IHMS (Medical services) made exorbitant profits on these contracts with the Federal government. The Australian taxpayer has not been getting value for money. Time for a thorough financial audit by the ANAO.

Mental harm

Creating a highly stressful environment in which the detainees feel they have no control over their lives and no hope of release or resettlement. Such an environment just makes anxiety and depression much worse. In susceptible individuals insomnia due to anxiety and depression can trigger an underlying bipolar disorder and either a period of mania or a complete psychotic break. This is what I believe happened to the Iranian refugee Hamed Shamshiripour. His body was found near refugee accommodation in East Lorengau in early August 2017. His death was either a suicide or murder, we await the results of the investigation by the PNG police and coroner. I have very little faith that any such inquest by the Papuans will shed much light on the cause of Hamed’s death. Conveniently any Coroner’s inquest held in PNG does not have the legal authority to call Australian public servants to give evidence as to their role in refusing to provide adequate and appropriate medical care and evacuation to Australia for Hamed.

This latest death of this Tamil refugee comes as 54 refugees or 2.7% out of total of approx 2,000 detainees left Manus Island PNG (cohort of 800 men) and Nauru (1,250 men women and children) for a new life in the USA. Some more are expected to follow in coming months. How many more no one knows at this stage and this may all just be a propaganda exercise by the Turnbull government and Trump administration.

 

A State of Failure

When John Howard made the statement:

”Most famously, in 1996 Howard wanted Australians to be comfortable in their own skins. When pressed aggressively by Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson about his ambitions for Australia in the year 2000, Howard simply said he wanted Australians to be “comfortable and relaxed” about their past, present and future. As for himself, Howard said he was proud to be seen as “an average Australian bloke”.“ (Terry Barnes, “John Howard: the greatest PM of our time”, The Drum).

… Howard transferred the responsibility of the State to show civil respect and leadership onto the rag-tag shoulders of every bigot and racist hooligan with an axe to grind and a vulnerable victim to grind it upon. He had, in effect handed that section of the constitution that pledges protection and the shielding hand of civil respect, to the mob. Not the act of a Statesman, but rather that of a despot. For if the State is willing to relinquish the responsibility for civil obedience and respect onto what was even then a racist minority, then it is not a State of civil union, but rather; a failed State.

Mark well the warnings of Titus Livius:

“ … Here it is to be noted that many times actions that appear merciful, and which cannot be reasonably condemned, may become cruel, and very dangerous to a Republic if not corrected at the proper time. And to discuss this matter in more detail, I say that a Republic cannot exist without citizens of repute, nor govern itself well in any way. On the other hand, the reputation of such citizens is the cause of tyranny in Republics. And in order to regulate this thing, it [the Republic] needs to be so organized, that the reputation of citizens be based on the benefits it gives to the nation and not on any harm to it and its liberty. And, therefore, the methods with which they assume reputation ought to be examined, and these, in effect, are two, either public or private. The public methods are when one acquires reputation by counselling well and acting well for the common benefit. The way to such honours ought to be opened to every citizen, and rewards proposed for their good counsels and good works, so that they may obtain honours and be satisfied: and when such reputation is obtained through these pure and simple ways, it will never be dangerous: but when it is obtained through a private way (which is the other method mentioned) it is most dangerous and wholly harmful…” (Machiavelli; Discourses).

The current trend toward violent and vicious attacks upon vulnerable groups and individuals is, I accuse, precisely because of Howard’s and the current LNP administration giving too much voice and freedom of action to the far-right and fascist movements in Australia. Howard cunningly let slip those dogs of war to divide the community. The Murdoch press responded and upped the ante with its unrelenting howl of confected outrage against every single person that challenged their stereotype, that they could vilify or make victim or claim as an act of aggression against their blameless “Alt-right” movement.

The speechless mass-shootings we see on a regular basis in the USA reflect an act of insane desperation by some of those very people in that State given too much freedom to be “comfortable in their own skin”. We all know or at least realise by the time we reach adult-hood that one is compelled or expected to act in a civil manner to one’s fellow citizens or place at risk the social contract of our own respect. We learn these things in the playground of primary school, where we make a group of friends or when we play in a sport team in our teenage years … We learn to yield to the folly of deliberately hurting others while we frequent the taverns and clubs of our twenties, so that by the time we reach maturity, like the age when John Howard made the above comment, we ought to be more astute as to how freely we counsel our own children … Yes … truly, we ought to advise them that they ought to feel comfortable in their own skin. But! … and this is the part that the devious fool Howard left out: but we must respect those others of our society who, while their “skin colour” is of a different complexion and their “skin culture” may be of a different, more complex matrix, it is the duty of any citizen of the nation to allow space for all others to “feel comfortable” next to each other’s “skin”.

But Howard didn’t want this to happen. HIS intent was not to unite the nation under one social contract. There was instead intent and then deed to divide and rule with vicious impunity by the one ”skin” the one creed, the one political ideology … an ideology of Rule by fear. Rule by force. Rule by fascist intent! By his own words, we can see it is obviously NOT directed to those Indigenous or ethnic groups whose past was vandalised, whose present is tenuous and whose future is a thing of doubtful hope … No! … those he was wishing  such comfort upon were those of his own matrix … his own prejudices. His words were not merciful, not reasonable, not all-encompassing … those were the words of an ache for white supremacy, Anglo-centric, Christian-centric conservative governance with no place for radical dissent.

He, personally failed, being found out to be a devious, lying little rodent, but his creatures follow on, chivvied and guided by the Murdoch media and its imitators. There will have to be a Parliamentary Inquiry and perhaps a rolling tribunal to bring those media players before a panel to be judged for their actions against their fellow citizens. Let it be known as ”The Citizens Tribunal” … and there they will make their case and woe betide those who come up wanting!

The Rule Book

By Kyran O’Dwyer

If you are to believe the pollsters, politicians are not trusted. Various ‘ratings’ put the level of trust in the ‘profession’ at somewhere between 12 and 20%. Having never met anyone who trusted a politician, comment escapes me. It is of interest the occupation of ‘pollster’ is also distrusted. Yet we seem obsessed with their frequent offerings, and quote them as if they can be trusted. Trust in the media is also subject to wide variation, more often dependent on the outlet, rather than the offerings of their scribes. That ‘the outrageous’ is circulated more widely than ‘the considered’ is, at the very least, cause for concern.

Over decades, professions such as doctors, scientists, teachers, firefighters, police, paramedics, have consistently been considered trustworthy, by more than 70% of us. Over the same decades, their opinions and knowledge have been ignored and/or derided. Their credibility is no match for the incessant howls of the politicians, whom we don’t trust, ever amplified by partisan scribes, in increasingly irrelevant forum. Go figure!

An even greater irony is that the politicians, whom we don’t trust, set the terms and conditions of the ‘rules’ we are meant to abide by, whilst ignoring the rules themselves. They live in a rarefied space. Beyond question, beyond reproach, beyond accountability.

We have now had over four years of non-government. Without fear or favour, our IPA ‘government’ has continued its backward trajectory to ‘the good ol’ days’ of the fifties.

My bad. ‘Without fear or favour’ should read ‘Using fear to disguise favour’. Otherwise, all good.

The list of transgressions perpetrated against the Australian people by this non-government is long. To add insult to this obvious injury, we have our political masters, and their business masters, telling us that these transgressions are not only necessary, but are in our best interests.

Like salt to a very open wound, the only reassurance offered is the platitude “Trust us”.

We do, after all, get to pick the best of the least worst every few years.

If you wish to ponder our current IPA ‘government’s’ achievements, it won’t take long.

Pick a minister, any minister at all, and tell me they are competent (in the ministerial sense).

One. Just one.

I ask only because I can’t think of one. The list of ministers who openly profess their ignorance of their own portfolios simply beggars belief.

Even worse, we have ministers who openly profess their disdain, their contempt, for their own portfolios. Whether it be education, health, the economy, Indigenous affairs, the NBN, NDIS, the environment, foreign affairs, defence, welfare, whatever. Never before has ‘ministerial responsibility’ been confined to nothing more than stating that they cannot do their job. Any expectation that they do their job is an unreasonable and/or unrealistic impost. Apparently.

As to policy, how can such a thing exist in this paralysing vacuum?

Ideology, devoid of reason or substance, will never amount to policy. Notwithstanding that caveat, pick a ‘policy’, any ‘policy’ at all, and tell me they have a plan. Even their co-masters, big business, are screaming for something. Anything.

No ministers. No policies. No judgement. No idea.

None of the foregoing would come as a surprise to anyone living in this vacuum. Whether you are ‘politically aware’ or not, there is no escaping the facts. Jobs are few, and the conditions of employment have gone backwards. Growth is all but non-existent, other than the bank accounts of the privileged. Debt is very real and very personal to most Australians, but of no concern to our ‘government’. Access to health and education is increasingly reliant on the content of your wallet, rather than the extent of your need.

The list of this ‘government’s’ wanton incompetence is well documented.

We have had bad governments before. Whether this is, or isn’t, the worst of all time is irrelevant. What this government underscores is the absence of accountability or any right of redress. How can we, the people, remedy a situation that is detrimental to us, when there are no safeguards, other than the next election?

What this ‘government’ has writ large is that it has no regard for ‘due process’. It has achieved next to nothing through parliament, yet has increased the ‘executive powers’ of, arguably, the most miserable bunch of miscreants yet to occupy the lavish, hallowed halls of parliament, with all of its attendant privilege.

The very existence of this ‘government’ is sufficient evidence that we need change. Not just changing the status quo, but ensuring that we, the people, are never again held hostage by our ‘masters’.

This Peter Dutton thing is an example of what is so horribly (horrifically?) wrong at the moment. A minister so ignorant of his own portfolio, that his frequent lies about those in his care do not warrant repeating, even if only to discredit them. Putting aside discussion of his intellect, character, integrity, compassion, is not an easy task. They are, after all, attributes you would normally like to see in a member of parliament. But, putting them aside for a minute, consider his history.

To recall that he was voted ‘the worst ever’ minister of health may seem unkind. To recall that his competition for such ignominy included Tony Abbott, may seem harsh. That the title wasn’t wrested from him by Sussan Ley, who was fired, is nothing more than an un-subtle underscore of the enormity of his incompetence.

That he has no understanding of, let alone respect for, ‘due process’ is well documented. The Melbourne Border Farce exercise in August, 2015, was an eerie forecast of what to expect. An exercise in overreach, cancelled before it started. The ABF commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg, survived that debacle, only to fall when his ‘judgement’ was called into question. That Quaedvlieg was the arbiter of judgement on so many others is, at the very least, galling.

The ABF has gone on to score numerous own goals. Accounting anomalies, in the billions of dollars. Blatant disregard for international law and treaties. Corruption, resulting in incarceration of its dishonest employees, including Fabio Pezzullo. A four year dispute with its honest employees over pay and conditions. These are but a few of their transgressions.

All under Dutton’s lifeless gaze.

Now add Michael Pezzullo to this toxic mess/mix. The architect of the ‘super department’ has been peddling this for a while.

That this ‘super department’ has been contemplated, and discarded, by various governments since 2001 is a matter of fact.

That the stars aligned for Pezzullo under the lifeless gaze of Dutton is cause for concern. Great concern. That much of this ‘super department’ will be created without parliamentary oversight is terrifying. As for judicial oversight, or legal recourse, Dutton doesn’t do that. He prefers to settle claims out of court, to avoid scrutiny. There are over 20 cases so far settled in this manner, the most spectacular being a $70 mill ‘STFU’ settlement, with a $20 mill ‘Please’ for the lawyers.

Nearly 40% of his arbitrary decisions are overturned in the AAT.

His response? Remove appeal provisions from his decisions. A minister of questionable attribute has gone from ignoring due process, to enshrining his right to ignore due process.

Gillian Triggs, back in 2015, delivered a speech, warning of the dangers of removing oversight from the actions of Dutton and his ilk. It is a strong argument for a far greater application of the doctrine of the Separation of Powers.

The speech has been honed and refined, most recently redelivered in the Michael Kirby Oration.

Justin Gleeson has similar reservations and offers similar arguments for greater, not lesser, scrutiny of Dutton and his ilk.

In the period between those speeches, from 2015 to now, Peter Dutton has exemplified all that is wrong. Not just with this ‘government’, but with a system that is so fundamentally and fatally flawed, that its only celebration is Peter Dutton.

Why would you trust Dutton and Pezzullo to oversee a department with such incredible power, devoid of scrutiny or oversight?

Well, you see, it’s not so much about what we, the people, need. Let alone want. Our ‘leader’ is a great believer in insurance. Not so much like the FAI debacle, where it was more a case of ensuring his bank account got bigger. More like ensuring his political future. Clearly, donating a couple of million to his employers was never going to be enough.

Dutton? Really?

This is the argument for increasing ministerial power and removing oversight?

It’s apparently not popular to argue for more regulation, more scrutiny, more oversight. It’s certainly not popular to argue for those with knowledge to formulate such regulation, such scrutiny, such oversight.

An argument that Ms Triggs and Mr Gleeson have prosecuted well. Certainly, beyond any reasonable doubt.

There are only two words necessary to reinforce their clarion call: Peter Dutton.

We need a new Rule Book.

 

Macklemore and the NRL Grand Final: The Politics of Sports

One cultivated myth of human endeavour is the creaky and far from convincing idea that politics and sport are strangers, gazing indifferently from distant across tables, never to engage. Battles on the field can be waged without politics, while politics excludes sport with allergic vigour.

The pretence leads to curious spectacles. It means that the International Olympic Committee can be wooed by a ruthless, canny dictator who ultimately plunges a good portion of the globe into conflict. (Mr Hitler, they were assured, was really a true Olympian at heart, and not prone to fanatical anti-Semitic beliefs).

From another perspective, it means that anti-apartheid protests had no merit in disrupting touring South African sides in either cricket or rugby during the 1960s and 1970s. The South African players were apolitical, as former conservative prime minister John Howard less than candidly explained, and should be spared the ugliness of conscience. Boycotts should be reserved for other, weightier matters.

Australian Rugby, most specifically the Sunday Grand Final, has now found its way into this curious mix, or, as the invited Seattle rapper Macklemore puts it, “kind of the Super Bowl of their rugby league.”

Macklemore’s invitation by the National Rugby League (NRL) to perform on the occasion has become more than a mere issue of light entertainment. On his slate of promised songs to be performed before the sporting spectators was “Same Love”.

The result was bemusing: the invited artist had been receiving tweets from “angry old white dudes in Australia” and become the subject of a petition seeking to prevent the performance from taking place.

With yawn-inducing predictability, former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, was one such dude off the political mark. To let the American artist perform on one of Australia’s biggest sporting stages was one thing; to let me him run a show with a song on same-sex marriage, quite another. “Footy fans shouldn’t be subjected to a politicised grand final. Sport is sport!

This fascinatingly constipated position is also intoned by the funereal Senator Eric Abetz from Tasmania, who assumes that the campaign against same-sex marriage is facing unnecessary obstacles put in play by the devils of the Yes campaign. Even Abetz makes Abbott seem moderate on occasion, fearing that Australia’s children are threatened by a “radical gay education”.

Conservative scribblers such as Miranda Devine thought the invitation a poorer reflection on the part of Australia’s sport administrators. Never mind Macklemore; it was the seedy politics of the whole thing.

“The problem is the timing. The National Rugby League has deliberately inserted itself into a divisive political debate by inviting Macklemore to play a song he wrote specifically in 2012 to sway the same-sex marriage campaign in the US state of Washington.”

For Devine, Macklemore’s work became the “anthem for same-sex marriage in the US.” The performer, in other words, was insinuating himself into the Australian debate, his work being used as a fashioned weapon for a cause.

The NRL chief, Todd Greenberg, had effectively co-opted “80,000 fans in ANZ stadium unwittingly to participate in a massive propaganda exercise for the Yes campaign that will be televised to almost four million viewers.”

Former NRL player, Tony Wall, is of similar mind on these fifth column tactics, and has given much time in a vain effort to convince Greenberg to remove “LGBTIQ politics out of the NRL.” Wall would find it “very difficult to watch the NRL Grand Final with my wife and five young children as the event will be heavily politicised with a LGBTIQ anthem taking centre stage.” So much for the love.

Coalition government ministers also found their way into the spat. Most surprisingly of all was the stance from the not always sensible Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis. “This particular song,” he explained to ABC News Breakfast, “is one of the four songs, I believe, that Macklemore is singing.” It was popular, catchy, and “for Mr Abbott or anyone else to say that it should be banned I think is a bizarre thing to say.”

Australia’s same-sex campaign is getting uglier, with resentments crackling, suspicions blazing. It has wound its way into sports, as it was bound to. It has mobilised groups, businesses and institutions to throw in their lot with the cause. It has sharpened the No position, which is, at points, losing its appeal. Even more fundamentally, it will make absolutely no difference to those whose minds are resolutely made it up, where the debate is but a pantomime to conceal the obvious.

What this particular squib of insignificance has thrown up is the old illusion, some might even say delusion, that the sporting classes do not mix with the political. It has prompted Malcolm Knox to press for a deal: take politics out of sport, but remove the politician from sporting arena.

“No more serving prime ministers up on the podium to hand out the trophy. No more ex-prime ministers in the Cricket Australia box.” Perhaps even more pointedly, “No more pollies having beers at the footy.”

 

For the Adoration of Atheism

Or: I was an Altar Boy once.

“I was an altar boy once!” I have a habit of dropping that statement into any conversation about religious beliefs that I am involved with. Of course, it is just a distraction, a sort of “blind-alley” comment that steers the talk down a different path, a (as that “smear of excrement” that was once our LNP, Prime Minister a few years ago called ); ” … bbq stopper”.

And I have done it again here, stealing the conversation away from “belief” to religion! Of course, belief and believing has nothing at all to do with religion. I sometimes would follow up on my above comment with; ”The Catholic Church is not a ‘religion’, but an institution!” … One does not need books, tracts and pamphlets to believe, one only needs to wake and feel the weather on one’s skin. One does not need images and icons. One only needs imagination. Does a child need to be taught fantasy, imagery, imagination? … No, but there are those who strongly, fiercely believe a child needs to be taught to believe in the unbelievable!

And I will state my opinion categorically, here and now, backed by every notion of accepted measure of sanity that ALL religion is a human construct … ALL a human invention … there is no supreme being, no omnipotent God … those descriptions alone betray a need, a hunger for an authority to command. “Human, all too human”. And I and any rational human being who has above capacity and dexterity to peel a boiled egg knows it and believes it … even if they do not practice it. If there is one bit of “wisdom” learned early, used universally and passed down with signaled dexterity through the eons of time, it is that the general MOB of humanity is best controlled and corralled with the dispersion and corruption of religo-politico adoration.

But hey … seriously … you’d have to be a mug …

I recall when my own children came to the age of schooling and we were shopping around for what we considered the “best” school system for them. One such system, The Steiner System, seemed to offer a new approach, a gentler curriculum. I never liked the idea of forcing a child to “grow up” before they are ready. I was not ready for primary school at exactly the age of five. So we attended a talk on the subject. The lady who gave the talk was very sensitive, very convincing with references to the gentle awakening of the child’s sensibilities and the action of guiding them through and down paths of least disturbance of their childhood years … opening one door and closing another as they made their way through the labyrinth of awakening to the world … very gently explained, as if in a sort of trance … that and the fact that she grew up just down the road from where I grew up gave substance to the yarn (her brother was forever stealing our grapes as he came home from school).

We took it … it worked out well for the primary years. Good result … ”I believe”. But! … Now, when I reflect on that talk, our perceptions, the lady’s demeanour, OUR DEMEANOUR … our ambition, the lady’s ambition. I wonder; was it really about the children, or about ourselves as adults? As I said above, a child doesn’t NEED belief, it has it in spades … but we adults presume the child REQUIRES indoctrination TOWARD a belief! … And that’s where the quip;”I was an altar boy once” comes in … after all, who, with a rational mind, would freely volunteer for such a position?

The sad thing is that “belief and believing” is an adult concept that masks a deep insecurity within the human condition. So we strengthen ourselves with delusions of many and varied forms … call them “Beliefs”, call them “Religion” … after all, is it not the most craven individuals that arm themselves most aggressively? So we have institutions even in this day and age utilising schools to “groom” the children with their variation of “spiritual corruption”.

But I would promote the idea of a “worship” of atheism. Not substituting Godhead or Gaia or even rough “Mother Nature”, let them alone … they will float along without our assistance. I would emphasise the belief in casual observance of the world around oneself. Step out on a morning and feel the wash of sunrise pour its ambrosia over the body like a soothing balm … or stand transfixed at the noon of the day and hark to the frenzied activity of life at full throttle … then again sit or lay comfortably in the velvet cloak of evening and let slip from your grip those worries and concerns accumulated throughout the working day, let them fall into the miasma of shadows of the coming night. For night is the metaphor of life’s ending … and finally let morphia’d sleep cleanse the mind and wash with dreams away this impertinence of temporal existence.

Atheism is neither a “belief”, nor a “way of life”. I see it more as a shedding of clumsy armour, the relaxing of futile defence against a non-existing fear. For if there has ever been a power more condemning, more controlling and exacting of behaviour so that even natural human activity can draw cruel conviction, it is religious/canon law. There are ample and sensible civil laws legislated by sanity, put in place by unanimous consent and obeyed by the majority that do not require ecclesiastical condescension. So if we have laws to guide us, common sense to inform us and a wide world of wonder to both awe and amuse us, why waste time and temper on another useless chore like bowing and scraping to false Gods?

You know, whenever I see those photographs of the Earth taken from outer-space and they show this cool, beautiful, green/blue/sometimes cloudy orb suspended serenely in the silence of space … it revitalises a belief within me that we are duty-bound and committed to extend ourselves to maintain and revitalise this luscious but lonely garden of delight! We can do no worse thing with indoctrinated discourse, than to deliberately lead the child (and the “child” within ourselves) from a world of innocent wonder, a world of curious discovery to a mendaciously manufactured shadow world of adult doubt and insecurity … through a prism distorted … through a glass, darkly …

I have a home. Have you?

I remember on my first tramp around Europe, back around 1980, standing on the foreshore at Brindisi, waiting for the ferry to take me across the Adriatic Sea to Greece. I was getting somewhat jaded by this time of the sights and unfamiliar languages of Europe and starting to hunger for those familiar places and voices that anchor one to a time and place with neither thought of threat nor alienation. I was getting homesick.

I remember feeling this way whilst standing near a bobbing boat with the smell of the sea in my nostrils and looking along the shoreline to another figure a fair way away standing, much like myself, looking like how I suppose I looked in that oh-so-familiar back-packers garb (though this was before the age of the backpacker … more like an amateur tourist) and he was turned, in kind, staring at me. And in that momentary hiatus of mute connection, I felt a melancholic wave of sadness sweep over me – a hunger for home – and I can’t help but think that the other fellow there on the Brindisi shore was experiencing exactly the same feeling as myself.

To so many of us, the comforting security of home is taken for granted. Even My mother, born and raised in the deepest, most poverty enriched days of the great depression, in makeshift tent after makeshift camp on the banks of the River Murray … up and down and into the mallee scrub and out, from ruin to hut, many times sans shoes, sans education, sans town-friendships … through it all, she said she never felt like she had no feeling of a homeland or what we consider a home. She always felt she “belonged” with the other itinerants and the district of the Riverland.

Proverb: “What the eye doesn’t see, The heart doesn’t grieve.”

Parable: “I laugh now when I think of it”. The old lady chuckled, “But I was young then, about fourteen, or sixteen, but I was a ‘young’ sixteen, you know? And I had gone to the millinery store in the town and bought a dress for the fair. The dress was pink floral with a blouse all in one and it had two pieces of material, like braces, with big buttons on the waistline and those two braces went over the shoulders down the back.”

“Ah, I was young then. Anyway at the fair there was the excitement of  a merry-go-round and bucking horses and shearing contests and … and tug-of-war … an’ … an’ … horse races. You know, that sort of thing and everybody from the district and from beyond the bend of the river, and they’re dressed up to the nines, oh dear,ha! The big day of the year for us then, ha!”

“Well, there was this Aboriginal girl there about the same age as me and she had on exactly the same dress that I had. Exactly! And we ran up to each other and laughed and became great friends that day. She worked, like me, at another station on the Murray – cooking, cleaning, looking after the children that sort of thing. Anyway, we were great friends that day an’ we walked all around that fair together arm in arm, laughing and having great fun and we’d tell everyone we met that we were twins! Twins! You’d laugh now, but we didn’t even think of her being black and me white then..some people smiled or rolled their eyes and others threw their heads back and laughed and we just thought they were as happy as we were, ha!”

“Oh, a jolly good time we had that day. I can’t even remember her name now. Ah well … twins … twins!”

Minister Dutton’s slighting of the status of those refugees as they were taken away to America, was a low act, a mongrel comment that I wouldn’t consider worthy of an Australian citizen. A despicable slander from one so comfortably well off (thank you, people of Australia for endowing him with much wealth and the comfort of a home). But it is an all too familiar carp from many of the right-wing already basking in a wealth of contentment and a degree of luxury neither hard-earned, nor deserving, but at the same time casting aspersion and slander upon those less fortunate or driven by desperation to flee their own homes and try their fate to a cruel sea and unforgiving foreign countries.

What sort of people can gaze with cruel intent on those wracked and wrecked by responsibility for family while smashed on the rocks of a foreign land? How many of us as parents cringe in horror at sight or thought of our loved ones maimed or destroyed by events we cannot, through powerlessness or circumstance control? How many times have we turned our gaze from the television screen at news pictures of drowning refugees or that one little child washed up upon the beach in Turkey? I still shudder at the thought of the moment imagined of that child struggling alone in a tossing sea as he slowly lost hold on life. Ask not for whom the bell tolls …

But still, I am home, I am settled, I have carved out my “temple of seven pillars of comfort”. I have no threats upon my doorstep, no wild beasts howling at my fence-line, no marauding militants armed and dangerous seeking for opportunity to attack. No, I am safe (as can be expected), secure (as can be financially managed) and sound (as aged health will allow). I am one of the lucky people living in a fortunate land. But never, never am I so smugly insular and self-satisfied that I cannot feel the deepest sympathy for those who seek such a home … for those men, women and children in loose assembly drifting in a tide of callous disregard from this cruel and heartless right-wing demonic government.

Here is a piece by Richard Church, from the third volume of his biography:

Chapter One

By way of a prologue

SOONER or later we all turn homeward. A man who dies on foreign soil is judged to have had a sad end. To escape the possibility of such a fate, every human being is possessed by an instinctive urge to hurry home. I noticed this when I was a boy, working in the laboratory in the Custom House, beside Billingsgate Market. I walked over London Bridge twice a day, morning and evening, wedged in the solid phalanx of humanity moving into London City, and out of it again.

I noticed how that tide of trousered or skirted legs was sluggish in the morning, as it trickled towards offices and ware-houses; how it rushed like the Severn Bore into London Bridge Station after the day’s work, blown by a gale of furious purpose, the desire to get home.

I felt the impulse in my own blood. What was this urge, this primitive anxiety? Are men and women infected by some racial fear of the jungle, that drives them to seek the safety of the cave, even after several thousand years of the assurances of civilization ? I remember now, half a century since the routine of those years in the laboratory, more vividly than I remember all other moods and events, this eagerness to get home to my rooms on Denmark Hill. The urge often made me break into a jog-trot over London Bridge, risking my life by edging out of the crush from the pavement to the gutter. Sometimes, I even had the illusion of rising above the heads of the crowd, and gliding like a seagull, levitated by my own frenzy.

It was as though I were expecting a visitor, some fabulous person, a dream-spirit, or a lover …

Home indeed is where the heart is. Peace is also where a secure home is. And I would request us all and most particularly those in power of the desperate refugee, to acknowledge that the hunger of the heart for that elusive, secure “home” is a fire that burns fierce and undiminished in every human’s breast.

“War Pigs”

By Christian Marx

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor (‘War Pigs’, Black Sabbath).

Another day, another endless stream of propaganda against the new US bogeyman, North Korea. Commercial channels are awash with this drivel. Sadly, so to is the ABC. Today we get another scare campaign of Soviet Spy Bots on Facebook and the usual North Korea fear mongering.

Time to give it up, ABC! Where is the independent reporting? Never any expose on American Imperialism. Australian media has failed time and again in reporting the facts. Remember the weapons of mass destruction lie in Iraq? How about the shameless lies about Syria? Remember the fraud that was the White Helmets?

Not only are our two publicly owned television channels spewing pro US rhetoric, our so called “left-wing” party, Labor have once again bent over for Uncle Sam. Why do both parties constantly shill for US wars? The answer is that our rich and powerful elite need the US. This is all about money and both parties are very much protecting the parasitism and immorality of the very wealthy.

Former Labor politician Kim Beasley is now on the board of Lockheed Martin. Yes, the company that manufactures bombs and military hardware. Charming. These people are shameless. How can one hope to have a semblance of neutrality or impartiality, when these clowns are appointed to cushy jobs within the Military Industrial Complex? The answer is, they can`t be trusted when they have vested interests in the military/US establishment.

Beasley is just one example of the massive conflict of interest across both political parties when it comes to American Imperialism. Australia has become nothing more than a vassal state of the United States. Our media is completely corrupted, both private and public. The only news organizations one can get a balanced view from is non corporate, independent media, such as Democracy Now, Wikileaks, and The Young Turks. In Australia only independent news pages, such as The Australian Independent Media Network, Independent Australia and New Matilda will offer an in depth analysis of foreign affairs.

Unfortunately many still believe the lies, obfuscation and shameless propaganda of the mainstream media. To any thinking Australian these outlets have zero integrity or credibility. Sadly, a large percentage of the populace just don’t bother to check the facts and in many cases do not even care.

So long as they have their plasma TV, their jet ski and all the other useless trinkets, they are anesthetized by product.

Let’s face it, Australians don’t really have an opposition to corporate power in this country. We have a duopoly of Liberal and Labor. Both are fully owned and controlled by the wealthy 1%. On the important issues such as asylum seekers, raising Newstart/pensions, foreign affairs, American imperialism, big mining, and tackling unemployment, the two parties are identical. There is a slight illusion of choice on the surface, such as Labor’s support for gay marriage, but this is just a distraction to divert the attention of the majority away from the crippling scourge of Neoliberalism, globalization and the ever increasing inequality which is flourishing in Australia.

In EVERY American pretext for war, Labor have been in lockstep with the Liberals. They supported all the lies and rhetoric from Washington. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Israeli apartheid, and now North Korea. The same old cliched rubbish is pumped out ad nausea from both political parties and their pathetic media.

Both sides of politics benefit with their unwavering alliance to the US. There is an endless revolving door after politics into cushy ambassador jobs and sitting on the boards of big American companies. These so called leaders of both sides of government are shameless parasites. They suck huge money from the public coffers, only to represent the geopolitical interests of gas and oil companies and the United States Military machine.

Make no mistake, these wars are not about bringing freedom and peace to the world. These wars are solely bout securing America’s energy needs for the future and expanding their already bloated empire. Russia, North Korea and increasingly Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia are fighting back. North Korea is far from a perfect country, but it has a right to self defence if it is threatened. The United States bombed North Korea into oblivion in 1953, so naturally it is very defensive of any US threat. Imagine if North Korea had bases all around the world and had their military on the seas around America? Do you think America would just accept this? Look what happens to countries that don`t have sufficient miltary insurance. America will just rape and plunder any nation who has poor defence capabilities. Libya is a prime example.

North Korea has attacked no other country in over six decades, while the United States has been an out of control death machine since 1945. Plundering, destroying dozens of countries and killing tens of millions around the world for sheer greed.

Great leaders around the world have condemned this and have known the truth for decades. Mighty men such as Mandela, Martin Luther King, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have spoken of the evil of the United States. Increasingly many thinking people are now starting to realize the criminality and ruthlessness of the United states and their puppet Western lackeys. Australia is very complicit in this charade. Our media and both sides of politics are corrupt and complicit in these war crimes and attacks on sovereign nations. It is high time that the people of Australia united against these evil war pigs.

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

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