Any person, when writing about historical events, necessarily introduces a personal perspective, influenced by their own history.
My first 34+ years were spent in the UK, where I had a very good (free from 5 to 21) education, married, started my career as a maths teacher and had three children.
At the end of 1970, the family left the UK to come to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. I expect to spend the rest of my life (since I do not plan on moving again) in this city, which, IMHO, is uniquely special.
Two of my children are still here, the third being currently overseas, having been unable to find work in Australia, in his specialist area, when he was made redundant in his mid-50s. Many will resonate with that! He was lucky that he is a dual national! Their father has moved on and moved away and we are both happier in consequence!
It is never cold here, the people are incredibly varied, being both cosmopolitan and cohesive, and we live cheek by jowl – but not always 100% harmoniously – with the world’s oldest continuous culture.
That said – we currently live in a time of severe stress.
The NT has just closed its borders, because the COVID-19 crisis puts at risk the indigenous people in remote communities, who share a high level of compromised immune systems, making them uniquely susceptible to serious harm were they to become infected.
Less than 24 hours ago we were hearing the Prime Minister listing all the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ to which we are to be subjected and, only minutes ago, as I write this, the NT Chief Minister has announced some of the appropriate modifications to the national constraints, necessary to ensure that our NT culture is taken into account.
And this brings me to the crux of my concerns with government – particularly at the national level in Australia.
The PM has excluded the Opposition leader from his National Cabinet, while, admittedly, some of the State leaders in that decision-making body represent the ALP perspective. Since the PM and his Ministers will predominate in implementation of policy, the political balance is missing.
Just as there is a shortage of female representatives in Coalition ranks, so issues such as hairdressing are being decided in the absence of informed discussion. I am fortunate in letting nature decide my hair colour and in having been able to cut my own hair for many years. But for many women, hair colouring and styling are an essential part of their well-being – and half an hour is far from enough!
Our life style in the NT is largely outdoors, with markets and outdoor dining, which introduces a serious problem when looking at the national prohibitions. Again, we will be making modifications.
It seems to me that the whole national government approach is big stick, and fails to accommodate people’s needs. Whole industries, like entertainment, are being closed down, but, whereas in the UK, Boris Johnson is guaranteeing 80% of the wages lost by employees in industries which are being closed down, no such succour is being offered to employees here. It is the business owner who will receive a handout and all that is required in return is an unwritten, and unenforceable, agreement to re-employ its former employees when business restarts.
We have already experienced too long under a Coalition philosophy which supports business – and the economy, which is, surely intended to serve the people’s needs rather than vice versa – while ignoring the needs of employees and the self-employed.
Today, for the first time, we heard Hank Jongen, CEO of Centrelink, provide clear directions for those needing to contact that organisation, because they had become unexpectedly unemployed. That was after 2 days of news headlines over queues outside Centrelink offices and uninformed claims by the responsible Minister, Stuart Robert, that the MyGov website access to Centrelink had been subjected to a cyber-attack!
No – Stuart – the internet just could not cope because of insufficient foresight by government! We once enjoyed a brilliant service from the CSIRO, which has been stunted by massive funding cuts by governments which ignore the value of science, except when it suits them.
I recently joined Extinction Rebellion Darwin. I have 3 great grandchildren whose chances for a good life are being stunted by the climate emergency.
As part of my visible protest, I sit outside our Parliament House in Darwin for 2 hours every Wednesday afternoon, usually with at least one friend. Last week we got drenched (Top End rain is not cold!) and this week we packed up 5 minutes early as we had to collect up our posters before they got drenched by an ill-timed shower.
We are distancing ourselves, as required, and we are not attracting crowds, but we are ensuring that the campaign for action on Climate Change is not drowned out by the COVID-19 restrictions.
Satellite pictures show that the epidemic has resulted in a reduction in emissions – which is good but temporary. As soon as the crisis has passed, vested interest will ensure that industry ramps up again to former proportions, but we need to make sure that does not happen in a harmful way.
We do not want to return to increasing emissions, but increasing use of technology which will decrease emissions!
The current health crisis has demonstrated the extent to which our governments have become reactive, not proactive,
Now we need to use this interregnum to ensure that recovery is proactive in supporting the urgent need to ensure our grandchildren have a viable future.
We need to watch this government like a hawk! They have already indicated their view that activism should be illegal – but how can it be illegal, in a democracy, to protest publicly when an ignorant and incompetent government makes people’s lives harder than they need to be?
If you agree with me, then please, if you can, get out there, get vocal (legally!), email your MP, email the PM, do everything in your power to ensure that the government itself acts legally (Parliament is closed down until August – WHY????) and generally insist that we need an economy which supplies OUR needs – not those of the major corporations – and we need an honest and competent government!
I am just an ordinary citizen but I care about the lives and rights of others – and the need to ensure that those who take on responsibility do their job properly!
And – hey! While we are about it – how about the politicians having their salaries and allowances cut while they are not following their normal routines????
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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