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Day 22

Day 1 was Wednesday, 5 February, 2020.

I am 84, and Greta Thunberg’s activism on climate change has been one of the few things which has given me any hope that my 3 great-grandchildren – and all subsequent generations – might have a faint chance of a life worth living.

So I decided that I would follow her example, on a modified scale, and set myself the challenge to sit outside the NT Parliament House from 1:00 to 3:00 pm every Wednesday afternoon.

I obtained permission to do so until Christmas, and, if things have not taken a turn for the better by then, I shall continue into 2021.

I wear my Extinction Rebellion T-shirt – so no one is any doubt as to my political orientation – and for quite a few of the 22 weeks, I have had one or two like-minded friends joining me.

Our Parliament House is off the beaten track, so there has been no danger of creating a crowd during the Covid-19 crisis! Where I sit, I am looking straight at the end of the Supreme Court with the Parliament House to my right, and, as you can see from the photo, at this time of year, being outdoors is delightful, and an umbrella doubles for a parasol!

The wet season is less pleasant, but I only got soaked on one occasion, in March, I think, and that is no hardship in our temperatures!

Having practiced law a few years back, several of the legal fraternity who recognise me, stop to chat occasionally, plus some I have not met before, tradies walking through give me a thumbs up when I wave to them, a few members of the public also stop by to talk and even the occasional politician or staffer comes out briefly!

Among those who stop for a discussion, the general feeling is that we have an uphill battle to overcome greed and self-interest before it is too late to have an acceptable outcome in developing a valid climate change policy.

A tall order!

Yet – why is it that Australia always wants to reinvent the wheel?

Other countries are making great strides in reducing the use of fossil fuels so why is it so hard for us???

The leader of a newly formed local political party, took time out a few weeks back to try to impress on me that we could not withdraw from existing contracts for CSG fracking, referring, inappropriately, to ‘sovereign risk’.

Subsequently, polling indicated a high level of opposition to fracking in the NT, and we have an election in August, so there has been a complete policy change, well documented in the press.

Last Wednesday, Mr Mills went out of his way to make sure I knew of his change of policy – which is generally regarded as a political stunt.

Without a fully thought out policy to combat climate change, simply deciding to oppose fracking does not really cut it.

Fracking in itself might be a problem on several scores, particularly if the myriad requirements laid down by the enquiry are not adhered to, but the real problem is the releasing of CSG – a fossil fuel – the use of which will further increase emissions into the global atmosphere.

I had a very pleasant conversation today with a young woman who has been contemplating starting a family in a few years time. She and her partner are having second thoughts, and, unless major steps to curb emissions are taken in the very near future, I suspect that they will change their plans.

We are wasting valuable time.

We have a government which looks at dollar signs before it considers people’s well-being.

Thousands of people are currently living on a knife’s edge, having no clear idea what the government’s plans for the future are.

Yes – it was necessary to put us into shut down – and it is really sad that some people are so self-centred as to ignore the fact that acceptance of testing might save someone else’s life.

No – we do not have an energy crisis. As long as the sun shines, the wind blows, the rivers run, and the tides rise and fall, we have energy and to spare. It is the lack of will to harness it that causes the crisis. The UK is streets ahead of Australia in using renewable energy while we still fiddle around talking about transitioning.

If mankind has learned anything, it is that if something needs doing, you do it – now.

Remember Chamberlain’s appeasement policy?

Transitioning is a process of postponing, which far too often means no further progress is made.

Increasingly, today’s economists are referring to Modern Monetary Theory, which can be utilised by any country which prints its own currency, so was never an option when we lived under the gold standard.

Alan Kohler discusses this in the NT News 01/07/20, page 38 – and possibly in the Business section of other news.com outlets – pay-walled, of course.

Government’s fear of debt is actually totally misplaced. Just as they regard education as an expense rather than an investment, they do not appreciate that their spending money to get business up and running – thereby employing people, and – in turn – people having money to spend in the market – puts the economy on its feet again.

Scott Morrison went to the last election with one policy – cut taxes.

There will be precious little tax paid while people are out of work, except that the GST will be a greater burden on those with slashed incomes as compared to those with high levels of savings.

He also had a few other irons in the fire, like protecting religion (and he is doing that now by paying job keeper to priests, while ignoring the needs of university lecturers), and further reducing the power of the unions.

Ideology not rational policy is driving the government agenda, and I am one of many who are deeply grateful that the National Cabinet has been able to prevent some of the potentially more damaging policies being implemented, and to push the government to adopt policies similar to Labor’s in the GFC, policies which the Coalition have torn to shreds for over 10 years!

To think that the government could appoint an advisory group with a composition which denies a serious interest in renewable energy is mind-blowing!

The only way we will survive the current chaos is by giving people hope for the future.

They need to be sure of a roof over their heads, without worrying themselves sick about the rent or the mortgage.

They need to have work as soon as possible – and that means that childminding services – which includes early education – are provided by the government, so that women can safely return to work.

Because Covid-19 will remain a threat for some time – if not forever – then working from home should remain an option where appropriate.

Life is never going to return to how it was. Too many people have died or suffered permanent damage to their health, and too many businesses have folded.

But that is actually good in some ways, because it leaves a clean slate on which to plan completely new initiatives and avoid past mistakes.

Politics and the law are based on an adversarial approach which is liable to be highly destructive.

Cooperative debate of policy options cannot afford to be on a win/lose basis.

We need a bipartisan government – hang it all – neither major party has an overwhelming majority of seats, which clearly says that the people do not all support all the current government’s policies!

I suspect the National Cabinet might prove to be the saving of Australia’s future.

You will probably tell me that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that this Coalition government will change its tune.

But in some respects it already has! And with the national Cabinet continuing in existence, it is more likely that it will continue to do so.

Just to help it along, maybe a few more retirees like me can sit on their Parliament’s steps or forecourts on a regular basis – or outside their federal parliamentarian’s offices.

Being visible is important. Greta established that very firmly!

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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6 comments

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  1. Baby Jewels

    Good on you Rosemary. During COVID, we do need to keep these issues front and foremost and we should all be doing our bit.

  2. HARRY

    All good but MMT does not involve “printing money” by the federal government . That’s a pejorative term used bu neoliberals to elicit images of printing presses as happened in Weimar German and Zimbabwe. Money is created out of nowhere by the mere typing of numbers. marking up bank accounts.The Mint produces paper money and coins to facilitate commerce but its declining in use.

  3. Arnd

    “Money is created out of nowhere by the mere typing of numbers.”

    Sorry to say, but that makes it sound even worse than mental images of Weimar or Zimbabwean money printing presses running hot!

    To my Marxist mind, MMT looks like commodity fetishism on steroids – what, with money, and electronic money at that, being the ultimate commodity: money has only exchange value, but no use value whatsoever. Yet MMT breezily makes future improvements of human happiness (eudaimonia) and the human condition dependent on bringing more money into circulation.

    Call me old-fashioned and obtuse, if you want, but I insist that it is not “lack of money” as such that ails humanity, but rather its grossly unequal distribution. There’s plenty o’ money – but it is sequestered in overseas tax havens, there to rot away – already hundreds of years ago, Francis Bacon insisted that “Money is like muck, no good unless it be spread around”, and some of the more recent insights by bourgeois economists about the “decreasing marginal utility of money” emphatically back him up.

    I honestly wish progressives could disabuse themselves of this macro-economic dead end called MMT!

  4. Harry

    Arnt,

    MMT should really be called MMR, modern monetary reality, as we live in a mmr world. It’s a lens through which we can view the economic and political world. I’m with you on economic inequality but I ask you, how are you going to implement your view of the world?

  5. Arnd

    Hi Harry,

    “… how are you going to implement your view of the world?”

    I’m not, unfortunately!

    I arrived at my view of the world almost 30 years ago now. Back then – just after the demise of Eastern Bloc Bolshevism – I was absolutely certain that the world would quickly settle down, and replace their Francis “End of History” Fukuyama type euphoria with the much more measured deliberate deconstruction of global corporate consumer capitalism, and all the faults and existential problems it precipitates.

    I was wrong.

    Then, and still now.

    The world is going to hell in a hand basket!

  6. ajogrady

    Over 7 million people die annually world wide from the effects of fossil fuel air pollution. Not only are fossil fuels bad for the climate but they are impacting on everyones health.

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