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Values and priorities

What do you think of Australia’s attitude to refugees and migrants?

In fact how do you rate current government policies?

We are seldom offered an opportunity to replicate past successes, so, instead, we should concentrate on learning from past mistakes.

As an example, the ALP’s approach to saving the economy in the GFC was lauded by the world but denigrated by the Coalition.

In the current financial crisis, the Coalition have not succeeded in developing an equally successful strategy.

What may have been good in its day, may be totally inappropriate as the world moves on, but the approach by the ALP was to help everybody. The Coalition has been selective..

We learn from observation and our own experiences, and the onus is on us to use all of that to try to progress in a positive way – if, that is, we are not stuck with a belief that what has happened in the past is good enough for us in the future!

Looking back over the centuries, women have occasionally held supreme authority, but it would have been rare for those women to have not been advised by, and often pressured into conforming to the views of, older males! Equal status for men and women is still a long way off, and the most recent budget has highlighted this fact.

A majority of people in nursing, childcare and care assistance positions in Aged Care are women. These have borne the brunt of helping others during the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, the financial recompense they receive is far from being appropriate to the value of their work in humanitarian terms, and many of them would have also had to bear the major share of caring for their own families.

The need for them to have adequate and affordable access to childcare has received scant attention, because too many of the older, white males responsible for decision making have, necessarily, no personal experience to open their eyes to their ignorance.

While younger males are beginning to wake up to the fact that laundry, cooking and housework are not actually the exclusive province of mothers, sisters and female partners or the paid help – despite many now working from home, which might have provided an insight for some men of the extent of household chores in which they were not normally personally involved – in general the traditional approach to family life has been based on stereotypes.

OK – Scott Morrison big notes his cookery skills when it comes to curry, but who does most of the home related chores, including looking after the children’s needs, not just taking time out to play with them, when they are not relying on paid staff?

To my dying day – which is now not so far off! – I shall be grateful to my mother for her strength and support to my older sister and me in enabling us to pursue a career in fields which were not ‘traditional’.

My sister aspired to study medicine. She was encouraged to do so and ended up as a surgical registrar. She moved into General Practice with her husband after having a family and her career was cut short when she died at 47.

I had a friend who was very good at languages and had the ability to study an Arts degree in foreign languages and go on to a diplomatic career in the Foreign Office.

Her parents had converted to the Catholic faith and her mother saw the role of women as being to marry and have a family, in which case, she maintained, any tertiary study would be wasted.

When I think of the questions my children expected me to help them answer, I cannot think of any aspect of my education which has not been really useful!

My friend ended up doing a bilingual secretarial course at the Institut Français in London. She had some very interesting jobs but they were far from demanding the full use of her potential, and, yes, she married and had children, but she was then not so well placed to pick up a career had her marriage broken down!

Since coming to Australia, I have never ceased to be amazed at the extent to which Australia has lagged behind in terms of adjusting to change in both work and social issues.

Abortion was made legal in the UK, and available under the NHS, in 1967, for example!

Because my best subject was mathematics, I have always felt that it acted as a magic screen to protect me from discrimination as a woman! After all – so many girls are told that girls can’t do maths – and, sadly, believe it! – so, for that to be demonstrably false in my case, took the wind out of the bigot’s sails!

In the UK, my older sister and I went to an all girls Grammar School, while my older brother attended the boys Grammar School. Our syllabus was almost identical, the only major difference being that while they did a year each of woodwork and metalwork, we did needlework and cookery.

Our female teachers were as well qualified as their male staff, since all, bar the Sports/Phys Ed staff had graduated from university, while those teaching up to university entrance level had Honours degrees in their discipline area. One of my maths teachers was a Cambridge graduate.

Getting into a Grammar School was not restricted to those with money, because there were no school fees!

I only taught in all girls schools in the UK and coming to Darwin and teaching at a coed secondary school was an eye opener!

Without exception, in all the schools I have taught, in both the UK and Australia, the top maths student in Year 12 was always a girl! So much for the ‘girls can’t do maths’ brigade.

Needless to say – it is an all-male brigade!

I know all about the tall poppy syndrome and to me it says something about the fragility of the self esteem of the males in that brigade, that they need to use a similar approach to maintain superiority!

I have learned, having had a daughter and 2 sons, that there are major differences between males and females, based on hormones, just as there are differences on a similar scale between individuals depending on their talents.

My daughter reads The Australian – I do not, and we have very different views on the significance of climate change! I have studied science – in her BA she majored in Social Science and Philosophy. Our differing levels of interest and expertise enliven our discussions!

So being of the same gender does not guarantee having even similar approaches to life, but there are some aspects where there is a greater likelihood of similar views.

We kid ourselves when we claim to be a democracy and criticise authoritarian regimes like China.

I am sure there are many Australian residents who see the Australian government as unacceptably authoritarian!

With all the nations and cultures which have contributed, through migration, to this nation – in the process ignoring for the most part the First Nations who have been so displaced and ill-treated – we are long way from being a democracy.

We have avoided any serious discussion of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, too many of those descended from the first convict settlement era and many who have come since, are seriously racist, and the breadth of cultures and the diversity of people are grossly underrepresented in our Parliaments.

Increasingly, those we elect from the major parties have no experience of real life and work in the community, having come up through party ranks and being obliged to toe the party line and eschew independent thinking, at least in public.

Our Constitution is incredibly hard to amend, and yet it should be torn up and discarded in favour of a document which enshrines human rights, demands we honour the various commitments on issues like the treatment of refugees, and ensures higher standards of transparency and integrity in government than we are presently enduring, while recognising that every member of society should be valued, but appropriately treated if they cause harm to others.

Our top priority at present is to ensure that everyone living in Australia is appropriately assisted, not ignored because they do not fit neatly into a category the government sees as deserving of assistance.

I still maintain that the cost to the individual, and to the country as a whole, of having a plethora of welfare packages requiring endless form filling and oversight by Centrelink, would be massively reduced at the stroke of a pen, if the government introduced a Universal Basic Income which ensured that no one was without the means to cope with life or went hungry to bed with no roof for shelter.

I want to feel proud of being an Australian.

At present I do not.

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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  1. Ill fares the land

    I get the distinct impression that women in careers don’t loom large in President Morrison’s “Menzies-esque” vision for “his” Australia.

    I think in his Australia, blokes go to work, in the new dual cab of course. They are into the football (rugby or AFL are OK), beers with their mates on the weekends. They think anyone on the dole is a lazy bludger and the country would be better off if they were all made to get out and work (their view of the world is simplistic). They think they work hard and get nothing from the government, so why do the indigenous get paid so much to sit around, drink and basically do nothing. Their wife can get a kind of job, but not a career, because Morrison’s blokes are all still man-children, like Morrison himself, so they want their needs to come first and they don’t like women who are also out there having a go. However, once Morrison buys their allegiance, they will be loyal to him and him alone and will vociferously and aggressively defend him, in the same way they will either be a “Ford” or “Holden” bloke, especially against the “latte-sipping lefties” (for these blokier than blokey blokes, a leftie is anyone they disagree with and who is more cultured than they are), especially those lefties at the ABC. They won’t take much notice of LNP corruption and pork-barrelling – they don’t have any interest in the nuances of anything, let alone politics.

    I might have this wrong, but I wonder how else it is possible to make sense of a patently absurd budget that won’t lead us to a new Australia – it will take us back to the flaccid economy we have pre-Covid, but there is no vision beyond the next election. In lots of ways, that Australia has well and truly gone, but for Morrison, he wants blokey-bloke votes and that is why, I think, he portrays himself as one-of-them and lets them think he can restore that Australia.

  2. Joseph Carli

    Trump/Boris/Scott are the successful result of mercantile middle-class philosophy of what colonialist leadership should be worse than those board members of the “East-India Company” or the “South Aust’ Co.”..The private-schooled academic/judicial people who curently fill the seats of Deans of Universities / High Judiciary rode to success on THEIR don’t complain.

    I am convinced at this my 70th year, that civilisation as we know it is not a carefully constructed edifice, evolved from a conscious intellectual desire, but rather the result of a period of benevolent calm after military conquest and secured by the political and military power of an ethnicly superior force…and then that ethnicity impresses its cultural bias via a perverted education system upon those peoples under its control…sure, it will tolerate to a certain level other cultural incursions into its dominant governance, but only until such exterior philosophy begins to gain an upper hand…for the ruling order knows through historical precedence that its survival as the cultural leader depends upon its capacity to justify applied laws that while appearing fair-for-all, really only satisfy in the main those citizens who fully support the cultural superiority of the governing body…and in the end, it is as Mao correctly stated..: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”….If we look to the LNP, we see example in the way Tudge, Dutton and so many others can and do snub the decisions and opinions of the judiciary, knowing full well that the bluff of the judiciary can be called because even THAT esteemed authority only exists (in truth) at the pleasure of the ruling military power…be that power overt or covert..benign or is the ready.
    High end industrialists like Murdoch,Twiggy & Gina have bankrolled the LNP into power thinking they have hold of the puppet strings..those German/Italian industrialists who put Adolph/Benito into power believed the same…but would a “backblock scrubber” like Dutton respect them?

    You know it makes sense!

  3. Terence Mills

    Thanks, Rosemary

    As regards your question : our refugee and asylum seeker policies are in disarray and shrouded with secrecy.

    I have to ask why this Sri Lankan family have to be detained while their status is resolved by the courts : why can’t they be released into the community (of Biloela) until their future is settled ?

    Why are we housing asylum seekers in the Mantra Motel in Preston Vic. – 65 men now over eight months captive in a motel – can you imagine ? Oh, and for those who believe that Daniel Andrews was wrong in approving private security guards for hotel quarantine. Guess what, the asylum seekers in Preston and in the motel in Brisbane and all other federal detention centres are guarded by …..private security guards !

    I despair of this government and the failure of our justice system.

  4. Jack Cade

    An interesting statistic about the Trump/Morrison type of adherent. 78% of Christian Fundamentalists in the US of A do not believe that they should give any aid to refugees.
    Seeing that their nation created most of the refugees, it’s pretty shitty of them…

  5. Arnd

    “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.'”

    Sorry, Rosemary, but you are flogging a dead horse … – and the sooner you, and left-of-centre political progressives generally, realise this, the better for all involved.

    Not that I – a dyed-in-the-wool social democrat myself – am holding my breath. I did briefly join Labor about 25 years ago, at the end of the Hawke/Keating administration, so as to try to raise interest in revising contemporary conceptions about public policy formulation and implementation, but did not gain any traction whatever. Unfortunately, NSW Labor was utterly preoccupied with branch stacking, the Terrigal, Eddie Obeid, Graham “Whatever it takes” Richardson, etc., etc.

    In fact, your use of the term “return” implies that there once was “responsible government”. I suggest to you that that is a misunderstanding: governments have always been irresponsible, with the occasional exception proving rather than disproving that statement. It’s just that in earlier times, government irresponsibility wasn’t quite as in your (our) face as it is now. And expectations were much lower.

  6. Josephus

    No medicare for pending refugees, and no social or economic help either- how are they to survive other than via charities? Humiliating and cruel.

  7. DrakeN

    Josephus, – that ‘charities’ even need to exist is a clear condemnation of our social, communal and political ways of life.

    As a nation we are not so much a ‘failed State’ as a ‘never-quite-succeeded’ country.

    Equlity of opportunity has never been achieved in this land of inherited wealth and priviledge.

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