My December

Country of Origin:

Example . Made in Australia does not mean Made in Australia. Overseas Ham Meat can be wrapped around an Australian Bone and labelled Made in Australia. I choose to avoid food products made in countries which do not have the same health and chemical restrictions as our own country, yet am finding this more and more difficult as the Retail Giants and Large Manufacturers push the legal aspects of country of origin to the lmits. Apparently this will be watered down even further if we do not act prior to the proposed free trade agreements in the pipe line this year. It seems that despite the majority of the population demanding truth in country of origin labelling it is brushed aside by both major political parties as they seem to agree that less, misleading, or even absent information in the name of bigger profits is acceptable.

Political Disagreements:

When visiting my home town I work with the local solitcitor whom I value as a good friend. We have differing political views on many issues and agree on a small number. Debates become part of a daily routine as we try to get our point of view across and convince the other of its merits. When he convinces me with facts and evidence I agree. When I convince him with facts and evidence he resorts to calling me a Greenie, Hippie, Tree Hugger, Socialist etc etc and then changes the topic. Lucky I value the friendship.

Rainfall:

While travelling down to western NSW during the second week of December, I arrived at Goondiwindi only to be told the road to Moree was closed due to flooding. I had to drive east to Inglewood then south to Inverell, west to Warialda and west to Moree. The first 2 hours of the detour was during blinding rain and reducing my speed to 20km in an effort to see the road. My fear was that I would get through a creek and over a hill only to be stopped at another creek and then unable to get back through the creek I had just come through. Water was running over the roads in many places and it would not take much to trap me. Luckily from Warialda the weather became fine. All in all an additional 5 hours to the trip. The irony : The Moree road opened 10 mins after I left Goondiwindi. The luck: A woman was trapped between 2 creeks on the same back rd that I had driven only hours before and spent the night trapped in her car and was helicoptered out the next morning.

Family:

My sisters were also at my mothers as it was her 75th birthday. The eldest daughter gave mum a few photo frames to hang family pictures on her walls. In front of the whole family Mum said to her ” when I was younger I would have accepted the gift and said thank you very much, but now I am older I want to tell you that I do not like them at all” We all went slient and my sister leaned over and said to me ” Now she is older my foot, she has never been any bloody different” to which we both agreed and chuckled.

Love:

One of the families I vist have a majorly disabled son who actually died in her arms last month before she resuscitated him. He requires 24 hours care and totally handicapped. He was rushed to Dubbo Hospital where the mother was advised to let him go. The mother refused and pointed out to them that if it was her other son with no disability they would be doing all they could to save him and her love for them both is equal and she demands they do all in their power to save her son. He is flown to Sydney and the parents were down there for 9 weeks and only returned home the second week in December with their disabled son. The unflincing love and devotion of a mother is an amazing force.

So these are a few events that I have experienced during the last month, has anyone else got any they would like to share.

It’s Getting Better All The Time

Predicting the future in politics is always a difficult task, so why not let one’s imagination take the lead. Positive thoughts bring about positive changes.

As I delve into my crystal ball, the following come to mind:

The mega miners have a sudden outbreak of conscience and decide not to oppose the Resource Super Profits Tax. Twiggy immediately calls a press conference and announces that he also intends to donate the tax which he has avoided paying for the past seven years. The beneficiaries are to be the Yindjibarndi people.

Gina decides to go on a diet for charity, vowing to donate all proceeds to the government’s Clean Energy Fund. The Clean Energy Council’s CEO and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet are spotted doing high-fives.

John Howard announces a change of heart saying that in the future he will be voting for a Republic. He demands an immediate referendum. Little Johnny adds that he can now see why both himself and royalty are anachronisms.

Cardinal Pell decides to back both the science of climate change and gay marriage.

Tony Abbott decides to quit politics, not just for the good of the party but for the sake of the Australian people. Sounds of wails and lamentations are heard, from shock jocks and some MSM journalists, all of whom have donned sackcloth and ashes. One was heard to lament,

“What do I do now! What if the new Liberal leader comes up with policies (gasps are heard from his fellows). I’ve forgotten how to write about about these.” (sobs quietly into his Kleenex).

Tony promises, “Never again will I be photographed wearing Lycra.”

.

2001: A Race Odyssey

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching the right resort to shrill when we of the left voice an opinion that they disagree with.  They are like seagulls at a loose chip.  Funny to watch.  How often have we thrown away a chip for the enjoyment of watching them do battle?

The name John Howard is a prized chip.  I love to drop it.  It brings the seagulls in, squawking, flapping, fighting each other.  Only one seagull wins.  The losers turn against the winner.

So typical of the right.

I’ve often wondered what this country would be like if John Howard hadn’t have turned the 2001 election battle into one of race.  Would we still be a country where xenephobia dominates the political landscape?

Malcolm Fraser opened the doors to a quarter of a million Vietnamese refugees and papers released under the 30 year rule show that Howard bitterly opposed this.  His ideals in 2001 were unchanged.  But supposing they had, and race was not entered into the 2001 political equation, would Abbott have shown the same kindness in 2011?  Is there anyone in the Liberal Party who would have?

Conversely, is there anyone in the Liberal Party who, if leader, would have abandoned the xenophobic shrillness created by Howard and perpetuated by Abbott?

More importantly, would we be a better and more racially tolerant country if John Howard hadn’t have degenerated the 2001 into a racial slog?

I believe we will be.

There are two photos below.  One is a creature who squawks a lot, bites the necks of others while fighting over the spoils, then flies off and shits on people.  The other is a seagull.

Cape Gull (Larus dominicanus vetula)

Image by Lip Kee via Flickr

John Howard in Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia in...

Image via Wikipedia

Asylum seekers: a reality check

One thing that has become apparent throughout the lengthy debate surrounding the asylum seeker issue is that no solution is ever going to be perfect.

Tony Abbott’s policy, if one could honor it with such a description consists of:

Turn Back the Boats. As Möbius Ecko stated: “I am yet to hear how the opposition are going to turn the boats around.”

The reintroduction of TPVs which Tony Abbott has stated “are necessary to stop the boats”.

Offshore processing but only in a country which is a signatory to the UNHCR and logistically the only option is Nauru and Manus Island. The hypocrisy surrounding this “new policy” astounds given the former Howard government’s complete disregard to numerous conventions relating to refugees.

So where are we currently.

We have Indonesia who doesn’t perceive Our Problem as particularly serious but who has, due to the efforts of Kevin Rudd cooperated with addressing people smuggling at it’s source. Not the impoverished Indonesian fisherman/crew members but the Big Boss people smugglers, and this is working with the Australian Federal Police. Indonesia has also given permission for Australian Patrol Boats to enter her waters for surveillance purposes.

However, Indonesia with her hundreds of thousands of refugees cannot consider Our Problem that being of just a few thousand entering our waters, anything other than a minor problem.

We also have two High Court rulings one which provided that all asylum seekers irrespective of whether they were processed offshore or onshore should have access to the Australian justice system.

As Chris Bowen previously pointed out:

”It just means that people get processed and the majority get settled in Australia. It doesn’t break the model.”

Having no access to the justice system was of course one of John Howard’s prime motivations in establishing offshore processing and the excising of Australian territory. One of George W. Bush’s “great ideas” aka Gitmo, and the Sheriff’s Deputy trailed along behind.

The second High Court ruling found that the minister could not validly process asylum seekers to a third country unless that country was bound under law to be able to provide effective protection for them while their status was being determined. The High Court found that currently this protection as was originally presented to Parliament is inadequate. Which then gets us to Phillip Ruddock’s recent recommendation:

PHILLIP RUDDOCK: We’ve said that that could be addressed by essentially Malaysia becoming a party to the refugee convention but I would suggest that it could also be met if Malaysia were prepared to formalise the arrangements, that is, to give Australia a written agreement.

This morning we have an article by lawyer and Refugee Advocate Robert Manne which will dismay many of the left.

Manne commences his article with this quote:

When the facts change I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?: John Maynard Keynes

For its part, the left has been unwilling to concede the Pacific solution succeeded in deterring the boats. Between 1999 and late 2001, 12,176 asylum seekers arrived by boat. In the years of the Pacific solution – 2002 to 2008 – 449 arrived. Since its abandonment, 14,008 asylum seekers have reached Australian shores.

The left’s unwillingness to acknowledge the obvious has been of great political significance. Following Rudd’s election in 2007 a wise asylum seeker policy would have involved leaving the Pacific solution intact but humanising policy by increasing the annual quota of refugees and ending mandatory detention. The internment camps on Nauru were virtually empty. The undeniable cruelty of the policy had reached its natural end.

No one on the left with an interest in asylum seeker policy – and I include myself – was farsighted or independent or courageous enough to offer the incoming Rudd government such advice.

Manne then offers:

One solution is to nominate in advance the number of those found to be refugees Australia will accept each year from the camp, and to admit that number on the basis of date of arrival. The likelihood of a long wait should act as a powerful deterrent.

So where to? Will the media continue to concentrate on the politics of the issue, maintaining in rhetoric of this being just a game and yet another reason for a photo op for Tony Abbott such as occurred in Nauru, or will the media start showing some responsibility and assist Australia in finding a genuine solution.

When we go to Rio +20

This cross post from AllVoices goes with the twitter hash tag #futurewewant:

When we go to Rio De Janeiro in June next year, lots of emotional capital will be invested in the success of the Rio +20 Earth Summit. It’s the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil’s iconic city. This time those two elements are brought together as the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

…Rio +20 needs to be more than a dream. It must come up with more than a platform to negotiate an agreement. It must deliver more that the bare bones ‘institutional framework’.

The summit can be a game changer, an earth mover. It’s over to you!
Rio +20: Earth Mover or Green Economy Carnival

Think this should be in the More in Hope than Expectation category.

The Anatomy of a Backflip

When studying Australian history at UniSA I was not so much interested in the events that shaped history, but rather, what was in the minds of the people who created it.  Particularly so with the early explorers and colonists with regards to their knowledge of the Aboriginal inhabitants.  What was the popular consciousness in European thought that gave them the ordained right to place Aborigines lowly on the evolutionary ladder?  Simply, what was in their heads?

And so it was when I set out to write this post, The Anatomy of a Backflip, dedicated to that master of backflips, Tony Abbott.  “What’s in his head?” I asked.  There had to be something in his consciousness too.  With all of us, every step ever made, every breath ever taken, every thought ever – in Abbott’s case – bubbled, combine to make us the person we are and delivers us to this moment.  Tony Abbott could possibly be no different.

Oh how I clearly over-estimated him.

A satirical statement I stumbled upon on the LessWrong blog site threatened my ideology.

People go funny in the head when talking about politics.

I just knew I was onto something.  Further into the blog I found that the author was more than just a satirist, but a genius too.

Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality – but it’s a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.

Politics is an extension of war by other means.  Arguments are soldiers.  Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back – providing aid and comfort to the enemy.  People who would be level-headed about even-handedly weighing all sides of an issue in their professional life as scientists, can suddenly turn into slogan-chanting zombies . . .

Does that sound like someone we know?

Continue reading

Tony Abbott demonised!

Today’s Australian provides an article by Paul Kelly.

As we have been discussing here at the Café, and I will quote Tom R:

I assume he is referring to the incessant ‘leadership challenge’ meme being pushed by the liberal parties media arm. I also like the way they have declared this as ‘Ms Gillard’s bungled reshuffle ‘, soon to be entered into the ltdnews lexicon along with ‘pink batts fiasco’, BER rort’, and ‘Carbon Tax’.

Own the news, own the history.

It seems that while some of the Liberal arm publicity techniques are quite transparent, as per Tom’s example that the recent reshuffle has likewise earned itself an adjective that being “bungled”. Also noted has been the continuous and unchallenged use of unnamed sources, or as Tom expressed it,

“It’s more like a cook book, with 101 different sauces”.

It is some sort of bizarre game of Chinese Whispers that the media indulge in. Not content with it’s imaginative and unsubstantiated use of adjectives to describe things non-bungled, things only minimally rorted the media then proceeds to build on it’s own invented rhetoric and to use these as the basis for interviews where Labor politicians must thereby have to prove that which was an invention in the first place. The ‘impending’ leadership challenge being a prime example.

But back to the Paul Kelly piece. Once again we are confronted with opinion dressed up as facts, that while there is a substantial amount of valid ‘opinion’ here, Kelly likewise relies the technique of the subliminal suggestion.

Here are some that I have picked out from Paul Kelly’s article:

– such a weakened government – this damaged Labor government – the shadow over her leadership is lengthening – her authority problem and the pervasive threat from Kevin Rudd – how long will the minority government last? Nobody knows – she seems stuck between the entrenched scepticism of the public and her own failures of judgment

The typical media strategy as observed is the headline, quite often in contradiction of the text. Then fill the first paragraph or 2 with unsubstantiated claims and lurking somewhere below one might find, if one is persistent enough…some substance.

So what has this to do with the title of this topic?

Kelly states:

Its last resort is to demonise Tony Abbott sufficiently to make him unelectable.

Astounding. After spending so much time and so many adjectives on Julia Gillard, Paul Kelly then preempts an impending scare campaign to demonise Tony Abbott.

Paul Kelly, how prophetic of you when you have spent the first few paragraphs of your article using overblown rhetoric and rash generatisations***

***Ref: R W Jepson “The absurdity of forming generalisations from single or isolated instances..”.

Who are the whingers? Is this country as badly done by, as the whingers and whiners assert?

We have a country that is travelling well and most are doing better than most elsewhere in the world.

What I have notice, most of the nominations come from the right or media.

“….Surely there should have been a category for Media Whinger of the year, perhaps Newspaper commentariat whinger of the Year, certainly Newspaper Whinger of the Year and Shock Jock whinger of the year, and a sub-category Political whinger of the year for politicians other than Tony Abbott …

Isn’t that the whole point of handicapping favourites?  Wouldn’t Abbott be content with Attack Dog of the Year?  Foxes and day-old chickens a speciality…

http://www.blogotariat.com/node/197379

“……….And so it’s time again for our gala ceremony to announce the Australian Whinger of the Year. I got more than 400 emails from readers last week, most agreeing with my short list of Tony Abbott, the retailer Gerry Harvey, those meddlesome priests George Pell and Fred Nile, and the moaning, mining magnates Twiggy Forrest and Gina Rinehart…………..

……………Tony Abbott does not. Like his mentor John Howard, he plays to our base instincts of greed, selfishness and fear. He wallows in the politics of NO, apeing the hysteria of the shock jocks: we are on the brink of economic disaster; climate change is ”crap”; we are ”threatened” by gays and left-wing social engineering; a flood of ”illegals” is swamping our borders.

We have the ”worst government in our history”, he howls, blithely ignoring Billy McMahon’s Coalition shambles of the 1970s and Arthur Fadden’s wartime conservatives of 1941, who collapsed in a heap after just 40 days in office………………..”

Read more here.

“…THE self-acclaimed left-wing media have not had a good week.

In the UK, the self-righteous Guardian, which Private Eye used to sneer at as “the Grauniad”, has been dragged to confess it was wrong to claim reporters from the now-extinct News Of The World had deleted messages from a missing girl’s mobile phone, leading her parents to believe that she might still have been alive.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reprinted The Guardian’s fabrications. The ABC’s Media Watch jumped onto the bandwagon………..”

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/self-righteous-sneerers-caught-in-the-guardians-twisted-web/story-e6frezz0-1226223332923

Yes, according to Ackermann, wrong, wrong.  Nevertheless, is it?

http://www.blogotariat.com/node/197379

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/12/16/uk-newscorp-hacking-murdoch-idUKTRE7BF17420111216

“………….Is James Murdoch Running Out of Denials?…………..”

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/is-james-murdoch-running-out-of-denials/

“…….Yet the public love Akker Dakker. Why at the time of writing, Akker Dakker’s piece had a single, solitary note from a fan, one Peter of Adelaide, who can see the truth as Akker Dakker sees it:

The Left has certainly done very serious damage to Australia. This includes the Age, smh, the ABC and the Guardian. Thanks for exposing more of these disasters.

Indeed it’s simply impossible to calculate the infinite damage The Guardian has done to Australia, but somehow a certified master black belt of whinging like Akker Dakker will find a way …”

http://www.blogotariat.com/node/197379

“…………..JULIA Gillard’s cabinet reshuffle was provoked by her need to look competent, tough and decisive.

Piers’ blog

Instead it has made her look incompetent, weak and indecisive.

She is ending her year looking like a comic book character pulling the rug from under her own feet. Her hold on the party is less than tenuous and disunity is death. Martin Ferguson ducked attempts to have him commit to Gillard’s leadership, saying only that he was loyal to the ALP.

But the real foment is taking place in the senate. While most Australians have little understanding of the upper house, its members do matter, particularly in party politics. Do not forget that the putsches that removed both her predecessor Kevin Rudd and the former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull had their genesis in the senate – and Labor senators are grumbling…..”

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/new-labor-cabinet-but-the-cupboard-still-bare/story-e6frezz0-1226223336500

Is this true; is our PM so weak and incompetent?  Could many of our so-called journalists have imagination that would make four year olds proud.

I get the feeling that the last twelve months have been one of whining and complaining by many.  Whinges that have little connection to reality or what has occurred.

One has to ignore and deny much of what the Gillard government to conclude the media and the Opposition have arrived at.  It is more than being one eyed; one has to be deaf and blind.

Has it been the year of the whingers?  Who are the biggest whingers?

School Chaplaincy

 

Hello,

As I await a decision in my High Court challenge—many, many thanks for being one of the wonderful people responsible for helping me meet over one-third of my legal expenses to date.

Following are some developments subsequent to my August hearing in Canberra with accompanying links.

Everything in the public domain relating to my case (including the unpredicted, extensive, expensive post-case submission volleys) can be found here:

http://www.hcourt.gov.au/cases/case-s307/2010

You may be aware that on September 7, 2011, Peter Garrett announced a ‘born-again’ National School Chaplaincy Program—the NSCSWP—to include what he termed at the time, ‘secular student welfare workers’, as well as chaplains. Although the wily use of the word ‘secular’ had a soothing effect upon a naïve media at the time, the eventual release of the NSCSWP guidelines revealed a program allowing far more blatant ‘religiosity’ than John Howard’s NSCP model of 2006.

The NSCSWP moved from high farce to even higher tragedy in early November 2011 when Peter Garrett’s department, DEEWR, began releasing the first national lists of ‘potential’ suppliers of student welfare workers (‘secular’ having now disappeared from use) which included ACCESS Ministries, Christians Helping in Schools (CHIPS) and Youth for Christ. ‘Expressions of interest’ to supply chaplains and student welfare workers closed at 5pm on Friday December 16, 2011.

Appalled, I produced a fifteen-minute exposé, ‘Why Julia Gillard’s Born-Again NSCP is a Shameful Sham’, with a view to attracting some media attention to what can only be described as a con job:

http://vimeo.com/32709171

An update to Sham was released on December 1 via SPEL (Secular Public Education Lobby) News:

http://vimeo.com/32901272

Sham is a sequel to ‘Mr 97% Porkie Goes to Parliament’ which I produced in January 2010 prior to the establishment of my High Court proceedings:

http://youtu.be/JzoW_aTO0nk

So far, these disgraceful circumstances have only received coverage in the SMH on December 6:

http://www.smh.com.au/national/christian-group-ready-for-bigger-chaplaincy-role-20111205-1ofji.html

It’s interesting—although predictable if not encouraging—that the parachurch suppliers of chaplains and student welfare workers are seeking a contingency arrangement from DEEWR should my challenge be successful:

http://www.theage.com.au/national/funding-fears-for-school-chaplains-20111201-1o95x.html

I recently attended an address by Mungo MacCallum. While reflecting upon his long career in journalism, Mungo said that he couldn’t remember Australian political circumstances stranger than those of today. I’m certain that Mungo is correct.

Meanwhile, I wait for ‘that’ phone call from my solicitor—while maintaining the calm optimism present across the late afternoon of August 11, 2011.

Thanks Again,

Ron


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This is an update on the challenge to the High Court challenge on School Chaplains.  I thought some might be interested.  The author has given me permission to put the email on site.

Christmas at the Café

It seems that so much of Christmas is no more than rampant consumerism, where this year’s gifts are expected to be bigger and better (and more expensive) than last year’s, and the year before that, and yet the year before that.

It wasn’t always so, but even for the not religious that Christmas meant a time for reflection, a time where peace and goodwill should take precedence over all else.

Christmas has also been a thing of myths and legends. For those in northern climes, the home of the ancestors of many of us who now live in Australia, Christmas brought long cold nights, of using the last of the stored and preserved foods. But with every season of cold and darkness comes opportunities, the opportunity to light a pipe and for story telling.

Here is a short description, it’s a Nordic tale which I have taken from memory, it is of the Snow Queen’s Palace.

Illustration by Edmund Dulac

The walls of the palace were of driven snow, and the windows and doors made of cutting, biting winds. This was a palace of a hundred halls, the largest was lighted by Aurora Borealis which shone with precision, but all of the halls were empty and icy cold; but how resplendent. But happiness never reigned there, but cold, and empty were the halls of the Snow Queen.

In the middle of the empty, endless hall of snow, was a frozen lake; it was cracked in a thousand pieces. It was an ice-puzzle for the understanding – when one looked at it, the figures were extraordinarily beautiful, and of the utmost importance. Two words formed within the pattern, one was legend the other eternity.

To kiss the Snow Queen was to turn one to ice, like the splinters of a looking-glass penetrating the heart and to become a part of the palace, nothing more than cold, empty splendor.

But as all good legends end so this one ends, the warm tear of the hero’s beloved falls into his eye to melt the frozen shard in his heart.

Each and every Christmas my mother (bless her heart, mum turns 89 in a couple of months) would take me to either a pantomime or to the ballet. I was born when my parents were somewhat older and had given up having a child, so although I wouldn’t say that I was ever spoilt I will admit that Christmas was a time for special treats such as going to the ballet. Here is the music from one of my favorites.

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.: Bob Hope

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.: Dr. Seuss