It’s still ‘merry Christmas’ in my language

It’s frowned upon in America to wish someone a ‘merry Christmas’. We were there one Christmas a couple of years ago and the best wishes were a simple and boring ‘happy holidays’. ‘Merry Christmas’ is an absolute no-no.


It’s politically incorrect. Someone, somewhere, might be offended.

The old saying of ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ was ignored in our case, but no-one seemed to care. We were Australians, so perhaps we were excused for our ignorance.

Mind you, we were quietly advised that in ‘their country’ it was strictly forbidden.

With all the anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the world we just (wrongly) assumed that it might have been the fear of offending Muslim people. We’ve assumed that ever since.

I’m glad to learn we were wrong. Yet horrified to learn that it is because of a minority group with even less of a minority (so to speak).

It’s irrelevant to me who it is, so I won’t dwell into it and it is best ignored.

‘Merry Christmas’ – I recently read – has as good as disappeared from the American vocabulary, and I’m disappointed to hear it being replaced with ‘happy holidays’ in Australia too.

I can think of more ways to offend a person than wishing them a ‘merry Christmas’, but I’m certain that none who still visits the Cafe will be offended.

So to those loyal few, we would like to wish you a merry Christmas and thank you for your loyalty.

We may even reward your continued visits here with a couple of posts in 2016.

Cheers, everybody.


As evidence of abuse mounts, prosecution of Abbott Govt in ICC looking more likely


A year or even six months ago most pundits would have agreed it was highly unlikely that an Australian prime minister would face prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding Government policy and treatment of asylum-seekers. But that was before the weeks and weeks of abuse testimony, of leaks by detention centres workers, and before the ‘people smugglers’ funding affair. Revelations of abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) of detainees, including children, at the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, has meant prosecution of the Abbott Administration in the ICC is now far more probable. Indeed, a case against the Abbott Government has been filed with the ICC. Below, we explain what this case with the ICC will involve and, on the way, examine the numerous Australian laws and international protocols that the Abbott Government is accused of violating.

A. Submissions to the ICC re Abbott Administration

In October 2014 Andrew…

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One for old time’s sake


June 6th, 2010. The day Café Whispers opened.

June 6th, 2014. The day we closed.

So why this ‘anniversary’ post?

Well even a year after closing our doors we still have up to 3,000 visitors a month dropping into the Café, maybe hopeful that the doors have re-opened. And we still receive email (via The AIMN) from people (many we don’t even know) who tell us they were disappointed we closed.

It just seemed fair to give those dedicated daily visitors a chance to simply get together again.

So what’s been happening over the last twelve months?

I guess that’s rather easy to answer: You just have to look at the mess this country is in, who is to blame, and what we’re trying to do about it.

On the latter Carol and I have been kept more than busy over at The Australian Independent Media Network – mainly as overworked admins, not as a writers – where all the team is committed to holding the Abbott ‘government’ to account. The expectations we had here at the Café for the worst opposition leader in history have been exceeded beyond anything we could have imagined. Tony Abbott has quickly filled the role of being the worst prime minister in the worst government at the worst possible time.

He has ignored climate change. Jobs are being lost. Services are being eroded. Retirement savings are disintegrating. The poor are being used as scapegoats to the advantage of the wealthy. Refugees are (still) being dehumanised and (still) made to suffer for political gain. Our freedoms are being eroded. And much of this is unfolding under the stunned gaze of a seemingly compliant opposition.

Whilst – as stated – we are committed to holding the government to account, we are equally committed to holding the opposition to account as well. For in many areas they have been equally disappointing. And again like the government, at the worst possible time.

It has been a disappointing twelve months in Australian politics (though not without sensationalism) and for those with an interest in the environment, the future, social justice, science, education etc, it has also been a disappointing year for Australia.

The next twelve months don’t look any brighter either.

Pity that.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that in the coming months Tony Abbott will call an early election. From that moment on we can expect with complete certainty that the Murdoch media will go feral on Labor whilst hoisting Abbott and his government on a pedestal he/they are certainly unworthy of. It will be ugly. You can add the Murdoch media to the list of those we in the social media attempt to hold to account!

One thing that has annoyed me personally over the the last year is the mainstream media’s fascination with political wedges. Maybe it’s because the political parties themselves are aiming for nothing else. Repeated scoops such as ‘Shorten goes soft to avoid being wedged’, ‘Abbott drove in the dividing wedge’, or ‘Shorten succeeded in wedging Abbott’ ad nauseum are all we hear. Instead of focusing on wedges and mainstream media commentators, Tony, Bill, how about coming up with something that resembles workable policies and direction for all Australians?

Speaking of the media, the media frenzy that surrounded Tony Abbott’s address to the National Press Club a few days before the expected leadership challenge earlier this year provided the perfect example of how out of touch the mainstream media is with the issues important to voting Australians.

After Mr Abbott’s address he fielded questions from the invited media representatives and one after one they threw questions about the expected challenge. With the rare exception it was apparent that nothing else was worthy of consideration. They were only interested in the challenge.

They then scurried back to their respective offices and penned a story for their dwindling readership about (their) biggest issue in Australia: the challenge (that never eventuated).

They blew the chance to question Mr Abbott on the real issues: the budget, the lies about Labor’s debt, same-sex marriage, the mistreatment of asylum seekers, growing unemployment, climate change and the government’s ignorance to it, unfair subsidies to mining companies, negative gearing etc etc.

Think of any important issue … and it was ignored that day.

And on the main they continue to be ignored (although we can expect them to be twisted around a bit once the election is called).

That day in the Press Club – though now long forgotten by most – stands out to me as no better example of how the media fails us.


But to finish on a lighter note … my New Year’s predictions were that by the end of the year we would have a new prime minister and that Port Adelaide would make the AFL Grand Final. I concede that both my predictions look a bit wobbly.

And now how about a song?

Temporarily under new management

On the ‘All things must pass’ thread, Michael said:

The Café won’t be disappearing into the internet oblivion though; it will be kept open indefinitely as an ‘archive’ of everyone’s contribution. So yes, by all means we’ll still be here if you wish to continue adding comments on any of our existing posts, but I will not be adding any new ones.

Following on from this thought, I have agreed to look after the Café to allow Michael time and space to deal with the AIMN site and his studies. Rather than developing or changing the Café, I will just keep an eye on it, perhaps creating a new ‘Cafe Talk’ thread if threads get too long, especially for those on mobile devices.

Some Whisperers have indicated interest in a new site to continue on from the Café, so with that in mind, I have started work on creating Whispers’ Cellar. I am quite busy at the moment with renovations to our kitchen, and my wife’s 95 year old aunt died yesterday, so that will also require some time to sort out – funeral and sorting through belongings, wills etc. I am hoping to have the Cellar open for business in the next few weeks. If anyone would like to help out – author an occasional article, or assist with the administration of the new site, let me know.

Meanwhile, we can continue our discussions upstairs here at the Café.

All things must pass


Our first logo

Our first logo


Today’s our fourth birthday, but sadly it will be our last.

When we opened we thought we’d last about a month! Now, four years later it’s time to draw the curtain on what has been an amazing experience.

If it were possible I’d keep the Café open forever – but it’s not possible.  I’m focused on finishing my law degree as well as other internet ventures, and I don’t seem to have the spare time that I’d like to have.

We finish with a proud record and that’s a good way to finish.

Over the four years we’ve had almost 1.5 million visitors, 147,000 comments, and 1,200 posts. These are remarkable statistics. But best of all we’ve shared this experience with hundreds of amazing people, many of whom I now consider truly great friends. They all added to the experience, and they all made it worthwhile.

There are too many to thank – both as authors or commenters – so forgive me if I skip that formality. However, I would like to reserve a special thanks to Min. The Café wouldn’t have had a heartbeat without her.

The Café won’t be disappearing into the internet oblivion though; it will be kept open indefinitely as an ‘archive’ of everyone’s contribution. So yes, by all means we’ll still be here if you wish to continue adding comments on any of our existing posts, but I will not be adding any new ones.

And of course we’ll still be able to catch up with each other over at The AIMN, which has grown beyond all my expectations and where many of my friends from the Café now gather. So we’ll see you there.

Anyway, shall we finish with a song?



Another Open Letter to Tony Abbott

The Australian Independent Media Network

TonyAbbottOpenLetterDear Tony Abbott

I’m writing to you again with the knowledge that you clearly haven’t read my previous correspondence, including this letter, this letter and this video. Since I wrote those letters, you have gone from my worst nightmare as an Opposition Leader, to an even worse nightmare of a Prime Minister. Yet, as I was reminded this week on Twitter, and as I would like to remind anyone who reads this letter, you aren’t a scary monster. Thinking of you has some scary creature underneath the bed is probably not very helpful because it gives you a status you don’t deserve (and I don’t like the idea of you being anywhere near my bed). But seriously Tony, to be scary and feared, you need to be successful. But when you look at your term as Prime Minister so far, it would be inaccurate to suggest you’ve been…

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Red tape?????????????

What is this government really about, when they talk about red tape? Is not revision of legislation a part of good governance of all governments?

We have those in the financial  and charity sectors pleading that Labor’s reforms remain in place; that is the Charities Commission, and new laws involving financial advisers. Most seem to be saying these are good legislation and necessary.

This government says they have to go, as it involves red tape.

We have seen all advisory bodies, and the processes to collect information go. Yes, things such as asking industry to inform the government of how they employ women.

They say that they have nine thousand pieces of red tape ready to repeal. How does one assess how much is really necessary regulations, to ensure that people and small business are protected?

Does one get the feeling that this government believes that businesses, especially big business should have no restraints by government on them at all?  That they should have complete freedom to do what they like?

Red tape rarely equals regulations. All or most are brought in to meet a need in society.

Yes, over time, all should be reviewed, as times change. Getting rid of all of it, is another thing.

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis wants to champion a ‘classical liberal’ approach to human rights, but what does this actually mean?

Tim Wilson, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, has announced that he will take a “classical liberal” approach to human rights. There is a fair degree of confusion about what this means.

Classical liberalism is not a coherent body of political philosophy. However, in relation to human rights, there are three key ideas that most classical liberals subscribe to.

The first is the idea that all people are born with rights, which they hold simply because they are human. This is the idea that underpins Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Not everyone shares this belief. Many people believe that rights are simply entitlements granted by the state and held only by citizens. But for classical liberals, rights are much more than this. They are universal (held by everyone) and inalienable (they continue to exist regardless of whether or not governments recognise this. Read more here.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States.It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, private property, and belief in laissez-faire economic liberalism. Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, including ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, the contradictory theories of natural law and utilitarianism, and a belief in progress.

In the early 20th century, liberals split on several issue, and particularly in America a distinction grew up between classical liberals and social liberals. Classical liberals supported the rights of captains of industry, who they saw as the natural leaders of society and the wellsprings of progress, while social liberals supported the rights of labor to organize into unions, and also supported the rights of women and minorities. Classical liberals favored small government which allowed businessmen the freedom to pursue profit without government interference. Social liberals favored big government to support the rights of the poor and disenfranchised.

In the mid-20th century, the classical liberals often formed an alliance with social conservatives; in the United States, they did this under the banner of the Republican Party. In Europe, the same two sides formed but with different labels: what are called social liberals in America are called simply socialists in Europe, and their party is usually called the Labour Party [sic]. Neither liberals nor conservatives adopted the ideology of pure Classical Liberalism, the belief that government exists to protect both social and economic civil liberty.

I must be mixing with the wrong people

I couldn’t tell you how many people I’ve met, although they must surely number in their thousands.

Tony Abbott – a person I have never met – appeals to the oddest types and I’m thankful that I haven’t met any of them either. But they are out there! The majority of them prefer, it seems, to hide behind an internet persona while spreading the government gospel, usually with huge amounts of vitriol and disdain against anyone who wants to save a forest, a heritage site, the planet or an asylum seeker.

I’m yet to meet a person – in real life – who behaves as insanely mad as the knuckle-dragging, right-wing cheer squad do when they bang down on their keyboard all frothed up with hate.

But I must be mixing with the wrong people. From what I’ve recently read here, there are hordes of Australians (who are not the internet Neanderthals that I deal with on a daily basis) who are grateful for Tony Abbott’s stamp of authority on our national affairs.

I really can’t claim to know anyone who fits into this category, though the nameless commenter here obviously does:

I am amazed at how many Australians I speak to every day who say that they are elated now that the boats have stopped and equally elated that the ALP 5pm news spin machine has dried up. In fact, they all say that they are enjoying their after work family time more due to the stance Morrison et al have taken against the labor media barrage we suffered previously.

An amazing number of people, apparently. And they speak about it daily. Or maybe it was just a bit of bullshit.

Here’s a ripper from another nameless imbecile:

Most of these “most asylum seekers arrive by air.” are foreign students who fly in to get a Bachelors, Masters or PhD degree. They spend a lot of time perving at the bikini girls on Bondi beach.

This causes them to apply for asylum before there visas expire.

Do any of our readers live in Sydney? If so, perhaps you could take a photo for us of all those perverted PhD students grouped together with their eyes bulging out. They should be easy to spot. There should be, apparently, tens of thousands of them. Or maybe it was just a load of bullshit.

From the same person:

I have to listen to people crying because they cannot get jobs because so-called asylum seekers who fly in do not want to go home.

I’ve seen them everywhere: dozens of people crying on each others’ shoulders in shopping centers, clubs, pubs, footy games and around the family BBQ. Our country is in tears because an asylum seeker finds a job. Or perhaps that was bullshit too.

And it appears that we all, apparently, have access to someone who has accommodated an asylum seeker. Although this nameless person calls them illegals, and I don’t know if known illegal residents – of which asylum seekers are not – are at liberty to stay in hotels, motels, guest houses or whatever.

Talk to a few people who have accommodated these illegals , they carry on like ungrateful pigs . Even thrashed hotel/motels in Brisbane justify that Sludge! Stay on Manus Island , it is a really beautiful island. I had to pay a lot of money to get there and to leave

And I’m sure Manus Island must be a beautiful island. Aussies must be flocking to the place. Our asylum seekers would be so pleased to be locked up in such a beautiful place in the world. Why bother coming to Australia (to trash hotels) when you can live in such a paradise?

Either I must be mixing with the wrong people or the right-wingers on this site (who are typical of what I’ve seen across the internet) know nothing but bullshit.

I suspect it’s the latter.

Image courtesy on

Image courtesy on

Work is killing our weekend or . . . Women and kids kill jobs

big_girl2_pp_pe_peAustralians ranks amongst the hardest working in the first world, ranking fourth for long hours worked among 34 OECD nations.

Turkey ranked No. 1, with almost half its population working more than 50 hours a week. Mexico and Israel followed. The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Russia had the best work-life balance with only 1 or 2 per cent of employees working very long hours.

And that’s just the blokes, with one in 5 men working more than 50 hours per week.  At least Aussie sheilas are doing it better; or at least better than Turkey or Mexico . . . or are we?

TAKE a bow, ladies – Australian women are among the world’s hardest-working on the home front.

A report has found that of females in 29 countries, Australians rank fifth in the number of hours each day spent doing unpaid work.

Although this article from the Herald Sun treats the issue somewhat flippantly, unpaid work does mean one hell of a lot more than running the vac’ around the lounge room, it’s the carers, the volunteers without whom organisations could not exist . . . you know who you are.

Australian women also have the least time to follow leisure pursuits.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that “WORK is killing off the great Australian weekend and starving kids of family time.”.  Below of course pertains not just to the traditional family, mum, dad and kids but to all working people who are socially deprived due to the impossibility of anything resembling a life/work balance.

Australians are now three times more likely to work weekends than they were 20 years ago – one in three workers now spends Saturday or Sunday on the job.

New research exposes the true cost of weekend work, as it steals leisure time with friends and family all week long.

When fathers work weekends, mothers get less quality leisure time with their children as they catch up on chores.

But when women work Saturdays, the blokes spend more time with their mates.

Weekend work has nearly trebled over the past 20 years, from 12 per cent of workers in 1993 to 33 per cent today, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Half of all business owners, 42 per cent of contractors and 30 per cent of employees now spend their weekends in the workplace, rather than the backyard or beach.

And one in four workers is on call or on standby, as technology contaminates leisure time with messages and emails from the boss.

The Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW has calculated the “knock-on” impact of weekend work on leisure time, by analysing ABS data sourced from time-use diaries filled in by more than 4000 workers.

When men work weekends, the researchers found, “this comes at the cost of mother-child leisure time”.

The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Lyn Craig, said weekend work was bad for family bonding, friendship and community ties.

More people are working shifts because lots of jobs are becoming 24/7, like retail,” she said yesterday.

“And workers are having their weekends encroached upon more and more by technology, so it seems harder to have a boundary between work and home.

“It’s not good for family bonding, to not have parents available to their kids when their kids are available.”

The research shows both parents spend less quality time with their kids if either mum or dad works weekends.

The above article is from, and published in August last year.

This is the reality of working Australia.  Also to be kept in mind is that according to the ABS,One quarter of all employees earned $588.00 or less“.

More female employees were employed part-time (52.3%) than full-time (47.7%). Average weekly total cash earnings were $1,278.40 for full-time females and $562.40 for part-time females.

Eric Abetz:  “We risk seeing something akin to the wages explosion of the pre-accord era when unsustainable wage growth simply pushed thousands of Australians out of work.”

Steven Walters, a chief economist with JP Morgan, says “. . .wages growth is the lowest it has ever been.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure from his backbench to address ”job-killing” weekend and holiday penalty rates, with 10 Coalition MPs telling Fairfax Media the controversial issue cannot be ignored.

Does this make any sort of sense?  Since the Murdoch media installed Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, Abbott’s Mr. No persona has been reinvented as Mr. Slash and Burn with thousands of jobs thrown in the dust bin in pursuit of Abbott’s ideologies. Who exactly is the job-killer Tony?

Yet according to Abbott and Abetz it’s the kids, the women trying to support themselves and their families . . .and who are prepared to work weekends and holidays, and while knowing that they must sacrifice valuable family time in order to achieve this; it’s they who are in the “job-killing” business.

Yes you have it, according to the Liberals, Australians who work some of the longest hours of all OECD countries, and with the worst life/work balance, especially pertaining to women who seem to have ZERO time to do anything else except work . . . paid and unpaid; these same hard-working Aussies according to Abbott and Abetz are “in the job-killing business”.  Clearly the solution is to pay them less.