The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

18 April 2014

Yes, it’s that time of year again – Sydney’s Royal Easter Show.

I really miss going around with David Reidy and talking about the entries but I still go along there and peer into the cabinets.  I did enter three items this year but by “enter”, I mean I paid the fees and received the paperwork.  The knitting never made it as far as the Show (in fact at the rate I’m going, they may not be ready for next year).

But there was the usual mixture – some beautiful items, so well-crafted they take your breath away (well they do if you’re a knitter), some fairly mediocre entries, some nice zany ones, and some ……..!  As usual there was at least one item that we couldn’t identify.  I remember David and I staring at something for ten minutes one year trying to work out what it actually was (and the catalogue didn’t help).  Well we had another one this year that kept some of amused for a while.  I still have no idea.

If you’re on Ravelry, there are some excellent pictures here.  Courtesy of Jody – thank you.

And to those people who often ask me about David and how he’s doing, I bumped into him a couple of weeks ago and he’s fine.


Tighten Your Belts

15 April 2014

The Government is preparing us for a tough budget – we’ll all have to tighten our belts apparently.  Two of the savings they’re considering are raising the retirement age to 70 and reducing the State Pension.

That seems like a great way to run a country – let’s get the pensioners to pay for it.  I’ve certainly seen no mention of perhaps raising the highest rate of income tax, or company tax.  The cynic in me presumes that this is because aged pensioners in this country don’t donate squillions to the Liberal Party coffers.  And remember that a State Pension in Australia is heavily means-tested.  It isn’t just dished out to everyone above retirement age so we can assume that the recipients actually need the money.

They’re still determined though to push through their changes to maternity pay.  FULL salary for 6 months, capped at $150,000 a year.  It’s currently 18 weeks at the minimum wage ($622 per week).  The proposed scheme will cost $6.1 BILLION. 

And raising the retirement age?  It’s difficult enough finding employment if you’re over 50 – practically impossible if you’re over 65 unless you’re highly qualified and experienced in a specialist field.  But if you’re in that category, you can probably retire when you want as you won’t be looking for support from the State.  It’s manual workers and the unqualified who will be the hardest hit, and they’re the ones for whom working till 70 may just not be physically possible. 

I fear this is going to be very selective belt-tightening.


I Managed It!

4 April 2014

I’m not quite sure HOW I managed it, but I did post every day in March.  Now I must see if I can keep this going – not every day but at least 2-3 times a week. 

Thank you to all of you who visited every day. 


A Foolish Lamington

1 April 2014

It’s only 8.45am here on 1st April but I’ve just found my first April Fool’s prank  -  as usual in the Guardian (the Australian online version).

An interesting article written by Olaf Priol (April Fool?) iabout the Lamington being a New Zealand invention, as proved by an 1888 painting. 

An academic, Dr Arun Silva (haven’t worked out the anagram there yet but I’m sure there is one!), states that this proves conclusively that the Lamington did NOT originate in Australia. 

Well, that’s settled that then.


Another Great Quote

31 March 2014

In the last few months, car manufacturers in Australia have announced closures (as cars are cheaper to make in other countries), and Qantas is sacking about 5,000 workers (and putting a lot of their work “offshore”.)

Our Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, put it very well yesterday I thought when she stated that when Tony Abbott had announced before the election that he would create a million jobs, it was assumed that at least some of these jobs would be in Australia.



Historical Hysteria

30 March 2014

Apparently large numbers of complaints are being received by the company behind “Noah”, the new film with Russell Crowe, from people who claim that the film isn’t factually correct.

In the common parlance, WTF? 

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there are people out there who believe that the Bible is a history text book.  But I AM surprised that they know how to write a letter or send an email.  



29 March 2014

Over the last few weeks in Australia, we’ve been watching with growing horror the evidence presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as a stream of people attempt to justify the blind eye they turned to obvious abuse of children, or worse still how they actively covered up crimes committed by members of their staff.  For a couple of weeks, we had the Salvation Army trying to excuse the behaviour of some of their Officers and their total lack of action over the known activities of some of these people.

And then we got the Catholic Church, including getting Cardinal Pell into the box.  He’s leaving Australia shortly to take a post in Rome, overseeing the Church’s vast wealth.  And it would appear from the evidence we heard this week that he has a fair bit of experience in that field.

The Sydney Archdiocese alone (ie NOT the whole of Australia) has assets of $1.2 BILLION, of which about $300 MILLION is in cash.  Obviously this raises questions about why they spent about $1 million fighting a legal case against an abuse victim rather than pay him $100,000.  But it also raises questions to me about why we, the Australian taxpayer, are funding ANY of their activities.  Why can’t the Catholic Church pay for its own schools for instance? 

I’ve been told a few times that all Australians pay into the system and therefore if they choose to have their children educated at a private or religious school, it’s only fair that some of the money they have contributed be given to those schools.  I pay local rates and part of those go to the funding of a free (and very good) library service.  If I choose to not use that service but buy all my books from booksellers, should I expect that the Government provide funding to Dymocks or Amazon?  If I want to drive my car rather than catch the train, should I be receiving a subsidy to run my car as I’m not availing myself of the public transport system?

And don’t tell me that if everyone left the private education sector and went into the public one, it would collapse under the strain.  It would have a lot more money than it has now, for a start.  And if that’s the argument, we could also argue that private car use should be Government-subsidised so that the entire population doesn’t elect to use the public system.

Utter nonsense, all of it.  And incredibly expensive nonsense at that.



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