Archive for March, 2011

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Just About Got There

31 March 2011

The last day of March and I DID manage to blog every day but one.  And as I’m all ready to catch my plane to England, I managed to squeeze in a post on the last day.

Thank you all for the 103 comments I’ve received this month.

Instead of using my Australian Random Number Generator (David), I’ll use my English one (Judith – my sister – honest as the day is long but not very good with numbers!) and announce the winners next week.  Then if I have time and opportunity, I’ll get some English goodies as gifts.

Thank you for sticking with me. 

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Thank You

29 March 2011

Thank you to all my friends, and friends I haven’t even met yet, for all the good wishes I’ve received today, both here and by email.. 

You are truly lovely people.

Thank you.

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I’m Sure You’ll Understand

28 March 2011

In March every year I promise myself I’ll blog every day – today is the 28th day and my 28th post.  So far, so good. But I’m afraid I’ll have to back out now.

My 90 year old mother is very seriously ill in England so I’m currently rushing around to get a flight and blogging is not going to be uppermost in my mind.

Of course, my offer of prizes still stands but has just been deferred a little. 

I’ll be in touch as soon as I can. 

Added:  I’m flying out of Australia on 31st.

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Vote Early . . . Vote Often

27 March 2011

A number of you have commented on Mike’s comment about the rather strange polling procedure.

As Sue said, because voting is compulsory here, they have to make it very easy for us.  And that means you can vote anywhere – not just in your own electorate.  And within your own electorate, you can vote at any polling booth.  So there’s absolutely nothing to stop me going into more than one booth and voting more than once.

I asked at the polling station whether they compare electoral rolls at all the booths to check for double voting.  I was told they did but frankly I can’t see the point.  If I were found to have double-voted, I’d just deny it.  “I can’t help it if someone has used my name somewhere else.”  And then what do they do – ask you which way you voted and deduct one from the final count?

In the UK, you CAN double vote but only at the same station, as we are all allotted the station to go to. Everyone gets a card sent to their home address with their electoral roll number and the place where they have to vote but you don’t have to have that with you when you vote.  This causes its own problems as you may have moved since the electoral roll was published and your old house gets your card.  Someone just pops along and shows your card and gets your vote. It’s happened to a few people I know that they’ve gone to vote and found their name has already been crossed off.  They then prove who they are and are given a different coloured voting paper.  What happens after that I’m not sure about but I know there’s an investigation.

I don’t find election nights as exciting here as in the UK as in Australia ballot boxes are counted at the polling stations and the results announced for each polling station – so we get the announcements in dribs and drabs.  In the UK, all ballot boxes for a particular electorate are taken to a local place (like the Town Hall) and opened all together. The postal voting papers are then added to the piles.  Not until ALL voting papers have been counted are the results announced (you may have seen it on television where all the candidates stand on the stage around the Returning Officer who announces the results).  This may not be until 3 in the morning so we stay up all night if it’s a particularly exciting election.  It means also that all candidates return to their electorate for the results and we see the faces of the elated and the dejected – and the tears sometimes.   From my experience of having stood, I do know that the candidates know the results before the Returning Officer announces them – because they may wish to ask for a re-count, for instance.

I know one thing that intrigues foreigners in England is that we vote on Thursdays.  I think this stems back to Thursday being the most popular market day so everyone would be coming into town to buy and sell. And because it’s a Thursday and people are working (maybe out of their electorates), the polling stations open from 7am – 10pm for a General Election (8am-9pm for a local one, for some reason). 

Don’t say you don’t get an education at Pompom!

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As We Enter The “Let Them Eat Cake” Era

26 March 2011

The polls have closed in New South Wales. A sad day. Opposition parties don’t win elections . . . Governments lose them. 

I haven’t met anyone who is voting for the Liberals because they think they’ll do a great job . . . in fact most people have no idea what the Liberals WILL do, as they haven’t seen fit to share their plans with us.  (Correction – I did read that they’re intending to build new roads.  New roads = more traffic, as has been proved time and again all over the world.  We don’t NEED more traffic.  We NEED public transport) 

And, as I read today, whichever way you vote, you still end up with a politician.

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Is It Cureable?

25 March 2011

I’m pretty sick of politics.  You’re probably sick of politics.  So the night before the people of New South Wales go to the polls, let’s forget about politics.

And what can be more important than politics than knitting?  I do occasionally take time out from ranting about the woeful state of Australian political life to actually do a bit of knitting.  Cardigan finished this week – just sleeves to be sewn in.  I eventually found the missing sock yarn so David WILL get the one that (vaguely) matches his birthday sock.  And I’ve nearly finished a scarf I started months ago.  I’m trying to clear the decks so that I can start on something a little more fulfilling. 

But does anyone else suffer from “that yarn is so gorgeous I couldn’t possibly use it up by knitting with it so I’ll just look at it for another few months-itis”?  I haven’t used ONE skein from the really fantastic yarn I was given for my birthday (8 months ago!). . .  and I love all of it.  Those kind friends who gave it to me must think I don’t like it.  The fact is that I like it too much to use it – and therefore not have it any more! Madness, I know.

Anyway, I need cheering up at the moment.  So next week when I’ve cleared some old projects away, I’m digging out something wonderful from my ever-growing stash.  And I’ll knit it.  And it will be for ME.

I’ll let you know if that cures me of this unpronounceable ailment.

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Make His Day – Write A Letter

24 March 2011

If you’ve read my blog more than a couple of times, you’ve probably realised that my politics veer to the left.  However, I’m not now and never have been a member of a political party.  I vote at each election on the issues and the candidates.  In the 2007 election, I would have voted for your dog if his name had been on the ballot paper and I thought it would get rid of John Howard (a dreadful PM and a slightly worse representative of his electorate).  So I was glad we had a good candidate in Maxine McKew.  But even when I support a particular party, I won’t vote for an MP who is an idiot (and, believe me, some of them are) or they treat their electorate with contempt. (And I’ll now take the opportunity to say this once again – it is MY blog after all – vote for Epping State MP, Greg Smith, at your peril.  He DOES treat his constituents with contempt).

In the 2010 election, Maxine lost this seat to John Alexander, also a Liberal like John Howard but I think (and hope) that is where the similarity ends.

I’m not a crackpot who bombards my MP with letters every week or sidesteps him on his doorstep.  But I do think people SHOULD write to their MPs to a) hold them to account and b) let them have the benefit of your opinion!  I gather that most MPs receive very few letters from their constituents.

So I wrote to John Alexander and received a proper reply, promptly. 10 out of 10 for that, John. As a result we corresponded on a couple of issues and he told me about an amendment he was presenting to the Social Security Act which would change the Pension Work Bonus to exempt the first $250 per fortnight of employment income from the income test, thereby increasing the incentive for age pension recipients to work. 

I of course decided to treat him once again to the benefit of my opinion, not phrased in terms perhaps suitable for the floor of the House but that’s where my email ended up, last Tuesday.

I quote from John Alexander’s address to the House of Representatives:

“It is no surprise to hear of the cynicism that many of my older constituents express about Government strategies to keep older people in work, as their experiences show that companies are generally disinclined to provide them with opportunities for this employment in the first place.  One such constituent, in reply to an email I sent on this Bill last week, claimed that whilst she supported the idea of this legislation, she found it to be, in her words “mainly academic“.  The quote continues: “You can’t increase the incentive for older people to work if there is no work available for them – apart from, as you mention, working as Father Christmas once a year”. 

She went on to say: “I think that the government should consider incentives to EMPLOYERS not just employees.  Maybe if there were some financial benefit to employing older people, companies may consider it.  There are loads of other benefits – we have experience, we tend to be more reliable, we don’t get pregnant, we tend not to miss work on Mondays because of hangovers etc etc.  The problem is getting the employers to recognise these!”.  Whilst I won’t go so far as to sully the image of non-pension age employees as generally unreliable or around the corner from pregnancy or a hangover (hopefully not both at the same time), I believe this constituent has a very valid point. ”

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My opinion is of course no more valid that anyone else’s but if we don’t tell our elected representatives what we think, don’t expect them to know.  Lobby groups spend millions getting their points across, ghastly radio show hosts try (and sometimes succeed) to control policy but it what’s WE want that really matters.  Look up your MP’s email address. put it into your address book and the next time you feel strongly about something or don’t like what s/he has done or said, write.  It will make YOU feel better and may make a difference.