Archive for November, 2011

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Things I Don’t Understand . . . No. 2

30 November 2011

Why is the Prime Minister giving a conscience vote on changes to the Marriage Act (to allow same-sex couples to marry)?

She says it’s so that MPs can vote according to their own values.

Firstly, I don’t see much evidence that many of them HAVE any values:  a more ethically-challenged group of people it would be difficult to find.

Secondly, why is the PM herself going to vote against it?  She claims to be an atheist and I’ve never heard an argument against the changes that doesn’t bring in religion somewhere or other.  Is it just because she doesn’t want to alienate a (small) group of people?  The majority of the country is in favour of it, by the way.

And thirdly, nobody is suggesting that the churches should be forced to marry same-sex couples.  And marriage celebrants (performing civil marriages) will have the same freedom they have now.  They’re independent and can choose not to marry anybody they wish. 

The previous Prime Minister, John Howard, was fond of saying that marriage was for the procreation of children so marriage between same-sex couples wasn’t valid.  I got married, as do many couples, in the full knowledge that children wouldn’t (and couldn’t)  result.   I therefore find it particularly offensive that my marriage isn’t considered ‘valid’ by some sections of the community and for our leaders to suggest such a thing is outrageous.  On that basis, couples would have to produce “fertility certificates” before they’re allowed to tie the knot (and no woman over the age of about 50 would be deemed suitable wife material).

Get over it, and get on with it.  The sky will NOT fall in.  

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Things I Don’t Understand . . . No. 1

28 November 2011

So the new CarbonTax will cost jobs and close businesses.  And the new Mining Tax will cost jobs and close businesses.  According to the Opposition, that is.

The majority of Australians can see the benefits of mining companies having to pay a “super profits” tax.  The natural resources belong to us, the companies are generally foreign-owned and most of their profits go off shore at present. 

But Tony Abbott says the tax will “cost investment and cost jobs”. 

And the Minerals Council of Australia say they need an additional 86,000 workers by 2020.  There’s even a push on the Government to allow more immigrant workers into Australia as the mines can’t meet the demands.

I think I know who I believe. 

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A Pox On Both Their Houses

11 November 2011

I recently met a man in Sydney who was born in Hungary but in the uprising of 1956, his parents scooped him and his two siblings into their arms and ran across the border.  His mother told him her biggest fear was that they’d all be shot in the back.

They went to England – homeless, jobless and penniless.  They were found somewhere to live and a local couple “adopted” them, helping them in every way, from job applications to providing clothing and food when necessary.  About 10 years later, when my friend was in his early teens, he and his family moved to Australia but the kind couple in England remained life-long friends. 

His story struck a strong chord with me because my parents also helped a Hungarian refugee at that time.  He lived with my family and my father gave him a job.  The call had gone out round the ex-servicemen’s associations and very many English people volunteered to help.

Look at us now.  When did we become so heartless, selfish and unsympathetic that serious discussions take place about towing asylum seekers back out to sea?  Were the Hungarians in the 50’s helped because people like my father had just witnessed unspeakable horrors and never wanted to see them again?  Or was it because Hungarians were “people like us” as opposed to the Iraqis, Afghanis and Sri Lankans who now comprise most of those desperate for a new home in Australia?

And maybe because I come from a military family (my father, mother and sister all served in the armed forces) I give a lot of thought to the navy’s role in this.  Why would we even think of asking them (correction: ordering them) to tow a leaky boat (the Opposition’s phrase) full of men, women and children out into dangerous waters.  It goes against everything that the code of the sailor dictates and if (or rather, when) one of these boats sinks, the men and women on our Australian ships will have to live with the consequences of what they were forced to do.

I’m heartily sickened by the arguments between politicians over who can be the most harsh in their treatment of these desperate people. The arguments over where offshore they can be “processed”.  Will it be Malaysia, Nauru or some other far and away place?  What’s wrong with Australia?  And when did human beings start to be “processed” (Answer: in the second world war, in the European concentration camps)?  Meat is processed, not humans.

I don’t think that the Australian people are any less caring than the British were in the 1950’s (my Sydney Hungarian friend now tries to “pass on” the help he and his family received by doing the same for refugees here) but we’re being drip-fed stories to produce fear in us and the language used is deliberately chosen to ensure that we don’t start to humanise people who are to most of us faceless. 

And, as you’ve probably gathered, it makes me sick.