Archive for August, 2013

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Depressing and Parochial

13 August 2013

This is my blog.  I’m not the ABC or CNN.  I have no charter which says that I have to present an unbiased view or both sides of the argument. I’m just warning you because I feel that as the next few weeks drag on, I’ll be venting my anger here!   

Australia is in full election mode . . . polling day is 7th September.  And I’m more than worried that we’re going to see the truth in the adage that “Oppositions don’t win elections, Governments lose them”.  If there’s anyone in this country who feels that Tony Abbott would be a great Prime Minister I’ve yet to meet him or her.  I was talking to a MEMBER of the Liberal Party last week who isn’t even going to vote Liberal because he can’t bear the thought of Tony being PM.  The man is a complete idiot (and don’t tell me how well educated he is . . . he’s a Rhodes Scholar . . . in this case education certainly didn’t maketh the man). 

He can hardly string a sentence together, the powers-that-be in the Liberal Party have kept him out of the limelight over the last few months but they couldn’t keep that up so now he’s been let loose on the Australian public.  Yesterday we had him referring to the “suppository of wisdom”  (which of course led to many quips online about his being his own worst enema, and talking out of his arse etc).  Today he referred to one of his female candidates as “sexy”.  He has a reputation for being a totally un-reconstructured male, to which he argues that he has two daughters.  Er?  If every man with a daughter were a feminist, we wouldn’t have needed Germaine Greer.

He was talking tonight about how the Liberals will do what they say they’re going to do.  Er (again)?  He hasn’t SAID what he’s going to do. He’s said that all will be revealed before the election. (I think they must still be writing it – and yes, I have read Real Solutions but that doesn’t throw any light on anything).

Australia is a modern, very large 1st World country.  Listening to Tony and his ilk is SO depressing.  They have no vision, no plans beyond the next election.  They behave like a mother trying to make ends meet during a depression and unemployment – squirreling away what money she can to make sure there’s food on the table every day and the rent is paid.  It’s all so parochial it nearly makes me sick.

Julia Gillard looked towards the future and planned for it.  We had the Gonski education reforms, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Carbon Tax, the National Broadband Network.  Big projects to make this a better country.

Tony Abbott reminds me of so many women I’ve met who’ve told me they’re going to have a baby “when they can afford it”.  If they stick to that they’ll remain childless for life. 

You DON’T run a country in the way you run a household budget.   You run a country in the way you’d run a big business.   That does not involve saving up a bit each month until you can afford your next big project.   No new houses, roads or bridges would ever get built that way.

There is one major difference though between running a country and a business.  We expect the Government to have concerns beyond just the economic.  It isn’t (or shouldn’t be) all about money.  We also want them to legislate for our human rights, our legal system, the way that the most vulnerable in society are treated.  On those subjects both parties have remained mainly silent – with the exception of telling us how they’ll treat asylum seekers.  And Kevin Rudd has said he’ll support a same-sex marriage bill within the first 100 days.

I do wonder sometimes if parliamentary service should be treated in the same way as jury service.  Everyone over the age of 18 would be eligible to be called up to be a parliamentarian for a fixed term.  I’ve never served on a jury but I’ve been told that generally jurors take the job very seriously and are concerned to do “the right thing” – unlike most of our MPs.  A conscripted MP wouldn’t be going into the job to line his pockets or for the fame and glory. I think they’d just be concerned about getting the job done, as they don’t have to worry about the polls or being re-elected. 

It will never catch on but anything has to be better than this.  

 

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Going Public

11 August 2013

You name it – I’ve probably talked about it here.  My likes and dislikes, politics, knitting, funny events and people.  But I realised this week that I keep totally silent on one big part of my life.   

About 5 years ago I was “ordered”, along with others, not to talk in public (ie on the internet) or to non-members about the Knitters’ Guild, as though the Guild was a branch of the Freemasons or the Ku Klux Klan.    For some obscure reason, this was considered disloyal. 

I remember thinking at the time that if I ran the Guild I would encourage all members to talk about it, wherever and whenever knitters and crocheters gather,  We had about 500 members who we should be using as a great marketing tool.  So I bided my time.

With a new President three years ago, and a good Executive Committee, the attitudes slowly changed.  We started a Ravelry group, opened Twitter and Facebook accounts and encouraged people (members and non-members) to visit our website.  For the last two years I’ve been the Treasurer and helped bring the Guild into the 21st Century, with changes like the introduction of a Paypal facility for online membership and workshop applications. Nobody said I couldn’t talk about this but old habits die hard and I never mentioned the Guild here.

And now I’m the President.  So I’ll follow my own advice and plan to ensure that every knitter and crocheter in New South Wales is aware of our existance.

We’re the Knitters’ Guild NSW Inc.  This is a large and active organisation to run so we have an Executive Committee of 9, and 8 or so sub-committees. We have 22 groups around the huge State of New South Wales, two having opened in the last 4 months (Queanbeyan and Blacktown) and hope to have another up and running at The Entrance in October.  We now have about 720 members so we’ve definitely been doing something right over the last three years.  We run workshops (often with well-known international visitors), we supply the judges to a lot of the State’s shows, we put on exhibitions, we have a newsletter and a library.  Every two years, we hold a Knitting Camp weekend and the next one is in September with so far over 50 people booked to attend.  Non-members are welcome to attend workshops or Camp, at a slightly higher charge than that made for members, and are invited to make two visits to any group without joining the Guild.  At one workshop this year, one non-member present was so impressed that she joined the Guild online during the course of the day’s tuition.    

You can visit our website here (it’s currently being re-built and should be bigger and better in the coming months). 

We’re now “out and proud”!      

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The Race To The Bottom

2 August 2013

Alternative title:  How Low Can We Get?

Apparently we in Australia have a “National Emergency”.  So bad, according to the Opposition, that if they win the next election, they’ll appoint a three-star military officer to deal with it.  It would appear that our borders have been compromised and we should all be quaking in our beds at night. 

Because about 20,000 people arrive here every year without proper “paperwork”. They’ve “jumped the queue”.  They get on boats to flee what horrors their lives hold and they try to get to Australia.  Incidentally about 98% I believe are assessed to be genuine refugees or asylum seekers.

Paperwork?  Take the Afghanis who fled here when the Taliban was running their country as an example.   Your average Afghani family I don’t suppose took much in the way of foreign holidays so wouldn’t have had any need for a passport.  They wanted to flee the country because of persecution by their Government.  They’re hardly likely to be able to go to that same Government and ask for the proper paperwork to enable them to do so.  And join a queue??  Neither Australia, the UK or the USA even had an embassy in Afghanistan then.   Where was this queue? They fled to Pakistan (now that IS a country with a refugee problem but we don’t seem to care about that. And Jordan?  They have a million plus people who’ve fled from Syria.)  From Pakistan they try to get to Indonesia where they aren’t allowed to work, their children can’t go to school and if they’re assessed as genuine refugees they can wait up to THIRTY YEARS to be relocated,

So they try to get to Australia.  In dreadful boats.  And they know they’re risking their lives because they know that others have died.  That is the risk they choose to take but Tony Abbott et al is saying that he’ll turn the boats around and tow them in the direction of Indonesia.  So their chances of dying at sea will then have doubled but this time their deaths would be on our conscience (or should be).

So Kevin Rudd comes along with an alternative.  All refugees and asylum seekers arriving here by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea to a detention centre.  If they’re assessed to be “genuine”, they can then live in the PNG community, ie they will NEVER be allowed into Australia.  I’m not a human rights lawyer, or any sort of lawyer, but I’ll be interested to hear what the courts make of that one.  Someone applies for refuge in Australia, their application is found to be valid, but we won’t let them into Australia.  We’ll just double the population of PNG.  John Howard said “We’ll decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.  Don’t the people of PNG have that same right which their Government has now sold for presumably an awful lot of money?  Even unaccompanied children will be sent there – and bear in mind that some of these children weren’t unaccompanied when they set out on this journey.

The hypocrisy that’s being spouted about all this is breathtaking.  Both sides are saying that it’s because they’re concerned about the safety of these people.  If we take this hard line boats may stop coming and lives won’t be at risk.  If we were concerned about their safety, we would immediately remove them from the boats as soon as they’re spotted.  We WOULDN’T  turn them around and point them in the direction of Indonesia.  And presumably once they know that’s going to happen, the people on board will attempt to wreck their boat. 

I read a book recently written by a man who came to Australia as a child from Vietnam.  (Now there’s a success story of immigration to Australia – and they were mainly “illegals”).  A number of people died along the way.  Eventually they were spotted by a German tanker and the crew threw them an axe.  The language barrier meant that it took a while to understand what this was for.  They were being TOLD to wreck their boat so that legally the tanker HAD to pick them up and deliver them to safety.  

No we can’t take every refugee in the world who’d like to come here but we don’t have to treat them as pariahs, vilify them and dump them in a country whose human rights’ record isn’t exactly world-renowned.  Ironically these are probably the very people this country needs.  Not those who come here in search of more sunshine and a laid-back lifestyle but those who appreciate the freedoms that we can offer them and are determined to make a better life for their families.  In the same book I mentioned, the boy’s father constantly told his children that they owed a huge debt of gratitude to Australia which should be repaid by the work they did and the lives they led here. 

National Emergency?  I think that would be better used to describe the lives of the only people in Australia who AREN’T immigrants.  So many Aboriginal Australians live in conditions that resemble the townships and camps of Africa, they have little employment, they have major medical problems now that we’ve introduced them to our diet and “lifestyle” and the life expectancy of an Aboriginal man is 56 (yes, FIFTY SIX).  Now that’s an emergency.

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