Reblogged: Can Canning Fix It? ….Yes they can. (Er, yeah, I hope so.)

(Kudos to anyone who knows where I nabbed the second half of the title from, giggle. Anyway…)

Reblogged from The AIMN: http://theaimn.com/can-canning-fix-it/

Can Canning fix it?

To the people of Canning,

You have a grave responsibility in front of you.

It is widely accepted that a defeat for the Liberal Party in Canning would see the end of Tony Abbott’s leadership. Even if you are a conservative voter, this would be to your benefit – it will not cause a change of government but it could snatch your party from the clutches of the Credlin/Abbott cartel which is not only leading your party to defeat but this country to ruin.

Compare the candidates that the two major parties have proposed.

The ALP candidate, Matt Keogh, grew up in the electorate. He is a dispute resolution lawyer and, at age 33, is the youngest person to hold the position of Law Society of WA president.

He has identified jobs, health, education and training as key areas of concern in the seat

The Liberal candidate is SAS officer Andrew Hastie. He was born in Victoria, spent most of his life in NSW, and moved to WA in 2010 for his SAS training. He does not live in the electorate and currently lives in defence force housing in Shenton Park, close to the SAS Campbell Barracks in Swanbourne.

Hastie served in Afghanistan and the Middle East and was an adviser on Operation Sovereign Borders.

Canning is a diverse electorate from fly-in, fly-out miners, treechangers in the Perth Hills, seachangers in Mandurah, farmers and semi-rural residents and a large proportion of unemployed or low income earners.

It will be interesting to see if concern about 457 visa workers plays a part. Will climate change be a common concern? Is support for the unemployed the most important issue?

One can assume that the Liberal candidate will run heavily on national security – quelle suprise. One hopes that the Labor candidate has a bit more to offer the people of Canning.

A Newspoll survey revealed Don Randall’s 11.8 per cent margin would be wiped away and the seat left on a knife edge if the poll was held this week.

This is a chance to restore some sanity to politics.

Can Canning fix it? Yes they can!

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#ClearTheSky – Create A No-Fly Zone Over Syria

Why do we selectively choose to forget some things, while focusing too much on others?

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Paraphrased from the Planet Syria team:

Two years ago, the Syrian regime used the chemical agent sarin to gas hundreds of civilians in Ghouta. Entire families foamed at the mouth after the dawn attack, shaking in shock, and hundreds died. … The pictures from Ghouta shocked and angered people all over the world. Bashar al-Assad had joined the only two leaders in 90 years to have used chemical weapons against their own people: Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler. Barack Obama said a red line had been crossed and a threat of force by the US led Assad to agree to destroy his chemical stockpiles.

Fast forward two years later to today, and Syrians are still being gassed. Barrel bombs are being filled with chlorine and dropped onto family homes, turning them into gas chambers. Yet it’s not the chemicals killing most Syrians – it’s the bombs themselves. There were nearly 7,000 airstrikes by the Syrian regime in July alone.

This time the silence from the world is deafening. A few days ago a market in the besieged town of Douma outside Damascus was bombed from the sky. More than 100 people were killed and 500 were injured. It’s in the same area – Ghouta – that was gassed two years ago. Editors kept the news off their front pages and diplomats’ empty condemnations were toothless. So the same site was bombed 24 hours later.

This will go on and on unless the world is prepared to stop it. We have countless UN resolutions and statements from countries and organisations around the world. But words alone will not protect these innocent civilians.

We need your help to break the silence now and show support for a no-fly zone that will clear our skies of the bombs. 

Right now countries are debating deeper military involvement in Syria. Whether in Australia or the UK, politicians and publics are talking about increasing strikes against Isis. But nobody is talking about the fact that the Syrian regime is killing seven times more civilians than Isis. The public needs to know the core truths, otherwise we will see more failed Middle East policies and more innocent lives lost.

To break the silence and spread the truth we are asking people around the world to join or organise a #ClearTheSky action on the anniversary of the Ghouta attack. 

Go outside and take a picture of yourself looking up at the sky. Then change your profile picture to it and spread the word. Please reblog – I’m a bit late on posting my picture, but better late than never. The civilians are the forgotten victims in this conflict.

5 things everyone should know about what is happening in Syria today.

1 – The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is killing at least 7 times more civilians than Isis.

2 – More than 11,000 barrel bombs made of scrap metal and high explosives have been rolled out of regime helicopters onto hospitals, homes and schools since the UN banned them. These aerial attacks are the biggest killer of civilians. They drive extremism.

3 – These barrel bombs are the leading cause of displacement, forcing refugees to cross the Mediterranean and other borders.

4 – Many of the barrel bombs are dropped on areas under siege. More than half a million people in Syria live in areas with no access to food, water or medicine since 2013, including the areas of Ghouta that were targeted by the sarin gas attacks in the same year.

5 – The international anti-Isis coalition is flying in the same airspace where many of these barrel bombs are dropped, choosing to look the other way

There is no military solution to the fighting in Syria. But like in Bosnia, a no-fly zone can help protect civilians from the worst of the violence and encourage the fighting parties to come to the negotiating table.

Too many Syrians spend their days looking up at the sky, wondering when the next barrel bomb will drop and what it will hit. Today we are asking you to look up in solidarity with all those who continue on and join the call to #clearthesky.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1615390465405371/

Join hundreds of non-violent Syrian groups in asking for the international community to enforce the UN ban on barrel bombs with a Bosnia-style no-fly zone.

Dinner! Yum.

(The below image is NOT mine, I got it from here, using a quick google image search. I didn’t think to photograph the meal, as I don’t usually do that sort of thing and it would’ve been too weird to do that anyway, as I was eating with the family.)

Kangaroo burgers with roast veggies

So, I made dinner tonight. Kangaroo burgers with potatoes and veggies (vegetables).

🙂

I’m the oldest child in the family and I live at the family home still. My parents have been giving me – and other siblings – chances to cook meals over the past couple of years in particular, with more or less help as wanted/ required. Today I offered to cook.

It’s a great feeling to know you’re the one who’s cooked the meal. It’s especially nice to have the chance to cook at home rather than just being dumped in the deep end when I eventually move out. That’s thanks to Mum and Dad. 🙂
It’s really good because I’m a visual/observational learner – I learn by reading (and copying down) and/or observing other people do it and talking through the steps as I do it myself. Hence the need to have someone on-hand who I can fire off questions too as necessary. I also love packet instructions and google if needed.

Never be too ashamed or nervous to do any of those things – they work.

For tonight, I put as many burgers onto the grill-tray as would fit – luckily just enough for us to have a couple each. We have a grill in the oven that works as a tray at the very top. Once all were in place, I shut the oven door and left them resting in order to do the veggies before turning the thing on.

The veggies were done in two batches: potatoes and carrots in one dish and others in a second. We use the microwave usually for veggies. Potatoes and other veggies like that take about 14 minutes; others take about 12-13.

The second lot of veggies included bok choy, brussel sprouts, capsicum (a bit of yellow, a bit of red), cauliflower, corn and chickpeas. Listing it like that it seems like a lot!

As the veggies were cooking, the griller in the oven cooked the burgers. You have to check them every five or so minutes, flip them and maybe move them around a bit, given that the back of the oven-grill gives more heat than the front. I don’t exactly know how long they took – I’d say that you should give them about 15 minutes, but go by feel.

Then bring it all over to the table and serve. Yum! Real food, cooked by me, enjoyed by the family. Good news all round.

I’m nice and full after that….though I’ll be able to fit in a bit of pineapple – by the sounds of things we’re having that for sweets (known in other households as dessert).

Circle of Life

Just a quick note. I had a busy weekend.

On Saturday, I went with my mum and my nana to see the Lion King Musical. It’s on right now in Melbourne at the Regent Theatre and perhaps Sydney and Brisbane too? Anyway, if you get the chance – it’s on until the end of September, maybe October – go to it. It is magical. The costumes … the actors … the set and effects… it’s all there and wonderfully done, building relationships and tension.

Of course, the story was great too. It was my first time watching it on stage and the last time I watched the film was a while ago, so even though I knew the storyline I viewed things with new eyes and, perhaps, a deeper understanding.

They really emphasize Simba’s journey. It might be a simple tale on the surface, but underneath there are deeper meanings; like the fact that, in the end, we’re all part of the same circle of life, playing our part. We just have to choose what part we play, which, while shaped by outside forces, comes down to how we act.

I love the soundtrack. My favourite song is (apart from The Circle of Life) is They Live In You/ He Lives In You (Reprise). Ask me again in a month, though. It might change – all the songs were carried well.

The costumes and set were created from a vibrant mix of various African influences, with a few additions. I loved the way they blended the human actor/ puppeteer with the animal costume. It added an extra layer to the show.

Also, the acting itself was very well done – the cast were well chosen in my view. Scar is wonderfully mean; Mufasa’s complexity of ruler-and-father, responsible-but-compassionate, is strongly illustrated. Nala’s sassiness is highlighted and given fresh prominence; the truly blended nature of Miss Rafiki was masterfully done. Of course, the story focuses on Simba and the actors there do well, especially the adult one.

It’s just a wonderful story, portrayed very well by cast and crew. Cheers all around!

Reblogged: The election: hope versus fear (from The AIMN)

Hi. I have a bunch of ideas floating in my head and things I need to say, but I’m busy and forgot to schedule posts for any of the last week. So here:  http://theaimn.com/the-election-hope-versus-fear/

Hope Versus Fear

Abbott is gearing up for an election. First he wants to ensure he will be the leader who takes the Liberal National Coalition to an election, and this is by no means a done deal. And then he is convinced that he can sloganeer away the poll deficit he needs to win a second term. Or rather, his strategists are convinced they can come up with effective slogans to take Abbott to victory, and Abbott is happy to believe them.

As reported in the Guardian this week, Lynton Crosby of campaign strategist firm Crosby Textor, is confident he can use the Liberal staple of simplistic messaging around ‘economic competence’ to convince a not-very-interested-in-politics electorate to forgive everything Abbott’s wrecked with his wrecking ball, and to have permission to fire up an even bigger wrecking ball in a second term. But the question is, will the electorate fall for what basically comes down to a dirty, negative, fear campaign again? Because that’s what Crosby really means when he says Abbott needs to rely on a simple message focused on economic competence. He really means that Abbott needs to scare the electorate into thinking they’ll lose their jobs, they’ll lose their homes, they’ll be destitute and on the street if they don’t do what they’re told and vote for Abbott’s Liberals. It really is as simple as that apparently.

But are Australians going to fall for this again? Are the Turkeys really going to vote for Christmas? Will Australians again drink up ‘Great Big Tax’, ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Stop The Boats’ and more recently ‘Jobs and Growth’ – the bogan slogans that make Abbott sound like a 2 year old whose just learned a new word and wants to wear it out on his parents?

This is where I pause from typing and I sit back and worry. It doesn’t make rational sense that Australia would be so gullible to fall hook-line-and-sinker for such an obvious, shallow, implausible slogan to scare them into making the second biggest mistake of their lives after their first mistake elected Abbott in the first place. But there is nothing rational about politics. Especially when you mix irrationality with fear, a fear that experts like Crosby and Textor are very good at whipping up. This is why the re-election of Cameron in the UK sent chills down my spine. Cameron was just as unpopular as Abbott and resided over just as big an austerity-caused-badly-managed-economy with high unemployment and barely any growth. Yet he still was given the keys to the country again to wreak more havoc on not just the UK economy, but also to hammer the UK health system, education and social welfare system. But Crosby and Textor helped the very-easily-frightened electorate to forget about all this havoc and they’ve given Cameron a mandate to make the situation even worse. Fear really does make people do stupid things.

It seems like a simple problem to solve, however, it’s not. If you were working as a campaign strategist for Labor, you would think you could just point out to voters how utterly hollow Abbott’s ‘economic competence’ slogan is, how unfounded in reality, and how dangerous it would be to let Abbott’s economic incompetence continue to hurt the economy and to destroy jobs. The statistics are easy to quote – Abbott’s unemployment rate of 6.34% is the highest in 13 years, growth is stagnant and even Abbott’s favourite stick to beat Labor with – government debt – is up $100 billion since Abbott took over the job. The ironic thing is that Australia’s debt and deficit wasn’t even a major problem when Abbott turned it into a vote-winning-slogan, and yet he’s gone on to make this debt even larger. Yet still his strategists feel confident that they can run a fear campaign based on the strongly held electoral perception that Liberal governments are better economic managers than Labor governments. Even after Labor saved the country from a recession during the GFC, a GFC the Liberals claimed never happened, which Labor says didn’t happen to Australia because of Labor’s good economic management, which the Liberals now say is the reason the Australian economy isn’t strong – because the world economy still hasn’t recovered. See how irrational politics is? Facts are irrelevant when it comes to emotional responses to fear campaigns. Labor strategists have hopefully worked this out.

But what’s the answer then? If you can’t convince the electorate that Abbott’s claims of economic competence are as baseless as all the promises he made during the election, which have now been broken, how does Labor ensure that Abbott doesn’t win a second term?

I suggest Labor should learn from Abbott’s success and forget about quoting facts. Facts are really good at convincing people they are right when they can use them to back up their own preconceived, emotional beliefs. For instance – I know Abbott’s the most incompetent and unproductive Prime Minister Australia has ever had, and this article gives me the facts to prove it. A swing voter, on the other hand, doesn’t care about such analysis. So what Labor needs to do is forget about facts and appeal to emotions. In doing so they have two options: the first is to use the dark-arts of Crosby and Textor by scaring people about the prospect of an Abbott second term. This should be relatively easy. The very thought of such a thing terrifies me and although I know I’m not your average swing voter, surely Abbott has done enough scary things in the last two years for Labor to be able to convincingly show how things could get much scarier if Abbott has another go? And surely he’s given enough hints about what he might do in a second term – such as his promise not to increase the GST this term or to make any industrial relations changes this term – to scare people off living this reality?

The second option is to rise above the negative fear campaign of what an Abbott second term would look like, and to appeal to a much more savoury emotion – hope. Labor’s ‘hope for the future’ campaign could focus on all the things Abbott is interested in wrecking that Labor wants to invest in. Jobs of the future. Technologies of the future. The educational needs for jobs of the future. A safer environment for the future. Energy needs and industries of the future. I love the idea of a ‘rise above’ campaign, but I also recognise it’s naïve to think the electorate is ready to put long term progress ahead of short term Abbott-opportunism. So really there is a third option; a little from column A and a little from column B. Simplistically it looks something like this – ‘Abbott will wreck everything, so vote Labor for a brighter future’. Sounds good doesn’t it. If only it was so simple.

Why Are We So Afraid of Another’s Culture – and why do we have to be so immature about it?

Fiona Katauskas' cartoon 'The Goodes, the Bad and the Ugly' portrays various situations of Aboriginal people being victimised then being blamed for acting like victims
(Fiona Katauskas |  04 August 2015: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45125#.VcHPKPmqpBd)

I’m talking of course about the problem a lot of people seem to have with Adam Goodes and how proud he is of being Indigenous. They also dislike how willing he is to call them on their bulls—.

Look, I know some of those booing him may well have done so because they think he’s a tosser or whatever generally. But the fact remains that many of those booing do so for racist reasons, whether they admit that or not. Also, due to past circumstances – related to how proud he is about his culture – Adam Goodes feels the sting of those boos as racism. In these situations, I believe it is the feelings of the injured party rather than the perpetrators which need to be honoured. He says he feels it’s racist – so it should be treated as such.

I stand with Adam Goodes because I feel that he has a point. Australia has a shallow underbelly full of racists – usually white middle-class men who need to check their privilege. It’s not just Goodes and Indigenous people who are being swiped at either: Muslims and refugees and others too. The government aren’t exactly helping, either.

These racist white men (and some women, to be fair) think that other people should all be “just like us” and everyone who isn’t – who dares to belong to a different culture and is proud about their heritage – well, that’s just unacceptable. The “offender” is classed as Other, treated as Them, who are Not-Like-Us.

These people need a reality check – like those who go on that SBS show, Go Back To Where You Came From. Remember, it’s cultural relativism not ethnocentrism that we need.
Of course, some are too set in their ways to change, which is a pity. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call them on it – it means we should call louder. Discussion is always good and who knows, we might convince the person sitting next to them.

I am sorry, but while I value free speech, I do believe that there needs to be acknowledgement that completely “uncensored” free speech can be hurtful and detrimental to society. As I’ve said before, it’s one thing to be a bigot; it’s quite another to discriminate or harrass someone based on our own narrow-mindedness.

Do we really want this sort of thing to be something we’re known for, for instance? I say, heck no!

By the way, casual “accidental” racism is still racism, in part because it masks the more sinister, vitriol-spewing type. So think before you speak or boo, yeah? Don’t be afraid either to call out the ignorant ones, even if that’s just reporting them to security or whatever. That’s the only way we’ll get the chance to shut them up. We want to create a society, surely, that builds up others – not breaks them down.

Think about it.

References from others more eloquent than I:
The Age articles, especially from Saturday’s great issue with its wrap-around support banner.
http://blackfeministranter.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/adam-goodes-and-case-of-jack-sultan.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+RantingsOfAnAboriginalFeminist+(Rantings+of+an+Aboriginal+Feminist)
https://wordynerdbird.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/give-booing-the-boot/
http://theaimn.com/we-have-to-right-to-boo-do-we-have-the-maturity-not-to/
http://theaimn.com/racist-australia-of-course/
http://theaimn.com/adam-goodes-free-speech-vs-the-moral-authority-to-express-a-view/
http://theaimn.com/im-black-and-im-proud-to-be/
http://www.voicesagainstbigotry.org/australians-of-all-backgrounds-should-stand-against-bigotry/
http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45301#.VcGmePmqpBd
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/04/i-wont-stand-by-while-toxic-personal-racism-poisons-our-public-debate?CMP=soc_567
https://theconversation.com/what-psychology-says-about-how-you-should-respond-to-racist-behaviour-45599?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+5+2015+-+3206&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+5+2015+-+3206+CID_2497959bf102729254a24672a7bb8f9e&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=What%20psychology%20says%20about%20how%20you%20should%20respond%20to%20racist%20behaviour

[Reblogged] The Debate We Should Be Having

Reblogged from http://theaimn.com/drug-law-reform-the-issue-we-should-be-debating/

Drug Law Reform: The issue we should be debating

Recently, Greens leader Richard Di Natale stepped up to the plate and called for bipartisan support for drug law reform. He believes we can start by adopting the Portugal approach which involves treating drug addiction as a medical issue rather than a criminal matter.Calling for bipartisan support for drug law reform among our current political representatives these days would be like asking ISIS to join the Vatican in calling for marriage equality. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

One might have thought it would be on the agenda for this weekend’s ALP National Conference given Bill Shorten’s gallantry in proposing both an RET and the adoption of the Coalition’s appalling boat turn-back policy.

But don’t hold your breath on drug law reform. And as for the Coalition, they would never do it; it’s far too visionary for them.

natThe Greens leader is one of the convenors of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform that includes some 100 State and Commonwealth MPs from all political parties. He made the call while on a self-funded, fact finding exercise meeting with a number of Portuguese policy makers.

Self-funded? Now there’s an original idea.

In 2001, the Portuguese government did something the Abbott government would regard as anathema. After many years of waging its war on drugs, it decided to reverse its strategy entirely: It decriminalised all drugs.

If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroin, he or she appears before a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, typically made up of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker.

The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine; otherwise, the person is sent off without any penalty. A vast majority of the time, there is no penalty.

Fourteen years after decriminalization, Portugal has not been run into the ground by a nation of drug addicts. In fact, by many measures, it’s doing far better than it was before.

So why has this initiative not gained traction here? Why have both major parties ignored it? I suspect the answer has something to do with wedge politics.

Neither side will speak for fear of giving the other an opportunity to create a scare campaign. How pathetic. What failed leadership.

maryWhat the Portuguese initiative has proven beyond doubt is that if we, here in Australia, decriminalised all drugs and transferred the savings in law enforcement to education and rehabilitation, we would be no worse off than we are today and, in all probability, sow the seeds of a reduction in drug use among our youth, over time.

The Portuguese model confirms this. Initially they experienced a small increase in usage which quickly evaporated followed by a reduction, which, over the past ten years, has continued.
Not only has drug use declined but there has been a sharp decrease in drug related deaths and a reduction in HIV infections.

Alex Stevens, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Kent thinks the global community should learn from Portugal.
“The main lesson to learn decriminalizing drugs doesn’t necessarily lead to disaster, and it does free up resources for more effective responses to drug-related problems,” he said.

Former NSW director of public prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery QC is one of several prominent Australians who have called for drug law reform along similar lines. Their Australia 21 report of 2012 quoted him as being “strongly in favour of legalising, regulating, controlling and taxing all drugs”.

drugFormer Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop, Howard government health minister Michael Wooldridge as well as Cowdery were part of the University of Sydney think tank recommending reform in 2012.

That report, now three years old, seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Yet the benefits from the Portuguese initiative are clearly evident.

It would be hard to find anyone today who thinks the war on drugs has succeeded. The cost in law enforcement, health and lost productivity is a tragedy.

Yet the parliamentary group looking into drug law reform appears to be dragging its heels. It was established in 1993 and appears to have done nothing of significance in over 20 years.

Senator Di Natale wants to change that. On his Facebook page he says, “Criminal penalties for drug use doesn’t deter people from taking drugs, but it does stop people seeking treatment. That’s in no one’s best interest.”

portHe’s right of course, but I can’t see too much support coming his way from either of the two major parties. Drug law reform will have to come from people power.

You can read the top five things the senator learnt from his trip to Portugalhere. Or, better still, try to guess them before looking.

Hint: They are all just basic common sense.

Australian Compendium and Building A Better Australia

A couple of reblogged posts about the state of Australia right now and how it can be better.

Reblogged from http://theaimn.com/australian-compendium/

Australian Compendium

By Keith DavisThere is so much to love about Australia. We love living here, and visiting celebrities are wise enough to say how much they love visiting here. We see ourselves as egalitarian, as fair and open-minded, as welcoming, and as free as the kangaroos jumping about in the paddocks. We are also a tad delusional.Firstly, Australia actually is a great place to live, and nothing that follows can detract from that. The problems lurking just beneath the surface of our mythical landscape do not diminish the possibility of opportunity that exists here. Secondly, even the poor can still, at least for the moment, access our beaches and public BBQs … so our true cultural roots remain homogenous and open to all.

But on with it. What is actually happening in Australia?

Aboriginal People: They remain dispossessed. Our Government is dithering about the wording of the Referendum that is meant to finally acknowledge the very existence of Aboriginal People. Indigenous People have been here for over 40,000 years, and probably a lot more than that, and the rest of us have been here for just over 200 years … so it is fairly clear who should be having a Referendum to recognise whom.

Social Justice: In an all pervading sense, if Social Justice existed here in Australia then we would not have our current dire need for the proliferation of Organisations and Charities who exist to strongly fight for the establishment of social justice here in Australia.

Politics: It would be great to actually have some. Currently we are saddled with a Two Party System where the main focus of either side is the gaining and retention of power. The Liberal and Labor Parties might just as well formalise things and form the LibLab Coalition because it is becoming a little hard to differentiate between them.

The majority of our current crop of politicians are mediocre power junkies and Party sponsored head- nodders.

The Politics of Hate that are emanating out of Canberra are having the inevitable effect … small nationalistic minds are hitting the streets. Fear and suppression are rearing their ugly heads.

The Age of the Independents appears to be coming. Meanwhile, the country lurches onwards to . . .

Gender Equality: Where pay in Australia is concerned it pays to be male. Where securing a position in middle or higher management is concerned it pays to be male. I have always wondered why women don’t simply just all walk off the job and bring the whole lurching unfair edifice to a screeching crumbling halt in a nanosecond. If they all walked out at once then equal opportunity and equal pay would suddenly appear like manna from heaven. Perhaps that will happen one day.

Religion: Some say that it is a mass delusion, some say that it is not. Some religious people do exceptionally good work here in Australia and they fight for victims who exist because of our lack of social justice.

Others simply feather their own nests and rob their congregations blind. Like anything else here in Australia religion is a mixed bag, there is good and bad, but it has strongly insinuated itself into the core of our federal government, and that is quite clearly bad.

War: Putting aside (but never forgetting) the historical attempted genocide of Aboriginal People, and the flattening of the Eureka Stockade, Australia has latterly been free of open warfare on our continental mainland.

We have fought in a couple of major and righteous wars, and we have fought in far too many dodgy and unnecessary wars. No doubt Indigenous People and Asylum Seekers might have a slightly different view to the rest of us when it comes to defining what war actually is. However, we all get to wake up each morning without the smell of cordite in our nostrils, or the sight of a newly created line of bomb craters … and we need to remind our federal government that most of us do not want to jump into the next handiest ‘war coalition’.

Growth: We are told that the world will end without this thing called growth. To gain this growth, and bigger houses, and bigger cars, and bigger televisions, both members of Australian couples have to work full time, and have to bung their children into institutionalised childcare. The kids are probably thinking ‘bugger this growth thing, I would like to grow up in the loving arms of my parents’.

Growth gives us alienated kids and a mega-tonnage of discarded instantly obsolescent electronic technology buried in our landfills. If Australia had smaller houses, smaller cars, and fewer greedy aspirational types – we might have happier kids and we might actually grow as a nation.

Environment: We could lead the world in the uptake of renewable energy technology … but instead of that we lurch about in the coalfields. Australia is madly digging up anything out of the ground that will fuel the engine of ‘growth’ around the world and we continue to gaily contribute to the continual pollution of our planetary atmosphere.

We degrade our own environment and we allow a very small number of people, who are no more important than you or I, to become sickeningly rich on the environmentally destructive proceeds. Money, growth, power, and not giving a stuff, are doing injurious harm to our Australian environment.

Freedom: We are free from starvation, but we are not free. We are free from civil war, but we are not free. We are currently mainly free from totalitarian suppression, but we are not free.

We are a controlled people – controlled by the ‘growth’ wish, controlled and socially engineered by our governments, controlled and manipulated by our advertising industry, controlled and constrained by our own collective small thinking.

We wave and claim our mythical flag of freedom, we wrap ourselves up in it, we broadcast it to the world, and we forget that to an outside observer we simply appear to be using the ephemeral strands of the mythology of Australia to weave a shroud of our own making.
Now, having said all that – there is nowhere else I’d rather live. The wonderful thing about faults … and Australia is replete with them … is that they can be rectified.

So let’s continue to agitate for the establishment of a better Australia!

Reblogged from http://theaimn.com/a-blueprint-for-building-a-better-australia/

A blueprint for building a better Australia

Long-term Brisbane community activist and trade unionist Adrian Skerritt spoke at the National Welfare March rally in Brisbane on Sunday 12 July 2015. Adrian is a member of the Cloudland Collective, an organisation which “stands for broadbased campaigning in defence of jobs, services and civil liberties and opposes the neoliberalism of the LNP & G20.”In his well-received speech Adrian referred to the Cloudland Collective’s “Notes For A just Society” discussion paper, a broad analysis of the issues confonting Australia and a list of positive suggestions for recalibrating the organisational settings and parameters of our society.Here is a transcript of Adrian’s speech, followed by The “Notes For A Just Society” discussion paper:“Rallies like this are so important. Just to return to last year – wherever Campbell Newman went he encountered protests. Whatever the issue – closure of schools, nursing homes, attacks on civil liberties, there were people like us demanding that these our services and rights be protected.Our rallies and protests showed that that Newman wasn’t a good premier, that his government stood for nothing more than greed and the power of the market. Those who protested, people like us, played an important role in removing that horrible govt. Protest works. Now it’s time to think about ways to get rid of Abbott and ensure that a new government is clear that the damage he has caused must be fixed.

We are here today to defend an important principle. That a compassionate society will always help people who are struggling. We reject the neo-liberal concepts of mutual responsibility, of the deserving poor. We reject the notion that poverty is something people do to themselves.

If you are struggling then you are entitled to help. Not Abbott’s idea – just enough to keep people alive. But enough to live with dignity, to have a life that is happy and meaningful.

Because at the moment that chance is being denied to the homeless of South East Queensland, denied to parents who have to rely on casual work to look after their children. Welfare is not a burden, it’s not an embarrassment. It is a core part of a compassionate, democratic society.

To improve things, Abbott must go. We can’t leave it there. If you look at Canberra today you don’t get a sense there’s much will to make things better. Far too much agreement on attacking refugees, and scapegoating Muslims. Far too much agreement about digging up coal.

We cannot achieve the meaningful, long-lasting change we need by simply voting Abbott out because the Australian economy is rigged, rigged in favour of the rich.

If you are born in one postcode, no matter your talents, you will get a good education, a nice home and you will live a long time. If you are born in another, you are likely to be denied a tertiary education, battle poor health and die early. Inequality is so dangerous. It is bad for your health. Even the IMF agrees.

We need a movement committed to genuine democracy and equality. We put together the document ”Notes for a Just society” to help the discussion.

I would like to talk about a couple of key ideas. Copies are available today, not a manifesto or anything like that – some ideas that can people add to, delete things, reorganise.

At the heart of a different society is a just economy that everyone shapes. The riches we see in Australia have been created by working people. Even though we work incredibly hard we are paid only a fraction of what we are worth.

Working people should not be just another entry in the company’s books or things to be chewed up and spat out while someone pursues a political career. The minimum wage must be massively increased and every worker should have the right to join a union and take industrial action.

And if the wealth in society has been mostly created by the majority, no government has the right to sell that wealth off, to privatise it, to let market forces wreck it.

We will not allow public health and education to become thoroughly marginal. Public hospitals and schools are far better at educating people and keeping them healthy than the private sector. So much better.

And when economic matters are being discussed, we all have a right to have a say. Where to invest, what to build, should be our call. This is why the people of Greece are so inspirational. The creditors said that there should be no referendum, that ordinary people can’t understand these financial matters.

Who better to understand austerity that those made to suffer because it. The Greek people took their chance to have the say about these weighty, complicated issues and said – no to austerity.

How much to pay a pensioner is not something to be decided on in a boardroom or a cabinet meeting. That’s what the people of Greece have taught us. Real democracy is the majority of people directing the economy.

So when Abbott wants to punish the unemployed, when he wants to attack Indigenous people who wish to live in remote areas, when he wants to cut funding to the ABC we gather together and say “no”.

And when he tries to create a distraction to the economic suffering he has caused by attacking Muslims we reach out to our Muslim neighbours, our Muslim work colleagues and stand with them.

Last year global private wealth last year grew by 12% or $17.5 trillion. In Australia the richest 20% earn 70 times as much as the poorest 20% and the gap between rich and poor is increasing.

Don’t let anyone say “we are facing tough times and we are all in this together”. We should never have to sacrifice – we didn’t create the trouble. We don’t have to accept cuts. There’s a lot of wealth in Australia – it just needs to be shared equally.”

Notes for a Just Society

1 Land rights. The creation of the modern world economy, a system that has generated poverty and grotesque inequality, required the dispossession of indigenous land. This has especially been the case in Queensland. Dispossession was and remains an act of deception and violence. Before the arrival of fences, mines and grazing animals, the land was at the heart of successful Indigenous communities. Indigenous people should remain custodians of their land.

2 Freedom of speech and the right to assemble. Residents of the city have had to fight for space to assemble and debate important issues. It often seems like every square inch of the city belongs to a corporation or a government body committed to protecting corporate interests. Year by year civil rights are eroded as more glittering malls are built. The battle for free speech and the right to demonstrate must be won.

3 The public sector and neo-liberalism. The rise of neo-liberal economic and social policies seriously threatens the public sector. Politicians such as Thatcher, Reagan, Blair, Keating and Howard have argued that the market is the best vehicle for allocating resources and instilling each citizen with sense of responsibility. Poverty is depicted as something that people bring upon themselves by making the “wrong choices” rather than being the result of deep seated economic problems. This rhetoric has been accompanied by the transfer of resources from social services to projects that exclusively benefit the corporate sector. The transfer has been achieved through outsourcing, competition and corporatisation.

a) We will not allow the public health and education to become thoroughly marginal, cash starved relics only for the truly poor. Public hospitals and schools are far better at educating citizens and keeping them healthy than the private alternatives.

b) Scientific research is best conducted by the public sector. Organisations such as CSIRO are well placed to concentrate the best scientific minds on a project and curb the impact of corporate interests on the direction and perceived value of the research. Funding to CSIRO should be immediately restored.

c) The public service should be strengthened so that it can effectively deliver social infrastructure programs. Public servants should be respected by government and “frank and fearless” advice should be highly valued.

d) Corporate taxes should be massively increased in order to fund public services.

4 Workers’ rights. The riches we see in the world today have been created by working people. Even though we work incredibly hard and possess a deep understanding of how to do things better we are paid only a fraction of what we are worth and our creative input is not valued.

a) We demand that the minimum wage be significantly increased so that all workers experience a standard of living well above the poverty line.

b) Every worker should have right to join a union and take strike action to improve their wages and conditions.

c) Every worker should have the ability to engage in solidarity action to support other workers without fear of prosecution. Employers have at their disposal the immense powers of the police and the courts to help them protect their interests. We have solidarity to defend ours.

5 Women. There is still a long way to go to achieve women’s liberation. Every victory has been hard fought for and these gains need to be defended each day. The neo liberal assault on employment and services disproportionately affects women. Accompanying women’s precarious position in the economy are the deeply shocking levels of domestic violence experienced by women.

a) Access to legal and free abortion on demand.

b) Women must receive shelter and support when they leave a violent and abusive partner and not face homelessness.

c) Women should receive equal pay.

d) Women must be supported to participate and play leading roles in civil society. Men will do the ironing.

6 Welfare. The true measure of a compassionate society is the quality of support it offers those citizens who struggle to obtain a decent standard of living.

a) People with disabilities should be generously supported by the government and presented with opportunities to engage in meaningful work for which they would receive a just wage. They should not be subjected to humiliating “reviews” of their disability.

b) Economic turmoil frequently locks millions out of work. When people experience unemployment they should be adequately supported by the government.

7 Climate justice. We are rapidly approaching dangerous tipping points which may very well result in the release of vast quantities of devastating emissions from the arctic tundra and the ocean floor. To prevent global catastrophe a number of measures need to be implemented.

a) Governments should back and invest in renewable energy. This would create millions of green jobs.

b) Public transport systems should be extended and made free to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home.

c) Government should stop subsidizing carbon polluters. Big polluters and carbon extractors should be made responsible for all damage, waste, and other by-products and effects of their extraction, consumption and production.

8 No borders. One of the truly remarkable things about a globalised world is the existence of culturally diverse communities. People flee economic turmoil and war to start a new life in vibrant multi-ethnic communities. Political leaders divert attention away from the hardship many experience and the profound challenges facing our planet by directing anger towards refugees and migrants.

a) We defend the right of all people across the world to cross borders to seek a better life.

b) We demand that all people being held in detention, both on the Australian mainland and in the Pacific, be immediately released into communities here.

c) We condemn those politicians and media outlets who demonise some of the most desperate and vulnerable people in the world.

9 Housing. Every citizen should have affordable housing. Government policy encourages speculation in property inflating property values and driving up rent. This has created a housing crisis. In 1985 a home cost 3.2 times the average income whereas today it costs 6.5 times the average income. Workers are nearing retirement still owing money on a mortgage.

a) The government must significantly boost spending on social housing. Rent should not exceed 10% of a tenant’s income.

b) Quality emergency housing needs to be instantly available.

10 Democracy. Parliamentary democracy and the vote are the result of a significant historic compromise. Around the world citizens fought for genuine participation in politics. Their rulers felt threatened by these aspirations and so aimed to democracy. The result of this contest has often been parliamentary democracy.

a) It is vital to defend parliamentary democracy even though it is limited. For the majority it is the most important site of politics. Candidates who campaign around human rights and strong redistributive measures should be supported. If such candidates can be elected they can help use their position to help legitimatise democratic demands.

b) Genuine democracy goes beyond the parliamentary democracy framework. Genuine democracy involves citizens participating in democratic decision making. Broad mass meetings can be convened to resolve political and economic issues. Delegates can be elected to represent that meeting at central meetings. Crucially local forums have the capacity to recall their delegates at any time.

c) Democracy is not real if economic matters are not subject to democratic processes. Decisions about how resources are allocated and what services and goods should be produced should be made by the workers involved in their production with the citizens whom the products affect.

Adrian Skerritt is a member of the Cloudland Collective, an organisation which “stands for broadbased campaigning in defence of jobs, services and civil liberties and opposes the neoliberalism of the LNP & G20.”

Adrian would like to hear your feedback on “Notes For A Just Society”.