LETTERS TO THE SUNDAY AGE
David Francis Jeffery
Copyright David Francis Jeffery 2007-2015
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A Short Introduction
This book was originally called ‘Letters to the Age,’ until I realised that I don’t actually write letters to the Age; I only write them to the Sunday Age. Not that I haven’t written letters to the Age but, the Sunday Age is the main one I read and so, the main one I write letters to.
I’d been writing letters to this paper for quite a while, when my wife suggested I start keeping them and turning them into a book. Many of my letters previous to the ones you will read here, were actual hand written things that I didn’t keep a copy of. I’d had a few of those published before I even thought to make a book out of it.
So, why a book? Well, I like books of letters. I became a more serious writer because of a book of letters. I read the first volume of Jack Kerouac’s letters and saw how determined he was to become a writer and how he developed his style and I thought, ‘I really need to commit.’ So, despite having to publish myself, I have committed. Also, books of letters are soon going to be no more. As has been said by better humans than me: who writes letters anymore? Certainly that correspondence between equals seems to have gone the way of the internet. I certainly don’t have any letters in my possession from any other writers in my circle and I haven’t written a hand written letter since I don’t know when. So these are the next best thing. They’re short, concise and give a pretty good picture of the time they were written in. They’re of the now.
I’ve included all the letters I wrote, not just the ones I’ve had published, as that would be an extremely short book – even for me. But, as you’ll see, I’ve had a couple of good years with being published – 2009 and 2010 being the banner years. I haven’t included any proofs of the actual letter as it came out in the paper; as you’ll know, most papers will edit for clarity and length and quite a few of the letters that were published had been altered somewhat but I wanted to keep them in as I intended, rather than as they appeared. It may make an interesting comparison but I don’t think anyone will really care that much.
You’ll also notice that, in some years, there’s quite a gap between letters. Life gets in the way, what can I tell you? I’m trying to be a bit more consistent with writing them but, quite honestly, sometimes I don’t find anything in the paper worth writing about.
Anyway, I hope you find some of these intriguing, interesting, honest, annoying, ridiculous, appalling, insightful, funny and just plain…well, plain. I’m going to do these as an ongoing thing so you can think of this as, ‘Letters to the Sunday Age, part I.’ See you in another eight years.
DFJ – 4/1/2016
I don’t know about everyone else, but I found Roger Rogerson’s ‘embarrassing moment’ rather distasteful. ‘What? We broke down your door, shot up your house, scared you and your kids and it was the house two doors down, even though you told us (…) didn’t live here? How embarrassing!’ No Roger, that doesn’t count too high on the embarrassment scale I wouldn’t have thought. Was there even an apology in there somewhere? ‘Why would we do that? It’s only Redfern.’ Is there any wonder the police aren’t trusted?
[Written 17 January 2007
Well, Mr. Doyle is at least heading in the right direction. Talk of big ideas is indeed, a wonderful thing but I can’t help thinking, where was Mr. Doyle’s ‘big ideas’ when he was leader of the opposition? It seemed to me that every time he was interviewed or spoke, he was only saying what Mr. Bracks was doing wrong and not presenting anything to really think about. And it also seems to me that the Labour Party was voted out in 1996 on the premise of the big idea that nobody wanted to grasp and the Liberals have been contented to maintain the status quo ever since. When was the last time anyone heard John Howard expounding on ‘big ideas?’ And no, I don’t think nuclear power is a big idea, just an easy solution. Mr. Doyle is merely reinforcing the attitude all Oppositions have; namely, big ideas are fine when you’re not in government. Therefore, you don’t have to pay for them, implement them, or make sure they go the way you want them to. You also don’t have to justify them if they go wrong. But, applause must go to him for actually suggesting government might like to look further than the next election. Let’s see if Mr. Ballieu agrees.
[Written 17 January 2007
Alexander Downer is at it again. ‘If we pull out now, we just give succour to the terrorists.’ It seems to me that being there is giving succour to the terrorists. After all, this is exactly what they want; international attention, people eternally scared, easily acquired weapons from deceased army personnel; basically, a big, loud fight. And, let’s face it, where are the terrorists based in actuality? Certainly not in Iraq if memory serves. Al Qaeda is based in Afghanistan but you don’t hear much about that anymore do you? No, we’re fighting a losing war in Iraq; a country that never had any capacity to be a real threat in the first place. It’s a civil war over there at the moment, not a terrorist action. So, how can we possibly be giving succour to any terrorists? Come on Mr. Downer, just admit that you’re following the (US) party line and let us decide what might be best for our troops. Iraq is a lost cause and the only reason it would end up a Mecca for terrorists is because we’ve enabled it. Let’s get out while we still can.
[Written 30 January 2007
I was very interested to read the contrasting articles with Hugh Jackman and Tony Curtis. While every interview with Jackman unfailingly glows with his humanness, warmth and charm; Curtis comes across as no more than an egotistical misogynist. While Jackman only has eyes for his wife, no matter how many beautiful actresses he’s starred beside, Curtis couldn’t get enough of his leading ladies, no matter how old he became. A case of Peter Pan syndrome if ever there was one. I guess it proves once again, that being a star is no excuse for immaturity. Good on you Hugh, you deserve everything you’ve worked for.
[Written 31 January 2007
Not to make light of what is obviously a nasty situation in Fiji but, in my experience, bullies hate being bullied back; especially if they’re being ridiculed. So it is my suggestion that every newsreader, opinion writer, or journalist start referring to the Commodore as ‘Commodore Barney Banana,’ or the ever popular alternative, ‘Bananarama;’ (and how the newsreaders have managed to be able to NOT use these names is testament to their professionalism.) Now, one person doing this could make the Commodore more furious and, therefore, more extreme but EVERYONE referring to him this way may force him to see some sense. Of course, I don’t really expect something like this to work but it would be a lot of fun.
[Written February 6, 2007
Tom Hyland’s opinion piece on David Hicks certainly drew out some salient points but fails to address the main problem; that of Hicks’ borderline illegal incarceration. I have yet to read a letter of support for David that paints his as some sort of ‘innocent abroad.’ Almost all are calling for him to be tried and no one has said they believe him completely innocent; implied by the use of said word in the title. Yes, he may have been a rabid anti-Semite, but so are many in the Fundamentalist Christian movement that George W seems so eager to embrace. He may also have ‘longed for the chance to get into action’ against foes of the Taliban but, what young service man in WWII could not be said to have had the same mindset? The Germans and Japanese were as much our (hated) foes as any of the Taliban’s enemies. But in our own country, they are and were no more misguided than any Taliban fighter is regarded in Afghanistan. The whole point is not, is he or is he not guilty; nor even should he, or should he not go to trial. My personal opinion is, yes he should so, perhaps, the whole truth can be revealed. But to still be stuck in a gulag for five years, without even a tangible hope of some sort of release? How does that make us any more decent than our supposed enemies?
Written February 12, 2007
The main problem with smoking and advertising is that people seem to be refusing to admit the one truth: smoking really does look cool. And it’s always made to look cool. But not everybody looks cool smoking. I for one, as an ex-smoker, never looked cool with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. Thus, the solution seems pretty obvious – don’t show horrible photos of dead lungs etc; just find models that look awful with a smoke and use them. And make sure they’re older models; kids never think what their parents do looks cool.
[Written February 28, 2007
You have to give points to John Howard for unmitigated gall, if nothing else. He’s seriously trying to question Kevin Rudd’s honesty? This from the man who has remained leader because of the lies he has blatantly told and refused to acknowledge? Please. I wasn’t totally convinced before last week but I am now. In twenty years of voting, I’ve never once voted for the major parties. This year, my vote goes to Labour. And it is only partly to do with Kevin Rudd. At this time of writing, he could go into the election vowing to sell Australia wholly and solely to al-Qaeda and I’d still vote for him. John Howard and the Liberals have to go. It is time. But I suppose that John Howard won’t care about a little letter like this. After all, I’m only one vote – right?
[Written March 5, 2007
While all condolences must go to the victims and families at Virginia Tech, it seems to me that the ease of obtaining guns must be taken into account, instead of just pushed under the carpet as always seems to happen. I still remember the times I had in high school and I’m not sure that, if I had’ve been able to get a gun as easily as in the States, whether I wouldn’t have done the same thing. Of course, as you get older, you get over most of those horrible times but, at that point in your life, high school and college are truly your whole world and, sometimes, you can’t see a way out except violence. And if you have easy ways and means to avenge yourself, then you’re going to do it, no matter how much counselling you have. Gun control has to be part of the solution and it’s time the US woke up to this fact.
[Written April 23, 2007
I think I’ve figured out a way around the seeming resistance to utilising renewable energy as a real alternative to fossil fuels. All someone needs to do, is invent a weapon; preferably, one that doesn’t run out of its ammunition. All of a sudden, billions of dollars will come rolling in; certainly enough to truly get the renewable energy grid up and running. Remember, when the weapon is created, you heard it here first.
Written April 25, 2007
I wonder if anyone else read Mark Pesce’s diatribe on Telstra? I did and it was a doozy. If only this sort of feedback could be read by Telstra management and acted upon appropriately. Alas, it will be ignored, or worse still, derided as uninformed. Telstra has had it their way for so long that they now ARE a full blown dictatorship. And, with any dictatorship, they brook no dissent. Why, in this day and age of vast technological achievements, are we given no choice but what some company decides to deal out? Why can’t we have broadband with no ‘buffering?’ Why can’t there be free wireless ‘hotspots?’ And why, for the love of Pete why, can’t we have a communications network that actually allows us all to communicate? As usual, the answer to all these questions will be money. So, can someone tell me how we can make them pay? There has to be an answer.
[Written May 21, 2007
Published May 27, 2007]
What’s with all this rubbish lately about women still thinking ‘nice’ guys are not worth it? If there’s one thing I’m fed up with, it’s being labelled not worth it. Just for the record, I’m a nice guy. And, I’m a married nice guy. But it took a while for that to happen; I spent a long time being ‘the friend.’ Guys hate being ‘the friend.’ Especially when they see their women friends being treated like absolute rubbish, time and time again. What is it with women and ‘bad boys?’ Is it the ‘excitement?’ The ‘danger?’ Or is it the thought that, maybe with a little love, just maybe, they’ll change? I’ll give you the tip girls, bad boys stay single. It’s the nice guys that make you happy. Let’s take a poll; hands up who is married? Ok, hands up whose husband is a ‘bad boy?’ Right; now, keep your hand up if you regret having married him. I’ll take a punt and say that almost no women considered their husband’s bad boys and none of them regretted their marriage. Honestly girls, deep down, do you really think you’ll be better off with a bad boy? Do you truly think that, somehow, the rush will last forever? Do you actually love being treated like something he scraped off his shoe? Nice guys aren’t boring. Nice guys aren’t bland. Nice guys are there for you, not some of the time, ALL of the time. Nice guys put you first, but aren’t afraid to be their own person too. Nice guys are worth your time girls and if you truly want a partner that makes you feel like you know you’re supposed to feel – it might be time to try us out.
[Written June 5, 2007
And lo, the politicians have got another pay rise and lo, they justify it by saying they need more pay to lure the best minds to politics. Now, I have no problem with people being paid for the hours they work. Politicians who work 100 hours a week, deserve all they get. But don’t tell me that this lot; this lot who thought a war without justification was a great idea; this lot who think unions are the ruination of the country because they can’t control them; this lot who think ignoring the plights of refugees in the face of a great economy that could only benefit from the skills these refugees have to bring to the country is a great idea – don’t tell me we’ve got the best minds in politics. Politics for short gain says nothing for smart management; give me someone who is thinking 20-50 years ahead – they’ll get my vote.
[Written June 20, 2007
An open memo to Kevin Rudd:
Dear Mr. Rudd
One of your main platforms for this election year seems to be education. As a prospective voter for you, I have one suggestion that could seal it. Make it compulsory for every child reaching Year 11; no matter which school – private or public – to work, for one week, at a restaurant, cafe or bar. Especially a busy one. This could do a couple of things: one, give said person some life skill in the workplace. Two, give said business some free workers for the year. And three, give all these children an idea of what it is like to be harassed when one is extremely busy, thereby reinforcing the need for people to have a little PATIENCE when things aren’t going the way they expect.
[Written June 25, 2007
I think the only ‘secret’ that Rhonda Byrne has cracked onto, is the old TV adage: you’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the general public.
[Written (Sunday Life magazine) July 16, 2007
Published July 29, 2007]
With more and more unsavoury stories coming out about the whole Haneef affair, I see that the government is walking the tired but true line of blaming everyone else but themselves. Especially the civil libertarians. Because, of course, these people are the dreaded ‘elite.’ And, naturally enough according to our brave leaders, the ‘elite’ are so far above us all that they can’t see the reality we all live in. Unfortunately, those of us who aren’t the ‘elite’ but still respect civil liberties CAN see the reality. As much as we might not want to. I, for one, can’t wait until this year’s election. Bye, bye Mr. Howard. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
[Written July 23, 2007
Has there been a more open sign that the Coalition finally knows it’s in trouble? By the time Sunday comes around, the leadership challenge will have been and gone and, while I’m no predictor, I’d be surprised if they dumped Howard for Costello. If they did, it would prove, beyond all reasonable doubt that the Coalition knows they’ve lost the election. For once in my Sunday reading, I find myself agreeing with Jason Karsoukis. All Kevin Rudd need do, is remain patient. November is only around the corner. This may be the first time in my life that I WANT an election to come.
[Written August 15, 2007
Like most people, I too am concerned at the amount of sexualized images being thrown, not only at young women but men as well. The people I would like to hear from most are the media that promote this sort of thing. Advertisers, magazines, newspapers, TV etc. Why can’t we have a forum where these people can openly and non-judgementally speak their minds and explain to us exactly why they need to use this sort of marketing to promote their products? We’ve all heard the term ‘sex sells’ but many, many ads have won awards, acclaim and office cooler style gossip, without having to resort to sexual images at all. We need thorough and intelligent explanations for this mass phenomenon and we need it now. Things are already getting out of hand. Just last week, in my hometown of Geelong, a fifteen year old was raped while walking home from netball. And not at 4.00 in the morning or anything, at quarter to eight at night, meters from her front door. And, unfortunately in Geelong, this has not been an isolated incident. We’re being literally bombarded with sex everyday and I want to know why. There must be a better reason than ‘sex sells.’
[Written August 20, 2007
Presumably, Chris Berg gets paid for being a ‘research fellow,’ at the Institute of Public Affairs. What, exactly, does a research fellow do? How does a person employed in this manner, enrich my life? What do you do, Chris Berg, to earn your income? Is the Institute of Public Affairs, taxpayer funded? Assuming it’s some sort of government organisation (which is entirely possible), then it is. How is Chris Berg’s job any different to any other sort of artist? Should art be taxpayer funded? Yes, I believe so. It’s nonsense to suggest that artists who get some sort of funding produce inferior art – as though they spend all their time drinking lattes and wondering whether they should go for a walk or watch TV, while waiting for the massive sums of taxpayer money to come flooding in their door. Art is hard work. Good art is VERY hard work. As hard as being a mechanic, or a lawyer, or a politician. True art is a twenty four hour a day job. As a ‘self-funded artist,’ (I have two jobs) I take offence that the work I do is somehow inferior to the jobs I do. Sure, I don’t make any money out of being an artist and not many people have seen the work I’ve done, but I’m just as committed as any person holding down any sort of job – even a ‘research fellow’ – I can tell you. But, if some of my income was taxpayer funded and I could leave one of my jobs, then I’d be able to work harder on my art and, who knows, maybe be successful enough to not need taxpayer funding. This, I believe is the crux of the matter. Art doesn’t make money generally, so it’s ‘worthless.’ Believe me, NO art is worthless. ALL art is worthy of, and to, somebody. Sure, taxpayer funding would have to be assessed somehow but, you wouldn’t need much to weed out the committed from the not so. I know, it’s just a dream but, stranger things have happened.
[Written Oct 1, 2007
I wonder if anyone caught Tom Elliot (son of John Elliot) on RRR FM this morning (7/07/08). If not, then you missed a treat, because Tom had the best idea I’ve heard yet to combat global emissions. An idea so simple, I’m surprised that no one has suggested it before. And his idea was; close the Portland aluminium smelter. Yes, it would impact on a few hundred jobs but, think of the savings; with the plant closed, we could pay everyone in Portland $100,000 a year and still be saving money. Turning alumina into aluminium is one of the most expensive and wasteful things we can do. In one fell swoop we (in Victoria) could meet our Kyoto emissions, not just this year but for years to come. And the loss of jobs? Well, no one cried out too hard when Ford closed down the Geelong Engine plant, with the loss of 600 jobs, virtually overnight. Yes, it doesn’t close down till 2010 but, you get the drift. If it’s good enough for Geelong to be told to suck it up, it’s good enough for Portland. Certainly it should be an idea worth considering; especially as the State Government has brokered a deal with Portland that gives them electricity at ridiculously cheap prices. Shouldn’t all that waste be gotten rid of? Good work Tom; you’ve won me.
[Written July 7, 2008
Ah television; the great leveller. TV is the only place where we can all be broken down into the quiet little boxes that advertisers would love to keep us in. One little box that Peter Munro failed to mention in his article (for Australian advertisers certainly) is racism. Almost every ad you see on our screens, that is made here in Australia, contains a white, Anglo Saxon. And, quite often, that White Anglo Saxon is making fun of someone of a different race, or culture. Anyone remember the ad a couple of years ago for KFC spicy Asian chicken wings (or something like that). It featured a guy at a Karaoke bar, too shy to get up to sing, until he had a bite of these wings then, lo and behold, the Asian spices had him up and singing hallelujah. And what was he singing? Turning Japanese, complete with karate kicks. Oh sure, just a joke you say but think about it. How many ads of this type have you seen over your lifetime? More than you can count, I’ll bet. Racist humour is still permitted in this country and nevermore so obviously than in our commercials. And I wonder, what’s that tell us about ourselves and how does it affect the attitudes our kids grow up with? Not to mention our own. Surely we can make ads these days featuring different cultures as the norm, rather than ‘oh those Asians/Greeks/Italians/etc, aren’t they funny when they do….?’ It doesn’t have to be a PC argument, more a that’s the way life is argument.
[Written August 10, 2008
__]Published August 17, 2008
Georgina Dimmopolous has hit upon one of my pet peeves and I know it’s only – ONLY – because I’m over 40 but, I really get depressed reading the writing of young people these days. I was born in 1966 and I truly believe I’m a part of the last generation to actually be taught English. To be taught the building blocks of English. My wife was born in 1974 and she told me that, even in high school, she was never taught some of the basics of English that I remember learning in primary school. For instance, the sentence: I see the red ball. None of the people she went to school with could tell me the adjective in that sentence. None of them even know what an adjective IS! Do you? (For those under 40 reading this, the adjective is ‘red,’ as it describes the ball. An adjective is a ‘describing word.’ Thus endeth the grammar lesson.) I’m not going to say ‘how have we let it come to this,’ but ‘why?’ Why, all of a sudden, is it no longer mandatory to teach kids the building blocks of their own language? You can bet in France, Germany, Thailand, India or The Middle East, kids are taught, not only the building blocks of their native language, but to be proud of it. Why should we be any different? And you might say, ‘but would this make a difference? You can still understand me if I use ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re,’ right?’ Maybe but I think it’s letting the little things like this slide, that makes the bigger things easier to digest. Human rights vs. Language Rights may be a long bow to draw for some people but, ignorance has to start somewhere. And if it can start with language, what can be next? History? Politics? Law? Something to think about while you’re LOLing.
[Written August 31, 2008
__]Published September 7, 2008
I’m reading with interest the debate on the decriminalisation of abortion, even though it seems to be skewed to the Pro Life type lobby but that may be just because they’re a lot more aggressive. However, what seems to be lost on the Pro Life lobby (and if you’ve read this far, you’ll guess my feelings on the matter) is why they want abortion outlawed. The argument goes that, the killing of innocents should always be condemned and yes, that I do agree with. Yet what is the purpose of letting the innocents live? Surely it’s to live their lives as they choose; to embrace the life they’ve been given and to make decisions they feel is in their best interests. And that should be celebrated by all parties, but the Pro Life lobby should never forget that the innocent they’ve saved may very well grow up to be an abortion doctor, or a politician voting to decriminalize abortion; something that ought to be celebrated just as robustly.
Written September 14, 2008
Bravo Andrew Ranger! State political activism IS alive and well. When Brumby was the leader of the Labour Party, we all had the chance to vote for him then. And everyone remembers that outcome, don’t they? Yes, that’s right, we emphatically DID NOT vote for him. Even those of us who have voted Labour in a State election before. Then Bracks came along and; well, we liked his style. He was self-effacing; intelligent (but not TOO intelligent); had a sense of humour about himself and was engaging. All the things John Brumby is not. Now Bracks has run off and we’re left with the man who always thought he should have been. And who’s suffering for that? Victoria. Peter Costello must have been fuming when that happened. For we now have the default PC as our Premier. The brash, arrogant, humourless, pedantic and lazy John Brumby. Labour has been in power so long because, in the end, there hasn’t been anyone else to vote for. The Liberal party could do well to examine the reasons they lost at the Federal level and apply that to the 2010 State election. They won’t of course; otherwise they’d sign up Andrew Ranger immediately. Hell, I’d vote for him.
[Written October 20, 2008
__]Published October 26, 2008
Dear Mr Birnbauer
While I’m not the mailer of said Cornflakes box; after reading your story, it occurred to me that, perhaps it wasn’t meant as a threat at all. Perhaps it was actually meant as a love letter, or compliment. As in: ‘I adore (a door) your work.’ Yeah, you’re right; that IS a pretty stupid idea.
[Written October 26, 2008
__]Published November 2, 2008
Dear, oh dear; the death of the music industry from the thousand cuts of downloading. Now, just where have I heard this before? Oh yes, I remember. When tapes first came out, it would be the death of the music industry because now people could tape their own songs from the radio. This would mean that artists would be denied legitimate money from their songs and, bingo bango, no more artists; no more songs. Well, still waiting for that one. Then came CD’s and, all of a sudden, the death of vinyl. Gee, turns out that vinyl sales are actually growing. Sure, not the same as CD’s but – the death? Not really. Now of course, downloading is going to be the death of the industry because – well, refer to paragraph two. Guess what? It’s not going to happen. I personally, am not a downloader because I prefer the whole package to just one or two songs. Many of my friends are downloader’s though and, would you believe it, many of those same friends are actually musicians trying to make a living. And you know why musicians are happy to download other musician’s music? It’s because every musician knows that you don’t make any money through your records. You make money through gigs and selling tacky merchandise at said gigs. After all, you can’t download a T-shirt. Seriously, if even one of my friend’s bands could have 400,000 people downloading a song of theirs, they’d be over the moon. More people listening to you means, hopefully, more people coming to your gigs, means better ability to get better gigs, means a career. The only people who rail against downloading seem to be musicians who already make more money than is strictly necessary. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone but ask a few bands struggling on the circuit and I bet they’ll tell you that they’d rather have two thousand people listen to a song for free, than two thousand CD’s stuck in their bedroom closet going nowhere. If you want to know who’s killing the music industry, go talk to the people who own the Punter’s Club, or the Duke of Windsor, or the Evelyn Hotel, or the countless other outlets closing down and being turned into titty bars or pokie venues. Bands need places to play and people to see them, not some half-baked attempt to outlaw ‘stealing.’ People will do it. Accept it; build a bridge.
[Written November 2, 2008
The ballad of Australian Idol just keeps rolling on. And, guess what? I think on this one, everyone’s right. Those of us ‘in the industry’ (I’ve been a drummer in bands for over twenty years with no success) look on it as a blight and those on the inside look upon is as legit and I think there’s merit for both sides. Those of us who’ve punched through in bands on the pub circuit resent it because it appears as an easy road for some. And it is – if you’re a singer. If, like me, you play an instrument and can’t sing worth a damn, it’s useless and believe me; at my age, no one’s going to come along now and pluck me from obscurity to play on their no.1 album. But the real downside of Idol is that it makes it all look like an easy route. However, nothing could be more deceiving. Oz Idol is merely a stepping stone. Sure, it can be a valuable stepping stone, as Shannon Noll discovered, but you still have to put in the work. I think that too many kids are looking upon it as a guaranteed career and it isn’t going to be and never really can be. It should be useful to get you started but, in the end, if you’re not prepared to do the hard yards, then forget it. This is where, I think, Dicko ought to be making his stand. Just saying that the hard yards don’t exist anymore is rubbish. Before they even worry about whether you can sing, they need to point out that, this isn’t going to give you a career. It may make you famous for a little while but, it’s only a quick fix. If you really want a career as a singer, then you’d best be prepared to work your arse off. Shannon Noll seems like the only person to have realised this, and so, is arguably the most successful Idol Australia has ever had. And perhaps, ever will have. Carols by Candlelight and Wicked do not a future make. Australian Idol is set up to, in the end, sell one song and one song only. That is where the emphasis needs to be placed; not only whether you can sing rock or country or big band. Whether you can take an opportunity and work it to your advantage. As a music industry professional, it would enhance Dicko’s claim of its greatness if he could ram this home, rather than the folly of there aren’t any more hard roads.
[Written November 23, 2008
It saddens me to see that some people still equate working with the only thing valuable to do in life. What, exactly, is Rebecca Brideson working for? Her child? Her home? A lifestyle? At 60 hours every week, how can she possibly be enjoying any of these? I noticed that neither of them said a thing about their daughter; I wonder who does the primary caring? Honestly Rebecca, if you wait till you’re retired to relax or to ‘get a hobby,’ it will be far too late. Your husband knows that already; the only thing you know how to do is work. You’ll be dead inside 5 years of retirement because you won’t have a clue what to do with yourself; if you retire at all of course. It’s not a failure to have a day off; or at least to turn your phone off after 9 pm.
[Written December 23, 2008
Published January 25, 2009.]
I’m sure Chris Berg doesn’t hear this much but, bravo! I’m fed up with politicians yammering on about how under-appreciated they are; how underfunded and unremunerated they are and how hard they work in making our lives better. They always seem to be claiming that, if they were in the private sector, they’d make far more money. But politics isn’t supposed to be about making money is it? Aren’t people supposed to get into politics because they want to help? They want to make a difference? Chris Berg is right; if half these lame politicians were in the private sector, they wouldn’t last a week. The private sector (for the most part) has performance appraisals and an expected outcome for your remuneration. None of these so called ‘hard working politicians’ would make the cut. The private sector is under far greater scrutiny than politics. You can actually lose your job in the private sector. As Chris Berg so rightly points out, you can be an underachiever all your political career and still be there twenty years later. What politician would ever want to be under that microscope? Of course, it will make no difference but I say, good on you Chris Berg. First time I’ve ever agreed with you.
[Written January 4, 2009
Published January 11, 2009.]
I dare say there’ll be a bit of controversy over this idea but I’m all for the teaching of sex to ten year olds. Knowledge has always been the best defence against ignorance and the reason so many of our young people are contracting diseases and getting pregnant is ignorance. Let’s help them prevent it. Oh sure, you can run around blindly saying, ‘but they’re too young, they should be interested in something else,’ but that’s plainly not the case. Will they be traumatised by it? Not if the curriculum is well thought out and is actually age appropriate. There are many ways to instil a sex education than just saying, ‘well, this goes there and, Bob’s your uncle.’ And would a little trauma be too bad? I still remember learning about sex in school – in mandated sex education classes – and the book we were working from was pretty harmless. Nevertheless, as soon as I found out what had to be done to make a baby, I decided then and there that it just wasn’t for me. Keep in mind, I was 13 at the time. As I grew older, I grew bolder. But at that crucial time – 13 to 16 – sex was the last thing on my mind. So, to those who would just dismiss this out of hand, answer this: would you rather your child be traumatised for a short time knowing about sex, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual pressure; or would you rather them be traumatised by having to go through the sex alleyway blind?
[Written January 13, 2009
__]Published January 18, 2009.
Why is it that we can always, always find money to hold a sporting event, yet when it comes to real infrastructure, there’s never any money or its irresponsible spending? I’m thinking particularly of a dedicated train line from Tullamarine into the city. It’s just ridiculous that the State Government constantly argues that it’s impossible to build a train line from the airport, because it’s just too cost prohibitive; yet hold the Olympic Games? Oh yeah, we can find $50 million for that. And that’s only the money to get into the running! Is it really such an important achievement to hold the Olympics, but make it impossible for anyone flying into Melbourne to not own/rent a car? Isn’t it time the bigger picture actually came into focus?
[Written January 20, 2009
Published January 25, 2009.]
I can’t but help feel sorry for Theo Theophanous. Whether he’s proved guilty or not, from now on, he’s always going to be assumed guilty. There is always going to be that stigma attached to him. Now, if it is proved that he committed the rape, then I have no sympathy but, and I personally suspect this much, if he’s proved innocent, he’s damned anyway. As he says, he’s never going to be able to have a meeting with a women alone, ever again. Whether that’s late night or not, he’s always going to attract some suspicion. And what of the accuser? Is her name being dragged through the mud? Is her career irreparably damaged? Of course not, she’s the ‘victim.’ And if it’s proved that she brought false accusations, what then? Will she be hounded by a relentless media? Will she be tainted by this the rest of her life? No. She might have to pay a fine, maybe even a short jail term but, after that, we’ll all forget. Not so for Mr Theophanous though. He’ll forever be ‘the man accused of rape.’ And how can this sort of thing not taint other rape victims? If the accusations are false, what of them? It’s already hard enough for a woman to come out and say they were raped; they’re always suspected of ‘asking for it.’ If (and it is still an if, despite my personal feelings) the accusations are proved false, it can only bring disrepute on every other female claiming rape. Especially if the accused has a high profile job. The only answer, I believe, can be a more cautious stance by the media on reporting these sorts of things. No one’s name ought to be published until ALL accusations are proved – beyond doubt.
[Written January 25, 2009
Is technology making us more stupid? It's certainly making us poorer spellers and useless with grammar but, apart from that, I don't really think so. Sure, we might only explore one page of a Google search but, if what you're searching for comes up with 10,000 or more links; honestly, how many are you going to search? Think back to school, or uni. If you went in the days before computers, how much time would you spend in the library, researching a paper or essay? If there were twenty books to choose from for your topic, would you read them all? Of course not, you'd only read a couple. And how much would you remember, even five years later? Not much if you didn't need the information. Plenty of friends of mine have gone to uni, all of them to do differing courses. For most of them though, one compulsory topic they needed to study was Statistics. Now, nobody likes statistics, unless you're a statistician. But, it's compulsory, you have to study it. To a person, none of my friends remember anything about it, apart from the fact that they had to study it. Because they only use statistics sparingly. It might only make up 1% of their job. Does it make them stupid? No. Is it because technology dimmed their minds? No. It's because they only needed to retain a certain amount to be effective. Technology has made information easier to access but it's made TOO MUCH information easy to access. You can only retain so much. You only need to read so much. And not everybody has been born to think deeply or, more succinctly, to WANT to think deeply. Not everyone is here to solve the world’s problems. Some of us are only here to write letters to the paper.
[Written February 8, 2009
The scaremongering surrounding the parallel importing of books reminds me of the scaremongering surrounding the parallel importing of CD’s. Then, as now, musicians were up in arms about the industry being pushed to the brink of extinction and how musicians wouldn’t make as much money because of it. On the other side, the Government was assuring us that, if parallel importing were a reality, we’d all be able to buy the latest CD’s for five bucks. None of this has happened. Sure, the industry is on its last legs but that’s because it couldn’t see the obvious writing on the wall. Downloading and the internet has crippled the industry and all for the better. Where once it was only the select few who got to make an album, or a single; now thanks to My Space and others like it, anyone can do it. Personally, I think it’s made the industry healthier, rather than hurting it. So, why shouldn’t it be the same for writers? Maybe this will encourage more of us to take matters into our own hands, rather than waiting on yet another rejection slip. Perhaps there’ll be a rash of ‘micro publishing houses,’ springing up, catering to a niche that wouldn’t allow you a book deal. Or, maybe it’s time to realise that publishing in this country has never been very big to begin with and, I for one, am not going to cry tears of pain if a few places go under. The writing had been on the wall for the record industry for years and they ignored it. Now they’re paying for that hubris. Will publishing go the same way? Or will they recognise the need for new avenues to pursue?
[Written February 15, 2009
Published February 22, 2009.]
God bless Robert Doyle. Since he’s been made mayor, and realised that no real substantial power comes with the job, he’s ready to suggest just about anything. And I, for one, am encouraging him to. Sure some of his ideas might be a bit wacky, impractical, even a bit brain-dead but, at least he’s got people talking politics. And maybe, just maybe, in amongst all the gobbledygook he’s spouting, there might actually be a serviceable idea. Maybe something to get people talking solutions. That’s what politics is for.
[Written March 16, 2009
Published March 22, 2009.]
Thank you Stephanie Anania, I couldn’t have said it better myself. As someone who has recently left hospitality – after 15 years – I identified with everything she said. It still amazes me, even now, to have someone walk into a restaurant – at 7.30 on a Saturday night – and say, ‘just a table for nine thanks mate.’ Then look at you like you’ve just killed their child when you say, ‘sorry, we’re fully booked.’ I’ve seen it so many times and, many’s the time they’ve stood there in disbelief that they can’t just walk in off the street. And don’t get me started on patrons who think it’s fine to click their fingers while you’re busy serving five other tables; or people who demand to know where their food is, twenty minutes after sitting down. Sure, you may help pay our wages but $18 an hour (much less in some places) is no price to pay to have to endure someone treating you like you’re something they’ve scraped from their shoes.
[Written March 22, 2009
While I agree in principle with the new ‘switch off’ generation, there is one thing I would suggest. Just because a phone rings, it doesn’t mean you have to answer it.
[Written for Sunday Life, March 29, 2009
I certainly agree that Australian TV is far too ‘white,’ but I just can’t agree with the enforced use of quotas, as suggested by Aaron Pedersen. It will do nothing but create rifts between actors and studios and just entrench the racism that already exists. Far better to encourage casting directors, writers, directors and even agents, to think of non-Anglo actors and just ‘actors,’ rather than trying to write to a specific demographic. Even better, encourage people from other cultures to get behind the scenes and become casting directors etc, to help the ‘outside the box’ thinking propagate. This would also perhaps, satisfy families that their children are ‘getting a real job,’ rather than ‘wasting their lives,’ in the creative arts.
[Written March 29, 2009
It’s no surprise to me that the Sunday Age has had trouble getting FOI on the north-south pipeline from the Government. I seem to remember a story from the Bracks Government days of the Sunday Age trying FOI requests for any number of things (some of them hardly in the realms of ‘confidential’) only for the Government to trot out the tired cliché of ‘cabinet confidentiality,’ a euphemism for ‘we’re gonna blow out the budget big time on this, better make sure no one finds out.’ If the sordid history of the Myki system has shown us anything, then we should all gird our loins for the inevitable ‘north-south pipeline to cost 3 billion more than expected,’ story in the coming months. Check the Sunday Age for details.
[Written April 8, 2009
While reading Guy Rundle’s article, I couldn’t help but substitute ‘British Labour Party,’ with ‘Victorian Labour Party.’ Everything he writes about could equally apply here. But will they read it? Will they take any note? Of course not; they’ve been in power too long and are most likely convinced that there is no viable opposition to contest them. And, unfortunately, they’re right. However, as John Howard found out, that won’t always be the case. In the meantime, where does that leave us – ordinary Victorians? Perhaps voicing our collective displeasure at every available opportunity wouldn’t go astray. It won’t mean they’ll listen but, perhaps, somebody else will. Maybe even some one we can believe in again.
[Written April 26, 2009
__]Published May 3, 2009.
In all the hype surrounding our film making industry, I haven’t heard one word on the subject of what really makes a film great – a good script. This is why so many people walk out disappointed in Australian films; not because they look terrible or the acting is below par – it’s the scripts are so bad. The dialogue comes out like it was written, rather than seeming to fall effortlessly out of the actor’s mouths. And we can blame the actors a little for this but they are up against it. I remember reading an interview with Angus Sampson, who said there are only ever four feature films made in Australia, so the chance of getting a featured role is pretty slim. When it comes up, you grab it. This strikes me as, ‘I don’t care what the script’s like, I just want a featured role in a film.’ Not a great way to improve scriptwriting, I wouldn’t have thought. More focus needs to be placed on a great script; then you look for the budget and the actors. Not the other way around.
[Written May 13, 2009
You only have to spend a couple of hours with a dog to realise they’re emotional creatures. I’ve owned two dogs for eleven years and, believe me, they know what you’re talking about. They smile when they greet you; they get jealous when you lavish more affection on one or the other; they get pissed off when you leave them out of your activities and they look guilty and act remorseful when they know they’ve done something wrong. And they ALWAYS know when they’ve done something wrong. I don’t need some scientist with a research grant to tell me this stuff. Seriously, is it any wonder we can’t find a cure for AIDS, Cancer or poverty?
Written May 17, 2009
How is it, in this day and age, that we are still talking about the relative failure of Melbourne’s Public Transport System? When practically every city in the known world is able to carry their respective populations on time and in relative comfort, why can’t Melbourne seem to get it right? Sure, handballing the blame is a fun practice and certainly makes up for all those past failures but come on, someone has to take this is hand surely? Or are we content to be the laughing stock of the rest of the world? For God’s sake, just go to Perth and travel on their public transport – even for a day. The trains are on time, they’re clean and policed and their automated ticketing system is easy to use and actually works. And guess what else? Their State Government is no smarter, richer or better looking than ours. They do have common sense though. Hmmm…maybe I’m onto something?
[Written June 5, 2009
__]Published June 12, 2009.
Discrimination of any kind leads us to many a slippery slope, even ‘positive’ discrimination, as shown in your headline article. While I can see the value of teachers believing in a certain faith if that is what the school demands, I’m not sure the difference it would make were you a cleaner or maintenance person. However, where do we draw the line? As your article pointed out, many men’s and women’s clubs would be put under the microscope, when all they really want is to be left alone. And I’m also thinking specifically of Fernwood’s ‘women only’ policy. If such an anti-discrimination policy were introduced, would it mean them closing down? I hope that some long, hard thought goes into the plotting of this bill, rather than just a knee jerk reaction to religious suspicion, and/or prejudice.
[Written June 20, 2009
I agree Michael Coulter – let the drug taking commence! Make it legal, put it out into the open, let the public decide. Can you imagine? No more would we have to wonder ‘are they, or aren’t they?’ With mandatory public disclosure, all will finally be revealed. Then we, as the average punter, can decide who we’d like to follow. The person chock ‘o block full of the angry pills, or the one prepared to let training do the talking. As you say Michael, even the drug taker is doing the same training, they’re just getting that extra edge, so it isn’t as though they deserve our hatred any more than the ‘clean’ athlete. If we know, we can choose whomever we’d like to barrack for. And really, isn’t that what sport is all about?
[Written August 2, 2009
Published August 9, 2009.]
I think it’s quite true that Australia has always had a classless society. Mainly because we associate ‘class’ with the British aristocracy and we are not yet an old enough country to have evolved anything as ancient as ‘class.’ However, one would have to be terminally naive to think that there isn’t a significant gap between the rich and poor. The problem lies, not in the rich becoming richer, but the way they are becoming richer. Most of the top career earners are corporate CEO’s, with pay packets that accompany their titles. While I have no problem with CEO’s being compensated for their difficult and time consuming work, there is a case for the capping of that remuneration. How much is enough? If you’re already earning over a million dollars as a salary, what benefit is a bonus package of an extra three or four million if it’s merely written into your contract as performance based, but is actually not based on performance? Yes Sol Trujillo, I’m looking at you. It’s time to acknowledge that ‘the trickle-down effect,’ so popularised by Keating and Howard after him, is a failure. Surely we can be one the less in equal countries Thornton was talking about?
[Written August 16,2009
Yet another story of politician’s working too hard and not getting paid enough, compared to the private sector. Yeah? Boo hoo. Suck it up, princesses. Everyone who goes into politics knows that you don’t do it for the money. So you work 18hr days. So you get barely half the money you’d make in the private sector. Again I say, boo hoo. You don’t go into politics to make money. You go into politics because, supposedly, you want to make a difference. A real difference. I’m tired of politicians whining about not getting paid enough. Then go do something else. Let someone with a pair of balls come in. Everyone on the planet thinks they work too hard for not enough money. Join the queue. One thing that politicians do have over the private sector, is that the private sector is accountable. Let’s see how many politicians would complain then, if they had to face the same scrutiny over their job as the private sector. And don’t tell me we can vote them out. As the writing on the wall says, “if voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal.” If you want real money in government, go become a military dictatorship.
[Written August 31, 2009
Published September 6, 2009.]
Some interesting points were made by Denis Hart, however, he still hasn’t given any solid foundation for the discrimination of non-core personnel. I can see the benefits of teachers in Catholic schools being Catholic, but I still don’t understand the need for receptionists, or gardeners, or cooks etc, to also be Catholic. I know that St John of God hospital in Geelong is supposedly a ‘Catholic hospital’ but they couldn’t run without the help of agency nurses. You can bet that barely half of those would consider themselves Catholic. What of that? Are they doing a worse job because they don’t particularly believe a certain way? Of course not. What of the receptionists, cooks etc? Interview many of them and again, you’d find that not many of them are Catholic. And what of the patients? Do we have to be Catholic to be cared for? Of course not. I had a procedure there earlier in the year and not once was I asked about my religious beliefs. The whole thing stinks of petty discrimination that’s been handed down from generation to generation; rather than from a higher being. Discrimination is a human condition. Not a Godly one. God loves ALL his children. We know because it says so.
[Written October 6, 2009
I’m struggling to believe this myself but yet another Chris Berg opinion that I agree with. His column on the refugee ‘problem’ really summed up why this country is still struggling to come to terms with its inherent racism. Oh sure, we like to think we’re a tolerant society; and people will trot out all sorts of statistics that prove we’re a tolerant society and you know, maybe it’s true. But seriously, take a poll in your neighbourhood on who agrees we should let all asylum seekers in, who thinks we should contain them for as long as possible and who thinks we should shut down the borders immediately and you might be surprised. Even a little shocked. And the reasons for shutting down the borders still hold sway from when I was in primary school – ‘they take all our jobs.’ Throw in the terrorist thing and you’re on a winner. It really surprises me that we still have this – essentially – racist attitude to foreigners. Well done Chris Berg, for putting a positive spin on what is a human crises and not an economic one.
[Written October 19, 2009
Published October 25, 2009.]
Instead of everyone worrying about where 35 million people are going to go and whether we have the infrastructure to feed, house and move them, maybe we should consider that – no matter our feelings – it’s going to happen. In fact, wouldn’t it be better if we started planning for 50 million people? We can argue black and blue that Australia can only cope with 15 million but, with our population now at 22 million, I think it’s about time that we realised people are going to breed; people are going to immigrate and we just really need to keep pace with the rest of the world. We have such massive unutilised space; surely someone can figure out how to use it? Stamp your feet all you want but our population is only going to get bigger. The sooner we get on board with this idea, the better off we’ll all be.
[Written October 27, 2009
I think half the problem with the coal debate, is that no one seems to be interested in really working on an alternative. Yes, we’ve got heaps of coal now, enough to last many years but, eventually, it’s going to run out. So, instead of just shutting down coal immediately, who is actually working on an alternative that will do the same thing i.e.: provide base load power? Despite all the back and forth, I don’t really think that shutting coal down immediately is the way to go. But neither do I think we should rely on it forever. We may not have forever. Human beings are awfully good at saying ‘no’ to things. Especially if those things bring about change. I’m waiting for someone to put their hand up and say ‘yes.’ So, while we still have to rely on coal, now should be the time when the alternatives are, not only explored, but begun to be put in place. It’s like changing jobs. You never just quit a job and hope, you always find another job before you quit your old one. It should be the same for our power supplies. Design and build something that will actually take over from coal and switch it on. Is it just too simple?
[Written November 9, 2009
How Andrew Demetriou was ever allowed to write a column in The Sunday Age about the positive impacts of sport, is just beyond me. The way AFL players have been mollycoddled and managed through from any wrongdoings has been disgusting. Oh yeah, I’m sure Andrew thinks that times have changed and all’s right with the world now – just look at Brendan Fevola – and anyway, it’s not our fault it’s the clubs, but we all know it’s not, right? We’re not all stupid. We can see for ourselves in the way our local leagues handle themselves. There hasn’t been a weekend go by all football season, without someone bashing an umpire, or players in brawls, or parents abusing staff and children because of some self-righteous belief that their kid deserves better. All this comes from the top down, no matter what an insulated Andrew Demetriou might think. Sport good for all? No, exercise is good for all. All sport has ever taught me, and people like me who have never been particularly good at sport, is violence, humiliation, anger and loneliness. But you don’t hear those stories do you? No, sport’s all positive. Teaches kids respect, discipline and working as a team. Yeah right. And Santa Claus really is coming to town.
[Written November 22, 2009
Published November 29, 2009.]
It’s hard being in Opposition. The Libs are finding out. Not quite so smug now, are they?
[Written November 30, 2009
So Eric Williamson has been arrested for being naked in his own home? We’re kidding here, right? I mean, this is a fake story isn’t it? I walk around naked in my own home all the time and no, I don’t bother closing the blinds, or even the door. I don’t know anyone who does close their blinds, except at night. If I were him, I’d sue his accusers for being perverts i.e.: peeping toms. It makes as much sense as his arrest.
[Written December 20, 2009
It seems that Peter Garrett has finally learned the hard truth. It’s much easier to rail on politicians when you’re in a band and, therefore, afforded a certain immunity from actually having to do anything, than it is to actually join a political party and try to change things from the inside. I wonder when his eyes were opened? Or have they been firmly clamped shut, to block out the past? I’m certain that, if Mr Garrett were still fronting Midnight Oil, he’d be the first in line to decry the lack of any Australian involvement in the Ady Gill affair. Now he’s actually a politician? All of a sudden, they weren’t attacked in Australian waters. We’ll see. And if it proves true, I’ll be the first in line to apologise. Until then though, I’m sad but not surprised.
[Written January 10, 2010
It’s an interesting time for the publishing industry. With the rise of e-books, it’s going to be tremendously entertaining to see if the industry learns from the similar rise of downloading in the record industry, or whether they’ll stick their heads in the sand and try to come up with ways to prevent it. My feeling is, they’ll learn nothing until it’s far too late. And it’s a pity because, although I prefer books to computer screens, the e-book is going to happen and going to explode. You can’t stop it, any more than the record industry could stop downloading. I don’t believe it will kill books as a product; any more than radio killed theatre, or CD’s killed records; it will just change. And the publishing industry will HAVE to embrace that change. Whether they do so enthusiastically or reluctantly will be the test. Those who embrace it enthusiastically will survive. This goes as much for authors as publishers too. What I’ll be interested in, is when someone brings out an affordable ‘book burner,’ much like CD burners that nearly everyone has now. It will be a revelation to see new ‘micro publishers’ come out from everywhere, like ‘micro labels’ have thanks to CD burning capabilities. It will happen. It’s what technology is all about.
[Written January 17, 2010
Published January 24, 2010.]
With the whole Myki debacle wasting our money, I can’t understand why ministers in charge of this change didn’t just go to Perth to see how it’s done properly. Over there, you can get a printed ticket that covers the zone you want to travel in; is valid for two hours and can be used on the train, bus or ferry. It isn’t hard. It doesn’t have to be so complex. And it doesn’t cost us taxpayers 350 million dollars more than it should. Why is it always necessary for us to make something so simple, so unfathomably difficult?
[Written January 17, 2010
I don’t think it’s ever been a secret that we pay more for our text messaging than other countries and that we have one of the worst telecommunication systems in the world. What seems to be the secret is anyone being surprised that no one will do something about it. Once you convince someone to pay a certain amount of money for something, you’re not going to change it. The only thing you’ll do is increase that price and give some spin about, ‘well, it’s not the REAL price because we factor in other factors, etc.’ We all take it. What else can we do? No other company is throwing away text messaging so, what’s left for us to do? Maybe we can all protest. Just send a text to….
[Written January 25, 2010
@simoncastles: grt artcl sun! Lv the FBook news! Now do teh whle decade in Twitterspeak! LOL!
[Written February 1, 2010
Interesting to note the new State Government initiative for road users suspiciously doesn’t seem to include an upgrade in public transport. I mean, honestly, is it really that hard? Instead of relegating road users to specific times of the day and eliminating car parks or reducing speeds, why not plough more money into public transport? The main reason people don’t use it is because it’s so unwieldy. It should really be a no brainer. If you truly want to reduce congestion, make the roads safer and more user friendly, improve public transport. I would certainly use it more if it were more reliable, simpler to use and, generally, more of it. Come on Brumby, if you can afford to build more roads, you can surely afford to upgrade our public transport.
[Written February 7, 2010
Yet more Mr Brumby not understanding the finer points of how artists make their living. In this case, we are of course, talking about musicians. Not content with saying that, yes he’s been to the Tote for a business lunch – when the Tote has never served food since it opened – he now suggests that the new liquor licensing laws could be changed if music is finished at 10pm, or if there are fewer than 50 patrons if the venue is open till 1am (though it says 1pm in the article, which I’m assuming is a mistake made by The Age). Mr Brumby, having been a musician for twenty odd years and having played most of the places that are closing down at a great rate of knots, I can’t remember a time when music was finished at 10pm. Indeed, most band nights don’t even start till 10pm, depending on where you go. And, as for fewer than 50 patrons if your venue is open till 1am; again, it will depend on who’s playing. I recently saw Future of the Left at the Corner Hotel and they didn’t finish till almost 12.30am and I can guarantee there were more than 50 people there. But what wasn’t there was any violence of any kind, even afterwards. Mr Brumby, either actually get in touch with people who know what they’re talking about to advise you, or just shut up because you don’t know a thing about culture or arts. God help us if you stay in power.
[Written February 14, 2010
The front page story brought a smile to my face this morning. At last, the building blocks are being brought back. Well, they’re being assessed at least. Yes, there will be critics of the system, as there are critics of any new system and yes, I hope that teachers will be consulted more fully as the system is implemented but finally, a bit of old school learning is back on the agenda. Maybe it isn’t ‘back to basics’ but it IS all about the building blocks of science, maths, English and history. The best way to learn is have the basics in place from an early age. It’s too late once you get to high school; to learn how to spell, or how to add up. God, some kids still can’t read in high school. I, for one, am glad this new system is forging ahead. I hope the three months proves worthwhile.
[Written February 28, 2010
Well done and great job to Hell Gallery. I was one of the many people who read this small article who had no idea that Hell existed but, thankfully, it does. It’s fantastic to see someone take the whole, ‘come on kids, let’s put on a show!’ ethic to its next phase. And now to be recognised by Tate Modern? It makes me happy in a way I can’t quite describe. To actually do something for love and do it well; well enough to be noticed, is quite the achievement these days. Hopefully it might put the whole, ‘cash for gold medals,’ debate in its proper light.
[Written March 21, 2010
Wasn’t it only three years ago that one Peter Costello, was encouraging all of us to ‘have one baby for mum, one baby for dad and one baby for the country,’ because our population was in danger? Now, three years later, all of a sudden we’re in danger of overpopulation. Well, which is it? Sounds more like another Tampa debate to me. Chuck out the ‘dangerous immigrants’ but please breed more ‘real Australians.’ You can’t have it both ways; we’re either in danger of overpopulation, or our population is dangerously underweight. Which is it?
[Written April 4, 2010
You can tell it’s a real election year when the politicians pony up the dough. Inspired by President Obama, our very own KRudd has pushed his health care reform through as well. Only thing is, it’s gonna mean we’ll pay more taxes. Which would be ok, if it weren’t for the fact that, no matter how much tax we pay, politicians can STILL never seem to find any money for the important stuff; like schools, healthcare and food. You know, the basics that we have government for. And now, thanks to Mr Rudd, our states (with the exception of WA) have agreed to hand over healthcare to the Federal government, in exchange for a third of their GST. So what’s going to happen now? You guessed it, GST is going to go up. And it doesn’t matter whether Labour or Liberal get in. GST is going to go up. Sure, Mr Rudd is claiming he needs a third because the GST will be outstripped by the increase in health costs but, what does that mean really? It means the GST will go up to keep in line with the increase in healthcare. And so, the circle of life continues. Circle of life Simba, circle of life.
[Written April 21, 2010
I don’t envy Rob Hull’s job as Attorney General. It’s hard, it’s important and it effects many lives, often in ways that may not be too favourable. This has certainly been the case in the Luke Middendorp affair. To read his justification for this new ‘defensive homicide’ law, it just made me wonder. This new law was brought in, because the Government abolished the out-dated law of provocation; yet in the next sentence, he states that, “It was never intended to replace the defence of provocation.” So, which is it; provocation is abolished, or it’s not replaced? What does that even mean? Then, in apparent defence of Luke Middendorp’s appalling use of this new law he states, “It is not possible to know whether, without the alternative verdict of defensive homicide, the jury may have found Middendorp not guilty of any offence.” Huh? Luke Middendorp has basically used provocation as a defence for his blatant murder. How was he being provoked? Was his girlfriend bleeding too much on him? Were her bones breaking too loud for his sensitive ears? What was he afraid of? How could he believe his life was in danger? That his girlfriend might be so inured to the beatings that she forgot to scream? More importantly, how could any lawyer, let alone a judge and jury, look at this crime and decide, ‘yes, he was in danger of his life. It was self-defence.’ This is community expectation? These are our laws highest standards? This is what being a woman is now reduced to – being constantly beaten, then killed, then it’s your fault? Someone please tell me I dreamt this.
[Written May 30, 2010
Published June 6, 2010].
So, Wellington Boots are yet to catch on here? Well, after attending this year’s Meredith Music Festival, perhaps you’d better let everyone under 20 in on that fact. I’ve never seen so many colourful, plastic boots since I was in Primary School. I’m here to tell you, we are the world leader in the Wellington boot fashion craze.
[Written June 6, 2010
This is why committees should never be involved in the creative arts. Because it could only be a committee that came up with the “brilliant” idea of reworking Enid Blyton. I remember reading the Famous Five when I was still in primary school in the ’70’s but I don’t remember the language being a problem. And, believe me, there weren’t any people using ‘jolly lonely’ or ‘awful swotter’ in Geelong. Not even the posh kids. And I certainly don’t remember not being able to work out what was going on in the books just because the language was a little archaic. What’s next – ‘oh, that Shakespeare. Ok writer but what’s with this dialogue and all this ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ nonsense. Is that supposed to be the kid’s new slang or something? Must do something about this.’ Some things should be left as they are, surely? Wouldn’t the language provide some sort of debate for the kids who were unsure of a word? Or, at least provide a glossary in the back so kids can find out for themselves, if they’re at all interested. Which I seriously doubt. It’s all in the story, not the language.
[Written July 25, 2010
Published August 1, 2010.]
Sam de Brito is right of course, and I think most of our lying begins in childhood, when we realise our parents are liars. Not only that, but they don’t care they’re liars. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose father’s mantra was, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ What else does that teach kids but, I only have to do……until I’m older, then I’m home free. Maybe, as Sam suggests, we should look to our own actions around our most impressionable, before we utter the lie or participate in the action we wouldn’t find favourable in others. Or, failing that, at least be HONEST about the lie. Maybe we can teach our kids that selective lying isn’t so bad but the BIG lies (adultery, crime etc) are the ones to really look out for.
[Written August 22, 2010
Published August 29, 2010]
It’s seems as though I’m the only one excited by this prospect of a hung parliament. As Michelle Grattan has rightly pointed out, it will make it difficult to get legislation through with all the concessions having to be made to the minor parties but, so what? Legislation SHOULD be hard to get through. At least it will be considered, if not right. Ms Grattan also makes the point that it will be harder for parties to argue for big ideas. Fortunately for us, both parties have shown that they have NO idea. It’s the smaller parties that have the big ideas anyway and, now that they have balance of power, perhaps some REAL change might come our way. Or, maybe we’ll be voting again in a year’s time. I think it’s interesting. I’m excited to see what might happen. Anyone want to join me?
[Written August 23, 2010
Published August 24, 2010]
Hear, hear Josh Gordon; I too am an optimist. Although I do worry about Rob Oakeshott, as he’s proved himself a complete narcissist, I worry more about the Coalition. If Tony Abbot is smart, he’ll try his level best to make this government work, while still being Opposition leader of course, but he won’t just frivolously say “NO” every time Julia Gillard opens her mouth. One thing we, the public, don’t like, is petulant little schoolboys whinging that they didn’t get their way so they’re going to make it hard as possible for everyone else. If Tony Abbott acts like a true LEADER, he’ll have a chance next election. Not that I’d elect him but as least he’ll be able to make a case for himself if he’s serious. I also hope that the media will give this govt a chance and not just jump on every little squabble that arises. This could be a great era of Australian politics if it’s allowed to be. Optimists unite!
[Written September 12, 2010
__]Published September 19, 2010
What might have been. It was 1977 and I was eleven years old. We were visiting some friends of my parent’s and I was settling down to watch my first ever Grand Final. I wasn’t much into football in those days; I wasn’t into sport that much at all – apart from cricket – so the Grand Final was a new thing for me. Collingwood vs. North Melbourne. I decided to follow Collingwood; mostly because almost everyone else was on North Melbourne and I knew my nan barracked for Collingwood so, what the heck. I don’t think she ever really forgave any of us for not barracking for them for life but, it could so easily have been. I remember screaming myself hoarse, along with everyone else. I may be mis-remembering, but it was a sea saw game; for every goal Collingwood scored, North Melbourne answered. Whenever North Melbourne got in front, all I heard was ‘Collingwood has the Collywobbles.’ I didn’t know that this was a famous saying but, at the time, I thought it was pretty clever. And really irritating. But I stuck to my guns. Collingwood were going to win. I was sure of it. If I had money at my eleven years of age, I would’ve bet on it. History has proved that they didn’t. Next week, we went to my nan’s to watch the replay. I was still on Collingwood, as were the rest of the family that watched the game. But, something was wrong; Collingwood were not the team from the last week. They seemed slower, less skilful, less eager to win. I tried to will them on. When Phil Manassa flew out of the back line, sold the dummy three times, had about six bounces and kicked a goal, I thought, ‘this is it, this will pick them back up.’ But it wasn’t to be. Collingwood lost that game and they lost me. It wasn’t that they got beat, it was the WAY they got beat. No heart, I thought, no heart for the contest. If they had’ve come back and won the replay, they would’ve had me for life. Instead, they managed to turn me off football for many years, until I came back via the Cats. Even through all the lean years, the choking years, I’ve never gone off the Cats. Maybe it’s just because I’m older, or maybe because I’ve lived in Geelong most of my life but, I can’t not back the Cats. Collingwood lost a lifetime fan with one game. And maybe that doesn’t matter to the Collingwood faithful, because they’ll always be on them, like I am with the Cats. But I wonder how many of the younger me were watching yesterday and are going to watch next week. I’m on the Saints to win but, you never know. I hope, at least, it’s another contest.
[Written September 26, 2010
We get the Herald Sun at work every day, so I’ve often read Andrew Bolt’s columns. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, I also don’t believe he’s a trenchant, right-wing attack dog. Certainly he’s a conservative but I’ve found a lot of his work more thoughtful than someone like Steve Price, for instance. So it brings me no joy to hear that he’s being sued for his opinions. I’m not a fan of censorship in any form and, while I can agree with the idea of the Racial Vilification law, I’m against it in principle. Not because I think it’s a good thing to racially slur someone but because words and opinions only hurt when we try to outlaw them. Of course, this is coming from a white, middle aged male, so there are no possible words that can be hurled my way that I’ll find offensive but still, one man’s opinion is still that – ONE man’s opinion. To have to silence that person through law; maybe his opinion is a bit too close to the bone?
[Written October 4, 2010
Published October 10, 2010]
I was intrigued to read the ‘a Decent Proposal’ story but I’m not sure I’d agree that the proposal should still come from the male. And that men, in this day and age, would still feel emasculated by being proposed to. My wife proposed to me and she managed to do it without my knowledge that it was going to happen. Of course, she had to do the proposing; I would have asked her to marry me almost from the day we met but I knew that would have scared her off. She needed to take her time and, when the time was right, she sprung a ring on me. I cried like a baby.
[Written for Sunday Life, October 31, 2010
Published November 14, 2010]
Every new advancement brings on the announcement that something is now on the way out. When radio started, it was announced that theatre was dead; when TV started, it was announced that cinema could no longer be relevant and when CD’s came out, the death of the record was forthcoming. None of these have come to pass. Even tapes are still circulating, if you know where to look. So, if it’s all the same to everyone else, I’ll take the death of the CD with a rather large serve of salt. Something that was also supposed to die, back in the dim, dark 80’s.
[Written October 31, 2010
Published November 7, 2010]
Perhaps I don’t watch the news as much as I used to, or perhaps I’m watching less TV than before but I haven’t actually felt bombarded by a law and order election, as declared by the Sunday Age. In fact, the only places I can truly recall being bombarded with messages that our streets are littered with crime, is from papers such as the Age and the Herald Sun.
[Written November 21, 2010
Published November 28, 2010]
It seems someone like Michael Burd would rather live in a dictatorship than a democracy. For, with a democracy Mr Burd, one must take the bad with the good. So far, with these admittedly small leaks, no enemies of ours have been helped. Or emboldened. Nor have they even celebrated. And yes, it is certainly true that if Mr Assange had been living in Iran, or Syria, or perhaps even Russia, that his punishment for basically publishing what someone else has actually stolen, would’ve been more serious. But that is the beauty of a democracy isn’t it? Surely something like this is what we’re fighting for? Openness, honesty, integrity? While I’m not denying Mr Assange’s obvious anti-American bias, so what? He’s publishing what he’s being given. Why has there been barely any mention of the person actually responsible for downloading all these cables in the first place? Mr Assange is doing no more and no less than any good journalist would do. You have information that makes a good story, you publish it. A democracy is all about having the freedom to do this sort of thing. To be embarrassed. Which is all this comes down to really – embarrassment. Surely the US Govt should be updating their security, rather than calling for trials under the Espionage Act.
[Written December 12, 2010
Julie Perrin is right; we do have a modest history in speechifying. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. One: we get bored easily. We just want to be told the facts in the quickest way possible. Remember Rob Oakshott’s speech? 17 minutes to say ‘yes.’ No one remembers the speech at all but we all remember it went on and on. Two: our particular accent doesn’t lend itself terribly well to public speaking. It’s flat, nasal and, on the whole, not particularly easy on the ear. Compared to our American counterparts, whose accent is rather sonorous. Not all accents of course but, the ones we’re used to. Our accent, on the other hand, tends toward boring. Hence, perhaps that’s the reason for number One. Our voices tend to become a little white noise after a while. Listen to the cricket or the football; even in the midst of excitement our voices sound like a drone. But who knows? Perhaps there’ll come a time when our accent will hitch itself to something worth listening too. It would be nice to hear a speech to remember, rather than struggling to remember any speeches at all.
[Written January 9, 2011
Interesting to read that Facebook and Twitter are only used to show how fabulous your life has been. That no one puts down anything mundane or ordinary. Obviously no one’s been reading my Twitter feed then.
[Written February 28, 2011
I don’t think the Ocker is a particularly Australian thing, is it? Certainly the name is but, you can go to pretty much any country you like and find men acting like men. And the stereotype will be pretty much the same, with a different colloquial term. Ockers tend to drink too much; usually smoke; love their sport and most are Peter Pan types that tend to treat women (especially their wives) as someone who can be ignored when required. While this stereotype is thankfully diminishing, I don’t think it will ever really go away. Ockers tend to raise Ockers and so on and so forth. But, despite the negative connotations, I think there’s a place for Ockers in society, as much as there’s a place for guys like me, who aren’t.
[Written April 10, 2011
The whole Dominic Strauss-Khan thing will be fascinating to keep an eye on. On the one hand, I wouldn’t want an innocent man accused, then sent to prison but, on the other, I certainly don’t want someone to get away with something as heinous as rape. Especially as it looks like turning into another ‘rich man gets away with murder’ type scenarios. For mine, I’m not convinced of anything yet. One thing I do know though; from the photo they’ve shown of him making bail, he looks far too smug.
[Written July 4, 2011
Published July 10, 2011]
With the US now downgraded to AA+, it’s perhaps no surprise – but no less disappointing – to hear the blame game going forward. Instead of the whole government walking into the room of mirrors and taking a good, hard look at themselves, they’re piling on the ‘it’s not our fault’ building blocks; for the next downgrade one supposes. Surely they should all be hanging their heads in shame and working together to get the AAA rating back, rather than berating each other? This whole downgrade has come because of the school children act they’ve been putting on for the past few years. If now isn’t the time to put aside ideological differences and work together to pick up the pieces, when will be?
[Written August 9, 2011
Published August 14, 2011]
Loved the cartoon that came with the Craig Thompson article. ‘The man for the head job.’ Just brilliant. NB: a correction was sent with ‘secure the head job.’
[Written August 22, 2011
The thing that always seems to be missing in the same sex marriage debate, is the reason for marriage itself. And, as a general rule, it’s sighted that children are the reason. Which is, of course, patently untrue. Marriage exists for one reason and one reason only: the consolidation of assets. It exists, primarily, for monetary reasons. Yes, you can marry for love and you can marry for children but the primary reason that marriage came into existence is because someone who was not too well off wanted their daughter or son to marry someone who was much better off, thereby becoming better off themselves. Let’s face it; no one NEEDS to be married to raise a child, or to be in love. But the laws for married couples offer much better financial protection than do the laws for de facto couples. If we’re going to have a real debate about this, at least let’s make it entirely honest. Same sex couples would be much better off financially if they were allowed to marry. Is that the real reason for all the opposition?
[Written August 28, 2011
Published September 4, 2011]
As a new father of a seven week old daughter, I can’t agree enough that parenting needs to be hands on between both mother and father. I’ve seen too many children grow up in ‘single parent households’ even though both parents are still together. You have to do it, not only for your children, but for yourself. There really is nothing more rewarding than looking after your own flesh and blood. Yes, this includes doing your fair share of the housework. Parenting is about EVERYTHING, not just about the children.
[Written September 7, 2011
“If the market thought Solyndra was good value, then the company wouldn’t have needed the federal loan guarantee in the first place.” Yet, when this self-same market declared the Ford, GM and Chrysler should’ve gone down the tubes because of their own mismanagement, who did they come running to for a bailout? Not the market. No, they went to the Government, BEGGING to be helped out. It’s funny how it always seems to be ‘Green Energy’ having to swallow the bitter pill of not being required by the market (which I think, in years to come, is going to be a farcical notion) but whenever it comes to big, established, privatised companies like car manufacturing, or banks; there’s always a let off. If you’re going to champion the free market and say that everyone has to pay their own way, regardless of whether they’re important or not, then you have to be fair about it. Yes, thousands upon thousands would’ve lost jobs and the world economy would be even worse than it is now but, that’s this amazing free market isn’t it? You can’t have it both ways, just because you don’t like a particular industry.
[Written September 25, 2011
I’m going to be interested in reading, over the next few days, who cops the brunt of the Qantas debacle. I’m guessing – besides Tony Abbott hammering Julia Gillard – it’ll be the unions that cop the most. While it’s true that many unions have been tainted from some rogue operators in the ’80’s, there’s still no better way to protect worker’s rights than safety in numbers. Without unions, things like a minimum wage wouldn’t even exist. But, on the other hand, people hate to be inconvenienced and the unions can see that. However, it wasn’t the union that grounded traffic. It was management. Fiercely anti-union management. Unions who are trying to protect their members jobs from going overseas, thereby keeping a high standard of service, workmanship and quality in the country, rather than turning Qantas into another Ryan Air. But all people really care about is being inconvenienced. Unfortunately, to keep a standard, or improve a standard, some inconvenience is necessary. Unions are still needed; privatisation isn’t the answer to everything.
[Written October 31, 2011
I knew it wouldn't be too long before the union bashing began. And I should have known - Chris Berg. Trotting out the tried and true position of everyone who wants privatisation to rule the world, the unions are racist and only free trade is the way to go. Gee, hasn't that worked out especially well for the electricity companies? I'm sure the major players at SP really give a damn about Black Saturday. They even went so far as to say that maintaining lines they own is not their responsibility. So, is this what Qantas will be reduced to? When the inevitable mechanical failures occur, because Lord knows that companies really care about people, as opposed to the bottom line; will they just claim that it isn't their responsibility? Wanting to keep your job isn't racist. Wanting to keep a certain standard of excellence isn't racist. Bogus claims of protectionism and racism isn't the counter argument. Considering how white 90% of the members of the IPA is, Chris Berg should be looking in his own backyard before bringing in racist allegations against the unions.
[Written November 6, 2011
Hmmmm, I wonder how many people, students, the AMA would be up in arms if suddenly the Government decided that ALL newly qualified GP’s had to go work in Rural areas for ten years before they were allowed to claim Medicare. I’m thinking the story might be very different. But it’s ok for us to push all overseas doctors (assuming they’ve jumped through enough hoops) to go work in Rural areas because none of our guys will pick up the slack? How is this even a workable system? Oh wait…..
[Written November 21, 2011
Despite allowing Labour MP’s a conscience vote on gay marriage, Julia Gillard – and indeed, the entire Labour Party – knows that it won’t get up, even if the numbers are overwhelming. The Liberals will vote as a block to not allow gay marriage. They’ve made that abundantly clear. And with the Prime Minister fundamentally opposed to gay marriage, why even allow the vote? It’s either something to bash the Opposition with for the next twelve months, or it’s simply a ploy to kill the gay marriage bill off. She’ll be able to say that; see, I tried to do something, but I just wasn’t allowed. Despite the fact that she can’t actually clarify why she’s against the bill in the first place. She’ll be hoping it might just quietly fade away. Don’t bet on it.
[Written December 5, 2011
Labour no longer has any big ideas people because they have no people left who don’t care what we think. Despite appeals to the contrary, Labour is so tied to media spin, opinion polls and not upsetting anybody, that they can no longer remember what they once stood for. I don’t vote for politicians who care what I think about everything. I don’t want a leader of a country that I could sit down and have a beer with. I want someone who can see the future. Someone who is interested in what might happen in twenty years, not three. Someone who doesn’t care what I think about things that I have no expertise in. Because I’m just trying to get through the day, I’m not thinking about infrastructure or whatever the next big idea might be in twenty year’s time. That’s what I vote other people in for. And yes, protests for things that have happened and need change are all well and good, but maybe if someone had come in earlier, with a big idea to keep an eye on things and not just watch the money, maybe we wouldn’t be in half the mess we seem to be in now.
[Written January 3, 2012
The question isn’t whether Sam Stosur can fire up for the Open; it’s whether the media will run with the same tired hack story about whether she will. Seriously, leave the girl to play tennis. I’m all for Sam winning but, in the end, whether she wins or loses, isn’t putting petrol in my car, buying my groceries, working my job, or changing my baby’s nappy. It might be slightly disappointing for slightly over 3.5 seconds but it isn’t going to improve or ruin my life. Just let her get on with it. No one but the media is putting pressure on her anyway. Sam; you’re NOT carrying the country’s hopes and dreams and while it’d be great if you win, we WON’T disown you.
[Written January 16, 2012
Well, no matter what happens with poker machine reform/no reform, Andrew Wilkie has turned himself into a lame duck. He’s pretty much lost his seat now. People voted him in on the strength of his principles and he’s shown just how strong those principals are. Good try Andrew but bluffs don’t work; you actually have to put them into action. Who can possibly trust what he says from now on?
[Written January 23, 2012
Reading Chris Berg, I just can’t shake the uncomfortable feeling of blatant racism emanating from the pages. The rest of the world is catching up to English? It’s the language of trade? Well yes, it is. But why is that? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the brazen attitude of ‘if you want to trade with us, learn our damn language,’ would it? And what does the IPA have against Asians anyway? They are our closest neighbour; why shouldn’t schools demand some sort of Asian language as a standard? China is unquestionably the biggest neighbour we have; Mandarin seems to me a good choice. It doesn’t hurt making kids learn another language – even if they never use it. I know plenty of people who’ve had to learn statistics and accountancy to qualify for their degrees and never using either again. But it seems Mr Berg isn’t arguing against that. He’s even advocating it, as though learning either would make any sort of difference to learning a language. It just smacks of the whole ‘White is Right’ attitude and I, for one, am very depressed.
[Written January 29, 2012
Great article by Stephen Mayne. Such a pity that it will go unnoticed by the majority of people who could actually make a difference i.e.: the Labour government. I’m not a Gillard basher; indeed, I think she’s done a more than commendable job under exceptionally trying circumstances and if it seems that the government is incompetent, it’s only because they’ve had to compromise so much over the past year and a half. Coalitions are bad enough but this is a massive Coalition with far too many little players after their own slice of bread. Does anyone seriously think that Tony Abbot and the Liberals could have done any better? Ah yes, you’ll say, but we wouldn’t have a Carbon Tax – you know, the one she lied about. Yet nobody but NOBODY ever seems to bring up John Howard’s ‘the GST will NEVER EVER be part of Coalition policy.’ But geez, what do we have now? But oh no, Julia Gillard is the liar. The GST was never part of Coalition policy until they were elected in – by a majority of six. Six. Not too far away from where we are now but John Howard and the Liberals took that as a mandate to do whatever they wanted. And they did and we all haven’t died or been sent to the poor house. And whether or not Julia Gillard gets back in and whether or not we have a Carbon Tax, we still won’t.
[Written February 7, 2012
__]Published February12, 2012
I’m not sure what the organisers of the Oscars are worried about; if Sacha Baron Cohen walks the red carpet, regardless of whether he’s in get up or not, it will be guaranteed that no entertainment will be happening.
[Written February 27, 2012
It’s a good idea in theory Bruce but I don’t really think that lowering the alcohol limit is really going to do anything. Those of us who only drink at weekends or on occasion, are always going to be monitoring out intake and making sure we don’t exceed .05, or have organised a lift home. The booze culture you’re talking about doesn’t even care about .05, let alone anything less. Honestly, how many stories of drunk drivers tell of their alcohol limit being .051 or .06? They’re usually something astronomical like .182 or something equally ridiculous; pointing to the fact that – obviously – .05 is a challenge rather than a deterrent. We need something to really get to the issue of why binge drinking happens in the first place. Showing off to mates? No work the next day? Boredom? I certainly don’t have the answer but I also don’t think lowering the alcohol limit is the answer either. Yes we must do something but we’re in danger of convincing ourselves we’ve done something, when really we’ve only put the problem off to another day, for future us to solve.
[Written September 19, 2012
__]Published September 23, 2012
While I’m all for progress and generally have no problem with hi rise structures, I’d definitely not like to see us go the way of Shanghai or Hong Kong or many other major cities of the world; be it Asian or no. To have Jeff Xiu scoff at how slow our construction of towers is compared to Shanghai, to me, is no bad thing. But of course, neither is the influx of money; especially with Wayne Swan still banging on about having a surplus – as though a surplus is a sign of good financial management. But of course, as pointed out in your editorial, an influx of money should not be confused with a yes to any project that happens to be talked about. Especially when those projects seem to be concentrated on more, more, more; rather than better, better, better.
[Written October 22, 2012
While I feel for the students at Acacia and Mowbray colleges, it somehow beggars belief that a school can be $40million and $18million in debt and nobody knows about it. Where is the accountancy? In fact, where are the accountants? Or any financial management for that matter. And how can a private school have thousands of dollars in unpaid school fees? Where are the family’s accountability? Have the students just been turning up and the school board hoping that they’ll have some money with them? This all seems just a little bit too suspect to me.
[Written October 28, 2012
__]Published November 4, 2012
It was very interesting to read the China article and their supposed fear of the Hostile West. Are their fears any different from many people still railing against Communism and the ‘Yellow Threat?’ In this day and age, with all this technology, with all information at our fingertips, why are we still harking back to 1950’s hysteria? From what I was reading, we are a lot more alike than different. Even ideologically. Communism/Capitalism; it’s all very similar in many ways; especially China’s so-called Communism. The Party faithful on both sides of the political divide still hold most of the power and each thinks they’re right and the other wrong. But, I guess we’re the ‘good guys,’ right?
[Written November 11, 2012
__]Published November 18, 2012
The answer to the latest gun debate in the wake of yet another appalling school shooting shouldn’t be, how do we stop the mentally ill from getting their hands on guns but why should anyone – even ex-military or current military personnel – be allowed to own semi-automatic weapons? There is absolutely no – NO – valid reason for owning a gun this powerful, that can shoot so many shots in one go. The gun debate shouldn’t be about whether or not it is a right to own a gun – that is NEVER going to change in America – but whether the gun owned should be a military style weapon. And the only people that should own military style weapons are the Army. Where they should be kept under lock and key until needed and not at some random person’s house. It doesn’t seem that ridiculous or that complex to me. While it would be ideal that NO ONE owned a gun, I am still a realist for the foreseeable future. Yes to owning a gun but NO to owning a powerhouse. Surely that’s a compromise everyone (in America) can embrace?
[Written December 17, 2012
Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again; Chris Berg – I don’t very often agree with your ideas but when you’re right, you’re right. Stop all this conspiracy nonsense and get back to sensible, political discussion that actually might benefit all of us. You know, the people that actually vote for you.
[Written December 31, 2012
I’m not certain that violence on the streets is anything new, or even anything more, than what it was back in my youth but the one thing that does seem to have changed is that the violence is more relentless. Way back when, if you were in a fight in a pub or car park or something, it would be one on one. Sure there might be a group around you having a look but that would be about it – they’d just be looking. And the fight was over when someone put their hand up or remained on the ground. That was it, it was over. Nowadays, it seems that the group – instead of just looking – now joins in on the fight and the fight isn’t over until someone is unconscious or dead. And even unconscious doesn’t guarantee a stop. I think Bruce Guthrie might have hit upon something – show the effects of violence; the true effects. Especially in movies and tv. We know it’s not real but it still packs a message. How many times have we seen someone get hit in the balls, only to get up five seconds later? That doesn’t happen people; you get hit in the balls, you stay down. A brand new, visually shocking campaign is needed to bring home the message – violence too easily leads to death and the shattering of more lives than just the victim.
[Written January 6, 2013
__]Published January 13, 2013
Either there was a misprint in today’s Age, or I’m reading something wrong but John Watkin’s 0-21 from six overs doesn’t seem that bad to me. I mean, they were the traditional eight ball overs in those days and he would have been bowling to batsmen quite versed in spin, so to keep the tally down to only 21 runs for six overs seems pretty good to me. Nathan Lyon is supposed to be our top spin bowler and, against Sri Lanka in the Sydney test, he bowled about seven or eight overs of 0-38 and these are only six ball overs, so I think John Watkin’s has been treated pretty harshly. Jeez, we celebrate when Mitchell Johnson went wicketless in the first innings of the same test, because he didn’t bowl too many wide deliveries and was considered to have had a good day. Am I missing something?
[Written January 13, 2013 for sports section
The whole sorry saga of the Jimmy Saville outrages proves only one thing – as if proof were really needed – with fame and riches, comes the ability to get away with anything. Michael Scmith made some valid points in his article, except for one: was it all really a surprise? Did people really not know? You can’t tell me that there weren’t people around him; people with power; people who were in a position to do something; who didn’t know what was going on. Once you become used to getting away with something, you become more brash, more reckless; someone saw, someone knew, people found out. They had to, how could they not? Yes, there are more to blame than just Jimmy Saville for this disgusting affair. It’s the pointless hand-wringing that sickens me the most. There were people in positions to do something about him and they chose to wash their hands of it. I hope they get theirs too.
[Written January 13, 2013
Anyone who believes the Lance Armstrong interview was anything but choreographed PR is a fool. Remember the scene in Good Night and Good Luck, where Edward R Murrow is interviewing Liberace and you can see the questions and answers come up on the Teleprompter, just the same way as words are coming out of their mouths? But it seems like a very laid back and off the cuff interview, doesn’t it? That was Winfrey and Armstrong. I wouldn’t even be surprised to find out that staffers were holding cards behind the scenes with all the questions and appropriate answers written down. There is no way they didn’t get together beforehand and plot out what would be said. And there’s no point in blaming Oprah for not pursuing names, dates and accomplices; that’s not what Oprah’s for. If Armstrong really wanted to do a proper coming out/serious interview, he would’ve have contacted the British journalist who’s been after him for so long and done it on TV, live and unedited. This was performance theatre of the highest order and proves/absolves nothing.
[Written January 21, 2013
I was most amused to read Chris Berg’s piece on the Doomsayer scientists, predicting the end of the world. It reminded me a little of another group who always seem to be predicting the end of the world via the economy. About how Labour are pretty much the devil and everything they’ve done over the years has brought the world (or at least the Australian part) to the brink of collapse and only the white knight of Liberal policy – especially the free market – can possibly save us. But who will listen? Certainly not the foolhardy Australian public! Yet, here we are, five years down the track and the world (even the Australian part) still stands. Who would have thought? Has anyone ever read the IPA’s magazine? I have. Talk about your hive mind.
[Written January 28th, 2013
Nick Xenophon was detained in Malaysia as a ‘security risk’ and, maybe we should be outraged, if not a little concerned. But I wonder; on the other foot, how many Malaysian politicians are on an ASIO ‘security risk’ list and will there now be a tit for tat turning back of any Malaysian politician who comes here for whatever reason?
[Written February 18th, 2013
The only reason that Ted Ballieu is going it alone (for now) on the Gonski review is that one of his many staffers mentioned in passing that the Gonski review recommended blanket funding for State Schools and that maybe, Private Schools wouldn’t get so much. Once old One Term Ted heard this, he spat out his Pimms and declared that, no way, no how was he going to let that happen. Tell me again how a Private School can actually be labelled Private when they receive funding from the Government? Much like a privatised company who, when in trouble and may go belly up from poor economic management, goes off crying to the Government for help because ‘we’ll lose our jobs.’ But if they’re going well, the Government is the despised enemy. Life’s just funny like that, I guess.
[Written March 4th, 2013
Yes, well, the Bill of Rights works so well in America, that I’m sure it would do wonders over here. Seriously, the Supreme Court of the US wields as much, if not more, power than our own High Court, if the Second Amendment (of only one I could mention) is anything to go by. Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Lefty or Righty, it really doesn’t matter. When politicians want to change things, or if special interest groups with large members and powerful connections want to do anything, no Bill of Rights can protect anyone. So bring it on. It’s not like it would matter a jot anyway.
[Written March 12th, 2013
Loved the editor’s little joke at the end of his/her opinion piece ‘And another thing.’ “…we deplore the councils decision.” This in a piece about apostrophe use and its being eroded by the Devon council in England. Brilliant.
[Written March 17th, 2013
Infrastructure has not been our government’s strong suit, whether Labour or Liberal. To me, it’s no real surprise that the Coalition won’t put money into rail lines to the outer suburbs; there is no lobby group strong enough to push them for it. Roads are where the money is, which means, roads are where the votes are perceived to be. Governments are all about votes and lobbyists know it. We, the public, can cry all we like about ours are the votes that count but, in reality, our votes don’t matter. As has been proved time and again by successive governments pulling out of agreements they made before being elected in. Blame the previous government is the mantra but I’m not so sure it’s that easy. Things like infrastructure take forward planning; a long term view. Governments, by the very measure of only being in for four years, only take a short term view. What’s the point of planning for something ten year’s down the track if we get voted out at the next election? I’ve thought for a long time now that governments aren’t in for long enough. I wonder what the benefit might be, extending government terms to ten years, rather than four? I’m sure the cry would go up, ‘no way! Imagine who we might be stuck with?’ but there have been plenty of governments, both federal and state, who have been in for this period of time but have never been sure they would stay and so, have taken the short term view. Imagine a government that knew it would be in for ten years? They could breathe easy, take a longer view of things and we might actually get something out of it, rather than the present four year election campaign we seem to constantly go through. Imagine too, the ramifications for us, the voting public. Wouldn’t you consider your vote more carefully if you knew you were putting a government in for ten years, rather than four? Benefits may not arise of course and I’m sure I’m the only one calling for this but still, is it not something worth considering?
[Written March 24th, 2013
The call to improve our prison system has been going on for years but is drowned out by the lack of a credible alternative. The trouble seems to be, especially for violent crime – regardless of how old the offender is – we demand that the perpetrator be punished, otherwise it will appear that he or she has ‘gotten away with it.’ And while I can see the point of justice being seen to be done, I’m not convinced that prison is the answer for everyone. I wonder if, as some have called for before, the armed services aren’t a credible answer? Instead of three years in a jail with hardened criminals, perhaps three years in the Army, Navy or Air Force could be a solution. Yes, people will cry, ‘good work, teach violent criminals how to use guns properly,’ but I think the strong work ethic and discipline of the Army is often overlooked. Again, it won’t work for everyone but if you could get a 17 year old who is trying to prove they’re a tough guy by stabbing someone, into the Army where their aggression to pushed into something useful and they come out feeling better about themselves, as well as being productive members of society, isn’t that something to be considered? It at least has to be cheaper in the long run.
[Written April 1st, 2013
Jeff Kennett is really no more than a high school bully and, like most bullies, he’s able to keep getting away with it because no one is seriously prepared to call him on it. Bullies live by the creed that, ‘someone will always be the bigger man,’ so they keep bullying and bullying and bullying and it’s let slide by people saying, ‘oh, that’s just Jeff (or insert own bully reference here)’. So, well done Bruce Guthrie for at least sticking the boot in a little but, where is the person that is going to come out, as in the Boris Johnson interview and call Kennett on his bad behaviour, to his face?
[Written April 8th, 2013
__]Published April 14th, 2013
For me, having learnt to touch type at a fairly early age (in high school, no less), I find the QWERTY keyboard a well thought out and smartly organised system. Yes, perhaps the word per minute count might not be as much as a different set up but, then again, so what? Do we really need to be able to type 200-300 wpm? And, for that speed, what is the corresponding accuracy for different keyboard set ups, compared to QWERTY? As mentioned in the article, it’s the standard now and many millions of us who use it professionally and ‘properly’ (as opposed to the hunt and peck method which can be just as fast if not typing from copy) would be loathe to give it up. Our alphabet has only 26 letters and is English is still widely regarded as inappropriate to describe certain things that other languages take for granted but I’m not hearing too many advocating a change in the alphabet. And that’s my 2 cents.
[Written May 5th, 2013
Well boo friggidy hoo, there’s going to be some pain in the Budget. When the hell has there NEVER been pain in the Budget? Even when Peter Costello is bragging about his 10 surpluses in 10 budgets, he always came out the week before Budget night and said that we’d all have to tighten our belts and that this budget will have some pain in it. Mind you, with all the surpluses we used to have, you’d think most of our infrastructure problems would have been a thing of the past but, oh no, we’re the Liberals, we could never think of SPENDING any money to improve lives; at least not until we need to get re-elected. I’m sick and tired of all this Budget nonsense. When we had a Government in with millions to spend on ALL of us to make our lives better they refused to lift a finger and now, when we really need spending on important stuff like the NDIS, all I hear is how the Government is wasting our money. My God, we could have had a fully funded NDIS five or six years ago, not to mention better schools, better hospitals, public transport that actually took you somewhere in a decent time and wasn’t constantly over capacity, more police and a better quality of life for welfare recipients. Oh no though, we need a surplus for a ‘rainy day.’ How rainy does it have to get before the Libs actually want to dip into the bank account? Enough with the ‘must have a surplus’ mentality and fix the damn problems.
[Written May 13th, 2013
__]Published May 19th, 2013
If Nick Xenophon really thinks that wind power isn’t cost effective or provide what it’s supposed to, can I suggest he travels to Denmark or Amsterdam or Germany or any one of a number of European countries where wind power is not only part of the base load but is all over the countryside and cost effective as well. I’m not really sure what his agenda is on this, especially as he’s a big champion of solar and other ‘greener’ technologies for providing power but to rail against wind farms seems a bit harsh. I wonder if other countries that have had wind power for many years now also have complaints about ‘sub-audible sickness’ that seems so prevalent in this country?
[Written May 30th, 2013
I know I’m in the minority but I still think this year’s election is not a forgone conclusion. The further the year goes on, the more the Opposition seems to be floundering. But, maybe that’s my perception. After all what government hasn’t made some stupid decisions and career threatening legislation? And how often have the media, no matter their political persuasion, been for a government of any stripe, after the honeymoon period anyway? And arguably, this government hasn’t been allowed a honeymoon period by anyone. Yes, the whole reason for Julia Gillard to take over smells a bit still but we all should have grown up by now. Especially Tony Abbott. For my money, the Prime Minister has done a greater job that her opponent would have done, had the situations reversed and Mr Abbott held balance of power. She, at least, would have worked with him as opposed to being the spoilt schoolboy he still seems to be. Despite rabid claims to the contrary, we are not falling in an economic hole, billions of refugees aren’t beating a path to our door and we are not a handful of dollars away from catastrophe. The Prime Minister and her government – yes, despite its flaws – has been a good government and I personally will be voting for them. I’m not a rusted on Labour voter, I’m a swinging voter. But I see no reason yet to swing to the Liberals.
[Written June 3rd, 2013
Hmmm, this is the ‘unlosable’ election is it? Where, oh where have I heard that before? Oh yes, I think John Hewson may have something to say about that. John Howard as well might just have a few words of encouragement for the Prime Minister. The actual Prime Minister, not the one everyone seems to assume will take office in September. If there’s one thing that can always be lost, it’s something unlosable. That is the line Labour needs to be pushing at home, rather than more pointless leadership speculation. And if I were in the media, I’d be very careful about what I claim will happen because, as many have found previously, there is always plenty of egg to go around.
[Written June 17th, 2013
I was interested to read the extract from Stalking Julia Gillard, though it seems there were few surprises revealed, even in such a short piece. It was pretty obvious half-way into his first term that Kevin Rudd was not the great, white hope we’d all dreamed he’d be. Having said that, he did try to put a few things right, but got lost in his own PR. When Julia Gillard took over, the ship righted itself but no one seemed to notice. Now we shall just have to see how things go in the run up to the election. Kevin doesn’t really have much time to show his wares so things might go ok for a while. I wonder how Julia will now be perceived in the coming weeks? Has a very large mistake just been made? But I suppose the choice is, if the mistake has indeed been made, will it be a better mistake than an Abbott government?
[Written July 1st, 2013
As someone who was born and bred on G’day, I felt a twinge of empathy for Bruce Guthrie’s article. Only a twinge though, as even I no longer use it. Certainly not as much as I used to anyway. I must admit to being a ‘hey’ user much more frequently these days but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s because of American TV and movies, though it could be a subliminal thing. I find ‘hey’ less…I don’t know, jingoistic? It feels easier off the tongue than ‘G’day,’ which really does now, in the 21st century, feel old-fashioned. I first remember seeing ‘hey’ in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in high school but didn’t really understand it then. It seemed a bit short and impersonal; a bit weird. Nowadays though, I quite like it. I still use ‘mate’ however. I don’t think anything could get me to use ‘buddy.’ And FYI, ‘mate’ is actually an American expression that we appropriated after the war. Think about that.
[Written July 8th, 2013
Of all the painful things one can take away from the article, Interview with Evil, the fact that these two were portraying gay fathers is perhaps the most damning. It is hard enough for gay parents to get the chance to adopt but to have two paedophiles pretend to be gay to make their case just tops off the anger I already feel. It’s more fuel to the Corey Bernardi’s of this world and for gay hatecrime everywhere and more despair for the gay community. Being gay does not equate to being a paedophile. Sexually abusing young children makes you a paedophile. The two should never be confused.
[Written July 15th, 2013
The Meme photo on the back page of this Sunday’s Age has neatly summed up everything I’ve been thinking about this year’s election. Who to vote for – Kevin Abbott or Tony Rudd? Libra, or Laboural? Who cares, who cares? We should, people are dying for the right to vote, blah, blah, blah and it’s true but still, who cares? No politician gives a flying about us, not really. They’re just out for power and will put out whatever policy seems most voter friendly, hence the ridiculous asylum seeker policies. Until some politician finally verbalises that all the asylum seeker problem is something that WE’VE caused in the first place and then does something about it, it’s going to continue to be a race to the bottom. And when we finally get rid of the stigma of a deficit, then maybe the economy won’t be such a big deal. I know it will all work out in the wash and, no matter who gets in, it will make little difference to me as a person but I also know I’m lucky enough to be in a position where it doesn’t actually matter who wins. Perhaps that’s what we ALL should be concentrating on. Vote for who it WILL make a difference to.
[Written August 19th, 2013
The IPA had better hope that Tony Abbott (assuming he wins) doesn’t embrace most of their policies, especially a true free-market economy, because it would be the death of them. After all, if you really want to have a free market, then you would actually have to provide a service that someone is willing to pay for. And, as the IPA don’t actually provide anything of any tangibility, who would bother paying to keep them around?
[Written August 26th, 2013
Melinda Tankard Reist certainly has a point about the music business in relation to Miley Cyrus’s recent MTV debacle but the bigger picture seems to me, to be Cyrus herself. She is, after all, an adult; she’s made many millions of dollars on the Disney merry-go-round and is obviously trying to break free of that image (albeit in a more disturbing way than is perhaps necessary) but, despite all her agents, minders and production crew, she is more than free and well-known enough to make up her own mind. To say that her minders choreographed every scene is to assume Cyrus is a mindless automaton, just waiting for someone to tell her what to do. To me, this seems a hell of a lot more misogynistic than the people being railed against. The most telling part of the article were the young girls Tankard Reist interviewed and their responses. It shows me that young women are a lot less manipulated than has been presumed by a hungry media and the community at large. I would like to have seen more of that in the article than the gnashing of teeth over Cyrus’s ridiculous appearance.
[Written September9th, 2013
Hubris plays such a part in the undoing of incumbent candidates that you’d imagine more of them might pay attention to past failures. Sadly, this is rarely the case. And so it will be with Sophie Mirabella. Even if she does win, she will blame her reduced majority on outside factors, rather than look at her own campaigning and managing of her electorate. More likely, she will blame the people who didn’t vote for her. She will not take one look at herself with any honesty whatsoever. And while it is all fine, well and good to say that other electorates need to take notice of the goings on in Indi, will any of them truly take heed? If history has shown us anything, it’s a big fat ‘no’ to that one.
[Written September 15th, 2013
Well, what with all the privatisation going on now that Mr Abbott holds the reigns, I wonder if he’ll privatise the research on Global Warming? In a year or two, I’ll bet we’ll find that the Arctic and Antarctic ice is thicker and covers more ocean; that temperatures are down to record lows and we actually need to de-forest, to release all that healthy oxygen into the air. Seem a little far-fetched? Watch this space.
[Written September 24th, 2013
We do live in interesting times. I wonder what it would really take for the Andrew Bolts of the world to actually except that there might be something in this whole climate change thing. A mega catastrophe, perhaps? Deaths on an unprecedented scale from floods or famine or god knows what? Or, perhaps, a few of the scientists who once were climate deniers, coming out and saying that, maybe, just maybe, they were wrong. In the final analysis though, I think the only way that the Andrew Bolts of the world will ever accept climate change, is when Rupert comes out and says it’s real.
[Written October 1st, 2013
Of course fracking is too hot a topic for Dennis Napthine’s government; he knows it’ll hamper him in the run up to next year’s election which, if anyone hasn’t noticed (and how could you not), is already well underway. So, much like the Coalition’s ‘never ever GST’ slogan all those years ago, then introduced once they won government back, Mr Napthine will be ‘never, ever fracking’ all the way up to the election. Then of course, if they win, all of a sudden they’ll have a mandate and the people of the regions affected will all of a sudden be so very for fracking that it’s a surprise it wasn’t done years ago. Mr Napthine will continue to run quiet, no one in the media will bother with trying to keep him honest on it and it will all be done and dusted by 2015. Whether they win or not. Labour won’t be able to pass up the big bucks either.
[Written October 6th, 2013
Thanks Annabelle; I’m also a bit of a hand writer on occasion but my wife is the real deal. She’s a nurse and I can usually tell what sort of a day she’s had by how much and what sort of writing is on her hand. Lots of numbers means drug calculations; lots of writing means family names and, possibly, medicines. Lots of writing also means flat out; not so much – not so busy. It’s like a little early warning for me.
[Written October 15th, 2013
Of course the Big Day Out is in trouble, it’s always tried to be too much to too many people, thereby making it an uncomfortable experience for everyone. I still remember the early days when you could actually go and get a drink and still make it back to somewhere near the spot you left. Everyone was chilled out and the music line ups were much more eclectic. Now it’s ‘pack ‘em in and hope for the best.’ The Big Day Out crew could take a long look at a much better festival – Meredith – to see how a really GOOD festival operates. Limited tickets, over three days and a line-up that not everyone is going to enjoy and they’re not trying to make it that way. Until then, it’ll just end up a bitter memory for many, despite what the new CEO thinks.
[Written October 21st, 2013
Those who hold the media, make the media. So it has been with the asylum seeker debate. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, we still are being bombarded with the fact that we are 'swamped' with boat arrivals, who are NOT illegal as they are seeking refugee status and the UNHCR clearly states that it is not illegal to arrive in a country by any means to claim refugee status, despite the words Scott Morrison is trying to get us to use. Being 'swamped' by asylum seekers, in my mind, would mean we would see up to 20,000 per week - at least per month - yet last year we saw less than that for the whole year. In comparison, Europe saw 335,000 asylum seekers combined. 3% of the world's refugees come to us - that is not being swamped. But those whole control the media, make the media. So it shall always be. We can surely handle 3% of the world's refugees, even granting that much of our land in uninhabitable. But until the media is left to report, rather than regurgitate, the debate - such as it is - will go on.
[Written October 27th, 2013
I’d just like to assure Mem Fox that not everybody has a tablet and not everybody leaves their child alone with an app. My daughter is two and she STILL loves reading Where’s the Green Sheep? and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Especially that one, because there is a little girl in it who has blond hair and a blue, spotty dress; both of which she has and we’ve told her that it’s her. So every time she sees the little girl, she loves crying out, ‘there’s Sydney!’ Never gets old for her, though I’m sure it will in time. As I also am sure that she’ll get a tablet in time, just as it seems essential for school. Not yet however, not yet. We read to her every day and limit her TV time to after tea, for only an hour. She loves her books and, even though she can’t read, she has taken to getting books off the shelf and saying, ‘Sydney read it by herself.’ She knows a lot of the stories anyway but she’s starting to make some up by looking at the pictures. Nothing major of course but it’s fun to watch. Most of the people we know with kids have your books and, while most of them also have iPads, they do limit their use and they are very rarely left alone with them. Reading is too important to not take seriously.
[Written November 11th, 2013
I like to think of myself as a pretty hands on dad. I’m 47; my daughter is 2; I work two days a week and the rest of the time I’m home looking after her. My wife also works two days a week and does the same. One day a week we work the same shift, so our daughter goes to the in-laws but, on the whole, it is we who are looking after her. When I’m with her, I’m with her; I don’t plonk her down in front of the TV all day and go off doing other things. We go to the park, the pool, we read, we play outside, I cook food for her and make sure I look out for what she eats. In short, I do what I can and I love it. So many men I know only think they’re hands on; I was talking to a father in the park the other day who was complaining because he had to spend ‘four hours alone with my kids.’ Seriously? Four hours you say? And he really thought he was a hands on dad. Hands on means just that; you get your hands dirty and you actually look after your child. We don’t need a pat on the back every minute of the day for doing it. It’s just nice that we are beginning to be recognised.
Written November 25th, 2013
So, what with all this Gonski reform back-flip, can we look forward to Alan Jones having the Prime Minister on his program and calling him To-liar to his face? Or will it more likely be the usual tongue bath and ‘oh, it’s not your fault that Labour stuffed everything up before you came in?’
[Written December 2nd, 2013
Prime Minister Abbott’s ‘no surprises’ government has worked out extraordinarily well for its first 100 days. To me, it’s absolutely no surprise that he’s rid himself of the Climate Commission; no surprise that asylum seekers are reduced to mere chattels; no surprise that the Great Barrier Reef has been earmarked for rape and pillage and indeed no surprise that virtually all information from the government about policy has been non-forthcoming. All in all, a true reflection of this great government and truly, it is what all Australians want. Isn’t it?
[Written December 15th, 2013
Thank you Melinda Tankard Reist, for being the one voice of reason in all of this Cory Bernardi brou ha ha. Also, for being, perhaps, the only person commenting who has actually read the damn book. I can only hope the Senator Bernardi has read your column, or that someone on his staff has at least pointed it out to him. I agree with you on all counts. Let the demonization stop and the asking, ‘what can we do better,’ begin.
Written 13th January, 2014
Ged Kearney is right but what I find surprising in this, is how anybody could be surprised that this review is happening. The Coalition has never been shy in saying it will privatise government, so it was only a matter of time before the wheels would be put in motion. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next two years and how badly things might fall in a heap. Imagine the whole country being run the way the public transport system is run at the moment. Remember, in the free market, nothing is free.
[Written January 21st, 2014
I must say that I do agree that anyone who comes to this country to live and can’t speak English, ought to learn it. Not to forget their own heritage or language, but just for practicalities sake. If I was moving to Germany, or Japan, or Iraq, or Norway – anywhere that English is not the local language – it would be foolish of me not to attempt to learn the language while I was there; if only for practicalities sake. Why should it be any different here?
[Written January 26th, 2014
__]Published February 2nd, 2014
Another Liberal Government and another unsurprising attack on the ABC. The Prime Minister might be quite surprised to find that, people who watch the ABC (that would include me) don’t watch it to feel ‘Australian,’ we watch it because it has information that might be pertinent. Information that other, commercial channels might choose to ignore. But no, the ABC is perennially ‘un Australian’ because they ask questions that some people might not like to answer. Well, as Jon Faine quite rightly points out, that’s what the ABC has been set up to do since it began. Just because it’s government funded doesn’t mean it’s government controlled. And I might like to point out that government funds come through our taxes, so we deserve a say on the ABC, not just another brush off.
[Written February 3rd, 2014
I read with much interest the article on women proposing to their husbands, as my wife proposed to me way back in 1998. There was no other way we were going to get married; I would’ve proposed to her the first day we met, I knew she was the one from then. She was 24 at the time and I was 32. We’d talked about it a bit but both agreed it could only happen when she was ready. When she was, I was so happy, I balled my eyes out.
[Written for Sunday Life, February 9th, 2014
__]Published February 23rd, 2014
Assuming that the only news fit to print for the rest of the week will be something with Shappelle Corby in there somewhere, can I just say that I have absolutely nothing pertinent to add to the debate.
[Written February 10th, 2014
While I applaud Live Below the Line’s work as a charity, did they really need to confirm that it’s possible to live on $2 a day? I can just see one of Kevin Andrew’s people reading that, pointing it out to him and he now thinking, ‘a ha! If a charity says it’s possible to live on $2 a day, then our welfare payments really ARE too generous!’ As if he needs any more encouragement to slash the dole.
[Written February 18th, 2014
Annabelle Crabbe is absolutely right about the whole Sydney Biennale debacle; it isn’t the first, nor the last time, that artists will have to hold their noses and accept money from, sometimes, dubious sources. Art in early times was patronised by whomever the King and Queen were of the day and many times, whoever was Archbishop or higher up and many artists were obliged to make art to their whims to get paid. Many did and you could never say that all of that art feels ‘compromised.’ Much of it is still worshipped today as greatness – and with good reason. It is all fine, well and good to have moral principles but, in the end, someone has to pay for this stuff and it generally isn’t going to be us, the taxpayer. Not all anyway. Having said that, I have no problem with any artist using their voice to mock, denigrate or generally screw with the heads of their patrons, if they feel it warranted. No one should be forced to a line, no matter where the money comes from.
[Written March 17th, 2014
I was extremely heartened to hear about the Love Bites program and hope that, one day, it will become mandatory in every school across the country but I can’t help thinking it may not be allowed to. Call me overly cynical but I can’t help thinking that some parent is going to hear about this being taught to their son or daughter; get up in arms that they’re being taught about ‘sexual things;’ call the school and threaten to sue if the program isn’t stopped; the principal of that school will cave in in five minutes and ban said program; other schools will follow suit in order not to cause a fuss and a great, worthwhile program will be gone before it’s really established. I hope not. I hope my daughter will be able to learn from it when she’s finally in high school but, when it comes to sexual education, Australia is still living in the 1940’s. And if, God forbid, that son or daughter gets raped or bashed, the parent’s aren’t going to blame themselves are they?
[Written March 24th, 2014
I, probably like most people, tend to skip over the Business section of the Sunday Age. Though the article by David Potts certainly caught my eye. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to. It certainly puts the Australian’s and the government’s attack on the ABC into its proper perspective, I can tell you.
[Written March 30th, 2014
So, Kevin Andrews thinks that ‘work is the best form of welfare.’ Well Kevin, I have a short news flash for you; WORK ISN’T WELFARE. Not being able to work, is the whole point of welfare in the first place. And the disability pension ought to be more than the dole because having a disability can really impede on your being able to work in the first place, so you really need to something to live until you can work again. And if it turns out that your disability is permanent, then you REALLY need something to live on that won’t make things worse. But oh no, the disability pension is costing too much money. We have to really check these people, make sure they’re not malingerers. Guess what Kevin, I’m thinking that most people on a disability pension, would really rather not be. Having a disability that prevents you from working, must be the most frustrating and soul sapping way to get a pension. A disability that stops you working, stops you living and who wants that? No matter how much you’re getting.
[Written April 20th, 2014
I always find it a little strange that people who write stories about Geelong always seem to concentrate on Ford and Alcoa being the lifeblood of the town. Well, I have a bit of disappointing news for you; most of Geelong (Jabba obviously excepted) had seen the writing on the wall for these companies ten years ago and began to move away from that manufacturing base since then. Ever since the Pyramid collapse, Geelong people have been waiting for the other shoe to drop but that doesn’t mean we’ve been standing around twiddling our thumbs. Contrary to what someone like Jabba might believe, Geelong won’t die and there won’t be thousands of people out of work at once, all looking for the same job. Most people in Geelong are more resilient than portrayed and the shut down of Geelong and Alcoa won’t be as big as made out. It will be big, make no mistake, but it won’t kill Geelong. Nothing can kill Geelong.
[Written April 29th, 2014
I very much enjoyed reading Daniel Flitton’s piece on the Yasukuni shrine in Japan and it got me to thinking about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that we are currently involved in and how they will be portrayed in fifty years. Will there be anything about the monumental lie that was eagerly swallowed by all Coalition forces? About the millions of Iraqi’s killed to bring ‘democracy’ to a place that many there still believe they were better off without? Will any of the senior politicians involved in the decision making come out and say, unequivocally, that they made a mistake? And, if they do, will that be enshrined somewhere? And what of a shrine in Iraq? Mere propaganda, or a sober look at a pointless war? It only goes to show the old adage: no one wins in a war.
[Written May 5th, 2014
__]Published May 11th, 2014
It seems strange to me that kids learning about maths and English in day care or kindergarten is equated with non-creative play. And it seems even stranger that it is remarked upon that kids are going to kindergarten knowing how to count and spell their name. My daughter is about to turn three and she can count quite well. She can’t spell her name yet but, by the time she gets to four year old kinder, I expect she will be able to. And that’s down to us as parents. We don’t pressure her to learn anything but incorporate spelling and counting into games that we play. It’s ALL creative learning, in the end. We don’t sacrifice play for our daughter to learn; she learns by doing.
[Written May 12th, 2014
Honestly, anyone who was actually surprised, shocked or saddened by the budget is a fool. You only have to look at history and see that, no matter the stripe the government chooses to dress itself in, when they have to save money, the first thing to be cut is welfare and health. Because poor people and dead people aren’t able to influence – in any real meaningful way – a person who is looking at their own pay packet, before anyone else’s. Governments look at how they will benefit first, before looking at the rest of the country. This isn’t just cynicism, look at past history. Even when we had historic surpluses, what did the government use them for, except to get re-elected and top up their super? Liberal, Labour, Greens, Democrat, Socialist, it doesn’t matter. Whoever is in power looks after themselves first and everyone else fifteenth, if you’re damn lucky. What else do you go into politics for, if it isn’t a great super pay out? Honestly, there is no solution. The best you can hope for, is to not get killed in the crossfire.
[Written May 25th, 2014
It should be no surprise to anyone that the Coalition is hell bent on dismantling Medicare; I certainly don’t think it’s ‘by stealth.’ They’ve been promulgating the ‘user pays’ issue, well before Mr Abbott became the Prime Minister. If, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, they can conclude that Climate Change and Renewable Energies are a scam, what hope do we have of saving Medicare, with the ignoring of the overwhelming evidence of every other health care system that is user pays, being next to user useless?
[Written June 8th, 2014
I’m trying to keep a bit of an eye on all the new proposals for housing developments around Melbourne and wonder how they will affect us out in Geelong. I live in a heritage area and, already, in one of our surrounding streets, approval has been given for a terrible, modern style, concrete and brick home that really stands out in the rest of the street, and not in a good way. I’m wondering if this is the slippery slope to a whole new destroying of the heritage overlay that is in our area. Quite a few of our residents are older people and, once they are gone, what’s to stop someone buying the house, pulling it down and starting again to reconfigure the street? Yes, we can protest (and if it happens, I won’t be the only one protesting) but there is already a precedent set. Where that leaves us now, is anyone’s guess.
[Written June 23rd, 2014
__]Published June 29th, 2014
The trouble with the triple speak of Mr Morrison’s press conferences is that, people will be happy with it. He’ll be showing strength, he’ll be showing conviction and we won’t have these ‘cheats and queue jumpers’ coming into our country anymore, taking our jobs and raping our women. Seriously, I listen to people talk, people I know, who are adamant that the government is doing a great job with our borders. And, what’s worse, it’s now rubbing off onto people who have come here in virtually the same way. Some of the people I meet at work are immigrants, come here by boat, been living her for twenty years and are saying, ‘oh, these guys are no good. The government gives them everything and when I came here, I had nothing.’ Honestly, if you can’t even get ‘boat people’ to embrace ‘boat people,’ what the hell hope do we have?
[Written July 7th, 2014
I do agree with Clementine Ford’s assessment; all victims of rape and murder, despite their backgrounds, need to be remembered but I’m also wondering if maybe we have all changed over the years. I still remember the 1991 abduction and murder of Karmein Chan and she certainly was not a white, blue eyed, blonde little girl. Much publicity and public outpouring of support was there for her and her parents and much grief displayed when her body was found a year later. Have we all become so immune to pain in such a short time? I’d like to think not but it seems that the evidence proves otherwise.
[Written July 14th, 2014
Maybe we in the West ought to be more interested in our own problems at home, than mucking about in other people’s problems abroad. Imagine, if you can, that we concentrated on our home grown, domestic disturbances; how much better off would we be today? Well maybe, and this is just a maybe mind, many of these terrorists wouldn’t be so damned interested in blowing us up if we just left them to their own devices, considered them adults and let them sort out their lives as they want to. Not everyone in the world, hard as it may be to believe, wants to live like us. Maybe if we just considered dealing with other countries, rather than trying to run other countries, the whole world might be a much happier place. Might not too but you can’t say things are so good now. Isn’t the alternative worth, at least, a try?
[Written July 20th, 2014
Some interesting points made by Rowan Foster; all utter rubbish of course. Secular learning doesn’t automatically mean an ignorance of religion, it just means less focus. It can still be taught that the Salvation Army started as a Christian movement, without violating any secular standing. To teach it as ONLY a Christian movement however, is a different thing. Kids still get taught mathematics, science, philosophy, and many other subjects that come straight from the heart of Islamic society and I don’t ever remember being taught any aspect of that religion; though without Islam, none of this science and mathematics would have happened. And as for an atheist organisation that promotes peace and help in the world? How about Medicines Sans Frontiers? Non-religious, non-political, with members who volunteer to go to war torn countries to help those in need. The absolute focus on religion as the be-all and end-all of peace and harmony is what’s ruining the world today.
[Written August 4th, 2014
I did have a bit of a chuckle over Gary Nunn’s piece about mispronunciation of words and suddenly realised one of my own – it was only this year that I found out that ennui was pronounced ‘on-wee’ as opposed to the way I’ve been pronouncing it for forty years – ‘en-u-ee.’ Didn’t I feel a right foxy moron!
[Written August 11th, 2014
Yes, Tom Chivers, I too am of the ‘not taking work home’ school. Ever since I got my mobile phone, many years ago, I’ve made a pact with myself that, when I come home, the phone goes off and only comes on on the weekend if I’m going out or something I know is happening. I’ve also worked out that, pay rises and such don’t go to the people who work late, come in early and always answer their emails; they go to the people who schmooze and whine and take your ideas and say that they’re theirs. No boss, of any persuasion, gives a flying for the ‘good employee.’ They only notice when you stuff up, not the million things you do well so, put away the mobile, turn off the iPad and just enjoy life. Nobody will thank you for not.
[Written September 1st, 2014
With all this ‘terror’ going on and the government ramping up laws to further encroach on our freedoms (but freedom aint free man!!), little has been said by anyone in the media, about the new laws limiting the media further on reporting, well, anything. Where are the IPA on this? Usually, whenever there’s a snifter of the press being disabled, Chris Berg is chomping at the bit to declaim it. He certainly did whenever Labour came up with anything that might seek to ‘regulate’ freedom of speech (an implied freedom anyway, it isn’t written anywhere in our Constitution and we don’t have a Bill of Rights). But so far, I’ve heard and read nothing from him on the genuine and frightening new laws, making anyone a virtual ‘whistle-blower.’ Yes, even poor journalists. Come on IPA, where’s your precious backbone now? Or is it ok if the Liberals do it?
[Written September 28th, 2014
Well done Kathy Lette, straight up to the minute for 2009. Man grooming – really? You do know those Sex and the City episodes they’re playing are repeats, right? Still, maybe in another five years’ time you could write about how so many men are suddenly growing beards. Honestly, I did expect better.
[Written to Sunday Life, September 29th, 2014
So, a new coal fired power station for the La Trobe Valley? Of course there will be, regardless of who is elected in. Yes, we can blame the short sightedness of Government; yes we can blame the influence of big business (especially mining, oil and electricity) and yes, we can blame Climate Change deniers until the cows come home but really, who is actually to blame? It’s us, the voters. Because really, we’re more short sighted than the government. It’s awfully easy to blame the electoral cycle for short term thinking but who forces this short term thinking in the first place? US, the voters, especially us, the swinging voters. If we really, really wanted some long term solutions (such as wind, solar and water power), we’d make it very clear by at least allowing a Government a good amount of time to get some of the really big jobs done. Sadly, this will never happen. It’s all about, ‘why hasn’t this changed yet?’ and ‘what’s in it for me?’ The treadmill won’t be stopped until we allow governments (regardless of your persuasion) a ten year term. Imagine how important your vote would be then, knowing that who you vote for will be in for ten years. Maybe, just maybe, we might even have some decent policy for a change. Then again……
[Written October 20th, 2014
The main reason that Australian audiences don’t go to see Australian films, the dirty, not-so-secret, that was vaguely addressed in Karl Quinn’s article: we’re a bit fed up with being disappointed. It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, Australian films were strong, had great writing and good acting. Now, as Graeme Mason so succinctly pointed out, Australian filmmakers are making films for the overseas market and trying to appeal to the widest audience – Americans – it can. It’s time to come back home. Instead of trying to make an $11million movie into a $75million movie and failing dismally, why not make an $11million movie? Forget Crocodile Dundee; what about Wake in Fright? What about Patrick (the original, not the remake). Hell, what even about Don’s Party? Sure they might all be a bit dated by now, but they have something that the latest crop of movies will never have – longevity. Stories are what make a great movie worth seeing. Great writing, good acting, the rest will fall into place. God forbid I have to sit through another Somersault.
[Written October 26th, 2014
Fisherman’s Bend is what you get when Ministers in charge of portfolios have no idea what they’re doing. In this day and age of ‘experience counts more than knowledge,’ why wasn’t someone with, at least a modicum of experience in town planning, given the planning portfolio. Minister Guy has a BA (though the ministerial website doesn’t say in what) but none of his work experience is even remotely related to planning. Marketing and economics, sure, but not planning. Isn’t it time that portfolios were given to the most qualified person and not just used as a reward system for loyalty?
Written November 2nd[, 2014
Well, me personally, I’m predicting another hung Parliament this year. Conducting a straw poll at work, of between 2 to 3 people (just as reliable as any other poll), the main voting points seem to be apathy, frustration and disbelief. Pretty much how I feel. Is it really too much to ask our politicians to not think we’re all simpletons? A politicians promise is worth as much as my dad’s usual donkey vote. Just for a change, don’t promise anything. Just work hard. It’s really all we ask.
Written November 17^th^[, 2014
Interesting puff piece on Joan Kirner and very sorry she has (or is it had?) cancer but more interesting to note that, when she was Education Minister, she claimed that big changes were made. Would that be the shutting down of all Tech Schools, along with TAFE, that Daniel (or Dan if you prefer) is trying to shunt blame onto the Premier for? I don’t support either Labour or the Libs but Mr Andrews has a lot of nerve believing that people forget Labour’s part in the demise of TAFE.
Written November 24^th^[, 2014
I’d be a great deal more confident in my fellow Australians, regarding all this talk of the shame of our refugee policy, if I wasn’t also hearing from those fellow Australians that the Government is doing a great job with it. I quote from someone I was talking to only recently, someone who would consider themselves quite compassionate and reasonable, “they should sink the whole lot of ‘em, then blow up the damn country. I don’t care.” And this isn’t an isolated incident. Australians, as a majority it seems, are not at all ashamed of our asylum seeker policies. In fact, the more people I talk to and the more conversations I overhear, it appears that our policies are actually too lenient. If the Prime Minister’s government isn’t re-elected, it won’t be because of our Asylum seeker policy, I can tell you that.
Written December 15^th^[, 2014
Senator Leyonhjelm has seriously misread the mood of the Australian public if he really thinks that calling for more guns is the answer being sought. Australians aren’t, as a general rule, as trigger happy as Americans and hopefully never will be. The only real outcome I can see for another Martin Place type siege, where more people are armed, is more innocent death. Nervous, frightened people with guns are a lot more scary than a calm terrorist with a gun. I pray it never happens, but I’d know whose hands I’d rather be in.
Written December 21st[, 2014
One thing Michael Hanlon failed to mention in his litany of destruction is the real problem – us. Humans and how famous resistance to change and our insatiable greed. Governments and their famous hold on to short term thinking for short term power and the destruction that wields. Forget about all the ‘it might happen’ scenarios and concentrate on what will _]happen. Imagine a politician coming to an election with the promise to solve climate change and all we had to do was one thing – limit our spending on discretionary items to $2000 per year. I don’t know how it would be policed; it would have to be an honour system but maybe signing up to a website and posting receipts for every item you purchase, until you reach the $2000 mark. No punishments if you went over but the world of social media would call you out as a ‘bad person’ for not containing your spending. Do you really think that politician would actually be considered, let alone voted in? “$2000 a year? That’s outrageous! Nobody tells me what I can and can’t spend!” And mind you, this would be [_voluntary, not mandatory. I’m not even sure something like that would make much of a difference to Climate Change anyway but at least we’d all consider what we’re spending, rather than just forking out and working out how to pay for it later. Like, perhaps, the destruction of the earth?
Written January 4^th^[, 2015
While I agree with Daniel Flitton that we should honour all human life, not just those we know, I wonder also if the media coverage of Africa isn’t somewhat to blame. After all, when was the last time you saw a simple, positive story come out of Africa, that wasn’t a documentary or reported on a specialist program? When did the news last report that something, anything, good happened in Africa today? And you can’t tell me that those stories don’t exist. So when an atrocity happens in Africa, we’re pretty much, ‘well, that’s par for the course,’ But an atrocity in France, even one on the relatively low scale as far as atrocities go, that’s a big deal. We have only seen mass death in Africa – from famine, flood or war – for most of our lives but other countries, not so much. Perhaps if we were allowed to see the good things that happen in Africa a little more often, we might feel a degree differently when real horror happens there.
Written January 18^th^[, 2015
I’m now wondering if, with this ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to review the minimum wage, the Coalition are going to somehow find that the minimum wage does indeed impact on employment (despite much of the evidence actually contradicting this), and making a play for a justification for lowering (or even eliminating?) the dole. Think about, what could be a more perfect argument for lowering the dole, than a lowering of the minimum wage? This will[_ _]be an interesting examination. Are the ‘facts’ already in?
Written January 26^th^[, 2015
So, Julie Bishop thinks we should keep on in Afghanistan because she happens to like their new president. Fair enough but the gist of the article was that they’re calling out for investment for infrastructure and job creation, not just soldiers. Did she happen to mention that the Government has slashed our investment in foreign aid? Or is Afghanistan ok because we might get something out of it?
Written February 1^st^[, 2015
No matter the outcome of the ‘leadership spill’ the real problem is, this is what happens when you elect personalities instead of politicians. Both Rudd and Abbott are two sides of the same coin – sloganeers. Both are great at capturing the media’s attention with pithy platitudes but neither really had any concrete policies and we all only discovered it when they were elected. Both also seem to have the same, ‘me first’ leadership style that alienates backbenchers and bores/infuriates the public. It will be interesting to see how things go if Mr Turnbull does become leader, as I think he’s an actual politician, rather than a sloganeer. Time will tell. And, of course, the media could also play a part in refusing to let questions go. To not settle for an answer on policy that is, ‘we’re not going to revel things before the election,’ or ‘all in good time.’ The media needs to become as fed up as the public and actually demand our politicians answer their questions frankly. And maybe, just maybe, politicians need to become fed up with themselves and start being politicians and not personalities. Unfortunately for Mr Abbott, this is all he is, he contains nothing more. Certainly nothing of his great hero, John Howard. You can say what you like about Mr Howard, I certainly didn’t like him, but he was the last true politician we’ve had. And that seems like aeons ago.
Written February 8^th^[, 2015
I saw it when he was Opposition leader and I’m still seeing it now; our country is being run by a petulant schoolboy. A bunch of petulant schoolboys, as it turns out. The Prime Minister, with everything he does, every sound bite he creates, every speech he utters, reminds me of the high school boy who sulked until he was made captain of the footy/cricket/rugby/whatever/team. (He even refers to himself as, “the captain”) But, once installed as captain, he had no idea what to do. Everyday, the Prime Minister looks like he’s floundering, just like that petulant little school boy. In question time, he looks over eagerly at the Opposition bench, reputedly hurling catcalls and insults but looking, for all the world, like a man that wishes he was back where he belonged; a place where he could insult with impunity; a place where he could make all sorts of outrageous claims and not have to back them up with anything that might resemble, I don’t know, a policy? And, just like the little boy who sulked till he got what he wanted, the team around him are starting to realise that, hey, maybe things weren’t so bad with our other captain. You know, the one who actually had ideas and policy. But now they’re stuck with him for the foreseeable future. The trouble is, when the captain/prime minister is floundering, not just the team but the whole country has to flounder along with him.
Written February 24^th^[, 2015
The Prime Minister talks about a ‘glass half empty’ approach from us, the voters and Sam De Brito talks about us, the voters, as being a bit too flighty to adequately understand the pressures of government, hence we want change when we get a bit bored. The trouble is, WE – the voters – don’t actually affect the change of leadership of a party, the party does. Yes, there might be quibbles on social media and stories in the press but, even in the days of no social media, we still had social media – it was these, the Letters to the Editor. And the government of the day thought pretty much the same as most people think, when they hear complaints that come from a letters page. Namely, ‘who gives a rats? ‘ But now, because of Twitter et al, the government of whatever persuasion is all of a sudden running scared? Give me a break. Sure, Labour began all this nonsense of changing leaders but the current Prime Minister (when in Opposition) wasn’t shy in pushing the ‘glass half empty’ barrel to whatever extremes he could take it. So no, Tony and Sam, don’t try to hang this on us, the voters. We have absolutely no say in a change of leader, it can only be done by the party in government at the time. They can listen to our grumbles and take them into account but there isn’t going to be an election for quite a while yet so really, who gives a rats? All you’re doing, is not running the country. How about ignoring opinion polls for a year, and actually govern? We, the voters, aren’t stopping you from doing anything, you’re stopping yourselves. We’ll make up our minds on the governing you’ve done, not on who provides the sound bites.
Written March 2^nd^[, 2015
My name is David and I’m a guy. A bloke. A fella. Not a man. I’m also a secretary. I’ve been a secretary for the past nine years and I think it will be another nine or ten years before I stop hearing the words, “oh, I thought I was ringing …..” “Yes, that’s right” “Oh really? I was expecting a girl.” I also work part time, so I can stay home and look after my daughter. I love staying home and looking after my daughter. My wife makes (and will always make) more money than me but she doesn’t work full time either, because she also enjoys staying home and looking after my daughter. Yes, she’s as much MY daughter as HER daughter. And no, I’m NOT babysitting; I’m PARENTING. Sometimes my wife will do more housework than me and sometimes, I will do more than her. It depends on the day and how we’re feeling, though I will certainly admit that it’s not often that I’ll do more than her. I’ve had a few different jobs over the years and, for most of them, women have either been my direct superiors, or workmates. At NO time, have I EVER earned more than a woman because I’m a guy. In most cases, I’ve earned less (sometimes significantly less) but that had to do with experience and qualifications, not gender. Do I believe that women DO earn less because they’re women? Yes I do. However, I also think it’s a significantly smaller proportion of the population than it would seem. My wife is a nurse, for example, and she doesn’t earn less than a male nurse in the same position, with the same experience and qualifications. And I’m also betting there are more nurses, per head of population, than senior vice presidents in charge of a blue chip company, where the gender and pay gap are much wider. I was also abused by my last girlfriend; so much so that, even after over twenty years, I still can’t forgive or forget her. My wife is the most amazing person I’ve ever met and, for me to still feel this way, is an insult to her everyday and for that, I can’t apologise enough. I believe in and will fight for equality as long as I live. I believe both men and women deserve equal chances in this life and nothing should get in the way of that; not money, not prejudice, not religion, not bias. But I’m also fed up to the back teeth with being the blame for every woman that’s not got what they wanted, or been raped, or hasn’t earned the right money, or been bashed, or insulted, or just generally been treated like shit. Do I want a medal for trying to be a good man? No, but I do want some acknowledgement, not all the time but some of the time, that some of us guys ARE trying to help right the ship. Us guys, not men. There are more of us around than you think.
Written March 10^th^[, 2015
The private/public school debate would go a lot smoother if private schools were treated as the businesses that they are and got NO government support, as they do in every other country. Why governments of all persuasions are subsidising private schools is just beyond me; if they can’t survive without government backing, then they shouldn’t be open in the first place. They are run to make a profit and if they can’t make a profit without government help – shut down and let the government schools have some well needed money. We already have a two-tiered education system, despite what might be thought, so why not make it a true, two-tiered system? If you can afford to pay for your child to go to private school, great. If not, at least you’ll know that the government school they go to will be well equipped and have top teachers, earning a proper wage and not just paid to be glorified security guards (no offence to security guards). Honestly, if you want to run a private school, run it like a business and let the market decide if you stay open or not. You shouldn’t have to rely on the government to stay open.
Written March 15^th^[, 2015
In honour of the Sunday Age’s ‘what happened next’ article, I thought I’d offer a random football lover’s take on the year ahead.
1. The umpire that ignores his baying for blood by the crowd and actually rules as he sees it.
2. [_The Footy Show _]rates lower than Channel 31’s Lawyer’s show.
3. That not every single game is a blockbuster or a battle between ‘traditional rivals.’
4. The AFL actually doesn’t give a shit what the players do, as long as they don’t get caught.
5. Half time show at Grand Final ‘not too shabby.’
Written March 31^st^[, 2015
So Germany is producing 30% of its grid power from wind and solar. 30%. What's our percent, 5? 10? Not even that much? I'd be prepared to argue that it's a whole lot less than 30%. And I'd also be prepared to argue, quite strenuously, that Germany gets a whole lot less sun per year than we do. Yet, we can't possibly increase our use of renewables because, 'what happens when the sun doesn't shine?' Ah yes, that old chestnut. Well, maybe the answer is, we can look to Germany. Sure, they still have dirty coal, just like us. But the difference is in the effort to phase this out. Whereas we, the "clever country," sit back, hoping that maybe, just maybe, it might all work out by itself. When are we going to embrace what we have - sun, sea and wind? Or is that all for a distant future that others can work out? Ignorance, is indeed, bliss.
Written May 10^th^[, 2015
The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Social Services Minister have all taken whatever small goodwill they’d managed to build up after the appalling last budget, and thrown it away in one stupid comment. My wife was one of these accused ‘double dippers.’ Should she be tainted with the smear of being a criminal for doing something perfectly legal in 2011? I would remind the Prime Minister et al, that it wasn’t even their parental leave scheme that was introduced, but Labour’s. I’d also remind him that the Parental leave scheme was made to work in tandem with any employer leave scheme already in place. And my wife checked it all out thoroughly before even applying for the government scheme, because she didn’t want to be [_ripping anybody off. _]So well may the Prime Minister still say “God save the Queen.” Because at the next election, NOTHING will save the Prime Minister.
Written May 18^th^[, 2015
So, if it indeed turns out that people smugglers were paid money by Australian security forces to send their ‘cargo’ back to Indonesia, what exactly will happen? In a word, nothing. It will somehow be declared a legal enterprise and not, in actuality, people smuggling. It will also be seen as, somehow, altruistic and possibly even encouraged by the Alan Jones’s and Andrew Bolts of the media world, so much so that it may even become a legitimate ‘business expense.’ Seriously, who will get in trouble? Some lackey will become the scapegoat, the media will be pooh poohed for even reporting on it and things will go on as normal, because most of the people I talk to in this country love the fact that the boats have been stopped and wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyone actually visiting for the first time couldn’t help but be aware that, for all intents and purposes, the past sixty years of world advancement has been summarily ignored in this country.
Written June 15^th^[, 2015
Reading the piece on Helen Womack being forced to leave Russia; Chris Berg’s piece on our freedoms being dismissed with nary a whimper and most of the letters to the editor, I couldn’t feeling that there was some sort of theme. Especially reading Helen’s Russia piece, I developed the uncomfortable feeling that she could have just as easily been talking about Australia, as Russia. I do get the feeling sometimes, that we are being turned into a fascist state through our own compliance. Some of it, as Chris Berg rightly points out, is through stealth but, as he says again, not so much stealth that it is completely unknown. Are many of us too, hiding our heads in the sand until it affects us personally, or is it just me? If one day, the Prime Minister puts forward a resolution to ban elections forever, would I protest or just say, ‘thank God I don’t have to vote anymore?’ I’d like to think I’d be out there but I’m not sure it would make much difference. Remember the massive protests before the invasion of Iraq – what good did they really do? If the Prime Minister makes up his mind to send in the Army, how much of the Army would refuse to kill protesters? How much of the Army would refuse the order outright? You’d like to think they would but, with the promise of more power and more money, what would they have to lose? And why couldn’t it be us? What makes us so different from North Korea, or Burma, or even Germany in 1933? We’re stronger? We’re the ‘good guys?’ We like to think we have a mental toughness that resists authority but, with some of the things that have been going on in the government and with many people I talk to not worried about it, how much time do we really have before martial law is finally declared? Yeah, maybe I AM a kook. I hope so.
Written June 23^rd^[, 2015
I’m one of those men Josephine Cafagna talks about who has gone to working three days a week; a decision I made not long after my daughter was born. My wife also works four days a week, as she is the main bread-winner. I love working three days a week and looking after my daughter the rest of the time (though we do use daycare as well) and I wouldn’t go back, but we are able to do it, as we are not completely mired in debt. Yes, we have a mortgage but that’s about it. The thing about working less is that you get less pay and if you, like many millions of others, are in debt up to the eyeballs when working full time, then you’re in less of a position to think about being a stay at home dad (or mum). I’m lucky; my wife earns twice as much as me for working the same hours, so we still have a pretty good lifestyle. However, even working three days a week, doesn’t mean we don’t also rely on her parents and daycare to help us out, as many of our working days coincide. I would never go back to working full time but it isn’t always just a matter of trying to get your workplace to agree to you doing it.
Written July 6^th^[, 2015
There still seems to be much talk of entitlement lately, with Mr Hockey’s infamous quote, ‘the age of entitlement is over,’ coming back to haunt him but I just want to assure Mr Hockey that, not only is the age of entitlement not over for politicians, it’s also not over for us, the average voter. Because we, the average voter, are entitled to many things. For instance: we are entitled to a Prime Minister that doesn’t act like a petulant schoolboy whenever things don’t go his way; we are entitled to a government that governs for all of us and not just those who can afford it; we are entitled to an Opposition that keeps the Government on track and not just disapprove of everything because it doesn’t gell with their ideology; we are entitled to a Government that makes decisions in our best interests and not in their ideology and we are entitled to a Government that treats us like adults and not like four year olds that can’t have a piece of cake. All this and more we are entitled to. That’s what a democracy is all about.
Written August 11^th^[, 2015
__]Published August 16th, 2015
The most interesting thing I’ve noted in the Border Force debacle, is the fact that the Prime Minister has said that the press release was ‘very badly worded.’ Not a word on the actual policy being bad, just the wording. The fascist state creeping slowly forward? Vladimir Putin – the Prime Minister’s new idol? Who really knows. The only thing I do know is that these things don’t come out of nowhere. What else is lined up, I wonder?
[Written September 1st, 2015
It’s all very well calling for the Government to change policy and take more Syrian refugees; the real problem here is not increasing the intake, it’s convincing the Prime Minister that it’s really what the rest of the country wants. And, from what I’ve heard around town, it isn’t. The Prime Minister has given many indications over the past couple of years, that he really has no ideas of his own; he goes with whatever popular opinion decides. He has said himself, before he was finally elected, that he’d do anything to become Prime Minister, so why would he have any ideas of his own? When people such as Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Steve Price start calling for a bigger intake of refugees – Syrian or otherwise – watch how quickly opinions (and hence, policy) will change.
[Written September 8th, 2015
In the years after WWII, parents refused to talk about the Holocaust with their kids when they asked, as they were too ashamed (and some, still attached to the Nazi principle) and guilty of what had happened in their name and the fact they didn’t do anything about it. Schools also, refused to teach the Holocaust and it’s still a controversial subject in Germany today. Are we too, heading down the same path? Will we, sometime after the prison camps of Narau are torn down, just not talk about it? Will our children, the same as the children of Germany, be disgusted with us as parents, as humans, because we did nothing to stop the horror. We, in fact, helped encourage it. Will we hide our shame and guilt by just not talking about it, by just not teaching it in schools? Are we so much better than Nazi Germany? No, we are not. We are letting it happen. I am as guilty as anyone. We know deep down, as many Germans knew, that the end will come, the solution will be found and the camps will be dismantled but when, we don’t know. At what price, we can already seen. Certainly, there are many, like there were in Germany, who are happy to ‘lock them up.’ Who are happy to, ‘just kill them all.’ But not all. And my question, the frightening one that I’m not sure of the answer to, is who is the majority? The people who want the camps torn down and the refugees dealt with humanely, or the ‘kill them all’ brigade? I don’t know. I want the situation dealt with humanely but I don’t have an answer on the best way to do it. But neither should we hide from it. Neither should we absolve ourselves of guilt. Indeed, we should embrace the shame. Because only with embracing the shame, can we truly sit down and regard a real answer. Governments are supposed to do things in our name. We need to make our names truly heard. I don’t want my daughter to ask me ‘how could this possibly happen?’ I want her to say, ‘thank you for stopping the horror.’ This could be the start of a new world wide Holocaust. Let’s show the world that it doesn’t have to be.
[Written September 29th, 2015
As was hinted at in the story, if you really want to radicalise someone, declare them one by proxy when they’re 12 and screw with their life as much as possible. The only good thing to come out of this, is that we don’t know the 12 year old’s name but you can bet that someone has put it up on Twitter somewhere. Are we really serious? We want to fight terrorism by giving people the perfect reason to become terrorists? Instead of examining mosques and Imams, shouldn’t we be examining our own xenophobia?
[Written October 25th, 2015
Labour is in the pocket of the unions; the Liberals are in the pocket of big business. So goes the cliche that keeps on giving. ‘But there’s nothing in it!’ they both cry. Yet, here’s the story of the Fisherman’s Bend windfall and….well, who knows? Maybe there really hasn’t been any impropriety. Maybe these Liberal donors really didn’t wield any undue influence over Mr Guy. But, surely even he can see that it isn’t a good look. Suspicions are going to be raised. It’s all well and good to use the fear tactic of ‘vote Labour and the unions will crush you,’ but with stories like these, then the Liberals have to expect Labour is going to us e the ‘the Liberals are only out to make money for their mates.’ Stories like the Fisherman’s Bend windfall are only confirming these things in the voter’s mind. So how about, just for argument’s sake, the parties start talking real policy instead of cliche?
[Written November 2nd, 2015
I don’t actually think that Donald Trump is an idiot. You don’t accrue the sort of money he has through sheer luck, or even inheritance. He’s a smart man and savvy with it. I don’t think, even for a moment, that he actually wants to be President. He’s far too smart to just say all these dumb things and expect people to vote for him. Sure, he might receive a few votes, possibly a lot of votes, but he knows he isn’t really going to be President. He’s not clueless in any way. I also think, if the unlikely happens and he gets the Republican nod and also the votes to become President, he’d poo his pants. As Tony Abbott found out, it’s one thing to mouth off when you can do it with impunity, it’s quite another to actually be the one in power and have to do what you’ve been saying. So no, I don’t think there’s any real danger in Mr Trump taking the top job. He doesn’t want it, he just wants to make things hard for everyone else.
[Written November 9th, 2015
What with the horror of ISIS in France and Beirut and the unmitigated craziness of the Republican nominations in the US, every man and his dog has come out with plans of ‘what to do.’ Some sensible, some less so. I thought, ‘why the hell should I be left out?’ And so, here is my Trump/Carson/Abbott solution to the ISIS Crisis (pat pend.). Porn Watching Parties. Yes, I know, some kind of genius isn’t it? It’s even a 3 word slogan – Tony will be seething with jealousy. The most sensible comment I’ve heard so far is that ISIS fears unity and what better way to be unified than holding a Porn Watching Party? Get your mates around: male, female, gay, straight or otherwise, Asian, Aboriginal, Muslim etc, put on some good old fashioned consensual sex performed in front of a camera and upload that to You Tube. What better way to show the terrorists that they haven’t won, than by watching porn? Nothing too hard core; send the wrong message. We don’t fear you, we have porn! Then hold a massive music festival in every corner of the globe that runs for a month and they’ll weep for forgiveness before you know it. Look, ground troops and a political solution will be the ultimate undoing of this group but God, shouldn’t we terrorise them as much as they’ve terrorised us?
[Written November 22nd, 2015
So, no real surprise that the Catholic Church had put in place limitations to compensation for abuse victims. What still surprises me is, why aren’t all churches being taxed now? It can’t be because they’re ‘not for profit.’ The Catholic Church alone makes more money than some corporations. It can’t be for religious reasons; we go on and on about how Australia is a proudly ‘secular nation.’ So, I ask again, why aren’t the churches being taxed? It would certainly help our economy and we could set aside some of that tax as compensation payments for victims that would actually mean something. It won’t fix everything but taxing the churches would be a proper start to fixing some things.
Written December 7th, 2015
Published December 12th, 2015
I once wrote that I thought Donald Trump was very smart and didn’t want to really be the next US President. Now, I’m not so sure. I still think he’s smart but I’m not so convinced anymore that he doesn’t want to be President. I thought it was all a bit of bluster and something of an inside joke to him but now? I’m becoming more convinced, that he’s becoming more convinced. He could actually do it. He could bring about the fascist state that he imagines. And now I’m wondering, if he does, will the rest of the world go into a war with the US, if that seems like the requirement? And, if we do, who will be our allies? Japan? China? Britain? India? IS?
Written 29^th^ [December, 2015
Other books by David Francis Jeffery on Shakespir include:
No truth to the rumour
Reporting from the Bombsite
Another 50 Haiku
The Cardboard Writings
Falling Houses on a Tightrope Journey
The light beside the reading chair is weeping
All these ebooks are available on the Shakespir website.
Thoughts, remarks, insults and death threats to: [email protected]
Letters to the editor of the Sunday Age that I have written over the period 2007 - 2015. Covering a wide range of interests, it gives a snap shot of Australia and, sometimes, the wider world over the past eight years.