Allan Takes Aim Blog


A brief personal message

As you know, due to illness my last blog was posted on 3 September. That it was posted at all was due to a colleague who for a few weeks had been posting my blogs to help ensure my blog would continue.

The blog being published today has been written and posted personally and I will continue to write one as long as I am able. So thanks to all who, during the past weeks, have continued to read it. 

Let me end by saying you will find out more by Googling the following website:


My Death has been t suspended Temporarily)

Today that I am sitting in front of my computer at home writing this blog would have seemed inconceivable to me at around 2.30am, Sunday 8th September. That it was inconceivable is due to the fact that I was lying on bed being looked after by paramedics who in the dead of night had transported me by ambulance from my home to Canberra Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Station.  That I am alive and not a lump of dead meat was due to the care they exercised on the way from home to hospital. I have now reached the conclusion that, although the words of Dr Samuel Johnson’s were used in a slightly different context, I agree with him that the thought of imminent death concentrates the mind wonderfully.

In a sense I concentrated my mind so that it became my personal mental Google as it recalled my past life. Although unable to speak properly many thoughts reverberated in my mind and made decisions that would never be acted on. Then, mercifully, unconsciousness arrived.

Many hours later I awoke in a bed in the hospital’s acute coronary care unit where I was ministered to by a team of nurses who, as the rest of that day went by, helped encourage me to believe that my life wasn’t about to end immediately. Other people, Cardiologists and consultants led by Chief Cardiologist, Dr Ren Tan, also played a major role in reinforcing that assurance. Indeed no praise is too much for him, his staff or the nursing staff.

And let me also say thanks to my colleagues and friends who, when they visited, helped restore my confidence that life still had something to offer albeit that it was likely to be of limited duration. I say that because only a few weeks before when, less dramatically, I had been hospitalised with another heart attack.

In a non-medical sense, however, I reserve the greatest praise for my wife Valerie and daughter Elizabeth who, between them, make life worth living.

There are many other actors in this story of life and death such as the Community Nurses who every morning come to my home to administer a life sustaining injection.  Of the many others, too many to mention, my colleagues in ACTAADS Inc (the ACT Association for Advancing Disabled Sport and Recreation) particularly Chairman Jeff House, Deputy Chairman Luke Jansen, Committee Members Ian Meikle, Michael Mecham, Mark O’Neill, and Liberal MLA, Steve Doszpot.,all of whom deserve my thanks  for giving up valuable time to visit and help keep my spirits up

And let me not forget Chuck Lundquist who, during my time in hospital and since my return home, appointed himself chauffer to me and my wife. Other people who need thanking also are Merylanne and Peter Baxter, Dinny Killen and neighbours.

In part I have written this tribute to emphasise that becoming a patient at Canberra hospital is not to be feared, a fear that some people may have acquired after reading letters to the editor about difficulties faced by loved relatives and friends. It is true, no doubt, that mistakes have been made at Canberra Hospital but I suspect they occur due to inadequate management and administration procedures as well as staffing and resource shortages.

That said let me make the point that doctors and staff are not miracle workers but people dedicated to delivering the best care with the tools at their disposal. They do their best but clear they will do even better that if the tools and administrative procedures they work with and to, are improved.

Being frank, I think Canberra’s public would be happier if much of the money being spent on public art was spent on Canberra Hospital.

Comment welcome.

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Sincere apologies to readers but I won’t be able to be online again until further notice.

At the moment I’m in hospital but hope to be back blogging again shortly.

Best regards


My latest blog is always available at: To make direct contact e-mail me at:

Politics breeds prejudice

The idea for this article has long been circulating in my mind but I decided to write it because I’ve now come to the conclusion that the best examples of prejudice I can find are political parties. Political parties are great accommodators of people with prejudices. Strangely however political parties cover up their prejudices by saying they are a broad church.

Conveniently this claim to being a broad church allows them at times to be indistinguishable from the political opponents which is why, come election time, one of the almost constant claims it is difficult to decide which party to vote for because it is hard to tell one party from another.

However, when voters level this accusation at a party in answer, they get a glib explanation that, taken at face value, sounds logical. Unfortunately, because the average voter, the real determiner of which party will gain government, usually accepts these glib explanations, a party’s facade as different from its opponents and a broad church is maintained.

As I write this very scenario is being played out in Australia where, tomorrow, voters will determine which of the two major parties will be the voters’ choice. Let me stress it is a party that will be elected, not an individual, even if the leaders are recipients of all the publicity. Perhaps this is a pre-emptive push to change Australia from Constitutional Monarchy to a Republic.

But the broad church concept is important. This concept has been adopted by major parties because it disguises the fact that within the party there are people who group together in factions of common interest. Although these common interests are often abstract they can radiate to people outside society’s sphere of influence the joy of being part of what they see as a powerful group and as we all know power can be addictive. Indeed, some people within factions become addicted to the acquisition of power and move to what they think a more powerful faction

One shouldn’t be surprised that factions often grow within factions. This, in turn can lead to favouritism, possible party destabilisation and fights for power between men and women ambitious for power. Not to put too fine a point on it, even in Australia, a stable democracy internal power struggles led by factions have taken place recently.

The Labor Party with more factions and thus a greater spread of policy interests lays claim to be the best arbiter of what is good for the people.  This is not a view with universal appeal as the Liberals also with factional interests claim their views are more widely held. While this can make for interesting politics it does not necessarily make for good policy or good government. And let’s not forget all of the other parties that think the interests they hold dear are the most important in the world.

The other thing about factions of course, is not just the separation of interests.  Factions also represent the division of power within a political party. Make no mistake; despite the rhetoric from politicians, politics is no longer about making the world a better place but about power.

And because politics today is about power it is a dangerous profession. Indeed in the more democratic of the worlds’ democratic countries, the danger might be an assault on the eardrums but in countries where democracy is still growing, physical violence is often the norm.

While for some people politics is simply a means of acquiring power if you want politics to play a role in creating a fairer and more peaceful world you need to be perpetually on guard and avoid electing people with ambitions for power.

Comment welcome.

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 Ideas constipation is a political ailment

One thing’s become clear to me during the current election campaign: the side that will win Saturday’s election is the one giving voters a sense of confidence that the future will be better than the past.

One would think political parties would have learned this lesson by this time. Labor however, has chosen to continue in the same vein by producing ideas they say are innovative and the basis of new and constructive policies for the future but which, when examined seem like echoes of past ideas and policies that were tried and found wanting, which is why I say  ideas constipation is a political ailment.

More to the point, Labor tried to cure its constipation when its Treasurer increased its dosage of financial debt medication and changing Prime Ministers. But the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd instead of suffering from constipation, seemed to suffer from verbal diarrhoea with words tumbling from him in torrents.

And did voters understand him? Unfortunately, he was the only one who seemed to understand them with opinion polls not only suggesting they did not understand him but wished him gone. Unfortunately for him, many ministers in his government felt the same.

His opponent Tony Abbott started off with the same level of popularity as Kevin Rudd is now enjoying though I doubt based on his narcissistic persona, he’s finding it enjoyable. Clearly too, Mr Abbott read the electorate better than Mr Rudd. Indeed in some respects the race to the finishing line in the election could be likened to that fabled race between the tortoise and the hare because despite Abbott’s slow speed it looks as if he will get there before Rudd.

Of the other parties none, except the Palmer United Party, expect to win. But not does its constant optimism lighten the political arena it is one of the best examples of political bravado I’ve seen for a long time, even that of the Greens.

The Greens are an odd party. Apart from members with a strong left wing socialist bias it attracts the odds and sods of politics. How any sane person can think the adoption of its policies will keep the world of the future in its current environmental state is beyond belief. And its fanciful ideas on how to cure global warming are in the same category. A world powered by windmills is symptomatic of its delusional fancies and total disregard of Mother Nature’s role in guiding the world since it began which includes the attraction of opposites and the creation of children, which brings me to its push for gay marriage.

I am sick to death of hearing that unless “LOVE” between members of the LGBTI can be translated into marriage they do not have equality in society. Nor do I have time for religious zealots who think marriage a religious sacrament.

Not being of any religious persuasion myself, I do not believe love is necessary for marriage and if LGBTI people cannot understand that, then they really don’t understand marriage and alsoy clearly have little understanding of what equality means.

Comment welcome.

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 Has verballing become the political norm?

While candidates in the Australian Federal Election have another three days to chew anxiously on their fingernails voters are breathing a sigh of relief that the winner of this competition in lying and political verballing will soon be known. Will it be the Liberals Tony Abbott or Labor’s Kevin Rudd who will have the honour of carrying on Machiavelli’s political legacy, loosely called Democracy, on Capital Hill, Canberra?

I say loosely because it seems clear to me that after speaking on the phone to many voters, a good many of them have no clear idea of the policies of the various parties. Indeed, in some respects they will cast their votes for Labor or Liberal based on two things: verballed policies and dislike of the Rudd or Abbott, with the latter playing a large part in their choice.

Without a doubt the election has a presidential focus that is American in style but whether or not it is a system that fits Australia’s political culture is another matter? It may well come to pass that Australia will adopt a presidential system but I think a lot of water will flow under the bridge and a couple of new generations be born before that occurs.

It seems funny also that Australians condemn verballing when done not only by police but by people in various other professions such as media, the law and welfare, to mention but a few. However, during this election campaign verballing has run riot.

It is not unusual for politicians being interviewed to attribute false statements to opponents without verifying their accuracy which, in many cases, had already been shown to be false. Worse still, when the politician is making the false statement, they will, figuratively, hand on heart declare their honesty and integrity.

Over the past hours I have seen television adverts made by allegedly non-political groups supporting a particular party, based mostly on verballed statements. This is not to blame the person speaking the composer of the words and the apparatchiks behind the scene.

A good example of verballing are the words used by the Prime Minister, cut, cut, cut, to describe what he says will see 30,000 jobs disappear in the Public Service, Canberra’s biggest employer, if his opponent in the Prime Ministerial stakes won the election. Well I have heard his opponent say 12, 000 jobs would go by attrition but nowhere have I read or heard him say 30,000.

And in case you think I’m going to let Mr Abbott off, I’m not. He, too, is guilty of verballing but not on the same grand scale as Mr Rudd perhaps because voters already seem to think he is more trustworthy than Mr Rudd and who they would prefer as Prime Minister.

In Canberra itself however, the main battle is for a senate seat between Mr Seselja, Liberal and Mr Sheikh of the Greens, the party that sees itself as politically virtuous. Unfortunately, because Mr Sheikh’s exaggeration and verballing sinks to an even lower level than that of Labor I find my belief in the honesty and integrity of politicians weakening daily along with my belief in democracy.

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The unknown candidates in Saturday’s election

Not high profile and also unlikely winners of seats in Saturday’s election, l must apologise to the following candidates for omitting them from yesterday’s blog; they deserved better. They deserved better because they are the people who, without hope of reward put their daily lives on line to put forward ideas they believe can solve problems affecting voters.

And though some of their ideas might possibly solve voters’ problems, sadly they get little opportunity to put them to voters because the media tends to concentrate on candidates from the major parties although it will select a few of the unknowns to avoid being labelled biased.

Unfortunately in yesterday’s blog I contributed to their being disadvantaged further by not recognising them in yesterday’s’ blog. And though this blog may not be of any great help I getting them votes, let me remedy that lack of recognition today.

By the way I am only giving the names of the number on candidates on the ballot paper because they are the candidates the parties hope will be elected. To add to the names in yesterday’s blog you should add the following candidates to your senate list: Palmer United Candidate – Wayne Slattery; Katter Australia Party – Steven Baily; Sex Party – Deborah Avery; Socialist Peoples’ Party – Mark O’Connor; Australian Justice Party – Marcus Filinger; Aust Inds – Anthony Fernie; Rise Up Australia Party – Irwin Ross; Euthanasia Party- Philip Nitschke; Bullet Train for Australia, Chris Bucknell; Drug Law Reform – Paul Cubitt; Ungrouped – Emmanuel Ezekial- Hart.

Inexplicably, I omitted Darren Churchill as a candidate for the house of Representative seat of Fraser. In a sense Darren deserves a seat for trying. Despite his lack of success in many previous campaigns and when many others would have given up, Darren has not only maintained his commitment to Canberra but also maintained his commitment to the Democrats when many previously high profile representatives on the national scene such as Kernot and Bartlett who didn’t fit the profile of when the going gets tough the tough get going, quit the party by decamping to parties in which they hoped to prosper. Unfortunately we have too many soldiers of fortune in today’s ranks of politicians.

I hope many uncommitted voters try and read what these candidates have to say.  Perhaps there’s a Socrates – the man who gave democracy to the world- or two among them.  And could I discourage them from giving preferences to any party other than Labor or Liberal if only because it’s better preferring the devil you know to the devil you don’t.

Comment welcome.

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My latest blog is always available at: To make direct contact e-mail me at:

 The Election Show – Saturday 7 September

Roll Up! Roll Up! Is the cry the electoral office should be using to encourage voters to turn up at polling booths a week from now because during the past three years the behaviour of some Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives seemed better fitted to the circus than parliament. So will this election improve things?

The ACT is the electorate of particular interest to me so a few brief comments on Senate Candidates. Senator Kate Lundy – Labor is a sitting member and unless she makes some catastrophic mistakes during the next week (unlikely) she can start planning her future senatorial programme.

Canberra’s home grown Zed Seselja – Liberal, will, I think claim the vacant second senate seat. He has the necessary political experience gained from a decade in the ACT Legislative Assembly and has practical knowledge of a how a Federal department works having been a lawyer with Transport and Regional services. With five children he want a government that will give them opportunity.

The only other candidate with a chance is Simon Sheik – Australian Greens. Apart from disliking Tony Abbott, the CV I’ve seen shows little by way of motivation. Says he’s passionate about climate change, social justice and closing the gap between the rich and the poor. How will he do it?

ACT candidates for the House of Representatives are more interesting. In Fraser, sitting member Andrew Leigh – Labor, is also likely to win without getting up a sweat which says more about the voters who consistently vote Labor than about Andrew Leigh’s talents. Before politics he was a Professor of Economics at the ANU and briefly a Parliamentary Secretary in the Gillard Government.

Then we have Elizabeth Lee- Liberal. Clearly talented, she is currently a lecturer in law at the Australian National University and University of Canberra and has led both the ACT and Young Lawyers committees and served as an ACT Law Society councillor. Originally from South Korea, I think of her as a model for how a Non- European migrant can succeed in Australia and given the chance, also succeed in Federal Parliament.

As the remaining candidates, Freddy Alejandro Alcazar, – Palmer United Party; Jill Elizabeth Ross – Rise Up Australia Party; and Adam Verwey – Australian Greens seem unlikely to get anywhere in this election, I shall save time by not writing about them.

The ACT’s other electorate Canberra, has more interesting candidates. Gai Brodtmann – Labor. On the basis of Canberra’s political history unless some of the following candidates show outstanding political skills and flair, Ms Brodtmann seems sure of re- election.

Of the other candidates her min challenger will be Tom Sefton – Liberal. A commando officer during two tours of Afghanistan, a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and Law from the ANU and a job as a strategic analyst in Defence Intelligence in his kit bag he clearly has knowledge and skills he can bring to the political battlefield.

Next Julie Melrose – Australian Greens. Because like other Greens her main reason for standing seems hatred of Tony Abbott and as hate is not a policy I can’t see having any chance of success.

Now for Tony Hanley – Palmer United Party. Because he says he has ideas makes him different from many other candidates who effectively iterate policies created by others. But even if you think his ideas wacky at least he has been prepared to put them to the test.

Damien Maher – Bullet Train for Australia, is a small business man who might garner some votes even although unlikely to be successful. He says he says he sees a high speed rail link between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne as part of the future and because many people in Canberra agree with him, the number of votes he secures will be interesting.

Last but not least, Nicolle Burt – Secular Party of Australia. Nicolle is dissatisfied with both the Labor and Liberal Parties, saying Labor takes voters for granted while the Liberals distrust the ACT. I offer no opinion on her views but they scarcely amount to policy. Nevertheless, she is to be congratulated on standing up and putting them forward.

Comment welcome.

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