Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for June 2009

New industry, or lack of,  is the key to the kind of society Canberra will become in the future. Will it be a productive society with industries adding to the National Capital and Australia’s economic health, a society full of hope and promise, a society in which culture thrives, or will it be a city of old people, like the rat free city of Hamelin in the aftermath of the Pied Piper?

Whether or not the story of what happened to the German town of Hamelin in the thirteenth century is true, some people think, metaphorically speaking, that Canberra is becoming Australia’s Hamelin, a city filled with only the old and disabled. This is because many of its young people are being forced to seek jobs elsewhere due to a diminishing lack of jobs for them in Canberra .

Hamelin became a city of the old due to its Burghers. In Canberra some seven centuries later, some Liberal, Labor and Green politicians, plus many self indulgent Canberrans have copied the Burghers of Hamelin. Politician after politician promised to cure Canberra’s unemployment problem but neither politicians nor the self –indulgent, have delivered. In any case, politicians no matter what they claim don’t, and cannot, create jobs. What they can do however, is create an environment that allows jobs to be created.

As for Canberra’s self indulgent, along with politicians, they have much to answer for. By their self – indulgence they disadvantage Canberra’s young people little realising that, in doing so they could be laying up a store of animosity in the community that ultimately could explode into violence.

Some people might think I draw a very long bow with my suggestion that, failing to provide future generations with the opportunity of finding a job in the society where they live, unwittingly create violence or situations in which violence becomes endemic.

I have a strong belief that employment is one of life’s great motivating forces for good and lack of employment a great motivating force for bad. And history also shows, at least in the Western World, that lack of employment has been, and still is, a major factor in past revolutions as well as the many revolutions in progress around the world.

Not that I advocate revolution. No, all I ask is that politicians stop bragging, belittling, boasting and bleating and along with the greedy acquire commonsense, so that development which will give Canberra’s youth a job and a future, can go ahead.

Without this approach, Canberra, in time, could become Hamelin revisited.

For more local community news get “The Chronicle” Canberra – Published Tuesdays.

Watching the parliamentary debates on ABC TV over the last few days gave me a very deep sense of déjà vu but when I couldn’t remember why, I turned off the TV and started to read the film reviews in Panorama the Canberra Times Saturday Magazine.

But even as I read various reviews I couldn’t get the parliamentary broadcasts and sense of déjà vu out of my mind. What was it about the debates? I kept asking myself. Do they bring back deep -seated memories of famous parliamentary debates I had heard or read about – they didn’t – or school debates. But when I thought about school debates I realised it couldn’t be them as they had been sensible.

And so as neither explanation fitted the bill I thought I’d google parliamentary debates to see if that would help. I thought I was onto something when one section said: “ … the quality and depth of a debate improves with knowledge and skill of its participants as debaters. Deliberative bodies such as parliaments, legislative assemblies, and meetings of all sorts engage in debates. The outcome of a debate may be decided by audience vote, by judges, or by some combination of the two. Formal debates between candidates for elected office, such as the leaders debates and the U.S. presidential election debates, are common in democracies.”

After reading this I started to wonder if, over the last few days, I had been watching parliamentary debates or an amateur dramatic society rehearsing a series of badly written and farcical political dramas. If what I had been watching was the latter, that would have been excusable, but when I looked up the TV Guide and found they really were supposed to be parliamentary debates, I was tempted to write to the Treasurer saying that if that was the best that politicians could do, the broadcasts should stop and every taxpayer given a refund of their eight cents a day.

The sense of déjà vu also kept nagging at me until the answer came while watching Corner Gas, a Canadian comedy show on SBS. Not that Corner Gas reminded me of the debates. Like the school debates, it was too intelligent. No, what flashed before my eyes were scenes from “Carry On” films.

A final comment: if the ABC continues to do these broadcasts they should give some consideration to calling the programme: “Carry On Canberra.” However, I hesitate to nominate who should star; I leave that to your imagination

For local news get “The Chronicle” your free community newspaper. Published every Tuesday.

I hold the same brief for Kevin Rudd as I did for John Howard because, despite promising to scrap Howard’s policies if he became Prime Minister, his policies are Howard’s in disguise.

But one thing Rudd has changed since being elevated to Australia’s highest political office:  his demeanour.  His cultivated ordinary bloke image has disappeared and been replaced by a new image as benevolent dictator, though woe betide any one who stands in his way.

 In a sense, he is less the Dietrich Bonhoeffer man than a man who fits Acton’s famous dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ”  

This can be seen in the Parliament when the PM, with back to the Speaker – a disrespectful attitude I suggest – in arrogant pose, leans on his elbow at the despatch box and lectures, some people would say hectors, the peoples’ representatives as if he was speaking to backward children.

 Which brings me to the affair of the free ute and missing e-mail, both of which are casting a giant shadow over the honesty of Kevin Rudd and the Treasurer. But every action has a reaction it is said. The reaction in this case was that Prime Minister Rudd said the missing e-mail was a fake, a Liberal confection and that Malcolm Turnbull the Opposition Leader knew this to be true. Mr Swan concurred.

The missing e-mail was allegedly sent by Dr Andrew Charlton, a senior advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, to Godwin Grech, the senior Treasury Officer in charge of the OzCar scheme the Government introduced to assist car dealers facing financial difficulties due to the Global Financial Crisis. It is alleged the e-mail requested Mr Grech to help out John Grant, motor dealer, near neighbour, political supporter and friend of Mr Rudd, who had supplied Mr Rudd with a free ute to help with his election campaign, but was having difficulty getting finance under the scheme. 

 In the parliament, both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan denied any knowledge of the e-mail but, confection or not, the message in the alleged fake e-mail was published on the front page of The Australian, Saturday July 20. If the e-mail turns out to be genuine then clearly the Prime Minister and Mr Swan have misled parliament. As the e-mail has not turned up, for the moment, at least, it seems the PM is in the clear.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Treasurer Wayne Swan. Despite his protestations (some people have said he protests too much) there appears to be such a trail of correspondence between his office and Mr Grech about Mr Grant, that the eventual outcome might be a political ballet dance “The Dying Swan.”

The argument about the email might seem like a storm in a teacup because many people will have experienced receiving e-mails that later disappeared. I know I have and though I will never be able to prove I received them, the messages they contained remain inscribed on my mental diary.

Some people might think that misleading parliament a trivial issue. It is not. It is a crime not to be tolerated regardless of the perpetrator’s standing because, apart from the politician concerned lying to the people, it diminishes the standing of parliament. 

One can but hope that between them, the Auditor General and Australian Federal Police, who has been given carriage of investigating the case of the missing e-mail, will bring sanity to the Parliament so that it can carry on doing its job of Governing for the people, not for the benefit of Parliamentarians and their friends.

For local news get The Chronicle

So 200 business leaders “sleep out” for one night in Sydney to raise money for the homeless. It has been reported they raised $500,000, the equivalent of $2,500 each, but what hasn’t been reported is their personal contribution. It might seem a churlish to question to ask but whatever their contribution, was it personal or paid by the company they worked for?

 It was also reported that their night was uncomfortable but how uncomfortable can only be guessed at, considering they had sleeping bags and during the night would be sustained by soup, tea and coffee. One, also had his iPod and probably most of them had a mobile phone.

 The sleep out was arranged by “Vinnies” and one of the one night homeless was Dick Smith who said although the sleeepout wasn’t hard, the executives learned a tough lesson about life on the streets adding: “Bring us all down to one level and let us realise that if times aren’t good and that there are many people who do have to live out in the streets and I think it’s very important that we understand that.”

 Dick Smith is right but it seems to me that, rather than being camped in Luna Park as if on a one night scout camp, if the executives had not been allowed to shave for a week and then taken to various Sydney suburbs and left with no sleeping bag, money, food, mobile, radio or any other any means of contacting family or friends, they might get a better understanding of what it means to be homeless.

 As for being uncomfortable, the one night of being “homeless” was compensated more than adequately by favourable media publicity. It’s only a suggestion but perhaps the executives who took part and know now what it means to be “homeless” might consider giving a real homeless person a home for month and possibly a job that might help prevent their continuing homelessness.

For local news get The Chronicle

From The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 9 June 2009

 People who lack the courage to call a spade a spade indulge in political correctness to put down people who have the courage? Thinking about political correctness took me back to schooldays and verbal clips around the ear from a teacher in my religious class, usually accompanied by the statement that I didn’t know what I was talking about, for offering views either they didn’t share or, if they did, although I didn’t know it at the time, fear of being seen as theologically incorrect prevented them from saying so.

 Perhaps it was these initial rebuffs that made me think teachers and adults in general knew little about the young and themselves that also determined my future. Suffice to say, as an adult I continue to offer unpopular views.

 While still expressing incorrect theological views (according to some people), I am now told that many of my non theological views are politically incorrect. And, just as I was rebuked in the past by theologically correct experts, I am rebuked today, though less politely, by “experts” in political correctness despite legislation that allegedly guarantees freedom of speech. Like many guarantees that come with products used in daily life, such guarantees are not worth the paper they’re written because, routinely, they are honoured more in the breach than the observance.    

 Indeed it seems to me that free speech is diminishing in Australia. I have heard people excoriated by politicians under the banner of parliamentary privilege, to which they do not have the same right of reply, for expressing politically incorrect views.

 Unfortunately political correctness is spreading through Canberra. Worse, apart from politicians many offenders are senior bureaucrats who discriminate against people because of age, disability, race, language, ethnicity, politics and religion, who impose political correctness in the workplace afraid that if they did otherwise, those to whom they answer would deprive them of their jobs. While having some sympathy for them, their moral cowardice allows political correctness to grow and add to the already extensive history, which shows that politically correct behaviour helped cause some of the world’s greatest disasters.

 Much of this political correctness is used against people who, without any intention of being offensive, use words to make something clear only to have have their good intentions spoiled and their character maligned by self appointed “experts” in political correctness.  Not for them that the words used are part of the English language, it’s just that they don’t find them suitable.

 Apart from the recent demonsrations by Indian sudents, what brought this subject to mind were reports not so long ago of a  British Royal Prince being called racist because he used a childhood endearment about an Asian friend that sent the politically correct and anti racist armies, but not the friend, into a frenzy of accusations.

 To be frank I don’t care if I never hear what any prince says. Nor do I care if I’m called a mean and miserly Scot ( it’s an old wives’ tale that such traits are particular to the Scots) only for politically correct twits to call the person using the words a racist and attempt to justify their actions, with no reference to me, by saying they are defending my sensitivity. I can but say  their foolishness exceeeds my sensitivity on many levels.  

 I mention this only because the term racist is applied to phrases that for decades, indeed for centuries, have been used to describe people, which is why the phrase mean or miserly Scot is not a racist remark. Unfortunately, every society harbours politically correct wankers with nothing else to do except look for what they call political incorrectness and racism with which to persecute people. That said let me remind them of the ancient Greek proverb: in the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king. Unfortunately when it comes to political correctness Australia has too many one eyed men.

 Even more unfortunately, until we can educate and help the one eyed politically correct to see with two eyes, as well as use and understand words in context, at which time racism will disappear, they will continue to persecute and prosecute those they think politically incorrect. .

dca@netspeed.com.au

For local Canberra news get The Chronicle

What do we know about genes other than that every plant and animal has them and that in many cases, some plant and animal genes are little different to the ones that drive the human engine, meaning you and me?

However, apart from finding this out scientists also have found out that by splicing genes from some animals and plans into genes of different species they can increase the growth rate and nutritional value of the species. At the same time they have found out that gene modification can make plants more resistant to the pests that attack and destroy them while on the animal side cloning is becoming an everyday occurrence.

Some geneticists have indicated their intention of cloning humans. If that’s the case, in the future it might be wise for young who don’t get on with their prospective mothers – in – law to check that their intended bride is not the result of such cloning.

But more seriously, when you hear that millions of people in India, North Korea, Pakistan, Somalia and parts of Africa for example are living in an almost permanent state of starvation, you might think improving the growth rate and nutritional value of animals and plants is to be applauded.

Unfortunately, some people, including my better half Boadicea, are not applauding. Indeed with many others, she says that meddling with the evolutionary process is certain to bring disaster while some say gene splicing should be allowed to modify human behaviour and improve both animal and plant growth and nutritional value it should never be used to clone, humans in particular.

I don’t agree. In fact for a long time I’ve been thinking about gene splicing in humans, particularly politicians, speculating that it could be the answer to the problems of good government. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that, rather than continue our current pot-luck system, every politician we elected was worth electing?

Well I think that time is coming. Unfortunately by the time it arrives in the shape of the Book of Genes, I will have departed. Unlike the original Book of Genesis also, the stories in this book will not be anecdotal myths and legends treated as fact but accurate stories of life.

 In genetic language, it will tell the history of the human race since the dawn of time. Much to the discomfort of those who believe in the creation theory it will also show our close relationship with chimpanzees (in fact as I look around I’ve concluded that in some cases the relationship is still close). It will also add to their discomfort because it will tell us about our single cell microbe ancestors of 4 billion years ago.

 But perhaps the encouraging thing is that not only will the book accurately trace our genetic past, it will herald a bright new future because it will give answers as to how afflictions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s can be prevented.

The only sad thing I have to say about the book is, that at 800 million or so bibles long, you won’t be able to put it on the bookshelf. However I am sure future technological development will help make access easy.

 Don

 N.B. Canberrans! For local news, get The Chronicle

Remember to get your Chronicle for Canberra’s local community news

 Is Australia becoming too like America? Some people wish that was so while others think it already is as it seems to be following America’s long held political attitude of being uninterested in the world at large unless it serves America’s interests to do so.

 America is a big country with a large population dispersed in large and small groups that have become intensely parochial and motivated by self- interest. Australia too, is a big country with a population that is but a fraction of America’s but spread over a larger area, where the same parochialism and self – interest is starting to emerge.

Canberra is an example of this trend to parochialism because the planners who followed in the wake of the city’s designer, Walter Burley Griffin (ironically an American), were navel gazers, not visionaries. Had they been Canberra would be on its way to becoming a great international city and, as befits a National Capital, a city with a future.

 Unfortunately for many young Canberrans better suited to working in industries where high technology skills are not essential, Canberra is not a city with a future for them because it offers them little hope of employment either today or tomorrow, a situation they do not think will improve. As one without high technology skills said: “Canberra is a city for the elite not for people like me.”

Even some older residents who once thought Canberra the world’s best planned city now think would be a better place to live in if planners allowed for a degree of chaos and encouraged development of industries for people not part of the intellectual elite.

As for the claim that Canberra’s young are Australia’s best educated, a claim made on the basis that Canberra has Australia’s highest school retention rates. That may be so but retention rates are high because there are no jobs other than service industries to go to. And while new job training schemes are fine, they don’t answer the question: where are the jobs?

 To say the least, chief executive officers of Canberra’s major business organisations are disingenuous when they say that private sector employment has grown over the past decade. The fact is, the increase was due mainly to downsized public servants becoming self – employed doing the same job from which they were downsized, a situation that could occur again if the public service takes the same kind of battering from the Rudd regime that it took from the Howard regime.    

Let me also add to my answer to the question is Australia becoming too like America by saying their similar, early origins, perhaps makes it inevitable. Australia however, did have an advantage in that it is nearly three hundred years younger and knows America’s early mistakes. Unfortunately, it has not used these mistakes to its advantage and instead of benefiting from them it has repeated them and is still doing so, which can be seen in the increase in serious assault, sexual assault, homicide and racism.

Perhaps people should remember the saying: be careful what you wish for: you might get it

 Don



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