Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for August 2011

Does Canberra need a new model of government?

 Many people in the ACT believe that neither the ACT’s Labor/Green Coalition nor the opposition Liberal Party have the leadership, business skills and social vision necessary to govern the ACT properly and so secure its future and that of its citizens, young and old.

Indeed a view growing more prevalent is that some current members of the Assembly are so interested in battling for supremacy within their own party that not only do they put their personal interests above the interests of their constituents they also think that without their presence in the Assembly, government will grind to a halt. As the community considers these matters many of them have come to the view that some current MLAs would be wise to consider their future with some of our more radically minded citizens also of the view that not only should some MLAs be ditched but also the ACT’s current electoral system.

Some have also gone as far as to suggest that the ACT should be governed by a coalition of responsible Labor, Liberal, Conservative, Social Democrats, Greens and other like-minded citizens who understand that unless there is real consultation with the wider community, Canberra’s progress will be slow. I should add that some members of current parties in and out of the Assembly think this a good suggestion.

But it is a suggestion unlikely to be welcomed by current parties. Why? It will not be welcomed because it is too democratic; they think their particular brand of politics can cure every problem faced by the community. Not that history shows this to be the case. The fact is that not only in Australia, but at one time or another in virtually every country across the world, so called major parties have been given the chance to show their philosophy working. The success rate to date being nil is the reason we have election after election and why century after century, war has reigned supreme and peace went a-begging.     

You might think this a harsh judgement, but it does seem to many people that parties, particularly major parties, merely pay lip service to the idea of democratic government. Indeed many people seem to think the main activity of parties in Government is not to govern but to work out how keep the Opposition parties in opposition. Conversely Opposition parties think their only job is get Governments out of government.

Speaking personally I think peoples across the world not only wants governments that value their community but also want them to enjoy a healthy and sustainable environment based on progressive development and sound economic principles.

If asked to create a prospectus for such a government what would I say? I make no claim to be a political sage (indeed I doubt such a political animal exists), but here are some ideas that have been suggested to me as being good for the ACT. A Consultative Council comprising representatives of big and small business, cultural groups, education groups, environmental groups, health groups, trade unions, the wider community and importantly, a young people’s group, from which will come the Capital’s future citizens.

The Council should meet regularly to discuss how Canberra’s future economic and employment base can be secured and how to attract new business. At the same time and because Canberra is the Nation’s Capital, a Federal Government member should be part of the Council so that he/she can keep Federal Government aware of the need for funding to ensure Canberra’s Capital image can be maintained and enhanced, domestically and internationally.

The Council’s task should be to work towards developing policies that will preserve the Capital’s environment and improve social justice and social equity particularly with regard to affordable housing being readily available for those who need it, particularly those suffering from mental illness and the unemployed.

While I understand some people not wishing any further development in Canberra they should remember that it was they who made Canberra what it is today, the prelude to the unfinished architectural overture, City of the Future. Having helped compose it let them now allow the young to help finish it so that their future will be lived in harmony.


I invite serious comment on this blog

Without knowing anything about me some people call me homophobic because I oppose same sex marriage. As a believer in free speech they can call me what they like though more years ago than I care to remember, I gave up the childish game of name-calling.

That said let me add a few more details to those who still play this childish game: I am blind to people’s colour, ethnicity, and sexual make up. So as the name callers now have this information I invite them to create a new name for me. 

But one last piece of information: before they start creating a new name, let em advise them that I am agnostic and my opposition to same sex marriage is based on historical evidence that, even in pre Judeo Christian societies, marriages were seen as special contracts between heterosexual males and females, that age and circumstance permitting, could create children. Because of their importance, society called them marriage contracts, a title still observed, even in the world’s least sophisticated societies. And so children are born.

However, children’ s real genetic make up is often is not determined until later when different genders arise with sexual needs that can only be met by others of the same gender. The result: humanity becomes a complicated mix of heterosexuals – male and female- homosexuals, lesbians and people of other gender. This mixture of genders often causes complications in society for the individuals concerned and their families.

One such complication is that some, but not all, homosexuals, lesbians and people of other genders, claim they are being denied their human rights because Australian law says people of the same sex cannot marry.

I can only say I have never thought of “Marriage” as a human right although it has become a “rite.” Marriage for me has always been a contract that millenniums ago, came to be recognised as the title created by society for heterosexuals joined in unions that would be responsible for human regeneration.

Speaking as an individual, I believe all human beings are equal, but different – and not just sexually. But believing all people are equal canot hide either the differences or the scientific fact that no laws can ever make non – heterosexuals genetically the same as heterosexuals. By the same token, it was society that created the title marriage, not a God of religion.

Sadly at times, the difference between the different groups leads to discrimination that must be eradicated for the benefit of society To do this I believe that education programmes that help teach people to be blind to the colour, ethnicity and sexual make up, should start as early in childhood as possible.

And also as a means of reducing discrimination, same sex couples wishing to contract with each other should rejoice and celebrate their difference with heterosexuals, rather than both groups engage in hostilities that are anything but a tribute to humanity. And a word to heterosexual couples: not only would they do well to remind themselves that it isn’t a crime not to be able to be a father or mother but remember also that often heterosexual couples are discriminated against if they don’t bear children. 

But if only to show my own human frailty I get irritated hearing two women in a relationship speaking of pregnancy as if it was a right and that it had occurred without male assistance. And I am irritated further when their demeanour suggests the expected child has been conceived only as a case of keeping up with the Jones’s or a show maternal capacity. This, for me, further serves to illustrate why Marriage is not a title that should be conferred on same-sex couples.

Nor is the previous paragraph an example of my misogyny (indeed I am a philogynist) it is but the means of re-inforcing why the push for marriage between two people of the same sex should be resisted.

And the same applies to men because two men in a homosexual relationship cannot conceive a child. In their case too, it illustrates why the relationship doesn’t deserve the title marriage.

A brief note  to respondents of Allan Takes Aim.  Even if your comments are critical please feel free to pass the blog to whoever you think might be interested.

And now here is the original unedited version of the blog published in The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 9 August 2011. Happy reading     

It saddens me to say that fear is becoming the driving force for many in society, not fear created by that dark sense of despair that often leads people to leap from the cliff of death into that abyss from which no one can ever re-emerge, but minor fears. Unfortunately many minor fears (too many) end up donning that dark mantle of despair so that leaps from the cliff of death are now assuming epidemic proportions. 

But why do minor fear escalate to that dark area. One would think that with the benefits of civilisation and the help of expert psychiatrists and psychologists the possibility of fear would be reduced so much that few people would end up making that leap. That the reverse is happening with more people now making that leap, raises the question: why? I wish I knew and so, I suspect, do psychiatrists and psychologists, not to mention family members.

It seems ludicrous that many minor fears grow and become life threatening, because of TV. This happens because many TV programmes promote the image of the body beautiful while many TV adverts suggest to people it is a poor physical image that causes the social and work problems they might be experiencing.

Take obesity as an example. Many TV ads promote diets that are guaranteed to reduce weight provided you join a dieting program that usually is anything but cheap. Unfortunately the problem for many men and women who fall for the sales pitch is not that they are obese but that they lack of self-confidence and are fearful of peer group ostracism.

On the other hand some men and women who think themselves obese take a different course. They buy exercise equipment advertised on TV in the hope that not only will it get the fat off and the weight down, but that it will make them so taut, trim and terrific that the opposite sex (If this shows my preferences I make no apologies) will swoon at the mere sight of them.

The rate of failure in both cases is high. They never acquire the body beautiful and so the image problem never disappears apart from which the cost of the diet program and/or the exercise equipment could bankrupt them and so add to their despair that they cure themselves by leaping from the cliff of death.

At times, too, I, along with many others, have been guilty of treating such fears as a joke.  Along with growing older, I have come to realise that these fears are not a joke but serious issues for the people affected and their families particularly as often they lead to death. 

But fear generated by a problem of image is only one of the myriad fears that affect the life of many people in society today. A major fear is that of becoming unemployed. For many people currently unemployed, this fear looms larger every day.

For example as the economic news grows even more dismal for parents with a family the fear of unemployment sets off a chain reaction of fears: not being able to pay the mortgage, the rent or indeed of being able to feed or clothe the family. Sadly, such fears can foster a sense of inadequacy that some cure by making a leap of no return.

Of particular interest to me is fear among the aged. As people age and their bodies deteriorate, they see TV ads showing physically fit, aged people frolicking like children. Such pictures can exacerbate the fear some older people have that they have no value in society and so have nothing to live for.                                                                                                                     

Then, unfortunately there are fears that cannot be treated by psychiatrists. These are fears created by political fear mongers with an agenda that says society is doomed if it does not lend support to the action they support about issues about which most of society has little knowledge.

These fear mongers are fear personified. But worse, they know that of the many older people they had persuaded to support their agenda, few if any, are unlikely to live long enough to see if the actions they had been persuaded to support, will ever result.

 The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday

First published  The Chronicle Canberra, Tuesday 2 August, 2011

Little wonder young voters are cynical about whether or not their right to vote is a right worth exercising. From talking to them it seems their cynicism is based on the performances of some Federal, State and Territory politicians of whom they said, that rather than being transparent their performances seemed part of an introverted world of plotters that would put a dozen Guy Fawkes to shame. That apart, they thought too many politicians wanted power not because they wanted to use it in the interests of constituents but to boost their egos.  

 It would be easy to dismiss such views as nonsense but it seems to me that politicians, and those intending to take up a career in politics, should be listening to what young people are saying. And it wouldn’t do them any harm either to listen to what older voters are saying.

For example, during a recent conversation about politics with a group of young people, one young woman said there was clearly a lack of common sense among power brokers as the various Costello/Nelson/Abbott/Turnbull brouhahas over leadership. She added that the brouhahas had the unintended consequence of handing Labor’s leader Kevin Rudd the 2007 election on a plate, and a well filled plate at that. Was she right? 

In an attempt to find out I conducted a telephone poll of thirty Canberra voters and asked them what they thought. Of the thirty, 15 said they thought these brouhahas were unseemly political squabbles that had placed the Liberals in a bad light; 10 said they would never trust the Liberals; 3 said the brouhahas were simply arguments between men who thought they had a right to be Leader and wanted power; and 2 said: no comment.

Would that more of our politicians had the same common sense as that young woman. Indeed too many politicians today now seem to think common sense a fatally infectious disease they must avoid catching at all costs.

After the 2007 election as Labor continued to be popular in a stream of never ending opinion polls with Prime Minister Rudd’s level of popularity the best ever enjoyed by any Prime Minister, Labor congratulated itself feeling sure that Rudd and the party’s popularity would keep it in government for a long time. However, if Labor Party’s power brokers had had the same degree of common sense as they had complacency, they would have seen the danger signs. Unfortunately when finally they saw the danger signs they seemed to lose what little common sense they had and committed an act of political bastardry that still reverberates today.

The political assassination of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed Labor lacked common sense. It also confirmed that common sense now seems to be at a premium among politicians regardless of party, hence the recent squabbling among Liberals about leaders.

This lack of common sense as n the Gillard/ Rudd affair, also gave life to unintended consequences from which Labor still suffers. But there was a difference: not only was the Gillard/Rudd affair carried out when the party was in Government it also lived up to what young people thought of politicians, that they preferred the introverted world of plotting to transparency.

Not to put too fine a point on it the current hung Federal parliament created by the 2010 election can be attributed less to the increasing popularity of Greens and Independents than to lack of common sense among Labor’s power brokers. 

One of those unintended consequences was that it pushed the Liberals into creating a united front or as united a front as one can get in politics and in doing so improved their standing with voters. But some questions remain: will the unity last or will a new series of brouhahas take place?

 That said, it must be said also that elections today are contests more about popularity where candidates are judged winners because they have the best smile, hairstyle, looks and clothes than they are about policy.

Sadly, no longer are political parties centres from which will emerge ideas to improve the social and economic landscape for the benefit of the community but centres where selfish people congregate to compete for power and status.

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best Community news. Published every Tuesday


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