Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for July 2012

Monday 30 July

So what moments of great joy or disaster will the Olympics bring today? Will we see competitors from nations considered sporting paupers give competitors from nations that consider themselves the sporting royalty in the Olympic pond, when the former leave them behind in the quest for gold?

Not that the Chinese are sporting paupers any longer so why did the US and to a lesser extent Australia, indulge in what could only be described as malicious talk by obliquely suggesting that certain Chinese swimmers had won because they had used illegal stimulants. I can only say that both countries stand a very good chance of being seen as stone throwers in glass houses.

That apart as every gold medal winner is to be tested, it seems to me that if the inference made by the US and Australia is true, it gives rise to the suggestion that the testers are corrupt.

Let me end this brief blog by saying I wish every competitor, win or lose, will show the same sentiments as young Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm, who cried not because she didn’t win the gold medal (she won silver) but because she felt she had let her parents down.

Hopefully, other young people are competing not just for themselves but also for their parents.


Australia’s first Gold Medal

Congratulations to the women in Australia’s winning 4 x100 metres relay swimming team on winning a gold medal and to those the other Australians who won medals. Congratulations also to medal winners from all nations, all Australian competitors and all competitors from all nations.

No doubt bucket loads of tears will be shed today by all losing competitors but let me say to them, be consoled by the fact that you’re in good company as there are more losers than there are winners in the medal stakes. Indeed that you competed makes you a winner.

Always bear in mind that in losing you have nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t forget, life is a race in which you could win something better than a medal. You might not know what it is but I’m sure you’ll recognise it when it comes.

In congratulating competitors I am also congratulating their families and coaches without whom they would not have reached the Olympic heights. And while sponsors and officials should be remembered so too, should people whose support for competitors was not based in jingoism but because they genuinely wanted to encourage talent.

It is unfortunate that many Australian media commentators who exaggerate the talent of Australian competitors can be seen in that jingoistic light. The fact is that in doing so they do neither competitors nor themselves any benefit; in fact they may achieve the converse and in doing so create an unpleasant opinion of Australia in the minds of many people.

Friday 27 July

I said yesterday that the noise at the opening ceremony of the Games would be unbelievable. And so it proved. But the noise brought with it a sense of excitement that, even if one was less than enamoured of the Olympics, couldn’t be avoided.

Perhaps you caught my feeling of disenchantment about the Olympics after reading my two previous short blogs. Nevertheless, the excitement generated by the opening ceremony’s panoramic depiction of the host country’s history throughout the ages, dispelled my disenchantment.

That depiction gave meaning to the Olympics as a meeting of people committed to progress, not just in sport but in technology, medicine, the arts but also in other areas of life too many to mention.

Comparisons being odious it is not an event to be compared with other opening ceremonies but an event that in a sense made people remember their humanity. It presented a picture of progress in the human family not the superiority of one branch of the human family over another and an event that spoke with the happiness of people in collaboration.

One can only hope the politicians, business people, sportsmen and sports women can take to heart the message that the Olympics is not an event that decides winners and losers but an event whose context is, that it can help turn all of us into gold medal winners in the race of life.

Thought for the day

As I expected, hour after hour media reports about the Olympics continued to assail my eyes and ears. The noise of today’s reports however will be as nothing compared to the noise when the Games officially open tomorrow.

While today’s reports mostly featured first choice athletes they also featured those gripers who thought they should be first choices even though the selectors disagreed with them. While they would like you to think that they wanted to compete because they would be winners for Australia it seems to me they griped because they had been denied the key that would give them access to the treasure store of wealth the Olympics has become.

I find this sad because what it says to me is that the ideals of modern Olympics as envisaged by their founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin have been lost. Unfortunate as it is the Olympics have become a kind of gold mine that for a few weeks every four years opens up for mining during which competitors resort to every kind of trickery to win.

At the same time, Governments use the Olympics to give them an image of benevolence while they carry on a war that can be likened to the new kind of military warfare where internal infrastructure is destroyed while the outer shell remains intact.

Business does the same although they say they do it in the spirit of competition. In both cases competitors are the human face of that warfare though most of them will never be as well remunerated as the Members of their respective governments or business sponsors.

Edited article on line at: published Wednesday 25 July

Both the ACT and NSW Governments huffed and puffed about losing their joint bid for the G20 summit that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be held on 14-15 November 2014 in Brisbane. Their huffing and puffing was about the loss of tourism opportunities, not that the summit is about tourism, but economics which is why finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 of the world’s major economies will meet at a cost to Australia of a mere $370 million for security, to talk about the global economy.

No doubt there will be some discussion about the global economy. However my feeling is that the G20 summits are less about economics and more about giving the people who have messed up their own economies a holiday junket to compensate them in case they’re not in the same job next year. Take a look at the economies represented and you’ll see what I mean: Oceania, Italy, Germany, France, European Union, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, India, Japan, China, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, US, Mexico, Canada and South Africa and UK.

However there’s more to the huffing and puffing than tourism. First: Barry O’Farrell has lost the opportunity to boast of the tourism revenue and jobs the summit would have brought to Sydney when he starts girding his political loins in preparation for his next re-election campaign.

Second, and not to put too fine a point on it, Katy Gallagher, Chief Minister of the ACT’s minority Labor Government, is in the same boat as O’Farrell. However, her needs are more pressing because, unlike O’Farrell, she faces an election on 20 October and voters many of whom think that for too long Labor has taken it for granted that they will re-elect them.

No longer; today the shibboleth is not some catchy slogan or an appeal to old fashioned ideology that makes people feel good but successful policies that will eradicate the depression and hopelessness many families feel as the wonder how they will pay the rent or mortgage, buy food or, as is becoming common even in wealthy Canberra, where they will sleep. Like O’Farrell, of course, the ACT Chief Minister also has lost the opportunity to boast of how the summit would have been a boost to the ACT Economy and jobs.

I’ve used the word Junket to describe the summit: now a brief word about G20’s origins. First proposed in 1999 by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin as a biannual forum it replaced the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations following the 2008 Washington forum.
Then, following the Cannes forum in 2011 the announcement was made that the expanded forum would meet annually instead of biannually. As the cost of attending is met by taxpayers, what else could be expected of politicians for whom feeding from the government money trough has become a right?

There are no prizes for guessing what happened next. Bureaucrats and political apparatchiks who also like feeding from the government trough suggested to the politicians that if the retinue of advisers they took to the summit was expanded it would enhance their importance. What politician could resist such blandishments? And so retinues have grown.
But credit where it’s due: this is known as thinking ahead because, in time, no doubt, the G20 will be superseded by a G30 and a stream of even bigger junkets. And as I peer into my political crystal ball I see the numbers attending the summits rivalling crowd numbers at a grand final as each economy strives to outdo its rivals. And as the summits become bigger so too will their agendas which will mean that more days will be needed to discuss them.

On that basis it seems clear that if the revenue and jobs that, allegedly, will be generated by the 2014 summit in Brisbane are true, the ACT Government should already be thinking about how to secure future G summits for Canberra.

And the group of politicians Canberra voters elect to Government on 20th October should be aware also, that if Canberra is to attract summits they will need to speed the development of necessary infrastructure such as new hotels, attractions and myriad other facilities.

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday and online every Wednesday at:

The following post has been written ti try and find out what people think about the Olympics. Do they think they are a good idea or do they think they have reached their use by date?

Don’t be afraid to say what you think.
Don Allan

Around the world today, and for the next month, people will be subjected to a continuous barrage of press, television and radio stories about the summer games of the XXX Modern Olympics due to start Friday 27 July, in London.
I ask you to note that I’ve said the XXX Olympics not the London Olympics to help prevent giving the impression that the Games have become extravagant decorations, expressed in physical terms, designed to adorn the face of the city where the games are being held.

Already in a sense, the Games are being used to give respectability to decadence which is the same situation that so worried Roman Emperor Theodosius in 393 AD, that he cancelled the Games. It took another sixteen hundred years for the Games to re-emerge.

When the idea of the Games re-emerged Governments saw them as a political tool that could help to hide the societal decay they had caused by their lack of moral and social responsibility. In fact if vested business interests hadn’t seen them as profitable business ventures and devoted followers of athletics seen them as a means of promoting sport I doubt the Games would have survived.

Another aspect of the Games that detracts from their possible benefit is that instead of uniting people as Pierre de Coubertin the founder of the modern Games wished for they have wars where no one is publicly killed. This is simply because the Olympic Games is a western concept that does not fit with the cultures of many nations. To some extent they help exacerbate national differences.

It must be said also that the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius, Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” composed by a Henri Didon, Dominican Priest and friend of Coubertin is unlikely to make unity any easier.

Indeed in the interests of unity perhaps a motto that conveys universality is needed or that all published material for future Games expresses the motto in the language of the nation where the Games are being held?

The Chronicle Canberra, Published every Tuesday and online on Wednesday at:

All candidates who hope to become part of the ACT Government after the election on 20 October will soon be known to voters. That said the CO2 tax that will increase prices from 1 July, was imposed by the Federal Labor Government and its Greens and Independent allies. And while the Federal Government is making payments to compensate for the increases, many ACT voters I canvassed thought the payments were being made simply to assuage their guilt because of the increased prices.

Some disadvantaged people also said the payments were a confidence trick because when the compensation was used up they would return to the same level of disadvantage. Others among them expressed their views in more forceful but unprintable language.

Of the homeless, some among them thought that, as time passed, the CO2 tax would also make their homeless situation a hopeless situation because house prices would rise, thus decreasing the availability of affordable houses for sale and rent. This would not be a happy outcome for the ACT’s Labor Minority Government and Green partners who hope to be returned to Government at the October election as they, not their federal colleagues, will get the blame.

And what else would the minority ACT Labor Government and Green Alliance find unwelcome? Unwelcome would be more homeless and lengthening queues at the emergency department of The Canberra Hospital (TCH) and the list of complaints about lack of service. These would not be welcomed because they would raise again the data manipulation issue at the TCH over a number of years and encourage more opposition attacks based on this issue.

in rebutting attacks about this and other issues, no doubt Labor and Greens will reply with excuses in which they blame everyone else hoping the excuses will not only help repair any damage but also restore voters trust in their capacity to provide good government.

But will those be the only thing ACT voters will use to judge the minority Labor Government and its Green allies? Contrary to expert opinion, I believe Federal Government policies affect State and Territory policies to such an extent that they also affect the result of State and Territory elections.

This is of particular importance in the ACT where the current Labor- Greens Alliance is almost a mirror image of what is happening federally, making it likely that, if the Federal Government’s image does not improve before 20 October, the ACT could experience a change of Government

Unlikely as it is that any of the already announced new parties will gain enough seats to form Government in the ACT they might take enough seats to make Labor, Liberal and the Greens stop taking it for granted that they have a right to govern the ACT. Perhaps, too, candidates elected as Labor, Liberal and Green will not be the candidates their respective parties expect and want to win. As for the minor parties and Independents it would be foolish of me to make assumptions about them.

Fortunately, this is not the case with sitting Labor, Liberal and Green MLAs whom I’ve observed over the past four years – and in some cases even longer – as well candidates from previous elections, my comments at this stage will be confined to three candidates in the Molonglo electorate.

First candidate: sitting Member, Caroline le Couteur – the Greens, whose common sense and business sense, two qualities not normally associated with The Greens, has impressed me. A surprise success at the last election I think she has proved to be a valuable addition to the Assembly.

Second Candidate: David Mathews – Labor. Although unsuccessful at the last election, apart from working hard in the Molonglo electorate David has that blend of common sense and business sense necessary to run a successful business – which he does – that would be of benefit to the Assembly.

Third Candidate: sitting Member, Steve Doszpot – Liberal. Steve is another candidate with common sense and business sense, qualities that he put to great use before entering the Assembly in 2008. Because he has continued to show these same qualities in his shadow portfolios of education and disability should also stand him in good stead with voters at the October election.

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Online at:


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