Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Time to rid parliament of political Noddies

According to the almost daily rhetoric of political pundits, ‘ordinary’ people are not interested in politics. I grant you that some people are not interested in politics but based on the daily number visitors to the Allan Takes Aim blog, I think the pundits are wrong. No doubt the pundits would argue that because the source of the blog is Canberra, Australia’s political capital, that’s only to be expected. I don’t agree.

A few years ago the pundits might have been right, but because the world’s political climate has changed so too has the way that people view politics and politicians, the latter in particular. In fact some citizens think political parties are fans of Caligula who allegedly put his horse “Incitatus’ in the Senate, which is why today they put a lot of ‘neddies’ in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  A point of clarification: as politics changed the Neddies became ‘Noddies.’

But Noddies are not the only thing we have to thanks the Romans for.  We should also thank their descendant who in 16th Century Naples created the commedia dell’arte and gave us Pulcinella (Punchinello) the genesis of todays’ Punch and Judy Show. Now if you think this has nothing to do with politics, be aware that Punch is the manifestation of the Lord of Misrule and Tricksters, two ancient mythological figures.

When one takes a look at various Governments in Australia over the last three years the connection becomes clear. Both the Prime Ministership and Premierships have been used as if items of barter between people who want to use the power they confer without having to take the responsibility for any damage they cause. This power help these people create policies and elect ‘noddies’ that advantage them more than they advantage the community.

Sadly, many Noddies have been seduced by the fame and status that being in parliament brings them. Indeed most of their time is spent in trying to present an image in their electorate so that they can keep that power.

But who are these ‘Noddies you ask?  If you can stomach it, take a look at the next TV broadcast of parliamentary business. You’ll see them sitting behind speakers nodding their heads and trying to look serious as if they were thinking about what the speaker was saying.

At this stage, and only to show how politicians abuse the electorate in their efforts to advantage themselves, the only talking heads you will see on TV are those of the contenders for the position of Prime Minister and possible cabinet posts.

Despite deposed Prime Minister Julia Gillard having announced 14th September as the date of the next election, her deposer hasn’t seen fit to tell the electorate if that date still holds and if it doesn’t, when will it be held.  However, you can be sure that when the election date is announced it will be on the basis that it suits the current Prime Minister not the electorate

At the same time and until that date is announced the electorate will hear a barrage of political invective from each side. Indeed as I write the Prime Minister is on TV news saying his opponent only speaks negatively. Doesn’t he realise that in saying this about his opponent he is also indulging in the same negativity.

As a final comment I ask you to examine the conduct of government over the past three years and decide if you want to take the chance of electing a Government that might indulge in the same conduct for the next three years or choose to start afresh with a new parliamentary team?  I would also ask you to heed the fact that at the election you will not be voting for a Prime Minister but a local candidate.

Comment welcome.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Australia readies for new political pantomime

Australians elect 150 people to represent them in the House of Representatives, one of its two Houses of Parliament. The other house, the Senate, has 76 Members. But today it’s the former that’s of interest because on Saturday 14th September, voters will be called on to elect these 150 representatives.

Failure to vote can lead to a fine. However despite being called compulsory voters don’t have to vote, the only thing that‘s compulsory is their need to get their name ticked off the electoral roll as having received ballot papers. If they then don’t vote they still have complied with the rules

That said, in the case of the next election if every voter gets their name ticked off the electoral roll then decide not to vote there, would be no House of Representatives, an unlikely outcome I admit, but because it is theoretically possible, it’s not an outcome that can be dismissed.

If the latter happened what a finale that would be to the pantomime called parliament which, if the voice of the voters over the past three years is to be believed, is what they think of the performance of the House of Representatives over the past three years.

The panto opened following the last election with a significant political event, the first time a female, Labor MP Julia Gillard, became Prime Minister of Australia. Unfortunately, the significant political event became the start of the worst political pantomime in the history of Australian Governments to which, sad to say a great many politicians contributed.

Because the number of seats held by the major parties, Labor and Liberal, couldn’t govern in their own right, the script for the pantomime was written when pragmatism came before principle on the question of who would become Prime Minister. The Greens a minor party anxious for power and Independent MPs cast in their lot with Julia Gillard so that she could form a minority Government as opposed to supporting the Liberal/National Coalition led by Liberal MP Tony Abbott., whom they disliked intensely.

However, as the months slipped past the Greens and Independents delighted in exercising their power over Julia Gillard to whom they had given support. They had forgotten the saying ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’ applies equally to Prime Ministers who gain status by what most people consider foul means, which was the case with Julia Gillard and in doing so virtually sealed their own political fate.

Indeed the whole term of this Government has been mired in controversy with broken promises, reversal of policy, new taxes and much more, leading to voters to no longer trust her or Labor. That they don’t trust her isn’t surprising when one considers how she first became PM. This was achieved when Labor power brokers, as if replaying an act of regicide in mediaeval times proverbially stabbed Labor PM Kevin Rudd in the back and replaced him with Julia.

In reviewing the Panto, for a brief period of time, two performers, M&M – Misandry and Misogyny – the identical malicious twins, became stars. Hopefully their time has passed, never to be revived. Unfortunately, Julia’s poor performance has led to a clamour from some MPs for her replacement with Rudd, who initially was thought to be politically dead but has stayed very much politically alive and able to talk, much to the daily discomfiture of Julia Gillard and Labor.

Continuing the review, while many people think the Gonski Plan for education is good, only a minority of State and Territory Governments which have responsibility for their own education programs have, as yet, signed on to implement it. On the other hand the new Disability Care policy has been accepted though many in the disabled community remain sceptical about its likely success while many people also have doubts about the Government’s NBN policy.

At the same time, many voters are still bitter about the introduction of the Carbon Tax that Julia Gillard said would never be introduced. But credit where it’s due. Over five hundred pieces of legislation were passed by the Government although over ninety per cent was passed with the support of the Opposition.

Finally, however, it seems to me Kevin Rudd’s protestations that he does not want to become PM is given the lie – ‘accidentally,’ – no doubt,  by his protestations general opinion of all the political ‘experts,’ is that Labor will lose the election in September. That being the case I think voters would rather have a majority Government than again sit through a poor the political panto for another three years.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Paranoia is directing the course of the Federal election

From the behaviour of a good many of its Federal MPs clearly the Australian Labor Party now leads in the paranoia stakes because every day a new reason for getting rid of PM Julia Gillard breaks out in party ranks. In fact the only person on the surface, who seems unaffected by paranoia, is Julia Gillard herself.

Indeed suggestion after suggestion has been floated about how to cure the ills dogging Labor that even if Gillard was removed who would take her place? Bill Shorten? Not that he will admit it, but Shorten has actively stoked the fires of paranoia with his statement that if Labor doesn’t change leaders it could experience a landslide at the next election.

Much as he is promoted in the media as a straight shooter, this statement is a piece of political ambiguity which shows Shorten is still a political assassin prepared to do to Julia Gillard, whom he professes to support, what he and his cohort of assassins did to Kevin Rudd. However, to try and keep his image squeaky clean, he has, as yet, not said it would be in the interests of the Party to remove the PM. However, if her removal ever came to pass, I doubt he would choke over the words.

Another aspect the forced removal of a second PM in a very short period of time does not seem to have been considered in an allegedly stable Democracy like Australia. Could it affect the view of leaders in other Democracies? Some of these leaders might view Australia as being less stable than it seems and the words of its political leaders not to be trusted.

In any case, regardless of Shorten being an ALP Powerbroker, what seems to me is that with the exception of a few, most politicians seem more concerned with their own welfare than that of the people who elected them. And with reference to the current brou ha ha about Labor’s leadership, how many of those seeking election as Labor MPs ever mention in their campaigning who they think should be Leader? If the party observed true democratic principles this would make electing a leader a more open process.

Of course the same could be said about the Opposition except for the fact that Tony Abbot won in democratically controlled ballot, albeit by one vote. On reflection however, and considering the negativity expressed towards him by Government Members and at times members of his own team perhaps he regrets winning.

However, it must be said in his favour that like Julia Gillard he, too, has steadfastly stared his enemies in the face while his own facial expression says do your worst but I’m staying where I am. Indeed, outrageous as the suggestion might be, perhaps Julia Gillard has copied him.

The truth of the matter is that both sets of MPs are paranoid, Labor MPs at the prospect of them being washed out in the forecast landslide and Coalition MPs at the thought that with the holy grail of Government within their grasp, Mr Abbott’s unpopularity might save the Government and the PM.

There’s no use asking MPs to cease their conspiracies. By this time voters know that most of them don’t give a tinker’s cuss about what people think. Being of ‘superior’ mind they expect voters to take their word that will face a bleak future if their party doesn’t get elected.

Voters of course will have their own views on the matter. Will they think the Gonski education plan makes education better; will the NBN make their experience of computers better; and will Disability Care, a subject of great personal interest to me, make people with a disability jump for joy? As yet there no clear answers.

And so the questions remain. Do voters think that Labor has handled these policies so badly that, regardless of what might be seen as possible benefits, they will become financial nightmares that will haunt the community for many years to come.

On the other hand the Coalition must be able to persuade them that they have the answer and that a vote for the Coalition will prevent financial nightmares.

As time goes by we’ll see which of the two possibilities gain favour with the voters. I can’t wait to see the result.

Comment welcome.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

 

Letters to the editor

Have you ever written a letter to the editor? As a male ex letter to the editor writer, let me warn other males they should beware of taking it up as a hobby because writing letters to the editor can become even more seductive than your wife or the woman of your dreams.

Apart from being seductive, and depending on much you hope your efforts are successful, letter writing can also become obsessive with some letter writers becoming so consumed by writing them that occasionally their day passes in a daze. What they don’t know is, that if successful in getting them published could start them on the road of serious consequences.

Not that I wish to make men feel uncomfortable but, like an Afghanistan road planted with IEDs, the road of serious consequences has IEDs marked divorce, psychiatrist, murder, moneylenders, suicide and, nearest mental facility.

Although you might never trip any of the latter you’ll find out how expensive your hobby can become if you want to be taken seriously. For this to happen, you must keep up with the news from around the world. Unfortunately, the internet today, the main source of overseas news, can be expensive. Of course if you’re interest is confined to your own locality your main news source is likely to be either your local newspaper, local radio and TV stations.

And beware of addiction to a particular subject, politics for example, a fate that befalls some letter writers. A short digression: Politics is an addiction which is why so many politicians seem to think voters are there to serve them, not the other way round.   

Digression over I can only add that food is not often featured on the letter pages despite it reaching epidemic levels with various TV programmes and glossy magazines with inserts designed to appeal to the glutton in us. This seems odd in an affluent society like Australia when so many newspapers run features about churches and other organisations setting up programmes to help society’s neediest keep the wolf from the door.

Other subjects prominent on the letters page are education, health, planning, science and climate change. Letters about religion are of a different kettle of fish. They are more a war of words between Christians and Muslims that looks as if it will continue for some time to come. My hope: that this war keeps being fought on the letters pages and never reaches the streets. Optimistic as I am, I am braced for disappointment.

Even though there are many letters about community issues, sadly, I have to say, the underlying theme in many of these letters is not the offer of sensible alternatives but a spruik in support of a political party.

Effectively the letter writers use the letter pages as a means of gaining unpaid (?) political advertising. While you might question this statement just start reading the letter pages and you’ll soon see what I mean.

What rescues the letters pages from these writers are letters from writers who have resisted party political indoctrination and have opinions that run contrary to those of all political parties. For me, some of these people should be in parliament.

I’d like to end by stressing that the purpose of this blog is not to discourage people from writing letters to the editor but to point out to those considering the idea that the letters page can be a great vehicle for giving community the opportunity to read about ideas that, while not necessarily earth shattering in importance, nonetheless offer the sensible solutions to problems that elected politicians fail to offer.

I can but add that if you don’t like the idea of writing a letter to the editor you can always start a blog of your own.

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

 

Who is an ordinary man or woman?

Much as I would like to be able to say otherwise, I am not a polymath. Truth be known, my school record was more poly than math, a condition that has remained constant during the years since leaving my schooldays behind and finding myself sitting here at the keyboard scratching my head in the hope that it will it will inspire the words needed for a new blog.

It’s not that I haven’t got the words. I have but they are all stored away in my mind in a jumble that takes a long time to unscramble. If you haven’t got this problem, count yourself lucky. And if you believe in the power of prayer I suggest you keep on the good side of the mechanic looking after the system that produces the power.

But let me add one qualification: make sure the mechanic is good at unscrambling problems, as it would be no good if in sending you an answer if it turned out to be problem that still needed answering which is what happened to me when watching Professor Ian Lowe AO, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation who has a plethora of academic qualifications, give an address at Australia’s National Press Club, Canberra, today.

Credit where it’s due: his address to the assembled throng while not stirring was eloquent. In his address he laid out the problems, as he saw them, of the problems the world was facing if his words weren’t taken seriously. Unfortunately journalists in attendance were few in number although their absence was more than made up for by conservationists.

I shall not take up your time by laying out the subjects about which Professor Lowe waxed eloquent. If you’re interested in them and you’ve got access to the internet just log on to Google and you’ll see them. Fortunately, during question time at the end of the Professor’s speech a well – known journalist asked the Professor a question which he acknowledged with smile and a suggestion that no doubt the journalist thought some of his ideas cuckoo.

Depending on your point of view about global warming and various other concerns voiced by the Professor that he labelled the GEC (Global Environmental Collapse) you might agree with the journalist. But disagree or not with the Professor, I can see the GEC phrase being worked to death by environmentalists as they paint the picture of damage allegedly done to the environment by people whose views they oppose.

Environment apart, why is that people prominent in academia, business, the bureaucracy and politics have adopted the word “ordinary” to describe most of the community. Doing so, and whether intentional or not, suggests they see themselves as people who are extra ordinary and whose views the community should accept before all others.

Without wishing to plagiarise Professor Lowe and his use of cuckoo, I’d like to suggest that when the people I’ve mentioned in the last paragraph use the word ordinary they be met with the call of the “Laughing Kookaburra.“ You can use the vernacular name if you wish.

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

What determines happiness?

In case you didn’t know it but a country’s happiness is measured by the strength of its economy. How do I know? I only know because the BBC news website revealed today that in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Australia came first because of its economy. Does this mean that all Australians should all stand up and give three cheers for Australian treasurer Wayne Swan? If so, here’s my contribution: Hip- hip hooray; Hip-hip hooray; Hip- hip hooray.

You’ll be pleased to know the other nine nations in the top ten happiest nations are, in order of merit: Sweden, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Denmark, The Netherlands, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

Now I’m not in a position to argue with OECD assessment of Australia’s economy or indeed from that assessment conclude that Australia’ is the happiest country in the OECD. I wouldn’t want their experts thinking that I might doubt their assessment because as I analyse the economy that dictates my life style I have to say it is anything but conducive to happiness; suicide, perhaps, but happiness – definitely not.

But just in case I was being unjust to the OECD experts I telephoned half a dozen people I know with the good news. As only two people answered I came to the conclusion the others were so shocked by the report that they had taken to their beds to save turning on their already minimum source of heating earlier than ever.

By the way I forgot to mention that it’s winter in Canberra and temperatures often drop from low to freezing and below so, if you’re a member of Canberra’s low socio economic bloc, you’re already behind the eight ball when it comes to keeping warm never mind happy.

Unlike the latter, people who are members of the same political party as Wayne Swan will also jump on the report and verbally pat the Treasurer of the back complimenting him on doing a good job. I have to say that even if the report had put Australia at the bottom of the list they would still be patting his back because with an election imminent, this is good news.

It could well be true also, that Australia is the OECD’s happiest country, but what the experts seem to forget is that not only does it take more than a good economy to make a country happy it also takes more than a good economy to make individuals happy.

So what are the constituent parts of the OECD report? Do the experts go out and ask residents in cities, towns and villages if they are happy and why or, do they rely on surveys and reports prepared by fellow experts in sociology et al. that go into making people happy?

What the OECD does not seem to realise is that a country needs more than a good economy to create happiness. And while Australia’s current mining boom may cause happiness, booms can rapidly become busts.

Indeed iron ore mines are already in operation in Brazil while African countries which have vast reserves of iron ore and other valuable minerals are opening mines at breakneck speed to take advantage of the demand currently being met by Australia.

When that happens I wonder what position Australia will command in the OECD’s “Better Life Index?”

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

 

 

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Politics and public art

Yesterday’s blog posed the question “What is Public Art?” It also said it was being claimed that the multi mammaried Skywhale balloon, launched in Canberra a week or so ago as part of Canberra’s Centenary, was being claimed as a piece of public art.

Unfortunately, calling something a piece of public art is a device commonly used by Government politicians as a means of covering up how they had been deluded into thinking the artwork they originally commissioned that would be part of their legacy that would to remind communities in the future about their time in office would, in the case of Skywhale something they might regret. Instead it might make the community perceive them as art philistines.

Contrary to any impression you might have gained yesterday that while Canberra has some public art, the arts lobby thinks it doesn’t have enough. Indeed the arts lobby constantly lobbies the ACT Government to provide more public art and because the government is always looking for of methods to capture votes it is susceptible to the pleas of the arts community. The result: Government Ministers see commissioning more public art as a means of garnering votes. A secondary result, the art community is kept in a state of permanent anticipation, the community in a permanent state of apprehension and tourists something new to look and laugh at.

But let me leave such whimsical thoughts behind and get down to brass tacks about public art. I think the ACT Government should ask the public at large what pieces of art they would like to see commissioned. And when I say the public at large I mean the public at large not just the views of a handful of members of the ACT’s political parties and art groups. In my opinion the Government might get a shock at some of the artworks the community at large might like to see commissioned.

The Government’s answer to the public’s suggestions would probably be that twenty years later the public might not like what was chosen while the public’s argument that the same could be said about the Government’s choices would be met with a blank stare, which brings me back to Skywhale.

I fact when I first heard about Skywhale I thought the Government had decided that in addition to being the Australia’s political Capital it should also be the country’s avant garde Capital. With that in mind and as a member of the public, let me put forward a suggestion for a piece of public art that will pay tribute to the Capital not only on this centenary but on centenaries ever after.

I’d like government to commission a work called “Parliament in Action” comprising a revolving metal base on which stands one male figure and one female figure representing the bureaucracy. The male figure would have its left arm outstretched and one finger pointing and the female figure would be posed with right arm outstretched and finger pointing. Surrounding the base, concrete Members of Parliament sit in static pose looking up at the two figures as if trying to give them directions.

As this is a free speech site don’t be afraid to voice your opinion about the blog but at the same time give your suggestions about what would be great public art in Canberra.

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