Allan Takes Aim Blog

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Still alive and kicking

Those of you interested in reading Allan Takes Aim may wonder where the blog disappeared to over the past few weeks. Unfortunately my train of thought and capacity to write had been curtailed by a heart condition I didn’t know I had which necessitated hospitalisation.  Less fortunately it also proved to be a condition that could prove fatal if surgery was used to remedy it.

Fortunately, however, I am now on a program of medication that will allow me time to do a lot of things I thought would be denied me. But discovery of the condition also brought me one particular benefit: I can now rebut allegations of heartlessness.

The discovery has also renewed my belief in the adage ‘where there’s life there’s hope‘ a hope that in this case springs from my confidence in the doctors, nurses and the many other staff members of Canberra Hospital who, in attending on people with conditions similar to mine, perform medical miracles on a daily basis.

The other people who need thanking are family members and friends whose support lifted my spirits. My thanks also, go to the Board of the ACT Association for Disabled Sport and Recreation Inc, for its strong support.

But let me now address thanks to another group of people some of whom I have never met except through  ‘Allan Takes Aim.’

Thank you for your support

In a few days the blog Allan Takes Aim (http// the successor to the very successful weekly Don Allan column that ran for 19 years in The Chronicle, Canberra and that you have supported, will celebrate its first birthday.

That the blog has survived is due not only to many readers of The Chronicle who donated fifty dollars, some more but also to those who gave their support in writing plus anonymous contributions from others who helped me continue writing.

Many of these people, like me, think the right of free speech is being eroded to the extent that, unless ‘we’ ‘ordinary’ people – as so often we are described by those who subconsciously in some cases think themselves extraordinary – speak up, our right might be extinguished.

Ironically many of those who use the discriminatory word ‘ordinary’ and preach equality but never practice it, are the very people who jump up and down in confected rage and accuse  ‘ordinary’ people of discrimination when they have done nothing more than use the common language of society. These people delude themselves into thinking that their confected rage gives them an image of being out of the ordinary. And they are: unfortunately they don’t know it.

Let me end my first blog since returning to active life by saying I am humbled by the fact that so many people who knew me only through The Chronicle and the report of the Blog’s launch in Canberra’s City News, made a contribution. To all of you I say: Thank You.

And while not all of those who gave their support agreed with what I wrote, I am hopeful they will continue to help keep the blog alive.

Yours sincerely,

Don Allan OAM

Comment welcome.

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Who is the most trustworthy: Abbot  or Rudd?

The idea for this blog came on Sunday afternoon while watching on TV the 1965 fantasy film “She” from Hammer Films which starred Ursula Andress in the role of Ayesha, also known as “She – Who – Must – Be – Obeyed, who knockout me out when first I saw her as Honey Ryder in the Bond film Dr No. Although as a film “She” was no great shakes, Ursula Andress, in the role of a 2,000 years old woman, still knocked me out.

In the film “She” is an immortal queen and high priestess of a lost African city, who believes Leo, member of a party of archaeologists who find the city, is the identical reincarnation of a lover she killed 2000 years and tries to persuade him that if he walks into a mystical blue fire, he will also become immortal.

If you wonder why this film fantasy sparked an idea it is simply because mid-afternoon the film was interrupted by the current Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who many people think a fantasist, announced the date of the next federal election as 7th September. The only thing I’ll say about the announcement is that it was as good as the film.

In fact Kevin’s announcement contained elements of Ayesha like immortality, in this case of the political kind. Unfortunately for Kevin a man called Tony Abbott who is also seeking government rebuts Kevin’s claim and in return says Kevin is a carpetbagger and not a man to be trusted.

That Tony rebuts Kevin’s claims isn’t surprising because while Kevin, his cohorts and sycophants say Tony has not announced his policies, in a clear case of having their cake and eating it, they say his policies will cause chaos to the economy and severe job losses. I hope they keep the crystal ball they used to read Tony’s unannounced policies safe under lock and key as it’s worth a fortune.

Today, of course, is really only the first day of the official election campaign and if one can be sure of anything in respect of political campaigns one can be sure that even bigger lies and stronger language will be used before 7th September.

The Kevin lobby has said also that Tony Abbot will slash jobs in the public service. That said, the Australian Public Service union claims Kevin’s public service efficiency dividend policy will cause the loss of 5,000 jobs. At the same time many people are scathing about his mooted bank levy that savers will have to pay on accounts under $250,000 not to mention carbon tax plus his Asylum Seekers policy that many people seem to think will strip the people already deprived of most of the their human rights of the reminder.

At this stage the best way I can describe the different attitudes of the two men are: Kevin Rudd seems to have cast himself in the role of a Presidential Prime Minister. In fact some people see him as dictatorial while Tony Abbott is saying he does not want to be a Presidential Prime Minister but a Prime Minister of the people.

 Comment welcome.

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Laws  won’t solve the refugee or same sex marriage issues


Today, refugees and same sex marriage are two issues occupying the minds of politicians across the world (although the latter has more prominence in the west than the east) that have never been resolved and I doubt will ever be resolved by law. However, both issues are likely to keep lawyers in a style of living to which they have become accustomed.

However, there is a difference: marital disputes can lead to small domestic wars but the issue of refugees can, does, and has, led to full blown wars between countries. Indeed one need only be interested in politics to know the latter is true.

In Australia, unfortunately, refugees have become a major issue in the coming election as Labor and the Liberal/National Coalition battle it out in the media while the Greens and minor parties sit on the sidelines cheering them on to destruction. Not that this will happen of course but, “We live in Hope” is the latter’s standby campaign slogan.

Refugees should not be an issue on which voters stand aloof because Australia has always been a land of refugees even if not all came for the same reason. Some came because officers of Australia’s Immigration Department assured them it was a land of opportunity; others came because they had nowhere else to go; some came for the better weather; and some came for economic reasons.

Some of today’s refugees, fleeing from home if fear of their lives and the lives of their children, think of Australia as a haven of safety where their fear of death will grow to a love of life. One hopes that if they get a chance to settle down, their hopes might be realised

Sadly and unfortunately, however, they are being treated as pawns in a political battle between two men each of whom wants to be Australia’s principal wielder of power the like of whom the refugees thought they had escaped. The situation is not without irony because in no small measure, Australia, albeit by participating in wars that made it necessary for the refugees to flee their homeland, is keeping them penned up in conditions as bad as those from which they fled.

Reading between the lines I cannot see Prime Minister Rudd changing his mind on the issue. On the other hand if Mr Abbott decided to look at the matter again and change his mind he could well benefit at the ballot box. After all he his opponent his opponent has changed his mind regularly.

Same sex marriage

Neither a member nor a follower of any religion, I hope, nevertheless, that a relationship between same sex couples is never described in the same way as the relationship I enjoy with my wife. Using ‘love’ as the basis for the rightness of same sex marriage clearly shows its proponents do not understand the complexity of heterosexual marriage.

That same sex marriage seems likely to be legalised in mainly western society it is unlikely to be recognised as acceptable by many nor recognised as such in other societies. Indeed, as has happened in Western Society’s other social engineering experiments unwanted and unintended consequences could be many.

I believe also that the process of procreation is a gift from Mother Nature to man to ensure continuance of her creation – humanity. Indeed, in all civil societies since the dawn of history, heterosexual coupling even if no children were born, was recognised as marriage.

Sad as it is, while endowing all men and women with the capacity to procreate, Mother Nature was discriminatory by not endowing different couplings with the capacity to enjoy it to the full. However no amount of legislation can change the situation and I doubt Mother Nature will change it either.

That said, perhaps proponents of same sex marriage would like to take Mother Nature to the Human Rights Commission. Indeed they would be better off using common sense to solve a confected problem that almost certainly will continue in every millennium to come.

Let me also remind them of the adage: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.


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OZ voters drowning in Asylum politics

I have decided to give the watery space between Indonesia and Christmas Island a new name:  ‘Asylum Strait` if only because it describes where much of Australia’s current political discussion is centred. Perhaps too, because many people are of the view that even if possible refugees survive the Asylum Straits the next part of their journey could be through Dire Straits on the way to Papua New Guinea to be incarcerated on Manus Island, which many of them might well come to remember as Detention Island, an island on which they would like to settle some Australian politicians for three years or more.

That the discussion is centred on the Asylum Straits comes as no surprise because day after day, the subject seems to be at the forefront of political commentators’ minds in the press, radio and TV, as we read, hear or see them voicing their opinions which, by their content, show almost total disregard for the policies of every party but the one they support, so in the hope that this will prevent them being accused of bias.

As a strong believer in free speech, I think it reprehensible that media organisations – particularly if publicly funded – which pride themselves on informing the community do not ensure their political commentators declare where their political support lies before commenting. Questioned on this, their explanation that everyone knows which party the commentator supports is not good enough.

A political agnostic and believer in free speech I have no problem with people who support a particular party. Sadly, and unfortunately, too many people support political parties without knowing what the party stands for but support it because their parents did/do, or because the party leader has a nice smile, or supports the same football team, or likes classical music, or art, or whatever.

Indeed some people don’t actually vote because they know the local candidate but for the leader as if all candidates have the same talent as the leader. They don’t! That being the case voters often get a government they don’t want.

Today, unfortunately, politics is a battle of popularity; policy plays second fiddle. Indeed people often vote for the party if the synopsis of the policy sounds good and that party’s proposed PM looks good when presenting it on TV.

Although many parties are likely to contest the nest federal election, it is extremely unlikely the next PM will be other than a Labor or Liberal MP. Indeed many of the candidates from the other parties are likely to lose their deposit. However, The Greens, The Bob Katter Party, Palmer United Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party among others, are all likely to affect the outcome of the election; whether for good or bad is hard to say.

But what is not in doubt are the issues that will probably decide the election such as, which of the  two men Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd do voters trust more and to some extent  which of the two men are strongly trusted by their own party.

While the Asylum Seekers will play its part, the issue it will not be the issue that will decide the next election but will only be one of many issues: Climate Change; Carbon Tax; Mining Tax; Education Reform; Renewable Energy; Health Services; Superannuation; Welfare Services; Disability Care and Economic Policy, the policy that must be successful to ensure that every other policy is successful.

Although the election campaign has not yet started officially, voters already have a wealth of policy to think about. That being the case I urge you not to be distracted by superficial and glib responses from the Prime Ministerial candidates that fail to answer questions. And forget about accusations of negativity; any accusation about someone else’s negativity is, in itself, negativity in action.

Finally, voters should understand that what people in Canberra might think important issues might not be of the same importance to voters in every other state or Territory. So make sure you only cast your vote for local candidates.

Comment welcome.

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Boat people: saleable commodities to an ambitious politician

There is nothing more admirable than to serve one’s fellow man without any thought of personal reward and nothing more despicable than to use one’s fellow man merely to satisfy your ambition.  Despite Kevin Rudd’s rhetoric suggesting the former, an examination of his deal with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea about the boat people suggests the latter.

After observing and being involved in politics for most of my life it saddens me to see Australia a country that boasts of its commitment to social freedom treating the boat people as slaves were treated in centuries past, a commodity to be traded. Yet this is what Mr Rudd is doing, trading them to PNG to avoid settling them in Australia.

Without disrespect to PNG let me ask a few questions. How will PNG settle the asylum seekers many of whom, but not all, will be Sunni Muslims from Iran? Will they have a mosque? Will the detention camps become religious battlegrounds where missionaries of various Christian sects will fight each other to convert them?

More important, because they are being incarcerated on Manus Island at the behest of Australia will they develop a slow, festering hate of Australia? If so it could create difficulties in the future between PNG and Australia.

At the same time will PNG be able to offer them the same job opportunities they could expect in Australia? Will children also enjoy the same educational opportunities? What kind of health service will they get? Will it be free, if not how will they pay for it? Other questions also spring to mind: will they ever be entitled to vote? And, apart from language difficulties how will they cope with an environment of which they have no experience?

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The difficulties they will face crossing cultural bridges in PNG will be greater than the difficulties they would ever face in Australia. I also think many Papua New Guineans will think the deal another form of Australian colonialism.

On the other hand, what will be of great interest to Australian voters is the as yet un-known cost to Australia of settling the asylum seekers in PNG. At the moment, Australian voters are being deluded by PM Rudd into thinking the deal with PNG is good for them. But how can they know when no details of the deal have been published?

Clearly Mr Rudd sees the deal as a political life saver that will assuage the unwarranted fears many voters have of boat people but also boost his chances of continuing as Prime Minister after the coming election.

However, if the cost of the deal is high to start with and clouds of uncertainty start to gather around it and if costs increase later, Mr Rudd will need a better excuse than the increased costs are the result of unintended consequences.

As I think about the deal it seems to me that New Guinea Prime Minister, Mr O’Neill, was the smarter of the two Prime Ministers. It will make no difference to him if Mr Rudd loses the election; PNG will be better off economically. And nor is it any concern to Mr O’Neill that the deal was the product of the policy promoting fear of Mr Abbott and the Liberal/National Coalition by Mr Rudd and the Labor Party.

Indeed once the initial euphoria wears off, if voters then cast aside their apathy about politics and examine the deal, perhaps they might take a different view when next they hear Mr Rudd saying they should fear Tony Abbot becoming Prime Minister. It might also help Mr Abbott if he cast negativity aside and campaign using the words Franklin D. Roosevelt used in 1932 as he campaigned against Herbert Hoover in the US presidential election: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

If voters hear these words often enough perhaps they would become more fearful of Mr Rudd who makes extravagant promises without detailing, except minimally, how his promises will be achieved.

Australia, unfortunately, has a reputation for producing successful con men many of whom have been messianic in nature. While many of them have defrauded individuals of their wealth it has never produced one like Mr Rudd who is trying to persuade people of two countries about his messianic talent. That said it seems to me also that if we believe his messianic messages we will deserve everything we get.


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Marriage is a universal culture. Same sex marriage is not

With the word gay having been hijacked by the LGBT community, the phrase ‘I’m having a gay old time,’ is forcing heterosexuals to defend their sexuality. Indeed the time seems to be coming when it will be politically incorrect for people to claim they are heterosexual.

Frankly, I don’t care what someone’s sexuality is but as a lover of words, I object to gay, a perfectly good word, being dumped from the dictionary to meet the demands of the LGBT community. From this I can only deduce that no longer can heterosexuals claim to be gay a situation that to me suggests discrimination.  And isn’t that what started the argument?

That said and much as I think the LGBT community should have the same rights as everyone else, I admit to being totally confused as to why they should invoke marriage as a right. Marriage is a rite but not a right. Marriage is merely the title of a legal contract that has been used for eons to describe the relationship between a man and a woman that may, or may not, have the capacity to produce children. At the same time the contract also makes them responsible for such children and the protection of their legal rights.

Speaking as one half of a marriage of over fifty years with one surviving married child, it seems to me that giving members of the LGBT community the ‘right’ to use marriage as the title of their contractual relationship shows a lack of common sense.

A signed legal contract that binds two men or two women in a relationship should entitle them to the same social benefits, including the possibility of adopting children. As for the LGBT community, it does them no credit to wail continually in the media, like people crying wolf, about the unjustness of not being able to marry.

Let me add that I have good friends, not wolf criers, in the LCBT community whom I wish could marry and have children. Unfortunately for the packs of wolf criers, they do not want to marry but would be happy to have a contract with a different title.

And spare me those people, high level politicians in particular, such as British PM David Cameron, Australian PM Kevin Rudd and U.S President Barack Obama, all of whom recently saw the light about gay marriage equality after a lifetime opposing it. Not that I think such conversions aren’t genuine but in some cases I think the conversion owes more to political expediency than truth.

The same thing also happens in some cases when parents, suddenly confronted by a son or daughter preparing to take up a permanent relationship with a same sex partner, show how much they love them by publicly becoming converted to the idea.

While I respect their conversion and the opinion of many highly intelligent supporters of gay marriage, I have yet to read an opinion from any of them that would lead me to support the idea. That apart only fourteen countries in the world have adopted the proposition of same sex marriage which still leaves more than 200 countries that don’t. Even in the millenniums to come I doubt universal agreement on this issue will ever be achieved.

But let me disabuse you also of any idea that my opposition to marriage has a religious basis. It doesn’t. My opposition comes from comparing same sex marriage with my own. In the months before my wife gave birth, I experienced emotions and thoughts that can never be experienced by same sex couples.

Such thoughts and emotions apply particularly when danger occurs to mother or baby as it frequently does, during pregnancy. At such times, the non-sexual intimacy between the potential mother and father that provides support for the mother, is often necessary? Clearly in same sex unions that cannot happen.

Finally, same sex couples who say they want to get married because of love have no idea of what marriage is only because marriage takes more than love to make it work

Comment welcome.

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 Dump the rhetoric: take the future seriously

 Many young and old unemployed people express disbelief when they hear politicians talk about how the policies of their Government will increase jobs which will give them an opportunity of getting work. But when asked by the young unemployed how many jobs will be created and how long to create them, as is usual the politicians’ answers are confusing and short on detail. The result: the young think the job creation story a political fairy tale being used pacify them. Nonetheless the Government worries that the young people’s attitude could be reflected in a loss of votes at the next election.

But what about the older people in the unemployment queue? Many say Government policies put them on the dole not something they ever expected from the current Government. Those unemployed Canberrans in the queue who formerly were employed in the Public Service say they need more than political fairy tales to cure their disappointment.

I confess, too, that I am sceptical about the tales of job creation. The reason for my scepticism is that I have never seen a detailed analysis of where jobs have been created leaving me with the impression that many of the jobs ostensibly created, came when people who had worked for an hour reduced the unemployment statistics.

My scepticism, and that of the unemployed, could be removed by showing where the jobs had been created. Were they in manufacturing, finance, retailing, mining, shipping, tourism? Were they full time, part time or casual? Were they jobs that offered a future, particularly to young people?

In Canberra, the building industry, retail and the public service are the main sources of employment with tourism and IT also prominent. Tourism is often spoken of with reverence by politicians as if it was the holy grail of employment. Unfortunately, pollie talk is really ‘polly’ talk: indeed I know some people in the tourism industry think parrots could talk about tourism better than politicians who seem unaware that 35 per cent of jobs in tourism are only casual or part time, unaware also that probably only 5% of jobs in tourism offer long term career prospects and that promotion generally means moving from place to place. As for Information Technology (IT) despite masses of hype, IT has not turned out to be the proverbial employment gold mine that was once envisaged.

While being unemployed is bad enough, unfortunately it can cause worse problems. In Canberra the number of people being made homeless through being unemployed is growing. While social services do as much as they can to alleviate the problem, it cannot stop a person feeling a loss of dignity or pay the mortgage on a family home or provide the slide into depression and mental illness and other problems such as excessive alcohol use, drug use and domestic violence that often accompany homelessness.

Fine speeches and good intentions will not cure unemployment and in Canberra, employment will only replace unemployment when reality replaces rhetoric. And reality means new industries need to be developed even if they upset some of our self – indulgent citizens. Two suggestions: as the TGA is already here why doesn’t the ACT Government invest in a national medi -park for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals; a light industry park with a complementary programme of incentives to attract small business; and why not a plant to produce manufactured homes that almost certainly will not only become part of Canberra’s housing stock but also cities and towns across Australia.

Comment welcome.

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