Will Australia finally face its own trial over refugees?

April 27, 2017

The court decision to award damages to a girl held in detention on Christmas Island when she was just five years old must send panic through our Government. The fact that the Government offered compensation on the first day of the trial speaks volumes. The Government must fear that many now will also seek compensation for having been held in detention. The case of the girl started as a class action but the Court refused on the grounds it was lacking in common or shared issues.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-26/iranian-asylum-seeker-wins-payout-detention-christmas-island/8472718

For some years now the Australian Government has been accused of criminal neglect in keeping asylum seekers in detention under harsh conditions. The UN and the UNHCR have repeatedly warned Australia it was in breach of Human Rights. All to no avail. This Government stubbornly sticks to its mantra  that;

1. It is all the fault of the opposition the Labor party, in setting up the detention centres in first place.

2. To stop the boats coming and prevent drownings we need to give a good example to those that are contemplating escaping the horrors of war.

It seems that those that did not drown are now being punished. The refugees are in their fourth year of detention!

Australia is now trying to trade with the US administration some of the refugees still held in Nauru and Manus Island in exchange for some Latin American refugees held in the US. It is all shrouded in secrecy. Donald Trump said the deal  ‘was the worst he ever heard of.’  The obvious solution is for those refugees to be accepted in Australia. This is being fought tooth and nail against by the architects of indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru, Scott Morrison and now Peter Dutton. Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is whipping us into a nationalistic fervour. ‘We must all stand-up and defend our ‘unique Australian Values’ . ‘He goes on about ‘the fair go and respect for law.’ The hypocrisy is just dripping so copiously from him it is actually showing.

I have reached the stage I try and not show my Australian passport. How can I keep my head up high?  How can I be proud of a country that has done such a terrible deed  and continues to do so, on the most vulnerable?

I hereby copy a recent post on my Oosterman blog by a man who worked as a guard on Manus;

Beau Mitchell Says:

“It is not a military run operation although its no coincidence that the vast majority of the workers, including myself were ex military and like myself ex special forces. unfortunately you can mistreat people like this when its off shore like this. There have been 2 companies that worked in Manus G4S and Wilson Security, I worked for both. This ABC story was the 2nd story I actually spoke to 10 Eyewitness news first. There was a media injunction slapped on me within 48 hours of speaking to 10 and in that 48 hours I spoke to ABC with the above report. No we do not have freedom of speech in Australia, you have watched to many American TV shows if you think this. in the event this message gets traced back to me I face up to 15 years in a federal prison for the crime of empathy. On Manus the Security company Wilson is the Judge, Jury and Executioner when it comes to discipline of the refugees located there. In the event a refugee does something wrong there is a make shift prison made from shipping containers, there is no trial or interaction with the local police, Wilson management makes the decision on the punishment one particular incident I recall a refugee lost his temper and started trying to hit people with a lump of wood (did not actually hit anyone) his punishment was a week in the Chauka (name of secret prison) where he was beaten each night (6 times in total) until unconscious during this time period, I was given the task of guarding the prison, I was posted at the main gate, and did not go in the Chauka. The smell was terrible of human feces and urine but being that I was on the outside I did not know why. I eventually saw”

LikeLikeBeau Mitchell Says:

 

 

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The ‘Bespoke’ permanent Australian residency test

April 26, 2017
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Bottle

With our daughter being on the ‘cusp’ of buying a three bedroom unit closer to Sydney town, I was intrigued by a new word that seems to have caught the world by storm. It is the word ‘BESPOKE.’ Readers might well remember we were all on the edge of our seats some years ago, when our Government was urging their ministers to find  ‘new paradigms’. This soon spilled over to the voters. As is the wont of most Governments, the task and responsibility of finding the new paradigms was shifted to us. It wasn’t finding just any old paradigm, no it had to be the latest version. It made us all a bit nervous at first, but soon put shoulders under the task looking for our special new paradigm.

During or perhaps shortly after those revelational urgings many also took to forever being on the ‘cusp’ of something. It did not really matter what it was. As long as we were on the ‘cusp’ of something we were on solid ground. Helvi and I used to sit around sipping our coffee while looking for new paradigms, and hovering around being on the ‘cusp’ of something or other. I remember distinctly being on the cusp of buying our new lithium battery powered cordless vacuum cleaner an hour or so before we actually took off to buy one. We deliberately waited in order to prove our ‘cusping.’ Of course, naming our newly acquired vacuum machine a new paradigm might be pushing credibility a bit too far.

Getting back to the business of ‘bespoke’. It all came about when reading the Real Estate Agents’ lofty appraisal of trying to sell this home-unit to our daughter. They provided a lengthy list of the usual mouth watering morsels to attract the potential and often gullible buyer. It had three bedrooms, all with blinds and insect screens, a ‘media’ room and ‘European’ appliances. The word European is like honey to those on the hunt for living space.  It seems at odds with our Prime Minister’s urging us to stand firm on our national identity and hail all that is uniquely Australian. Are we all at risk of losing our permanent residency status if we buy a European stove?

But, what really floored me was that the European 5 burner cooktop had a ‘bespoke’ wok. A bespoke wok? Of course some decades ago Dad was most circumspect of real estate agents. Why are they called ‘real’ he mused, while blowing out his Douwe Egbert’s tobacco infused ringlets of smoke. ‘Infused’ is now on the wane, folks. We are getting some respite. You can all take a rest. None too late. It is hard work keeping up.

Nice dad, he was. I remember him well. He would never look for paradigms or bespoke woks.

 

 

A sigh of relief or is there more to come?

April 24, 2017

 

Getting up early is a habit that I indulge in each morning. Around 6.30 am the kettle is put on. The kettle is made of stainless steel, has a whistle and its water is boiled on gas. It is almost the first sound that is heard in this household every morning. The silver crested cockatoos are usually the first at that lovely honeyed twilight betwixt dark night and morn’s light.

It’s been three weeks now since I had my morning’s coffee. I swapped over to tea instead.  Helvi still insists on her first drink to be coffee. Making both coffee and tea each morning is a rather nice change from the earlier solo beverage routine. This morning was special. France had voted.

Anxiety always follows me in a symbiotic relationship. I am sure things would just not be the same if all went smooth.  That was one reason I jumped out of bed with a bit more than the usual sprightliness this morning. Watching last night’s news with Le Pen and its right-wing antics had me all keyed up. Last time I felt similar pangs of fear was during the Dutch elections when Geert Wilders was in the running. I felt most ebullient when he was dealt a mortal blow. But…France seemed a different kettle of poisson.

What joy, what relief greeted me opening ABC’s news. Marine le Pen was second. The other main parties will now back the Emmanuel Macron who came in first getting 24% of the vote. The new wonder boy is likened to Canada’s Trudeau. He is on the right  side of politics but in a refreshing twist is actually promising an increase in welfare.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Macron

Just cop this!

“he is “neither right nor left” and that he advocates “a collective solidarity”

And what really attracts me is the following;

“In his book Revolution, published in November 2016, Macron presents himself as both a “leftist” and a “liberal … if by liberalism one means trust in man.”[39] With his party En Marche!, Macron’s stated aim is to transcend the left–right divide in a manner similar to François Bayrou or Jacques Chaban-Delmas, asserting that “the real divide in our country … is between progressives and conservatives”. With the launch of his independent candidacy and his use of anti-establishment rhetoric, Macron has been labelled a “populist” by some observers, notably Manuel Valls, but Macron rejects this term.”[40][41]

France does not suffer from the Westminster political system,  wherein any change is almost impossible to achieve seeing the aim of the British system is to forever try and knock the opposition out by endless warring and shouting from a chair high up ‘order- order.’

With the German right wing in retreat the world is again showing signs that xenophobia and fear of the foreign might be fading. I don’t know how we in Australia will go. At least this government is also getting on the nose, and I don’t think Pauline Hanson is making much headway anymore either.

I feel so much better now, and might even have a coffee again.

True blue Australian Values; What are they?

April 20, 2017

images

It used to be a thorough understanding of cricket together with compulsory viewing by all migrants of Phar Lap’s ( a famous race horse) pickled heart in a glass jar and Bradman’s cricket paraphernalia. Together with a clear understanding and pronunciation of ‘My Bloody oath.’

This has now changed! These are our new Australian Values!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/australian-politician-property-ownership-details/8453782

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/housing-affordability-decisions-made-by-big-property-investors/8454978

GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW commercial/investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Randwick, NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie, NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie (unit), NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie (unit), NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie (unit), NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie (unit), NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Port Macquarie (unit), NSW investment
GILLESPIE, David Nationals Wauchope, NSW residential
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Townsville, QLD investment Owned by family trust
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Kingston, ACT investment
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Moreton Island, QLD investment
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Palm Beach (unit), QLD investment
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Spring Hill, QLD investment
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Spring Hill, QLD investment
DUTTON, Peter Liberal Camp Mountain, QLD residential
BILYK, Catryna Labor South Hobart (unit), TAS investment
BILYK, Catryna Labor South Hobart (unit), TAS investment
BILYK, Catryna Labor Kingston, TAS investment
BILYK, Catryna Labor Griffith, ACT residential
BILYK, Catryna Labor Kingston, TAS residential
BANKS, Julia Liberal Malvern, VIC investment
BANKS, Julia Liberal Braeside, VIC investment
BANKS, Julia Liberal Bealiba, VIC investment
BANKS, Julia Liberal Malvern, VIC residential
BANKS, Julia Liberal Mornington Pensinsula, VIC residential
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Mudgeeraba, QLD investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Palm Beach (unit), QLD investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Ayr, QLD investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Deniliquin (unit), NSW investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Deniliquin (unit), NSW investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Deniliquin (unit), NSW investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Forbes (unit), NSW investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Forbes (unit), NSW investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Kalgoorlie (unit), WA investment
ANDREWS, Karen Liberal Clear Island Waters, QLD residential

A normal day

April 18, 2017

photoflooded river

If I ever become a Turkish-like president with total power, the first thing on the agenda would be to ban religious Easter and Christmas holidays, and replace those with having ‘normal days’.  I have never understood that the birth of a baby in the manger surrounded by poor unemployed people while breathed over by animals with the nailing and crucifixion of that same grown-up baby years later should be cause for holidaying and partying. No wonder the  world is so mixed up. When or why did those fondants, chocolate eggs make their entrée? Why not rye-bread or herrings? We would all be so much healthier!

You can always tell when those events come close. Shoppers get nervous and stock up on Nuroven pain relief tablets, chocolate, different stripy sugar sticks, and stool softening medications. Kids sky-high on chocolate-eggs and slushies, go on a skate-boarding rampage. I was nearly killed by a skate-board riding kid yesterday while walking along with Milo. He could not have seen me. His vision obscured by such a voluminous hair jungle, I wondered if it held monkeys. How could he find his way around?  Our grandsons too have skate-boards. They go to town carrying them about. It signals that they too are part of this group and to be reckoned with. I gave them a talk-to, be careful around the elderly, not to try and kill them. The elderly  have a right to a life and footpath too. They did try and listen but I noticed their thoughts going off at a tangent. That’s normal too.

Here in Bowral, autumn is mid-way and at its best. Busloads of Chinese tourists disgorge themselves, and were seen to take selfies with a Liquid Amber or a Claret Ash in the back ground. The ochre-coloured massive Oak trees near our place groaning under the weight of dying foliage. Its raining with leaves, soon to get picked up by giant Council vacuuming machines. Tons of leaves will return in mulch and used in spring when the cycle starts all over again. This is what I like about ‘normal’ days.  Time doesn’t stand still. It goes on.

Perhaps after all those years, I have come to accepts the noise of those mechanical gardening devices. Gutters are being sucked out, pavements are being blown free of leaves, the lawnmowers on their last mow now. Edges trimmed once more. The much beloved nature strip will soon become quiet and its grass asleep. Tomorrow at the crack of dawn, the garbage trucks will rattle along picking up the bins. It is normal and so life affirming.

On the advice of my dentist to get a yearly check-up I made an appointment with a doctor at 3pm. I wonder what they will find wrong? The dentist (Craig) reckons a yearly blood test should be performed regularly when getting older. Helvi admonished me and said; “You go to get a check-up because of the dentist? Yet I have told you repeatedly to get a check-up. What is wrong with you?”

It is all so normal.

Relaxing in the Dentist’s chair

April 12, 2017
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Birds always understand

“Isn’t it about time you get your teeth looked at?” That was one of the first things my wife came up with one early morning rising out of bed. “Why, I asked,  is there something about my teeth that kept you awake?” “You were gnashing them, all night,” she said  stroppily. “Oh, great, lets compare your snoring with my teeth gnashing,” I replied, ready for combat. “It isn’t just your gnashing,.” Helvi said. “Oh boy, is there more,” I said  warming up into a nice marital fencing?  “Yes, but for now, can you just turn away from me while you are talking, you have either not brushed your teeth last night or you got something sinister travelling inside your mouth”, she said. I thought that was quite a funny thing to say. She won.

I took the hint, and made an appointment with the local dentist. It was some years since I last visited one. Helvi had already made several visits to this new dentist who has his practise inside an old weather-board cottage. The outside is painted a stark white. The picket fence at the front is also pearly white. By squinting and using imaginary projections it is almost possible to see a perfectly formed white toothed mouth. There is a board hanging outside; ‘Family Dentist.’ The gleaming whiteness of it all is the best advertisement for this dental surgery. It impressed us enough, and that is the reason why Helvi decided to get her teeth checked out there. She is not scared of dentists. Not many women are.

She had already warmed me up by telling me that this dentist is very calm who explains the procedure in the greatest detail. Helvi seemed very impressed. I like calmness in dentists and would certainly not have my teeth fixed by a nervous or very agitated dentist.

I arrived promptly at 10.30 am and was met by a very nice bare armed secretary. She wore a blue floral shirt with a white open collar. Her previously mentioned arms were decorated with a modest arrangement of silver bangles around her wrists. There were no other adornments, not even earrings. She seemed kind and reassuring. If I was a dog I would not have minded being walked around town for a bit by her. I would definitely try and refrain from lifting my hind leg.

She gave me a large sheet to fill in. The sheet had all sorts of questions regarding any illnesses or diseases, suffering at present or suffered in the past. Was I pregnant etc? One question that stood out, and shows how far we have arrived in how people are now considered with so much more dignity and empathy was; Was I nervous and if so; what was my level of nervousness? I filled in that I had no nervousness at all. If the secretary had been less friendly and welcoming, I could well have answered with honesty ,and filled in ‘very bloody nervous.’ I can’t say that dentists and I have ever been close soul mates.

I also signed that I took all responsibility and more importantly would pay in full after each treatment. I sat down and waited for the dentist to call me in. The walls of the waiting room were adorned with nice pictures, all meant to calm and ready us. There were some magazines but no hunting or car racing magazines. No deadly accidents or photos of shot pigs.

I was called in by Craig and we shook hands. He was the dentist. It is always comforting when first names are being used by the medical fraternity. I can’t imagine that being normal back in Holland where things used to be much more formal. Perhaps that has changed as well. It is all becoming friendlier, I hope. The dental chair is what struck me first. I have never seen a chair so modern. It had in front a screen on which a projection of a photo of a grizzly bear in a forest was shown. I had hardly absorbed this image when it was replaced with a penguin surrounded by a vast polar expanse, all white. The penguin was large and I suppose it might have been an Emperor. It all looked very nice and peaceful

Craig sat down and crossed his legs in an amicable fashion. He explained in a friendly and calming manner what he was going to do and after perusing my medical sheet, he promised “no great drama.” “You have no medical problems now nor in the past.” He reassured me, and he chatted on how long he had been practising his dentistry art. “Your wife told me you used to have a farm”, he added.

It was after this brief chat that he examined my mouth. His assistant took my glasses, hearing aids and other paraphernalia around and inside my mouth. We are going to take some x-rays, he said. All in all nothing too intrusive. It was over fairly quickly. “It will take about three visits,” he said. “There are some teeth that are split and there is a built up of tartar, a few fillings have come out. Nothing insurmountable.”

I was ushered back into the waiting room.

Nothing too bad. Almost a nice experience.

 

Using Global Positioning System to the Doctor.

April 10, 2017

Almost There

The arrival of the driverless car can’t come quick enough. There are far too many drivers on the road that should never be allowed near any car, let alone inside a car.  I don’t actually like most other drivers. There can be no greater joy than driving past a car parked along the highway with a flashing police car stationed behind it. The police car has special investigation equipment to know the history of the car and its driver.  The driver in the car just has to wait in the knowledge the policeman will soon come out of their car and present a fine, or worse. The best of those cases are when the driver is asked to get out of the car and told he or she is not allowed to continue driving because of a lost license, levels of inebriation, methamphetamine use, unroadworthiness of the vehicle or heaven knows what else.

This happened to us many years ago when living in Holland. I was a hippy had a perm done, smoked bongs. Helvi did tie-dying and wore long skirts. Both of us listened to Carly Simon and were ardent admirer’s of the late Trotsky without knowing much about it. We converted a Kombi van in which we took trips to Paris. It eventually needed new tyres but were suitably lax in buying them in time. The police in Holland are sharp and  pulled me over. They inspected the tyres and without further ado slashed one of them with a special knife. We bought four new tyres very promptly.

The Pro-Office remind calendar told us that last Saturday a yearly appointment with a specialist  doctor was due in Liverpool. I felt confident enough to take the journey without plugging in our Tomtom GPS. We had done the trip several times before.

Liverpool is one of those chaotic cities that are so common in Australia. Residential homes, factories, commercial unidentifiable building all thrown about as if by a demented architect out on revenge. In between many vacant overgrown with weeds are allotments littered by abandoned trolley or empty baby prams. The inevitable yawning car yard appears in between all the chaos. The words ‘special’ or ‘closing down’ are strewn about like confetti at a drunken Russian wedding with the groom sprawled out on top of a plate of borscht. The Norwegian Edvart Munch’s The Scream pops up as well.

This visual assault is something we struggle with whenever or wherever we travel by car. The soothing voice of the GPS commentator a much needed anchor to keep me grounded within borders of acceptable sanity. It soothes me; ” turn right after 400 metres.” Or, “take the next second exit after the round-a-bout.” It is so becalming and reassuring.

However, as noted I had not put on the GPS. In a moment of inattention I had forgotten to take a turn to the left. A disastrous mistake. On Toll-ways, a mistake can have dire consequences. Helvi remained silent. She knows my limited boundaries in the area of remaining calm and collected. There were no signs of left turns anywhere. A buzzer in my car went off indication a toll charge had been collected. We finally managed to get off this Toll way and soon found the road to Liverpool again. Helvi took me to task and bluntly told me not to go anywhere without plugging in the Tomtom. “Why do you have one?”, she asked not unreasonably.  Followed up by; ” why do you have it in the car?”

We still made it in time to the doctor and were out of his surgery within twenty minutes. “No worries,” Helvi smiled.  To get back on harmonious levels, I made a point of sticking on the GPS and clicked on our ‘home’ address. It guided us back seamlessly. The soothing voice taking me into my previous conviviality.  We stopped on the way home in a nice pub and shared a Napoli pizza. Helvi had an Italian Pinot Gris and I had a nice schooner of stout.

It all came good, but only just.

 

The torture of Dept. of Human Services

April 6, 2017

 

photoSalvia Nr 1

Salvia

Our day will involve getting our travel concession travels sorted out. I  felt so proud a few weeks ago. I finally managed to get our Opal travel cards. This is the card you need when catching trains, buses or even a ferry. You get to tap it on a metal pole at the beginning of the journey as well as at the end. The pole seems to recognize your unique profile and deducts the cost of your travel from this magic card. It seems rather lugubrious that we are now identifiable by plastic cards that we store in our wallets. What happens to my ‘profile’ after I am gone? Will I just be remembered by my Opal card?

It wasn’t an easy journey to finally get this card. A big problem with modernity is that no matter where one goes or what one intents to achieve, one needs to log on to something. The logging on is presented as a heaven on earth. ‘Just log on to some dot.com. and the world is your oyster.’ As if! What they don’t tell you is that as soon as one tries and ‘log on’ it asks for your profile. This is some kind of internet mug shot. To establish this profile one needs a password. This password needs to be well hidden and it is suggested to write it down. I had a booklet of those passwords but I have lost it. Almost all dotcoms tell you to never let anyone know your passwords.  As soon as I got yet another password I quickly used to write it down in my special red coloured password booklet. But this booklet was so well hidden, it is lost.

This in reference to a letter addressed to ‘Dear Gerard.’ from the Dept. of NSW transport. It seems  we are no longer eligible for the Gold Opal card. (because of a change in our circumstances.) We both need to act and cancel our Gold Opal card and change over to a different Opal card. If we don’t we will not only lose our Gold Opal card but also lose any credit that still exists on our present cards.

The sting is that to achieve the change you need to log on to opal.com.au. As my passwords are so well hidden they are lost I can’t log on. However we could also go to a real office and get it changed manually by a Government employee. In an effort to squeeze more money out of the taxpayer many departments are now bundled together into just one. It is called Department of Human Services. I have some experience with it. Human services my a*”se.

A while ago I was fined twice for illegal parking. I checked it out and both parking infringements posted out to me occurred on the same day and at the same time within the same second and minute. How could that be? However, in my gallant effort to get one of those fines cancelled, I just about lost the will to go on. I desperately tried to log on  to the Infringement department of the Motor Transport, even to the extend to request a new password. ( the old one was hidden, remember!)  It was hell, and I was reduced to just incoherently tapping over my computer. Milo looked up and knew something was terribly wrong too.  After recovering I ended up going to the Human Services and had the fine cancelled. The Human Services girls were dressed up in a cheery red uniform but were as difficult to contact as it was on the internet. One told me to stop shouting. I wasn’t shouting.

So, in about an hour or so and after a shower we will go to this Human Services office to try and sort out our Opal travel card. I will keep you informed. I do hope we won’t need our passwords.

 

Why is everything so much more complicated?

 

 

It came to $41.20 without any sugar

April 3, 2017
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Grapes, strawberries and figs.

The $41.20 was the total of our shopping adventure this morning. The day started early. With the change in day-light saving we seem to get up earlier instead of sleeping longer. That sleeping-in, so desired when young, evades us now. I am always glad the night is over. Unless we have to get out shopping and walking, we generally muck about till midday in our pyjamas. Now that winter is knocking, we might consider not even moving out of them at all. We shall see!

We are still reeling somewhat from a range of TV programs whereby eating sugar has been taken under the loupe. I hope millions have watched those TV programs and the dire consequences resulting from eating sugar. It is not just obvious sugar, no it is the hidden sugar in our foods. Most breakfast cereals, sauces, micro-wave foods and almost all processed foods have  lots of sugar.  I thought that a fruit yoghurt was a fairly safe food to ingest. Wrong! That too has ladles of sugar. So have all fruit drinks. Of course, a Coke drink is pure poison. If cigarettes are addictive, the experts reckon so is sugar. The present world epidemic of obesity is all sugar related. Yet,  apart from some brave souls exposing the evils of sugar, our government is eerily quiet. “A personal choice,” they might sometimes whisper behind closed doors.

We have never been fond of sweets and apart from one spoon of sugar in coffee we never take the stuff in anything else. We cook without shop-bought sauces. I suppose those lovely Italian tinned tomatoes have some sugar, as has most bread and pasta. We never drink lemonade or soft drinks, and reckon water is as good a drink as any. But…what about wine? I thought that the sugars in grapes convert into alcohol. Is that so? I hope so. I would not like to give up my love of the afternoon ritual sitting in the garden talking with Helvi while sipping wine.

Milo knows the ritual and we bring his cushion out. A creature of habit. He sees me filling a glass with Shiraz and he bolts towards the back-yard sliding doors. He loves us doing that. So, I do hope that there isn’t too much sugar in wine, even if just for Milo’s sake.

It is amazing that most of our modern dietary habits have been installed by the large Multi Corporations. I remember the large Coca Cola truck rolling into our primary schools in Holland giving all children a free Coca Cola. This was during the mid nineteen- fifties. It was the beginning of the end. We seem powerless against the intrusion into our lives by those large businesses that profit from spreading premature deaths to millions all over the world. Deaths that can easily be avoided by not eating so much sugar.  The health costs eventually will force government to act and stand up to the likes of MacDonald, KFC, Cadbury and all those other perfidious multi nationals. I noticed that some school kids during sport wear caps with the McDonald logo on it. How is that possible?  Where are the protesting parents?

In those programs the large corporations were asked about their responsibility in all that obesity. They avoided it by denying the evils of sugar. The same tactics used by cigarette companies.

But getting back to our shopping bill. The $41.20 included;  a man’s flannel pyjamas (XL), a bottle of Precious Earth Shiraz,  a four pack of salmon cutlets, a bar of Dove soap, a bunch of broccolini, three avocadoes, Cherri tomatoes, a tin of Italian tomatoes and four bananas. There might have been another item but I threw away the receipt.

 

The Spiritual Famine in Australia

March 31, 2017

It wasn’t always like that, but now it is, and so well entrenched too. One hardly dares to put on the TV. Night after night we get these terrible pictures and images of war. Anxious faces of children not even knowing if the person taking the footage is friend or foe. And yet, Australia imprisons those victims of terrible wars. I know of no better way to describe of what Australia has turned into than to quote a foreword by well-known Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas on a book, “They cannot take to the Sky.” It is written by several authors concerned how Australia is treating refugees

The foreword was published by The Guardian.

“In Australia in 2017, They Cannot Take the Sky is also necessary. For nearly two decades now, Australian politics has been corrupted by a toxic and destructive national debate about asylum seekers and refugees. Unfortunately, fought out as much across media – traditional and digital – as it has in our parliament, the issue of asylum has become inexorably entwined with our security and existential fears arising from the threats of international terrorism.

Our leaders, across the political spectrum, have failed in the democratic imperative to ensure a cogent and humane approach to the issue. In fanning the hysteria of partisanship they have betrayed our trust. That great leveller, history, will ultimately judge us on what kind of country we created for ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century. This isn’t the place for political analysis. All I want to suggest is that in all the screaming across the parliament floor or on social media, we forget that the asylum seeker and the refugee is a real person, with a real body and a real consciousness, that they are as human as we are.

We know that the detention centres we have built on our continent, on Nauru and on Manus Island, are not places we would ever countenance imprisoning Australians. We know what we have done. We don’t need history to instruct us on that.

The stories in this book – these accounts, these testaments – they are all a form of witnessing to what occurred during our watch over the last twenty years. There are moments of brutality and incomprehension; how can it be else? But there are also moments of great humour, of inspiration and of almost heartbreaking generosity. Time and time again, a voice will offer thanks to the individual kindness of an Australian that dared to visit a refugee in prison, that offered assistance as the newcomer tried to navigate their way in a foreign and perplexing country.

These stories also act to break down the cumulative and dangerous stereotyping of refugees as having always the identical and same experience. These storytellers are not only Muslim or Afghani or Tamil; they are also, and just as importantly, mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters, artists or students, workers or scientists, lovers both straight and gay. Some of them embody the rawness and fury of youth and some the wisdom and caution of age. The cumulative effect is one of a great and powerful chorus that sings the possibility of a hope that Australia has been denying itself, the enrichment that comes from openness and charity.

Hani writes, “I realised that freedom is not walking free. It means to be free mentally and physically.” Chained to policies that we all know in our hearts to be destructive and inhuman, can it be said that we Australians are truly free?

Many years ago now, I was having a drink with a cousin in Athens. We were talking and drinking late into the night and as it will always be with a Greek, we were furiously discussing politics and history. She was reflecting on the White Australia Policy and arguing that if we had not had such a racist attitude to the immigrant in the late 1930s, there would have been a generation of Jewish artists, scientists and intellectuals who might have made Australia their home. “Think of it,” she said, grabbing my hand and holding it tight, “Think of what your country could be if you had not had such stupid laws.”  

They Cannot Take the Sky is full of great writing. I hope that in the future that many of the narrators will be the writers of a great new wave of Australian literature. Their experiences as refugees cannot be forgotten, that will always inform the work that they do. But I can’t wait to hear their stories of Australia and their stories of the world. I wish my country were not beholden to stupid and wicked laws that gutless men and women created out of fear and ignorance; and yes, out of venality and the lust for power.”