Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

A peculiar lack of Empathy.

October 22, 2018

IMG_1163Violets etc

The new member of Parliament in the Federal seat of Wentworth is now Dr Kerryn Phelps.  She is an independent. A stunning victory whereby this seat held since Federation by the Liberals has changed for the first time overcoming a 19% majority held by the previous ex-Prime Mister, Malcolm Turnbull. He vacated the seat after he was turfed out by his own Government. He quickly left Australia for NYC.

Dr Kerryn Phelps was known for her strong stance on Same Sex Marriage with Wentworth being one of the most progressive pro SSM seats during last year’s referendum. She now wants the Government to take notice of climate change. The refusal to act on climate change is partly due because the right wing of the Liberals, including the present PM, Scott Morrison, don’t believe in climate change. The right wing of the Liberal party primarily believe in keeping the status quo. They like nothing better than sticking to burning coal and a fearless unrelenting punishments for off-shore held refugees.

The present Liberal-National party has lost their one seat majority. Things are going to be difficult to pass legislation with the independent cross benchers now holding the strings.

Dr Phelps promises to  use her independence to get the Government to take urgent action on climate change, and to bring the refugees home to Australia. At present they are held on off-shore islands; Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island. A petition signed by thousands of doctors presented to the Government is demanding that the children and their parents be allowed into Australia for processing. http://medicalrepublic.com.au/doctors-unite-drive-change-refugee-policy/17267

The Government might well have to be forced to take action on the refugees. The rumblings of international criticisms of our present policy on refugees are getting louder. The abhorrence on learning that children of ten are googling how to commit suicide, the sacking of all Medicine sans Frontier personal from Nauru is pointing out the cruelty of off-shore detention.

The Government is now also finally heeding the offer from New-Zealand willing to take 150 refugees from Nauru. So far the Morrison and previous Turnbull Government have refused to consider this proposal.  They argue, that it would give the refugees a ‘back-door’ chance to visit Australia. However, the US has taken a couple of hundred refugees without this apparent condition being attached to their freedom from the Nauru hell-hole! Is it so much more difficult to come to Australia from the US as it is from New Zealand ? The mind boggles.

Where does this urge to keep punishing those vulnerable refugees come from? I found some observation by the Australian Author and academic,  Jill Kerr Conway enlightening. Jill Kerr Conway was the first woman to take the Presidency of the Smith College in the US. She found Australia to be lacking in appreciating women for top jobs and moved permanently to the US. She died a few months ago, aged 84. Her book, ‘The road from Coorain,’ is a masterpiece.

She seems to argue that the hundreds of  thousands of emigrants who left their European homelands to go to the US, Canada, and Australia, must have keenly felt the pains of being up-rooted  suffering aching alienation. The children of the great European migration made up for this loss by, in the US at least, making Hollywood the purveyor of happy endings. This convention was a comfort for those who might have felt or were unwilling to face the possibility that the journey was not worth the uprooting.

In Australia I always thought that the migrants made the best of it by going wildly overboard by the ‘own-home’ on ‘own block of land’ achievements. A peculiar Australian phenomenon. It seems to have calmed down lately. Many young people are happy to ditch this form of idealisation and are now happily renting.

In any case, not much seems to have been studied on how this migration has been part in forming the Australia psyche. How many have studied the history of how it felt like to be transported to Australia, by the convicts, or the children of men and women condemned to forced labor? Has this early convict start and continuation of it by those hundreds of thousands of migrants milling around the fore-shores and migrant camps given the foundation to this ‘muddling through’ within our own political milieu?

Again,  our Prime Minister Mr. Morrison has reiterated that if some of the refugees were to be transferred to New Zealand from Manus, its (New Zealand) Government must give an iron clad guaranty that none of them or their children, will ever be given or allowed a visa to Australia. Not even for a holiday.

Ignoring why refugees would even want to visit the land of their torturers, how insanely revengeful is this proposal? It shows how deliberate and wilful the utter degradation of refugees, so desired by some of our politicians, has become. What have the refugees done?

Let’s all hope Dr Phelps will help to make an end to this sad history and restore Australia’s world standing.

Where does the cruelty come from though?

 

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The King Parrot is happy too.

October 18, 2018

IMG_0144King Parrot.PNG

Jeffrey Sachs spelled it out on one of our Q&A TV programmes a couple of weeks ago. Good social conditions and support makes all the difference. Paying liveable incomes to the unemployed, pensioners or the disabled does not cause cultural collapse as is often touted by extreme capitalist leaders. The list of ‘happy countries’ proves that. Our PM and cohorts often cite that giving ‘free’ money makes people avoid work and lazy, encourages decadence as seen by SSM community now demanding wedding cakes. Unbelievable!

Countries that seem to be on top of the happiness scale each year, by and large, are also enjoying social democratic Governments. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Iceland  Finland. They prove that good social conditions improve employment, reduces crime and homelessness. It makes for ‘happiness.’

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“Based on a global ranking of happiness levels across 156 countries, Finland has claimed the No. 1 spot in this year’s World Happiness Report.

Now in its sixth year, the World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The organization, along with three economists from Columbia University, the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics’ Center for Economic Performance, created the report using data from the Gallup World Poll to reveal which countries are happy and why.

The report was released on March 14, less than a week before the United Nations celebrates World Happiness Day on March 20.

This year, the United States ranked No. 18 — falling four spots from last year and five from two years ago — “in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression,” according to World Happiness Report co-editor and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Over the past two years, the world’s top 10 happiest countries have remained the same, but have slightly shuffled positions. Through a measurement of happiness and well-being called the “Cantril ladder,” Gallup asked nationally representative populations to value their lives on a scale from 0 to 10, with the worst possible life valued at 0 and the best valued at 10.

The top countries frequently have high values for all six of the key variables that contribute to overall well-being: income (GDP per capita), healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust (absence of corruption) and generosity.”

Will the Refugees on Nauru be allowed into Australia?

October 15, 2018

Inside the race for Wentworth

Inside the race for Wentworth

A storm is brewing in Sydney’s fanciest suburbs, where some lifelong Liberal voters have told the ABC they are preparing to break ranks for the first time at the looming Wentworth by-election.

It is a fair bet, and I hope it will, that this blue-ribbon seat will go to the independent Kerryn Phelps. This Liberal seat was last held by our former Prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who was  sacked a few weeks ago by his own party. The present PM, Scott Morrison is a fervent Pentecostal  believer holding anti SSM opinions. He is now fighting to keep a law in place that will allow Government funded private religious schools keep the right to sack gay or LBGTQ teachers. This has caused a furore in Australia whose residents voted overwhelmingly in favour of Same Sex Marriage less than a year ago. The seat of Wentworth has been held by the Liberals since Federation.

This Prime Minister also proudly displays a small trophy on his desk showing a metal coloured boat, backed by a timber board with the lettering, “we stopped the Boats.”Mr Morrison is mightily proud he was so successful in keeping thousands of refugees on several off-shore islands, including the small island nation of Nauru. As you all know, the tragedy of those that have spent years on those islands have been subjected to the worst torture of all, the loss of all hope. Last week the Government of Nauru kicked out the only few remaining people volunteering for Medicine Sans Frontières who helped the refugees with their unimaginable plight of staying alive.

The residents of Wentworth, although traditionally liberal, do hold a much more progressive ideology and were second of having the most votes in favour of SSM. They also do not like the way both the Liberals and the Labor party keep refusing to abide by international law to allow refugees, irrespective of their mode of travel, to be dealt with humanely and on-shore. There is now an increasingly growing disquiet about the plight of refugees held off-shore. It has become a large issue in Wentworth and the rest of Australia. People are concerned about the international consequences of flaunting international law.

Will Australia say ‘I am sorry’ in a few years time? Please read the link below.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/14/kerryn-phelps-urges-wentworth-voters-to-use-byelection-to-protest-inhumane-refugee-policies

View from inside.

October 10, 2018

 

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The view from inside.

This photo was taken from inside our home through the open sliding glass doors. So, no matter how the outside world sometimes seems, the real world is how we deal with the chaos. No better way than to look at a garden. It brings back the importance of  things that matter. It cannot but lift the spirit. Talk about spirit. Our PM Mr Scott Morrison claims to be a spiritual man. Yet, he had no hesitation to promote Sydney’s Opera house to be used as Australia’s biggest billboard. I don’t understand how such a self proclaimed Pentecostal spiritual  pious and religious man can have no qualms about assaulting such an important spiritual cultural Icon. One wonders if he ever contemplates the beauty of a garden or listens to music, read a book! There has to be a hiatus there. Something us missing. Something is wrong!

You know the ducks know a thing or two. One seems to be looking at one of the clivias. The other one, his mate, is looking direct at my camera. On top of the little table is a plate with mixed seeds that the birds flock to. It really is a world on its own. The Alyssums do help create magic together with the Mock Orange, the Spathiphyllum  and white Cyclamen.

Here is a beautiful piece of magic singing. One of my favourites. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes. I don’t know why.

 

Potpourri.

September 4, 2018
Image result for Westminster system

The last few weeks has been an amazing  period. In politics it is not just the imaginable that happens but the impact of the unimaginable which has infiltrated our Australian psyche.  Who would have thought that Peter Dutton would think himself worthy of the Prime Ministership? A man without compassion towards asylum seekers, but overflowing with it when it comes to granting visas to foreign (white) au pair girls.

It was fortunate that it did not happen. Our previous PM, Mr Turnbull, now in NY City. No doubt glad to be away from the mess. He must have wondered what happened. The Government will not ‘sit’ till the 10th of September. I expect the fireworks to start all over again and predict there could well be another spill.

Liberal (Republican) female politicians are lining up with claims of bullying that made one of them even resign. A male punch drunk Politician urged females to ‘roll with the punches’. Last night an unscrupulous expert in insults and well-known shock jock media personality, urged women politicians to take a spoonful of cement and learn to ‘toughen up.’

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-03/lucy-gichuhi-threatens-to-name-liberals-who-bullied-her/10196432

The real truth of all that turmoil and personal fighting came finally through. Coyly at first but none the less, finally an honest revelation. First it was one politician and the next day another one. Both answered when asked about the turmoil and chaos, the claims of bullying etc. In essence, this is what they said.

“Our political system depends on fighting and personal battles. It is the Westminster system. The adversarial way of governing. Fighting each other is the very essence of parliamentary behaviour.” “We hold each other to account.”

Mix that with parliamentary privilege, unable to sue for libel or defamation, and you have the perfect mode for endless personal fighting and bullying. Seeking consensus and working together is an anomaly in the British system.

Last but not least, the urging of the extreme right to restrict immigration and only allow those that will hold-up our traditional Australian values. Did anyone see the irony that when the new Ministry was signed in by the Governor general, each and every one of the new ministers gave their signed allegiance not to Australia but to the Queen of England?

Cheerful.

August 15, 2018
Image result for cheerfulness drawing

Helvi said, just out of the blue. ‘You are not so cheerful lately, Gerard’. ‘Is something the matter?’ I am suspicious of too much cheerfulness. It can be exhausting to be with people who are so busy being cheerful. What are they hiding? Anyway, I took notice of what I was told. I promised to look into  it.

Part of the problem is the news. Women can be so nasty. I can’t believed how Emma Husar was treated.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-24/embattled-labor-mp-emma-husar-takes-personal-leave/10030986

Women can be nice and caring to other women as long as they are not prettier in looks or higher up the professional scale. They are more ruthless in their bitchiness than men. Men often support each other, even giving the other man a bit of a leg up. I know they can be bastards too. But for backstabbing and demolishing; in many cases women outdo men.

Of course, for a while the ‘Me Too’ movement had me convinced men were the worst of the five sexes. I could hardly look myself in the mirror. I am so careful  at the check-outs at Aldi’s. I keep at least three feet away from the trolley in front if a woman is in charge. I now look at onions instead of a cleavage. I don’t want to be hauled away by the police.

Female bitchiness start young. Even at school age they can’t wait to claw and tear into each other. Mother and daughter relationships are often more volatile than males. In the bullying on-line, it’s the girls that seem to outdo the boys. Females are supposed to be the nurturers. But why is that so often lacking between the women? Perhaps they are forever competing with each other. Wanting to be better dressers, better mothers, better shoppers, better looking. I don’t think men do that. If a woman notices  the same dress being worn by someone else, they feel mortified. Can you imagine a man noticing another one wearing the same jacket, tie or shoes? They could not care less.

On the other hand one can hardly enthuse about Trump or cheer our own version of Malcolm Turnbull. Hardly role models for compassion and effusive caring or sharing. It is so difficult. By now I ought to have firm views about those matters. With ageing there is no clearer insight. Perhaps cheerfulness is poisoned by news.

I did feel cheerful this morning at about 8.20 when the news came about that the senator who used the term ‘final solution’ to strengthen his idea of banning all Muslims from entering Australia was condemned by all parties. My cheerfulness lasted more than twelve minutes.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/15/mps-widely-condemn-fraser-annings-final-solution-speech

Can you believe it?

Court orders that boy, 10, at risk of suicide on Nauru be treated in Australia

July 8, 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/21/court-orders-that-boy-10-at-risk-of-suicide-on-nauru-be-treated-in-australia

Refugee girl at risk of suicide to be moved from Nauru to Australia after court action

Exclusive: earlier calls to move 14-year-old were refused but decision reversed as court action began

Amnesty image claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.
Amnesty image claiming to show children playing near a fence at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru. Photograph: Reuters

A 14-year-old refugee girl who had attempted suicide on Nauru.

For the third time a Court had to force the Australian Government to allow children in detention at risk from suicide, to be transferred from their detention on Nauru to get medical treatment in Australia.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/07/refugee-girl-at-risk-of-suicide-to-be-moved-from-nauru-to-australia-after-court-action

I never imagined that I would end up living in a country that wilfully and deliberately prevent children under the care of Australian Government and in permanent detention with risk of dying, get access to medical care in Australia.

Let’s not pretend that Australia is not in breach of Human Rights.

How low can we go?

June 22, 2018

In America;

In Australia.
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In Nazi Germany.
Image result for jews in nazi germany

Soccer between France and Australia.

June 17, 2018

 

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe.

There is always a first time. Helvi scanned the TV programme for Saturday evening and as the pickings were a bit slim, surprised me by saying; ‘why don’t we watch the soccer?’ We never watch any sport. When sport comes on the TV, we slink away to clear the table or use the time to put the dishes in the sink, feed Milo, only to return when the weather forecast comes on. We are not against sport. There is just too much of it. At my social bowling-club I am often embarrassed when I am asked what I thought of the latest rugby or AFL match. I don’t understand the game or the scoring and so often read players being up for drug charges, glassing girlfriends, sexual misconduct, drunkenness etc. I always though that playing with an oblong ball must result in a warped personality and deviousness

.

You can imagine my surprise when Helvi suggested to watch the world soccer match beamed live on the TV. I always felt that if sport was anywhere on her radar, it would be soccer. I agreed that to settle down to watch Australia play soccer against France it would be a first in our long term marriage or relationship. People are in relationships rather than marriages. Does it have a tinge of sophistication now?

The weather outside was atrocious. The wind was howling and the forecast was for snow down to 700 metres. We are at 500 metres above the sea on the cusp of snow or at least a bucketing of sleet. Helvi had already packed up the Kalanchoes who don’t like cold. The cyclamen were jubilant in eager anticipation of a nice cyclonic frost. The violets are more indifferent and like extremes of weather, cold or heat. Those brave little souls.

The TV was put on the right soccer channel, the shiraz uncorked. I threw all caution to the wind. The cheese, olives and other delicacies on the coffee table. I turned the thermostat to 25C.  I thought it so typical and lovely for Helvi so often to make the best of things, and in such a surprising and creative way. The thing with soccer is that the ball is round and generally goes towards its intended destination. The ball is also used to kick it instead of being (Illegally) carried around under the arm as in rugby. No-one in soccer will ever grapple with each other either. In a rugby scrum one could be forgiven in thinking that maybe it isn’t only the ball they are trying to grapple with. Who knows what goes on between all those legs, arms and bums?

We enjoyed the soccer immensely and so badly wanted Australia to win. As it turned out there were some dodgy calls and hints of video evidence being ignored favouring France. They finished up winning 2-1. Australia played very well, and even though they lost on a faulty technicality, can walk proud into the future.

Helvi and I had a great evening. Who could have thought that so late in life we watched soccer game?

It is never too late!

Can the pumpkin save the world?

June 7, 2018

IMG_0075Salvia.JPG

Salvia

 

The world is holding its breath. Soon, Kim Jong Un and  Donald Trump will meet and hopefully come to an agreement on their weaponry. I wonder who is more of a dictator now? With Trump seemingly able to pardon himself for any wrongdoing, I reckon they are both neck on neck with claiming the winner of the race to an ultimate dictatorship.

Helvi and I often end up discussing politics. She is getting more and more despondent about the situation in Australia. ‘So little is decided and so little is being done’ , she said last night. ‘There is so much of nothingness in Australia now.’ We are still living of the success of SSM but for how long will that continue to nurture us? The same old stuff seems to get regurgitated over and over. I was a young and ambitious man when the second Sydney  airport was discussed. Has anyone heard anything about that lately? The same with education. All sorts of rapports and tests but nothing improves. The only time we read about it, it talks about a student getting a haircut or how the school bullying has resulted in misery and suicide. Anything about the fast trains or how the hydro electricity in the Snowy mountains is progressing?  Plastic shopping bags and non deposit glass was dealt with and banned in Holland in the seventies.

The only positive that has happened is that pumpkins are now for sale at 99c a kilo. We do not need to just live of the glory of SSM!  We rushed out and stocked up for the rest of the winter. Nothing can be more positive than a nice pumpkin and what can be made of it. A warning though!. There are hidden dangers. Pumpkins, sharp knives and over- enthusiastic cooks have often come to grief.

We snapped up four pumpkins for starters, with a large bag of potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic, lots of garlic. We noticed many doing the same. It seems that the message of good diets might be getting through. Some shoppers still try to sneak in a carton of Coke or lemonade but you can tell by their furtive eye movements that they are battling with their conscience. I used to give them stern looks but in my dotage have mellowed, and now manage a generous smile of understanding. I too used to sip a Coke!

Going back to my pumpkins. A good friend said that she never peels the pumpkin. It is even possible to bake an entire pumpkin without even cutting it in half. This is the wonder of having friends that share cooking and politics. I never knew one could bake an entire pumpkin. There I was sharpening my chopper and large knife including, a filleting knife (from Finland) trying to cut my pumpkin in sizeable portions to be baked in the oven. I never just boil pumpkin without first baking it together with the leeks, garlic and onions drizzled with a nice olive oil. There used to be a bar near central Sydney railway where you could actually sit on a stool and sample different oils and vinegars.

That’s what I miss here in Bowral. It is all so Anglo and nice! We have a lot of different salvias growing. The gardeners were here today, and I just said (in jest) in the presence of a neighbour peering at our salvias. ‘You know, this salvia is very good for rolling and smoking! In some US states it is forbidden to grow it because it can give you the smile of an angel and mildly hallucinates.’ The neighbour looked wry. Helvi kicked me in the shin.

Anyway, from now on I will not peel pumpkin. It will just be part of the soup. I add a little chilli with a good spoonful of turmeric. After baking it for 30 minutes I whisk the lot to a fine harmonious and mellow yellow soup. It is truly a magic dish.

My suggestion is to Singapore and the meeting between those giants of atomic might, to be given the best chance of peace resolution and give them this pumpkin soup lavishly, with dollops of sour cream and crusty sour-dough bread .

A food worthy of peace.