Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Trump-Turnbull and refugees. Full Transcript of phone conversation.

August 5, 2017
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Asylum seekers on Manus Island.

There are about 1800 refugees on Manus and Nauru facing their fourth year in detention.

“Australia maintains one of the most restrictive immigration detention systems in the world – Australian Human Rights Commission.”

http://www.smh.com.au/world/full-transcript-donald-trump-and-malcolm-turnbull-telephone-conversation-20170803-gxp13g.html

 

“The President: Mr. Prime Minister, how are you?

Prime Minister Turnbull: I am doing very well.

The President: And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?

Prime Minister Turnbull: He is a great mutual friend yes.

The President: Well you say hello to him. He is a very good friend. By the way thank you very much for taking the call. I really appreciate it. It is really nice.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Thank you very much. Everything is going very well. I want to congratulate you and Mike Pence on being sworn in now. I have spoken to you both now as you know. I know we are both looking to make our relationship which is very strong and intimate, stronger than ever – which I believe we can do.

The President: Good.

Prime Minister Turnbull: I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together.

The President: That is exactly right. We do have similar backgrounds and it seems to be working in this climate – it is a crazy climate. Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing – it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Absolutely. We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day and one of your immigration advisors in the White House we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach. We are very much of the same mind. It is very interesting to know how you prioritize the minorities in your Executive Order. This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90% of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken – I have been very open about it – is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down – the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities. We have seen that in Iraq and so from our point of view, as a final destination for refugees, that is why we prioritize. It is not a sectarian thing. It is recognition of the practical political realities. We have a similar perspective in that respect.

The President: Do you know four years ago Malcom, I was with a man who does this for a living. He was telling me, before the migration, that if you were a Christian from Syria, you had no chance of coming to the United States. Zero. They were the ones being persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean their heads were being chopped off. If you were a Muslim we have nothing against Muslims, but if you were a Muslim you were not persecuted at least to the extent – but if you were a Muslim from Syria that was the number one place to get into the United States from. That was the easiest thing. But if you were a Christian from Syria you have no chance of getting into the United States. I just thought it was an incredible statistic. Totally true – and you have seen the same thing. It is incredible.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Well, yes. Mr. President, can I return to the issue of the resettlement agreement that we had with the Obama administration with respect to some people on Nauru and Manus Island. I have written to you about this and Mike Pence and General Flynn spoke with Julie Bishop and my National Security Advisor yesterday. This is a very big issue for us, particularly domestically, and I do understand you are inclined to a different point of view than the Vice President.

The President: Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else – and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground. You know Malcom, anybody that has a problem – you remember the Mariel boat lift, where Castro let everyone out of prison and Jimmy Carter accepted them with open arms. These were brutal people. Nobody said Castro was stupid, but now what are we talking about is 2,000 people that are actually imprisoned and that would actually come into the United States. I heard about this – I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said – geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favor, not in favor, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Can you hear me out Mr. President?

The President: Yeah, go ahead.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Yes, the agreement, which the Vice President just called the Foreign Minister about less than 24 hours ago and said your Administration would be continuing, does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States – this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.

The President: Who made the deal? Obama?

Prime Minister Turnbull: Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process. So that is the first thing. Secondly, the people – none of these people are from the conflict zone. They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them. They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them.

The President: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

Prime Minister Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people –

The President: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

Prime Minister Turnbull: This is our experience.

The President: Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries. These people are crazy to let this happen. I spoke to Merkel today, and believe me, she wishes she did not do it. Germany is a mess because of what happened.

Prime Minister Turnbull: I agree with you, letting one million Syrians walk into their country. It was one of the big factors in the Brexit vote, frankly.

The President: Well, there could be two million people coming in Germany. Two million people. Can you believe it? It will never be the same.

Prime Minister Turnbull: I stood up at the UN in September and set up what our immigration policy was. I said that you cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders. The bottom line is that we got here. I am asking you as a very good friend. This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want. As I have said, your homeland officials have visited and they have already interviewed these people. You can decide. It is at your discretion. So you have the wording in the Executive Order that enables the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to admit people on a case by case basis in order to conform with an existing agreement. I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia. I say this to you sincerely that it is in the mutual interest of the United States to say, “yes, we can conform with that deal – we are not obliged to take anybody we do not want, we will go through extreme vetting” and that way you are seen to show the respect that a trusted ally wants and deserves. We will then hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country 31 [inaudible] that you need to move on from.

The President: Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

Prime Minister Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

The President: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

Prime Minister Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting. I think that what you could say is that the Australian government is consistent with the principles set out in the Executive Order.

The President: No, I do not want say that. I will just have to say that unfortunately I will have to live with what was said by Obama. I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

Prime Minister Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically –

The President: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison. I am doing this because Obama made a bad deal. I am not doing this because it fits into my Executive Order. I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.

Prime Minister Turnbull: But can I say to you, there is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.

The President: Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows that you are a committed –

The President: Okay, this shows me to be a dope. I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honor a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed. You have to see what I am doing. I am unlocking deals that were made by people, these people were incompetent. I am not going to say that it fits within the realm of my Executive Order. We are going to allow 2,000 prisoners to come into our country and it is within the realm of my Executive Order? If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope. The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

Prime Minister Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.

The President: How does that help you?

Prime Minister Turnbull: Well, we assume that we will act in good faith.

The President: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

Prime Minister Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

The President: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

Prime Minister Turnbull: Correct, we have stopped the boats.

The President: Give them to the United States. We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me. This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardino’s or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time.

Prime Minister Turnbull: These guys are not in that league. They are economic refugees.

The President: Okay, good. Can Australia give me a guarantee that if we have any problems – you know that is what they said about the Boston bombers. They said they were wonderful young men.

Prime Minister Turnbull: They were Russians. They were not from any of these countries.

The President: They were from wherever they were.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment. The numbers are not 2,000 but 1,250 to start. Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take. The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.

The President: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

Prime Minister Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea. So what we say is, we will decide which people get to come to Australia who are refugees, economic migrants, businessmen, whatever. We decide. That is our decision. We are a generous multicultural immigration nation like the United States but the government decides, the people’s representatives decides. So that is the point. I am a highly transactional businessman like you and I know the deal has to work for both sides. Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.

The President: I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it – START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

Prime Minister Turnbull: You will not.

The President: Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.

Prime Minister Turnbull: You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.

The President: I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]. I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Do you want to talk about Syria and DPRK?

The President: [inaudible] this is crazy.

Prime Minister Turnbull: Thank you for your commitment. It is very important to us.

The President: It is important to you and it is embarrassing to me. It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook.

Prime Minister Turnbull: You can count on me. I will be there again and again.

The President: I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm.”

Only the lonely

February 8, 2017

 

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But where are the people? This was very often a question asked during the time we had foreign students living with us. We lived in Balmain. It is a suburb which many Australians would classify as having medium to high density living. We always look back with fondness of the twenty years we lived there. It is the place where our children grew up. So, how come this question; but where are the people?

The foreign students came from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Germany with a couple from Holland. The question has to be looked at from the perspective of living in cities. Australia right from the start understood it had space.  Space was lacking in England, especially in the big smoked filled cities. Thus the suburban block here was soon to be seen as desirable for people to be housed on. At the beginning, people lived in terrace houses joined together forming complete streets. Balmain was one of those earlier suburbs of Sydney with streets of terrace houses. Parks were everywhere and it still felt very spacious.

However, the foreign students came from cities that were teeming with people. They would form throngs on the streets. I am sure that those that have been to Asia understand there is a huge difference between density of people there in cities compared to here in Australia. It were those people on the streets that the students were sorely missing, even in inner city Balmain.

My parents soon after arrival in 1956 went to live in western Sydney. Real Estate agents and blocks of land were the main topics of conversation amongst the migrants.  We too were swept up into saving a deposit for our ‘own’ block of land.  There was no real understanding of the social consequences in making a choice of where to live.  To be near a rail-station was desirable but as for other desirable needs, it just wasn’t about or questioned. Migrants had a need to have a roof and security of an income, all else was secondary. It was like a fever. One got caught up in the frenzy of making a new life. It was all a bit puzzling for my dad. He was different.

The street that my parents ended up living in was like millions of suburban streets anywhere in Australia. There were people living in houses but you would rarely see them. It felt achingly lonely. Sometimes a curtain would stir or a car would drive by. For me it was deadly, spiritual dehydration. Sure, the petunias and rockeries were plenty. Rosellas would be screeching and flying about and then there was cracker night. This was a yearly event with bon-fire on the street, somehow mysteriously related to Guy Fawkes or something. It was an occasion for neighbours to meet up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

All this in response to having read a lecture by Hugh MacKay. He is a well know social commentator. “The State of the Nation starts in your Street.”

http://theconversation.com/hugh-mackay-the-state-of-the-nation-starts-in-your-street-72264

It seems to fit in what is happening with all that card swiping and waving at poles. We are forced to dealing with less and less people. Banking is done silently in front of an ATM. People buy food on-line and sit at home all sated and possibly overweight. The steel posts at rail stations. Most work will finally be done by  steel posts and robots. Soon we might go to bed enjoying the icy embrace of a steel post or with a rotating robot with a waving of cards giving consent to heaven knows what sexual delights

.

I don’t know what can be done to liven up lonely suburban streets. My mum did her best and was fearless in her search for social contact. It was difficult. All those Venetian blinds and that obsession with privacy. A sign of change is that most people now prefer an apartment close to the city. People do seem to want to live close to each other, able to walk to shops and work. People need people.

We shall see!

The shivers down my spine.

November 7, 2016
Milo with Angels

Milo with Angels

Rain is forecast for today. This prediction might well be the cause of feelings of impending disaster. Just talking about the US election. When I hear intelligent normal people talking how they will vote for Trump one wonders if it is not time to regress a little historically and invoke Godwin’s Law factor. It is assumed that in any conversation, the longer it goes on the more likely the name of Hitler will pop up. The law of averages has proven that.

Prediction are that Clinton will win. She has a waver-thin lead over Trump, but the pull of the dissatisfied in today’s US seems eerily similar to the mood in pre-war Germany which led to the choice ‘by the people’ of a madman. Trump is mad, there can’t be any doubt. Yet, perfectly normal people are now considering throwing rational choice overboard and go for change, any change. They want so desperately to assuage their feelings and suspicions that the greatest nation of their beloved US is in a terminal decline. ‘We will make America great again’ is easier said than done. Yet, that is what Trump has used very effectively to attract the dissatisfied.

Remember the UK’s Brexit? The polls had Cameron clearly ahead. And look at the UK today. All the euphoria of the mad Right evaporated. Things are worse now. At least in the UK they don’t have a madman leading the country. But, there is time yet.

The waning of the might of the US and the waxing of China as the new top nation is what is happening. They forgot the ‘social’ aspect of humanity. Every dog for himself, with the rest of the world seen as a frontier to seduce and overcome.

Australia is also faced with an inability to Govern. It is all about staying in power. How could it have come to this? The children and adult refugees On Nauru and Manus are on the cusp of being re-settled somewhere else. A condition of resettling them elsewhere ( most have been given refugee status) will be that they will NEVER be allowed to enter or visit Australia. It has even been suggested they will be micro-chipped in order to ensure they will be detected at Australian airports.

I hope that the Bernie factor in the US will be a win for Hillary Clinton but I wish I was feeling more optimistic. We will know within a couple of days.

What was that again about Hitler?

The Budget.

May 3, 2016

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.


Our treasurer, Mr Scott Morrison had all the manners of a Moses holding his staff moments before parting the Red Sea. In fact a sea of red and obstinate budget debts is really closer to the truth. In the aftermath of his reading of the budget and recommending it triumphantly to the House, he started to be interviewed and questioned by prominent journalists. Those, whose job it is to keep the finger on the pulse and report back to the population at large. Millions of viewers were glued to the flat screens, sound bars turned up, not a word to be missed.
Innovation, jobs and growth were the catch words.

Now if this was Germany or Finland, the innovation would be pared to alternative energy. You know, solar- wind, saving the planet, showing the world real innovation. Australia, the sunniest and windiest continent in the world, but…no. Not a word. Our PM knows his hands are tied. The old guard fuddy-duddies, the clueless uncles of clinging to the past still holding him to ransom. But, hang on, our Turnbull was going to change and steer us into the future. Get away from onion eating monarchy loving PMs.

Sadly, no such thing. Back to the past and sleep and snore…The LNP the slumber party.

As for the “Almost There,” just a few more days. The final proof has been done, but each time I open the file, another spelling or funny fault turns up. Yesterday an extra f in off. It should have been a single f. I am so sick of reading my own words. It is naval gazing at its worst. A kind of verbal attempt at bungie jumping at the end of a metal chain. A most jarring experience.

But, take heart, dear readers. I am almost ready to send my second book off to the editor, the brilliant David Burton in the UK. This time, the paper-back edition will appear first and then the kindle version. I have dug into my reservoir of short bits on my Word-Press blog and found enough for many publications into the future. In the meantime I will just ramble on as it comes. The aim is to publish the words in book format as well as on WP. I shall also try and upgrade the Heading of my blog, and advertise the books at the top that I have noticed many of you do as well.

There seems to have seeped a certain lethargy into the present. An autumnal sweeping of brown leaves swirling before the bare skeletons of trees shown up stark in the evening chill. Perhaps a trip up North to warm balmy ocean shores is needed. But then again, all that sand and harsh sun-light, bags of tourists’ fries and hamburgers wafting around. We are both lovers of shade and cinnamon. Perhaps a good walk with Milo will do the trick. We will be asked; ‘How old is your Jack Russell?’ ‘He is eleven now.’ ‘Gee, he still looks very young, almost like a puppy.’ Milo looks up, but goes into a fury when a Harley Davidson roars by. He strains at his lead. Intend on killing the bike and rider.

He lifts anyone’s spirit. He really does.

Too many hyphens and inverted commas. An edit!

January 7, 2016

untitled Scheyville

 

1956.

The photo is not mine.

An unforgettable memory etched in my mind was the generosity of the Australian government run Camp in the availability of unlimited supplies of food. It was all free and copious in quantity. The first few days we ate in the very large food hall. You picked up the food by queuing at the kitchen counter with a large plate. You ate what was ladled out. It was mainly very large enormous mutton chops, still glistening in fat with peas and a mountain of mashed potatoes. Sometimes it was sausages and pumpkin. You then carried the full plate back to large tables that had knives and forks already spread out. You sat on benches. We would all tuck in with a vengeance.

You can imagine, most migrants were from post or still on-going war ravaged countries. Hungarians, Czechoslovakians and Bulgarians, many with university degrees. There were refugees who had escaped from German extermination camps that had already spent years roaming from camp to camp in Europe. They were true refugees. Many also from Holland and Germany, Italy and Greece, today classified as ‘economic’ refugees. All of whom were hungry and now in the Promised Land. This Scheyville food hall fed a hungry Europe as never seen before. Some straddled the benches with plates clutched between thighs instead of sitting at the table, so as to be closer to the plate or perhaps of fear the food would get stolen. One large Bulgarian man would chew on his mutton chops pulverising the chop- bone with bare teeth. I looked on in amazement. He did it to impress his country fellowmen much to their amusement and laughter. After the solid food was eaten, one could again tank up or take seconds in the form of a jelly. The jelly was aeroplane jelly. A favourite ad on the radio was ‘I love aeroplane jelly’.

I used to grab slices of bread for afters, scooped up large quantities of IXL jam available on every table in giant gallon jars. It had huge chunks of real fruit in it. It was lovely, fancy being able to take as much as you liked? Surely Australia so far was everything that it had promised and more!

Children, tripping over and business. ( Auto-biography)

July 21, 2015
The flooded creek

The flooded creek

After we settled in King’s Cross there was a flurry of marriages in the Oosterman clan. My friend Bernard married a Japanese girl and went to live in Japan. I continued with the painting business on my own.  One of my brothers married a girl from Russia but born in Peru, another from Polish background, my sister married a man born in Germany with just one who married an Australian. I of course married a lovely Finn. Apart from my brother who married an Aussie and has died since, we all are still married to our first love.

They were busy times all racing to get home and hearth together as well as bonnie babies. There were nappies and the smell of them. Toys on the floor. A variety of bassinettes and other bouncing contraptions that we would easily trip over.  They were the years when tripping over was normal and totally safe. Of course now a fall could easily result in an ambulance racing over to lift you on a stretcher and to a hospital, nurse putting on the gloves and a worried doctor looking you over. I haven’t as yet reached that stage yet, but it will come about!  Helvi urges me to take a firm hold of the handrail coming down from the computer upstairs. It pays to be careful! I sometimes wish that recklessness could continue. It was such a part of being young. Reckless and foolish. Now we play it safe and pretend to be wise, but really just give in to ageing, play it secure, getting old, sip our coffee and remind each other to take medicine. We have learnt our lesson.

It seems odd that when we were young and had a life ahead, we were reckless, took our chances when at the same time so much was at stake. One fatal mistake could easily result in having to pay for it over the rest of your natural life. Yet, now that we (I am) are old and with our lives more behind than in front we have far more solid reasons to be reckless. Throw caution to the wind. What is there to lose? What is holding us back?  Do a bungy jump or fight a crocodile, live in Bali or Amsterdam. We might just, with luck,  squeeze in a couple of years more or so. Of course many of the old do amazing things still, but by and large we have become more cautious and play it safe. I never ever thought I would reach that stage. Yet it is has come about.  Even so, we still have no insurance of any kind except third party property car insurance which I suppose is proof of some lingering recklessness. harking back to youthful risk taking.  I mean, does one not get buried without having any money.  Does it matter? Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave. Perhaps, that is just bundied about to encourage budding composers to keep on trying, regardless of fame or fortune.

But going back (to those years of recklessness),  and having settled down it came about that families were sprouting up all over the place. Our first was born within a couple of years after arrival in Sydney. Our second daughter two years after that, delivered by the same doctor named Holt. I renewed previous contacts and gained quickly new jobs. Some years later, I won some really substantial contracts including the painting of the extensions to the NSW Art Gallery and the International Flight kitchen at Sydney’s airport. I tried as well to keep on with painting pictures and even had, optimistically, bought a huge  fifty metres by two metres roll of raw cotton canvas together with varied sizes of stretchers on which to span and make canvasses ready to paint.

I was an optimist and Helvi the supporting wife and mother…They were very good years,

many good years were yet to come.

Family Court excludes Children. Where are their Voices?

April 13, 2013

Fam Court excludes hearing the Children. Where are their voices?

In Australian Family Court disputes it is often the children that miss out on being heard by a Federal Judge or Magistrate. In most cases, even though the judge or magistrate has the power to hear the children, it is rarely exercised. In many cases it is the Independent Children’s Lawyer who represents the child/children/ (ICL). In Germany and many other countries, the Family Court Judges always hears the child. The argument generally holds that there is now a growing understanding of the importance of listening to the children involved in children’s cases. It is the child, more than anyone else, who will have to live with what the Court decides.

At the moment while Federal Judges and Magistrates can hear the children in Court. A survey has shown most decline the opportunity and rely on the ICL and other ‘experts’ for advice during the procedures. The cases coming before the Family Courts deal with property and access to children. The fact of Court action is generally a sign that the parents haven’t been able to amicably deal with the separation. Access rights to children are often just as heatedly fought over as the division of property.

The Family Court in all cases  decide what is ‘best for the children’; it seems therefore ironic that the children are not given the opportunity to bring their wishes in front of the Court like in many European countries that are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.(UNCRC)

While it is unsatisfactory to say that children should all have the same rights as autonomous adults, including the rights of freedom of expression and the freedom of association and all other rights that adults own, it is equally unsatisfactory and unjust to say that children have no rights of this kind and that their rights in Court matters are irrelevant to the task of adults determining and deciding what is best. It seems to ignore the claim of children to be treated with respect and dignity instead of, as is often the case in Family Court battles, fought over objects.

http://www.familylawwebguide.com.au/library/spca/docs/Childrens%20participation%20in%20family%20court.pdf

As Australia has been a member of the convention since 1990 it seems  to beg the question why children are not heard in front of a Court and allowed to give their choices of those matters which the Court determines is in “the best interest of the child’. Why should they not be given the right to appear in Court?

Often the reason given is ‘parentification’ of the child.  In parentification the child is choosing one parent over the other as a need to protect the one parent over or against the other. In Family Court cases it is not unusual that one or both parents are deemed to have put the child in this position to try and enhance the prospect of getting more time with the child than the other parent. The child is expected to act as the parent to their own parent and sometimes over other siblings as well. The issue is very complicated because in some cases one of the parents might indeed be totally unsuitable as parent or as the primary caretaker. This is especially when there is violence against the other parent or children alleged, or in the case of drugs and alcohol abuse. However, parentification together with alienation theories about children in relationships remains highly controversial amongst psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists, who claim they are often simplistic or erroneous.

http://healthyparent.com/Parentification%20Web%20Preview.pdf

In the Family Courts it is the job of the ICL to sort the wheat from the chaff and investigate to get to the bottom of the issue if ‘parentification’ of the child is occurring. The Court appointed lawyer acting for the child will then call in an ‘expert’ in those matters. Both parents are to meet up with the ‘expert’ who is often a qualified child psychologist or therapist. Anyone who ever had dealings with Courts knows that at every turn huge amounts of money is spent. The ICL with the help of the Expert’s report weigh heavily in the final decision making by the Judge or Magistrate.

The report by the children’s expert is drawn up as a result of a few hours or a day spent by both the parents and the children with the expert. Sometimes first in each other’s company then separately and then the children on their own. After parents as applicant and respondent  have filed into Courts numerous times for ‘mentioning’ and ‘final hearings’ the case is put and then includes the affidavits, responses and reports by all the parties’ lawyers including the ICL and ‘experts’..

But, when all the lengthy proceedings come to an end, there is this glaring omission. The fundamental rights of every person including children to be heard in Court are totally ignored.

The ICL and other child experts cannot help but put in their own submissions and even if based on the best of intentions and the best advice given, it is second hand and not direct. How is it possible that the ‘best interest of the child’ excludes this fundamental right?

One reason given is the perceived intimidation of the Court system with its tradition of the dreaded three knocks on the door and ‘all rise in Court’, the bowing of all and then the entrance of the black gowned judge or magistrate on the raised podium. The procedures are often seen as unfriendly if not silly as well. Surely the system can change when children are involved and become child friendly. I could ask, why not change it even for adults?

We love adhering to convention, but what about the children?

2 Responses to “Australian Family Court excludes Children. Where are their voices?”

  1. ThePoliticalVagina Says: January 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Reply   editI think it would be a good idea to get the child in questions’ perspective at least in these matters. It may be confusing for some children but I think there’d be a fair percentage of children who definitely know who they’d rather live with. Children are not chattels.

  1. tomwisk Says: February 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Reply   editChildren have a voice. Their wisdom is often overlooked or thought of as precocious.

Australian Family Court excludes Children. Where are their voices?

October 3, 2012

Family Court excludes Children. Where are their voices?

 

Fam Court excludes hearing the Children. Where are their voices?

In Australian Family Court disputes it is often the children that miss out on being heard by a Federal Judge or Magistrate. In most cases, even though the judge or magistrate has the power to hear the children, it is rarely exercised. In many cases it is the Independent Children’s Lawyer who represents the child/children/ (ICL). In Germany and many other countries, the Family Court Judges always hears the child. The argument generally holds that there is now a growing understanding of the importance of listening to the children involved in children’s cases. It is the child, more than anyone else, who will have to live with what the Court decides.

At the moment while Federal Judges and Magistrates can hear the children in Court. A survey has shown most decline the opportunity and rely on the ICL and other ‘experts’ for advice during the procedures. The cases coming before the Family Courts deal with property and access to children. The fact of Court action is generally a sign that the parents haven’t been able to amicably deal with the separation. Access rights to children are often just as heatedly fought over as the division of property.

The Family Court in all cases  decide what is ‘best for the children’; it seems therefore ironic that the children are not given the opportunity to bring their wishes in front of the Court like in many European countries that are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.(UNCRC)

While it is unsatisfactory to say that children should all have the same rights as autonomous adults, including the rights of freedom of expression and the freedom of association and all other rights that adults own, it is equally unsatisfactory and unjust to say that children have no rights of this kind and that their rights in Court matters are irrelevant to the task of adults determining and deciding what is best. It seems to ignore the claim of children to be treated with respect and dignity instead of, as is often the case in Family Court battles, fought over objects.

http://www.familylawwebguide.com.au/library/spca/docs/Childrens%20participation%20in%20family%20court.pdf

As Australia has been a member of the convention since 1990 it seems  to beg the question why children are not heard in front of a Court and allowed to give their choices of those matters which the Court determines is in “the best interest of the child’. Why should they not be given the right to appear in Court?

Often the reason given is ‘parentification’ of the child.  In parentification the child is choosing one parent over the other as a need to protect the one parent over or against the other. In Family Court cases it is not unusual that one or both parents are deemed to have put the child in this position to try and enhance the prospect of getting more time with the child than the other parent. The child is expected to act as the parent to their own parent and sometimes over other siblings as well. The issue is very complicated because in some cases one of the parents might indeed be totally unsuitable as parent or as the primary caretaker. This is especially when there is violence against the other parent or children alleged, or in the case of drugs and alcohol abuse. However, parentification together with alienation theories about children in relationships remains highly controversial amongst psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists, who claim they are often simplistic or erroneous.

http://healthyparent.com/Parentification%20Web%20Preview.pdf

In the Family Courts it is the job of the ICL to sort the wheat from the chaff and investigate to get to the bottom of the issue if ‘parentification’ of the child is occurring. The Court appointed lawyer acting for the child will then call in an ‘expert’ in those matters. Both parents are to meet up with the ‘expert’ who is often a qualified child psychologist or therapist. Anyone who ever had dealings with Courts knows that at every turn huge amounts of money is spent. The ICL with the help of the Expert’s report weigh heavily in the final decision making by the Judge or Magistrate.

The report by the children’s expert is drawn up as a result of a few hours or a day spent by both the parents and the children with the expert. Sometimes first in each other’s company then separately and then the children on their own. After parents as applicant and respondent  have filed into Courts numerous times for ‘mentioning’ and ‘final hearings’ the case is put and then includes the affidavits, responses and reports by all the parties’ lawyers including the ICL and ‘experts’..

But, when all the lengthy proceedings come to an end, there is this glaring omission. The fundamental rights of every person including children to be heard in Court are totally ignored.

The ICL and other child experts cannot help but put in their own submissions and even if based on the best of intentions and the best advice given, it is second hand and not direct. How is it possible that the ‘best interest of the child’ excludes this fundamental right?

One reason given is the perceived intimidation of the Court system with its tradition of the dreaded three knocks on the door and ‘all rise in Court’, the bowing of all and then the entrance of the black gowned judge or magistrate on the raised podium. The procedures are often seen as unfriendly if not silly as well. Surely the system can change when children are involved and become child friendly. I could ask, why not change it even for adults?

We love adhering to convention, but what about the children?

Colour-Bond Fences and “Tax us more please!”!

July 16, 2012

Superannuation, Colour-bond fences, and “Tax us more please, by the Germans.

September 3, 2011

Superannuation, Colour-bond fences, and “Tax us more please”, by the Germans.

The week has had its ups and downs, but more ups with the troika of a timely stop to the Australian Government’s wish to engage in a bit of serious people smuggling to Malaysia, the SMH Heckler’s funny agreement of the horrors of colorbond fencing. All this featured on 31 August edition of The SMH. This is some of what Ilsa Grace wrote in HECKLER column:

“Colorbond@ country, week one. I woke up this morning and went: WAAAAH! I want to go to Thailand, away from this! I want to go where there is life in profusion, some noise, some pollution, street stalls, dogs and splashes of vivid colour… My new house is surrounded on all sides by a 1.8- metre high pale green Colorbond steel fence (CBS) It is no doubt a miracle product and is described by the manufacturers as strong, durable and lightweight. I open my curtains and blinds, aside from my front master bedroom, I look out on CBS. I hear dogs barking on either side of my fence, but I have not seen them. I hear a neighbour mowing the lawn but can’t see her. I hear children playing in the yard of the house at the back of me; again, I can’t see them.”

Ilsa writes how in her old pre-colorbond steel fence life, she was able observe the comings and goings of joggers, be woken up by kookaburras, surfers heading to the beach, schoolkids heading home. In her new fenced-off CBS home all natural greenery has been removed and replaced with palms and other exotics, no more lorikeets or the wake-up call from a lone kookaburra. She asks why those fences have to be so high and why not include a clear panel allowing at least observing the occasional neighbour hanging washing etc.

The “TAX US MORE”, Germany’s rich tell Merkel”, in the same SMH, is just as heart warming. The rich in Germany are now joining others in Spain and France in renewing their call, “to tax me harder” with an open call to Chancellor Merkel, to “stop the gap between rich and poor getting even bigger”. The Group’s manifesto claims Germany could raise 100 billion Euros if the richest paid a 5% wealth tax for two years. It goes on” I would say To Merkel that the answer to sorting out Germany’s financial problems, our public debt, is not to bring in cuts, which will disproportionally hit poorer people, but to tax the wealthy more.” We are always hearing about savings packages, but never tax rises. END of the SMH quotes.

Those not so super “SUPER”. Last but not least and hardly in the same positive league is the plight of those superannuants in Australia that were left at the mercy of ‘free-market.’ The idea to leave the contributions by workers in the hands of advisers and away from Government guarantee and control will prove to be disastrous for many that relied on an income from the contributions towards their retirements. In Holland if not in other countries as well, superannuation and the income is guaranteed by Governments. Their contributions were never allowed into the ‘free market’ and private hands as they were here. No one ever needed to be left open to the very dubious ‘ free choice’ foisted on the totally inexperienced and susceptible superannuant here in Australia.  This dodgy Ponzi scheme was nurtured (manured) by Government after Government. Many retires must be rueing the day they took that advice.

Instead of advisers and all sorts of other private sharks, skimming off percentages from the contributions by workers and investing the billions of savings into share-markets, real estate, and other investments that relied on the whims and wiles of markets, the savings in many European Countries, were much more prudently kept within Government bonds, savings and Bank deposits which were then for the main invested into the public domain such as Health, Education, Public Transport and Social infrastructures.  In the long run, those sorts of investments pay of better and much more reliably than investments in shares or real estate.

I suspect that many retirees will see much of their ‘free market’ retirement end up into having to worry about their last years left of life. It should never have been allowed to happen.

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My First Picture Show

June 6, 2012

It would have been in the very early fifties. I was either in the first year of high-school or the last of primary. In any case, the school was giving film evenings in a hall that would hold perhaps sixty or seventy children. I remember that it wasn’t a big hall like many schools have now. A few years later me and mates would break into this hall and try and make pancakes on a fire made by burning old newspapers. I had taken some flour from the kitchen and someone else brought milk and a sauce-pan.  I have forgotten if golden syrup was involved.

The roof had a sky-light which we lifted and used to lower ourselves onto the floor below. The open sky-light acted as a primitive chimney letting out some of the smoke from the pan-cake fire. They were the years of so many discoveries including my first movie. Those pre-teen years were possibly the most dangerous. We were reckless and without fear, daring to do anything.

The coastal dune areas of The Hague where we lived still had very long underground tunnels buried in the sand of the dunes which linked the large concrete bunkers. Some of the bunkers still had enormous cannons which were aimed across the sea towards England to ward off any attempts to regain the Dutch territory from the German occupiers. I was so lucky to have as my playground those dunes, the sea and those underground tunnels.

They were pitch dark and we used small bottles filled with kerosene with a burning wick floating on top to give  light and guide us through them. No adventure land could have been designed better. We spent many hours and days crawling inside those underground tunnels and bunkers with the kerosene lights. I had four brothers and we all lived in a walk up apartment on the second floor.

Yet, my parents and perhaps most parents of these times did not seem to have been consumed by worry. Perhaps having gone through the terrors of war, bombing and famine, surviving parents took a well earned break from worry afterwards.

I often wonder about the different parental attitudes now and those of many years ago. Just witness all those modern anxious parents of today, scared stiff to even let the kids walk home by themselves. All activities now-a-days are strictly supervised and nothing left to chance or for kids to find their own adventures.

Perhaps the fact those families were bigger played a role. It was simply impossible to check on every child for every minute of the day. In any case, we were free. I felt that we never exceeded danger levels but as an eleven year old, perceptions of danger were somewhat arbitrary. When I jumped between frozen slippery timber beams at an open canal- lock letting boats through the different water levels, I fell down but managed to hold on to a beam. The lock-master saw it and pulled me up, gave me a belting and I never ever went back to that area again.

It could well be that adventure needs some danger. Perhaps adventure is the possibility of danger. Exclude all risk and danger and you stand risking inviting torpor with creative growth stunted. The one light on today’s horizon on bringing back adventure are the provision by so many councils of skate board ramps. If you are looking for kids on the street, forget it. They are all at home being locked up and looked after by parents flat out keeping danger at bay. But, for those that are not quite so protective of their broods, many are released from oppressive parental control and are found skate boarding.  There is still hope for kids risking bruising and breaking bones. At least it is something.

As for my first movie. It was in black and white and called Rin Tin Tin. From memory it involved a large German shepherd saving people from danger. We used to go wild afterwards, terrorizing the neighbourhood pretending we were all heroes, part of the Rin Tin Tin movie. I believe Rin Tin Tin saved the Warner movie industry in the thirties and forties. Twenty three Rin Tin Tin movies were made and countless radio plays based on this dog kept millions enthralled for decades.

Could it be true that Spiderman and Batman have replaced RinTinTin?