Posts Tagged ‘Nauru’

The compulsion to vote or the freedom not to?

July 21, 2020

Civic Culture Coalition: Entertainment Industry-Backed ...

On my morning’s coffee, tête-à-têtes (some with masks) with friends at Bowral Cricket Stumps cafe I was surprised to hear that many thought the law on compulsory voting was normal and mainly world-wide. I pointed out that the list of countries with compulsory voting on punishment made Australia mixed with some strange company.

Here a list of countries with compulsory voting enforceable by punishment.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Nauru, NORTH KOREA, Samoa, Singapore, Uruguay.

The rest of he world is free to vote or not. Some have compulsory voting but not enforced s a Egypt, Albania, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico.

While one of the freedoms of democracy is that we can eat and drink what we like, including copious Cokes, and kilos of sugar, fat, apples and much more. We have total freedom to take or leave it. We also have freedom of speech, press and so much more again. We are loaded with freedoms. Yet it strikes me as odd that we do not have that freedom when it comes to voting. We are not free not to vote.  Most of the world’s democratic countries leave voting to, hopefully a well informed population. America does not have compulsory voting , they have a ‘right’ to vote but also the freedom not to vote. They also have a ‘right’ to bear arms but no one is forced to use those arms. ( sometimes it seem like it with 40 000 killed annually by this ‘right’.)

Disgruntled Voter (@jasondulak) | Twitter

An argument against voluntary voting is that it makes people politically lazy and uninterested. That does not bear out either.

Here copied from ‘The Advocate’. During the (second) last federal election.

“New polling by Essential absolutely belled the cat on this phenomenon.

It asked respondents if they knew who the federal treasurer was, without looking it up.

More than one third (36 per cent) did not know it was Scott Morrison.

Thirteen per cent thought it was ex-treasurer Joe Hockey, 3 per cent thought it was Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and 20 per cent said they did not know.

With no disrespect to the 36 per cent, why should they be forced to the polling booth if they don’t  take enough interest to know who holds the second most important role in the government?”

I was surprised that at my café group most thought that compulsory voting was normal and all over the world, and fiercely opposed the idea that it perhaps ought to be choice. Patriotic feathers were ruffled. When asked if I thought it essential to have compulsory voting I said I did not believe it. My backgrounds and that of my dearest late Helvi, ( The Netherlands and Finland) are from very staunch democratic and liberal countries. We grew up with the freedom to vote or not.

To punish people for not voting strikes me as odd.

Of course, a disclaimer; I vote with passion at every possible election. Gerard.

 

Forget me not.

July 25, 2019

IMG_0226 Forget me not

Another little flower that has just arrived over the last few days is the ‘Forget me not’. Perhaps, through all the events over the last 4 weeks I just ignored everything but this little flower is not to be ignored, hence its name. It’s funny how a flower as little as this one can still command attention even when surrounded by so much  activities as has been the case since Helvi’s fall. I found time to take her photo, even when not in focus, still it’s splendour is there to see.

Helvi tells me that this one comes around every year and in the same pot. The drought is now taking its toll, and farmers are now being counselled and billions are now taken from somewhere to help them through. Some are arguing that traditional farming is just not viable inland of Australia. Not enough rain and pumping water from elsewhere is not cost effective.

Our Prime minister is promising to bring suicide in Australia back to zero. A lofty promise, and one could advice him to  start at the prevention of that by looking at the refugees in Manus and Nauru, if he is to be taken serious. I don’t really want to wander off in the political arena but sometimes I get drawn to making certain conclusions bordering on the political. It is foolish of me. I know.

It is better to stick to the ‘forget-me-not.

The dreaded mid-night knock on the door.

June 7, 2019

Image result for Midnight knock on the Door by the Gestapo

https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/turkish/en/audiotrack/sbs-turkish-news-25

Australia and its secrecy laws are now acted upon without regards for the freedom of its citizens.  The raids by the Australian Federal Police on the private home of a Journalist, Annika Smethurst, and a day later in the offices of our National Broadcaster, the ABC, ought to set off the alarms for those that believe in the freedom of the press to report truthfully, responsibly and without fear or favour. … its responsibility to those who elect and have faith in the government.

The raids by the AFP on the newsmedia in Australia have been reported worldwide. Australia is now looked upon with aghast and consternation, a country where anything goes to install fear by intimidation. Australia is the only country in the Western world without a Bill of Rights. This was pointed out as a possible reason why Australia has so willingly accepted and is still going through some very dark places. The Governments have seen fit over a number of years to pass laws that enable them to virtually do anything to shut down any criticisms of its actions. They do this by including almost anything the Government wishes to obtain or achieve as  being ‘secret’, and make them by law, excluded from thorough scrutiny. This might be why the exclusion of A Bill of Rights might well serve Governments very well and under that exclusion, gets a handy protection from nosy scrutiny. It’s strange how we ended up being the only country without a Bill of Rights!

Michael Kirby, a prominent judge, has questioned why Australia is so reluctant to have a Bill of Rights. Have a look at this.https://www.sbs.com.au/news/a-lot-of-wrongs-to-repair-justice-michael-kirby-calls-for-national-bill-of-rights_2

Look at our reluctance to accept equal marriage laws, the jailing of refugees who have done no wrong. Then, at earlier times, the horrible ‘White Australia Policy’ banning coloureds from migrating to Australia, the treatment of our indigenous Australians. The ‘Children over-board’ lies. The naming of all crimes in Melbourne invariably blamed on ‘Sudanese gangs’,and the calling of refugees on Nauru and Manus, rapists, killers and wife murderers.

Allegedly, Australia has been getting away with murderous behaviour by its soldiers in Afghanistan. This is being touted as the possible reason for the raids on the ABC offices by the AFP. The Government doesn’t want a light shone on any unwanted or unsavoury consequences of their chosen actions during that stupid war. This Government wants to get at the ‘whistle blowers’ who most often are the ones to dig around for truth. All journalists work with whistle blowers whose job it is to get to the bottom of dirty deeds and deals. As it stands now, they could end up being charged with breeching secrecy laws and jailed. This is scary stuff.

We have to be vigilant.

Australia, right now is in a dark place. We need the lights on, not off.

The Virginia Creeper will just have to sustain us now.

May 19, 2019

IMG_0099 Virginia creeper.JPG

Virginia creeper.

All our communal town-houses were originally planted with gardens which included the Virginia-Creeper shown in the above photo. This creeper grows very fast, mainly at night when everyone is sound asleep or if not sleeping, at least inside their dormitories. Originally, our townhouses had a united garden which included the Virginia Creeper. Sadly though, all Virginia creepers were taken out with the excuse that they are known to be destructive. A falsehood was spread that those fast growing climbers would by assaulting and climbing over everything, strangle brick walls and block our much revered and beloved guttering. We, against all advice and scorn of neighbours, held onto our Virginia for dear life, and even if it succeeds in strangling us and our town-house, so be it. It is amazing how gardening is so often seen as OK or mere tolerable as long as it doesn’t take over or threatens our own homes and ‘investment’ as one of our neighbours once uttered.

With last night’s defeat in Australia of the Labor Party to the Liberals against all odds, and the best of News Polls, and predictions, this contemplation of the Virginia-creeper might just have to sustain us for the near future. The near future is not to be taken in vain or too lightly. Perhaps a better phrase might be ‘our twilight years’ as both of us are nearing the eighties and for some things, time is becoming more of the essence. It would have been so nice to  have witnessed an Australia finally coming of an age where change for the better, would override the endless ennui of more of the same. How much longer can we look forward each morning to an Australia where Taxation cuts, Border Controls, sticking to contemplating the past, and Queen Victorian Gun boat diplomacy has to sustain us?

Just think how it now must feel to have for another three years a Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. A man who has on numerous occasions highlighted his belief in Christian faith but at the same time was almost manically keen on locking up for indefinite detention thousands of people who have done no wrong except for trying to escape from wars and bloodshed and look for a safe refuge in Australia. I wonder how those refugees on Manus and Nauru, now well into their sixth year of detention, are feeling today, hearing how their tormenter has been chosen as leader of Australia for another three years?

So much hope was invested in a change of leadership that would finally allow Australia to progress to a more just and fairer society. A society that would be leading in climate change and care for the environment. Today is a day where we celebrate the standing still of Australia. When will we ever learn, that change ought to be embraced even if change might at times fail? It is always better to have tried than not at all. Why is Australia often celebrating the fondness for looking back and clinging to the past? My parents who came here from Holland in 1956 would not be proud today of Australia. They wanted a better future for their children. My wife,  from a very progressive Finland and I with Dutch genes, are almost tempted to book a return to Holland.

We don’t have to look at Holland or Finland for examples of progressive countries. Just look a bit to the side and look to New Zealand. They have a leader that seems to thrive on progress, especially on a social level. Why don’t we look to our Eastern neighbours instead of our much beloved Western US, a nation that is being headed by a morally bereft President man heading his country knee-deep in a moral morass?

It has been New Zealand who offered  several times to take the refugees from Nauru and Manus. Our Australian Prime Minister with his Christian Faith held high on Pharisees  sullied sleeve, heartlessly refused each time. We will just go outside and look at our Virginia creeper. It will have to sustain us till the next time!

My poor country, Australia.

The illogical and immoral Male.

March 12, 2019

 

Image result for Morrison and Dutton
Mr S. Morrison and Mr P. Dutton (reflecting on refugees)

 

Not even a Kafka or an Edgar Allan Poe could have thought up the idea of locking up thousands of innocent people in order to stop drownings of people desperate to escape murder and mayhem from their home country.  It just doesn’t make sense. No one wants people to drown, and the suggestion by Australia’s Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, that those opposed to locking up refugees, now in their sixth year, will be responsible for new cases of drownings, is just too silly for words. It begs the question; are we still living in a world of science and rational thought? Or could it be that this is how the male mind works? I say this, as it seems to be the domain of mainly males that are attracted to illogical thoughts.  Things have gone haywire with Morrison, Dutton & Co.

It is perplexing how a country’s leader could ever have reached such an abominable stage whose thought processes must border on the mentally unstable. Some argue that, this Government’s action on the indefinite locking up of refugees on Manus and Nauru is particularly bad considering that our PM, Mr Morrison, proclaims to be a devout Christian. He belongs to a  Pentacostal church whose parishioners sometimes break out in a religeous fervor, and start speaking in tongues.

Some are claiming the opposite. It’s precisely the result of those adhering to the non-questioning and under the suppressive and superstitious shadows of religion and the subsequent irrationality of demons and retributive spirits, that causes those male politicians to behave in such an appalling way. In any case, the refugees are still going mad and as the years go by, the toll will rise, and even, when finally taken in by some other country, their trauma  will last.

Australia will stand condemned forever.

 

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”( Edgar Allan Poe)

A potpourri of pre-Christmas events.

December 20, 2018

Last week we drove to Sydney to visit our daughter who was meant to visit us. Due to storm damage  the trains were delayed and the buses were not running, we thought it easier to drive to Sydney instead. Trains are often risky and even a rogue wombat can derail trains. I bet the old ‘fast-train’ service will be raised again now that an election is due soon, together with the perennial second Sydney airport.  It keeps us nice and docile. Gee, the French sure know how to get things moving. I like their spirit.

IMG_0215

This is our daughter and her youngest son, Max, who has reached that stage of being a teenager very drawn to languorousness.  This means he likes to adopt a seating arrangement between sitting and lying. He is Tom’s brother who is almost at the end of his Indonesian adventure and at present in Bali’s Ubud. Tom is 18 and now taken to sitting upright again.

The lunch was beautiful and included as a dessert a nice chunk of water melon ‘infused’ with mango gelato. This coming Christmas day she and both our Grandsons will be visiting us for a Christmas lunch with a possible stay over-night. Of course, that has the proviso the trains are running and that the wombats stay away from the rails.

The latest new’s item that really stunned me that for over 150 years a Tattersall club in Brisbane, Queensland, prohibiting women becoming members. They excluded women. Can you believe this? A vote was taken on the issue and the ban was lifted. Oh, Australia; where is your Santa list for moving forward?

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/brisbane-s-exclusive-tattersall-s-club-votes-to-allow-female-members-20181219-p50na1.html

The vote in favour of allowing women wasn’t all that overwhelming. It was mainly for financial reasons and not because it was so outrageously  misogynistic.

I wonder if the Republican issue will be dealt with soon? I suppose, we are waiting for the English queen to pass away. Another terrible sad bit of news is that the issue of refugees on Manus and Nauru will not be resolved before Christmas. When, oh when, will Australia be dragged in front of some court to face charges of crimes against humanity?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-20/boy-raped-on-nauru-asylum-seeker-lawyers-claim/10632882

But, there is also good news. It seems that keeping pets helps to keep children healthy and possibly avoid getting infections. And…the more pets, the better!

A baby lying on the ground beside a small dog.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-12-20/pets-allergies-asthma-dogs-cats-immune-system-microbes/10630174

We are both now fitting in some more medical appointments as well. The medications we now ingest are keeping us alive as much as possible. This morning at 9am I was ordered to get in my underpants and take my valuables to the medical room and submit myself to a bone-density test. It was a remarkable experience. My feet were strapped in while laying on a hard surface in the horizontal position. ‘Just relax’, I was told by a female technician operating a sliding monitor taking images of my totally prostrated body. You know, when it was all over, I had trouble getting vertical again. The woman had to actually lift me up and prop me up a bit. The ignominy of ageing. It seems only yesterday we were skating and somersaulting about.

And now, look at it!

 

 

Is democracy a failed experiment?

November 9, 2018

IMG_0178our garden.JPG

It seems strange that Donald Trump is so opposed to things foreign. He has had two out of three wives  from Eastern Europe. He has German and Scottish genes in his background. Yet, he so desperately wants America only for the Americans.  Perhaps he is answering my question about his anti-foreign behaviour by wanting another women. This time a real good one, an American. Who knows? Something seems to bug him. He has a reputation as a misogynist. Remember that awful conversation he had about grabbing women?

He is also an unashamed liar, a bully and sociopath. Yet, he has passed two years as President, which most critics said he would not. I did not really want to venture into Trump phenomenon but his attack on the CNN reporter Jim Acosta  was so telling. It gave unassailable proof of his inability to see things away from himself. I just can’t figure he was chosen as a president.

Just going through his background and how his father formed the Trump empire. It was all built on tax avoidance, dodgy deals and schemes, transferring properties to his children well below their true value.  A true lesson in achieving riches through terminal materialism. An example in becoming a money driven spiritually dehydrated man. He directed the estate agents to not rent out his properties to black tenants! His son, Donald Trump is now the President of America. His father’s son through and through.

But, it is not just in America. There is a move to extreme right happening in many other countries again. Germany is veering towards anti-foreigners, and so are Austria, Hungary, Poland, Holland  and even Sweden, Italy, Greece. All are again flirting with excluding people based on colour and ethnic backgrounds. There is a movement to nationalism that attracts those that are dissatisfied. A longing for what has been.

America wants to be great again. But great again, based on separating children from their parents? Locking up those with a different nationality? Deporting those that don’t fit in? Shoot at those desperate people running the US border, the country of freedom?

Taking away the pass of Jim Acosta to practise his profession is how Trump responded to a question of why he used the racist card to advance his political position in the latest voting.

Acosta wanted to know about the (ABC Wires) “anti-immigration dog-whistling during the campaign, and specifically why he had referred to the so-called “caravan” of migrants moving through Mexico from Central America as an “invasion”, asking the President whether he had “demonised migrants”.

What will Trump do if he really gets pushed into a corner? It doesn’t bear contemplating. Trump is a ruthless megalomaniac and in my opinion competing with North Korean Kim Jong Il.

Australia is the same. The children that were catatonic with suicide ideation will be returned to Nauru soon after finishing their hospital treatment. The prime mister confessed ‘crying on his knees’ praying for the children but… he said; we must stop the people smugglers! And locking up people for years on end seems to be alright after you said your payers.

All is forgiven in the name of democracy. It seems. I don’t get it.

 

 

 

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?

 

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

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.