Category Archives: politics

An open letter to my representatives in Australia’s Federal Parliament

Australian Citizenship and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

It is with great concern that I noticed that the above bill was given its second reading debate only this morning and would seem to be on track for debate in the Senate some time next week when the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee makes its report.

This bill I find very disturbing and particularly of concern for any Australian citizen who was not born here in Australia.

According to the summary, it would appear that anyone who incurs the disfavour of the Minister for Immigration could be bundled out of the country with no judicial review whatsoever. The explanatory memorandum seems to focus on individuals who have more recently arrived in Australia, however, as a citizen of over thirty years who is quite likely to offend the current Minister for a variety of reasons (mostly to do with his behaviour in dodging responsibility for those seeking refuge here), I feel I am justified in feeling concerned whether I could also be turfed out of my home and sent away from my family just because I have offended a person in power.

From what little I have been able to find on the reasons for this proposed legislation, it would appear that previous breeches of the Citizenship Acts have been dealt with under existing legislation, and the Minister probably already holds the power to revoke individual citizenships, all be it with judicial review and oversight – as it should be.

I am requesting that you represent me, as a citizen of this country who could be adversely affected by this legislation, to block or otherwise prevent the passage of this legislation through the Senate and find a way to ensure that judicial oversight is maintained particularly on any legislation or regulation changes that may impact on the desire of people migrating to Australia to become full citizens of this country.

Your employer and Australian citizen

PS – I haven’t been able to work out what other legislation is referred to in the bill, unless it is the current Migration Act and Regulations. But if it is a question of that legislation being changed to accommodate wording about spouses, surely that could be dealt with through a more general piece of legislation aimed at correcting those definitions in all Australian legislation without encumbering such changes with such meanly focused bill.


Australia goes to “not-war” … again?

A letter to my Federal parliamentarians:

Dear Sirs,

Apparently while Parliament was not sitting over the weekend, Mr Abbott has declared that we are going to be gun-running for the Kurdish people fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq. He has indicated that we will apparently also be providing troops on the ground who may go into harm’s way should one of the planes being used for this gun-running activity be shot down and the crews need to be rescued.

I would appreciate a discussion in Parliament, and entered into the Parliamentary Record, to explain the reasons for Australia’s support to the Kurdish and other minority people of the region in this new fight, including an explanation of who and why the so called “Islamic State” developed and who originally funded it.
There may be a legitimate reasons why Australia should offer this support to these people – including provision of asylum if necessary. If there is, Australia may well have a role in providing that help, and Australians deserve to have those reasons explained.

But there are too many indicators that this is less about protecting people far away from our country, and more about protecting a Prime Minister and Government that is divisive, vindictive and determined to reduce our country to a mere resource to be gouged by others.

As Australians, I and my family deserve to be fully informed by our representatives as to the reasons why such risks by the Australian Defence Forces are to be taken.

Your employer,
*Not very impressed*

What’s wrong with this picture?

With regards to Mrs Abbott enjoying op-shopping, I am struck by several thoughts.
The first is that there is a perception that because Mr Abbott earns a lot of money (more than President Obama, I am led to believe) Mrs Abbott should have lots of resources to purchase things that are new. This story jars against that perception. Though I can think of more than one early primary educational establishment that stretches its budget by buying some resources from op-shops.
The next thought followed the first in that if Mr Abbott is ‘rich’ but Mrs Abbott is resorting to op-shops, then this could be evidence that he does not provide sufficient for her (and I know that she has her own income, but that is an actual comment I heard on the train today!).
The subsequent thought was why wouldn’t or shouldn’t Mrs Abbott enjoy op-shopping, or is it that is is yet another way to deprive poor people of resources – and I felt badly that an enjoyable experience that I have also enjoyed both when finances have been flush and when they have been tight should be denied to another woman who has the misfortune to be married to the guy who I think is really not competent to lead this country. Especially when it is obvious that the whole story is to promote something that is intended to promote charity op shops.

The last thought was to consider what type of “unicorn” is being highlighted by this sort of “reportage”. And that worries me because of what it betrays about the perceived roles of women by certain sections of the community.

The start of a new Senate term

I received an email from one of my Labor Senators this morning.
As there are now 18 cross benchers, I am tempted to feel a bit sorry for them as I contemplate both the schedule for the Senate to contemplate legislation and the mail-merge abilities of my word-processor *twinkle*
Yes, one can get the spreadsheets of addresses for both Senate and House of Reps from the Australian Parliament, just perfect for use with mail-merge programs.
Now to go write something to encourage those cross bench senators to vote the way I want them to. After all, they are supposed to be representing ME!

Despite all the bluster and claims of Senate obstruction, the Abbott Government has so far only presented a handful of Budget bills to the Senate.

Here’s the rundown on the current situation:
•   Appropriation Bills have passed the Senate.  We will never do what the Coalition did in 1975.
•   Scrapping the Schoolkids Bonus and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution. The Government sought to scrap Labor’s Schoolkids Bonus and Low Income Superannuation Contribution as part of its bill to repeal the Minerals Resources Rent Tax. Labor voted against this bill in the Senate and it was defeated in March.
•   Deficit reduction levy. This increases the top tax rate for people earning more than $180,000 a year. While it represents a broken promise, Labor did not oppose this measure in the Senate because it is targeted at those on very high incomes. The legislation has now passed Parliament.
•   GP and Medicines Taxes. Labor will vote against the new taxes of $7 per GP visit and $5 per chemist prescription when legislation comes into the Parliament.
•   Increasing university fees and student debt. Labor will vote against these measures.
•   Cutting indexation of pensions. We will vote against these cuts when legislation is brought into the Parliament.
•   Increasing petrol taxes. Labor will vote against the Government’s plans to increase fuel excises because of the cost of living impact on low and middle-income earners.

Dear Aunty

In the last few months I have become somewhat disappointed with the broadcasts on all your platforms in the area of political content.
It’s not that you are not providing an overview of the current political scene, it’s that it is so easy to pick holes in what is provided.

Interviewers do not ask the hard or awkward questions. Hosts ‘explain’ what guests mean, twist the meaning and then speak over their guest when the guest tries to correct them.
Broadcasts by one political ‘side’ of politics are often cut short for ‘technical reasons’ or non-news items so that one doesn’t see pronouncements by the ‘wrong side’ of the political spectrum.
Panels are often stacked by partisan participants of a single political persuasion with no apparent awareness that there might be another point of view so that the ‘conversation’ becomes a propaganda exercise and not a discussion.

This is so different to the political coverage of twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. You see, l can remember when you did what you do, only so much better than you are doing them now!

Dearest Aunty ABC, l know that it is difficult to serve such a diverse audience and that this current government is busy bullying you by threatening to withhold funding for one of this country’s cultural treasures. But for heaven’s sake, or at least that of Australians who prefer their viewing unadulterated by other commercial interests, or those who have no other broadcast media available. Could you please find the guts to actually ask the difficult questions and broadcast the full viewpoints that any government may not be happy about?

Remember, dear Aunty, the only reason bullies and dictators get away with their destructive behaviour because it is scary to stand up to them. But if they are not resisted, then all the good things in society will disappear and life will become short, brutal and mean again.
Not only that, but if you submit to the blandishments of an abusive person as you have done in the last ten years or so, you will find yourself in the same place as other victims of abuse, i.e. dead.

I would hate to see that, as I think the ABC is a significant part of what makes us Australians. So please, Aunty, pull on your flame-proof underwear and report the facts so that your audience once again can have an honest, factual and, above all, trustworthy basis on which to base our choices.

With concern and hope,
An ABC audience member

Well, that’s that job jobbed…

In the last three weeks I’ve handed out How to Vote cards (HTV) six times.
I’ve had three overt Liberal supporters be blatantly rude to both myself and the Greens volunteer standing the requisite six metres from the polling booth door.
One of the Liberal volunteers got a little hysterical when I wouldn’t back away from quoting facts about Mr Abbott’s record compared to the “BISONS” that the previous government achieved. I’m getting too old to be intimidated by people who think shouting can substitute for reason.

Yesterday it was picked up by the local online and broadcast MSM that Joe Bullock, who was placed ahead of Louise Pratt on the ALP ticket due to ‘it being his turn’ or some such factional flummery, had once been a playmate of Mr Abbott and encouraged him into taking over the Young Liberals at Sydney Uni as they were an easier pushover than Young Labor at the time.
It has long been known that Mr Bullock is a dreadful old dinosaur when it comes to things like abortion, homosexuality and equal marriage, but he has also spent many years working for the Shop Workers Union and standing up for workers conditions generally. So why does it matter that, as a youth, he was not a “Labor man”? He has worked for “Labor” and labour ever since! I would suggest that he has had a far more positive result on working conditions and income of retail workers for whom he was responsible than some who came from a similar background!

Mind you, the timing of the ‘discovery’ that Mr Bullock is a “dinosaur” I find most intriguing, as it suggest that the Liberal strategists may be concerned that they won’t get their senatorial rubber stamp.

I have heard some grumbles about ‘wasting $20million’ on this ‘by-election’ process because the AEC stuffed up – and the stuff up in Merriwa hasn’t helped either. Reports today about boxes splitting will not assist in repairing the reputation of the AEC. But the booth I attended was well regulated and the boxes were exchanged well before they got full. My impression is that the AEC staff are really trying hard to ‘get it perfect’ to restore their reputations.

There is also some confusion as to why some of the micro parties are not fielding WA based candidates, and a lot of people are confused about the whole micro-party preference deal thing that has been highlighted in the last few weeks. I think there could be a lot of support for finding a way to clear both those points up in the near future. There is also a deal of resentment about some of the micro-parties putting up candidates who reside out of Western Australia and have admitted that if they were elected, would not even move to the state they represent. That I find both disrespectful to the people they would be representing, and arrogantly rude. Not something that is desirable in someone whom I am employing to represent me!

In the main, I would suggest that most West Australians are well and truly ‘over it’ with regards to politics, muttering frequently about ‘a pox on both their houses’. The more experienced volunteers I spoke to on the pre-polling booth did comment that there seemed to be more people using the pre-poll option this time though. However, attendance at the actual booth (in a quite Liberal area) was quite steady all day. I asked the AEC Booth Officer as I was picking things up after the poll closed, if he thought that the turn out had been lower than expected. He responded that he thought that turn-out on the day may have been slightly down, but there were already a large number of postal votes and pre-polled votes ready to be counted next week, so was reasonably sure that it might be better than expected.

We will most likely get two Liberals and at least one Labour returned. Scott Ludlam may get re-elected, but I fear that WA feels quite beholden to the mining companies, so may well vote more Liberals up, or Liberal leaning candidates at least. I’m just hoping that Ms Pratt and Mr Ludlam get re-elected so that there is a need for Mr Abbott to learn how to negotiate!

I voted today, and then stood outside my local polling station with HTV cards, hopefully encouraging some voters to vote at least below the line so it is all their own preferences. After pressing ‘publish’ I shall be retiring to the couch with a nice cup of tea and some excellent chocolate. Because now we have to wait for all those ballots to be counted.

And for the record: Yes, I volunteered for the ALP.

A reflection on #MarchInMarch

Just thinking about what I was planning this time last week, and reflecting on the paucity of news coverage that might have some of the issues that took so many people into the streets around the country.

This was particularly prompted by this nice enquiry and the reply it received from the Sydney Morning Herald. There has been many articles online about how individuals felt about getting out and marching last Sunday, but the main stream media’s reaction seems to have been a shock to many who took part and were not, in my opinion, cynical enough about what is considered newsworthy.

I can’t remember where I read it, but there was one piece that claimed they had contacted the local Perth newspaper, who seemed to expect a press release to write a story about last Sunday’s march. I think this illustrates the differences in expectations on both sides that just were not fulfilled.

One of the things #MarchInMarch were quite proud of is that it was not organised by the ‘usual suspects’, and there by hangs the first expectation. The ‘usual suspects’ would have known to publicise the march not just to the people they were trying to reach, but also to the main stream media, so that they would know that something was going to happen – if nobody (important?) knows it is happening, does it actually a) matter or b) happen?

On the other hand, as Ms Maley notes in her reply, she considers herself a “journalist” and not a “reporter”. To my mind that is part of the problem. There is an expectation that  “reporters” report on what is happening around them, while “journalists” both report and comment on what happens.

The ordinary people who organised and marched expected to see reports of their action in their local and national papers. I know I did. I was both pleased and slightly disappointed, but unsurprised, that the reportage shown in various TV news shows tended to focus on the ‘rude bits’ and the apparently ‘unfocused message’ and that a lot of the journalism has also focused on the ‘rude bits’ and that there was no single message on to which their story could latch. I suspect that the hook in much of the journalism I have read this week was actually missed.

As I understand it, #MarchInMarch was more about the feeling that many have obviously had that their concerns for their country are being ignored, and to a degree minimised because it didn’t conform to the accepted form of protest.  That feeling got ordinary people marching in their streets, many for the first time. This is not something such a diverse range of people do, ordinarily!

Perhaps, that is the Real Story. That a bunch of ordinary folk, using social media, organised something to express how they feel about their country without the conventional forms. Because the conventional media are neither informing them as they desire and now expect to be informed, nor are those media reporting what is happening when those of us on social media get it more immediately but others don’t. Don’t they also deserve to make their own minds up, as those of use who watch Twitter or Facebook do?

Increasingly the reportage online and ease of access to online information means that there is a greater need by newspapers (online and print) and broadcast media to improve their reportage of what happens. Or is it that sneaking suspicion correct that if things were just reported as they happened, without the newspaper owners opinion influencing those reports, the journalism (the reportage plus opinion) would be more blatant and the ordinary consumer could make their own minds up about things?

I do know that I have increasingly felt that when I read the online newspapers or watch/listen to broadcast news that only one side of the story is being told. I increasingly feel that there are some people who are so desperate to be proved right, and ‘in control’, that they will ignore every indication that they are ill-informed or even wrong, just so they can feel good about themselves.  And I find myself increasingly concerned that my country might be in the control of those who fit that description. That is why I was motivated to stand up and be counted in that ‘unfocused’ mob that gathered on Langley Park last Sunday. But then, I don’t think it was unfocused, because there were just so many issues concerning every one of us who felt they had to be there.

Now that could have done with some “reporting”.