Speak now or forever hold your peace!

The debate over the referendum to grant a “Voice” to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia sparks many thoughts in my mind, most of them cynical. 

Now I don’t have a vote in Australia, but I have paid taxes here for nigh on 10 years so should have one; thus I figured I am entitled to speak my mind.

My first thought is that these people do have a voice and representation by their own elected representatives. (Does this mean that democracy has failed them?)

My second thought is that the concept of a “Voice” for this poor benighted sector of the population is quite a funky meme-ish idea, likely to appeal to the shortspanofattention current generation. It is a crisp, simple virtuous PR vehicle, ideal for politicians.

My third thought is that the referendum is likely to be quite divisive, because of the modern propensity to factionise and label for easy meme-ing. The ‘aye-sayers‘ are inclusive, woke progressives and the ‘nay- sayers‘ are racist Tories.

Wait, it gets even more … rough-edged?

There are about 500 different Aboriginal tribes in Australia, each with their own language and territory and usually made up of a large number of separate clans. more than 250 languages and about 800 dialectal varieties

Which language will be used by the Voice? And will all agree on the words that are spoken? In New Zealand, there are still big money debates going on about the meaning of the Te Reo Maori version of the  Treaty of Waitangi, thought to be clearly written in English.

The Indigenous population in Australia declined to a low of 74,000 in 1933 from an estimated 314 000 when the First Fleet arrived. About 12 000 were killed by colonists, the rest likely succumbed to the ravages of disease and by products of western civilization such as alcohol and despair.

A Voice will give 3.2% of the population additional power in Parliament – a 25%  increase in that population since last census! It seems that aboriginal heritage is gaining flavour.

This portion of the population is the most poorly educated, unhealthy, socially destitute and criminal of all Australians. It is also diverse and disparate. It has a history of subjugation and some abuse, some of which may have been well meaning by the perpetrators but devastating for the victims.

Can we expect clarity, foresight and community interest from the speakers of the Voice? Will they be united  and informed and representative of their electorate? Is that likely? Or will there be Boards and Committees and advisors and bureaucrats to give the Voice a neck and a head…? Lots and lots of money…!

It’s not a new political trick. In 1967 a referendum relating to Indigenous Australians, was called by the Liberal-Country Party Holt Government. Voters were asked whether to give the Federal Government the power to make special laws for Indigenous Australians.

Acts of Parliament have appointed Protectors of Aborigines and Aboriginal Protection Boards in the past, with little apparent success.

The persuasion for this campaign is founded on the wave of Woke thinking which is sweeping the old, democratic Western societies, which recently saw off ScoMo and the LNP.

The fact that the Aboriginal population suffers significantly less advantage in society is regarded as a consequence of a racist hegemony, enriched by its historical suppression and racism: massacres, dispossessions and stolen generations.

The guilty must now pay a penance which will (maybe) absolve them of this horrible taint of the past and make everything okay …. yeah, right!

My last thought is related to my antipathy to Woke-ism, which you may have detected. 

Once the benighted Aboriginals have a Voice, will we not be bound by precedent to enshrine more power for the exclusive use of women, then the homosexuals, lesbians, transexuals, pansexuals, one knee cappers and sheep lovers, etcetera?

I will leave the allocation of body parts to a new age biologist!

While I am here I was wondering why there is no rainbow flag in Parliament and why no-one took a knee at the opening of that august body, soon to be given a new voice.

Mid year Morass

Australia has survived an election and is somewhat refreshed by the efforts of the new regime … so far.

New Zealand is drowning its recent history and elevating first nation culture and hegemony …

I hesitate to allow my mind to dwell on the general state of civilization in Africa. The extent of corruption of the elites and the neglect of the populace is apparent.

What is infuriating is the charade of following democratic principles and the lofty debates in Parliaments and the imitated pomp and ceremony of Westminster parliaments. But the civil service has become totally inept, corrupt and unable to perform its functions.

In South Africa, the legacy of apartheid led largely to the exclusion of white managers and supervisors from government departments and the rapid promotion of inexperienced and frequently unqualified individuals, often deployed by the ruling party in some sort of reward for activism. As the Zondo report revealed, all too many of these cadres deployed by the party have used the opportunity to plunder and extort the community at large …aaarrgh , it is too sickening to think about.

Consequently, the infrastructure of the country is collapsing. The government at every level is unable to prevent revenue from being looted, so cannot provide adequate social services. Power, sanitation and transport systems are failing. Already the new age colonists have come offering support in return for access to resources and the government will be bought off.

So there will be new masters who will control the governments who will be paid off … and the people will suffer and society will breakdown into armed camps, each protecting their own.

That’s Africa. Pretty crude and basic, unlike Europe and America with ‘democratic’ institutions stretching back for many centuries (I have tongue in cheek). The World Wars and Spanish and Irish Civil wars laid the foundation for their current state of civilisation. Continental wars on two fronts in Europe and Asia are only a presidential whim away (let’s hope the lion sleeps tonight!)

While I am on the sad state of the world I may as well note the revived anxiety about Covid 4 or 5 or whatever and the renewed call to get vaccinated to reduce the demand for ICU beds… Scepticism has set in: we ‘oldies’ are advised to get vaccinated now and probably will need anther before Xmas…. nah!

I won’t start up about the Cancel Culture which is eroding our remaining democratic principles like floods in New South Wales.

Oh well – I have six rugby tests to watch this weekend!

Birds are courting and mimosa is beginning to bloom, so the icicles must be melting and another new year begins…

Carbon credits

Recently I asked friends what they knew about carbon credit systems. They knew almost nothing, save that it was designed to combat carbon emissions into the atmosphere, intrinsic to the battle against undesirable climate change. We are talking about tertiary educated people in early middle age in a first world country. Their knowledge reflected my own: almost zilch.

So I made an appointment with Dr Google and started reading. AaargH!! It soon became too much for my little brain: convoluted, confusing and, at least to me, a system wide open to manipulation and fraud.

It appears that governments have devised a system to assess the carbon footprint of countries, businesses, industries, services et al, engine exhaust, cow farts, factory smoke etc. They are required to maintain this below set levels, which in many cases is difficult or too expensive. I mean, how do you stop a cow fart?

So, in order to avoid these activities being driven out of business, the government established a cap and trade level of carbon credits.

Companies that pollute are awarded credits that allow them to continue to pollute up to a certain limit. That limit is reduced over time. Meanwhile, the company may sell any unneeded credits to another company that needs them.

This has become nationalised and countries and businesses with excess credits can sell them to those that pollute excessively.

Extra credits can be earned by minimising pollution or growing trees (they convert CO2 to oxygen). The market for compliance credits is estimated to rangeas high as $272 billion for the year 2020.

You can imagine how many bureaucrats would be needed to administer and monitor these matters …. and how creative accountants would be able to milk the system…

How easy would it be to claim an extra few thousand trees in a forest ?

Seems the limits set by the Kyoto Protocol were too hard for the US (the biggest polluter) and China (the second biggest), so they declined to play..

I wonder how many of you read this far?

This is an extreme simplification of the system.

My questions are : Who is going to administer the sytem in the future if only a few understand it?

How are our children and their children supposed to see through the smog of these bureaucratic jungles?

Who will save the world in the future?

I guess it is up to you and me to spread the word.

So do your bit: learn about the sytems so you can call out pollies when they try to confound you with greenwash!

An Enjoyable Lenten Obligation

Those of you who know me or who follow my currently sporadic blog, are aware that I was raised a Catholic, steeped in the conventions and rituals of that ancient organisation.

So, when Lent comes around I attempt to focus on objectives requiring some discipline. Sadly my resolve to skip one meal a day and ride more kilometers on my bike only lasted a week.

However I am glad to say that I have approximately completed one objective, which was to paint at least one sketch a day. Approximately, because I missed some days and did some in batches – but I did at least 40 during Lent.

Regrettably, like my writings, most are mediocre; but here and there a glint of almost art may peek through.

I promised my sister in law I would post them all, so here they are. Please do exclaim on the variety of colours to be found in leaves. (There is no need to mention the unsophistication of the artist – he is cognisant thereof.)

Like any good showman, the best is saved for last!

Impatiens

Another Impatiens & Evolvulus
Sundry Gum leaves
Mini zinnia and Hibiscus bud

Dying eaucalypts
More of same (slightly smudged)
… with a chili
A lemonade lemon
More dying leaves
More death and a sick nasturtium
Some colour
A poor flamboyant
Pots of petunias
Maybe a petunia?
Evolvulus in a pot (such an awkward name for a pretty flower)
More colour
Prettier petunias
Frilly hibiscus
Duranta – Brazilian sky flower
My favourite

Yellow

Autumn is a yellow season.

The sketch is of sunflowers we picked from a farm field.

Who said farming can’t be appreciated by many? I don’t mean just the produce, but the intrinsic beauty of crops in the field.

An enterprising farmer recently opened the sunflower fields for the public to enjoy.

Thousands of people left their city homes and travelled over 100 kilometres to walk about the fields, smiling and posing and picking sunflowers while avoiding bees. The entry fee was not hefty.

Pop-up food and souvenir stalls abounded: I had a very fine, cheap hamburger and some unremarkable gin in grapefruit juice.

One could glamp in luxury tents, wander through a maze in the sunny fields, get married amongst sunflowers or take a helicopter flip to photograph the fields.

I half expected a March Hare and a Queen of Hearts to appear – it was a sublimely pleasant experience!

On the same yellow road: Autumn is the month for the flowering of Golden Penda trees which almost outnumber flamboyant trees in our part of the world.

After good rains (which we have had) the trees burst out in yellow sprays of flowers, which have copious nectar. This attracts the honeyeaters which include the rainbow lorikeets, who become besotted and wild, seeking out more and more.

I have written before about the cacophony of Austraian bird calls. In this season, the noise starts before dawn and continues into the heat of the day. Gangs of the electric green, purple headed birds speed from tree to tree, shrieking their critique of the nectar quality for all to hear. It is almost oppressive.

Aren’t we lucky?

Bureaucratic humanity and pragmatism

Are  bureaucrats humane and pragmatic? One would hope so.

Assuming they are, it follows that they must have regard for the impact of their decisions. 

Last year a long term resident had his application for renewal of his residence visa refused, because his original visa granted in 2014 had expired when he submitted his renewal application.

He had applied in time in 2019, but that application was found to be invalid because the wrong fee had been paid.

The correct fee was paid in July 2019, but by the time the application was submitted in August, the fees had been increased. Government applications require proof of payment before submission of applications. 

In a matter of days, the application was declared invalid as there was a fee shortfall of $25. The applicant was advised by the department to re-apply with evidence of full payment, which was done, but by the time the new application was received, the original visa time period had elapsed by one or two days.

The applicant was also advised that he could no longer work as he had no valid visa and he had to resign.

After a week he was granted a bridging visa pending the consideration of his subsequent (late) visa application. Fortunately he was re-employed by his employer.

After 15 months, he was advised in 2021 that his application was refused as it had been made in Australia, when he had no valid visa.

He has lodged  an appeal against that decision and his bridging visa has been extended.

This appeal will be heard in anywhere between 15 and 30 months.

The applicant is a family man, who has held full employment as a manager since his arrival in 2014. 

The man loves Australia; he is a sportsman and lover of the outdoors; he wants to buy a house and raise his family here. He has no criminal record or history of bankruptcy; his partner is a top level educationist. His qualifications have already been scrutinised when he first applied in London in 2014.

The prolonged torture of having one’s career and family future hanging by a thread for 3 to 4 years is agonising for him and his family.

Why can’t bureaucrats look beyond such petty transgressions which can be so easily fixed? Presumably when appeals are lodged the relevant decisions are internally reviewed. 

Does this mean this type of petty bureaucracy is condoned and thus encouraged in government ministries?

Where is the benefit for Australia?

Politicians would not survive scrutiny of such petty acts.

 Just a thought – If these processes were digitised, turnaround would be almost instantaneous. 

Even systems can be taught compassion and common sense.

Call me cantankerous

The statue of Edward Colston was toppled in a Black Lives Matter protest and tossed into a river in Bristol. He had been a merchant who amongst many other activities was involved in the Royal African Company which traded in slaves. It had been founded at the instigation of King Charles II in the 1600’s.

The slave trade was outlawed in 1807 in Britain and slaves were emancipated by in 1833.

Colston also supported and endowed schools, houses for the poor, almshouses, hospitals and Anglican churches in Bristol, London and elsewhere. He died at age 84 in 1721. A statue was erected in his honour.

A jury recently found 4 people clearly identified as perpetrators to be not guilty – they argued that the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.

Perhaps statues of King Charles II should also be tossed? Perhaps it’s time to give the Queen and Royalty the heave-ho ? After all, their ancestor founded the Royal African Company.

If society does not allow the discussion of ideas and issues, people descend to shouting. Shouting is offensive and leads to confrontation. Those people who deny platforms to those who express opposing opinions and topple statues rely on the civilised reticence of the majority who will withdraw and avoid confrontation.

We have seen how demonstrators attack the police, deface buildings and defy regulations.

How far should they be allowed to go? What is peaceful demonstration?

Not so long ago – in my lifetime, unruly demonstrators were orderered to disperse. If they defied these orders, shots were fired over their heads, if they persisted, ringleaders were shot by marksmen. That always did the trick.

Can’t say I fault the process.

How do you do, 2022?

It is the time of year one reviews and previews.

The highlight of 2021? – Undoubtedly watching the Boks beat the All Blacks.

From the anthems to the seething happy crowd, to the joy and exhilaration – all amidst a plague! Who would believe it?

I cannot overlook the joy of meeting my grandson! I have already worked out that I will only be 92 when he will be playing in the Rugby World Cup!! Now there is an objective in life! Hope some of my mates will still be around to join me.

Just a mention of the plague, now entering its third year: will it fizzle out once we have all contracted it ? Does not seem likely, with another variant in France being mentioned …

With a growing groundswell of feeling against mandates and restrictions, the politics become decidely difficult for those in office.

But if we keep getting new variants and requiring more jabs and hospital beds and ventilators for the sickest run out… some hard decisions on who gets admitted will arise. I bet the politicos will leave that to the doctors.

Looking ahead my predictions for the near future are:

  • I think the Coalition will survive the Australia election.
  • A Trump will run for President
  • We will have a new King
  • China and Russia will become more menacing
  • EV’s will begin to proliferate
  • Cash will disappear
  • The All Blacks will rise again

Finally, I urge you all to consider carefully before you condemn, do not blindly follow the media mob, hear what the other side has to say.

That is freedom and it is being trampled by the populist views of identity politics. Do not discard institutions to accommodate extreme views.

Become a freedom fighter

Happy new year and may the Covid die!

The mysteries of sex

Hopefully the title has lured your interest and you read on. This is about an older man’s resistance to change and opposition to the incursions of identity politics into history and life as we know it.

Back in the day, say 1960’s and 70’s when Germaine Greer was shaking the tree and ruffling the entrenched privileges of patriarchs, a “trannie” was a transistor radio.

Now  there are arguments between medical philosophers in “The Lancet” about politically correct gender terminology

The streaming company Twitch recently said it would use the term “womxn” in order to be more gender neutral in its language.

“But LGBT communities online called the change transphobic because it suggested trans women were not women.”

I think I grasp most of what the LGBTQ anagram stands for.

A 2011 survey in the US suggested LGBTQ’s make up about 10% of the population. Of course each group are all different with different demands and there are variations within each grouping e.g.: Transgender people may identify as heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexual, asexual, or otherwise, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. 

This has become quite confusing for some of us. What do we call these people, other than saying ” one of those LGBTQ types... “?

I have a few suggestions which might help:

  • The tensions over who can use which toilet could be eased by renaming public conveniences as urinals and non-urinals and by increasing the number and privacy of toilet cubicles which could be open to anyone.
  • Allow males into breast feeding/ baby care rooms only to change nappies (that will keep them out)
  • Instead of ‘people with vaginas‘,or ‘people who menstruate’ congenitally heterosexual women could be re-labelled as wombmen
  • Trans males who have had surgery to acquire female conformation could be called ginamen
  • Trans females who have had surgery to acquire male conformation could be called cockerelles
  • Female Bisexuals could be callen whimen, males could be bisons
  • Unaltered transgender people could be called cocktoos

I would like the word gay to be returned to its original usage, describing happy, merry and frolicsome behaviour. I get that queer and other labels may be unacceptable, so maybe they could be called otherlovers. In line with that, pansexuals could be called anylovers

No hurt is intended but if it is felt, it certainly couldn’t be more than the hurt felt by the the world of women who have been told they no longer can be called females or ladies and must change their nomenclature.

Of course sarcasm doesn’t help other than to perhaps signal discomfort at the disproportionate reactions in social media against those who question the rationale or proposals advanced by identity politicians or proposals that the whole be changed to accomodate tiny minorities.