‘I ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE IN THE HOUSE OF EVERALD COMPTON AO’.

These friendly words of welcome were made last Wednesday by Hon. Milton Dick MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament.

I was visiting Parliament, negotiating on behalf of community projects in which I am personally involved, for the 121st time since my first visit there 66 years ago, covering an era in which 14 Prime Ministers have held office.

Milton had invited me to be his guest in the front row of the Speakers Gallery at Question Time, so I relaxed there as I took in the spectacle of Parliamentarians tearing one another apart – verbally – as usual.

During the proceedings, he announced my presence and the Members greeted me with warm applause. I was not expecting this, so I instantly decided that I better stand up and nod my thanks. This caused a bit more applause. I was quite moved by the honour, especially as the response came from all Parties in the Parliament, something that does not often happen in a Parliament that is constantly becoming more divided.

That same evening, Milton invited me to share an upmarket whisky with him and other MP’s in the Speakers Office as we chatted about political people and events over my six and a half decades as a visitor to Parliament. As we enjoyed our drinks, he asked me to express an opinion as to who were the best and worst Prime Ministers in my era. I responded that I have no doubt that Julia Gillard was the best and Scott Morrison the worst.

The visit to Parliament in this past week enabled me to have private meetings with 29 politicians and bureaucrats. I made sure that I covered Labor, Liberals, Nationals, Greens. Independents. This is a practice I have followed over all the years as I learned long ago that, to achieve anything significant at Parliament, it is vital to get as many people and parties onside as is possible.

On this occasion, at the conclusion of my three days there, I can say with confidence that I am pleased with the progress made with my projects, but am always aware that I should have done better,

I must mention that I found this Parliament, led by Anthony Albanese, to be a much more progressive place on sound government than those run by Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. They were consumed by the exercise of power whereas this one shows clear evidence of genuinely trying to achieve results in an ever changing and challenging world of huge social, economic and religious divisions. A totally different attitude prevails at this moment and I found it to be refreshing. My hope is that it will continue to be so.

Right now, the major political battlegrounds are in the fields of industrial relations, anti-corruption, robodebt, voluntary assisted dying, child care, climate, environment, voice referendum, aged care and skills shortage, with many other initiatives in the pipeline. It will be good for Australia if most are successful

A few matters are obvious headline gatherers that are worthy of special comment right now.

*The Voice Referendum is currently in trouble. I found only a few MP’s who are confident that it will pass as most of them feel that Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania will vote No. The Australian Constitution clearly states that a majority of States must vote Yes for any Referendum to pass on the issue of constitutional change. I will vote Yes and will campaign strongly to secure an overall Yes vote as it is fundamentally wrong for Australia to have a Constitution that does recognise 65000 years of indigenous heritage. However, it will require a a well planned and very positive campaign to secure a Voice to that heritage.

*Along with the political demise of Scott Morrison, the power of the Christian Right has faded considerably in the current Parliament. I doubt that it will ever regain its influence as most Christians are in the centre ground of politics, not out on the extremes of the right.

*Many veteran Nationals and Liberals in Parliament intend to retire at the 2025 Election. They are resigned to the inevitability that Anthony Albanese will enjoy two terms as Prime Minister and Jim Chalmers will follow him for at least another 2 terms. They do not want to be in the political wilderness for so many long years. I can understand their feelings on this matter but the key issue is this. Can they find replacements who are Prime Minister material? This task is of great importance as they do not have anyone in their ranks at this moment who is electable as Leader of our nation. As matters stand at present, they are obviously very weak as the official Opposition. This is shown by their consistently poor performances at Question Time. Too many of their questions are embarrassingly ridiculous.

*The TEALS and other Independents are not political amateurs. They are preforming with positive credibility and getting results. One example of this is the humble but powerful performance of David Pocock in gaining amendments to Industrial Relations legislation.

So there it is for now.

Many things can change in a hurry in politics, so nothing is certain. But, for now, the new Labor government is doing better than most people expected.

I will be back there in Canberra in February. It may be a different world by then. Who knows.

But let me close by saying that I will never ever forget my first meeting with Sir Robert Menzies way back in 1956. He had a commanding presence and looked and acted like a Prime Minister of huge distinction. The key issue to remember is that he clearly occupied the centre ground of politics. It was obvious that he was a genuine Liberal. He was not a Conservative. The future of Australian politics will always be in the Centre. The LNP must get back there in a hurry or remain in the lonely wilderness for decades.

Yours with an open mind.

Everald

My book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS is enjoying increasing sales. Many Australians are realising that to vote in the voice referendum, they must have some knowledge of what our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution. My book is written as a thriller in which Barton, Deakin, Griffith, Kingston, Forrest etc are the very credible heroes.

Go to my books website, EveraldBooks.com, to place an order for it (and my other books).

THE MURDER OF CASSIUS TURVEY

Three weeks ago, a young Indigenous Aussie, just 15 years old, was peacefully walking home with his friends from the school they attended at Middle Swan in Western Australia.

His name was CASSIUS TURVEY.

They were attacked by a 21 year old man who hit him, and some of his friends, with an iron pole. He died two weeks later and his attacker has been charged with murder.

When he was laid to rest this week in the ancient and splendidly spiritual traditions of his ancestors, there was a genuine outpouring of grief across Australia as people of many cultures and religions met to light candles of remembrance. These gatherings were not organised as a part of any campaign against racists. They just happened. Indeed, the family of Cassius asked that his death not be used in any way as part of a political campaign.

Certainly, most of us do not want a nationwide crusade similar to that which happened when George Floyd was murdered by 4 police in USA. That incident was not a show of grief. It was as close to anarchy as it was possible to get. Simply, it was naked political unrest fostered by extremists who capitalised on the sincere feelings of many peace loving Americans who were appalled at Floyd’s death.

The death of Cassius is a stark reminder to all of us that we live in a violent society that is growing in its incidence of brutality for no valid reason.

This has been fostered by the ever growing use of hostile and insulting words that millions of us use every day in the normal course of our lives.

I cringe when politicians abuse one another in Parliament on every occasion they can. They set a dreadful example to the nation of disrespect and intolerance.

Media stirs divisions among us every minute of every hour of every day by creating controversial headlines that are blatant lies designed to divide society into warring factions that will support whatever sick ideology they are fostering at the time.

Social media is the worst centre of abuse by far. The bitterness, nastiness and lies that are spewed out every day are hugely disgraceful. So much so that I have recently taken up the practice of instantly blocking any follower or reader who is even slightly abusive, vulgar or hypocritical. We do not need them in our society in any shape or form.

We can commence our crusade against abuse by the way in which we participate in the debate during the forthcoming Referendum which will be held in Australia sometime during 2023 on the creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VOICE.

This referendum has the capacity to create huge social divisions across the nation, not because there is anything illegal or divisive or dishonorable about it, but simply because it will give racists and bullies a respectable platform to vent their appalling spleen across our society and try their very best to divide us into warring factions.

I intend to campaign strongly for a YES Vote simply because I passionately believe it is time to recognise in the Australian Constitution the 65000 years of Indigenous heritage of our nation. This was deliberately omitted when our Constitution was written and voted on in 1901.

However, I will use no nasty language and I will respect the right of opponents to express their differing views as citizens of a democratic nation. If ever I overstep the mark, I will apologise sincerely.

My profound hope is that Australia will grow as a nation that has a predominantly cohesive society and that, in the years ahead, young Aussies like CASSIUS will be able to live with an expectation of security in a peaceful community, no matter whether they are black or white or of any other ethnic group or religion or culture.

May I say this in closing.

I did not attend a public gathering for CASSIUS. I paused for a few moments at my home to quietly shed a tear for him. He died before he had the opportunity to play the music that was in his soul. There and then, I made a quiet commitment to work relentlessly to foster a nation of peace.

And I now remember the words of the great English poet, John Donne, (amended to remove the word Man).

‘The death of any person diminishes me as I am involved in humankind. Therefore, never ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for you.’

Sincerely,

Everald Compton

JIM CHALMERS BUDGET – WHAT IS YOUR JUDGEMENT?

The first time I took an interest in a Federal Government Budget was 77 years ago when I had to write an essay about it at High School in Toowoomba. I knew so little about Budgets of any kind that I barely scraped a pass.

Since then, I must report that I have never ever seen a Government Budget that everyone thought was the right one. Indeed, voters are usually split somewhere around 50/50 in their opinions of its worthiness, no matter what type of government is in power.

This year has been no different.

I have known Jim Chalmers for 15 years having first met him when he was the key economic adviser to Wayne Swan and played a considerable role in deciding Australia’s response to the Great Financial Crisis. We have kept in regular contact down the years and I was greatly honoured when he launched my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS at a function in Brisbane two years ago.

He has put an enormous amount of work into this current Budget Update and I know that he firmly believes in its capacity to work for Australia. I also know that he a person of honesty and integrity who will readily admit to any errors of judgement that he may have made and do something about fixing them if he believes that criticisms are valid.

The main criticism in the public arena has been that there is little of obvious significance in the Budget to directly help pensioners, people on fixed incomes, and those who have not had a wage rise, to handle the widespread ravages of inflation and huge rises in energy bills. I feel for them mightily but I can’t see a way to solve that problem until inflation comes under control. The key issue for us to understand is that inflation is not a domestic issue for Australia alone. Every nation in the world has been hit with it and it already has caused some political casualties, eg, former British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who totally misjudged it.

My view is that, while the Ukraine War initially created some inflation, it has been grossly fuelled by far too many businesses using inflation as an excuse to unjustifiably put up prices and lie to us that inflation was the cause. It is one of the purest examples of greed I have ever seen. Quite disgusting.

Nevertheless, there were many good things in the Chalmers Budget such as in the area of child care and paid parental leave, flood relief etc.

This brings us to an important point for debate.

Must governments do everything for us. Do they need to control and dictate our lives and how much should we determine for ourselves? And in what ways are we personally responsible for our neighbours. If there are struggling pensioners in my street, should I take them some food as often as I can? The answer is YES.

I remember the dark days of the Great Depression of the 1930’s when my mother took meals to friends who were unemployed and there was no dole to sustain them. I was her helper in cooking and delivering, even though I am certain she would have done much better without my amateur efforts.

So it is that Australia’s most urgent need is to have strong caring communities and it is our calling to create them wherever we live. And to ask Jim Chalmers to back us in every way that he can when the next Budget arises in May 2023. State and Local Governments must do likewise. They share responsibility with the Feds and ourselves.

I hope you will find time to enjoy reading my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS. It tells the story of how the Australian Constitution was written in the 1890’s and implemented in 1901. It forecasts that we now need many changes to it that will enable us to adapt to a totally different world 120 years later. For example, if we had only two levels of government instead of 3, Australia would have much more money to provide for the needs of pensioners. If we had a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME embedded in the Constitution, then no one would ever be in need or left behind.

We face a challenge right now. We know that we live in a world of huge change and I reckon that Jim Chalmers has the ability and humility and decency to help us face those changes and lead us to a better quality of life that gives us the opportunity to shine as good citizens. Let’s keep him on his toes while he walks with us towards the light on the hill.

And keep smiling.

Everald