You and I have the democratic right to place a Petition before Parliament asking them to consider and act upon any matter of public interest that concerns us.
All that is required is that we go to the website of the Australian Parliament, click on PETITIONS, and follow the guidelines on how to submit a request in not more than 250 words.
Our document goes to the Petitions Committee of Parliament for consideration. If they agree that it is a suitable petition, they invite us to submit evidence of community support for our request. This means that we invite supporters to log on to the Parliament website and follow the prompts to register as a supporter.
The Petitions Committee will then study our supporter base and, if they believe it is sufficient, they forward our Petition to the relevant Minister whose portfolio of responsibilities cover the domain of our request.
We are then free to contact the Minister to advocate our cause before, as required by law, he or she replies to us.
Because of this democratic privilege we have here in Australia, I decided to submit a Petition asking Parliament to set up a Committee to investigate the establishment of UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME in Australia.
As I want to achieve the best possible result, I invited my friend, Dr Karen Stenner, an eminent political scientist, to draft the petition and submit it to Parliament. She has done this splendidly and successfully as the Petitions Committee has now asked us submit evidence of community support.
So we need your help right now and invite you to click on the link below to register your support.
Please do it TODAY as our deadline set by the Committee is 31 August.
Ignore the survey on the website. Just click ‘Continue’.
I will not bore you here with a detailed description of the huge benefits of Universal Basic Income. Just type it into Google and you will find many descriptions of where and how it has been trialed around the world.
I will just give you these few dot points as an indication of key elements of its value.
*Replaces all welfare, and there is no Centrelink, as all over 18 are eligible to receive UBI.
*Removes the stigma of welfare.
*Financed by the removal of a huge bureaucracy & the imposition of a levy on all of the many tax evaders in Australia.
*Gives people the financial backing to survive while they start up a small business or undergo skills training to change occupations.
*Unlike the age pension, it enables everyone to earn as much as they want to without penalty other than normal income tax.
*Significantly increases participation in the work force.
*Reduces mental stress from daily life.
Just be reminded that we are not asking Parliament to implement Universal Basic Income. We are just inviting them to investigate it. Hopefully, we live in a world of open minds where we constantly seek to find better ways of doing everything.
Here is the link for you to use to sign up as a supporter of UBI. You will note that the Petition has been submitted by Dr Karen Stenner.
Please do it TODAY and also send it on to your friends inviting them to do likewise.
Rebecca Levingston is a good friend. She hosts the morning program on 612 ABC Brisbane from 8.30 until 11 Monday to Friday and from time to time I have enjoyed being her guest.
At 10 on Fridays, she devotes 30 minutes to reviewing the major news events of the week and has invited me to be her guest commentator on the program every week commencing on Friday of this week, 21 July.
So I am delighted to accept Rebecca’s invitation and look forward to many weeks of chatting about the key issues that challenge us all.
Comments will be politically independent and socially responsible with no headline grabbing nonsense. Our aim is to offer commonsense advice on the issues of the day that you can debate at home.
So, listen in and enjoy every Friday at 10.
Everald (and Rebecca. She is the fine person you can see below.)
Six years ago, eminent leaders of Indigenous Australians met at Uluru to draft and agree upon a Statement from the Heart. This led them to make a courteous request for a Referendum to be held to approve the establishment of a Voice that would enable them to make proposals to Parliament without having any legislative power.
Some delegates walked out in protest as they wanted to negotiate a Treaty similar in spirit to the one New Zealand Maoris signed at Waitangi 180 years ago. However, the support for Voice was substantial and the debate on Voice versus Treaty is evidence of democracy at work.
The expectation at Uluru that day was one of hope that participation in a vote for Voice would unite our country in a way that Australians have not experienced in the 235 years since the British invasion of the continent.
Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison rejected Voice, but Anthony Albanese committed to it in his 2022 election campaign and has honoured that mandate as Prime Minister. Referendum legislation has now passed the Parliament and we all have the right to vote on it in October this year.
However, the YES and No campaigns are now locked in a bitter and nasty battle that is tearing Australia apart in a way that was never intended by the initial advocates of Voice. Both sides must share the blame for this.
YES is ultra sensitive to questions of how Voice will work, insisting that all will be revealed after the Referendum. Their responses are too often unnecessarily abusive declaring any questioner to be either racist or stupid or both. Quite extraordinarily, they are oblivious to the obvious fact that if people vote No because they don’t get the information they request, there wont be any Voice legislation to reveal to us as the Referendum will have been lost.
NO gives the clear impression that their opposition to Voice is based solely on the fact that, because of their small numbers in Parliament, they see this Referendum as the only opportunity they have to enjoy a political victory over Anthony Albanese before Election 2025 and they will not waste the opportunity. Their campaign is based on the crude political art of spreading false information that sounds like truth, causing many people who intend to vote NO for legitimate reasons to publicly disassociate themselves with Dutton, Littleproud, Hansen, Price and Mundine, meaning that there will be little political gain for them.
The sad fact is that both sides are hugely fostering deep divisions that are destroying the social fabric of Australia.
I have stated publicly on many occasions that I am a YES voter and a Yes advocate as is proven by the speeches I have made over the past year to older Australians of my era and I can tell you that I have not yet been in a room where Yes voters have been in the majority.
In question time after my speeches, or during the coffee break when people can speak in confidence, I find that these are the most persistent questions for which answers are sought and I don’t have sufficient information to answer their concerns.
*How many members will be elected to Voice?
*What will be the annual cost to the Budget for the operation of Voice?
*As there are twice as many Indigenous Members of Parliament as Indigenous people should be entitled to have as a percentage of the population, why can’t those Parliamentarians be asked to do the work of Voice as a specially appointed committee within the Parliament where they can wield influence?
*Will Voice be able to significantly help solve the social and financial and justice issues that have beset Indigenous Australians for a long time and can Voice create genuine value for the expenditure of billions of dollars this is spent by governments in continually failing to solve these problems?
*How can we trust politicians not to give Voice greater powers after the referendum when we know that the disgrace and deceit of Robodebt is a vivid reminder of the long list of the ways in which politics has consistently failed us in years past?
*Can we be guaranteed that Voice is the only constitutional change that Indigenous Australians will request? Will there be more after this one?
I could list other legitimate questions that are regularly asked by decent people, but these are the prime ones.
But I also reveal with sadness that when I seek answers to those questions so I can use them at meetings I address, the YES campaign hits me with criticism for committing the mortal sin of asking, even though we live and vote in a democracy which entitles us to ask.
Right now, Voice is on a pathway to defeat.
This will be an horrendous tragedy as enormous social divisions will be created. It will ensure that Australia becomes a pariah nation on the world scene while racial hatred steadily consumes our country.
It can be avoided if both the YES and No campaigns make long overdue decisions to act responsibly so people can vote in confidence without fear of the future.
I will continue to advocate for YES to Older Australians who currently hold many negatives in their minds about Voice despite having one hand tied behind my back by leaders who refuse to answer questions.
No matter what happens, I will always believe that the magnificent mountain we proudly call Uluru is the spiritual heart of our nation and I will never ignore its cry for justice and peace to be embedded in our souls.
Most governments around the world have welfare programs that attempt to provide for the basic needs of its citizens who are old, ill, poor, unemployed, disabled etc.
Those programs are far from ideal and are as narrowly targeted as is possible. A huge amount of paperwork is needed to apply for welfare and if you qualify you are constantly required to prove that you remain eligible.
If you are fortunate enough to qualify for it, usually after a long waiting period, you find that it places you on or below the poverty line and this means you live under constant financial and emotional pressure.
There is also a stigma attached to anyone who applies for welfare. You are regarded as a lesser being when you receive it. Indeed, many in your community will regard you as lazy, an undeserving burden for your fellow citizens to carry.
In addition, taxpayers pay excessively for their government to employ many thousands of public servants to manage a huge bureaucratic welfare system. In Australia, we call it Centrelink and it can justly be proclaimed as the most hated, inefficient and ineffective institution in the nation.
Far too many nations, especially Australia, have far too often had governments whose ideology has led them to want to punish welfare recipients, regarding them as sinners in need of repentance. The criminal application of ROBODEBT in Australia is a prime example of welfare persecution that caused people to suicide.
There just has to be a better way to create a just and decent society.
Indeed there is and it is called UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME (UBI), an enlightened alternative that a few nations have experimented with regionally and the results show noteworthy promise. The Province of Manitoba in Canada is a good example.
The basic plan is this.
*Every registered voter, who actually votes so as to prove their identity, will receive an unconditional monthly payment from government without applying for it. It should be at least the size of the current age pension and you will receive it until the day you die.
*If you also earn wages for work, or income from enterprise or investment, the UBI you receive will be counted as taxable income but you are not punished for working as currently happens with the age pension in Australia.
*If you choose not to receive UBI, you instruct government to pay it into a sovereign fund that is established for this purpose and is used for nation building projects.
*The cost to government of providing funds to pay for UBI is partially offset by the savings generated from closing Centrelink. The remainder is covered by ensuring that all tax evaders pay a minimum tax on revenue no matter how much they claim as losses.
*A prime benefit of UBI in social terms is that there is no such person as a welfare recipient. All stigma is removed as no one can tell what your personal position actually is.
*The existence of UBI means that there is never any need for governments to make relief payments to people when crises occur such as floods fires droughts etc. Everyone is receiving their UBI payment every month no matter what tragedies hit them.
*Mental health improves dramatically and its economic cost is reduced as UBI removes financial tension from millions of lives.
*More people will become self employed as they start small businesses knowing that if they fail they have their UBI to sustain the basics of life while they have another try.
As always, with every social initiative, special attention will need to be given to people who are in very special situations where they usually fall through the cracks.
The first step in introducing UBI into Australia will be for the Prime Minister to establish a Committee of Parliament to study it in depth and determine whether or not it can be designed to work effectively in Australia. If it reports positively, then legislation can be introduced to implement it.
If you agree in principle with UBI, please send this article to your local Federal MP asking him or her to advocate the establishment of a Committee of Parliament right now. It will take a courageous government to implement UBI but I think that our current Prime Minister and Treasurer may be the leaders to pioneer it.
UBI is not an idea that I have thought up. Far from it. I have simply been following its slow but purposeful introduction overseas, especially in Scandinavia and Canada.
The prime advocate here in Australia is a long standing friend of mine, Dr Karen Stenner, who is a highly experienced political scientist of excellent international repute. I am an enthusiastic volunteer on her team who, in my twilight years, wants to be part of the huge social and financial revolution that UBI will create.
You can follow Karen on Twitter @karen_stenner.
Join us in a journey to a safer and better future for all Australians.
On 1 January this year, as I do every year, I poured a wee dram of my finest scotch whisky (Lagavulin from Isle of Islay) and quietly proposed a proud toast to Australia and the Founding Fathers who brought our nation into being on I January, 1901.
I do this in acknowledgement of the undeniable fact that until the first day of 1901 there was no nation of Australia. That’s the day that 6 independent colonies came together to create our nation. It is the only day on which we can celebrate Australia Day. All other possible days that are suggested from time to time are cosmetic attempts to pretend to celebrate our nationhood.
26 January is quite clearly the wrong day for several valid reasons.
It is the day when the British created a jail for several shiploads of their convicts, plus the many shiploads that followed. They treated all of them brutally. I am descended from a convict (and proud of it). Why should I celebrate anything to do with the British inflicting agony upon him?
May I also ask why I should celebrate a day in which the British invaded a continent and began to steal it from its indigenous owners who had been here for 65000 years?
This totally unjustifiable invasion led to a war of occupation that lasted 100 years during which 30000 aborigines were shot defending the land that was theirs and another 100,000 died from diseases of civilisation brought by the invaders.
Do we really want to celebrate theft, murder and brutality? Fact is we have done so by accident. We simply started celebrating 26 January without giving any real thought as to what the day actually represents.
I cannot understand why we have any need to celebrate on 26 January when we all know that the rightful and only day to celebrate Australia Day is 1 January. It is a fact of history we have chosen to deny.
People who love public holidays say to me that if we celebrate on 1 January it will deprive them of the public holiday we are used to having on 26 January. They oppose any change because of that gross deprivation alone. Aborigines and convicts and the nation building of the Founding Fathers pale into insignificance for them compared with the loss of a public holiday.
However, we should all note that it will be no problem at all for our federal government to declare a replacement public holiday later in the year, hopefully to celebrate ENVIRONMENT DAY when we can plant trees and commit ourselves to stop polluting Australia.
Celebrating Australia Day correctly on New Years Day will also highlight positively our need to sadly note that our Founding Fathers did not acknowledge our Indigenous Heritage in our Constitution. Actually, they had no option as our State Governments insisted on retaining control of Aborigines and threatened to call off the Federation Movement had Aborigines been mentioned. Indeed, New Zealand withdrew from the proposed Federation because they wanted the status of Maoris recorded in the Constitution and their request was bluntly rejected by all 6 States.
However, we can do something positive towards correcting this huge error later this year by voting YES in the Voice Referendum.
May I say in closing that the dumbest thing about 26 January is that it occurs just at the time when our schools begin their year. We give students another holiday when they have just completed 6 weeks of holidays. Unbelievable really.
My regular readers will note that I hammer away about the disaster of 26 January every year. May I say that I will continue to do so until I take my last breath.
It is simply wrong (and stupid).
Which reminds me of another fact. 26 January is only New South Wales Day. The other five States were founded on different dates and treasure their first settlement just as proudly as NSW.
Your fair dinkum Aussie Mate
PS. You will note that I have featured below a great book by a fine Australian author Thomas Keneally. It is called A BLOODY GOOD RANT. This is a splendid description of my words above. It is also a great read that stimulates the mind. You will come across a number of chapters in which he makes very thought provoking comments about our image of Australia and our unintentional denial of our history.
As a committed YES voter and positive campaigner in the Referendum on VOICE, I request that a Bill containing this wording be passed by the Parliament of Australia immediately so that it will become law automatically when the Referendum is passed and cannot be altered without another referendum being held.
‘An ABORIGINAL and TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VOICE will be established by adding these words to the Constitution of Australia.
Voice will have 35 Members who are Indigenous Citizens elected by Indigenous Voters for a five year term.
Each State shall elect 5 members, Northern Territory 4 and Australian Capital Territory 1.
Their election will be arranged and implemented by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Rules and Procedures for the work of VOICE will be determined by Act of Parliament as will its annual operating Budget.
Voice will meet 4 times annually for one week on each occasion.
Its Members will debate and submit policies applicable to the livelihood of Indigenous Australians, especially a preamble to the Constitution and the wording of a Treaty that sets out their sovereign rights.
The policies will be transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives who will make appropriate arrangements for both Houses of Parliament to consider them.
Parliament will be under no obligation to accept them but the Speaker will convey a response to VOICE within reasonable time on each occasion.
This legislation automatically becomes law on the passing of the Referendum.’
I have given up on making new year resolutions. Most of them are dreams.
In 2023, I will concentrate on ATTITUDE CHANGE.
Am intending to take a searching look at my usual habits and gradually improve them, making radical changes if necessary.
I will commence by being curious about every challenge that faces me.
Before charging in to fix it, I will get CURIOUS and ask ‘why did this happen, can it be fixed by simple commonsense, is there a new way to fix it that has not been tried before, can it be done without generating anger and distrust while fostering goodwill and community spirit?’
I intend to base it on the thoughts expressed in a highly popular television series many decades ago by Professor Julius Sumner Miller. He called it WHY IS IT SO? His philosophy was to face every challenge by asking HOW DID THIS HAPPEN and WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SOLVE THIS. Do nothing without first becoming CURIOUS.
So it will be that with family, business, politics and religion I will get ultra CURIOUS in 2023.
But I will not just get live on curiosity. This will be useless unless I then act decisively to act, create and resolve. Results must be achieved otherwise I am wasting my life and doing nothing to lift the lives of others.
I need a base from which to start.
My 91 years of experience of life will help but I need to be across what is happening right now that can help me in becoming adequately curious.
You will note from the image below that I am reading a selection of essays on what we can learn from 2022 to prepare us for 2023. They are written by top quality academics from the Universities of Australia who write splendid articles for publication daily in a news service called CONVERSATIONS that you can discover on Google. Their writing will help us to get CURIOUS about how we can do much better in 2023. I recommend that you buy and enjoy the book. Its a good read.
I am also basing my venture into the realm of the curious on the inspiration given to us by extraordinary leaders whose lives, in life or death, impacted us in 2022.
My hero of the year is President Zelensky of Ukraine. A great leader of huge courage and ability.
Also Elizabeth11 – grace, dignity, calm, wisdom, longevity.
Mikhail Gorbachev – with huge courage he destroyed communism and paid a great personal price for doing so.
Sidney Poitier – magnificent talent as an actor who tried valiantly to close the racial divide.
Roger Federer – as graceful and talented a tennis player as ever graced a court and an inspirational person of huge generosity. In old fashioned terms, an absolute gentleman.
However, nothing will be possible without a core set of values on which I base my life and this means that any success I can achieve will be founded on my performance as a committed working partner of Jesus of Nazareth in constantly trying to have a creative role in achieving a better world.
So, a great year lies ahead in 2023.
It will be as good as we make it personally. It will be utterly pointless blaming politicians and everyone else for our problems. Our fate is entirely in our own hands.
But let us not forget that our first and correct and most positive challenge is to get CURIOUS.
Enjoy a happy, prosperous, satisfying year of achievement that you share with family and friends in creating a better society than we now have.
And don’t forget to get fired up for 2023 by reading my 3 books.
THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET.
And watch out for the publication of my new one that will hit the bookshops at Easter
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN – for a journey through history.
I grew up in a conservative family during The Great Depression of the 1930’s.
My mother was the granddaughter of a Lutheran Missionary and the daughter of a devout Presbyterian Elder.
My Dad was a hard working and very reliable labourer who was a faithful member of the right wing Australian Workers Union and a devoted follower of Edward Theodore, the most financially conservative Treasurer the Labor Party has ever produced.
With the benefit of their example, I grew up with a set of values that have been a cornerstone of my life and remain with me to this day.
Those values are not based on any ideology or theology.
They are basic and clear.
Let me list a few of them.
*Work hard and always do more than you are paid for.
*Save hard and be ready for tough times.
*Give away all you can. It puts power into your life.
*Learn skills and use them to find better ways to do your work.
*Never look backwards.
*When you are down, get up and start again.
*Dream visionary dreams and reach for the stars, always taking careful steps forward.
*Never leave your mates behind. Always pick them up when they are down.
*Be a committed working partner of Jesus of Nazareth and walk with him to create a better world.
*Treat everyone the same, no matter what their race or religion or social status may be.
*Foster the politics of commonsense.
*Apologise when you are wrong.
*Never end a day with harsh words.
*In all your dealings, make sure both sides win.
So, I look at the world of today, which is far different to my world of 9 decades ago, and ask if most people still live by these values. I find that the answer is NO. I reckon this is so because few leaders – political, financial or religious – are committed to those values.
Certainly, no political parties spell them out as their basic policies.
So called Conservative Parties are guilty of persistently promoting greed and power and privilege. They have no fundamental core of values and are mostly controlled by those who call themselves the Christian Right but are not Christian. They are more like bigots.
Parties that can be identified as being in the socialist realm go to extremes in trying to change the world by replacing traditional values with short term trends towards progress and rewriting history without putting anything solid in its place.
The only home where traditional conservatives like me can find a meaningful place is in the political centre where the ideology of commonsense prevails. From there, we will always be able to look at every issue and ask,
What is the commonsense way to fix this?
And to hell with the stupidity of both capitalism and socialism.
At this moment, Independents are the only politicians who are trying to occupy the centre ground and move forward with commonsense. The others are hide bound by the rules and ancient dogmas of their Parties and the primitive beliefs that they cling to.
My valued friend, Tony Windsor, was a fine example of how a quality Independent works. Still is.
History records that he, as an Independent, held the casting vote in the New South Wales Parliament during the term of a Liberal minority government led by Nick Greiner, and in the Federal Parliament when Julia Gillard’s Labor Government survived in the minority.
If you ask both Gillard and Greiner, they will affirm that, with every piece of legislation they put forward, Tony Windsor would put it through the COMMONSENSE TEST. If it did not stack up, he would refuse to vote for it and they would have to go back to the drawing boards.
Read his book, WINDSOR’S WAY and be inspired by the story. It is a great read. I know because I wrote the Foreword.
So, I invite you to join me as a TRADITIONAL CONSERVATIVE who is an enthusiastic REFORMER. Indeed, it is not possible to be a genuine conservative without being a progressive reformer. If you don’t want to be a reformer, it means that you may be a fascist.
We will be grounded in our values and use them as our cornerstone on which we will significantly reform and enhance the world by using by using the most powerful weapon on the planet. COMMONSENSE.
Descendant of a convict sent out to Australia from England in 1831 for stealing a bed.
He used COMMONSENSE to eventually earn a pardon.
Then he worked hard and saved hard as a solid, middle of the road Conservative. When he died, he owned 5 workers cottages in Maitland obtained by investing with COMMONSENSE.
Sometime during the second half of 2023, we will be given the opportunity to vote YES or NO in what will be known as the VOICE REFERENDUM that arises from the ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART.
As announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year, a YES vote in the Referendum will create an amendment to the Australian Constitution that will enable Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to participate in a democratic election to establish a VOICE which will meet regularly to recommend policies to the Australian Parliament which will have the total authority to accept or reject them.
After the Referendum, Parliament will debate and enact a Bill that creates the rules that will apply to the way in which the VOICE is elected and operates.
In reality it is quite simply a positive step forward in integrating 65000 years of heritage into our Constitution and our life as a nation.
I will vote YES and actively campaign for a Yes vote.
In doing this, I am well aware that a significant number of my friends intend to vote NO and have carefully considered reasons for doing so. I respect their right to vote according to their conscience.
Here are some of their reasons for voting NO.
*Australia is a nation that already has a voice – our Federal Parliament – to which we have elected a significant number of indigenous parliamentarians.
*The Voice will create apartheid.
*Australia provides billions of dollars to Indigenous people every year and this has been wasted. No matter what is done for them, they are ungrateful and will always want more.
*The establishment of a Voice will not solve the problems that are ingrained in indigenous society such as crime, unemployment, alcohol, drugs, health, housing, domestic violence, poor education and lack of skills.
*It is only city aborigines who want a Voice. Country aborigines have no interest in it.
*A Treaty, based on the Waitangi Treaty of New Zealand, would achieve more.
In response to these concerns and beliefs, I tell my friends the reasons why I will vote YES.
*Indigenous people were excluded from the Australian Constitution in 1901. This was an insult and a mistake which must be rectified now.
*When Britain, in 1788, invaded the continent we now call Australia, they stole land which had been occupied by indigenous people for 65000 years. The welfare that is now given to them is a tiny fraction of the value of their land that they have never ceded.
*100 tribes of Indigenous people have never been able to speak to the Australian Parliament with one democratically elected Voice. Previous institutions have been comprised of political appointees who did the will of the governments that appointed them.
*White people have always decided what is best for aborigines, never the reverse.
*Defeating the referendum will achieve nothing. This issue will never go away. We will just irresponsibly kick the can down the road so our children and grandchildren will eventually have to do what we failed to do.
*It is quite simply the right and decent thing to do.
I am certain there are other important reasons why people will vote YES or NO and these will emerge during the referendum campaign. However, the ones I have outlined give an indication of the general scope of the forthcoming debate.
The Albanese Government will not provide funding for either the YES or NO campaigns. Both sides are required to set up there own organising teams and raise their own funds. This is a good thing as it would be wrong for the government to be seen to be promoting YES even though it is a clear policy of the Labor Party. So, it must promote neither.
I have joined, as a volunteer, a significant group called FROM THE HEART and my role is to help organise a strong YES vote from the Senior Australians. My plan is to enlist as many older Aussies as possible to visit everyone in the streets around their own home to chat about the absolute common sense of having a VOICE. We won’t waste money on advertising. Face to face talking is the powerful way to sell this historic strengthening of our national life.
My gut feeling is that there is a significant task ahead.
Right now, my private polling of public opinion tells me that Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are likely to vote NO and this will create a national defeat of VOICE as our Constitution says that a referendum cannot pass unless a majority of States vote YES.
I also suspect that Senior Australians will vote NO by a margin of 60/40 because of ingrained negativity about all indigenous issues generated over many decades, but I think that a positive campaign could make it 50/50. Young voters will then take it over the victory line.
Overall, I reckon that with sincere and courteous campaigning the cause for YES can achieve a positive victory and I intend do my best to make it happen. My experience is that most older Australians are responsible people who will try to do the right thing for the good of Australia once they understand the issues at stake.
Creating a VOICE is clearly a nation building exercise that will benefit us all.
Nevertheless, I have an open mind to debate any better alternatives that sincere advocates put forward as this issue will never go away. Defeating it will achieve nil.
Grace and Peace in the spirit of ULURU. It is a symbol of unity.
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.
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).
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.’
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.
Life is tougher at this point in time than it usually is.
There are many reasons for this, but four stand out as cornerstones of perils that impact our lives.
First of all, we have COVID.
It hit us without warning and dominated our lives for two years. We had no previous experience upon which to base our response. After all, the last great killer virus was the Spanish Flu of 1920. That’s a century ago and there are no survivors to tell us of their experience. So we battled valiantly to curb it, made some mistakes, suffered prolonged isolation & economic hardship and watched it foster divisions in our society, particularly when State Governments severely criticised one another while all had a bad relationship with the Federal Government. But, in the end, we won and we express gratitude to all who led us to a place of general safety as we now plan how to better handle the next virus that will inevitably hit us soon and for which we are not adequately prepared.
Our second crisis is the war in UKRAINE.
The most pointless conflict in the history of humanity. Created by Putin, a psychopath, who hugely underestimated Ukraine’s Zelensky, the world’s most revered leader. We mourn for the people of Ukraine who are suffering enormously. We share their pain as the war has severely diminished the world’s food and energy supplies and contributed to the curse of inflation. It has also revealed to us the weakness of world leaders who sit gutlessly on the sidelines, pointlessly wringing their hands, because they tremble in fear of a nuclear World War 3. That’s a carbon copy of the scenario that caused World War 2.
Number 3 is INFLATION.
This continues to rise and have a huge impact on our cost of living, particularly for those on fixed incomes. It seems to be out of control internationally and this is only partially attributable to Ukraine. Its major cause is unrestrained capitalism where far too many in the arena of business are raising prices for no reason other than to make huge profits and take the heaven sent opportunity to blame it on inflation. It is as huge a fraud as I have ever seen and it has been made even worse by wealthy people and their political clones implementing policies that claim it can be fixed by tax cuts for the rich which will ‘trickle down’ to the poor. Never in history has wealth ever trickled down to help the needy. It is simply a myth that is intended to make its greedy proponents look like good citizens. Tax cuts are undeniably a welfare hand out to the upper crust. Corrupt in the very extreme.
Last, but by no means least, are FLOODS.
They are frequent and more severe than we have usually experienced. And they are again hitting us hard right at this moment. Climate Change is a contributing factor but necessary action on it is not the complete answer as it will take decades of world wide cooperation before it will reduce the impact of climate on our weather. Our immediate aim must be for our entire community to be better prepared in every possible way. Very important must be to have decisive action taken by governments to financially help people have their homes demolished or moved from flood plains to higher places. Right now, it is almost impossible to insure a home that has been flooded and this, cruelly, makes the home unsaleable. The same applies to farmers and their herds and crops. It is a task we cannot avoid.
So, what is our overall challenge in finding solutions to all four challenges.
Firstly, we must be rid of the ancient and stupid ideologies that plague the closed political minds of both Right and Left. We need to foster an open minded implementation of a belief in THE SHARED GOOD. It is quite simple really as it is based solely on commonsense.
Secondly, let us never ever lose HOPE.
Lastly, let’s rejoice that, whenever there is a crisis, many good people get together to help one another. This is shown by the wonderful community spirit that is prevailing in the current floods. It is heart warming to witness the generosity and goodwill that is being shown all over Australia right now.
May it continue in better times as the future of the world is in the hands of those who turn up.
And please help me to remain solvent by buying all 3 of my books on nation building that you will find right here on my website. They make wonderful Christmas gifts.
THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES is about the life of Australia’s greatest nation builder, Flynn of the Inland.
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS tells the compelling history of the giants who founded Australia in 1901 by leading 6 very independent States into Federation.
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET which is a challenging novel about a Christian who handles terminal illness positively, a very topical subject now that all States have passed legislation to make Voluntary Assisted Dying legally available to all who choose to use it.
Half of the royalties of my books go to ACTS, the community service arm of the Aspley Uniting Church, of which I am Chairman. We send cash gifts to needy people who usually are not members of our congregation and are hit by floods, droughts, fires, domestic violence and elder abuse, all of which are huge national challenges in which we can all participate.
It is the finest speech I have ever heard in an Australian Parliament.
Julia Gillard is not a naturally gifted public speaker, mainly because she is formal and responsible in her manner of making a speech. But on this day of 9 October, 2012 she was on fire as she let loose on Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, who had constantly demeaned and offended her with sexist language which was appalling crude.
He, and many other males in Parliament, Media and society could not cope with the reality of a woman holding more power than them.
Julia had reached the point where she had a gutful of it and rightly decided it was time for her to put a stop to it. So she lashed out and the Parliament was spellbound.
Here are a few of her more compelling lines.
‘I say to the Leader of the Opposition: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. Not now, not ever.’
‘I hope the Leader of the Opposition has a piece of paper and is writing out his resignation., because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he does not need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.’
‘The Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of his performance in this Parliament and the sexism he brings with it.’
‘The Leader of the Opposition should think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society, because we are entitled to a better standard than this.’
Earlier in her speech, she quoted words from an Abbott speech in which he said,
‘What the housewives of Australia must understand as they do the ironing is…’
Some will instinctively attempt to write off Gillard as a ‘leftie feminist’ who cant cope with men but this would be yet another insult that is utterly wrong. I met her several times for important meetings about issues relating to seniors. I found her to be a superb negotiator who always gave an answer to my requests. A couple of times I didn’t like her answers, but I was grateful that I had not been left in any doubt. I also found her to be an attractive person. She never ever looked like a wild radical.
Nevertheless, she now acknowledges that she did make a number of significant political errors that eventually cost her the loss of her job as Prime Minister. But note that she was not beaten by Abbott. It was Rudd who removed her.
It should be noted that the feminist movement was not founded by people like Julia Gillard and Germaine Greer. Its first high profile advocate in Australia was Dame Enid Lyons, wife of former Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Lyons.
After her husband died, she entered Parliament in her own right as a Liberal 80 years ago. It was 99% male. She wrote a book about it called AMONG THE CARRION CROWS. A Carrion Crow acts as though it is superior to other birds and practices manipulation and mischief.
I met her several times in her senior years in the 1970’s and found her to be a very gracious and intelligent person who was solidly conservative and regularly determined. She told me that she was offended by the way the males in parliament had always ben overly respectful and courteous to her, but usually dispensed her comments as ‘girl talk’. She found it to be insulting to her as a person with rights but she kept quiet about it until she wrote her book. I read it and highly regard it. She taught me a lot of wise commonsense.
Julia Gillard’s book is well worth reading as she has involved 10 other extraordinarily talented women who write essays that she has included. Women like distinguished journalist, Katharine Murphy, whose work I read regularly and essentially. The book covers the history of misogyny, its status today and what will happen tomorrow,
Misogyny is an issue that will not go away. People like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins get many headlines but they are not the core of the revolution. In every profession, institution, walk of life and social circle there are highly talented women who are not extremists but break the glass ceiling and create the equality that is their right. They are irrevocably changing the world and I am cheering.
Let me close by saying that I am hugely moved by the bravery of the many thousands of women in Iran who every day put their lives at risk by publicly demanding that male rules which dictate what they will wear must change significantly. One person of their gender was murdered by religious zealots who said she wore her clothes ‘loosely’.
(This gives me a chance to invite you to read my novel “A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET’. A leading character is a female Muslim doctor who takes on the zealots in the Christian and Islamic faiths).
May it be that we soon say farewell to MISOGYNY throughout the world.
I have never become a member of a political party and never will as this could have the capacity to lead me to life as a one eyed citizen locked in to an ideology that requires a closed mind.
This confirms that I have been a swinging voter all my life during which I have voted for the best leader or candidate, but never the ‘best’ Party.
So it is that I have at times voted for Robert Menzies, John McEwan and John Howard while on other occasions I cast my vote for Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard. On one occasion, I voted for Greens leader, Bob Brown, as he helped me with legislation regarding needs of pensioners. Now I make it my business to back quality independents as we need many more of them to raise the stature of our Parliaments.
My purpose in relating my background is to set the scene for this article.
As I am neither a capitalist nor a socialist and believe that both are equally decadent ideologies, I want to add that I especially vote against anyone who advocates tax cuts and believes in the very false theory of trickle down economics. I fight them both with a burning passion as never in my life have I ever seen either of them do anything meaningful for humanity.
It has been proven over and over again that tax cuts make a few favoured people more wealthy than they already are or need to be and enormously blow out the national budget deficit while in no way doing anything to stimulate the economy.
Most importantly, none of their newly created wealth has ever trickled down to the poor. Not ever. Not even remotely. And it never will.
The lie on which ‘trickle down’ is based and promoted is because the wealthy recipients of tax cuts need to have a moral excuse to justify their greed. They want everyone to understand that only seek wealth so they can pass it on to the poor. Unless they can help the needy, they really don’t want to have one cent of their wealth.
From an early age in my 90 years, I regularly have been making speeches spelling out the sheer hypocrisy of tax cuts and trickle down economics. My critics always declare with venom that I have not got a clue about either economics or good government and should therefore shut up permanently.
So I ask them to give me just one instance where it has been proved that tax cuts have worked, but no one has ever given me a single one that is valid.
They trot out the high profile ones like those legislated in USA by Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Donald Trump or the recent one here in Australia by Scott Morrison, yet none have ever proved that they actually worked for the common good. They are unable to deny that budget deficits blew out and have never been repaid. The poor remained poor and often became poorer. The entire theory is a blatant lie of huge proportions.
THE INDISPUTABLE FACT IS THAT TAX CUTS ARE A BLATANT AND CORRUPT WELFARE HANDOUT TO THE WEALTHY, THE VERY GUYS WHO CONSTANTLY DENIGRATE THE POOR FOR SEEKING WELFARE. THEY ARE ALSO THE SAME GUYS WHO PAY THE LEAST POSSIBLE TAX THAT THEY CAN SO THAT EVERYONE ELSE PAYS THE COSTS OF NATIONAL LIFE.
The proven way to stimulate any economy is for government to create jobs by going into debt to build infrastructure & constantly enhance our essential food, health, education, housing, energy, and transport systems. This generates an army of taxpayers to fund the nation and creates spenders who fire up the market place.
Let me emphatically say in closing that I encourage and hugely admire people who begin life with nothing but work hard and wisely and honestly to gain a position of genuine wealth while paying a responsible amount of tax while they do it. We need many more of them, but no wheelers and dealers and plunderers who are also tax avoiders.
I also work to create a world in which everyone has a fair chance to become financially independent which is the status I have managed to achieve in life and is all that most humans really need to enjoy a good life of positive and creative achievement.
Let me say first of all that I have believed for many decades that Australia needs a new flag.
May I also say that I will never ever burn our flag no matter what its design may be?
My journey towards achieving a new flag for Australia began at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
At that time, our National Anthem was GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. When an Australian won a Gold Medal, this was played as the Aussie mounted the podium. Exactly the same happened when a Brit or a Kiwi won. There was no distinction.
Even the most conservative monarchists in Australia began to openly say, ‘we must have a national anthem of our own that shows we are no longer a British colony.’ Some were also saying, ‘we must have a new flag too. After all the Canadians are getting a new one.’
It took a long time, but we finally achieved the goal of a new national anthem even though we blundered badly. WALTZING MATILDA, with new words, should have been chosen as this is the tune that the world instinctively identifies as being Australian.
But we have made no progress whatsoever in gaining a genuine Australian Flag.
The Union Jack, that is a predominant part of it, continues to tell the world we are a British Colony. No national movement of power is advocating a new flag and current thinking is that a new flag can naturally follow after Australia becomes a Republic, probably in 2024 or 2025. I fervently hope so.
In the meantime, our Aboriginal Flag has gained prominence and will continue be a permanent presence in the life of Australia even though many people are of the strong belief that Australia can have only one flag. Actually, we have three as Torres Strait Islanders have one too, but most of us have not been aware of it. If we really want to get round to considering the entire realm of our flags, all six States and both Territories have flags, so this makes 11 flags in all.
Now, to come to the current controversy.
During our national remembrance of the death of Queen Elizabeth, an indigenous protester publicly burned the Australian Flag, declaring that it commemorates the British Invasion of Australia that occurred when the First Fleet arrived in 1788. This resulted in the dispossession of land occupied by Indigenous people for 65000 years and the deaths of 30000 of them by gunfire and 100,000 by the diseases of white civilisation. In remembering this, it is important to note that no indigenous tribe ever surrendered or ceded their land to the British. It remains their own to this day.
While all this is true, Elizabeth was not personally responsible for it, nor is anyone living on our continent right now. So, the burning of our flag is offensive to most of our people. However, we will become very much to blame if we fail to do something positive about recognising Indigenous heritage and granting them a legislated advisory voice that they are entitled to in the affairs of the nation.
Our first opportunity to do this is via the Voice Referendum, currently scheduled to be held sometime in 2023. If it is passed, it will create a constitutional entity to which Aborigines will elect representatives. Those representatives will have power to debate any issues that relate to their people and present them to our Federal Parliament for consideration, However, Parliament will be under no legal obligation to approve them.
I can see no valid reason why this referendum should not pass. Indigenous people were not consulted when the Australian Constitution was drafted and approved in 1901 and they are not mentioned in it except to say they are the responsibility of the States. They have a fundamental right to be recognised as human beings and this small step will recognise it.
(It is appropriate also that I should mention too that women were not consulted about the Constitution in 1901).
Once this first step is taken, consideration can be given to the signing of a Treaty in the same spirit as was intended in the negotiation of the Waitangi Treaty in New Zealand in 1840.
The blunt fact is that if the Voice Referendum is defeated, the issue will not ever go away. It will remain as a festering sore of our national life forever so nothing will be gained by running away from it. We cannot hide behind the fact that dispossession of indigenous people has happened on every other continent. That fact of history does not make it right.
Nevertheless, having said all of the above, I strongly hold the view that the burning of our National Flag last week was unjustified.
Indeed, it was also very naive politics as it has lost the support of many people who were intending to vote YES. It was quite simply insulting and WRONG.
That lost ground means that much more positive work will have to be done to make sure that the referendum wins.
A proud Australian who intends to vote YES and campaign strongly for a YES vote. It’s time.
When John Howard’s long and eminent political career ended, he became an author of distinction.
His latest book A SENSE OF BALANCE is, in my view, his best work to date.
I enjoyed his previous books LAZARUS RISING and THE MENZIES ERA. The first was his autobiography and the latter was a biography of his mentor. Both are excellent reads.
A SENSE OF BALANCE is quite different.
He describes it in this way. ‘How a sense of balance has defined us as a nation and will safeguard our future.’
It is actually about the crises that Australia has faced during his parliamentary career and beyond. He believes that we have survived because we did not let any crisis upset our sense of balance and this has enabled us to set the basis for a robust future for our nation.
He covers crucial subjects such as the Covid pandemic, election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the rise of China, climate change, the defeat of Scott Morrison, our relationship with royalty, Nine Eleven , 6 prime ministers in 11 years, Republic, Indigenous recognition, plus other matters of significance such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite being a solid Conservative, he attempts to highlight both sides of any debate before setting out his own views in moderate fashion. He gives the clear impression of wanting to create a balanced community debate on all the issues he raises and I hope this happens.
I certainly would like to debate his views on climate and royalty and the Voice Referendum.
The most powerful element of his book is contained in the background to its title – A SENSE OF BALANCE.
While not exempting himself from criticism of some of his own divisive decisions and policies, he laments the way that society is so rigidly divided on far too many issues. He is particularly concerned, just as you and I are, that our divided opinions are now expressed so strongly that they too often convey pure hatred of those who hold opposing views. This is not a healthy situation for the future of our nation.
He particularly laments the fact that his beloved Liberal Party can no longer be described as a ‘broad church’. These were two words he often used to describe the many viewpoints that existed in the ranks of his Party. He actively encouraged the ‘broad church’ but this has now been replaced by hard line factions such as the stark divisions between the Christian Right. and the Menzies moderates and the ‘wets’ and ‘dries’.
He hints in his book that the Liberals may now spend a long time in opposition due to their factional wars and long battle to achieve relevance as they lose ground to Independents.
Howard now has many critics who do their best to demean his legacy but he did try follow the Menzies ideology. I remember the day that Menzies announced the formation of the Liberal Party in 1943. He said on ABC Radio that his party stood on neither the left nor the right. He emphasised that it was a Liberal Party not a Conservative Party. It was firmly in the middle ground of politics. That, Howard acknowledges, is no longer true.
This means that the Liberals must create a modern ideology as they currently don’t have one. Their sole philosophy is ‘Don’t trust the Labor Party as they will lose your money’. That slogan will never again win them an election. Never.
Reading the book made me think of Howard’s two great legacies to Australia.
The greatest was the gun banning legislation he had courageously enacted after the Port Arthur massacre. The threats against his life by gun lovers were very real. His security team made him wear bullet proof vests when addressing meetings about the legislation. Now millions of Americans fervently wish they had similar gun laws.
The other was the simple fact that his eleven years in power were an era of general economic prosperity that was subsequently undone by Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison.
His prime failures were getting us involved in disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which are still unresolved. He comments on them in this book.
I have known John Howard personally for decades, a friendship that continues to this day even though our stance on political issues often differs. When I wrote my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS, I sent it to him to review before I published it. He graciously responded and found common ground on lots of issue but differed on our views of the validity of the Whitlam sacking in 1975.
Anyway, the key point is this.
Read A SENSE OF BALANCE and debate it on social media. John Howard wrote it in the hope of creating widespread debate. It is worthy of that honour.
For many years, I have been appalled by the attitude of people who say,
‘When the Queen dies, I will be happy to vote in favour of Australia becoming a Republic.’
What they, in reality, have been callously saying is this.
‘I don’t want to offend Elizabeth, but I have no problem with insulting Charles’.
Why are they happy to declare Charles to be a lesser monarch than the Queen? I can assure you from personal experience that he is actually a decent bloke.
Fact is their thinking is totally emotional, has no shred of logic and is offensive to the King.
Most Australians don’t realise it, but right now two thirds of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations are Republics and the Queen had a good relationship with all of them. So will Charles.
The prime example is India, It won its freedom from Britain in 1947 and immediately became a Republic, severing all constitutional connections with the British Crown, but happily joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Since then, they have invited the Queen to visit them on three occasions and she accepted three times, with huge crowds turning out to greet her. Does this indicate she was offended by them becoming a Republic?
Australians who used the ‘Queen Excuse’ to oppose Australia becoming a Republic have shown themselves to be shallow.
So, lets cut out the emotional nonsense and get down to discussing how Australia formally severs its connections with a decadent Downton Abbey society and becomes an independent nation.
What can stop us from becoming a Republic right now?
There will be a temporary delay due to a timing problem. We have no option but to wait until the Indigenous Voice Referendum has been held in mid 2023 as it is already underway and is a matter of some controversy that can’t be avoided. I intend to vote Yes, but the opposition will be significant.
Nevertheless, we can begin to prepare for it.
An initial hurdle is that we must face the fact that the words ‘Republic’ and ‘President’ switch off far too many voters. People identify those titles with nations like USA and Russia and Trump and Putin, They are a huge negative that will cause the referendum to be lost. So I think it makes common sense to stick with the existing words of ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ and ‘Governor General’.
I have sought legal advice and find it is possible to remove all mention of ‘The Crown’ from the Constitution of Australia and still remain a Commonwealth. A referendum will gain approval for this far more easily than one based on a republic.
It is also wise to retain the title of Governor General as this maintains a relationship with State Governors and removes the huge negative of the word President.
The crucial debate will be centered on the method of appointing a Governor General.
Will he or she continue to be chosen by the Prime Minister as happens at present or can the appointment be made by a vote of a Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament with a two thirds majority being required.
In achieving such a vote in the Parliament, should the nominees to be voted on be eminent citizens who are proposed by the People of Australia via a Petition to Parliament or do we let the politicians choose the candidates.
Or should the Governor General be appointed by a direct election in which voters make the choice, not Parliament. Does this mean that a politician will be elected who then feels he or she has a political mandate? It will be necessary for the Constitution to be amended to say that no current or former politicians are eligible to run. The Irish have made direct election work well in Eire so it is possible.
These issues simply remind us that there is a lot of debate to be held before we can decide what is best for Australia.
So, testing times lie ahead.
However, the death of Queen Elizabeth puts it all on the Agenda right now in a far greater limelight and urgency than ever before. Also, the controversial status of the current Governor General over the ‘Morrison Affair’ has highlighted the need for changes to be made as Australia voters had no say whatsoever in the appointment of Hurley.
A step forward will be to create a Constitution Panel to draw up all the changes and additions to the Constitution that are necessary for a Referendum in 2024.
Let’s get this moving but let me say this in closing.
Even though Britain faces dark economic and social challenges at this moment, the Brits have one huge talent they can once more show to the world. They have a magnificent capacity to organise quite breathtaking funerals. The one they did for Diana was an absolute cracker. This one will outclass that one by a huge margin as it is one for the ages.
Elizabeth was as close to a saint as the Brits have had in their royal history. Every republican I know holds her in high regard as a person. They will eventually feel the same way about Charles. In the meantime, they just want Australia to be an independent nation.
One of the greatest story tellers in the history of the United States of America was MARK TWAIN, an author of legend.
He was also a spellbinding orator and superb raconteur.
Of all his great words, I regard these as his finest.
‘There are two memorable days in your life. The first is the day you are born. The second is when you ask yourself this question,
WHY AM I HERE?
Tragedy is that most people either avoid the question or feel unable to answer it.
I was reminded of Mark Twain this week when the Australian Government held a Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra that was attended by 150 of our nations most influential citizens and who were joined by a selection of powerful Members of Parliament.
Over 2 days, they made 36 recommendations to Government for action which I hope will be implemented quickly, skillfully and efficiently. It is a reasonable assessment to say that the Summit was a success.
Over and above this, the Summit conveyed a personal message to you and me. It challenged us to decide what we will do with our lives at work and play and as volunteers working to create a cohesive society.
The stage is now set for circumstances whereby there will be sufficient jobs available so we can choose, without pressure to work full or part time, no matter what our age or gender or status or wealth or ethnic heritage.
Interestingly, it is confidently expected that many people will now choose part time work in their quest to have a better quality of life.
Especially, older Australians will have the opportunity to return to the work force without losing part of their pension. Hopefully also, a decision will soon be made that will enable self funded retirees to work part time & put their pay in full into their superannuation fund.
Another hope is that volunteers will be given far more interesting challenges in charity work other than the boring task of preparing morning tea or driving cars.
Notably, the greatest thrust of the Summit was to help mothers get back into the paid workforce where they can show their worth and skill in ways they are currently denied (and also add to their superannuation which is currently far inferior to that of males).
Over and above all this are our personal aspirations for a life of fulfillment.
Along with the reforms of the Jobs and Skills Summit will come a flexibility of employment opportunities which will enable people to seek ways and means of achieving personal goals as the result of answering the Mark Twain question – WHY AM I HERE?
Every one of us, no matter what our age or financial position or state of health – or what we have already achieved in life – could have or may have or may think about having a fresh goal or goals in life. Indeed, I read the other day of a woman whose life circumstances had caused her to have only a very basic education. Yet, in her 90’s, she studied for and achieved a University Degree in Arts just to prove she could do it. She has arranged for the scroll that the University gave her to be placed in her coffin as an eternal symbol.
Many of us by force of events may have wound up in an occupation that was not our prime choice. Now, in retirement, why not give it a go, retrain and try to spend at least a decade enjoying your dream before your health gives out.
The opportunities are without limit. I can speak from experience as I have enjoyed 5 occupations fairly successfully over my 90 years – banker, accountant, fund raising consultant, company director, author. Its not all that hard to achieve.
A wonderful thing to do would be to form a business partnership with a young person in which you mentor one another as you work together to achieve a goal. The older person brings wisdom and experience and, hopefully a bit of financial capital. The younger one brings modern knowledge, computer skills, physical strength and vibrant enthusiasm. (I enjoy one such partnership. I do a weekly podcast with a young lawyer, James Morgan, who is 70 years my junior. We call it ‘Young James and Old Everald talk politics’)
So, a new world is opening up for every one of us to accept or reject.
Parliament appears to be getting its act together, showing some leadership and opening doors to opportunity.
We now can decide whether or not we walk through those doors and, if it has been unanswered up to this point in time, grab the future in both hands and say
I KNOW WHY I AM HERE.
From a fan of HUCKLEBERRY FINN and TOM SAWYER.
And who has Flynn of the Inland as his personal role model of achievement. (I wrote a book about him called THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES).