THE EXTINCTION OF THE EXTINCTION REBELLION

Let me say loudly and clearly that I am hugely switched off by the Extinction Rebellion, but I am switched on about Greta Thunberg and about the fact that Citizens Referendums are a much better alternative than marching.

Thunberg made an impact at the United Nations a few weeks ago with her speech that harshly chastised world leaders for putting the future of the world at risk by being grossly negligent about Climate Change.

But, despite receiving massive support from school students of her age world wide, very little has been achieved even though they tried to march in an orderly and respectful fashion.

Indeed, the main publicity was generated by grossly unfair personal criticism of Thunberg’s character and motives. Apparently, it is a big social error to be both young and female. Continue reading “THE EXTINCTION OF THE EXTINCTION REBELLION”

Climate Trumped

Everything that Donald Trump does is a combination of good and bad and both are always out on the extremes.

His decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Change Accord is a typical example of classic Trump.

He deservedly won praise for carrying out an election promise. He said many times during his election campaign that he would scrap the Paris Accord and he did. It is a pity that more politicians don’t follow his example and carry out their promises.

He also gave the climate change fanatics a good kick in the head, which they richly deserve. Their vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with, or reacts calmly to, their predictions of doom are an absolute insult to the intelligence of those of us who are moderates in search of practical solutions.

At time same time, Trump showed utter irresponsibility.

Whether or not climate change is occurring, the undeniable fact is that 7.5 billion human beings are polluting our planet every hour of every day and we have to do something sensible about it, despite Trump’s ridiculous denial of human impact.

In addition, his call for ‘America First’ is selfish, misguided, disastrous and doomed to failure as he gives up American leadership in the world and allows China to step into the vacuum.

But Trump is not the only one to blame for the situation the world now finds itself in. Continue reading “Climate Trumped”

THE CLIMATE GUYS HIT PARIS

I am a committed environmentalist, actually a conservative Green, but I am convinced that Climate Change Conferences are a colossal waste of time and money, as was proved by the ridiculous disaster of Copenhagen a few short years ago. Continue reading “THE CLIMATE GUYS HIT PARIS”

THE POPE AND THE ENVIRONMENT – HAS FRANCIS CROSSED THE LINE

Pope Francis has issued an encyclical on the Environment called Laudato Si in which he firmly and clearly outlines his views on global warming, climate change and pollution, while linking them with poverty, employment, economics, science and religion. Continue reading “THE POPE AND THE ENVIRONMENT – HAS FRANCIS CROSSED THE LINE”

It’s time to change the face of Australia and marry social and physical infrastructure

As many of my readers already know, I am a passionate advocate of more and better infrastructure for Australia, striving persistently to promote an increase of meaningful investment in it, rather than the wasteful pork-barreling of poorly-researched projects that politicians love, but which have no relevance to any master plan for the development of the nation.

Years of frustrating negotiations with politicians and bureaucrats in three levels of government have revealed how they spend most of their time fighting one another at political and bureaucratic levels over what should or should not be implemented. When they do come to a decision, they then spend even more time searching for plausible reasons to slow it up so as to delay the spending of committed capital and ensure they have funds available to buy votes through election handouts.

These experiences have given me time to understand a very strategic fact that politicians deliberately ignore that physical infrastructure has value only if it is implemented in close association with appropriate social infrastructure that will enable the nation to gain maximum benefit from it. Continue reading “It’s time to change the face of Australia and marry social and physical infrastructure”

How we have failed to build a balanced nation – disasters & solutions

Just imagine for a moment that you are standing on Possession Island in Torres Strait with Captain James Cook on August 22, 1770, while the good captain makes his declaration that the Australian Continent is a territory of the King of England.

He calls you aside and asks you to prepare him a report on what quality of nation Australia should be 250 years hence, as he expects His Majesty to ask him about it when he gets back home.

Let us also assume for the purpose of this exercise that you are a person of extraordinary intellect who has the capacity at that time to perceive what the world will be like in the 21st century.

It will be safe for us to presume that you would not imagine an Australia that would the planning disaster it now is.

Would you have suggested that these unimaginable disasters may eventuate? Continue reading “How we have failed to build a balanced nation – disasters & solutions”

There’s promising possibilities for old investment in a new bush – Go West Old Guys!

My article published in Crikey 13/12/13

Too many farmers are burdened with unmanageable debt, some of them heavily so. Many bought farms with minimum equity at maximum prices during the height of the boom before the GFC of 2008, then went further into debt during subsequent droughts and floods in the hope of surviving until a new wave of prosperity occurred. In a rapidly changing world, those good days are now a mirage on a disappearing horizon.

Their only viable path to survival is to welcome an injection of friendly equity that will enable them to take their bank manager to lunch and tell him to get lost. But, the challenge is to find equity which is friendly, non-threatening, helpful and wise.

One promising possibility is to involve Australia’s rapidly growing population of Seniors, especially those with spare capital and business wisdom. The best deal would be for those elderly investors to decide to live in the same rural community as the farm.

Actually, there is potential for this to occur as the majority of older Australians have lived their years in capital cities and, when they retire, too many head for the beaches as they follow a dream of happy days watching the waves roll in to pleasant sandy shores. Problem is that, after a few months, they have watched the waves for too long and are bored out of their brains.

Now, some are heading to the bush, looking for a small and pleasant community which gives them a new and interesting lifestyle in total contrast to their city days. They enjoy involvement in the life of the community while coming to understand the economy of surrounding rural industries. Some buy a local shop, while others look for a farmer who needs a financial partner and is willing to introduce them to farming skills.

Without doubt, there is capacity to turn this trickle of new rural dwellers into a national movement of significance, following the American vision of two centuries ago when Uncle Sam said ‘Go West Young Man’. We can say ‘Old Guys’.

There are problems to overcome such as identifying rural communities who are not wary of ‘city slickers’ and where farmers are ready to welcome business partners.  We also need enlightened governments to provide tax incentives and do something significant about reducing transport costs and other financial burdens caused by the tyranny of distance. Politicians have been promising this for a century, but have delivered little because there are not enough votes out in the bush to cause them real concern. The disgraceful result is that the huge potential of rural Australia to become the greatest food producer in the world has never been realised.

Also, we need to protect farmers from the owners of Supermarkets who screw them into the ground mercilessly – indeed they are greater predators than floods and droughts.

Strange as it may seem, an even greater challenge is to convince oldies that a relaxed retirement is a fast way to the grave, while long life comes when you start a second career which is a stimulating challenge.

But, they will resist the lure of country life until there is a revolution in the quality of bush housing as most of it belongs to the lifestyle of yesteryear. And cultural life of rural communities has to come alive as well.  Society based only on the local pub is primitive.

Nevertheless, the opportunity for regeneration of the bush is there for the taking because the world has  7 billion people, growing to 9.5 billion by 2050. Most are underfed. There is a fast growing middle class on every continent who seek quality food that only a huge and empty island like Australia can produce if it builds a prosperous farming industry backed by innovative marketing and distribution.

So, it’s worth a go. I am involved in starting a movement to find thousands of ‘grey apprentices’ to partner young farmers whose skills need an injection of cash, wisdom and mutual respect. I am working with a fine team of researchers at Per Capita to determine the most effective way to bring this into being. Watch this space.

Follow me on Twitter @EVERALDATLARGE

The Will of God – Impact of Religion on Peace, Prosperity and Justice

The earliest memory of my life is that of my mother taking me to the Methodist Sunday School in Linville, a small village nestled in the foothills of the Blackbutt Ranges of Queensland. For all but a few Sundays, I have been going to Church ever since, and recently I notched up my 53rd year as an Elder, firstly in the Presbyterian Church and then the Uniting Church.

In my earliest years, I was a rigid fundamentalist but, as the years passed, I peacefully and happily translated to becoming a very liberal one, while never ever diminishing the depth of my pilgrimage as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified because he broke all the conservative traditions. I now proudly describe myself as a Progressive Christian, hungry to understand more of the mystery of it all.

Right now, I have three main goals in my life as a Christian.

One is to work persistently towards the achievement of a reduction in poverty across the planet, as no person can claim to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth without doing something meaningful about this blot on humanity.

The second is to live in peace and understanding with those of other faiths. In seeking to participate in the task of bringing this to reality, I am a very active member of the North Brisbane Inter Faith Group, where Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc, share meals and dialogue together regularly and strive to find beliefs and ethics we can agree upon.

Number three, which should really be number one, is to foster the hope that religious people everywhere will refrain from declaring that their actions are the Will of God. Since the dawn of time, millions have been killed by those who claimed to have acted in God’s name, but the truth is that every single death has been the unjustifiable action of a violent person passionately and conveniently declaring that they had no option but to carry out a command they had received directly from God himself.

Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, they were expressing their inbuilt bigotry and lack of intelligence, while bolstering their personal insecurity.

I am a very avid reader of books about religion, and I find that, when you cut away all the heavy theology that smothers any faith, you can get down to the very essence of them all. You discover the irrefutable fact that they are all religions of love and peace and justice.

The horror of violence has been added to doctrines down the centuries by people with tiny minds who had a need to gain or retain power that would sustain their permanent domination of the masses. Too many religious leaders, and political leaders who used religion to gain power, have been, and still are, manipulators and betrayers of the very basics of any faith.

Throughout my life, I have watched awful deeds that were based on the so-called ‘Will of God’. Catholics and Protestants murdering one another in Northern Ireland has been a shameful blot on Christianity. Shiite and Sunni Muslims killing one another in Iraq, Iran and Syria is a travesty that violates the basic tenets of a peaceful Islamic Faith. Buddhists killing Tamils in Sri Lanka has little resemblance to the peace that we have always attributed to Buddhism. Going back a couple of centuries, we find that slavery was carried out by Christians who declared themselves to be a superior race — God’s chosen people — honouring what they declared to be God’s stated intention that inferior people were destined to be servants. As a footnote, we can record that they made a lot of money carrying out “God’s will”.

Without trying to preach a sermon, can I make some personal observations that could contribute to a sensible discussion on the role of religion in life.

Much of the bloodshed has had its foundation in the belief that religion is based on personal salvation and a promise of life after death, but the reality is that these are thoughts that are capable of fostering selfishness and a distortion of spiritual power.

I hold the view that religions are predominantly about a love that unites humanity and seek to share the resources of the world equitably. Thus, I believe in a God who does not punish non-believers.

It has been a long time since I have believed that God decides who lives or dies. He (or she) gives us the spiritual power to handle whatever life throws at us, and this will always be composed of both good and bad. That power enables us to go to our death with a complete faith and with no expectation of reward.

In blunt words, happiness and prosperity can exist only in a world of peace, whereas religion today is the most common cause of oppression, whether it be physical or economic or social, and this is very sad.

It also spreads appalling inequality in the treatment of women, which is just as bad in Rome as it is in Mecca. It is not only unjust. It makes little sense as it means that half the economic and social power of the world is under-utilised. This is just plain dumb, as well as being manifestly unfair.

Where does this lead you and me?

We will move towards a better world if more and more of us can acknowledge that we are incomplete people who will enjoy life more if we harness a spiritual power beyond ourselves and then determine which religion relates best to our image of life, while respecting those who choose to walk another pathway to God.

Too many choose a God called Money, and they are really fragile people who cause more havoc for humanity that the most bigoted of religious killers. While I have a healthy respect of a good bank balance, it benefits me only if it is my servant, not the reverse.

There is a potentially beautiful and peaceful world out there. Too many bigots, who worship greed and a selfish brand of religion, stand in the way of it being enjoyed by most of humanity.

A step forward for all of us in creating peace and prosperity in a just society is to divest ourselves of every vestige of bigotry we carry around, as it is excess baggage that is a very heavy burden.

I am working personally and regularly on the divesting, but writing this article reminds me that I have a long way to go.

Implementing some changes of attitude during the goodwill of the Christmas season is a great idea, so long as we remember that only a minority of the world’s population will be celebrating it.

For the majority, their religious festivals happen at another date in the calendar — a reminder to us all that diversity is an interesting and important element of life.

Positive winds in the Ageing Tsunami

That the world will be hit by an Ageing Tsunami of huge proportions is beyond doubt.

That governments are asleep at the wheel in planning to meet the greatest generational revolution of all time is also an indisputable fact.

To emphasise the gravity of the issue, it is mind boggling that the Australian Government does not have a Minister for Ageing and has sacked its Advisory Panel on Ageing in an act of sheer vandalism.

Added to all of the above is the tragedy that Ageing has several positive elements in it that provide opportunities and advantages for asset creation.

Let’s take a look at just five of them.

At least a million of Australia’s retirees would like to stay in the work force, or return to it, for a variety of positive reasons. A few examples of this are important matters such as their need to earn more money, contribute extra to their Super Fund, pay school fees for grandchildren, keep the brain active etc, etc.

But, absolute and unjustifiable discrimination by employers stops them in their tracks.

We can fix this by legislating that 10% of employees of any company employing more than 10 people must be older workers. This sounds like a regimentation of the workplace, but it is the only way that employers will face the fact that older workers are not over the hill and are needed if our economy is the remain prosperous. Indeed, they are reliable, loyal, trustworthy and experienced. They are profit generators and cost reducers for those who give them a fair go as they are highly unlikely to look for another job. This tough initiative will produce the benefit of adding billions to the economy every year.

Far too many seniors spend too much time visiting doctors and staying in hospitals. Most times they have no need to go, but they were bored, needed an outing and just want company. Many routine medical issues can be handled by qualified nurses, often online, at a huge saving in cost to Medicare. Most times, it will be found that better diet and more exercise would have fixed any health issues, so there are profits to be made in those two opportunities alone.

Lifelong learning can be a huge income generator for Universities and TAFE Colleges as many Seniors, in younger days, were denied the chance to get a degree or a diploma in any area of study, particularly women who, because of social pressure, were forced to be housewives only. Many now want to reverse that lost opportunity and they are willing to pay the costs of study to get a degree, even in their nineties. Some want to qualify for a profession. Others just want to prove they can do it and look for study courses that broaden their minds in a subject of special interest.

Recreation is an open door to the creation of a new service industry for older people. Every day, thousands of Seniors go on bus trips, often travelling to the same places. They get little exercise, sitting on buses for hours, and there is little educational content in the excursion.  Professionals who can design and create new forms of innovative and interesting recreation can make a fortune, particularly young people who can bridge the intergenerational gap.

Age Friendly Housing is almost non-existent in Australia. We build small houses for older people, but they lack features to help those with arthritis and heart conditions etc, while almost totally ignoring technology. The property industry is losing vast quantities of profit because they do not recognise that the world is ageing and needs new specialist housing in its millions.

There are many more opportunities than the five I have mentioned above that await the valiant out there in the greying world, eg, volunteering, particularly where seniors can use their skills rather than making the coffee and driving cars; a revolution in the way we grow and manage retirement incomes; starting a movement to retire and investing in rural communities etc.

All of these will be outlined in policy form in the Blueprint on Ageing on which I am working with the progressive Australian Think Tank, Per Capita. It will be ready in June ,2014, and you can register your support and interest on the Per Capita website.

After doing that, go to see your local Federal MP and ask him or her to recognise that ageing is expanding challenge of living and is not going away. It will be either an economic and social disaster or a time of great prosperity and high quality of life. It’s time for politicians to decide whether they are part of the problem or the solution.

The vital issue is that we must move on it now and make some sound decisions that will initially be unpopular but will prove to be long term triumphs.

Axed Advisory Panel partners with Per Capita on Ageing Blueprint

Per Capita, an independent, progressive think tank, is astounded at the decision of the new Federal Government to axe its Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing so close to the completion of the Panel’s Blueprint for Ageing. Per Capita considers it an enormous waste to suddenly disband such a high quality, research‐intensive policy initiative on an issue of such vital importance to Australia.

In light of this, Per Capita is pleased to announce that it has entered into a partnership with four members of the recently sacked Panel to complete a Blueprint for an Ageing Australia.

Per Capita and the former Panel members will complete the Blueprint by its scheduled publication date in June 2014. The project will be funded by crowd funding, institutional donors, philanthropists, private companies, NGOs and individuals. Public consultation will be vital to ensure the relevance of the Blueprint.

The Panel was originally constituted in 2011 with a three-year mandate to produce a comprehensive policy review on the opportunities and challenges associated with an ageing Australia, the Blueprint.

However, earlier this month, Treasurer Joe Hockey axed the Panel, less than eight months from the completion of its work. The former Panel members who have partnered with Per Capita are Everald Compton AM, Prof Brian Howe AO, Prof Gill Lewin and Neville Roach AO.

Per Capita considers that the completion of the Panel’s Blueprint is critical to the social and economic wellbeing of Australia, given the scale of the ageing issue facing Australia.

“Per Capita believes the decision to sack the Panel is outrageous. This vital work must continue in light of the huge impact that ageing will have on Australia in coming decades”, commented Per Capita’s executive director, David Hetherington. “The Panel has invested two-and-a-half years of tireless effort towards the Blueprint, and it would be a shameful waste not to see it to completion.”

Former Panel Chairman Everald Compton stated, “I am impressed that an independent policy organisation of the stature of Per Capita has taken up this challenge, which is vital to the future of Australia. I look forward to working with them to produce a blueprint which will provide the basis for turning the ageing tsunami into a national asset.”

 

 

70 is a very young age to retire

When Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin combined together to have a bi-partisan Pension Bill passed through Parliament in 1908, they asked an Actuary for advice on what age most workers could be expected to die.

The actuary did not hesitate to say,

‘The vast majority of them will not make it to 65’.

Fisher and Deakin both knew that the government could not afford a huge pension payout so they set the pension age at 65. Up until that time, all Australians had no option but to work until they died.

Those 65 year olds of 1908 are now the 90 year olds of today as longevity for Australians has increased by 25 years over the century that has passed.

Now, we are faced with the fact that millions of Australians will live to a very old age, kept alive by costly pharmaceutical, medical and hospital expenditure that will cripple the nation along with burgeoning pensions. And, at least a million of us will suffer from Dementia, especially Alzheimers.

A crucial issue is that most Australians will have inadequate superannuation and its poor returns will peter out soon after they reach 80 unless we have a huge increase in contributions – at least 15% from employers, plus far more in personal contributions.

Above all, it will be essential that no one is allowed to access superannuation until they are 70 and taking it as a lump sum must be banned as too many blow it quickly and go on the pension.

However, all of this will be of no avail unless employers start hiring Seniors into the work force.

Too many of them have a policy of not hiring anyone over 50 and the worst offenders of all are governments whose public service regulations force employees to retire early and make it almost impossible for anyone of mature years to apply for a position.

We need laws that require every employer to have at least 10% of their staff who are Seniors or it will be pointless to raise the Pension and Superannuation Age to 70 as most will have to apply for the dole.

All of this means that this nation needs a positive plan to turn ageing into an asset.

We won’t get far with it if we follow the coverage in the Main Stream Media. Headlines like ‘Work till you drop’ trivialise the matter. A more accurate headline would have been ‘Australia is the most overpaid, underworked and uncompetitive nation in the world’.

The most positive and pragmatic thing we can do is to commence action now, particularly in squarely facing up to the important decision to raise the retirement age to 70 as this must happen far sooner than the Productivity Commission has recommended. Every three years, commencing in 2015, we can raise the retirement age by one year.

Side by side, there must be a huge program of preventative health and tele-health to get the nation’s medical bills down, in tandem with an expansion of recreation and tourism industries where Seniors can contribute significantly to economic growth.

In addition, we will need a huge attitude change to growing old as it is a time of life where we can contribute wisdom and experience more than ever before.

Essential to it all will be to diminish our sense of entitlement and acknowledge that  Australia owes us nothing. We owe a lot to Australia for the greatest lifestyle in the world.

If we can become a nation of givers rather than getters, the Ageing Tsunami will lose its sting and we will lead the world in ensuring that we are a land of opportunity for the vision that comes with greying hair.

 

Rail and Water Agenda for an Infrastructure Prime Minister

Article written for On Line Opinion “Under New Management” feature.

I greeted with enthusiasm Tony Abbott’s election comment that he wanted to be remembered in history as Australia’s Infrastructure Prime Minister. I formed the view that his words were welcomed by many who have genuine concern that our nation has an appalling record of neglected infrastructure stretching back for far more the half a century that has elapsed since the Snowy Mountains Project became a reality.

During this time, there has been a steady, but not spectacular, investment in roads and some expansion of ports, but very little spent on railways or water. If the PM can make a difference in these two areas, it will make an enormous contribution to the progress of the nation. Continue reading “Rail and Water Agenda for an Infrastructure Prime Minister”

I will complete the Blueprint on Ageing

I have made real progress with my plan to complete the Blueprint on Ageing and am pleased that we will do so with the aid of an eminent Australian Think Tank, using crowd funding plus some corporate and trust gifts.

We will publish it on schedule in June, 2014, so that Hockey’s sacking of me and my Panel will have been of no avail and we can then plan to implement many of the recommendations without help from government.

Before we finalise the Blueprint, we will hold public consultations around Australia and I hope that those who have contributed to the debate will be able to attend and express their thoughts.

The more I work on the plan, the more I realise that the scope of it is enormous, as ageing is a significant element in every facet of national life. So, the turning of ageing into an asset will create great change, but I believe that it can be centred on an economy that is not dollar driven and will create a level playing field for young and old.

A problem we face in Australian politics is that anyone who has a conscience about anything is labelled a socialist and, every time there is a change of government, it is regarded as essential to destroy everything the previous government has done. But, Australians are wise enough to overcome this and export our good policies on Ageing to a world that is being hit by the same ageing tsunami as we are.

Government sources have hinted to me that I will breach copyright if I try to complete the plan. Can I say that I will enjoy my day in court and I will appear without a barrister as my defence will be that I am completing a document of national importance that was otherwise destined for the shredder simply because it was initiated by Wayne Swan.

The court case will cause millions of Australians to read the Blueprint.

Why Joe Hockey should not have sacked me.

As we face an ageing tsunami, Treasurer Joe Hockey has sacked the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing (and me as its chairman), declaring it to be irrelevant without stating why this is so. Shortly before that, Prime Minister Tony Abbott decided not to have a minister for ageing, downgrading the importance of millions of seniors in the life of the nation.

The sole reason for the dismissal of the panel, as conveyed to me privately by Coalition MPs, is that it was established by former treasurer Wayne Swan and it has been decided that every vestige of Swan’s term as treasurer must be obliterated. Such is the waste that politics represents in our national life. Continue reading “Why Joe Hockey should not have sacked me.”

Economic Growth or Quality of Life – measuring the progress of a nation.

Politicians and economists calculate the stature and prosperity of a nation by the annual percentage increase in its Gross Domestic Product. Governments rise and fall on the basis of this statistic, mainly because nations are declared to be in recession if there is negative GDP growth on three successive occasions.

However, the thoughts of many support the view that it is long overdue for this inadequate gauge of a nation’s growth to be declared the farce that it is.

I want to suggest that it should be replaced by a new measure that could be called General Domestic Prosperity. This means that a GDP will still be calculated, but it will have a new meaning and a different basis of measurement. Continue reading “Economic Growth or Quality of Life – measuring the progress of a nation.”

The Commonwealth of The South Pacific

Creating a Union of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands

In the 1890s, when the Federation of Australian States was being fervently debated, there were seven negotiating parties at the table — five States on the Continent, plus Tasmania and New Zealand.

Just before referendums were held to determine whether the grand venture would go ahead, New Zealand withdrew. Their stated reason was that Australia was experiencing a major economic recession brought on by the bank collapses of 1893, combined with the worst drought of the century. New Zealand had avoided both of those disasters and was motivated to take the short term view that it would be wise to pull out. In hindsight, it was a bad decision.

So, Federation proceeded without them. Yet, the provision remains in the Constitution for them to change their minds at some time — but it is an option that has never been taken up. Continue reading “The Commonwealth of The South Pacific”

Can boat people be turned back?

In August  2001, MV Tampa, a freighter owned in Norway, was on the high seas south of Indonesia when it picked up a May Day call from Palapa 1, an overloaded people smuggling boat with 438 souls on board. It was reported to be sinking not far from Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

Observing the long-time law of the sea that he believed no-one should ever violate, Arne Rinnan, captain of the Tampa, went immediately to their aid, taking them on board his boat and sitting them on the open deck. He sailed to Christmas Inland, but was stopped from disembarking his human cargo by the Australian Navy.

There was a stand-off for several days. Rinnan was humiliated aggressively and treated as a criminal.

After the Border Protection Bill was rushed through Parliament and a challenge to it was dismissed by the High Court, we eventually took the refugees from the Tampa and flew them to Nauru, from where most of them were eventually admitted to either Australia or New Zealand.

It was one of the most shameful weeks of our history, and it achieved absolutely nothing. Continue reading “Can boat people be turned back?”

The Election of a Lifetime

Who will win power in September?

A year ago Tony Abbott was an unbackable favourite to become Prime Minister of Australia at the 2013 Federal Election. Only Black Caviar had shorter odds. Most punters reckoned that Julia Gillard would lead her party to absolute oblivion, irreparably damaging the ALP brand in the process.

Now, although the Coalition is still clearly in front, it is a genuinely contestable election that may yet provide the biggest political upset in our nation’s history. Continue reading “The Election of a Lifetime”

Is there a prosperous future for the Australian Bush?

Have we killed the legacy of John Flynn?

Out where the sun goes down, the people of the bush call him “Flynn of the Inland”. He was the man who, in the first half of the Twentieth Century, made a valiant attempt to create a “Mantle of Safety” across the remoteness of the continent by building hospitals and hostels in places like Birdsville, Innamincka, Oodnadatta and Halls Creek, creating the Pedal Radio and establishing the Flying Doctor Service so that ordinary Australians could make a new life in the Outback and feel secure.

He also enlisted a team of Padres who ministered to people in areas covering countless square miles — marrying, baptising, counseling and burying them — no matter what their faith or lack of it. By any standards, his life’s work was a notable achievement which will be honoured by historians for generations to come.

Now, sixty years after his death, we should be honest enough to admit that we have not built on the solid foundation created by his extraordinary endeavours. Continue reading “Is there a prosperous future for the Australian Bush?”

The Rise of Tasmania

At the Prime Minister’s Summit, I sat at a table which was hosted by Lara Giddings, Premier of Tasmania. During the dinner on the opening night, we had a good chance to discuss the future of Tasmania, which is an interesting subject given its small population of less than half a million, a high percentage of whom are Seniors, with a similar number of younger age groups on some type of welfare payments.

There is very little mining, and so the state faces the reality that it’s difficult to have a prosperous economy based on apples, wine and tourism, splendid as those are in Tasmania. Nevertheless, Lara Giddings was upbeat about Tasmania’s future. Continue reading “The Rise of Tasmania”