TOWNS DIE, CITIES CHOKE, AUSTRALIA SLEEPS

I was born and bred in the Australian bush.

There, I went to a tiny bush school which had eleven students whose parents worked in the local timber mill. I enjoyed many happy days in a prosperous little community that really was one large family.

Back in those days of the 1930’s and 40’s, Australia had thousands of small towns, most of them larger than mine, which were stable and secure with affordable housing, plus good shops and a fine school and reliable hospital, based as they were on solid rural industries which were the core of the national economy.

Then, they slowly began to die. Continue reading

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SHORTEN’S END

Twenty years ago, Trade Union legend Bill Ludwig introduced me to Bill Shorten, telling me that here was a young guy who was going places.

Shorten and I met for coffee at Melbourne University where he was studying part time to get his MBA. I liked him and asked what were his future plans for his life. Without hesitation , he replied.

“I intend to become Prime Minister of Australia”. Continue reading

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AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY NEEDS A REFORMATION

Let us for the moment presume that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister of Australia on Saturday evening.

Once he settles into the job, I will seek a meeting with him to advocate a number of changes to the way in which we elect governments and the manner in which changes can be made to the Senate which is currently a blot on democracy.

Firstly, Compulsory Voting must cease. Continue reading

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INLAND RAILWAY- POLITICS OF DISASTER

Back in the days of his prime, Barnaby Joyce announced that the Coalition Government had allocated 9.5 billion dollars for the construction of the Inland Railway.

He had demanded this from Malcolm Turnbull as the price for National Party cooperation at the time of Turnbull’s coup to topple Abbott.

Turnbull reluctantly agreed, but insisted that it had to be funded ‘off balance sheet’, ie, not taken from general taxpayer revenue in the next Budget, but funded by loans to be taken out by the Federal Government’s own railway company, ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) against its balance sheet. Future revenue would pay back the loans.

This was mentioned only in the fine print of the public announcement. Most voters think it is being funded by regular government grants.

In other words, Barnaby Joyce proceeded with the project without allocating one cent of government funds to it. This means that his in-depth commitment to it has been Nil. It was simply a vote getting stunt. Continue reading

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FULLY FRANKED MUST BE FRANK AND FAIR

It is beyond dispute that Bill Shorten is correct when he states that a cash refund of franking credits on investments should be claimed only by a taxpayer.

What is in dispute is the timing and manner in which he intends to legislate changes to current taxation laws on those credits.

His planned legislation must be changed to exempt all shares purchased prior to 30 June, 2019. This will give retirees the same privileges that he has stated that he will grant to those affected by his changes to taxation benefits relating to negative gearing and capital gains.

To deny this, will mean that he will be declaring that property developers are more worthy citizens than retirees and deserve privileges that are to be denied to retirees. Continue reading

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THE YEAR THAT NEVER WAS

2018 has been the most pointless of my 87 years.

Nothing dreadful happened to me or Australia. It was just a boring time of decadent politics and absent ethics in which not one inspiring thing happened and there was much to lament.

There are many regrettable issues that deserve a mention, but I will talk about just three.

The Royal Commissions on Child Abuse and Aged Care.

The Royal Commission on Banking

The demise of Malcolm Turnbull.

I write, not as a lament, but in the hope of working out how we can make sure they are never repeated. There simply has to be a better way to run our country. Continue reading

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VALE LIBERALS FOREVER

For 75 years, the Liberal Party of Australia has been a respected and enduring institution of our nation which will be remembered kindly for many notable achievements.

However, it is breathing its last and rigor mortis will set in very quickly and permanently.

Its record over the past few years has been so lamentable that few will weep.

The death spiral began when Fraser illegally removed Whitlam in 1975, then governed with such a guilty conscience that he will be remembered as a very dismal Prime Minister.

Temporarily, Howard steadied the ship, but the rot set in when Turnbull ruthlessly destroyed Nelson and Abbott replaced Turnbull in as stupid a ballot as has ever been held.

Abbott’s reign in Opposition and Government was as close to insanity as can be imagined and Turnbull let down Australia in everything that he did and did not do, a huge disappointment to me personally and many like me.

Now Morrison is an illegitimate Prime Minister, not accepted in this high office, as he was put there by 45 people, most of whom the nation disrespects.

It is all over. Nothing can save the Liberals, absolutely nothing. Continue reading

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NO SAFE SEATS

We have reached a huge watershed in Australian political history.

There is now no Member of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament who holds a safe seat, not one, no matter what their current majority may be, not even Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten.

And neither the Coalition nor the ALP can be certain of getting more than one Senate candidate over the line in any State. Their number two Senate candidates cannot be confident of getting the required quota. And I joke not.

Some, quite wrongly, will see this as a terrible catastrophe that will ensure huge a period of very unstable government.

However, it is far more likely to provide a refreshing change in which the political establishment will self destruct and never again be able to return to its inefficient complacency and its inability to be accountable.

Above all, it shows that Australian voters have had a massive gutful of bad government and blame it on all the major parties, without exception.

Incredibly, most politicians are blithely unaware of their very uncertain future and need to be blasted into recognition by getting a brutal dose of acute voter anger.

How have we reached this incredible political crisis? Continue reading

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THE ENDEAVOUR

American Marine Scientists have discovered the remains of the Endeavour, the fine old ship sailed by Captain James Cook on his voyage of discovery along the Eastern Seaboard of Australia in 1770.

It lies at the bottom of the harbour at Newport, Rhode Island, where it was scuttled during the American War of Independence long after Cook had died on his third world voyage.

My hope is that the remnants of the Endeavour can be brought Australia and placed in a new Museum which can be built at Cooktown. There, it can become part of an international study centre on the enormous impact it had on life on the Australian continent, changing forever the proud heritage of 65000 years of indigenous habitation.

Sadly, we are now at a time in Australian history where an influential minority are demonising James Cook, accusing him of being the originator of every social and economic problem that Indigenous Australians have faced, and will face, into an uncertain future.

However, I am one who seeks to differ quite passionately, but courteously.

Let us look objectively at what Cook and the Endeavour actually did. Continue reading

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EGO defeats NOUS

When John Howard departed the political scene in 2007, there began an era of instability that has all but destroyed legitimate democracy in Australia.

I am in my 87th year on this planet and I have never witnessed a more shameful Parliament than this one. Sadly, only a few of our Parliamentarians are aware of it. They live in a world of utter unreality, totally divorced from voters who now feel a huge sense of insecurity.

What can we do about it?

Nothing at the moment.

We have to wait for an election and hope that the deadwood in all Parties will be wiped out and replaced by Independents of quality who will force quality debates that will result in fine policy decisions.

Barton and Deakin achieved this with minority governments in the first decade of Federation 120 years ago and passed historic legislation that serves us to this day. They had brains and vision and they were leaders who had people skills. Our current Parliament hasn’t got these attributes and never will.

How did we get into this mess? Continue reading

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TRUMPED BY TRUMP

Donald Trump is the worst American President in my 86 years on Planet Earth.

In all likelihood, he is the worst since George Washington kicked out the British.

But, let me stop beating around the bush and admit that I utterly and thoroughly despise him.

Having said this, I must confess that there are times when I am tempted to cheer him, especially when he kicks the hell out of the political establishment. They absolutely need their guts hit out of the park because of their complacent insensitivity to the needs and aspirations of humanity.

But, the problem is that his skills end at the point of his boot. He has not got a clue what to do next, because his sole skill in life is as a gut kicker.

All this means is that we should pause for more than a moment and do some objective analysis of THE DONALD because we are stuck with him. Continue reading

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LET’S KILL WELFARE

It is unfortunate that the word ‘welfare’, which used to mean well-being, now implies that recipients are unfortunate people who need to be propped up by the rest of society, much to the anger of an increasing majority who resent the sense of entitlement that many welfare beneficiaries seem to have adopted.

It’s time to remove it from our vocabulary and from our economic and social system, replacing it with a NATIONAL DIVIDEND that is paid to every Australian citizen every year.

This is not just another political idea, it is an unavoidable change that will be forced upon us when robots and their artificial intelligence take over the productivity of the nation leaving millions of us without employment while the Federal Treasury absorbs the revenue of a technology driven Australia.

So, it will be smart if we plan for it now instead of having it forced upon us in panic mode. Continue reading

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GIANT REFERENDUM

I have never before in my 86 years encountered an era in which so many Australians are utterly disenchanted with, or distrusting of, politics.

This means that there exists a once in a lifetime opportunity to make huge changes in the way Australia is governed.

Voters have given up trying to find the right leader. They clearly do not think that such a person exists at this time. So, their only hope lies in changing the rules under which Parliament operates.

This can clearly be achieved if the largest referendum in the history of Australia can be held on the day of the next Federal Election which is currently likely to happen in late 2018 or early 2019.

As I see it, there are six important constitutional changes that should be presented and adopted.

Let me set them out. Continue reading

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TRUST FADES AWAY

The Royal Commission on Banking has stirred Australians to the very core of our being.

It has convinced us that TRUST no longer exists in our nation. Our sense of security is severely diminished, particularly among Senior Australians.

This is understandable as, once upon a time, our local bank manager was a highly respected citizen. He was trusted to give solid advice and not give us loans we had no hope of paying back or credit cards we do not really need.

He was also heavily involved in community life in a high profile way.

Then, he disappeared from public view.

Now, it is almost impossible to find a local bank manager even if we go to a bank. We enter an atmosphere where the message is that they don’t want us there. We must phone a ‘friendly’ relationship manager whom we track down after have pressed about a dozen buttons. We get a different person every time we call and she is only interested in our number, not our name.

It’s very sad that this grand old asset of Australian life has passed away, a killer culture having replaced it. Continue reading

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THE COMMON GOOD

Democracy is dead.

Murdered by political, financial and religious ideology inflicted upon us by ‘leaders’ with closed minds who survive by divisively spreading fear and greed.

It is time for a new world order called THE COMMON GOOD to take over.

It will succeed when decent people, with brains, commonsense and courage, step forward and insist on dramatic and decisive changes in the opposite direction to the insanity of Donald Trump and the woeful wilderness of Australian politics. Continue reading

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A FUTURE WITHOUT ADANI

We are led to believe that the economic future of North Queensland is utterly dependent upon the opening of the Adani Mine in the Galilee Basin. Without it, we are told that there will be massive unemployment and a general economic downturn.

Indeed, it is of such enormity that an election in Melbourne for the Seat of Batman in the Federal Parliament will be decided on the issue, even though the electorate and the mine are thousands of kilometres apart.

This nonsense, spread by politicians, free market advocates, climate change deniers and general fear mongers, badly fails the pub test.

The stark fact is that development of the North and the Inland has never been backed by either serious political will or genuine investment, nor has a well researched long term plan of sustainable development for the region ever been prepared, let alone implemented.

The Adani mine was chosen as a quick fix for years of neglect and it was based on series of appalling fabrications. Continue reading

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ASSISTED DYING – A SIMPLE CHOICE

I am grateful for the gift of life that has been mine and I hope that I have managed to make a good contribution to the society in which I live.

This being so, I don’t want to live if a time arises when I have no quality of life. At this point, I want out immediately, and if there are no laws authorising Voluntary Euthanasia in Queensland where I live, then I fully intend to do everything I can to bring on a good heart attack.

I do not want to lie in bed like a vegetable and cause my family to make endless visits to my bedside to see someone who is simply not me, just an object of pity.

I want them to remember me as an active and happy achiever who enjoyed their company. Their last sight of me must not be awful.

And I want to save the nursing home fees so the money can be used to give my grandkids a great start in life.

Clearly, the best outcome is for the Queensland Government to make it legal for me to voluntarily take a tablet. Continue reading

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Future of Marriage

I voted YES because I do not believe that heterosexuals like me are finer human beings than homosexuals, nor are we entitled to any special privileges.

So, I cheered mightily when YES won decisively and have now set out to play my part in healing the deep rifts in society caused by having a totally unnecessary Survey when Parliament had the power, but not the guts, to pass legislation without it. As a result, we have experienced an awfully vindictive and divisive time in the life of Australia as a nation that has destroyed goodwill.

Sadly, I note in the social media that some ‘Christians’ have stated that the institution of marriage has now been trashed to the extent that it has absolutely no value for humanity. They intend to get divorced, but still live together, so they are not ‘shamed’ by being married in the same manner as gays.

My only observation on the plight of these sad people is that in October next year, Helen and I will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of our wedding and we can confidently say that, while the piece of paper we signed on our wedding day has had nothing whatsoever to do with us living happily together for 60 years, it is a treasured document that we are not going to tear up. Continue reading

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THE ADANI ELECTION

Queenslanders go to the polls on Saturday, 25 November, to elect a State Government.

Ostensibly, it is a contest between Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls as to who will be Premier of the Queensland Parliament,

It is absolutely not.

The battle is about whether or not one of the largest coal mines in the world will be opened in the Galilee Basin of Queensland and send its coal to India via the Barrier Reef.

This creates a complicated political situation as both Palaszczuk and Nicholls strongly back the opening of the mine, as does the likely holder of the balance of power, Pauline Hanson and her competitor for that role – Robbie Katter.

One would think that this would place the Adani mine in the safest of political positions, but it does not. It is an issue that will dominate the headlines until voting day as Adani protesters turn up to disrupt every political meeting, particularly those of the Premier.

Its chief beneficiary will be the Greens who have never before prospered in Queensland.

They will gain the balance of power and deny Hanson her dream. Continue reading

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THE AUSTRALIAN WAY

Pauline Hanson, Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi all say that they are totally committed to the defence of the Australian Way of life. But, they differ broadly when they endeavour to explain to us what it is they are defending.

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have differing versions of the Australian Way, but both also disagree with some of what Hanson, Abbott and Bernardi have to say.

So, how does the average Aussie punter work out what it is we are all supposed to be promoting and defending?

Embarrassingly for more moderate citizens, there seem to be some broad areas of common bias.

The primary one is a strong belief that Australia must be defended from hordes of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as foreign workers and investors who bring with them sharia law and burkas and terrorists. Added to this is a primitive view that gays, lesbians and aborigines represent a threat to ‘decent’ society.

So, how do we find common ground on what it is in Australian life we should be standing up for as we try to curb the influence of those supposed ‘infidels’ and, much more formidably, how can we achieve it? Sadly, too many seem to believe that the creation of an atmosphere of fear is a good way to begin. Continue reading

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