Monday, 15 December 2014

'Craigellachie' If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you'll be amazed at the results. George S. Patton

If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you'll be amazed at the results.
George S. Patton

Thirty two years ago, David and I embarked on an overseas holiday; our maiden voyage. Many people who were born in our generation were lucky enough to travel overseas regularly but this was our first time and we were very excited. Just before exiting through the boarding gate, my father asked me to look for a town in Scotland where his ancestor, George Morison, was born.

He couldn't remember the name but knew it started with C and scribbled Crieth on a lolly wrapper. David said 'Oh God! We're not changing our plans to go off on a wild goose chase for a town with no name!' My father often did this to me. He would never, ever allow me to relax and enjoy the moment without asking me to do something complex and frustrating at the very last minute.

Dad is a clever man despite being slightly dyslexic, which always complicated matters. An opportunist with remarkable timing, he confidently manipulated his daughter's guilt by making what seemed at the time, crazy and unreasonable demands and... I always jumped through hoops to oblige. My desire to gain his approval, along with an insatiable curiosity meant he usually got his way!

Remember, thirty two years ago there were no mobile phones, no lap tops and no way of contacting home other than an expensive long distance phone call. Anyway, we did look for the mysterious town in Scotland that started with C because given a challenge like this I couldn't resist the urge to follow through. The search took us on the highland railway and across the center of Scotland, from Inverness to the River Spey. How I knew where to go, I'm not sure, but it felt I was being guided by intuition.

David kept saying 'You'll never find it! It's impossible. You don't have enough information!' But I was determined and felt sure I was on the right path. The quest created a wall of tension between David and I and on the banks of Loch Ness we had a blazing row. I got out of the car and started hitchhiking in the other direction. I waited for half an hour but the road was deserted, so eventually we reached a truce and agreed that if in two days we hadn't found the Morison town, I'd abandon the search.

At Abelour I made some inquiries and then our B&B proprietor mentioned the name 'Craigellachie'. Why did that name sound familiar? I know it sounds impossible but somehow I knew that Craigellachie was the place beginning with C and at the little Church of Scotland (or was it the Presbyterian Church?), near the bridge across the Spey, I found records of our famous ancestor who it would appear was my great, great, great grandfather.

Painting of the Telford Bridge, Craigellachie by Rob Wigham.

There was a reference to an illegitimate son but my research was limited by a lack of time and finances and I thought the rest could wait for my father to find at a later date. Needless to say this was not what my puritanical father wanted to hear but the truth did eventually win out. David thought it served him right and so did I.

David managed to make up for lost time at the local Glenfiddick distillery and we both enjoyed the beautiful journey along the Spey and into the hills, eventually arriving in Edinburgh on a hot August night!
My first overseas holiday was a Scottish magical mystery tour spurred on by my grumpy old Dad leading us up the garden path to a beautiful place called Craigellachie.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Hmmmmm. Sounds like Greens policy....

In Bolivia, the Law of the Rights of Mother Nature gives the environment equal rights to human beings.

How is that the President of Bolivia can be so aware on this issue and our PM so extraordinarily ignorant? Why are so many Australians so ignorant?

I think it's partly because Australian scientists and many environment and social justice groups are frightened to support the only political party that has the right policies and the right people to make them a reality. Like President Evo Morales, the Greens are willing and ready to fight for mother earth in parliament but to do it we need more Greens MPs. It won't be until all the groups we already represent in parliament come forward and openly support us that we'll be able to help save the earth from human pollution.

Recently the Catholic Diocese of Melbourne advised Catholics not to vote Green and if the Catholic Church can tell it's people not to vote Green, then the environment and human rights groups should be able to encourage their people to do the opposite. When these groups openly support the Greens, I believe we'll be able to form Government.

When you realize what's at stake for Australia and the earth, surely this is the next logical step! Why aren't groups such as The Conservation Foundation supporting the Greens and fighting for Green governance?

Come on people. Together, let's do this thing!

 ‪#‎Greens‬ ‪#‎CatholicDioceseVictoria‬ ‪#‎WindAlliance‬ ‪#‎GasfieldFree‬ ‪#‎AYCC‬ ‪#‎StopCoal‬ ‪#‎GreatNationalForest‬ ‪#‎AustralianConservationFoundation‬ ‪#‎AsylumSeekerResourceCentre‬ ‪#‎AnimalsAustralia‬ ‪#‎ViolenceAgainstWomen‬ ‪#‎DomesticViolence‬ ‪#‎SaveOurOceans‬

Here is a FB comment and my response.

Megan Nicolson I think that's really unfair and kind of ridiculous to put blame of an ignorant govt on scientists and enviro groups. Most are doing the work with little or no support from any political parties. Why should they align themselves with one and ostracise themselves from the necessity of govt funding to do the work, not just campaign for it's future. Most would vote green as individuals, why should their business need
Megan Nicolson, valid points which are the reasons groups give for not openly supporting the Greens. So here are my responses to the points you make.

1/ I'm not blaming scientists or groups for our ignorant Govt but for being politically neutral when we all know the environment and human rights are determined by legislation and therefore politics. Therefore those groups have a vested interest in helping the right party gain governance

2/ The problem with Govt funding is that, the perception that science must be seen to benefit the goals of the sitting government, potentially compromises the objectivity of scientific processes and may also effect scientific outcomes!!

3/ Govt funding to climate scientists will go up or down depending on who is in Govt whether that groups supports Greens policies or not and the same applies to all other scientific endeavours. Funding swings back and forth according to the predilection of whomever is in power. Look what happened to the Climate Council and the Environment defenders Office when Abbott was elected.

4/ If groups are genuinely dedicated to their cause, ie fighting climate change, then why not openly support the party that is also genuinely committed to the same cause? Surely that would be the best way to achieve goals.

5/ Such groups have broad levels of support from voters. Someone told me that there were Coalition and Labor supporters in their groups who would never vote Green. That to me is simply prejudicial ignorance. Why remain in a party that is fighting against what you're fighting for? Does that make any sense? Why not raise political awareness within your group of supporters?

It would be understandable if the Greens had questionable environmental policies like Labor and the Coalition: ie logging native forests, fracking, uranium mining, coal and coal fired power stations etc.... But our policies on the environment and human rights are spot on. (And I, of course, believe that all our policies are spot on!)

With the help and influence of of these groups and scientific bodies, the Greens would already be working their Green magic in Government. Get Up, AYCC, Sea Shepherd, 350.0rg & many more have huge followings...and many of the followers are voting their futures away and defeating the purpose of belonging to those very groups!

Again good points and I thank you for sharing them with me but sadly the environment is a political issue.

I worked for a social justice group and also an environment group...over about an 8 year period. We were practically burnt out...well we were burnt out. But we were encouraged because it looked as though we were making headway. We disbanded one of the groups with a change of govt because they promised to do the right thing. Then they didn't...and we had wasted 8 years of our lives...with our cause actually going backwards.

It was then I realized we had to get the right people into Govt because Govt makes the laws that regulate the people and the environment. I approached the people who ran the environment group and asked them about supporting the Greens. They gave all sorts of reasons for not supporting the Greens and so I left them and joined the Greens instead. In the end Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Wilderness Society and the Climate Council do not make the laws of the land. You cannot vote for them. The Greens you can vote for and depend on.

Showing support for the Greens doesn't require a group to demand anything of their members but rather a declaration of support from the core group for another group that shares it's values and aims. It is that simple. That simple act, helps people recognize the value of the Greens and encourages people to vote for us! The unions support Labor! The corporations support Coalition. No-one supports the Greens yet we are the most worthy political party to run the country.

I met a young Green volunteer during the election here. He had travelled from Canberra to hand out early voting HTV cards at Hamilton. He is an excellent young man who had been a public servant in Canberra during the Gillard Govt and worked on the the Clean Energy Act which the Greens negotiated with the ALP. The Greens spent years working on this proposal and he said he felt like he was walking on air as he went to work each day. Then Abbott won and he found himself in the position where he had to dismantle that same legislation. He couldn't do it. So he left and joined the Greens because he realized that you can't vote for the Climate Council, or Wilderness Society and in the end it's who is in Canberra who makes the difference.

Sure the Climate Council is worthy. I gave them hundreds of dollars to re-form their organisation and I'm glad they did. But they have NO POWER TO CHANGE LEGISLATION! Only if you have the balance of power or a majority in parliament can you do that! And from now on that's where my energy will go...but our numbers will never grow until our sibling organisations openly support us! It's up to people like you and all the good organisations really. You want to keep bashing your head against a brick wall and put up with ridiculous Govts and the devastation they reek on the environment and on human rights....then don't openly support the Greens.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Liberal and Labor sell their souls for power. Greens are only ethical alternative.

Our democracy is possibly the best functioning democracy in the world, yet the desire for power often leads to a lowering of standards.  

It’s a sad day when a supposedly ‘left wing’ party, such as the ALP, preferences extreme right, racist, climate change deniers over candidates representing social justice, a sustainable environmental and clean energy prosperity.  We expect the Liberals to preference the Greens last, but it always saddens me when the very party the Greens are accused of being in collaboration with, also preferences us last!  

No wonder so many have lost respect for politics and politicians and are now referring to the two tired parties as the ‘Laberals’ with the Greens being the only true opposition. Many voters are now thinking for themselves and despite what it says on HowToVote cards, they are directing their preferences to the party with decent, inclusive and egalitarian values. Even though the ALP has lowered its standards, many of their voters are bright enough not to follow suit! And that goes for a growing number of concerned Liberal voters as well.

All candidates are worthy of respect but bad policies deserve no such respect. Here in the South West Coast electorate of Western Region, both ALP's Roy Reekie and the Liberal's Denis Napthine, our  Premier, belong to parties that have been responsible for the potential rise of fracking in SW Vic, that threatens our farmland and the underground water upon which it all depends.

We all know that the Liberals want an eleven storey milk factory close to the heart of Warrnambool and we all know that even though Roy Reekie says he’s against it, his Party is not.  Only the Greens are 100% committed to fighting this inappropriate industrial development. The local Greens and Greens at all levels of government work with and fight for our community not just during elections, but all the time.

We all know that both Liberal and Labor are responsible for the sad situation of our training sector. Local Green residents have been participating on boards and as teachers, trying to help save and rebuild this vital part of our community. If you want to save TAFE, then you can only truly trust the Greens to stick to their ideals and follow through.

Only the Greens are 100% committed to fighting for renewable energy and local industries such as Keppel Prince. We're determined to keep fighting the climate denying and fossil fuel funded Liberals and ALP.

We are you. We are the SW community. We come from and fight for every walk of life, race and creed and that includes farmers, small business people, community groups and organisations, local government, trainers and teachers, artists, fishers, hospitality, tourism, blue collar workers, ambulance drivers, nurses, doctors, fire fighters and all residents. Many who read this know from personal experience, that it's all true. Support those who support you and Vote 1 Green!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Eileen Joyce

Last night David and I watched the old Australian movie 'Wherever She Goes'.

Made in Sydney at the Ealing Studios in 1951, this was a biopic tale of the early life of famous Australian pianist Eileen Joyce. Typical of Australian movies made during this time, it is a bit rough round the edges but the acting is full of nostalgic Aussie charm. The lead actress, Suzanne Parrett, is naturally graceful and believable as she skips through the Australian bush and then manages to maintain her optimism as the family moves to the harsh environment of the Australian outback. She is entirely unaware of her family's penury until she discovers her passion for music and more specifically, the piano.

The story finishes abruptly as Eileen says goodbye to her family and boards a train to follow her dream at the conservatorium in Perth. Wanting to know more about this remarkable woman I was hoping for a sequel but unfortunately the film ends here. Before we saw 'Wherever She Goes' I'd never heard of Eileen Joyce but now I'm fascinated.
She was born into abject poverty, never having worn a pair of shoes. Her clothes were truly 'Sound of Music', with her mother making her dresses from old curtains. Set in Tasmania where Eileen was born,  early scenes were filmed in the Blue Mountains where the bush revealed scenic vistas and was full of exotic wildlife. The vibrant mountains contrasted with the ugly desert town of Kalgoorli where her father moved in his search for gold. Kalgoorlie was home to an army of riff raff miners and larrikin adventurers whose favourite pass times of gold digging, drinking and two up games reflected another era in the Australian psyche, of mateship, swaggies and gold digging dreamers.

Environmental degradation caused by mining is surprisingly obvious even in this early depiction of an outback mining town. I wonder what the workers and miners from the early 20th Century would make of more recent mines, with city sized holes in the earth and monstrous trucks with wheels the size of houses.

The kindness of strangers and pure, serendipitous luck combined with Eileen's extraordinary, innate gift and obsession, under extremely unlikely circumstances, created one of Australia's best loved and world acclaimed musicians.

What makes this story even more remarkable, is that she was born in a time when expectations of women were vastly different to today. Women were not expected to leave the home to excel at anything, other than perhaps nursing, typing and maybe teaching. it seems hard to believe now that in those times and even until the 1960's, women were asked to leave their professions when they married. 

Eileen Joyce at St.Joseph's, Boulder.

Eileen Joyce's full story should be told.  In these 'hard nosed', mean spirited economic times, Australia could do with some education on the possible life changing effects that being generous, looking out for neighbours and performing small acts of kindness every day can have on children and families. Such actions can have life enhancing consequences on those around us, as demonstrated by this forgotten Australian classic.

Life was desperately hard for the miners of Boulder and elsewhere  in Australia, yet they were aware of and encouraged and supported this talented young girl. Despite our hardships, when we focus on our shared humanity, notice the little things and pull together in community, we all benefit and it especially benefits our children. 

Something must also be said about the nuns of the outback. The sisters travelled to remote places and set up schools for the bedraggled populations of these mining towns in the middle of the desert. Thanks to those nuns, the miner's children were educated and Eileen Joyce learnt to play her beloved piano.

 Joyce, Eileen Alannah (1908–1991)
The Australian pianist Eileen Joyce, who died in England on March 25, rose from poverty-stricken obscurity to become one of this century's most famous concert stars.
She was one of the four children of Irish immigrants, Joseph and Alice Joyce, and she was born in a tent at Zeehan, Tasmania, in 1912. She spent most of her childhood in Boulder, Western Australia, where her father worked as a miner.
The family lived opposite a miners' saloon run by a relative and it was there that Eileen first began experimenting at the keyboard, tinkering on a battered old piano in the bar. Her love of music was encouraged by nuns at the local convent school and when she was about 10 they recommended that she be sent to develop her talents at a larger convent in Perth.
She was never to forget her father's embarrassment when he was forced to admit that he could neither read nor write when enrolling her at the city school.
When Percy Grainger was invited to the convent to hear her play, he pronounced her "the most transcendentally gifted child" he had ever met.
Another visitor, the touring German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, insisted that she be sent to further her studies in Leipzig. The miners of Boulder passed the hat around to help her parents pay her fare and expenses.
Years later, during an interview, she recalled her long, lonely sea voyage to Europe, and her arrival in Leipzig in the 1920s, "a homesick waif and stray without warm knickers". The reception party, she said, was disappointed to find she was not an Aborigine.
But she also recalled the magnificent musical education she received in Leipzig, where her tutors included "the emperor" of pianists, Artur Schnabel.
From Leipzig she went to London. She was then about 20 and not only an exceptionally gifted young musician, but an extremely beautiful, red-haired young woman. Throughout her career she was to be admired almost as much for her beauty as her performances.
She made her London debut at a Proms Concert conducted by Henry Wood. Shortly after, the resourceful young pianist made a recording in London, at her own expense, and sent copies to all the leading conductors of the day. Offers of engagements with top orchestras followed.
In 1936 she made her first ABC tour of Australia. During that visit her proud father asked her to play his favourite Irish air, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. By then she knew dozens of concertos and sonatas by heart, but she had to admit she did not know the score of her father's favourite song.
"Then all your schooling's been wasted," he furiously complained at a reception in her honour. She quickly learned the piece to please him.
Although she left Australia in her early teens and never returned to make her home here, she always made a point of expressing her pride in Australia and its people overseas and she never attempted to gloss over her own humble beginnings.
Perhaps that is why she was regarded with such affection by her Australian contemporaries.
She was certainly never a victim of the tall poppy syndrome. In fact, throughout her glittering international career Australia constantly held her up as "a magnificent ambassadress" and a fine example to young Australians.
Following her return to London after her 1936 ABC tour she married an Englishman, Douglas Legh Barratt, and gave birth to their son, John.
But her first husband was killed while on active service during World War II; in 1945 she married again, this time to the immensely wealthy British film magnate Christopher Mann.
The same year she was featured playing on the sound track of two major British films, The Seventh Veil, starring Ann Todd, and the classic, Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean.
A children's book about her early life was published in 1949 by the English writer Clare Hoskyns-Abahall, who described the miners of "Boulder City" as"cowboys" in sombreros and chaps and reported that Eileen had often roamed in the hills of "West Australia" leading her pet kangaroo Twink by a chain attached to his "beautifullystudded collar".
But although the book provoked plenty of guffaws in Australia, it inspired the extremely popular 1951 film, Wherever She Goes, which consolidated Joyce's reputation as a first-rate ambassador.
It starred Suzanne Parrett as the young Eileen, and the famous pianist appeared as her herself, the grown-up star, in the final reel.
In addition to constant reports in the Australian media about her triumphs at Carnegie Hall and other famous concert venues, there were lavishly illustrated magazine articles about her increasingly glamorous lifestyle.
But even accounts of her Mayfair apartment, her seven grand pianos, her country home, Chartwell Farm ("right next door to Sir Winston Churchill's Chartwell Manor") and her concert gowns designed by the leading couturiers of the day failed to provoke widespread envy or acid media comment.
Australia always seemed of the opinion that the daughter of the battling Boulder miner had earned her place in the sun.
She ended her career in Aberdeen in 1960 by closing the lid of the piano after a recital and announcing that she was in pain from muscular problems in her shoulders and "utterly exhausted" after a lifetime of extensive touring.
There was talk of a comeback following her brief, dazzling guest appearance at a charity concert in London in 1967, but she thought better of it.
In 1971 she received an honorary doctorate of music from Cambridge University and in 1979 a doctorate from the University of Western Australia. In 1981 she was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
The same year she visited Australia to adjudicate at the Sydney International Piano Competition and to attend the official opening of the Eileen Joyce Studio at the University of Western Australia.
She donated the $110,000 cost of the studio as a tribute to her parents, but during that trip she confessed that she had virtually lost touch with her siblings over the years.
She also attended the 1985 Sydney International Piano Competition and made her last trip home to Australia in 1989 when she attended an ABC concert in her honour at Sydney Town Hall.
Following the death of her husband, Christopher Mann, in 1983, she made her home at White Hart Lodge, a converted 14th-century monastery in Limpsfield, Surrey.
It was there that she suffered a fall on March 24. She died the following day in hospital. She had been in poor health for several years and friends report that she was particularly distressed by the increasing loss of her short-term memory. "Mummy's going dottie", she frequently complained during her last trip to Australia.
Her funeral was held yesterday in Limpsfield. She is survived by her son, John, her daughter-in-law, Rebecca and her grandson, Alexander.
A studio at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's new headquarters at Ultimo is to be dedicated to her memory.

Original publication

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April 1991, p 14

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Why I don't Like Hugh Jackman

I really want to like Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee-Furness. Jackman is a handsome, incredibly talented Aussie who married an older woman and has been loyal to her for 18 years and they have two adopted children. It all sounds pretty much idyllic. Maybe it is, privately, for them. 

But unlike Cate Blanchett, who is also an extraordinarily talented Australian (though I'm not sure she sings and dances like Jackman), I suspect Hugh Jackman might support the current Coalition Government. 

The reason I say this is that during the launch of his new foundation for the arts, he refrained from criticising the Abbott Government for cutting huge dollars from arts funding. He said that he thought funding should come from a number of sources. What does that mean? That it's okay for the second richest country in the world not to support Australian performing arts? We might be the second richest country in the world but if what Hugh Jackman said is true, then we're certainly not the second most cultured or civilised!

Jackman and Furness haven't criticised the Coalition Government for anything at all. I hope this is because, being ex-pats, they haven't kept abreast of the political situation in their home country and not because they actually approve of the Coalitions's actions.

I have two adopted Korean children but I felt extremely uneasy when Jackman and Furness posed proudly for photos with the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when he promised to make it easier for Australians to adopt children from overseas. 

I mean, one does wonder how people who adopt children and especially people who set up Trusts specifically to support the overseas adoption of underprivileged children, could support a government that treats refugee children so cruelly or that cuts funding to unemployed youth, or to education or health? How does that make sense? I find it strange that people are able to separate these decisions from the humanitarian and human rights consequences. 

That there are now children permanently languishing  in dreadful conditions in New Guinea and on Nauru due to the actions of both Labor and Liberal Governments, surely deserves as much response from Jackman and Furness as those languishing in third world countries due to poverty, war and persecution.

One would think that such successful and hopefully humane people would be aware of the Abbott Government's bad track record on asylum seekers, climate change, deforestation, social services, education, health and the arts.

Possibly the worst action by the present Government is their continued financial support of fossil fuels including CSG and other Unconventional Gases such as Tight Gas. Everything the Coalition Government does shouts support for the rich and a complete lack of support for basic human need and the environment.

I strongly suspect that Jackman and Furness are supportive of the Abbott Government and billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and Twiggy Forrest. Forrest has invested in Jackman's new arts foundation. Why do I find this so very disappointing? I really do want to like Hugh Jackman because he's so talented and apparently one of the few decent, really handsome guys in Hollyweird.

Jackman has referred to taxpayer's money as being limited and that money for the arts should come from other sources. I guess it depends on what kind of arts he's talking about. Big, ridiculous, block buster movies shouldn't necessarily receive government funding but the arts as a whole are, I believe, a basic human need. 

A country without the arts becomes...well... hard nosed and perhaps even a bit sociopathic, really. The arts can help us reflect and maybe question ourselves and also our country's actions. The arts can help us become more humane and God knows, we need more humane in this cruel world.

Come Hugh Jackman, read my blog. Educate yourself about what this Government is doing and use your squillians to help us become more humane and to help save our world for our children.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Did Pyne call Shorten a 'c***'?

I'm not at all surprised that Christopher Pyne called Bill Shorten a 'c#@%'! And I'm even less surprised that he got away with it.

A friend who had flown to Canberra to hear Greens Senator Richard Di Natale's maiden speech, related this story to me.

When Richard, who is very polite and respectful of all, walked down the aisle to his new seat in the Senate chamber to give his first Senate speech in 2011, his heart was full of pride for Australia. He was in awe of the country that had given him, the young son of almost illiterate immigrants, the opportunity to achieve so much and to eventually become one of the law makers and leaders of Australia. It's a remarkable and inspiring story.

But on the way down that aisle his heart fell when Liberal Senators began to heckle him. They called him every name you can think of as well as saying to this accomplished medical doctor such things as 'have you taken yer drugs today Greenie' and 'go hug a tree bloody hippy greenie'.

But Richard took his place in the Senate and looked up at the visitors gallery to his beaming parents, siblings, wife and friends. He gave a beautiful speech and when he finished, everyone in the chamber rose to their feet to applaud him.

Both Labor and Liberal are guilty of bigotry and vilification but the Liberals have shown us that they have very little regard for anyone who is not one of their members and they have no qualms demonstrating their disdain openly and publicly. The strange thing is that they generally get away with it.

Here is Richard's maiden speech.

And here is his response to the recent budget.
Regards to all,
Lisa Owen

If not Us, then Who?
If not Now, then When?
If not Here, then Where?

Make Senator Di Natale's 'What will they eat?' video go viral!

AAww c'mon people! Help to make this video go viral, like Scott Ludlam's 'Noted' speech. Richard Di Natale is very angry about the Government's Budget and it's equally worthy as he manifests even more indignant, well focused RAGE. So share, share and share again!

The dynamic duo, Federal Greens Senator Richard Di Natale and Victorian State Greens candidate for Western Region, Lloyd Davies. My two favourite Greens!

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Some Legislation Should Be Set In Stone

Tony Abbott spruiked fossil fuels in Texas.

Like most people, I receive hundreds of petitions. I agree with some of varying degrees... but some make me stop and rethink the issue at hand. 

One of those petitions called for a ban on wage increases to politicians.

Politicians, along with lawyers, priests and teachers seem to have fallen out of favour over the past few decades. Perhaps it's always been that way. I often feel frustrated and perplexed by those on both sides of politics and view most of them with a fair amount of cynicism but I just can't buy the 'anti-politician' sentiment that lumps all politicians together. 

Politicians are definitely not all the same. Green politicians never vote for their own pay increases, yet they work extremely hard. Admittedly their wages are substantial but Green politicians are required to tithe 10% of that income, with little or no assistance in return. They take their roles very seriously and keep to a punishing schedule.    

It may be an honour to serve your country in parliament but it's also a great sacrifice. There are long and lonely times away from family and friends and much of that time is spent in transit, travelling the continent. 

Greens Senator for Victoria, Richard Di Natale and Greens candidate for Victoria's Western Region in 20014 State election, Lloyd Davies. 

Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said in his maiden speech, that he hoped his children would one day understand why their father was rarely at school concerts, speech nights or school sports. Such denial of normal family time is hard on children and families. A large proportion of politicians suffer from depression and anxiety.

The constancy of public demand with an ever present fear of humiliation and trial by media, wear many a good person down. Politics is a hard game and it's equally hard on a politician's children, families and friends. Such sacrifices and negative impacts are rarely appreciated or acknowledged by the public and are never acknowledged by the media. Maybe, when politicians say they're withdrawing from public life to spend more time with their families, most of the time they really mean it.

Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Greens, with partner Paul Thomas.
Many go on to serve the community on other less public platforms. 

Of course, a number of politicians are on the gravy train and do very little to earn their keep. However, that's true of any profession and yet we are not inclined to judge the entire profession for the failings some of its members.  

Voters do take a risk when they support a candidate whether they belong to a party or run as an independent. Inevitably, some will disappoint. I know I have a strong Green bias because I have never, ever felt let down or been disillusioned by a Greens candidate. But there probably will come a time! 

Most people who enter politics do it to create change for the better and to help serve their country. The rigors of running for an election, may include a loss of income over a number of years and a substantial loss of family time. A politician's wages are like danger money. They're a form of remuneration or compensation and I believe they earn every cent.
The Australian people want and deserve candidates of quality, with intelligence, a strong sense of justice and honesty. We need well rounded, well informed, balanced individuals to help run our country at the highest level. 

Ideally, parliament should represent all Australians, from every walk of life, including high powered careers, blue collar workers, academics, farmers, teachers, all adult age groups, all ethnic backgrounds, all genders, all sexual orientations, all religions and those who are not religious.


And in that mix, we want some people who may already be successful and who are prepared, for a time, to sacrifice lucrative business careers. These people are valued because they may have some understanding of the complexities of running a huge economy. But we also want them to be compassionate and caring toward those who are at the bottom of that list. 

Our parliament creates the legislation that controls our lives. Being in Government is the highest office in the land and the most responsible. That's why we ask so much of our politicians and quite rightly scrutinize their actions. 

Whether you agree with them or not, in my opinion most politicians earn their keep. In Australia, we want to attract the very best people to run our country but we can't have it both ways. We can't pay them meager or even ordinary wages and expect them all to be highly skilled and to represent us with absolute dedication and extraordinary performances. We can't really expect our politicians to be extraordinary, if we don't look after them. 

Having said that, there should be limits to how much politicians are paid because either too much or too little money seems to invite corruption. the very near future, Australians  must grow up and realize that some things are essential to our survival. We must put a limit on the power of governments and politicians to withdraw life saving legislation such as universal health care, equality in education, environmental protection and human and animal rights. These things must be set in stone. 

At the present time, such basic core value issues are being abused by both sides of politics in order to win votes and curry favour from the 'big end of town'. With each new election, all hard won gains in these important areas are easily lost, as demonstrated by the Coalition Government's retraction of the the price on carbon. 

If the Australian people decide to vote for a Government that does not protect our core values, then there should be measures set in place. The Constitution and the judicial system are meant to do exactly that but they seem to be failing us on a number of counts; on refugees, health care, education and probably the most dangerous and pressing issue facing us all, climate change.   

The Coalition Government has, with righteous gusto, introduced inequitable and unjust legislation to cut essential services, infringe on human rights and destroy our life support systems. At the same time they will afford huge subsidies to the wealthy and damaging mining and fossil fuel industry.

People need to know that the Greens are ethical politicians who, on a shoe string budget and with much personal sacrifice, fight for good and just legislation and that they NEVER vote for an increase in pay. 

When I watch Coalition Government politicians on TV, I find myself wondering if the Australian people really understand what Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne and Greg Hunt are doing to them and their country. 

If you want a better class of politician, vote Green. If you want to protect health care, education, human rights and the environment, vote Green. C'mon people, you know you want to!
If not Us, then Who?
If not Now, then When?
If not Here, then Where?

We acknowledge the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the land, the Gunditjmara Kirrae Whurrong people, whilst paying our respects to their Elders past and present.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A remarkable Easter.

It was a remarkable Easter. 

I met my refugee friend's family for the first time. He has been here 13 years waiting to be granted refugee status, while his family waited in Sri Lanka for him to send for them.

He arrived by plane so fortunately spent no time in detention however, he was denied the right to work and denied asylum, but they still handed him the cost of his plane fare back to the country that would bring him certain death. He relied on the charity of others to survive...mostly churches and mainly Fr. Michael. Thankfully he couldn't pay for his return flight and was stranded in the country to which he fled. 

I became involved when we participated in a refugee support program and accommodated a family for a weekend holiday by the sea. At the community meal this little man began to talk to my husband and they struck up a friendship. He made strong friends with two other families here in Warrnambool and stayed with us regularly.

Finally he was granted a work permit and was able to earn enough to feed himself and save a little to pay for his flight back home, thanks to Fr. Michael. Four times he received his deportation orders...and each time he nearly died with the stress of it.

It was during one of these times that he received news that his beautiful youngest daughter had died from dengue fever. He was a broken shell of a man...a bundle of nerves.

Just when we thought he would finally be sent home after 11 years of struggle and with us writing, petitioning and gathering an army of writers and petitioners, Chris Bowen the Immigration Minister was approached by Patrick McGorry to personally revise our little friend's case.

Suddenly our friend received word that he had been granted refugee status! I cried and cried.There were so many times I thought he would be sent home and shot. The last time he asked for a gun so he could protect himself.

Inter-denominational congregations all over Melbourne and Warrnambool were praying for him and finally it would seem our prayers had been answered. Four months ago, 13 years after he arrived in the country, his family joined him in Melbourne and they now live with him in a Parish house.

This Easter he brought them to Warrnambool and I was able to meet them for the first time. Such beautiful grown up children and a saintly wife, whose prayers must be mighty powerful. We went to Mass together on Easter Saturday and I sat there in awe of them, trying to take it in. The priest nearly fainted when I told them who these Sri Lankan people were. Another goodly priest who had shown him incredible kindness. We had all worried and prayed for him.

It was a big crowd for dinner on Sat night at our place. There was my family and my sister's family and the Sri Lankan family. We prayed and gave thanks. I was completely overwhelmed.

Of course, now, in the present political climate my friend's rescue would be impossible. It was well nigh impossible under Labor! But now, thanks to brutal Labor and Liberal policies, such people languish on Manus Island and Nauru, in despair with no hope of refuge. How do we get rid of this dreadful Government that causes people such suffering? How do we get people to vote the party with the most humane policies into Government? Of course I refer to the Greens.

It was, however, a sublime Easter for us and one I won't easily forget.