As Australian Conservative Politicians Laugh about COALPHOBIA the rest of us quietly install our cheap and effective Solar Systems.

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Whether or not you believe in global warming is irrelevant.

The sun is free and if you are lucky enough to live in Australialand we get a lot of it.

In fact, we sometimes get too much – it helps to make us the skin cancer capital of the world, wreaks havoc with the paintwork on our red cars, breaks down our washing pegs, turns our hair to straw and our washing to cardboard but we still love it because it’s FREE energy.  Yay!

The other week, with Sydney just about to experience its hottest days on record Scott Morrison indulged himself in a little show-and-tell, bringing a lump of coal into parliament, declaring that ‘coal is our future’ and laughing heartily at the Lefties, accusing them of Coalophobia for wanting to move away from this black gold.

coal-is-funny

You can’t blame them on one hand. It would be fair to say that Australia was built on Rock and Coal and it is equally fair to say that thousands of Australians still rely on our coal industry for their weekly wage packets but are they reason enough to keep us locked into a technology that is running out of steam?

I think not, especially given that these days many of us are employed in industries that didn’t exist 50 or even 20 years ago – there are plenty of opportunities out there for jobs and growth building but coal ‘ain’t one of them. Surely with a bit of fore-thought and planning we can create a clean energy jobs market, I mean the solar panels don’t make themselves, they have to be installed, maintained and improved.  Then there’s other clean energy engineering problems to be solved, improvements to be invested in and minds to be engaged.

Australia is in danger of falling behind.

Actually Australia already is behind in terms of government leadership because while the coal is being passed around the parliament a quiet solar revolution is unfolding in and around suburbia and nobody gives a shit about what the pollies think or whether they or anyone else believes in global warming, climate change or coalophobia. People are just doing it because it is cheap.

Two years ago we purchased our property out west and a rough estimate for installing enough solar and battery storage for a family of four was $40-$50,000.  Last week I was quoted around $15,000.  Amazing!

We are not yet fully ready to install solar out west as we are yet to build our house but it is coming.  Talking to our suburban friends and neighbours they are already ahead of us. After taking advantage of government subsidies and rebates a few years back now that the rebate has all but run out the next logical step is storage and unplugging from the grid.  Again I’m not talking here about a colony of greenies living in a woodland forest far, far away from reality. I’m talking engineers, doctors, nurses,  teachers,  builders,  architects, therapists and shop assistants.  People who just got a calculator and worked out that they will be better off going it alone.

And that worries me a bit.

My lefty side comes out right about now and says that’s all very well for those of us that can fork out the $15K or whatever, those of us that own their own house and can make a long-term investment but what about the renters, the elderly, the young and the broke?  Aren’t they the people who the government should be looking after?

Sadly it looks like these guys are left with coal and coal-fired power stations that are old and suffering from under-investment because their rich investors are taking advice from their insurance people and waiting to see what new and sustainable energy policies are coming into law.  As more and more people take themselves off the grid the cost of supplying those left increases.  Lose, lose for the government.  Oh dear.

Now I get why Australian politicians are doing what they are doing but it won’t wash for too much longer because people need power and no matter how much money the government pushes into clean coal advertising, clean coal is going to reach a point where it is just too dear when compared to the ever decreasing costs of solar. Sure you can throw in the diversion of ‘base load power’ and ‘jobs’ and whatever but that won’t wash for long either as soon everyone will know someone who lives a life of luxury off-the-grid with no power bills and anyway, solar is only one possible future solution, it just happens to be quite an obvious one for this sunburned country to excel at.
On that note, Australia has so much to offer the world in terms of alternative energy sources, so much so in fact that only a dinosaur would stick to coal.  And look, a dinosaur is exactly the meme good old progressive politician Cory Bernardi chose to make his point earlier this week.  He’s clearly a man to watch……

australian-conservatives

 

A bird needs both wings to fly

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I only realised that my political views were a bit more left than right when I took part in the ABC’s Vote Compass  in 2013.  I still couldn’t vote at that time as I wasn’t a citizen and as such found the result interesting, amusing even but certainly not life-defining.  Even though I came out as more left that right it was only just.  I polled strongly liberal on all things money and slightly more green on matters of the environment.  Trying to be all things to all people or just pretty remarkably normal? I’d go with the latter.

By the next election in 2016 I could vote and this time my vote compass showed that I’d swung far more to the left – maybe even radically so!  As a scientist I found myself feeling much more skeptical of this result than I had of the 2013 findings – surely this level of swing is minor radicalism?  I didn’t feel radical. I hadn’t even read the list of left-wing propaganda that lefties are so often accused of parroting.   The left-wing agenda was something that I was not in on.

But I left it at that and voted the way that made sense to me.

It’s only a few months since that last election and the world of politics has gotten very nasty and that’s made me think.

I haven’t fundamentally changed much since I was a teenager back in the UK, a teenager living in a conservative household, reading the Daily Mail and the Sunday Telegraph, studying chemistry and dreaming of owning my own home and becoming a company Director…..

The world is what has changed and it has changed in a sick way that is obsessed with pigeon holing the whole of humanity into left-wing or right-wing boxes as if there is no possibility of seeing the good (and bad) in both thus totally ignoring the place where I suspect most of us really sit.

And I’m worried about that.

When things become so black and white the atmosphere changes.  It becomes harder to have a conversation with people from the ‘other side’ to you as it seems so pointless when ‘they’ are less on another page than reading from another book entirely!  We have a situation where common sense has been branded as a conservative construct and where anything to do with gender issues, equality, the environment and benefits is radical left-wing.  But where have those thoughts come from?

I don’t know but I do have my suspicions.

You only have to observe the comments under a slightly controversial Facebook post to see how quickly people stop talking and start trading insults.  I used to watch football (both soccer and Rugby – soccer crowds in England in the 1990’s were more violent and aggressive than the Rugby crowds so I’ll use that analogy).   Soccer crowds were separated by entrances on opposing sides of the stadium – left and right.  Once inside the chanting would start – depending on who was playing this could either be light-hearted banter or downright nasty goading.  Whichever it was there was an undeniable air of ‘why the F would anyone even think of supporting them’ directed at the opposition.  It was just unconscionable.

And that’s what politics is beginning to feel like.

We’ve chosen or been allotted sides.

These sides then define, not only how we vote but everything about us. We become bleeding heart lefty snowflakes or racist right-wing bigots full stop.

So who benefits from this?

Well a few months ago I might have sounded like a complete fruit loop for saying this but these days the proof is in the pudding – the political landscape has shifted and we can all see it with our own eyes.

The media love a good fight, it sells papers, makes great click bait and generally gets people addicted in a ‘what’s going to happen next’ kind of way.  So while the media don’t necessarily have the power to start this once that fire has been lit they will at best hide the hose pipe and at worst fan the flames.

But they are not the only ones.

Politicians also know and take advantage of the fact that when we are passionate and angry we are less likely to think rationally, examine the evidence with a fine tooth comb and ask questions to help us understand.  What we tend to do instead is either accept or reject outright what is put in front of us, blinded by our own passions.  I think this is where we are now and sadly we are falling into its trap.

I would have said a month ago that politicians have more control over the media now than ever (professional lobbyists etc) but after reading some Australian history from the early 1900s that simply isn’t true.  Australia’s second Prime Minister, Deakin was adept at prepping the soil for his future political policies by writing either overtly or under a pseudonym in the national papers.  Just like when you are weaning babies, you have to introduce a new food (or new idea) a few times for the baby to get used to it – the same can be said for policy and if you can get into people’s hearts and minds without them realising you are 3/4’s of the way to a win!

Of course these days we have social media to counter and temper the influence of the professional media – we can all ‘create’ news be it by blogging, tweeting, Facebook status updating or sharing or snap chatting.  However, we are shouting into a crowded market that has already been primed for left or right so it is more likely that you get lost in your own echo chamber than find your way into the hearts and minds of the opposition – to do that requires the development of a platform and in this political climate you won’t stand on a neutral one for long before someone shoves you either to the left or to the right!

So what can we do?

I don’t think there are any quick fixes that we can employ to help prevent us from falling into a left or right identity pot (unless we want to) but there are some slow ones and I guess it all starts with becoming aware of how the world is being divided.

I truly believe that we still have more in common than what divides us and as such will continue to try to seek out both sides of the story even when it doesn’t suit me and my personal tastes and views to do so.  This divide and conquer mentality is not going to end well as it is simply not natural.  As I said in my title, a bird needs both wings to fly but not only that, a bird also needs its core,  its centre and I’m happy to stay centred for now.

Australia Day – Why I want to change the date and no, I don’t sip lattees.

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From the Australia Day website:

“Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788”

More here.

But in 1788 there was no Australia,  indeed the very concept of a new country, united by Federation only became popular in the mid to late 1880’s thanks to the Australian Natives’ Association which, to my surprise was not a club for Aboriginal people but a vehicle through which to glorify the middle class whites (mostly male) (OK, that’s my bias there but I reached that conclusion by reading what is written in this link. 

australia-day-view

It is interesting to note that Women were permitted to set up their own branch of the ANA and the Adelaide group had their first meeting in October 1889.  While this is at least a little encouraging what is less encouraging is a note at the bottom of the recorded minutes mentioning the ‘Chinese Question’.  Further investigation shows the ‘China Question’ to be the taxes that Chinese ‘Australians’ have to pay to cross from state to state – taxes that white Australians do not have to pay.  Fair go?

Anyway……

The idea of an ‘Australia Day’ pre-dates federation and was first muted by a ANA member in a letter during the 1885 ANA congress.  The author was a Mr E.W Swift:

‘The idea for Australia Day, to be celebrated on January 26, was first suggested in a letter from E.W. Swift of Ballarat to the 1885 ANA conference. At the association’s suggestion, the Victorian government organised with its counterparts in the other colonies for the first national celebration of the day in 1888, the centenary of European settlement in Australia.’

One of the people to read that letter would have been Mr Alfred Deakin, the chap that went on to become Australia’s second Prime Minister.  Deakin was a key member of the ANA around this time and while he did champion many social welfare moves, especially for his ‘Australian Natives’ he was also  a key voice in the ‘White Australia’ and ‘federation’ mindsets. The White Australia mindset helped shape policy and attitudes throughout the country over the coming decades – some would say that undercurrents of this work still hold Australia back today,  although the governments official position and policy writing changed following World War 2 in 1949.  In terms of the Federation it is clear that Deakin had a significant part to play in pushing forward with this idea and in working out the detail of how a federated Australia would relate to the motherland.

In all this talk of federation, immigration policy and social welfare, Aboriginal Australians don’t really warrant a mention being even less desirable than non-white immigrants.

But these people were in Victoria, in New South Wales, my state, we had Sir Henry Parkes.

While the political talk gathered pace I’m sure there would have been a great appetite for a day to celebrate all that was being achieved in this exciting ‘new’ colony!  While I don’t really know what went on in Sir Henry Parkes mind I can comment on what I have read and that is that the significance of marking this ‘day of celebration’ on 26th January was not lost on him – again, this is from the official government website:

‘There had been much debate in Sydney about what kind of celebrations should mark the centenary. Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales, planned something for everyone, or almost everyone. When questioned about what was being planned for the Aborigines, Parkes retorted, ‘And remind them that we have robbed them?’ At the centre of his plans was the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria, the British sovereign since 1837, the opening of Centennial Park, a park for the people, and a great banquet for leading citizens. And, of course, the Sydney Regatta.’

And so it went on and on and on and on until we get to today, two days after 2017’s Australia day.

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I am 100% for a change of date BECAUSE of this history – because the date was conceived by a middle class elite FOR a middle class elite that excludes the very thing that has made Australia great and that’s diversity, mateship and our easy-going nature. In fact I’d say it has done more than exclude these things, it has tried to squash those traits out of us.

This year it  does appear that the momentum for change has grown and that the opposing voices are getting louder and stronger and I applaud that although I don’t support the burning of flags or other acts of violence.

But our opposition to this date has been met, unsurprisingly, with counter claims that we are just ‘lattee sipping, middle class whingers with bleeding hearts and nothing better to do’.

I am allergic to coffee and I can be just as heartless as the next man thank you.

So why do people like me take to reading history and advocating for change albeit from our position of white privilege?

Because our privilege has taught us compassion, highlighted to us that words and deeds do matter and that there is no such thing as a meaningless date (unless we’re talking about Tinder…)

So what do we want now?

What do I want now?

All I want is the date to change and to change because we have collectively acknowledged the inherent racism and dehumanizing undertones that surrounded the origin of this day.  A day for the whole of Australia to celebrate unless you are a person of colour or Aboriginal?  Really?

But some aboriginal people are fine with the day and want us to just get on with more important things.

I acknowledge that this is true and that there is much truth and value in drawing a line in the sand and walking over it.  Healing. But I remain unmoved in my opposition to this date.

To use the healing analogy just think about what happens when a wound heals over an infection. Or what happens when a wound is re-opened time and time again, even just a little bit?

Let there be no doubt about it, for many this is a fresh, living wound.

Some more recent history:

1938 – Day Of Mourning. 

Many people cite 1938 as the first time that Australia really celebrated Australia Day in the way we do today.  It marked the 150th anniversary of Cooks landing and with it a chance to marvel at how far this great nation had come.

But again, greatness and progress are subjective and some subjects were not ‘loving it’ not least because in 1938 Australia’s Aboriginal Community were still very much treated as the nations underclass.

The 26th of January, 1938 is not a day of rejoicing for Australia’s Aborigines; it is a day of mourning. This festival of 150 years of so-called ‘progress’ in Australia commemorates also 150 years of misery and degradation imposed upon the original native inhabitants by the white invaders of this country.  Read more here. 

Below is a list of just some of the thing Aboriginal Australians had to live with in the good old 1930’s. 

In 1934 the Aboriginals Act, Aboriginal people could give up their heritage and identity and gain access to the same rights as whites.  Nice!

Aboriginal children could still be removed without a court order.

In Western Australia Aboriginal people could be taken into custody without trial and were banned from entering some towns and cities (including Perth) without a permit.

A non-negotiable assimilation policy was introduced and was forcibly enacted.

More here. 

And more recently.

Aboriginal people had to wait until 1967 to be counted in the national census.  That’s only 7 years before I was born for goodness sake – nearly within my lifetime! NOT LONG AGO!

So again, what am I trying to achieve here?

I want us to be able to draw a line and move over it together.  I want that line to be low, ground-low, a line that everyone can cross, that everyone wants to hold hands and step (or wheel) over.  I want us to be able to do this with the solemnity that the occasion deserves and with the energy of hearts filled with excitement and love for what lies on the other side.  I then want us to hug each other before we put another prawn on the barbie, sing our favourite songs and have a go on that giant slip and slide!

And then, when the party is over I want us to go to work putting right all of the constitutional wrongs that have stemmed from this.  That will take time and will,  a change of date will give us the will!

If we don’t do this I fear that the Australian identity, what makes Australia Australia and not the USA, China,  the UK,  Vietnam, Germany or wherever will vanish.  As a Brit whose been here for nearly 14 years I feel anything but a proud Australian on 26th January and I do what I can to avoid all ‘celebration’ – yes I do often just carry on working – It doesn’t have to be like this.

So that’s just a bit of the background into why I can’t learn to just ‘get over myself’ and enjoy this date.

Amanda

PS: And as if I need any further reason to doubt the joined-up-thinking behind this occasion we are now told to eat lamb on this day.  Lamb is not native to this country, sheep are heavy footed and not entirely suited to the soil of this land, often compacting it and leaving it less fertile than it otherwise could be.  Sure I love a lamb chop but how much more dis-connected from this country, this land could we be?  I sometimes wonder…….

 

PPS: So what other date should it be?  Well there is a fun campaign to have it on May 8th as said quickly that sounds like Mate which is quintessentially Aussie and something that really appeals to me I do understand that Jan is a much better time for all things BBQ and fun!  So I think that any date after 1st and before 31st would be good.  Preferably before 26th as that makes it easier to get a clean run at the new school year which currently has to either wait until after the date to return from the summer break or has to straddle it thus leaving two part-weeks and a longer period of time to get the kids settled.

 

It’s starting to feel like the Daily Telegraph will cry if this bloody airport isn’t built. Now why is that????

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So I used googles ‘news’ tab and googled ‘Badgerys Creek’ today and came up with this (yes I’m talking about the airport again):

Now I did make it one of my new year’s resolutions not to ‘consume’ too much junk media ‘news’ but I can’t help but have one last Hoorah binge with this lot of lovelies, not least because it does confirm to me that the Tele really does love Badgerys Creek and will not stop singing its praises (and criticising its opponents) until the bloody thing gets built (if indeed it does).

I really don’t like the Telegraph. It reminds me of the UK’s Daily Mail which became fascinated to the point of Manic Obsession with Princess Diana in the 90’s, in fact it became nauseatingly worrying, as if it was building to a big climax, which it did, with her death in 1997 (not that that was the papers fault but you could clearly feel some weird energy brewing even without the benefit of hindsight).  Not that that’s relevant but it does feel like the same type of mania is driving these column inches  – a mania that is about something other than plain old ‘news’.

Before I go on I do think it is worth mentioning that while I detest the Telegraph newspaper lots of people seem to like it or at least read it. In fact it is getting more, rather than less popular (and I’ll not speculate as to why).  If the Telegraph is to be believed their readership climbed 0.8% over 2016 to 998,000 per day which is 13.22% of the NSW Population (this is a NSW paper) according to this article.   However, I am not sure if those figures are right given the Australian Bureau of Circulation claims the figure to be closer to 998,000 annually rather than daily.  An innocent little typo maybe?  Or maybe I’m reading the figures incorrectly?  Anyway, if we take the circulation figures from ABC we actually see a drop in daily readership to around 233,837 which is still more than double its nearest rival, the Australian followed closely by the Herald Sun.

The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corp. The same group also owns The Australian (which has a circulation according to ABC of around 400,000 pa) which is their more highbrow paper.   The group is owned by Rupert Murdoch and they also happen to own lots of local newspapers across NSW including all of these – I’ve highlighted the ones that lie in the Badgery’s Creek drop zone just so you know who’s singing to them:

 (from WIKIPEDIA) Cumberland/Courier (NSW) newspapers

  • Blacktown Advocate
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Express
  • Central
  • Central Coast Express Advocate
  • Fairfield Advance
  • Hills Shire Times
  • Hornsby and Upper North Shore Advocate
  • Inner West Courier
  • Liverpool Leader
  • Macarthur Chronicle
  • Mt Druitt-St Marys Standard
  • NINETOFIVE
  • North Shore Times
  • Northern District Times
  • NORTHSIDE
  • Parramatta Advertiser
  • Penrith Press
  • Rouse Hill Times
  • Southern Courier
  • The Manly Daily
  • The Mosman Daily
  • Village Voice Balmain
  • Wentworth Courier

So now that we know that we can see what they have been saying. I’ve summarised it here with my own interpretation, you can check out the original articles for yourself using the headlines in the pictures with the dates.  I’m sure it will be fascinating!

From first page to last we have the following:

  • Telegraph Speculation of what the airport will be called because we all know by now, thanks to the Telegraph that this is a done deal and all we have left to do is name the baby.  Cute.
  • Telegraph final call to get on board.  OK so this thing is so amazingly awesome according to the Telegraph that this once-in-a-lifetime deal MUST be taken up IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT DELAY to secure your future wealth and happiness.  This article comes on the back of Sydney Airport Corp playing hard ball and requesting a bit more time to do their math but of course that’s un-Australian and if they don’t pull their finger out the government will take up this amazing offer themselves because they are not pussies.
  • Telegraph – Albo slams critics of the airport.   So in July 2016 Australia went to the polls and throughout Western Sydney – the airport bonanza heartland – the Liberals were rolled in favour of the Labor party.  OK it wasn’t all about the airport but there is a strong contingent of Labor people who are quite vocal about opposing the current EIS and the way this ‘thing’ has come about.  In spite of people voting for these local members the Labor party central now see’s fit to criticise Badgery’s Haters (yes, even though they are in the same party).  Nice one mate. Albo, do you want to come clean about what you’ve been telling your local electorate about Badgerys?  The locals that currently get more than their fair share of noise from Mascott?
  • Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media).  At last, an article that gives facts rather than opinion.  This relates to the fact that Paul Fletcher Transport Minister issued a notice of intention to Sydney Airport Corp who subsequently questioned the detail, asked for more time to consider the proposal and scratched their heads over a way to make the thing financially viable.  Refreshing.
  • Sydney Morning Herald. Airport gets green light.  Again a mainly factual explanation of what is actually going on. A few concerns raised (rail ready vs rail implemented?) plus a general air of relief that it is finally moving forward.
  • The Australian.  Sydney airport run Badgery’s Creek The best option.   Basically again trying to push the narrative that this is piece of infrastructure is the best thing for Australia and that any delay is pure folly.  The language is less direct than with the Telegraph but there is no questioning the sentiments behind the piece.
  • The Australian – Mascot airport owner cannot halt Badgerys Creek development.  Well you can now see they are getting scared but are trying to re-assure us all that this airport we’ve all come to know and love will go ahead anyway by hook or by crook….
  • The Australian. Badgerys Creek airport deal doesn’t stack up – At last a Murdoch rag article that is on the (truth) money.   The reality that developing a green field site and waiting 20 plus years for a return on your investment while your current investment has to support and share the income with its baby brother has hit home.  The only way this is going to happen is if the government helps pay for it and by the government we mean YOU (me/ us/ Australians).
  • The Australian. Badgerys Creek Landowners in line for a windfall.  A feel good story based on three regular Aussie families who are set to cash in big time when their land is turned into an airport. Everyones a winner baby…. Yes but what they don’t tell you is that the major land owners out that way are not your average, loveable  Aussie battlers.
  • The Telegraph. ALP in air farce dogfight over Badgerys Creek.  OK so this was interesting. The Tele once again turned its attention on the recently elected Labor politicians that have questioned the Badgerys Creek proposal and what it will mean for their constituents.  Apparently standing up for your local community and demanding facts rather than fiction gets you beat up in the ‘news’ papers these days. Slammed for standing in the way of jobs, progress, common sense and anything else they can throw at them these politicians. They really did get a serve.

8 articles for Murdoch and 2 for Fairfax.

Only one of the above Murdoch articles could be classified as  more news than opinion in my humble opinion. The Fairfax paper did seem to get the balance right without being blatantly for or against the proposal.

In addition to the articles above there were another 20 articles before I stopped searching (on page 3)

Of these 14 were from the Murdoch stable and included the Gold Coast Bulletin having a go at Western Sydney MP Ed Husic,  News.Com website focusing on the property price bonanza that is Badgerys Creek and Melbourne’s Herald Sun putting the word out in Melbourne that Badgerys Creek will be rail ready (because the Melbourne audience have already seen what a glowing success two airports with no rail link can be – Avalon lame duck and Tullamarine – missed my plane because I’m stuck in traffic (true story, cost $400 to get home).

So that’s 30 articles  reviewed in total of which 22  or 73% were what I’d classify as a Murdoch based Love fest. I’m not going to go on any more as it will start to feel like I’m some whack job weirdo with nothing better to do but make shit up.  Maybe I should apply for a job at the Telegraph…..

Anyway, like that famous rapadelic song once said ‘I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger but she ‘ain’t hanging with no broke, broke, broke….’

And I’m also thinking of that Meme between Putin and Trump.

Airport ‘news’ feels a bit like that. Yeh.

And the Telegraph is starting to sound a bit too….. desperate.

It’s sad really.

PS:  If you don’t believe me just ask the Telegraph about that Pemulwuy Prize awarded earlier this year and while you are there ask them if it is all going to plan?

Dear Government of Australia, I really don’t think you understand my type.

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I’m not known for being irrational and emotional. In fact while growing up my dad used to tell me that I was un-emotional, that I was able to detach my emotions too easily maybe. I saw that as a compliment, as a useful trait for someone who toyed with the idea of becoming a spy in the army – I can endure torture well enough and am good at sucking up and distilling information – but who ended up as a chemist.  At least I didn’t choose ‘psychopath’ as a career…..

Anyway.

This whole year I’ve experienced various shakes in my mental health thanks to the way the government and it’s PR department – The Daily Telegraph – have chosen (and yes, I do feel they chose this) to undermine me and people like me.

Now I get that the government and its people sometimes disagree, that they have access to information I don’t, that I could be completely wrong or that the timing is simply not right but putting all of that aside I can’t accept that there is ever a good  (or SMART) time for a government to systematically attempt to undermine and close down reasonable debate, to hide what doesn’t suit their agenda and to use the media to create an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ reality.

Now maybe I was expecting too much in thinking that reality, as in stuff that actually happens, how people actually feel, might get at least some un-opinionated airing in the debate but in my experience that didn’t happen and every government led information program became a show pony carrying an injection of their alternative truth serum which was liberally distributed along with the mantra of ‘this is progress, this is jobs and growth, this is amazing, this is the only viable option’.   It was sucked up to a point.

I am, of course talking about the Badgery’s Creek airport here.  The airport and the merry bunch of fat cats that are rubbing their hands together with glee, including I might add the Greater Sydney Commissioner Lucy Turnbull who just happens to be the P.M’s wife – nothing to see here, perfectly normal behaviour, the PM running the country and the PM’s wife getting to divide Sydney up into Hunger Games like districts, taking out quite a few legitimately elected representatives before replacing them with her tribe. Oh and thrown in for good measure is her ability to over-rule any local opposition to her commissions plan like some kind of planning police (which of course they say they are not. Heaven forbid!!! Sounds like a dystopian film plot which would be mildly entertaining if I didn’t live in it.

Anyone reading the media or listening to Malcolm Turnbull would take home the impression that the whole West of Sydney is busting with excitement over this airport and the job opportunities it will bring.  Of course there are some that are but there is a lot that don’t believe it, a fact that was reflected in the way Western Sydney turned Red (Labor) at this years federal election.  While the Labor party do officially support Badgery’s Creek I again feel that has more to do with Anthony Albanese’s electorate being the one next to Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney – I bet $10 that he told his people who this airport would take the load off them – what a lie if that were the case.  As if that would ever happen. Then there is Plibers (Tanya Plibersek) who also shares an inner city electorate and who famously told a local gathering of business women in the Blue Mountains that ‘we would get used to it’ when quizzed about noise.  But what about the pollution and catastrophic global warming Tanya?  Your electorate will drown first and we won’t be reserving you any land up here to save you with that attitude thank you very much. So to sum up that little diversion, to many at the election this year Labor were at offering at least something (curfew of sorts) whereas the Liberals were just not listening and were voted out.

And so it has gone on.

Post election and the momentum for this airport gathered. I raised my concerns with others, conducted research, wrote papers , articles and letters, requested meetings, attended events and filled out questionnaires only to be met with responses like this one from Paul Fletcher, Transport Minister:

20th October 2016

Dear Ms Foxon-Hill

Thank you for your email dated 14 September 2016 about the community’s views on the proposed Western Sydney Airport. I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

In the research, the Blue Mountains and Blacktown local government areas were included in the North West region as defined by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure (now the Department of Planning and Environment). The online survey found that 61 per cent of residents in the North West region were in favour of the proposed airport, compared with 57 per cent of residents from the whole representative sample.

So what?  Because 61% of people in the North West region (of the 499 people surveyed) said they were in favour of the proposed airport me and the rest should just shut up?

The North West region is outlined here. 

But it isn’t just that 61% of people are for the airport, that 61% amounts to a fair and reasonable majority that is to be respected and that’s why the government and it’s process has lost me.

  • How fair are the results of a poll when the public have been groomed for the year leading up to it that this will bring only good things?
  • How fair are the results of a poll when anti-airport protests are questioned as being NIMBYISM?
  • How fair are the results of a poll whose questions are bias towards a particular outcome?
  • How fair are the results of a poll of people who have been starved of investment for their whole lives because of this bloody proposal of an airport?

Again this is politics and some might say this is how BREXIT or TRUMP happened and I’d agree that yes, there are similarities but not the similarities that some might jump upon first up.  You see Australia is not a world leader and in many ways is naive enough to not see that where they differ is that the USA and the UK were sold media lies and agendas for years before it came to this.  That the BREXIT and Trump victories were the inevitable consequence of what happens when the ‘natural’ leaders of a country let that natural leadership go to their heads, create their own reality then live in a bubble while keeping reality at arm’s length.  Australia will of course eventually arrive at this same place as these other countries – Cory Bernardi can already smell his victory and who can blame him?  The writing is on the wall.  Australia is going through a time of post-truth politics, soon to be followed by a kick in the teeth to the establishment followed (possibly) by an even grimmer reality before we all either die from global warming or come to our senses which quite possibly reside slap bang in the boring middle zone where left and right wings form a body and can fly.

I digress.

There’s detail, fact, counter-fact, alternative propositions, amended propositions and on and on but none of that is worth anything when your will is dead and believe me, the will of this government is as dead as a Dodo and that worries me because I care about this country.

And that is where I’m coming from when I say in the beginning that the Government of Australia doesn’t understand my type.

I want progress.

I want investment.

I want development.

I want jobs for the West.

I Like and believe in Aviation and it’s role in developing and sustaining the economy.

I am even OK with more people in Australia as long as we have the infrastructure (including water security, jobs, homes and transport links) sorted before they all arive.

I don’t even mind a bit of this in my back yard – the Blue Mountains isn’t a museum after all and the West of Sydney does need and deserve some attention.

But most of all I’m for sustainability and putting a second airport in the Sydney basin when the first airport spends a good deal of its time and capacity ferrying people the 1 hour by plane to Melbourne or Brisbane is not any of the above and to say it is is bullshit.

Watching Australia slip backwards while its politicians tell us ‘it has never been a more exciting time to be here’ has been mentally draining and left me feeling extremely sad at times because there are plenty of us out here that are ready to back good, honest change and growth when we see it,  but sadly the pickings are slim and those good guys that we did pick at the last election just got blasted by the Daily Telegraph that I’ve spoke to highly of today.  Don’t they know that we elected them?  Disrespect them and they disrespect us as voters.

telegraph-paper-cover

So, as each stage of this airport development is signed off and moved on I think to myself ‘you, government, will rue the day you ignored this minority group while lying to the majority.  The truth always comes out and when it does you had better be ready because your Point Piper houses will be the first to feel the full force of sea level rises which of course many of you don’t believe in but you try not believing when your Italian leather shoes are all wet’.

Meanwhile I have decided to forget all notions that the government are interested in consultation and discussion, are open minded, searching for the best outcome and generous and have instead adopted the mindset that if we are to achieve anything that resembles real sustainable progress in our lifetime we need to do it ourself and forget this government as they are from a time that has passed and watching them slowly poison themselves and us is not how I want to spend my life.

Onwards and upwards.

The future’s looking bright because these guys will no longer be here.

Dick Smith and Pauline Hanson Sitting in a Tree…….

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Background info for those of you who have better things to do in life than…..

Dick Smith is a rich Aussie entrepreneur and one-time Australian of the year who made his fortune in the retail industry – selling electronics, food and his mother (well, that ‘fact’ might need validating).  Generally speaking people have tended to think of Dick as a ‘top bloke’ and hold him and his Aussie-first, Aussie-manufactured goods close to their hearts.

dick-smith

Pauline Hanson is the leader of a political party called ‘One Nation’, has also been the leader of the ‘United Australia Party’ and has been in and out of politics since 1994/ 1995 as part of the Liberal party (Conservatives).  Before politics she worked in her parents fish and chip shop and during her political career she has served time in prison convicted of electoral fraud.  Outside of that Pauline is most famous for her passionate speeches on Indigenous affairs – she has not been a fan of Aboriginal only welfare or assistance packages;  her calls for a Royal Commission into Islam; her suspicious attitude towards the idea of anthropogenic global warming;   her feelings on multiculturalism (it doesn’t work apparently) and other such derisive topics. Needless to say she has a colourful past and present.

pauline-hanson

___________________

TODAY’S NEWS:

So Dick Smith has thrown his support behind some of Pauline Hanson’s ideas and now people are up in arms. No room for discussion, no ‘why, what and how?’ just a big fat dis-endorsement from the general population that involves labelling anyone who says anything that slightly endorses his decision is either racist, stupid or morally bankrupt.

Did you hear him talking to Wendy Harmer today? Much of what he said today made sense to me (except for the bit about endorsing Pauline but I’ll come to that).

He was basically saying that we’ve become drunk on capitalism, globalisation and population growth and NOBODY except for Pauline is talking about this. He says he agrees with global warming, with putting Australia first and with jobs and housing for people here.

I agree.

However, my solution would be to create or join a more moderate group / party and not to throw support behind such a polarising figure but that is probably all too sensible and that is why we end up with these people in power and people like me being called lefty wankers or words to that affect, a phrase and characterisation that resonates very little with me.

Globalisation and Trading Globally are different.
Capitalism can be moderated by values (it isn’t just capitalism or communism).
Planned population management doesn’t have to mean no immigration and neither does it have to mean we can’t help in a crisis.

Rant over. I’m with Dick, sort of. But not Pauline. I’m not a fan of her way.

PS: If you have the time and inclination I’d suggest listening to Dick Smith on this audio. He talks about educating and supporting women as a means of population control and mentions several really valid policy platforms that I think should be debated more widely.  It is a shame that he looks like he could be reduced to just a sensational headline when really he could be offering much more. Maybe someone has an agenda to belittle him….

 

The marriage between culture and ego.

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Culture:

“The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society”

Ego:

“A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”

Without getting all ‘I think therefore I am’ about this I feel it is true that I can’t actually know what and who I am without context,  in isolation.

That in order to exist, I (Ego) need Culture (community).

Maybe it’s because we (humans) are sociable creatures or maybe that doesn’t matter at all – I’m not particularly sociable. Maybe I need to understand different cultures in order to know what I’m not and use that to contrast what I am.  But that would be a rather negative way of viewing things.

Maybe it just is what it is.

This type of thinking can seem to lead one on an endless feedback loop of philosophical meandering that can end up feeling like things are moving further from the light and more into chaos. In order to prevent that, I like to peg my camping spot out early, explore it from there and then tackle the next question that arises from that starting point.  “But what if the starting point is wrong?”  I hear you ask.  Well,  as long as one keeps one eye open to that possibility and the will open to testing and analysing one will know when it is wrong and will be more than happy to up-sticks and move on.

So today’s camp is of culture and ego.

This thought camping spot was triggered by my watching of SBS’s ‘First Contact’, a program that was pretty much exactly as I thought it would be and for that reason was only mildly interesting as an ‘eye opening docco’.

First Contact is an Australian short ‘fly on the wall’ documentary series that followed 6 well-known Australian celebrities as they made their ‘First Contact’ with Aboriginal communities around Australia. 

The program  was, nevertheless, mind-opening because of the subtleties that it raised within my mind. This being one of them.

The thoughts that the show triggered in me follow:

Every human alive was born into one or another culture, sub-culture or tribe.  Sometimes all that is common to us within a culture is language but mostly it is more all-encompassing than that.  Our values, our customs, taste, preferences, hopes and aspirations. The story of our bones, where we belong, our very essence if you like.


I was born into a dominant culture. One whose narrative was of winning, empire building, success won through a stiff-upper-lip and strong work ethic.  Of getting up early (the early bird catches the worm) and putting in an honest days graft.  Of loving the Queen and country, of dressing for dinner, family Christmases, the Leicester Fortnight holiday season, Labrador dogs, fresh air, Enid Blyton, talking about the weather, 1066 and St George.  I was born white and I’ll die white. White skinned and Blue eyed. At least on the outside.

I was born into The Daily Mail and BBC, into public education, the NHS, democracy and pounds and pence. Born into the aspirational class: conservative, prudent, savers, achievers, WINNERS (not battlers, we were too well off to be called battlers, we were above that culturally and practically and I knew it). Battlers is an Australian term for the working class)

I felt like a winner growing up. Everywhere I looked were signs that I would do well at life, succeed.  Even before I could legitimately make my own effort and be judged on my own merits I felt it.  My dad had a successful business in the town, we had a big house – maybe the biggest house out of my friends. I don’t know for sure but it sure did feel like it.  I did ballet, had lots of toys at Christmas, went abroad sometimes for holidays but mostly went away in the caravan – not an ordinary van but a massive twin axle job with a posh toilet and shower room and a fully fitted kitchen.  We also had an awning and a nice table set.

I was intelligent in the way that mattered to those in charge (apparently). I did well at school,  was recognised, rewarded with positions of authority, trusted and confided in.  I didn’t realise at the time that it was easy for me to be recognised because I already stood out as being a winner. I came from a ‘nice’ background and nobody was suspicious of me or my motives. I had the face of a winner, my subsequent actions only served to back up that bias.

Looking wider afield I also grew up surrounded by a family of ‘successes’.  My aunties and uncles all had their own houses, my grandparents did too.  They were a mix of interesting, intelligent, law-abiding, hard-working, compliant people who nobody would suspect anything bad from.  We even had a farm named after us in the village where my dads family had resided for years – maybe 200 years. I’m not 100% sure of the detail but I was sure enough of it to be proud.  One distant family member even had a Rolls Royce (albeit an old one) that I got to have a drive around in. Very posh!

Of course all that only gets you so far and life isn’t just a picture book rosy glow of niceties. Some things didn’t turn out the best for me and that took away some of my in-bred advantage. Then there were the times, as I got older where I did live and die by my own decisions, luck and abilities. There was nobody to give me references when I travelled to Australia alone aged 21. There was nobody to sit my uni exams for me, to tell me when was a good time to leave a relationship that I’d outgrown, to pull me and my car out of the ditch when I crashed and broke my hand or to sit inside my skin as it itched its self to what felt like near death when I got sick in my late teens.

But all through life, through the dark times, the dark night of the soul, the 2am tears, the panic attacks on the way to work, the accidents, financial crises, arguments, wrong-place-wrong-time moments and more I had a gift. Something that stayed with me and protected me. Something that I could rely on in the darkest of times when all around me, including the physical me seemed to crumble.  That thing was my ego.

Ego can be somewhat of a dirty word around these places. I have come to the conclusion, not least after watching First Contact that it is because it is so easy for people with my background to grow too much of it…..

Too much ego will trap you, put your mind in a cage and throw away the key.  Too little will see you victim to a world that isn’t as fair as it ought to be.  Just enough will keep you safe, grounded, whole.


And so back to First Contact.

Underneath it all, for me, came a simple realisation that Ego is born out of Culture. I’m not convinced I’ve captured everything here but I am convinced that if the parent (culture) is threatened, the Ego will suffer.

What I saw in this program was a dance of the egos. Some dancing to protect, some to defend, some to grow, some to share and some just to be seen, acknowledged.

I saw no good or bad, black or white, right or wrong in the dancing.  The dance of the ego is deeply personal.  But what I did see was a commonality underneath it all that was wanting to reach out and connect.

alexander-milov-at-burning-man

It reminded me very much of this Alexander Milov sculpture from the Burning Man festival.

So what next?

That’s up to everyone to decide in their own way but I take comfort in the wisdom gained from my own journey:

It only takes one deep breath in and one slow breath out to let go of that which no longer serves us when we are ready.

To unleash tears that will cleanse us of our guilt, hurt, loss and shame.

To open us up to the future, our future.

There is enough for everyone as long as we have the will to see it.

Let’s walk forward together.

………………………………………

A final word on culture.

I believe that culture and cultural practices can evolve but only with respect. Evolving doesn’t mean superseding or, the triumph of one over another. More that it means growing, learning, enhancing, sharing.

We accept as normal that parents worry how they will find enough love in their hearts for their second child – a fear that dissolves the moment the baby breathes its first breath.  At that point the family changes everything and nothing at the same time, in the same breath.  Why can’t culture be like that? Like Love?