Surely not

I watched “The Book Thief” last night and, yes, tissues were needed.  It is important, I think, that we are reminded of that period of history…..  book burnings…. anti-intellectualism…

Meanwhile, the Australian Government has ordered a cleansing of the national curriculum….



Mediocracy – Government by the Mediocre

Australia has a new government.  In a representative democracy, the stupid, wilfully ignorant and the greedy have as much right to be represented in our Parliament as I do.  And such people are well and truly represented in our current Parliament.

Our Prime Minister is an embarrassment.

Prime Minister Abbott is a climate change denier.  He believes that the science behind climate change warnings is “crap”. He became leader of the Liberal Party (now there’s a misnomer if ever there was one) when he and his fellow deniers back-stabbed their then leader, Malcolm Turnbull who was working with the government of the day to develop a bi-partisan approach to addressing the problems of climate change.

His first act in government is to introduce legislation to scrap a price on carbon.  He also wants to raise the debt ceiling by 40% to half a trillion dollars.  This from a man who talks about fiscal responsibility but has done nothing but scrap taxes, remove government services, antagonise our neighbour, Indonesia and blow out the budget deficit.

The fact that we elect such governments is a poor reflection on the ability of Australian citizens to critically analyse policy.  We are no longer a nation whose ethos is “a fair go for all and a helping hand for those in need”.  Under John Howard’s government we became a nation whose ethos is “look after number 1 and blame the victims.”  This government is taking us further along the loony “tea party” route.

I despair.


The Zeitgeist and I

I’m afraid to say that the zeitgeist and I have irreconcilable differences. This, of course, is a sure sign of my getting old.

This is not a problem. I’m quite happy to look on what is known as “popular culture” with a mixture of amusement and disdain. Although I must admit that the large number of TV shows which glorify bullying and greed is disturbing. The good thing is I do not need to watch such shows.

We will be going to the polls sometime in the next 3 months. What looked like being a rout of the government is now a much closer contest following the replacement of Julia Gillard with Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party. The Labor Party has accepted what the so-called Liberal Party has known for years – appealing to Australians’ inherent sexism and racism will gain you votes. I vote for the Greens because they are the only party which is serious about addressing the problem of Climate Change. At heart I believe I am a liberal and although I support the welfare state and access for all to quality education and health care, I have strong libertarian leanings. I detest the Nanny State and I am strong believer in personal responsibility and choice. I don’t know why anyone would start a small business with so much government red-tape to be addressed throughout the life of a business. But enough of this “sound and fury”.

I am enjoying our winter. I have been reading some poetry, watching baseball (MLB), catching up with family and friends and being quite content with my life.

Things have been happening on the Law Reform front. The ACT government has responded (largely positively) to the Law Reform Advisory Council’s report “Beyond the Binary – legal Recognition of Sex and Gender diversity in the ACT”.  The federal government has also issued Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.   The federal government has also included sexuality and gender identity to its anti discrimination legislation.  Small steps but in the right direction.  In 1995, Democrats Senator Sid Spindler introduced anti discrimination legislation to protect the LGBTI community.  It is a pity that he died before seeing his vision finally implemented.

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on….til next time.

A Sad Day for Democracy

In the federal Parliament yesterday, the leader of the opposition, Mr Abbott, defied 112 years of convention, by seeking to have the Speaker of the House, Mr Slipper, dismissed  after the publication of some text messages which revealed Mr Slipper to be a sexist misogynist.

Of course, Mr Abbott must have been aware that his friend of many years, Mr Slipper, was misogynistic. Mr Abbott himself is a misogynist, a point clearly made during the Prime Minister’s defence of the principle of the Independence of the Speaker. Mr Abbott’s hipocrisy was also on show for all to see.

The Prime Minister made it quite clear that the Speaker’s words were offensive. She was not defending the man – she was defending a fundamental principle of Speaker independence.

Mr Abbott has signalled that in any future Parliament where the coalition has the numbers to govern, the Speaker will only hold the post for as long as she/he does not displease the government. This is a trashing of the Westminster tradition and a sad day for democracy.

Mr Slipper had the grace to resign from the Speakership and apologise for the offense he caused. Mr Abbott should also resign as Leader of the Opposition and apologise for his misogyny and his trashing our parliamentary system.

Law Reform Report Released

It’s been a long process but the report of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council to the ACT Attorney-General concerning the legal recognition of members of the sex and gender diverse community has finally been released.

Beyond the Binary: legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT

Yours truly gets a mention in the acknowledgements.

It’s time now to start lobbying the polititians to implement the recommendations.

The year that was

Birthday Cake

2011 saw its fair share of natural disasters, political unrest and economic uncertainty but, for me, it was a pretty good year  (as years go).

I worked closely with the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council which was tasked with recommending to the government how to implement changes identified by the Australian Human Rights Commission.  In early December I saw a confidential draft of the Council’s report to government and can say that I am pleased with the recommendations.  The ball will be in the government’s court now to legislate to protect the human rights of trans people.

At the national level (and quite out of the blue) the Federal Government announced a new policy for the issuing of passports to members of the sex and gender diverse communities.  Apart from no longer requiring a person to undergo surgery in order for their gender to be recognised officially, much of the red tape was done away with.  And I am now the proud possessor of an Australian Passport.

It was the year I decided to finally retire from paid employment.  My last working day was 20 December and at my farewell, our Director has some very nice words to say about me and made it clear that if I should ever change my mind, a job would be available to me at the University.

It was the year I turned 60.  I arranged a big party for family and friends and it was a splendid affair if I do say so myself.  A week before the party, M & I took me to Material Pleasures, an op shop that stocks and sells some pretty classy labels.  I bought a couple of dresses, some linen pants, a top and a long skirt.  On the day of the party I went over to BFF’s house where her daughter did my makeup and she did my hair and nails.  I think I brushed up pretty well.

And it was the year I lost over 14kg.  In August my doctor read me the riot act concerning my weight and lack of exercise.  I have taken to walking like a duck to water and am happy to say I have dropped a couple of dress sizes.  I can wear clothes I thought I would never wear again.  My BMI has gone from “overweight” (approaching “obesity”) to “healthy”.

At the start of the year I saw “Black Swan” at the movies and finished the year by seeing “The Skin I Live In”.  I could watch Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya all day!  Gina over at Skip the Makeup has an excellent review.

I expect 2012 to have more natural disasters, more political unrest and more economic upheaval.

But I’m planning to have a great year and am looking forward to the birth of my 7th grandchild.

Birthday Wishes

Politics in the Pub

Last night I went to the Uni Pub for one of the regular “Politics in the Pub” evenings.  These are organised by the Australia Institute and generally have some interesting speakers.  (Last month was emeritus Professor John Warhurst talking about the Republic)

Yesterday’s speaker was Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens.  The place was packed to the rafters but I got there early enough to get a good seat.

I vote Green at the moment although I don’t agree with all their policies.  They are currently the only party willing to act in a meaningful way to address the issue of climate change.  As a grandmother this is extremely important to me – I want my grandkids to have a reasonable future.  They are the only party willing to advance social justice issues.  They are the only party who wants to see democracy work.

BBF was not able to come because she was out doing her charity work (she’s a saint) and M was on a work junket in Canada so I went alone.  I found myself sitting next to a woman about my age. We chatted.  She came to Canberra around the same time as me (forty years ago),  raised her family here (hers are now interstate while mine are still close), is not happy with the rampant development which is destroying the “bush capital” (amen to that).  Of course, at an event like this it is most likely that you’ll find yourself among kindred spirits.

One question put to Senator Brown concerned how to stay optimistic.  He gave a beautiful response, pointing out that we need to treat ourselves kindly,  help others who appear to be struggling and accept that change will not happen overnight.  We also have to exercise our choice.  Optimisim or pessimism is a choice.  Always choose optimism.

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