In May of this year (2021) we visited the site of the Myall Creek massacre.
Myall Creek is a place, where, in 1838, a group of twenty-eight Indigenous people, sitting peacefully around a campfire chatting and working, were brutally killed.
The group consisted mainly of women and children, with a couple of old men, no longer able to go hunting.
The young men of the tribe had gone after food for their families.
A group of colonists who came upon the group, simply massacred them.
Now, a warning here: These peaceful people were not shot, they were savagely massacred; their bodies chopped and slashed into unrecognisable pieces, heads were severed - by white men who objected to ‘Natives’ being on ‘their’ land.
This was not an isolated case of murder, committed by white men. The victims were First Nations people, going about the activities they had been involved in for thousands of years. Similar atrocities happened elsewhere.
The reason that the Mile Creek Massacre is often mentioned is that it was the first time the colonial administration created laws making Aboriginal people equal in the law.
As a consequence, the murderous Colonists were arrested and seven of them executed.
The site today is a peaceful place. There is a gentle path winding around the hilltop, over which some bodies were thrown in 1838. Information plaques offer some of the story and people have built small memorial rock cairns along the way.
To walk along the path, on a peaceful, blue-sky day, surrounded by eucalypt trees and bird song is very moving, as visitors take in the meaning of the site.
It is hard not to feel emotion and even blink back a tear, while also being horrified at the details of such a happening.
Despite its horrendous history, it is somehow a beautiful place; and very peaceful.
Up until NOW.
We have just seen in the News, that someone has desecrated this peaceful site, with racist words and wreckage.
I cannot fathom the ignorance and mindless action that would make someone do this.
Myall Creek is not a ‘handy’ place to visit. These fools must have planned such an action. Surely not, but why else would they have visited?
It is unimaginable that this could happen. It seems that 183 years later, there are bigoted and racist individuals still to learn the meaning of equality.
CROWS! They start squawking at 4.45am. So big and loud! (These are Qld Torresian crows, much bigger than the Victorian ravens).
There are about 20 of them and they don’t perch so much as fly around a particular stand of trees about 300 metres from our place. They fly and squawk all through the morning – sometimes all day. And I am sick of them.
Nevertheless, I am still pleased that we have birds around us. Even crows!
Daily, when I am sitting outside eating breakfast, a friendly magpie comes and sits beside me – on the veranda tiles or on the chair next to me - and I share some of my toast with him (or her?). He eats some and then gathers up a few extras and flies off to a tall gum tree over the back fence.
Babies, I presume.
Then another one comes, sings to me, and looks for a handout. They are beautiful, these magpies, and I almost forget the noise of the crows.
Then come the noisy miners, to feed on nectar from the grevillea bushes. They are soon joined by the blue-faced honeyeaters. The noise they make is loud, but not annoying as the crows.
A little later, rainbow lorikeets fly into the grevillea and the miners and honeyeaters leave the bushes to concentrate on bath time.
We have three bird baths – all used frequently. The miners splash around in the baths, but also dive into (yes, into) the swimming pool, quickly immersing themselves before zooming out to the pool fence, pausing to fluff up and dry their wings.
Blue-faced honeyeaters do the same, but a bit more cautiously.
While I’m watching the birds, I will often have an extra visitor, in the form of a dragon.
Eastern Water Dragons live in and around our garden and sheds. They disappear over the winter months but are back with us as the weather warms up. One or two of them will also share my breakfast… and sometimes lunch…and I know it is time to start making safer food for them and the magpies to share.
Too much bread is not the best for either of these creatures. (Even home baked!)
The crows are still squawking but have settled down a bit.
Despite the crows’ noise (Now I know why it’s a “murder of crows”) I am contemplating how fortunate I am to be surrounded by birds and nature every day, even though I am not living ‘in the bush’.
It can’t be good to be a city slicker, apartment dweller, if there are no birds – not even crows.
What has happened to us?
Kevin Rudd, speaking after Australia’s 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ fires:
“…In some countries, tragedy exposes the fault lines in a nation.
The strong abandoning the weak; one region indifferent to the sufferings of another, one culture uncaring as to the needs of another.
But ours is a different nation. Our nation has been as one.
Australia - a nation of compassion. Courage and compassion…”*
IS AUSTRALIA STILL A ‘DIFFERENT NATION’; DIFFERENT FROM OTHER, MORE DIVIDED PLACES?
ARE WE STILL A NATION OF COMPASSION AND COURAGE?
I’m not sure anymore.
This is what we have:
State against State.
Region against Region.
‘Haves’ against ‘have-nots’.
A worshipping of money by those in power.
Imprisonment of (genuine) refugees.
Persecution of folk on ‘Welfare’ – (that use to be called ‘Social Security’)
The use of the National flag as a sort of weird nationalistic authority, accompanying rampart racism.
I feel there is a nastiness that is unlike anything Australia has seen – or felt - before.
I don’t like this ‘new’ Australia.
Should we blame it all on the mental fatigue presented by the COVID19 virus?
I don’t think so.
*Address on the National Day of Mourning for the victims of the Victoria Bushfires, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne. 22/02/2009
“Behold! a giant am I
Aloft here in my tower…”
Every time I see - in reality, or on television - those gigantic wind turbines, I cannot stop Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s introductory words of The Windmill from popping into my head.
“Behold! A giant am I!”
When I was a child of primary school age – seemingly a hundred years ago - poetry was a thing, and we enjoyed it. And ‘The Windmill’ was one of my favourites.
Of course, Longfellow’s windmill was unlike our modern wind turbine. The old one “ground …The maize, and the wheat, and the rye” into flour.
Today’s ‘windmills’ are helping to save the planet.
They are majestic and wonderful, and I can’t help but wonder why the proliferation of these mighty machines is not a topic on the front page of newspapers, or more frequently in the News.
I don’t understand how politicians and others with influence are not singing the praises and promoting these giant turbines that are supplying us with so much renewable energy daily.
The same goes for those acres and acres - actually some at 15,000 hectares (kms & kms) - of solar panels that can be seen in all parts of rural Australia.
It’s difficult for a layperson to estimate the cost to governments and consumers of wind farms, and I have little understanding of subsidies concerning megawatts – or whatever - produced. Farmers and others are trying to make money from ‘hosting’ wind farms, but it is sometimes unclear how long it takes to make a profit.
Likewise solar farms. They seem owned by a variety of companies. It’s a growing industry, but who owns or runs all these solar farms is a bit of a mystery.
Nevertheless, wind and solar farms are part of what MIGHT save our ever-warming planet.
Verse 4 of ‘The Windmill’ goes like this:
I stand here in my place,
With my foot on the rock below,
And whichever way it may blow
I meet it face to face,
As a brave man meets his foe.
What a great description.
Not much publicity is given to today’s windmills.
It would be nice if media outlets became more rousing in the praise of these and other methods of renewable power. IMHO The populace needs to be aware of these positive growth- industries – and be more informed.
Can we please have some good, positive news about fixing the horror that is Climate Change?
With so many other sombre and depressing reports, especially of Covid19 virus infections and so much boiling unrest about so-called Lockdowns, it would be nice to have a smidgeon of good news every day.
As for poems such as “The Windmill”, I plan to write about those another day, as I ponder how poetry seems to have disappeared from primary schools.
Meanwhile, good news, please.
As the need for good news increases, I have no words about the current horrible uncertainty created by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the fear it is generating.
Every late afternoon I go for a short walk through a nearby park. The main path I take adjoins a cyclone fence belonging to a large primary school.
Running parallel, about 4 metres from the path, is a small shallow creek.
Being a ‘grumpy old lady’ who worries about the environment, I always take a bag with me on my walk and collect bits and pieces of rubbish that litter the pathway and surrounds. Sometimes there’s a lot, at other times only one or two pieces. The picture accompanying this is from Fridays’ walk.
On a windy day there is always more – and some bits too hard to catch!
On the school’s side of the fence, the rubbish in some places is ankle deep.
There are several concerns presented by this situation:
One worry is that so many children are obviously eating packaged snacks – snacks packed and sealed in plastic, that not only present a litter problem but (to me, anyway) displays a lack of decent nutrition. (But, I guess, that’s none of my business).
The small detail that the children seem unable to contain their cast-off packaging is another concern.
Also, while these packs may be convenient for busy parents to pop into lunch boxes, they must surely be a drain on household expense (?)
But the other, possibly main, worry concerns the fact that most of these little bits of trash will end up in the creek, which will swish them further along the waterways, ultimately ending in the ocean.
My walk, and my minuscule rubbish collecting, is hardly going to make a difference to one of the huge environmental problems besetting the world today, but I simply cannot bear to walk by this sort of almost innocent-looking rubbish.
So, I guess, I’ll keep doing it.
I have no answer!
After being immersed in children’s literature for some time - as a teacher, a mother and a grandmother - of late I have obviously not kept up with modern trends in kids’ books..
Although I have a four-year-old granddaughter living in U.K. to whom I send books on a semi-regular basis, these are usually books well known to me from my years as the aforesaid mother, grandmother and primary school teacher.
But apparently, I have ‘dropped the ball’ (as they say) and have been left behind as far as what’s trending.
I must admit I was a little surprised to read a glowing review of a new children's book by a previously (to me) unknown author, Zoe Foster Blake.
The book’s title is “Fart and Burp are Superstinkers”. A posted comment was, “What could be better than a Fart with a heart? A Super Fart of course!”
So, it must be a happy and positive story.
Please do not, for one minute, think I am disparaging Ms Foster Blake’s expertise as a storyteller. From what I have (now) read I believe she is a wonderful and very popular author of children’s books. I am perhaps the only one who missed out on reading her previous book (“No One Likes a Fart”).
On a brief search of other kids’ books containing (previously thought) “rude” titles, it was easy to find such titles as “Bumageddon”, by Andy Griffiths, who also wrote “Zombie Bums From Uranus” and “The Day My Bum Went Psycho”.
It somehow brought back memories of my teaching days in the 1990s, when a parent complained to me about a small reading book I had sent home with her son, that depicted a father wearing an apron and washing the dishes. This overly-religious mother felt that this little book was inappropriate in its portrayal of a ‘man-of-the-house’ doing household chores – and wearing an apron. She requested that, in the future, I lend her son only books published before 1980.
Yes, that’s an extreme example of reaction to children’s literature. But I am now wondering if my reaction to the current fart and bum stories is similar to the 1990 objection to seeing a dad in an apron. I hope not!
Way back, in the 1950s, kids delighted in reading Enid Blyton’s chapter books, including ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘The Adventurous Four’ and later, ‘The Famous Five’ series.
Those books ensured that most kids were happy readers for years. No television in those days, of course.
There were other books and series and perhaps Enid Blyton appealed more to the girls than to the boys, but they were the main literature of the day.
Perhaps if there was a bum or fart reference, the boys would have read more?
Would that have been shocking?
But get this:
As well as much loved and much read books, in the 1950s there was an absolute favourite poem for eight-year-olds in the Victorian Grade Three Reader, called ‘Little Boy Blue’* a poem , written way back in 1888 by Eugene Field about the death of a child.
Can you imagine that?
It seems amazing – and perhaps a little weird that this literature was presented to children. Perhaps more amazing is how much the kids loved it.
Would there be complaints in 2021 about allowing small children to read a poem that alluded to a child dying? I think there might have been.
What a huge difference in so many ways has come about in kids’ reading matter.
And now, I am wondering about that huge reading topic gap in the decades since kids enjoyed reading a sad poem about a dying child or fantastic (and most improbable) Enid Blyton adventures experienced by groups of children, towards book topics that would have been unimaginable in the 1950s.
Of course, in the middle of this, we have had the popular Harry Potter series and plenty of other books that have hopefully encouraged children to read.
I know that in times of modern smart televisions, smart phones, and computer games everything has changed, it must be a challenge to have kids read a book.
If it must be Harry Potter type fantasy or even books about bums, farts and burps, then the means possibly justifies the end.
Is that so?
But, whatever will be next?
*Little Boy Blue
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.
"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;
And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;
And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.
I decided to write about trees as an antidote to the awfulness surrounding us.
I am choosing to calm my mind and concentrate on the healing power of nature’s garden - that is, trees.
I am sick of the state of the nation – and the whole world - regarding everything: inequality, corruption, rorts, inability to deal constructively with Covid 19 and the tragic neglect of the urgent Climate Change situation.
So, I’m letting my mind wander off to trees….
I have always loved trees. I look at them, I breathe them in, and I often photograph them. Recently returned from a road trip around outback NSW, on reviewing my photos, I was not surprised to see that many of them were of trees.
I am currently reading “The Heartbeat of Trees”, by Peter Wohlleben*, who also wrote, “The Hidden Life of Trees”. Both excellent and enlightening books.
The amazing truth is that trees have a large input into how humans are “deeply connected to the natural world”.
They are lifesavers in more ways than one.
To cut them down and cause destruction of forests is unthinkable to many – including me.
Recent publicity around so-called, ‘forest bathing’, shows that it is proving to be a salve for stress and anxiety. No, it does not involve shedding of clothes, nor a bathtub! Search Google to find out more about the ‘Japanese wellbeing phenomenon’.
Part of what I wrote in March last year echoes what I have been reading lately, as it seems that it’s not only humans who need trees, but trees need other trees – and creatures – and humans should – and must - take trees more seriously!
…’Trees need each other to survive, and trees need what’s below the ground as well as water and sunshine and soil.
Trees are social beings. Trees have a symbiotic relationship with many creatures—insects, animals and birds…’
‘Trees do need other trees—and plenty of them. Leafy canopies protect them—and the underground, almost mysterious, symbiotic relationship between tree roots and the helpful subterranean fungi makes for healthy forests’.
‘Healthy forests’ are what we desperately need.
Here’s another interesting fact: When a tree dies the resultant nutrients nourish other nearby trees. Also, it is thought that ‘mother’ trees can detect distress signals from ailing trees and increase the flow of nutrients to them. Amazing!
Importantly, the contribution trees make to the ‘saving of the planet’ cannot be underestimated.
Trees are a wonderful and necessary part of our lives.
We neglect them at our peril.
*Peter Wohlleben is a German forester.
Travelling through outback NSW last month, we were surprised to see dead foxes by the roadsides, obviously hit by passing vehicles.
Over three-days of driving we counted 16 dead foxes. Far more than any we had ever seen on similar trips – and more than the dead kangaroos, which is sadly what we usually see. (Relating also to the road-kill wombats often seen along the strip of road between Cooma and East Gippsland).
We were puzzled by the increase in foxes and wondered why their population had increased to such a degree, as to present so many car-skittled bodies.
At the same time on our travels we witnessed the horrendous destruction meted out by NSW’s mouse plague. We saw haystacks and hay bales partially demolished, collapsing, like runnels of bleeding hay, spreading across the paddocks, by the influx of millions of these ghastly little rodents.
‘Ah’, we thought,
‘Are the foxes thriving on meals of mice?’
Would love an answer.
In the 1970s, we, as a family with two young children, used to explore the banks of the Avon River in Boisdale and the Freestone Creek in Briagolong, in country Gippsland, Victoria.
We enjoyed finding ‘treasures’, especially agates and other interesting rocks.
Occasionally we came across what we thought were remnants of Aboriginal settlements from many decades ago.
We found some cutting tools and signs of early ‘industry’, never thinking that we were trespassing – just being intrigued by what we imagined to be signs of much earlier times of the area.
We discovered this beautiful rock which we assumed was a grinding stone and treasured it for many years. Eventually it accompanied us to our new home on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
While we still admired and loved ‘our’ rock, we felt an unease and came to realise that it definitely was not ‘OUR’ rock at all and that it was far away from where it should have been – perhaps resting.
On a long journey south, we took the grinding stone to the nearest place to its home, that of the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place, in Bairnsdale, Gippsland, Victoria, where there is a gathering of artifacts – not a museum, as such, but a place that recognises the history of the Gunaikurnai people.
The person who greeted us was not angry with us for keeping the treasure for so long, but graciously accepted it and thanked us.
After a final touch, we said goodbye to ‘our’ rock, feeling relief at knowing that it was now where it belonged.
PS: I would possibly have preferred it to be back on the riverbank
Is anyone even old enough to remember Bourn Vita? How about Ovaltine?
I have in my hand, courtesy of a delightful gift from an old friend, a copy of (the British mag) PUNCH, from 1940.
The topmost banner on the front page, praises the goodness of a drink called ‘Bourn Vita’.
Inside the cover is a similar advertisement singing the praises of ‘Ovaltine’.
These were drinks, consisting of a sort of chocolate-y malt powder to be mixed with milk, “for sleep, nerves and energy” and “adequate reserves of nerve strength”.
Guaranteed to give you a “good night’s sleep” with “nerve building elements”.
Apparently, in 1940, everyone was having trouble getting “a good night’s sleep”.
(Don’t mention the war).
There are also ads for cigarettes and tobacco, one cigarette, “made specially to prevent sore throats” (True!)
And reminders to “save all wastepaper”. Frugality messages were clear!
Of course, in the magazines there are also short stories and poems – some serious, others humorous, mostly quaint, (as seen from a distance of 80 years) plus a few supposedly pointed, political excerpts gleaned from newspapers.
But the first fascination for me was the advertisements.
It seems that the populace in 1940 had many problems connected with health and the inability to sleep.
There were suggestions of a great need of nerve tonics and sleep aids.
The amazing thing is that the lack of sleep and the “nerve” worries is never directly – well, not in print, anyway – associated with the fact that people were stressed out and terrified due to being in the midst of the Second World War!
Perhaps some years later, Bourn Vita and Ovaltine could have been recommended to be consumed by the brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen when (if) they eventually returned from battle.
The promise of any help for “sleep, nerves and energy” must have had some appeal.
However, from what I gather, any courageous returned personnel mostly preferred beer – and possibly something stronger - than a milky chocolate drink, to dull the awful memories of war.
Nowadays we recognise post-traumatic stress as a likely condition in our returning military men and women.
Perhaps a mug of warm Bourn Vita would help them?
I think not.
Incidentally, I was also given a 1948 copy of PUNCH and you will be pleased to know that attitudes had changed to a more positive approach to life and, although smoking was still in evidence, the need for copious amounts of Bourn Vita and Ovaltine and other ‘nerve aids’ seem to be missing; Replaced by ads for clothes, cars and chocolate.
An elderly woman sits in her spacious living room surrounded by comfortable, yet starkly empty, sofas and armchairs. An array of family photographs, alongside ornaments from a previous time, are on display as the woman speaks of her four-bedroomed home with love and a little despair.
This has been her home; her place for family, and her place of comfort, for many decades, yet now it offers only loneliness.
Watching the delightful, yet slightly unsettling, television series (‘Old People’s Home for 4 year-olds’ ABC Tuesdays 8.30 pm) that gathers older folk together with a bunch of four-year-old children, you cannot but be struck with the intense comparison between what has been and what is now.
The elderly people featured in the program are all living alone – mostly because their life partner has died. Most of them feel they are living a meaningless existence, as one participant stated, ‘really just waiting for the lights to go out’.
Over a course of weekly activities with the guileless endearing children, the older people’s lives change. Some more dramatically than others, but all for the better.
The elderly who had trouble walking, gained a new confidence in their own ability and fears were dispelled as the little children guided them and shared with them all manner of activities.
But the elderly folk still went home to their empty homes.
And here lies the dilemma.
There are, in fact, two dilemmas. One is about loneliness, the other perhaps more political.
This is the crunch:
Politicians and younger folk say, ‘Come on, oldies, sell your three-bedroomed house and make it available to young house buyers, and you, old people, downsize and move to a smaller place that is more appropriate to your present life.’
BUT – and it’s a very big BUT…
The old folk love their homes. Every aspect is so well-known; its layout, its furniture and fittings, its surroundings, its much loved and lived in familiarity. They do not have to wonder where the kettle is and in what cupboard the tea and biscuits reside. (Sorry, that’s a simplified example, but you know what I mean).
What right have others to expect the elderly to uproot their lives. To find a unit or small house in a retirement village – or whatever?
With families often scattered across the globe, they may be lonely, but to have to down-size, get rid of much of their furniture and belongings to fit into a small, neat apartment is a mammoth task beyond many of them. Cruel, even.
To have to leave all that is familiar to them; to leave a community, that, although they may be estranged from it in a way, it looks familiar. It feels familiar and they know what is there for them.
Imagine at 80+ years old, having to find your way around a new neighbourhood, a new set of shops. Perhaps a new GP.
For those oldies who have been driving, to navigate a different set of streets and highways is often too much and the car is discarded.
And, where the hell is the light switch for this new room in this new place? And how do you manage the heating? And why is there no telephone? And where is the nearest pharmacy?
And my sofa doesn’t fit this room - and the bathroom taps are strange and difficult – and how do I operate these ugly curtains – and I can’t lock the back door easily like my old one. And why is there no clothesline?
Then, if it’s a unit in a retirement village, there is the unfathomable ‘Body Corporate’ with its rules and exorbitant fees. No friends or grandchildren to stay without permission, no rugs on the balcony, no airing of clothes in view of other units, no changing the look of the frontage, no smoking in view of other residents. And, for that privilege, please pay $500 per month.
Any new ‘friends’ have to be almost forced upon them, as opposed to developed over time, and the new life can turn out to be even more lonely that the familiar one left behind.
There may be a shortage of houses for families to buy, but it is a serious dilemma that cannot be solved simply by moving old and perhaps lonely folk out of their homes to make room for the next generations.
Does anyone have a solution? It seems like a bunch of four-year-olds can help more than anyone – at least with the loneliness aspect.
Turning on Friday morning’s early news bulletin we are informed that a sixteen-year-old boy has been fatally stabbed in Brisbane. He is found, close to death, alone on a footpath, bleeding profusely and dies in hospital shortly afterwards.
Police are not discounting ‘gang’ activity.
That evening, as we sit engrossed in an episode of ‘Vera’ on ABC television, the broadcast is interrupted by an announcement that Prince Philip has died at the age of 99.
The announcers go on and on about the Prince’s demise and his history of how he met the future Queen of England and so on and so on. The Governor General appears and begins a long and dreary talk on the prince’s life and involvement in activities or whatever - and we give up on ever finding out how Vera discovers the villain in the story we were watching. We turn off the television.
And I can’t help but think how some lives – and deaths – are more important than others. In fact, how some lives are more valuable, or valued than others.
Reported deaths of at least 500 brave protestors in Myanmar are given two minutes of reportage on our news.
Grieving relatives of the hundred and more people killed by the horrendous floods and landslides in East Timor and Indonesia are shown on Australia’s news bulletins, before being brushed aside to concentrate on domestic issues.
The murdered Brisbane boy is named as Yannis and photos of him appear in newspapers and online. He is a big and mature looking sixteen-year-old, but he is still only a boy.
Sure, he and his mates were possibly ‘up to no good’ – we don’t know, but he was still a schoolboy, with friends – most of whom would not have wished him to be murdered.
What was his story?
Prince Philip had led a life of privilege and luxury. He had lived to be 2 months short of 100 years.
He travelled extensively and had a busy social life, enjoying wealth and extreme advantage.
What chance had Yannis to achieved fame and fortune in his short life of sixteen years? You can bet that his was not a life of privileges and luxury.
And now, I admit that I would rather hear about the life story of Yannis more than that of the prince. I would like to know and understand what leads a sixteen-year-old boy to be out and about at night-time with a group of friends – one of whom was in a possession of a large knife and prepared to use it – and did.
You know what I think is the missing element from all the argy-bargy that’s been going on in politics, and life in general lately?
It’s kindness; simple kindness.
There’s trouble with Covid vaccinations.
Trouble with gender equality issues.
BIG trouble with Climate Change.
And I’m wondering about a novel approach to problems - using kindness.
I listened to the PM the other day, reciting one of his ‘word salads’ that he uses to try and placate his critics and, as he tried to say that he was on everyone’s side, the reason he sounded insincere is that there were no accompanying words of kindness offered. The word ‘respect’ was flung around, with no attached note as to (or from) whom this ‘respect’ would be delivered. There was a lot of ‘look at me’ and much of how he ‘understands’. We know he speaks kindly of his family, but he never seems to speak kindly of – or to - his fellow Australians.
The vaccination debacle is one of the best illustrations of the undesirability of putting all one’s eggs in one basket. (Definitely no kind thoughts there!)
Then from many commentators, the current explosion of women’s rights and the (necessary) push for gender equality is often met with either derogatory comments about ‘militant feminists’ or the defensive, ‘not me – not ALL men’ claim.
Few people stop to think in a kindly way of their fellow human beings, male or female.
Albert Schweitzer once said,
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate”.
Notice the words, misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility. (A lot of that around, lately).
That those things may ‘evaporate’, once kindness is instigated, may well be correct. But we don’t seem to have the time to devote to being kind.
Does it take too much effort?
Too much thought?
Is it possible that lack of kindness could be halting real progress in the Climate Change dilemma?
If the world’s population, especially the world’s LEADERS, applied a truly kind attitude to OTHER PEOPLE – their fellow man - then perhaps it would be an easier task to make Climate Change an imperative - and begin a huge desire to get working together on solutions to save us from inevitable destruction.
Instead of pandering to the god of money and the money-men, whose only thought is of themselves, how about thinking of everyone as needing consideration.
General KINDNESS towards our fellow man would achieve this.
Nothing less is my guess. Futile, I suspect.
“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.” (Dalai Lama)
What fun it is to live in Australia.
I was trying hard to NOT write about current political shenanigans, but politics has been taking over the airwaves lately. And not for any good reasons.
I suppose one could call it ‘dirty politics’.
The behaviour of several people, supposedly in power, has been nothing short of disgusting.
Of those found wanting (for want of a better expression) there have been two staffers sacked, two ministers on leave – (‘dealing’ with their mental and physical health, after being accused of awful behaviour) - and another member ‘stepping down’: That is, stepping down - to have counselling.
Heaven only knows how many more will be chased out of the woodwork and exposed as unworthy of office. We hold our breaths as to what might emerge this week.
Meanwhile, I have a suggestion – a possible cure?
Instead of ‘mental health breaks’ or ‘clinical counselling’ sessions or courses in empathy training (!), can we send our politicians – or at least the ones suspected of questionable behaviour – can we send them out bush? And I mean absolutely out in the bush.
They need to get right down to basics; basic survival, out in the natural world. Or, in our First Nation’s people’s expression, to spend time ‘on country’.
Forget about artificial counselling and courses in cushy hotel rooms and clinical facilities – or whatever. Get them out and about where few other humans can be seen or contacted.
Remove the iPhones. Give them minimal packs with meagre food rations and minimal clothing. Supply a swag and possibly one companion and/or Indigenous guide. Let them walk through sandy deserts and stride through the edges of rough ocean waves, at all times of the day and night, in all weather. Some time to think. Walk into forests and see the wildlife.
No minders or photographers present.
Then, after having absorbed some genuine nature, introduce them to the brave, industrious, empathy-laden folk who reside in bushfire ravaged communities.
It is here that they will find true grit. Here they’ll see community spirit and meet decent people who know what it’s like to help their fellow man.
These country people have the skills and EMPATHY to know how to feed and clothe their neighbours; they build sheds for free, and organise tool sharing for those who have lost their work tools and cannot afford to replace them. Whole communities supported in every way – by their own community.
These country people who have survived horrors, understand EMPATHY - and it shows.
There is no need for expensive counsellors and psychologists in soft and comfortable surroundings.
The place to find and understand empathy is out in the real world, where real people dwell.
John Denver was on to something, when he sang, “I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly”. ('Rocky Mountain High'… John Denver 1972)
Get out there with eagles in the sky - and friendly goats who need a head scratch and kids who love their dogs and donkeys, and where people talk with honesty and care.
Get hands dirty.
In place of the absurd ‘empathy training’, each of those empathy-lacking and decency-lacking politicians need to be regularly forced into a life less comfortable, with less self-obsession – and less money and fewer perks, to discover what life is all about – outside that bloody destructive ‘Canberra Bubble’.
I vote the Prime Minister to be first to go.
When I was a very young teacher, my Prep class children used rolled up old woollen socks (brought from home) to wipe their little chalkboards clean.
We later progressed to real chalkboard dusters for cleaning.
It was often messy work. Thirty-or-so busy little people writing and drawing on chalkboards…with words and pictures appearing at a merry pace. But, after the ‘work’ was all erased, the classroom would be in a fog of swirling chalk dust. It wasn’t very pleasant but that’s how we rolled – back in the day!
Then hooray! Dustless chalk was invented and there was less dust resulting in less need to constantly bang those dusters clean on the outside wall of the school building.
Then, the next wonder was the introduction of the whiteboard. Firstly, only for the teacher, who had a large one on which to write and draw and demonstrate.
Soon, along came small individual whiteboards for the children to use.
The only drawback for both teacher and pupils was the occasional misuse of the wrong marker.
Oops! When a more permanent marker (that looked suspiciously like a whiteboard marker) was used by mistake, it took a lot of scrubbing and wiping and half a bottle of metho to return it to its whiteboard-y whiteness. (Ultimately, someone invented whiteboard cleaner).
Also, there were times when a marker or an eraser was put down in the wrong place and couldn’t be found.
BUT, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and progress in the right direction has once again happened.
The invention of a whiteboard marker that fits into the back of a whiteboard eraser that possesses a hidden magnet to conveniently store it on the whiteboard is the ultimate classroom (or maybe boardroom?) tool.
But I suspect even that will soon be found to be lacking in some aspect or other – and, of course, I guess there will soon be no need to use whiteboards at all, as everything will be achieved using an electronic screen…
What a long way we have come in just one lifetime.
I am on a grassy hilltop, looking down on a beautiful sea. It is too far and too steep for me to clamber down to the waves, so I just look and take it in as a gentle breeze cools the warm day.
I have been walking for a while around the top of Smoky Cape Beach. I look and find a seat to rest on.
Carved into the back of this strongly built and very handsome wooden bench seat is a name, ‘Joachim’ and dates, ‘1989 – 2014’.
It takes me by surprise, and I have the urge to run my fingers over and over the lettering. As I do so, I gaze at the scene below and strangely feel a presence. I keep tracing the carving and a sensation of peace comes over me.
Who was Joachim? At only 25 years of age, he was far too young to die.
Was he a surfer? Did he take one too many risks in waves like those I see below me?
Or was he just a young person who had a passion for the sea? Or this place?
He must have been well loved, for someone to have erected this substantial memorial.
I hope he had a life that was full of wonder. I hope his life was adventurous and full of beauty.
I find my mind turning to the words of Don Marquis from “The Lesson of the Moth”:
“…it is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while…”
I hope that’s how Joachim’s life was.
Koalas, koalas, our much-loved koalas, no longer everywhere.
There’s a truly awful fact that, according to the Australian Koala Foundation,
“During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Australia wide, as many as 8 million koalas were killed for their pelts.”
That is hard to believe!
Fortunately, we no longer kill koalas and send their skins off to be made into lush furs for wealthy women in Europe.
But we have found other ways of killing off these precious native animals.
I have this old photo, taken in 1943, showing a small child sitting on a bench seat at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, in Victoria. A curious koala has come to check out her hair.
Koalas were plentiful then – nearly eighty years ago. Colonies had largely recovered from the slaughter of earlier years and were valued, no longer for their fur, but for the part they played as an important inclusion in the life of Australian fauna.
The koala in the picture is not behind cage wire or even a fence. In those bygone days, koalas roamed freely in the sanctuary – as well as in many areas in the country.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, koalas could be seen in abundance, sitting in their eucalypt trees all over Phillip Island, Victoria. People could walk in among the trees and see them everywhere. Often a koala would be perched quite low down in a tree; near enough to the ground to be seen and stroked by a child.
About ten years ago, I visited Raymond Island in Gippsland, Victoria and was thrilled to see four or five koalas sitting high up in gum trees. (Someone said they once had too many!)
More recently, near my home on the Gold Coast in Queensland I have seen four koalas, on four different occasions in a park near my home. But it’s taken about six years to see that many.
No longer do koalas randomly come up close to little girls to check out their hair.
No longer is Phillip Island home to hundreds of the creatures – living unobtrusively in the bush and beside the tracks. Where there once was bush, houses now crowd out the trees.
Koala habitat has been destroyed to make way for roads and housing development. All over the (mainly) eastern states, our cars have killed koalas as they search for their gum-leaf trees.
Our dogs have mauled and killed them as they venture into suburbia.
Last year’s horrendous bushfires, due largely to Climate Change, caused deaths of “as many as 10,000 koalas — a third of New South Wales' total population”.
And now, “The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 Koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000”.
It is sad indeed that the few places for us to now see a koala is in a zoo or wildlife rescue hospital, where tourists queue to have a photo taken with a koala, to show family and friends the precious, unique animal that once climbed the eucalyptus trees all over Australia.
I may be late at working this out, but it has occurred to me that the more power one has, the more ability one has to act – and contribute - in the interest of those around one.
In other words, the more power one has, the more ability one has to DO GOOD.
Then I look at those who are ‘powerful’ and see that this is not often happening.
Why not? Does anyone know?
Looking at our PM and his cohorts. They seem to wield a great deal of power, so what good have they done lately?
Well, so far, in the past three years, (apart from buggering up foreign affairs), they have….
I could go on….but...
Not many ‘good deeds’ there!
The other fact that has occurred to me is that the more MONEY one has, the more POWER one is seemingly magically given.
To have lots of money - and I mean LOTS - gives a person power, meaning access to people who own resources to be able to help others in massive ways.
So, do they use their power and their money for the good of others, as well as themselves?
Well, not usually.
This is what they do:
The powerfully rich give money to other powerful people (in government) to benefit THEMSELVES.
No, not to benefit others, but to benefit THEMSELVES.
One might use a tiny fraction of their 29 billion accumulated wealth to donate to charity, (to silence the critics) while being surprisingly hateful towards their own children and making more money than they would ever be able to spend in eleventy-thousand lifetimes.
There’s a bloke who creates his own charities, only to then instruct the Government what to do, who to 'help' (in a mean & cruel way) and what to buy…including worthless PPE gear and Covid testing kits he sourced in China for which he charged the Aus Gov.$325 MILLION. (Geez!)
And the man who donated over $9 million to political parties and then benefited greatly from countless Gov decisions. In one instance, this bloke donated $1.5 million and then had the cheek to claim $10 million from the bush fire foundation. And got it! (True!)
There are a lot more examples, but they make me sick.
I am seriously wondering why those in power, only think of themselves?
AND, which came first? Are these people selfish because they are powerful, or are they powerful because of a lifetime of being selfish?
These are genuine questions.
Sure, there are some exceptions to the rule, such as the occasional philanthropist and benefactor, giving freely of a portion of their riches.
There is the occasional generous billionaire in Australia, including one who is actually helpful towards others, in the area of climate change.
But I have witnessed people who have little money being far more generous (relatively speaking), using a bigger portion of the little they have to help others.
Why is this so?
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“When day comes….” Begins the poem.
How amazing to witness the changes in the U.S. in just a few days.
I have only just had time to watch the entire Biden-Harris Inauguration.
The world can breathe again…hopefully!
To see and hear Amanda Gorman read her poem of hope (“The Hill We Climb”) was something I was not expecting.
An unusual and beautiful poem with rhyming word-bombs dropped seamlessly into a recitation of perfect meter, accompanied by hand gestures more graceful than you’d see in a ballet.
And…never having taken much notice of the singer who goes by the name of Lady Gaga, imagining her to be suited to a much younger generation to the one I inhabit, I was joyously stunned to hear such a magnificent voice. And what a wonderful National Anthem the Americans have. (Poor Australia).
Lady Gaga’s golden peace dove attached to her dress was a gorgeous unspoken message.
There was an extremely noticeable presence of LOVE and caring during the procedures as the Biden family - and that of Kamala Harris - greeted each other and, despite face masks and attempted distancing, there were hugs of genuine care. And it wasn’t only between family members - there were obvious warm feelings from friends, former leaders, and the crowd in general. What a sight to see.
A big difference from four years ago, with the awkwardness and posing of that self-promoting Trump family.
Yes, I think we can perhaps breathe again…it will take time, but the world – not only USA – has seen what can happen and a warning has been noted.
A destroyer who spread hate and division is gone and may we hopefully never experience his likes again.
“…there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it.
If only we are brave enough to be it.” (Amanda Gorman)
AND, may the “land of the free, and the home of the brave” be very brave.
As animal lovers, where did we go wrong?
We brought our kids up in country Victoria to give them a rural, nature-filled, animal-loving childhood, away from the cities.
Over the years we owned - and cared for - dogs and puppies, baby lambs, calves, cows, goats, chooks, a white mouse, a ginger cat, even a donkey and (of course) guinea pigs.
We went on outings to forests and farmlands to experience the environment and to see native animals in their natural habitat. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas, turtles, and echidnas.
The kids seemed to love them all—the ones we had at home and the ones they saw out in the bush. We thought we had given them a love of nature as well as knowledge of how to care for creatures of every sort.
Our kids are well grown up now and have families of their own.
What animas do they have?
What animals are they caring for?
The answer is nil!
Our daughter lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, in a big house that has no room for a pet of any sort.
Our son lives in UK with a backyard as big as a pocket handkerchief.
Where did we go wrong?
Recently, a publisher informed me that something I wrote was unacceptable, as it involved ‘old learnings’.
I was gobsmacked. Not because I thought he was wrong so much as I didn’t think that anyone with anything to do with (decent) writing would stoop to using such a word as ‘learnings’.
I had heard a politician use the word not so long ago and was mildly appalled; it is turning into a word that (to me) almost rivals the expression, ‘going forward’, that seems to have infiltrated so many announcements - and simply popped on to the end of every second sentence – and, indeed, now heard in general conversation.
I am now wondering if I am being too sensitive about words.
Am I Madame Pedantic?
I admit to keeping a 2B pencil by my side when I am reading and (gently) put a line through any typos I see.
Being a fan of Twitter, I occasionally see a misspelt word or a wrongly used phrase and shudder.
I tell myself that there are far more important things to worry about than small grammatical hiccups.
Recently a journalist was criticised for making fun of someone who made spelling errors. She was more than criticised; she was attacked! She was told to stop being a literary snob and was reminded, in no uncertain terms, that those who don’t have an advanced education are entitled to express their thoughts, without being laughed at, when their spelling does not measure up to someone who ‘thinks she’s smart’ – or words to that effect.
I felt sorry for the journo as well as whoever made the mistakes.
I don’t know why misspelled words and grammatical faux pas annoy me so much.
I honestly can’t help it!
Perhaps it was the old fashioned and strict teaching (NOT learnings) I experienced in my early school days. Perhaps it has expanded because of my 30+ years of being a schoolteacher. But it is imbedded in my DNA now, I fear. (There’s another frequently misused expression – as if your DNA sequencing can influence your ability to spell! Or can it?)
Here are a few annoyance-producing expressions and spelling faults:
Twice lately I have read about someone ‘towing the line’ instead of ‘toeing’ the line.
The use of I, where it should be me…. ‘It was a lovely gift for Jim and I’…NO, it’s ’Jim and me’ (take away Jim’s name & see how it sounds!) ‘Jim and I were thankful’ Yes, that’s okay!
Fewer/less… ‘Less people came to the park’ No, it wasn’t bits and pieces of people coming to the park…. It’s ‘fewer people came…’
And why have we stopped using the word ‘who’ when referring to people?
Who/that. People deserve ‘who’. It is not ‘I like people that give generously’ NO, it’s ‘I like people WHO give generously’.
Minor, though it may be, the phrase ‘thin end of the wedge’ was the original statement and is preferable to ‘thin edge of the wedge’ – even though the latter possibly sounds better.
A person wrote of politicians ‘full of dribble’ and I’m sure they meant ‘drivel’, but, then again, perhaps there was some dribble involved.
Then someone referred to the latest ‘poles’, when I think they were talking about ‘polls’…but I can’t be sure.
A recent spate of shouldn’t OF instead of shouldn’t have makes me grate my teeth. Only today, a tweet lamented if only someone could of done the right thing…aarrgghh!!!
The use of ‘impacted’ in place of ‘affected’ is so commonplace now, I can almost ignore it.
A frequent mistake is the confusion of your/you’re. That drives me crazy!
Then there’s Its/it’s – Please, people, there is NO possessive apostrophe in its.
It’s should only display an apostrophe when it is a contraction of ‘it is’.
I could go on……
Please don’t attack me. I can’t help it!
Just as I was writing this, I was made aware that our Prime Minister has praised ‘his’ people for being ‘overcomers’.
The word made my flesh creep – not only because it sounded like a made-up word, but it is a word connected to a weird and dangerous religious cult of which our PM seems extremely fond – connected, in fact. Now that really scares me!
Words do matter!
Christmas Eve is here and, in some places at least, there will be joyous family celebrations tomorrow.
I send my best wishes – laced with some sorrow - to the families who can’t get together because of the COVID-19 virus.
But we must face it, to leave yourself and family vulnerable to contracting this ghastly illness is far, far worse than missing out on a family gathering, no matter how awful and sorrowful you may feel about it.
But, cheerfully (crazy though it may be) on the other hand, many of us are assuming – albeit unconsciously and wrongly – that, once Christmas is over and a new year begins it will no longer be 2020 and all will be well. We will have left the old and dreadful 2020 behind! Phew! Thank goodness!
Of course, that’s not true at all…but…but, just for a day or two, let’s think it is true. Sure – don’t go taking any risks – but simply let your mind register that a new year is around the corner and it will be a great year; a year free of COVID-19 and a year of freedom from restrictions and mask-wearing and businesses losing their incomes and so on.
Let’s just fantasise that soon the ghastliness will all be finished, and life will be back to whatever our ‘normal’ was.
Let’s avoid the truth, suspend our disbelief, and stop worrying about the virus, but briefly!
On a personal note: I live in Queensland, where we are extremely fortunate to have no restrictions on where we go – as long as we don’t leave the state. Lucky us!
I am happy that tomorrow I will be enjoying Christmas lunch and gift giving with much of my immediate family.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have no elderly parents to be concerned about. To be truthful, I have taken up that mantle – I AM the elderly parent!
Unfortunately, my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are in the UK and we will only be seeing them via Face Time.
Britain, under Bumbling Boris, is in dire straits and it is very worrying! The area where my son & family live is not currently considered a ‘hot spot’, even though there were 323 new cases last week alone! YIKES!! It’s concerning.
As for Sydney – such a shame that a second (or is it third?) wave has arrived there.
And, yet, here, in Australia we are nowhere near the disaster that is UK or USA. Or those many other badly affected places around the globe.
So, let’s make the most of what we have. My sympathy to those who cannot be with family…but guess what? It’s not really the end of the world and let’s be certain that NEXT year will be better and brighter.
As much as you can, forget the awfulness of COVID and enjoy Christmas in whatever is the best way for you.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS to everyone.
The weather had been extremely hot for weeks; the birds had even stopped singing.
And then the rain came. For days and days, it rained. Heavy downpours drenched everything around us.
And the birds stayed hidden in the thick foliage of the largest trees.
One very early morning, when it looked like the rain might ease, through the back door I saw two very wet and bedraggled magpies: an adult and a baby. They were on the veranda, looking through the glass at me and making sad little imitations of what is usually a beautiful warble.
It was then that I realised because I hadn’t seen them for quite a few days, perhaps they were hungry—because I had made a habit of feeding them a little each day.
The magpie feeding started gradually. Some mornings, when I sat outside eating breakfast, a magpie stopped by and I gave him a small piece from the edge of my toast. After a few days, another magpie came. They seemed friendly and often settled close by, waiting for scraps of toast.
I knew that bread wasn’t a good substitute for foraged-for food, so I didn’t give them too much.
Then a relative suggested a good muesli might be a better idea. But they weren’t so keen on that. Researching magpie food suggestions, I discovered that (if it was top quality) minced meat was a favourite.
Minced steak? They loved it! The magpie family came to spend (musical) hours on my back veranda. Waiting and watching. They stayed so long that every piece of outdoor furniture ended up with streaks of bird-dropping decorations.
Sometimes the magpies collected a small wad of mince in their beaks and flew away into the tall gum tree over the back fence. I should have known!
Next thing, they brought their whingeing baby along and, as he squawked, they filled his wide-open beak…over and over again.
Now I had three magpies, all wanting food. They loved the meat! They followed me when I was outside. They watched me through the kitchen window and became excited when they saw me go towards the fridge. If I left the back door open, I would often find a magpie walking around the kitchen.
It was getting out if hand!
But then, some more (Google) research led me to believe that minced steak should NOT be given to magpies—especially young magpies.
What to do?
A little more searching revealed a recipe suitable for magpie food. A recipe!
This involved: tinned puppy food, wheat germ, baby cereal, bird seed (for wild birds), chopped parsley, hard- boiled egg and something called calcium carbonate (which I think is carb soda – but I didn’t include that).
After a trip to the supermarket, I made up a mixture and rolled it into small sausage shapes, some of which I froze.
The next day I sensed a disappointment in the magpies’ demeanour. They were not impressed with the new diet.
But, for the magpies’ health I would no longer feed them mince. I sprinkled more wild bird seed mix over the sausage thing and there was a bit of interest.
Days went by. The magpie family still visited but the mince-induced excitement and enthusiasm had evaporated.
I put the special food on a patch of grass near the veranda – with extra seed – and eventually my magpie family accepted that this was the food from me now.
Each day they came and ate what I put out for them. They still perched on the outdoor furniture, but not as often or for as long. I missed their singing.
The baby learned to eat by itself and all was well with my conscience about feeding wild birds.
The most interesting thing about the new feeding regime is that, once the magpies have had their fill of recipe-based food, the beautiful water dragons who live around us, come and finish off the scraps.
What could be better?
PS: The magpie in the photo is the baby.
What does it take to realise that war is futile? Any kind of war.
Reports of (alleged) atrocities committed by Australian Special Forces against unarmed – and sometimes very young – Afghan citizens is sickening.
Then there are the stories of Australia’s returned ‘veterans’ taking their lives in unimaginable numbers, after returning home.
There is something terribly wrong here!
We reportedly have ‘our’ soldiers shooting civilians – let me rephrase that – ‘our’ soldiers murdering Afghan civilians and ‘our’ soldiers suffering terribly from what they have done and what they have seen.
We constantly hear of veterans suffering from PTSD…that’s POST TRAUMATICE STRESS DISORDER. Let’s check those words:
Post = ‘after’. That is, AFTER something has occurred.
Traumatic = ‘ causing severe and lasting emotional shock and pain’
Stress = ‘pressure, tension, strain’
Disorder = ‘disruption, upheaval, tumult’.
Do you see? PTSD is not just a glib expression to describe worried soldiers, it is a declaration of what happens to people after being exposed to war situations or other trauma.
Let’s mull over the futility of war:
Just one example of war’s pointlessness:
Australians and Japanese are great and helpful friends – as nations.
Quoted in the news in July of his year: ‘The Australia–Japan partnership is our closest and most mature in Asia…’
And yet, in the 1940s, my father and my husband’s father left their families, and spent months and years in appalling conditions in the NT and New Guinea protecting Australia from the Japanese.
That didn’t end well for anyone, especially the Japanese, after being obliterated by atomic bombs.
By no means am I suggesting that we should ignore or malign Japanese folk. What I am trying to point out is that, once upon a time – not so very long ago - we were deadly enemies and now we are best friends. That seems to be often the case with warring nations – eventually.
Sure, some wars are never-ending and these disputes are even more ridiculous. If a dispute is impossible to settle, even after decades of fighting and killing people who are different, or have differing views, then what’s the point?
It is like a grotesque version of Dr Seuss’s children’s story book about the Sneetches, when there were ‘Sneetches’ who were envious of ‘the other’ – in this case those who wore stars.
It’s a story we can learn from.
The memory of the futile and deadly war in Vietnam is still in the forefront of many Australian minds, and yet Vietnam is currently one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations.
What the hell did that awful war achieve?
Remember John F. Kennedy’s famous quote?
“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
Truer words have seldom been spoken.
And just think of all the BILLIONS of dollars that are spent on war, war ‘machines’ and the thousands of army personnel.
The world would have no homeless people, no impoverished people, no hungry people if money was spent on helping humans to live, not to kill.
What with us obliterating the planet by ignoring Climate Change - and making wars a perpetual way of life and cruelty, there’ll be nothing left soon.
“I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones”, (Albert Einstein purportedly said).
Think on that!
Here I am, again, moaning. There’s so much to whinge about lately … (IMHO)
In all the ‘News’ about Corona Virus, appalling armed forces' behaviour, inexcusable ‘Robodebt’ cruelty and lack of dealing with Climate Change, there’s one other matter about which I am steaming with rage.
I’m complaining about the $80 billion Australia has committed to spend on submarines… soon to be redundant submarines, by the way.
However, the PM claims that they are important for “Australia’s strategic environment”. Hmmm.
The $$$$$$ to be spent on those mythical national security required (?) submerged warships is an abhorrence to me. It is a HUGE amount: an amount (if we genuinely had it) hat could remedy many, if not ALL, of our country’s ills.
Have a think about how current wars are conducted and you will probably notice that submarines play an infinitesimal - or no part at all.
Now it’s all guided missiles and other evil stuff. (Remember WMD?) Weapons that do not require sailors spending weeks underwater in a submarine, chasing, while hiding, from ‘enemies.
And did I mention that the $80 billion submarines were already redundant? Sorry, yes, I did.
They are so out of date that parts of them are suspected of not being able to work as intended anymore – and this is before they have even been built!
And, by the way, technology has progressed so far that submarines will soon not be able to stay undetected under water. What that means is that they are useless as a deterrent or a protection.
Let me say that word again: useless.
Anyway, back to the $80 billion.
That’s $80 BILLION, by the way. Yes, eighty BILLION dollars, not million.
Gee, I wonder what Australia could do with $80 BILLION?
Let’s see…Right now, in Victoria alone, there is a sixteen-year waiting list for public housing. (Thankfully, Victoria is aiming to fix that a little). But you could still be dead waiting to have a roof over your head if you find yourself in dire circumstances.
I’m not good at maths, but even I could manage to work out that even one billion dollars could probably build more than 2 000, that’s two THOUSAND, (genuinely nice) homes. Wouldn’t that be nice? Imagine what TWO billion could build. THREE billion?
THEN…How about that not-very-efficient NDIS, set up to help disabled people? It’s not going very well from all reports, but…but, say it was given a boost of a billion dollars – maybe that would help? How about TWO billion? Immensely helpful.
Maybe if nurses and public health doctors – and the hospitals they work in – were given a multi-billion-dollar boost to maintain the health of our nation, including the ever-needy mental health departments. Just imagine!
I could go on…and on….and on….
In case you’d like to know more, here are some facts:
Defence officials knew Australia's new fleet of attack submarines would cost almost $80 billion as early as 2015, despite publicly stating at the time the estimated price tag was $50 billion. (SMH), (This is for 12 subs…)
More like $225 billion to maintain – some claimed in 2019)
BTW, Construction of these things has yet to be begin…
“Construction of the first Future Submarine was expected to commence in 2022–23 and is scheduled to enter service around 2032–33”
So, we will be waiting at least another 12 years before they are even in the water. A lot can happen in those 12 years.
But wait…a few weeks ago, it was announced that “construction of the submarines was scheduled to begin in 2024”. In FOUR years’ time?
So, they are now a further two years behind schedule.
AND then there’s this…. “The SEA 1000 submarines are predicted to remain in service until the 2070s.”
I doubt if any nation will be using – needing – subs in 50 years’ time, even if we haven’t already obliterated the entire Earth, with the effects of Climate Change.
So…can anyone please tell me what wisdom there is in spending EIGHTY BILLION DOLLARS on such a folly?
IS THERE ANY HOPE OF STOPPING THIS?
I apologise for not remembering where this quote (below) originated, but it is very telling:
“It is hard to believe that a government genuinely committed to defending the nation would sign a contract to buy 12 ludicrously expensive submarines that would not be operational for at least 20 years, with the final submarine not ready for nearly 40 years. The fleet will be obsolete before its delivered.”
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.