Sinodinos, Russ Hinze, and Conflict Corruption

What I cannot follow is this — how the whole Liberal party cohort of spokespeople are describing Sinodinos as a person of “incredible integrity”.

He was a shareholder, director, chairperson, and paid employee of a company that was seeking a make-you-for-life government contract. And yet he was heavily involved in politics. And this same company had 5 “lobbyists” in its employ. 5 Lobbyists? – what do these guys do all day – or are they sexy persuasive women?

RussHinzeIn the Royal Commission into corruption in Queensland a few years ago, Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald asked government Minister Russ Hinze (pictured), when Hinze was given a  ca.$400,000 loan at low interest, did the lender mention the fact that his lucrative commercial development was up for approval before him as Minister that afternoon.
Said Hinze:  “You don’t have to say anything, Mr Commissioner. It doesn’t work like that. “


Sinodinos was / is in a very influential position, mixing with ministers and assistant ministers and public servants who know him, maybe like him, maybe fear his influence and power. He doesn’t have to say a word. They all know he would like his company to get the contract. They all know he would like $20 million?  Who wouldn’t?

Am I too straight or something? And there is Sinodinos is personally standing to gain the aforesaid  $20 million if the contract comes through for Australian Water Holdings – and does anyone doubt that, with the assistant treasurer etc at the centre and Liberal governments all over the place – that it would not come through? — $20 Million !!!

ObeidThe ALP is fairly muted. Now I wonder how many members of parliament (apart from Eddie Obeid and family and friends) have shares in companies that are after government contracts. This should not be allowed at all.

And perhaps this sticks up my nose as much as anything. The great advocates of the open market and free trade and dog-eat-dog competition – guess what – they don’t want to get out there and compete – they want government contracts and PPPs –  government private partnerships  – where the government ensures the private firm cannot lose !! –  (But the government doesn’t have to put expenditure on their books – who is fooled?)

Asylum Seekers and the riot on Manus Island

My colleague Linda has written the following to her local Member of Parliament – I could not agree more. I reprint with her permission.

I have sent you three letters, and I believe that this is my third email to you, since you came into office. I even hand delivered one of those letters to your office personally. However, I have not received a single response from you. I wrote to the Queen and I received a response within 17 days. As your local constituent, I am extremely disappointed with your disinterest.

My letters and emails have been in relation to the Coalition government’s inhumane policies on asylum seekers, which are in direct opposition to international law. My letter to the Queen was on the same topic.

I am deeply disturbed to read and hear reports about the riot on Manus Island, but I believe a riot was inevitable. When you lock people up indefinitely in conditions that have been condemned by the UN and Amnesty International; do not provide adequate welfare services; do not process ANY of their claims for asylum; and tell them that their only chance for resettlement is in a country with corruption, high infant mortality, regular gang rapes of women, incarceration for anyone who is gay and little or no employment opportunities, you should realise that a riot is likely. When you locate this lock-up in a country with a history of corruption, violence and little law and order, you should also realise the locals will respond to a riot by breaking into the compound and beating and attacking people.

Current Immigration Department and Border Protection policies are cruel and inhumane. They destroy people mentally and physically. They inflict more torture and terror on those who came to ask for our help to escape persecution and torture. I will not stay silent and let the government do this in my name, and I would like some sort of response from you outlining how you are comfortable with supporting the policies of your party.

Yours Sincerely,
Linda Cusworth

Alla Famiglia — a Memoir from Alma De Santis

In Remembrance of the US First Division Marines who visited Melbourne for R and R during the Second World War.

The author, Alma De Santis,  is a close friend of mine, and a pioneer Civil Marriage Celebrant from the time of the founding Australian Statesman, Attorney-General Lionel Murphy.

For another audience I wrote the following reflection on her memoir.
I was deeply moved by the recollection of Alma de Santis, my dear friend, in the accompanying memoir.
When I was six or seven years old my family too hosted visiting American servicemen. They came here to heal after battle, before they headed back once again into the conflict zone – many of them to die.
It was President John F. Kennedy who famously said – “one of the greatest tragedies we humans experience is the death of young men.”
It is also said that the only real memory we preserve is “the speaking”.
Alma speaks – she speaks of a real and vivid memory over seventy years old, the time she was an impressionable young girl excited by the presence of a group of vital and fascinating young men who lit up her home and her household.
It is an historical pericope of life, love, excitement, loving and dying. It is a window on the bonding of the USA and Australia, it is a nostalgic longing for a short happy time burnt deep into the writers memory.
It is vivid moment which records the horror, the tragedy and the futility of war.
It is a moment strongly related to the immortal lament of the renowned poet Rupert Brooke

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music;
known Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and and cheeks. All this is ended.

—————————————————–

ALLA FAMIGLIA -1942-43 – MELBOURNE (Alma Florence de Santis nèe Resuggan)

Over-paid over-sexed over-here were the headlines of the National Weekly Newspapers 1942—1943 of the friendly American invasion of approximately 15,000 First Division Marines in Melbourne, Australia.

The Marines were shipped to Melbourne for rest and recuperation after the grueling Guadalcanal campaign. They were suffering battle fatigue, dengue fever and some had malaria.

This is my story of our Marine family in Melbourne 1942/3. I am in my nineties now and didn’t want these stories to die with me, nameless, faceless, story-less and forgotten. So much has been written about the First Marine Division, “The Old Breed” in the Pacific 1942—1945 but not very much about their 9 months in Melbourne until they were shipped out on August 7, 1943.

To Robert, Tyrone, Seth, Carlo, Billy, Jim and Max of the First Marine Division, we knew you, we loved you, and we remember you.

May God bless “The Old Breed”. They all left their footprints in our hearts.

1stMarineDivision

………………………………………….

The majority of the Marines were 18 to 20 years old. For many of them this was their first time away from home. These young men formed enduring friendships with Australian families. They fell in love with Melbourne and we Australians reciprocated with affection.

They spread new ideas about music, sport, food and culture. Of course they were not here for a vacation, but to build up their strength and heal, refit and rest for future combat. If they were well enough and wanted to they could work on large building sites, concreting, laboring or doing frame and form work.

At that time my father’s firm was building the Royal Children’s Hospital. Dad had many Marines who liked the idea of helping out at the Children’s Hospital. When given leave from Balcombe Barracks and their part time training they would work at the Children’s Hospital with my father.

Dad liked the Marines and invited many home for Mum’s home cooked dinners, family picnics, family outings and trips to the country. They became part of our family. From memory our regulars were Robert, Tyrone, Seth, Carlo, Jim, Billy, Max, and Bud – more about Bud later.

A number of my family were in the army. I was working part-time in the Women’s Land Army. My brother George and my cousins had not yet left for Japan. They all got along well with the Marines. I remember they would all visit The Dugout, the Trocadero and Palm Court where the troops and the girls gathered to meet and dance. I didn’t go to the dances with them as I had only just turned 18. My brother and his friends would also take them to Luna Park, ice skating and to the football.

Dad once asked an officer friend of his who was a Major in the Army about the First Marine Division. The Major said “Harry, they are the best of the best, an elite corps, their values are high, they train hard, fight hard, work hard, drink hard, love hard and hurt hard.” Dad never forgot those words.

We had a self-contained bungalow in our garden and when on leave two or three or more of the boys, Mum never minded how many, would stay in the bungalow if they had overnight leave.

Every time we sat down to a meal with them you would feel the love and affection. Carlo would raise his glass, and say “alla famiglia” which in English translates to “the family”. Seventy years later though there are only two of us left, we still say “alla famiglia”.

The boys would spend a lot of the time in the kitchen. I remember any one of them would sneak up behind Mum and undo her apron. The others would scramble to pick it up and the offender would get a slap from Mum’s wooden spoon. Mum loved them.

Robert and Tyrone were both 20 years of age with a healthy interest in girls. Like so many of that age at that time, it was their coming of age, their rite of passage to adulthood. Melbourne equated with coming of age to many of these young men and many romances and sexual relationships began.

Robert and Tyrone met two nice girls a little older than themselves. They would go to dances, concerts, drives to the country and beaches. They brought the girls home once for dinner and to meet Mum and Dad and show their bungalow. The boys were always respectful and any romantic occurrences were never, ever conducted at our home.

After 2 or so months, the boys moved onto other girls, other interludes and other experiences.

Seth was a dear boy and a wonderful singer. I remember he would say “I sing like my Daddy”. He would sing ballads, blues, anything. I recall “Paper Doll”, “That Old Black Magic”, “My Foolish Heart”, “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and so many others. He was a true southern laid back boy and would often say “goodnight y’al I’m going to bay-ed now”. He would go off singing “gawjah on my mind” in his southern accent. We could always forgive Seth anything when we heard him sing.

Seth initiated sing-a-longs which we would all enter into with much enthusiasm. Someone found a guitar and a violin which would rev things up a bit. Seth was semi-engaged to a girl back home but after being away for so long, he asked his Daddy to buy an engagement ring and planned to marry soon after his return to the U.S.A.

Seth was a friendly gossip who could not keep a secret. Snippets of his gossip would sift through our sunroom windows from the bungalow if the door was open. We could sometimes hear them discussing Carlos’ intense sexual episodes or stories about how Jim lost his innocence at 17 on a blanket in a cornfield or that Max had an affair with a librarian in the library at St Kilda. I recall Tyrone’s coming of age was whispered and incoherent and all that we heard was “Wow” at the end of the story.

Seth would sing “Georgia On My Mind” with tears in his eyes and say “Daddy and I will sing this together again soon”. Seth and his Daddy never got to sing again after the war.

Now to “flash” Carlo, born of Italian parents in America. He was very charismatic, very handsome, 24 years of age and a real ladies man. He loved the girls. As my aunt would say he had “molto sensuale eviene a letto con quelli occhi” (very sensual and come to bed eyes). When on leave Carlo would get dressed up, drop into the building site for two or so hours and a quick talk then go. A day or so later he would come home to the bungalow, come into the kitchen, kiss Mum on the cheek, tell her she was beautiful, have his breakfast, have a shower and go to bed before going back to the barracks.

Mum worried about Carlo, and asked Dad to talk to him “like a father”. I recall Dad saying “but Alma he is 25 a grown man this isn’t his coming of age. Carlo probably wrote the book on sex.” Mum insisted so Dad took Carlo into the lounge. Dad told Mum he spoke to Carlo about life, safe sex, unwanted pregnancies, loose women, gold diggers, family trouble and Marine trouble. The basis was girls and sex.

Evidently Carlo listened quietly, smiled and said “I thank you sir, that is real good advice, but haven’t you heard a Marine is a warrior by day, a professional by training, a lover by night and by the grace of God I am a Marine but I thank you sir for your advice and concern.” What could Dad say? Carlo kept to his pattern and Mum still worried.

Jim was an introspective, intelligent boy beyond his 20 years. Jim was a living image of the young Robert Redford with the same mouth and slow smile. Jim was an enigma. He never talked much about his family or his life back home. Jim could talk about anything if encouraged. He could talk about philosophy, mechanics or destiny.

Jim loved Mum and would spend time in the kitchen cutting up vegetables. Jim always told us all “The only thing I will promise a woman if she is with me, she will wake up smiling” and I bet many did.

Billy came from New Jersey. Billy was a delightful boy. He and Jim were mates and they would go to the movies, loved the country, and enjoyed trips to the mountains with us or by train.

Billy was engaged to his childhood sweetheart. Their wedding, her bridal gown, the wedding rings the honeymoon, reception, all arranged but the First Division was shipped out a week before it could take place. Billy would tell us with tears in his eyes “I have promised that we will marry a week after I am discharged.” They kept everything planned. Billy never got home, he was killed at Pelelui.

We heard later that Jim carried him to the wounded area but Billy had already gone. Retrieving wounded comrades from the field of fire is a Marine Corps tradition more sacred than life.

Dear Max, a boy from a broken home sent to live with his elderly grandmother when he was 12 years of age. His grandmother died when he was 15 years old. Max was alone with no family anywhere after his grandmother died. The school social worker heard his story and took him under her motherly wings and spoke to the school committee who kept him at school until he graduated with his High School Diploma.

Max was street smart and book smart and an avid reader. He was polite, friendly and a very nice human being.

He had worked after school in a hardware store and lived behind the shop and had done so since he was 15 years old.

After his graduation and the week he turned 18 years he joined the First Marine Division. He said “it was the only time in his life he belonged to anyone or anything important”. Max was so proud to be a Marine. Of all the boys his shoes were the shiniest, his clothes the best pressed, they were all, always neat and clean but Max was a degree ahead. Max loved the brotherhood of Marines above anything else and wanted everyone to know it.

One night coming home from the movies Max heard a small whimper from the corner of a shop front and stopped to investigate. He saw a small kitten. He brought it home to the bungalow where Robert and Tyrone were playing cards. They gave it milk and the kitten curled up on Max’s bed and slept.

In the morning they came to the kitchen and saw Mum. Dad was at the office. Mum said “What have you got under your jumper Max?” They all said “a cat, a kitten”. “Can we keep it please?” Mum said she looked at three tough Marines with wide eyes soon to go off to battles again, and said “is it a boy or a girl?” “A boy” they said in unison. “Well” said Mum “if he is going live here he will have to go to the vet or he will be out all night like Carlo looking for girls”. Mum and Max took him to the vet and so Bud became a much loved very spoiled member of the house.

Bud adored the Marines and when they went back to barracks to duty he would sit by the front gate waiting for them. He was known by all the neighbors and the passersby who would call out “Bud, not home yet mate”. Bud lived with us until 1957. He lived for another 14 years but was never quite the same after the boys left. Bud had the same close bonds of fidelity with the boys as they had for each other.

In early July 1943 the boys were taken off the building site and all returned to Balcombe Barracks. They would have weekend leave, but not together.

When Dad said goodbye to them all and thanked them he said he felt like crying. Dad told them as the Major said “you are an elite group”.

In the next few days Dad couldn’t find their tools. Eventually he found out that when the Marines had finished that final day they had thrown their picks, shovels, hammers and all their tools into the wet cement. There were about 35 to 45 Marines working there on shifts at that time. Dad’s only concern was that if in the future the hospital was demolished they would find the hospital was reinforced with picks, shovels and hammers.

The Marines knew there was something big ahead of them, more brutal, more bloody conflicts, their leave was considerably restricted and rarely together though there was than 15,000 Marines at Balcombe.

Serious training now as the First Marine Division was a land and sea amphibious unit. They practiced dawn landings from the H.M.A.S Manoora off the cliffs at Mt Martha near the Balcombe Barracks.

Dad rang his friend the Major and asked one favour. The favour was given but for just this once.

Four weeks before they left Melbourne on 7 August, 1943 they all came to the house and we all sat down to a wonderful meal together. Carlo said “alla famiglia”. Carlo called it “The Last Supper” but none of us laughed. Max said “Well mates if I charge follow me, if I retreat shoot me, if I am killed avenge me.”

We didn’t say goodbye just “we will see you all again” not believing it. Dear Mum had a code “never let anyone leave your side without feeling happier” but we all broke Mum’s code on July 6, 1943.

Robert, Tyrone, Seth and Billy were killed at either Guadalcanal or Pelelui. So many broken dreams. Whoever wrote “freedom is free”?

Jim and Carlo were honorably discharged. I heard Max stayed on with his band of brothers as an enlisted Marine.

War ended in 1945. As someone said “it’s the land of the free because of the brave”.

One of Dad’s brothers was killed in Europe. Another was a prisoner of war in Germany and another brother a highly decorated officer was home from Japan. My cousin returned from Japan as did my brother who then went back to Japan with the Occupation Force.

Life went on with only Bud left in the bungalow.

Letters with the remaining boys were sporadic then eventually ceased.

“Alla Famiglia”  (“The Family”)

We heard that Max was in Korea although we never heard any more about Carlo.

Then in early March 1946 Mum answered the front door and there smiling and standing tall was Jim Murlie Clifford from Deer Park, Washington. Youth hadn’t lasted in his face but maturity beyond his years was there and unwavering pride.

Some people live a lifetime wondering if they have amounted to anything, but Jim didn’t have that problem Mum said “the war is over Jim, you got home safely”. Mum said he replied “Mom I got malaria, dengue fever, battle fatigue, heart ache, but I never got killed” that’s all he said. For those that understand no explanation is necessary and for those who don’t understand no explanation is possible.

I remember Jim saying in 1946 that he could sum up everything that he had learned in three words “life goes on”.

Jim moved into the bungalow with Bud who was delighted to see him. Jim worked with Dad for a week or two then moved on. The Marines had taught them all how to kill but not how to deal with the killing. I think that was why Jim was a roamer and a wanderer. He was struggling with his demons.

Jim never stayed long anywhere and he really never ever left the Marines. Jim fought for peace but never found it. He missed the brotherhood, a friendship beyond friendship. Jim was so proud of the Marine tradition and of the First Division particularly. Hard to believe but it is the truth.

We heard that from 1946 – 1952 Jim employed a few tradesmen, designed and built 3 houses and built a beautiful 3 roomed log cabin in the mountains. We heard it was the talk of the area. I believe Jim moved on bought and sold real estate and cars, got married, got divorced, moved on, we heard he was living in the Pilbara, the iron ore fields in Western Australia but moved on again. We heard in 1958 he was with a woman down south but had moved on. We never heard anything more after that.

We put notices in the paper but received no response. We all hoped and prayed Jim had gone back to the United States, joined the Marines (which he had never really left), got married again, had children and settled down.

Dad’s brother a LT Colonel served in Japan and Korea and knew only too well the trauma and emotional causalities among the returned servicemen. They were hurting and emotionally damaged with recurring thoughts of the horror and atrocities of war. I recall Dad’s brother saying “A wanderer is not necessarily lost he is looking for a place of no remembrance which poor soul he cannot ever find in this life.” I remember him saying “There is no greater fortitude than courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Servicemen know all about that and the post traumatic stress”.

So that is the story of our Marine family in 1943 and of the happy times we all had. They were family to us like they were our own sons and brothers. For that short time a state of happiness existed between us all.

In conclusion, I want to share something amusing and truthful with you. Father Kevin Keaney, First Marine Division Chaplain wrote “You cannot exaggerate about the First Marine Division, they are convinced to the point of arrogance that they are the most ferocious warriors on earth and the amusing thing about them is that they are”.

God bless all Marines past and present so many of you have served your time in hell. If we ever get to heaven I know we will see you guarding Heaven’s Gates. Semper fidelis “always faithful”.

Alma de Santis nèe Resuggan
Justice of the Peace and Civil Marriage Celebrant Australia

My thanks to Marcus, Sharon and Kara for helping me type, proofread and format the story of my Marine family. I embrace you all.

First Marine Division “The Old Breed” – History

First Marine Division Regiments were in existence as early as March 8, 1911 when the first Marine Regiment was formed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The First Marine Division was activated aboard the battleship USS Texas on February 1, 1941. It is the oldest, largest and most decorated in the United States Marine Corp.

Guadalcanal was the first major American Pacific campaign in World War II and the First Marine Division conducted combat operations as a division.

The Division’s actions during this operation won it the first of three Presidential Unit Citations during the war. The battles of its Peleliu and Okinawa culminated in additional citations.

Their shoulder patch was the first patch to be approved in the war and specifically commemorated the divisions sacrifices and victory in the battle of Guadalcanal.

The First Marine Division has served in the Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. They have also provided disaster relief in Somalia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Whilst in Australia during World War II, the First Marine Division adopted the song “Waltzing Matilda” as a favourite and it soon became their official song.

Their motto is “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy”.

Asylum seekers & 60% of Australians

Asylum seeker boatSo 60% of my fellow Australians think that asylum seekers are not genuine – and, wait for it, the government is not treating them harshly enough.


So where are these non-genuine asylum seekers from?


They cannot be from Iraq.
This place is a seething cauldron of violence – Shi’ites versus Sunnis – ceaselessly blowing each other to smithereens because God is on their side.


They cannot be from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is in the midst of an endlessly violent civil war — Taliban versus the rest — and whatever you do, don’t even think about driving a car because roadside bombs are a dime a dozen, and chances are you will be blown to bits.


They cannot be from Iran.
The place is run by religious nutcases and if you show your head or express an opinion you may well be executed. Iran is the world record holder for executions –  more capital punishment even than China.

They cannot be from Sri Lanka.
One lot of Sri Lankans carpet bombed and blew to pieces thousands of innocents so they could kill the soldiers/terrorists/ freedom fighters who took refuge among the innocent people – and by all reports whatever Tamils are left are being horribly mistreated by their former enemies.

So where are these non-genuine asylum seekers from, Mr and Ms sixty percenter ?

Illegals

Maybe you have been influenced by this false word – and you have taken it in. This is the Hitler-Goebbels propaganda ploy right from the history pages of Nazi Germany.

Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison are saying that  people who come to this country asking for asylum are illegals.

Since when has it ever been illegal to come to a border?

Since when has it ever been illegal to come to a border and ask for help?

The real answer is never.

Legally, morally, socially any way you want to think about it – it is not illegal to come from a nut case country – especially a country in which we participated in a war, and thus exacerbated unbelievable misery and conflict.

People who live on this planet are entitled to ask for help from each other and the whole world recognises it, except Australia and, in the past, Nazi Germany.

And 60% of my fellow Australians have accepted this nonsense. Where is your intelligence?

Principles

I am told that Mr Abbott, Mr Pyne, Mr Hockey and Mr Rudd are practising Christians. Well, how about “do unto others as you would have them do to you”.

OR

Love the Lord they God with thy whole heart and thy whole soul and thy neighbour as thyself.

OR

What about the corporal works of mercy? (seven of them) These sum up Christian values of helping others for centuries. Look them up on Google.

Perhaps your are not a Christian or of another religion  but I am willing to bet you believe in fairness.

So a person comes to your border and asks you for help. So what do you do? You lock her up in a place very similar to a jail or concentration camp indefinitely.

She has committed no crime – the place you send her to is malaria infested or savagely hot, confined and uncomfortable. So you give her a choice – go back to the country where you will possibly face persecution, misery or death or keep living here in this disease prone place.

A lot more I could say –
our cruel stupidity and lies have led us to destroy our friendship with our closest neighbour,
the number of asylum seekers is minuscule compared with our total immigration intake,
we welcome people by plane but not by boat (how stupid is that?),
we are one of the most prosperous and affluent nations in the world etc. etc.

We are trying to stop people smugglers are we? Well go after the people smugglers, not their victims.

90%  of those processed in previous years have been found to be genuine refugees – if you are a sixty percenter and you think the government should be “harsher” on those we have locked up or locked away – I ask you to think again – there are better solutions to this problem – the current government is taking you for a sucker. Please don’t fall for it any more.

Demise of GMH in Oz

The Auto Industry – Holden Closing

Holden Monaro
I think the capitalists do not understand the difference between competition and over-competition.
Gideon Haigh, the sports writer , recently wrote a book on the car industry in Australia.
I am pretty sure he said that there are 350 new model cars for sale in Australia today.
It is too many.
It is like marriage celebrants – 2000 would be plenty for Australia – with tons of competition – yet they have appointed 10,500 !! How can one sustain skills with such bitter undercutting competition –
What if you made every car a taxi – increasing competition – disaster!!
No wonder Holden has gone under.
Limited Capitalism works in limited arenas, with strict regulation. Like a game of Rugby League – the competition is fierce – but the regulator (the referee) has to be tough, alert, transparent and just. The competition does not work without the regulator. And it does not work if there are a hundred teams in the competition. For crying out loud we need good government as well.

Gideon Haigh’s Book

http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781743483510/end-road-penguin-specials

Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Julia Gillard with President Obama
Prime Minister Julia Gillard with President Obama

A Michael Beahan (whom I do not know) wrote a letter to the Melbourne Age (13/11/2013) lamenting the election of Tony Abbott as Australian Prime Minister. Inter alia, he described Abbott’s attacks on then Prime Minister Julia Gillard as ” … the incessant use of acidic vitriol at a level more vicious than ever seen in Parliament.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day 2013

We reflect on the lessons of war and life and go silent at the the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This is the day we listen to one of the greatest and most moving songs ever written – “No Man’s Land” sung by Eric Bogle – young Willie McBride, dead in 1916.

And on the news last night Tony Abbott is boasting of his cruelty to asylum seekers, and announcing, wait for it $400,000 (yes not $400 million !) to assist victims of the worst hurricane in recorded history -and in the same breath, urging the people we have elected to withdraw the most enlightened piece of legislation we have ever passed in the Parliament.

And I just came across the piece I  wrote when I was in America campaigning/ begging George Bush not to start the war in Iraq

Remembrance Day 2004 on the coming war in Iraq. THE VOTE FOR BUSH

War Graves-France

“Dies irae, dies illa

Solvet saeclum in favilla.”

Let me level with you from the start. I am angry at the election of George Bush.

And let me pull rank as well. I am a qualified Christian Theologian with my degree hanging on my wall.

And let me lay my cards on the table. I am deeply agnostic.  I am not certain of the nature of God, or the existence of God in any sense normally understood. That is where I stand on belief.

But people don’t talk about beliefs much these days, they tend to talk about values.

I admit to being a values christian, a cultural Christian if you like. I am comfortable with the Christian thirst for justice, for compassion, for tolerance, for kindness, for peacemaking, for respect for even the least brethren. I was brought up on worker priest Pere Joseph Cardijn’s  Dignity of the Human Person, Pope John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris on Human Rights. I was highly motivated by the Christopher movement’s “Better to light one candle than curse the darkness”. I was inspired by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin’s Divine Millieu in which he argues that we must accept evil, whilst never ceasing to fight against it. I love all that stuff. It is part of me.

So I am infuriated at the “Christians” who voted for Bush, at the preachers who preached for Bush.

Research declares that 21% of those who voted for Bush did so on the strength of his stand against abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research – all highly disputed moral positions, which matter little in the context of the continuous killing.

There appeared to be no consciousness at all  that Bush violated the universally agreed tenets of the JUST WAR – expounded by Aquinas, and agreed to by almost everyone. The main Christian tenet here is that war is a LAST RESORT.

As Jimmy Carter pointed out – Bush did not go into war as a last resort. It was almost a first resort.

And he went to war against the wrong enemy!

And with the siege of Fallujah happening as I write this, he will compound his crimes.

And everyone who voted for him will share his sin and his guilt.

There are now

1000 + Americans dead

100,000 Iraqis dead.

This  COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.

101 thousand dead means hundreds of thousands of blind, limbless, disabled, castrated.

This means as well hundreds of thousands of traumatised, psychologically damaged people, including Americans and their families.

WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?

What happened to the parable of the Good Samaritan? Where are the followers of the Jesus who had compassion on the dead, the sick, and the troubled?

What happened to their beautiful New Testament slogan. “As long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you did it to me.”

To paraphrase Shylock:

“Don’t the Iraqi’s have eyes, hands, organs,

dimensions, senses, affections, passions?

Are they not fed with the same food,

hurt with the same weapons?

subject to the same diseases,

healed by the same means,

cooled and warmed by the same winter and summer

as Christians are?

If you prick them do they not bleed?

If you poison them do they not die?

And if you wrong them,

will they not seek revenge?”

(ack.Shakespeare)

In the vote for Bush, in the Karl Rove play on harmful simplicities, the values are all wrong, the priorities inverted, the minds twisted.

Can anyone seriously imagine Jesus, or Paul, or Francis of Assisi, or Martin Luther King , or Mahatma Ghandi, or Nelson Mandela wasting their vote and their preoccupation on gays in the bedroom while people are being killed; children are having their eyes blown out, and their arms blown off?

And where are the Americans who believe in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution – how can they sleep one night when Guantanamo Bay violates everything their country stands for. As Americans, how can they, why did they, vote for Bush?

And Bush’s record of capital punishment in Texas? What does that say about the sanctity of life? You fight about the rights of the seed, at the same time as you chop down the tree?

I look at him and I know he has not suffered pain or death. He does not understand. I do not see him in hospitals visiting the blinded, the armless, the legless, the shattered.

21% of persons declared they voted for Bush, because he is an American and a Christian. Do they mean that a Christian can dismiss all this suffering and define Christianity as the defence of a doubtful theory of the beginning of life, and how some people relate in the bedroom — in a way that harms or threatens no one.

The words of Paul keep ringing in my ears:-

“There is neither Jew nor Greek,

there is neither slave nor free man,

there is neither male nor female;

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3.28

So is there American or Iraqi with God?

Is there Muslim or Christian?

is there Jew or Palestinian?

Is there hetero or homosexual?

– did not the Lord God make them all?

And all this is compounded by the violation of Ancient Mesopotamia, the birthplace of  Western Civilisation. Two American wars have meant the further destruction of the ancient sites of Ur, Uruk, Babylon, Nineveh and the many places of Jewish and Christian and Muslim heritage.

— This crime does not even rate a mention.

I find it hard to believe that people were so dumb as to fall for the shallow Karl Rove slogans so obviously built on fear and tribal prejudice.

Bush’s election means that he is now holding his own poisoned chalice. As he drinks it, he may realise that God is not on his side. He might even share John Kerry’s hope, and wished he would have been on God’s side.

Overpopulation & Kelvin Thomson

I sent this letter to the Moreland news: in reply to the article below

“Thank you for the article on Kelvin Thomson MP and how population is destroying our environment and way of life. Matthew Guy is a young man who has not yet developed the awareness to see the big picture.

 Capitalism and making profits has served us well in certain defined areas of human social intercourse, but it is becoming clear that it is very destructive in others.
It is good that a human being grows until he or she is the right height – but what happens if a person keeps on growing beyond that which his/her environment can handle? The world is a limited space, and we have to limit our devouring of its resources at the city and at the planetary level.
Dally Messenger 0411 717 303″
Kelvin Thomson

Does cooperation equal weakness?

ObamaBk-motherSchoolyard bullies get a shock when the unexpected “weak” person stands up to them in the school yard. President Barack Obama has turned himself inside out for five years wanting to “reach out” to “both sides of the aisle” to do good things for the “American people”. (“American people” is like God -always on the side of the politician who is speaking.)

So the Tea Party Republicans, all of whom have health insurance (natch), really wanted to stop this black man giving away their money to help the sick.

So having listened to him talk about cooperation for five years, they hatched a plan to strike down his Obamacare in return for funding the government. They created their our-side-your-side choice and then called for “cooperation” to “sit down with us and negotiate”.

“Be reasonable Mr President, we will let the government proceed — just cross out spending our money helping sick people who do not deserve it.”

But we, who knew the story from day one,  recognized that this was moment that the weak kid was going to stand up to the bully and give him a bloody nose. The bully did not have the intelligence to understand the unspoken sentence –

“My mother died from cancer because she couldn’t pay the medical bills.”

 

Readings at Weddings

WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
We Australians (where Civil Marriage Celebrants were established in 1973) ReaderBook3.JPGwere reading these selections from children’s books over thirty years ago. I do not know how many times I have read the Velveteen Rabbit, or quotes from the Little Prince, or the Princess Bride. But the Brits think they have discovered something bright and new !
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24379830

Cooper Cronk – worthy Dally M Rugby League champion

CooperCronk-DRMThe countdown took place on Tuesday October 2, 2013 at the Star Event vast big room near Darling Harbour (actually it is the Casino). It was red carpet and all. There were easily a thousand guests.

Towards the end, as actor Russell Crowe opened the envelopes (sort of), it was anyone’s award (points are secretly stacked away during the season). Cooper Cronk – brilliant dedicated player from the Melbourne Storm received 28 points for the season. Three wonderful players tied for second – Jonathan Thurston, Daly Cherry-Evans, and Todd Carney. (The older bloke in the photo is me.)

Overpopulation – we are brainwashed – we just don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong. When a baby is born in my family, or in the family of a friend I love, I share the joy of new life. I was one of those celebrants (led by the late Elizabeth Woodburn) who pioneered Naming Ceremonies for secular people, and made them better and better. We enhanced and defined the role of godparents, and included grandparents in these ceremonies for the first time in human history. (I should mention that anticipated life spans for men have gone from 45 to 84 in the last 100 years.)

And I am not talking against refugees either. I am an agnostic, but a Christian one, and I believe in the corporal works of mercy*. (Didn’t Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, so called Christians, hack that list to pieces in the Australian Parliament.) I believe that people who come to us for help should be helped, just like the Turks and the Jordanians are helping the hundreds of thousands of Syrians as I write. (Looks like Islam is beating Christianity hands down on that one.)

HungryToddlersBut there is no denying that every child born in the world needs the resources of the planet – and like of all of us is contributing to its destruction. When one reads that the average number of children born to African women is 5.4, and that the average woman in Niger has 7 children, and that African young men in the tens of thousands are sailing across the Mediterranean in leaky boats to Spain and Italy in desperation for food and work, one knows there is something badly wrong.

On the local scale, in my city of Melbourne, the developers fund both political parties so that no one dares says a word, even though the roads are congested, public transport is crowded, and the rest of our infrastructure is bursting at the seams.

Sure a developer might open a new estate and pay for the roads and the electricity wires and the sewerage pipes, but for every person on the suburban fringe we need that bit of extra lane on the highways and bridges, that bit of extra sewerage tunnel under the Yarra Yarra River, that bit of additional burner in the electricity generator – to say nothing of how the quality of life is diminished every time our phones drop out, or we go into traffic gridlock, or pay extortionate parking fees in the city or at the airport. The developers and the others do not pay for that, and suffer for that  – we do!

There comes a point when overpopulation destroys the planet, impacts badly on the ordinary taxpayer, and contributes to the general stress and unhappiness of all.

*The Corporal Works of Mercy
To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty.
To clothe the naked.
To visit the prisoner.
To shelter the homeless.
To attend to the sick.
To bury the dead.

Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese?

ShortenAlbaneseThe public appearances of these two, so far as i can judge, have been “managed”. Fear of the media, ever hungry for the headline or the controversy, ensures that the “minders” make sure no one asks the wrong questions.

As someone who has had extraordinary difficulty contacting Bill Shorten, getting past his insensitive human shock absorbers, I want to know the answer to the Hilary Clinton question – (As a Life Member of the Australian Labor Party), “what access do I have?”

In a letter, I reminded Bill Shorten that my grandfather, William Carruthers Davidson, had access to Ben Chifley, then Prime Minster of Australia and his local Member of Parliament, when, one day a month, Chifley made himself available to his constituents. He would advertise in the local Katoomba paper (Blue Mountains of NSW) that he would be at Gearins Hotel for the day. Now them were the days.

PS added on December 5

Date: 5 December 2013 3:50:41 am AEDT

To: noah.carroll@vic.alp.org.au

Cc: george.wright@cbr.alp.org.au

 

 

Dear Noah and George

Would you please convey to the National Executive and anyone else involved that we, as members, are very disheartened by factional deals which leave ordinary members out of the process.

When I was young, groups of members rose up against this type of thing and stood as “independent Labor Candidates” because the power brokers chose mates – the worst candidates.

I object to Feeney parachuting in. I object to the parachute process in Moreland/Coburg. I just want a say, as a Member, that we started to gain heart when we voted on a choice of leader even if, in the end, well organised factionalism won out. But at least Shorten had to work hard for it. (The question still is – was he the best choice? Does he stand out as someone we are proud to have as leader? )

But to be handed a safe seat on a plate – like Hotham ???

A pox on all those who put their own power grabs before the party.

I want a vote please.

Dally Messenger

LIFE MEMBER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Excessive number of Celebrants: to George Brandis – A-G

Civil Marriage Celebrants.

Today I wrote to George Brandis. I told him to wise up.

I told him that 1600 celebrants served the country really well (and they did).

I told him that 2500 should be the absolute max.

I told him he had between 10,000 and 12,000 on his hands.

I told him it was hard to conceive of a more mismanaged government program.

I asked him to please take an interest in his job .