Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 22, 2011

Monday, 21st February 2011 – Quiet day to myself

I have lots of sick leave – decided I’d earned a day of it, today. Would never have said that in years gone past, but needed a quiet peaceful day, rest the legs, catch up on a bit of reading and writing, etc. Not much happening for me at the office at present anyway. A guy could get used to this.

A couple of unpleasant news items – teenage boy taken by a crocodile somewhere off the northwest coast, what a terrifying ordeal, while you remained alive anyway!  He is not expected to be found alive.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the 23rd Australian soldier to die in that ‘conflict’ occurred in the past 24 hours or so. Both houses of parliament today acknowledged formally the death of Sapper Jamie Ronald Larcombe, who was shot dead by insurgents while on patrol in the Mirabad Valley on Saturday night. He was the 23rd Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2001.Despite the death, Australia’s political leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan. I watched the parliamentary broadcast today, just before Question time, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to the 21-year-old, but then added that  she is determined to see the mission through.  When you look at an associated report today, telling us that yet another 50 + people  have been killed by a suicide bomb blast in north Afghanistan, you sometimes have to wonder just what is being achieved over there. No matter how many ‘allied’ forces are in the country, the suicide killings of innocent civilians continues on an almost daily basis. These little ‘tributes’ by the PM and the Defence Minister are beginning to become quite regular, as the casualties quickly mount of.

Interesting to note the contrast in Gillard’s sombre [appropriately] approach to her tribute speeches in those cases, and her attitude a few minutes later as Question Time in the House of Representatives gets into swing. She is the prolific abuser of parliamentary privilege [which she learnt quite well from Kevin Rudd who was equally disrespectful of parliamentary rules during question time. Her abuse of the tactic of drifting away from the question that has been asked of her into personal and other attacks against the Opposition is an insult, and a disgrace, to the Federal Parliament, and in my view the people of Australia. She is persistently asked by the Speaker to direct her answer to the question that has been asked of her, and she persistently ignores the Speaker’s request and continues down the path she is going. I mean why not, the Speaker is highly unlikely to order the Prime Minister to leave the Chamber – she knows that, as did Kevin Rudd. I feel for Mr Jenkins sometimes –  one can see him attempting to be fair to both sides of the House, but the senior government ministers, under the guidance of the PM no doubt take advantage of the fact that the Speaker is one of them. Perhaps it is time that the Speaker in Parliament in Parliament was appointed from outside of the leading parties  – but them, if that happened, we would probably see a rapid turnover of speakers every time the government of the day didn’t like the way their members were being treated!!  But I’m sorry, but Julia Gillard’s attitude really disgusts me sometimes. I am happy to listen to her when she is providing a reasoned and calm approach to a debate, but at those other times, I want to throw a brick at the TV screen!!!

I was interested to read recently that the old Bulla Uniting Church [Bulla is a small township halfway between Sunbury and Melbourne Airport] which has been associated with the Sunbury Uniting Church, has been sold.  I imagine that the building has a heritage category attached to it, and so cannot be destroyed. Perhaps that was an unlikely outcome anyway –  the buyers [for the sum of $1.3 million for the church and adjacent property] were the Syrian Orthodox Church, well it was bought on behalf of that Church group by a resident of Bulla, and the Priest associated with the Syrian Church also lives in Bulla. I’m not sure what has been happening in the past year or so, but certainly over recent years, a couple of the retired Ministers who were members of the Sunbury Church have been conducting services at Bulla, but the small congregation of mainly elderly people has apparently dwindled to such a degree that the Uniting Church of Australia deemed it of more value to sell the property. News about alternative arrangements for what is left of the existing congregation was expected at a later date.

Monday night TV [late] means Q & A, and tonight’s guest panel includes some prominent personalities – Anna Blyth [Queensland Premier],  Tim Flannery [Newly appointed Australian Climate Commissioner], Barnaby Joyce [The Shadow Minister for Regional Affairs and Water, and member of the National Party], Gina Castelain [ Indigenous businesswoman], and Ian Nelson [Queensland State Director of One Nation].  What a lineup of differing characters and political ideals!! With the help of the ABC website, I do like to include a weekly pen picture of the program’s guests. Here they are.

    Q and A live from Brisbane 

Anna Bligh

Many of the images of January’s tragic floods in Queensland will never be forgotten, especially the scenes of devastation, heartbreak and courage as Queenslanders struggled to deal with the disaster and help those who needed it. What will also stay in the minds of many will be the role played by the State’s Premier, Anna Bligh, whose inspiring and compassionate leadership in a time of extreme crisis won national praise.
In March 2009 Anna made history, becoming the first woman to lead a party to victory in a State election in Australia. Having been premier since taking over from Peter Beattie in 2007, she was determined not to follow the example of female premiers in other States who were appointed to the post mid-term but lost subsequent elections. Anna was born in Warwick, Queensland, in 1960 and grew up mainly on the Gold Coast. She graduated with an Arts degree from the University of Queensland in 1980 and worked in the community sector and the public service before entering Parliament as the Labor member for South Brisbane in 1995. She joined the shadow ministry the following year and became a minister in 2001. She held several senior portfolios, including education, finance, treasury and State development, before becoming Premier. Since 2005 she had been Deputy Premier. Anna and her husband Greg Withers, a senior public servant, have lived in South Brisbane for more than 20 years. They have two sons, Joe and Oliver, born in 1987 and 1993.

Tim Flannery

This month Tim Flannery was named by the Government as its Climate Change Commissioner, a job which entails explaining the science of climate change and communicating the need for action to prevent it. The appointment was a natural fit for Tim, who is one of Australia’s best-known scientists, biggest-selling authors and most prominent climate change activists. Always controversial in his determination to make people think about different ways of seeing the world and solving problems, he has managed to upset advocates on both sides of the climate change divide.  Named Australian of the Year in 2007, Tim has packed a great deal into his varied life. A mammalogist and palaeontologist, his pioneering work in both fields gave him a towering reputation in the scientific community. In his early research on Australian mammals he described 29 new kangaroo species, while during the 1980s his study of dinosaur fossils extended Australia’s mammal fossil record back 80 million years. His research and conservation work on mammals in Melanesia during the 1990s prompted Sir David Attenborough to describe him as being “in the league of the all-time great explorers”.
As an environmental activist Flannery has been particularly active on the questions of carbon emissions and population levels. He has advocated a population of just 6 million for Australia and forecasts, in the medium term, the end of conventional coal-fired electricity generation. But he has aggravated many environmentalists by advocating the use of nuclear energy for some countries and saying whaling of non-threatened species could be justified.
A prolific author, Tim is best-known for The Future Eaters (An Ecological History of the Australian Lands and People) (1994) and The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change (2006). His latest book is Here on Earth: An Argument For Hope.

Barnaby Joyce

Since taking his place in the Senate in 2005 Barnaby Joyce has became one of the best-known members of the Parliament, mainly because of his uncompromising attitudes and his willingness to challenge all comers – including his own side.
Barnaby was born near Tamworth, NSW, in 1967, and claims to have expressed an interest in entering politics from his primary school days. He graduated in commerce from the University of New England and worked for a chartered accountancy firm and a bank before setting up his own accountancy business in an old shop front in the town of St George in western Queensland. Before the practice became established he faced serious financial difficulties – an experience common to many in small business, and one which left an indelible mark on Barnaby.
Barnaby was one of the last candidates to win a quota in the 2004 election, and his win gave the Howard government outright control of the Senate for the first time. But Barnaby refused to be taken for granted as simply another backbencher who would support the coalition no matter what. He crossed the floor on several key votes and clashed with colleagues on such matters as single desk wheat marketing, amendments to the Trade Practices Act and voluntary student unionism. Several clashes with Liberals Wilson Tuckey and Bill Heffernan took place in public, even on camera, and have become the stuff of Canberra legend.
When Tony Abbott became Opposition Leader he appointed Barnaby to the key role of finance spokesman. But Barnaby’s no-holds-barred style proved unsuitable for a frontline economic portfolio, and he was subsequently switched to the shadow portfolio of regional development, infrastructure and water. Barnaby is also the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.  He and his wife Natalie live in St George with their four daughters.

Gina Castelain

Born in Aurukun and educated there, in Cairns and Melbourne, Gina Castelain is a 27 year old Wik and Wik Waya woman whose traditional country includes the Aurukun wetlands (which are the subject of the Archer Basin Wild River Declaration) and the rich bauxite deposits north of Aurukun. Her mother, Norma Chevathun, was a prominent indigenous leader in the 1980s and 90s and one of the original Wik native title claimants.  Gina’s parents instilled in her the importance of both a strong sense of her identity as an Aboriginal person and the need to succeed in mainstream society. As a result, Gina moves easily between two very different worlds.
Gina is managing director of Wik Projects Ltd, an organisation set up by Wik and Wik Waya traditional owners to articulate their aspirations, represent their interests and pursue sustainable economic development opportunities on their country – opportunities which provide better socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and reflect cultural and environmental values important to traditional owners. Wik Projects currently supports two local indigenous businesses that operate for the benefit of the communities of the western Cape, Aurukun Wetland Charters (an eco-tourism businesses operating on the Aurukun wetlands) and Aurukun Earthmoving (which provides contract earthmoving mainly to Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine and to Queensland’s Main Roads department). Wik Projects is also developing a proposal to harvest timber from the bauxite mining lease areas north of Aurukun – reducing carbon emissions by using a resource which would otherwise be bulldozed and burnt, and enabling traditional owners to be actively engaged in the rehabilitation of their country after mining is finished. Gina believes that everyone should have the opportunity to realise their aspirations and that this principle should apply as much to Aboriginal people as anyone else. For decades, the lives of Aboriginal people in Aurukun were controlled first by missionaries and then by government. For Gina, building an economic base will only happen if Aboriginal people and their organisations are empowered and supported, at the local level, to build it.

Ian Nelson

Ian Nelson is the Queensland State Director of One Nation. He has been an active member of the One Nation state and National Executive for many years.   In recent weeks he has been an outspoken critic of the Government’s flood levy and is calling for cuts to foreign aid spending.
Born in South Australia in 1948, Ian spent much of his teenage years working in the aviation and auto industries. He was also called up for National Service during that period.  After starting his own business he joined the Junior Chamber of Commerce International.  Ian changed careers in 2005, completing studies in teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In 2009, he furthered his qualification at the Vietnam International University in Ho Chi Min city.  When he returned to Australia he sold his business and has
been working for One Nation full-time since.  Ian lives in Brisbane. He is married and has a daughter.

I can’t say the latter gentlemen was very impressive, in fact he was an outright embarrassment, if not to his own group [One Nation], then certainly to the mainstream of the Australian electorate. While Barnaby Joyce confined himself to insulting one of Australia’s brightest scientists [because he didn’t possess precise climatology qualifications], Mr Nelson proceeded through various means to insult the entire Muslim population of Australia, and probably [through sheer ignorance] Christians as well!!  This country can well do without the likes of him and what his party has always represented. I would write on Facebook later that  ‘he was an embarrassment, not just to the group he supposedly represents but to anyone proud enough to call themselves Australian. We can sit back and be shocked at what is going on in places like Libya at the moment, but that kind of situation is created by people of that calibre taking charge of a people and imposing ‘their’ will and bigoted and prejudiced opinions on everyone else  – if this country was to allow ignorant people like that man to have a major influence on our society, we could end up in a not so peaceful environment, down the track. Perhaps an exaggeration, but I guess demonstrates my opinion of One Nation and the like – sadly, I think they reflect similar ignorant views of a portion of the population, and wildfires of that nature tend to spread before we realise what is happening’ and be shocked at what is going on in places like Libya at the moment, but that kind of situation is created by people of that calibre taking charge of a people and imposing ‘their’ will and bigoted prejudiced opinions on everyone else

Meanwhile, most of the questions from the audience tonight centred around issues such as the refugee boat people [do they get special privileges over the rest of us]; the cost of bringing the Christmas Island refugees to the Sydney funerals of the those refugees who died in last year’s Christmas Island boating tragedy;  the acceptance of Muslims into the Australian society [Ian Nelson’s responses here make the rest of us look bad – bigoted, stupid, ignorant answers];  Premier Blyth’s performance during the Queensland floods [ the only national leader currently looking good]; on climate change –  Barnaby Joyce and Tim Flannery not a good mix;  and One Nation ‘comment’ that they were 10 years ahead of their time, with policies they have had in place since 1998.

Even later on the TV tonight, which I couldn’t really watch [need my beauty sleep these days],  the Australian cricketers were going to perform – their first hit out in the 2011 World Cricket Cup:

Match 4:  Australia 6-262 defeated   Zimbabwe 171 [at  Ahmedabad (India), Monday 21 February]






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