Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 11, 2012

Tuesday, 8th May 2012 – V.E. Day, and Federal Budget deliberations in Canberra

May 8th is also significant as V-E Day [or Victory in Europe Day] –    It commemorates 8 May 1945 (in Commonwealth countries; 7 May 1945), the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not until 9 May 1945. On 30 April Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin, and so the surrender of Germany was authorized by his replacement, President of Germany Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg government. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France, and ratified on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.

From Wikipedia, we read that  “upon the defeat of Nazi Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world. From Moscow to New York, people cheered. In the United Kingdom, more than one million people celebrated in the streets to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the Palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander anonymously among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.

In the United States, President Harry Truman, who turned 61 that day, dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April.  Flags remained at half-mast for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period.  Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt’s memory and keeping the flags at half-staff that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”  Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and especially in New York City’s Times Square.  Victory celebrations in Canada were marred by the Halifax Riot.”   Meanwhile in Australia, there were two significant dates – the 8th May as above, and a few months later, the 15 August when the Japanese Government accepted the terms of surrender imposed by the Allied nations. On that date, Prime Minister Ben Chifley announced in the following terms:

Fellow citizens, the war is over.  The Japanese Government has accepted the terms of surrender imposed by the Allied Nations and hostilities will now cease. The reply by the Japanese Government to the note sent by Britain, the United States, the USSR and China, has been received and accepted by the Allied Nations.  At this moment let us offer thanks to God.  Let us remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may look forward to a peace which they have won for us.

And indeed, both aspects of World War II were at great cost to human life, both military and civilian, and while conflicts have continued around the world since those days, we can never forget the huge sacrifice that wars create in our world.

Meanwhile, today is Federal Budget Day, with the Treasurer’s address televised at 7.30 tonight. A good friend wondered why I bother to watch such things!! Just natural curiosity and interest I guess, and of course my already much demonstrated interest in our politics!

Anyway, this was the Liberals view on the Budget before it came out this evening [the usual negativity, I’m afraid to say, this time even before the event!!] –  ‘Tonight, Wayne Swan will deliver a Budget that no Australian should believe or have any confidence in.  Wayne Swan has delivered the 4 biggest Budget deficits in Australian history, despite previously promising surpluses. His Budget delivered just 12 months ago has deteriorated by a further $20 billion! His Budget tonight won’t provide a strategic vision for Australia. It won’t be about protecting jobs or keeping a lid on the cost of living for Australian families. The Budget, with its tricky accounting, will be all about the survival of Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan. One guarantee is that the Budget will threaten our economy and jobs with Labor’s Carbon Tax. Labor is in chaos, racked with deep internal divisions and on-going leadership instability. It’s a government that relies on Craig Thomson for its survival. Labor is too distracted by its own scandals to govern our country in a responsible way”

So what did happen!! First day of Parliament back from recess – not much in the way of Question Time, as it was dominated by condolence motions, and then an attempt to suspend standing orders by the Coalition of the Speaker situation!!.  I think all that did, as usual, was to waste valuable parliamentary time [they really don’t sit very often] that could be utilised for more useful debates and legislation!! As tonight’s media would highlight, ‘Gillard government stews as it defeats moves in Parliament to ditch embattled Speaker, Peter Slipper, and suspended MP, Craig Thomson over union rorts’

However before having a ‘brief’ look at the budget summary, I read an interesting proposition from the GETUP Organisation, along the lines of –  ‘Imagine an Australia where refugees who seek our help, and have committed no crime, are not locked up for months or years. Imagine that instead, we give them a warm bed in a real home while they get started in a new life.   Now we can make that a reality, by opening our hearts and homes for asylum seekers as they find their feet. We’re working with Australian Homestay Network through a new, Government-approved program to provide temporary accommodation to approved asylum seekers.  Most asylum seekers are eligible for bridging visas once the Government has assessed their bona fides though health, identity and security checks. Bridging visas mean refugees can live and work in the community, but previously, they could only do so if they had family or friends in Australia. Otherwise, they must stay in detention facilities.  Sadly, many who are fleeing persecution don’t already have contacts in Australia: that’s where we come in. Could you spare a room or granny flat for six weeks through this professionally managed program?  Find out more and register your interest here:   Here’s how it works.

  1. After you register your interest, we’ll pass on your details to the Australian Homestay Network, who are working closely with the Australian Red Cross on this programme.


  1. AHN will      ask you to complete an online      training and assessment. After this, you will be required to get a      police check. This is standard practice in the homestay industry, and      involves requesting a letter from the police to vouch that you don’t have      a criminal background that would make you unsuitable.


  1. Then, if      there is an opportunity to host an asylum seeker in your area (they’re      interested in all areas, including rural and regional), a professional from AHN will get in touch to      organise a time to come and visit you at your home, walk you through the      program and answer your questions.


  1. Following      that, if your application is successful, you’ll be asked if you can accept an eligible applicant      into your home for six weeks.


  1. Before the      end of your six weeks as a host, your guest will be given options for      further long-term or short-term accommodation.


You needn’t be home throughout the week to be a host, nor provide anything more than a safe place to stay. You’ll receive training and support throughout the six week period, and a weekly stipend to help with costs; though, should you prefer, you can choose to donate this stipend to refugee support programs which we’ll let you know about.  Meanwhile, your guest asylum seeker will have dedicated experts to help with the practicalities of finding a job and a place of their own, and getting a translator, if needed, for important things like medical appointments. You’ll also have access to a 24 hour support hotline during the six weeks. Asylum seekers who are highly vulnerable don’t come through this program, but have other alternatives. This is an approach that has worked for many years in other countries, and has been run by the Homestay Network for many years here in Australia with foreign students. It’s far cheaper to the public purse than immigration detention. Most importantly, every asylum seeker we host won’t be inside a detention centre, where we know they could experience months or years of anguish. Instead, we’re holding out a hand of friendship and really showing the way for a new, compassionate Australian response to asylum seekers’.

Certainly an interesting proposition, and given a few different circumstances, and perhaps at a younger age, something I would like to have become involved in. There are many similar programs [generally unacknowledged] where this kind of support is provided for refugees. Interesting that in the midst of it’s problems in that area, the Government is grabbing at such an opportunity to become involved in an outwardly more humane approach to the whole refugee question!

As for the Federal Budget –  some of the headlines tomorrow would include – Tricks, cuts and handouts; Labor dumps lower company tax to woo battlers; Swan’s surplus shuffle; Super takes a hit; Families share the boom; lower rates punt; and so on!!!  I might look at Laura Tingle’s introductory paragraphs to her summary of the Budget in tomorrow’s contribution, but in the meantime, ‘my’ organisation – ‘National Seniors’ were quickly of the view that the  ‘Federal Budget has overlooked older Australians with the cost-of-living “benefits of the boom” payments given to families and welfare recipients.  While the Budget included rises in Family Tax Benefits and annual payments to eligible singles and couples on income support, it did not spread the benefits of the mining boom fairly, NSA chief executive Michael O’Neill said.  “A boom dividend would have been welcome relief for over-70s on low fixed incomes who are quietly feeling the strain of rising health and utility prices,” he said.  Another negative was a reduction from 13 to six weeks in the amount of time Age Pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders can spend overseas before losing their $30-a-week Pension and Seniors Supplements. “It’s rather mean-spirited,” O’Neill said. “More than the dent on small incomes, this measure will influence how much time people who’ve spent years in the workforce or raising children can spend on that trip of a lifetime.”’  I don’t think that latter aspect will affect me much, but is a relevant point, though often, I feel that the National Seniors organisation seems to speak more for the wealthier members of it’s realm, rather than the average senior citizen!

The first of a couple of ‘better’ sleeps tonight, after I managed to spend a but more time working on the ‘church accounts’ audit, which I really should have finished by now!!  Very difficult to get enthused about such things these days!


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