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Parliamentary Theatre

As a young man in the 1970s, I had aspirations to go into politics.  I wanted to do something that might make a difference.  My then wife was supportive but said she wouldn’t vote for me.  She was a committed Labor voter whereas I had Liberal leanings back then.  Many years later, looking back, I was grateful I didn’t pursue a career in politics but today I feel that maybe I should have.  After all, where else could I stand up in front of TV cameras and cast aspersions under Parliamentary privilege on some poor person on the other side of the chamber, stretching the truth every which way, and get away with it?  It is pure theatre.  And I would have a lot more money in my retirement super fund than I do today.

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Federal Responsibility

It seems to me that the focus in Canberra by both of the major parties is winning the next election.  Meanwhile a Victorian man completes his hotel quarantine in South Australia and returns to Victoria only to find he has caught the virus whilst in quarantine.  Once again we are now tackling yet another outbreak as a result of hotel quarantine.  It might be working 99 percent of the time according to some politicians but we want it to work 100 percent of the time.

The politicians in Canberra need to heed former Queensland Premier Bob Borbidge’s belief when asked what makes a successful politician – his response was “making society a better place”, one of the reasons he was a firm supporter alongside John Howard of gun control.

So stop worrying about the next election – make society a better place by taking full responsibility for your obligations to all of us.  Build at least one other quarantine centre and get on top of the vaccination rollout.  Neither party will get my vote otherwise.

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Olympic Greed

IOC official John Coates says that the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead. “The desire of the athletes is as high as ever. We want to give athletes the opportunity to compete.” I’m sure it is but how will the athletes feel should anyone die from Covid as a result of the Games going ahead?

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China

China is increasingly being seen as a threat to Australia and it will remain a threat while we continue to antagonise them for the sake of political posturing.  While we continue to  misunderstand China, we will not resolve this situation.  We need to understand its history.  Around about 1900, the Chinese peasants rose up against foreign intervention in China and were eventually supported by the government.  This led to the Boxer Rebellion but a joint attack by several countries including Britain, America and Germany defeated the rebellion.  As a result China was banned from importing weapons for two years and paid a massive amount of money in reparation costs, among many other impositions.  Many Chinese cities in Northern China were occupied for more than a year by the foreign forces and many atrocities took place.

China was humiliated and it has never forgotten that and seeks retribution – rightly or wrongly.

In my humble opinion, if there is a war in the near future between China and America, China will win hands down.  The Americans haven’t been very good at winning wars lately.  China is pressing ahead in Hong Kong and the day will come when they will take over Taiwan which they believe is their right.  There is nothing Australia can do to prevent this.  But it is time that we stopped thinking we are a Western country.  Australia might have been ‘invaded’ by the British but our First Nations people are the Aborigines and we are in the Asian sphere – not the West and it is time we behaved as such.  We need to enter into serious diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese government and keep the Cyclopic politicians out of the discussions.  We also need diplomats who speak Chinese fluently.  Truth be known, China needs us for many reasons but not on our aggressive terms.

[Note:  I base this letter on my experience as a Chinese translator in the 1960s when I was stationed in Hong Kong and on revived memories I received by reading Stan Grant’s brilliant book “With the Falling of the Dusk”. ]

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Democracy is dead

The American GOP Representative Elise Stefanik was so sceptical of Donald Trump’s inflammatory style and hard-right stance when he won the Presidential nomination in 2016, that she refused, even when pressed, to say his name.  But all of a sudden she is pro Trump and has been voted in to replace Liz Cheney who had the courage to say that she would vote to impeach Donald Trump.  Clearly the Grand Old Party Reps would rather back Donald Trump in the next election than possibly lose their own jobs. Democracy is dead in America.  Putin and Xi Jinping must have huge smiles on their faces.

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Going in the wrong direction

Our efforts at solving the major issues of today such as violence against women, aged care support to mention just two are doomed to fail.  I believe that the people tasked with running government are too inexperienced. Having just obtained my OBE, looking back over the last 50 years, I am truly amazed at how much I have learned and how much I have changed in my life attitudes.  In fact I am frightened at some of the things I believed in and did as a young man.  The Americans voted in Joe Biden to replace the dangerous Donald Trump.  They chose a man who is 78 years old, a former Vice-President, a career public servant, a man sadly familiar with tragedy.  He is the right man to lead America out of the mess they are in.  We need elder statesmen of his calibre to be running this country, not people with their personal vested interests who still have soap behind their ears.

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How much are footballers really worth?

Wayne Carey thinks that the Carlton captain Patrick Cripps is worth at least $1million a year (The Age Sport 14/5).  No footballer, no matter how good he is, is worth that amount of money to train in the sport they love in order to play 22 games of football plus some finals games if they are lucky.  To believe that is an insult to all of our nurses, paramedics, aged care workers, teachers etc.

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Still too much testosterone methinks

One would have thought that with all the discussion about the treatment towards women in Canberra that the testosterone levels would be slowly reducing, but no, quite the opposite it seems.  The Prime Minister seems even more determined to upset China.  David versus Goliath.  Peter Dutton has come out of hibernation telling James Merlino that we don’t need a quarantine centre because the hotel quarantine system is working perfectly well.  If that is the case, then why aren’t we bringing stranded Australian citizens home and into hotel quarantine?   But no, and if they do try and get home, they face possible jail time and/or a hefty fine.  I hope none of our cricketers in India don’t catch Covid – that would really put the cat among the pigeons.  And now Major-General Adam Findlay is warning us of a likely China conflict. Of course he is – he’s a Major-General in the army and he didn’t join the army to play tiddlywinks.  War is their game and they aren’t the ones getting killed in action or coming home with PTSD.