Australia kills the Winter Olympic Games.

The Winter Olympic Games will cease after 2022 as Australia’s rising carbon emissions rid the world of snow.

Australia has the world’s largest per-capita carbon emissions and is contributing massively to the climate crisis which is melting the snow and ice on which winter sports take place.

Australia’s carbon emissions come primarily from the fossil fuel industry and agriculture, and from the current Liberal National Party (LNP) which is a strong supporter of the fossil fuel industry and traditional agricultural methods.

The nation’s leaders showed little regard for the consequences of their policies, however.

“Why should Australia care about the Winter Olympics, we contribute to such a small percentage of the overall medal tally that it doesn’t matter to us if the games go ahead,” stated a spokesperson for the government of Australia.

“We’ve only ever won five gold medals, and one of those because all of the other skaters fell over.”

The current prime minister, Scott Morrison, famously took a lump of coal into parliament question time in support of coal mining, and Morrison won the 2019 federal election in which the climate crisis was a central issue. More than 50% of the voting public re-elected the party which supports the fossil fuel industry.

Australia’s overall carbon emissions have actually risen in recent years, and extreme weather events such as drought and bush fires are becoming worse. Furthermore, the government recently established the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board to chart Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and instead of appointing members from a cross-section of the community, filled it largely with representatives from the fossil fuel industry who are campaigning to have taxpayers fund more projects in the coal and gas sector.

In recent years, the LNP has responded to criticism of its carbon footprint by arguing that Australia contributes so little to the total world emissions that taking action to reduce emissions is pointless.

The NSW state government, also LNP, recently approved the opening of new coal mines under Sydney’s water catchment, hoping to not only destroy the Winter Olympics, but to also destroy the water which Sydneysiders drink.

Winter sports athletes and those who work in the sector have been denied the right to speak about the issue, but the government assured them their futures are secure despite killing off their livelihood.

“They can always get a job down a mine.”

Image: Alex Lange

Playing Tip With a Buffalo.

Have you ever played tip with a buffalo? The kids in Yirrkala do it all the time. For fun.

A group of children from as young as four years old will wander through the bush and search for one of the many Asian water buffalos which roam free in Arnhem Land. Not the domesticated buffalo which plough the rice paddies in Asia, but the feral, wild, big and dangerous kind of buffalo which infest the tropical regions of northern Australia.

Once the children have located a buffalo, they line it up. One or more of the children will pick up one of the bauxite stones which cover the earth in north-east Arnhem Land and will place this stone into their slingshot.

The children will hold their collective breath in anticipation and get ready. The slingshot draws back to its full length. The fingers pinching the slingshot ease then…SNAP! The slingshot is released and the stone goes flying towards the unsuspecting buffalo which is happily munching on the grass. In the split second that it takes the the stone to travel from the slingshot to the buffalo, the children stand on full alert, their senses heightened and their eyes widened to capture the charge of the massive buffalo.

WHACK!

The stone strikes the hind of the buffalo and the huge angry creature charges into the bush in the direction of its attackers. The wild, muscle bound animal powers head long into the throng of children who scamper in all directions with the buffalo at their heels. In bare feet, the skip across stones and thorns and twigs in a race for their life, knowing full well that the beast behind them can squash the bonnet of a SUV upon impact and could trample them to death. They charge through spindly trees and over fallen logs while screeching and laughing and hooting in fear and glee. Slightly older children grab slightly younger children to save them from impending doom and the bush comes alive with the streak of junior humanity.

The buffalo snorts and grunts in disgust at having its lunch disturbed and sets its horns on its target – any of the children who broke it from its reverie. The buffalo has only revenge on its mind and dedicates every ounce of energy to that task.

Somehow, all of the children find safe ground as the powerful buffalo tires and ceases its pursuit. The children re-gather in a gaggle of laughter and wicked smiles, their little hearts pounding with adrenaline and gratitude. They escaped this time. They rest and recover.

Until next time.

Image: http://www.biggameaustralia.com

Honey Season is Over.

“Honey season is over”

“When did that happen?”

“About two hours ago apparently”

Well that changes everything.

We were supposed to take the entire school out to a homeland to collect Guku, or wild honey. We now have to find another way to entertain the students for an afternoon. What will we do?

And before we decide what to do, how did honey season come to such an abrupt halt?

Honey season occurs at a particular time of the year in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and is a highly anticipated season among the traditional owners of these lands, the Yolgnu. The children venture out into various parts of their family’s homelands to collect wild honey from certain trees, under the direction of the women. The women knew when to go, and where to find the honey, and the children have always looked forward to sampling the rich honey to complement what was traditionally a sugar-free diet.

The kids consume a lot more sugar these days, but they still love the sweet taste of wild honey.

Hours of planning had gone into the activity, which would include all of the students at the school, the staff, the elders and a group of visiting indigenous athletes in a group called ARM, or Athletes as Role Models. The ARM program was created to encourage indigenous youth to participate in healthy and constructive activities and to eat healthy food. Thus, a walk through the bush, in the sunshine, to eat wild honey and connect with their traditional culture was an ideal afternoon activity.

The ARM participants were lucky. Many of them were city folk and they just happened to be in the community of Yirrkala during Guku season – or so they thought.

The Guku site was beyond walking distance from the school, so transport had to be organised. Being a government school, first aid and other equipment had to be taken in order to keep the children safe, and to satisfy the bureaucrats and protect the teachers from a lawsuit. Not that the Yolngu families would ever undertake that kind of proceedings against the school. It always struck me as humorously ironic that we teachers would take so many precautions for the safety of the students during outdoor activities, while the Yolgnu children, especially the younger ones, would wander through the bush in bare feet, no shirt and no hat, and run freely across the bauxite gravel that covers the earth in this part of Australia. They would also run bare foot across coral in the rock pools, and even swim in crocodile infested waters at the beach, as they have done for thousands of years. They very, very rarely got hurt.

Shovels, axes and other digging equipment were organised for extracting the honey, and receptacles were taken to carry the Guku, as well as some bread and other food items with which to enjoy the honey. I was looking forward to it, as I have a dangerously sweet tooth, and the rest of the school was excited about the activity.

The elders had been consulted as to the best day to conduct the activity, the best site to visit and the cultural significance of the process. Permission had been sought from the traditional owners of that particular piece of land. Many different language groups live together in Yirrkala, but each piece of land belongs to a particular language group. Organising the activity was therefore quite an effort.

The teachers had built up the activity quite a lot, and everyone was excited. Then, two hours before we were set to depart came the bad news:

Honey Season is Over

In the space of two hours, honey season had been declared finished, and we couldn’t do the activity.

Why?

I have no idea.

I had no time to ponder, though, because we needed to find another way to entertain the students for the rest of the afternoon. Thus, while various teachers were dispatched to deliver the bad news, a few of us tried to devise another activity. The sea breeze had picked up, so the best suggestion was to fly kites.

But we have no kites.

That’s no problem, in fact it could be the solution. We can make kites. The students can sit down with each other, the teachers and the athletes, and can build their own kite before decorating it and flying it. Great idea, we thought.

“Do you know how to make a kite?” we asked each other.

“Not really.”

It was then that Ray Minniecon, one of the group leaders from ARM, walked in. Ray is a well-known Aboriginal community leader and activist who was accompanying the athletes on their tour of various remote communities.

“So, you need to know how to make a kite,” he said.

“Yes,” we answered with more than a hint of desperation. Time was running out.

“I know a way”

And with this, us two whitefellas from the suburbs waited with baited breath.

Were we about to share some ancient Aboriginal wisdom about traditional kite making? Were we about to be privy to a little-known Aboriginal technique in the creation of airborne art? We expected to be taught about a tradition that that had been passed on from generation to generation through Aboriginal oral history. Did Aboriginal people make kites before colonisation, were they used for hunting, communication, recreation or for spiritual reasons, or were kites a preferred method for communicating with the gods?

Were kites used in every part of the country, or maybe only in Ray’s ancestral lands, we wondered. Perhaps they were only suitable in certain climates, certain geographical regions, just like the boomerang. The commonly-known boomerang, the one made in China and sold at souvenir shops all over Australia, was not used in Arnhem Land for example. A boomerang like that would never come back. In Arnhem Land, the trees would get in the way.

And what were we to do with his knowledge once it was shared with us? Would we be free to disseminate it? Could we divulge this secret years later during a blog post? The responsibility felt immense, were we ready for this?

Thus, we listened intently for Ray to share this ancient wisdom. And Ray, being a wise old man, sensed our mood and leaned in slightly, pausing for dramatic effect, before telling us:

“Just google it.”

And he cracked a cheeky smile.

We did google kite making and found a suitable method that kids, teachers and athletes could understand. The students gathered various materials from the school and the surrounding bush land and put together their best imitation of a kite. They were creative and colourful and some of them actually flew. Even the ones that crashed spectacularly provided much amusement, and the kids were outdoors and smiling.

I never did taste wild honey.

Will I ever get the chance, who knows?

Who knows when we will be able to travel freely to north-east Arnhem Land again? Who knows if the Yolgnu can maintain their traditional cultural practices and protect their lands from mining companies, developers and an Australian government which seems determined to destroy this country’s natural environment?

Will the rest of Australia do what is needed to help protect the world’s oldest surviving culture and enable everyone to enjoy the taste of Guku?

Image: Matthew T Rader

Teachers face this every day.

element5-digital-OyCl7Y4y0Bk-unsplash

Australians reacted in horror to social media footage showing citizens refusing to obey coronavirus social distancing rules. The perpetrators demonstrated rudeness, arrogance, insolence and self-entitlement, and blatantly disobeyed authorities and expert advice which placed themselves and others at risk. Australian school teachers face this kind of behaviour every day.

I don’t consent to being punished

One woman actually said this to police in one of the viral videos. Australians mocked the woman for holding such a ridiculous view of law and order and the new health measures. This attitude is not entirely new however. Australian students, and many of their parents, have created an atmosphere in schools in which students feel they have the right to ignore teachers or punishments if they do not consent, or if the punishment doesn’t suit them.

“I told my daughter not to do the detention.”

A parent said this to me. No hint of irony or sarcasm. Her year 7 daughter had been repeatedly warned about her misbehaviour and defiance which was preventing her and her classmates from learning. The student refused to do numerous detentions, and she told me she would not do any in the future. She accompanied her response with a smirk that would have made Scott Morrison proud.

How can she get away with this?

Because her mother told her not to do the detention.

Why?

Because the daughter didn’t want to do the punishment. They kind of missed the point – no one is supposed to want or like a punishment.

Teachers have been stripped of their ability to manage student behaviour in schools. Parents and students now dictate behaviours to teachers, and schools largely acquiesce, partly because this is the atmosphere that Australia as a nation has created in our school system, and partly because this was a fee-paying school in which parents believe they have unlimited power. As student behaviour worsens, teachers’ power decreases.

Another student once refused to do a lunchtime detention, but only because two other teachers had already given him detention for the same lunch break. I suggested he hire a secretary.

Casual defiance

During the early days of the pandemic in Australia, many citizens blatantly ignored or disobeyed police. When the first lockdown was implemented, police patrolled public spaces to enforce social distancing rules. News reports carried endless stories of everyday Aussies blatantly ignoring police, refusing to obey directives, answering back to police and arguing with the officers. Yes, arguing with police. The citizens were in the wrong, the police were enforcing rules designed to protect the general public, but people flat out refused to obey.

The citizens weren’t committing a crime as such. Their actions were minor compared to serious crimes, but they were disobeying police. Teachers are subjected to this behaviour every day. Students are asked or told to correct minor behaviours and so often they refuse, comply reluctantly or slowly, answer back, argue or reply with a smart, arrogant comment.

The casual defiance greets teachers every single day. It is enormously frustrating and draining for teachers to have to put up with this unnecessary behaviour every few minutes of every day.

By the way, is anyone else concerned that everyday Aussies are blatantly disobeying police and getting away with it?

Whingers

Australians love the term Whingeing Pom, which implies that English people complain about everything. Australians now whinge as much as any pasty Pom.

Australians are complaining that they are forced to wear a mask or walk the same streets in their own neighbourhood every day in order to curb the spread of the disease. Their ancestors lived through world wars and the depression, but they whinge about having to wear a mask outside. Australia’s penchant for whingeing is no more evident than in a school classroom.

Whinge your way to better grades.

Students no longer accept poor grades. If they don’t get the marks they want, many students complain. Unfortunately, even the most incoherent, meaningless, poorly written work must be re-assessed. Teachers are not allowed to tell students that their work simply isn’t good enough, even if it is clearly below the accepted minimum standard for that stage of education. Given the state of literacy in this country, some work should be sent straight to the recycling bin

Students have realised that they can whinge and complain their way to better marks. Students and/or parents complain, behind the teacher’s back, to the head of department or to the principal. The teacher is hauled before the head of department or principal, as if they are in trouble. The essay/ piece of work is given to another teacher to assess and in most cases the mark will be improved. It might only go from a C to a C plus, and no further, but the student wins. The teacher’s professional integrity is shattered, and their relationship with their colleague who re-marked the work could be damaged. Teachers will often give a higher mark to a re-assessed paper because for them it is not worth the hassle of maintaining the original mark.

This attitude is frighteningly obvious in the allocation of special consideration for students sitting the Higher School Certificate (HSC), the final exams in NSW. Hundreds of students, especially from private schools, are being granted extra time, breaks or other allowances to make their exams easier, and thus increase their grades. Many students should not qualify. They have exploited a loophole in the system and are benefiting.

The Boy in the Blazer

A classic example of a student who had whinged his way to special consideration in the HSC was the boy in the blazer. He attended a private school in Sydney, and his blazer was full of ‘letters’. Letters on a blazer are the private school way of honouring school achievement, and consist of an embroidered list on the student’s blazer. This boy had a long list of ‘letters’ on his blazer as a ‘prefect’ and ‘captain’ and member of various sporting teams. His demeanour suggested no learning difficulty. Yet, this ‘super’ student still needed extra time and other allowances to complete his exams.

Don’t give an E

I was told never to give a E. Using the scale of A,B,C,D,E, with E being the lowest, I was told to never give an E, because it was too much hassle for me as the teacher. If I had given E, I would spend hours of my free time justifying the grade, and the grade would probably be changed anyway.

Australians are whinging their way to better marks. They’re also whinging their way to a future of illiteracy.

Shameless and fearless

The people disobeying police also appear to have no shame or fear. They broadcast their disobedience and law breaking, and usually their un-masked face, on their own social media channels. They are either as stupid as a first-grade footballer, or absolutely convinced that they will not be punished.

They are not afraid of consequences.

In one school at which I taught, graffiti was a huge problem. You must be thinking, wouldn’t it be great if you could find out who was doing the graffiti, so you could punish the accordingly and stop it from happening. Wouldn’t it be great if you could put on your detective hat and determine through stealth who had applied the abstract tag or piece to the wall. It would be like uncovering the identity of Banksy. Except these students weren’t Banksy – they would graffiti their own initials. Everyone knew exactly who was guilty. The students had no fear or shame, however, because they were never punished.

A violation of human rights

The Bunnings video.

Another video showed a woman berating lowly-paid staff at hardware store Bunnings. Bunnings recently introduced a rule requiring every customer in Victoria to wear a face mask. No mask – no entry. The woman claimed that it was her right not to wear a mask, and that forcing her to wear a mask, or barring her entry, was a violation of her human rights.

Why is it that so many Australian coronavirus controversies have occurred at a Bunnings?

People the world over are complaining that the COVID-19 rules violate their human rights. The cult of the individual, to which these people subscribe, and for which we can thank the USA, has convinced these people that their individual rights are more important than the wellbeing of society, and that any action which prevents them from doing what they want to do is a violation of their human rights.

The dirty kitchen

I once taught at a boarding school. My role included supervising secondary boys in their dorm rooms, including the small kitchen they could use for snacks and supper. Teenage boys have a famously large appetite so bed-time snacks were common. The boys knew they had to clean up after themselves.

One night, one boy had finished his snack and was walking out of the kitchen without cleaning up his mess. I told him to clean it up. He refused. I insisted he clean it up, because that was the rule. I also insisted because the student was new, and was attempting to get away with disobeying every teacher in the school. He had so far ticked many of the teachers off his list, including the headmaster, which was rather disconcerting. I refused to give in to this deliberate act of disobedience, and a tense situation ensued. I did not raise my voice. I did not touch or approach the student. I simply used the broken record technique which has served teachers well throughout the ages. The headmaster heard what was happening and tried to help. Ironically, the boy ignored the headmaster and eventually listened to me and cleaned up his mess, before threatening all manner of harm on me.

I was later warned about my actions by the headmaster. He told me, with a straight face, that when I insisted on the student cleaning up his mess, I was violating the boy’s human rights. I’ll remember that next time someone asks me to clean the kitchen.

In that case, if you’ve ever collected garbage, worked as a cleaner or changed a baby’s nappy, are you a victim of human rights abuse?

Time wasting

Don’t forget, this behaviour is an enormous time waster.

Every COVID-19 related warning, arrest, fine or action has to be filed by police. This involves paperwork and man hours to process. Every time a person refuses to wear a mask or social distance and accept the subsequent punishment, they are wasting police time. One example circulating the media involved a lawyer for the anti-masker attending the police station in a balaclava to issue some form of legal proceedings against police on behalf of his client. His client was clearly in the wrong and clearly has no case, but the system is required to process the legal proceedings.

Teachers are also subject to enormous time wasting by students and parents who refuse to accept the justifiable actions of the teachers or the school. Every student or parental complaint has to be documented. Every act of student misbehaviour has to be documented. Modern day teachers spend so much of their time logging student misbehaviour in order to satisfy bureaucratic requirements and to cover their own backs that they are left with little to time to plan, prepare and teach.

Powerless

A lot of the responses to the videos on social media asked;

Why do police put up with this? 

A lot of people also don’t understand why teachers put up with bad behaviour every single day.

They have no choice.

The authority of teachers is being stripped away year by year, and the list of prohibited punishments grows longer every year. Students know this, and canny teenagers realise they are unlikely to face consequences for most forms of misbehaviour. Teachers are now paranoid that a punishment will result in an accusation of mistreatment from the student or parent. Worse still, that complaint is likely to be listened to. A complaint, no matter how unjustified, can these days cost a teacher their job or career.

Are police similarly constrained? I’ve never worked in the police or law enforcement so I can’t say, but are they under similar instructions to tread carefully with offenders? The social media videos show a lot of police copping a lot of abuse from people in the wrong. We certainly have to congratulate the police, and teachers, for keeping their cool in these situations.

Self-entitlement

Did you see the video of the young woman driving through a Melbourne border checkpoint? It made the news and did the rounds on social media – mainly because the woman in question posted it on her own facebook account.

The woman refused to cooperate with police then drove through the checkpoint, before police could decide whether she had a right to pass through the checkpoint. Her manner was rude, insolent and arrogant towards police, and she refused to do anything police asked her to do. She then drove off laughing and celebrating her ‘victory’. She revealed her identity on social media, and had to know that police would take down her number plate.

This is typical of the sense of self-entitlement that many young Australians feel, and typical of the behaviour directed at teachers on a daily basis.

Authorities claimed the woman “…deliberately attempted to cause issue for police…”. Countless school students deliberately cause issues for teachers, for the fun of it. This destroys the learning of other students, and in the case of subjects like manual arts, technology or sport, puts everyone in physical danger.

“Teenagers are disobedient, it’s your job to discipline them”

I was told this by the mother of a girl whose blatant disobedience was ruining my year 10 English class. She forgot that first and foremost its the job of parents to discipline their children, something she had failed to do for the last 16 years.

Just because teachers DO put up with this behaviour, doesn’t mean they SHOULD. In countries with high levels of academic achievement, teachers are regarded as scholars, and spend much less time dealing with behavioural issues. Meanwhile, Australia continues to fall behind.

Just like the anti-maskers or COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, the actions of disobedience ruin things for everyone else. Anti-maskers put other people at risk of contracting a deadly disease. Disobedient students prevent other students from learning.

Are you saying school is all about discipline and punishment?

No.

School is for learning. Without behaviour management, or discipline, teaching and learning cannot occur. Literacy and numeracy rates continue to fall across the nation, and poor student behaviour is one of the main reasons. Not the only reason, but a significant reason. There are many different ways to ensure students behave, and corporal punishment is not one of them, despite what some people might say.

Are you saying shop staff, police and medical staff should put up with this behaviour?

Absolutely not. Low-paid  shop workers, like those at Bunnings, as well as police, ambulance drivers and other front line workers, should never have to put up with this behaviour. It is disgraceful and it highlights many of the underlying faults in Australian society.

Why is it such a big deal?

It is harming students, teachers and the nation.

Disobedient, rude, selfish, arrogant and entitled students are on the rise, and they are ruining the education of the good students. The endless defiance of students is driving good people away from the teaching profession, and the behaviour of students on a daily basis is lowering the general standard of education in the country. An uneducated population will not withstand competition from emerging and advanced nations, and Australia is dumbing down more and more every year.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a politician to thank Australian teachers for their dedication during COVID-19…in the form of a pay rise.

Image: Element5digital

Scott Morrison: The Kardashian of International Politics.

Kardashian

Scott Morrison is the Kardashian of international politics. He is not a leader. He is nothing but marketing.

Re-branding

Scott Morrison is a Liberal National Party re-branding exercise. He is not a genuine leader. Morrison became leader of the Liberal National Party (LNP)  after he challenged the former leader, and former PM, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull was regarded as aloof, wealthy, overly sophisticated and arrogant, especially by the new supporter base of the LNP, tradesmen and construction workers. Insiders also believe that Turnbull was too outspoken in favour of action on climate change and that this did not align with the opinion of the true leaders of the LNP, mining magnates and media moguls. From his inception, Morrison has never been a leader, he himself is a marketing exercise, in the same way that every Kardashian (and partner) is themselves nothing but marketing.

Nickname

Scott Morrison and his PR team refer to the Prime Minister as ScoMo. The carefully-cultivated nickname fits neatly into the Australian tradition of awarding everyone a nickname, and creates an image of Morrison as an approachable and friendly person to whom everyone can relate. So successful has this deliberate marketing strategy been that even the watered-down mainstream Australian media commonly refer to the PM as ScoMo.

Beer and football

Extending the image of a regular Aussie bloke is Morrison’s appearance at rugby league games. Enjoying a beer at many of the home games of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks enables Morrison to pretend that he cares about the people of his electorate in the Sutherland Shire. Ironically, Morrison did not grow up in The Shire, but in another region of Sydney, and has only lived in The Shire since winning pre-selection for the safe Liberal seat after a dirty tricks campaign against his main opponent. Shire residents, however, don’t seem to know or care about his pre-selection tactics – they have fallen for the PR spin.

scomocraiggreenhill

Slogans

Morrison does not formulate policies – he formulates slogans. A study of his announcements and press releases reveals an archive of empty slogans designed to impress unthinking Australians and to provide headlines and media snippets aimed at people with short attention spans.

How good is…

“How good is…” has become a universal catch phrase for Morrison, ever since he opened his federal election victory speech with “How good is Australia” The slogan is not actually a question, it is posed as an affirmative statement.

Interestingly, the phrase How good/ How good is seems to have crept into everyday lexicon, even in TV advertisements or football commentary. Again, Morrison has mastered the art of marketing to his demographic, uneducated and unthinking Australians.

Meet and beat

This is Australia’s environmental policy. Apparently, the minister who carried a lump of coal into Parliament question time before he became PM believes Australia will meet and beat its Paris climate targets with a simple slogan, instead of constructive action.

Quiet Australians

Quiet Australians are what Morrison would like all Australians to be. They don’t debate policies, don’t call him and his party to account, and they accept his actions and his marketing spin. This is another slogan Morrison coined in order to subdue everyday Australians.

There’s not much difference between a Quiet Australian and a Belieber.

Survive and thrive, leaners and lifters and back in black are more empty slogans which found their way into news articles throughout the country during Morrison’s reign, especially in the Murdoch press.

Have a go to get a go

What does this mean?

What does it matter?

Morrison’s slogans don’t need to mean anything or provide any substance. They are short, easily-digested phrases which impress small-minded people – and they are working.

Patriotism

Team Australia is another of Morrison’s slogans and it promoted overt patriotism and described the members of his political party, who all started wearing Australian flag lapels. Patriotism, like Morrison’s leadership, is an idea, a notion without substance. Morrison’s ascendancy has also coincided with a rise in Australian patriotism which intelligent people can see is exclusive and not inclusive of anyone who is not Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual and born in Australia. Ironically, the most salient recent manifestation of this exclusive racism was the Cronulla riot, a massive brawl between Caucasian patriots and Australians of middle-eastern descent. The riots took place on Cronulla beach, in the heart of Morrison’s electorate. Appeals to patriotism replace sensible policy in Morrison’s government.

Exclusive patriotism and a desire to appeal to bigoted Australians created another famous slogan of the LNP. Stop the Boats encapsulated Australia’s immigration policies, which drew widespread international condemnation for contravening basic human rights laws.

The backlash

Some Australians see through the spin. They know Morrison is the Kardashian of international politics. Unfortunately, they are a minority, or at least their measured voices are drowned out by the ignorant loudmouths who dominate social discourse in Australia.

Scotty from Marketing is a nickname which gained traction in response to Morrison’s reliance upon PR.

The Liar from The Shire emerged in response to his dishonesty and that of his party, incorporating the name of his electorate which is known as ‘The Shire’

SlowMo is sometimes used to counteract the name ScoMo.

Popularity

Yes, Scott Morrison is popular, just as the Kardashians are popular. People in Australia and the rest of the world are so gullible, impressionable and stupid that they fall for the marketing of the Kardashians, and they watch their TV shows, buy their branded products and in some cases genuinely admire the famous family. Conversely, many Australians have fallen for Scotty’s marketing spin and believe that Morrison is actually an approachable, down to earth, friendly everyday person. During the recent COVID-19 crisis, his public approval rating has actually risen. The marketing is working.

Dumb and dumber

Did Morrison contribute to the dumbing down of Australia society, or did his rise simply coincide with this era in Australian history? Did the Kardashians contribute to the dumbing down of society, or simply profit from it?

Ultimately, the only real difference between Scott Morrison and Kim Kardashian is that Morrison did not rise to fame courtesy of a sex tape – and thank goodness for that.

Image – Morrison – Craig Greenhill

Image – Kim Kardashian – Instagram/Kanye West

Who’s Protecting Our National Parks?

20200426_082017

Australia’s National Parks are under threat, and the culprits are not those you might imagine.

I enjoyed a morning walk on the Grand Canyon trail near Blackheath, NSW, recently and finished the hike at Evans Lookout. As I gazed upon the spectacular view and weaved my way between tourists taking photos, I noticed something very out of place. A woman was walking her pet dog at the lookout point.

Evans Lookout lies within the boundary of the Blue Mountains National Park and is therefore strictly off limits to pet dogs. Lookout points, picnic areas, trails and any other spaces within National Parks are all off limits to pet dogs, because pet dogs damage the ecology and threaten the wildlife that is protected within these parks. Despite this, the woman was happily walking the dog, on a lead, as she admired the view from the lookout.

20200720_085348

I then looked for a ranger or a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)  employee, someone who would remind the woman to take her dog out of the park. I didn’t see one. Despite being a busy, sunny Sunday just weeks after Sydney HAD lifted its coronavirus restrictions, there was not a single park ranger patrolling the lookout or the trails.

I wanted to know why.

I therefore emailed NPWS to ask how a woman could freely walk her dog inside park boundaries.

20200720_083706

I was informed, via an official response from the NPWS service, that:

“We are aware that some people use various tracks in the National park to walk their animals.”

On the one hand, it was encouraging to learn that the regulating authority knows what is happening within its parks, but it was also distressing to realise that they were not able to prevent it from happening. Then I was told why:

“We do not have enough resources to patrol and regulate all these areas.”

“If you report it at the time, it would likely take our Area Ranger at least 30 minutes but likely 2 – 3 hours to investigate, depending on where he needs to travel from.”

In government speak, ‘resources’ means money. Thus, there is not enough money to protect the plants and animals in our National Parks, even though National Parks were established to protect plants and animals.

I was then advised to record a rego number, car make and model and the time and date of the incident and make a formal statement which could then be followed up by the relevant authorities.

Should I?

The email from NPWS advised me that:

“Community pressure directly at the time can be an effective deterrent. You can advise them that the scent of a dog drives native animals away…”

Should I go to the trouble of reporting the person? Would anything actually happen? Would the person actually be punished? If I chose to report the person and make a statement, would I need to provide photographic or irrefutable evidence that the person took a pet dog into a National Park? If I took a photo of a person without their permission then passed on that photo to the authorities would I be charged with illegally disseminating an image? If that were the case, I would be punished far more severely than the person who was actually in the wrong.

Should I?

Would it make any difference? Dog owners throughout Australia flaunt rules on a daily basis to ensure that their dogs are happy and content. They take their dogs into off limit areas and are never punished.

Should I?

Should I ruin my Sunday bush walk, through a beautiful patch of bushland to engage in an argument with a dog owner. The owner has no compulsion to listen to me. I have no authority, I’m not a ranger, I’m just another visitor. Plus, do I want to invite this stress into my morning hike? Anyone who takes their pet dog into a National Park is selfish, arrogant, ignorant or illiterate, or all of the above. Do I want to engage in a futile conversation with someone like this when I am undertaking an activity for fun and relaxation?

Why does it matter if a person takes a dog into a National Park?

Pet dogs harm native wildlife.

“Some ground birds and mammals will leave their young (children) to die at just the smell of the dog. Lots of people just do not know.”

A more detailed explanation is provided on the parks website and even on tourism and council websites. It’s true that some people don’t know why they can’t take their pet dogs into National Parks. It’s clear that many just don’t care. For that reason, relying on the good sense of dog owners will not protect native wildlife. National Parks need extra resources, as is evidenced by the response to my email.

When will National Parks be adequately funded?

20200720_090238

 

Apartheid in Australia.

20190424_135414

Apartheid operates in Australia. It operates to this day.

Apartheid exists in remote Aboriginal communities in the form of liquor permits for residents.

Basically, if you’re white you get one, if you’re black you don’t.

A liquor permit is a piece of paper which allows the holder to consume alcohol inside the physical boundaries of the community. Permits are awarded by the local council, which is administered by the Aboriginal community in conjunction with the government. To my knowledge, the system still operates in 2018.

There are a few conditions governing the liquor permits. Holders may only consume alcohol in their own home, and only in the presence of other people who hold a liquor permit. If only one person at a social gathering does not have a liquor permit, no one can consume alcohol. For this reason, obtaining a liquor permit was one of the first things that I did once I arrived in the community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land, in 2004; not because I was desperate for a beer, but because the other white fellas in the community, most of whom were my teaching colleagues at the local school, insisted I get my permit as soon as possible.

“If you don’t get one, none of us can drink when you’re with us,” they informed me.

I was promptly issued with a permit after visiting the office. It didn’t seem very difficult for me to get one.

I couldn’t help thinking, why was it so easy for me to get a permit? There was not enough time for the issuer to run a background check on me. Is it because I was a Teacher? Does that automatically make me a respectable citizen? Yes, Teachers are respectable citizens, but I certainly wouldn’t have been the first Teacher with a drinking problem, especially in a remote community – it’s a tough job.

The only conclusion I could make is that it was because I’m white.

In my mind, that equates to apartheid.

So, should Aboriginal people be given liquor permits as well?

No.

Alcohol is destroying Aboriginal communities and a lot of the good work that is being done, including at the schools, is rendered redundant through the destructive power of alcohol. To solve the massive problems in Aboriginal communities, it’s imperative get rid of the alcohol – as a starting point.

Of course, the permit system didn’t stop Aboriginal people from abusing alcohol. Groups of men would gather at the town limit and drink to excess, in plain sight of anyone driving in or out of the community. They would then stroll back into the community and cause problems. There were also many venues in the nearby mining town of Nhulunbuy which served alcohol.

The white fellas would also abuse alcohol, so it was not as if all of them were worthy of the permit. There also seemed to be a reluctance among some white fellas to leave behind some of the comforts of their urban upbringing, such as Friday night drinks, when they chose to move to the remote community, despite the fact that they saw the damage alcohol was doing on a daily basis.

Apartheid is not new to Australia. The liquor permit is one of the last vestiges of this discriminatory colonial practice.

Pubs throughout the country once posted the ubiquitous signs, ‘No blacks, no dogs”. Many cinemas reserved the best seats for whites and the worst seats for Aboriginal people, and of course Australian history since 1788 is full of occurrences such as The Stolen Generation, blackbirding and genocide which saw Aboriginal people stolen, enslaved or murdered.

Apartheid occurred, it just wasn’t given a name. As a white South-African once told me, one mistake the authorities in South Africa made was assigning the word Apartheid to their system of racial discrimination. This opened up the Afrikaans to criticism from authorities throughout the world, many of whom, including the British, imposed exactly the same discriminatory practices on indigenous populations, but escaped the criticism because they didn’t label their practices.

Why is this not commonly known?

Because, like so many incidents and stories involving Aboriginal people since 1788, they are simply ignored or covered up because many Australians are too uncomfortable, too patriotic or too ignorant to talk about them.

The pill testing paradox.

freestocks-org-126848-unsplash

Pill testing is a paradox.

Demanding that authorities provide free pill testing for people who choose to take illicit drugs at music festivals is an inherent contradiction, because the act of taking the drugs is a form of rebellion against authority. Thus, pill poppers are demanding that authorities test their pills so that they can rebel against authority.

Pill taking, and the consumption of illicit drugs, is an act of rebellion. Drug users may argue that they are not deliberately engaged in an act of rebellion, that they’re just trying to have some fun during a concert, but the fact remains that taking drugs which are illegal according to existing Australian laws is an act of rebellion.

Do we have to test pills everywhere?

If pill testing is introduced as standard procedure at large-scale music festivals across New South Wales and the rest of Australia, does it have to be introduced elsewhere? Will pill testing be introduced at nightclubs, at private birthday parties, at beach parties? Illicit pills are consumed in many places, not just at music festivals, so if music festivals are required to provide pill testing, will pill testing have to be available to drug users in other places?

Who pays for pill testing?

If widespread pill testing is introduced at music festivals (and in other places), does the tax payer pay for the provision of medical staff, social workers and other resources? Should taxpayers be forced to foot the bill for an activity which is illegal, and entered into knowingly and voluntarily by the pill taker? If taxpayers are paying for the testing, then we are essentially paying for people to absolve themselves of any responsibility to ensure their own welfare and to take risks without accepting the consequences.

Festival organisers should pay for pill testing.

Let’s face it, people know they can take drugs at a music festival. We know most people go for the entertainment, the socialising, the food, the drink and the general excitement of being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people enjoying a great day or night out. However, it is also common knowledge that festivals are a great place to acquire, and enjoy, illicit drugs. Festival organisers and promoters profit financially from this accepted truth, and should thus accept the financial burden of providing pill testing if it becomes standard practice.

Unfortunately, organisers are likely to pass on the increased costs by raising ticket prices, and the festival-goers who don’t take drugs will suffer because of other people who require pill testing.

Does it set a precedent?

If a person takes a pill to a testing centre and the pill is found to contain a chemical composition which is dangerous, is the pill then confiscated from the person and disposed of? One imagines the festival-goer is likely to be quite upset at losing their pill, not just because it was purchased to enhance their experience, but also because they had just handed over cash for the pill, as well as paying for the festival ticket and food, and transport…The risk of losing their pill might also deter some people from using the service.

If the person is allowed to keep the pill, even after it is deemed to be harmful, are there legal ramifications if that person takes the pill and suffers adverse side effects? Australia is becoming an increasingly litigious society and it would not be surprising if a drug user attempted to sue the government and/or festival organisers.

Another precedent could also be set.

Pill testing, indirectly, allows people to ‘get away with’ taking drugs. Festival goers will not be punished for possessing illegal substances at festivals, which are always attended by police. If the same person, or another person, is in possession of illicit drugs in another location, such as a nightclub, and is punished at law for possessing illegal drugs, can that person sight the absence of punishment for possession of drugs at the festival as a legal precedent in an attempt to ‘get away with’ breaking the law at a different location?

But I didn’t know drugs were dangerous…

Advocates for pill testing argue that as well as harm minimisation, pill testing centres can also serve as a vehicle for educating people about the dangers of recreational drugs. People know the dangers of drugs. Any Australian under the age of 35 (the vast majority of festival-goers) has already been educated about the dangers of drugs. Most attended high school in Australia within the last 15 years and were provided with drug and alcohol education through subjects such as Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PD/H/PE) or through special drug and alcohol seminars.

Weren’t they listening?

Death is no deterrent

Pill testing is also designed to deter some people from taking harmful drugs. Armed with sufficient information, advocates argue, festival-goers will avoid taking drugs that are identified as dangerous. How can pill testing deter people if death is not deterring them? The deaths of numerous people at festivals during the 2018-19 Australian summer is what ignited the debate over pill testing, yet even these deaths did not serve as a deterrent to pill-takers. So, if death did not stop people from taking pills, how will pill testing?

The real problem with pill testing

The pill testing debate can also be examined more broadly in order to expose another major flaw in Australian society, the expectation that society/the government will protect people from harming themselves.

People popping pills at festivals do so knowingly and voluntarily and thus engage in a deliberate act of risk taking, while at the same time expecting society and the government to remove any potential consequences of their actions.

It is symptomatic of a country which has created an expectation that it is the responsibility of the government to protect all of its citizens from harm, even if that harm was the direct consequence of the deliberate actions of the individual.

Furthermore, not only do many Australians expect to be protected from danger, they expect to be rescued or bailed out when their own actions place them in a complicated or adverse situation.

If you choose to rebel against authority by taking a pill at a music festival, don’t expect the same authority to bail you out.

Image: http://www.freestock.org

Naive wildlife and mature cats.

20180518_114330

Is Australia’s wildlife naive?

Is this why so many of them are falling victim to cats, both feral and domestic?

A recent post on an Australian house minding website would suggest this is true.

The post from a home owner in NSW describes the house as overlooking a nature reserve which includes “…naive wildlife…”. Residing in the house are two mature cats. Was this just a simple typo, or are Australia’s animals ‘naive’ as well as ‘native’. Maybe the ‘naive’ animals are the only ones left in the reserve because the cats have killed all of the ‘native’ animals.

Perhaps this is why cats are, still, the single most destructive introduced species in Australia. Have our native animals not learned to flee at the sight of a furry little feline? Do we need to train our native wildlife to identify, and escape from, cats. Well, clearly this is impossible, and clearly we can’t train cats not to kill wildlife, because cats are acting upon the natural instincts of any feline species – they are great hunters.

Therefore, if we can’t train the cats, we need to train the humans. We need to convince, or force, cat owners to keep the cats indoors, or in a cat run / fenced off area, all the time. Yes, all the time, because if cats are allowed to roam free, they will kill. Owners of cute, furry, loving, kind, sweet, deadly cats must take responsibility for the actions of their pets. If owners can’t prevent their cats from killing wildlife, they should not be allowed to own a cat.

If we think that we can keep, and breed, cats as well as protecting our native wildlife, then it is humans who are naive.

 

Why do A-League players commit less scandals than players from the NRL, AFL and Super Rugby?

A-LEAGUE-HEADER-2

How many A-League footballers have been involved in off-field scandals in recent years?

How many proponents of The World Game have been caught taking or dealing illicit drugs, beating their wives, fornicating with dogs, urinating in public, gambling to excess, abusing alcohol, drink-driving or creating a social media scandal?

Can you think of any? Can you think of one?

If you can’t think of many, or even one, that’s not a surprise, because ‘footballers’ who play in the A-League have been involved in only a few scandals in recent years, compared to players from the NRL, AFL and Super Rugby, whose names constantly appear in the media for controversial incidents.

Where is the evidence?

The evidence can be found in The Frownlow Medal, a satirical award given to the footballer, from across Australia’s four major codes, who commits the worst off-field scandal in a 12-month period. The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours players who have committed scandals in previous years.

Previous winners of The Frownlow Medal are Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Corey Norman and Tim Simona, who are (or were) NRL players, and Karmichael Hunt, who played NRL and AFL before finding a home at the Queensland Reds Super Rugby team. Famous Hall of Fame inductees include AFL bad boy Ben Cousins and NRL player Julian O’Neill.

The total number of nominees per code since the awards’ inception in 2015 are listed below:

A-League – 5

NRL – 138

AFL – 57

Super Rugby – 20

#figures correct at time of publication.

Why?

What makes the A-League different?

The game?

The A-League is the only non-contact sport. Super Rugby and AFL require their players to put their body on the line, while Rugby League is simply brutal.

The History?

The A-League is the new, mainstream incarnation of a sport built by migrants and it is far more racially diverse than any of the other codes. The new mainstream appeal of the sport sees it enjoy consistent support throughout the country.

Rugby League emerged from working-class, inner-city Sydney before spreading throughout NSW and Queensland, while Rugby Union players traditionally came from exclusive private schools in those two states.

AFL, meanwhile, attracts players and supporters from across the social divide throughout Victoria and many other states.

Alcohol?

Alcohol is a common thread in nominations for players from all codes. So do NRL and AFL players drink more? Are they less capable of holding their drink?

What about Super Rugby players? They certainly enjoy a drink, but they are still less represented in the list of nominees. Can the private school network of Australian Rugby Union simply afford more expensive lawyers to keep their players’ names out of the papers?

Race?

A- League players and fans are truly drawn from every race in Australia. The three other codes are still predominantly Caucasian / Anglo-Saxon, although League and Union have seen a huge increase in players of Pacific Island descent. AFL, in particular, has made a deliberate attempt to identify talent among many ethnic groups, particularly the tall, athletic Sudanese men who seem ideally suited to the game. That said, none of the three codes enjoy anywhere near the same multicultural mix as the A-League.

Fame?

How many A-League players, apart from the marketing masterstroke Usain Bolt, are household names throughout Australia? In fact, how many Socceroos, apart from the recently retired Tim Cahill, are household names outside football circles?

Compare this to the unabashed adoration of AFL players in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria, as well as in SA, WA, Tasmania and the NT. Compare it also to the hero status of League and Union players in NSW and Queensland.

So, can we identify any of the factors listed above as the reason for the lack of off-field scandals among A-League players? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of them.

Who are the five A-League players to be nominated?

To find out, head to http://www.instagram.com/thefrownlowmedal/ or thefrownlowmedal.wordpress.com. Here you can find a full list of the A-League players and every other player who has so far been nominated for Australia’s most prestigious inter-code award.

Image: http://www.a-league.com.au