Category Archives: Opinion Piece

Flat Earth Politics!

This article has been in the “thought” phase for quite some time now. I originally intended it to be an indictment of the Trump Presidency – and for the insularists who think American politics only affect America, and have nothing to do with us…do some reading, study some history and grow up – but in the face of the current political climate globally, its scope expanded so much that I was  losing track of its reach! On reviewing the current thinking vomited out by so called right-wing conservative extremists, the first thing that flashed through my mind when wanting to write about them was that they had a Flat Earth Mentality…a narrow, self-serving view of the world; a blinkered view in which the wants and needs of those who, thinking they were initiating change, put them in control. I had naively thought the stupidity I was witnessing would diverge into common sense – but that hasn’t been the case! It has only been since the recent French elections, and the rejection of the right wing extremism there that I am starting to hope that change is starting to happen as people begin to realise the dangers inherent in current conservative politics. This article is not about a solution, nor is it a definitive  observation of all that is concerning at this time – one would need a novel to cover that! It is purely a personal observation of the dangers of Flat Earth thinking!

Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the “conspiracy” that the Earth is round.
“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers,” says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.

“Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Mr Davis, a 25-year-old computer scientist originally from Canada, first became interested in flat earth theory after “coming across some literature from the Flat Earth Society a few years ago”.

“I came to realise how much we take at face value,” he says. “We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses.”

Flat Earth Societies go back to the Victorian era, and though basically of Christian origin, the fact that there is a recent (tongue-in-cheek?) resurgence amongst those of an Atheist inclination   shows that narrow-minded and non-investigative thinking survives the passage of time.

We have known for centuries that the earth is not flat, that by sailing in a straight line the horizon will never disappear, so you won’t suddenly sail over the edge into oblivion! But the really fascinating aspect of Flat Earth Societies isn’t  that they exist, but that they can – against all reasoned thinking and knowledge – convince others that the earth is flat, and can even produce writings, drawings and arguments to back the theory up! In other words, they can prevail against common sense and observation, and make people believe that lies and deceit are real. However, the ignorant thinking that created the Flat Earth Societies in the first place is now a sad reality in our political lives. The notion of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has morphed into government “of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy” is our new reality!

Flat Earth map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. The map contains several references to biblical passages as well as various jabs at the

In supposed enlightened countries such as Australia, America & the United Kingdom, the swing towards conservative, riggt-wing (rxtremist) politics, and the dross that this leaning brings with it is particularly concerning, and the foolhardiness of allowing this thinking to permeate our political systems is rapidly showing a divisive and reckless disregard for social fairness, truth, justice and common sense. The propagators of this system of thinking are rapidly back-peddling us towards oblivion with their flat earth mentality!

In Australia, we are all yoo familiar with Flat Earth politics -we have now had decades of it, and it’s wearing us out! From the Howard years, with its total disregard for the dignity and worthiness of our immigrant populations – including so-named “boat people”; it’s total ignoring of the needs of elderly & disabled populations (I clearly remember budget after budget with not even a mention of pension increases, despite the cost of living rises leaving us far behind); the usual right wing panderings to the wealthy – both individual & corporate; and their eventual demise thanks to flogging their dead horse…WorkChoices, which in reality gave no worker a choice at all – to the disillusionment of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years! 

Instead of giving the hard-pressed, ignored people of this country a hoped for government that would be fair and equitable, we ended up with a rabble! Despite great promise in some areas – such as a huge (badly needed) pension rise, and steering us strongly through the Global Financial Crisis by encouraging spending, and putting money into public works to keep employment rates high and money circulating – they soon decended into a politicking, rudderless (no pun intended!) mess, with a PM who was bever home to do his job, who micro-managed his cabinet, over-loaded himself with portfolios, and was too busy trying to be popularist to get things right! With the country being governed by the deputy PM, and with some good policies that were (unfortunately) badly thought out, and rushed – it was inevitable that in-fighting would rock the boat. But even with Julia Gillard – who was never given a fair-go – at the helm, what should have been easy legislation to enact – marriage equality for LGBTQ people…ESPECIALLY in a Labor government…became their Flat Earth stumbling block! Our first ever female PM; not married to her partner; an Atheist; a disappointment! Follow this with a second travesty of a spill, returning a now ineffective Rudd to power – no wonder the ultra conservative LNP was returned to power…despite having an inept clown – Tony Abbott – as its leader!

Abbott was the ultimate Flat Earther! Disbanding revenue-raising taxes legislated by Labor; a climate change denier; a misogynist; a practising Catholic who dragged religious ideology into his political life, thus his decision making processes; a nentality that belonged in the 50s – his resurrection of the antiquated  British peerage system was a low point of a patheticly short stint as PM; again, the inability…on supposed moral grounds…of marriage equality legislation though he tried to set in motion a plebiscite on the issue; disgusing treatment of immagrints fleeing wars & persecution, and setting ip what were basically inhumane detention centres to hold them; allowing the corrupt, immoral rantings of the Murdoch press to comment on his every word; his inability to accept blame for a rapidly rising deficit, producing one of the worst – and most controversial – budgets in Australia’s history…while all the time blaming Labor for their inability to rein it in; and finally bowing out as the worst polling PM in our history, leading the worst polling government in our history! Enter Malcolm Turnbull! Despite a reputation for being a left-leaning Liberal, he was – and is – a bitter disappointment to both sides of parliament! Having already ruined the National Broadvand Network…a technology that would have made us world leaders in this area…he then proceeded to disallusion  everyone by towing the party line on issues such as immigration; the handling of detention centres; same-sex marriage; privatisation; total neglect and disregard for those on welfare – including unemployment; the attempted dismantling of section 18C of the anti-discrimination act…which they still fail to see the immorality in, despite the attempt failing; continued pandering to wealthy & elitist individuals and companies…not ONCE has any of the LNP even suggested clawing back taxation not paid by many of the same businesses and corporations that the government loves to protect!! At the last election, they were returned by one seat – ONE! Next election, they’ll be out!

Unfortunately for our poor, battered (politically) country, our Flat Earthers are not limited to Howard, Abbott & Turnbull – we seem to be inundated with them at this point in time; Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne, Nick Xenophon, George Chritiansen, Ian McFarlane, Warren Truss – to name a few – really point to a very low point in the Australian political landscape. These bastions of non-ethical, immoral, injust & prejudiced bias to a set of values entrenched in a distant past can now pride themselves of making us one of the few first world countriens to NOT have marriage equality! Good on you, guys!

Note that I am not even wasting breath on our latest promoter of “Christian” values, and biblical  ethics – Margaret Court! She could form a Flat Earth Society all on her own! From record holding national tennis icon to moronic foot-in-mouther…in one single step! If nothing else, she has proved the Flat Earthedness of religion at it’s most backward and inane.

This, in turn, leads to America! If Abbott was our ultimate Flat Earther…Trump is theirs! America, by their own admission, has had some dud Presidents – Nixon & the Bush’s for starters! But this is the first time they have had one who is truly dangerous! An Oligarch, an elitist, a brutish, rascist, misogynistic, self-serving businessman! And unfortunately for America, it’s outdated, and downright idiotic voting system is the only reason he is there! American (and indeed nany Australians) think that putting Trump into power really has no affect on us over here! Wrong! We are tied to America through treaties,  military involvement, and trade to a greater degree! 

I have never seen a President parodied, and memed as much as Trump! To the point of embarrassment, as he does little to help the possible softening of social media blows!One is just staggered at the stupidity of an electoral system that can place a corrupt, mentally ill, uneducated, egotistical man in as POTUS! He has the attention span of a gnat, no plan for anything he’s doing, abusing his executive powers, evidently removing financial regulations (wonder who could profit from that!), has put his family into his administration (nepotism!), has put people in to head things like the EPO who are only in favour of making money and don’t give a fuck about the environment; has refused to separate his business dealings from his Presidency (causing conflict of interest); has…to date…refused to disclose his taxation records; creates policy on the run – then when the courts say it’s not legal…throws a tanty because he didn’t get his way…and the CIA are refusing to implement the policy as well; has made an enemy of the media – a big mistake, as nothing he does will go unreported; thinks a country can be run like a business! It can’t! Very few – if any – of his electoral promises will be fulfilled, including Making America Great Again! The only people benefiting from the Donald J Trump Presidency…are the Trumps!  His isolationist approach will, if it continues, see America cut off from most of the world powers! That will not stregthen America…only weaken it! He is already denounced by most of the European powers, his recent visit there nothing but a total fiasco for America, as he tried to bully and threaten his way through meetings and conferences! The only thing he managed was the alienation of world leaders of countries such as Germany & France! On the world stage, he is a total failure! His ignorance of the workings of international politics; his inability to be a public speaker; his constant obsession for inane tweets on Twitter; his inability to check himself; using the treasury like his own bank account…who pays for all those golfing weekends to Florida, and all the security surrounding Trump Tower vecause his family don’t want to reside in the White House; his firing of staff because they don’t fall into line with his demands…the list goes on…and on…and on…make him a true Flat Earther! The back-slapping that went on with the ultra right wing consrrvative British PM – Theresa May – was vomitous! Another Flat Earth politician, whose reign may be about to come to an end! The resurgence of white supremacist groups, the trend towards irrational thinking, the clutching to empty promises, and the belief in resurrecting what can’t be resurrected in America is worrying – particularly for the welfare of America.  

Theresa May, like Malcolm Turnbull, is a victim of thinking that the public – in general – are also Flat Earth thinkers! Very wrong! Like Turnbull, she assumed that by calling an early election, the ounlic would hand her a mandate to govern – at will – on a silver platter! Well, as here, that didn’t go as planned, did it! The voters, finally fed up with empty promises, warped thinking, and over-inflated ego’s almost lost her everything…as also happened here! A hung parliament is just one small step away from a total drubbing at the next election! And typical of the desperation to cling to power at any cost…she now tries to do deals with the devil! To attempt a coalition government with the DUP (created by the Rev Ian Paisley…the Flat Earthers Flat Earther) will pretty well spell the demise of the Tories, as a party to be even considered serious government. What a disterous mess for Britain! Welcome to the world of Clayton’s government! The government you have, when you don’t have a government!

However, it is not all doom & gloom! Emmanuel Macron winning the recent French election against the ultra conservative right brightened up an otherwise overcast international…and local…political climate! Other rays of hope and enlightenment – come from Justin Trudeau in Canada, and the potential new world leader – whose strength and forthrightness is to be  commended –  Angela Merkel in Germany. None of these world leaders suffer idiots well. Meanwhile, here in Australia, we continue to suck arse to Trump…all the while looking more and more foolish!

I do predict an end to extremist ultra conservative right wing politics! World wide, those suppressed and disadvantaged…the disenfranchised…are fighting back via the ballot box! Weary of supporting those who take advantage of us; weary of money dictating policy; weary of watching the “haves” get away with it yet again, and feeding none of their ill-gained wealth back into society; weary of shouldering the whole tax burden, while watching welfare stripped away, health care & education underfunded or disbanded; weary of religion creating factions, terrorism, social inequality, and dividing peoples & nations; weary of the environment being raped, ecosystems destroyed, whole species decimated or extinct; weary of no one caring about what is now very obvious climate change; weary of media who no longer see the validity of honest, open, accurate reportage from journalists that care about their job to report things as-is, but belittle it with trivia disguised as news (see Pipoa Middletons wedding, or Scharpelle Corby’s return to Australia); weary of media saturation of terrorist activities, and natural disasters, so desensitising us that we no longer care…do, in fact, change channels; and weary of social media stripping us of our individuality…making us double check ourselves everytime we post, repost, or comment! 

We can only spend so much time and energy being weary! It is only a matter of time before the scales tilt the other way…to us wanting to be awake, aware and happy again!

That day is coming! The reign of the Flat Earthers is coming to an end!

Tim Alderman (C 2017)

References:

(N)One Nation: The Politics of Stupid!


After its troucing in the WA election – where the projected 13% of the vote in pre-election polling dropped to 4.7% on the actual day – One Nation is once AGAIN in damage control! Despite this being a constant with them, one has to wonder just how one-eyed the people who vote for them really are! Of course, the question is – did Pauline’s rather startling preference deal with the Libs; her thoughtless comments on vaccination programs; Sandy Baraiolo being disendorsed for refusing to hand over access to her Facebook account after criticism of One Nation’s preference deal with the Liberals; Margaret Dodd quitting on the eve of the election, labelling the party a dictatorship; Dane Sorensen being dumped as another critic of the preference deal;  Stephen Piper being disendorsed over a disciplinary issue; or Ray Gould quitting,  complaining the party had been dishonest about its intention to do a deal with the Liberals – have anything to do with the slaughter…or are the voters starting to realise that far right conservatism is just that, and considering the current blatherings forthcoming from Canberra, they are never going to be given a fair deal unless they are wealthy, a big business or a corporation. I digress!

Considering the current state of gut-reaction politics that seems to be overtaking the world – Trump in The USA (a disaster of unparalleled proportions), and the Trumpesque Theresa May in Britain – one has to scratch ones head as to why One Nation are seen as a legitimate alternative in Australia! Their extensive litany of disasters, foot-in-mouth comments, corruption, and loose canon candidates shows a party in constant disarray, with no strong leadership, no clear policies, conflicting directions, and ongoing sell-outs by supporting the LNP on matters that one would have thought were contrary to their mission! 

Listing “the stupid” of this party shows a staggering array of disasters that, in any other reality than that which we are currently faced with, would see them not just disendorsed…but so on the nose that not even the most unread voter would support them! But like the proverbial Lazarus, they keep rising from the dead! 

The chronicle: March 11 1995 – Fish and chip shop owner Pauline Hanson begins her political career as an independent Ipswich City Councillor. She decided to run when Labor mayor David Underwood was thrown out of office by Labor councillors, with Ms Hanson saying: “How can a handful of people throw out a man elected by the people?” She was voted out the following year and subsequently joined the Liberal Party. January 6 1996 – Ms Hanson writes the following letter, published in the Queensland Times, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: “How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.”How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.” January 27, 1996 –  Then prime minister Paul Keating calls the election and Ms Hanson starts campaigning to become the Liberal MP for Oxley. She has a tough margin to overcome — the sitting Labor member Les Scott was sitting on a margin of 12.58 per cent after his third term in the Lower House.   – February 14 1996 –  Just over two weeks from election, Ms Hanson’s letter leads to her disendorsement by the Liberal Party, led by soon-to-be prime minister John Howard. The Queensland branch president tells her she could keep her election posters if references to the party were covered up. She leaves the meeting in tears. Ballot papers had already been printed and voters would see her listed as the Liberal candidate when they went to the polls. March 2, 1996 –  Ms Hanson is elected to Federal Parliament and John Howard leads the Coalition to victory. September 6 1996 – Ms Hanson makes her maiden speech in parliament and famously says, “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians”. October 13, 1996 –  60 Minutes journalist Tracey Curro asks Ms Hanson if she is xenophobic, she famously responds “please explain”.  – February 23 1997 –  Almost one year into her term, Ms Hanson forms the One Nation party with the help of co-founders David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Mr Oldfield was still working as a political advisor for backbench MP Tony Abbott when he started helping Ms Hanson in 1996. He left the Liberal Party in 1997 to become Ms Hanson’s senior political advisor before the party officially launched on April 11. June 13 1998 – One Nation wins 22.68 per cent of the primary vote at the Queensland state election — more than the Liberal Party — to pick up 11 seats at the election. It was the biggest win One Nation had in its entire history. July 2, 1998 –  Mr Abbott declares he will fight to have One Nation deregistered as a political party. He argues it is not a political party but a business. One Nation’s opponents argue it did not have the 500 members needed to claim party status and therefore has to pay back $500,000 to the electoral commission. October 3, 1998 –  Ms Hanson runs in the Queensland seat of Blair, instead of Oxley, but loses. She manages to pick up the largest swag of primary votes (35.97 per cent) but loses through preferences to her Liberal opponent. The Labor, Liberal and National parties preference each other ahead of One Nation. Her party only picks up one seat, with Len Harris being elected to the Senate. February 4 1999 – Fractures at the state level see three of the 11 Queensland MPs elected 8 months earlier quit the party. They think party administration has too much control. Three more would quit later in the year and form the City Country Alliance. One Nation loses its party status at the state level and the Queensland Electoral Commission chased them for the $500,000 given after the 1998 election. 27 March, 1999 –  Mr Abbott’s former adviser and One Nation co-founder Mr Oldfield is elected in the NSW Upper House. Ms Hanson expels him from the party one-and-a-half years later after a disagreement. He publicly accuses Ms Hanson of being irrational. “Bear in mind that since, you know, Pauline said a few things in Ipswich in the middle of 1996, everything including her maiden speech and every word of any consequence that she’s said since, has actually been written for her,” he said. He split the NSW branch from the rest of One Nation. 17 February, 2001 –  A week after picking up three seats in the West Australian state election, One Nation is reduced to three seats in the Queensland state election. 31 July 2001 – Ms Hanson appears before the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with electoral fraud.  She pleads not guilty, saying: “I do believe that this is a political witch-hunt.” Mr Abbott takes the opportunity to knock back any suggestion of a preference deal with One Nation, saying: “My view is that we shouldn’t play footsies with One Nation.” March 22, 2003 –  Ms Hanson tries to gain a seat in the NSW Upper House as an independent. She fails, getting 1.9 per cent of the votes. July 15 2003 – Ms Hanson stands trial for electoral fraud in Brisbane with One Nation co-founder Mr Ettridge.She pleads not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation and obtaining more than $500,000 from the AEC. There were 30 witnesses over 23 days, the jury takes a day to find them both guilty. Crown lawyers accuse them of falsely claiming more than 500 people were party members, when they were just supporters of Ms Hanson. They argue members have to have voting rights and that $5 is too little for membership fees. Ms Hanson is sentenced to three years’ jail and yells: “Rubbish, I’m not guilty… it’s a joke.” August 20 2003 – Ms Hanson cries as she hugs her co-accused and two sons. Three days later, federal Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop says the case is something you would expect to see under Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe regime. “It’s gone beyond just political argy-bargy of political opponents … I’ve been very critical of her and her party, but this is something that is above and beyond that political argument — this is someone who has been sent to jail because she spoke her views and that is not acceptable in this country,” she said. “Very simply, for the first time in Australia, we now have a political prisoner and I find that totally unacceptable … in a country where freedom of speech and freedom to act as a political individual is sacrosanct.” 26 August 2003 – Mr Abbott admits to setting up a $100,000 fund to help build a case against Ms Hanson. The Australians for Honest Politics fund was set up in 1998 and its purpose was to help fund civil cases against One Nation. Mr Abbott met with multiple One Nation dissidents when it was set up to try to bring down the anti-immigration party. One of the cases was from Terry Sharples — he fought to have the party deregistered through a civil case and it made him bankrupt. Mr Abbott says he acted alone and offered Mr Sharples $10,000. The former One Nation member has a different story: he says the then prime minister John Howard knew of the fund and that he was offered around $20,000. November 6 2003 – Ms Hanson successfully appeals the conviction and she is released from prison. A week-and-a-half later, she threatens to run against Mr Abbott in his Sydney electorate. “I hope Tony Abbott never becomes prime minister. I detest the man,” she said. May 24 2007 – Ms Hanson launches Pauline’s United Australia Party and fails in her run for the Senate in the 2007 federal election. 7 March, 2013 –  Ms Hanson announces she will run for a Senate seat for NSW at the upcoming federal election. She rejoins the One Nation party after flagging interest in rejoining the Liberal Party. She fails in her bid, getting 1.14 per cent of primary votes. August 8 2013 – One Nation candidate for the Brisbane seat of Rankin has a disastrous interview on Channel 7. Stephanie Banister mistakenly calls the Koran “Haram” and confuses the three Abrehemic religions saying, “Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ”. July 2 2016 – After another failed bid to gain a seat in the Queensland Parliament during the 2015 election, One Nation runs 27 candidates in the 2016 federal election. During the campaign, she calls for a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, a royal commission into Islam and a ban on new mosques. While votes are sill being counted, Ms Hanson looks assured to win a spot in the Senate after securing more than 9 per cent of the vote in Queensland. 18 December 2016 –  Rod Culleton (WA) left the party after months of legal troubles and party infighting to sit as an independent bringing the number of party senators to 3. Party leader Pauline Hanson responded that Culleton was a “pain in the backside” and that she was “glad to see the back of him” 3 February 2017 – The High Court of Australia ruled that Culleton’s election was invalid due to a conviction for which he was subject to being sentenced at the time of the election, notwithstanding that the conviction was subsequently annulled. The resulting vacancy was filled by a recount of the votes at the election, which resulted in Peter Georgiou taking the seat and returning the One Nation representation in the Senate to four. 13 February 2017 – Several WA One Nation candidates say they will refuse to preference the Liberal Party, contrary to a statewide deal announced on the weekend. The WA Liberals will preference One Nation above the Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas, with One Nation preferencing the Liberals in all Lower House seats in return. High-profile One Nation candidate Margaret Dodd, who is contesting the Liberal-held seat of Scarborough for One Nation and is the mother of murdered teenager Hayley Dodd, today condemned the decision and accused the party of bullying its candidates.Speaking outside a Perth court where her daughter’s alleged murderer, Francis Wark, appeared today, Ms Dodd said she had “not been informed of any [preference] deal whatsoever, and I’m sure all the candidates haven’t”. “I will make my own choices on who I will give my preferences to, and it certainly will not be the Liberal party,” she said. 26 February 2017 – One Nation has removed two of its West Australian election candidates just weeks out from state polling day. Pauline Hanson’s party scrapped North West Central candidate Dane Sorensen and Thornlie candidate Sandy Baraiolo for critiquing the party’s preference swap deal with the Liberal Party, AAP reports. One Nation’s WA leader Colin Tincknell said the pair had not met party standards. March 8 2017 – Ms Hanson makes crazy comments about childhood vaccination “Parents are saying vaccinations have an effect on some children. Go and have your tests first. You can have a test on your child first,” Senator Hanson told Insiders. The comments were condemned by the medical community and Senator Hanson today conceded she was “wrong” about a test for vaccinations. She was forced to apologise for the comments. March 13 2017 – Despite not getting anywhere near the 13% of the votes predicted for ON in the WA election, Pauline Hanson defended One Nation’s performance this morning, saying the party had a “fantastic” result despite winning less seats than foreca Senator Hanson blamed a Labor “scare campaign” over the One Nation preference deal with the WA Liberals for the party not claiming more votes. The One Nation leader also rejected suggestions Malcolm Turnbull had nothing to do with the Liberal’s landslide election loss in WA in an interview with Channel Seven’s Sunrise program this morning. She placed the blame squarely on Premier Colin Barnett. 

And so on…and so on. Add to this a string of racist remarks from candidates, and Pauline’s constant denials that she is a racist – despite actually being one! There is no denying that she appeals to the right-wing conservatives in the community, along with those who think racism, prejudice & discrimination are “okay”, those who listen to her rhetoric, and think we are being “swamped” by Asians and people from Muslim backgrounds, and those who think immigration should be severely cut back, or curtailed altogether.  It is perhaps unfortunate that these same people also think that all blunders and bad overall performance is nothing to worry about, that the party will eventually prevail and the country will end up hunky-dory! Most worrying about this attitude is the absence of research, intelligent discussion and downright common sense!

Nobody is happy at the moment. Right-wing conservative politics are proving to be a dismal failure! As always, this path leads to policies aimed squarely at both well-to-do individuals, and corporations. Every time the question is asked by government “where is the money going to come from to pay our deficit?” The answer is never to tax the wealthy, or to chase up businesses and corporations who shirk paying a fair share of taxation – if any at all! In an increasingly secular society, taxing churches and religious organisations is still ignored. However, money is constantly geing pulled from health, education, family benefits and services, and the needy on welfare. 

In a time past, we could rely on the Labor party to support and devote policies to these very areas that the LNP robs to pay for their extravagances! But Labor is letting its supporters down by bad preference deals, disunity, the stink of corruption – especially in the Union sector – and a general lack of strength and leadership. With these scenario’s constantly being thrown at us by the media, is it any wonder people are looking for alternatives!

However, the answer doesn’t lie in the other extreme. One Nation, at its very heart, IS extreme right-wing conservative politics! Given its history of voting with the LNP on conservative agendas, one would think that would be a call to its supporters to rethink just where their vote is going! It is not the wealthy, nor big business, nor corporations that are voting for them…it’s the lower class workers, the battlers, the disenfranchised who are voting for One Nation – and they are – just as in Trump’s America – the ones who will get nothing! 

The politics of stupid lives on! 

Tim Alderman (2017)
REFERENCES:

But I’m not racist!

    Cubbie Station & Water Allocation Abuse!

    Cubbie Station in Queensland, the overallocation of precious water from our river systems, and the government neglect…both State & Federal…of this issue, would appear to have been flying under the radar for the last couple of years!

    This post appeared in my Facebook feed recently:


    I have a huge amount of family history in Broken Hill, and the Bourke region on the Darling River. For many years now, Cubbie Station has been controversially taking advantage of a massive water allocation, which has severe effects on the waterways, and creating water shortages in river systems as far down as the Murray River!
    What is really annoying is that under the original owners, Cubbie Station Group, the property used to be a cattle station, then in 1983 and then under the Japanese ownership, it was turned over to cotton…one of the most water use intensive crops there is…and really not suitable as a crop in this country!

    Cubbie Station on the map

    So, what is Cubbie Station…and well you may ask! According to Wikioedia, it’s located on the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion, near Dirranbandi in Queensland. Itbus the LARGEST irrigation property in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE! The property covers 96,000 hectares (240,000acres) and is managed by the Lempriere Group, on behalf of CS Agriculture, a joint venture betweenn Lempriere & Shandong RuYi Group, a textile manufacturer owned by investors from China & Japan.

    Cubbie Station in South Queensland, Australia’s major interstate water diversion issue.

    The station has significant water rights to flows along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin.  The topography of the area is defined by channels & floodplains of the upper reaches of the Darling & Barwon Rivers. Cotton was originally grown in the area from the late 1970s. In 1983, Cubbie Station was converted from grazing practices to cotton growing. The property consists of both agricultural & non-agricultural uses, with approx 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) presently developed, with a further 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) under development.

    The station was created by amalgamating twelve floodplain properties to give Cubbie a total of fifty-one licences. The station’s water storage dams stretch for more than 28 kilometres (17 mi) along the Culgoa River, within the Murray-Darling basin. In an average year the station uses 200,000 megalitres (7,100×106 cu ft) of water, in a good year as much as 500,000 megalitres (18,000×106 cu ft).

    The water is used to supply 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi) of irrigated cotton and other crops including wheat, which generates a net profit in the range of A$50 million to A$80 million a year.
    The station is licensed to take 460,000 megalitres (16,000×106 cu ft),[3] the equivalent of all irrigation entitlements downstream in north-western NSW. The property has the capacity to grow 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi) of cotton. In 2006, the dams on the property were filled to 1% capacity allowing for only 200 hectares (490 acres) of cotton planting. The station is often derided for its large water usage requirements in a time of extreme drought in Australia and damage to the Murray Darling river system.

    Scott Bridle: Picking Cotton at Cubbie Station.
    During his term as Minister for the Environment, Malcolm Turnbull did not rule out its possible acquisition by the Australian government, however he is now Prime Minister, and the acquisition of Cubbie Station has never occured. 
    On 29 October 2009, Cubbie Group Limited, the former owner of Cubbie Station, announced it would voluntarily enter administration on the following day. The company had incurred debts of over A$300 million, as a result of poor rainfall in the region in the preceding five years. Corporate recovery specialists, McGrathNicol, were appointed as Administrators of the Cubbie Group on 30 October 2009. On 31 August 2012 the Australian Government, on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, approved the sale of Cubbie Group, to a consortium comprising Shandong RuYi Scientific & Technological Group Co Ltd, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, and Lempriere Group, an Australian family-owned company involved in wool trading and agricultural property management.[11] The approval provided RuYi with an 80% initial ownership interest on condition that this interest be reduced to 51% within three years. The interest is to be sold to an independent third party.[12] The consortium are bound by existing water licence conditions[12] and the property is operated and managed by the Australian company using the existing workforce. At the time, the Liberal Party were in opposition, and supported the purchase. However, there was dissension amongst some members of the Nationals, who had concerns with foreign-ownership of agricultural land and water rights, claiming that the sale is not in Australia’s national interest. The purchase of Cubbie Group by the joint venture CS Agriculture was completed on 25 January 2013, for an estimated purchase price of A$240 million.

    So, we now have an Austealian agricultural enterprise, with huge water allocation rights, owned by foreign companies…and let’s be realistic – are they really concerned about destroying viable and much needed river biosystems…compared to making profits! 

    In his “Crikey” article “How Cubbie (and Labor) Consumed the Murray Darling (August 21, 2008), Bernard Keane rather pointedly noted that the story of Cubbie Station is “an incestuous saga of arrogance & influence”! He further notes “The extent of the Queensland Government’s parochial and profligate attitude to water management continues to attract criticism. Put simply, the Queenslanders couldn’t care less about the health of rivers either on their side of the border or beyond. Penny Wong can only wring her hands and sympathise with farmers downstream.

    The Queenslanders continue to trot out the line that they take only 5% of water from the Murray-Darling. It’s literally correct — that’s what they take out. It’s what they prevent from entering from run-off that is the key — and that is much more. The CSIRO’s recent report on Water Availability in the Condamine-Balonne reveals a vast and unsustainably over-allocated system that sees over 50% of water extracted from the Balonne-Culgoa before it reaches NSW.” One doesn’t need to go into the Darling or down into the Murray to see the environmental havoc wreaked by this water “mismanagement”! Thousands of hectares of dead trees on the Culgoa floodplain and a system approaching tipping point! For years, Cubbie Group — the vast cancer on the Balonne-Culgoa which exemplifies all that is wrong with the states’ management of water — has maintained that it only extracts 0.2% of Murray-Darling water. Fair Water Use Australia has pointed out that this ignores the bulk of Cubbie’s water — from overland flows prevented from entering the Balonne and Culgoa Rivers — and that the 0.2% is based on average flows anyway, rather than conditions following heavy rains.
    On August 19 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article – in the Federal Politics section – titled  “Cubbie Station sums up Murray-Darling tragedy”. It calls Cubbie Station a case study in (water) overallocation. The station has long been cast as the villain in the slow death of the Murray-Darling river system. At this time, the 93,000 hectare property was up for sale, and there was debate about the Commonwealth purchasing its water reserves, and is a reminder that the Murray-Darling story is an environmental and economic tragedy involving many villains. As the Federal Government is cautioning, buying these water entitlements is not a simple matter. This, in turn, reflects the failure of governments, irrigators and water authorities to establish nationally consistent rules for the Murray-Darling system. 

    The first sticking point is that Queensland law on water entitlements is different from that of other states because the water cannot be sold separately from the land entitlements. Queensland is moving to enable separate sales, but faces a legal challenge from irrigators along the Condamine-Balonne river system, from which Cubbie draws its water. Clearly, though, uniform rules are essential if the Murray-Darling is to be managed properly. Despite Queensland’s government being responsible for the overallocation, Anna Bligh (the Premier at that time)  was right in saying that the Cubbie sale offered an opportunity for the Queensland, NSW and federal governments to reconsider water allocations. 

    As things stand, the main beneficiaries of a water release from Cubbie station would be farms across the border in NSW, whose licences permit them to pump more out of the river as levels rise. The Commonwealth might have to buy back Cubbie station’s entitlements and matching amounts from NSW irrigators to achieve an extra, and expensive, environmental flow.

    The lesson of Cubbie station is that there isn’t nearly as much water available as once expected, particularly if climate change has taken hold. Federal and state governments need to go back and review all licences and rewrite the rules of the current highly compromised national water plan to arrive at a system capable of sustaining the environment and agricultural ventures for years to come.

    In “The Land” (15 March 2013), Matthew Cranston wrote an article “Cubbie’s new owners look at water sale”. He noted “THE new Chinese and Japanese ­owners of Cubbie Station are looking at selling water back to the federal government less then two months after paying $232 million for the debt-laden cotton farm.The 96,000 hectare property in south-western Queensland has been the centre of controversy because of its huge water entitlements within the Murray Darling Basin system. It officially changed hands on January 15 after being bought by CS Agriculture, a company backed by Chinese group Shandong Ruyi, Japanese trading giant Itochu, and fifth generation Australian wool trader Lempriere Group…”We have committed to consider the option of selling any excess ­entitlements into water buyback schemes,” Mr McKenna said at the Rural Press Club in Brisbane.”.

    To date, nothing appears to have happened, and if water buy-backs are being considered, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any rush to complete them…much to the detriment of the river system!

    My Great Grand Uncle, Captain George Rickinson Swan Pickhills, captained steamers up and down the Darling River from the second half of the 1800s up until the early 1900s. He was an unintentional environmentalist, and protector of the waterways, long gefore it was fashionable to be so! He was an outspoken man, and wroye many letters, and written observations, to both state government river authorities and newspapers regarding many issues of water management, and infrastructure building, particularly aling the Darling. The seasonal ebbs and flows if the river are well noted in his ibservations, including oeriods where, for NATURAL reasons, the river was not navigable due to the drop in water levels. He would be horrified to learn if the actual ssle of this precious commodity, in huge golumes, to properties that not only witheld the excess water from the tiver system, but were openly growing croos that consumed enormoys quantities of same water! It is perhaps due to his agitation and outspokeness that it vould be of enormous benefit to have him around today! Do not rake on rough, tough Yorkshire men!

    That aside, this issue of overallication of water rights, and the inability to vontain them has been going on for a long, long time now. In a country where droughts are as prevalent as floods, one has to wonder just what the hell is going on! It raises a lot of issues, and one has to question just how much influence does money have! 

    • Considering the well documented historical records of the ebbs and flows of the Murray-Darling river system, one has to question the validity of EVER selling water rights from them in the first place!
    • Considering that the property was bought in recent years by FOREIGN investors, who had to be granted permission by the government of the day for the purchase, why was not a huge cut-back on the size of the water allocation part of the deal!
    • Of great concern has to be the question of, with the investors living in other countries, whether the environmental concerns regarding these important river systems is of any concern to them whatsoever!
    • Considering that Cubbie Station KNOWS that it takes far, far more water than it needs in allocations, in times of duress (as far as water flow goes on the rivers), could they not voluntarily instigate negotiations with the government to either (a) sell back excess water or…and far less likely (b) voluntarily just return water to the system purely for the sake of the environment, and saving the river system! If nothing else, considering that Cubbie Station is seen, in the public eye, as a giant, grasping, greedy, self indulgent property, that has a total disregard for the environment…it would be a great PR exercise!

    The government really does need to step in, and not only massively cut back their water allocation, but look at the detrimental effects on the environment & waterways caused by Cubbie Station! But the problem is also about more than water allocations! It is about unsustainable farming practises in general, growing crops along the river ststems that require massive amounts of water to irrigate them. The government needs to promote and reeducate our farmers about adopting sustainable crops and farming methods…and not just there, but along all of our water systems as well! The effects if vlimate change arebecoming  more noticable as time goes on, and the next period of severe drought – if not happening already – is probably not far away! In a country of climatic extremes, we need more foresight, and a more insightful look at how we manages our very precious resources. Greed and ignorance are not yhe answers to these very complex questions!

    Cubbie Station flyover

    REFERENCES;

    Tim Alderman (2017)

      Rumination of the Day (28th January 2017)

      NEWS AND GUTS

      Seriously America – what the fuck is going on over there! First of all, you hand a maniacal, egotistical, hedonistic man – with very obvious mental health issues – the total control of your country! Even give this same person the title of Commander-In-Chief! Somebody who lives in a world of denial, falsehoods, and indecisions! Somebody who has rushed into power, and is making decisions involving the health and wellbeing of your country on the run! Somebody who is abusing the executive powers handed to him as part of his position, using these powers to enforce his own agenda, and by-pass the machinations of government to enforce same!  Someone who does not want to be accountable, or criticised, or called to task! Someone who is, despite your Constitution – which seems to be invoked at the drop of a hat, as a general rule – is trying to control the media to highlight only what his administration want highlighted…be it right, or wrong!  The fiasco involving the attendance at his inauguration – which WAS less than for Obama’s – and his accusations of electoral fraud regarding him not achieving the popular vote, are two examples of areas whereby they are trying to control what the media reports.

      Unfortunately, we live in an era of weak, unresearched and downright lazy journalism! Too many news mediums no longer report things in an unbiased way, but choose to take sides, which distorts their reportage! Social media – too often a source of news these days, much of which us inaccurate, distorted or just made up to satisfy the blood lust of gullible consumers – has too big an influence, and is – sadly – often used as a “reliable” source by lazy journalists who no longer see their job as reporting the truth! What a sad state of affairs! Thankfully, honest reporting does still exist – not everyone can be cowered by threats – and the glimmer of light is there for those who really care about what goes on around them! Any country who allows its news media to be manipulated, downgraded, and churning out outright lies to its readers/listeners should be ashamed of itself! The right to know what is going on around us, the highlighting of injustice, government and corporate distortions , cover-ups and lies, the peddling of misinformation, and elevating what was in the gutter onto a pedestal is not a privilege – it is a right!   

      When highly respected – and, until now, retired – journalists like Dan Rather throw their hat back into the ring…you know things are deadly serious. Sick of the lies, distortions and cover-ups of the new…and not very old…President and his administration (if that is what it can be called), Dan Rather has set up his own Facebook page called “News and Guts” to counter the misinformation currently being vomited out by biased news services. Not just journalists, but news consumers themselves need to stand up and demand a “hands off” position in regards to the honest reporting, and holding to account, of the words and actions of those elected to public office! All too often these days we allow those in government, and in the media, to side-step the fact that WE elect these officials!They are   answerable and accountable TO US! They ARE NOT there to enact their own agenda’s, to lie, to cover up, to manipulate the systems – or the media – to their own ends. We have allowed this disempowerment of our rights, of our own power as voters, as people who must live under these administrations to do what they please, when the please, for way too long now. Our expectations should always be for honesty, integrity, morality, ethics, transparency and fairness from elected officials, irrespective of their position. Likewise, our media dhould be held to the same standards.

      I wish Dan Rather well. I will br watching with intense interest! The return to honesty and integrity in reporting! And bugger the gutless wonders!

      Tim Alderman (2017)

      Rumination of the Day (17th January 2017)

      POTUS

      Originally published as a Facebook status update. Edired here.

      Watching a doco called “President Trump”…quite an eye-opener. The “man” has ALWAYS been a prick! Majorly bad business decisions… caused by a “buying spree” of buying casino’s and hotels, most of which failed. Originally purchased to hig note himself!; a Hugh Hefner mentality towards women & sex; has a lawyer who is nothing more than a bullying thug; seen as a promoter by the banking industry, but not a CEO; pathological personality, who will never admit he’s wrong; no scruples or morality regarding his financial affairs; rejected by NY elite as rough and rude, and not accepted. This has always been been an issue for him, due to his pathological need to be accepted; the perception that he’s a businessman is an illusion created by his television persona; hates being criticised or sent-up, or told he’s wrong; a need for public acceptance…feels inadequate without it

      In a few words, he’s a hedonistic, conniving, dishonest, egotistical, sexist, bullying pig! And is, in a couple of days, POTUS. Fasten your seat belts…

      One can only hope that common sense prevails somewhere along the line. That this situation has been allowed to actually get to this stage makes a joke of the Presidency. He, and his little band of corrupt ‘administrators” (read as…jobs for the bots) are treating this as a board game, with decisions made on the roll of a dice. 
      One can only hope impeachment is eminent! Such a corrupt man, and an equally corrupt administration should never, ever, be given the reins of power. Wait and see? I don’t think the world can afford to!

      Tim Alderman (2017)

      Rumination of the Day (6th January 2017)

      UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS

      It is no secret that my brother Kevin died a horrendous death at the hands of my father, in December 1965 (https://timalderman.com/2012/04/23/kevin-pickhills-the-unspoken-name/). It is a long time ago now, though the memories have never dimmed, and despite the sage advice that time heals all wounds, it may dull the starkness of the memory, but it never really disappears. The filing cabinet we call a brain shifts the files around, but always leaves the drawer slightly ajar. 

      I am not obsessed by my hrothers death, but whenever it does a flit across my mind, the questions surrounding it flit along just behind. The frustration of severed relationships is the unanswered questions! With my father long dead, my mother out of the picture at the time, and my fathers sisters all now dead, I know the questions will never be answered – ever! But that knowledge doesn’t make them go away! So, here are my demons. My reasons for listing them is purely to dump them! To many, the questions will be unfathomable without the back story. For a few, the poignancy of them will hit a feeling of deja vu in their own lives. There are many sad stories out there, and they nearly all have their unanswered questions.

      Some questions are simple and straight forward – almost ruminations in their own right. Others are complex. Because questions demand answers, the fact that answers will not be forthcoming almost negates them. But they live on, and I will go to my grave knowing that only at that point do they no longer exist.

      • Where in the hell did Nancy Thompson come from! How did my father find her, and what possessed him to think that bringing such a hard, unfeeling woman into the house would be a good thing! I mean…she smoked, and he hated smoking! What were the conditions of her employment? She certainly had more disposable income than my mother ever had! I went clothes shopping with her, so I know! Was he seeing her before bringing her home? Was she a fling? It certainly went from plutonic to sexual very quickly – even as a 12yo I knew that! Her, and her son Stephen were such hateful, spiteful people, and I can’t believe he wasn’t aware of that. When questioned in court at the hearings into Kevin’s death, she stated that I was an effeminate child! Was that opinion voiced to my father? And after he finally got her out of the home unit in Kogarah – whatever happened to her? I pray that no other family was subjected to her! For someone who blew into our lives for such a short period of time, chaos followed in her wake! She is as much responsible for Kevin’s death as my father, yet I have little doubt that she left with a clear conscience! I hope Kharma has delivered justice!
      • What were my fathers thought processes on the day of Kevin’s death? It had been such an ordinary evening up until the instant he pulled up in front of our house! Was it a spontaneous action, or was it pre-meditated? At any stage, had the same course been set out for me? Frightening…but the thought remains! What was going on in his head as he drove to The Gap? Surely you can’t take your own sons life blithely, with no thought to the implications, the trauma, the horror! It’s a long drive from Sylvania. At no time did he not want to turn back! It’s not a question – it’s a nightmare!
      • And the most harrowing thought of all – did Kevin suffer! How quickly did he die in the cold waters of Watson’s Bay. Was he knocked out or killed on impact – I truly hope so! He trusted my father – was he aware of the betrayal? What flashes of thought as he eent over that cliff! The sheer horror wrenches at the heart!
      • Was my father guilty about his own survival? The actual event – threw Kevin over, or jumped over with him – has never been ascertained! It is one of the great unanswered questions. Did he invent a story to cover-up the deed? Indeed, we’ll never know!
      • After being released from gaol – what a joke all that was, and no justice for Kevin – did he seriously think…in typical 60s fashion…that life would just go on like nothing had happened? Did not talking about it mean it never happened? Was the thinking that the events of that time had had no affect on me whatsoever? Kevin was swept under the rug like a pile of dust! It was like he never existed! On the day he arrived home, Nancy took me to the front gate and told me to run to mert and embrace him! I didn’t even want to know of his existence! The only thing crossing my mind was – why was he back here! And did I still have to call him dad! His touch was abhorrent! For all the years up until his suicide there was no love, or respect! And I think Kevin’s death was his demon up until the day he died!
      • And then the great questions about Kevin and myself as siblings. What would our relationship have been like as we got oldrr? Would he have been straight or gay? If he was straight, would he have married…surely, one would think! Would he have had children? Would I be a great uncle? Would we have shared confidences? Would we be close – as when we were children – or distant?
      • And what is perhaps the first and greatest question – how totally different would life have been if mum never left home, for this was the catalyst for all that was to come! I like my life, and I like that for much of it I have had the freedom to live it my own way, with no questions, and few fears. Would it have panned out the same if circumstances had been different! That is a very interesting question. That I would end up gay wss inevitable…but would the process be different? I actually don’t want an answer to that one!

      It is said, probably with great wisdom, that one should never question what is, try to imagine the “what ifs” of life, as that is not how it has gone. It is what it is! We all know that, but as thinking, reasoning beings it is inevitable that what could be seen as sage advice is not going to be heeded. We are curious animals, and life’s great unknowns frustrate and intrigue us! Any relationship that is abruptly terminated is always going to leave questions in its wake. The worst of it is knowing that even if my father were still alive, the questions would, in large part, still be unanswered! 

      Perhaps that is what destiny held in store. At least now, they have been voiced!

      Tim Alderman (2017)

       

      Rumination of the Day: 30th December 2016

      PRAGMATISM

      According to my Facebook Timeline, this has geen a bad year, particularly for celebrity deaths, which have gone on right up to now…and still a day to go. A lot of those I know have beaten breasts and gnashed teeth over these losses…and that is fair enough if that is how you handle loss. However, I am not one of those! I’m not blasé about it, but neither am I caught up in a type of collective hysteria that surrounds these deaths.

      I have become very pragmatic about death over the years. I am not surprised by it, nor caught up in cries of “too young”, “before their time”, “had so much more to give” or the suchlike. Death is never fair! It doesn’t give a fuck about age, sex, skin colour, fame – or lack of, health status, religion, race or any other of the intricacies of life. This year, some have died from old age, some from ongoing or sudden illnesses, some through suicide, some for reasons unknown. It seems like a random pointing of a finger…and perhaps it is.

      We act as though life comes with a guarantee – but it doesn’t. There is no too young or too old: no too healthy or too inhealthy; no soo much more to give or nothing more to give; no  fair or unfair; no famous or infamous; no good life  or bad life. There is no real reasoning behind it other than just being human! 

      To me, yes – these celebrity deaths are sad…but all death is sad, and always unexpected! I didn’t personally know these people. I didn’t touch them, or socialise with them. They weren’t friends or family, or relatives…or even acquaintances! I have lived through enough death – both personal and collective – in my life to last me several lifetimes. It has made me a realist about death, about its fickleness, suddeness…and finality. I don’t believe in God, so have no one to attribute blame to. It just is! There is no good that comes from wallowing in it for, after all, you can’t bring them back.

      And as the ultimate pragmatist would say – none of us can escape it! It is the finality of being human! So, I acknowledge it – but then move on! It is just a reminder of the inevitability of what faces us all!

      Tim Alderman (2016)