A Right Royal Wedding

With a Royal Wedding in the offing, the Coalition should be full of the joys of Spring, revelling in bonhomie and offering best wishes to the young couple who are just about to tie the knot. However, for the Coalition, it was the worst of times, and showing signs that it was about to get even worser.

Not only is the hated revolutionary regime of Citizen Gillard still in power, but it only stays there due to the class treachery of those traitors who should know better – Tony Windsor-Castle, “Royal” Rob Oakeshott, and “Baron” Bob Katter.

So, for their part, the Coalition has lots to complain about. For example, Citizen Gillard and her oafs have enclosed the commons and other nature-strips, to enforce the implementation of their collectivist NBN (“Neuter Business Now”) five-year chimera plan.

Also, they have infiltrated, with union thugs, the workforce engaged in renovating the landmark communications hub of the Coalition – the Boatphone Bastille. By installing pink batts in the roof-space, they made them self-combust and the Bastille has been burnt to the ground. However, on a more positive note, the ABC has agreed to take over where the Bastille left off.

And, the nature of parliamentary democracy itself is at stake, due to the Machiavellian bastardry of Citizen Gillard and her henchmen, such as “Robespierre” Rudd and “Bonaparte Bill” Shorten. As an example, resort to the dreaded guillotine in the House is on a daily basis, and, “Madam Defarge” D’Ath knits, as yet another member of the Opposition is dispatched by the Speaker, Harry “Jacobin” Jenkins.

And even the Church is not safe. Recently, two bishops, Julie and Bronny, have been imprisoned. A ransom (dubbed by the Opposition, a GNBT – “Gillard’s Nobble the Bishops Tax”) has been demanded for their release. So far, the Opposition say, on a matter of principle, they will not pay it. Off the record, however, the coalition forces reckon they would do a better job with the pair of them out of the way anyway.

But, thankfully, the Opposition is not taking it all lying down. For example, a people’s counter-revolutionary militia, the RAT (“Revolters Against Terror”) Army, has been formed, under the capable leadership of Alan “Aristocrat” Jones.

Also, thousands of journalists from the Fourth Estate, ably led by Lord Dennis of Shandringham, are threatening to go on strike. However, the latest reports say that they will keep on working, as the Coalition reckons they are of more use to them manipulating their Blackberries than manning the barricades.

However, of all the good things going for the Coalition, their most prized asset by far is that intrepid hero, that master of disguise, who can infiltrate any situation, laying the lefties low. He is none other than – THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL!!!

So, to escape the ennui at home, Citizen Gillard and Tim the First Bloke, are happy to get on the plane to Blighty for Bill and Kate’s nuptials.

Having landed and set up base-camp at the Savoy, they are busily getting themselves ready to set out for Westminster Abbey. Tim, however, is down on all-fours, scanning under the bed.

Jooles: Erm...if you’re looking for your cuff-links, darl...they’re over there on the dresser...

Tim: Nah...I’m just checking that the Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t hiding under the bed – you can’t trust the bugger...

Jooles: Oh, don’t worry about him – he’ll still be in Oz, listening to Alan Jones, and stuffing his face with Easter eggs...

[Jooles and Tim head off to the Abbey and are seated with the other Heads of Government, near the front. Jooles looks at her watch.]

Jooles: Hmmm...it’s traditional, I’m told...heh...heh..., for the bride to be late, but so far there’s no sign even of Billy-boy...

[Then, in speak-of-the-devil-style, in marches Bill, down the centre-aisle, and straight up to the lectern. Clearing his throat, he begins to address the congregation.]

Bill: Erm...lords and ladies...and everybody else...I must apologise for the delay...we will have things under way in a jiff...But, now that I’ve got the floor, I would like to take this opportunity to tell a few home truths about the Australian national carrier, QANTAS...And QANTAS indeed it is – Quisling Airlines Network with Traitors And Socialists! I’ll have you know that I recently flew with them and the meals are kruddy and the stewardesses are real bitches!...

[As you can imagine, in the cathedral, you could have heard one of the nails from the original cross drop. Understandably, Jooles is outraged by this sleight on a prized Australian institution. She is just about to get the First Bloke to go and punch him on the nose, when Bill leaps off the sanctuary, bolts down the centre aisle, and disappears out the front door. A few seconds later, however, Bill marches up the centre aisle again, but is intercepted by a retainer who whispers something in his ear. Bill has a look of incredulity on his face. He glances sheepishly at Jooles and approaches the lectern again.]

Bill: Erm...lords and ladies...and the rest of you...I must apologise for my lateness...errr...one of the corgis did a whoopsie on my shoe and it took me ages to get it off...I hope you’ll forgive me...But, on another matter, I need to apologise profoundly for the actions a few moments ago of an imposter, who took the opportunity to pretend he was me and then make mischief...I hope the Prime Minister of Australia was not unduly contrafibularitied...

[Bill sprints away from the lectern and takes his seat in the front pew, awaiting the entrance of the lovely Kate. After a few more awkward moments, the Archbishop of Canterbury enters the sanctuary from a rear cloister and approaches the lectern. Tim whispers out of the side of his mouth to Jooles.]

Tim: About bloody time too – I wish they would just get this show on the road...

Archbishop: My brothers and sisters in Christ...I am delighted to inform you that the bride is on her way and I will journey forthwith to the front door to welcome her...But, before I do that, I need to issue a few words of warning...Y’know, don’t believe all this old tosh, from those revolutionary ratbags in Australia, about this so-called ‘global warming’ – it’s a load of crap actually...and to quote the words of a great, distinguished, Australian theologian and statesman – it was really a lot friggin’ warmer in Jesus’ day...

[Again, Jooles is outraged by such a public sleight on her government’s international reputation, and is just about to extract her bottle of hair-dye from her pocket (she forgot her hand-bag again!) and fire it at him, when the Arch strides down the centre-aisle and out the front door. After a few moments, the organ starts up with the usual ditty and in comes Kate, looking so beautiful, she would make the Mona Lisa look like Bronny, just out of bed, without her make-up. However, the Archbishop can’t fathom why everyone is looking askance at him. He plods up the aisle anyway.

The rest of the service goes to plan, thankfully, with no more outrageous interjections, and the select few head over to Buck Palace for the follow-up shindig. The wedding reception is being held around the Palace pool (a number of the heavier retainers had been chucked in earlier to break up the ice). However, no-one is game enough on put on their bathers and risk the sub-arctic temperatures of the pool. No-one except Prince Phillip, that is. If people thought old Phil was barmy, this merely confirmed their suspicions. After doing a few hundred laps, he gets out and approaches the mic-stand, still in his bathers. Ready to utter a few words of welcome, he is caught off-guard somewhat, by one of the corgis doing a whoopsie right in front of the mic-stand. Phil carries on regardless.]

Phil: I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you here this afternoon to Buckingham Palace...But, before I go on, I would like to speak in favour of introducing that good old Australian system for keeping the staff in their places – WorkChoices! We haven’t been allowed to flog the buggers for a while now, so I’m all for giving the bolshie blighters a good belting...

[At the mention of WorkChoices, for Jooles the penny drops. She pushes her way to the front and confronts “Phil”.]

Jooles: Tony!! That’s you, isn’t it!! You’re not Prince Phillip, are you!! Why, you’re nothing but that arch-counter-revolutionary, the Scarlet Pimpernel – the red budgie smugglers are a dead giveaway!! And, you also impersonated Prince William and the Archbishop at the Cathedral, didn’t you?

Pimpy: But...but...but...I wouldn’t have done it if someone had sent me an invite as well – why do I always miss out...I’m never going to get the keys to The Lodge...boo...hoo...

[The police surround Pimpy and cuff his hands behind his back, ready to transport him to the Tower. However, Jooles raises her hand to stop them.]

Jooles: Hey, Tony...I’ll tell you what – I’ll hand you the keys to The Lodge...

[Jooles stretches out her hand, but, instead of slipping the keys down the front of Pimpy’s budgies, she drops them straight into the do-do the corgi deposited.]

Jooles: There you go, Tony...you can bend over and fetch the keys out if you wish, but, if you do, this time it won’t be me who will be wearing the shit-eating grin...heh...heh...

How do you think about climate change?

Reading two books in parallel recently proved to be an informative exercise. One was Richard Dawkins’ 2009 The Greatest Show on Earth – The Evidence for Evolution, the other Tim Flannery’s 2010 Here on Earth – An Argument for Hope. It was informative because the two books exemplified contrasting ways of viewing and investigating the world in which we live.

Dawkins, arguably the greatest living exponent of Neo-Darwinism, makes out a compelling case for evolution by natural selection. He has arrived at his conclusion through a reductionist process whereby he has ‘drilled down’ to uncover fragments of evidence, mostly fossil, that support his case.

Reductionism is a regularly used approach in science and has yielded spectacular results. Let me give one personal example. One of our sons, a molecular biologist with a PhD in genetics, along with thousands of others around the world, contributed to the Human Genome Project by sending to a database the results of DNA sequencing done in the course of other work. DNA sequencing determines the order of the nucleotide bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine in a molecule of DNA. It requires a reductionist approach, drilling down to the smallest components of the gene. Together, all the contributions resulted in the mapping of the whole human genome, which was announced in 2003. The project identified the twenty to twenty five thousand genes in human DNA and determined the sequences of three billion base pairs that make up human DNA. Reductionism is a vital approach that has brought a myriad of benefits in science and medicine to the whole of mankind.

But is it the most appropriate approach to climate change? Is it enough to drill down into more and more detail, but not look at the broader picture? More of that later when I will explain why I think it is not.

While reductionism yields so much, the opposite, the holistic view, gives a different perspective. Let me give another personal example. Another son with a PhD in limnology, a division of ecology or environmental science, which is the study of inland waters: lakes, ponds, rivers, springs, streams and wetlands, did his thesis on the effect of snags (fallen tree branches) in rivers. It involved on the one hand a reductionist approach that delved into the intricate biology and chemistry of waterways that had snags, yet it also required standing back and looking at the whole picture. Too many snags results in obstruction to water flows, and in heavy rain predisposes to flooding. But removing all the snags results in such profound alterations to the biology of the stream that fish and other life is threatened. So not surprisingly the best solution is not achieved solely by the reductionist approach, but by looking at the big picture too, and to coin a phrase, using ‘controlled snagging’. We saw this applied recently in Bourke where it seemed to be preserving fish life yet not creating flooding. I tell that story to emphasize that we must view these natural phenomena from both angles to find the problems and create the solutions. The same applies to climate change.

Before getting to climate change though, let me give you another illustrative example of reductionist and holistic perspectives from my personal experience in family medicine. In teaching students and residents we were at pains to emphasize the need to take both reductionist and holistic approaches. Sometimes the answer to a patient’s problem is to found ‘down there’ at a cellular, molecular or genetic level, so the doctor needs to able to drill down through laboratory tests and imaging to discover the cause, very occasionally a single one, and from that derive a solution. But the doctor then needs to ‘stand back’ and visualize the condition against the person’s nature and background, the family, work and community setting, the physical environment, and as government is involved in health care, against the prevailing political environment. Only by taking all these factors into account, and by assessing how they will likely interact, can a comprehensive diagnosis be made and suitable therapy fashioned. This is the holistic approach.

To reinforce this combined use of reductionist and holistic approaches, we use an analogy – the zoom lens. Using the telephoto lens fine details can be brought up close to establish a diagnosis, down to a molecular or genetic level. This is the reductionist view. Then the lens need to be zoomed out to normal focal length for the doctor to see the condition in the context of the whole person, then zoomed to wide angle to see the person against the many environments: family, work, community, and so on. This is the holistic view. Sometimes the diagnosis is 'out there' in the environment, in the circumstances of the patient's life. The able doctor uses the zoom lens continually, looking sometimes at the fine detail, sometimes at the broad picture, both necessary for understanding the patient’s condition in all its complexity. The operational model is systems theory.

Now to climate change.

Climate scientists use the reductionist approach to measure global temperatures in the oceans and the atmosphere. They measure atmospheric CO2, ocean acidity, study ocean and atmospheric currents and river flows, take into account El Niño and La Niña patterns, drill out ice cores to measure atmospheric carbon concentrations over the years, measure the change in the behaviour of glaciers and the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, and they do this all over the globe, again and again. But they know that none of these alone can give the answer to the question ‘is the globe warming’, and ‘how much of this is due to man’. They need to take into account all the data, all the operating factors, and the way in which they interact. They need to look at the scene holistically.

In his book Tim Flannery describes an approach to climate studies developed by James Lovelock, born near London in 1919, the ‘Gaia concept’. Interestingly, Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin had a similar concept, of which Lovelock probably was unaware. Both saw the atmosphere as the key to understanding life as a whole.

In 1965 an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California told Lovelock about recently derived data about the atmosphere on Venus and Mars, showing that it was composed principally of CO2. Lovelock realized that this was evidence that they were ‘dead planets’, and that Earth was different because living things had reduced its atmospheric CO2, and replaced it with oxygen. Then with data about the temperature of the Sun three billion years ago, Lovelock developed the image of the Earth as a living organism able to regulate its temperature and chemistry at a comfortable steady state. This he described as the Gaia hypothesis that is now regarded as soundly based and profoundly important to our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth. It embodies a holistic approach.

Lovelock describes Gaia as “a view of Earth…as a self-regulating system made up from the totality of organisms, the surface rocks, the ocean and the atmosphere tightly coupled as an evolving system…the system has a goal – the regulation of surface conditions so as always to be favourable as possible to contemporary life.”

Richard Dawkins disputed the validity of the Gaia hypothesis, which prompted Lovelock to develop a computer model he named ‘Daisyworld’, an attempt to see what would happen on an imaginary planet with a very simple ecology that followed the same orbit around the Sun as the Earth. Several modifications of the model all gave the same result: “…life as a whole (albeit virtual life) regulates conditions to suit itself. That is, until a force so great – such as an asteroid or emission of greenhouse gas – as to overwhelm its control mechanism.”  That is what climate scientists warn us about – excessive emission of greenhouse gas has the potential for overwhelming the Earth’s control mechanism. No wonder they are worried, increasingly so as the emerging data suggests that the worst-case scenario is increasingly more likely than a less severe outcome.

Tim Flannery is an advocate of the holistic approach to understanding climate that the Gaia hypothesis provides. I have no data on how many climate scientists hold the same view, but Flannery asserts that a growing number do. My personal experience in other fields leads me to the view that this holistic approach holds great promise. You would need to read Flannery’s book for more detail. I recommend it wholeheartedly, and acknowledge that several of the quotes in this piece are derived from his book.

I personally believe the evidence of a myriad of climate scientists around the world that the globe is warming and that this is significantly due to the activities of man. I’m sure I don’t have to spell out what these activities are.

But how do we manage those with vested interests to oppose action and the skeptics and deniers?

Regarding vested interests, Flannery points out a deep source of tension: “…the deep interconnectedness central to the Gaia hypothesis presents a profound challenge to our current economic model, for it explains that there are… limits to growth…”. Yet business is wedded to growth.

Regarding the deniers, we know some are ignorant rat bags, but one could not apply that label to one of Tony Abbott’s mentors, Archbishop George Pell, who believes that environmentalists suffer from a new ‘pagan emptiness’, and even compete with religion. In 2008 he said of climate science: “The public generally seem to have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion. These days, for any public figure to question the basis of what amounts to a green fundamentalist faith is tantamount to heresy.” Is it any wonder that Abbott vacillates and changes his position so wildly, so often?

Abbott associates himself with those who argue that because CO2 is a naturally occurring substance it cannot be harmful, after all it is the bubbles in soda water. The scientific stupidity of such a claim is mindboggling. Let me give just one example to illustrate why it is so stupid. CO2 is a normal component of blood, and a necessary one as it is the chemical that stimulates the respiratory centre at the base of the brain so that we continue to breathe. But too much in the blood (hypercapnia) is poisonous and leads to death. We see this in terminal lung disease. So CO2 is both normal and necessary in correct amounts for normal respiration, yet deadly in excess. The same applies to our planet.

I could go on for pages debunking some of the more stupid assertions about CO2, but the example above will have to do.

More difficult to counter are the deniers with a scientific background such as Adelaide geologist Professor Ian Plimer, and Lord Christopher Monckton. Both are highly plausible, articulate and convincing to those who have no scientific background or knowledge against which to assess the veracity of their claims. They cherry-pick the data that suits their argument, misrepresent it by way of word and graph, and argue from questionable historical data. They do not mention the holistic Gaia hypothesis as it does not support their argument. While the rat bags have nuisance value, these deniers are dangerous as they are able to convince intelligent (but scientifically ignorant) people to their cause. They are well funded by vested interests and travel the world, often at the invitation of denialist shock jocks, spreading their misinformation, and often downright lies, often with no challenge from climate scientists, who are not welcome at their performances.

To return to Flannery’s discussion of the Gaia hypothesis, he concludes by pointing to the new science of sociobiology that seeks to explain the social behaviour of animals through evolutionary theory. Its founder, Oxford University’s Bill Hamilton, has come as close as anyone to bridging the gulf between Richard Dawkins’ Neo-Darwinism and the Gaia hypothesis, wedding the reductionist and holistic approach to evolution.

This is not the place to discuss the most appropriate ways of combating excess CO2 in the atmosphere that is leading us towards dangerous global warming. That is for another piece.

But I trust I have explained clearly the reductionist and the holistic approach to scientific problems by reference to my own experience and that of family members, and that you are ready to consider the value of both, and the importance of using them together. I hope too you are willing to consider how these approaches might be useful in the study of climate change, and the folly of limiting consideration to just one of the multiple factors that affect climate, such as the stupid argument that because CO2 is natural, it cannot be harmful.

I trust you have found this interesting and informative.

How do you think about climate change?

Why do Only Fools and Horses Gamble?

As part of his anti-problem-gambling crusade, Andrew ‘Del Boy’ Wilkie manages a Centre for the treatment of gambling addicts, which is trialling his new, ‘BetaGorn Program’. This involves the addict being given a smart card with a $200 daily limit which, when exceeded, fails to activate the gaming machine.

The BetaGorn Cenre is located beside a petrol station and, on this night in particular, Del Boy, as evangelical as ever, walks across to the petrol-station shop, intending as usual to display his placard, spreading his anti-problem-gambling gospel. However, this evening, he notices Tony ‘Boycie’ Abbott standing outside the shop, dressed in his Lycra suit, rattling a collection tin, and shouting, “STOP THE MORTGAGE”, at the top of his voice.

They greet one another and exchange a few polite words.

Boycie: Here, Del Boy...do us a favour and hold on to my collection tin, while I go into the shop...I’m dying with thirst after my Pollie Peddle and want to get a can of coke without paying for it.

[Del Boy is a bit apprehensive about possibly being an accessory, but trusts Boycie enough to realise he wouldn’t do anything illegal. He accepts Boycie’s tin and watches interestingly as he enters the shop. However, if Boycie had taken the time to read and reflect on the words on Del Boy’s placard, they might have provided a source for some soul-searching: “Why do Only Fools and Horses Gamble?”]

Boycie has been inside for a while and, as Del Boy pounds the pavement outside, displaying his placard, he hears an almighty racket from within. He looks in the window and notices that Boycie is having a real barney with the shop assistant. Del Boy enters, intending to do a bit of peace-making.

Boycie (shouting): Now you look here, young lady...I’ve been on the Pollie Peddle for the last two months and I’m dying of thirst...I know I don’t have any money to pay for the can of coke, so why won’t you accept my double or quits offer?

Assistant: I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t do “double or quits” around here...if you don’t pay for the drink with money like everyone else, please put it back in the fridge...

[By this time, a queue of impatient customers, stretched out behind Boycie, is about to lynch him, so Del Boy comes to his rescue, pays for the drink and leads Boycie outside to cool off.]

Del Boy: Okay, Boycie...calm now?

Boycie: Yeah...bloody shiny-bummed bureaucrat in there...no sense of adventure, these young ‘uns...

Del Boy: Erm, Boycie...I couldn’t help noticing you offered a double or quits in there...you haven’t got a gambling problem, have you?

Boycie: Huh, so would you, Del Boy, if you had a big mortgage like I have and only a measly LOTO wage to service it...And not to mention the cost of buying new bikes and Lycra suits...and the Party is debiting me up-front to pay for my stupid maternity-leave scheme when you blokes see the light and put us into government...

Del Boy: Hmmmm...it looks like I might just have the ideal program, Boycie, to help you overcome your “double or quits” and other gambling addictions...

[Del Boy gives Boycie back his collection tin and leads him by the arm over to BetaGorn House, explaining to him how the program works. Inside, Del Boy pauses at the doors of two rooms. One is in silence and darkness and the other is full of vitality, with the whiz-bang sounds of well-patronised one-arm bandits emanating from within.]

Boycie: Righto, Del Boy...what’s the story with the two rooms?

Del Boy: Okay, Boycie, this is the deal...As you can see and hear, only one is in operation...we call it the PC – “Pre-Commitment” – Room...

Boycie: So it’s a bit like signing yourself in?

Del Boy: Yeah, a bit like that, Boycie...You see, when you enter here, we give you a Smart Card with a $200 limit, and if you use it up before the end of the day, you can’t go on the one-arm bandits for the rest of the day...

Boycie: And the dark, uninhabited room?

Del Boy: Yeah, we don’t use that room any more, Boycie...We call it the “Suckers’ Room” – it’s a throw-back to the bad old days when punters could go on the machines and spend everything they had – or didn’t have...Some people would even sell their best friends in there...

Boycie: Maybe you could open it again and I could pretend Malcolm Turnbull is my best friend...heh...heh...

[Del Boy ignores Boycie’s lame joke, and leads him into the PC Room. Inside, there is quite a collection of folk, including some celebrities. Amongst the latter are Adam Brandt, Bob Katter and Julia Gillard. Boycie and Del Boy pause beside Bob’s machine and, after he pulls the handle, he gets three crocodiles sitting on roofs, registering a 10-dolllar win. Bob gives a “yee-hah”, smacks his enormous hat against his thigh, and proceeds to give the handle another tug.

They move on to Julia’s machine, but she doesn’t seem to be having much luck with this particular pull – three large ear-lobes! She tries again, this time getting three gold stars for overseeing the best economy in the whole history of the universe. This nearly makes Boycie puke with envy, so he moves along, just in time to witness Adam Brandt getting up to go, having exhausted his $200 limit.]

Boycie (to himself): Jeeze, this is as boring as batshit...give me the Suckers’ Room any day...

[Boycie tells Del Boy he needs to spend a penny, and ducks out. However, on his way back, Boycie takes a detour into the Suckers’ Room, switches on the lights and plugs in one of the machines. As soon as it’s cranked up, Boycie takes a dollar coin out of his collection tin and inserts it. At the first pull, he gets three Dennis Shanahans, and the machine pays out $10.]

Boycie (to himself): You beaudy! At this rate, by the end of the night, I’ll have made a fair dent in the old mortgage...hee...hee...

[Boycie sticks in another dollar and when the drums stop rolling, he is delighted to see the smirking boat-races of three Peter Costellos, which also pays out $10.]

Boycie: Well, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers...heh...heh...

[Boycie continues to ply the machine with dollar coins, but his initial good fortune appears to have deserted him. He gets a motley assortment of Chris Uhlmanns, Janet Albrechtsens, Andrew Bolts, Piers Akermans, Melissa Clarkes, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam...but never the three in a row to guarantee a payout. By this stage, he has not only exhausted his earlier winnings but is down to the last dollar coin in his collection tin. He gives it a kiss, blesses it, puts it in the slot and pulls the handle. As the first drum comes to a halt, the stern face of Mark Riley looks back at him. The same with the second one. “One more of that bastard Riley – you can do it – come on you good thing!” However, when the third drum comes to a shuddering halt, the transubstantiating tri-fecta is far from complete.]

Boycie: Bloody Nicola Roxon!! THAT’S BULLSHIT!!!!

[Boycie’s shattered hopes result in him entering a type of catatonic state, staring blankly at the screen, and nodding like a metronomic toy.

Meanwhile, Del Boy has noticed Boycie’s prolonged absence. He exits the PC Room and sees the light on in the Suckers’ Room. He flings open the door, witnessing Boycie in his trance-like state, nodding idiotically at the machine.]

Del Boy (yelling): Boycie!! Come out of there at once!! You must have a serious problem if you are in the Suckers’ Room all on your own!!

[Del Boy’s yelling brings Boycie back to earth and he groggily shuffles to the door, just in time to see Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Tony Crook walking along the corridor towards them.]

Boycie: Wow! The Three Amigos! By my reckoning, Del Boy, for your BetaGorn Program to get up and running, you need the support of at least one of them...How do you think it will go, Del Boy?

Del Boy: Not sure at this moment in time, Boycie...We’ll just have to see how things pan out in the discussions...

Boycie: And if one of them goes your way?

Del Boy: Well, for you, Boycie, that’ll mean shit really happens...heh...heh...

Boycie: Erm, by the way, Del Boy...in the Suckers’ Room I lost all the money I collected in my STOP THE MORTGAGE tin...you wouldn’t like to do a double or quits, would you...

Del Boy: [Sigh]...you’re incorrigible, Boycie old son...

Not quite joined at the hip but in the same ballpark

I will now attempt to elucidate the points I think Menzies' speech has in common with the PM's thoughts about Labor's polity ensconced within contemporary Australian society, thus to prove how it is not heresy to say that, yes, Menzies and Gillard may have something worthwhile in common with each other. Not everything, or even a majority of things, to be sure because that would be a betrayal of Labor's core reason for being a party opposed to what the Conservative Liberal's stand for in other areas. Instead, I just want to point out that it is worth considering that maybe a Prime Minister from the Labor Party can have a few things in common with a PM from the Liberal Party, which they can have in common with the Australian ethos and its people, in general.

Of course, I will not agree with all Menzies' positions either, and neither would Julia Gillard.

Paragraph 1: 'His (the bishop's) theme was the importance of doing justice to the workers.' 

Now, whilst Labor will always have, as it's core philosophy, 'doing justice to the workers', and rightly so, it's true to say that the definition of a 'worker' has changed in some important ways from the days when the ALP ethos was originally conceived as being, approximately, 'by the worker, for the worker', when 'the worker' was broadly conceived to be, 'not the boss', but an employee.

Now, I think we all have to agree that, and as John Robertson interestingly put it recently in his interview with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders, that these days 'workers' are also Small Businesspeople. To my mind this group also includes Micro Businesses which do not have a shop front and are run from home, Contractors and Sub-Contractors. These are all people who just want to work hard for a decent living and provide well for their families. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work is what they also want. And so, as the party which seeks to protect 'workers' from exploitation, the Labor Party should be seeking to embrace these people and win them over from the Conservative camp where they are parked now. They are there, I believe, due to their now outmoded allegiance to the sort of small 'l' Liberalism principles, which appear to have been superseded by big 'C' Conservatism and Libertarianism, which pays fealty to the multinational corporations, and national monopolies and duopolies, who seek to expand at the expense of the little guy. In the same way that unscrupulous employers have always sought to exploit powerless employees.

So, in other words, it is right and proper for the ALP to proudly say they seek to represent these 'Forgotten People'. Where once, back in Menzies' time, they were an understandable and natural constituency of the Liberal Party, now they are not. In fact, many of these demographics didn't exist back then, and it is just a failure on the ALP's part that they didn't cotton on to them before the Liberal Party did. They are a more appropriate constituency of the ALP.

'His belief, apparently, was that the workers are those who work with their hands.'

As we know, Labor represents not only those who work with their hands, but also those who work in the Services sector, and the Financial Services sector, and the Health Services sector, and the Education Services sector. Also, as I alluded to previously, those in the Brain Services sector, who contract out their brainpower and talents in areas such as IT, Design, Engineering, Economics, Journalism, Life Coaching, and all those new areas of our new Green Economy, which will flower in the years to come.

'He sought to divide the people of Australia into classes.'

Well, as you, I, Menzies and Gillard would agree, Australia strives to be a classless society. However, I would add the rider that, it is not to say that there are not 'Elites' in Australian society today. And not just the 'Intellectual Elites' that the Liberals seek to deride in their malevolent attempts to encourage the spread of anti-intellectualism for their own political benefit. What IS true is that there are Economic Elites and cadres which have formed in Australian society.

There are the wealthy Self-Funded Retirees, who were gifted largesse from the Public Purse and a powerful voice during the Howard years; the Housing and Investment Elite, who made their fortunes off the decisions made by government favourable to them, which started in the Hawke/Keating years, as a result of Capital Gains, Negative Gearing and the subsequent Housing Bubble. Also, there has come to be those financially-favoured by the Resources Boom, plus those who have made their fortunes by investing wisely, and those who have profited as a result of the Liberal Party's weakness when it comes to taxing Trusts equitably and fairly compared to PAYE taxpayers.

I'd say that these new 'Elites' form the base of the Liberal and National parties today.

I think the new 'Demarcation Lines' I have drawn between the Labor and the Liberal Parties should be those that they should now function around.

What do you think?