In 2017 – let’s be the change we want to see

Well look at that. 2016 is finished and 2017 has arrived to present us with more challenges. To be brutally honest, 2016 wasn’t the best of years for those who prefer progressive policy, equality and fairness for all. Later this month, Donald Trump becomes president of the USA; at the time of writing Malcolm Turnbull still survives as prime minister of Australia; and the likes of Cory Bernardi and George Christensen seem to be in charge of the LNP’s policy settings, probably in spite of what Turnbull would like to think. In the past, articles at this time of the year have suggested that no one really cares about politics because the beach, tennis and cricket are too appealing. While the beach hasn’t lost its charms (depending on the weather and the crowds), the tennis has the same identities as 2016 and the test cricket is a matter of concern as 2016 concludes.

If it makes us feel any better, it seems that as 2016 ended, Turnbull was under the pump with the state premiers openly critical of Turnbull’s backdown on looking at pricing schemes to limit carbon emissions. Probably even more surprising was the Business Council of Australia slamming the government for ruling out such a scheme. It’s not often that ALP premiers and the Business Council agree on something so fundamental. On top of that, there are outbreaks of logic about the emptiness of Turnbull’s 'Jobson Grothe' (sorry, that should read ‘Jobs and Growth') slogan that nearly lost him the election held mid-year. While there have been 25 years of economic growth, the September 2016 quarter resulted in a 0.5% contraction, the first for 5 years. As the 'leftie elites' at the ABC reported:
The only way for millennials to save, for households to pay down their debts, for all of us to have good job prospects and more security and to avoid that credit crunch, is for the Government to go back on everything they have been saying for years, and to increase its spending.

An increasing number of experts are now going against the mainstream, and making the point that for the rest of us to save, the Government has to borrow.

"Voters have been force-fed this neoliberal line that is without foundation in theory, history, experience or practice," said Professor Mitchell.
Australia’s treatment of refugees is now an international talking point. The New York Times recently published a feature article on the issue noting that:
In Peter Dutton, the immigration minister, the country has its own little Trump. Last May he portrayed the asylum seekers as illiterates bent on stealing Australian jobs, and he has suggested “mistakes” were made in letting in too many Lebanese Muslim immigrants. His soft bigotry resonates with enough voters to sway elections.

At the same time, Manus and Nauru are a growing embarrassment to Australia, a party to all major human rights treaties. “There is an increasing realization that this is unsustainable,” Madeline Gleeson, an Australian human rights lawyer, told me.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull knows this and needs a way out. After Omid Masoumali, a young Iranian, burned himself to death on Nauru this year, a cartoon by Cathy Wilcox captured Australia’s shame. Above a man in flames was the caption “Not drowning.”
Before we all decide to give up amongst the doom and gloom, there are a few things we should try. According to Jay Rayner’s article in The Guardian, a tub of Haagen Dazs salted caramel ice cream may help. While I can’t offer any personal experience, it might be worth a try.

Or we can take the example of some notable Australians who have suffered greatly at a personal level and turned the suffering into a positive message for the greater good.

Daniel Morcombe was waiting for a bus on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in December 2003. He was going to a shopping centre to buy Christmas presents. He never made it to the shopping centre or home afterwards. Daniel was 13. For eight years, his whereabouts were unknown. In August 2011, a person who used to live on the Sunshine Coast was charged with Daniel’s abduction and murder and he was convicted in March 2014.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe are Daniel’s parents. They had every right in the world to retreat into their remaining family and mourn Daniel’s disappearance but they didn’t. In 2005, they set up the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, and pledged:
The Foundation's key role in the community is the education of all children about their personal safety. By directly assisting educators and parents through the funding and development of child safety educational resources as well as assisting young victims of crime, the Foundation continues to empower all Australians to make their local communities safer places for all children.

The Foundation is strongly committed to the development and education of Respectful Relationships for children and teenagers in our schools and communities and also assisting in reducing the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in the Child Protection sector.
The Foundation has developed and made freely available a number of resources and phone apps that target school children across Australia. Most of the material is free. The Daniel Morcombe Foundation also raises awareness through activities such as the 'Day for Daniel' where schools are encouraged to discuss 'stranger danger' and similar issues with students. Bruce and Denise Morcombe’s list of achievements is extensive and ongoing, with seemingly no chance of slowing down in the near future:.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation remains committed to Child Safety Education and developing Harm Prevention resources that help educate children, teachers, parents, carers and their families to 'Keep Kids Safe'.

In addition, the Foundation now has a strong focus on building Respectful Relationships within our schools and communities through proactive education. Coupled with our core messages of Recognise, React, Report, this will enable children and young adults to act positively and appropriately while staying safe.

The Foundation continues to develop new cutting-edge resources that are required in our ever-changing cyber and physical world. We are committed to fund new projects and initiatives in partnership with Universities, Police, community and educational organisations to ensure an on-going commitment to child safety and respectful relationships. These resources will continue to be made available and accessible to all communities (free of charge) throughout Australia.
Clearly the Morcombe family made the decision to tell Daniel’s story rather than bottle it up. They had the good sense to gather people around them who knew how to get a story out, and publicise the story relentlessly. Like a lot of public good programs, no one can really say how many kids’ lives have been saved by the work of the Morcombes in the past 11 years and how many will be saved in the future, but the real point is this: instead of asking why it happened and blaming the bus company (the bus Daniel was going to catch broke down and a replacement one was full prior to getting to Daniel’s location, so it didn’t stop); the police for not finding Daniel immediately; themselves or any one of the other thousand or so coincidences that could have saved Daniel, they resolved to do something to 'fix it'. The Daniel Morcombe Foundation is successful and rightly so. I know my kids have been exposed to the 'Day for Daniel' message and are well aware of some protocols that may help them to escape a similar fate to Daniel’s — as are thousands of other school aged kids around Australia. Rather than being consumed by it, the Morcombes turned their grief and agony into a movement that clearly makes the society we live in a better place to be.

Rosie Batty was the 2015 Australian of the Year due to her work in countering domestic violence in Australia. Unfortunately, Batty has personal experience of domestic violence as well as witnessing her son being murdered by an ex-partner at Tyabb, Victoria, during 2014. As the website for the Luke Batty Foundation states:
Everyone in Australia was hugely affected by the manner in which Luke was killed and communities from far and wide responded generously by sending to Luke’s mum Rosie, hundreds of cards, an abundance of beautiful flowers, and donations, both large and small
The Luke Batty Foundation website and Batty’s telling of her story has certainly brought awareness of issues around domestic violence against both women and men in this country. Once there is awareness, there is the opportunity to take action to hopefully eliminate the problem from our society. Batty’s ongoing work will continue to promote solutions to the issue of domestic violence.

Like the Morcombes, no one would have blamed Batty if she had withdrawn into an environment where she had caring people around her and questioned how and why the events surrounding the murder of her son occurred. She hasn’t — obviously deciding that her suffering can be better used in creating a public good.

The Morcombes, Rosie Batty and others who have turned adversity into good can teach us all a lesson in relation what looks like the rebirth of the ultra-conservative/alt-right/delcons or whatever terminology you want to use.

There is a version of an old saying that suggests that if at first you don’t succeed — don’t try skydiving. While flippant, the answer to the excesses of those like Bernardi, Christensen and Dutton in pushing Australia into being a mean and dispirited collection of minions is to keep pushing the case for the alternative. You too are perfectly capable of writing an email or letter to a politician that is party to something that offends you. You too can write a post on a blog. There is no magical formula that is shared by 'the elite'. Should you choose The Political Sword as your media of choice we’ll even help you (just click on the 'Contact' link at the top of this and give us an idea of what you want to write about). You too can 'like', 'share' or post something on your social media account. A ground swell of support can work miracles.

Marketing experts tell us that personal recommendation has far more influence than advertising or statements by those who are not trusted as highly (such as politicians). The same people will also suggest that emails and correspondence critical of the actions of public figures and companies are read and if there is a sufficient volume, action will be taken to address the concerns. Some will tell you that you have no idea: ensure that you have some facts to back up your argument and be prepared to lay the facts out calmly and logically.

Bloggers and social media posters do get noticed. Greg Jericho enjoyed a quiet life blogging as 'Grogs Gamut' until Mark Scott, then managing director of the ABC read something Jericho wrote on his blog about the quality of journalism during the 2010 election. Scott used the comment in a missive to his staff about the quality of the election news coverage. Jericho now writes for The Guardian and the ABC websites after The Australian outed him claiming 'the public interest'.

So, in 2017 don’t just sit there and yell at the TV when Turnbull or his minders put yet another nail in the coffin of the society where people are supposed to be equal, where we care about each other and those who are not as well off as we are, and we care about the quality of life of those that follow us — do something about it.

Apart from being part of the change you want to see, you’ll feel much better if you do try to change the world.

If issues discussed in this article have affected you or those close to you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

What do you think?
Let us know in comments below.

Happy New Year from the people behind The Political Sword. The site is being regularly monitored so please keep it clean and play nice or we will be forced to use the delete button. Apart from an article scheduled to appear mid-January, our regular commentary recommences on 29 January. We look forward to your readership and active participation this year.

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1/01/2017Folks, I'm reposting this from Ad astra's last post because I'm not sure if anybody saw it and being the rare creature that it is I thought I should give people a chance to see it. TalkTurkey 31/12/2016 8:00:49 PM | "All the best for 2107" - Ad astra Smile Comrades All, This is the first time in many months that I have even visited this site. Why, you may ask. Well, I have agonised much and long over it. But as I explained to Ad per phone when he rang me weeks ago, it's because of a dilemma I find myself in. I used to write nearly every day when *J*U*L*I*A* was PM, and most of the time I used to end my contributions with my own battle cry, lifted from the magnificent Sandinistas of Nicaragua, VENCEREMOS! (We Will Win!) And I never said it without genuine conviction that we would indeed keep the barbaric RW hordes at bay. As soon as Rudd's perfidy overthrew *J*U*L*I*A*, I knew that Labor was in deep trouble. And since then I have not felt that conviction of the inevitability of justice and truth prevailing in Australia, seeing my countrymen turn to a thug leading a band of crooks, yobs and rorters, with a Labor Opposition Leader who at best is far from inspirational, and a populace deeply divided by the extreme Right and bedevilled by a complicit Media who vilify and persecute such tiny fish as Thomson and Dastyari while lionizing treacherous Jackson and exonerating criminal Sinodinus. And the Australian public swallows it all, or at least enough of them to return this fraudulent Government. And now the world has been Trumped. This creature is like Abbort-gone-Godzilla, the ultimate expression of populism of the uneducated masses whose stupidity has been so painstakingly nurtured by Murdoch and his minions. So now my outlook is more than ever doleful, as I watch the Poles melt and the life-forms go extinct and the population explode, militarism rule supreme, and religion - which in my early years I had thought could not survive the Age of Science - bedevil human relationships from micro to macro world wide. You see, this is no message to spread on the valiant Political Sword, which has ever been Defender of the Light on the Hill. But tonight will end in fireworks, and in the glare of the New Year, perhaps, just perhaps, the World will see through the inanity of the Trumpophiles and reject the bigotry of religiomanes, and clutch at an increasingly desperate chance of a Future for Life on Earth. There's nothing else to hope for, so it's a case really of, "Once more into the breach, Dear Friends, once more!" And since there's nothing for it anyway, let me yet again yell full-throated as we approach this watershed New Year, VENCEREMOS! NO PASARAN! HNY to All.


1/01/2017Comrades, On 20 December Bill Shorten tweeted of his own volition: ‏@billshortenmp · Dec 20 "Pleasure to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel @netanyahu, a good friend of Australia." It was accompanied by a photo of BS and Yahu at ease across a table in Israel. Any comments please?


1/01/2017TT, Lovely to see you here and happy new year. I suspect that the seed of the eventual return to a balanced and reasonable political life has already begun. There are a lot of reasons for this that will probably find their way into an article at some point in the future, but look at the example of One Nation and Palmer United, where once the 'leader' seems to define a direction others aren't happy with, the whole thing crashes and burns pretty quickly. We also have Turnbull sitting astride the barbed wire fence. If he follows the alt/right like Bernardi and Christensen he faces attack from the more moderate elements of the LNP who will probably find another 'moderate' to lead. If he doesn't follow the alt/right, they will split. So hang in there and, as you would know, you have to hit 'rock bottom' before sustainable improvement can be made. Hope 2017 is good to you and again, it is good to see you here again.

Ad Astra

1/01/2017Talk Turkey How good it is to see you writing on TPS again. I empathize with your feelings of despair about politics here and overseas. It is hard to explain why voters have chosen leaders and political parties that have flawed policies and seemingly little sense of direction. How those who fly in the face of the facts and eschew logic and reason can attract support is one on the political enigmas that bedevils our society as it attempts to adjust to the changes that are occurring all around us. The dominance of self-interest over the common good retards progress and heightens inequality. The power over political decision making of entrenched dogma and political ideology is not just astonishing; it threatens our way of life, the future of our nation, the destiny of the global economy, and indeed the fate of our planet. What we have witnessed during 2106 is that we cannot safely leave politics to the politicians. That has proved to be dangerous and unproductive. It is up to us as ordinary citizens to raise our small voices in protest, to point politicians towards more productive policies, to heighten the clamour for greater equity and fairness. There are better ways, which enlightened thinkers have described. It is up to us to thrust these before our politicians. It is through blogs like [i]The Political Sword[/i] and other strong sites such as [i]The AIMN[/i], that our voices are expressed, promulgated via social media, and eventually heard by our politicians. I hope you will find the time and enthusiasm to have your voice heard during 2017. Best wishes to you and J for 2017. VENCEREMOS! NO PASARAN! INDEED

Ad Astra


Michael Taylor

1/01/2017Happy new year to the TPS team. Day 1 of a new year, but the same fight. Good to see Talk Turkey again, btw.


1/01/2017The government does not have to borrow (issue bonds) to create money. As a sovereign currency issuer, It just has to spend, and that brings money into existence, according to Modern Monetary Theory.


1/01/2017Thanks for your comment silkworm - you may like to check out this by Ken Wolff in September:


2/01/2017Silkworm: "...It just has to spend, and that brings money into existence, according to Modern Monetary Theory." I know you mean well, but it gives ammunition to others when you say that, because it suggests that this is just a "theory". MMT describes how fiat money comes into the economy. This is not theory - it is a fact. The "borrowing" is an "artefact" left over from the days of the "gold standard", Bretton Woods, and other such arrangements. It substitutes fiat "bonds" for fiat money.


3/01/2017What a great gathering of old friends! Happy New Year to one and all! My old head is full of holes these days, which in view of the political theatrics is just as well. But it's that time of year again, so no matter how awful the political scene, Freo still has its Sunflowers! Was it just over a month ago Fremantle for me was all aglow With brave red poppies on the street? Now everywhere I go I meet Sunflowers, big leaved and tall, Bold yellow against sky and wall. From whence they came who can tell? Untended and not watered well, Under the glaring sun they stand, Smiling, proclaiming, ”Ain’t life grand!”


4/01/2017Patricia - What a delight to see one of your poems on this site again. totaram - The problem with explaining MMT is that some cannot grasp the difference between their household finances (in which borrowings do matter) and the federal government's finances (where borrowings are a means of reducing the productive capacity of the economy). It's not the easiest thing in the world to explain, not helped when the subject matter is really pretty dry. Ken's fairly recent MMT article has been linked above by Bacchus, I wrote one a year or two ago in which I tried to break MMT down into history and economics. Gollywog - If you haven't commented here before - welcome. I like your comment that ' lots of good things are happening despite the best efforts of some' and agree that better perceptions wouldn't go amiss.

Ad astra

6/01/2017Greetings from Singapore I have enjoyed reading your comments folks, and your poem Patriciawa. Welcome Gollywog. Although parliament is in recess, there is plenty of chaos to keep political addicts entertained. The catastrophic mess perpetrated by Centrelink, initiated by Christian Porter, is matched by the extraordinary arrogance and indifference of government spokespeople, who with righteous indignation insist they are doing the right thing by taxpayers by clawing back overpayments. Their lack of concern about the anxiety and distress suffered by those unfairly targeted is symptomatic of this government's approach. They take refuge in the assertion that only a small number are affected; we have yet to be reliably informed of the real figures. They could scarcely have organised a more telling public relations disaster over the holiday period. Whatever else they do poorly, they do PR disasters very well.
How many umbrellas are there if I have two in my hand but the wind then blows them away?