Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘family

Another dead heat? Voting in Australia…..

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Chamber, Parliament

Elections!  Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  This time it is Victorian State Parliament.  We just had a hung Federal election and it looks like we could get a hung Victorian one as well if some of the commentators are to be believed.  While I rarely agree with Andrew Bolt about anything much at all, I have to say he is rather on point with his assessment that this looks like another “dead heat” in the making.

Farrah Tomazin of The Age is saying rather much the same thing.

The headline banner of the HeraldSun says “On a Knife Edge”.

I have a sense of deja vu.  Impending doom of another two week wait for independants to clutch their moment of power while staring at the TV cameras like deer caught in the headlights.  Maybe not quite, but there is no situation like a hung election result to give an amazing amount of attention to a few – sometimes just one.  There was once this senator from Tasmania, I believe………

We Victorians will all dutifully trudge to the polls tomorrow at our local primary school, the church hall, the this or that building to have our names marked off the role and put our numbers in the little boxes.  Those of us who forget will be fined if we don’t have good reason for foresaking our democratic right to vote.  To Americans the concept of compulsory voting is indeed strange.  They think it is undemocratic.  But then I have had Americans swear they live in a republic, definitely not a democracy.  I’m not sure what they teach in American schools about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  At least we have the sense to hold elections on a Saturday.  Can you imagine voting on a Tuesday, a work day?

I like the fact Australia makes it a family thing.  Children pop along with their parents and grow up with the idea voting is the normal thing to do.  The odd sausage sizzle adds to the flavour of the day.  We could do without all the “how-to-vote” cards but I guess it just goes with the territory.  How many really follow those things anyway?

In the Federal election we had a record number of “informal” votes – in fact, if I recall correctly, we had a record number of actual blank votes.  Perhaps I should explain a little.  You see, having been a scrutineer myself in another life, I can personally attest to the interesting things one finds on ballot papers.  Interesting anatomical drawings are not uncommon.  Swearing is also popular.  Blank is actually quite unusual.

People in Australia have been making quite a political football out of asylum seekers of late, especially any that happen to cross the seas in a boat.  To those people who want to see us treat these people to the conditions of places such as Christmas Island and then send them home, I suggest as you exercise your vote on Saturday, you take a moment to reflect on how lucky you are to be able to stroll down to the polling station, kids in tow, grab a snag from the fund raising sausage sizzle and wander home in peace.  With your hands still attached to your wrists.  No bullet through your head.  No risk of your wife or daughter being raped because you had the audacity to vote.

Treat your right to vote with the respect it deserves and while you are doing it, have a thought for those who flee from regimes where it is perilous to attempt to achieve the freedoms we take for granted.

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Laws or no laws, the numbers are bad

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Children.  Vulnerable, dependant, lovable, cute: they can also be little horrors as any parent knows.  Adults of this world are responsible for ensuring the safety and upbringing of our children.

Today’s edition of The Age carried a story that should make all of us stop and think, irrespective of our voting preferences.  I’m happy to let the politicians argue over our laws: what we do or don’t have and is it enough.  What I DO know is that the numbers in the article are not what we should expect from a civilised country.  “… more than 1000 incidents in 2009-10 that were classified category 1 ...” and “More than 21,100 category 2 incidents were reported – events that seriously threaten clients or staff.”

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1996 and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The latter specifically states:

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Australia (not just Victoria) has had some really horrendous cases of child abuse lately.  The field of child protection cannot be an easy field to work in: I expect the stress levels would be quite high.  Clearly from the article in The Age, the staff turnover is very high.

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Hilary Clinton made famous a Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

On the numbers given, this village, our village, is clearly failing a great many children.  While we can attempt to protect the children most at risk, to me this is a reactive process.  We have to find a proactive approach at look for the sources of the problems.  Why are so many people placing children in these situations?  What can we do to minimise, if not prevent, this happening?

A while ago I wrote about “Moving Forward” and covered several aspects of the state’s “rules” relating to protecting children and how there seemed on the face of it to be considerable contradiction when looking at the larger picture.  My comments there are also applicable to this entry today.

The best most of us can do is NOT turn a blind eye.  We are members of the village.  It takes a village to raise a child.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 24, 2010 at 10:49 am

Should I pay for your right to have children?

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A really cute grandnephew of mine

Of late we in Victoria, Australia have been inundated with either our own elections or election commentary from overseas.  We had our own Federal election in August, followed by the USA mid-terms and now we are in the final stages of the Victorian State elections.  We vote next weekend.  At least we are sensible enough to hold elections on the weekend!

Paid maternity leave has always been a bit of a problem for me.  Essentially the community ends up funding the cost to business.  Replacement staff are needed and this is passed on to the consumer in the prices of goods and services. Perhaps that is a good thing: after all, we do need the next generation and the economy is structured such these days that one income is really not enough, unless you are the CEO of one of our major banks!  So there is an argument for community funding, however indirectly that may be.  I have for years tossed this around in my thoughts against my belief that having children is a personal choice and responsibility.  I acknowledge perhaps it isn’t, totally.  There is a Nigerian proverb, once made famous by Hilary Clinton, that it takes a village to raise a child.  There is considerable truth in that.

Now it seems we want to go a step further.  The incumbant Victoria Premier has annouced a policy of a guaranteed right to return to work, part-time.  Current legislation guarantees only a return to the previous job, which is usually full-time.  This will increase the costs of maternity leave dramatically.  As this is not a look at economics, I will let another quantify the costs to business (as I am sure the opposition will), especially small business which employs the largest number of employees in our economy.

I wonder if people really cost out returning to work at all.  I know years ago my sister and I sat down and worked out all the additional costs related to her returning to work: petrol/travel, office clothes and childcare were just a few of the expenses.  We worked out she would gain about $20 a week.  Admittedly this was quite some years ago (she is a grandmother), she had four children and she had no formal qualifications to earn a high powered salary (such as the bank CEOs).  All the added stress and reduced mother time simply wasn’t worth $20.  Times have changed and the sums may no longer be the same.

What I DO know is that for business this will increase costs, which will be met by everyone – or the business viability will be compromised.  Businesses are not charity institutions, they exist to make a profit.  If they don’t, they fold and people lose their jobs.  How many manufacturing operations have already been moved off-shore due to the cost of labour?  How many call centres are based in India for the same reason?  Those are jobs that Australia has lost.  Yes, I know our unemployment is much lower than, for example, the USA and the UK.  Our economy is stronger.  We need to see it stays that way.

I am not sure this is for the benefit of all.  I see a grab for votes that sells papers and TV time here, rather than a considered analysis of the impact on the economy.  The health of our economy affects everyone, including the new mothers and their newborn babies.

What do you see?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 9:09 am