Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘politics

Not on vacation

leave a comment »

I am not on vacation.  I’m just very busy maintaining my other site, Love versus Goliath, and writing my memoir of the same name.  Everything other than family and work is on the back burner until I complete my manuscript.

If you happen to land here, please feel free to pay Love versus Goliath a visit, you will be most welcome!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

February 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Family

Tagged with , ,

What Stops a Nation? A Horse Race or an Airline?

with 4 comments

Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day, the “Race That Stops A Nation”.  I don’t know why any more – most of the runners are not Australian horses!  Today, however, there is something much bigger stopping our nation: Qantas.  The national airline, the one that still calls Australia home!

Reading The Age, which is carrying several articles and a live Twitter feed, Qantas didn’t see fit to inform the Government of the plans to ground the airline.  Qantas gounding seen hurting airline and economy is one headline.

It came as an embarrassment for Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was hosting a  summit of Commonwealth leaders in the western city of Perth, 17 of them booked  to fly out on Sunday with Qantas.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/qantas-grounding-seen-hurting-airline-and-economy-20111030-1mq1g.html#ixzz1cDJC5gC0

This is big.  Not only are many of the Commonwealth leaders stranded, the impact on the Cup will be dramatic.

Who is at fault here?  I don’t know.  I’ve had my own issues to concentrate on of late and to be honest I’ve not been keeping up with the situation other than catch snatches of commentary on the radio whilst driving to work.

I DO know this is not good for our international reputation and I do know the government should have been keeping a closer eye on the situation.  To all those involved, perhaps it is time to find a common ground for the benefit of our nation.  I’m not suggesting the unions back down if their claims are valid (are they?) nor am I suggesting the airline cave in either.  I am suggesting there has to be a common ground you can all reach.

Reach it now, before we look too damn stupid on the global stage.  We have one of the world’s strongest, if not THE strongest, economies at the moment.  But we let this happen?  How did this happen?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

Another death in detention

with 6 comments

“You can’t keep someone locked up for two years behind an electrified fence and tell them they’re free. All he wanted was one day of freedom – one day – and they wouldn’t give it to him. Well now he’s free.” – A close friend of a refugee named Shooty* spoke these words to us after Shooty died in immigration detention at 3am Wednesday.

The above is the headline introduction to an email I received today.  In the hope of gaining even a small number of additional supporters for the cause, I am republishing this email here.   What is REALLY clear here is that we, Australia, are risking people’s lives.  This young man had been granted refugee status, yet we still kept him behind bars.  Not good enough.

Yesterday news broke of yet another life lost in our detention system. A young Sri Lankan man took his own life after nearly two years of detention inside Villawood — despite being granted refugee status (but not release) earlier this year.

 It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Only a few weeks ago he had asked to spend this Wednesday at his friend’s nearby home, celebrating the Hindu holy day of Diwali, “the festival of lights.” Yet, despite no objections from Serco (the private security firm running Villawood) and the fact that four guards were set to accompany him, the Department of Immigration refused his request – claiming it wasn’t a “compassionate or compelling reason” for a day’s release from Villawood.

Who stands accountable when a man is locked away for seeking asylum, refused even a day’s respite after nearly 730 days of captivity and finally takes his own life in despair? Tell our government enough — end this disgrace. 

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

While yesterday’s observance of Diwali was meant to be a “celebration of the victory of good over evil and the uplifting of spiritual darkness,” unfortunately the long-term detention that Shooty suffered broke his spirit. Sadly, a friend yesterday described Shooty as “one of the strongest” in detention and “the last person I expected to commit suicide.” When others were down this was a man who lifted their spirits and kept them positive. “He was loved by everyone.”

 Yesterday the Minister for Immigration confirmed 462 others who have already been granted refugee status and have had health and security assessments are still behind the razor wire right now, awaiting their final security clearance. But it doesn’t need to be this way: ASIO, the government agency in charge of performing these security checks, says there’s no legal requirement in their Act for refugees to be kept in detention. Meanwhile, there have now been six suicides in detention since Labor took office, and transition to community detention hasn’t been happening fast enough.

It is a sad day when a young man finally on the edge of freedom breaks under the weight of an inhumane system and takes his own life. Tell our government, never again:

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

Thank you for using your voice,

The GetUp team

* NB: We’ve used the young man’s nickname over fears that family members, still in Sri Lanka, may face reprisal if his real name is publicised.

Support is available, in Australia, for anyone who may be suffering depression or other mental illnesses by calling Lifeline on 131 114

Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Global Public Debt – a simple perspective

with 9 comments

Global Financial Crisis, round two.  Global Public Debt.  The words on everyone’s lips these days.  I am not an economist, but everyone seems to have something to say, from Twitter to eminent university professors, so why not me?

I Stumbled (literally, on the website) upon this interesting little debt clock and map this morning at http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock.

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Take a look at the actual map, it is very interesting.  All the VERY red (i.e. in big trouble) countries are the ones we like to think of as being the world leaders or the most advanced civilisations or something equally complimentary.

Of course, in Australia, politicians LOVE to use the debt situation as a way to attack each other.  Looking at the media, it seems that is reasonably common globally. Looking at the figures to the left, we could be a lot worse off than we are.  I am NOT saying this to support the current Federal Government (I have my own personal little battle with that lot), I am simply making an observation about the information as presented by www.economist.com.

I’m a mother and an accountant.  Debits and credits translate into “how much money do I have” and “how much have I spent“.  Yes, I’ve had to borrow, so I have personal debt.  Don’t many of us?  Do I have more debt than I can repay?  No, I don’t (provided I don’t get hit by a bus any time soon and I have insurance against that possibility).

There are so many commas in the numbers to the left, I actually get confused!  Are  we are talking billions, trillions or something greater?  Eight trillion, creeping up to nine, for the USA, depending on which scale of magnitude you use (yes, globally we can’t agree on magnitude).  

Let’s look at the per person debt.  So far, Australia is still, compared to the other two, remarkably healthy, although I can’t say I like how dark pink we are on the map!  I am well aware of how all the economies are intertwined these days, so essentially I consider us rather lucky we aren’t sitting at USA or UK levels.

On top of my own personal debt, I only have to pay off another $11,462 of the public debt.  If I was in the USA I’d have to pay off another $28,350 and I may not have a job, given the unemployment levels in the USA.

I have read a bit about people being up in arms in the USA because the current solution is spending cuts but no increase in taxes on certain groups that many feel should be paying more tax.  Let’s face it, governments get their “income” from taxes (unless the country owns natural resources and generates revenue for the country from those resources).  Countries have budgets, just like any household or business.  Clearly someone’s been overspending!  For a long time! 

This puzzles me.  The USA policy of “fend for yourself” means that they don’t have the same funding of education, hospitals, medications and so on that we do in Australia.  How did they spend so damn much?  What on?  I could read umpteen articles and find a myriad of arguments, as everyone has a perspective.  I’m not going to, because the bottom line is simple to this simple mother.  Spend more than you have, print money you don’t have and guess what happens – you end up in the red.

I remember some years ago, when Bush introduced his first budget, global analysts stating the USA would pay about ten years down the track.  Seems those analysts were not far off the mark.  While it is now hard to find those old articles, I quote from www.economist.com again:

The most important legislation of his first year in office was a $1.35 trillion tax cut that handed an extra $53,000 to the top 1% of earners. At his farewell press conference on January 12th Mr Bush called his tax cuts the “right course of action”, as if they were an unpopular but heroic decision. They weren’t. The budget was in surplus in 2000, and both Mr Bush’s main Republican rival, John McCain, and his Democratic opponent, Mr Gore, also wanted to cut taxes, but by less, so as to pay down more debt and shore up Social Security (public pensions). Mr Bush’s much larger tax cut reflected his, and his party’s, belief that lower taxes restrain the size of government, empower individuals and are good for both growth and Republican prospects.

http://www.economist.com/node/12931660

We all know on a personal level, if we borrow money and have to make repayments, those repayments chew into our disposable income.  If we tighten our belts, we will be OK – if we keep spending at the same rate we were without an increase in money coming in, we’ll end up owing even more.  Is this difficult logic?  What applies in our own households, in our company boardrooms, even to our children’s pocket-money, applies equally to countries.

Some of the poorest countries owe the least.  No-one will lend those countries anything!  Same with poor people – they are not a good risk to lenders, so while they have little, usually they owe little as well.

What will happen?  My crystal ball is in for repairs, sadly, but while everyone is running around blaming everyone else, there is little likelihood of a good solution.  You are up the creek without a paddle, guys, so get your acts together and work in a bi-partisan way to fix the messes you either created or inherited. 

That’s what we pay you for!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

August 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in News

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Skilled Migration, Local Experience

with 19 comments

Australia recently revamped our General Skilled Migration programme.  Some occupations disappeared off the lists, some were redefined, new ones appeared.

There are several lists, these two seem to be the current ones!

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/_pdf/sol-schedule3.pdf 

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/_pdf/sol-schedule4.pdf

It works like this.  People apply to come to Australia on the basis of their qualifications in a trade or profession that we are short of.  Sounds reasonable.  It can take them up to three years to actually get through the visa application process.   There seem to be some strange regulations, such as if they are single when they apply, they must stay single until they enter Australia, so effectively we have put their lives on hold.

The biggest problem is once they get here, employers won’t give them a job, because they have “no local experience“.  Here is another interesting article in The Australian about no local experience.  The skilled migration programme doesn’t actually find jobs for these people, they are on their own.

So here is the situation in a nutshell.  Government runs the migration programme based on analysed demand for certain skills.  Employers, who presumably need these skills, then won’t employ the very people who come here on the basis their skills are needed.

This is nothing short of ridiculous.  We have highly qualified psychologists and chemists driving taxis.  A personal friend of mine arrived with a Master’s degree and ended up being a credit controller for a few years. 

When I arrived in Australia, I had no local experience either, yet I had a job the same day I decided to stay here.  That was back in 1974.  Things were different then.  Also, I didn’t have too much of an accent, I looked “the same” and my culture wasn’t that dramatically different and I didn’t need a visa.  I just stayed.  I was allowed.

Even those who were initially migrants themselves seem reluctant to hire newer migrants. 

Get over it!  At the moment it is like we are bringing people here under false pretences.  They apply for migration on the basis we, as a country, have said we need people in their occupation.  They get here and we won’t hire them? 

Give people a chance.  It isn’t just the skilled migrants.  Humanitarian visa people fair even worse.  They find it even harder to become employed: often their English may not be as proficient as a skilled migrant for instance, or they do not have the education a skilled migrant has.  So we won’t give them a job, then the rank and file “aussies” complain they are draining the public purse.  NOT BY CHOICE, I can assure you.

Employers, take your blinkers off.  Give these people a chance.  Implement a longer trial period if you like, but stop using “no local experience” as an excuse.  They have to get some, what makes you so precious as a company that you have to wait until someone else gives them local experience?

Ronald MacDonald, gumboots and broccoli have nothing in common, yet all three are part of life in Australia.  So are our migrants: many of US are migrants.  We arrived with no local experience either.

I would like to see the government more strongly encourage employers to stop using this “no local experience” discrimination.  For it is a form of discrimination. 

Have you rejected a migrant for a job lately?  Did you use no local experience as a reason?  Why?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

Why are women considered strange?

leave a comment »

Much is made in the media of the Muslim attitude to women.  Yet here I discover that Jews are not, due to religious beliefs, allowed to publish photos of women.  Orthodox Jews – perhaps non-orthodox are not so strict.

Christians tend to see themselves as closer to Jews than Muslims, is some way.  Yet here I see a marked similarilty between the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

This paper was published in New York.  Two women are airbrushed out of the photo, including Clinton. 

I have learnt something new today.

I am glad I am not a theist.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Posted in News

Tagged with , , , , ,

Ted Baillieu – a real Liberal at last?

leave a comment »

Politics has taken a bit of a back seat in my life lately but I was pleased to read this article in today’s edition of The Age.  Budget tells us much about Ted Baillieu the man.

I’m not going to attempt to delve into the state budget details: what I am interested in here is a leader who looked to help the marginalised and disavantaged in our society.  For some reason, over the last couple of decades, the view of Liberal philosophy by the “man in the street” seems to have changed.  Even I changed my vote once at Federal level in frustration at what I perceived as an idealogical shift that seemed to put us more in line with the American Republicans, so perhaps the party was itself driving the changed view.

Politics is, it is said, a dangerous game.  I do not consider it dangerous for the politicians: it is a dangerous game for the people.  While the politicians are busy point scoring, they are often using us, the people, as the football.  I’d like to believe we can have more genuine policy and less crap tit for tat media sound bites.  I don’t want to read about how bad one side thinks the other is all the time, I want to know what the alternatives being offered are! 

I trust Ted lives up to Farrah Tomazin’s assessment.

I’m feeling very encouraged!

 

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm