Where has the magic gone?

I can’t remember when I got my first set of Lego bricks and even who gave them to me. One day, hundreds of them appeared in two multi-compartment organisers and for the next decade or so until my mid-teens, they were part of my life. I built houses, space-ships, robots, race-cars and cities. I’d never heard of mini-figurines, so each of the one-by-one pieces became people. In many ways, as I struggled to realise my vision with that set, constantly frustrated by the numbers and types of pieces available (for some reason I never thought to ask for more bricks) , Lego shaped me.

Last year, roughly thirty years later, on a whim after spending some hours with my nephew over Xmas with his sets, I bought a couple of large classic sets. I’ve since supplemented them with a couple of large base-plates and a couple of extra windows-and-doors sets. But I haven’t really spent more that a couple of hours building anything with them. Every now and then I might toy with a couple of pieces but that’s about it. The occasional child who visits gets much more use than I do.

Labor’s big move during anti-poverty week

The verdict is in. With the latest Fairfax/Ipsos poll showing Malcolm Turnbull pretty much trashing Bill Shorten on every count of what Australia considers their PM should be, Labor’s desperate and quite pathetic attempt at smearing attracting attention to Malcolm Turnbull’s personal wealth and tax affairs has failed miserably.

It also gave Mr Turnbull a chance to demonstrate yet again that he has the gift of the gab:

“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise. Some of us will be more successful than others. Some of us are fortunate in the turn of business. Some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents. There is a lot of luck in life, and that is why all of us should say, when we see somebody less fortunate than ourselves, ‘there but the grace of God goes me’.”

The unfortunate thing is that inequality and poverty are both increasing in Australia and last week being anti-poverty week would have been good timing for Labor to focus on how this government has done very little on both fronts. Instead, they opt for a policy-free personal attack.

Bravo, Bill, bravo!

PS: the paper on poverty by St Vincent de Paul, “Sick with Worry”, makes for harrowing reading. The society decided to focus on individual stories to paint a picture that statistics cannot easily tell: the misfortune and suffering of the poor. I guess that it is also an attempt to bring compassion back into the hearts of people who’ve had 2 years of the Abbott government and their media lackeys sinking the boot into the poor.

Talking the talk

Violent extremism is a challenge to the most fundamental Australian values. We are the most successful multicultural society in the world. None of us can look in the mirror and say “All Australians look like me.” Australians look like every race, like every culture, like every ethnic group in the world…

Posted by Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday, 8 October 2015

If one has to look for differences between our previous PM and our current one, you don’t need to look much further than the opening paragraph in Mr Turnbull’s facebook post. Where Abbott always sought to divide us, Mr Turnbull seeks to unite. This is a no-brainer basic criteria for any national leader and it’s terrible that what should be taken for granted in our political leadership is now something that I am lauding.

Lest readers think that Mr Turnbull then goes on to hector about the rights of minorities within a multicultural society (as sometimes happens from the left), he instead reminds us of our responsibilities:

“Every religion, every faith, every moral doctrine understands the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So if we want to be respected, if we want our faith, our cultural background to be respected, then we have to respect others. That is a fundamental part of the Australian project.”

Without having to state it, we know that this applies equally to haters of all stripes.

I’m still not decided if Mr Turnbull will be able to walk the talk, but at least on the level of principles, I am proud for the first time in years of our PM.

Where are you from? No, where are you really from?

As anyone with an accent and/or who doesn’t quite conform to a thankfully fast-fading stereotype of what a “real” Australian looks like, that sequence of questions is familiar, often irritatingly so. It’s also one that I haven’t been asked for many years probably almost a decade now until one night at Burning Seed around the fire.

Continue reading “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?”