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?”

You are know you are a pet owner when …

… you can understand why a person would rather be homeless with their animal companion* than give them up and enter crisis accommodation.

While I dislike linking to the Herald Sun, there’s actually quite a good article about how Wesley Mission in Ringwood is valiantly trying to come to grips with the issue of newly homeless people having to choose between accommodation and their pets as well as caring for those pets. Boarding the pets somewhere while longer-term accommodation can be found is obviously extremely difficult for many.

The US / Canada has an actual charity that focuses on this Pets of the Homeless (with apparently a branch in Melbourne now) and yes, once upon a time I would have scoffed at this typical bleeding heart reaction to a very large complex issue but now having had Captain and Khaleesi in my life for about a year and a half, I have to say that I can completely understand.

The photo above is of a homeless musician named James and a stray cat he adopted and named Bob. It is now going to be a movie. I will certainly pay money to watch that.

And if the following photo doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, well, I guess you’re not a cat lover.

* also when you start referring to your pets as animal companions or furry housemates or just plain friend

A new hope (?)

Two nights ago, I listened to the youngest minister ever appointed in Australia, Wyatt Roy (25), on RN. I was skeptical to say the least. Ah, good old Malcolm, I thought, using his commercial marketing background to ensure he is covering as much of his audience as possible. What better than an actual living signboard that the new Coalition has been rejuvenated so much that they are almost newborn? And who knows, the younger generation who have primarily deserted fossil Abbott and cardboard Shorten might even return from the Greens.

But after a few minutes of listening to Roy’s high pitched barely broken voice, I found myself being more and more impressed. I began to realise that this was not just a tokenistic appointment, a shadow play of style and no substance. Mr Roy is intelligent, confident and articulate. He appears to answer from both the head and the heart. And he seems to take his role as a minister and a political voice for his generation with all the respect, dedication and consideration that it deserves.

Later, the new minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, another progressive Liberal, came on and again I was impressed by his ability to maintain a considered narrative, one that focused on reason, reasonableness and balance. Even the digs at Labor didn’t come across as attacks so much more as actual points of argument against their policy.

I began to understand that something has happened in Australia. That the tone of government brought down into the mindless aggressive gutter by Abbott has actually shifted. It was just the first day of course. There’s plenty of time for corruption, cynicism, despair and aggression to re-emerge (see this excellent article on the Conversation on how being PM effectively lobotomised our last two). But looking at the fresh faces on the frontbench, some of whom had jumped up many levels, I began to suspect that Mr Turnbull’s claim to have appointed on merit with a vision of Australia’s future was not just empty rhetoric.

And for the first time in many years, I started to think of the current government not as Turnbull’s government (as it was always Abbott’s government) but as my government.