An Appointment with Ted


I took a half day off yesterday to be at the Melbourne Convention Centre, aka Jeff’s Shed. It was the Premier’s VCE Award and kiddo had won something.

I jumped on a tram on Collins Street about a block and a half down from my office and got there about 15 minutes later.

The event was scheduled to be held in the Plenary 2 hall. I met Tress and Kiddo at the foyer and soon made our way into the hall. There was a range of presenters – there were some 280 winners – and we were half concerned which of the presenters would be doing that part with Kiddo’s win.

Other than Ted Baillieu the Premier, Alex Chernov the Governor of Victoria, the Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Learning, and industry representatives –business executive (IBM), fashion designer (Peter Alexander), restaurateur (from Daylesford), opera singer (an indigenous person), Olympic athlete (a winter Olympic jumper), scientist (University of Melbourne professor) and environmental campaigner – all presented to different categories of winners.

Kiddo’s turn was just after the major winners – the overall VCE top achievers – and she had the Governor handing out her certificate. There was a long process to go through the other recipients after that but I enjoyed it. The whole thing took 2 hours and after that there was afternoon tea served and after taking a few photos, we left the place around 4pm.

I am very pleased for kiddo and extremely grateful to God for blessing her in this way. I hope the sense of hard work, drive and purpose never abates and she will always find joy and meaning in everything she does.

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Andrew Wilkie, Tara Moriarty (and Karl Bitar)


Andrew Wilkie is an independent federal MP from Tasmania. His pet concern is problem gambling. He wants to make it compulsory to have gambling machines fitted with technology which makes gamblers decide upfront, the upper loss limit.

Problem gambling can destroy lives and families. I know.  On the other hand, we have someone like Tara Moriarty. Tara sits on the ALP national executive and is a vice-president of the NSW branch of the party. She is the secretary of the NSW liquor and hospitality workers union called United Voice. Tara thinks fitting gambling machines with the sort of technology Andrew Wilkie wants will endanger thousands of jobs. Unemployment can destroy lives and families too.

Leave aside Tara’s nexus with Karl Bitar. Karl Bitar may appear to be just someone who used the unions and the ALP as a stepping board to enrich himself. Having climbed the echelon of the ALP on the back of unions (and killed Kevin Rudd when he got there), he now becomes a corporate fat cat with Crown Casino, leveraging off his insider knowledge of government policies, including on problem gambling. No doubt no one should trust this opportunist mercenary but leaving that aside and assuming Tara is fair dinkum about protecting jobs, what should be the community’s priority?

Should the community protect jobs by allowing gambling machines to be unprotected? Or should it protect problem gamblers by capping their losses? I’m sure there are studies out there to consider how much of the gambling industry’s revenue is made up of problem gambling – if indeed the gambling industry is dependent on problem gambling proceeds, whether the industry should be shut down altogether? Surely society shouldn’t be protecting jobs which are dependent on making money from feeding this destructive addiction?

On the other hand, would sacrificing these jobs reduce the problem of problem gambling? Would these gamblers simply resort to other forms of betting? There is nothing to stop the problem gamblers from switching from a poker machine to the counter on the TAB outlet, is there? If fitting these technologies on machines would not go very far in reducing these addicts’ problems, sacrificing jobs would have been for nothing.

Andrew Wilkie and Tara Moriarty probably need to sit down together and exchange notes to take this one further. Karl Bitar may also be interested.

Listen to Cate Blanchett on Carbon Tax? You’re Dreaming.


I first discovered what a great actress Cate Blanchett is, in The Fellowship of the Rings. Frodo and Co had just escaped Moria by the skin of their teeth and wondered into Lothlorien when they were confronted by Elves who took them to Galadriel, played of course by the beautiful and talented Cate Blanchett. As Lady of the Wood who could look into minds, she was very powerful – one of the bearers of the Rings which was to determine the fate of Middle Earth. It wasn’t The Ring of course, but she was a player – she had one of the rings (3, I think).

As Lady of the Woods, she’d be friends with the Greens, dont you think? At last, she is now – she now fronts the ads which sings praises for the carbon tax, together with Michael Caton, he of The Castle fame. I dont know what Cate and Michael are thinking, to be honest. All the clean energy and decarbonised economy of Australia would make next to no impact to global warming. The economy will be severely damaged for nothing as notwithstanding Australia‘s pre-eminent status as the per capita biggest emitter in the world, cleaning up Australia would do diddly squat to global warming.

Do Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton really think Australia makes a difference? Michael should know better – to think that, one has to say to him, “You’re Dreaming”. But of course it wouldnt matter to them. The extra costs will mean little to them. I suppose they really are actors and Australians would be fools to think they make sense when it comes to global warming. I’d go on watching their movies because they’re good at that. They arent however, social scientist or economists so they’re probably two of the last people I’d give any time of day for carbon tax matters.

Gillard and Bowen dealing with Ogres and Thieves from Malaysia


The deal being negotiated between Australia and Malaysia to process asylum seekers, is of considerable current interest. Last night we caught parts of the SBS Dateline program, with a story titled “Welcome to Malaysia”.

It really brought back very interesting memories.

For a start, we are reminded of how bloody minded ordinary Malaysians entrusted with a little bit of authority, can turn out to be. RELA officers decked out in military styled uniform are given free rein to terrorise ordinary man on the street. They’d pound on the door of citizens in the middle of the night, demanding to see your passport. They’d make you squat on walkways before hauling truckloads back to their headquarters for a long night of abuse.

In my past life, I have sat in the office of a police chief and hear him say to his subordinates “let them die”, referring to suspects being rounded up for anything you can imagine. Anyone who is an easy target – drug addicts, petty criminals and illegal immigrants – are easy game to these officers, be they police of militia personnel like RELA thugs. They’d detain, extort, abuse and exert their puny warden mentality to its full extent.

The drug addicts, petty criminals and illegal immigrants are not human beings in the eyes of these twerps. To these cowards and bullies, the drug addicts, petty criminals and illegal immigrants are vermin with money to steal from. If they are female, sexual crimes commonly follow. I have seen RELA personnel rounding these people up like they are herds of cattle.

Theresa recoiled when scenes of food being served came up. The illegal immigrants, squatting in the barb wired compounds, are served dirty rice and slivers of meats caked with grime, on trays which have never been washed. A detainee held up a tray to the camera and scraped off filthy grime and said the food was foul and stank.

The man tasked with looking after the illegal immigrant issue knew absolutely nothing. He looked and sounded exactly like your typical UMNO idiot who managed to become a deputy minister because those who appointed him are equally stupid. People like them abuse the ordinary people, steal from them, caused the most horrendous hardship on so many without batting an eyelid and then go to the mosque to pray and complain about opposition politicians committing sexual indiscretions.

The story on SBS Dateline certainly brought back memories, and reminded me why we left Malaysia. What that program showed was only a tip of the iceberg and it affected not just the less fortunate people. The mentality, attitude and value system of the powers that be cause unfortunate effect which was different to what the program showed, only in its degree and intensity. Why on earth is Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen even talking to this mob?

View the program here: http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601146/n/Welcome-to-Malaysia

Io Non Ho Paura and Late But Happy


Last night as I settled down with a glass of red just before Tress and I went to bed, we chanced on a foreign language film on television, on SBS. We watched a little while but were soon hooked and ended up watching the whole thing.

The movie was an Italian film titled “I am not scared”. It was about two boys, Michele and Filippo who met and became friends under the strangest of circumstances. Filippo was a kidnap victim, holed up in a pit behind the family farm house of Michele. Michele’s father is part of a group responsible for keeping Filippo there. They had kidnapped the boy.

We enjoyed the movie for the way the story slowly unfolded through the eyes of Michele, the country boy who enjoyed life in wide open grain farms and liked toy cars but who had an innate sense of what’s right. He instinctively knew he had to help Filippo even after discovering it was his own parents who were responsible for the kidnapping.

When the authorities tracked the kidnappers down, the crooks decided they had to shoot the boy. Michele’s father drew the short straw and when he pulled the trigger, it was Michele he shot. Michele had gone to rescue Filippo when he heard the kidnappers’ discussion.

The end/final scene saw helicopters descending on the farm property, with Michele held by his father and Filippo reaching out to his new found friend. Thankfully Michele reached out with his hand towards Filippo, suggesting the shot wasn’t fatal.

The movie was such a satisfying way to wind down the day. It was however, close to 11.30pm – about an hour past our usual bedtime – when the movie ended. It did however wind the both of us down sufficiently for a really good night’s sleep, so good that we overslept – almost 1½ hours for me and around ½ hour for Tress.

We woke up – a la Hugh Grant in 4 Weddings and a Funeral – at 6.20 and quickly got Kiddo up and rushed through the morning routine. By the time we got out of the house it was 7.20 and it was far too late to drive to the station, where the car park spaces filled out by a little past 7 on most mornings.

So we drove to Forest Hill Chase, parked there and caught a bus from there to the station. It worked out fine for me because I was only about 5-10 minutes later than my normal start time so it was cool. It did mean however that I missed most of my morning activities, including quiet time and gym.

I think it was worth it though – “I am not scared” (Io Non Ho Paura in Italian – I just googled it) was a beautiful movie. We didn’t understand a word of it but it was subtitled and it was a satisfying watch.

Still Submitting?


The following entry was over 3 1/2 years ago, and I wonder what my friends and relatives in Malaysia feel now about not speaking out strongly against the Malaysian government today:

http://godsmustardseed.com/2007/09/05/submitting-to-authority/

The recent independent day celebrations in Malaysia have, as one may expect, stirred a number of publications into putting out pieces on challenges facing Malaysia today. I sent one of these (from The Economist) to a number of people and it generated a little heat. That has lead to the creation of a new blog for certain family members to further talk about this and other issues. It also lead to the discussion of that age-old issue of what do we do with a government we don’t agree with?

This latter issue was raised in conjunction with obedience to Romans 13. That chapter started with a call to submit to the authority of the existing government. Of course, in a modern democracy, you fight like crazy to have your preferred candidate making the laws and no matter what the outcome of your fight, you have to remain law abiding citizens. That is an obvious starting point. Our natural instinct tells us however, that it is a relative and malleable principle. It doesn’t take much to respond, at the very next breath, with a yes-but. The holocaust jumps out in a flash in a topic like this. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, modern Serbia, Rwanda and most recently, Zimbabwe are regimes which scream out against an unqualified plain reading of Roman 13.

The problem with qualifying any part of the scriptures is it invites analyses and second guessing, based on our values which are subjective by definition. When that happens it becomes a free for all and you might as well throw away the bible. On the other hand, you have references such as Acts 5:29 in which Peter clearly qualifies Romans 13. Is that the answer then? I guess it must be. You can and must only submit to the authority of a government which has not clearly violated God’s standards. Peter himself has echoed Paul’s advice – see 1 Peter 2:17. Yet Peter in Acts 5:29 clearly said obedience to God must take precedence.

 I have made numerous entries on my feelings on the deeds (or more accurately, misdeeds) of the rulers of Malaysia. I don’t know they are clear violations against God’s laws – I suspect so but have not clearly pinned it down. I have not openly rebelled against any particular law of Malaysia. I have merely spoken up against many of its policies and practices. I guess instead of staying and chancing deterioration and prospects of actually violating Romans 13, I opted instead to avoid the issue. I simply thought it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it isn’t the issue of not being law abiding citizens so much as an issue of opting out of an unsatisfactory regime

 

If Will Steffen is right, will $100 a tonne cut it?


Will Steffen heads up the Climate Commission. He – the Commission – has issued a report demanding urgent action to deal with the human caused climate change. Or else – sea level would rise and we’d all have to live like Kevin Costner in water world.

Julia Gillard has pointed to the report and sort of said – I told you so. But if that were the case, and given the urgency to bring emission down straight away or else, the carbon price she touted – $20 a tonne – would be like introducing Norhafiz Zamani into the Birmingham City attack to solve the Blues’ woes in front of goal. It would be toothless, a complete waste of time and may well be counter-productive. [I confess I have just only googled the current Malaysian football team striker. I also confess this is the first time in God knows how long I took an interest in NEP infected football in Malaysia]

To be responding to Will Steffen’s Climate Commission doomsday report, the carbon tax should be so prohibitive – say $100 a tonne just like the Greens said – to be of any effect unless of course, Julia is lying again.

If Julia Gillard could not be trusted and lied in saying there would be no carbon tax under a government she leads, why would we trust her to keep carbon tax to $20 a tonne, especially if she endorses the Will Steffen Climate Commission – we must act now or perish – report? The Greens are looking at a minimum of $100 per tonne and they will want to include petrol in their target. If Will Steffen and his Climate Commission report is to be taken seriously that is the bare minimum step. But that would send most of us back to the caves, wouldn’t it?