Melted Cheese

Some kids love pizza with plenty of cheese. You’d get a slice and pull it off the rest of the pizza but then a blob of cheese straddles your slice and the one it was sitting next to. You pull it but it keeps stringing along. You lift you hand higher and the string looks unbreakable. You stand up and the cheese holds on. You move away from the table, one hand on the slice of pizza and the other hand ready to catch the broken string of melted cheese. But it doesn’t break. Finally you look for a knife. You tell yourself this is necessary. It would not otherwise break off. It would string along, on and on and on… It needs a clean cut.

I have a colleague I have nicknamed the melted cheese. She loves to talk….


Bastardry in the unlikeliest place

Shortly before we went to bed, we watched Nicola Roxon’s outburst on Sky News. I said to Tress that one day, when those responsible for Jason’s state no longer hold the fictional claim of church leaders, they might come to see what church leadership bastardry they have engaged in.

They wouldn’t say it now – just as Nicola Roxon wouldn’t say of Kevin when she was in his government.

When they leave however, hopefully they would acknowledge it, just as Nicola now calls Kevin what many have said for a long time he is.

It is part of what tribal mentality and behaviour calls for. No matter how wrong your tribe leaders are, you don’t call it out because you are part of that tribe and to point out the wrong that your tribe leaders have committed, is to jeopardise your own position and status within that tribe.

And so just as Nicola Roxon would not have a go at Kevin Rudd until she is well and truly out of it just as he is, and their roles and status in the tribe would no longer matter, those leaders who did Jason in would not admit to the wrongdoing now. Hopefully one day they might – when they no longer think their place in the tribe matters but what matters more is the truth of events and how they should have responded to such truth.

Reluctant Law Suit

The palava that was the LIfegate leadership continues to hurt my mate. I dont know why church leaders can go behind someone, wrong him terribly and refuses to see the harm and hurt that has caused. Not just to him but also to his family. They are still lost, without a church to call home, and still hurt by the many for whom they have invested so much.

Someone I know has been urging that we should find recourse through the courts.  Part of a related exchange as follows:

On Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM, Teh, Ian < > wrote:

It is unrealistic because of their obstinacy. So in that sense whether something is realistic should be irrelevant. It is whether it is right. If it is right, he should press them for it. If it isn’t then he should tell you it is not a right approach.

For him to say it is unrealistic is to give in to their inability to own up to a wrong action. If an overseeing umbrella body can tolerate that sort of attitude, then the organisation is of no use.

Gary if right in terms of (using legal means in) forcing an outcome from this bunch of clowns. The scripture is however so clear on this. It is a dispute between believers. To bring it to a secular forum is something the scriptures have said no to. There must be a reason for this. I said this to Gary many times – each time saying to him why I cannot agree with his view that a lawsuit is what’s needed. He is still trying to ask me to see this and that lawyer but I have never considered this a serious option.

 Also, a legal course will also likely mean it is even more a course of no return for you and Mel. It is a route that seals this finally – one way or another.

 Bro – that is why I am upset with people like [ ] and [ ]. They are the ones who should be pressing that bunch to do what is right. They have done nothing close to what is needed. Forget about CoC. They really are of no consequence. CoC churches might as well be totally independent. This group ([ ], [ ] and [ ]) exists only to suck financial resources out of churches. What do they do in return? They have full time jobs and seek only to protect that. All paid for by churches, who in turn are made up of battlers. In some ways they are even worse than our politicians, who at least have to fight for their right to represent us. Forget about Michael – don’t layan him anymore la. He strings you along only in the hope of being able to play a part towards correcting this but the one expected to pay all of the costs is you. Michael is not willing to take any risks – but ask you to pay the price of any progress. And you are the ONLY ONE expected to pay a price. Why layan him la?



Maybe to make this bunch see clearly, contemplating legal recourse is indeed what is needed.

Stoned, Run and Rush


I was out of it last Friday night, as I normally am that time of the week. Tress and I went to a new joint near our home. It was a stone grill restaurant and Jason and Mel came along. It was a decent place, generous servings of food but unfortunately, too secluded and hidden from thoroughfare. We stayed and talked till the restaurant was about to close, then left and went home.

On Sat morning we had something different, We did a baked beans and scrambled eggs brekky, after which I worked on the garden till early afternoon. The weather was glorious and staying out to trim and tidy the very tall James Sterling hedges, was a sweaty task but very satisfying. Later that afternoon we went to Madam Kwong’s then to a house auction in Blackburn North before returning home and taking the little fellow for a walk.


We slept early that night, after making the preparations needed for the Melbourne Marathon Festival early on Sunday morning. I had only signed up for the 10k event but my running has been so marginal lately I was a bit apprehensive.

On Sunday morning I woke with a bit of a stiff neck but went about getting ready for the event. Tress dropped me off at Brunton Avenue about 6.30, and I walked towards the MCG to drop off my stuff. I wandered around the G, soaked in the excited atmosphere, allowing the adrenalin to build up. Just at 7am I changed into my gear, walked towards the starting line and got ready for the 7.30 start. I was registered in the next wave – the second half of the 10,000+ runners who were there for that event. The gun finally went off close to 7.40am and about an hour later we came back to the G, I sprinted through the remainder 300m or so around the track, and crossed the finish before turning around to see Tress at the stands, taking photos.

We stayed back for a bit, saw the elite full marathon and half marathon runners come in at the finish, and then walked towards Richmond Station and went home. It started pouring when we reached home, and after cleaning up, we went to Madam Kwong’s again. It was a long and really enjoyable lunch…


After lunch we went to FHC and caught Ron Howard’s “Rush” – the tale of the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. We then did some grocery shopping and then went home. Tress did some cooking and then just before 9pm, we went to bed and made our way very quickly toward la la land… we had been up since 5am and done heaps. Tired but happy? You bet.

“Doubt” and the Catholic Church

Tress and I have been getting DVD’s from the Blackburn “Video EZ” store on Canterbury Road. It’s a quiet store and a touch more pricey than the one on Burwood Highway. It is however, convenient in that it’s on the way of our regular routes now – to/from both Madam Kwong and St Alfred’s.

One of the movies we took last week (which we watched last night) was “Doubt” – a play like offering by a Pulitzer winning piece (someone named Shanley I think). Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman were in it and they carried the dialogues exceptionally well. There was another character – a black boy’s mother – who also shone like a beacon and was mind-bogglingly pivotal in the movie, although she must have appeared for not more than 15-20minutes. The story was about a catholic church and the school which it ran. Streep was the school principal and Hoffman was the Father who was technically Streep’s boss. Streep was the archetypical mother superior type of character. Or maybe unfairly as I recall the mother superior in Sound of Music was very benevolent. Streep was simply the sort who acted on the premise of her personal standards of behaviour and thinks those standards are of the church. Her theology doesn’t seem to have room for the compassion and gentle but firm support that Hoffman’s character was full of. The nuances of homosexuality and paedophilia remained line balled – the viewer was never at any point sledge hammered into making a call. No evidence, traces of suggestions albeit thick, were all there is to it. Hence the title I guess.

I loved the movie – loved the dialogues and the way viewers were invited in to have a look and think for themselves.

Coincidentally I was reading The Sydney Institute’s regular Friday offerings of Media Watchdogs, which has this extract:

These days, book reviewers in Fairfax Media newspapers are effectively syndicated.   Last Saturday, Gerard Windsor’s review of David Marr’s The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell was carried in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times.

The Catholic-born reviewer Gerard Windsor is a critic of the socially conservative Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. So it is not surprising that Windsor is broadly sympathetic to Marr’s depiction of Cardinal George Pell – asking the rhetorical question: “Has a more devastating portrait of a ‘respectable’, living, non-politician, Australian public figure ever been published?”  Good question.  Certainly Pell fares worse in this study than some Australian extant murderers and criminals whose lives have been depicted in biographies.

Although a critic of Pell, Windsor correctly frames Marr as an anti-Catholic sectarian.  Early in the review, Gerard Windsor writes:

There is no doubt that Marr sees Pell as an enemy. His 2000 book, The High Price of Heaven, made clear his antipathy to religion, above all in the form of the Catholic Church. Here Marr’s colours are nailed to the mast even in the miniature on the cover: Pell, prince of the church, enthroned, bathed in Renaissance gold – never a benign look for a prelate.

Windsor also refers to David Marr’s “celebrated caustic wit” directed at Pell and makes the point that “in the Marr telling, Jesus Christ does not make an appearance”. In short, Marr simply cannot understand Pell’s Christian beliefs. Interestingly, Windsor makes no reference to Marr’s deep personal resentment – as depicted in The Prince – of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality, although he does recognise Marr’s obsession with Pell’s celibacy.

Gerard Windsor, who attended a Jesuit run school (St Ignatius College, Riverview) and who spent time training to be a Jesuit priest, added his own perspective on the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney:

It’s a grim time for Pell. He has his loyal Praetorian guard, but the Royal Commission must haunt his dreams. Now – fearful irony – he’s having to cope with Francis, a pope he certainly didn’t want, a Jesuit, an order he is not partial to, and whose increasingly liberal statements he is furiously having to recast for local consumption, or at least for readers of The Catholic Weekly.

Windsor provides no evidence for his assertion that Pell “certainly didn’t want” Francis to become Pope.  How would he know?  And Windsor neglected to mention that Pope Francis has appointed Pell as one of several cardinals to review the operations of the Vatican.  Nor does Windsor provide any evidence that Pell is “furiously” recasting Pope Francis’ statements for local consumption.  This is mere verballing.

More seriously, Windsor goes along with the hint in The Prince that Cardinal Pell still has something to answer for with respect to the sexual abuse of young boys.  This is what Windsor wrote in his review:

The essay must be something of a dry run for the Royal Commission, and it makes very painful reading. Evil men and their orgies of destruction of young lives occupy much of its space, and it is more a forensic piling-up of evidence than any artistically choreographed revelation. Centrally, it’s an indictment of Pell for blind, evasive, flint-hearted reactions to reports of paedophilia by priests who were his responsibility. For good measure, there is also a ready summary of the case brought against Pell by two former altar boys turned criminals, a case where the outcome was a technical draw.

This latter statement is seriously flawed.  A case was brought against George Pell by one – not two – men. The man also made a claim with respect to another man (who was deceased) about an event alleged to have taken place in 1961 or 1962.  There was no independent evidence to support the man’s claim and the alleged account of the deceased person. Moreover, George Pell was merely identified as “Big George” and there was a genuine query as to the identity of the person involved.

The Catholic Church set up an inquiry by Alec Southwell QC, a non-Catholic former Supreme Court judge. Southwell found that both the man and Pell were truthful witnesses. Nevertheless, his finding was unambiguous in rejecting the allegations against Pell:

In the end, and notwithstanding that impression of the complainant, bearing in mind the forensic difficulties of the defence occasioned by the very long delay, some valid criticism of the complainant’s credibility, the lack of corroborative evidence and the sworn denial of the respondent, I find I am not satisfied that the complaint has been established.

Clearly, Alex Southwell found that the man’s complaint had not been established.   In view of the lack of independent evidence, no other finding was plausible.  Yet, David Marr maintains that Southwell QC’s finding was “ambiguous”.  And Gerard Windsor claims that the outcome of the inquiry “was a technical draw”.  Marr, as Windsor concedes, is an anti-Catholic sectarian.  But Windsor himself should know better than to support Marr on this issue.

Gerard Windsor is a fine writer but is somewhat naive about polemical debate. At the commencement of his review in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday, he wrote:

George Pell refused to speak with David Marr for this Quarterly Essay. It was not a wise move. If you have any attractive elements in your personality, and many testify that Pell does have them, an intimate conversation with an enemy can only have a softening impact.

How naive can you get?  As MWD predicted (See Issue 196), David Marr’s essay on George Pell was always going to be a hatchet job.  And a hatchet job it is. If the Cardinal had spoken to the author, it would have given legitimacy to Marr – whom, as Windsor concedes, regards Pell as an “enemy”.  No conversation would have changed Marr’s judgement.


Wealthy Aussies (?)

While working for the Australian arm of global life insurer AIA, I started being exposed to the world of a superannuation provider. AIA provided group life insurance, either under a corporate scheme or under a superannuation scheme. Part of my work was to review policies and administration agreements for these schemes. Thus the world of fund choices, default funds, default cover, guarantees of contributions or claims and such other wonderfully stimulating and colourful concepts peppered my life. The deadening and grey (as in dull) subject matters are probably closer to the truth. What I discovered however, was how even wealth distribution was (is) in Australia. There would always be a small number of outrageously wealthy people but by and large, lots of people shared in the wealth this country offers, in quite an evenly distributed way.

My last 1½ years of my present role in a behemoth superannuation administrator concern, has cemented that view. I see even more clearly, how even that distribution is.

The following short story on The Australian just came on. Interesting…

Aussies top world’s wealthiest per capita, Credit-Suisse report finds

Andrew Main, The Australian – October 09, 2013 1:45PM

AUSTRALIANS are per capita the wealthiest people in the world on a median basis, according to a report released today by Zurich-based bank Credit Suisse.

Our wealth is also more evenly distributed across the population, the report said, although we have a well above average reliance on real estate which forms 59 per cent of gross household assets. That’s second only to Norway.

The report found that our mean wealth per adult is just over $US400,000 each, second only to Switzerland, and that there are 1.12 million people in Australia classed as US dollar millionaires, although that number includes all net assets including housing and superannuation.

The median wealth number of Australia is $US219,505 per person, the highest in the world. The median number in any range is the middle one whereas the mean is the average of all. The fact that Australia tops the median number is a reflection of the fact that Australian wealth is more equally distributed that in some other countries such as Switzerland, said David McDonald, chief investment strategist Australia for Credit Suisse Private Banking.

”The top ten per cent of Australians own 50 per cent of the wealth,” he said, “which compares with the top 10 per cent around the world owning an average of 86 per cent and the top ten per cent in the US owning 74 per cent.”

The report, compiled out of Europe, said that there are 1.76 million Australians who are in the top one per cent of global wealth holders, accounting for 3.8 per cent of that group despite this country having only 0.4 per cent of the world’s adult population.

Red Eggs and Roosters

One of our dear couple friends had a baby recently. That beautiful baby turned a  month old over the weekend so Tress and I were at the full moon party on Sat arvo.

We had slept in earlier in the morning, and after brekky Tress prepared the red-dyed eggs for the full moon, while I went out and did some work on the front lawn and generally tidied up the gardens. After all the egg reddening and gardening was done, we washed up and there was still time so I turned on the tele and was reminded that “House of Cards” was on.

The first 20minutes immediately grabbed me. Kevin Spacey was at this ominous and piercing best and his monologues were so brutally honest I had to laugh in irony. Thankfully we had to leave for the full moon lunch because I could have easily been a couch potato for the rest of the day just watching the show.

The weather turned really beautiful in the arvo and we just sat poolside at Gerry and Jess’ home, nibbling and sipping away amongst friends. This silver lining to a busy time at work, is thick and well defined. We only left after 5pm, and then went home to walk the little fellow. It was going to be daylight saving so we stayed home the rest of the day, having adjusted the clocks.

Sunday at church it was someone from Ridley College talking about Cranmer. My education of Anglican things was enhanced and I was starting to wonder why people felt it necessary to start new churches when old streams like this have so much to offer. I’m not discounting the independent streak and strive for autonomy as the driving factors. I have to wonder though why that is in the context of building God’s Kingdom…

After church Tress and I went to lunch at the home of someone from church. She had invited someone else along who had a hearing disability and the whole experience of listening to this person and having a conversation with her, was so enriching. Our host did a really nice Thai styled chicken salad and Tress and I had a really good time just having good conversations with new friends.

After lunch we went for our grocery shopping, and Tress then went home to do some cooking for the week while I took the little fellow for his walk again. Then after a bit more gardening I went back to House of Cards again and was just sucked in. It finished in time for me to catch up with United’s new exploits through its newest young gun (Adnan Januzaj) and also to catch bits of the Roosters’ incredible win against Manly in the rugby league grand final. After all those years living in the eastern suburbs of Sydney as a poor student, to see the Roosters crowned premiers was special. Roosters rule ok… 

Indonesia Outpaces Malaysia

I read the speech given overnight by our newly minted PM (see below) and wondered about the missed opportunities of Malaysia.

In its earlier days, Malaysia had the educated population, government framework (including a highly respected judiciary) , heritage, economy, stability and great ties with UK, US, China and Australia. It could have spearheaded regional cooperation on areas like education and commerce. Instead, it went on a path of national chest beating – twin towers, spite of British, cultural one upmanship against Singapore, crazy casino styled ventures into tin markets and all that other rubbish. As a result, Malaysia now lags in shame whereas a previously “backward” neighbour now attracts accolades as an Asian giant. It’s a wonder how so many Malaysians still view Indonesia as an inferior neighbour. Indonesia is a fast rising giant who will outperform Malaysia in every way. Its Ministers are far more well-spoken than their Malaysian counterparts and appear far more intelligent.

No doubt the PM was being diplomatic and being a good neighbour but I think Malaysia could have been such a better country. Sincere leaders who aren’t just thinking of themselves is ever so important. Sigh…


30 September 2013





President and Ibu Yudhoyono, ministers, ambassadors, business leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour to be in this grand setting, that’s witnessed so much history, to pay tribute to Indonesia, our largest and most important neighbour; and to honour you, Bapak President, a patriot who has led by example, a moderniser of your country and a strong voice for decency in the wider world.

Long ago I promised a foreign policy focussed on Jakarta rather than Geneva and that a visit to Jakarta would be the very first trip I made as prime minister – and here I am, within two weeks of being sworn in.

Indeed, I hope a convention has now been established: that Jakarta should always be an incoming Australian prime minister’s first overseas visit.

That would be a fitting way for us officially to acknowledge the strength and significance of the friendship between our two countries.

Indonesia has created a modern nation from a vast and diverse archipelago; lifted tens of millions from the third world to the middle class; transitioned from military rule to robust democracy; improved human rights; and now stands on the threshold of rapid economic take-off.

Along with India, Indonesia is the emerging democratic superpower of Asia.

It’s that important.

Australia has always considered itself a good friend of Indonesia and is now determined to be a trusted partner.

We stood by Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis and at the time of the devastating East Asian tsunami.

We worked together in counter terrorism after the Bali bombings.

After the 2005 bombing, I personally witnessed your visit, Bapak President, to the Australian casualties in Sanglah hospital and was moved by the way you comforted each one of them.

Now, we are working together to counter a range of security challenges, including people smuggling, which has led to more than 1100 deaths at sea in the waters between our countries.

I am grateful to you, Bapak President, and to your government for this cooperation and look forward to building on these foundations.

Yours are the actions of a true friend and will never be forgotten – just as Australia will never forget Indonesia’s work to bring to justice the killers of so many innocent people, including nearly 100 Australians, after the Bali and Jakarta bombings.

There have been times, I’m sorry to say, when Australia must have tried your patience: when we “put the sugar on the table” for people smugglers; or cancelled the live cattle trade in panic at a TV programme.

There have been times when all sides of Australian politics should have said less and done more.

I am confident that these will soon seem like out-of-character aberrations and that the relationship will once more be one of no surprises, based on mutual trust, dependability and absolute respect for each other’s sovereignty under the Lombok Treaty.

As your closest first world economy with a strong interest in its neighbour’s success, and with the right attitudes, Australia is Indonesia’s obvious and natural partner in development.

Nowhere on earth would there be such an abundance of goodwill between two quite distinct countries.

In any year, hundreds of thousands of Australians come to Indonesia as tourists and tens of thousands of Indonesians come to Australia as students.

These are the movements that our citizens freely choose to make because they individually appreciate what each of our countries can offer.

Our challenge is to build on this goodwill in ways which deepen Australia’s relationship with Asia and which accelerate Indonesia’s rise.

We must succeed.

As you said, Bapak President, when you last addressed the Australian Parliament, “Our two countries have a great future together.

We are not just neighbours, we are not just friends; we are strategic partners.

We are equal stakeholders in a common future with much to gain if we get this relationship right and much to lose if we get it wrong.”

I respectfully concur and adopt your words as my own.

Australia has more significant economic and security relationships yet no other relationship – not one – is more important than our friendship with Indonesia due to its size, proximity and potential to be a global leader.

Tomorrow, I will outline a deeper cultural engagement including a new Australia Indonesia study centre at Monash University to match the United States and China centres elsewhere in Australia.

With your permission, Bapak President, and to honour your friendship with Australia, the new, two-way street version of the Colombo Plan will feature a Yudhoyono fellow: the best and brightest young Australian who elects, in any year, to study in Indonesia.

And I will outline new measures to build an economic partnership with Indonesia that’s scarcely less significant in the years to come than China is now.

That’s why I’m accompanied on this trip by 20 business leaders to promote trade and investment between our two countries.

Our relationship has so much promise – and everything will be easier once the people smuggling complication is gone.

There will be no more vital task for the new Australian government than to build on the mutual respect and affection between our two countries and I am confident that this visit has been a strong start.

Great (Aussie) and Pesky (UK) Hawthorn

It was a weekend of mixed fortunes. Sat we had a barbie lunch at our place and about a dozen people were there. Despite a windy, rainy day, the barbie lunch was great and of course, Hawks’ flag was absolutely fantastic. I think we converted a few to AFL – Jason and Mel have already started donning the brown and mustard – and while Gerry and Tim/Kenji remain true Cats followers, Uncle Marloney has been a Hawks fans for years but I think we got A Hooi across the line too!

After the game, as we were saying our goodbyes to our guests on the driveway, the other homes all Hawks fans, started coming out and celebrating. Tress and I then took the little fellow for a walk and the parks and open spaces had families kicking the footy and it was a wonderful way to end the day.

That night however, United lost again – this time to lowly West Brom. I guess it was a day for Hawthorn as the EPL Hawthorns pulled one over us. It would be long climb up towards CL qualification and that is all I dare hope for this season. Moyes would be given his chance for sure. After all Fergie had something like a 6 year drought before winning his first title. I guess it is back to becoming accustomed to a non-title winning United for a little while. May it be a short spell.

Yesterday arvo, partly to stay away from the tele with repeats of the United loss, I worked on the garden nearly all arvo. We came back from church and lunch close to 2 and from about 2.15, I trimmed the back James Sterling, mowed the side and back lawns, mixed some plant food and watered the flowers and shrubs, and generally cleaned and raked and tidied the side and back gardens. It was nearly 5 when I sat down to a cold one, before taking the little fellow with Tress to the oval where loads of dogs had gathered.

He had been working on a piece of lamb neck the whole time I was working on the garden so the walk would have been good for him. He looked happy and bounced around as we moved from oval to oval (there are 4 playing fields all in) and then walked around a couple of blocks.

We got home and nibbled on Sat’s leftover barbie food, watched a Nicholas Cage DVD (Bad Lieutenant or something like that) before going to bed. It was a typical cagey – near psychotic – Cage playing the role of a coke addicted, corrupt, manipulative but smart and result delivering policeman who despite all his flaws, looked out for the little guys and sought justice. Typical heroic but flawed cop story. I don’t care – I had fun watching it and it was a good way to wind down a really good weekend. Especially when as we prepared to snooze, Kiddo messaged us on FB and we spent a few minutes “talking” and reading her blog posts.

Here’s to another great next season for the Hawks and a fighting season for United…