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Showing posts from August, 2012

So, You're Cutting Benefits For Nurses

An Open Letter to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell So, yesterday I read that you're  cutting penalty rates  for aged care nurses, including holiday loading and penalties for shift work (which would make nurses the only permanent workers in Australia not entitled to holiday leave loading). Budget cuts have to be made somewhere, I understand, and why not nurses? The rationale behind keeping unemployment benefits well below the poverty line is that if they were higher; people would be comfortable staying on them and have no incentive to look for work. Maybe you have a similar rationale here; that by keeping nurse pay rates low, you weed out all those greedy nurses only in it for the money and are left with the caring ones who really want to be there. They should be glad to lose their benefits for the good of the state, glad they don't have a job like yours so difficult it was deserving of  a salary of $333, 860  in the last financial year. What a lovely, rewarding job being an aged

Feminism, Choices and Support

There seems to be a belief running through mainstream feminism that as women, we're honour bound to support other women in the choices they make - no matter what those choices may be. If a woman wants to be a stay at home mum, or put her kids in childcare at six weeks to run an international corporation, or dance nude on stage whilst strangers leer, we need to support those as choices those women have freely made. Well, fine. What I'm struggling with is the notion that feminists should support all the choices that women make - even if those choices are harmful to other women. Recently there appeared a story about the Anglican church  introducing a new wedding vow  in which brides would be asked to submit to their husbands. I believe, as a feminist, that by standing up in public and maintaining such codified gender roles, women who take such vows let down all women. I was criticised for this; apparently it's expressing the view that feminism requires women to make choices th

Meet Tony Abbott

Meet Tony Abbott, the leader of the federal opposition. He's a true Australian bloke. A battler with a mortgage. Family man. Bit of a rough tongue sometimes, tendency to open mouth, insert foot, but hey, nobody's perfect, right? At least, so runs the narrative in the mainstream media. The truth is very different, far darker - and, too often ignored. The Battler Abbott is portrayed as an ordinary working guy, struggling to make ends meet like any working Australian. The truth is he's from a background of privilege unknown and inaccessible to most Australians. He attended St Ignatius' College at Riverview, where the annual fees for Year Twelve students are well over $20,000; whilst studying a law degree at the University of Sydney (paying no fees to do so at the time, thanks to the educational reforms of the Whitlam government) he lived at St Johns College. Now, not to overgeneralise here, but I've met men who attend the residential colleges at the University of Sydne

Back at the Train Model Expo

Eight years after my  previous attendance , today I headed off to the Our Town Model Expo, with the hope of taking some photos of the train sets and delighting you all with a witty yet affectionate skewering of the foibles of model train collectors. But I can't do it. I mean, I went. But within sixty seconds, my eyes glazed over, my mind transported to another plain, and I was in a happy little railfan coma, lulled by the soothing sounds of model trains clacking over the rails..."AspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndromeAspergersSyndrome" Does this look like a woman who is in her right mind? I abandoned my son and husband, no more in control of my actions than a puppy romping happily towards not fresh newspapers to widdle on, but DVDs of steam train rides from the 1960s, books about the politics of line closures, model cars showing livery changes throughout time. Although (as you can probably tell) I'm taking on a more rotund appearance in my premature middl

Labor vs The Greens

In a sad day for Australia, today federal parliament voted to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers, returning to the worst of the inhumane Howard-era treatment of refugees. I've posted before on this issue, so you can imagine my dismay and anger that we are to go back to paying impoverished Pacific nations to lock up indefinitely those desperate souls who, within their legal rights, attempt to come here to escape persecution. But there's a new aspect to my anger. I've heard and read several remarks from ALP supporters that this is all the Greens' fault; that if the Greens had "compromised" by agreeing to the previous proposal to house asylum seekers in Malaysia(!), reopening the processing centres in Nauru would never have been necessary. "Enjoy letting asylum seekers drown while you protect your ideology", runs the tone of some of the nastier remarks I've seen. Excuse me? The sentiment is born of anger, and is so very wrong. It should n

Watching the Olympics

Although I wasn't planning on doing so, I've watched a whole bunch of the recent Olympics. What can I tell you, except getting back into the workforce is taking a little longer than planned. Yes I know the whole thing is a shameless marketing exercise, imposes insane restrictions and long term costs on the residents of the host city, is an environmental nightmare and plays politics. But I'm still a sucker for the uncertainty of competition, the pageantry, the history. Oh, yes, the history: The first modern Olympics were held in 1859, but they weren't acknowledged until the IOC got involved in 1896. The spirit of amateurism, long a cherished Games ethos (though recently abandoned) was rooted in the notion of the aristocratic gentleman athlete who had the time and funds to pursue his hobby. The first torch relay was held in 1936 as a means of the new government promoting National Socialism throughout Germany. The first athlete to fail an Olympic drug test was a Swedi

Cover the Coal Trains!

One of the reasons I moved my family out of Sydney was for our health. I love the inner west, but the houses are usually damp, and old, and prone to mould. DH has asthma, and I was worried BabyG would develop it too; our flat had terrible mould and I worried about the effects of us breathing it in. So we moved north, and took a lot of lung-cleansing walks near the beach, but we all maintained our persistent coughs and I couldn't understand why. Until that is, I read the Newcastle Herald's investigation into  the effects of breathing coal dust . Our new house is less than 500 metres from the main rail line to the Hunter river coal loaders that service the world's biggest coal port. I'd moved my family into danger, and I had no idea. Packed coal train on the line near our house Very fine coal dust particles are inhaled deep into the lung, increasing the risk of asthma and long term respiratory complications. Recognising this, coal transported by road in required by law to

The Joy of Gardening

When I was a kid, we lived in flats and I never felt grass under my feet. Then when I was ten, we moved to Newcastle and had a garden for the first time. I hated it. Specifically, I hated the yard work I was expected to do. I hated spending my weekends weeding and lugging pavers when other girls were playing netball and going to the movies. I hated being dirty and sweaty and hated being outside. And as soon as I was old enough to dictate how I spent my time, I renounced yardwork forever. From now on I wouldn't pull a weed if Gallery Serpentine made gardening gloves. But as I passed my 30th birthday, something changed in me. It wasn't just the perky butt collapsing like a circus tent in a storm, or my newly developed fondness for ABC local radio. I wanted a garden. Sure, it would be nice after years of living in flats to not have to battle for communal washing lines and to be able to sit in the sun when reading a book on Sunday afternoon, but the truth was I also wanted to plan

The Right Wingers' Dictionary

Decipher the ramblings of the frothing right with this handy reference. Your argument makes no sense : I don't understand your argument Fool : My favourite insult, got me a caning when I called my teacher a fool in 1948 Fuckwit : My other insult, for when I'm really getting mad You're blocked : I've lost the argument Tony Abbott is a great man : He'd beat the crap out of me in a fist fight, anyway Unaustralian : Something I don't like Political Correctness gone mad : I resent having to keep my bigotry to myself I've nothing against gays but they shouldn't be allowed to get married : I've at least one thing against gays, anyway Same sex marriage destroys tradition/is bad for children : I will ignore all social, cultural, historical and empirical evidence to find excuses to cover my homophobia Illegal boat arrivals : I believe in other things that don't exist too, like the tooth fairy Queue jumpers : they should go to their local Australian embassy