Showing posts from 2014

An Open Letter To Angela and Tony Wood: Stop. Please, Stop.

Dear Angela and Tony Wood, When I read today of the death of a young woman at a Sydney dance party as an apparent result of a drug overdose, my heart sank. At the senseless loss of a young life (although the media apparently believes we should be the more grieved because, as they take pains to point out to us, she was beautiful and the daughter of a wealthy family). And for the renewed debate about drugs which I knew would be stymied by you swiftly appearing in the media to advocate escalating the war on drugs, as you have for nearly twenty years since the ecstasy related death of your daughter, Anna, in 1995. And sure enough, this morning there you were. I was the same age as Anna, in Year 10 in 1995. I have lived long enough to develop bad knees and make stupid mistakes and travel and change careers and to fall in and out of love; and, eventually, to marry and have a family of my own. Anna missed all that, as you must be so keenly aware every day. As a parent myself now I can't,

The Accident

Well, it's been a bit of a crappy year for us luck wise. Everything that could have gone wrong has, pretty much - career, health, financial issues; a much-wanted move back to Sydney delayed by one complication after another. Way back in January I bought a car, anticipating it would take me a couple of months to learn to drive and then I could pay my way through uni as a youth worker; instead it took nine months, five tests, and a minor bump in a carpark that cost $1200, before I finally passed last week. We pencilled in the move for next week, and yesterday DH was doing some packing; I took Baby G to the pool to get him out from underfoot. We had a lovely time, and I was driving us home feeling positive our luck had finally turned and things would be okay now, when my car apparently blew a tire in the worst possible place -  the hairpin bends over Waratah station . I wasn't sure what had happened, only that the car was handling funny. I tried to get it under control before we c

Newcastle Hosts The Climate Warriors

It's pretty irritating living next to the coal train line in the shadow of the world's largest coal port. The outside walls of our house are constantly covered in a later of coal dust. I have to wash the dust out of the laundry baskets every time we use them (and yes, we do regularly do laundry). I quit smoking over five years ago and don't have asthma, but I've a constant hacking cough that spurs strangers to tell me "those ciggies will kill you, you know", and endless chest infections. So that's not much fun, but it's even to scarier to think what happens at the other end of the coal chain, such as the  lethal air pollution in Beijing cause by burning Hunter coal . More dire, if possible, is the very real and immediate threat that Pacific Island nations could disappear entirely due to rising sea levels - destroyed by climate change caused by the very coal seen for so long as the lifeblood of the Hunter. So a group of activists from the threatened nat

How Tony Abbott Made Me Irish Again

I was born in Ireland, becoming a small part of the history of the Irish diaspora by migrating to Australia as a young child. (And for what it's worth, the processing and approval for my parents' application took over a year; they did things "the right way" and I still don't hate people who try to seek asylum by boat in Australia. I digress). I didn't think much of it until a brief spell of anti-Irish bullying in late primary school - nothing compared to what people of colour face, of course, but still enough to make me rather ashamed. Then as a teen in the Britpop years, all I wanted was to move to England. They had the good music and Madchester and The Face , which I read religiously in my high school in a dull part of coastal NSW, fuelling my dreams. What did Ireland have - dancing with arms by your sides, jokes about being dumb, postcards of cows captioned "An Irish Traffic Jam"? I couldn't see anything interesting about Ireland, anything to

On Women Against Feminism

The definition of privilege is thinking that something is not a problem because it hasn't been a problem for you personally. So outside of a Young Liberals meeting , it's hard to conceive of a more privileged bunch than the women on Twitter tweeting self righteously under the hashtag #WomenAgainstFeminism. Ask them why they feel they don't need feminism, and they'll tell you they are not victims. "I made choices in my career so I've not faced discrimination" "I haven't been harassed or assaulted" "Look at me not being oppressed by my husband". ME ME ME ME ME. Well, okay. There's no law against being selfish - or illogical. A lot of them will tell you they are actually very much in favour of equal rights for women, but not feminism, because it's been hijacked by extremists. They ignore that the majority of feminists love men - their fathers and brothers and friends, and if hetero their partners - respect men, don't hate m

I'm Not Worried Abbott is Stupid. I'm Worried He's Not

9/7/13: Never Forget One year today since the election of the Abbott government, and far from the soothsayers who assured us it wouldn't be as bad as we were fearing, the last twelve months have been a horror show of epic proportions beyond ideology, beyond necessity, beyond our worst nightmares. And it's showing in the polls. Never have we seen a government so unpopular in it's first year. What particularly galls people, apart from the budget measures that take a harsh toll on the disadvantaged whilst continuing the free ride of miners and big business, is the lies. Having gone out of his way ahead of the election to assure voters, possibly unnecessarily , there'd be no harsh cuts, the cuts have come anyway; and whilst a few true believers defend the government on the basis that "Labor lied too" (so you're forgiving Labor then?), most are furious. One could imagine the government would be panicking. I don't think they're panicking. I think they

What Good Can I Do Today?

For those who don't know, I'm pretty heavily into art journalling. I've been doing it for many years now, so although over that time I've spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on supplies - often $5 worth at a time - it's a cheap hobby cause I'm already set up. I don't post my work though, except occasionally on  Instagram , because 1. Without a scanner, I can only take lousy pictures on my camera phone, and 2. Despite years of practice, I've only progressed in skill from "terrible" to "mediocre:, and I'm intimidated by all the awesome work I see out there. But I'm posting today, because I've had a revelation. In a quest to go deeper with my journalling and get my life back on track, I read of how  Benjamin Franklin  scheduled his day. Every day, rising at 5am (not a habit I can get on board with, although sometimes with a toddler I've no choice - luckily Baby G is 3 now and usually sleeps till 7 or so), he would take time

Tim Blair and the Right's Adventures in Muslimland

You almost have to admire the mental gymnastics of the right. The twists and flips of logic required to lead them to their positions on the major issues are quite astonishing. Saw again today on a News Ltd blog a common refrain from the right on Islamists - "the loony left and the loony extremist Muslims are comrades in arms!". Yep, lefties love Islamic fundamentalism. Our vision for society - marriage equality, divestment from fossil fuels, sharia law. As a feminist, I want to see harsher penalties for violence against women, reproductive freedom, equal pay, and to be locked away in purdah unable to work or go to university. Do right wingers ever actually think about how absurd they sound? Then of course they're defending their "need" to watch videos of the beheading of James Foley . "We must be fully aware of the evil posed by these Islamic terrorists", they harrumph between handfuls of popcorn. See no, most of us can ascertain that cutting someone&#

Literally Unbelievable: ICAC, the Liberals and Newcastle

I told you  things were about to get interesting . Anyway it all came to a head this week ; following the ICAC hearings into illegal donations, the Liberal MPs for the neighbouring NSW state seats of Newcastle and Charlestown resigned from parliament after finally admitting they took illegal donations from Newcastle developer (and now Lord Mayor) Jeff McCloy during the 2011 state election campaign. Some have referred to this as a shock. Well for Andrew Cornwell, maybe (pinned as one of the rising stars of the NSW Liberals, he now has such a bright future behind him). But what about Tim Owen, disgraced former member for Newcastle? Now that it's been conclusively established he's been lying through his teeth every step of the way, including lying directly to the commission on Monday (an offence carrying the possibility of jail time), is there anyone who didn't think there was something just a bit off all along about "one term (HA!)" Tim? When allegations of impropri

Israel, Right Or Wrong

As the war in Gaza rages on, something that perplexes many is the unquestioning support of the vast majority of Jewish people for Israel. It seems no matter what the accusation of Israeli wrongdoing , most Jews vehemently defend the actions of the Israeli government and army, attacking those who dissent - as in this article by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy , who has faced death threats after articles in the Israeli press questioning the war. Levy points out that the criticism has come as much from the liberal readers of his paper, Haaretz, as other sections of Israeli society. We see the same from other Jews who would be considered politically liberal, but nonetheless take a hardline pro-Israeli stance. But why do most Jewish people - with their values of democracy and tolerance, let alone their history of suffering - defend the actions of the IDF and disregard Palestinian suffering? I recently came across something that explained it all. A Jewish parenting site I visit was discussing

Is There Life After Mine?

With all the controversy flying this week after Senator Eric Abetz spruiked the thoroughly discredited line that abortion causes breast cancer, I threw this up on Twitter today: It got a few favourites, no one attacked me over it, the internet seemed entirely untroubled by the implied revelation I've had an abortion. I don't regret what I share, but it's not just me I have to think about anymore. The internet is forever, as the Melbourne University Young Liberals are the latest to find out. How will what I've shared online affect Baby G in the future? I've recently locked my Instagram account for similar reasons; G is about to turn three, and is now more recognisably a person instead of Infanta Generica, and I don't want classmates or anyone other random person able to freely access pictures of him. But what happens in future if classmates - or their parents - stumble across my blog? Will parents be wary of sending their kids to play at "that strange woman

Why Do "Good People" Hate Asylum Seekers?

As the government sank to new lows in its treatment of asylum seekers this week, disappearing people and returning others fleeing persecution and torture to the countries they'd been escaping, the reactions of horror and disgust from caring Australians have been matched by vitriol and fury from the right. Right wingers and Liberal voters are flooding comment sections and the Facebook pages of groups such as  the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre . But why? Why do conservatives, RWers and Liberal voters - who would otherwise think of themselves as good, caring people - hate asylum seekers so much? Why do they feel the need to spew their venom on online sites dedicated to helping and supporting asylum seekers? Because it's cognitive dissonance. They have to. Conservatives, unable to acknowledge the government's abhorrent treatment of asylum seekers and still sleep at night, instead demonise the asylum seekers themselves and those who support them. They react with fury when call

Were The Deaths of the Israeli Boys An Inside Job?

When I heard the missing Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frankel, missing since June 10, had been found, apparently murdered, in the West Bank , my heart sank. First at the tragic loss of these young lives, the anguish of their parents. No matter the political situation, innocent teenagers on the way home from school do not deserve to be dragged into the conflict and slaughtered. But also, I was dismayed to imagine Israel's inevitable reaction to the news. Already, the drums of war are sounding as Israel vows revenge ; hawk Benjamin Netanyahu has declared "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay"; rocket strikes have begun already and the Israeli Defence Force has blown up the homes of the suspected kidnappers - despite that Hamas has not as yet taken responsibility and there is no direct evidence pointing to any one organisation. But whoever committed this crime, they must have known Israeli retaliation would be swift and devastating. Surely any

Save Lillian's Youth Refuge

Hello dear readers, I've asked for your help a bit lately, but now I'm going to ask again to help out on a cause that is very dear to my heart. Under the "Going Home, Staying Home" reforms to the provision of welfare services in NSW, the government has announced it's intention to close services and refuges that cater to women and girls only. Whilst "equality" is a noble goal, the reality is that women and girls are overwhelmingly at risk from family violence and abuse, with domestic violence a major cause of homelessness. Female only refuges are absolutely essential to provide a safe place for those fleeing abuse. But these services are being cut, and one of those is the Lillian Howell Project in inner Sydney, more informally known as "Lillian's". Lillian's is a medium to long term refuge for young women aged from 14-19, run from a feminist ethos. Lillian's aims to empower young women by helping them to continue (or return to) their

Good People Don't Vote Liberal

Of course one should know better than to look for coherent thought on Facebook, but I was nevertheless a little bemused to see a former colleague posting a meme calling for compassion, and end to poverty, for everyone to have enough to eat, and power, and health care. And I thought "hang on. Didn't you vote Liberal?" And it got me to thinking about the dwindling ranks of those who think of themselves as good people - civic minded, concerned about the less well off, caring - but nonetheless vote Liberal. How do they justify their stance to themselves? Despite Joe Hockey recently stating that the concept of society aiming to reduce economic inequality is an outdated, socialist notion , the Liberals no doubt believe that they do care about poverty, and they have a plan to reduce it - stripping income support from the disadvantaged, which to them represents opportunity; freed from the shackles of poverty level welfare payments, the poor and unemployed will be thus motivated

What Joe Hockey Gets Wrong About Welfare

Treasurer Joe Hockey gave an impassioned defence of the Budget to a choir of the converted, telling the right wing forum Sydney Institute in a speech that attacks on the budget constitute class warfare, and that the notion that governments should try to achieve equality of outcomes is an outdated relic of socialism. "We have moved on". Well, at least they've admitted it: our government has completely abandoned the notion that we should at least try to ensure that no one is poor in a wealthy nation like Australia. Let's abandon the notion of social justice and equality to get on with the job of making money, and if the disadvantaged are too lazy to get on board (nothing else could be stopping them, surely) then that's just too goddamn bad.   But Hockey is wrong not just by normal standards - those of simple human decency - but by his standards of neoliberalism. For far from achieving its ultimate triumph by destroying the welfare state, neoliberalism requires a f

The Sorry State of Healthcare Complaints

Nearly three years after Baby G was born, I've reached the end of the official complaint procedure, through the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. (If you've not read my blog before, the TL:DR is that when pregnant with Baby G I requested a caesarean at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on the grounds of prior abuse, was turned down, agreed to an induction under duress when I was ten days overdue, then when I refused permission to continue with the induction they went ahead anyway and wouldn't let me leave hospital until after two days of trying, my body stubbornly refused to go into labour and they finally carried out the c-section. The full, horrid story is here ). Anyway, the HCCC told me my complaint was being closed because the mental health nurse whom I was referred to denies I ever asked her for a c-section. I pointed out to the HCCC that I had a letter from RPA, dated a few months after Baby G was born, in which the nurse acknowledged that I asked her fo

Libertarians Are Idiots

Libertarians are idiots, #1 One of the quirks of the Australian electoral system is the profusion of minor and single issue parties; in the past we've seen such gems as the Hydroponic Tomato Party and What's Doing, a party solely comprised of the hosts of a boofhead late night football show. The AEC has cracked down on these in recent years, but there still exists such venerable defenders of the Westminster System as the Non Custodial Parents Party, the Motoring Enthusiasts Party (who through the Byzantine labyrinth of the Senate preferencing system, recently had a senator elected to federal parliament on a minuscule percentage of the vote), and the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens). Whilst tackling such matters of national import as deregulating paintball and allowing people to keep native animals as pets, their primary focus is a libertarian economic policy, including unrestrained mining, and removing all limits to access to national parks. This, they say, will allo

A Letter Regarding Driver Testing

Dear NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Well I have been attempting to get my provisional licence as an older driver, and I must say I have found myself rather perplexed by aspects of the testing protocol, and I write in the hope, I suppose, of having these issues clarified (as I doubt they can be resolved). On Saturday, I failed a driving test at the Newcastle registry; asked to do a 3 point turn in an impossibly narrow street, I mounted the curb. Now, and as I pointed out at the time, no sane driver would attempt to do a 3 point turn in that street. It was explained to me that I might find myself needing to do so in a dead end street. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I thought it was the purpose of the knowledge test to ascertain that every potential driver had the ability to read a "No Through Road" sign? As I possess this ability, I fail to envision a circumstance where I would need to turn in such a street without prior warning to avoid such a situation. In addition, it is st

The Biggest Budget Lie

It seems almost redundant to be posting yet another article about the budget. The anger is unprecedented. People whom I've never seen say a word about politics on Facebook in years are venting their fury. But what is truly repulsive here is not so much what's in the budget itself - we knew the Coalition are a bag of dicks, and cuts to seniors' payments, a $7 payment to visit the doctor, and requiring those under 30 to wait six months before receiving unemployment benefits, along with a host of other, unannounced cruel cuts, should come as no surprise - but Joe Hockey's responses to criticism, showing that he is not merely out of touch with the effects of his changes, but displays a disdain for the poor and a disregard for the true state of the economy and job market bordering on sociopathy.  This morning's interview  with Chris Uhlman on ABC radio gave a dark look into the twisted recesses of Hockey's mind; a mind that is shared by most of the wealthy elite in A

Tim Owen, ICAC and Where To Now For Newcastle

After being conspicuous by his absence for weeks, yesterday state MP for Newcastle, Tim Owen, announced in a statement to the media that he would not be contesting the 2015 election after learning that banned donors contributed to his 2011 election campaign. Mr Owen claimed he was unaware of these donations, describing himself as shocked and dismayed; he then left without answering questions. Now, political candidates receive all sorts of finance, and a major party candidate like Mr Owen no doubt had a campaign manager who focused on such issues so he could concentrate on campaigning and thus may not be privy to the origin of ever dollar coming in. But what we are being asked to believe here is that Buildev, having openly offered a bribe to Labor candidate Jodi McKay  with the aim of winning approval for a coal loader to be built in Newcastle Harbour, then secretly gave the money to Tim Owen's campaign and never said a word to him about it at the time or ever contacted him regardi

Learning to Drive in Your 30s: The Horror Is Real

The thing is, I always wanted to learn to drive. I grew up in a regional area, and learning to drive was the right of passage. Losing your virginity? Forget it. In suburban NSW you could produce a thousand teen comedies about kids desperate to get their licence. It was all anyone talked about for the final couple of years of school. Of course I wanted in on it. However, my father decided that teaching us kids to drive would be spoiling us. (Also spoiling us: paying for school excursions, orthodontia and optometry, HSC tuition, textbooks...basically anything that wasn't mandated by law). I had to sit blinking back tears as friend after friend recounted their driving successes, failures, and that sublime day when they got their Ps. I left home soon after, and that was that. I tried to put a brave face on it; driving was hopelessly suburban, bad for the environment, totally out of whack with the inner urban lifestyle I craved. Eventually I made it to the inner city, where driving woul