About a week ago, as we Melburnians began Lockdown 2, I realised that many other cities and areas are in the same position. I realised that ‘this’ may well be our medium-term future – permanent physical distancing, local cluster lockdowns, no international (and minimum domestic) travel, no large scale events (sports, entertainment, pubs, clubs, restaurants). And I realised that no one seems to be planning for this as our ‘future’. Everyone is assuming we will return to old normal. With no vaccine on the near-term horizon, the number of global cases continuing to hit daily records, this no longer seems likely. I wondered: What might our medium-term future really look like?Read More »
Now that we are really ‘into’ coronavirus (I’ve been self isolating for 4 weeks now), even more benefits have become apparent. Here are 4 more major benefits.Read More »
Against all the opinion polls for three years, the chaotic federal government was re-elected. The ‘climate election’ was won by a party with no climate policy, one favouring coal mining. People voted for promised, far-off personal tax cuts, for no income redistribution via reductions in negative gearing and franking credits and against higher wages for the least well off. People voted for the short-term, for themselves. The ‘climate emergency’ apparently doesn’t matter.
How sad. What type of country do we have here? What will our grandchildren say when they look back on this decision and see what we have condemned them to, when we had a chance to do the right thing?
Following the irony of environmental leader China (??) refusing to be the recipient of the world’s ‘recycling’ rubbish, Australian government responses seem to be: ‘OMG, we’ll have to stop recycling’. Another chance for Australia to be a world leader looks like going begging. Surely there’s a better response than putting our head in the sand, as plastic and other recyclable products pile up on ocean beaches, in fish and in us, all over the world.Read More »
Came across a friend’s family recently where all four sisters had just had babies, but the parents faced four different levels of government support, despite living in the same (developed) country! Not surprisingly the sisters are angry. Should we be concerned?Read More »
So Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley has ‘stepped aside’ while there is an investigation into her personal expense claims, just like Bronwyn Bishop, former Speaker and Minister, did. Did Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Peter Slipper or Steve Irons amongst others do this when their expense claims were questioned and found wanting? No. I’m not defending any of them, but it does seem there is a prima facie case that women politicians either react to or are treated differently than men for similar offences. And this seems to be a world phenomenon.Read More »
Halloween is over for another year, thank god. I closed my blinds, turned off the lights at the front of my house so the house would seem empty and hid quietly in the back. I cringed each time the doorbell rang, not moving, so the groups of children seeking gifts of sweets would go away.
Halloween is not an Australian event. But we celebrate other country’s events, such as Chinese New Year and Indian Diwali. What’s wrong with celebrating Halloween?
To an outsider, the difference between being in Britain and Europe is striking. In Brtain, people talk about ‘Europe’ as if it were a foreign place. In Germany, France, Spain, Italy and other EU countries, ‘Europe’ is something they belong to, even if they also have a stronger allegiance to their own country.
‘Britain’ and ‘Europe’: different perspectives
The Brits never seemed to really embrace being ‘European’, even after 40 years. They have seemed to still see themselves as a world power, though their power is largely historical now. There were times when the heads of Germany, France and Britain stood together as the guiding lights of the EU but, under the Comservative Party, they have stood outside, criticised the EU and – without seeming to realise it – become secondary players in the EU, let alone the old imperial world they seem to long for.
The Brexit vote shocked me though. I believed the bookies. I thought they’d go to the edge and pull back, as the Scots did when given the chance for independence. But it has happened. And even if the Brits find some way to back out of it now, their reputation in Europe is damaged irreparably.
Which is why Great Britain will become Little England. They will get their independence back, but they will cease to be an integral part of the largest market in the world. Companies wanting to be part of Europe will expand their European subsidiaries rather than their English ones. The Brits will lose their cheap skilled European work force from Eastern European countries as they close their borders to immigration. They won’t be consulted or counted in the big political decisions made between China, the US and the EU. The pound and UK stock market will probably drop as financial and economic uncertainties prevail, at least in the short term. Brits will find all that international travel they love to ‘cheap’ European places will become more expensive, as will imported consumer products.
The strangest part really is that the leaders of Brexit campaign have suddenly departed the stage, when victory was theirs. This political vacuum – to be filled by unknown future leaders not particularly committed to Brexit themselves – is bizarre and not helpful in building a strong, clear new direction.
Will Little England be better than Great Britain?
But it may not all be bad. Being a little country can be good, so long as you don’t want to be a big player. Look at Switzerland, Sweden, Australia. A falling pound should encourage investment and tourism in the long term. Foreigners can buy up the country. Maybe ‘hot’ international funds from Russia, the Middle East, international despots will flow in to buy property and assets that have suddenly become much cheaper (though they have already done this, since the UK refused to join the Euro currency zone). Tourism hordes will descend on this unique olde worlde place with its royalty still centre stage. International students seeking English language study might choose England over the US, Canada and Australia.
Whether these are the impacts you want is moot, however. Most countries really want a strong currency, enabling them to buy what they want overseas and have cheap imports.
Transitioning from ‘Great’ to ‘Little’
But if you have been a ‘big’ player on the world stage, it’s not easy to adjust to being a small player. And being independent sounds powerful, but it’s not, in this interconnected world. To be powerful, you can’t withdraw. You have to interact with others, play the main game, not a secondary game. Compromise, not take your bat and ball and go home. Be diplomatic, not throw sand in the face of your peers.
So, Great Britain, welcome to being Little England. Being insignificant in the world. You could have been powerful, but you chose not to be. You could have been admired, but you chose not to be. It’s a long way back to the top when you are on the way down. Just ask the Greeks, Romans, Norwegians and Austro-Hungarians.
The European football championship is almost over. 22 teams have lost and only France and Portugal are left, though it is possible to argue that Iceland and Wales are winners, given their expectations. But an analysis of the 10 year long (some would argue still continuing) Iraq War Championship – the Chilcot Report – was released this week. Many have wondered just who ‘won’ this event, but Chilcot made it clear. Everyone lost. And Chilcot explained why.Read More »
REFUGEES…SHORT AND LONG TERM VIEWS
Some of my in-laws were refugees from Eastern Europe after WW2. They were forced out of their houses and forced to march to…Austria and then Italy. They love Australia. They have raised QCs, doctors and other professionals. One became Managing Director of a major Australian company. For me, they gave me an insight into the many sides of refugees’ lives and the impact on their futures and a perspective on the current refugee crisis.