Saturday, April 20, 2019

Jason's on the ball

As far as I know Jason Ball was the first Australian Rules football player to declare he is gay and I don't think another has since. He played for a country team but I don't actually know if was a good player. He came out when he was still playing for the team, quite a brave thing to do in rural Australia.

I'd better find some facts. He attended Yarra Valley Grammar School and spent some time as an exchange student in Kansas, US. To quote, "“I met a succession of very lovely, deeply prejudiced people.” He was the only kid in the school who believed in evolution."  He played football for the Yarra Valley Football Club. He came out in 2012....wow, where did that seven years go? That same year he started a change.org petition urging the AFL to sponsor anti homophobia messages to be screened at football matches and for the AFL to commit to a gay pride round of matches, which did happen. He gathered a number of high profile AFL players to support him, including the rather hot Andrew Swallow. He retired from football because of injuries. He led the Victoria's Gay Pride March in 20His list of activism is long wide and very impressive and has also been very involved in mental health.

In 2017 he was awarded Victorian Young Australian of the Year in Australia.

He is now running a second time for the blue ribbon conservative federal seat of Higgins as a Greens candidate. It is not my electorate and even if it was, I would not vote for him just because he is gay, would I Comrade. But he is worthy opponent to the female doctor who is running for the conservative party and who will probably win. The Labor candidate is a female barrister.

Grooming maketh the man. You listening John Gray of Wales?


Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday

Our Good Friday was so boring. I did clean two shelves in my bathroom. We went out for a short walk. R cannot walk too far now. I bailed from the walk and caught the tram to South Yarra Station to have a look at the railway line works. I was lucky with trams and to R's surprise I was home within 20 minutes.

R made tuna mornay for dinner early this morning for dinner tonight. It is cultural thing for him that he does not eat meat on Good Friday. His Mother did it, and he has followed the tradition.

Mother and ABI Brother called in for afternoon tea on their way to Sister's on The Bellarine. R complained bitterly about the intrusion, yet he made ham, tomato and cheese sandwiches, along with curried egg sandwiches, all nicely served including a table cloth. He also heated party pies and toasted hot cross buns. Garbage guts ABI Brother really got stuck in to the food. Mother didn't eat too much. Fortified by tea, food and a cigarette, on they went for the next leg to a service station at Avalon before the final leg to Sister's. It is a two hour journey without breaks and Mother can't sit for too long. They left home at 3 and wouldn't have arrived at Sister's until 6.

Weather wise, it was a nice day here. Not too hot, not too cold. There is not even traffic congestion to look at as the roads are so quiet.

Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the 21st of March. It is late this year and we have ANZAC Day next Thursday, also a public holiday. Not much work will be done in Australia from Good Friday 19th of April until the Monday the 29th. I saw the moon rise. It was a soft orange colour.

The synagogue opposite is illuminated tonight, no doubt to celebrate Easter. 😜

I wonder what is on tv tonight?

Twitter

I am not really a Tweeter on Twitter. I devote my time to old fashioned blogging and blog reading and a few other social media areas. Nevertheless, I am an avid follower of some Twitter users. What they Tweet and Retweet is fascinating to me. I learn all sorts of things.

Is manifesto the right word? These are selective cuts from a manifesto from the Institute of Public Affairs, a right wing think tank and lobby group for big business.

1. Remove all references to race in the Constitution. 

I am not sure about this one. Is race mentioned in our constitution? Do we actually have a constitution?

2. Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) Free speech is inextricably linked to the Australian way of life. Australians should be able to enjoy and participate in open and unfettered discussion about issues of import to the future of our democracy and our nation. Section 18C stops this from happening. It is an unconscionable and egregious limitation on the free speech rights of all Australians and must be abolished. 

Nah, we can criticise them for what they do and their behaviour, but not judge them because of their race or religion. Hey, I might even know one good Muslim person!

3. Withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Really good idea. Continue to pollute our planet, our home with endlessly increasing pollution.

4. Implement a flat income tax Australia’s income tax system punishes success and discourages upward economic mobility. Its interaction with the welfare system also creates welfare traps through high effective marginal tax rates which keeps too many Australians poor and trapped in a poverty cycle. To reduce poverty, expand economic opportunity, promote equality, all Australians should face the same income tax rate.

I think I was about sixteen years old when I asked my father about flat tax. My father never worked for paid wages for anyone, always the builder, the farmer, etc. Flat tax may have advantaged him, but he told me it was very inequitable to society. I haven't questioned my very smart father's response since. Well, I have, but he was right.

5. Reduce the corporate tax rate to below 20 per cent, in line with competitor nations The top marginal company tax rate in Australia of 30 per cent is the third highest in the developed world, and well above the OECD average of 24 per cent and competitor nations such as the United States (21 per cent), the United Kingdom (17 per cent from 2020), and Singapore (17 per cent).4 Australia’s high corporate tax rate is a key reason why business investment is just 11.5 per cent of GDP, which is lower than the rate that prevailed during the Whitlam years.

Oh that companies would pay any tax at all and not have Cayman Island, Barbados and Isle of Man tax havens.

6. Appointment of High Court Justices to be rotated between the six states and the Commonwealth.

I don't really know about this one but what I do know is that conservative governments always argue for smaller, and for state rights. I am sure the IPA would not like to have Federal Government oversight of the Queensland Adani coal mine. Local people are cheaper to bribe than federal people.

7. Double the size of the House of Representatives, and halve the size of the Ministry. 

I have read the detail and still don't understand this one. Given the last six points, it won't be good for we common folk.

8. Privatise the ABC In a free society the government should not own and operate its own media company. The media market in Australia is highly competitive... 

Our ABC is owned by our government and funded by taxpayers. With rare failures, it is completely independent of government and commercial influence and the only news and media organisation in Australia that is.

9. Re-introduce the debt ceiling Gross government debt is currently $546 billion, all of which must be paid back by today’s young Australians via higher future taxes.7 One approach policy-makers can take to reduce government debt, or at least reduce its growth, is to re-introduce the debt ceiling. A debt-ceiling places a limit on how much the Australian government can borrow. Raising the debt ceiling requires an Act of Parliament, which ensures the issue will be debated and receive the public attention it deserves. A debt ceiling was implemented by the Rudd government in 2007 and it was set at $75 billion. With the support of the Greens, the Abbott government with Joe Hockey as Treasurer abolished the debt ceiling in 2013 as debt approached $300 billion.

Government debt waxes and wanes, depending on many things that your average voter might not understand, least of all me. Again I quote my very wise father in some areas who never did get to be rich, much to my disappointment, you borrow money to make money. You don't use your own money. There is nothing inherently wrong with borrowing money and owing money.

10. Hold a Royal Commission into the Bureau of Meteorology’s tampering with temperature and climate data The Bureau of Meteorology appears to have tampered with temperature and climate data and to have re-written history to make it appear as if the temperature is higher than it actually is, and that is has risen faster than it actually has.8 Australians deserve to know the truth about their public institutions. The only way to find the truth about potential temperature data manipulation is to hold a Royal Commission into the Bureau of Meteorology’s activities.

There are more points from the IPA, but you can guess the direction they will go. The IPA is a climate change denier organisation.

Point 10 was the one that had me slapping my face. That the employees of the Weather Bureau, meteorologists and climate scientists, would put their themselves out there as manipulators of statistics and risk their personal reputation as employees of an independent statutory body such as The Bureau of Meteorology is beyond the pale.

I haven't seen it for myself, but I believe the IPA believes in the American health care system, that can send people into poverty if they become unwell.

So who funds this Institute of Public Affairs? Well, some companies you can't avoid using!

Hancock Mining...........hello Gina, one of the world's richest women. Exxon Mobil. Telstra.......lordy, I have a small shareholding in that company. I must sell. WMC Resources. BHP Billiton. Phillip Morris, give the ciggies up. Murray (river) Irrigation Limited. Visy. Clough Engineering. Shell, Caltex and Esso, and last but not least the completely immoral company, the British American Tobacco Company.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

New Zealand, Last Day, Auckland

Our last day in New Zealand in its large multicultural city Auckland. The ship moored right at the bottom of the main street, Queen Street. Auckland is on the southern side of Auckland Harbour but greater Auckland is spread around the harbour and ferries are an important part of public transport.


I see nice old buildings. I see modern new buildings. I see construction of an underground railway.


These lamps are spread at even intervals along the waterfront.


Sky Tower dominates the skyline from many angles.


We walked a little way along Quay Street to catch the hop on hop off bus. There are two routes but we only took one route as we wrongly didn't think we would have time to take both. Here is our ship and the beautiful old Customs House.






Up front in the double decker bus.







War memorial.




$2.16 for a litre of petrol in NZ. For you foreign folk who buy cheap petrol, I think that is about $10 per gallon. Correct me if you will.



We left the bus at the top of the Queen Street shopping area. There's that tower again.



Stupid me. I said to R, is that a marriage proposal on the back of the bus?


There was smoke rising form near the orange barriers. It quickly disappeared.


I expect this underground train construction hoarding was just repainted. There weren't many signatures, but there were many people signing the hoarding.


One way to get around.







Is this Finger Wharf in Sydney's Woolloomooloo? No, in Auckland Harbour.


Is this Sydney's Circular Quay? No, the ferry wharves in Auckland and there is a lot of ferry traffic.




New Zealand imports a large number of second hand cars from Japan. It is very expensive in Japan to have an older car, so people get rid of them after a couple of years. The import of them is not allowed in Australia, but is in New Zealand.


I don't think I have mentioned anything about people we connected with at times on the ship, or shown too many ship photos. It was a long three days at sea back to Melbourne, as the ship sailed north to get around the top of NZ, and then south west to get home. I concluded cruising is not for me if you have more that a couple days at sea. I was bored stiff. More in the final NZ Cruise post.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Notre Dame

What a terrible thing the fire was in the Church of Notre Dame in Paris. There is a heartbreaking emotion about the cathedral from the people of France, Francophiles around the world and those who love historic buildings.

Even during a alcohol fuelled lunch on The Seine with a female couple? travelling, one from Scotland and the other from Texas, I managed to snap these two photos, oh look, there is Notre Dame, excuse me for a moment, and one of me with my new Scottish girlfriend, who did not show me her haggis, and it is just as well. After the awful photo of me in yesterday's post, I almost look ok in this 11 year old photo. Paris was grey and showery when we visited, as you can see. Gosh we had a good time with the women from Texas and Scotland.




I don't want to sound mean spirited about the tragic loss of Notre Dame, but I expect it will sound like that.

President Macron of France has or will set up a world wide appeal for the rebuilding of the cathedral. I expect the nearly one hundred year long construction of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona will be finished before the restoration of Notre Dame.

Fact 1. The church is owned by France and its people. France is a wealthy first world country. Can't the country fund the restoration itself?

Fact 2. France leases Notre Dame to the Catholic Church at no cost. The very rich Catholic Church is supposed to maintain the church. It has not done so and a restoration appeal for the church was set up and funding was raised. Why wasn't the Catholic Church made to pay for the restoration? It could certainly contribute substantially to the rebuilding.

Fact 3. The fire is clearly a result of the works underway, so the contractor is responsible for the restoration.

Fact 4. Clearly the contractor will not be able to afford the cost of the restoration, and so it the contractor's insurance company that will have to pay. It may well be a large world wide insurance company with vast financial resources, but there will be dollar limit on the claim.

Fact 5. They can be ugly intrusions in historic buildings but all large buildings should have sprinkler systems. Why did Notre Dame not have them? Especially so as much of it was ancient timber construction.

I will call it. The fire at Notre Dame as a dereliction of duty by the contractor who was restoring the church, the French Government and the Catholic Church.

Before any of you sentimentally donate money to the restoration of the much loved Notre Dame, think about it carefully and who should be paying.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Some not so light reading

Don't read these with any sense of obligation, just if you find them of interest.

It was a fascinating account of what went on behind the scenes and in front of the public that lead to the release of Australian refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai gaol where he was being held pending extradition to Bahrain. The cynic in me wonders if the outcome would have been the same had he been a plain looking non athletic person. I would like to think not, but....... He was only freed because of the extreme pressure being put on Thailand from so many directions, and even the Thai Royal Family was becoming concerned. The excellent and so interesting piece is at The Age.


Another read that I found fascinating was how the private media company Salesforce Social Studio employed by Victoria Police swung into action on the day of the Bourke Street Massacre. God knows how much that cost. I hope VicPol have a fixed price contract with the company. Not only was the media managed, there was a huge effort to gather evidence that might have been posted on social media. If you are not part of a large company, and at times even if you are, you might have no idea of what happens now behind the scenes in managing media, minimising bad publicity and responding, or not, to social media. The tale is at Tech Republic.


It seems gaol is not being kind to James Gargasoulas, the convicted perpetrator of the horrendous crime.



A company part owned by Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor is under investigation for illegal land clearing, The Guardian reports, and why does it take The Manchester Guardian (England) to tell us this? What is our own ABC and other media doing?


Dare I mention Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce and a Twitter story? My understanding is that a Twitter user had her account cancelled when she published a tale on Twitter of what seems to be extreme corruption at the highest levels of our Federal Government. From what I read, it was a factual story, without opinion and I can't see how it could be defamatory. It was a drawing together of pure facts. Thanks to Annie ODyne for steering me towards the link but I am not game to link to the story directly. You might find it by Googling; Twitter, Barnaby Joyce, Angus Taylor, Cayman Islands and Water Buy Backs. Again I ask, why hasn't our main media reported on this?

Corruption cuts to the core of a society and must be rooted out and prosecuted.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bus Rant

I tweeted today. I rarely tweet. It was directed to a bus company, Transdev, whose services are suspended past The Highrise while works at Southbank Boulevard are undertaken.

I was in Brunswick today, by tram, then Richmond and ended up in South Yarra to pick up some medication. I was eating a pakora in Pran Central and I checked a tram app for a live time tram trip home. 7 minutes. I checked a few minutes later and my app still said 7 minutes. I suspected something was wrong and as I walked out of Pran Central, a tram went past. Damn!

But here comes a bus that I can only get to Alfred Hospital and then I walked to St Kilda Road to catch a tram home. It worked well, except..........

It was a warm day and the bus was stinking hot, hence my tweet to Transdev, the bus company, No air con in bus 380425. It's like a sweat box..

Transdev does not have a good reputation in Melbourne. Many of its buses were put off the road last year because they were unroadworthy.

There can be two reasons why the air con wasn't working. The first and perhaps seemingly most obvious is that it had broken down.

But I will go for the second reason. The driver had not switched the air con on. As far as I know, Melbourne's tram drivers have no control over the passenger air conditioning. I don't know why bus drivers should have control over air con cooling being switched on or not. It should be automatic climate control air con, heating and cooling without interference by a driver.

I don't expect we will see Transdev Buses survive in Melbourne for much longer. It runs horrible cheap, rough and noisy buses, does not run its services to time, tries to get away with not maintaining its buses, and clearly its drivers are a law unto their own.

You think this is pointless rant? I know otherwise. Media monitors will pick it up. People searching on Google for Transdev may come across this. It will be archived by the State Library. My local State politician keeps an eye on my blog, and who knows who else. 

NZ Cruise Day whatever Tauranga

It wasn't until after we left Tauranga that we learnt how to pronounce the name. If you are a Melburnian, it is a little like Tooronga.

It was a bus to the town area and this time we had to pay $15 return. The port in Tauranga, as we passed by in the bus, was huge and is the largest port in New Zealand. We were dropped off on one side of a railway line and had to walk across the track. It is a reasonable sized town and with very busy motor traffic but quite calm and slow traffic. The streets and the calm traffic reminded me a little of Hirosaki in Japan.

How hard was it pushed on the ship and on the bus that there were two for one coffees for ship passengers at Robert Harris. It wasn't the only time businesses were pushed. I would have liked to support a smaller local cafe for our coffee, but R was determined to get our two for one price coffee. Except, what did he do when he ordered? He forgot about the two for one deal and paid full price for two cups of coffee. I wish he was as generous towards me when I make as mistake as I am towards him.

I didn't take many photos. Meanwhile back at home it was niece Little M's birthday. This sign was irresistible to put on FB for family to see.


Small town art galleries can be good. We visited. A school group was receiving an art education. I wish I could have overheard some explanation of the art.






I don't know why I did not take a photo but in the upstairs area of the gallery was a Rodin exhibition, including one of his sculptures. Let me check. Best if I just paste in what I found. The small exhibition was interesting and it is a nice sculpture. The vase shall I say, was interesting.

From Te Papa to Tauranga, Remembering Rodin features the bronze sculpture Eve; by Auguste Rodin, dating back to 1882.
Accompanying Rodin’s sculpture is a large, opulent porcelain vase, presented to the New Zealand Services by the Prime Minister of France and a friend of Rodin, Georges Clemenceau in 1919.
French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is one of the world’s most famous artists whose work had a huge influence on modern art, setting the scene for 20th-century modernism.
Among his most well-known works are The Age of Bronze (1876), The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1882).


A fat old man in front of the ship.


Farewell to Tauranga.