Abbott uses taxpayer dollars to narrow divide between church and state

5 Dec

Separate church & state

 

Under the Abbott government’s proposed education reforms, taxpayers will fund bible studies colleges and the training of priests while support for secular universities will be cut.

Abbott has already flagged that his government will provide $244 million for a new school chaplaincy scheme while removing  the option for schools to employ secular welfare workers. The only possible explanation for this is that it’s the government’s intention to impose Christian ideology on students in secular public schools.

To me, Christian religious belief equates to a kind of madness. While I’m fascinated by metaphysical thinking, I’m offended to the core by the imposition of Christian constructed narratives attributed to imaginary transcendental exteriorities being foisted on anyone, let alone our young.

Another broken promise?

We are all influenced by a value system that we hold, but in the end, every decision that a politician makes is, or at least should, in our society be based on the normal sorts of considerations. It’s got to be publicly justifiable; not only justifiable in accordance with a private view; a private belief. Tony Abbott on ABC TV Four Corners’, March 2010.

There is no public justification for governments funding religious colleges and school chaplains at all, let alone at the expense of secular universities and schools. It is a decision entirely based on private views and private beliefs. Tony Abbott demonstrates yet again that despite his much touted Christian values he is willing to lie to the electorate before an election, and renege on his undertakings when he’s won.

The man is a liar. A Christian liar, and so a hypocrite as well. His religious beliefs don’t belong in our government. If religion is a private matter then keep it privately not publicly funded. You can’t have it both ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grief Porn: the money shot

4 Dec

cricket

The Courier Mail coverage of cricketer Phil Hughes’ funeral includes a heart-rending close-up of his dad Greg, face contorted with grief, carrying his son’s coffin on his shoulder. It also includes a similarly heartbreaking shot of Hughes’ mother Virginia, in deep grief and shock.

I wondered what could be the purpose of these shots. Anyone with a gram of imagination would know the parents are devastated at the loss of their son. None of us needs to see images of their devastation in a newspaper to convince us this is the case.

I could barely look at the images. Not because I’m squeamish about grief, but because I couldn’t help thinking how I would feel if similar images of me and my grief-stricken family were used to sell newspapers. I think that is the only possible reason for these photographs  to have been taken, to sell newspapers. I don’t think there is any public interest issue involved in showing us close-ups of the Hughes’ family’s shock and devastation. It’s grief porn. It’s disgusting.

A subject photographed without consent surely becomes an object. If the image is then used for profit, the objectification is complete. We are so inured to this process it generally passes unremarked, but really, what right does the Courier Mail have to profit from a deeply private expression of grief?

The funeral was a public event, it can be argued. Anyone attending was fair game for the media, no matter what their state of mind. This apparently justifies appropriating grief as spectacle, for Murdoch’s profit.

The agonisingly distorted faces of the bereaved family will always be the money shot in grief porn. As if their loss is not enough to bear.

Casualties of “Border Protection”

3 Dec

 

Operation Soverereign BordersIt ought not to surprise anyone that naval personnel are vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of implementing the ALP and LNP governments’ asylum seeker policies.

This investigative report by the ABC describes in detail what sailors are required to do in so-called “border protection” actions.

Over a decade ago I interviewed staff at the Woomera and Baxter Detention Centres. Many of them described the same symptoms of PTSD as do the naval personnel interviewed by the ABC. Those staff were, like the navy, caught up in a culture of deliberate dehumanisation of asylum seekers that first requires a dehumanisation of the self, in order to be implemented to the satisfaction of political masters in Canberra.

Both major parties have long known that the best way to calm an outcry about waterborne asylum seekers  is to hide them away from the public gaze, criminalise their perfectly legal right to come to this country by boat, and if possible never allow them to be seen as human. One sailor explained that the only way he could continue his work was to think of the asylum seekers as numbers, evidence that these dehumanising tactics work. Their consequences, however, manifest in both victim and perpetrator as post traumatic stress that can cripple a life and destroy a spirit.

Political masters are protected from the front-line traumas that are a direct consequence of their self-serving decisions, but in reality the blood both real and metaphorical of asylum seekers and the men and women who are directly involved with them, is on politicians’ hands and they cannot clean it off. The sight of MPs visiting workplaces is a common one, perhaps PM Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison might spend a day or two attempting to haul bodies from the sea and experiencing the horror of finding their hands full of drowned human flesh that has separated from drowned human bones.

One of the sailors interviewed expressed the opinion that current secrecy surrounding “Operation Sovereign Borders” exacerbates the difficulties and traumas experienced by those charged with its front-line implementation. The potential danger of secrecy is well-known to anyone who’s worked in mental health. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that the combination of the work they are called upon to do combined with the strict secrecy surrounding it, is likely to result in traumatic stress.

It’s outrageous that any government should demand its employees endure such extreme working conditions outside of war (despite what Morrison has claimed we are not at war with people smugglers, though many of us are at war with budgie smugglers) and purely to win that government votes. I can’t forget that the trauma endured by asylum seekers remains largely unacknowledged, is exacerbated by the continuation of dehumanisation after they’ve been despatched to off-shore detention centres, and ongoing uncertainty about their futures.

While a culture of dehumanisation adversely effects everyone involved, at least naval personnel and other staff have some hope of escape from their situations, and treatment.

Obviously the answer is for politicians to cease their barbaric practices and treat both their employees and the asylum seekers with at least a modicum of concern. Politicians are destroying people, literally, in their pursuit of power. Is it any wonder so many of us despise them?

Treachery

2 Dec

Posted in the Categories Infidelity and Adultery.  Some details have been omitted from these stories and some have been changed, for privacy reasons.

 

Storm Cloud. Georgia O'Keeffe

 

For months she has been waking every morning into fear. It takes some moments of confusion, rapid heartbeat and cold sweat before she’s orientated and can place herself in her own bed, white covers strewn with colourful cushions, next to the window through which she can see spilling dark pink bougainvillea and the kookaburra who lately has taken to sitting on a post staring at her for long periods at intervals throughout the day. The kookaburra’s stare is curious and indifferent, if the bird is a spirit guide, as one of her imaginative friends has suggested, it isn’t offering much advice. Nevertheless, she welcomes it.

She remembers the dream she’s just woken from in which she was, along with another woman unknown to her, held against her will by two men and required to sexually gratify them. The dream took place at the beginning of their captivity and the men were implacable but not yet physically violent. She knows this thing will escalate from the relatively simple to the incomprehensible, and she can see no way of escaping.

She thinks of the man who used to be her lover. Her fear increases. She takes the fear apart bit by bit. It is largely retrospective. She’s aghast that she let him into her life, a man capable of the emotional destruction of two women who loved him without understanding or caring to understand what he was doing. Realising both the extent of her lack of judgement and the total failure of her instinct for self-preservation makes her fear for her well-being. For months now she’s been trembling inside. The strong core of her is a fading memory.

She hasn’t known anyone in her adult life who so self-interestedly co-opted love as a means to an end. On an emotional, mental and spiritual level, it’s frightening and she wants a cleansing ritual that will rid her of the aftermath of his ambiguous presence in her mind, heart and body.

 

 We are perfectly matched, he writes, sexually, sensually, intellectually, and as she reads this she wonders if his wife was in the house when he was writing it, maybe even in the room, and what that means. Who is he that he can comprehensively deny the woman he’s shared his life with, had children with, been supported by in all his ventures, and she decides again that she will not join her future with his when he is capable of such violation of trust. How can she care about him, love him even, what is wrong with her that she is in thrall to a man she knows to be deeply treacherous?

She also knows she is complicit in his treachery. She’s said as much several times and he’s said, no, no this is my problem, my choice, my guilt not yours love, but she knows it isn’t that simple. She feels her allegiance shift from him to the unknown woman whose life he’s in the process of comprehensively wrecking. You should not be deceiving your wife like this, she tells him, you must tell her. No, he says, it will destroy her. Your wife has the right to know her life with you is drastically changing, she tells him. Don’t you think she’s noticed?

I can’t hurt her, he says. You are hurting her, she tells him, and hiding the truth from her is hurt on top of hurt, she has a right to know these things, she has a right to make informed choices about what she wants to do, now you are moving away from her. Don’t you realise the implications of what you’ve said and done?

He doesn’t answer.

You’ve no right to deny her the truth, she persists. You’re treating her like a child, as if she isn’t capable of knowing the truth of her life with you. You aren’t lying entirely for her sake. You’re lying for yours as well.

It will destroy my whole family if she knows, he insists, I’ll lose everything. You don’t want me to lose everything do you? You said you didn’t.

Still she stays with him, party to his betrayal and appalling self-interest, the deceived wife pushed once again into the background. Nothing good can come of this, she thinks. Nothing.

In the hotel they stand naked together and he turns her in the direction of the full-length mirror. Look, he says, there’s Us. They stand holding hands, staring at the couple in the mirror. As they watch, he moves his free hand across them to fondle her nipple. He is much taller than her. He has to lean down to kiss her mouth. She has to stand on tip-toes, he has to bend his knees so their genitals can meet. Look, he says, my cock is kissing her.

I hope you never use your love for me to justify your betrayal of your wife, she tells him later. I wouldn’t do it for anyone but you, he replies again. She wonders how that makes it any better. Is he using flattery to blame her, the irresistible woman meme again? The alleged irresistibility of women is always found to be punishable by some men and their consorts. The fault lies not with the hapless man who falls under its spell, but with the woman who should have subdued herself and so not tempted him. Even if tempting him was never her intention, she should have known there is always the possibility and subdued herself anyway. The magical powers attributed to women are the inverse to the power they actually wield in the world. This is no coincidence, she thinks.

She remembers with a bark of grim mirth that her name, a derivative of Guinevere, means “White Enchantress.”

Women are responsible for what men do about their desires. Women are responsible for arousing those desires in the first place. If I were that powerful, she tells him, if I was that irresistible, you would be here with me now and there would be no more lies.

If only you weren’t so perfect in every way, he groans. I’m not, she says, alarmed. Yes you are, for me, he says.

 

He has, he tells her, complacently she thinks, always been wrapped in cotton wool. As he’s been raised by women and then coupled young, it’s evident that it is women who have always wrapped him in cotton wool. Once he said to her, this argument that it’s bad for a male child to be raised by two women is nonsense. It didn’t do me any harm. She doesn’t point out the flaw in his argument: that it depends on the nature and relationship of the two women just as it depends on the nature and relationship of the heterosexual couple. It isn’t a question of gender. I would never wrap you in cotton wool, she warns him, I only do that for babies and little children, not grown ups.

It is not in her to expect that an adult will wrap her in cotton wool or vice versa. There is a dark side to coddling, a lack of autonomy, of privacy, of independence and he complains of all of these, yet doesn’t seem to see any correlation between the cotton wool and his sense of personal deprivation. He has to ask his wife for money, he tells her one day when he’s taking her to lunch. She thinks of the implications of a man asking his wife for money to take his mistress to lunch. His wife gives him fifty dollars and says this will be enough won’t it? As he goes to pay the bill he takes the money out of his wallet and flourishes it at her, grinning. It’s his wife he’s mocking, an adolescent defiance. He’s trying to make an allegiance with her against his wife, as if there aren’t already enough.

She thinks that if she’d heard the same descriptions of domestic life from a woman she’d think of abuse, controlling behaviours, intrusion.

Once when she’s been annoyed with him and questioned his intentions and actions he tells her she has damaged his self-worth, and she’s astonished at this reaction. He can’t be asked to account for himself without his self-worth suffering? No one in my life has ever spoken to me like that, he tells her and unrepentant she retorts, well they probably should have.

 

The first emotion she ever felt for him was compassion. He was suffering, he was stoic in his ordeal, and she greatly admired that in him. It stirred in her a strong wish to offer him friendly comfort.

Before that she liked him. She liked the way he thought. She liked the way he wrote. She liked the easy friendship they had. She thought him patronising in a way she’d encountered before in men who acknowledged her as an intelligent woman, but never quite as intelligent as them. She thought the need of such men to presume superiority showed the limits of their intelligence and imagination. She knows she’s been spoiled. Her husband, from whom she learned how to best use her gifts, proudly conceded that she’d excelled him. This does not happen so often between women and men, she’s observed. She doesn’t expect it. A woman learns to choose her battles.

She met him in person because of the compassion. Without that, they would never have met. They would have remained friends who wrote to each other and nothing else. She was open to him in a way she wasn’t usually open to strangers, but she didn’t desire him. She wasn’t looking for love or sex. She didn’t flirt with him. She was deeply tired.

It was a difficult time in her life. For months she had been at her dying husband’s bedside. Because of his need she lived those months in a compassionate state, and it was stronger in her than anything else. It’s an extraordinary state in which to live. She doesn’t know how she found her way into it. It’s a somatic as well as a feeling state. She felt it throughout her body every time she thought of her husband, as a warm intensity concentrated in the energy channels through which her life force moved. It flooded her as she sat with him. She couldn’t heal him, of course she couldn’t. But she could give him this profound attention with her mind and her heart and her body, and sometimes calm him. She did this every day for hours, for months. She did it when she fed him like an infant, and wiped his mouth, and washed his hands and told him stories about their life, when she said that she loved him and stroked his forehead, when she sat silent by his bed as he slept. Strangely, it didn’t exhaust her. Other things in the situation exhausted her, but the compassion never did. It was an altered state, and she was still in it when she met her lover.

Looking back, she wonders if it was this careful intensity of attention she gave to her husband that her lover found so attractive. He knew what she was doing, even though they hadn’t yet met. When they did meet he told her what she’d done was above and beyond the call of duty, a comment she found strange and out-of-place. He didn’t know her or the situation well enough to come to such a conclusion, and she shrugged her shoulders and said, I love him. We do that for people we love. Don’t we? Then he held out his hand for hers with such assurance, as if he knew without doubt that she would give him what he wanted. And she did.

 

 She learned from her grandmother to worry first about men then about herself. Women took on that responsibility. While you put men first, you also spoke disparagingly of them when they weren’t around. Even though they could hurt you they were useless and weak, and you had to do everything for them. That’s what women are supposed to do, she learned from the time she began to understand things. It took an entire two decades of feminism to set her straight. However, early lessons are not so easily unlearned.

Two women raised him, and now he has two women loving and nurturing him again. She is again putting a man’s needs before her own in a situation that can only deeply damage her, and calling it love. She is familiar with Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion, although she imagines it as one part of their situation, not the whole. There are so many lenses through which to view their situation, and each at times seems to be the one, though the desire for an overarching explanation is nothing more than a childish need for shallow reassurance, while drowning in the depths of oceanic complexity.

You have to stop this with me and sort out what’s wrong with your marriage, she tells him. There’s nothing wrong with my marriage, he protests. She laughs. OK. That’s why you’re telling me how perfectly matched we are and constructing this daily life with me, because your marriage satisfies you. That’s why you can’t think of anyone but me, and won’t engage in your family life anymore, because your marriage is so satisfactory. That’s why you’re lying to your wife on this massive scale, because there’s nothing wrong with your marriage. Really? she says. Really?

Later she understands that he has constructed a fantasy about his marriage that rivals even the fantasy he has constructed about her. Both women have allowed him these fantasies. Both women worry about the realities and leave him wrapped in cotton wool. He tells her that when he is anxious only her voice can soothe him, or her written loving words. She doesn’t always give them and then his anxiety escalates into panic. She sees these psychic attacks as reality smashing its way through the fortress of his fantasies, while he struggles desperately to prevent its emergence.

I love you, he tells her. I will love you until I die.

 

Tim Wilson HRCommissioner spruiks for Abbott on ABC

1 Dec

Tim Wilson

 

I can’t believe what I just saw with my own eyes. On ABC’s The Drum tonight, Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom Tim Wilson, parachuted into his $320,000 a year job by Attorney General George Brandis without even so much as an interview, was a panelist on a program that had nothing to do with human rights or freedom of speech, the latter being Wilson’s specific portfolio. Instead Wilson spruiked for the Abbott government and Tony Abbott, in a display of political partisanship that I’ve never seen before from a public servant.

Wilson resigned from the Liberal Party when he took up his new job with the HRC.

Questions.

Why was Wilson invited to be a panelist on The Drum when his area of expertise wasn’t on the agenda?

Why did Wilson accept the invitation when his area of expertise was not on the agenda?

Is Wilson exempt from the APSC Code of Conduct as regards taking care to avoid partisan positions?

Is it mere coincidence that Wilson appears on The Drum to support Abbott on the day the Prime Minister admits the government’s had a ragged week?

If it isn’t a coincidence, at whose insistence did host Steve Cannane invite Wilson on the panel when his only possible purpose for being there was to talk up the Abbott government?

Why was Wilson given a platform on the ABC to express his personal views as he clearly wasn’t representing the HRC or his portfolio?

What does Wilson’s boss Gillian Trigg think of his blatant public political partisanship?

I’d ask Wilson these questions myself but the Commissioner for Freedom blocked me on Twitter when I asked him how he would handle a situation in which there were competing rights.

 

 

 

ABC & SBS: Things move on, says Abbott

1 Dec

tony_abbott_drawattention

Finally conceding that he has broken his pre-election promise not to cut the budgets of the ABC and the SBS, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given as his reason for breaking that promise: “things move on.”

The Prime Minister needs to explain to the electorate just exactly what has “moved on” since he made that promise a mere fourteen months ago.

While of course some things do move on, we do need to know precisely the changes that have caused the Prime Minister to go back on an undertaking he made quite specifically on the eve of the 2013 election.

“Things move on” is in no way an adequate explanation for the breaking of such a significant promise. This is yet another example of Tony Abbott’s paternalistic refusal to inform the citizens of this country of what he’s doing, and why. It is arrogant, it is ignorant, and it is completely unacceptable that a Prime Minister of this country has the audacity to believe “things move on” is an adequate explanation for the deceit he’s engaged in with the Australian public over the ABC and SBS.

Things do move on, Prime Minister, and Prime Ministers also move on. Leaders who treat citizens like mushrooms can move on pretty damn fast. Tony Abbott urgently needs to explain what has changed so significantly over the last fourteen months that justifies him “moving on” from his pre-election undertakings. If he can’t or won’t, he’s going to continue to look like a liar who lied to win an election.

Getting rid of dysfunctional Prime Ministers

30 Nov

 

Tony Abbott Announces Leadership Team

 

Former Liberal Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett this morning dumped big time on the federal LNP, claiming that dislike for Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a major factor in the Victorian election result that yesterday brought a resounding victory to the ALP, ousting the Liberal government in its first term.

Kennett claims the Abbott government is a “shambles,” and Ministers in the Napthine Government said there was “no question’’ that the unpopularity of Tony Abbott in Victoria was a factor in their defeat.

The government is in a bind about Tony. If they get rid of him in his first term they risk being seen as unstable and disloyal, allegations they levelled unrelentingly while in opposition at the ALP for its ongoing leadership woes with Kevin Rudd.

An aside on that matter. Now we have a good deal more information about that debacle, wouldn’t it have been so much better if Gillard had informed the electorate about the difficulties the government was having with Rudd, rather than leaving us to wake up one morning and discover we no longer had the extremely popular Prime Minister who’d led the Labor party to victory? Pole-axing an electorate in such a fashion and then going on to be excessively secretive as to the reasons for such drastic action would seem to be a most unwise strategy, and indeed, that’s what it proved to be.

The situation with Abbott is very different: while Rudd was still popular but behind the scenes, dysfunctional, Abbott is openly dysfunctional and unpopular to boot, so the electorate won’t go into nearly as much shock and awe if he’s chucked out of the top job in his first term.

Personally, I’d like to see Abbott stay on as leader as he’s the ALP’s best asset.

The federal government is like a dysfunctional family with a rogue father at its head. Everyone closes ranks and publicly supports the patriarch even though he’s bringing ruination down on their collective heads, because that’s what families do. They stick together in the face of adversity, and in so doing, enable the maintenance of the dysfunction. This eventually damages every family member, and the price for such misguided unity is death, of one kind or another.

There’s little more difficult than dealing with a dysfunctional leader, be it in politics or the family, and we saw how the ALP crumbled under the pressure of their Rudd woes.

The precedent for getting rid of first term Prime Ministers has been set, and there are few among us who would find it shocking the second time around. However, the LNP are likely far too spooked by the Rudd saga to risk ousting their dysfunctional leader in his first term. This could well be their downfall.

 

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