A Grain Of Salt 2019

A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 17th November, 2019.


On a personal note (eventually, at 83.66 years) I'm a simple sort, understanding the needs of corruption among the powerful, the more they get the more they want, at our expense; privatisation in particular dating back (and no doubt before) to our very own Jeffrey Kennett; aged care packages, NDIS, water, electricity et al. I don't worry too much on the why, move on. I (indeed almost all of us) are powerless anyway. Still, I'd like to know (sort of) who was responsible for Billy Shorten's policy in the last election for the outstandingly ridiculous (at that particular time in the lead up) electric cars policy? For the record, the Liberals and Nationals cut the capital budgets of the NSW Fire & Rescue by 35.4% and the NSW Rural Fire Service by 75.2%. A quarter of Australia’s small cultural organisations will lose their federal money in new Australia Council allocations. While Australia Council funding has remained static, it has declined by 19% in real terms since the Coalition took office in 2013. No need to mention the drop in the ABC funding; 'raped' being a more appropriate word and not finished yet. In 1991 we had a Royal Commission into aboriginal deaths in custody; over 300 recommendations. Were the  problems solved? [ From The Age, letters "The only new royal commission this country needs is an inquiry into the federal government concerning its failure to act on the countless recommendations by countless inquiries into countless problems facing this country and its future."] None of this affects me personally, being a little Aussie battler. Once upon a time I'd say 'onwards and upwards'. Alas, now it's simply onwards. A day at a time. We take heart in small victories, one way or another, in Ash Barty, the likes of Rafael Nadal, down and almost out, came from nowhere to win his match, early last week, albeit eventually crashed to Roger Federer, albeit Rafael victorious last Friday. Life is full of strange coincidences. On the same day workers lost their penalty rates our Prime Minister received an $11,000 pay rise. Drip, drip, drip...[Interestingly, had Labor won, more money would have been available for better health services. The drought would have been met with a major financial response. Lower-income groups and the unemployed would have been given tax cuts, Newstart increases. The housing market would have been rectified to some extent, grandfathering of negative gearing and people no longer receiving refunds if they did not pay any tax?] There, you see? No mention of the various other problems, like the staunchly heterosexual duo, Barnaby Joyce and Michael McCormack, the certainty of climate change staring us in the face, (a disgusting government using the bushfires as another excuse; "Now is not the time"?), the embarrassing reductions in foreign aid for our neighbours, and frighteningly, the future of civil disobedience. No point in upsetting your charmed lives. For safety's sake steer clear of the television series on SBS entitled 'Years and Years' - move over George Orwell. "It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time". 1984 updated? Take care?



[Classic corruption?] The Guardian. A camper trailer company in the marginal seat of Gilmore was awarded a $750,000 as a federal government grant. Under the requirements of the grant scheme, applicants were required to spend a matching amount to the government contribution. Six months after the company’s $1.5m project was announced as successful under the program’s business innovation stream, Off Road Camping Accessories was placed into administration and the company’s 50 employees were made redundant. The company was sold for $580,000 to Eagle Outdoors in November, which has since re-employed some of the workforce.



[Secondary corruption?] The Saturday Paper. Tasmania. Last month Justice Gregory Geason sent a young man to a short stint in the slammer after a jury found him guilty of rape, giving him good marks for not ejaculating and being otherwise of sound character. “There is no suggestion you have any disease, and I have commented that you did not ejaculate,” the judge said. Points were not deducted for his failure to wear a condom. There was evidence the accused told another person he wanted to have sex with the victim. This was only a “crudely expressed statement of desire”, said the judge, “not a statement of intention to act upon that desire unlawfully”. “As such, I do not treat it as evidence of predatory behaviour.” The young fellow came from a “good upbringing”, with a fine school record and sporting achievements. The trouble was he had an “honest but unreasonable belief as to consent”. Even though he raped the victim twice, at one stage putting his hand over her mouth, he will not be going on the sex offenders register. In fact, he was so good, his sentence of two years and three months’ jail time was suspended for all but nine months.



[From the vault]. I need Dean (Martin) at times, "You're  nobody till somebody loves you" particularly when females sprout their advices on the wireless “Everybody needs 8 hours sleep, eat your greens, salt, sugar, milk, exercises”. Always females, no idea why? I recall Phillip Adams talking of a chap who lived on canned food for years. Then there was Virgil G Perkins, author of international bestseller Enjoying Jogging who collapsed and died whilst jogging aged 26, leaving behind a wife, Beverley, their daughter, Alexis, and seven other children by previous marriages. Then the never-ending happiness solutions, altruism. Settle on Whitlam's “Optimism, enthusiasm and confidence against fear, prejudice and conformity”. Well, for a week at least. The Australian Study of Health and Reproduction’s study disclosed on average men have sex with 18 women in a lifetime.  I thought I was past it, but apparently there’s another 17 females out there waiting, for me? Cross me off your list ladies, particularly Green voters? Stop fantasising, silly old man.



I have had the odd times of behaving like an idiot. But honestly, DIY penis enlargement? Beyond the pale, idiotic...Three years back I paid my RSL membership fees at $90 rather than the $40 per year, a savings gamble on my future. Will I last and if not I won't be here anyway? In a (seemingly) blink of the eye, it's come around again, still $90, the equivalent of 150 Winfield cigarettes 2016. Now it's 60 cigarettes? Hang the expense. Bulk spam buy up at Woolworths. Pay before December 15th, might win a car? Snowy on the trams?


A sad state of (mornings) affairs when forced to listen to Ross and John 3AW, but honestly, with the 774 line up of Sami Shah weekdays, Libby Gore, and Macca weekends - what choice? We thank the ABC for Virginia Trioli...Happy anniversary Mary Ellen, 58 years, yesterday...An amazing week of news, as in the tragic results of those bushfires in NSW and Queensland. The courage of those firefighters, surely deserving our highest honours...Comedy: The Victorian Liberals are concerned about the mental health of timber workers. Petrol prices in Iran have increased by 50%, which is designed to help the poor?...The Ensuring Integrity Bill, a joke now, but not if it gets through the Senate...Another 7 years (after 2020) at close to $1 million a year for Brodie Grundy? Too much...The judge thought Geoffrey Rush’s main witnesses, Neil Armfield and Robyn Nevin, were flawless. I'm with the judge...Reality, what is it? Kardashians, The Block, Goggle box, Celebrity Name Game? Am I living on a different planet? Never seen any of them. What am I missing?...How many times have I decluttered, umpteen. This time I mean it?...The Hong Kong protesters are fighting for freedom obviously, with probably less hope than the ISIS wives trapped in their tents. Sad stuff...Gazing from a Cliff; on Scott Morrison: "Methinks he seems no bigger than his head" (Shakespeare)...Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important. [T.S.Eliot]...Hooroo...ello8



A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 10th November, 2019.

Albanese: "To really examine what we did wrong"? The internal tracking polls showed they were going backwards, but Albanese wasn't aware of this, etc. Dullards? So many said "I don't like Shorten" but no-one followed up with an opinion on Scott Morrison, even Peter Dutton? It stopped there? Multiple reasons (apparently?) why Labor lost, none of which included - 1/ Billy's dance routine. 2/ Billy's jogging routine & 3/ Allowing Morrison's & Dutton's records to go through to the keeper, with enough fear ammunition on their records to sink the Bismarck? OK, include Clive Palmer's millions, the greed of self funded retirees. We knew all this weeks ago, not forgetting the fear campaign (lies) via Morrison and Dutton. Letting Morrison get away with doing nothing. Move on, maintain most of the good policies, focus on the real fear campaign - another 3 years of authoritarianism (censorship?) under Morrison and Dutton, and possibly (hopefully?) attend to a form of treatment to counter the brainwashed simplicity of the donkey voters who, unknowingly perhaps, voted against their own interests. Personally I'll be amazed if I'm still here come the next election. In the interim, hope springs eternal. [I barrack for Collingwood]. 



Occasionally I must bow to the superior words of another, namely Richard Ackland, writing under the moniker of Gadfly in The Saturday Paper. "Here we are six months after the federal election and upon swaths of citizens it has dawned that they have bought tickets to a flop. If it’s cringeworthy now, imagine another two-and-a-half years of this clapped-out music-hall routine. Archie Rice has arrived at The Lodge, manipulative and tragic with his schtick of disturbing stunts, clinging to a world that has long gone. The supporting cast is equally farcical – prime among them a foam-flecked law’n’order character driven to locking up as many restive citizens as he can get his hands on, and other menacing creatures from deep stage right, whose role it is to frighten small children out of their wits. Archie distracts us with bricolage. “Look over there,” he commands, while over here the void gets bigger. Forget the crowd’s swirling sentiments about Indigenous recognition, or measures to address integrity in our polity, or the survival of the planet. The important thing is to have some God-bothering freedoms and to stamp out revolutionaries “trying to impose their political will on companies. We’re trapped in a John Osborne kitchen sink drama, the entropy unfolding." [Archie was the character in "The Entertainer" by John Osborne, played by Lawrence Olivier].



It doesn't seem right. I sit there, watching these television shows, World on Fire, Total Control, other dramas, and while there's a degree of anxiety for the heroes I have other problems to contend with, like all of us. I can spend a day of turmoil because there's no hot water until the plumber arrives? Life's a bastard? Then it occurs to me a few hundred people are sleeping rough tonight, outside somewhere, now, on the Mornington Peninsula. Extended to Australia all over, the aged care homes, the refugees the world over, the tragic bush fires, the drought, and so on. And here I am feeling sorry for myself? What have I done in life? Bugger all really. A life of riley? A life of nothingness? Guilt steps in. Wakes me up. As I said - it doesn't seem right. "One's truth must add its push to the evolution of public justice and mercy" [Arthur Miller]. Of course guilt supplies a degree of pain, but thankfully (perhaps?) without the need to do something about it. Eventually I graduated, to another thought (over a cup of tea and a biscuit) - never think about any one thing for too long. A harsh reality? PS: I had missed most of the episode of Total Control while pondering over my guilt. As it eventuated, I had missed nothing. Something to do with age? Optimistic...or pessimistic? Neither. Moving on... 



Child, aged and disability care,  royal commissions. health, the environment, the economy, corruption, censorship, wages stagnation. All in the trickle down area in favour of security, submarines and crayfish. Don't come crying to me. You voted for them. Come the month before the 2022 election wouldn't be at all surprised if you have a memory lapse, and voted the same again. Whack in another Clive Palmer, big tax promises come 2024 and Bob's your uncle.  Brainwashed. A Bill of Rights? Harder than winning powerball. [Interest rates almost zero, big tax breaks for the rich, and retail spending standstill? Morrison's lot. Economic managers? [Comedy, via The Age, Liberal voter "Underpayment of staff may be a major cause of wage stagnation which is damaging the economy."] It takes all types. [Morrison via Katherine Murphy: "The government who finds this activism inconvenient is the same government who has sparked the activism, given its purpose and salience and traction, because of its own woeful record on climate change."] I get the feeling, although it will not be tomorrow, our Scott's hubris will lead to his undoing, sooner rather than later. Here's hoping.    



“The Portsea Hotel is a world-class beachfront venue and we now have the team who can elevate this Mornington Peninsula establishment to the next level,” said Jonathan Alston, the new executive chef. What exactly is this next level? 



Violence against women: "So we know men with strong male tendencies are more likely"? Maybe some, but certainly nowhere near a bottom line observation and nowhere near a majority, surely? Observations by all means, but not conclusions. Some people have suggested I have a problem with females. Wrong as it happens. True, I wouldn't walk across the road to watch womens sport, but violence, never. They might hit me back! [Apparently there's an increase in insults to females in The Age crosswords. Disgusting.]



Bad mistake. He was a mate, wanted to do an accountancy course, wanted me to tag along. We had some good times, met after work, a beer, food, night school, 3 years, promotion. Why didn't he go for a trade? Could have been really useful now. Wear a high visibility top, KingGee GoVest, look the part, be the part. Electrician, cabinet maker, aircraft mechanic. A Tradesmen, tradespeople, are top of the shelf, useful, unlike accounting, at my age. I blame my mate. Him and his silly ideas. Too late now. Now I call on the council to change a lightbulb.



Censorship, China, Russia, Morrison's dream?...Margaret Court's tennis achievements demand recognition. Her personal beliefs don't amount to a hill of beans...If we ban the activists PM Morrison, how about the lobbyists?... May Ash Barty remain our hero and doesn't say anything we're likely to disagree with...Womens sport. Historic collective bargaining agreement that will give the Matildas a chance to earn the same pay as their male counterparts. Like the tennis, cricket, bigger and bigger. AFL football to follow, eventually? Sports pages? Get used to it...New AFP boss determined to share more information with us, and I'm a monkeys uncle... Do I qualify for a veteran's discount card; 5 months national service. Two years on call in the event of war?...Let's hear it for the mothers (and females generally) who support Leunig...Many of us (but not most) can afford a life with ideals, albeit it never quite works out that way. I'm forever fascinated by those who look me in the eye with disregard for the truth, yet most times believe their truth as they are saying it. Life's confessional box?...The less I hear from Peter FitzSimons the happier I am...Grounds for appeal, Geoffrey Rush judgement: "The judges conduct and the tone he used gave rise to an apprehension of bias" Bias, via the pot, the Sydney Telegraph?...From 'Yes Minister' (sums me up?) - "A low flyer supported by occasional gusts of wind"....Down to the final two, not renewing come December...Cheers...Hooroo...ello8




A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 3rd November, 2019.

I thought I was old at 30. Insignificant. Turns out, eventually, I was right. The difference? At 30 I didn't give death a thought. On an emotional (but not reality) level I gave socialism a real chance, still too young to sift through the Soviet system, the significance between them and us, no matter the system, ever hopeful. True, pinch a comic get the sack, pinch a mercedes-benz call your solicitor. A soliciter? Like the psychologists, never met one. What changes? The past becomes more attractive, the danger now, the hope factor down to "a cranky old bastard"? Maybe I should get out more. Smell the roses, eat lots of honey? Definitely cut out meditation. The surveillance society. You'd better believe it, and unless I'm mistaken, (hopefully not) a slow road to fascism, prejudice and (a form of) racism, to the forefront. 'Nothing to hide nothing to worry about' is the general public cry, ignoring the fact it applies to both sides, until it's too late. Never before here, but no guarantee, anywhere, lately. Depressing? The Ensuring Integrity Bill, meaning "get the unions"? No prizes for guessing which way Princess Pauline will vote and still waiting for Jacqui Lambie to show her colours. The International Mining and Resources Conference blockade response, by Michael McCormack: "Mining and resources provide a lot of money, particularly for the welfare payments that a lot of those people are no doubt on." And this brainy bum is our deputy Prime Minister? And so on and so on, our Prime Minister on the warpath, against all critics? Is ASIO watching? Indubitably, overseen by Mister, the right honourable, Dutton. Running out of puff. The hot weather approaches, a time for real niceness. And rest. Maybe some research, amidst that meditation? Nah. Maybe button my lips, and read more. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, or Great Expectations? Better still, a comedy, being good for my soul, the Labor Party's revue of why they (it) lost the last election. I'm losing the thread...moving on... 



Aged care and the government response with a new Charter of Aged Care Rights and New Safety Standards. But the Australian Medical Association finds much of this a “tick box exercise”, compounded by the fact the major for-profit providers are too big to fail or to buckle to regulations that eat into their multimillion-dollar bottom line? Time will no doubt tell, but if it's consistent with the other government responses it's the old cry - "Expect nothing regret nothing". I'll stay put, for now. Rely on my 1 hour fortnightly ultra cheap visit from the most charming council cleaning lady. 



Here's another one: Scott Morrison: “We rightly acknowledge our First Australian traditional owners and I have always felt in this spirit we also acknowledge those for whom we owe the greatest debt: to be able to live in the best country in the world and enjoy the freedoms they paid for.” Surely Scotty double talk for our original settlers, fooling none of them, the original settlers that is.  



From the vault, edited: Are we all manipulative and deceitful? I would think yes, a question of degree. How do we combat this knowledge assuming we are aware of it, assuming a degree of guilt? That’s where justification comes to the party, our saviour. What wrongs have we done in the past 20 years? None! “They weren’t so much wrongs, more necessities due to the circumstances.” I took myself to Main Street, Mornington on a recent Wednesday to walk up and down both sides viewing all the stalls and buying nothing. I accidentally bumped the arm of a chap who turned and said “Watch where you’re going you stupid old prick”. My immediate response was to plant a straight left to his nose followed by a right to his solar plexus but his tattoos and bull terrier called for caution. I said “Sorry mate” and proceeded to walk on. Not satisfied, he replied “ So you bloody should be”. God alone understands his justification. He was lucky. I had a sore right hand. 



Three quick thoughts: (1) How much of your language do you use to communicate your thoughts, as against usage in order to obscure what you’re really thinking? (2) Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” had a season in Melbourne with a different director for each of the three acts. Said director Simon Stone “In one night, people will see three entirely different pieces of theatre, and in each piece will have a different effect on the audience. I want people to walk out transformed, as if their minds have been levered open.” I’ve lost count of the number of directors who have come into theatre over the years with a fresh look at transformation, whatever that is? (3) “We all know a bastard when we see one” said Michael Leunig. Perhaps so, if they’re playing for a team without black and white colours, or umpires, or politicians, or News Limited journalists. 



Nine tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be [Bertrand Russell]. 



Feature articles in the newspapers regularly cover a closer examination of “what it’s all about” when one hits those mid 30’s. Should one devote such a large proportion of life to a career, or more into a 50/50 lifestyle mix? The question: “I’ve achieved most of my original focus; what now for the next 35 years? Should the job come first?” If you have a job you’re lucky, hopefully paying off a house, two little darlings (soon to become pains in the neck) and a wife (or husband) who (may have) become boring, in more ways than one. On the other hand (as they say) “Money often costs too much.” Married or single the question is as old as Socrates. Go for the 50/50 while you can, spend more time at restaurants with your partner, and if single, find someone who will listen to your self pity. 



Whatever the Trump result, let's not forget Alexander Downer's influence; ditto Joe Hockey and Helloworld?...I'm a fan of Premier Danny Andrews. He gets things done, which is more than the state Liberal party ever did. He has his problems obviously, neither solvable whoever runs Victoria. Come what may, the Victorian police force and Crown Casino rule the roost...Maybe it's me, (40 years of union involvement (with correct pay rates always the focus?) but for the life on me, had I been working for Woolworths, I would have known the correctness of my pay rate?...Is there a possibility Centrelink is underpaying me my pension?...A very stylish female entered the dedicated smoking area at my local RSL. I was about to say hello via "You look gorgeous". Phew, bit my lips. Nodded instead, a smile, friendly, without the leer. A leer? What is that?.. I'm not into halloween, but good luck to the kids. Much prefer we chop out Valentine's Day...Sorry to see the axing of Marngrook Footy Show, a relief from the other AFL TV grandstanders...Yet another Brexit attempt. The Conservatives (should really be re-named Gestapos) only in favour of a democratic vote if they win. Likewise Medevac...Your carbon footprint can be reduced in many ways, using less power being one, so I did my bit; turned the radio off...Labor: A set of policies (hopefully most of last time), the main thrust to scare those same voters who gave us Scott, into another three years of Scott as Prime Minister?...Wow, a plum job. $190,000 as an empathy consultant to interact with farmers. Is there an age limit?...Vale Annie (Phelan), sadly missed..."Rage against the dying of the light" [Thomas]...You don't need to be driven by ego, but it can take a hell of a long time to figure it out. Meantime, give it your best shot. Counting down. Final three weeks. The price of cigarettes and other price rises mean a reassessment of outgoings. It's been fun. Stay nice...Hooroo...ello8




A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 27th October, 2019.

Denial, bluster, talking points and attacks on Labor. Where is the government? A $300 million contract to maintain the Detention Centre on Christmas Island, for one sad little family of four? The drought? Australian farmers (they tell us) are the most resilient and optimistic in the world, Not sure they’re any different than farmers the world over but surely a strange lot. How can they justify their almost blanket allegiance to Barnaby Joyce? Never forgetting Attorney-General Christian Porter, Peter Dutton's megaphone, security nonsense, yet again. Sophistication? "Stability and certainty" my backside. 



I worry at times, who doesn't? I look on myself as a social democrat, an erratic voter depending on personalities, politics of the day, but primarily a supporter of Australia as an independent country, albeit now a dream. Yes, we were always sort of a second string to the British, and after WW2 our alignment with America was a good thing, but more and more as the years role by we (seemingly) became less and less independent in favour of "whatever America decides". Add in the coalition secrecy issue, our trade with China, also a good thing, but then (now) Beijing's presence, USA presence, the South China sea, Putin? I look at what's happening in Turkey, Syria, various types of marxism, nationalism, Islam, judaism, the many dangerous forms of fascism. It wouldn't take much to light the fuse. I'm comforted of course because we live in near enough to the best country on earth, and one way or another the danger of the powerful countries has always been there, as has human nature, so I move on, in the knowledge of "what would I know?" and hoping for the best for our kids. Intellectually, in these matters I'm a sardine. Fortunately, like most men, I'm re-active rather than pro-active, so the worry aspect can be placed into the re-submit area of my fast slowing brain. I listen to others with nary a word to say on these matters, climate change in particular, often the nonsense quip "If you've got nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" not taking the point that it applies to both sides, as in our government. Apparently more people are interested in winning on the pokies, or the weather, here at home allowing a pretend drought policy (farmers still relying, believing and voting for Barnaby?) and a similar attitude to the NDIS, TV's Utopia et all. Scott Morrison (evangelical entrepreneur Brian Houston to accompany him to a White House party?) and Mathias ("The government is ready to do more to help boost the economy?) Cormann. Peter Dutton (a regime of mass surveillance, enabled by artificial intelligence, our future as envisioned) telling us nothing, or a warped version of the truth, and then there's the opposition, Anthony Albanese, as yet, not quite sure where he's coming from? Thus, a government focussed on Labor and telling us as little as possible and an opposition yet to show their hand, if any, other than the John Setka expulsion. We need to have a side, something to barrack for, but right now were in lah lah land, 2022, a lifetime away.          



Senior figures at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Department of Home Affairs have defended the need for a high level of secrecy, criticised media coverage and argued that some of the recommendations put forward by media organisations would threaten national security. Crap. A power struggle pure and simple. Give them an inch and they will want a yard. And we (us) are the losers. And who is at the top of the pile? Mister Dutton. I'll say no more. Well, just the one thing. In the 2018 budget papers a $7 million review into Peter's department was ordered. In response to media enquiries our Pete's department responded, the report did not exist, despite some $5 million spent on consultants and contractors. How about bringing Julian Assange home, or at the very least tell us why you allow England to let him rot in prison compliments of an aggressive magistrate? Further, why let the Doodle Dandies have him? Does it follow the possibility of any other Australian journalist who prints what is perceived as anti-American, subject to possible extradition? "Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you." [Roald Dahl]. 



Jobs jobs and more jobs says our travelling showman Prime Minister. Truth: The Coalition government has presided over a staggering blowout in the number of extreme long-term Newstart recipients, with an analysis revealing unemployed people are languishing on the welfare payment for an average of nearly a year longer than they did in 2014?



Better late than never; stopping the slow rot: All of Australia’s major media organisations have joined forces to call for reforms to protect public interest journalism in Australia. Australia’s Right to Know coalition includes Nine, News Corp, the ABC, SBS, The Guardian, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. And, as always, the joker in the pack: ‘‘My government will always believe in the freedom of the press – it’s an important part of our freedoms as a liberal democracy,’’ As I said, nothing to hide nothing to fear works both ways.



Whistleblowers. I admire their courage. Sadly corruption is everywhere, big and small. I could have blown that whistle in three industries, but alas, no courage and a strong belief (almost from birth) as in never to dob. The big ever-present danger to whistleblowers is ambition, and (though not necessarily) greed. You go public and expect them to come for you. As for ASIC, forget them. They're the government. Corruption? Always has been, on various levels, and will never ever go away. Good luck to the courageous (some may say suicidal) whistleblowers. The positive slant is that it's probably not as bad as in almost all other countries. As I said, ambition, occasionally greed, and the 'see nothing' need to maintain your job. I think back to the crooks I've run across, in government, in the racing industry, in the unions. Most people didn't notice, or like me, shrugged, went about their business, waiting patiently for knock off time, to the pub, a few beers. And in politics? No doubt, as in the courts, as in law enforcement, as in human nature, as in playing the angles. Thankfully, not most of us, just the cunning ones. Moving on...



Why would they attack Leunig, a diamond, in our desert?...Chemist shop: A man's shake and a lady's shake. A healthy meal in a shake. For men, lose the beer gut without losing the beer. Ladies, have your cake and eat it too. Both 5 stars heath ratings, but who would buy them?...Racehorses slaughtered. 37 years as a casual at racetracks throughout Victoria. Jeff Kennett (high standards should be maintained, every race, every horse), Lloyd Williams (ban the whips). Racegoers hearts and minds are on backing a winner, never a word on the tragedy of disappearing race horses...If the voters didn't trust Bill Shorten can we assume these same voters trust Scott Morrison?...We consistently read of parliament devoid of leadership, blaming the government and the opposition. Surely unfair to give the opposition equal blame; what policies?...Uluru has closed for climbing, so be it. Me? I stayed on the ground while my late wife went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Had a coffee, two cigarettes. Got her photos developed, nice..The first church is in the skull, and there the gods face in two directions" [Arthur Miller]...Hooroo...ello8




A Grain of Salt. 20th October. 2019.

Meditations. Nothing happening up there in Canberra. Policy debate, what's that? Even Alan Jones ("How does that feed a cow?") was frustrated. The PM's daily 'talking points' (parodies) leaked. Labor re-organising? How long does it take? Morrison’s lot on a tight ‘do nothing’ hold, pinching $3 billion from education to counter (supposedly) drought assistance, vague at best. $5 million in rural financial counselling services? Our PM obviously much more in favour of treading the international boards, the sound bites saying nothing much, on their laurels, feeling important. No doubt playing for time, doing his ‘nothing here to see’ and the constant blame Labor game, till the next big rest break, Christmas, returning around March 2020. Disgusting, in our name, with our money. Another week of parliamentary "bugger all" and off he flies to Indonesia (Scotty, the not so quiet one). From Katherine Murphy, edited: "Morrison not only keeps his boot on Labor’s throat, he also torches the apparatus around him to try and prevent the opposition clambering up again if he gets a sudden leg spasm. By torching, I mean all the propaganda about the “bubble”. Morrison won an election doing this stuff, and post-election, he’s adjusting the formula to try and expand his mandate." Midsomer Murders or Scott Morrison? ”A writer or an artist is a storyteller, but, if any good, also a myth-maker. The goal you should strive for is a mythic goal. You take reality, anchor it in the facts and raise it to a level of myth” [Elia Kazan]. 



The Buddhist theory, patience and tolerance. Oh how we need it in this day and age. In terms of creativity it takes passion to become a successful artist; a successful anything! Anger, impatience and the other “negative” emotions are not wrong in themselves; you're anger blows over and is forgotten minutes later, but others don’t forget, so we learn to keep our extreme emotions inside. If you eliminate all the negative emotions you inevitably eliminate all emotions and the more you succumb the more it becomes entrenched. Passion is part of the human experience. Denying passion is taking a pass on being human. Corruption is a way of life, ever present, but doing nothing can be argued as a source factor in increased corruption? If you are wondering why artists are wrapped a little tightly it could be because they are feeling that passion and letting it drive their work. Enthusiasm, self belief, persistence and PASSION, not forgetting the need to make the move from fear to fearless. I have a close relative as a doctor  and will likely pooh pooh this (not that it would concern me) but I have a theory on genes. Yes, it sounds a tad highfalutin, and yet, thinking back early 1970's, sitting at a desk years on end, changing to a career as an actor, voice, movement, improvisations (all that jazz) resulted in something, not sure what, my genes perhaps? They say genes are made from your DNA. Perhaps. I prefer the change of my genes theory, as in an awakening. Maybe research those public servants I left behind, if still alive? [I should add all theories, buddhist, marxist, catholicism are all much the same; power to the powerful]. Still, the next time you want to cry or explode, particularly currently being governed by Morrison and Peter Dutton, give it a shot. Buddha will understand. 



How  safe are you? 1/ - Robodebt averages people’s income, assumes they work neat, regular hours throughout a year. Since the scheme was introduced people have reported receiving letters indicating Centrelink believes they owe a sum of money, often thousands of dollars, as a result of an “overpayment”. The letters do not provide evidence of how the debt has been calculated and places the onus of proof on the recipient. Centrelink claims the initial letters do not represent “debt notices”. But if recipients cannot prove the debt is incorrect, it is assumed the debt exists. Private debt collectors are also engaged to collect the money Centrelink believes is (may be) owed. 2/ - "The Australian Tax Office says garnishees that resulted in millions of dollars being swiped from taxpayers accounts were the result of a ‘‘misunderstanding’’ as a parliamentary inquiry heard the tax ombudsman is powerless to protect whistleblowers." Big Brother is watching us. As indeed are Scotty and Peter, men who pride themselves on Christian faith?



Other quality contributions: Ross Gittins "It never ceases to surprise me that a prime minister so ready to proclaim his Christian faith is so hard of heart when it comes to people on benefits (age pensioners excepted). Presumably, he’s not prepared to “give them a go” because he’s not convinced that they “have a go”. As the Australian Council of Social Service has said, increasing Newstart would be “the single most effective step to reduce poverty” – not to mention giving a much-needed boost to the nation’s retailers. But Scott Morrison, so generous in his promises of big tax cuts to high-income earners like me, has steadfastly refused to oblige. Rather, he’s working on an unending list of torments for people on welfare ."..... Ross Beamsley: Green Guide, your say. "It’s about time The Drum caught up with the 21st century! Where is the coverage of women’s issues, feminism, Indigenous issues, racism, gender and LGBTIQ issues, minority rights and some Sydney perspective in our daily lives?" The question is - did the editor realise Ross was having a go at The Drum? A pretty wet lot at GG, so - not necessarily? 



Apparently farmers in desperate need for drought relief are asked to fill out a 30 page application form. Ultra red tape?...And so we (Nosmo King) say farewell forever to the Bourke Street Mall...Australian Council of Social Services: 15000 children will be homeless this coming Christmas and 3 million Australians live below the poverty line...I'm in favour of banning Coles radio from the airwaves, forever...Religious discrimination bill. Hypocrisy (and comedy) at work - Attorney-General Christian Porter: ‘‘This is totally out of step with community expectations,’’....Crown Casino: ”When a State becomes a croupier it is closer to its end than its beginning” (John Raulston Saul). ...Hooroo...ello8 



A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 13th October, 2019.

Thankfully warm weather approaches. We are in need, positive need, of something, anything, to cheer us up. From John Hewson: "From his US/UN visit, "first" to Morrison is all about his personal interests and perceived political advantage; it means sucking up to the likes of Trump, whose concept of "America first" is also "America only", clearly determined and driven by his personal interests, failings and foibles, and his obsession just to be seen as (reality TV like) powerful, and to be liked." Indeed, we are left (seemingly) with a Prime Minister every which way but not at home, in Canberra, for we Australians. A type of publicity world tour of enjoying the spotlight of self indulgence, the likes of which (previously, thankfully) has never been seen, I am almost at a loss for words. Patience may well be a virtue, but clearly tested to the limit with this turkey. Self-Love; regard for one's own well-being and happiness? OMG. Maybe the (forlorn?) hope of writing a blog next Sunday full of happiness and no politics. And I'm Jack Robertson. Pressing on...



So sweet of Anthony Albanese to congratulate Billy Shorten for taking the brunt of the blame for Labor's electoral defeat, the false death taxes fear, Adani and Palmer's (50) millions merely an ever so slight by-product. Even better, Billy came forward in a courageous exercise of self blame, sensible, keeping the back stabbers at bay, if possible. Glory be. True, Billy was down in popularity, a factor heavily enforced by a right wing Murdock media, encouraging the sheep to the point of sad bad Billy, nice charming Scotty Morrison, even a softer (looking after our security interests?) Peter Dutton? Too late now obviously, but to clarify, a vote against Labor (because you didn't jell with Billy?) was a vote for the current two gestapos. A vote to make the rich richer, to maintain capital gains tax, negative gearing, to maintain the unemployment allowance (and thousands of middle aged types desperate for work) at a barely liveable rate, and - to ignore (most importantly) climate change, and - to deliberately forget the Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island hostages. As for Julian Assange, let him rot, though likely the Labor party would do the same? To carry on as before, class will out? No doubt the Labor party's report on the loss will come out with a tsunami of reasons to please their left and right wing influentials, ignoring the main reason. Yes, dividend imputations will feature front and centre, no doubt, and likely too much too soon, but not the greed effect, to the vast majority of these receivers of said dividends. They (not all of them, but likely around 90%) put their pockets first and foremost and left us to deal with the likes of the current lot, called, hysterically, "a government". It was always, all about, greed, together with, as always, a splattering of ignorance. Let us hope Billy, now shadow minister for (the plundered) NDIS can do something about the disgrace of Robodebt and obviously NDIS, in his new role. And Anthony Albanese? We wait, patiently.  Moving on...



University of Queensland doctoral research student, Reza Dehbashi Kivi had been held in a Brisbane jail on sanctions-busting allegations for 13 months? Attorney general, Christian Porter: "In all the circumstances of this particular case Dehbashi Kivi should not be extradited." to the USA.  But to be jailed, secretly, for 13 months? Why such a long time?



Peter Dutton has described protesters as ‘a scourge’, with the threat of increased penalties and imprisonment in several states, attracting a $6,500 fine or two years’ imprisonment. "People should take these names, and the photos of these people, and distribute them as far and wide as we can so that we shame these people. Let their families know what you think of their behaviour. We should push back on it because these people are a scourge, they are doing the wrong thing. If you want to protest, do it peacefully.” Such a darling man is our Peter. Just the one question. What's HIS meaning of peaceful? And while you're about it Peter mate, go easy on the Chinese. They bite.



Scott Morrison on farmers: After declaring “This isn’t – this isn’t welfare. This is really just helping people make sure that they maintain a viability”. Unlike those on Newstart? “Let our kids be kids, let our teenagers be teenagers, while we work positively together to deliver the practical solutions for them and their future.” Our saviour? We should be so lucky. The Lloyd Price song, "Personality" 1959, comes to mind.



You decide? 1/ Michaelia Cash paying The Block star Scott Cam to promote vocational education in his new role as “national careers ambassador”. Labor and the unions suggested the Coalition should stop hiring “celebrities” and properly fund Tafe and apprentices instead, claiming $3bn has been cut from vocational education? 2/ Asylum seekers who have been approved for medevac transfers to Australia are among 52 men who have been locked up in Port Moresby detention without access to phones or lawyers for the past two months. The vast majority of those in Bomana are Iranian, and more than half are at some point along in the medevac process, having applied for it; been approved or refused; or were seeking reevaluation. The Australian government has confirmed that approvals for medevacs have been “communicated” to Port Moresby, but said the management of detainees inside Bomana is a matter for the PNG government? 3/ A staff of 125 on Christmas Island detention centre at a cost of $22 million - and no detainees?



For the record Premier Danny Andrews, at the last count the vast consensus of opinion way down here on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, is daylight saving should run from the beginning of November until the end of February. Approximately 8 out of every 10.  



Haloween?...Not into overseas politics; enough crooks locally. Still, the Trump troops out of Syria leaving the Kurds to a loving friendship with the Russians, Iran and Assad's lot gives us a clearer picture of Donald's protection if Dutton and Trump lookalike Morrison gets us into a China problem?...Watch The Drum most nights, ABC. Ellen Fanning great stuff, but why oh why do they let Georgina Downer talk her nonsense?...Sadly we can't 'impeach' here in Australia. Wouldn't do any good anyway. Might end up with Peter Dutton; the devil or the deep blue sea?..."Buzz off". Old school phrase for knick off, useful (softer) when annoyed, at the RSL..Bupa aged-care facilities, happy valley for shareholders...Jobs for the boys; Abbott, Fifield, Sinodonis...More than 95,000 asylum seekers to Australia (by air) the past 5 years?...Reality television 'Love Island' where audiences reflect on whether women pay too much mind to the emotional needs of men. And here's me thinking it was the other way around?...We bid farewell to Jon Faine, occasionally a pain in the bum but generally great value. Supposedly middle of the road (no opinions politically) but clearly inferred slightly to the left. No doubt he will miss the adrenaline buzz. Well done....Recalling: I had a cat for 16 years, who always knew when I was coming home, common apparently. Why?...Even Steve Smith made a duck! Bring on the AFL football, or at least Christmas...Ascetic: "In hope to merit heaven, by making earth a hell" [Byron]...Hooroo...ello8




A Grain of Salt. Sunday. 6th October, 2019.

Ridiculous. Up at 6.30am, now 7.30am daylight saving time, and it's 24 degrees? Later tried Woolworths, knowing a hot Sunday requires extra care due to the increase in the ratbags element. Sure enough, exiting Woollies turning right, an approaching nutter on my right with the left blinker flashing. Did he  (more likely she?) turn left. Nah. Straight past to an outside car spot 'after' the Woolies entrance. The 70% ratbags rating. Safe home. 



The wonderful Morrison government has announced a review into the age pension assets test, including a review of the exemption of the family home. This should get the cats (liberal voters, shareholders) amongst the pigeons. Seemingly that is, more likely a tease announcement. I've called this government a Seinfeld government before, in the concept of a 'show about nothing'. Moreso there was one particular episode of Seinfeld where it was expressed to perfection, wherein Jerry asked George Constanza (who worked for the New York Yankees) "What do you do all day?" George replied "Nothing" "How do you get away with it?" said Jerry. "I look busy" said George, followed by examples. It worked for George, temporarily. Clever bastards those writers. Therein lies the story of Scott Morrison's government. Shop around, they tell us, for the best rates and services. Nary a mention of privatising the assets we once owned. Health care, education, energy sources, the Gas & Fuel Corporation, council services, including waste management, banking (State Savings Bank, Commonwealth Bank), port authorities and employment services? Is it too much to ask them to look after our old & disabled, (remembering when Scotty as Treasurer stripped them of a cool $2 billion?), our First Nations people and public infrastructure; our future? To forge ahead with a climate crisis policy? "All of my ministers are out there on the ground listening to the people"? Who, Barnaby? At our expense. The government is gambling the tax cuts and record low interest rates will kick start the economy. The dribbling down of the tax cuts for the rich. Nothing so far, tongues out for next month's figures. An aura of corrosive cynicism politically? Almost, certainly among this hidden Christian army on matters of same sex marriage, voluntary assisted dying and abortion law reform, (not so) strangely strong on capital gains tax, negative gearing, dividend imputations and other forms of welfare, in their favour? The need to rule, maintaining the status quo, (current political or social conditions) rich and poor? And our very own propaganda minister (Peter Goebbels Dutton?) deceptively quiet? We miss you Billy (Shorten). Onwards and upwards?



They say (and please don't ask me who 'they' are) when you're having an anxiety attack the brain tells you you're in danger. So, a chap borrows $400,000, lies (income) to the bank, the bank loans it, can't repay, feeling stressed, anxiety, the chap saying the bank should not have lent it. NOW, he's having this anxiety attack? On comes an expert (hundreds on call, mainly females) suggesting 'the bank has a case to answer'. Tell me something I didn't know, and while you're sprouting, shouldn't the chap take some blame? Say 99%? The problem may well be anxiety, but centred in the psyche of the lendee. Ever playing the blame game, living in accommodation without mirrors. The government also blames the big banks for not passing on the full amount of the interest rates cut laid down by the Reserve bank. Convenient, takes the heat of them from the fact nobody is spending.  



Perhaps another cause, anxiety? The disintegration phase. Birth, childhood, adulthood, marriage, house; a chosen path leading to old age, downsizing and (if you're lucky) past 80 into disintegration. Ever so slowly. A nice little back garden, to ponder. Slowly get down (weeds) but difficult to get up, and so on. A close eye on voluntary assisted dying. Heavy restrictions here but it's a start. A simple process, hopefully, when ready, say one more decade, hopefully? There's a school of thought kids nowadays have it tougher than in my time, despite the swish computers, mobile phones, freedom, including teachers unable to use the leather strap. Maybe? What was my lot back then? At 12 selling newspapers. A morning spot on Westgarth station, a set fee in a booth selling The Sun 6-8.30am. Afternoons a paper round The Herald, 10%, then to passing cars corner of Westgarth and High street. After dinner (tea) to the Merri theatre, St Georges Road North Fitzroy, a lolly boy, also 10% Thursday-Saturday plus matinees. On most (particularly warm) nights a street full of kids, playing cricket (telegraph pole, tennis ball) football (a made paper football), games, relievo, hidey, if lucky - nurses and patients? Playing knick knock, stealing from fruit trees, yonny fights with catholics, the movies (flicks) front stalls, girls, pashing on. Danger, always a threat. The Essendon (Don) mob, the North Melbourne mob and obviously the Collingwood mob. Within this limited structure lots of creativity, and the odd bruises, bloody noses. And lots of fun. Two kids broke into a jewellery shop, cheap watches for sale. Cops caught them, gave them a beating, as expected. Jobs plentiful. Duncan's match factory, 5 quid a week, some took the cash, others remained at school. Apparently we (almost all of us) were poor, but nobody noticed. Conclusion, better or worse? No idea. The  disintegration phase eh? I'll think about that - tomorrow.  



Climate change 2008? "What happens if the channel dredging project stuffs up the whole works, as I’m told it could by the local fishermen and divers? Who shall we blame? The nameless suits on a nameless committee? They tell of the project being good for Victoria. I haven’t got the time to read the 15,500 page environmental effects statement, so perhaps somebody could explain to me how it will be good for Rye"? 



Well done to Collingwood Copland trophy winner Brody Grundy, wants 7 years, the magpies keen on 5. I'd go for 5. I placed him 5th, behind Pendlebury, Jack Crisp, Brayden Maynard and Steele Sidebottom. Bias, no doubt. And Nathan Buckley? One more year?



Richmond. "Dawning of a bright new era"? God help us. "The more they get the more they want." Human nature, as always...Why watch Poldark (ABC) set in the 18th century? It's no relief from what's happening in Canberra now, run by a power clique headed  by Morrison and Pastor Jim Jones...China? Maybe ponder on US interference, Honduras, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam - and Australia via Morrison? A sense of balance?...If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny. Our Treasurer accuses the Labor party of ‘talking down the Australian economy" our Treasurer having done so without any help from Labor re tax breaks for the rich, interest rates non existent for the pensioners, deeming and indeed only of use for those with a very hefty mortgage...Morrison "Big business, underage females, scientists, and socialists; pipe down"...Smokers in Australia still in the 2 million plus range. Every price rise a spending reduction to balance the personal budget?...What exactly is a vegan activist?...Summing up; from Keith White, Red Hill South "Please stop picking on the federal government, they haven’t done anything"...Hooroo...ello8