Friday, 28 July 2017

Dual citizenship

is not permitted for members of Downunder's federal parliament. Recently two Greens senators have had to quit because of this. Now there are questions over at least two more senators and up to twenty MPs altogether. 
There is also talk of the need to change sec 44 of the constitution - this being the section which bars dual citizens from becoming members of the federal parliament.  It is being said, "The same thing doesn't apply to state politicians why should it apply to federal politicians."
It is my understanding that one of the necessary qualifications to be President of the United States is not only to be a citizen of that country but to actually have been born there - even if you are brought up somewhere else. I wonder what the citizens of the United States would think if  they were suddenly told, "Look it doesn't matter where someone is born, they can be President. Oh and it doesn't matter if they can still hold a Ruritanian passport."
I rather think there might be objections.
Downunderites are being told just that. They are being told that it would be a good idea to change that section in the constitution so that, potentially, anyone can be Prime Minister.
The idea that anyone can aspire to be Prime Minister is surely a good one. The idea that you can be Prime Minister of one country and still hold not just a passport of that country but of another country  is a different idea entirely. A politician is elected to serve the people he represents, not citizens of another country. The Prime Minister is chosen to represent one country, and just one country. He should not hold two passports. His loyalty may be both stated  to  be and appear to be absolute but there will always be that little question, "If you had to choose, what would you choose?"
I went to a meeting yesterday and this issue came up in a different sort of way. The issue was resolved without me or the others involved having to make a decision about where our loyalties lay but I couldn't help thinking that the politicians in question in our "multi-cultural" society really need to think about this issue.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

RIP Dr Yunupingu

I will honour the request of his family and not use his given name here. (For those of you who live in other parts of the world it is a cultural taboo among many indigenous Australians to use the given name or a picture of a deceased person, particularly a recently deceased person.)
I am, as my friends well know, no fan of modern "pop" music. Bands like Yothu Yindi, of which "Dr G" was a member don't attract me. His real contribution to music was something far greater than that. He sang in his Yolngu/Yolnju languages. 
Yes, he sang in English as well but it is the solos in his native languages that made the greatest impact. He was blind but he saw the earth in a way that few other people see it. He knew instinctively that, if he was to share what he saw, he had to do it in his native languages. He knew that something gets lost in translation, something changes.
Dr G was born on Elcho Island - a remote part of Arnhem Land, which is in itself remote. He was blind from birth and never received the education he should have received. He never learned Braille, never had a guide dog and never used a cane - things he would have been taught in almost any less remote place. His musical education was  simply listening to the traditional songs around him - and the hymns in the Methodist church on Sundays. When he finally found a guitar he taught himself to play it. He was left handed and it was strung for a right handed person so he learned to play it "upside down" - something he did for the rest of his life.
Years ago, before he became well known my late friend R, herself an indigenous person, ... said of him, "That young man has a true voice of his country. He will go far." He did. 
His contribution to music was recognised not just in the music industry but in academia with an honorary doctorate. An indigenous friend once said to me, "One of the few honorary doctorates I have ever approved of."
Places like Elcho Island have severe health hazards. His physical health was never good. He had hepatitis as a child and was later diagnosed with diabetes. It was a combination of those two things which caused his death on Tuesday - at the age of 46. 
Yes, as people like Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil said, he was gone too soon.
And his contribution towards the preservation and use of his native languages was immense. I hope that will be recognised too. Language is power - and music makes it more powerful still.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

An inheritance

is a strange thing, especially if it comes from someone you don't know.
I think I mentioned a problem we had some time ago. We had been told by the Public Trustee that a first cousin of my late mother had died. He died intestate - hardly surprising as he was severely intellectually retarded and a trust fund managed his affairs. The Public Trustee officer was looking for his surviving relatives. 
The law does not allow, as we would have liked, the money simply to be given to the institution which cared for him. 
We didn't know this man. We honestly believed he had died many years before.  I am still appalled to think  that he must have had no family visits at all. It seems this is what his parents must have wanted. Why? 
Middle Cat and I both agree we could have visited, taken him out for a treat, had him for Christmas, remembered his birthday. We just didn't know. We had no reason to believe he was still alive - just the opposite in fact. 
When we heard nothing more from the Public Trustee we assumed that any remaining money had been used up in the costs of administering it. We certainly weren't going to look avaricious by pursuing the matter.
Yesterday I had a letter. At first glance it looked like one of those companies that claim to be able to obtain an inheritance - and who have no legitimacy at all. But, being a cautious cat, I checked. If there was money there could it go to the institution?
The letter appears to be legitimate. There is information there that only a legitimate business could know. I sent an email message - and received more information.
Some of that information relates to yet another "second cousin". She was the youngest of my mother's cousins - my age rather than my mother's age. We actually went to teacher training college together although I had very little to do with her there. She was doing a different course and our paths didn't cross in classes. I didn't see her or have contact with her after she left. Now there is a search for her.
The Senior Cat looked at all this and shook his head. His family has an entire, very well documented family history. The remaining cousins of his generation are still in contact with each other. Their children don't have quite so much contact but we know about one another and our activities. It is an entirely different sort of family. I had to sit there and think about my maternal grandfather's siblings. Who were they? I can't remember the order in which they came. I have very little idea  about their children - my mother's cousins. She almost never saw them. 
The Senior Cat finds this genuinely hard to understand. For him, family is everything - and his cousins appear to feel the same way. 
I  wonder what the other potential recipients of tiny "inheritances" feel about the cousin they didn't know. I know what I am going to do and I know what my siblings are going to do. I hope it will bring some other person who never has visitors some pleasure. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

My ISP - yes Internet

Service Provider and I have been arguing. I do not like arguing but it was essential.
I still have - just - a contract of sorts with them.  It was a new contract just a few months back but they have not kept to the terms and conditions of, I am sorry but they have not.
They contracted to provide me with a service. It was supposed to be a service under the "NBN" - the National Broadband Network. That service was supposed to be "better" and "faster" than the old service. It was also going to cost more. I was also told that "everyone will need to go over to the new NBN".
Fine. Other people had been told the same thing. The NBN had been "rolled out" along the street. My view was, "if there are going to be problems then let's sort them out now and not when everyone else is trying to sort out their problems". After all, I work from home. I need the service.
There were major problems with the switching over. I had to call in some help. I am an elderly cat. I do not understand technology, particularly the technology run by those computer geeks. 
I thought we had it sorted. Things kept "dropping out". The downloads  barely limped along. I complained. Nothing was done. I sent not one but two registered letters to the management because other requests were ignored.
I ended up putting up a negative message on social media - and that did get a result of sorts. Since then there have been emails back and forth with the other end desperately trying not to do anything. They talk about "tests" and "adjustments" and "multiple reasons why" and, once, sent me a long list of instructions about what I would need to do...instructions I couldn't even begin to understand. Oh, they would "talk" me through it. Sorry, but I can't hold the phone for long periods of time, use the mouse and type something in. I don't have that many paws and they are clumsier than most human paws!
Irritated beyond measure at the constant interruptions to my work and the wild assumptions being made about technical expertise I began to get stroppy. I am still stroppy. We have a contract - just - it says they will provide a service and that service is supposed to be better than the old service. It isn't. It's a breach of contract.  It is also costing me twice as much.
Oh they are full of excuses. Now they say they have made a "proactive " move to try and ditch the contract. I can, they tell me, find a new ISP... No, they can provide me with the service. I don't have time for this sort of shenanigans. 
I also know that I am not the only person experiencing these sort of problems. The real problem is that they are not buying enough bandwidth or whatever it is from the core provider. That is about profit and not service. 
What will today bring - or not bring?

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fixed terms in parliament

are naturally loved by politicians - especially when they are in power.
The subject was raised again over the weekend. The leader of the Labor party talked about it and was backed by the leader of the Coalition.
We have a fixed term for the state government. It is said that this brings about "certainty", that the government can "get on with the job". 
The proposed four year term would, it is said, allow governments to implement new policies and see them actually work. It would, we are told, make for radical changes to the way we are governed - all changes for the good of course.
Our state government did not win the last election. It obtained a majority of the seats but that is not the same thing. The electoral boundaries were such that they managed to retain them without getting a majority of the votes. The electoral boundaries have changed. This household is now in a new electorate - represented by a member of the current government. She  could be voted in for  yet another fixed term even though we have heard very little of her.
Our state government is also looking rather tired. It has been in power a very long time. It has made some major blunders. It should have been ousted more than once. If there had not been a fixed term for parliament there would have been at least three occasions on which we could have gone to the polls...and should have gone.
The problem with fixed terms is that, while good governments can stay in power, bad governments can stay in power too. They can go  on being lazy right up until close to the time of an election . They can do harm and there is no means of getting rid of them. 
Parliament has to be answerable to the people. Fixed terms don't allow that and all the arguments in their favour do not, cannot and should not over ride the will of the people. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I borrowed a "theology" book

from the library yesterday. It was on the "new books" shelf when I went to knitting group and also collected a book I had ordered on inter-library loan.
I borrowed it for the Senior Cat. It was a subject I thought might interest him being concerned with what might be called "the edges of belief" or "doubts".
When I arrived home I waved it in front of his paws. He pounced. I made tea. He drank it absently. Almost two hours later I made him his light evening meal and gently removed the book from his paws. 
      "I should be doing something else," he muttered, "But it was much too interesting."
Yes, he was interested. He went on reading it last night. 
What interested me about this is that, at 94, the Senior Cat still enjoys having his thoughts on such topics challenged. 
My mother hated it. Her ideas about things like religion were firmly fixed. It did not do to challenge them. It upset her. She grew up in a religious tradition which did not even include a Sunday sermon, just readings from the Bible and another book. Ritual suited her.
I know many other people the same. It is none of my business to challenge their beliefs or lack of beliefs in such subjects. I keep my thoughts to myself. They don't want to discuss anything...although they may well be willing to tell me what they think and what I should think.
There are other people who are willing to be challenged. I may not change their views. They may not change mine. We can have a discussion, often a lively discussion, about such things.We can say to each other, "That was interesting. I'll think about it some more."
Ritual and tradition can be comforting in their familiarity. They can even be fun. There is certainly a place for them.
But, I really don't want to belong to the "I am right and you are wrong" brigade.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

I don't trust people

very easily. Perhaps it is because I have been let down too many times in my life.
When I say I will do something for someone else then I will make every effort to actually do it. Yes, there have been times when I have failed - but I hope there has never  been an occasion on which I have said, "Yes, I'll do that" and then not thought about it again, not even tried.
I also try to support people. I am a firm believer that, if you speak ill of other people, they will speak ill of you. Even if people let me down I try not to speak ill of them. What's the point? If they are already feeling guilty about letting me down they are just going to feel worse. If they don't care then they are just going to think the worse of me.
I know not everyone else feels that way. They don't notice. They don't seem to care. It simply doesn't bother them. They assume that their relationships will simply continue as before.
When I was growing up there were people you were told you could trust - religious leaders, teachers, the police and the medical profession were all considered trustworthy. You went to them for help. I wonder who we trust now? Who do children trust? 
Several years ago my late friend E... asked me to take on guardianship and power of attorney duties for her. I asked, as I should  have done, "What about your sister?" The answer was "No, I trust you."
At that moment my friend placed a burden on me. If I had told her "No, I can't do that for you" her trust in me would have been misplaced. In the end the duties were not onerous. E.... did not live a long life. 
Recently I have had to face another problem - over someone who has been causing problems for some time. I still wonder if I did the right thing but I felt a point had come in the (non) relationship where I had to say, "Enough is enough."
I told that person "if you turn up at the front door and say you are sorry I will still invite you in and make you a cup of tea but, until you are willing to do that, please leave me alone."
Unreasonable? I hope not. She has let me down badly. She has let other people down too. I no longer trust her and I worry about the harm she has done and could still do. I know other people feel the same way.
I also know she will no longer trust me, probably has not trusted me for some time. No, I didn't let her down but she chose to believe I had. Until she sees that the relationship cannot be repaired - and I cannot trust her either.
Trust is hard to gain and all too easily broken.