“The Lady’s not for Turning”.

In October, 1980 the ‘Iron lady’ of British politics Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced at the Conservative Party Conference that “The lady’s not for turning”, which was greeted with ruptures of applause and cheers from MP’s and supporters. It became something of a Thatcherite motto. At the time Thatcher was under pressure to do a U-turn in regards to her economic policies. Thatcher was to stare-down her critics within and outside the Conservative Party.

Perhaps Bronwyn Bishop was conjuring up the spirit of the former ‘Iron Lady’ Thatcher and whom Bishop worships and attempts to emulates her in appearance and actions, and revels in being compared to Thatcher. When earlier this week she told the media that she would not be resigning from the Speaker’s Chair, she was conjuring up the spirit of Thatcher and attempted to stare down her critics in the same way the late Thatcher did. But, of course it’s not working. From what I know about Thatcher she never chartered a $5000 helicopter.

Meanwhile ‘Choppergate’ drags on and on with no apparent end in sight for the scandal to end. Bronwyn Bishop has got it into her head that we are her servants and she’ll do what she wants when she wants no matter the costs. Well I have a message for Bishop and her likes, she is our servant and we the people can decide how long she’ll be our servant for!

Now, I know it’s highly unlikely that the good burgess of Mackellar in the North Shore suburb of Sydney are going to suddenly rise-up with their pitch-folks and pikes and demand Bronwnnies head on a pike. But the good people of Mackellar on the North Shore, also don’t take too kindly to politicians wasting their taxes in such an extravagant manner. So who knows they just might take up with their pitch-folks and pikes yet! But, the rest of us common folk who live in this vast continent can write, phone and email our local federal members to register our disgust in her behaviour.

We should demand a clean up the system of politicians perks from a self-regulated system – which never works – to having an independently administered statutory body that oversees politician’s privileges. This will hopefully ensure the ‘chopper-gate’ fiasco is not repeated, but with politicians such as Bronwyn Bishop who knows.

The simple fact is the only reason this situation has come about is due to the poor leadership of a certain Prime Minister, Abbott. She was his ‘Captain Pick’ for the Speakers position as – a factional – pay back for her years of support, and to cause chaos to the Labor Party.

Although she’s razor sharp on parliamentary standing orders and history of the Westminster system, she is terrible at applying the same rules to herself and Liberal National Party side of politics. She has been accused of being the most partisan Speaker in the history of the House of Representatives and the numbers alone support that claim. She has named and thrown out well over 400 members of parliament, with 393 being from Labor.

Other politicians from either sides have been Speakers, even the disgraced Peter Slipper, with all his pomp and ceremony whilst in the position was considered a very good Speaker. My local Federal Member of Chisholm, Anna Burke, did a great job in a very rough parliament and so did Harry Jenkins. Bishop may have a great knowledge on parliamentary procedures, but she is biased in the way she applies those procedures.

The longer Abbott supports Bishop then the longer it will damage not only his government but his blind support for her also calls into question his leadership as well. A large number of the frontbench refuse to support her both publicly and privately, with the Treasurer Joe Hockey refusing to publicly support her. Either Bishop goes, or Abbott goes, it will have to be one or the other.

A cardboard box for a home

Kids playing cricket in the slums of Richmond.
Kids playing cricket in the slums of Richmond.

Dear comrades well despite getting stuck on the stairs last week, the Department of Health and Human Services responded to a letter I wrote to the Minister for Housing, the Hon Martin Foley. I did this a few weeks ago enquiring about when I or we, might be offered suitable public housing. Now that letter was written to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing way back on 22 April, it is only now – Today – the minister’s office finally responded to my letter. Now just to be clear the Ministers Portfolio comes under the Department of Health and Human Services.

I did ring Minster Foley’s office two weeks ago asking when I might receive a response to my enquiry. Well the greasy wheels of bureaucracy can turn slowly, and so it appears it has turned very slowly in its response to my letter.

I finally received a response from the minister’s office today, and excitedly tore the letter open expecting some “good news” to my original letter, such as an offer of appropriate housing. But alias I was to be disappointed by the new Labor Minister for Housing, Mr Foley.

The bureaucrat given the task of responding to my letter – or email – from April pointed out that I had been on the ‘priority’ list for early housing since February 2010. Yes, I’ll admit to that! I actually joined the general housing list in October 2009, and was moved onto the ‘priority’ list in early 2010 due to my disability and on-going health issues. So on my calculations I’ve been on the ‘priority’ list for public housing for five and a bit years, let’s say five and half years. So by October 2015, I would have been waiting six years for appropriate public housing.

Now, when placed on the ‘priority’ list at the time I was told I would have to wait at the maximum two to four years for appropriate public housing. So at the moment it looks like I could be on the ‘priority’ list anywhere from six to eight years if not longer. Good thing I’m not homeless and on top of my disability and on-going health issues, God only knows what state I’d be in.

The letter went on to inform me that the department was unable to estimate the waiting time for appropriate housing to become available, “due to demand for public housing, vacancy rates and the number of applications already approved for Early Housing”. The letter went on to point out that, “not all public housing is accessible for individuals with physical disabilities nor is it suitable to be modified”. Right, thanks for pointing this out.

Now, it appears I don’t really have many options in regards to finally getting an appropriate public house. I could continue writing and pestering the current minister until they or he gets sick of me. The other option is taking legal action by taking the department of housing to VCAT – the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – and find out when I might be offered appropriate housing. Now, this could cause a bit of grief for the state government, but not much. So the other option I have is to take direct action against the department, such as a demonstration in the local Department of Human Services Office in Box Hill, in the way of sleeping in the offices until I’m given an appropriate response. Or I could go on a hunger strike – Bobby Sands style – either in the office or out the front of the minister’s electoral office, or in his ministerial office in the City of Melbourne. It would be difficult for me to undertake, but I’m deadly serious about getting appropriate housing. Don’t forget folks that last week I couldn’t get into the current house due to my condition and disability. I just could not lift my legs up the stairs, due to both the pain the inability of my legs or hips to move up the stairs. So I’m not going to accept the excuse from the minister’s office without a fight.

Both successive Federal and State Governments have build up surpluses over the years by cutting into essential social services such as public housing. At the end of the day it is disabled, people with health issue, the poor, the elderly and the homeless who become victims of these successive surpluses. If there was an appropriate ‘safety net’ that both sides like to talk about, then myself and my family would not be in this situation; and neither would thousands of other people.

On the upside the bureaucrat who wrote the response letter did acknowledge that waiting for a suitable property “is frustrating”. Now that is an under-statement. At least I’m not sleeping in a cardboard box on a very cold Melbourne winter night.

That’s all for now folks.

Euan

Stuck on the Stairs.

Stuck on the Stairs.

last night as I attempted to enter into the house I became stuck, yes stuck because I couldn’t get up the three stairs into the house. Now, this doesn’t happen that often, but when it does I become very annoyed, angry and pissed off that I’m unable to walk up, or get up a few lossy steps into my home! To say it annoys me is an understatement. All I can say is thank God I’m not in a wheel-chair, but some days, such as yesterday (Thursday 16-06) I think that I am because I’m unable to get up a few stairs into my home. Thank God my wife Amy was able to assist me up the stairs or else I might still be stuck out there in the freezing cold.

Now my problem of getting stuck on the stairs, or the base of the stairs, occurred on the same day I went for a surgical review in relation to the right hip with the Orthopaedic surgeon. After numerous X-rays, CT Scans, cortisone injections and anti-inflammation medications the surgeon came to the conclusion there was very little that could be done for the right hip and thus the pain in the hip. It could be replaced, but once again not sure of the outcome as there is very little evidence that the hip joint has deteriorated to the point that it requires replacement. But that possible could change within the next couple of years. Who knows? Anyway I have to have another MRI of the back and perhaps tests of the nerves to work out what is triggering the pain episodes.

Oh and for our Federal Speaker, Bishop, it looks like she might have to answer for her hiring of a chopper to the federal coppers. Just as Peter Slipper had to last year for misuse of Taxi Vouchers, whilst he went out for a piss-up at some Canberra vineyards for a day. Despite offering to repay the debt several times he was prosecuted and lost his seat in the 2013 election. Now, will our Bronwyn Bishop be forced to endure the same embarrassing fiasco as the last speaker had to endure? Or will Abbott – who claimed to be the love child of Bronwyn Bishop and former Prime Minister John Howard – step in and attempt to save her conservative skin? Either way if she stays on as speaker she will remind one-and-all and the public of her rorting of the public-purse, like a weeping puss filled wound, and thus her incompetence to remain in the Speakers Chair. This will be a bonus for federal Labor and Bill Shorten. Or she could do the correct thing and resign, which will also be a bonus again to the federal Labor and Bill Shorten. Putting the pressure back onto Tony Abbott and his government, which is already on the nose with voters and this latest fiasco, will only add to the impression of a government and a speaker out of touch with ordinary people.

A sensible and mature debate on tax

Comrades, well Joe – I’ve been defamed – Hockey has said we need a ‘mature debate” on tax and that will include of course the GST. Now, blind Freddie could tell you that perhaps the best way to increase the tax-base is to crack down on the rorts in the tax system. This ‘mature debate’ might want to look at superannuation tax-breaks for high end earners in which the tax-payer is paying for super top-up for very high earners, whilst the plebs have had their annual $500 super top-up slashed by the Abbott Government. Fair? No, but then again that’s the tax-break!

Another is to increase the Capital-Gains Tax on the sale of rental properties that have been negatively geared. Also I know some of youse will scream at me, but it is time for Negative-Gearing to go, or at least slowly removed over a ten year period. This should at least allow investors time to disinvest from the property market in an organised manner, instead of a wild stamped!

Now that’s just three things I can think of in this ‘mature debate’ on tax, which will be completely denied by Mr – I’ve been defamed- Hockey and Mr – Red Budgie Smuggler – Abbott. They’ll just look at my suggestions laugh and say, “Rupert won’t like those ideas”. So the suggestions will not get up under this government at least. Meanwhile the tax base shrinks and continues to shrink unless we take a stand and demand changes.

Now Hockey has suggested increasing the GST rate to address the shrinking tax base. However, he has not suggested what it should be increased too. Victorian Premier Andrews, in a way shot the proposal down in flames. But as he pointed out the GST is a very efficient at raising tax. But, it’s also very regressive tax. In other words it hits lower-income people harder than high-income earners.

But, as former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, said “Never come between a premier and a bucket of money”. The state-governments have had $18 billion slashed from their budgets in last year’s federal budget and the states are going to have to come up with a way to cover that shortfall in their revenue. So expect an increase in the GST.

On the set of Mad Men

Strange dream, I was asked to sit a test to become a journalist with a local radio station, I think it was linked to 2GB and Alan Jones (The man who speaks for Struggle Street. Of course he does). Anyway the questions were on what appeared to be news print and I had to answer the questions related to the stories. But, every time I tried to finish a page they would give me another page without examining or correcting my answers. Whilst at the same time I had to write and then broadcast news stories. There were also some questions about maths that I attempted to answer, but didn’t really understand the question or what was expected of me. Anyway the questions kept coming and I kept answering the questions and writing stories all to a deadline. I was enjoying the challenge of it all.

I could hear Allan Jones voice in the background and then the other journalists and editors cursing and swearing at him under their breaths; the editor clearly called him “a fucken Wanker of Struggle Street”. The strange thing was Jones was being broadcast from Sydney; I was in a newsroom in Melbourne writing news copy for Melbourne and Sydney.

The office had very few computers, mostly typewriters clanking away with cigarette smoke swirling around the head of the writer. Computers were on the overside of a glass partition, but it didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling. The office set up reminded me as if I was on the set of Mad Men, although nobody was drinking vodka or gin at 10 O’clock in the morning; well not what I could see at least.

Then there was what I was wearing; a light grey suit, white shirt with a grey Fedora with either a black band around it, or a black band with a grey strip around it. Either way it was strange to see me wearing that style of hat as I usually wear Stetson or a stylish akubra felt hat. I once wore a black Stetson, but people often thought I was Jewish. In fact there is a story behind that as well. One day on my lunch-break I was returning to work when I heard someone yelling behind me “It’s not the Sabbath! It’s not the Sabbath!” I stopped in my tracks looking around for where the voice was coming from. Then again “It’s not the Sabbath”. Then I was noticed this large barrelled chested man striding towards me, as if he was on a mission. Then again he yelled out “It’s not the Sabbath” and pointed towards his head indicating I should remove my black hat. It was then when I noticed who he was, Roman Rosenbaum, brother of slain Australian Jewish student Yankel Rosenbaum, who was stabbed and had his skull was fractured during the 1991 Crown Heights Riots in Brooklyn, New York City.  It was a terrible riot in that it turned African-American and Orthodox Jewish residents against each other. The riots began on August 19, 1991, after two children of Guyanese immigrants were unintentionally struck by a car in the motorcade of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of a Jewish religious sect. A child died and the second was severely injured. And Poor Yankel was an innocent victim who was unfortunately caught up in the Riot and paid for it because he was Jewish.  A 16-year-old African-American kid, Lemrick Nelson, Jr. and was charged as an adult with murder and later acquitted.

However, at the time I wasn’t thinking about race-riots or Yankel being stabbed, I just wanted to get as far away from this crazy man yelling about it not being the Sabbath. I thought he was about to knock the hat off my head in disgust at a ‘so-called Jewish person’ wearing a black hat on a Friday afternoon. After that encounter I ditched the big black (Jewish) hat and went for another style and colour.

Later on I lost the grey Fedora and looked everywhere for it, but just couldn’t find it. Which Earlier this year I lost my Stetson hat, actually I had left it in the taxi we caught coming from the airport. Despite all my best efforts and ringing the lost property of Victoria Police I never found that had again. It was a greenish grey colour, not a light grey colour as in the dream.

Whilst working in the news room I was very anxious about my health and suffering or experiencing a debilitating chronic pain episodes, that usually either doubles me over with me clutching at my groin, and has even landed me in hospital at least three times a year in chronic agony. It’s embarrassing and I’m sick of suffering the episodes, which I often suffer on a daily basis. But, despite being anxious of suffering a debilitating episode, it never happened and I was over-the-moon as I was able to work in an area that I love and do so without any pain (I can at least dream). I was working and contributing to society; earning money, paying taxes, providing for my family and felt like a man again. Yes I felt like a man again.

The editor said he’d see me tomorrow and thanked me for the day’s work I’d completed. I attempted to rush home and tell Amy about the job, but had trouble leaving the building as I was pre-occupied with trying to find the light-grey Fedora hat and searched everywhere for it, even in the toilet for some reason! But then the building started to collapse around me and I had to get out without the hat. I climbed over the rubble of the building, which was also grey and managed to catch up with Amy who was pushing a pram with our daughter Siobhan in it. I told her the great news of the job offer. But she said to me, “Are you sure the job will be there for you”? I reassured her it would be and was really happy telling her of the job offer. But with that I woke up and was back in the cold reality of the real world. At least the Morphine was working and managed to keep the pain at bay for a few hours.

So if anybody finds my hat could they please return to me as soon as possible, or else I’m off to the City Hatters in Flinders Street, Melbourne to get myself a new Stetson.