Tag Archives: Australia

Bushfire funding rort?

Australia’s Black Summer of 2019/20 shocked the world. Scott Morrison’s Hawaiian holiday in the middle of the fires shocked Australians. But then Covid happened, and we just assumed that all the money promised to bushfire victims would be distributed.

Now, it appears that even this emergency relief has been rorted.

First we learned that the Blue Mountains area of NSW received next to no community funding at all. Then we learned that a sky diving complex [not in the Blue Mountains area] was not only approved, it was given roughly four million dollars more than requested.

The shock value of these funding inequalities lasted for about a day before it faded into obscurity, at least in the main stream media. Not so on Twitter. There, independent journalists, such as Matt Lloyd-Cape have been trying to get to the bottom of the bushfire funding. What they found was that matching promised funding to actual funding was not so easy because of the lack of transparency in the process.

‘Not easy’ and ‘impossible’ are not the same though. This is some of what they found:

‘Of the $566 million promised in emergency support to people whose homes and /or businesses were burned by the fires, only 43% had been spent by the end of October 2020.’

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/bushfire-money-mystery-recovery-funds-withheld-to-fight-the-election/

This is the funding allocated for immediate emergency relief, for people who lost their homes or businesses in the fires. Let me repeat that. The funding was supposed to be for the most destitute of victims.

Or how about this:

‘Of the $228 million released by the Morrison Government under this program so far, more than 77% went to NSW, 8.75% to South Australia, 7.5% to Queensland and just 6.4% to Victoria. While this split seems to disproportionately favour Coalition controlled states, there still may be good reasons โ€“ it could be a matter of different reporting schedules among states, or that the states have agreed to such a division for federal resources โ€“ but without better publicly available information there is no way of knowing.

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/bushfire-money-mystery-recovery-funds-withheld-to-fight-the-election/

There’s more, of course, and I strongly recommend that all Australians read the entire article: https://www.michaelwest.com.au/bushfire-money-mystery-recovery-funds-withheld-to-fight-the-election/

I think you’ll be shocked to learn how much news you have not been getting. I know I was.

The disruptions caused by the internet are still rumbling through the news media, and traditional news suppliers have either been forced out, or forced to toe the funding line just to stay in business. As for the journalists employed by those suppliers, their jobs have never been more precarious.

Hmm…. I wonder what that sort of financial pressure does to a journalist’s ability to report the news, without fear or favour?

I recently read about a media company that supplied a list of politicians that new, young, female journalists should stay away from. Yet not a word leaked to the general public because those journalists live or die by their ‘access’ to sources within the Canberra bubble.

On Twitter, these news suppliers are known as the MSM – main stream media. They include #Newscorpse [Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps], the Fairfax press, what’s left of it, commercial TV news, andโ€ฆthe Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

‘…the ABC was originally financed by consumer licence fees on broadcast receivers. Licence fees were abolished in 1973 and replaced principally by direct government grants,…’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Broadcasting_Corporation

I stopped watching commercial TV when I realised how biased ‘Sixty Minutes’ was in its presentation of genetically modified organisms [GMOs] and genetic engineering in general. I switched to the ABC because I grew up thinking the ABC was stodgy but accurate. I’ve recently had to revise even that article of faith. The ABC may not lie, but all the funding cuts have forced it to be very…selective…in the news it presents.

In my world, you’re judged not just by what you do say but by what you don’t say, and the ABC has been not-saying a lot lately.

I stopped watching the 7:30 Report a couple of years after Kerry O’Brien left. I stopped watching The Drum about a week ago when it became obvious that the discussion about Victoria’s recent 5 day lockdown would become a Daniel Andrews bash-fest. What else can you expect when the only Victorian on the panel was an ex Liberal politician?

Why was he an ex Liberal? Because we voted him out at the last election. Did he agree with our elected State Government’s strategy on Covid? Of course not. Yet the 5 day lockdown worked, just as our months long, hard lockdown worked.

It’s possible that someone else on The Drum disagreed with the bash-fest, but I didn’t see it because I stopped watching and haven’t watched since.

So why the heck am I writing all this now? I’m writing because I know that most people of my generation:

  • still believe that the news media ‘can’t’ lie.
  • still have faith in the ABC,
  • and don’t use Twitter, or watch podcasts by The Friendly Jordies, or seek out independent news sources etc etc.

Why do I know this? Because that was me just a short while ago. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Fourth Estate has changed, and the old guard are dying out. A new generation of fearless journalists are rising up to fill the void, but thus far it’s mostly the young who know about them. Those young people will be our movers and shakers very soon, but they’re not there yet. That’s why it’s up to us, the over 50s to start asking questions too. And if we don’t like the answers, we have to make ourselves heard.

I do not like learning that emergency funding for the most desperate of bushfire victims has been withheld, for any reason whatsoever. This is not only morally wrong, it’s obscene.

The rort we ignore is the rort we condone.

Meeks


What, Where, When, How…and Why?

What, where, when, how and why are the necessary elements of every great story, but in my not-so-humble opinion, the ‘why’ is the key. Without it, the event [what], its setting [the where and when], and the mechanics of how it happened are like the dry pages of a history book – factual but boring. Only the why brings the story to life because the why is always about people.

We are eternally fascinated by ourselves, but most of us are small, insignificant motes living small, insignificant lives. Only in fiction can we become something more. Only in fiction can we live bigger lives…from the safety of our armchairs.

In The Game, a six-part drama produced by the BBC, we are taken back in time to the Cold War when the Western democracies were pitted against the Soviet Union in an undeclared, covert war fought by spies, assassins, traitors, and information gatherers. Both sides had developed nuclear weapons post World War II, so if either side started a physical war, the result would be mutual destruction, many times over. It would be the end of everything.

I grew up in Australia during the Cold War, and although we felt very distant from all the pushing and shoving in the northern hemisphere, the possibility of being wiped off the face of the planet was very real. I remember reading Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and wondering how I would spend my last hours of life. Trust me when I say that the fear was real, as was the threat.

That is the ‘where’ and ‘when’ in which The Game unfolds. The ‘what’ is Operation Glass. No one in the UK’s MI5 know what Operation Glass is about, but they all know there might not be a UK if the Soviet plot is allowed to succeed. The following is a short trailer from Episode 2:

All of the people shown in that scene are key players in MI5, and you automatically relate to them as the ‘good guys’, but are they? Bit by bit as the six episodes unfold, we learn snippets from the past of each player, but these snippets are not just nice to know background fluff, they are the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Put the pieces together correctly and you discover how Operation Glass took MI5 by surprise.

If you know anything about that period of UK history, you’ll know that deep cover traitors were discovered. To say more would be to spoil a part of the story. Suffice to say that the ‘why’ of each character in The Game is vital to the story.

If I were doing a movie review, I’d give The Game 5 stars along with a recommendations that you watch it on ABC iView [for Australians]. But I’m a writer, and I have to say something more, something about balance. The ‘why’ may be key to any story, but it has to be balanced by all the other elements.

Frankly, nothing bores me more than a work of fiction that reads like a therapy session using fictional characters as the medium. Yes, the deep hurts of our lives are necessary if we want to write strong, believable characters, but great stories require that we sublimate those hurts. Great stories require that we find the universal in the personal. We have to find the elements that are common to us all. Only then can we write three dimensional characters that all of us can relate to.

And then we have to place those characters in terrible situations from which they will emerge stronger, braver, better…or dead. Okay, not always dead, but you know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

May your stories grab readers by the short and curlies, and may your characters display motivation we can all recognize! Write well, all you wonderful Indies out there, and may 2021 see you all gain the recognition you deserve.

love
Meeks


Christmas, Downunder style

Our cousins, the Kiwis, actually came up with this perfect Antipodean Christmas Carol but…it’s all in the family so I’m claiming it for Australia too! Mwahahaha…-cough-

My thanks to Carol of Carol Cooks, for introducing me to the Summer Wonderland video, and some fantastic foodie delights during the year. Apart from being a great cook, Carol also has a wicked sense of humour which is why I believe she should be an honorary Antipodean. Welcome to the Downunders, Carol!

As for everyone else, wherever you are, and whatever you plan to cook for your <<insert name of holiday here>> I hope you have a safe holiday even if it isn’t the most joyous one. Next year will be better, and next holiday will make up for this one.

Stay strong, stay safe, stay well.

Massive hugs
Meeks


Retail therapy at last!

Yes! I went shopping today. For the first time in over eight months. And yes, it was exhilarating. ๐Ÿ˜€

My little shopping expedition was also hot and sweaty because I decided to be daring and go for a walk first. Bad move. I parked at Bunnings and walked to Autobarn, a short hop…by car. What I’d forgotten was that most of the way to Autobarn was uphill, and guess who’s a wee bit out of shape?

By the time I’d walked back to Bunnings [wearing my surgical mask and one glove], I was literally dripping with sweat, and the inside of the mask felt like a wet towel. That said, the outside of the mask was quite dry, proving that it really does catch all those potentially toxic exhalations.

Anyway…one of the first things I saw inside Bunnings was a customer with his mask down under his chin, mooching around with a takeaway cup of coffee in his hand. After all the fear and stress of the last eight months, I totally lost it and told him off. He came back with ‘oh but you’re allowed to not wear a mask if your eating or drinking’. I politely suggested that he ‘eat or drink’ outside.

I know the restrictions have been eased, but this prick was deliberately abusing the privileges we’ve been given. I am so sick of selfish morons trying to find loop holes in rules designed to protect everyone. We’re virus free for the moment, but as South Australia discovered, all it takes is ONE idiot. Ahem…

Smarmy piece of shit aside, the whole setup at Bunnings was brilliant. One door to go in, a different door to go out, physical distancing lines painted on the floor leading to the checkouts. Staff all wearing masks and directing ‘traffic’. I felt quite safe, which is saying something. And I loved being able to select things for myself again. Online shopping is okay, but unless and until they make online shopping a virtual experience, it’s just not the same as being there.

Oh, and in case you’re all wondering what I actually bought? Well…I bought a trickle charger for the batteries that drive my fire-fighting pumps, a new 30 metre garden hose, a timer-tap so I can’t forget to turn off the tap, and a small sprinkler head to water the new veggie box.

Nothing exciting, I know, but I feel great anyway, and in a day or two I’m going to go out again to buy…bread. A beautiful Vienna with a crisp crust and a fluffy white interior:

The vienna has to be unsliced, of course, so we can pop it into a hot oven for a minute [to decontaminate] before slicing and smothering with fresh, cold butter….

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make us happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


Vaccines – some real data on efficacy

This is an important video for everyone to watch as Dr John Campbell explains about the adverse reactions recorded for the Pfizer vaccine. He then goes through the first peer reviewed paper published for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

As Australia has aligned itself heavily with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s very reassuring to know that it is both safe and efficacious! Just as a matter of interest, Australians won’t be getting any vaccines until some time in March, 2021. As we have the virus under control [knock on wood], we can afford to wait.

Feels great to get some good news on the virus front for a change. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


Step back in time…

I want to start this post by thanking Sandra, a real world friend and email correspondent for sending me these incredible, historical artifacts. Thank you!

Now, take my hand and let’s start with something all Australians will recognize – the Sydney Harbour Bridge:

Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Historians will love this old black and white news footage, but baby techies like me will be astounded to learn exactly how such a huge, single span was built. I literally could not believe my eyes. [If you don’t want to watch the entire eight minute video, click the red ‘play’ line at about 75%].

The next few images prove that history is cyclical. Or perhaps they just prove that humans never change:

Noses exposed? Really?
Now that’s what I call serious protection!
Everything closed until further notice…
See the modern tech?
Old school social media…
The bullet Australia has missed…so far.

I decided to include the following, more recent image because I wish we had something like it today:

Circa the 1950s?

Imagine if, instead of having to order online and get someone else to pick your produce for you, mobile shops would drive through the suburbs, ringing a bell or something, like the old Mr Whippy icecream vans.

Remember them?

For those who don’t know who or what Mr Whippy was, you can see pics and read all about it on Woorillacaught’s blog: https://www.woorillacaught.com/mr-whippy/

We’d still have to wear masks and gloves, and keep 2 metres apart, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick your own fruit and veg? Maybe have the baker’s van bring fresh, crusty Vienna’s to the corner of your street. And ice cream! I do miss the Mr Whippy van. ๐Ÿ™‚

The past was anything but a golden age and yet, there are things from my childhood that I really do miss. What about you?

cheers
Meeks


Covid-19 – micro droplets

With so many countries re-opening after lockdown, the risk of a second wave grows every day, especially as research now shows that the standard social distancing recommendations are…far too optimistic.

The research, conducted in Japan, uses lasers and special cameras to capture how the virus is spread, and how far it goes. The video below has some English dubbing and/or English sub-titles. Although the whole, hour+ video is interesting, the segment about the actual research begins at 29:10 and ends at approximately 35:18:

The research shows that even speaking can spread the virus via both large droplets and tiny micro droplets. The large droplets fall to the ground fairly quickly, even in an enclosed space with little air circulation, but the micro droplets remain in the air for over 20 minutes. Because they’re so small, they also spread a great deal further than the recommended 1.5 or 2 metres.

The take home message is that confined spaces – like public transport, office buildings, shopping malls, supermarkets and classrooms – are the perfect breeding grounds for micro droplet borne virus particles.

The good news is that masks do reduce the distance that both large and small droplets can travel. And /that/ is why countries that mandate the wearing of masks in public have less viral transmission than Western countries in which people are ‘self conscious’ about wearing masks. Apparently it’s okay to become infected and infect others, but heaven forbid that we should look silly

And now a word about the hypocrisy of my government in scolding protestors attending the Black Lives Matter demonstrations:

  • those protests ALL happened in the open air where normal air circulation [with or without wind] would have dispersed the droplets quickly,
  • this is in contrast to people returning to work – at the behest of this government – in confined spaces with air conditioning instead of natural ventilation. Does anyone else remember the legionnaire outbreaks caused by contaminated, commercial air conditioning units?
  • a great many of the protestors wore masks,
  • this compares to people travelling or working in confined spaces without masks.
  • the organisers of the protests, at least here in Australia, were handing out masks and hand sanitiser to help reduce the risk of infection,
  • I’m not aware of any public transport employee handing out masks or hand sanitiser to travellers. Ditto supermarkets. Office buildings etc etc etc.

It’s the height of hypocrisy to say that it’s okay to catch the virus from public transport, or offices, factories, shops, restaurants etc…to save jobs…and the economy…and the effing budget bottom line…but it’s not okay to catch it while protesting state sanctioned murder.

And we all nod wisely and say ‘tut tut’.

I find that more disturbing than I can say. When did we turn into such placid sheep?

Meeks

p.s. My thanks to Dr. John Campbell for talking about the Japanese research in his latest video update: https://youtu.be/kmo_1Tcdp30


Accessible art

I’m a real Philistine when it comes to modern art; basically I don’t like it. But I do love these:

The screenshot above is of a mural painted on a blank wall! It comes from blogger, MyOBT [MyOneBeautifulThing]: https://myonebeautifulthing.com/2020/06/09/patrick-commecy/

MyOBT is well worth a visit as Donna has heaps more photos of these incredible murals to show you. Oh, and they’re all done in France.

As soon as I saw the French murals, I was reminded of the siloart springing up here in Australia:

Very different styles, and yet the images are both beautiful and playful. They invite viewers in, and I think they’re wonderful. Here’s the link to the siloart website: https://www.australiansiloarttrail.com/

If you know of any other artworks like these, please tell us about them in the comments.

cheers
Meeks


Vitamin D – why you want it and how to get it

The first part of this video is a little bit technical, but don’t be put off by all the scientific names. Keep watching and you’ll learn why Vitamin D may be useful against our favourite virus. You’ll also learn about its importance for other conditions, such as osteoporosis. I most definitely did not know that.

The thing I found most interesting was the explanation about why people in different geographic locations may be Vitamin D deficient. Apparently, it’s all due to the season, the angle of the sun as it hits the earth, and a country’s distance from the equator.

The video talks about the USA, but I was interested in Australia, so I went looking for a map of the world showing the equator. Then I copied the area from the equator to roughly the middle of the USA. This was the distance from the equator that gets sufficient Vitamin D in summer and winter.

Next, I placed the copy next to Australia. This is what it looks like:

World map taken from : https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

Zooming in on my home town of Melbourne, we get this:

Close up of Australia from https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

I drew the green line across from the subset map to see if Melbourne does, in fact, fall within the area that receives enough Vitamin D in winter. It does, but only just, and Tasmania seems to miss out entirely.

So yes, we all need Vitamin D, for a variety of health reasons, but no, not all of us can get it from the sun during winter. And if we go from house to car to office and back again, then there’s a good chance we won’t be getting enough Vitamin D, even in summer.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, apart from how to bake bread, it’s that we can’t rely on technology to save us from everything. Sometimes, living an old fashioned, healthy lifestyle really is the best medicine.

cheers
Meeks


The real face of Covid-19 – apology

Apologies everyone! The video /was/ available when I published this post but apparently it is now ‘private’. I’ve just tried a number of channels on Youtube and they’re all blocked. I have no idea what happened. Maybe Sky News waved the big copyright stick? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

This is the only still image I have:

I was trying to get a pic of the padded restraint.

Updated April 23, 2020, Australia

One image that will stay with me forever is that of a patient, a large man in his fifties perhaps, trying to take the plastic hood thing off his head. The staff had to tie down his hands. They did it to try and save his life, but I know what he was doing. The hood thing wasn’t enough. He felt like he was suffocating, and in his desperation he thought that he would breathe better if it came off…

I almost drowned when I was 21. How and why doesn’t matter. What matters is that I still remember what it felt like not to be able to breathe out. I remember the desperation. There is no logic at that point. It’s all animal instinct.

I hope that man survived, but I fear he didn’t. One of the scary statistics I’ve read since this pandemic began was that of all the people sick enough to be intubated [put on a ventilator], only about 50% survive.

50% – toss a coin. Heads or tails. Life or death.

Financial interests in Australia, the UK and the US are calling for the lockdowns to be eased. They think the danger is over because the curve is starting to flatten. But the people pushing for a return to ‘normal’ see human lives only as a statistic. I hope that at least some of them watch this video and realise that this thing can still get away from us. And if it does, we could all end up like Bergamo in Lombardy.

Meeks


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