Labor’s Regressive Policy

Some days the Prime Minister and the Labor Party make you so damn proud you want to shout it from the rooftops. 

Last week for example, when our strong and inspiring Prime Minister ripped Tony Abbott a new one and called him out for the sexist bully he is.

It was a day all Australians, regardless of whether you like or support the PM or not – a moment in political history – no one will forget in a hurry.

It makes so many of us Labor supporters proud when the Prime Minister announces new wide sweeping progressive reforms like the NDIS, Carbon Pricing, Aged Care reform and the Gonski Report. Progressive Labor Party reforms akin to the Whitlam Governments Medicare and University reforms.

But on that very same day last week, without very much fanfare, the Labor Party passed – with the help of the Coalition – a continuation of a Howard Governments policy to reduce the income of single parents. 

The Single Parent Pensions Bill is one of the most regressive policy platforms ever introduced by a Labor Government.

 This Bill, by reverting the Single Parent Payment to Newstart allowance once the youngest child turns 8, reduces the income support of a single parent by up to $100 per week, in some cases more.

That said – it is a slight improvement on the similar policy the Howard Government introduced in 2005 and effective July 1 2006 whereby Supporting Parent payments reduced to Newstart allowance when the youngest child turned 6!

It is designed to coerce single parents back into the workforce.

Now I fully understand that there are many single parents in our society who do not attempt in any way to seek work regardless of the age of their children. But these people – both women and men – are in the minority.

Some are relatively uneducated, have very poor social and employment skills and even if they did have reasonable skills, many live in rural areas where employment vacancies are almost non-existent.

On the other hand, there are many single parents living in the city where rents are exorbitant; transport costs; after-school care costs are an added financial burden.

Taking away up to $100 per week, reduces a single parent’s ability to seek work or re-training and to function as a healthy, happy parent.

The stress that is going to be added to their daily struggle is going to be enormous.

I believe there should be “carrots” not “sticks” to encourage single parents into the work force. 

Encouragement should be given to single parents to gain skills by returning to school, through our TAFE system (although now the Bailleau/O’Farrell/Newman Governments have slashed funding to TAFE’s that is going to be so much harder as well) or to enroll in a University.

How a single parent will be able to afford to do that now their income will be reduced by up to $100 per week is questionable (especially given the funding slashes to TAFE’s).

How will someone without a car manage? 

How will someone without extended family support manage?

How will someone who already pays exorbitant rent manage?

What if they can’t get a job for months/years on end no matter how hard they try?

What about those single parents who don’t receive any child support at all? (and there are thousands of them)

Were these questions even considered when this legislation was being considered?

Whose idea was this to crucify struggling single parents even further? 

If the Government is so desperate to find an extra $700m over four years ($175m per year) why then didn’t they have the courage to finally attack the rort that is negative gearing, a wealth creation system for wealthy people?

It is true that some people only understand money as a motivation to do anything.

But instead of taking money away from single parents that they use for their everyday living costs, why not offer incentives akin to the baby bonus?  If Governments can offer a baby bonus handout and provide extremely wealthy private schools with huge publicly funded handouts, why can’t they come up with a policy that is more “carrot” and less “stick”; where single parents are encouraged to succeed, not threatened and deprived of vital dollars with which to raise their children on a daily basis.

Those who will scream the loudest about “lazy single parents” are the very same people who will still put their hand out for every subsidy at every opportunity. I have never seen or heard of anyone saying “No thanks, I don’t need the baby bonus” or a wealthy private school say “No thanks, we don’t need taxpayers money to build a new rowing course or swimming pool”…. “let the Government keep it for other more worthy causes.”

I expect this sort of policy from Conservative Governments as it is par for the course for them but not from a Labor Government.

A very wise person once told me that “Governments, in the race to be the ‘best economic manager’ make decisions from a economic rationalist point of view, and in doing so lose all humanity and compassion.  Saying they are “good economic managers” is rhetoric Governments of both persuasions bang on about all the time. The real challenge in being a good economic manager is implementing socially responsible policy that is passionate and well managed.” 

This is not socially responsible policy.

It is cruel, heartless, regressive policy that will put many single parents further under the poverty line.

I want to see policy that will assist and inspire single parents to aspire to better opportunities. 

This does not do that.

I would expect it of Conservatives but not the ALP.

(As an aside – I am yet to hear Tony Abbott give a commitment in blood to wind back this policy. Seems as far as Mr. Abbott is concerned, it is an outrage to tax multi-billion dollar mining oligarchs and put a price on big polluters spewing filthy toxic waste into our atmosphere, but its ok to reduce the income of some of the poorest, most struggling people in our society.)


Margie Abbott’s dummy spit


So Mrs Abbott – “Margie” – you seem to be a tad upset at the so-called “personal” attacks on your husband?

 Well boo bloody boo hoo.  Bring out the teeny weeny violins.

For the past two years, Labor and swinging voters (and no doubt many soft “L” Liberals) both women and men, have had to put up with the relentless, nasty, vicious and very ugly attacks on our Prime Minister that your husband has ignited and angrily fanned because of his petulant, spoilt brat, right to rule dummy spit he has raged ferociously with since 2010 because the Independents didn’t give him the nod to be PM.

Ever since your husband failed to convince the Independents he would be a man of his word, a decent Prime Minister and that he would be prepared to do everything they wanted (except of course ‘selling his arse”), he has set about wrecking the place, with his constant negativity, talking down the economy, his “No” “No” “No” to every forward thinking policy Labor has implemented – and have been passed regardless of your husbands tantrums.

 You, like us, must have seen him proudly stand in front of the ugliest, most brutal placards ever displayed about any Prime Minister. As a fellow woman surely you must have been disgusted. Then again Browyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella weren’t so maybe it’s a Liberal thing that you weren’t either? Anyway, I digress.  Regardless, did we hear you publicly decry his stance in support of those placards? No, “Margie”, we didn’t. If you privately berated him – we’d like to know – as until such times as you tell us whether you did or not – we can only assume the obvious – that you must have wholeheartedly agreed with and supported his actions just as Bishop and Mirabella did.

 I am sure if he ever does get to be PM (which I very much doubt) – he will only bring his extreme right Catholicism down on every woman in this country. And that’s a very frightening thought.

 Your husband, along with his bunch of feral shadow ministers and many on his backbench, have turned the political discourse in this country into the obnoxious, wretched, ugliness it is today.

 Are you proud of him? I’m sure you are. You must be, because you have now come out and said what a wonderful, loving, decent man he is! To say that – you must agree with everything he says and does! Otherwise you would have the courage to say there are some things you don’t agree with him on.

 But no.

 You just heap praise on him as if he can do no wrong.

 Quite frankly it disgusts me.

 If he were my husband (not that he ever would be – perish the thought!) I would most certainly tell him when he has gone to far. As a woman I wouldn’t tolerate my man degrading any woman, let alone the Prime Minister.

 But then, I’m not subservient (not that I’m saying you are) to any man and I will put them in their place if I think they have over stepped the mark with grubby comments. But that’s just me. (…and no doubt millions of other Australian women)

 Obviously, you don’t have that fortitude. If you do, I’d like to hear it.

 Honestly! I would.

 Your husband thinks nothing of degrading not only the Office of the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister herself.

 He just can’t handle a woman getting the better of him can he? 

 His vicious verbal attacks on the PM and physical attacks on women like Barbara Ramjin prove it – he hasn’t changed in all these years no matter how hard you try to convince us.

 He may love you and the girls and his mother – and Peta Credlin – but that’s where his affinity with women ends.

 So get over yourself Margie Abbott.

 Suck it up princess!

 Your husband is one of the most vicious Opposition leaders in this countries history, and as he would say “Its just politics!”

 It’s about time the decent women and men of this nation fought back against your husbands’ ugly persona.


If you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen!

 If Tony will let you that is.

The Three Unwise Old Men of the Media

What is happening to the Elders of media?
Fair dinkum, you really have to wonder what the world is coming to. As if mainstream media isn’t bad enough with journalists of all ages and gender now offering their biased political opinions every day in our media instead of professional political analysis, we now have two elders of mainstream media behaving like bogan bullies in the playground who don’t have the wit or intelligence to win an argument so resort to degrading and belittling those who they deem “weaker” than them – and the third behaving like a cross between Henry the VIIIth, Sir Les Patterson and Dame Edna!
First we have Alan Jones frothing at the mouth, spewing his vile comments re the Prime Ministers dear old Dad. You’ve read numerous articles on IA (and in msm) about that. Then up pops someone who Labor people would have thought had a little bit more decorum where the PM was concerned given that he is apparently a former Labor Party stalwart, speech writer for many a Labor MP and author of sorts.
Bob Ellis.
Hidden away in his blog on September 12 2012, is a nasty little article about our PM. Not as cruel as Jones’ remarks but not far behind I can tell you.
The Real Julia, Stripped Bare” – where Ellis, for some insane inexplicable reason, has chosen to attack the PM for daring to leave a conference in the Cook Islands to travel home on the day that Australia had its worse death toll in Afghanistan. She came home to show leadership. Had she of not done so, you can bet your bottom dollar the media and the Opposition would have torn strips off her for days on end. Most of us saw it as the decent thing to do.  Ellis, however didn’t. Ellis then took a savage aim at her for leaving a day before a conference in Russia finished and fly home to be with her mother, sister and extended family on hearing of the sudden death of her father saying “she fled the conference and went home weeping to Adelaide.” What drives a silly old man to write something that cruel? Ellis says she should have stayed the extra day. Why? The last day of any conference is usually just putting minor finishing touches to discussion and saying a cheery round of farewells to all and sundry. It was not necessary for the PM to stay an extra day.  Ellis may not be close to his family but for those who are, we all know we would drop everything to be with our loved ones when a parent or dearly loved family member dies. But Ellis equated these dreadful exodus’ with soldiers in the battlefield not allowed to leave their posts when a loved one dies (and I would imagine that would only occur during a violent exchange of gunfire in a battlefield where flight to safety would be near impossible.) Drawing a long bloody bow there Bob if you ask me. 
Why the PM’s return home when her father died even warrants Ellis’ commentary is beyond me. Does he, like Jones, have a permanent hatred for her?  Does he have precious little to write about?  Is he bored? Or is he, like Jones, just old and cranky and wanky?
If I was Julia, I would simply tell Ellis and Jones to “rack off” but being the dignified, strong, professional statesperson she is, she wouldn’t dream of saying anything like that to them. 
So I will say it for her. 
“Rack off! you stupid old has beens”
Then we have the outrageous spectacle of John Laws appearing on ABC 7.30, supposedly to offer intelligent commentary on the Jones saga, but instead looked like and came across as a silly old pompous fool who thought he must have been appearing in some Shakespearean play…either that or he thought he was auditioning for the role of Sir Les Patterson now Barry Humphries has retired him.
These old men of the media should be displaying the art of their craft in a dignified professional statesman like manner – honouring their many years experience in the field with informative, clever, detailed scrutiny of an issue.
But no.
Jones, and Ellis to a lesser extent, are ranting like frustrated old wankers, condemning our female Prime Minister with a viciousness that is not becoming of any journalist in Australia, let alone those in their autumn years.
Laws? Well, as I said, just came across as a pompous old fool.
They are all well past their use-by date.
We have for far too long tolerated the disgraceful ugliness in which mainstream media has descended over the past few years. Young and seasoned journalists, using their medium to spruik their own biased political opinions, rarely, if ever, providing us with highly intelligent policy analysis. Rarely, if ever, providing us with clever, intelligent investigative journalism.
If this is what our seasoned journalists are going to end up like God help us all. Because believe me, they seem to heading that way.
But I’m an optimist – I still have faith in the young ones. 
But I wont hold my breath.

Jill Meagher/Alan Jones

For the past week, I, like thousands and thousands of other people – both women and men, in Melbourne and around Australia have been feeling quite gutted.

My emotions are raw, I have an overwhelming sense of sadness and I’m angry.

I’m angry and so very sad that a lovely young woman’s life has come to such a tragic and horrible end simply because she choose to walk 700 metres, alone, in the early hours of the morning, along a busy, lively inner suburban main road to her home.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain and immense grief Jill Meaghers husband, parents and brother, extended family and friends must be enduring.

My daughter has lived in this community for some years and I know the vulnerability she now feels because an evil man has stolen the innocence of her local community.

Multiply that by a million+ and you will have some idea of Jill’s family’s grief.

I believe Jill’s passing has hit home to so many of us because at the end of the day, she was just like one of our own. A daughter, a sister, a friend. She worked for one of our high profile radio stations, the ABC, where household names struggled with their emotions all week as they continued to talk to us over the airwaves in an attempt to deliver their normal programs.

Jill’s disappearance and subsequent tragic passing became very, and all to real to us all.

But it is curious the way the public react to such violence perpetrated in our streets.

In June 2011, a young schoolgirl Siriyakorn Siriboon (known as Bung) of Thai descent, living in Australia in the outer suburb Melbourne suburb of Boronia with her mother and step-father was snatched from a suburban street on her way to school never to be seen again.

The reaction was one of absolute shock and parents in the vicinity took extra vigil over their children for a few weeks.

No one marched in the street.

Twelve months ago, a known prostitute Jazzy O was murdered in Port Melbourne, another quiet unassuming affluent suburb.

No one marched in the streets.

Why then, would the violence perpetrated on a beautiful young middle class woman living in a trendy inner suburb of Melbourne cause such an outpouring of grief when the abduction of a young Thai girl living in an outer suburb and the murder of a prostitute could not.

Because to the majority of Australians she was just like us.  One of us.

She was not a young Thai schoolgirl from the suburbs. She was not a prostitute.

For some strange inexplicable reason we do not seem to identify with those who we deem “different”.

We still feel “shocked”. But we don’t feel the overwhelming sense of inner grief we feel for someone who is “just like us”.

Reflecting on this and the public’s reaction, I now look back in sorrow at the immense grief that Bungs mother and stepfather and Jazzy O’s family have been feeling for the past twelve months and how little so many of us cared about their loss.

The attack on Jill has proved that it this sort of violence can happen to middle class professional young women.

Although there have been many organisations fighting the good fight against violence towards women, hopefully the powerful march today in Sydney Rd, Brunswick will be the continuance of a now very powerful and vocal movement that will continue the fight that says we will not tolerate this anywhere, anymore, on anyone.

Jill’s loss, although tragically, painfully sad, will not have been in vain. It has opened the eyes and hearts of so many to the violence perpetrated in our suburban streets on women of all ages, race and class.

They have marched in the streets now…for Jill, for Bung, for Jazzy O and for all women who have been victims of violent crime.

Then, on a day when around 30000 people marched in peace and solidarity against violence towards all women along Sydney Road Brunswick, we once again – but certainly not to the same extent – have our sense of decency and what’s right shattered by the insensitive and cruel comments toward our Prime Minister by radio shock jock Alan Jones.

I do not in any way liken Jill Meaghers tragic loss and the grief that her family and friends are feeling with Jones insensitive cruel comments.

My point is, that some men feel that they have the right to rob us not only of our innocence and our right to feel safe in our own community but of our sense of decency. That they feel they have the right to behave in either a violent, sadistic, misogynist, cruel way and believe they can get way with it.

Alan Jones has been spewing his vile comments about the PM for the past two years but this most recent contribution to his literny of abusive rantings has sunk even him to a new low.

What has become of our country where the ugliness of egotistical human beings like Jones think they can say what they like and then only offer an apology when the comments in question reach social media and there is an outcry of disgust?

The comments were made a week ago at a Sydney University Young Liberal function and only came to light because a journalist at the function had taped Jones’s speech.

Jones, in his so called apology at a press conference this morning, alluded to the fact that it was a “private function” implying that the comments were ok to make but should never have been reported to the outside world.

He then blamed someone else for saying the comments in the first place – at a young boys birthday party no less. One can only imagine the standards and morals by which this young boy is being raised if this is the sort of conversation carried on at his party. And having someone with Jones’s background as his Godfather is a whole new article.

The whole point of this article is to say “enough is enough”.

We have a right to feel safe in our streets.

We have a right to decency and respect in our political discourse.

Men do not have the right to abuse our trust, our gender, our vulnerability and sense of decency.

Abbotts Utopia


….an Australia beholden to his deeply religious Catholic beliefs.

Having read David Marr’s expose on Tony Abbott I am convinced more than ever that Abbott’s almost fanatical obsession to be PM is to turn this country into a Catholic version of Islamic fundamentalism. Anyone who lauds and worships Bob Santamaria is someone who must be feared and loathed by every sane thinking person in this country.

Marr relates Abbott’s deeply held belief in Catholicism, which in turn has festered his paranoid loathing of gay people and people who don’t agree with him; his aggressive bullying attitude toward women (no matter when it happened) and his fear and hatred of of anyone different to his white Australia paradise (refugees). It indicates a man who has deep seeded personal problems and whose view of the world is one in which progressive policies hold no place. His extreme right wing philosophy is absolutely frightening.

Not once in this current furore regarding his personal sins of the past has Abbott come out and said “I abhor any sort of violence towards women.” He has been far too busy defending himself saying “I cant recall it happening” and a week later “It didn’t happen”– all in all lying to cover his arse but not once thinking of having the decency to publicly deplore the sin he is accused of perpetrating.

That’s because it is all about him.

As Marr writes, Abbott thinks he can just go to the Confessional, confess his sins, say three Hail Marys and all is forgiven. I may not be God but I sure as hell wont forgive him – as I am sure thousands of Australian women wont either.

Male journalists ­– some predictably – have come to his defence. Greg Sheridan in an extraordinary rant on ABC news radio and Tony Wright of Fairfax merely calling him “a dill”.

Yes Tony Wright…men who threateningly intimidate, punch walls beside a woman’s head, pathetically ridicules her chosen words for which to be addressed as a Chair of a committee, daily uses “warlike” words in order to press his political argument, happily stands in front of vile vicious placards regarding the Prime Minister is only a “dill”.

I would call him a thug.

Sheridan ranted like a main possessed about Labor daring to question Abbott’s honesty and challenging him to explain himself but gleefully joining in with the Liberals and other mainstream media in the aggressive hounding of the Prime Minister when it came for her to explain supposed past impropriety.

Gillard had the strength and moral fortitude to front a packed media conference for an hour or so and allowed the press to ask the hardest questions they wanted of her. She answered every one of them with credible explanations for everything that had occurred during that heady time as a lawyer with Slater and Gordon. She held nothing back.

Abbott though – hid from the media for a week – never showed his face then finally went on a frilly morning tv show – where he knew he wouldn’t get the “hard” questioning – to deny his punching of the wall beside the head of Barbara Ramjin ever happened. Bullshit.

I, on behalf of every thinking woman – and man – in the nation, call on Abbott to front his moment of truth in an hour long press conference allowing journalists to ask him every “hard” question they can think of  – although knowing some male journo’s I doubt that will happen – they will pussy foot around the issue like the sychopantic fellow misogynists they are. I would hope though that every female journalist including Michelle Grattan will come out firing on all cylinders in defence of their fellow sisters. I’d like to see that.

In not doing so will only reinforce that they all see threatening intimidating behavior toward women as “trivial”.

If Abbott won’t or can’t do this then I call on him to resign. Not just as Opposition leader but as a Member of Parliament for as far as I am concerned there is no place in Parliament for an aggressive, bullying, dummy spitting misogynist who seeks power for powers sake and who wants to take this nation into the depths of extreme religious Catholicism where women are second class citizens, where people cannot make their own choices about how the live, love and die and where we become not the 51st State of the USA but an enclave of the Vatican. That is Abbott’s utopia.

He must explain himself to the Australian people.

If he doesn’t we will all be left to believe what 85% of the population already believe.


If it looks like a thug, walks like a thug…it’s a thug.

Time to wake up Australia – you are being brainwashed!

My father used to say “if tell someone long enough that they are an idiot they will believe they are.” (He was condemning those parents who spoke to their children in such a manner)

 You have probably notice over the past two years, and you would have to have been living under a mushroom not to notice, the repetitive slogans and words such as “liar” and “lie” that Abbott et al have repeated ad nauseam in every single Question Time, Parliamentary debate, door stop, tv/radio interview and every press release.

 Of course it is quite deliberate.

 But not only that, it is designed.

 Conservative think tanks in America have been working on linguistic programming based on neuroscience for the past 40 years in order to “frame” specific wording into their political narrative. In order to brainwash you.

 And oh how successful they have been.

 Conservatives around the world are working off the same doctrine that they have devised over the years through their think tanks in USA such as the Heritage Foundation, the Olin Institute at Harvard and other institutions. These think tanks have been funded by wealthy right wing conservatives for many, many years in order to set their agenda and in order to convince the people to vote for them even if it is against their interests.

 These extremely wealthy American conservative think tanks (the equivalent here in Australia is the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs) have also devised political narrative that all conservatives are using around the world.

 Abbott et al including their cheer squads MSM and shock jocks have consistently many times a day, every single day for the past two years called the PM a “liar”, that she “lied to the people of Australia” and in doing so have effectively brainwashed thousands in the public into believing it.

 You only have to look at the polls to see how effective their brainwashing has been.

 You can be conned by them simply using a change of word.

 For example: In order to get the public to vote for tax “cuts” for the wealthy, George W Bush changed one word. “Cuts” to “relief”. Tax relief. Which with other ‘framing’ of their wording convinced the people that they were actually helping to “relieve” the wealthy of a terrible tax burden…for to be relief there must be an “affliction”…and the person who takes it away is a hero.

 Radical Conservatives around the world are also mimicking identical comments to their constituents.

 I particularly noticed this when comments Abbott made in China were put to air and not long after comments Romney made in America on China were aired. They were almost identical! I couldn’t believe it and remarked on this on my Facebook page.

 A former Labor MP replied that this is a doctrine the radcons (Radical Conservatives) around the world are following and directed me to a book written by George Lakoff  “Don’t think of an Elephant.”  This little book explains exactly what the Radical Conservatives of the world are doing and how they have manipulated the people into voting for them.

 I downloaded this book via Google books for $6.00 and read all 140+ pages in one sitting. It helps when the weather is cold and wet and one is miserable with the flu! Plus it’s a great read and insight into how the people are being conned by Conservatives who claim to have the peoples best interests at heart but are actually brainwashing them with designed “framing” of words simply to get up their extreme right wing agenda.

 When you read this little book you will clearly identify that what Lakoff is explaining is EXACTLY what Abbott et al and his conservative shock jock followers are doing.

 And its frightening.

 E.g: Recently on Twitter “tweets” appeared decrying Abbott’s return to “Howards Golden Age”.  Within minutes nearly every left wing Tweeter had, in condemning the slogan, repeated it. Therefore subliminally reinforcing it. That’s exactly what they want you to do.

And as Lakoff says, we on the Left, or Progressives as he calls us, have fallen for it hook line and sinker.

 Think how many times you yourself, have repeated the words “Great Big New Tax” or “Stop the Boats” in tweets or Facebook posts or in everyday discussion when critisising Abbott.

 You are doing exactly what they want you to do.

 The mainstream media are also complicit in this tactic. They know very well they don’t have to use right wing tactics but every day journalists from all mediums including the ABC are repeating the right wing mantra therefore reinforcing their agenda.

 Prior to becoming aware of this book I had thought about this often­ – even challenging journalists to change their wording e.g from “PM backflips” to “PM compromises”. Its all in the wording and the journalists know exactly what they are doing,

 If you repeat certain words and slogans over and over again it eventually makes the language normal.

 In deeply extreme religious groups around the world like extreme Christians in the USA (eg Paul Ryan) and extreme Islamic fundamentalists it is all but impossible to change those minds. They are deeply indoctrinated with fundamentalist beliefs that they have come to believe as the absolute truth. This is has been done by those doing the indoctrination repeatedly reinforcing the right ‘framing’ of words.

 This is what Abbott has done. “You tell someone long enough that they are an idiot, they will believe it.” You tell someone long enough that someone is a liar they will believe it”.

 Abbott’s agenda since loosing to Gillard in 2010 was always to bring down a sitting Government. He has tried it with the biggest fear campaigns in modern Australian politics. He has parodied his “Father figure mentor” Howard with his fear campaign against refugees. He has mouthed off every opportunity with his fear campaign on the carbon price.

 Abbott, like his mentor before him, has divided the country with his constant mantras on refugees and this has worked. To the point where the Labor Government had no alternative but to implement a refugee policy that had they had power in both houses they would never have done.

 They tried their darnedest to bring down the Government by pursuing Craig Thomson then Peter Slipper.

 And when that doesn’t work they drag up events of 20 years ago (that didn’t happen) in order to further denigrate the PM in the eyes of the public.

 But his consistent parroting, scaremongering and blatant lying over these issues in order to bring the Government down so far haven’t worked. That’s why Abbott said of the PM “she just wont lay down and die.”

 Extreme ring wing ideologues need to divide a country. They need discord, shouting, vicious name-calling and put downs.

 Recently, five Tory backbenchers launched an astonishing attack by branding Britons among “the worst idlers in the world”.

 Mark my words, it will be part of their agenda to divide the country in order to get support to reduce social welfare in Britain as they fully intend to do and would have done by now had they not been in coalition with Liberal Democrats.

 But we have woken up. Maybe slowly but now we know that they will do anything to brainwash you.

 I was gobsmacked by this book “Don’t think of an Elephant”

 It put into words everything I have been thinking.

 It is a valuable insight into the twisted, warped minds of the radical conservatives of this world and what lengths they have and will go to brainwash you into voting for them.

 But we “progressives’ can take back the public discourse.

 We MUST take back the public discourse.

 Stop repeating their slogans and lies every time you tweet, Facebook, comment on a blog or open your mouth in every day discussion.

 Challenge, as Lakoff suggests in his “How to respond to conservatives” , those who willingly follow like sheep the verbal outrages and lies Abbott et al make on a daily basis.

 Through out this article I have quoted consistently from George Lakoff’s book, taking a sentence here and a sentence there. With all due respect to George…it is because I couldn’t not have said it better myself and your words said it perfectly.

I urge everyone to buy for a mere $6 on Google Books “ Don’t think of an Elephant” by George Lakoff and encourage all your progressive thinking friends to do so too.

And then put into action all he suggests.

Time for Australia to embrace Industrial Hemp


When Scientists and Politicians talk about Climate Change they always (and rightly so) refer to “clean energy” We must now start talking about and acting on “clean crops”.

The Labor Goverments policy of pricing carbon is the cheapest way to get big polluters to reduce their pollution output. With the advent of the introduction of the $10B Renewable energy fund I am hoping Labor has allowed for funding to be used for one of the most ancient yet one of the most advanced clean crop industries on the planet. One of the most basic fundamental reasons behind climate change and therefore carbon emissions is the chopping down of trees worldwide. Trees absorb carbon. Our reliance on the forestry industry is adding to the demise of our planet. In order to reduce our dependence on timber – therefore leaving trees in the ground – we must embrace and accelerate the introduction of a natural fibre industry throughout Australia.

This is not about closing down the forestry industry – it is about complimenting plantation timber. Both can work hand in hand – side by side, saving and creating jobs.

Announcements over the past few years about the sustainability of logging of Australian forests indicate that many forestry workers will eventually need to find alternative employment, and new technologies will be needed to cope with the reduced supply of forest products.

To maintain jobs in rural and regional Australia in the short term and to increase employment in the longer term without jeopardising native forests for future generations, a fresh approach is needed.

The development of natural fibre industries provides an option for utilising the existing workforce without the need for significant retraining. Employment and economic growth could boom with new industries based on a diversity of natural fibres.

State and Federal Government Grants could be given to struggling existing mills (some have already closed others are under serious threat of closing) to establish natural fibre processing plants – existing mill workers could easily be retrained to use the new processing equipment. Workers could alternate between the timber plant and the natural fibre plant just as many do between dry (processing) and green sites.

There is a vast array of natural fibres that can compliment those produced by the forest product industry including flax, kenaf, sisal, ramie, coir, jute and bamboo. All could provide the stimulus needed to sustain rural/regional employment and economic growth.

However, the most important of natural fibre products is industrial hemp.

This is not marijuana.

Industrial hemp, although from the same family as marijuana is a different strain containing less than 0.3%  thc (tetrahydrocannabinol,) whereas marijuana has 5-20% thc. If an industrial hemp crop is grown near a marijuana plant the cross pollination will result in the dramatic reduction of marijuana thc – not the reverse. Illegal marijuana growers therefore will never have their plants growing anywhere near its industrial cousin – and if one tried to smoke it you would get violently ill!

A complete house can be built with industrial hemp as it can be made into any building material, including fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, cement, paint, paneling, particleboard, plaster, plywood, reinforced concrete, insulation, insulation panels, spray on insulation, concrete pipes, bricks, and biodegradable plastic composites which are tougher than steel. The hardened material is resistant to rotting, rodents, insects and fire. It is many times lighter than cement and provides both thermal and sound insulation.

Hemp-foundation homes are ecologically appropriate because they are inexpensive, and can be prepared on site using only a cement mixer, and the material would be cheap and abundant.

Hemp building material could allow us to replace the need for wood, bricks, and fiberglass insulation. The market potential for Hemp in building materials for home and industry is gigantic.

Once Hemp can be grown on a large, economically competitive scale, manufacturers will see that it outperforms other natural fibers due to its length and strength.

Building and construction materials are sourced from the Hemp plant’s tough fibres. These include the bast fibres (or “bark”) composed of 53-74% cellulose and also the interior “hurd”.

Currently, there are two primary uses of Hemp in building and construction that have advanced to the point of commercial availability and economic feasibility. These are the development and utilisation of Hemp fibres as composite fibre products like medium density fibreboard (MDF), and other cellulosic composites, and products made from Hemp hurds mixed with lime.

Hemp mixed with lime has been used as a building material in France since the time of Charlemagne – between 500- 751AD, but is only now being re-discovered. Now it’s being used to make floors, walls, bricks and insulation panels.

Hemp’s many qualities offers great benefits for domestic housing needs.

1.       Excellent acoustic insulation

2.       Breathes, prevents condensation

3.       Self-draining and waterproof

4.       Non-flammable (no toxic combustion products)

5.       Resistant to rodents, termites, insects, fungi & bacteria

6.       (because of silica content)

7.       Easy to use, flexible and crack-resistant.

8.       Ideal for cyclone and earthquake prone areas due

9.       (strength/weight ratio)

10.      lightness (appreciated in floor renovations)

11.      Able to use fewer finishing touches; no plaster, painting or

wallpaper required.

Concrete pipes can be made out of hemp fiber (hempcrete) that cost 1/3 that of polypropylene. These pipes have greater flexibility, greater elasticity, and are resistant to cracking.

Hemp can also be made into compressed door panel and dashboards. Carmakers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, and Mercedes are currently using hemp composite door panels, trunks, head liners, etc.

Pine-hemp mixes have already been produced in Victorian laboratories to make medium density fibreboard and many fibre crops produce valuable oil seed co-products that can provide further employment for embattled regional workers. Hemp fibreboard is three times stronger than normal fibreboard.

Some by-products of industrial hemp and other fibres – e.g.,hempcrete, hemp ethanol, paper, fabric, oil, rope, fabric, soap, hemp grain foods, a product similar to, and as strong as fibreglass and a myriad of other industries – will require the establishment of new factories. Paper can be processed by existing paper mills. Disused factories in rural towns/regional cities can be reopened with Government support to process new products – creating further employment in rural areas.

Importantly, industrial hemp does not need fertilisers…subsequently the extremely aggressive and threatening mullti-billion dollar opposition from the likes of Monsanto, Dupont and other petrochemical companies throughout the world.

A focus on natural fibre is vastly preferable to the current trend for using petrochemical based synthetic fibres produced and controlled by overseas-based multinational corporations.

Politicians in Australia are either bullied by, or subservient to these powerful companies, otherwise why wouldn’t industrial hemp (and other natural fibres) be at the top of a drive to create a 21st century clean, green manufacturing industry around this amazing ancient product.

Even the Greens refuse to promote this industry. I put that down to Howard’s (and now Abbott’s) demonisation of the Greens and linking promotion of an industrial hemp industry to the Greens policy of legalising marijuana. That said…I would hope that the Greens would be strong enough to withstand such a deceitful argument. So far they haven’t been – or at least I haven’t seen any evidence of it.

Australia is the only country in the western world that has not approved hemp grain food for human consumption, (it can only be used for animal consumption) even though it is the highest form of plant protein on the planet. In Canada, hemp grain food products is a multi billion $ business providing products such as hemp protein powder, flour, toasted grain nuts for breakfast cereal and milk (which is far more nutritious than soy). The approval of hemp grain food for human consumption in Australia is currently with FSANZ (Food Standards Australia/New Zealand). However, its approval went to FSANZ in 2006 but was vetoed by Howard himself at the only meeting of FSANZ Howard ever went to.

Why? Because Australia’s official argument against hemp grain food is that it will undermine the national cannabis strategy (implemented by the Howard government in 2006) by sending mixed messages about the safety and use of cannabis, and that police wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the low- and high-THC seed varieties. If police can’t be trained to tell the difference then something is seriously wrong with their training programs. This argument was again recently used against the current approval application. Australia is totally alone in this argument.

Native forests take many decades to mature and have value in the understorey and the animals and microbial life-forms contained within them – and they attract tourists, bushwalkers, field naturalists, biologists and a wide variety of others because of their diversity, so they should be preserved.

Hemp fibre crops take only 90 days to reach maturity, and produce 4 times the yield of timber plantations over a 20-year period. By comparison, pine plantations used for sawlogs take a minimum of 15 – 20 years to produce very small saw logs. (For wood chips, plantations are often cut down earlier.)

It should also be noted that, during the life of a timber plantation there are very few jobs created whilst the trees are growing. Even when plantations ae sown and harvested, there is very little local regional employment created as contractors from out of town are often used.

To provide the right conditions for new jobs and investment across Australia, alternate fibre industries should be encouraged and nurtured until these industries reach a critical mass on their own, or can combine with industries already well established, such as the processing of timber fibres and fabric manufacturing.

A whole-of-government approach is needed as this is a project that crosses several departments including Innovation, Industry, Regional Development, Manufacturing, Environment, Agriculture, Education & Training.

At a micro-economic level, here is some background on flax and hemp fibre industries.

In 1896, fifty seven acres of flax and hemp were grown in the Buckland Valley near Myrtleford Victoria. A pre-processing mill was established in Myrtleford in what is now called Merriang Road (formerly Flax Mill Road). The fibre was then transported more than 400km from Myrtleford to Colac to make ropes. In the 1960s the industry was discontinued when transport subsidies were removed and synthetic ropes became cheaper.

In 2012, with improvements in technology, the industry is once again viable. My colleague, Adrian Clarke from Victoria has built Australia’s first proto-type processing machine for industrial hemp with a turn around of 24 hours that sits in a shed waiting for a Government of any persuasion to provide seed funding to further advance this industry.

Imagine the myriad of amazing clean, green manufacturing industries around Australia if only a Government would show strong, powerful leadership on this issue.

Andrew Gemmell North East Alternative Fibre Plan B 2001

Asian Regional Symposium of Global Natural Fibre Forum

August 22 at Bangalore, India

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