Australia day and more

Signe Westerberg Headshots (38 of 102)I am struggling, not because of Australia day but because of the issues associated. You see I have great empathy for my indigenous brothers and sisters, the way our forebears took possession of this country, the harm that was done and the ensuing years. I also have great hope for the promise of what we can achieve if we work together as a nation of decent souls who care about each other. Some may say I’m delusional, others naive but what is wrong with wanting a better outcome for all? Ok this blog is usually about local issues and that will come, but we’re a nation of migrants and refugees, my own dad was a Swede, my mums family were of English decent, every one I know is either first, second, third or more generation Aussie, many of my indigenous friends while have family who are both first Australians and have family who were migrants, refugees or even first settlers and convicts. we’re a  mixed  bag and on the whole a welcoming and inclusive nation…so what has happened? The truth be known for the most part I think it is political, not all politicians of course but some are (both now and in the past), using scare mongering and divisiveness to their own purpose, they want us to be afraid, afraid of imaginary threats, imaginary troubles. We have a strong history of working together, the union movement brought people together, good bosses bring people together, good teachers bring kids together. A good politician brings people together they unite us, a good politician doesn’t divide us, they work so all people benefit, so no one gets left behind, so our nation moves forward. Sadly this in not what I’m seeing on too many occasions and it concerns me, we have too many politicians building personal empires, thinking short (call it election) terms and making promises they have no intention of keeping, or more likely a promise they couldn’t possibly bring to fruition but it sounds good when they seek your vote. I think Clive Palmer is possibly one perfect example of this, does anyone remember what he promised if he got elected…. he knew he could not make it happen but people heard what they wanted to hear, promises even though they knew deep down it was not only unlikely but unachievable. So where am I going with this? I think its time we stood up and said enough, It doesn’t matter which side of  politics you support, even better if you follow one of the two old parties, as lets face with the Greens being the most progressive of the present lot and they already put the community first, but even Greens supporters need to rally and to say enough is enough, we want a united country, one that cares for its people, one that recognises that some need a helping hand. WE want a government that builds, educates, that keep our people in jobs, not one who lays people off so the bottom line looks better. On the whole I believe people want to work, so they have money to spend on the necessities and we want people to be prepared to share the wealth we have. Digging holes across our nation and selling the minerals for a pittance is not where our future lies, our future lies in each of us bringing others with us,  our future lies in valuing what we have and if we are intent on digging holes, we should be getting top dollar, we have what so many others wish they did and we virtually give it away. We also don’t need a government who says we’re open for business, but the reality is we’re pandering to the needs of big business other countries and ignoring our own, Did you know that some countries, China and Korea for instance, the governments negotiate for the benefit of their people even when they are allowing foreign owners to open franchises or manufacturing plants run in their country. Those countries insist overseas organisations use/purchase/support local business or particular local content including sale of product in return….Not Us, we say we’re open for business, take what you want and please don’t walk on us when your’re done, and by the way as a bonus we’ll give you subsidies so you can make even more money.

When I say support each other, I’m not talking about handing over your hard earned money, but acknowledging that our people are all created equal, we don’t all look alike, we certainly don’t all have the same opportunities in life and we have differing degrees of ability but that shouldn’t  be our defining method of distinction. I want my country to be known for its empathy, support and treatment of those worse off. We can do this, we have in the past and while this Utopia will always have its issues it is possible to an extent.

We need to support our own, and I’m not just meaning increasing Newstart, that said it would be a great start, but by supporting our own businesses, by buying local product and acknowledging for Australians to have work we must support our own industries, be they farms, manufacturing or what ever buying Australian means creating jobs for our kids and our kids kids. I hear people commenting that they buy brand X as its from the old country, which may be comforting but how does it help our own family members find work? It certainly helps the kids in ‘the old’ country but how does it help ours? it is said that charity begins at home, we as a nation need to focus on supporting our own, not at the cost of our international obligations but in the basics. We need to ensure our kids know that when they buy an imported orange many of our own farmers are turning theirs into the ground, when we undervalue our specialists, our scientists and our educated and they leave our country to be appreciated and paid  to develop technologies for other countries to the detriment of our own. We need to import less and make more, waste less and reuse more and we most certainly need to value what we do sell overseas in the way of minerals etc, because those things are finite, they will run out and knowing their value, the quick buck is not always the best buck…and we most certainly don’t want to be the biggest island with the largest holes and the poorest people who are unable to feed themselves because the land is waste. Is my wish list too difficult, I don’t think so, we can achieve this as long as we do it together.

Now onto more local issues, the Australia day event in Liverpool was pretty good, the weather was outstanding. In the early stages numbers were quite down on previous years but as the afternoon progressed so did the number of people who chose to come along. Liverpool is a perfect example of how many nations come together, with over 150 nationalities it truly is a melting pot of cultures and diversity, one that works, it works because the people do, they live together in harmony and understanding.

A huge congrats to the staff who organised the event, it was a resounding success, the cost of rides being capped made it a far more pleasurable event for families, sadly last year many left early because the cost of rides was prohibitive and if you’ve small children whinging and whining about more rides and you simply cannot afford them leaving is the best option. I felt the quality of the food and variety was terrific, Lions club of course was there with the mandatory sausage sanger, sadly they ran out early 😦 , the council stalls useful and informative. I was thrilled to see two people I know well receive awards  for their community service, Kevin Perry JP and Prof Dr Geoff Delaney along with others who serve our community well and often. ( Uncle Steve Williams is citizen of the year and Helen Wood awarded Medal of the order of Australia, Richard Birt (sports)  YADA earned the Fraser enviropnment award, and young citizen is Adrian Vincent ). Issues with wind and noise across the microphone made much of what was said difficult to hear but the big screen made everything easier to view….actually easier than even being close to the stage.

We have an amazing staff, they ‘manned’ the stalls, ensured bins were emptied and the parking safe, I cannot compliment them enough for their diligence and commitment to our city and its people. I saw a number of councillors incl: Cllrs Harle, Stanley, Balloot, Hadchiti, Hadid and Mannoun. There may have been others but I didn’t see them I’ll post some pictures below. All in all I think it a lovely family event, our local radio station 2GLF had a live broadcast all afternoon and interviewed numerous people. Of course there was some fine talent on stage as well and it appeared the children’s stage was very well attended also.

That said, Councillors are about to discuss the rate increase (5/2/14) and it is still of enormous concern to me that while these events (incl NY’s eve) are fun can we really afford them…? If we estimate that each event cost in the vicinity of let’s say $150,000 each, (they likely cost even more) are they justified? Should we ‘pull our collective heads in’ until we can actually afford them? We have roads in need of major repair, we have debt in the ballpark of $50M and we have a backlog of repairs circling $250M…that’s things like maintenance on community buildings, road repairs, etc. Are we being greedy or opulent expecting fun days when maintenance should come first? According to the papers last week a little over  three and a half thousand people responded to the surveys about rates, will it be seen that no response meant support? Personally I think no response mean more like, I don’t understand, I didn’t bother to read it and threw it out, not yes yes put my rates up. It will be interesting to see how this plays out at the council meeting and if you didn’t by chance make a comment or lodge the survey, call your Councillors, all of them, send them emails (click on this for their email addresses and contact numbers : ) tell them how you feel before the meeting on the 5th as I suspect the decision will be made that evening to apply for the rate increase and you want your voice heard. At this point not one person I’ve spoken with supports the rate increase, even those who can afford it believe we need to get our house in order, remove the waste and stop the indulgences. It’s not too late, call or email today.

Lastly another congrats to our council staff, you are a credit to our city and we thank you. Enjoy the pictures. As always these are my opinions let me know yours and I’ll gladly share.

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