Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Wednesday 28 May 2003

Spit's Youngest Fan

Felicia (turning 4 next month) is officially declared Spit's youngest fan. Occasionally I have the chance to take her to kindy, so that we are the only ones in the car. One day I was casually driving along listening to the radio, when Felicia shouts out "I want a Porrint!" Not understanding, I get her to repeat what she is saying. Anyway, she repeats it verbatim, getting angrier each time, until she is in incoherent rage in a full kicking and screaming tantrum finally saying "Put On ABHORRENT". By which of course she meant the short but lyrical and stereo-dynamic Spit song that I have on tape in that car. Why on earth she likes "that" song in particular I'm not really sure - maybe its because I manually fade out for the bit which I prefer her not to repeat too often, substituting the word "Beard" for the word "Dic". Maybe Its just a good song for three-year-olds. "Yes silly daddy, play the song "Abhorrent"". Ok, I will.......

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Monday 26th May 2003

Back into the habit

Hard to give myself some time every day to it!

After what seemed an amazing runs of victories in first division, we seem to have hit a couple of teams that have suddenly improved. I'm sure we beat them handsomely the last time we played them...

Workplace injuries

I always get a scare when someone comes to tell me that someones had an accident (see I'm the first aid officer), I always expect the worst. The sorts of things they say are the same if they've grazed their knee or if they're unconcious bleeding to death. Mental note - look at the colour of their skin. A pale face is always a dead giveaway of a really scary accident.

Political argument

Sure, that was good while it lasted - but it's always hard to incite people into enough rage to actually respond - so I'll continue on where my thoughts are completely against the grain - The Australian military...

Points to note

1) Australian SAS reconnoisance experts are tightly integrated into US operations since they managed to save the skins of many US soldiers in operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

2) Australian logistics operations were singled out for special commendation by Rumsfeld by moving double the equipment per man used than the US & British counterparts, while being completely accident free.

3) Australian minesweeper operations have continued through from Gulf War I, through policing operations in between wars, and then on through the second Gulf War with little or no other minesweepers to help.

4) The US continuously asked for our trained peacekeepers to be used in Iraqi missions, because they have done such a good job in East Timor, even though they have been scheduled to go to East Timor.

5) Casualty rates per soldier in direct operations has continuously decreased over the decades from World War I, right through until now. We were initially considered "cannon fodder" in the first world war. We are now considered the most valuable of combatants. One in two Aus soldiers died in WWI, one in 4 in WWII, One in 17 in Vietnam, One died in Afghanistan, Two badly injured in East Timor (No battle deaths) and none at all in Iraq.

6) Our involvement in Coalition operations have enabled us to get real battle experience without there being a direct military threat to our country. Many other countries with modern equipment have little or no battlefield experience, putting them in an inferior position to ours. Conversely, most of the other countries fighting wars have experience but outdated equipment.

7) The amazing rescue of yachtsmen, baloonists, etc. are a tribute to the long range search and rescue capabilities of our military, that have not been demonstrated by other countries.

8) The skills of our military are not just about winning wars. They are also about winning the peace, and warming relations with potential enemies. One clear example is with the Indonesian military. After a shootout and standoff with the Indonesians near the border of East Timor, instead of a show of force and leaving diplomacy to higher officers, intelligence and bravery were shown in approaching the unit commanders on the ground and sorting the misunderstanding there and then. There was a mistake made on the Indonesian side about the exact point of the border, and there was no need for violence, just ground level diplomacy. Even cameras recorded part of the exchange for the record.

9) The number of US troops in Iraq, was excessive to win the battle, but way too few to restore order. The conclusion I come to is that there are way too many US combatants, and way too few peacekeepers and civilian roles (And although not export-ready, these exist in quantity in Australia).The balance is quite clearly wrong and is more about using and justifying the types of forces they already had, rather than concentrating more heavily on achieving the types of personnel they needed (and will need in the future).

These are the types of reasons I come to the conclusions I do about the Australian military being "the best", being necessary for the US missions they are involved in, and being quite capable of doing equivalent jobs on their own.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Thursday May 8th 2003

Catching Up

My brother is finally back from holidays so I finally can get back into this blogging again - I missed it so much. I have been going around for a month imagining all the things I would write about.

I went to see a movie at the cinema for the first time in years early in April. I remember distinctly last time it was "Moulin Rouge". I can only assume it was pre 9/11 and I remember that Tiffany Hamilton just happened to go to the same screening. Why would a moviephobe like me go to the mooovies? Well, Belinda's class at school won an easter egg decorating competition and got free passes for four to the new Nickolodeon movie - the Thornberrys. So being the masochist I decided to go with my three oldest children. I expected that Felicia, the youngest of the three, would cause the most trouble, but although she decided to sit on my lap the whole time, she was no trouble. Belinda, now ten years old decided she would sit next to me and the gap to our left reserved for Felicia if she wanted to hop off me quickly got taken by someone else. Half an hour before the mooovie finishes, Belinda tells me she is busting and so I have to take her to the toilet leaving the younger ones to take care of themselves. After the mooovie finishes, she is busting again. Worlds smallest bladder there. What about the movie?

what movie?

One of the nights during April, I was left home alone with the 4 kids. Deciding I should cook something, I mentioned pasta. Belinda immediately starts whingeing and whining "We always have pasta, we had pasta last week!". So I look into the pantry and mention what about rice? Nikolas suddenly overhears and starts to whinge himself "Rice?! I don't want rice. Why do we have to have rice?".

It was basically a Whinge - Whinge situation.

I know that basically the political and media line on this is either biased towards the statement "John Howard stole the election through lies and exaggeration regarding Asylum seekers arriving in boats" - or on the other side of the spectrum "John Howard finally stood up for Australians and said enough is enough and implemented policies to completely deter anymore illegals arriving by boat"

I have quite a different view on the whole drama from a tactical perspective from both sides of parliament starting back a few elections before the one in question. It also doesn't rule out some kind of "gentleman's agreement" between major political parties as to which "policy mix" they were going to sell to the electorate. In John Hewson's Fighback election loss debacle, one striking feature of the election was how polarised the voting was due the huge looming GST issue, which meant that minor parties and independents did rather poorly. In the following election, John Howard had not advertised any significant policy changes and got in on a tide of "It's Time" and independants and minor parties did rather well - including significantly Pauline Hansen.
The next election, the GST came up again as an issue. Many observers, such as myself, were wondering why they "needed" to include the GST in the package of policies. A large number of small details has convinced me that the idea was to completely polarise the electorate so that One Nation would be completely squeezed out of the running. Economic benefits of the GST are way too long term for the electorate to ever be sold on it being a good idea just for that, and the opposition had a number of unpopular policies in the mix as well. Certainly not your conventional "promise the world" kind of electioneering that is the norm in democracies. The first priority of the major parties was to marginalise One Nation. Winning government at that moment came as a distant second priority compared with snuffing out the evil flames of an inexperienced, populist new party.
In the most recent election - suddenly it seemed that Pauline Hansen's original prediction of being "invaded" by "Asians" seemed to be coming to a head. Had the major parties stuck to their original policies on boat people, One Nation would have been rewarded hansomely with a huge increase in popularity. This would have been a much worse signal to the rest of the world than what actually happened. So, in each of the major parties looking after their long term interests in keeping One Nation at bay, required the sort of extreme measures to lurch towards Xenophobia at least until after the election. Presumably, after the next election, I would suspect Labor would get back in power, and perhaps increase our legal refugee intake, or resoften up our policy again somewhat. Hopefully, One Nation might have been completely discredited by then, and the major parties will have political room to maneuvre back to the middle ground.

To summarise (it may have sounded long winded), Tampa policy was guided by considerations on which party should be marginalised the most, as much as on getting the most votes oneself. This explains the lurch to the right of both main parties/coalitions, to ensure a populist right wing party was snuffed out if possible, through a period of general xenophobia in the public. Not as the way it is made out, that the general xenophobia was abused competitively in a thrust for power. I am not particularly pleased that there are no boat people now - I think the diplomatic cost was very high. But I am pleased that One Nation didn't get the benefit of the Xenophobia - The political and diplomatic cost of them getting the balance of power would have been disastrous for the country. I think the major parties colluded (either by accident or by full-blown conspiracy) to achieve the result that they did.