Transport isn’t perfect

It’s very frustrating to read the comments on the Facebook page of Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

It’s not the sort of frustration I consider out of line. People have needs, especially in regional Victoria, and as attempts are made to improve the system there are going to be hiccups. The biggest hiccup was having a Coalition government between 2010 and 2014. The Liberals have a history of not caring about public transport. They think roads are the solution. Since 1955 the rail system has contracted incredibly badly, thank primarily to two Premiers – Henry Bolte and Jeff Kennett. Nothing Bolte took has been restored, while only Ararat and Bairnsdale have been brought back from Kennett’s closures.

But what we have is under pressure. There are many complaints about delays on the Ballarat line, and Gippsland passengers are wondering where their fast regional rail is given they have a longer trip through metro Melbourne that the other lines. Passengers are expecting perfection.

Well you aren’t going to get it.

It’s unfair to demand perfection from a transport system that is yet to be up to optimum. It’s one thing to be frustrated with the hiccups in the system. It’s something else to expect second perfect on time services with no one standing. And that’s just the trains.

I’m not saying the way things are at the moment should be accepted. Of course not. But we have a LOT to fix. A LOT!

1. Level crossing removals are the metropolitan priority. 50 were identified by the Level Crossing Removal Project, 10 of which are done (Gardiner, Ormond to Bentleigh, Ginifer and St Albans, Bayswater – both – Blackburn and Heatherdale). Skyrail covers nine more including Clayton and Noble Park as well as the core section from Carnegie to Hughesdale, and along with Thompsons Road between Dandenong and Lyndhurst, Sydenham, Rosanna and Alphington are heavily progressing. Tenders are up for another 14 and and remaining 13 are being planned.

2. The only interurban line that should be running 100 percent is Geelong. But the problem there is that many residents in the Wyndham council region are boarding at Wyndhamvale and Tarneit – more than what was anticipated, simply because it’s quicker from there than it is from Werribee. It’s clogging the line, and that means that more express services are needed on the Werribee line. Beyond Geelong however we have that single line that is holding up improving the services beyond, and the biggest issue there is the tunnel between Geelong and South Geelong.

3. I’ve said before that the entire Ballarat line needs to be duplicated. The $518 million that came out of last year’s state budget is only for duplication to Melton. That will help as will the two extra loops and the second platforms at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. That’s due to be finished in 2019, and it has already started with the opening of Caroline Springs (something that was delayed by the previous Coalition government) extending the duplicated rail from Deer Park West. We have to take that for what it’s worth and it is worth a lot compared to what we have now.

4. Engineering issues stops re-duplication of the Bendigo line, involving the Chewton and Ravenswood tunnels – both of which are heritage listed – and I suspect similar issues with the Malmsbury and Taradale bridges and some bluestone bridges on top of that. But Sunbury has to let the Bendigo services go. That’s a major issue. Sunbury passengers have to start using the metro services and stay off the V/Line services – and that means more express services are needed.

5. In this year’s budget the silly single line between Bunyip and Longwarry has been covered for. That’s overdue and it will help as well as the partial duplication between Moe and Traralgon including second platforms. The Sunbury issue also repeats itself here at Pakenham. Skyrail will help but they need the extra tracks at least between Caulfield and Springvale. They also need to re-signal between Caulfield and the City Loop and provide a flyover at Caulfield – provided the signal box there isn’t heritage listed!

6. The intercity services are in bad need of improvement – starting with better rolling stock. More services are being planned for Warrnambool and with that in mind you can understand Shepparton residents demanding the same. The hold back there though is the Federal government announcing the inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane – which will go via that route. That will mean a standard gauge conversion. But we need to see the money from Canberra and I suspect we might get it next week in the Federal budget. We’ll see.

One Kennett closure that has been getting a large amount of attention on the Minister’s Facebook page is Mildura. Now I would like to see it return, but I have it on good authority that the numbers aren’t there. The only reason that would be the case is if the numbers on the current services aren’t up to the appropriate level. I’m being told the services are full. Sorry – that’s a nothing answer. What is needed is demand. The booked services need to be full at least a week in advance and complaints about the lack of seats. Is there any of that? No there isn’t. Put it this way – Mildura residents need to force V/Line to consider running two buses out of Mildura on the one trip, and that isn’t happening. The overnight bus for instance could have one going express right through and the other being the stopper. The same for the daylight services – express to Swan Hill and a stopper, and the same for the services through to Bendigo.

Two other locations popped up recently – Kyabram and Heathcote. Kyabram is serviced by the link bus between Murchison East and Echuca. It’s present level will only be improved when the demand is there. The same applies to Heathcote.

Long term, we do need much more work. I’m keen to see populations in the interurban area rise, not just at the terminals in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in particular, but down to the small localities that have an active station – Little River, Clarkefield, Malmsbury, Tallarook and so on. And even the larger places like Kyneton, Castlemaine and Drouin amongst others.

We are a long way from 100 percent operational. Until we get to that point, we have to take the rough with the smooth. I’ve been relying on public transport for my independence so I am used to this. Yes it is frustrating at times, but it’s the nature of the beast – a beast creating originally by Bolte from which we have never fully recovered.

I have joined the ALP

I delayed this announcement as I was getting things together with committees and so forth, but yesterday on the Phil’s World Podcast I announced that I have joined the ALP. I was accepted just before Christmas late last year.

As explained on the podcast, I will be involved in the ALP processes and I am now an associate member of two committees (with hopefully two more in the chute) as well as attending my first local branch meeting this past Tuesday night. So far things are going extremely well and I am very happy.

Naturally I won’t be specifying the committees nor announcing when the meetings will be in advance, and I’ll only be mentioning anything about them after the fact if something big personally happens – unless I’ve been told to stay quiet publicly (which is likely – that’s how leaks start  and I’m not going to engage in that sort of thing).

As mentioned on the podcast it’s not likely I’ll be able to attend the next state conference in May as it is over a weekend and during the football season that’s out of bounds for me – unless I can swing something (which is unlikely).

This is quite a development and hopefully I can advance in a lot of the things I am working on changing and have been working on for awhile.

True Freedom is a myth

While I was on my football research block in December it was brought to my attention that Kerra Lindsey – an enemy listed on my All About Anti Vaxxers blog – posted the following story on her Real Organic Truth page. I know why she posted it, but that’s not for this blog. This story does serve a purpose in education, but it’s warning is not as clear as this woman I am about to quote believes that it is;

“I am a witness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.”

If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.

“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls. She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.

“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force. Not so. Hitler is welcomed to Austria. In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates. Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs. My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily. We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living. Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back. Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.”

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed. After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service. Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been re- quired to give up for marriage.”

“Then we lost religious education for kids. Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education. Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”

“And then things got worse. The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free. We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.”

“My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination. I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing. Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler. It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.”

“In 1939, the war started, and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and, if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men. Soon after this, the draft was implemented.”

“It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps,” remembers Kitty. “During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys. They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines. When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.”

“Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service. When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children ages four weeks old to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had. Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna.”

“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries. As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80 percent of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.”

“We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control. We had consumer protection, too. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the livestock, and then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.”

“In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps. The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded. When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work. I knew one, named Vincent, very well. He was a janitor of the school. One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van. I asked my superior where they were going. She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write. The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months. They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.”

“As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death. The villagers were not fooled. We suspected what was happening. Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months. We called this euthanasia. Next came gun registration. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law-abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long afterwards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily. No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.”

“Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”

“This is my eyewitness account. It’s true. Those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity. America is truly is the greatest country in the world. Don’t let freedom slip away. After America, there is no place to go.”

Kitty Werthmann

My reflection on this story takes several points. First of all, there is no doubt that Hitler was a control freak. In order to get what he wanted he had to engage in bribes through socialisation. He knew that if he did that he’d get the weaker of the population to believe it and take the perks. Austria was the best example of this but it was the only one as no other country fell for it, as they knew what was really going on back in Germany. Most who really knew were wary of Hitler, and the wary were proven to be right.

But let’s not dump socialisation lock stock and barrel. It has benefits – the very benefits Hitler displayed to Austria. But it also has pitfalls when it is the ONLY way things were done. The old Soviet Union did the same thing. The only difference was they kept it to their zone and didn’t try to spread it like Hitler did. Some countries volunteered anyway, like Korea and Vietnam. The USA were scared of it and that’s why they went to help those in both countries who didn’t want it either. The trouble was, the majority of Vietnam did want it. The effort also split Korea in two.

My point is that this is a demonstration of 100 percent socialisation is not right. BUT 100 percent capitalisation – AKA total freedom – is ALSO not right. And I look at Donald Trump as the perfect example of a person who will push 100 percent capitalisation. Austria, from what Kitty was saying, was on the capitalisation train in the 30’s and look what it did to the country. Look what the Great Depression did to many countries. No wonder Austria grabbed what Germany offered at the time – Austria was a mess. Yes, Hitler created a mess as well but it was a different mess entirely.

Here’s the reality. True 100 percent freedom is a myth. It ranges people against each other and it kills the weak. America has always been like that – bullies. In that respect alone they have been no different to Hitler. America voted for Trump because they WANT someone to take charge as one person. That’s a mistake, not just because Trump is not fit for the job but because the only way he is going to be able to do what those who voted for him want him to do is to become a capitalist despot. And people will be hurt as a result. It’s already happening with the immigration debacle.

We will never be free until we have equality. Equality based in balance. Socialisation and capitalism have their benefits. People do sometimes need to be guided and taught what is right and what is wrong. That’s not political indoctrination. That’s simple education and understanding. In this day and age we are losing the latter and in the process the former is failing. People are falling for simple tricks, just like the Austrians did in 1938. Trump is playing simple tricks. So is Pauline Hanson here in Australia. So are the right wing parties who are gaining favour in Europe. Those who claim vaccines are dangerous are also doing it. They rely on emotion instead of proper information. They hide their true goals. In the case of all of them it’s about power. Trump has what he wants, although hopefully those who are truly educated will pull him down a few pegs and make him realise that things are not as simple as he wants it to be. Hanson’s power remains to be seen but her voice is there and that’s enough to be disturbing. It varies with the European right wingers.

The world is turning nasty. The next generation has every reason to fear for the future. Are they free? No – not in America, Germany, Russia, Australia or anywhere else. Kitty may prefer America to anywhere else, but that’s because she hasn’t experienced the greater freedom that America doesn’t have. The freedom to be who you are without penalty. You only have to be not of white skin in that country to know this is true. The same applies to anyone who is not society’s definition of “normal”. The biggest nasty aside from the War on Terror and capitalism going too far is the refusal to protect one’s children. It’s a complex issue that has solutions, but those solutions lie unfortunately in force. Education is no longer working and children are being harmed as a result. That is inconsolable no matter what and it’s why it’s a big nasty. That’s not just about vaccines – that’s about discipline as well. Senator Richard Pan has seen this and that’s why he has proposed a Children’s Bill of Rights in California – SB18.

And I am certainly doing my bit to help those children from the vaccine side and bring the neglectors to justice. That is the right thing to do because that is deprivation of one freedom that everyone is entitled to. Freedom from disease. Organics are the way we used to do it, and it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Not for children and not for the elderly – and as I found out the hard way in July 2014 even fit adults aren’t protected by organic solutions, especially from the flu. I was fortunate to survive.

Total freedom is not the answer. Neither is a dictatorship – Kitty was right about that. The real answer is somewhere in between, and those who are doing harm should be punished. Racism should be punished. Other forms of discrimination should be punished. We are all human beings. Those who can’t earn a living should be helped, not left to die as the Tea Party in the US wanted. Jobs are earned, not handed out, but you have to do certain things to get where you want to go. Do all those things and you’ll have employers chasing you, not the other way around. But not everyone is able to do that. The world is a diverse place where there is only one answer – balance. And that includes as appropriate certain freedoms being deprived for those who deprive others of said freedoms – whether it be cultural, religious, societal or on the basis of health.

Think about it, and don’t think for one second you can ever be 100 percent free, because for your 100 percent freedom there is another person being deprived of it 100 percent for no good reason.

We need to pay attention

On my December podcast at the beginning of the month I launched a mighty rant at America for electing Donald Trump as President. On this blog I warned about World War 3. But the ANU has put out a study that Paul Murray spoke of on his Sky News show last night that puts out a very serious warning. Here are the points Paul highlighted;

52% Politicians don’t know what ordinary people think

This is alarmingly high, but I suspect at the same time that it’s out of misinformation. Politicians actually know more than the people think they do – but having said that it doesn’t reflect in their actions, hence the perceived misinformation. I’m actually closer to the political sphere than most people having met with each of my local members of Parliament at federal level at least once – and that includes Julia Gillard (when she was a humble back bencher). The key here is to put everything out there through local newsletters both in the mail and online. Catherine King is excellent at this. There’s also being about and approachable (Catherine again). Do All politicians do this? The backbenchers would because they have time. It’s harder for Ministers but some make the effort (Jill Hennessy was approachable for instance). I would suggest that the Coalition would do well to learn from this, as they are the worst at it. There are exceptions – Ken Aldred for instance when he was the member for Deakin was terrific.

40% Not satisfied with democracy

I would expect this stat. When one doesn’t keep their election promises (and both parties have been guilty of this but I’ve found the ALP better at explaining it) there is bound to be a bounce against democracy. It also reflects on the frustration with the application of political correctness, which is a mixed bag of rightful actions and blatant over reactions.

30% Took a detailed interest in the election

I’m not surprised this is this low, because it would be the case that a high percentage would be concrete voters for one party. This stat represents the swinging voters.

26% Trust in Government

This is too low for my liking, and reflects on what I said about democracy above.

26% People in Government can be trusted

This is related to the previous stat, but this one is more about the individuals rather than the system. I don’t just mean the Ministers. I also mean those who work in the Departments – and believe me right now I have no time for the federal Attorney General’s department as an example!! But on the other hand I have all the time in the world for the Health Department in Victoria. So it varies.

22% Political parties care what we think

This is also too low for my liking and it’s where the angst that was reflected in not only the American election but also in our election shows itself. This angst causes people to bail to minor parties – whether it be Palmer United at the previous election or NXT on July 2 as an example. Heck, even at state level here in Victoria we have the likes of the Sex Party and Vote 1 Local Jobs. The Greens also have a role to play, and the major parties I think are actually mishandling them – attacking them instead of addressing the issues at hand and undermining them. The ALP is progressing in that regard but it’s hard work.

19% Don’t feel close to any party

I actually thought this one would be higher, but thinking about it this probably includes all of the minor parties – including the extremist parties like Rise Up Australia, Australia First, the Socialist Alliance and the infernal Health Australia Party. I would be wanting to see the figures for the party lines that are represented by the other 81 percent. That would tell a much stronger story as to where the political landscape could be heading. I consider that to be an important figure, especially when it comes to predicting future trends and issues that can decide any election – whether it be state or federal. Actual membership doesn’t tell that story well enough.

I didn’t listen to the video from where I got the statistics, so no doubt Paul Murray had his own take on it. I guess everyone will – but the question is, who amongst those who should be paying attention are?

Note on this blog

I have just transferred a bunch of blog entries over to the political commentary section on my personal website, dated up until the end of 2015. I have trashed others, including those talking about People Power Victoria No Smart Meters. My announcement of my departure from that party has now also been deleted.

I made the following announcement on Twitter recently;

That is part of the reason for this clean out – not just the blog posts, but also the policy page which will be undergoing a revamp with this announcement in mind. I can’t say exactly when I will be in a position to give any news, because it’s out of my hands at present and it may take awhile as well. With that in mind I have to decide where I will be providing this news as well – either here, or maybe on my monthly podcast. The spot to watch for the notice will be my political Twitter account.

World War 3 by the end of 2017

I am making the above prediction with a fair amount of confidence – after the hateful people that reside in the United States of America put Donald Trump in the Whitehouse. No doubt about it – it was a major victory for racism to run rampant.

As of January 21, 2017, the world is doomed. The leader of the free world as of that day is a racist, a misogynist and every other term you can give anyone who has no respect for any of the declarations of the United Nations. That includes disabilities, and it includes Autism.

I’ve said for a long time that Trump is not a politician. He is not a diplomat and never has been. He speaks first and thinks later and even then his thinking is out to lunch. He’s an entertainer, and entertained his way to the Whitehouse. It’s a joke.

He has made it clear that he hates Muslims. All Muslims, because as far as he’s concerned they are ALL ISIS operatives. No exceptions. He will turn the whole Muslim community against America, and they will take one of two choices. Leave – or prove him right and become ISIS operatives simply because they feel they have no choice. And they won’t because they will be marginalised so badly they will have no room to move. He will also use nuclear weapons to try and wipe out ISIS and not care about the consequences. He has the Republicans in control of the whole of Congress so he’ll get a lot of support for big action. But as the Commander in Chief of the US military all it needs is a declaration of war, and Congress can’t stop him from doing anything stupid no matter who controls it.

As an aside, I also predicted the collapse of Wall Street in the lead up to this election should Trump win. Even before the result was confirmed the futures market was on rocky ground. As I post this I dread what I will wake up to after the night’s sleep coming up.

The future is very dark, but there are options. It starts with the Democrat states. 18 of them. If all of them get together and create a voting block to reject the decisions coming from the Whitehouse, it would create some protection falling short of seceding from the Union (to use the old term). It wouldn’t be enough to really make a difference but it would be a start. A resistance movement if you like. They could even help immigrants and protect them although that would all fall on California as it’s the only Democrat state that borders Mexico.

Then there’s the resistance from both Mexico and Canada. The northern border will be an ideal escape point, especially west of the Great Lakes – and minorities would have a case for refugee status. That will put Canada under a huge amount of pressure and I can’t see Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being happy about it. And of course there’s that wall that Trump wanted to build and won’t pay for it shoving it to the Mexican treasury. Mexico can’t afford it, and they may well have a refugee issue as well as those who went to America will in all probability be wanting to come back.

Finally, there is the outstanding issues with the treatment of staff at his hotel chain and of course the womanising accusations. If they are proven there could be an impeachment option.

I am afraid, for myself and for the world. Donald Trump is a loose cannon – literally. The instant he starts doing the wrong thing, world leaders need to shut America off and recall their country’s Ambassadors. The ones that don’t will be dragged into a war that no one will win. Least of all the people.

Domestic violence solutions

Today, the Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) had a summit focused on domestic violence. It’s the latest buzz word in politics and it’s a good one – an excellent one in fact. The talk was about uniformity in laws, both between the states and territories and federally where the jurisdiction for the Family Court lies.

It is well known that the Family Court has it’s issues. It has been mired in procedure and legal mumbo jumbo, leading to decisions that are not necessarily in the best interests of the children. That’s a problem that even the Ipswich witch Pauline Hanson has noticed and wants something done about. I see that as riding coat tails but that’s beside the point here. The Family Court to an extent relies on the state’s various forms of child services. Those departments have many issues with making bad decisions, particularly in New South Wales – and children have suffered as a result. So have spouses; mostly female of course but it is not unknown for a male to be a victim of domestic violence as well.

I am of the view that not enough is being done is several areas. For a start, state departmental errors need to be eliminated. Children should be first in line for protection, and I’m not saying that to disrespect women. If it becomes a choice, the kids should be considered first. That’s harsh I know, but what can you do? In a way it’s a case of heads you lose tails you lose. The perfect scenario would of course be to get both the kids and the adult victim out of harm’s way. The easiest way to do this is to give them somewhere to go. Victoria put in a lot of money into government housing in the last budget for this exact purpose.

Next up is to ensure that the person committing the violence is brought to justice. That’s the tough one because invariably it becomes a case of “he says – she says” before the courts. I don’t think that situation should end up before the courts because it is too harsh an environment, especially when the perpetrator represents him or herself and then has the right to pressure the victim. That can’t be allowed. And yet the rules of the court system allows it. It has to because not everyone can afford lawyers, and Legal Aid funding is limited. I can talk through experience on that one, running many court and tribunal actions self represented. Increasing funding for legal representation I don’t think will solve the problem though.

I think the Family Court should be changed, the rules should be reviewed and it should become something of a more personalised tribunal set up similar to Victoria’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal. That way rules prohibiting certain forms of cross examination can be banned, and the onus can be placed on the presiding party (in court – the judge) to investigate the matter fully. That will also allow children to be asked about the situation if they are old enough and can make a contribution, something that would be frowned upon in a full court. Children are far more likely to be honest, because at the bottom of their desires would be for everything that’s going on between Mum and Dad to just stop. Sometimes they take sides, but then there would be a good reason for that and the reason would be easy to find. Legal precedents, which can bog down a full court hearing, can be cast aside in order to get to the bottom of the issue at hand and get the full picture. The legal mumbo jumbo should be left for another time if it should be considered at all. Every family is different.

The penalties for proven perpetrators should be harsher, and I don’t just mean jail terms. Compulsory anger management should be in consideration, a guilty party should have NO access to the kids (at all, no excuses) and there needs to be substantive distance put between the perpetrator and the victim. Sending the guilty party to another state would be ideal as an example, as it would also enable a restriction to stay within that state and have to apply to leave it.

I think everyone agrees that people who engage in domestic violence are the scum of the earth. There is no excuse for it. It needs to be stopped. It needs to be punished. And the victims needs to be protected. If this is done right, the perpetrators should be worried – as they should be.