Thank you; drive through.

February 28th, 2007

Last year I bought a house in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

When I catch up with people and tell them where I now live they say “Oh, so you’ve made a treechange.” I never used to say much, but lately, having been to a handful of community events and sampled my local shopping areas I flatly say “No it’s not a treechange.”

See, I have come to understand that ‘seachange’ and ‘treechange’ have within them the notion of deconstruction. The simplification of a hectic, out-of-control urban experience and the longing for the simple life. Frankly, my motivation is a lot less Jacques Derrida than that. I was, and am, motivated by the beauty of the landscape and in particular the beauty of my home.

At first I thought that I was all citified and I had to learn to slow down, but then I remembered that I am the same person I was when I lived in Darwin for 15 years. It really doesn’t get much slower and laid back than the top end of Australia.

I have come to the realisation that I am blunt and impatient in either hot or cold climates.

The final example of who I am and what I need, came last week when I attended a community forum organised by the local progress association where candidates for the upcoming state election spoke to we concerned voters residents.

We gathered, sat down and listened. Each candidate was given 15 minutes to talk, with extra time allocated for questions afterwards if needed. The independent candidate- Robert Stock, got bogged down in the minutiae of micro policies and seemed to lose himself, let alone his audience. Robert Stock was followed by the Liberal candidate Michael Paag who was big on macro, expensive rhetoric, but completely fell down when asked specific questions relating to his sweeping statements, such as “Which sectors of the state public service will the 20,000 ‘back-room bureaucrat’ jobs be cut from?”

Michael Paag was followed by the ALP candidate Phil Koperberg. Thankfully, and cheekily he said words to the effect

Having heard the Liberal candidate speak I am so impressed by what he and his government will do on March 25, 2007, that I am going to change my vote to Liberal, but I am a realist and l live in a real world…

By the time Phil Koperberg was done and the Greens candidate Pippa MacInnes stood up, I was barely able to pay attention.

To be fair, the throng and thrust that is my natural style as I push for clarity and logic in the answers to questions clearly irritated most of the polite members of my ‘new’ neighbourhood. I was reminded of a ‘girlchild saying’ where she would whisper in my ear “You can stop helping me now Mama.”

I am thankfully, SO not suited to joining my very sweet, polite, civil, but misguided local community. I am so pleased that this venture into community development is out of the way and I can now get back to the real world of broadband and blogging.

So, out of self preservation- theirs and mine, I will happily limit forays into my community to weddings and funerals.

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L-R Robert Stock (IND), Michael Paag (LIB), Phil Koperberg (ALP), Pippa MacInnes (GRN). Many thanks to Matt for generously sharing this image.

Gleefully celebrating a powerful woman

February 26th, 2007

As news of the ABC’s former journalist Maxine McKew running against HoWARd in his seat of Bennelong filtered through the media I became very excited. At the very least, I thought that this should help to make the time between now and the federal election very interesting.

Upon further reflection, I realised what was invigorating to me. It is what Maxine represents. She’s an intelligent, powerful and formidable woman. I am hopeful that it is this woman who unnerves and perhaps finally unseats, the equally intelligent, powerful and formidable John HoWARd.

It’s a delight for me to see the PM visibly rattled. That it has been done by a presence of a powerful woman is just so delicious. It is so satisfying as HoWARd is as dismissive of women and their potential as he is of all minority groups and a minority group is how he sees women.

In responding to questions about Maxine’s new career, the PM did not display his usual dismissive, paternalistic tone and looked genuinely uncomfortable in discussing future campaigning against Ms Maxine McKew.

I’m sure HoWARd’s advisers have already abandoned a ‘dirtytricks’ campaign against what the ABC has dubbed the Max Factor, as she will have more than enough dirt on this current lot of dirty politicians to provide her with immunity.

This should be interesting and will keep me grinning during the times that HoWARd is particularly insufferable.

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Image from here

Inflexibility is not to be respected

February 23rd, 2007

Today, in a speech to the Australian-American leadership dialogue in Sydney, Dick Cheney spoke in glowing terms of Australian military support in Iraq and the strong alliance that AU and the US have formed through the commitment to the war on terror. Vice President Cheney highlighted the respect that the world has for our PM for not withdrawing from Iraq before the job is done.

“He stuck to those words one day later and he has stuck to them every day since. Prime Minister Howard and the nation that he serves have never wavered in the war on terror. The United States appreciates it and the whole world respects him for it.” -Dick Cheney.

In every classroom, workplace, and family, in every city around this country, people are practicing and valuing being flexible.

In the workplace or government, when a new policy is decided, there is a pilot project (or two) which has at its core a review mechanism. This acts as a feedback loop for customers, staff, management, stakeholders and funding bodies to have input into the way that policy impacts on the way that business is done. It provides new information, highlights unintended consequences and serves to alter the policy so that it does what it is supposed to do. It is not a deficit model, it is a celebration of fluid and dynamic decision making. In healthy organisations this feedback loop is continuous and fluidity is valued.

What do we then have to celebrate in our respected by the world PM who has stated that no new information will be considered in deciding Australia’s commitment to the ‘war on terror-ism’? Sadly, we have very little to celebrate in our PM’s decision-making behaviour. It is very clear that our PM has reached his potential capacity.

It is not a strength of character to be inflexible and rigid when new information enters into a system. The new information can be minimal or profound. The point is that a system must be flexible enough to consider all new information for it to remain dynamic, and therefore valid.

John HoWARd- inflexible, rigid and ‘stuck.’ With fans like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, it’s clear our PM occupies a redundant time line with a redundant personality type.

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Image from here

Park it or drive it Johnny!

February 12th, 2007

Yesterday I heard HoWARd wade into the US presidential candidacy and US foreign affairs with this outburst and cringed.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory. If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.” – John HoWARd.

Today I heard Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama respond to HoWARd and grinned.

“I think it’s flattering that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced [my candidacy]. I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400. So if he is…to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric.” – Senator Obama.

Not usually a fan of dichotomous thinking, I am very much enjoying that my PM is being bitchslapped by a junior Senator in the US Congress.

UPDATE: Our ‘Man of steel’ not so tough. While in New Zealand, during a press conference, a reporter asked HoWARd if he had any other advice for Barack Obama. Our Johnny went off,

“I do not resile from anything I have said….

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HoWARd tetchy, Rudd to blame?

February 6th, 2007

As is usual, on my drive home from work, I listen to PM on ABC Radio National. If it’s a late night I catch the repeat an hour later on my ABC Local Radio.

Used to the polished, experienced and all round in-control HoWARd for what seems an eternity, had me changing lanes with glee as I heard what can only be described as the PM sounding uncharacteristically tetchy.

“I think Mr Rudd is striving for a daily mantra without much regard to the consequences of what he says. He didn’t do too well with that farmer today.” – John HoWARd

Can it be that Rudd and Gillard and the polls and possibly even Amanda’s song with reference to first Australians, peace and multiculturalism has unraveled this consummate politician to the point where a girl like me can be a touch hopeful for a change of government which may be as early as August?

I sure do hope so.

“Indigenous Australians were here first, we are an immigration country, freedom is what we’ve enjoyed all our lives and we are under southern stars everyone knows the Southern Cross,” -Senator Amanda Vanstone.

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Image from here