Friday, 22 March 2013

Heart and Soul Draft Policy online

Public governance, parliament and politicians - please comment on this draft policy
For more than a century, political parties of both Right and Left have presided over a steady shift in power away from individual citizens towards large corporate and state institutions.

In government, Labor and Liberal have administered legislative and regulatory regimes that favour large corporations over small business; providers over consumers; professionalised and incorporated entities over informal associations; funded quangos over self-help and mutual aid; and impersonal litigation-prone rules and regulations over personal and communal responsibility.

As the administrators of these regimes, the two major political machines (Labor and Liberal) have become instruments through which powerful corporate, institutional and provider interests uphold and preserve their dominance over society.

Our aim is to reverse these processes and undo this pattern of power. We aim to develop a new pattern of social and political governance in which power is dispersed as widely as possible to individuals, families and associations in civil society.

As power has shifted from individual citizens to large institutions, the two major parties have ceased to be mass participation civic organisations. The membership of both Labor and Liberal parties is in sharp decline. In place of mass civic participation, both parties have developed a managerial culture in which an ever diminishing number of professional operatives use a combination of spin, media advertising, and corporate donations (largely property developers, gaming, alcohol and tobacco companies) to sway electoral opinion as required every three years in what they now call the 'electoral cycle'.

A professional political class, comprising operatives in both machines, now acts like every other specialist professional group, erecting barriers to entry by non-specialists and non-professionals, and widening the gap between itself and the general citizenry. Membership of parliament is now largely restricted to union officials, political staffers and labour lawyers on the ALP side, and political staffers and commercial lawyers on the Liberal side. Both machines collaborated in 1923 to make voting compulsory to ensure that even the most disillusioned voters are still required to turn out and vote against the machine they dislike the most.

The result is that political power in Australia has become concentrated in the two major political machines in ways that would be unimaginable to the writers of the Commonwealth Constitution and the architects of the Westminster system of government. Parliament is no longer a forum for public decision-making - it has become simply a venue for the ruling political machine to announce its activities, and a venue for the opposing political machine to declare its opposition until the next election comes around.

Our governance reform policy aims to tackle the key elements of this malaise in Australian public governance: the phenomenon of the 'career politician'; corporate funding of political parties; compulsory voting; and the absence of citizen adjudication in key areas of decision-making.

Our principles in governance reform 

1. The role of Parliament and public institutions is to serve, protect and strengthen civil society and the common good (the century-long shift in functions, resources and authority from civil society to the state should be checked and steadily reversed).

2. Members of Parliament should be drawn from the full body of citizens in the Commonwealth (and should reflect the diversity of the general citizenry, not narrow unrepresentative sections of society)

3. The role of a Member of Parliament is to represent and serve their electors (it is not a career or profession)

4. Political parties have an important role in supporting and facilitating civic participation and parliamentary representation (it is parliament and parliamentary representatives that determine governments, not political parties).

5. The jury system of citizen adjudication can and should be applied to a range of public decisions to ensure de-politicised non-partisan decision-making (such as adjudications on political advertising, political appointments, and parliamentary allowances).

6. The Australian head of state should be an Australian citizen appointed by a jury of citizens selected by lot (to avoid a partisan politicised head of state that would result from either parliamentary appointment or popular election).

We will: 

1. Establish the role of a member of parliament as one of service to the community, and not a career, by replacing the existing salary, pension, superannuation, allowances and retirement benefits with a Living Allowance of $100,000 per year, plus an Accommodation and Travel Allowance. The Living Allowance of $100,000 would be a fixed amount, without additional remuneration for leadership or ministerial roles.

The purpose of this Living Allowance is to discourage career politicians and encourage limited terms of service from citizens who want to contribute to civil society and the common good.

2. Superannuation benefits would be set at the standard citizen rate (currently 9%) not the current special politician rate of 15%.

3. Parliamentary pensions for life for retiring members of parliament will be abolished, along with retirement benefits such as travel passes.

4. Special allowances and benefits for retired ministers and prime ministers will be abolished.
5. Prohibit a retiring minister of the crown from trading on public information by appointment to a company board or to an advisory or consulting role with governments for a period of 5 years after their retirement.

6. Prohibit a member of parliament from retiring in mid-term except for reasons of ill-health. Where a member of parliament retires in mid-term and forces a by-election, the costs of holding the by-election will be met by the retiring member.

7. Prohibit donations from corporate entities to political parties. This would include companies, trade unions, and foundations. Only donations from individuals will be permitted.

The purpose of this proscription is to remove the corruption of the democratic process where corporate entities with vested interests seek to influence the stance of parties and governments through political donations.

8. Apply the jury system of citizen adjudication to a range of public decisions to ensure non-partisan non-party political decision-making in matters including:

Approval of government advertising;
Scrutiny and right to veto political appointments to diplomatic posts;
Scrutiny and right to veto political appointments to public boards such as the ABC;
Approval of allowances to members of parliament.

In these cases, the Australian Electoral Commission would select by lot a jury of 25 people from the Australian Electoral Roll, subject to the same qualifications as currently apply in the use of juries in the legal system.

9. Support the establishment of an Australian head of state appointed by a jury of 25 citizens selected by lot by the Australian Electoral Commission. The head of state would serve for a period of five years, and must be an Australian citizen.
The Australian Electoral Commission would oversee a public nomination process, and present nominations to the citizens' jury.

10. Remove the fine levied by the Australian Electoral Commission on citizens who are not sufficiently inspired or motivated by candidates and parties for public office to attend a voting place in elections.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Buyer Beware: Fraud on Credit Card Statement

So I recently found some fraud has happened to me... so sad to see my credit card of 5 odd years go... so long great 16 digit number I remember so well.

So if you happen to find entries like these on your Credit Card, beware, they are not from Ebay as you might think.  I have checked with Ebay, and Paypal, and my Bank:

Beware of:

17/05/2012 -6.98  PAYPAL *EBAYAUSTRAL      4029357733  AUS

27/05/2012 -1.49  EBAYAUSTRAL              61282880177 AUS
29/05/2012 -7.98          EBAYAUSTRAL              61282880177 AUS
6/06/2012 -7.98  EBAYAUSTRAL              61282880177 AUS

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dear Vline, Group Mass Transit

Hi there,
I don't understand how you can charge so much for Mass Transit?
For 2 people to travel return to Bendigo, leaving on Friday 16:52 service, returning Saturday is $85.20.
For the same 2 people to drive a car up, even a hire car, it is less to cover Petrol, Rent/purchase costs.
How do you justify this Price? It is sooo expensive, if you had a group of 3 or more you would have to have nuts in your head to catch the train, it really does not reflect a society that is encouraging Mass Transit use instead of Clogging our Roads with Cars.
Why don't you give a massive discount to groups?

For example: 2 people get 35% off, 3 people get 40% off, 4 or more people get 50% off fares.
Then you are more competitive with the car, fairly simple.

I look forward to your thoughtful response.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Turkey Diving

So I landed in this little city called Fetiyhe, and stayed at nice little budget hotel - where I was looked after by a couple of lovely New South Welsh lasses, one that looked like my old flat mate Erica and the other like Elle McPherson - Aye the beauty of life :)
I had a day of relaxing by the pool, catching up on some sleep and emails and "work" and even popped out in the late afternoon to check out Oludeniz (not correct spelling) which was supposed to be a beautiful beach - I really love Australia when I see this type of thing, I worry sometimes that I will never leave home again one day - it is so amazingly beautiful at home, so long as we keep fighting the Corporate Giants that only care about profit and keep them away from ruining our natural beauty future :) - this might happen.
I then did a couple of days of diving - mostly reading a text book and learning to "save" a diver in different circumstances - which was great fun, and hard work.  I am now a qualified rescue diver and have EFR (Emergency First Response) which basically means I can give CPR as part of the ABCDs - I have done First Aid before, so it was a welcome reminder of the skills, I think I will keep that skill set up by going back and doing it every couple years as required, it is a great skill to have I think.
On day 2 of diving I was soooo sick of Turkish breakfast I mostly skipped it and headed straight to the boat.  I was a little hung over too, as the night before I had met a really interesting guy that worked for the Social Democrats in Holland, we ended up having a few drinks more than I had planned with a dive coure the next day.  So I ate my first banana in years - and I enjoyed it! It was truly amazing.  I had just read about how Rescue divers should be fit and healthy and eat well, and that bananas are a good source of potassium which help reduce cramps - the most common form of dive rescue requirement - and I thought I want a banana smoothie to get me started.  Finding Soy Milk in Turkey is near impossible, so I eventually settled for a banana - expecting to have to choke it down, but I ended up loving it and have eaten on almost every day since :) turning 30 has its advantages in the taste sector.

I then headed to Kas for some more diving, where I decided to do both the Deep Dive speciality and the Wreck Dive specialty as it was only 100TL more for the extra specialty (I was only doing Wreck at first) above the dive.  I now have 3 specialties, and I am ready to do a Dive Master course, which is great, I think next year I might go do that in Thailand or Malyasia.
On day 2 of Kas I met a lovely young lady on the boat and we made plans for dinner (if I wasn't on a bus that night, which I thought at the start of they day I was, but realised by the end of the day I wasn't)
I found out that this lovely lady had a Bday the following day so we had a nice birthday dinner and some drinks and dancing - it was a very romantic holiday romance which ended up carrying over to the next night.  Afterwards I was told I had reminded her of how love could be in life and how important it was to remember ones self in your relationships.  I was suitably flattered, it is a beautiful thing when you can bring hope to someones life :) funnily enough this was not the only time this has happened to me, in fact it happens quite regularily for what in my opinion is such an unusual thing to do.  I guess, especially when I am on "holiday" I am a much more open and accepting person, to the point where I even dropped a bottle cap the other day, and didn't pick it up  - which a good friend of mine picked me up on, when I realised, I was horrified at myself.  Surroundings and the like really do have an influence on oneself, I picked up a bit of other trash along the way in order to remember I "who" I was again.

I realise I wrote this a couple of weeks ago now, like 4 and lots has happened :) whoops :) but now posted....

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Regional Turkey

Regional Turkey

It really is sureal to be in a place where over half a million souls perished due to some idiot commander in the British Empire thinking "it will be easy to take Turkey and control the connection between Russia and the Med"
This place is amazing, sad and brought a new respect for the Turks like I have never had before.  Their Commander Attaturk was truly amazing, strategic and defended his country with honour and I respect him and his people more and more as I travel through it.
The tour although not completely necessary was a good way to see this, especially since they added a boat part, where you actually drive up to the section of the coast those first 1500 Aussies attacked, and you can see in some way the aspect they dealt with - absolutely amazing really.

Salcuk / Efes
Salcuk was a nice little town just an overnight bus ride from near ANZAC cove, which sucked btw.  An overnight bus ride in Turkey is simply terrible for a tall person.  The seat pitch was worse than Tiger Airways (Ryan air for my European friends) but one thing was for sure, they had a TV screen in the back of the seat that was awesome.  You could just plug in your USB and play anything from it.  That was good.  Sleeping on the other hand was not an easy task when I had to move every 5 minutes as people walked past and I had to move my legs.
There is a lovely Mosque and some ruins here next to Marys house, so you get to know a bit of Christian History here.  The local beach was a typical Mediterraen beach, which is pretty terrible in Aussie standards - rocks, no waves, no sand.

Efes on the other hand was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.  Total respect for the Romans, they really knew what they where doing, and I find it really strange that they perished, like most great empires I guess, everything comes to an end :)
This city had an amaing Theatre - total respect for the arts here - we are a pillar for Civilized society, with out it we would still be bashing women over the head and dragging them into our caves - oh wait they still do that in some parts of the world - probably the parts that it is to hot for creative people to think in :) haha
The Libary here is pretty amazing too, and a funny rumour that the men used to tell their wives they where off to the library, but there was a secret tunnel to the bath house across the street they would go through instead of studying - oldest industry in History good old Sex Industry :)

This is one of the most amazing things I have seen in the world, and in my life.  I literally was "walking on water" up a hill.  It was incredible.
[link to google images]
There was also a Theatre here which was bigger and had more structure/ reconstruction, and more ruins (old broken buildings - how many do I need to see...really...)
A short bus ride later I was finally in a coastal town where I could do some Diving! Awesome!  See you next post

Monday, 18 July 2011

Privacy Information - ID Scanning at Venues

If a venue scans your ID, they can potentially steal your identity. .... how easy is it to take a Bank Card Number, your Name, Address, DOB and Driver License No. to impersonate someone.... VERY!!

I recommend only allowing them to scan your DL Number and Photo, ask them to cover the rest of your Private Information, as per the Privacy Commissionar they are only allowed to collect necessary personal information.  They say the scanning is for Police viewing only, and the police can easily look up your info from your DL number, and identify you from the Photo, so this should be sufficient.
Excert from Key Message in above Link:
A business may only scan customers' identity documents if it is necessary for its functions or activities. In the first instance businesses should consider whether identification is required and, if so, whether simply sighting a 'proof of identity' document without scanning it would be sufficient.
Businesses that do seek to use scanning technology must make sure they comply with the National Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act which regulate the collection and handling of personal information by businesses. In general, if you scan customers' identity documents, the Privacy Act requires that, among other things, you:
  • collect only necessary personal information;
  • give customers information about why you are collecting their personal information and how it will be handled;
  • only use or disclose the personal information for the purpose of the collection, unless an exception applies;
  • only retain the scanned personal information for as long as necessary, consistent with the collection purpose;
  • store the personal information securely and allow access to it by the individual if requested.
Businesses may be able to have greater confidence about meeting their obligations under the Privacy Act by getting the express consent of customers before scanning identity documents. Seeking consent is also good privacy practice and likely to promote trust between the customer and business.