Archives: July 2004

30 Jul 2004, Comments (0)


Author: Helen

There’s been a lot of nasty, carping criticism about the appointment of Donald McGauchie as the new chairman of Telstra, just because he’s a mate of John Howard and will support Howard’s agenda on full privatisation.

Just look at the skills he brings to the job. Some petty-minded people are pointing out that he hasn’t got any experience in telecommunications. Well, that’s what the lower-level employees are for- your engineers and whoever. People like McGauchie are meant to look after the bigger picture, which includes keeping control over said employees and looking after Corporate Governance and that sort of thing.

McGauchie’s valuable experience with P & C Stevedores and the Patrick waterfront dispute show he won’t have any trouble dealing with any troublesome employees and uppity unions. Training sessions in Dubai? Not a problem! Rottweilers? Optional.

Another gem on McGauchie’s CV is James Hardie, which shows when it comes to corporate governance and ethics, Telstra will be right on the cutting edge. (Any oblique reference to asbestos sheeting is completely unintentional.) No need to worry about whether the alleged connection between mobile phone use and brain tumours in the young ever turns out to be true; if it does, they can just move all the assets to Amsterdam and leave the whingeing customers helpless.

We’ve had enough of people who want “our” phone company to be a touchy-feely entity which allows city folks to subsidise the people in the bush. People who plan to get sick or have an accident should just arrange to do it in the city. This is how things are done in the modern world; McGauchie, Howard, Patrick and the rest are just showing us the way it’s done. The rest of us just need to get with the program.

30 Jul 2004, Comments (0)


Author: Helen

Some of you will know what that acronym stand for. Others won’t.

Yesterday, a parliamentary committee handed down its recommendation for a new Families Tribunal – and I’m trying to suspend my cynicism re. the “one-stop-shop” Solution to Everything the government always seems to be pushing – but as usual, the Angry Dads organisations got their fifteen minutes of fame, to push the following memes, which they spread in internet forums and now the mainstream media:

1. All women want fathers kept away from children after separation. (We just want single motherhood with no time to ourselves, oh yeah.)
2. The Family Court “always” “favours” the woman in a custody dispute just because they are mothers and mothers are deemed “better” primary carers. Bastards!
3. This has nothing to do with women being socialised from birth to be mothers and to base their self esteem largely on their skill or lack of it as mothers.
4. (2) also has nothing to do with the fact that the mother usually has been the primary carer while the relationship was intact.
5. This has nothing to do with the fact that most couples make that decision because women, on average, earn less than men.
6. (5) has nothing to do with the fact that women have been socialised from birth to be primary carers and are seen as such (and therefore less effective in the workplace) by employers.

Yep, we just love that making-dentist-appointments and figuring-how-to-get-to-work-on-time-while-still-dropping-off-kids lifestyle so much, we just won’t give the blokes a piece of it. Woe!

Guys, you’ve just seen a typical example of PHMT, or Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. Read this classic piece, which explains what PHMT means, and stop blaming mothers for “getting” the kids (oh, and by the way – they’re not chattels).

You still have more of the power, as far as ordering the workplace and economy goes, because more of you are in management and boardrooms. Just get on with it, willya? and then you’ll have your dream to be the equal or primary carer. Just be careful what you wish for.

22 Jul 2004, Comments (0)

What a Downer

Author: Helen

Dolly is shocked and saddened that the ungrateful Timorese people still want their share of the Greater Sunrise natural gas field. After all we’ve done for them! Read what he said, and cringe, fellow Australians.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: The vast majority of the Australian people don’t appreciate the abuse that’s been meted out at Australia after all we’ve done for East Timor, and I don’t think it’s a tactic that will work, and I’ve explained that to the East Timorese, that it’s not a wise tactic.

(Folding hands piously across Buddha-like stomach,)

…You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.

Barf!…As if that little piece of Hallmark Greeting-card wisdom wasn’t embarassing enough, because Australia has refused to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, Jose Ramos Horta has suggested bringing in New Zealand as an independent mediator. We were humiliated in the Synchronised Swimming Rugby, and now the Kiwis are being brought in to curb our government’s greedy excesses.

Unfortunately, like so many of his type, Dolly just can’t stop digging himself further into the hole:

ALEXANDER DOWNER: No, Australia has been a proud and independent country for a very long time, and we’re able to look after our own negotiations as we did with the Papua New Guineans, as we did with the New Zealanders themselves, and we can do all of that ourselves.

Yes Dolly, we’re so proud and independent we let the US ambassador, um, provide independent advice to the Australian electorate, and your mob are hellbent on signing a Free Trade Agreement benefiting the United States as well as kowtowing to them on Israel/Palestine (via Back Pages ). As ‘Nabakov’ said (see previous link) we’re a protectorate with good beaches. Or as Chris puts it, an international disgrace.

Never mind, Dolly, you stand up to those Papua new Guineans! However, I have to agree, those Noo Zealanders are damned scary.

(Disclaimer: the Cast Iron Balcony is married to a Noo Zillander.)

18 Jul 2004, Comments (0)

Sacred Cows

Author: Helen

A lot of us ethnocentric westerners view the Indian custom of sacred cows as a bit of a joke.

Many people find it hilarious that these creatures are allowed to wander the streets and get away with accidents and damage because of their sacred status. But isnít it equally silly that in Victoria, we allow sacred cows to roam a fragile ecosystem like the Victorian Alps, trampling peat bogs and native plants and polluting water sources in the process?

So… there must be a financial bonanza in this, right? after all, where natural treasures are being desecrated, it’s always the economic argument that’s used. Alas, same as with woodchipping, it doesn’t make economic sense either. The cattle graziers are being heavily subsidised– it only costs around $5.50 a head of cattle for around a whole seasonís grazing. This is not even enough to repair the damage the cattle cause, let alone turn a profit. I don’t want my taxes to be spent in this way.

Clearly, the sacred cows on the Alps are not only four legged. It’s another example of where taxpayer’s money spent, for instance, on public education or the arts is Sucking on the Public Tit, but a rort like this one can go on for decades because the recipients are true-blue members of the Liberal – Country party voting rump.

The mystique of the Mountain Cattleman has been invoked time and time again to keep this rort going. Us greenie basketweavers are always accused of being emotional, but whenever the cows are threatened to be kicked out of the High country, out the graziers and their families come, kitted out in the Drizabones and Akubras and riding picturesque horses through the city streets. And everyone goes… Awwwwwww. They’re a legend, mate, a legend. It’s a pantomime, and it works every time.

Bogs, unfortunately, aren’t so sexy.

We need to accept the science here- I’m all for preserving heritage, but not where it is positively damaging the environment. Also, the cattle themselves are not at the centre of the Man From Snowy River legend. It’s all about the horsemanship (well, I think the huts are nice too.) The mountain cattlepersons, the ones who really want to take their legend into the future, should move into the horse industry. And, dare I say it, the tourist industry.

At a time when water is becoming a national issue it’s simply madness to allow the systematic pollution of water sources.

The latest desperate argument, attempting to capitalise on recent bushfires (ìAlpine grazing reduces blazingî) has been shown to be a furphy both in the report of the Inquiry into the 2000-2003 Victorian Bushfires (State Goverment of Victoria) and by experiments carried out by Melbourne University. Quite simply, the Australian ecosystem is not set up for hoofed animals. Cows are hoofed animals. It’s time for the eviction, guys.

The Alpine Grazing taskforce is due to report back to the Minister at the end of July.

3 Jul 2004, Comments (0)

School holiday hiatus

Author: Helen

Hey, this Tinypic thing that Sedgwick pointed out to me is good stuff.

For all you people who would like to put pictures on your blog but can’t put them on the blog host’s server, just go to Not much to it – it’s kind of mysterious but easy to use.

See you in a week or two, I’m off to Southern NSW and the coast.