Out of 39 candidates in the 2016 East Gippsland local government election, 82 year old aviator, Ben Buckley, topped the poll with 8.91% of the vote and was the first elected to Council. Ben cares deeply about transparency and openness in government and about increasing freedom and reducing fear. I believe he is a national treasure. A profoundly Aussie epitomy of freedom, democracy and civilised humanity which I established this blog to champion.
As for the nation around him:
FREEDOM OF SPEECH ????? ………….. REST IN PEACE ?????
My country of birth, Australia, is a nation in decline. Australian traditions, democracy, freedoms and human rights are all under attack from within.
The lives of too many people in Australia are ruined by fear, stress and unrelenting callousness by some Australians towards their fellow citizens.
My second home, Indonesia, is a nation on the rise. This vibrant young democracy consistently produces leaders respected around the world. National self-confidence and solid sustainable values give decent people in Indonesia the chance of building decent lives.
In 2016, President Jokowi inspired me and other people with the glorious words in reponse to the Thamrin terrorist attack, “Kita tidak boleh takut dan kalah.” which I transcreate as, “It’s just not on for us to be frightened or defeatist.” This is easily the best response to modern terrorism I have heard from any world leader. President Yudhoyono was also very effective against terrorism.
It is a great tribute to the whole Indonesian education system that a man of humble origins like Joko Widodo could go on to inspire the world with his clear powerful thinking. The words quoted above rest on the foundations of Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar, Pancasila, Gotong Royong and Kebersamaan.
At the age of 59, in 2016, in Australia, I was treated like a criminal when I tried to share my love of the Indonesian values which now give my life its meaning. My efforts to talk about how much Australia can learn from and share with Indonesia lead to me being arrested by the Victoria Police on July 5th that year and put through psychological hell in Melbourne’s Family Violence Court until December. I am still struggling to recover from that trauma.
My father and over thirty thousand of his fellow Australians fought against tyranny at Balikpapan in July 1945. 229 of those Australians died. The freedoms they fought for are now thriving in Indonesia but are dying in Australia. If I could swap my Australian citizenship for Indonesian citizenship, I believe I would have a much better future.
To any Indonesian parents hoping to give their children a better life through education in Australia, I say this: think very, very carefully about that choice.
There are many wonderful teachers in this archipelago. Among the ones I have known personally are Gus Mus, AmienRais and Mbah Lim. Such teachers should be the envy of the world. I have learnt things about living and society from these and other Indonesian teachers which I could never have learnt in Australia. But what I have been able to learn and love here just does not get respect in Australia. The toxic forces now undermining human rights in Australia can also be very powerful on Australian university campuses and in Australian schools.
Please ask yourself this question if you are considering sending your child to Australia to study: do you want your child to learn in an environment of fear or in an environment of self-confident freedom?
In 1986 you said: “The public interest in free speech is not just in truthful speech, in correct speech, in fair speech …… The interest is in the debate.”
My rights to freedom of speech and participation in democratic debate have been denied to me in my home of Maribyrnong by misuse of police services from within the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
Seventy three years ago, in the first week of July, 1945, over thirty thousand Australians, including my father, landed at Balikpapan, Indonesia, in the final major battle of World War Two. 229 died.
In 2015, after a series of successful tree plantings in Indonesia, I lobbied all elected members of the Maribyrnong Council about memorial tree planting and reaching out in friendliness to Indonesia.
Subsequently, I was arrested for the alleged crime of sending two many electronic communications to Councillor (Cr) Sarah Carter of the ALP. Victoria Police treated me as a potential sex criminal till December that year. I now suffer PTSD as a result.
Two open letters about this, the first written to Cr Carter last November and the second to Victorian ALP Premier Daniel Andrews this February remain unanswered. So I now write to you.
As recently as February the 2nd this year, Maribyrnong City Cr Martin Zakharov of the ALP has written to me that the action against me was “unnecessary and unjust”.
I have created art displays in Indonesian places important to four heads of governments. I wanted to share this in Maribyrnong and I was arrested by the police.
In 2015, the mayor of Maribyrnong, Cr Nam Quach, viewed a selection of my art works and wrote, “Thank-you for the opportunity to view your exhibition.
Having spent some time working and living in Indonesia, I can say that I found it to be a deeply rich and fascinating culture which, has been often misrepresented in decades gonepast. My impressions of your artwork was that it provided a unique expression of Indonesian humanity, history and culture, with the underlying theme of an appreciation for the Indo-Australian relationship. The Bahasa phrases used, referring to ‘kesatuan’ and ‘keragaman’, certainly reflect the strength and unity found within diversity, striking a chord to the spirit and values we share here in the City of Maribyrnong.”
Cr Quach’s political career, based on providing an independent alternative to the Australian Labor Party, came to an end some time after he “was picked up and “body slammed” to the floor and kicked, leaving him dazed and nursing a cut lip.” (Herald Sun November 18, 2015) by an angry citizen at a council meeting. I believe this attack may be what another independent Councillor was referring to when warning me not to speak up about my loss of democratic rights. This other independent said; “I know what they can stir up.” I still wonder who “stirred up” the violence which this Indonesia-literate man, Nam Quach, suffered prior to his departure from local government.
Prime Minister, can you acknowledge my patriotism better than the ALP and Maribyrnong City Council have done?
I call on you, Prime Minister, based on the civic rights of our British heritage and on the human rights the world declared universal in response to World War Two, to make sure freedom of speech and open debate are protected at all levels of government in Australia.
Bill Shorten has ignored what happened to me in Maribyrnong. In his own backyard.
Do you care more about our democracy, Mr Turnbull?
As Fathers Day and July 4th approach, I congratulate you on being the first American president to meet with North Korea’s head of state: where others feared war, you have increased the chances of peace. Such communication is essential to make a reality of Douglas MacArthur’s prophecy: “A better world shall emerge based on faith and understanding.”
I am Australian and a fan of MacArthur and the American spirit of freedom. I write to you from a new home for freedom: the Republic Of Indonesia. In this nation, leaders like Presidents Yudhoyono and Jokowi and Mike Pence’s recent White House guest Yahya Staquf Cholil strengthen democracy, fight terrorism and present a gentle face to the world.
The Indonesian nation was born in the wake of the American lead victory over Imperial Japan in 1945. During World War Two, when the attack on Pearl Harbour and subsequent Japanese imperial conquests shook up our world, Australia’s great wartime Prime Minister, Jack Curtin, said, “Australia looks to America.” We still do. Under the postwar leadership of Douglas MacArthur, Japan became a democratic ally of the West.
America inspires the world by the depth of her commitment to freedom. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” Likewise Thomas Jefferson said “Our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves.”
In words that presage the sufferings of many men in the twenty first century at the hands of misandry disguised as political correctness, George Washington declared, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
During World War One, when free nations faced an existential threat, Nobel Peace Prize winner Teddy Roosevelt reasserted the profoundly American vision of the centrality of honest freedom: “I am an American and a free man. ……. Free speech, exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where the people are themselves free …… Nothing but the truth should be spoken …….”
In his 1941 state of the Union address, Teddy’s 5th cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, spoke of the need for continual national endeavour: “……. today’s best is not good enough for tomorrow.”
This last quote points to a strength that defines American greatness: the ability to correct mistakes and to take new paths: as Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things.” That’s the spirit behind your pioneering meeting in Singapore, Mr President.
In 1961, The Gipper warned: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Protecting freedom for those who follow speaks to us now when equality and freedom are denied to far too many sons in the western world.
The election of Barak Obama and yourself were both examples of America’s capacity to redirect herself. The following wise words from Obama show great insight to social problems which became worse during his presidency: “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions …….. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”
The problem of sexist injustices towards men is getting worse across the western world. The appointment by you, Mr President, of Betsy DeVos to the crucial post of Secretary of Education may be a turning point.
In addressing injustices created by previous Title IX directions she has shown that America’s freedom-based capacity to correct problems is still alive and well. For me as a poet, her words about this are profoundly moving: they demonstrate your administration’s defence of the very best American traditions. For instance:
“There is no way to avoid the devastating reality of campus sexual misconduct: lives have been lost. Lives of victims. And lives of the accused.”
“Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.”
“And the rights of one person can never be paramount to the rights of another.”
“Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment. …. But if everything is harassment, then nothing is.”
“The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the ‘victim’ only creates more victims.”
Mr President, I know of no government figure in the world to have recently made a better stand for the rights of men than your Secretary of Education. As a victim of socialist left police state tactics in in Victoria in southeast Australia, I salute your appointment of Secretary DeVos.
Current challenges to freedom are real. As the Secretary’s comments imply, people stripped of freedom will sometimes choose suicide.
American founding father Patrick Henry said “…… give me liberty or give me death!” A slogan of the Indonesian republican revolution gets this in three words: “Merdeka atau mati!” (Liberty or death!)
Where is the answer to modern injustices against men? Perhaps Douglas MacArthur’s wise words: “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” show the way.
Much work must be done for the spirit of freedom to survive and save us.
As Thomas Jefferson put it: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
God Bless You and God Bless Betsy DeVos, Mr President.
And God Bless the spirit of freedom with which America leads the world.
I believe that human babies have a right to human milk.
Who agrees with me?
6 months exclusive breast feeding is the recommended minimum. According to the latest publicly available comprehensive figures, 96% of Australian mothers initiate breast feeding for their newborns. At 5 months only 15% have been exclusively breast fed for that time. To achieve better breast feeding rates, mothers need more support.
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities states: “Every child has the right, without discrimination, to such protection as is in his or her best interests and is needed by him or her by reason of being a child.”
The first few days are crucial to establishing breast feeding.
Since breast feeding is unarguably the best foundation for a baby’s life long physical, psychological and social health, why have successive Victorian governments whittled away at the publicly funded lying in period spent among midwives for new mothers?
When I became a midwife in the late 1980’s, we were very reluctant to send a breast feeding woman home if the milk supply was not established. Sometimes that could mean midwifery care in hospital for a week. Most mothers stayed for three to five days.
Since then the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative made Victorian hospitals much better places to establish breast feeding than they were. But the question, “Is the milk in yet?” has been replaced in public hospitals by the question “How soon do you want to go home?” The common length of stay is one to three days or earlier if the mother wants. For some women going home quickly is highly desirable and not a problem at all. But for others, undisturbed bonding with the baby under the care of experts in breast feeding is a need that it is impossible to meet at home.
Why have women and their newborn babies been denied the right to a publicly funded lying-in period to establish breast feeding?
I believe this has happened because it is cheaper for new mothers to be sent home quickly than it is to care for them.
Earlier this decade, I told Labor Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, that I believed new mothers were being sent home too quickly. Her immediate response was to ask what impact would that have on breast feeding rates. She promised to discuss my concerns with me, but did not deliver on the promise till she became Attorney General: she knew there was a problem but she didn’t make the time to listen to me when it counted.
At that time if you googled “Liberal Party breast feeding” Tony Abbot’s generous paid parental scheme was what you found: this policy would have helped breast feeding rates; he clearly did care. Who cares now?
If you googled ”Labor Party breast feeding” the result was policies about cattle feedlots.
Australia’s latest national comprehensive breast feeding figures are from 2010.
Share market prices can be dealt with in seconds or even milli-seconds.
Who wants a better balance between our attention to our breast feeding rates and our attention to stock prices? I know I do.
Why don’t we have regular updates on breast feeding rates?
Is there a single candidate running in this year’s Victorian state election who cares about breast feeding and who will push for better midwifery postnatal services and the return of a publicly funded lying-in period available to all mothers?