Monday, April 30, 2007

He's not a rock star anymore

Did you see it coming when he announced his preselction for Labor? After twenty-odd years of opposing uranium mining, including supporting the nuclear disarmament party before it imploded, Peter Garret now promises to tow the Australian Labor Party's new line supporting the expansion of uranium mining.

All in aid of party unity behind Kevin Rudd.

The Labor Party's cheer squad, also known as the ALP National Conference, was taking great pains to paint Kevin Rudd as 'their glorious leader', and fell over themselves to display their support for him - something they hadn't been very good at the last five years. After knifing their last three parliamentary leaders, it was necessarily for the ALP to show they could unit unite behind Rudd as leader and alternate prime minister, and thus are fit to govern Australia.

Beside the industrial relations policy, central to this nascent expression of unity was Rudd's move to reverse the ALP's 25-year-old three mines policy, which restricted uranium mining in Australia to the three existing mines. Determined to win the vote, the ALP fixers reportedly heavied anti-uranium delegates to proxy their votes to those sympathetic to Rudd's stance.

Realising the extent of unease the vote was creating and that, however, Rudd's cheer squad singled out those who may have expressed reservations or adverse opinions, but chose to tow the party line.

Peter Garret was one of those touted as being a 'team player', and obligingly rolled over and played dead with Rudd over uranium. Julian Gillard took great pains to talk up both his environmental credentials and his party loyalty to the press today, saying that while he 'forcefully' expressed his views opposing uranium at the conference, he accepts the decision:
"But Peter has also said, as a Labor member, that he understands that it's about decision making across the team."
On the other hand, Anthony Albanese, formerly Labor's Environment spokesperson and Left faction stalwart, and one of the few to publicly reject expanding uranium mining in Australia and openly oppose Rudd's changes, was vilified at the Conference for doing so.

Rudd won his vote – narrowly.

While it disgusts me that mining companies will be rubbing their hands with glee, what troubles me more is that this great exercise of party unity is leaving me cold. How far will this go? Will there still be room for mavericks (crazy and otherwise) in the ALP, or those with more than a drop of conscience for environmental, human rights and refugee issues?

I expect Howard's Liberal Party to be highly centralised around him calling all the shots, and struggling to deal with dissidents such as Petro Giorgiou over issues such as refugee rights and citizenship.

I'd hate to think that Rudd's ALP will go the same way. But, if last weekend's conference is anything to go by, it just may. Anything to win an election, eh?

[Image by rakkar (cc) ]

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Autumn baby

From beaches of sunshine to autumn leaves. Returning to Melbourne was a rude shock because when we arrived last Saturday, it was wet, cold and grey. But yesterday's lovely, warm, sunny weather – and the fact it was a public holiday – drew us out of the house and into the sunshine at Abbotsford Convent.

As you can see, Jamie had a great time playing in the autumn leaves that carpeted the lawn outside 'Lentil As Anything' cafe. I can hardly believe that my little baby is turning 1 next week!
(On Wednesday!) It seemed only last month that I announced his birth on this blog. How time flies!

He's growing strong, crawling fast, and starting to stand up (tentatively) on his own legs without holding on – if only briefly. And, as you can see, he's also turning out to be a bit of an escape artist!

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As good as a change

You haven't heard from me in a while because our holiday in Queensland was far busier than I anticipated and it was a bit of a drag trying to secure good connection to the internet to update this blog. Honestly, there were also many times that I couldn't be bothered tearing myself away from whatever I was doing to set up my laptop and update this blog! I do apologise, but I'm sure you'll forgive me. We had a wonderful time!

But, we're back in Melbourne now, and after finally settling back in to the pattern of work and school, as well as the disrupted domestic pattern, I can pull together a few key threads from our holiday for you (I won't bore you with every detail, but this holiday has already inspired a number of posts that I started but hadn't got around to finishing. These will come soon. I promise there'll be no slideshows, though.)

Besides enjoying spending time with my family, catching up with my parents (whom we stayed with most of our stay up north) and with my sister and her family, we spent a bit of time at the Sunshine Coast. We enjoyed being at the beach as you can see (that's Jacob making a sandcastle at Maroochydore beach in the photo above) but also did a number of non beach things such as visiting the lovely Eumundi Market and Underwater World.

I also caught up on the kind of reading that you can only do on holiday, when you don't feel like you have to 'worthy' reading. (I enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency and book two of the series, Tears of the Giraffe – excellent holiday reading)

We also completed a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle – one of those rather old-fashioned things featuring a scene of Alhambra in Granada (see picture at left). It was a bugger! It took four adults four days and three nights to complete it. But the sense of accomplishment was lovely when we finally nailed it! I think I've caught the jigsaw puzzle bug, now.

What has most struck me about Brisbane (apart from my family who live here), is the trees. These really distinguish Brisbane from Melbourne or any other part of Australia that I've travelled to (though that's not many). Jacarandas, frangipanis, flame of the forest trees, African tulip trees, Moreton Bay figs, a range of other ficus trees, the native trees indigenous to this area, and of course the fruit trees – papaya, mango, lychee, citruses, and more. These really say what Brisbane is to me. I'll have to write more on this later.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy holidays!

Well, it's school holidays here in Victoria, and we're off! My family and I are packing our bags and off to Queensland tomorrow to visit family and have a well deserved holiday.

I'm not sure how often I can blog while we're away, even though I'm determined to do so during our holiday. I'm taking my laptop, camera and a host of cables, rechargers and what not, and hoping that I have access to internet where I'm going. But I know there'll be some days when I will be away from blogging.

Because I've really been busy tying up loose ends and preparing for the holiday, I have also had little time to write here this past week, so I apologise to readers who've requested my input on what's going on, but whom I've had to disappoint.

I hope you will be patient, and keep coming back to see what exciting adventures we'll encounter in Queensland. Also, there's so much going on – the world doesn't stop when you're on holiday – I'm sure you can't keep a good blogger down.

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