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Déjà vu; The Goats and The Donkeys

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(Any similarity to the state of play in Australian politics is just some really weird coincidence.)
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The Goats were elected to govern the Australia Paddock some time ago after the Donkeys kept spitting and biting and kicking each other and crapping all over their own sleeping pads.

The first job the Goats did was to fix up the fences to stop all the outsiders from wandering willy nilly into our home Paddock whenever they felt like it.

After that was done the Goats discovered to their horror that the grass in the home Paddock was being eaten at a faster rate than it was growing.
In fact there was bugger-all grass left at all because the Donkeys (and another lot of Goats before them) had been so consumed with digging big holes and selling dirt out of the paddock to the Pandas in another field that they never noticed the disappearing grass.

When the Pandas decided they didn’t want any more of our dirt, the Goats panicked and immediately rushed into the silo to get some seed to start planting more grass. Lo and behold they discovered that the silo was empty and all it contained was a heap of bloated old Donkeys and Goats burping from overindulgence and three hundred corpulent foreign squirrels who’d been permitted to feed off the granary without ever having to contribute to it.

The Goats then decided it was time for all the animals in the Australia Paddock to start contributing more to it’s upkeep. This idea failed to pass the ultimate test of statesmanship and responsible governance;  The Popularity Poll.
It was also knocked on the head by one big fat Independent Wombat who had already single-handedly dug up much of the home Paddock and eaten it out of house and home.
A few green parrots camouflaged in the branches of the Parliament Tree also made some meaningless chirps and warbles but they soon went back to filling their bellies with perkberries.

Eventually the ruling Goats became obsessed with their popularity slump so they started spitting and biting and kicking each other, as well as crapping all over their own sleeping pads, and …………….

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So where are all the wise owls when we so desperately need them?

They’ve been relegated to a patch of remnant habitat in the back corner of the Paddock. The environment created by the Donkeys and the Goats is unsuitable for their survival.

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Tom Lehrer; the reluctant performer

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tom lehrer
Timeline;  1968 

As a still-wet-behind-the-ears new recruit for my first job in the (then) Territory of Papua and New Guinea (TPNG)  I’d been sent as far away from modern civilisation as the long pointer-stick held by The Boss Man could reach on his expansive wall map at Headquarters in Konedobu, Port Moresby.

Miliom, in the West Sepik District.
There was only one other expatriate, a teacher from New Zealand. In the absence of electricity, television or roads to the outside world our weekend entertainment was provided by regular earthquakes, the occasional bottle of South Pacific Lager, a superb Grundig short-wave radio and a brand spanking new state-of-the-art Akai reel-to-reel tape deck.  We had only three music tapes to play on it;  Eartha Kitt, Roger Miller and Tom Lehrer.

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tom

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Back to 2014;

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From the very first day I started blogging six years ago I acknowledged the part Tom Lehrer had played in the way I came to view the world.  You can blame him (at least partially) for the way I turned out.
The 20th century’s finest satirical lyricist said;  “Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends upon what you put into it” and as an enduring tribute to the man, this has remained my online signature ever since.

Lehrer opened my youthful eyes with his wit and humour to some of the ugly realities of our time which were being conveniently hidden behind smokescreens of political rhetoric and middle-class indifference.

Born in Manhattan in 1928, Lehrer went to Harvard at age fifteen and graduated at eighteen.  Academic life always came first. Music second.
His career included teaching mathematics, geometry and political science at Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California until he was well into his seventies, in addition to a brief period when he was drafted into the army where he worked in the cryptographic branch of the Defense Department.
tom2
He was a reluctant part-time entertainer, retiring at age 31.  He performed only 119 concerts, 33 of which were in Australia and New Zealand.  His repertoire included pieces with some exquisite use of language.  “I pride myself on being literate to the point of  pretentiousness” said Tom Lehrer, the accidental celebrity who briefly shared the stage with some big acts of his time such as Johnny Mathis, Odetta and The Kingston Trio.

My appreciation of Tom Lehrer goes far beyond his music.  I admire the intellect, perspicacity and extraordinary social conscience that he possessed as a young man in his mid twenties when he wrote most of the songs. Many of the messages contained within them remain relevant today, sixty years later.

Most of all I admire the courage it took to shine a light on so many of the contentious issues of his time such as warfare, drugs, pornography (he was in favour of it), censorship, racism, and pollution.  Mendacious politicians and a few pious clergy must surely have considered Lehrer to be an irritating termite chomping away at the foundations of their comfortable castles of conservatism.

Tom Lehrer paved the way for Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and all the other folk and rock activists who were to follow in his footsteps a decade later.

Mr Lehrer is now 85 years old and I have chosen the following soundtrack which typically treats 1950’s Government propaganda with the contempt it deserved .
Here is his musical deliberation on nuclear testing in the American desert.

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The Woomera rocket range

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Thank you to everyone who has read or contributed to The Bucket during the last 5  years, especially Snowy who encouraged me from the very beginning and introduced me to the following exquisite video about happiness , thankfulness and appreciating this wonderful world in which we live.    Take care of yourself, others, and the planet.

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It must be that I am an unrecognised and untapped keg of astute political potential. An unhatched egg of statesmanship, just waiting to be sat upon for 28 days by some warm maternal stateswoman before I hatch into a consummate fully-fledged featherer of my own nest.

Sir Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.  His bushy eyebrows reigned imperiously and paternally over my generation of baby boomers during the 1950’s and beyond.
Menzies and I have something very important in common.

We both issued identical public statements.

“I did but see her passing by, and yet I’ll love her till I die.”

Menzies grovelled this to the Mother Country in 1954 after Queen Elizabeth’s first royal visit to Australia.

Queen

Some time later, coincidentally and auspiciously, I came out with the same phrase in appreciation of the following, although etymological nit-pickers could perhaps technically argue that I arrived at the word ‘love’ after a slightly less rigorous thought process than Menzies.

So now we’ve established conclusively that Sir Robert and Sir (potentially) GOF are really just two peas in the same leadership pod.
Except that he is dead and to the best of my knowledge I’m not.

Therefore I am a Prime Ministerial time bomb just waiting to be detonated.

Be that as it may. Let’s now return to Menzies and the Woomera story.

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Sir Robert loved the Queen so much that he allowed her English subjects to come and test their nuclear weapons and fire their rockets in our Australian backyard instead of their own.
This was necessary because the only piece of vacant land in all of Great Britain, M.C.C. Lords, was occasionally being used for games of cricket, and radioactive explosions were deemed to be potentially detrimental to both the hallowed turf and spectator attendance.

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This establishment in South Australia was originally named the Woomera Test Facilty but was eventually given a name change. Something to do with an embarrassing anagram, so it became the Woomera Test Range, but I think it should remain WTF forever.

1. WTF was the Government of the day thinking by ever allowing nuclear testing at Maralinga in this pristine albeit remote environment.

2. WTF were they thinking by gathering unprotected men together on top of a sandhill to watch the atomic blasts for the purpose of shooting publicity films. “Just to be safe boys, backs facing the blast, but then immediately turn around to watch the pretty mushroom cloud.”

3. WTF was the unconscionable disregard for the traditional aboriginal landowners, many of whom suffered the consequences of downwind nuclear fallout.

When the nuclear nonsense ended, Woomera was used to test-fire missiles. Skylarks, Black Knights and Europas. Like naughty little boys playing with gunpowder rockets in the backyard, debris came crashing back to earth causing annoyance to the neighbours……in this case, a handful of broad-acre pastoralists.

In response, the Government supplied each farmer with a ‘bomb shelter’ in which to safely hide, along with advance notification of missile test-firing schedules.

Woomera rocket shelter

In the words of one pastoralist;

“These ******* shelters provided an excellent ******* cellar in which to store food, wine and machinery spare parts, as well as being a perfect viewing platform.  We would grab a beer and sit on top of the ******* shelter and watch all the ******* rockets whizzing overhead.”

The laconic Aussie outback spirit was alive and well back then.

It still is.

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P.S.  Woomera is now a tourist attraction. The National Missile Park.

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Let the revolution begin.

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There are several proven techniques used by successful bloggers to encourage loyal readership.

This is not one of them.
(and herein also lies a valuable political lesson.)

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OK. I’ve had a gutful of Australia’s political representatives at the moment. The whole freakin’ lot of ’em, State and Federal.
With elections imminent they are behaving like recalcitrant schoolyard hooligans with as much vision for the long-term future as Bruce the Brahman bull sniffing cows on heat.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, you are herewith invited to participate in;

GOF’s BLOODLESS COUP   (did you get that Mr CIA and ASIO?)

I’ve scoured the world searching for the most distinguished, good-looking, and talented people, the cream of the human intelligentsia crop, to govern Australia by appointment, seeing as all these other elected egocentric incompetents have lost any semblance of credibility.

Your Remuneration Package;   $1 million p.a.
There are only two novel concepts requirements;

1. Party Politics is banned. You will use YOUR OWN brains, and implement YOUR OWN decisions, and be totally responsible for the consequences, in contrast to past practices.

2. You are in this for the long haul….perform accordingly with a LONG-TERM vision for Australia’s future.
(the priority is always AUSTRALIA’S future and not YOUR future.) .

AUSTRALIA’S NEW EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT

Snowy                                Prime Minister    
Inga                                      Treasurer and Minister for Aged. 
(gossip-mongers mentioning ‘nepotism’ will be publicly flogged)
Flamingo Dancer             Minister for Education and Womens affairs.
Peter McC                           Minister for Religion and envoy to Vatican.
Amelie                                 Minister for Sustainability and Environment.
GOM                                      Minister for Industry and National Security.
Lauri                                     Minister for Communication and Animals.
Kimmy                                 Minister for Science and Literature.
Hangaku Gozen                Minister for the Arts and Culture.
Rich                                      Minister for Small Business.
Brad                                     Minister for Tourism and Tropical Affairs.
Ninja                                   Minister for Aviation.
Koan 911                           Minister for Foreign Affairs.
MadTante.                        Minister for Agriculture and Main Roads.
Emjay                                 Special envoy Washington/UnitedNations.
Vicola                                 Head of Diplomatic Services.
Elyse                                   Attorney General.
Drude                                 Chief of European Liaison.
LOM                                    National Archivist and photographer.
Angry MAW                     Minister for Health.
Mike                                    Minister for Technology and Music.
AuntieB                             Minister for Commerce.
Mrs GOF                            Minister for Psychological services.

Now that’s one extremely competent and colourful Government.

God speed and I wish you all wisdom in your deliberations.

Effective immediately, all communications, complaints and debate regarding omissions or allocation of portfolios should be directed to the Prime Minister.

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Meanwhile I’ve commandeered Fitzroy Island, and under the executive powers I just conferred upon myself have renamed it;
The Republic of GOFLAND.   Population; 1

And if anyone’s looking for the Wild Turkey or Bundaberg Rum Distilleries, I’ve now got both of ’em relocated on my island nation.

The childish and pathetic behaviour of politicians in this country, and the unmitigated pre-election bullshit being served up by candidates is enough to drive a man to drink.

Seriously.

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Working for Australia

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Normally I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve just spent the last two days working flat out like a lizard drinking, doing marvellous things for my country.  It all started with a simple letter to the Prime Minister.

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SMIRNOFF, FULCRUM & GOF
Social Engineers by Appointment.

17 December 2011

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

What’s up with all you female political leaders?

Every time one of you is given political power in Australia or abroad
I applaud and celebrate with a renewed sense of hope that we will have a safer and more compassionate world, yet almost all of you squander the leadership opportunities just like your male predecessors did.

Just one example please if I may.

Your Federal Administration, State Governments and the judiciary have all failed to act decisively on behalf of those Australian road “accident” victims who have been maimed or killed by drunken drivers and other imbeciles who drove cars without having bothered with the formalities of getting a Licence or registering their motor vehicles.

Why do all Governments treat this issue as if the victims were just unpreventable “friendly fire” casualties in our society?  

A very long time ago I diligently studied road rules, undertook practical instruction and was granted my Driver’s Licence.
Driving a car was then, as it should be today, a privilege and not a right.    I pay $1000 each year to renew this licence and register my vehicle. Apparently I am being very stupid because many fellow road-users don’t give a rat’s arse about these requirements or the consequences of their driving behaviour.

Successive Federal Governments have conveniently sidestepped this matter by passing the buck to State Governments, and court-imposed penalties on offenders are disgracefully lenient.

I would like to offer the services of my Associate, Mr GOF, who is eager to provide a simple and permanent solution to this problem.
He estimates that it would only take two days to complete the necessary tasks if you would be so kind as to hand over executive powers to him while you are away on your Christmas break.

Please liaise directly with Mr GOF.

Yours Faithfully,

Vladimir J. Smirnoff
Director
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Parliament House,   
CANBERRA.

30 December 2011

Dear Mr GOF,

I am in receipt of Mr Smirnoff’s letter of the 17th instant.

On behalf of the Government I am delighted to accept your kind offer of administrative expertise and dynamic management.  It rather surprises me in light of your past history that your talents had not already been brought to my attention by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Welcome to the team.

Would next Monday and Tuesday be OK with you?

Yours Faithfully,

Julia Buzzard
Prime Minister of Australia

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SMIRNOFF, FULCRUM & GOF
Social Engineers by Appointment.

4 January 2012

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

Thank you for granting me the opportunity to serve my country.

Please find attached a detailed report of my activities on Monday 2nd, and Tuesday 3rd January 2011, along with an Invoice for services rendered.  Please forward cheque to my new address in America where I am hoping to be given ample opportunity to do many more good deeds.

I trust you enjoyed the break and feel well rested.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Mr Smirnoff or myself if ever you need further assistance managing the affairs of Australia.

Yours Faithfully,

GOF
Partner

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Report to Prime Minister Page 1

Report to Prime Minister Page 2 of 2

Condoms or bulldozers

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Australia is the driest populated continent on earth.
During 2009, water storages in many cities and towns became perilously depleted.  Some to below 10% capacity.

Our nation's water managers regurgitated the get-out-of-jail-free explanation conveniently used for decades by politicians;
When in doubt, blame the drought.
Then they pushed the panic buttons…..new pipes to divert water from here to there.  Recycling sewage.  Desalination.  Water saving devices and regulations.

So how did we get into this mess?

I keep wondering just how much different the principle of supplying water for a town or nation is to what we had to do in the early years at GOF's Paradise.

We had to build a dam to provide adequate year-round reserves of water for domestic use, and to grow food for ourselves, and have surpluses to sell to make our living. 
We installed tanks, pipes and pumps to move the water around. 
None of this involved rocket science.

Before constructing the dam I had pangs of environmental guilt about flooding a beautiful fern gully, but it occupies only 1% of our total area, and is now home to platypuses, waterlilies, fish and birds.  
We also planted 5 acres of forest to encourage mother nature's forgiveness.

Governments of Australia in the early 1900's had a vision. One that included the construction of many inland water storages.
We once had water enough to waste on inefficient irrigation practices, and public urinals in a constant state of flush.

How did we get from that to the legislatively enforced desertification of suburbia we now have?
Drought, no doubt has contributed, but we've had that in the past.
Perhaps that our population has doubled since the last major storage dam was constructed might coincidentally have something to do with it?

What to do?

Zero population growth.  My previous deliberations on this subject were as popular as putting my mongrel dog into the Royal corgi breeding kennels, so I will explore the remaining possibilities.

Conserve and recycle.  Good, but someday our increasing population will catch up with the limits of that possibility too. 
GOF's logic would impertinently suggest that once a town's dam is empty with no facility to refill it, then any of its programs for conserving and recycling water will instantly become null and void.  Like the town itself.

Build new dams in strategic locations which are periodically subject to flooding. We all understand that some personal money kept in the bank is some protection against the inevitable financial "rainy day".  Why then should Governments not ensure maximum water storage as a buffer against drought.   Research could also be directed into methods of limiting evaporation from those storages.
Let politicians dream like they did 100 years ago and have the conviction to put the dreams into reality.  Affected landowners facing eviction or a life of treading water will naturally object to dam construction.
Offer them compensation of double market value and most of their objections will evaporate.   (During construction of the Hume Dam last century an entire town was relocated.)  
Environmentalists will complain vehemently, and that is their right.  Trade them "5 acres of forest" and some platypuses and birds to play around with, and let them know how their children will love water sports, and fun with a fishing line, and be nutritionally enriched by the vegetables they will be able to once again grow in their backyards.

Failure to adopt these alternatives leaves us with only one other.
We must get the water where mother nature always found it.
In the ocean.
Desalination.

Now perhaps that will require something a little more like rocket science.

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Nibbling at the corruption cake

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My little Scrap Bucket as you no doubt have discovered, contains errors of spelling and grammar, and an occasional lack of diligent research.  
I would like to claim however that most of my writing follows a period of serious thought and contemplation, and reveals a rationale, flawed though it may often be, which appeals to my sensibilities.    
Accordingly, after some weeks of deliberation I am now ready to pass comment in the matter of a high ranking Australian politician who had accepted airfares to China paid for by a Chinese businesswoman.  

Of course, being a naive, innocent and trusting lad, I was initially astonished and amazed to know that this sort of behaviour existed amongst our revered parliamentary representatives.

Explanation;  "It was important for me to go and develop a good
                        working relationship with China"  and
                      " she was my friend".

Yeah,   right!

If it was important for Australia, why did he not pay for it himself and in the process earn a few patriotic brownie points?
And, why do I not have friends like that?  Let me explain.

I have not been offered even a local bus fare by any of my friends.
Not because they are a tight fisted lot, but because they realise I am a fiercely independent old bastard who does not wish to be, or be seen as, being in anyones debt.

I have friends because I enjoy their company, intelligence, conversation and wit. Included are some very special friends who have proven to me over a long period of time, that they comply with my "trustworthiness trifecta".   
That rule states that I would unhesitatingly trust them with my money, my wife, and my property, and not necessarily in that order.

In 60 years, those who have qualified for the latter status are numbered less than the full complement of fingers I have on a single hand.
And I feel blessed to have found so many.

They would neither offer me, nor expect me to offer them a free flight to anywhere.  

But please forgive my little digression.

Why would any politician presently in, or aspiring to high office be so dumb as to accept large gifts which are bound to resurface in political debate as evidence of compromised integrity?

I happen to be a great admirer of Australia's current Government and Prime Minister.

However, lets call a snout, regardless of its political colour, a snout.
Those who provide swill for the trough from which it feeds, will, sooner or later, come dreaming of a little bacon.

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