Tag Archives: activism

History is happening now: Manus Island vs Gary Ablett

A report was handed down in Australia yesterday. Another report wasn’t.

The report looked at the death of a man who wanted to be Australian and the people who killed him, acting on behalf of all Australians.

The report that didn’t happen involved our best Aussie Rules footballer, Gary Ablett Jnr, not being cited for elbowing his Western Bulldogs opponent.

The Cornall report, prompted by a fatal bashing and other violence on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, will attract minimal public interest. The action occurred offshore, out of sight, out of mind, rather than during a televised sporting event.

The Ablett non-report will generate much discussion and many column centimetres. It will trigger allegations of bias in favour of the AFL’s reigning best and fairest player. Morons will boo the little champ each time he takes the field.

There’ll be little or no cat-calling about the asylum seekers being hit with much more than a stray elbow.

Fairfax journalist Tony Wright says it will take historians to appreciate the true significance of the Cornall report.

God help us if we have to wait for history to turn the spotlight to where it should be shining.

Vale Pete Seeger. Time to stand up.

The late folk singer Pete Seeger had this to say about his profession, back in 2009: “My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world and, if used right, it may help to save the planet.”

A lofty goal, perhaps, but it resonates with me. I’m conscious that by writing a speculative fiction novel, I get to make predictions about how things could turn out if we don’t make changes now. I have the power to ask and answer the great, “What if?” Maybe that’s my opportunity to play a small part in saving the planet.

Given the apparent contempt for the environment from our current federal government, it feels like time for all of us to strive to make a difference in our own way.

Mr Seeger will be missed. Here’s Mr Bruce Springsteen and the fantastic E-Street Band paying homage to some of Mr Seeger’s work.

A night on the streets

I had a night to remember last Sunday.

Friends of ours volunteer for a program that provides free books for people living in poverty or on the streets of Melbourne. The books are donated by students, teachers and families associated with Lauriston Girls’ School.

Every Sunday night the Lauries’ Books volunteers head out with the St Vincent de Paul soup vans to visit five inner-city locations. I was a fill-in for a friend who couldn’t make her shift.

At each stop we laid out a blanket and then a selection of donated books and magazines. As an author, it’s always fascinating observing how readers select books. This was particularly true on Sunday night. I can tell you that famous authors’ names in big embossed letters definitely make a difference as the Micheners, Ludlums, Cornwalls and the like went quickly. (Note to self: Write more books, get famous and get name on cover in big silver font.)

My guesses about which books would be ignored were way off the mark. Not having a roof over your head doesn’t mean you aren’t hungry for further learning; non-fiction titles on Edward de Bono and Jung were snapped up.

There were several parents looking for textbooks to help their children. We even had a request for a Spanish-English dictionary.

I didn’t count how many books we gave away but it was several boxes’ worth. There were many thank yous from people saying how reading provided comfort and made their days shorter. The donated books and magazines represented more than just entertainment.

I’ll sign off with a clip of an epic Bruce Springsteen song about homelessness, from a concert I was extremely fortunate to attend. Want to see some seriously twisted guitar magic by Mr Tom Morello? Check. It. Out.