Poetry in the Time of COVID19

Feeding the Chooks

Schadenfreude

For decades they sneered
at us backward banana benders,
behind by 50 years they reckon,
we endured Bjelke’s curses of faded kitchen curtains,
daylight farm slaving and cow’s milk curdling,
fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows
as he fed the chooks, gloating.
Well, birds fly south for the summer,
and not this time, we’re roosting up north,
safe on our parochial perches.
Who’s laughing now? eh eh eh?
We already have your footballers
locked in our hubs –
yet laugh too soon, maties, and the boot
can be on the other foot in a few days …
Pride is the deadliest, most subtle sin.
Plagues follow science, not rhetoric in tabloid beatups,
thrive on denial, superstition, conspiracist ignorance.
Fertilised by desperation, selfishness and carelessness,
the toll is belling for us all.

Jinjirrie, August 2020

We’ve Got You Covid – Make Your Own Face Mask

Preserve the shop-bought medical masks for health professionals and those who are working with vulnerable groups – you can make your own protection cheaply from recycled materials at home. Here’s how:

‘In the Czech Republic, masks have been compulsory since March 18th. The country has only 2 deaths (as at March 24) and the growth of new cases has flattened, whereas in other parts of Europe the pandemic is largely out of control. How has this happened? One of the key reasons is a massive country-wide community initiative to create and wear home-made masks. In just 10 days the country went from no mask usage to nearly 100% usage, with nearly all the masks made at home with easily accessible materials, like old t-shirts. See https://tiny.cc/masks4all

Longer version:

You can also sew your own masks from cotton bedsheets.

Here’s another sewn version.

Related Links

World COVID-19 updates
Queensland Health current status for COVID-19

The Aridity of the Settler Imagination

Queensland "Climate Science"

On Hearing a “Friend” has Voted for Hanson

You’ve never met a single Muslim
yet automatically you despise them,
your putrid tick for racist Hanson
betrays a guilty, greedy voice within.

What’s the bloody difference
between yours and Toadball’s border defence?
It’s vapid new age love you spout
and you want to keep those Muslims out.

How can I keep loving you
when you’ve embraced her scumbag spew,
imagining Muslims a sub-human race,
high on hate, you’re off your face.

You’re scared of non-European culture
but it’s you who is the savage vulture
picking at this country’s bones,
land thieved by England’s brutal throne.

July 2016, Post Federal Election.

Related Links

Excellent article – How we stopped Pauline Hanson last time:

Howard had toned down his anti-Asian racism in deference to business concerns. But Hanson helped create a climate that enabled him to carry out policies in the interests of the ruling class that meshed happily with his own prejudices and which he would have pursued anyway: the attacks on land rights and native title; the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); cuts to immigration, especially family reunions; the ramping up of Islamophobia using the pretexts of “border security” and the “war on terror”.

Howard’s attitude to Hanson eventually changed for two reasons. First, he was the target of sustained criticism from sections of the media, the small-l liberal middle class and even some ruling class figures – prominent businesspeople and Liberal politicians like Victorian premier Jeff Kennett – for not taking a stronger stand against Hanson. This was a product of their concern about Australia’s international image. Hanson was receiving a great deal of media attention in Asia, and as with Howard’s anti-Asian comments in 1988, they were worried about the potential damage to Australia’s business interests and ability to play a dominant role in the region.

Second, and probably of greater concern to Howard himself, Hanson began to cohere a movement and set up an organisation, the One Nation party, that posed an electoral threat to the traditional conservative forces.

Mick Armstrong’s detailed, booth by booth analysis of who actually voted for One Nation in the Queensland election further erodes the notion that her support came mainly from the blue collar working class. He found that One Nation’s support was strongest in what had been National Party strongholds in south-east Queensland – polling 43.5 percent of the vote in Barambah, once the electorate of the right wing Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and over 30 percent in 11 other seats in this area, compared with a state-wide average of 22.7 percent. Moreover:

South-east Queensland has a high concentration of small farmers, and numerous small towns with a large number of small businesses – newsagents, petrol stations, real estate agents, pharmacists, accountants, farm equipment suppliers – but very few large workplaces with concentrations of unionised workers.[25]

The general pattern was that Labor did better in the bigger towns but One Nation overwhelmed them in the smaller centres. So the core support for One Nation was the “small town middle class, not – as so many commentators repeat ad nauseam – ‘ignorant’ workers.” Actually, very few blue collar workers defected from Labor to Hanson. Overall, 80 percent of the Hanson vote came from conservative parties and 20 percent from Labor. In addition, while its highest votes were in rural areas, One Nation polled better in affluent middle class areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast than in poorer working class areas. Armstrong concluded: “It was not the ‘enlightened’ middle class that most strongly rejected Hanson, but unionised, traditional Labor-voting urbanised workers.”

The role of mass protest in the decline of support for Hanson, however, has been understated if not completely ignored. Indeed, there has been no account that I have been able to find of what was one of the most militant and sustained protest movements of recent times. Yet it was an important factor, playing a crucial role in preventing the growth and organisational consolidation of One Nation.

There was widespread opposition to Hanson from the outset. Many in the business community were alarmed by Hanson’s anti-Asian policies – not because they opposed racism, but because it was bad for business. This became clear when the Business Council of Australia, along with the Council of Social Services, religious leaders – and, disgracefully, the ACTU – issued a joint statement which condemned her stance on Asian immigration but ignored her equally vile racism towards Indigenous people. This was no oversight: anti-Aboriginal racism was the basis of the business community’s campaign against native title. Small-l liberals generally saw Hanson as dangerous. But they too were more concerned about the national interest and Australia’s international image than with the impact of racism on immigrant and Indigenous communities. Like Tony Abbott in more recent times, Hanson was considered to be an embarrassment.

But there was also a groundswell of revulsion and opposition from what Robert Manne might call “ordinary people”. From the moment Hanson made her maiden speech, people started mobilising against her. Everywhere she went she had to run the gauntlet of protesters.

De-Amalgamation Jubilation

Mothar MountainWith more than 80% of the Noosa community eligible to vote supporting de-amalgamation, a long shadow cast by the development and financial threats of forced amalgamation at the behest of the Bligh government five years ago has been dispersed. Once again, Noosa will be free to pursue its local, sustainable destiny in accordance with the locally developed strategic plan and UNESCO biosphere status, with precious green corridors and limitations on subdivision intact.

Anytime someone tries to tell you ‘you can’t stop progress’, tell them the Noosa story. You can’t stop progress that is truly progressive, protects environmental values, and has a whole, involved community behind it committed to living sustainably. The Noosa model works – our Noosa UNESCO designated biosphere offers a means and strategy to help humans even in the ‘developed’ neoliberal world to live in balance within their habitat, sustain ecodiversity, protecting waterways and forests forever. Our model should be replicated and implemented nationally.

As I’ve previously versified:

‘Privatising neoliberalism
seems to lack a solid vision,
hollow ‘perish or populate’
with rabbit warrens all over the state,
since when was overpopulation
any habitat’s salvation?’

After a near lifetime spent in lovely Noosa, once again I can feel proud and secure that hard-won community consensus achievements are viable and defendable. The surreptitious stroke of a pen by politicians beholden to filthy corporate interests who never pay sufficiently for the infrastructure needs and unsustainable population growth they create even as they slip backhanders to grease their exploitation, fails when communities fight to protect their values.

Now we can turn our efforts toward deseating the state LibNat government which despite permitting us a vote and action on de-amalgamation, is mooting horrific schemes like logging national parks and state forests and privatising anything that Bligh couldn’t in accordance with disgraced ex-treasurer Peter Costello’s dodgy recommendations. It should be remembered that Costello approved the sale of Australia’s gold reserves before the price went up, costing Australia $5b, in addition to his failed foreign currency exchange transactions – $2b – $5b – hardly a trustworthy record. These proposed LibNat privatisations, unlike Bligh’s, will be deferred till the next election to become a pivotal issue.

By then, an argument must be made to prove that public ownership is cheaper, more efficient and protects jobs for ordinary people AND can protect the environment, while profits for elite shareholders and bonuses for CEOs pursuant to privatisations gouge the public in perpetuity.

Free Noosa – De-amalgamate!

Noosa from National ParkThe Free Noosa submission for de-amalgamation is now available – it is sustainable, green, sensible and financial!

Here’s my poem inspired by our community’s principled move toward de-amalgamation.

De-Amalgamation, At Last

Since the last election,
Oh Blight of all our lives,
the developers lament
for she was their delight.
Devine Homes perched upon the Board
which pulled our grassroots out,
Has she learnt her lesson?
The people showed their clout.
Who wants concrete wall to wall
as far as eye can see,
Who wins the real benefit?
not our community.

She thought of what to sell
We knew her plot too well
She and those dirty mates
wouldn’t share our living hell.
Where she saw dollars we see sense,
the rich gobble their swill at our expense,
when all we wanted
was to present pristine
environment in perpetuity,
sustainable and green.

What use covetous sanctimony,
preaching economic productivity?
In the dark with greedy mates
they signed away our dear shire’s fate,
stole our savings and overrated
was that the plan when she amalgamated?
Is it true democracy
that promotes developers’ profligacy?
Privatising neoliberalism
seems to lack a solid vision,
hollow perish or populate
with rabbit warrens all over the state,
since when was overpopulation
any habitat’s salvation?

She slunk away and we prevailed
She wouldn’t listen to our tale,
‘We must have progress’
she sighed and bleated,
too late, Blight,
you’re gone, unseated!