Politics and Current Affairs meets twice a month at W4. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 13th September at 10am.
The results for the Senate are still not clear, but detailed results are available for lower house seats like Indi. It will enable us to analyse differences in voting patterns in this electorate and see how Benalla voted.
At some stage we will put Politics to one side and look at Current Affairs once more as we have a number of issues awaiting our attention.
Australia still seems lucky when I reflect on events in Britain and America. This week was marked by the murder of a British politician, who was called a traitor for advocating that Britain remain in the E.U. A number of us in the Politics class have been wondering if Trump’s divisive politics in America would result in someone shooting him, and now someone has tried.
I believe the last attempted murder of an Australian politician was in 1966 when Arthur Calwell the ALP leader was wounded. Peter Kocan was 19 when he was given a life sentence for the attempted assassination. He spent years in penal and psychiatric institutions. His book The Treatment and The Cure shows people can be redeemed and mental illness can be treated, even if it was by the brutal methods of electric shock treatment in vogue at that time. For me his book ranks with One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest as a compelling and disturbing account of prison life.
Politics in western democracies is meant to allow people with different views to be able to discuss and decide how as a society we proceed. Let us hope that murder continues to have no place in our political life.
Murder and violence though seems to be all too common each weekend when (usually) women and children bear the brunt of men who are out of control. As the poster outside the library reminds us there is an undeclared war happening in our suburbs that rages on. Isn’t it time we did something more to bring this to an end?
Indi seems to keep getting in the news, we are seeing Federal Party leaders in the electorate, Barnaby Joyce being the most recent visitor, anything to do with a marginal seat?
The American Presidential campaign makes our “long” Federal election look a bit tame. Having spent the first half of the year battling to be their Party’s nominee the two successful candidates will press on till November attacking each other. I wonder if they’d vote for a constitutional monarchy!
Five weeks of intrigue are ahead for the politics class as our Pollies embark on their longest election campaign to date. If you think that is too much spare a thought for the Americans, their presidential political marathon does not finish till November!
Our early March class had two guest speakers from the Council’s Executive team. Veronica Schilling, General Manager Development & Environment took us through problems Councils have in running a successful Tip and complying with State and Federal authorities. This was fascinating politically, and from environmental and economic perspectives. Jane Archbold, Manager Community Development gave us a short presentation on the latest community consultations her team are undertaking.
After enjoying our break we talked of the rise and rise of Mr. Donald Trump. Certainly the Republican Party hierarchy have had a rude shock. “Who stole our Party Dude?”
With some new class members joining the Politics group, we got off to an interesting start to the year with the “affair of the missing piano”. This Benalla mystery was a power play which saw some leading actors bow to public pressure.
It is a pity that similar public and political pressure does not seem sufficient to make some companies pay tax. I presented a table of the top 10 Australian companies who pay no tax and their annual profits. This caused some surprise. How can companies whose profits range from 14 billion dollars to 4 billion dollars pay no tax? Approximately 600 of the 1,500 largest companies operating in Australia in 2013-2014 paid no tax. It would be interesting to know how much public money was spent on the infrastructure projects that benefitted these companies.
The question of who will be the next American President will also keep us occupied, or bemused till the outcome is known in November, in time for our final class.
Let’s hope for some peace and goodwill to end a heart-breaking year for so many people. U3A Politics will resume in February.
As I mentioned in the president’s report I failed to gain any new members for this group during my session on the street Information Table. At times it felt like being in a Monty Python sketch as quite a few people wanted to have a long session on politics, without signing up. Remember Python’s routine on “Paying for an Argument”?
We still find our classes challenging and entertaining with the likes of Donald Trump leading the race to be the next leader of the “Free World”. Can you really run the American nation as though it is a TV sit com? Remember this is the nation that had Ronald Reagan terrifying the Soviets into submission.
We have spent quite a bit of time in the last couple of years learning about the nations and religious groupings in the Middle East: at times I’ve thought the class was turning into a Comparative Religion course. Next year some of our focus will be on the American Presidential primaries and religion still plays a big part still in American politics. New members of the class will be most welcome.
In our latest class we ranged over many issues, from the scourge of drugs in our community to the Greek financial crisis. We contemplated the disgrace of politicians misusing allowances, whilst the public is told “the age of entitlement is over”. The politicians must have forgotten to tell that to the multi-national companies that pay little or no tax in Australia.
We continue to see major differences between politics and media in Victorian and New South Wales. It is interesting to compare the differing views of people in our two biggest states.
In addition to discussing political issues the last class looked at the problems and costs of hospitals servicing the needs of grossly obese patients. Bendigo Hospital recently completed a new wing to house such patients. Chairs, beds, shower areas, all have to be bigger and stronger and the costs are often three times that of normal (already costly) hospital equipment. We discussed and reflected on how our local hospital will fund and cope with the expected surge in such patients and how preventative action is stymied by the constant advertising of junk foods.
We returned to the issue of food labelling, which seems to be used to disguise rather than inform about the amount of salt and sugar contained in many of our purchases. We also talked about income and education perhaps helping people to follow a healthier lifestyle.
U3A tries to stress healthy minds and bodies in its offerings.
At our first meeting in May, just prior to the new Budget being announced, I showed an episode of “The Hollowmen”. This spoof on politics is getting a little old, but the class found some of the lines still appropriate. The scenario had the PM worried his soon to be announced budget lacks excitement. Back in the real world our PM told us he wanted the new budget to be boring, having had too much excitement in the Senate with the previous one!
Our class remains concerned with the ravages alcohol and other drugs have on communities. Remote Aboriginal Communities featured on 4 Corners the previous night, but we could relate the issues featured to problems we know exist in Benalla and surrounding towns.
I would like to farewell Joe Solomon who joined us this year. Joe is going to move to Melbourne. We will miss your contributions Joe, all the best from the Politics class.
Tax seems to be the domestic theme this month as members of a Senate Committee expressed shock at the Multi Nationals shifting profits off-shore and leaving the Australian tax payer to cushion their debts. Much wailing and grinding of teeth will probably be of no use as these companies armed with their battalions of lawyers and accountants will ease their way round any new tax laws. So are the “Lifters” to be charged with an increased GST? Will “brave” politicians change Pensions and Super? The Politics group might need our Investment classes to give us a bit of advice on these issues.
About the Politics and Current Affairs group
Join our discussions as we dissect local, state, federal and world affairs.
2nd and 4th Tuesday 10.00 am to 12 midday
U3A Meeting Room, Benalla Senior Citizens Community Centre.
Convenor and contact details
Terry Case 0427621700