My friends, if that is your view, fine. Go ahead with it when it comes to you and yours. But can you leave the rest of us alone? I repeat: if I am facing a terminal illness, when and how I choose to die is none of your damn business! Not only do I not want you to tell me how to live, I certainly don’t want you to tell me how to die. Just leave us alone. Live and let live, and let us die how we damn well choose. Thank you.
At the koala crossroads
Another month, another threat to key koala habitat. This one is at Mount Gilead – just off to your left as you pass Campbelltown on your way to Canberra – and on Wednesday evening the Campbelltown Planning Panel must decide whether to approve an application by LendLease to start turning rural bushland into 333 residential lots. Lendlease insists its proposed development won’t have any impact on the local koalas. NSW deputy chief scientist Chris Armstrong issued a report calling for 450-metre wide corridors so koalas could safely move across Gilead, but environmentalists say the LendLease proposal does not include this. They say koalas will die if it goes ahead.
Again, we are at the crossroads. We either continue to wipe out koala habitats because of the needs of the moment, the pressure from developers and politicians or we, as a people – us, right now – take a stand, and stop wiping out the habitats of endangered species.
I suspect I speak for the majority of the population, in urging the NSW government and Campbelltown City Council to reject this destruction.
Call the songwriter
You’ll recall of course, that time one of your friends exulted about the wonderful words of Advance Australia Fair, how the words were so uplifting and so perfectly captured the spirit of our country you just wanted to roar the words out?
No, me neither. Of all the national anthems in all the world, our colonial dirge has to be among the least loved by its own people – just as our flag and system of government is actively disliked by at least half of us, but don’t get me started – and what affection it does garner is because of its status as national anthem, not the song itself.
I mean, “We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil/ Our home is girt by sea,” is hardly “And the rockets’ red glare/ The bombs bursting in air/ Gave proof through the nigh that our flag is still there!”, yes?
How many Advance Australia Fairs would it take to buy just one Star Spangled Banner? How many to buy La Marseillaise? or the unofficial anthem Flower of Scotland?
Yes, there will be people who strongly disagree with this, and both of them will likely write angry letters to the editor, but that alters not a jot the rot of the song.
It was a breakthrough moment to have the first verse sung in the Dharug language last week before the Wallabies Test, and it has started an important national conversation. But I repeat: is the way forward not obvious? We need to go a song all but universally loved, and there is no better candidate than I am Australian. It lacks only one thing, and that is a verse that encapsulates post-war immigration. Can someone kindly ask, please, Bruce Woodley of the Seekers, the genius who came up with the song, if he would be so kind? With that verse added, and the first part put into Indigenous form, Bob will be our uncle, and Auntie Dot will be singing it with the best of us.
All at sea
Meantime? Meantime, one of the reader comments on a piece I wrote about the anthems this week, made a point I have never seen before. The words of Advance Australia Fair, fit perfectly to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song. Try it. It works! I’ll start you off. “Australians all, let us rejoice/ For we are young and free/ with golden soil and wealth for toil/Our home is girt by sea . . .
See? I think it must be something to do with tunes that go with places that are girt by sea.
Jokes of the Week
A selection of 2020’s Top 10 cracker jokes drawn from British TV channel Gold’s annual competition:
Did you hear that production was down at Santa’s workshop? Many of his workers have had to elf isolate!
Why didn’t Mary and Joseph make it to Bethlehem? All Virgin flights were cancelled.
Why are Santa’s reindeer allowed to travel on Christmas Eve? They have herd immunity.
What do the Trumps do for Christmas dinner? They put on a super spread.
Which Christmas film was 30 years ahead of its time? Home Alone.
Quotes of the Week
“In the last three years voluntary assisted dying has been legalised in Victoria, WA and New Zealand. Next year, Tasmania and Queensland are likely to do the same. The question is not if – but when – NSW will follow suit. On this, the public have, for many years, been clear. They overwhelmingly support such a law and are no longer looking for our politicians to lead on the question, but to follow.” – Andrew Denton, long-time advocate for voluntary assisted dying, on the push for NSW to legalise it.
“Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.” – Justice Brian Hagedorn of the Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissing yet one more absurd Republican attempt to overturn one of the Presidential election results. The judiciary, honest journalists, and a few scattered Republicans are among the very few to have enhance their reputation through the whole corrupted debacle.
“I never thought I’d say it, but I can no longer go on working. It takes all my effort to breathe and I’m not managing that too well. And now my mind is getting wobbly ‒ hard to think, let alone concentrate. I am rapidly winding down. I am sorry to cut and run ‒ it has sometimes been a hairy career, but I hope a productive one and always fun.” – The iconic political journalist and latter-day denizen of Byron Bay, Mungo MacCallum, signing off to his readers, just days before he died on Wednesday at the age of 79. Like Alan Ramsey, who also died a fortnight ago, he was one of the greats.
“No, Andrew Bolt, I do not apologise. Your support of a man who a five-year royal commission found knew about insatiable paedophile clergy and did absolutely nothing, a man now swanning about Rome like whole thing was a bad dream, is sickening. Your lack of empathy for victims is vile.” – Walkley-winning ABC journalist Louise Milligan, off a long run, tweets her response to Bolt’s strange call for her to apologise for her pursuit of George Pell.
“This is an absolute game-changer for hospitality venues, and a huge step forward in our continued march towards recovery. These changes will result in an immediate and substantial increase in employment and an enormous boon for business viability, while still keeping customers and staff safe.” – Justin Hemmes, chief executive of the Merivale Group, which operates more than 70 venues, as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed this week.
“I refer to the Prime Minister’s September announcement where he promised to bring all stranded Australians home by Christmas. Why have Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer been able to leave and re-enter Australia multiple times this year when there are thousands of vulnerable, stranded Australians who haven’t been able to get home once?” – Labor’s deputy leader, Richard Marles, in Parliament
“I thank the member for his question. And why he would want to bring personalities into this, Mr Speaker, given that Mr Rudd has done the same thing? It surprises me. I think this reflects the politics of negativity that has overtaken the opposition at a time when the country’s dealing with one of the biggest crises we have seen.” – Scott Morrison in reply.
“Morrison claimed in the Parliament today that I have obtained exemptions to travel into and out of Australia, taking quarantine places from other Australians I haven’t left Queensland since March. Morrison has misled Parliament and should apologise.” – Kevin Rudd on Twitter in reply to Scott Morrison. A spokesman for Morrison said the Prime Minister had written to the clerk of the House to correct the record and to apologise to Rudd.
“I remember saying to them, as we were putting them in [the carriers], ‘Guys, I know this is a big day for you, but I can’t wait, we’ll get you back’, and here we are and they’re both in trees around me, and it’s pretty amazing, actually.” – Dr Leanne Wicker of Zoos Victoria, overjoyed about releasing two of 14 koalas seriously injured in last summer’s bushfires, back into bushland near their original homes in East Gippsland.
“Two years ago widespread fish deaths were caused by high temperatures and record low rainfall so it gives me great joy to see these Murray cod returned home and swimming through our healthy waterways.” – Premier Gladys Berejiklian after more than 60,000 Murray cod were returned to the Darling River near Menindee. Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the fish were offspring of 70 Murray cod rescued after the government took the unprecedented step of launching the state’s largest-yet breeding program.
“He said to me, ‘Hey, Peter, I’ve got two German nationals looking to quarantine, where do we send them?’ I said to him straight away, ‘Just don’t send them anywhere, hold them for a minute, I need to confirm what’s going on.’ I thought if they haven’t quarantined, then this is a big problem.” – Wilson Security duty manager Peter Mikha about the call he got from Claudio Cominotto, a security guard stationed outside terminal three at Melbourne Airport. Standing with him were a 53-year-old woman and her 15-year-old son who had just got off a flight from Sydney. The pair were looking lost, so Mr Cominotto asked them if they needed help and they asked him about finding a quarantine hotel.
“It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people all around the world. I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played – and cherished – everywhere.” – Universal chief executive Lucian Grainge in a statement announcing that Universal Music Group is acquiring Bob Dylan’s entire song catalogue, a collection that spans six decades and includes many of the most iconic tracks in music history. Universal didn’t disclose a price for the deal, though Dylan’s songs are worth more than $US200 million ($270 million), according to people familiar with the terms.
“No single aspect of it could have alerted public sector agencies to an impending terrorist attack.” – New Zealand’s royal commission report into the killing of 51 Muslim worshippers in 2019 finds that while it is now clear there were events that could be linked to the terrorist’s planning and preparation, the signs were “fragmentary” and could not be put together at the time.
“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.” – Margaret Keenan, 91 next week, the first member of the British public to get the first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots.
Get a little more outta life
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Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.