Oct 08

It’s Mental Health week this week.  It seems an opportune moment to press the Publish button on this blog that’s been waiting for a while.

This is from my hand written diary from 1982 and documents the trial I underwent in making the decision to leave school.  Malcolm Fraser was the Prime Minister and What About Me by Moving Pictures was at the top of the charts.

Year 11The entry is written in 1982 about events a year earlier.  I was 17 in 1981, barely coping with my sexuality that I was trying so hard to repress, I don’t mention it directly, but I can see it’s impact in my own words.  I wasn’t letting anyone in to see the real me.  My close friends had left school at the end of Year 10 and Year 11, I was isolated, a few of the students in Year 12 had grown up with me and we’d been through primary and secondary school together – they were my enemies!

It’s clear to me, looking back, that I was struggling with my life, my religion and my sexuality.  I wasn’t in a good place.  The isolation was horrendous and I couldn’t see a way out.  What I didn’t see or understand until some 12 months later is that people really did care, they wanted to help me.  It took an enormous amount of courage for me to reach out and ask for help.

My life did get better.  I have not regretted the decisions I made back then, I’m glad that I went on to bigger and better things.  The adults in my life did want to help me out, they did see my struggles and tried to get me to open up, the real blockage for me was my sexuality.  This internal battle is why I want the world to see the damage that is caused when homophobia isn’t stopped and challenged.  The anguish I went through should not have happened.  It’s hard enough growing up without having an unmentionable and important part of your life that you feel needs to be hidden.

Here’s the entry, I’ve fixed the spelling (apparently I though my peers where piers and I still can’t spell unfortantely without a spell checker) but not changed the wording.

12 Jan 1982

Today I seem to have quite a few entries in the diary – perhaps because I have been neglecting writing things in it.  I think the main reason for this is trying to get motivated.  This attitude seems to be one that is common amongst my peers.  This is I feel is one reason why I failed at having a go at Year 12.  Yet, I, at the moment, don’t regret it.  I often think that had I become motivated in the early stages of ’81 I might have done a lot better than I did, never the less I didn’t, so I have no one else to blame but myself.  My only hope (in fact one of my many hopes) is that I never live to regret my actions.  At the moment this seems unlikely.  As I can’t see into the future it is a hard thing to say it won’t have some repercussions in later life.

School seemed a place that I just didn’t fit.  None of my peers particularly liked me and often was called a poof, suck and many other things.  Such name calling never seemed right to me and I assumed that such things would fizzle out as we (me and my peers) got older and more mature, I think I was kidding myself.1  The name calling continued, perhaps not as much, but it certainly didn’t stop.  I returned to school in Feb. 81 feeling perhaps just a little frightened, like a child and his first day at school, I think I was more frightened of attempting H.S.C., and of course the reaction of my peers2 who I though might have grown up.  They had a bit, at least the name calling had perhaps stopped a bit.  But NO-ONE bothered to talk to me, unless I spoke to them first, even then a conversation was brief and abrupt.  Then again I didn’t really try to become overly involved with my peers. (As you can see there seems to be contradictions in this entry.  Yet it really was like this – Here are even more contradictions).  But I did try very hard to become a bit more involved in school activities.  I was a quiet sort of force behind the Social Services, in starting that.  I was involved in the school newspaper “The Dolphin” in which I wrote some news and so on.  Never the less this didn’t seem to me to be enough to keep me interested in the academic side of school.

The Year 12 retreat3 proved to be a very interesting one.4  I stopped and reflected on my life and what I was doing.5  I think that perhaps I then made a decision to leave school.  The next thing to do was to get enough courage to make a move as there was so much to consider before I made such a decision.  Meanwhile things at school were still pretty useless.  I had enrolled in correspondence school to do music, a subject I enjoyed and one that I looked forward to.  Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, along the line ballsed the whole thing up.  So when my papers did come through I was about five weeks behind.  Trying desperately to catch up, my other school work seemed to be falling behind, as I was more interested in Music.  Finally the pressures of school caught up with me, and depression soon came.  I couldn’t keep up with my fellow students, as I became more and more depressed I began to think about leaving school, a thought which had been on the back of my mind since the start of the year.  I started to miss morning classes because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I was frightened, (then again I really didn’t try to make an effort) frightened of school because I was behind, frightened of my peers for their harassment.6  I really did become more and more depressed, and I believe that I was on the verge of suicide, something that nobody else could even see, I myself couldn’t see what was happening, and I did want so much to reach out and talk to someone, but the courage to do so was never there so I just closed myself off…. to think.

I lay awake many nights just thinking about what I was going to do, and then finally I set a date to leave school.7  Friday April 3rd 1981 – I wrote in my pocket diary – “THE END – ON THIS DAY I HOPE TO LEAVE SCHOOL FOREVER”

I have no idea when I set that date, but I did, and I missed it.  It was another week before I left school.  Why?  Perhaps I, again, didn’t have the courage, perhaps I wanted another chance, perhaps I was confused about what I wanted or perhaps I don’t know.  Never the less I did try and hack it for another week but to no avail, so on Friday April tenth 1981 (exactly seven days after) I went to school to say to the Studies Master “I no longer wish to continue my education” (That’s a quote!)  So Mr. Shaw (my Studies Master) talked to me about it, and finally agreed that he believed I was doing the best thing, which made me feel a whole lot better.  I then realised that there really are people who care, and people who are willing to help.  The trouble was to find the right person.  Mr. Shaw helped me a lot that day.8  He rang the Commonwealth Employment Service and made an appointment for me for two o’clock in the afternoon.  So that was it, after twelve or thirteen years of school I was finished.

I cried as I rode my bike out of the gates of Monivae College, knowing that something that had been a big part of my life for six years was now finished.  Perhaps I cried because I again was frightened of being in the BIG WORLD by myself, perhaps I cried because I was ashamed of myself for being gutless and feeling useless that I couldn’t succeed in life because I was no good at school.  I was also very happy.9

I went home and told the folks that I did have an appointment at the C.E.S. at two, so they helped me prepare.10

So at about five to two I rolled up outside, stood for a minute before walking in.  I asked for the right man, only to discover that no one at all knew about my appointment.  But all where pleasant, and I filled out the right forms applying for the dole, and registering myself us unemployed.

After a discussion the nice young (married) lady suggested that I approach Mr. McNaughton and enquire about a job there as I already had a part-time job there.11  I told Mr. Mac. that I had left school and asked him if he was willing to employ me.  He said he would have to think about it, and told me to come back on Tuesday 14th April 1981 – So I did.

At eleven o’clock I showed up, and Mr. Mac. said that he was willing to employ me but only under the following hours.  Monday to Thursday 12.00 noon till 5.30 p.m.  Fridays 10-12, 1-5, 6-8 (in winter 12-5, 6-9) Saturday’s 5.30 – 8.00, 9-12 noon.

I agreed to these hours, and although I wasn’t crash hot on them, thought it was better than going on the dole.

So on Tuesday 21st of April 1981 I started working at P.R. & L.A. McNaughtons Authorised Newsagents, 150-152 Gray St.  Hamilton.

Here ends my true story of the hassle I had in 1981 – and if you think how long all this took only twelve weeks, and I am pleased of the decisions I made, and I hope that I will never live to regret April 10 1981 – A day which will long live in my memory.

I am grateful to Mr. & Mrs. McNaughton, to Monivae College, and most of all my parents who tried so hard to support me and help me, a job which they did and will always do so well.


Sane Australia is a good place to start if my blog raises any issues for you and you’d like some help.


  1. I could never understand why people thought I was a ‘poof’ as I wasn’t ‘camp’ in the slightest
  2.  Code for someone might work out that I really am gay
  3. This is mostly a lot of prayers and team building
  4.  I was sleeping in a dorm with 15 other guys, some of them I fancied, this was a real challenge for a 17-year-old gay guy
  5. How could I stop being gay?
  6.  Fear of being outed as gay was a huge concern
  7.  I was begging god to take this ‘poof’ stuff away from me
  8.  We later went on to be friends when his son was in my Cub Pack
  9.  The relief of not being found out caused the tears, the freedom to start over and be free of the name calling made me happy
  10.  This was perhaps the first time my father let me make a decision about my life.  He sat on my bed and told me that if I didn’t want to go to school that was ok, but that I had to get a job.  He then asked what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to be a teacher, he said I wasn’t smart enough to be a teacher – that was devastating and had long-lasting implications for me.
  11.  It was a Newsagents.  I was doing fill in paper rounds and working Saturday mornings
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Sep 29

Michael and I have been away for another couple of days in the Grampians.  One of my most favourite places.  A couple of days there feels like a couple of weeks.

One of the things I love about being there is the sheer difference between the macro and the micro.

Michael and I walked part of the way up Mt William, the Grampians’ tallest peak.  We sat for a while and looked across the Mt William Range to the Major Mitchell Plateau and the Serra Range.  An amazing macro view.


Our senses are filled with the wondrous view.  The warm sun on your faces, the cold wind whistling between the rocks, the smell of eucalyptus trees.  Then if you take the time to look closely you can see the micro.


You can see the dew clinging on the sun-dew flowers, the droplets glisten in the sunshine.

The micro world is getting ready to burst forth with its array of colours as the weather warms up. The orchids are just starting to bloom and they are always a treat.


Leopard Orchid


Waxlip Orchid

Somewhere between the big mountains and the tiny flowers is the wild life.  A treat is the local sulphur-crested cockatoos that visited our room for the chance to nibble on some sunflower kernels.

Nothing like a few seeds to bring in a crowd.  Each cockatoo has its own personality, this one carefully picks up each kernel to eat, another one would gather 4 or 5 at once, yet another would peck at your hand and others would be gentle.  There were some that would approach carefully, headed cocked on one side to keep you in its view and one that jumped on our shoulder to get to the seed.

There are always plenty of birds in the Grampians, I could and do stand, stare, point and admire.



As we’re walking down from the Picaninny, I can hear some twigs breaking so I stop and listen carefully, slowly spinning my head until I find a family of Gang-gang cockatoos sitting in a native pine eating the nuts.


Gang-gang Cockatoo

The highlight of the weekend however was the journey home.  We stopped to take a short walk up Mt Noorat, just out of Terang.  It’s a dormant volcano.  The crater is an inverted cone.  As we walked around the rim a flash of movement caught my eye as I turned my head to the left there was a single flap of wings and I came eye to eye with the wedge-tail eagle.  We seemed to make eye contact and he let out a couple of short squawks as he glided past us.

We couldn’t believe our eyes.  We had seen eagles before, off in the distance.  This was close.  We watched as he flapped and began to circle, keeping one eye us.  It was just amazing.

As he circled back around and dipped back below the crater rim we waited for him to reappear.  However, not everyone was as excited as us for this moment.  As he flew over the tree tops the local magpie clearly thought he was a little too close for comfort.

An aerial battle began.  It was very one-sided, the eagle not really very interested in the magpie.  The magpie would be flapping its wings rapidly and I could hear that swooping noise as it flew towards the eagle.  The eagle on the other hand effortlessly flapped twice and kept just ahead of its attacker.  With an extra burst of flappiness the magpie managed to catch up and it swooped down on the larger bird and the eagle flapped a couple of times and continued on its way seemingly unconcerned.   The magpie continued its assault and saw the bigger bird off.

The presence of this bird of prey had the mountain buzzing.  The magpies began warbling, and as the eagle circled around the local population of birds began calling out their warnings.

Here’s a short video of the battle:

As we continued our drive home we stopped numerous times to take photographs of other birds, Nankeen Kestrel, Brown Falcon, a Black-shouldered Kite


Nankeen Kestrel


Brown falcon


Black-shouldered Kite

Each a delight to look at.

Take some time to flip through Michael’s photos – They are well worth it!



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Sep 11

This column in today’s Australian by Maurice Newman is worthy of a closer examination.

What do Jeff Kennett and Julia Gillard have in common? They both believe in same-sex marriage and that it is far too important to be left to the people to decide.

I’m sure there’s a lot more that they have in common, but ok.

Apparently, a cultural norm that has endured for millennia has become an issue of such urgency and controversy that it can’t even wait 18 months for a plebiscite to decide it.

No, apparently the debate has been raging in earnest for the last decade, but its history goes back much further.  Are you just catching up with the news now?

People of various faiths have been taught throughout history that marriage is between a man and a woman.

As strange as this may sound, people of various faiths now accept that marriage is between two people.  Sometimes they are same gender people, sometimes they are opposite gender and sometimes they are transgendered.

Now these beliefs are pushed by the media as hateful and backward, and those who hold them are bigots. Who knew? There’s a lot of unlearning to be done if traditional religious teachings are to be outlawed.

Apparently some who hold this belief of marriage as only between a man and a woman think that GLBTI people are sinners and need fixing.  I’d suggest your start your unlearning there.

This is not to pass judgment for or against change, but to remark on the increasingly censorious, “we know better” attitude of today’s elites.

Actually, it is to pass judgement.  Because nowhere is anyone saying that you can’t hold on to your traditional thinking.  What we do know is that allowing full participation in marriage will help to reduce the stigma that is wrapped around the relationships of non-heterosexual people while not undermining the relationships of heterosexual people.

We should worry that not only Kennett and Gillard but a large number of federal and state parliamentarians on all sides of politics are opposed to the people making a decision on something that is so fundamental and culturally sensitive. Surely from time to time, on matters of deep social significance, there is much to be said for a plebiscite. A popular mandate will provide an ­endorsement that parliaments can’t provide.

Why are we worried?  We elect politicians to make decisions.  There was no plebiscite to insert clauses into the marriage act and the parliament does not need the endorsement of the people to change it.  The reality is, that regardless of the result, it is only the politicians that get to vote on the change.

The same-sex marriage movement follows what has become a well-trodden path for progressives. Social media commentary attracts interest among progres­sive journalists. Their prejudices are amplified through mainstream outlets that in turn excites more chatter on the internet. And so what may have started as an issue of marginal interest to the majority gathers momentum to become a fully fledged campaign engaging all members of the community, not least the political class. Woe betide anyone who gets in the way.

This is astute of you.  The ‘movement’ has its history well before the advent of the internet.  There has been plenty of people opposed to the concept and they have used the media to its full extent to spread their campaign, and in fact, here you are using the media to do just that.

Those who follow the global warming debate will be particularly familiar with this pattern. Indeed, the abuse and contempt meted out to anyone who strays from that authorised text suggests we are observing a disturbing evolutionary change in public discourse that has sinister undertones for those who believe in freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Rather than encourage discussion, doubt-free progressives ensure that only one voice will be heard.

This is a rather blinkered approach.  Not only is freedom of expression alive and well, it works both ways.  There are plenty of others expressing a counter view on the public discourse, just like you’re doing now.  I have received abuse and contempt from loving christians on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and I consider myself to be respectful of others points of views.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the influence of this use of the media than the cancellation of Bjorn Lomborg’s contract with the University of Western Australia because of an unpredicted “pas­sionate and emotional reaction” to his views that the dangers of climate change are overstated. Or Mark Latham’s resignation from Fairfax Media’s business paper, The Australian Financial Review, after pressure from feminists who found his views offensive.

And just perhaps this was the correct response to a misguided person’s use of their skills.  It actually shows that people can and do influence others around them.  Just because you don’t agree with that approach doesn’t mean that it isn’t right.

It doesn’t matter whether the issue is international in scope or local, the approach is the same. The Left saturates the formal and informal communication channels so effectively that it crowds out or suffocates alternative views. It is a triumph for leftist ideology and the culmination of decades of indoctrination from primary class to journalism school. As Yes Minister co-author Antony Jay says of the BBC: “Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer, more prosperous place, we were anti-it.”

Oh rubbish.  The Right has plenty of voices out there – go check Devine, Bolt or Henderson.  Then follow that up with the ACL, the Marriage Alliance and van Gend.

This pretty much sums up the philosophical disposition of the ABC, SBS and the Fairfax organisation, along with The Guardian, Crikey, The Conversation, The Monthly, New Matilda, The Saturday Paper, The Green Left Weekly and sundry others. They represent by far the major media presence in Australia and, from their bully pulpits, they present a common position on most social, economic and political issues.

Maybe, just maybe you’re on the wrong side.  Suddenly, because you’re not getting your way you want to find all those that oppose you, so much so that you even include “The Green Left Weekly and sundry”.  I’m sure that The Conversation, Monthly, New Matilda and the Saturday Paper are all delighted that you think that they represent the major media presence in Australia.  I can’t think of the last time SBS was at the top of the ratings, or that the ABC news service out performed a commercial TV station’s 7.00 p.m. slot.

This makes it difficult for any dissenting voice, let alone a government, that fails to conform immediately to the approved collective narrative. Take Syrian migration, an open-and-shut case. No debate allowed.

I can’t believe that someone who has a column in a national newspaper is so uninformed.  Go check more carefully.

With blind faith in big government and central planning, is it any wonder that the media Left has long decided the Abbott government should serve just one term? It’s smaller government, freer markets and family values policies don’t resonate with today’s hip intelligentsia. Every misstep or policy slip must be emphasised and exaggerated. Successes have to be downplayed or portrayed as mistakes. When it comes to the opposition, best not to look back.

Let’s ignore the fact that Abbott is not well liked, not even by the people who elected him.  There is no blind faith in big government, this is no longer the Menzies’ era.  The electorate will toss out a government that fails to meet its expectations, regardless of what the media thinks.

This is not accidental. The editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald was found by a Federal Court to have acted with malice against Joe Hockey. Yet he remains in his role. His colleagues follow a similar vindictive line, at times making things up when the facts don’t fit the conclusion. Anonymous sources and false ­assertions are no problem. The ends justify the means.

Have you ever seen the front page of the Telegraph before the last election?  Seriously.  Get a grip.

The ABC, too, is shameless in its partisanship. Its choice of subjects and resort to tame, sometimes obscure “experts” to push a narrative is thoroughly predictable. It is often at odds with its editorial policies, yet it seems to be a consequence-free zone.

Love a good ABC bashing.

The “hate Abbott” propaganda is unrelenting. It is so pervasive that to buy it as advertising is beyond the capacity of most corporations. Because of its universality, and the consistency of the mes­sage, it must affect the electorate.

The “hate Rudd” or “hate Gillard” propaganda was just as unrelenting – did you write about that?

Media guru Marshall McLuhan believed the medium shapes and controls “the scale of human association and action”. As he predicted in The Gutenberg Galaxy, Twitter and Facebook have subtly redefined the medium of communication. When added to the mainstream, they bring ­mutually reinforcing authenticity to the message, warranted or not.

Uh huh – the world changes.  The last thing we want is people influencing others when they have a counter point of view.  Can’t have anyone on the right logging onto Twitter and having to fend off views of the Left.  Heavens no.

While Abbott may not be for turning, too many influential people are. Conformity has attractions. It quarantines leaders and organisations from coercion and allows for a more comfortable life. However, it also results in groupthink, ignorance and poor risk management.

You’re a really good example of just that.  You want ‘groupthink’ your way.

So long as shareholders decline to exercise editorial control, journalists will fill the space and seek to influence public opinion with their interpretation of reality. To quote journalist Brendan O’Neill, “The right thinking and progressives might not realise it yet, but they are the vanguard of a new dark ages.”

Oh yes, that’s right the Murdoch press has never exercised editorial control.

Kennett and Gillard, please note.

What’s the bet that they don’t care?

Maurice Newman is chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. The views expressed here are his own.

Oh yes, now it all makes sense.

Aug 14

Do you know how much my stomach sinks when I hear talk of a referendum to change the law about marriage.  This isn’t about making it legal for me to marry, this is about the conservative government putting a big barrier into the constitution to prevent marriage equality.

That’s just mean.  Really mean.  To build discrimination into the laws of the land.

That’s what Howard did when he changed the laws in 2004.  He didn’t consult the people.

What about a plebiscite?  You’re kidding me right?  More and more people are saying let’s put it to a vote.  Thanks to everyone who has told me that they’d vote for it – but you do realise, I don’t want you to vote in any such plebiscite.  Why should my right as a gay man be determined by everyone else.

This has been a shocking week.  People rabbiting on about equality, marriage, men and women.  It’s distressing, nasty and completely unneeded.

Finally, Liberal Party folk – I don’t give a fuck if you had a respectful debate in your party room.

You have shown no respect to me, stop saying it.


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Aug 11

Sometime ago I was standing in the kitchen, getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner.  I was listening to the radio as the vote on changing the marriage act to include “between a man and a woman” was finishing up.

I felt devastated.

Sometime ago I watched the live vote on TV on a marriage equality bill and saw Prime Minister Gillard cross the floor and vote with the Liberal party to maintain the marriage act as is.

I felt devastated.

Sometime tonight I watched as the now Prime Minister said that the marriage act was not going to change and he hinted that he would hold a referendum to protect the current act.

I feel devastated.

It’s my birthday this week.

All I want is to be allowed to be married to the love of my life.  The man who I share my life with.

Instead I get rejection.

I’m devastated.

I need your help.



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Aug 05

There’s a new anti-marriage equality group in town, apparently the ACL isn’t up to the task of hating the homosexuals enough. Ya!

Doug Pollard at The Stirrer has some good back ground on Marriage Alliance who say that they’re an independent alliance, despite the fact that the key stakeholders are all catholic.

The Alliance has just four questions it would seem:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?
  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?
  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?
  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Let me get those for you:

  • Should children have the right to know their biological history?

Yes.  Of course.  Who is saying that they shouldn’t?

  • Do we know the impacts of raising our children in a changed society?

Do you mean to ask if we know what happens to kids raised by gay parents?  Yes we do. They turn out well-adjusted just like other kids.

  • Are you happy to have your family redefined as a social unit?

Nobody is redefining your family.  As a social unit it will still be there a guess what, families will be just as diverse as they are now.

  • Are we asking the right questions about the proposals to redefine marriage?

Well yes, I think so.  Do you have any real questions?

Until these questions and more are debated and answered, we are not ready to have same sex marriage in Australia.

ToothActually, these questions have been asked, and more, and answered.  We’re ready for marriage equality.  So close your website and go back to your normal business, whatever that is for catholics these days.  (Perhaps start a support group for abused children?)

p.s. your tooth logo probably needs a root canal. 

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Aug 04

Just last week in Jerusalem, at their annual pride march, a man described as an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed 6 people.  He was heard to say that he was doing the work of god.

We balance this with the news this week from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) who admitted Keshet, a group for gay Jews into their association.  Showing us that despite religion, you can actually accept people for who they are.

MBThe JCCV decision comes at the end of a very long road of agitation and negotiation by my husband, Michael Barnett.  He has no direct involvement with Keshet, but he has been tirelessly working away in the background.

Several years ago he broke off communication with the JCCV, well, the other way around, they stopped communicating with him, he has been working hard to change opinions, to challenge the status quo and to break through.

The journey for Michael goes back to 1999 when the JCCV decided not to admit Aleph,  another support group for gay Jews, into their ranks.  In fact, not only were they against it there were a number of ultra-orthodox organisations that said some particularly nasty things.

I haven’t known Michael for that long.  In our time together I have watched him take on the JCCV leadership and tell them things that they just didn’t want to hear.  And this journey has not been easy.

I recall sitting at a meeting with Aleph and the JCCV and the response from the JCCV leadership was less than desirable and amounted to Michael being abused and yelled at.

The JCCV then established their own GLBTI Reference Group and froze Michael out.  Despite this he continued to do his work of trying to break down the barriers for young gay Jews, always with the aim of removing those barriers to help reduce the suicide rate for those growing up in the Melbourne Jewish community.

Michael may never be recognised for the job he has done.  You can’t take your finger and trace a map of the 1999 Aleph knock back to the Keshet acceptance.

Keshet becoming an associate of the JCCV is a lot of work by many people, the current JCCV leadership has steered the way and the Keshet team have been fully engaged.

Michael has also been putting in and talking with people along the way, doing what he does so well.  Making connections.

The road to today has been carved by Michael Barnett, others have come along behind him and been able to take advantage of his work.  That’s the way it works.

I and indeed our family have supported Michael in this journey, we’ve been the sounding board, his personal advice centre.  We’ve had the tough conversations, we’ve acknowledged when the good things happen.  We heard his pain, we saw it on a regular basis.  Above all we took this man and loved him.  Because he was right.

The important part here is that finally we have the orthodox part of the JCCV supporting the gay people, accepting them, becoming a better and more whole community.   The same people who opposed this move all those years ago.  This will have an effect on those young questioning people.  Maybe this acceptance will save lives.

My admiration for Michael is boundless.  In the face of adversity he has stayed the path.

I’ve told Michael that he should take pride in this result.  It is his work that delivered this result.

I’m proud of him, the work that he has done.

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Aug 04

I recently stood in the supermarket having a chat with a friendly guy from Telstra, recontracting my mobile phone service, which was nice.  Saved me $10 a month.

Telstra then sends me a bunch of emails and finally a feedback request:


Dear Gregory,Thanks for recontracting your Mobile service with us.

You can track the steps we’ve completed here.

I appreciate you being a Telstra customer and I hope you’re enjoying your service.

We really care about your honest feedback, which helps us do things better, so it would be great if you can answer three quick questions about your experience with us.

Click here to access our short feedback survey or paste the following link into your browser

If you’re experiencing issues with your service, clicking the survey link above will give you options for help. Also, if you want to reply to this email, you can do this through the options in the survey.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If there’s anything else we can help you with, our contact us page has all the details you need.

Best regards,

Andy Ellis

Head of Customer Service and Contact Centres

I like to give feedback when asked.  So I did it based on the phrase:

“We really care about your honest feedback, which helps us do things better, so it would be great if you can answer three quick questions about your experience with us.”

1st question:  Have we finished the job we said we do?  Yes/No

2nd question:  On a scale of 1 to 10 how likely would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?

3rd Question: Why did you give us that ranking?

Answers: Yes, 2, You’re a telco why would I recommend you to anyone?

I clicked the next button and got “Thanks” and all was over.

So, where did I get to give my honest feedback about my experience?  How will my answers help you do things better?  The answer is that they won’t. All this will do is help you better hone your skills to get more customers.

Telstra don’t appear to be too interested in my feedback at all.  If asked I would have said that the salesman was pushy, didn’t check if now was a good time, rushed through his explanations.  I would have said it was great to hear from Telstra to help me reduce my phone bill, but seriously Andy Ellis, Head of Customer Service and Contract Centres, you don’t seem to be too interested in what I really think.

Instead of your survey being about market research, why don’t you make it about genuine feedback?  You know, actually give a care about what your customers have to say.

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May 27

Just putting this out there for you to think about.

The Australian Christian Lobby and other religious people are always telling us that allowing same-sex couples to get married will mean that they will want to have children.  They tell us that this is unnatural as it deprives the child of either a mother or father.  The argument is that it doesn’t matter about children who find themselves without one of their biological parents from desertion, accident or some other misadventure, from their recent media release:

“Every time a child loses their mother or their father, whether by family breakdown, death, desertion, it is a profound tragedy.”

But why doesn’t it matter?  Why don’t they agitate to fix what they must surely see as a huge social issue.

In June 2012 there were 641,000 single parent families with dependents in Australia1.  Of those families 84% where single mothers.

In the 2011 Census there where around 33,700 same-sex couples.  Of those couples, 6,300 children live with them2

toddlerpinkI would think that since the ACL is so worried about thinking about the children that they would be much more concerned with the amount of single parent families.  After all, it’s clear that they see a child’s right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Where is their campaign to either restore both parents or prevent them from having children in the first place?

This seems like a much bigger issue from their moral ‘christian values‘ and one that they seem happy to overlook.

Instead we find their focus on the children of gay couples, children that have two parents and live in really happy circumstances, children that are wanted, loved, nurtured and doing really well.

The only reason I can think of is that the ACL is determined to victimise gay people as evil.

Society’s focus should be on the children, and we should look after all of the kids, regardless of their family situations.  Families need our support, if they are struggling then lets help them.

Just so we’re clear, plenty of single parents raise really good kids.

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May 25

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the ACL trying to force their opinion on the rest of the world.  Oh, wait it was.  I just can’t help myself when they release another ill-thought out media release.


For release: 24 May 2015

The Australian people should have a say on same-sex marriage through a national plebiscite, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Why?  There was no plebiscite when the government amended the marriage act to exclude same-sex couples from getting married.  We don’t have plebiscites on any other issues.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said he respected Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s view that marriage was probably not an issue for a constitutional referendum.

“Probably not” – I don’t think it’s probable at all.  There is no constitutional change, unless you’re trying to insert something into it?

“However, changing the definition of marriage in law is a monumental and very divisive issue with big consequences.

rainbow flagHow?  Allowing same-sex couples to marry won’t fundamentally change anything, it will just allow adults to marry whomever they wish.  How is that divisive?  And what are the big consequences?  Has New Zealand disappeared up its own long white cloud?  Has Canada stopped exporting maple syrup?  Has the UK stopped ruling the waves? Has Ireland disappeared overnight?  No.   Let’s just say some whacky things and hope nobody notices what a monumental cock-up this media release is.

“The people should have a say through a plebiscite before it goes back to the Parliament,” Mr Shelton said.

It’s still not clear why you would advocate for such a thing Lyle.

“Those seeking to change the definition of marriage always seem confident of public support. Let them put it to the test by asking for the peoples’ endorsement.

And then what?  If we get 70% as the polls indicate what happens then?  If we get 40% what happens then?  Since when should the rights of people be dictated by others?

“A plebiscite would allow parliamentarians to then cast their votes in Parliament guided by the will of the Australian community.”

Strange as this may sound, our parliamentarians seem quite able to cast their votes now without a plebiscite, that’s how it works.  We elected one of our community to represent our views in the parliament so that we don’t have to keep telling them what to do every time a vote comes up. I suspect, more to the point, a plebiscite would allow the christian right to put their case.  Can you imagine the rhetoric?  It’d be about crazy things like “natural marriage” “think of the children” and something about gay people not being able to breed.

In designing the conduct of a plebiscite, Mr Shelton said two conditions should be laid out.

  1. Modest but equal public funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ case.

  2. A prohibition on international donations.

Oh, so now he wants conditions least the big gay lobby should find big gay supporters to support their big gay weddings.

Plebiscites are non-binding but can help settle matters of great national importance, Mr Shelton said.

Hmmm… plebiscites help settle matters of great national importance do they?  Wow.  The power of the people!  Since Federation we’ve had 3.  The first two about 100 years ago were about military conscription and the last one in 1977 was about which song we should sing at football grand finals (and other times).  Yes, I can see why Lyle thinks that they are useful for settling matters of great national importance.

It’s actually time that we got this off the table and simply amended the marriage act to remove the discriminatory language placed in there in 2004.  To continue to treat part of our society as second class citizens is wrong and divisive.  Trying to suggest it needs everyone to have a say is just playing for time.

It’s really not a big deal.

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