Williams' Word with Ray Williams | April 10

THE IDEALS OF SACRIFICE

Tomorrow we mark the bravery of the many people in past generations who were prepared to risk life and injury to serve their country in times of war. 

Diggers from the First World War were the Air Raid Wardens in World War II, my own father included, and I was their teenage runner in the days when not many people owned telephones and it is sad that I was never able to record the discussions that took place after their regular meetings. But, of course, recorders weren’t around in those days.

These diggers didn’t seem to talk about their war experiences, except when they got together, and it was then that I learned how my father received the many wounds on his chest, hand and leg.

Then there was the bravery of their sons during that Second World War and the sacrifices that were made, not just by the soldiers and airmen but the restrictions in ordinary, day to day activities by the civilian population to help serve the fighting men – and then I wondered “Do we still have brave Australians prepared to protect their country for the sake of future populations?”

Take climate change, for example. Do we have the leadership needed to protect the planet for the sake of our grandchildren? Would the Australian people themselves be prepared to tighten their belts a little – limit the sale of big cars, for example – and make the changes needed, just to protect the planet for their grandchildren? 

You be the judge.

A FAILURE TO EDUCATE?

It’s a pity that our educational system seems a bit of a failure. For example, many of our elected decision makers in Canberra, many of whom went to the most expensive schools in Australia, must have failure their science tests and also those in the humanities because they apparently don’t understand the established science of climate change and even think you can create a huge coal mine, export the coal through the Great Barrier Reef and not be concerned about the reef being further damaged. (Your ancient scribe must be one of a dwindling number of people who remember coral reefs, throughout the world, for their magical beauty.)

And even the best of our pollies must agree that the present Australian parliament is probably the most boring and uninspiring team in Australia’s history – and that’s a pity because we really need leaders capable of thinking beyond the day-to-day political infighting issues.

Maybe someone should inform our Federal politicians that their duties not only included domestic issues but also Australia’s place in the rest of the world.

POLLIES’ JOB INCLUDES WORLD PROBLEMS

There are some big problems ahead, some involving the whole world, that need some realistic solutions. They include over-population, the concentration of wealth (ie power) into fewer and fewer hands and, of course, climate change. Unless we, and the rest of the world, start acting like grown-ups with a far more effective United Nations and Security Council the future looks grim for our grandchildren. Real leaders would be asking if they can do something about it all. The answer seems to be a serious shake-up just to make the world bodies far more effective and far more democratic.

Russia, for example, recently used its veto to crush criticism of the chemical weapons attack in Iran. Why should one single country be allowed to quash any moves to bring stability into the Middle East? 

And surely that worrying group in North Korea needs to be brought under control.

Putting climate change aside (because some very powerful people don’t want us even to think about it) you don’t have to have gone to a costly school to realise that the world needs a far more democratic and effective United Nations to tackle these problems.

It would take some bravery but Australia could and should be doing something to ease these problems. Why not use our physical isolation from the main trouble spots to get something done about, say, population growth and other world problems?

For example, someone has to take the lead to make the United Nations and the Security Council much fairer, more democratic and much more effective. That veto system has to go.

Mr Turnbull, and indeed all the politicians on both sides of the House, could gain a much better image if, say, the Prime Minister had quiet talks with Mr Shorten and other politicians to form a cross-party and non-political campaign to take to the rest of the world a plan to  make the Security Council more democratic and more effective. The first step would be to remove the veto status of the permanent members of the Security Council.

Australia is only a middle-weight country but if we had quiet talks with, say, the leaders of Indonesia for a joint campaign among the non-permanent members of the United Nations there should be strong support for a change. It could be a vital step towards a more peaceful world.

For example, Germany and Japan, two of the strongest currencies and most stable countries in the world, aren’t give the veto status merely because they were not on the winning side of WWII, which ended 70 years ago.

Maybe it’s asking too much of our parliament where, it seems, most Members of Parliament have never been taught to understand the simple concept of climate change.  

Maybe it’s time the bean counters started questioning the big financial gifts to those very expensive schools that appear to have failed to pass on a basic understanding, and acceptance of, modern science and good leadership.

 – Ray Williams