LEARN FAIR GO FROM HISTORY
The book, Hell Ship by Michael Veitch, is the true story of a big sailing ship, the Ticonderoga, which was acquired by the English government to transport poor people to the colonies. In August 1852, 800 passengers and crew were crammed in and set sail from Liverpool headed for Melbourne. To save time the route chosen was via the Atlantic Ocean, around the bottom of South America and then to Bass Strait and Melbourne. There were no stops along the way to take on fresh food or water. Stores had been designed to last for the 12 week trip.
The British government felt compelled to get rid of the poor in what looked like a humane option, transportation to the colonies. More public land had been fenced off and new farming methods to take advantage of the sheep trade, had forced those with less resources to scratch a living on the very fringes of the British Isles. Many of these people, spoke only Gaelic, not English, were dirt poor and illiterate. They were told that by accepting a place on the ship, they had a hope of starting a new life in Australia – and some did – but the deprivation, disease and death on board caused the ship to fly the yellow flag and unload dying passengers onto the beach at Point Nepean where a Quarantine Station was established.
At present, while the politicians play silly games in Canberra, we have hundreds of thousands homeless and nearly as many who cannot find a job although the retirement age is rising to 67 years or even 70. We are told that older people who lose their job due to automation, restructuring of the workforce, ill health and government policies, can apply for a disability pension (we already know that Centrelink is bogged down). Apparently after a lifetime of hard work and paying tax, many will be able to apply for Newstart. What sort of an insult is that? Our superannuation scheme was the big hope for many, but even much of that has been plundered by greedy financial institutions.
We need government leaders who can learn from history and create a fair go for all, even those on the fringes.
Ann Brennan, West Albury
WAKE UP, JOHN
After the Liberal’s wipe-out at the recent Wagga byelection, National’s leader John Barilaro told his colleagues to ditch their $700 suits and meet their constituents dressed in ordinary clobber. He reckons that this will give them a more down-to-earth persona. Sorry John, too little too late. After the disgraceful way you have ignored the electorate, particularly on forced council mergers, they wouldn’t believe you and your cronies if you all were dressed in T-shirts, shorts and thongs. And I note that when you were interviewed by Alan Jones a while back you told him that you wanted to give the towns affected by the forced councils mergers transparency and certainty. As for the transparency, there is no need for that. The people can already see right through you for what you really are. And guess what? There’s no sign of a backbone. And as for certainty, one thing for certain is that unless you cut yourself loose from Gladys Berejiklian’s apron strings and stand on your own two feet and accede to the will of the people, after the next elections you will be down at your local Centrelink office registering for unemployment benefits.
Please John, for your own sake, wake up before it’s too late.
Geoff Field, Gundagai