Monday, September 30, 2013

so hard to get good help these days

It must be nearly two years now since Aunty moved back to Melbourne to stay with us. It's been wonderful having someone to cook and wash and iron for us, and look after the "kids" if we are away visiting TO's mum.

With our new live-in Filippina house maid to do the floors, I thought I had it made.
JJ told me she is "The Floor Manager"… "Fine," says I, "you can promote yourself, but you are still only getting 35 cents an hour."

Aunty had a nasty fall a year ago which exacerbated some pre-existing conditions, but she has soldiered on. The only setback was the great runaway supermarket trolley disaster of Jan 2013, which means I have had to do the shopping myself, again.



After my mother passed away in March, I offered to go with Bro 2 to Murchison to clean out her room. "8 o'clock sharp," his email said. I arrived at Murch at 7.50 am, while he sat in Hampton Park fuming because I was late for my ride.

Oops. Communication breakdown.

Bro 2 was going to leave most of mother's stuff behind for the use of new residents. I was happy to leave the wheelchair – the best in the world after 3 months of stuffing around to have it adjusted for her [lack of [ height.
It was made of some super-light super strong space age yankee metal, and had solid rubber tires – at 48 kgs mother had little trouble manoeuvring around her room.

Shampoo, baby powder and more – all of it was useful so I kept it. Some new [still unwrapped] singlets and shirts found their way to the Philippines. [What can I say… mother was a bogan. Tracky pants, flanny shirts and moccasins.]

Asked Aunty if she wanted mother's [unused] wheely walker. "Oh, suppose we should keep it, just in case I need it one day."

Really, I'm only cheesed off because mother had the world's best, full length shoe horn, and some mongrel beat me to it.

Aunty tripped about 8 weeks ago which has further aggravated pre-existing conditions. The only way the ambos could get her up off the floor was to put their feet toe to toe with hers for balance, because she has very little movement or strength in her arms. Since then she has suffered a great deal of pain in the hip/groin region. The wheely walker has been very handy.

It was hard for her to sleep before because of torn muscles and tendons in both arm sockets [apologies for the medical terminology but I can't think of a simple way to explain it]. Sleeping has become even harder, now, because of the extra effort in turning from one uncomfortable side to another.

TO managed to get her at the top of the cancellation list for when the orthopod returns from leave – TO is certain the problem is muscular and treatable by injections.


Happy days! For the past 2 days Aunty has been feeling much better. Her cloud of depression and feelings of hopelessness about the future have lifted a little. She sat on the walker in the kitchen while chopping up vegies, but cook she did. Nobody does a better braised steak.

TO's work uniforms hung over the door, freshly laundered and pressed.

Welcome back, Aunty!


Friday, September 27, 2013

the fishing boat-bobbing sea

It is ludicrous to expect anyone or anything to actually "stop the boats". Realistically, we can only hope to make sensible decisions about what to do once the boats arrive.

I'm sure many Australians, regardless of whether they are pro or anti the obsession with turning back "the boats", are waiting with bated breath to see how [or even if] the Coalition policy of bitching about sovereignty over our own territorial waters will work.

The boat stuff is finally proving to not be a single-issue issue after all.

The Coalition's approach is interesting, in part, because I seem to remember a time when Australia was obsessed with sucking up to Indonesia because they are our nearest "threat" – i.e. they've got a whopping great population and that population is comprised of a very high percentage of Muslims [87% according to whoever wrote the wiki article].

It's also a curious time for us to be antagonistic [as the Indonesians would have it] when there are proposals afoot to sell a bloody big chunk of Australia to Indonesia for use as a cattle station – effectively putting and end to the ongoing row about the rather brutal practices in Indonesian slaughter houses.

[Talk about "selling the farm" when, instead of Australia proposing to supervise Indonesia's abattoir practices, we persistently ignore the opportunity to allow /encourage Australian Muslims to process meat here and invite Indonesians to check whether the process here conforms to Islamic law, rather than the reverse. God/ Allah [or whoever] forbid we actually think of ways to generate export income rather than reduce it. But I digress]

Former Foreign Minister Alexander Bummer has now chosen to put in his two bob's worth,
"Let me make this point for [Indonesia's] benefit: Indonesian-flagged boats with Indonesian crews are breaking our laws bringing people into our territorial waters," he said.
"This is a breach of our sovereignty and the Indonesians need to understand that, instead of a lot of pious rhetoric about the Australian Government breaching their sovereignty."

Mr Bummer makes a huge leap when he refers to "Indonesian flagged" boats. It's rather arrogant of him to suggest all of these boats are "flagged" or even "registered". We are dealing with a third world country where many people only just make a living from fishing, rather than corporate sized profits.

But, what should we expect from a man who was chauffer driven to school but does not feel he had a more privileged upbringing than any other Australian?

The "pious rhetoric" comment is a sound, logical argument that should help prick Indonesia's conscience. They'll be running around madly now, I suspect, enforcing their own laws and stamping out bribery, so scared will they be of breaking Australia's laws.

By all means let us have a token woman in cabinet. "I know, let's give her foreign affairs, it's only a Mickey Mouse portfolio and if she bats her eyelids properly no one could possibly take her, or her comments, seriously."

Is there some parallel here with the number of Indonesian boats whose crews brazenly fish in our waters for shark fins? To crew members of those boats, the possibility their catch might be confiscated and their boats dragged back into international waters seems a worthwhile risk.


BTW, as Islamic terror in Zamboanga in the Philippines enters its third week, houses are still burning - more fortunate classes have basements they can hide in - no services are operating, schools are still closed, banking is impossible, … and now yet another rebel group has taken yet another bunch of hostages to use as a human shield.

But hey, Australia might be perceived as a predominantly white, western and Christian nation and therefore safe from the risk of any pissed-offedness.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

floods of concern

Now that Anna Bligh has bared her soul [and pate] about her battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, some interesting comments and attitudes are emerging.

The ABC news website linked to a preview shot of the newly bald Bligh in the next Women's Monthly Weekly mag.

For all that my live-in medical expert tells me about this disease or that, I was surprised to learn a small lump the size of a pea on Bligh's face was a symptom of something so nasty.

But on now to the issue of bravery … sure there are plenty of anonymous people "out there" who face similar or worse battles all the time, but it's nice to see someone use their high profile in a positive way.

As the comments under the WW article trickle in, some person [I'm here now spelt backwards] says:

I have absolutely no respect for this person she and her treasurer caused directly the deaths of many by over filling the Wivenhoe dam if she was in control of a privately run organisation she may well be in Jail right now, yes she was concerned during the floods she was concerned people would find out it was her who was to blame and there might well be a public stoning.

To be honest, I am not particularly enamoured of many politicians, but I can't imagine wishing them harm or illness, nor being delighted to hear about it. FFS.

Despite the appalling consequences of the Wivenhoe dam disaster, I find it hard to believe Bligh was directly responsible for the dam being overfilled in the first place. I've not read the results of any enquiries, but who goes into parliament with a complete check list of things they ought to investigate?

"Item 4, 962,182 -Are any dams overfilled?".
Without personally flying over them and cross-examining engineers, boards, or whoever the heck was in charge of them, how would she know, and how would she know she ought to know?
Can one really go through life having no faith in any experts at all? Leaders are supposed to delegate.

She might have had to make a judgment call about whether to evacuate towns downstream – perhaps she had to choose between two evils and opted for the one which would be the least disastrous – but again, at least she wasn't off chatting with her biographer and having her hair cut once the shit hit the fan.

I'm sure I've seen a box at the intersection of Melbourne's Bolte and Westgate Bridges marked DISPLAN. If it's still there, I bet it's padlocked.
If a disaster does occur there, who the heck is supposed to read it for instructions? Does one simply park their car to one side and wait, trusting that whoever has the key/ knows the plan will be instantly aware of what's happening and turn up in the blink of an eye to put the plan into action?

Has Premier Naptime read every DISPLAN in the state?

I've just finished reading An Awkward Truth, which goes into some detail about what happened the first day the Japanese bombed Darwin in 1942. What a bloody shemozzle. The army ignored a warning from Bathurst Island and then, following the bombing, the most astonishing chain of stupid decisions ensued.
Amongst them, the Territory administrator [Abbott] commandeered some policemen and a vehicle so he could save the crockery and wine collection from his government residence. He thought it would be best if he removed himself to Alice Springs and oversee the situation from there.
Yep, way to go. 
If only they'd had a DISPLAN. Or a job description with "able to set priorities" as one of the criteria.


The department of health payroll shemozzle over which Bligh presided was patently ludicrous. It sounds a bit like the Myki nonsense, except it directly affected and had far reaching financial consequences for lots of people.

The trouble is, the "experts" of this world grew up with technology, and I find it astonishing how many organisations have no manual back-up plan at all in case their computer system crashes.

Did she ask her trusted advisers why they had no manual system, or couldn't quickly knock one up? The problem continued month after month after month.

Okay, I'll give her a fail for that one. She should have thrown a KRudd level tantie and scared someone into action. But I think it's enough she lost the election – she certainly doesn't deserve cancer as punishment.

As for Anna's bald head - not the right shape like Sinead's, but she still looks cute.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Wot with demented dog, unwell aunty and tired, stressed out nowhere near recovered TO, this doorknocking stuff is making me grumpier than ever.
Seriously thinking of putting a "forget the dogs - beware the resident" sign on the gate.

Luckily for some I'm
a) not a bloke and
b) not a bloke grandparent
or the little tackers would probably call me "Grumps" rather than Gramps.

Right when juggling TO's request for a very early meal and Aunty's usual civilised time for eating, trying to convince TO that the urgent work related stuff can wait til tomorrow morning… doorbell rings, dog yaps, and there are two young kids asking me to sponsor them for a marathon.

I cannot tell a lie. Proud as I was for not swearing, I did say "teatime is not a good time to call" then, upon hearing the purpose of the visit, "Sorry, but no".

Am I mean? Here are some good reasons for me to not agree

a) don't know these kids from Adam. For all I know their parents are ferals with initiative [not necessarily an oxymoron] and sending their kids out with homegrown, photocopied marathon sponsorship forms.

b) if I said yes, they would eventually return [probably at tea time] to collect and the demented geriatric Maude would yap some more. No, I will not just make a donation without the kids actually earning the money. Wrong message, and just schools begging by proxy. Degrading.
Well do I remember the public humiliations [inflicted by "christian" nuns] which made clear to me the meaning of the expression "cold as charity". Kids should not be in the middle of all this shit.

c) 50 years ago, blocks of streets were communities. Everybody knew everybody else's kids, parents and business. Community parents were all free to give someone else's cheeky kids a clip under the ear if appropriate. But the world has changed. Dramatically.

d) forget if the "if I were a grandparent" scenario above – if I had children the last thing I would do is let them / encourage them to knock on the doors of perfect strangers unaccompanied by an adult. Do parents not tell their kids to avoid talking to strangers? To avoid taking things from strangers?
"Sure kids, I'd love to support your school… come inside while I look for my wallet…"

Let's say I'm at the stupormarket and there is some transparent marketing thing to put pressure on kids to save tokens to earn money for their school. Do I want the tokens? Sure.
The latest thing is animal cards. Do I want the things? Sure. Do I think parents should have to cough up for "collect one of every kind" albums? No.

When I see kids who are reasonably well behaved and probably not spoilt, I will ask the adult guardian if it is okay to offer token/cards to the kid/kids… an opportunity to remind kids it's the parents who make the judgment about whether I'm to be trusted or not.
TO's big thing is winning giant stuffed toys at the Rye carnival and looking for a kid who would probably be rapt to take something away from the carnival.

This sponsorship crap is not fair on kids. I like the idea that uniforms protect kids from peer pressure. By all means have sports days and other stuff [where kids who are hopeless should NOT all win a prize] – it gives kids a chance to test their skills and maybe discover something they are good at or at least interested in.
But why pit kids whose parents are rich /have lots of relos against those whose parents are/have not by testing their ability to gather sponsorships?

Why not advertise a school fete and, on the day, ask for those in attendance to sponsor something happening on the spot?


Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Sophie Mirabella

One of my favourite people [NOT the woman pictured above!] has been a lifelong member of the Labor Party. She likes and stands for their all but abandoned set of values – values that recognise the worth of people regardless of class, and seek to provide people with opportunities they might otherwise not have.

In truth, I am not qualified to quote chapter and verse how the Labor Party itself defines its values, but I doubt I'm the only voter who has just a vague notion of what any party stands for. I also doubt I'm alone in feeling quite disenchanted with what I perceive to be an increasingly undemocratic political system.

I admire and respect A's tenacity and loyalty to the Labor Party. There are many, regardless of their political philosophy, who hold that the best way to change a system is from within that system. Perhaps it is only because of people like A the Labor Party has not lost the plot completely.

Australia's story is the story of a people prepared to fight for social change and, having achieved change, fight to keep it. I suspect this is part of what drives A to try and protect Labor from its own party machinery.

It's easier for me to whinge and criticise from the sidelines than put myself through the party mill. I lack the stomach for fighting stacked memberships, or fighting the pursuit of government as an end in itself. It seems less draining and personally self-destructive to lose without a fight than to fight a losing battle.

If this last political cycle has been cynical, negative and devoid of vision, ultimately leaving me devoid of hope, do I only have myself to blame? Do I have any excuse for carping from the sidelines rather than entering the fray?

It might seem to some that my 'reasoning' is a transparently hollow rationalisation, but there is a part of me that resists the notion of total allegiance to ideas not yet formed; ideas that might test my conscience. The offence to offend legislation is probably a good example, or Labor's gutless stand on gay marriage. Oh yes, there is also a little matter of our blind allegiance to U.S. military policy.

Peter Costello once observed that people join a party because its philosophy is clear, not because of specific policies.
If the Liberal philosophy is all about reward for effort and the sanctity of the price system, about the evils of redistributing income, the Labor philosophy has drifted so far towards the same set of principles that I fail to see the point of Labor at all.

The price system might well be the best available but it is nonetheless flawed. Reward for effort and an incentive to improve oneself are essential to living standards, but the question has become one of who is to be rewarded for effort and who is not.
I don't think it is purely a coincidence that a trucking magnate lives on the Mornington Peninsula and a freeway – with no tolls – now extends to where he lives but public transport is deemed un-necessary. I doubt it's a coincidence that there are plans afoot for a new commercial port on the peninsula [on the other side from his own backyard]. And I doubt it's a coincidence that despite the public's preference for spending on public transport, plans are also afoot to join two freeways no matter how much damage the plans will do to public parkland and the living standards of those in the bulldozer's path.

Examples of this pandering to capital abound. If the reward for effort mechanism is good for the country and its economy, wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest to extend rewards to those with smaller bank accounts?

The best political outcome of the year has been the success of Cathy McGowan in toppling Sophie Mirabella from the seat of Indi. As personally pleasing as the electorate's sacking of Sophie might be, the real victory lies in the way a grass roots campaign was able to effectively do battle with the Liberal Party's national machinery. It's a modern David and Goliath story and, reading the details, a little of my hope has been restored.

Whether Cathy McGowan proves to be someone against gay marriage or for US military might is almost irrelevant. At least she will be answerable to the people who elected her, not some unwieldy and self-serving party machine.

Post Script

Mirabella was widely criticised for not helping when GetUp! director Simon Sheikh slumped forward on the set of Q&A. 
While searching for a[n unbiased] image of Sophie I must confess I cracked up when I saw this:

[To be fair, Sophie was not the only person on set who had no idea what was happening.]

non, je ne pense rien

My world has come crashing down. The only thing I have left to complain about now the election is over is that I have nothing left to complain about. What can I say?

So here I sit with a lot of time on my mind but nothing actually in it.
Well, there was an interesting observation that Sophie Mirabella pulled off the unimaginable and lost a liberal seat when the entire country had swung wildly to the right. That's in my mind, but someone else put it there.

Some years ago I commented to a friend that it was probably stupid of me to sign up for a novel writing class when I had never had an idea for a novel. "Or a novel idea, for that matter," she replied.

Good friends say things like that.

Here I am, then, reduced to offering up midly amusing visuals.

Friday, September 13, 2013

knock and see if it's opened unto you

Miss Maude has always been nervous – puppy farms do that to furry critters – but she's reverting to the out of control yapping she did when she first joined our pack 5 years ago.
Anything sets her off, lately. She yaps when junk mail is delivered, when the neighbours talk in the street, when a car she knows pull up in the driveway, and even rushes to the front door yapping if I walk in the back door.
I don't know if it's annoying for the neighbours, but it is certainly beginning to annoy me.

Thusly was I rudely awakened from a curious but not disturbing dream this morning when someone dropped one of those catalogue thingys on the front mat.

Just when I had drifted back into La La Land, there was another "warning" that someone was at the front door.  

They come not on waves but definitely in waves, these people.

They would like to speak to the man of the house about energy saving light globes? Sorry, he's not here at the moment.

They are not selling anything, they are actually doing us a favour by offering good prices for gas and electricity.

Even the local council sent a lackey one day, who warned us about letting animals off our property – then left the bloody gate open.

Readers, I cannot tell a lie. They piss me off, and I am rarely nice to them.
Most of the time they are rude, and I can be really competitive.
Or they are stupid, and I can't compete.
When I encounter both rude and stupid in one person, it is altogether too much.

The ones I hate the most, though, are the ones who stand at the door for ten minutes but don't ring the door bell.
There must be some passage in the new testament that forbids the use of doorbells.

This morning when the creepies stood back without ringing the door bell I yelled some very rude words to Miss Maude as I stomped down the stairs in my jim-jams, then opened the door to find somebody's sweet, kindly old grandfather standing there - the usual missionarette standing respectfully 5 paces behind him.
The good lord knows I'm sick of Maude's yapping, perhaps he had sent them to cheer me up?

I was tempted – sorely tempted – to say I was relieved to see them; to ask what had taken them so long. That for the last ten years I have been too scared to do any of the following, in case I missed them:
Yell hello 50 times into the phone before hanging up on a phantom phone call.
Hang the washing out [cos the clothesline is so far from the front door].
Accompany people to hospital in an ambulance.
Give drink to the thirsty, feed the hungry, or have a Rodney Hogg.
Have a life.
So scared to go anywhere, talk to anyone, or do anything that would delay me from answering the door just to talk to them, that I sit bolt upright 24/7/365 rigid with anticipation.

But I didn't. I just said "woddyawont" in that certain, aggressive tone that never works.

Grandpa dithered and smiled patronisingly, saying nothing while he fondled the small tract that gave his right hand something to do.

I raised my voice and paraphrased my "Woddyawont?" to "Just tell me wotchawont this is not a good time…"

"Oh," gramps said, "I'm sorry to hear that…"
"Skip all that",  I sez, "just tell me what you want…"
"Well, we saw the sign that said you didn't want sales people calling, but we are kind of selling something…"
"WHAT?" [You can tell by the caps I was shouting]

Some years ago I commented to my FB cousin that I was embarrassed for having made derogatory remarks about born agains to her born again sister. "No," said FB cuz, "she likes having a chance to rise above it all and take one on the chin for Jesus. It's character building."

Well, I didn't want to reward Gramps and his accessory, so I just slammed the door.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

more crap

Earlier this year I wrote about JJ who has come to live with us as an International Student, and the reason she has gone into debt up to her eyeballs in the hope that one day she can bring her family to Australia.

Now the Moro Liberation Front has launched yet another attack on the tiny [predominantly Catholic] peninsula of Zamboanga.
Six dead,  20 hostages, and about 200 trapped in the city centre, unable to go home.

I can't begin to imagine what it is like to live year after year with this crap. I can't begin to imagine what it is like to be living with a self imposed curfew after 5 pm. I can't begin to imagine what it is like to be separated from a 6 year old daughter for so long [despite skype]. And I can't begin to imagine how JJ feels, right now, while all this shit is happening where her daughter, husband and sisters live, half way across the world.

If the US decides to attack Syria, the Philippine army will be on alert to help America. If Obama pulls off his plans, it will be a huge blot on his record.

Nothing can stop these pigs, and it's time to stop letting our own people die, to stop killing the innocent, as if we can make any bloody difference.

WTF is our new foreign affairs minister, the Stepford, wife going to do or say that will make any foreign leaders stop laughing at our new PM? If the US asks us to get involved in Syria, what is the Rabbit going to do?

Monday, September 9, 2013

is that rain or did someone just pee on my leg?

I don't know what I was hoping might eventuate on Saturday night, because no matter what happened I wasn't going to be happy.


New England MP-elect, Barnaby Joyce, says he's proud to call Gina Rinehart his friend.
He says Australia needs more entrepreneurs like her.
"Gina is a great friend and I'm a good mate of Gina's and she's got an Australian company which employs Australian people which pays tax in this nation and I'm so proud," he said.

Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, says non-violent prisoners should be allowed to pay their way out of jail.

She said Australia would benefit because it needs "more workers and taxpayers", especially in the face of increasing health costs due to an ageing population.

Yes, open the doors. A get out of jail free card for every embezzler.
Now Gina can get Roy Hill up and running with her 457 visa workers, single handedly saving the country again with another mining boom. 

There is much to be positive about... there is always music...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

once upon a time

"...the sky is falling!
the sky is falling!",
said little Henny Penny

Friday, September 6, 2013

striking a blow

This is one of the coolest things I've seen [a picture of] in a long time:

Zenos Frudakis' sculpture Freedom is at the corner of 16th and Vine in Philadelphia.

I only [re]discovered it because someone had bastardised a photo of it with the banal, trite little self-help mantra; "Break the Mold" and posted it on faceachebook.

If we must add comments to photos, let's at least write something worth saying:


The photo of Frudakis' sculpture reminds me that, following an interesting discussion on one of Andrew's posts at High Riser, I'm uncertain where I might stand with regard to one aspect of this whole UN/ Asylum seeker thing.

Where is the line between ignoring genocide [if, indeed, we can even decide when the word applies or doesn't apply], and not interfering in the internal affairs of another country?

It seems the intention of the original [1945] UN Charter was mostly about preventing another international war.

In spite of the parallel good intentions of promoting the economic and social advancement of all peoples, the focus was on International relations.
In fact the Charter was quite clear on one point:

There is only a tiny, passing hint that even after WWII anyone gave a damn about Nazi Germany's deliberate acts of genocide. There was certainly no rush for anyone to claim persecution of Jewish people had influenced anyone's decision to go, or not to go, to war.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the SS St Louis – perhaps from the 1976 movie Voyage of the Damned.
This YouTube clip asserts
  • the ship was German.
  • the Nazis' plan was forced emigration, on a "don't even think about coming back" basis.

It would be a lie to pretend anti-Semitism was a uniquely Nazi invention, but it was all rather too easy for Hitler to isolate a group of people as scapegoats – a sound political strategy given there is no force so cohesive as a mutual enemy.

The gutless vilification of "boat people" by Australia's ambitious politicians does not seem too far removed from what happened in Nazi Germany.

What, if any, are the key differences between the voyage of the SS St Louis and the voyages of asylum seekers from Indonesia?

One key difference is the role of International Military forces in areas like Afghanistan. We should not be interfering in the internal matters of another country. We should certainly not be thinking of innocent victims of drone attacks as just so much collateral damage.

We may not like Sharia Law but, as was the case in Vietnam, the humans who are the enemy are bloody hard to distinguish from the friendlies. In Nazi Germany, there was no question who were the victims and who weren't.

If any force should be interfering in another country's internal affairs today it should be a UN force, not a congaline coalition of vengeful western countries.

A further difference between the voyage of the St Louis and the masses seeking asylum today is that UN camps and Refugee processing centres, theoretically at least, are intended to provide a safe haven until persecuted people can go back where they came from after the shit at home is all sorted. There was no safe haven for German Jews [or poofs, pinkos and other pesky people].

So, in light of our intention to "never forget" the holocaust, how does our attitude to today's refugees stack up? No country should be acting independently of the UN. [Which is pretty well what Andrew said in a few words less than I've used here.]

But I must add, the UN needs to get its [i.e. we need to get our] shit together in terms of providing shelter for the duration of the conflict. Bugger the niceties or the open the gates compassion overload, what we need is someone "over there" with some negotiating skills. Oh, wait, that might be Julie Bishop.

Sorry peeps - if you are wondering if she is the best we can manage, at least we have something in common.

Monday, September 2, 2013

the vision splendid

A thought has occurred to me, as thoughts do from time to [usually inappropriate] time: No one in the larger parties currently running terror election campaigns has any idea of how they would like Australia to be.
For a very long time I thought the major parties had shared goals for Australia, and that the only difference between them was what they believed was the right way to achieve them. How old must I be before I stop being naïve?

The man who was my boss [until recently when his monetary outgoings began to exceed order incomings and product outgoings] is a positive, intelligent and interesting chappy. He liked to talk about this or that as he drank his first latte of the day and on one particular day his chatter turned to the idea of mission, vision and values statements.
Most organisation's mission, vision and values could, he said, be summed up by the statement they want to be big and successful. All else is meaningless guff. Spin, even.
His own vision is that he can go to work and spend his day doing something he enjoys, surrounding himself with people he enjoys doing things they enjoy doing well. Despite the economic pressures over which he has little control, I feel he has been quite successful at achieving his vision.

A leader, it is said, is someone who can recognise and tap into a commonly shared vision, express it well, and show people by example how to achieve that vision. Let's take a quick peek at Martin Luther King Junior's leadership as an example seeing as how, 50 years after his watershed speech, it is still the most current gold standard example [an indictment  in itself of today's leaders].

"…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character…"

Exactly what is the vision for Australia of our current leaders? I would be hard pressed to answer that question, whether negatively or in positive terms. What I fear is that our current leaders would find it as difficult to answer as I do.

My own dream is that one day I will live in a country where the sins of the parents will not be visited on their children. My dream is that one day I will live in a country, not where there are equal outcomes for all, for that is impractical, but where everyone will, so far as possible, have an equal number of opportunities as everyone else to create opportunities for themselves.
I would like to live in a country where everyone's contribution is measured, not by outcome and not solely in dollar terms, but by how well they make the most of their ability to contribute. My dream is to one day live in a country where those who are the most privileged do not necessarily receive the greatest reward simply because they are privileged.
I would like to live in a country where the majority can feel they have a place in the larger scheme of things, where the majority is not comprised of a hundred minority groups, each alienated from the rest of the population.

It's possible many of us baby boomers, required to memorise great slabs of stuff at school, can rattle off the first verse or two of such stuff as Paterson's Clancy of the Overflow.

Morbid creature that I am, I was smitten by his description of a time and place where work was an end in itself;

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
    Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
   Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
   Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
   Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
  As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
   For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

This whole competition for votes thing seems to have become an end in itself as well, indicating quite strongly just how divided this nation is. Not divided by ideas about the best way to achieve a common vision, but by the very absence of a common, clearly articulated vision at all.