2014 – A Year in Review

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Bizarre, tragic and downright evil are some of the adjectives which come to mind when looking to describe the events which shaped 2014.

Invariably, the most recent events are those which are clearest in our minds – the Sydney siege, the stabbing murders of 8 children in Cairns and the loss of the Air Asia flight.  Unfortunately, the horrors seem to have been almost never-ending.  Two Malaysia Airlines flights lost in very different circumstances, the untimely death of Phillip Hughes and the tragic death of Luke Batty at his father’s hand.

Two other matters were resolved with trial and sentencing of the perpetrators of crimes against Daniel Morcombe and Alison Baden-Clay.

On a different note the G20 roadshow came to town and despite Mr Abbott’s threats, Mr Putin appeared to depart with his shirtfront intact.

Ferries sank, volcanoes erupted, the Ebola virus rampaged through parts of Africa, we became aware of the appalling agenda of Islamic State and the fighting continued in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and Gaza.

It is not exactly a good news story.  I am sure there were some highlights but I am struggling to find them.

Meanwhile, I tried to keep my focus on blogging but there were times when I just felt too overwhelmed by events in the world around me to write about simplifying our life.  There was also a 6 week hiatus while we jetted off to the UK and Ireland for an amazing holiday.  That adventure is documented here.

One of my goals for 2015 is to re-capture the enthusiasm for my simple,organised life and share it with you all on a much more regular basis.

Thank you for sticking with me and may 2015 be all that you wish for.

Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Final Word

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I promise that this will be my final post regarding the G20 meeting in Brisbane.

The G20 is over.  Many of the leaders have already left Brisbane and others are due to follow in the coming hours.  Security fencing and barricades are being dismantled.  Brisbane will return to ‘normal’ tomorrow morning, although, there are indications that there may still be some disruptions to traffic during the morning peak hour.

To all intents and purposes, life in Brisbane will be the same as it was a couple of weeks ago.  From a personal perspective, I will be interested to see whether climate change and Australia’s response to it can be put firmly back on the domestic political agenda.  Mr Abbott was dragged kicking and screaming to accept that climate change discussions should be part of the G20 discussions.

A detailed comment on climate change has apparently also been included in the final communique.

The following details are from a report regarding the discussions.

The final G20 communique includes a significant passage on climate change after “difficult discussions” among leaders on Sunday, and despite an impassioned defence of coal and fossil fuel industry by Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  After much wrangling, the final leaders’ communique includes a recommendation for nations to commit funds to the UN’s Green Climate Fund that Mr Abbott opposes.  According to sources, a clear majority of leaders – including US President, Barack Obama – argued for stronger language in the  communique on climate change, to the apparent chagrin of Mr Abbott.  Mr Abbott gave an impassioned defence of coal and, reportedly, argued against inserting a line in the communique recommending the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, an objective of the G20 for many years.  Coal-fired power stations are the biggest contributor to rising global carbon emissions that are warming the planet.  Mr Obama is understood to have spoken forcefully against Mr Abbott’s position on fossil fuel subsidies. The final communique calls on G20 members to “rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.   Mr Abbott had support from Saudi Arabia and Canada, but countries led by the US and Europe remained steadfast.

As President Obama said in his speech at the University of Queensland, “leaders must be held accountable.  Combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone.  You have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and that is healthier and that is sustainable … That’s not going to happen unless you are heard.”  Let’s get out there and do just that.

004Meanwhile, life goes on here as usual.  Our main focus this weekend was keeping the garden watered during the extreme heat.  Most plants seem to have survived fairly well.  The hot wind has battered some of the small hedging plants at the front so The Duke has re-staked them.  I took these photos yesterday afternoon.  They are not of the vegetable gardens but are simply some snippets of the views we see each and every day.  I hope you enjoy them.

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G20 – Day 1

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

My embarrassment is complete.

As the host nation of the G20, Australia had an opportunity to be innovative and forward-thinking.  The Prime Minister of this country chose to use this once in a generation opportunity to address the major world leaders as a chance to trumpet his ‘successes’ in government.

The headline item was the abolition of the carbon tax.  While this measure was certainly not ideal it was at least an acknowledgement of action on climate change and a step in the right direction.  He then continued with his feet planted firmly in his mouth to ‘thank God’ that he had managed to stop the boats.  This was in front of the Indonesian President who is less than happy with Australia’s approach to the refugee situation, not to mention the leaders of Germany, France and Canada who have all had 5 – 20 times as many asylum seekers arrive in their countries over the past 5 years as what Australia has had.

The final indignity was then to have a whinge about the fact that he was having trouble passing the budget measures to limit a tertiary education to those who can afford to pay and the proposed $7 GP co-payment.

Last week China and the USA signed an historic agreement to work together on addressing the effects of climate change.

Today, President Obama addressed 2,ooo people at the University of Queensland with a wide-ranging speech which included an impassioned plea to “look squarely at the science…and reach a strong global agreement next year” and United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon told the international media that, “Climate change is the defining issue of our times, therefore it is only natural that the G20 leaders should focus on this.”

Yet Mr Abbott believes that climate change should not be a part of the G20 discussions.  His performance has been cringeworthy and it is difficult to imagine that any of the other countries present at the G20 could ever take Australia seriously.  Mr Abbott, you have made us an absolute laughing-stock.

G20 – What in the World?

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

Whether we like it or not the G20 has arrived in Brisbane, the capital city of my home state, Queensland.  Today is a declared public holiday for all who work in the Brisbane City Council area.  I am included in that number.  Even when I was in the city on Monday and Tuesday, there were barricades everywhere and the footpaths were literally swarming with police.

Powerful and influential leaders from nations across the world are descending as I write and the spotlight of the world media will be on Brisbane over the next 3 days.  The total influx of people is in excess of 7,000.  This includes support and security staff for the world leaders as well as a huge contingent of journalists and other other media staff.

So what is the G20?  This link gives a brief, unbiased overview.  In reality, Mr Putin is arriving with a flotilla of Russian warships steaming towards Australian waters, the USA and Chinese delegations fly in with the ink barely dry on an agreement to work together on greenhouse gas emissions and David Cameron has come to hang out with his ‘new best friend’.

david cameronWho knows what the weekend will bring.  The one thing that we will all endure is hot weather.  It does not matter whether you are a young child whose home is here or one of the most powerful leaders in the world – it will be hot – probably hotter on Saturday and Sunday than any previous November day on record in our city.  This is not a one-off.  It is indicative of our changing climate.  Already, most of the temperature records are from the past 10 years, despite the fact that records have been kept for well in excess of 100 years in this country.

Mr Abbott does not think that the G20 is the right forum for discussions about climate change.  That’s right, just continue to bury your head in the sand.  We all know that you do not believe in the science of climate change.  You have told us so, yourself.

ProtestI will not be protesting this weekend but I am sure that there will be others who do.  They will have all sorts of items on their agendas that they want to put in front of this group of powerful and influential leaders.

My weekend will be spent making sure that my garden is kept well-watered and protected from the searing sun and heat as I do my best to ensure the survival of the food crops that I am growing to feed my family.  I will also be thinking of those farmers who struggle to make a livelihood while doing battle with the increasingly extreme weather conditions.  They do this in order to provide food to you and I.  The advertisement below, was one which was banned by the Brisbane Airport Corporation as being “too political” for display during the G20.  It features a South Australian grape producer, David Bruer.  You can read more here.

billboardWhile grapes and the end product, wine, may not be essential to our survival, agriculture in the broader sense is most definitely necessary.

Remember, Mr Abbott – without a planet there will be NO economy.  Addressing the issues of climate change should be front and centre of any global economic forum.

I was looking for a final quote for this post and amazingly I found this.  Need I say more?

G20 summit: Australian PM Tony Abbott tries to block climate talks – and risks his country becoming an international laughing stock

Mr Abbott believes the Brisbane conference is the wrong forum for discussions on the environment.

As host of the G20 summit of world leaders in Brisbane this weekend, Australia had been looking forward to its moment in the sun. However, Tony Abbott’s government risks becoming an international laughing stock, thanks to its attempts to block discussion of climate change.

This week’s landmark agreement between the US and China to reduce carbon emissions has increased pressure on Australia – the only developed country to have gone backwards in fighting climate change – to put the issue on the summit’s agenda.

However, Mr Abbott – who has scrapped a carbon tax and is trying to reduce renewable energy targets – insisted that the G20 was the wrong forum. “This is the world’s premier economic conference, and I… expect the focus will be on economic reform, economic growth, how we drive growth and jobs,” he said.

The agreement by the world’s two biggest polluters, on Wednesday at the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing, reportedly took Australia by surprise. Veteran political commentator Michelle Grattan said the government had been “ambushed almost on the eve” of the long-anticipated Brisbane conference.

Under the deal, the US has pledged to slash its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2025, while China has said its emissions will peak by 2030, at the latest, and then decrease.

Next to those goals, Australia’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of their 2000 levels by 2020 looks inconsequential. Few believe the government will meet even that modest target.

One of the world’s biggest per capita polluters, thanks to its reliance on fossil fuels, Australia is also the world’s largest coal exporter. Mr Abbott – who once dismissed climate change science as “absolute crap” – horrified scientists and environmentalists last month when he described coal as “good for humanity” while opening a new mine in Queensland.

The government has reportedly been fending off last-minute attempts by the US, France and other European nations to have climate change discussed by G20 leaders.

The meeting is seen by many as an important opportunity to build momentum before next year’s Paris conference on climate change, where it is hoped a new global pact will be hammered out.

Australia’s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, warned that if Mr Abbott persisted in his refusal to allow climate change to be discussed in Brisbane, “he will embarrass Australia in front of the rest of the world”. Mr Shorten accused the Prime Minister of holding “flat Earth” views.

Other critics dismissed Mr Abbott’s claim that the G20 was not an appropriate forum. Ms Grattan, a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra, noted that the joint communique issued by the US President, Barack Obama, and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, referred to climate change “already harming economies around the world”.

With the European Union agreeing last month to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2030, Australia is looking increasingly out of step with the developed world.