Australia’s Road Toll & What Politicians Could do to Save Lives!

As Australia’s summer holiday season draws to a close, we again conduct our synopsis into the horror ‘road toll’ that occurred over the break. Unfortunately, high road fatalities have become an expected and accepted part of our Christmas and New Year’s holidays. There is no doubt that witnessing the carnage is sickening, deeply distressing and plainly sad, as ill-equipped and unbeknownst drivers, many (70% of the population) from our capital cities, hit the highways for their holidays, largely unaware or incapable of adapting to the many perils associated with driving on country roads.

The annual response from the politicians is (as usual) re-active, as they postulate and howl nebulous ideas in typical knee-jerk fashion. Void of sincerity they predictably demand better roads, better vehicle technology and better education.  Lost on the tabloid media reporting this political rhetoric is that it’s actually only the politicians who have the power to enact meaningful change in these areas. Continuous education, improved roads and vehicle technology may have actually worked well over past decades, but it’s now time to reassess the current ‘cause and effect’ and implement new changes, rather than chant the same old mantras.

The historical statistics support how effective past initiatives have been in reducing the road toll and sometimes we need to look at where we have been in order to see where we are going. We tend to forget how much ‘things’ have improved, how far we have come and what has been achieved over many decades. In the years since I first got behind the wheel in 1970, Australia’s population was a mere 12.51 million. By 2015 it increased significantly by over 90% to 23.79 million, however, the numbers of road deaths over the same 45 year period declined by 68%.

In 1970 there were 3,798 road fatalities in Australia with the annual count trending progressively down to 1,209 by 2015. The statisticians explain ‘Road Fatalities’ as a measure of ‘losses per 100,000 per year’ which was 30.36 individuals in 1970 reducing to 5.08 in 2015, a decline of 83%. If you overlay 1970s statistics with the present day, the annual road toll would be in excess of 7,300 fatalities, an indication of how effective the safety initiatives have been. This is an extraordinary result.

As positive (and grim) as these statistics can be, we can no longer just rely on doing what we did yesterday. Our society and behaviours are continually changing at a rapid pace and if we are to address the new causes of road fatalities, then politicians need to respond and shift the policy direction accordingly. There is so much that can be done to further contain the deaths on our roads, if only politicians got fair-dinkum and tried a more innovative approach, rather than ‘babbling on’ about the same old initiatives that have been in place for years.

The latest and trending cause of fatalities relates to the increased number of individuals now driving unlicensed and or under the influence of drugs, with police detecting nearly as many ice, ecstasy and cannabis drivers (but not cocaine) as those caught drink driving. Drivers on Australian roads are able to get behind the wheel ‘off their heads’ on certain drugs because of a legal loophole that excludes testing for a number of drugs including cocaine.

With Sydney officially the nation’s cocaine capital why are politicians dragging their feet? Why not change the law as necessary and start testing drivers for cocaine, the drug of choice that fuels the benders for glitzy celebrities, the high-class and the top-end of town, the drug with no safe level of use?

It’s time for politicians to act. For example, why are we so busy advocating for driverless cars but choose not to explore technologies that would prevent unlicensed drivers from getting behind the wheel? The technology already exists to immobilize a vehicle without a valid ‘chipped’ drivers licence integrated into the vehicles connectivity systems. A recent government report revealed that 11% of all fatal crashes involved unlicensed drivers, who were considered responsible for the crash in 85% of cases.

The bottom line is that there are preventative measures that can be implemented to further reduce the road toll, but it requires politicians to be bold, to embrace change and not be politically paralysed by simply suggesting further reductions in speed limits!

The large majority of drunk and drugged drivers are unlicensed. We need to implement stricter random testing for all illicit drugs and promote the use of technology that takes control of a motor vehicle away from unlicensed drivers.

Perhaps then we can continue to reduce the unnecessary loss of life on our roads.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein

22 January 2018.

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Australia For Sale

In the midst of Australia’s worsening Energy Crisis and the debate around extending the life of old ‘dirty coal’ Power Stations, many Australians are asking: why does Japan pay less for Australian LNG (gas) than Australians do?

You would think that this ridiculous situation would be ringing alarm bells in Australia but not so, as Australians don’t tend to be too concerned or worried about the sustainability of their country’s long-term natural assets and resources. Meanwhile, our Asian neighbours are taking full advantage of our complacency. They act to secure their own nations’ future by implementing inter-generational food security plans, by purchasing productive farmland courtesy of Australian’s ignorance and stupidity.

Take China for example: they have a population of approx. 1.4 billion people with an increasing demand for a nutritious, secure, clean, and sustainable food supply. They could purchase agricultural produce from Australia, but soon won’t need to, because Australia is selling their prime farmland instead.

I’m not against balanced foreign investment, clearly it’s a necessity, however, I do question the wisdom of allowing one country to increase its stake in Australia’s agricultural land ‘tenfold’ in the short space of 12 months, with China now owning 25% of Australia according to the SMH/Australian Tax Office’s Agricultural Land Register.

What happens if this trend continues? Should Government act immediately to control Australia’s sovereignty?

This shift in the ownership of agricultural land in Australia is of critical concern as it means that a proportional amount of local agricultural produce may no longer be available for supply and consumption in domestic markets. The new owners are not interested in making commercial profits in Australia, nor do they intend to trade produce on local markets. They are only interested in producing, processing and transporting the finished product directly into China to meet their growing consumption needs.

Not only are we losing ownership of the land, but also the food it produces. It is also an effective loss of future export revenue for Australia which has been surrendered for short-term capital gain on assets we now have no chance of ever owning. We have been continually warned of the consequences of accepting excessive Chinese investments by the likes of world-leading economist Professor Niall Ferguson yet we choose to blissfully ignore the bleeding obvious.

At the current rate of change, Australian agricultural produce will be unavailable to Australians in much the same way as Australian LNG is restricted or in limited supply for the domestic market, because Australians have sold off control of their own natural resources.

Can you imagine not being able to buy an Australian Prime Steak in Australia unless you can afford to import it from China? If Australia keeps ‘giving away the farm’, we’ll end up with massive food inflation or more likely, Australians just won’t be able to buy food produced in Australia.

It will be a sorry reminder for those old enough to remember the restrictions imposed on Australians under the old British-Australian Meat Agreement when you couldn’t source or afford to buy locally produced meat: only this time the arrangement will be permanent.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King Jr.

17 October 2017

Trump Card Played in Leadership Vacuum – A Symptom of Political Apathy & Why It’s on You!

Whether it’s the political, corporate or commercial landscape, I cannot remember a time when there was such a void of inspirational, dependable and quality leaders; leaders worthy of our respect, who are motivated to act for the benefit of all citizens and stakeholders.

Today our leaders seem totally disconnected from those they represent. They lack foresight or innovative thinking, they linger in the superficial, pander to hysterical minorities, blindly obey dubious orders and are bereft of humanity. They just seem to do a very ordinary job, feed their egos, take the bucks and do a runner. Where are the great visionaries, communicators, those with a strategic plan beyond their tenure, those who have the sound judgement to care about the future, who can implement and be accountable?

Our leadership has lost the wider community’s esteem and confidence. Is this just a reflection on social evolution, where we are fully connected in a virtual world but totally unengaged in the real spaces we live in? So what has caused this degeneration that has spawned the greatest leadership vacuum of our times?

I believe we need to better understanding what it is that we have done to discourage good candidates from standing for office and why we don’t elect them when they do. But first, we should closely examine the behaviour of our leaders and see if that provides an insight into why ‘we the people’ put them in power.

There are certain orthodox behavioural qualities that our leaders appear to exalt; a similar heartless air of superiority while oozing a miasma of decaying authoritarianism. They are all so similar right down to the same tailors, same stylists, all talking the same indecipherable gobbledygook, promoting the same mistakes while adopting the same bad habits.

They are all students of related institutions like the Harvard Business School, society’s brain trust, the analytical and strategic warlords of the free-market capitalist economies of the world. Minds ‘lost in blind logic’ peddling on the road to nowhere in a fragile global economy, which is essentially a pyramid scheme where viability depends upon the world population doubling every 30 years.

This is the leadership that keeps doing what they did yesterday and we wonder why nothing changes. They continue to govern with no imagination, no vision beyond their current term, standing for nothing, scared of being bold, no empathy, emotion, or wisdom, excelling only in personal postulation. They are just conscience minds living unconscious lives! Management completely indoctrinated in the ‘smile as you kill’ culture of fear, anxiety, intimidation and loathing, their creative skills muted, in a society where we suffer profoundly due to the prolonged under-representation of the feminine influence and sensibilities in leadership roles.

We cannot afford to continue to have sleepwalkers marching in time with the corporate music, blindly obeying callous orders without question or care for the harsh personal consequences of their insipid actions. Look where it has got us, living in denial, existing in a state of amnesia, disengaged, disinterested and dislocated! People are turning off, tuning out and dropping off; the reverse of the Human Be-In sixties counter-culture’s catch phrase.

Meanwhile, the leadership continues to be rewarded for failure, mediocrity and bad results. These executives are the beneficiaries of the global pyramid scheme, receiving usurious remunerations from the ‘wall of borrowed money’; the billions of dollars pouring into Western economies which has the effect of artificially inflating the value of financial markets while masking management’s commercial failings and incompetence.

So what can be done to improve the standard and quality of our leadership? It is ultimately up to us provided we are prepared to engage in the process and make sustainable choices.

It is interesting that in Western societies we champion democracy; in fact we enthusiastically and sometimes forcibly promote it along with the associated benefits of good Corporate Governance and free markets. Yet, we barely exercise our rights to participate in the democratic process and when we do, it’s begrudgingly. It’s no secret that potential leaders take full advantage of our illogical political apathy!

Look closely at who we vote for. We vote for or appoint individuals who promise more than the other candidates. The highest bidders appeal to what we want not what we need. We vote for ‘what’s in it for me’ and don’t care that we will spend our children’s future today and leave them a debt legacy tomorrow. These populists know our human weaknesses and failings, as they make grandiose promises to appeal to our greed and self-indulgence. They are not leaders, they just have despotic ambitions with the characteristics of contemptible parasites, yet we empower them because of our apathy, inaction and selective ignorance while wondering why it feeds our discontent.

The reason we don’t vote for real leaders is that only real leaders promise what we can afford, what is sustainable, what is achievable, what is deliverable, what is responsible, and what is fair and equitable. What chance do we have when greed, complacency, recklessness and foolishness plagues the constituency? It will lead to the eventual failing of the democratic system if we are not prepared to participate in the process and support leaders who advocate for responsible and sustainable policies.

The alternative, ultimately, is to witness democracy have its ‘wall come down’ and that will be very untidy (catastrophic) for everyone with anything to lose!

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

18 August 2017