Bunker bulldust day 16

Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, 1987 © P J Croft 2020

This virus pandemic has certainly taken hold, hasn’t it? I never thought it would be this bad, this anxiety producing, this transformative. I’m hardly affected, as I’ve said, so I’m not complaining. I’m still fine, no symptoms, no problems.

Except that my Silver Chain cleaning lady has just been and gone and I really enjoyed having her company, however brief it was (90 mins). She’s smart, intelligent, great to talk to, empathetic and has training as a counsellor. I’m not sure what counselling she does, but it doesn’t matter, she knows how to listen and let the client talk. In turn, I ask her about her family and how she’s getting on and let her talk. She has two kids, a girl and a boy, and the boy is autistic, but not enough to be a huge problem. He doesn’t like change, of course, and home schooling has thrown him a bit, but he seems to have understood now and has responded well. She said he’s interested in science and technology and, being obsessive, he’s grasped quite a lot for a 12 year old, so much that he challenges them with quizzes on science topics.

Her husband worked at the casino but now that’s closed he’s lost his job, so they depend on her income from the cleaning job. That would be a bit precarious.

My situation is an absolute breeze by comparison, so I am definitely not complaining.

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She told me a joke while she was here. It’s a visual joke but anyway: a seagull is sitting on a bench. There’s a roll of toilet paper there and a sign propped on it, “Will exchange for chips.”

My mate Mick also sent me a joke this morning: his cleaning lady has phoned to say that she’s forced to work from home, so she’ll email him a list of things each week for him to do.

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The Great Australian Bight, 1978 © P J Croft 2020
Makes you realise how flat Australia is, eh?
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I have a myriad of small jobs I should do around the house and on the Nextdoor website there’s this post:

“I am a kid looking to make some money. Does anyone have any jobs that I can do?”

I’m in two minds – I would like these small jobs done but I don’t want to pay a low rate to a kid when there’s an older guy who needs the money more. Anyway, what do I pay a “kid”? I do know that the older guy (he’s 73, same as me!) charges $25/hr. I guess I’ll just do what I usually do, sit and think about it and do nothing.

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Wow, I’m starting to think the word “draconian” regarding the measures put in place here. Sure, we’re told not to go out unless necessary but I didn’t think it was prohibited. Yet today the police said they are using number plate recognition software and cameras to detect cars that are out of their home areas. I assume this means a long way from home, but coupled with being asked to “show your papers” if stopped by the police and army at roadblocks, this reminds me of East Germany and spy movies. Papers? What papers? I don’t have anything to show.

Now, the WA borders have been closed, stopping anyone entering the state, even West Aussies if you’re out of the state on Sunday night. Unless you’ve got a compassionate reason, you can’t come back. Shit!

Our esteemed PM tells us this will go on for at least six months. I foresee unrest. I foresee that people will start to buck against some of this. I hope I’m wrong.

I also heard something I never thought I’d hear today. Christian Porter, the Minister for Industrial Relations and an avowed foe of unions, stood there and said he was very pleased with the cooperation he’d had from Sally McManus and Greg Combet on behalf of the unions, and the members of the Fair Work Commission, in making temporary changes to awards during this crisis. He said he found them reasonable and easy to deal with. Porter, you arsehole, don’t you understand, we have always been reasonable and easy to deal with!! All it takes is for you to be reasonable too.

Don’t forget that this is the guy who is trying to push through new laws that would make very simple errors by the unions, like not attending an appointment or meeting, punishable by deregistration of the union! This is what I mean by hard right wing! Hard!

When I was a union delegate in 1995/96 and trying to negotiate a change to the TV Award classification system, all we got across the negotiating table was negativity and hard line stonewalling from the employers. This is the very thing employers accuse unions of, obstruction and dirty dealing. Yet when we attempted to be reasonable and easy to get along with, and put up a solid, well thought out and worked out proposal, all we got from the employers was hard line obstruction. It turned me into a hard line unionist, I can tell you. I wasn’t before. I learnt that the only thing employers understand is muscle, strike action. I coined the phrase “Meekness is seen as weakness.” Luckily I never had to do anything.

What a bloody change. Yet I know for sure that Porter won’t change. As soon as this is over, he’ll go back to being the bastard hard line right wing prick that he is. I spit on him.