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Feb 19, 2010

Peter Garrett and the perpetual present of politics

Peter Garrett either should or shouldn't have attended a meeting this week, and should or should roll out solar panels fast, and is or isn't guilty of industrial manslaughter. Welcome to political journalism.


Here’s some examples of our political journalism mired in a sort of “perpetual present” in which what happened two days ago, let alone two years ago, is forgotten.

And how once journalists get the smell of ministerial blood in their nostrils, the old higher brain functions start switching off and the pack instinct kicks in.

When Tony Abbott suggested last week that Peter Garrett could be charged with industrial manslaughter in NSW over one of the four deaths related to insulation installation, he should have been laughed out of town.  Coming from a former health minister — how many people died from medical errors in Commonwealth-funded care then, Tony? — it was particularly absurd.

Instead, it was taken seriously, with journalists breathlessly consulting IR lawyers.  The fact that Abbott was talking complete rubbish went missing from the follow-up. Imre Salusinszky — and I like me some Imre, and wish News Ltd would give him more to do than cover the Macquarie St circus — explored the issue in depth, with first port of call “OHS expert Ken Phillips”, who opined “Mr Garrett could be one of many considered within the responsibility loop for the insulation deaths”.

That would actually be Ken Phillips, head of the Independent Contractors Association, fierce critic of Labor, supporter of extreme IR deregulation and long-term opponent of the NSW workplace death laws.  How Phillips would have loved to suggest a Labor minister would be in the dock because of them.

When Salusinszky asked an “OH&S expert” without a partisan barrow to push, top IR lawyer Malcolm Davis, he got completely the opposite story: it was “very difficult to see how Mr Garrett or his department had control over a workplace”.

At least Salusinszky did some basic checking.  That was absent from much of the media coverage yesterday of the solar panels audit, which Crikey’s Jason Whittaker skewered.

What was an audit sought by Garrett’s department, covering panels installed under funding provided under the coalition (which ramped up solar panel funding under Malcolm Turnbull) and Labor, which found a 3% mis-installation rate against, literally, world best practice standards, suddenly became in the hands of the ABC’s AM program a new problem for the “embattled environment minister” around “concerns about the potential for house fires because of badly installed solar panels”.

The Clean Energy Council, which did the audit, was deeply unhappy about the story being politicised.

As late as this morning, the ABC website was running the story, which was apparently “adding to Mr Garrett’s woes” because of “new concerns over subsidised solar power panels installed on tens of thousands of roofs”.

That the facts didn’t fit with the Garrett-is-a-bungler narrative that has now taken hold in the media apparently didn’t worry the ABC.  Or, for that matter, Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt, who used the story to call on Garrett again to resign.

But when Hunt was pinned down by a journalist who knew the program that had been audited covered installations funded by the coalition, it was a different story.  Hunt began a convoluted dance, saying that “the message is clear” and that CEC audit should not be ignored and Garrett should be “cautious”.  “We’ve been very cautious on solar panels,” Hunt said.

Oddly, this is the Greg Hunt who throughout 2008 opportunistically joined the Greens in bagging Garrett for not rolling the solar panels program out quickly enough, after Garrett introduced a means test on the solar panel rebate to slow the remarkable demand for the program.  In June 2008, Hunt went skydiving — anyone remember that? — to demonstrate that the solar industry was in “freefall — but unlike me it doesn’t have a soft landing ahead of it”.

So much for “cautious”.  People with memories longer than five minutes might remember that, and point out the glaring inconsistency.

In fact, the most noteworthy aspect of the solar panel program started by Turnbull and accelerated by Garrett is how hugely successful it has been at getting solar panels on Australian roofs, leaving a legacy that will last far beyond Turnbull, Garret or even Hunt’s time in politics.

Garrett also copped it yesterday for cancelling a biodiversity speech to attend meetings with his department.

“I understand that he’s cancelled his engagements today. I hope it’s not just that he’s running from the media,” Abbott piously intoned.

That’s a bare three days since Abbott was outraged that Garrett had skipped a meeting and done his media engagements on — wait for it —  biodiversity.  “For Mr Garrett to be off in some national park when people’s home could be lethal thanks to his policy I think indicates that he has completely lost touch with the values of ordinary Australians,” Abbott said on Monday.

Rather than being called for his inconsistency, Abbott’s comments were dutifully reported by the press, entirely free of reference to his comments earlier in the week.

The Monday meeting was a departmental meeting with electrical worker representatives on the insulation program.  The idea that Garrett “skipped” the meeting was a complete fiction fabricated by the right-wing media.

The meeting Garrett “skipped” was one involving mid-level bureaucrats to discuss technical issues relating to the insulation program.  The presence of Garrett would have been entirely pointless, unless he picked up a working knowledge of cabling from all those years of touring.  For that matter, from my experience, having ministers in the room for such meetings is downright counterproductive, because industry representatives and bureaucrats are less frank than they would otherwise be.

You’d think press gallery journalists would have a clue about how bureaucracies in Canberra work, but no.

And you’d think journalists could at least consult their transcripts about what politicians said three days before, even if remembering back to 2008 is a little more tricky.

Apparently not.  Certainly not if it helps in the pursuit of a damaged minister.

Late breaking: Garrett is set to announce an end to the insulation scheme at a presser at 1.45pm today. Check back to The Stump for Bernard Keane’s analysis.


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90 thoughts on “Peter Garrett and the perpetual present of politics

  1. Most Peculiar Mama

    The insulation scam is GONE.

    Not the act of an innocent man.

    Garrett is guilty of chronic mismanagement and political opportunism.

    His timeis up.

  2. David Sanderson

    The troll strikes early but dreary and predictable.

  3. earnest scribbler

    Sock it to ‘um, mama!

  4. Eponymous

    I thought it was a good idea, possibly (I’m still not convinced) poorly executed.

    As stated, the legacy of having so many more homes insulated and so much more generating capacity will be noticed well beyond the current political timeframe. This long term thinking is worth supporting.

    Would have been a lot better if there hadn’t been any fatalities, but the same can be said of any work place.

    I’ve seen a few commenters bad mouth not just the program, but actual insulation as well. Barnyard Joyce even had a stab. Anyone questioning the value of insulating houses in Australia is so badly informed they’d be better off not talking at all.

  5. Eponymous

    Note too Mama the scheme is not ‘gone’. Starts again on June 1 with different criteria.

  6. abarker

    …Right, and I spose the GFC is Wayne Swan’s fault?

  7. SBH

    It utterly beggars belief that after 1000 words laying out the inconsistent, lazy ham-fisted approach that so many journos take these days the first comment is from numb nuts saying ‘told ya that Garrett was no good’

  8. rowan wilde

    Really Bernard? C’mon, you’re a reasonable guy, You can’t tell me the media has exactly been rigorous in checking everything the Rudd government has said over the last few years. And the media was grabbing every jugular it could during the liberals few years after the election loss re: leadership battles. Didn’t see you howling about that.

    So the media smells a contest in the air, big deal. Maybe there’s something to it all too.

    Along the lines of your article and using the same measure why hasn’t the media gone harder on the Rudd Govt’s commitment to a $43 billion NBN, close to ten times what was originally projected (see Peter Costello’s piece in The Age ‘The Streets of Conroy are paved with gold), without a business plan? Where is the business analysis, why hasn’t the media asked what else could be bought or topped up with $43 billion (if it even has to be that number at all).

  9. jenauthor

    Ahh, MPM, another well-thought-out series of Abbottisms.

    What’s an Abbottism you ask? That’s easy: short unfounded statement characterised by ill-informed falsehood or exaggeration.

  10. raymondchurch

    You fukwit mpm, in your condition you should be put down…I return from vacation to find you STILL trolling your way through blogs…you have no shame troll.

  11. Most Peculiar Mama


    “…Anyone questioning the value of insulating houses in Australia is so badly informed they’d be better off not talking at all…”

    The houses were already insulated Evan. I thought you knew that.

    “… Starts again on June 1 with different criteria…”

    It’s a different scheme Evan. Nothing resembling this spectacular failure by Garrett, Rudd et al.

    “…You fukwit mpm…”

    And I see – despite your sabbatical – you still struggle to express yourself like an adult.

    Kiss your mother with that mouth?

  12. David Sanderson

    While I recognise my own culpability responding to a troll only feeds their need for attention. This thread has been completely blown off-course by MPM and the responses she has garnered.

    Time to stop giving this person any more oxygen.

  13. Eponymous

    MPM: ‘The houses were already insulated Evan. I thought you knew that.”

    Which houses were already insulated? Who the fuck is Evan? What are you talking about?

    The insulation went into houses where ‘existing insulation is either non-existent or ineffective’. Ineffective insulation means it is not insulated. Or do roof tiles and Gyprock count as insulation?

  14. Tom McLoughlin

    It’s not fair but it is karma. I susbcribe to the Greens media list to get their vibe and I don’t see anything in the blizzard of releases interceding on PG’s behalf. Which sort of reminds me of Ros Kelly and her white board …. Err sorry, there’s that gratuitous thing happening again.

    The even broader narrative which took hold and stabilised as axiomatic was that PG is being pimped for the ALP on a raft of policy isssues from the Tas pulp mill, to U mines. Every politician needs moral footings of some kind and you might think white ants have already been and gone in some of PG’s. Sooo … as the Chinese say everyone likes to push a falling wall.

    But I will say one thing for PG – I saw and absorbed footage on Insiders of his grim composed expression waiting his turn at Fran’s microphone Radio National and graciously passing the jacket coat to one Tony Abbott (who had just gone for PG’s jugular) and who didn’t have the poise to remember it on the back of the chair as he left. “You’ll need this” quietly. It was one of the most poignant and disciplined moments I think I’ve seen in big politics unscripted. Almost saintly lack of bitterness.

    The Australia next day front page ran a photo of same as ‘PG “confronts” Abbott’ – a poisonous dishonest slant on a moment in Australian politics. And journalists wonder why the public sometimes loathe them.

  15. John Ryan

    your a gutless troll MPM if your so brave and forthright use your own name coward

  16. Don Dillon

    Concerning the tragic loss of life due to electrocutions in roof spaces, I have not heard mention so far of electrical safety switches and the important role they play in protecting people from dangerous situations involving faulty electrical wiring and appliances. I understand that these switches (known as residual current devices or RCDs) are now compulsory in all new electrical installations and in existing domestic switchboards being rewired.

    When the electrical wiring in a building is protected by a safety switch it seems unlikely that electrocution can occur. These switches rapidly disconnect the power mains connection upon detection of a minute leakage current. It seems to me that if it was prerequisite to the installation of insulation, foil type or otherwise, that the building be fitted with an electrical safety switch then the installers should at least be protected from risk of electrocution no matter how incompetent they might be.

    Something for the beleaguered Peter Garrett to consider?

  17. raymondchurch

    Well said Tom.

  18. Eponymous

    Don, the switches have been mentioned in a few places. Not by many people mind you. I can’t properly recall the details but I’m pretty confident they’re compulsary in new dwellings?

  19. earnest scribbler

    MPM, the troll you love to hate!

    Tom (2:26pm), I too was most impressed with Garrett’s composure in the Radio National dungeon. I’m not a fan of Garrett, but I’ll score-him-high for that one.

  20. raymondchurch

    Checking with WA public Housing, RCD’s have been compulsory in new dwellings since 1992. Of course that doesn’t mean it is always carried out and a strict regime of checking is required.

  21. Kit

    Mr Keane, you are fast becoming the most astute, balanced, analytical and meaningfulpolitical reporter in Austrlalia. Thank God you exist.

  22. Venise Alstergren

    I know the track record of Oz politicians who change sides is bleak-yeah Menzies started up a new party from the ashes of an old one-but amongst all the heaving passions of the past week or so could possibly be settled by the following scenario.

    Our Kevin is losing his grip. If his body leans over any further in an attempt to be relaxed whilst answering questions he will become a sort of back-to-front question mark. He is trying to be all things to all people. And everyone knows what happens then.

    Julia Gillard would be a miles better leader of the ALP, but the Oz machismo fairytale-can you imagine beer-gutted Oz males in pubs admitting they would vote for a woman? They’d be laughed to shame and called some of the names that our epitome of elegance, Eddie McGuire, calls the ice-skaters at the Vancouver Olympics. This ‘mine’s bigger than youse’ would prevent many people from wanting her in this position.

    What if Malcolm Turnbull was to change parties? Personally I’d prefer the Gillard option. Just a suggestion.

  23. Judith James

    I had solar water heating installed over a year ago, and the plumbing side of the installation was a disaster. It had to be completely reinstalled (which reminds me there is a small leak I still need to get fixed).

    Many people in the trades do not keep up with changing products and technology. The blame should be laid at the door of organisations managing the training, safety & quality codes and dishing out the licences.

    I cannot see how Peter Garrett can be held at fault for shoddy workmanship, though perhaps the scheme could have been eased in more slowly to smooth out demand.

  24. my say

    of course not.
    there is a piece on the net i saw last week dated 2005 re abbott and his thoughts
    on industrial safety think it is worth a read, i am sure the crickey journalists would have no trouble finding it.

    Venise Alstergren
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
    I know the track record of Oz politicians who change sides is bleak-yeah Menzies started up a new party from the ashes of an old one-but amongst all the heaving passions of the past week or so could possibly be settled by the following scenario.

    Our Kevin is losing his grip. If his body leans over any further in an attempt to be relaxed whilst answering questions he will become a sort of back-to-front question mark. He is trying to be all things to all people. And everyone knows what happens then.

    I DONT KNOW WHOS SIDE YOUR ON. but what else would expect him to do
    I like Julia but the people are not ready for a female p.m. and i doubt she want to be.

    Mr. Rudd is just letting abbott have enough rope,. Of course we saw that today
    when all he can talk about is sex and how he misses it. O my god if my husband talked like that my bags would be packed.
    Mr. Rudd is a statesman and a great p.m. with class
    You cannot be happy and jolly and etc when pm i am so sick of people saying he is not himself. are they harking back to the time on 7 when he was opposition leader and before that a humble back bench.
    He is a trained diplomate thats the way he works. Thinks things through long and hard and is
    probably slow at making decisions. And he cannot be in all places at once and neither can MR. Garrett.

  25. jenauthor

    Anybody who watched the community cabinet meeting last night would not say that Kevin is losing his grip. It is remarkable to me how he wraps his head around so many topics. Whatever was thrown at him, and some things came from left field, he fended or gave an overview to, before referring the question to individual ministers.

    I certainly wish I was that versatile under pressure.

  26. JamesK

    I see the real trolls or in Pogue terms scumbags, maggots n’cheap lousy faggots respond inappropriately to MPM who merely notes that Garrett/Rudd’s scheme is gone and that the change is of itself an admission of Garrett’s failure.

    What is so “fuckwit”-ish about that RaymondingbatChurch?

  27. SonofMogh

    I thought this thread was about lazy, can’t remember what they said yesterday, jurno’s.

  28. JBG

    Raymond Church, you are a sad delusional little man. I am a neutral observer of this site and never once have I seen you contribute something worhtwhile. The irony, of course, is that due to your own stupidity and ignorance you have never once been able to counter MPM’s arguments – hence your absurd reliance on character assasination.
    I can understand that seeing your little luvvie Kevin staring down the barrell of being a one-term PM might be distressing to you, but please don’t take out your frustration on people wishing to make a meangingful contribution to the debate.

  29. SBH

    Hooray!! The love child of Pualine Hanson and Sam Wilberforce has a defender!

  30. Frank Campbell

    “While I recognise my own culpability responding to a troll only feeds their need for attention. This thread has been completely blown off-course by MPM and the responses she has garnered.

    Time to stop giving this person any more oxygen.”

    Hilarious. If I’d had a hamburger for each time I’ve seen this post, I’d be as bloated as Elvis Presley.

  31. Frank Campbell

    Be honest Crikerions, you’d be gutted if MPM was electrocuted in his roof….

    (but, nudgenudge, I think the truth is that MPM is the Crikey Team’s invention to keep you all hyperventilating…)

  32. Frank Campbell

    But Bernard, Garrett-IS-a-bungler. Sure, the media jackals are vile (present company excluded, naturally and insincerely), and we all know what Abbott is, but it is Garrett’s disaster. No hyperbole needed. A kindly decent man no doubt, but he has to go. Read Mick Young’s Manual of Ministerial Responsibility again…it’s next to the tatty teddy bear….

  33. David

    JBG had you been around on these blogs more than a couple of weeks yuou will have noticed many contributions by RaymondC that are pertinent and on topic. As he has been away for some time your comment is absurd but of course as a male version of mpm, one expects no more, To save RC saying it..”Up Yours” mate. If you dont like it beat it.

  34. SBH

    Frank, Mick Young’s demise was the greatest loss for the smallest transgression that I can think of.

    That aside, what I think Keane’s point is is that Journos seem to do little investigation, less thinking and just regurgiate crap. The ABC is far from immune and routinely passes off political regure as if it were fact.

    The lack of critical thinking displayed by journos is really shocking. I remember one in the aftermath of Children overboard (makes the whole foilgate thing look ludicrously unimportant) saying but we read it in a ministers press release. Surely we can rely on a press release. or words to that effect.

  35. SBH

    -‘regure’ +’regurge’

  36. Liz45

    As to the installation of those safety circut breakers. I heard an electrician state, that older(old?) homes don’t have the adequate wiring to be able to install them. It apparently costs heaps to have your whole wiring re done these days.

    Perhaps the new system will learn by the old one and ensure that;

    all workers to be educated in OH&S criteria, including the need to rehydrate during hot weather.(temps inside roof cavities and on dark tiled roofs would be many degrees hotter than outside temps – it doesn’t take long to dehydrate under those circumstances?)
    only plastic staples to be used
    there is a provision to install a safety device to guard against injury or death,
    that those who install both insulation and solar panels will be educated and hold the required acknowledgement(4 hrs (one mother of a dead young man said)is hardly enough?)
    the need to turn electricity off to the house prior to any inspection even, let alone installation will be a mandatory direction,
    that there’ll be a follow up inspection of every site after the work is done, by a suitably qualified electrician,
    that only batts and solar panels with an Australian approved sticker to be used
    and all persons must carry appropriate identification and business numbers etc.

    I also heard, that some inferior solar panels have been used, which were not suitable for the heat conditions of Australia – apparently some cheaper ones were too thin? Why were these allowed to be used, as ‘overheating’ of these panels apparently can lead to hazards, such as fires!

  37. klewso

    This saga of the “Media Garrotting of Garrett” – when taken in context with that running the last day or two.
    There’s some musing about the possibility of Murdoch (owns “80%” of “our” papers), after this meeting with Abbott (all potential PM’s have to be interviewed by “Prince Rupert”),”switching horses”? When was Murdoch ever on another “party”, except in the face of a tsunami?
    “Murdoch” exists for “Murdoch”.
    Circulation requires amenable laws and massaging – and sometimes you have to rub the one you’re with – no matter how ugly!
    “Turnbull” and “Nelson”? “Unelectable – get a new leader”!
    “Abbott – with his pole dancing – he’s a keeper!”
    “First peel away a popular minister – facts don’t matter when there’s a mob and hysteria to be fed and eaten!”
    Was this initiative of Garrett’s undertaken under existing (“Howard government”) auspices for the function of installation of insulation in existing roofs? Were there any doubts about those “rules” before this crisis, raised by this same media in this same feeding frenzy? Or was this “Garrett Folly” a totally new concept, as some seem to be implying?
    Imagine a “Howard Garrett”, he’d be safely hidden up in the media garret – rewind to how Reith and Prosser, slowly unwound in the press, or real accountability from “Children Overboard”!
    How long was “blood on the air” then?

  38. Frank Campbell

    SBH: I agree- the execution of Mick Young was cruel (there may have been ulterior motives…power struggles with Hawke or whatever- dunno) but the point is the convention existed and was taken seriously.

  39. Pete WN

    @ Tom 2:36 – thanks for highlighting that.

    Despite the media’s narrative of PG being an ‘incompetent sell out’, I wonder if he’s building some much needed political capital within the ALP; by taking the flak for Rudd (who would have certainly micro-managed this decision), defending himself well and keeping his nerve.

  40. Most Peculiar Mama

    @John Ryan
    “…your a gutless troll MPM if your so brave and forthright use your own name coward…”

    And what comfort will that give you, you big brave ‘man’?

    “…Who the fuck is Evan?…”

    F A I L

  41. Kevin Herbert

    Venise Alstergren: Gillard is a self interested political air head, who thought Mark Latham had substance. Only interested in power for its own sake.

    She clearly lacks basic political skills, such as well…er…judgement

    The female Bob Hawke..all show no go.

    She’ll be mired in scandal before too long..believe me.

    Just as I was saying some 6 months ago on Crikey….Rudd will not survive after the next election…that’s if he wins it.

    PS: I was a very keen ALP supporter of more than 30 years, and was hopeful that Gillardf would realise Dame Enid Lyon’s dream…what a disgrace Gillard has turned out to be .

  42. SBH

    Oh MPM I wince at your repartee… In my mind you’ll always be Pauline Wilberforce, using your limited talent to spout thoughtless crap.

  43. Liz45

    KEVIN – I was too! I even support Julia Gillard until she was in govt. Then I’ve read from several sources about her behaviour re asylum seekers etc and was pretty disgusted and demoralised. Mind you, I did agree with Mark Latham re funding for non-government schools?

    Funny how it’s just coming out, that the insulation saga started under Howard. Now, IF we had a newspaper/news outlet/ABC ? who just reported facts instead of wanting to whip up a frenzy for their own ends, we just may have been told/reminded of that!

    Goodness me children, you remind me of my own kids of about 30-40 yrs ago???

  44. jenauthor

    @ Kevin. She clearly lacks basic political skills, such as well…er…judgement
    The female Bob Hawke..all show no go.
    She’ll be mired in scandal before too long..believe me.
    Just as I was saying some 6 months ago on Crikey….Rudd will not survive after the next election…that’s if he wins it.
    PS: I was a very keen ALP supporter of more than 30 years, and was hopeful that Gillardf would realise Dame Enid Lyon’s dream…what a disgrace Gillard has turned out to be .

    What planet/drugs are you on?

  45. John Bennetts

    Now, back to earth…

    Earth leakage, that is.

    Earth leakage circuit breakers, or ELCB’s, aka residual current devices or RCD’s, are safety tools. They detect flows of electricity through dangerous paths, such as a person. They also detect flows of current to earth via failed insulation or other dangerous fault.

    The electrician who gave Liz45 the advice that RCD’s cannot be fitted to older houses is spouting dangerous rubbish. If the RCD won’t work, it is due to a FAULT!

    Older wiring may become faulty due to age, corrosion, rats, termites, untrained weekend handymen, or faulty initial installation. So what? It is relatively simple to test each circuit of a house and the appliances in the house to find out where the fault is. Electricians have a range of circuit testers and resistance testers to use, all of them much cheaper than a burial.

    Every Aussie tradesperson knows about electrical safety tests as used on construction sites, in offices and in factories across the land. Every single one, with no exceptions. They rely daily on their RCD’s and their tagged tools.

    So, I doubt very much that any homeowner would knowingly choose not to fix electrical faults or that licenced electricians would advise against it.

    Roof spaces are not designed as work places and have many dangers, including high heat, poor ventilation, falls, exposed electrical components, possible damage to electrical components leading to exposure to live parts, and so on. These are Confined Spaces, as defined by the relevant State and Federal workplace safety regulations.

    Work in any type of confined space is dangerous. Hazards must be identified and risks assessed. Control measures must be in place and respected.

    So, some journalists seek to blame… who, exactly?

    As BK has pointed out, journalists must develop memories which last longer than a gold fish’s memory. Using this memory, they can learn to frame their comments, after taking into account real world matters.

    These are not optional criteria for trustworthy journalism.

  46. napoleon dynamite

    @ Venise, I agree. I think Rudd will win the 2010 election but I think his charisma has run its distance after 3 years and can’t see it lasting for a second term.

    Do you really think Julia Gillard is popular enough to be a PM? in my ‘man on the street’ experience, in my view, she isn’t – I can’t think of anyone else?

    Tanner is one of, if not, the best asset of the ALP but can’t ever see him as leader but then again, who ever ‘really’ pictured Rudd as a PM back in 2005?!

  47. Eponymous

    John Bennetts,

    I wondered about the old-house no RCD as well. However, don’t they detect earth leakage? I thought the problem might arise from multiple earths through out the house. Local earths and dodgy wiring would be hard to detect.

  48. skink

    I worry that Peculiar might have some form of Tory Tourrete’s, resulting in involuntary reflex regurgitation of Galt-Bolt-Dolt memes in random capitals, accompanied by a stream of spittle.

    is there any known cure?

  49. John Bennetts


    RCD’s are pretty smart these days, as also the tools available to electricians to fault-find. They monitor much more than simply earth currents. A local electrician would be the first port of call for questions. Remember to obtain advice as to which of the circuits should be monitored by an RCD (or several). Sometimes circuits feeding fridges or freezers are not monitored, because nuisance trips may cause loss of valuable contents. In my own home, the pool pump and chlorinator are separate from the other monitored circuits.

    Some installations do not monitor lighting circuits (again, eg my home). And so forth. Just because an RCD is in the meter box does not mean that every circuit in the ceiling is monitored. If in doubt, yank all the fuses before starting work!

    Of course, this means that battery powered lights and tools will be necessary. As stated before, this is still cheaper than a burial.

    BTW, I am an engineer not an electrician. I pay an electrician to get this type of stuff correct.

  50. Eponymous

    Thanks John, that’s good stuff.

    The other thing that would have helped was switching off the house, but I guess a lot of people would consider that too much of an inconvenience.

  51. John Ryan

    At least we all would know A if your a woman,which I doubt, 2 who you are which Liberal branch you belong to or what party office you work in.
    With the everyone can ignore you,bTW if Abbott loses what are you going to do

  52. David Sanderson

    Dame Enid Lyon’s dream? Is that the one where she is walking naked down the street? Or was that Billy Hughes dream? Stanley Bruce was a damn good dreamer, maybe it was him.

  53. Kevin Herbert

    David Sanderson:

    Laugh?….I thought I’d never start.

  54. Most Peculiar Mama

    @John Bennetts

    “…BTW, I am an engineer not an electrician…”

    Well that explains the arrogance and inarticulation.

    Now what about the persecution complex?

  55. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    BK well done. You’ve done the work and as a result a piece worthy for the record. Evidence gathering is hard work and valuable beyond any opinion or gut feeling. Your work so admirably supports what so many of us think or have experienced. I note there’s no argument with any of the facts you rely on.
    Raymondchurch I know how you feel. Could you be MPM’s therapist or should ‘it’ just get pist.

    The new changes to the ‘Australian Initiative to Insulate and Solar Panel’ are simply that the Federal funds incentivising it will be paid to the householder ordering the work rather than to the Australian Companies seeking then doing the work to avoid incentivising companies that kill their workers.
    (and then get their like minded mates in Canberra to blame the nearest ‘rock star’)
    The householder can’t organise to kill workers.
    Poor Peter Garrett didn’t anticipate the ugliness of some killer Aussies. There’s a few of those parading in ‘comments’ on these pages.

    Even Psychopathic liars tell the truth often and when they do it may be of indiscernible quality to anyone else’s truth. It’s all about commitment to truth, principle and values.

  56. Denise Marcos

    It seems so long ago but who was the Minister for the Environment in the Howard Govt when this scheme was implemented? Why aren’t the excitable news hounds pursuing them instead of Garrett?

  57. jenauthor

    ‘It seems so long ago but who was the Minister for the Environment in the Howard Govt when this scheme was implemented? Why aren’t the excitable news hounds pursuing them instead of Garrett?’

    BUt that’s the whle point isn’t it? The opposition sat down and brainstormed over who would be the ‘best’ targets. Garrett and Conroy obviously looked most vulnerable.

    The 4 deaths were very timely for the opposition, and of course, with fake outrage, they went in and pulled no punches — truth be damned! The same with Conroy and his Stokes meeting … never mind that TA has obviously met with Murdoch and said …’after we win the election etc. etc.’ Again, truth be damned when a headline is involved.

    The disgusting thing is that the fake outrage resonates with a portion of the voting public who experience that same fake outrage because they feel helpless against the might of gov. and big business. In this case, truth isn’t seen as important, it is the emotive effects that matter– to the press especially, and the Libs are masters and unleashing that outrage.

    Look at Children Overboard, for instance, lots of indignant outrage that reverberated all over and it all but won Howard that election even though the incident and headlines were foundless.

    But as I have said before — never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  58. Denise Marcos

    Oh woe, I’ve just realised that Howard’s Environment Minister was Malcolm Turnbull. He’s already been put through the mill by his own party/colleagues in the past three months. The last thing he needs is the baying press corps hot on his heels over the insulation fiasco.

  59. Liz45

    JOHN – Thank you for your information. I’m neither an electrician nor an engineer. The bloke I heard was interviewed on ABC one night I think. It seemed to me(I could be wrong – again) that maybe the wiring in houses of 15-20 yrs ago may have been OK for electrical appliances of that time, but not sufficient for the 21st century, or perhaps I misunderstood him. There’s a 2 phase system and 3 phase isn’t there? Is that the difference? I think you said that the fitting of a safety device doesn’t warrant rewiring of old homes?

    Isn’t there a state or national body that dictates the guildelines for these things? I find it incredible that there’s been these problems not among the politicians, but the so-called ‘qualified experts’? Ordinary people out there, like me, just want to know, that when they get a job done, it will comply with adequate standards, and the worker won’t die in their roof cavity? I’d feel absolutely gutted if that happened in my home(rented by dept of housing or ???).

    MPM – for god’s sake, either put forward a contrary point of view or just shut up! You’re worse than a tired 2 yr old – at least they have an excuse – they’re still babies, tired, hungry, teething, hot, not sleeping well due to heat etc?
    What on earth is yours? You’re plain bloody boring!
    I want to learn something here! I’m not frightened to say I don’t know!
    Give it a rest!

  60. Venise Alstergren

    MY FELLOW POSTERS: Never have an idea, it will come back and bite you!

  61. Venise Alstergren

    JENAUTHOR: ‘What planet/drugs are you on?’

    Oooh, I don’t know. What are you offering?

  62. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    Liz45 3 phase power suppy is not for homes but for industry including large buildings and s/centres etc that need 415 Volt supply for lifts, escalators and heavy machinery while the home supply is 240Volts in Australia.
    415 is more than twice as dangerous as 240

    jenauthor An interesting and virtuos psychological perspective you have put forward but it will be beyound the commonsense of many of the public but not so many of the readers of Crikey.

  63. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    While I am here on Saturday evening let me add some analytical points to the comment I made above.

    “The new changes to the ‘Australian Initiative to Insulate and Solar Panel’ are simply that the Federal funds incentivising it will be paid to the householder ordering the work rather than to the Australian Companies seeking then doing the work to avoid incentivising companies that kill their workers.
    (and then get their like minded mates in Canberra to blame the nearest ‘rock star’)
    The householder can’t organise to kill workers.”

    There was a very good reason for incentivizing the installing industry/companies rather than the end recipient, the householder.
    The industry/companies would advertise at their cost with spruiking, promoting and incentivizing the householder to take the initiative at no cost to the government program and that should be a winner but the industry had to be trustworthy as a whole.
    Why would you be when you could know no matter whom you harm your favourite politicians will shove the blame on a passing rock star.
    It had the very desired effect of accelerating the program to record creating rollout, success by all standards but the industry couldn’t cope to supervise, not that they have ever put their complaints to the government in those real terms.
    Now the cost of convincing the householder may have to be borne by the government.

    my comments corrections – An interesting and virtuous psychological perspective you have put forward but it will be beyond the commonsense

  64. Venise Alstergren

    DR TARVYDAS: Please could your use English as opposed to American words?

    Incentivizing?????????? WTF? I imagine this means reimbursing, encouraging, give them money to energise them????????

  65. napoleon dynamite

    I recently had the opportunity to ski over the xmas break in Deus Alpes in the south of France, just above the city of Grenoble. I also had the pleasant suprise of hearing Midnight Oil playing in the middle of heavy snow whilst drinking a Kronenberg in open air. To me this was a great experience but I prefer to remember the band as it was, not as Peter Garrett as a politician.

  66. Jeremy Williams

    Your comment regarding PG and the interview with Fran is superb – astute and with soul. Which episode was that on ?
    I know why Peter went to the ALP and I respect him for it but in the end he probably would have done more for the environment if he had gone to the greens. He would have garnered more respect from the public and probably given the green vote a significant boost. I don’t think he really gives labour’s vote much of a boost.

  67. John james

    Even Michelle Grattan writes in The Age, this weekend, that Garrett’s position is untenable.
    The shut down of the Insulation scheme, designed, I think, to attempt to also shut down further parliamentary debate, is a massive miscalculation.
    It is being widely interpreted as an admission that the scheme is a disaster, something Garrett, and PM Rudd, insisted was not the case.
    Interesting to see so many posts here beginning to speculate about who should succeed Rudd.

  68. Liz45

    JOHN JAMES – You obviously didn’t read another article that stated, that the positive impact of the solar, insulation policies will be felt long after Peter Garrett, Tony Abbott and anyone else you want to mention.

    The big mistake that was made in my view, was that the States should’ve been in control of the project. It’s the States that have the Workers Compensation Laws, the Laws pertaining to safe work practices etc. It was the businesses in each state that employed the people who would install the insulation. They were probably all working under their own State awards. It was a major oversight, but the media in this country were not interested in genuine investigations or reporting. They ‘smell’ blood and they’re out to outsell their competitors. I have nothing but contempt for all of them, including the ABC? You, like others don’t even mention the projects that were put in place by Howard. Nobody in the media did any research on the numbers of worker accidents/deaths via the installation of insulation over ????yrs prior to this stimulus project. Reading your posts on a variety of topics, I don’t expect you to take an adult, serious and intelligent line on any of this? You’re no better than the ‘tarts’ in the media, who’ll exploit the death of other peoples’ children to gain some political advantage. You, like them, are beneath contempt!

  69. John Bennetts


    Once again I find myself agreeing with you as I clean up after you.

    The States are, as they have been for many years (100+?), responsible for workplace safety. I may need to be corrected in relation to the territories or Victoria post-Kennett, where they sold their worplace relations to a willing federal conspirator.

    However, the Federal Minister for the Environment is far removed from workplace injury. I have watched TV reportage of these galoots working on tiled roofs without any visible harnesses or restraints or sacaffolding or… who cares? I do.

    If I send a worker onto a roof or into a confined space as a supervisor or boss of some kind, and that worker isn’t working safely, then the first places to look are the system of work, the safeguards which are present, the training, qualifications and competencies of the workers, the actions of the supervisors. Remember, if I am trained and qualified, I may still not be competent. I have personal experience of an earthmoving plant operator who would have been competent, except that his wife and 2 kids had left him the previous evening. He was not able to keep his mind on the job and came to grief. He lived, luckily, but at great expense to his employer.

    Peter Garrett is not at fault for the four deaths which have become the centre of debate. He had no part to play in relation to selecting or training these particular employees. In fact, they may not even have been employees – they may have been subcontractors, perhaps via a dodgy arrangement. He has no part to play in determining the work methods or the safety procedures in place as they went about their work.

    This is a massive distraction from the real issues.

    Issue 1: Should Minister Garrett have continued the insulation and PV programs as initiated by the preceding Minister? Read: Malcolm Turnbull. PG has since reviewed and amended these programs in light of emerging knowledge regarding their performance.

    Issue 2: Were these employees/subcontractors working safely and in accordance with relevant State and Territory law? Not Peter Garrett’s problem.

    Issue 3: Were these employees/subcontractor installing the various insulation and PV systems in accordance with the relevant (State and Territory) law, the relevant Australian Standards, the Building Code of Australia and in accordance with any contract in force between the householder and the Contractor? Again, not Federal responsibility, let alone the responsibility of a Minister.

    Anybody who thinks that Peter Garrett is in any way responsible for these outcomes is mad.

    However, I note that he has suspended several schemes which have been poorly implemented, as would anybody who is authorising expenditure on a program which is not delivering the expected results.

    Move on, folks! Nothing here to see.

  70. jenauthor

    Well said John — unfortunately the people with influence aren’t paying attention … they just want a story or political influence.

    I just watched AM Agenda — again the ‘politicising’ by both the press and the Opposition skated along without a moment’s pause.

  71. napoleon dynamite

    c’mon Jenauthor, is the Opposition really doing anything different from Kevin07? big promises and ‘sort it out later’ type theories.

  72. SBH

    As oppose to the Greens who, local government excepted, will never be in the position of having to actually try and implement a policy with all the comprimises our system builds in.

  73. JamesK

    I love the way that the “perpetual” intrusion of reality into the “perpetual present of politics”” makes a “perpetual” mockery of Bernard’s pronouncements just shortly after.

  74. jenauthor

    Are you watching the senate standing c’tee Napoleon? It might edify.

  75. Most Peculiar Mama


    “…again the ‘politicising’ by both the press and the Opposition skated along without a moment’s pause…”

    Amidst the endless spin and spurious rhetoric from Dear Leader about “open and accountable government” you knew that someday someone would get caught?

    Why are you so dogmatic in your support of Garrett?

    What has he done as a Labor politician that has so enamored you of his ministerial capabilities?

  76. jenauthor

    ALL politicians spin, your side are experts. Whats more, they spent millions in advertising that spin.

    My support of Garrett stems from the fact that the ‘blame’ is being misdirected for political purposes.

    If you watched the senate c’tee you would have seen the ‘realistic’ argument. If anything, he and his dept. have done more to up the OH&S of the sector, and provided regs to a sector that operated under the previous govt without any regs at all. A sector with inherent risk — the very nature of the work is risky.

    It is like blaming the infrastructure minister for the 1000s of road deaths each year. But those deaths just flow by everyone without a single blip on the political radar.

    And according to figures approx 80 housefires regularly took place each year when less that a quarter of the insallations occurred in the years prior to the scheme. Who are you going to blame for those? Malcolm Turnbull ?

    All this fake outrage is sickening. Abbott again got on the tube making bold statements with no clear foundation. It is time for people like you to get real and look at the evidence, not the fake outrage, which is, in itself, spin.

    Last time I looked the onus was to prove guilt, not to prove innocence. This is, and has from the outset, been trial by media. Never mind the truth.

  77. napoleon dynamite

    @Jenauthor – Kevin07, Kevin07, Kevin07…. talk about spin, your leader has taken it to a whole new level! gee, that comment will provide me with a giggle for a long time.

    I couldn’t care less about either side but to say that the whole Garrett debate is a beat up is ridiculous and sad. In fact, it is only the extreme left that think it is a media beat up.

    We are talking about a ‘failed’ process, a process which failed to identify advice and express recommendations given by Minters (amongst others) a year ago. A year ago.. try telling the victims family that this is just a media beat up. This is a policy breakdown on a macro level.

    Do you also believe Air France, even though expert advice said that the new turbine engines were faulty, was not to blame for the plane that crashed into the Brazillian ocean last year?

  78. Liz45

    JOHN BENNETTS – “Liz45,

    Once again I find myself agreeing with you as I clean up after you”

    What sort of patronising nonsense is this? You couldn’t just say you agree with me, you have to put a rider on it! I bet I know more about Workers Compensation issues than you do. I bet I know of the grounds of a Common Law or negligence claim than you do, as I’ve lived through it personally. I did lots of research re my own case, more than my solicitors did for either case – of which they acknowledged! I was also told at the time(by my barrister who wanted to sell me out to the insurance company – tell me I had a weak case, and the Judge I had would never award me the full workers comp weekly payments blah blah blah- I won, and that Judge did! I was the 1st in NSW that it happened to – all this went on over 6 yrs, so don’t try and tell me that you’re more knowledgeable, because unless you’ve been there – you’re not?)

    You agree about the rights and responsibilities of the States re worker safety; you agree about the responsibilities of the employers, as I’ve been advocating, but you just can’t help yourself – you’ve got to take a paternalistic and patronising role – because after all, you’re a superior person being a male? God, it gives me the ?????

    The essential thing that really saves the Fed govt from culpability, is that Howard didn’t win the last election, after which his next quest was to nationalise the Workers Comp system, and the States would probably have lost that as they did WorstChoices action/s in the High Court? As you correctly state, the responsibility for workers’ safety belongs to the States and territories. Perhaps if Garrett had’ve put this program in their hands, the outcome would not have been so tragic for those 4 lovely young men – what a tragedy! But who is responsible for a worker dying from dehydration for god’s sake – the supervisor, employer etc? Using metal staples? The same? Not a 16 or 19 yr old who’s had only 4 hours training and in the summer months? Crazy? I’m not a boss, just a woman with common sense!

  79. jenauthor

    Napoleon: We are talking about a ‘failed’ process, a process which failed to identify advice and express recommendations given by Minters (amongst others) a year ago. A year ago.. try telling the victims family that this is just a media beat up. This is a policy breakdown on a macro level.

    Again I ask — did you watch the senate c’tee? Did you listen to the evidence? The sec. stated most vehemently that the recommendations were used to formulate the process. And those recommendations were sifted and put, where applicable, to the minister (as is the normal process of developing programs in govt.) But no — TA and Hunt say ‘lets chop off his head!’

    At the micro level, people rorted the system. At the macro level, regs. were beefed up as soon as that became apparent. Is the minister supposed to be prescient? As far as I know prescience is not a job requirement for anyone in this country.

    It was the ‘jumping to conclusions’ without listening to the actual evidence that characterised the Salem witch trials. This is remarkably similar in that people are listening to the one-line grabs that have appeared in the press without actually looking beneath the surface.

    The discussion is at a stalemate … those of us who actually look at the evidence have one point-of-view while the others have been merely listening to the confected outrage of the politicians and neither side is likely to shift their view.

  80. John Bennetts


    I know from your previous posts that the male of our species is not held in high regard by you. If you detect a strongly patronising attitude on my part, then I apologise. It was not my intention. I detect a strongly aggressive, irrational and emotional attitude from you re males, and usually manage to read straight through, focussing more on the argument than the packaging.

    However, a lifetime in heavy construction work has exposed me to workers’ comp from most angles, including my own family members’ issues. You mention that you once had a compensation issue and that you researched your situation. One case. In one jusisdiction. Your previous posts indicated none of this and from them I deduced that your contribution, if not your knowledge of the subject, contained gaps.

    My contribution, however poorly worded, was a fair dinkum attempt to outline the broader flow of liability and responsibility.

    Bottom line: It is drawing a very long bow indeed to try to pin the safety management of contractors on the Minister under the current circumstances, no matter how much some would like to do.

    I would far prefer to be known as being just once unintentionally patronising than as a bitter and twisted man-hater. Lighten up, for whatisname’s sake!

  81. John Bennetts

    @Eponymous, 19th Feb.
    “The other thing that would have helped was switching off the house, but I guess a lot of people would consider that too much of an inconvenience.”

    My advice: by all means, switch off the house – ie throw the main switch. After that, physically remove every fuse or circuit breaker from its holder/base, to provise a visible break. Thus, at the very least, two actions would be needed in order to send current back into the workplace.

    To rely simply on a switch which cannot be locked is not really secure. There’s nothing wrong with putting the fuses in your tool box while you do the work, thus removing temptation from those not familiar with your work plan.

    A note placed on the door of the box is not going too far. Perhaps accompanied by a padlock on the door.

    Am I paranoid? Maybe. But I am still alive.

  82. Liz45

    JOHN BENNETTS – I’m not a young woman on an ‘angry mission’? On my next birthday, I’ll be 65. Feminists aren’t born, they’re ‘MAN MADE’? My experiences of workers comp, worker safety etc is not just born from my own experiences. Because of the way I was treated(going from a person who was trusted(I worked very closely with chn) whose honesty was never called into question until I filled out my workers comp claim form, what came after was shocking, horrific, soul destroying and unjust. Due to this, I, with the support of the wonderful (knowledgeable and compassionate)doctors from a local workers medical centre, I started a support group for other women who were suffering like me, or who I could hopefully prevent from being permanently disabled like I was/am. I came in contact with hundreds if not more women from around the country. Partly because, without my permission, my telephone number appeared in a popular womens’ magazine article as the contact person in NSW. I had phone calls, sometimes in the middle of the night from RSI sufferers from Perth to Tasmania to ???In fact, I had so many calls, I had to take the phone off the hook to have a shower or go to the bathroom or go to sleep. I’m not an inexperienced novice!

    So, while I don’t have any qualifications re dangerous occupations like installing insulation obviously is or can be, I do have many qualifications( I just lack ‘pieces of paper?) re the horrific abuses of workers throughout the country, and the almost criminal lack of accountability or care and concern for their welfare. I believe, that we should enact as a matter of priority, that every worker who leaves home prior to their work shift has the right to safely return to their loved ones at the end of it! I also believe, that it’s usually via pathetic abuses by employers, that too many workers are killed or injured at work, usually due to unnecessary or culpable negligence of their employers. For this reason, a Labor Government, in the federal sphere should ensure, that they diligently and with commitment always emphasise their commitment to health and safety. I also blame Howard a lot for the present attitude of some employers. He let them know most emphatically via WorstChoices, that their right to profit took precedence over the rights of their employees, including the right of a safe and healthy work environment.

    When workers/unions/employers act as one re workers safety, statistics show, that there are less deaths and injuries in the workplace! I’ll always speak out in support of this, as I know only too well, the pain and disability of sustaining aPREVENTABLE injury/disease in the workplace after 26+ years! I think I have a right to be scathing against anyone who chooses to patronise the messenger, rather than take due note of the message!

  83. earnest scribbler

    Jeez LIZ45, are you ever not angry?!

  84. Liz45

    EARJEST SCRIBBLER – Forgive my presumption, but I take it you are a male?
    Then my answer is, no, not very often. If you have to even ask that question, you have no idea of the reality in this country(or the world) of being a girl or a woman. When you decide to move outside your very predictable and advantageous world, and do some serioius reading, then you will no longer ask that question? If you’re white, mail and living in 2010, then you’re a privileged person, whose privilege is brought about in the main, by screwing other human beings, who surprise! surprise! happen to be women and girls. Latch on to and protect your privileged position, but just keep in mind, that that is all you have. Why? Because you haven’t taken a stand on sexist, ageist attitudes ‘out there’? Probably not even with your own friends/peers!

    There are men who have done it and are ‘male feminists?’ but sadly, there are too many like you and others(usually male) who feel so intimidated when a strong feminist speaks out, that your only response is to belittle my(or heaps of other women’s) anger, forthrightness etc because nobody has educated you re the basic human right of all of us, and that is to be treated as equal, to not be the subject of abuse, and where you’ll actively react in a positive manner to any or all outbursts of sexist/agesit and unjust judgements?

    I find your attitude really amazing in 2010. I raised my sons from an early age, that violence between human beings doesn’t solve anything. That, any fool can use his fists, but it takes an intelligent human being, with a caring attitude, who’ll solve conflict with his brain – not his fists! I was determined that they would be sensitive to all women/girls, and would not be guilty of being a sexist, oppressive and chauvinist s**t who thinks, that women were put on this earth for MAN’S use and benefit. I taught them how to cook, clean, sew and look afterthemselves, and that being part of a community(family, sharing rental responsibilities, or sharing a home with kids) is pulling your weight, and not causing resentment in a relationships by sitting on your arse with a tinny, while your wife/partner is almost exhausted by feeding a baby, looking after a todler, and spending time with a 4-5 yr old! Recent stats show, that in 2010 over 70% of the housework is done by women. We have a long way to go, and if you’re not capable and exercising re housework or looking after your kids, then you’re a failure, contributing to the fatigue and unhappiness of your partner/wife!

    I find it very discouraging, that people like you find my point of view so confronting, that you have to omit any self analysis, because it’s too easy and convenient to make me out to be a tyrant. I am not!

  85. Liz45

    ERNEST SCRIBBLER – Have you ever done any serious reading in order for you to gain some insight into the incredible racist and abusive policies of past Governments – except for Whitlam of course?

  86. earnest scribbler

    Wow, LIZ45. All that based on the assumption I am male.

    Way to go girl.

  87. John Bennetts

    I know that I should leave sick puppies alone, but…

    LIZ45, if your problems are related to RSI, have you considered using the keyboard less and smelling the roses more? And bully for your voluntary work although you take care to note that you have confined your work to womenfolk around the country. Not one to care about blokes?

    How about support for such as my son, who first developed RSI at age 20. Any support for him, or is he disqualified due to his gender?

    Mr/Ms “earnest scribbler” copped a bollocking from you on first entry to this thread, perhaps to Crikey!’s feedback pages, yet you gave both barrells.

    Please take the medication.

  88. Liz45

    JOHN – Of course I feel for your son. In fact, my own son suffered when he was about 18-19 – his could’ve been prevented too – terrible working conditions in extreme weather conditions, which is a factor also. I’ve heard of musicians (male & female) shearers, journalists(Derryn Hinch-not that I think much of his journalistic ‘skills’) had it, to use his term “before it became fashionable”. The fact was, that at the medical centre I went to(workers medical centre) the overwhelming number of people who presented with symptoms were women, from a variety of different jobs. Both State & Federal public servants suffered from it, and most were women – it was the beginning of word processors etc. Librarians got it, outworkers who sewed at home, women who worked in different factories such as machinists, chicken sexers, school cleaners, men from the steel works(one in his spine) drivers, both car & bus, hairdressers(they stand for long periods and work with their arms raised – can put up to 60% more strain on muscles/tendons etc) and more!

    The doctors asked me if I would go there one day a week and speak to women who were in danger of a permanent injury unless they took a break from their job, and that’s how the support group/s started. They thought that if the patients spoke to someone who had it severely, which could’ve been prevented, they might take more notice! Some did, some didn’t? Those who didn’t usually were forced to leave due to pain and disability – they said after, that they thought I was exaggerating – I wasn’t! Too many had financial commitments of course!

    A couple of men came and they were most welcome. The issues including personal ones that related to women meant that they often didn’t feel comfortable with men around. Pain in spine, neck, arms and weak and painful hands/wrists overlapped all parts of their lives including sex lives, looking after babies and children, housework etc. This was the 1980’s? There were at least two 4 Corners programs during that time, and they were about the almost ‘pandemic’ in the public service, and the second about my friend who was an outworker, and the first one in NSW to take her 4 employers to court. SBS which was Channel O at the time had at least one documentary that I can recall.

    I suggested that the men start one, and then we’d combine about once a month, but it didn’t happen. I spoke to them on the phone from time to time though. Women seem to show more initiative re setting up support networks, after all, that’s how we get women’s centres and women’s health centres, rape crisis centres etc. Men whinge, but all too frequently don’t get off their bums!

    Incidently, my then husband wasn’t sympathetic to either him or I. I went to court with him, his father was a no show! It’s easier to type than write, and I like being engaged in these topics. I take breaks! Have you ever read the poem about being a member of Women’s Liberation?

    Part of it reads, “……..if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and unfeminine, and if we don’t, we’re typical weak females…….” It’s interesting how some men always resort to the ‘standing over us wagging the finger of disapproval’ to us little girls who’ve stepped out of line? Men can be bombastic and whatever, but other men attack the argument; men like you play the disapproving father role when it comes to women with forceful points of view! Most interesting! If I can put up with it, he? can cope with a ‘bollocking’ as you put it? Needs to toughen up, I’ve had to! I’m off to bed! G’night!

  89. gerard

    I think it is time to get back into the kitchen of give and take. How about some chicken wings on the barbie?
    As a mere male I’ll do the marinating and start the fire. Afterwards and I’ll ask male or female to do an impromptu Cha cha cha or even a foxtrot.
    I have stated it elsewherebut; What about those shonky insulators that were to protect us from living in the first place?
    Those manufacturers of cheap condoms or the out of date ones, all dried up and with lost elasticity.
    How many of us are here now suffering unbearably because of shoddy practises?
    It’s not easy being a man.

    Ansell has a lot to answer for. Let’s make the best of it.


  90. Venise Alstergren

    GERARD: Try being a woman and you’ll find out just how uneasy that is.

    Sorry, I’ve just had a run in with a male censor whose self-justification just made me throw up. Otherwise I adore men, truly!

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