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Taking cues from Menzies and God

Volume 33 #14

September 12, 2018

Are drigs ghood? Now that The Beckley Foundation and Imperial College London have begun a study on psychedelics microdosing (see www.selfblinding-microdose.org), it’s time to perhaps look again at psychedelics and the potential benefits they offer. Or any contraband substance for that matter. For example, the inventor of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Albert Hofmann, led a full life, died at 102 and took acid regularly. He seemed to be unaffected by his selfmedication and instead claimed acid was ‘medicine for the soul’. He told The New York Times in 2006 that he was frustrated by the worldwide prohibition of it. It’s a double-edged sword of course; some people can be fine with a few drinks after work, for example, while others have addiction issues. Surely this points to the unhealthy intake of any substance as being a health issue, not a crime? Freely available (and taxed) alcohol has its benefits as well as social costs. So why are some substances banned by governments and others aren’t? The US ban on booze during the 1920s depression was clearly a mistake. Governments – which are by nature authoritarian – tell their populations one drug is bad while another drug good. The message is drugs are all bad and lead to harder drugs, and comes without any scientific evidence. But alcohol is good. Government sanctioned morphine derivatives are good. But its natural source, opium, is bad. While authoritarian governments say they value freedom, they clearly only value their own. Notwithstanding the massive increase of cybersurveillance, diminishing human rights and the continuing reduction of transparency and scrutiny with dubious government actions, freedom, or freedumb, remains a meaningless platitude and distraction. The war on drugs brought more drugs. And the war on terror brought more terrorists. Maybe it’s time for a war on farmers markets? Hans Lovejoy, editor

The Byron Shire Echo Established 1986

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hen the world falls apart, when all those careful plans collapse in smouldering ruins, when the present seems desolate and the future seems hopeless, there is only one recourse: invoke the ghost of Robert Menzies. This is what distraught Liberal leaders have done for the last 50 years, and the latest, Scott Morrison, was never going to break the pattern. But perhaps surprisingly, he was not ready to parade his evangelic nostalgia to the public at large: instead he preached only to consenting adults in the privacy of a meeting of the Liberal elite. And what better venue than his party’s eponymous Menzies Institute, in the city of Albury, sanctified by the founder’s own appearance there. Here the converted were treated with an invitation to link arms and hum Kumbaya as they mused on the gospel according to St ScoMo, which adjured faith in both Menzies and religion – at least the sort of religion that can be related to Pentacostalism. And in a weird way the juxtaposition made sense, because our prime minister has reverence for both, but might also have noted their common utility. Like the Bible, Menzies’s recorded words are a voluminous document – so much so that within it there is room for justification and endorsement of just about every known position, conservative or progressive, worthwhile or harmful, rational or clinically insane. And while he was in his proselytising mode, it was only fitting that he gave a shout out to religion – the religious (well, at least the Christians) are to

be protected and privileged, though not as part of the culture wars being waged by his supporters – heaven forbid. The Church of England was once described as the Tory Party at prayer; Morrison apparently wants his own conservatives to be similarly born again. And just for starters, everyone should pray for rain or if they weren’t prepared to pray themselves, they should bloody well cheer on those who do. This approach to drought relief is somewhat different from that of his predecessor,

The pursuit and exploitation of prejudice and bigotry has become one of the main foundations of the coalition’s hopes for re-election by Mungo MacCallum who advocated engineering and economics, or to Morrison’s designated drought envoy Barnaby Joyce, who says that farmers in need of water should just steal it from someone else: That’s what you do in an emergency, or even when there is not one, as Joyce’s tenure in his former portfolio made clear over the Murray Darling rorts. So much for the eighth commandment. But of course masterful inaction seems to be the hallmark of the new generation of leadership – the NEG is buried, the corporate tax cuts are dead, sensible reform of pensions has been killed off, Gonski 2.0 is terminal and it might be thought that the entire coalition is moribund. But not at all: our new foreign minister, Marise Payne, assures us that the Pacific Solution is still in place and the men, women and children held Find us on Facebook

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10 September 12, 2018 The Byron Shire Echo

on Waqa were wholly owned subsidiaries of Australia, Peters went straight to Payne, who equally promptly said no. But Peters tried again: Australia’s refusal to release its victims to a haven across the ditch was, ostensibly, based on the fear that they might somehow make their way back to Australia, thus undoing John Howard’s unbreakable prohibition and unleashing untold armadas of people smugglers on our vulnerable shores. This never made much sense; apart from the obvious fact that refugees made welcome in New Zealand would be unlikely to want to go to an Australia that was happy to see them die rather than admit them, Payne remains eager to send a few to the United States, where the same risks – if risks they are – apply. And in any case Peters said cheerfully that the problem was easily fixed:

New Zealand would legislate to prevent it from happening, so why not get on with it? Because – well, because we said we won’t, and we will decide, et cetera. At which point the brutal slogans lapsed into sadism. The suffering, trauma, dementia and death no longer have any real point: we do it just because we can. At which point our new prime minister insists he never bullies anyone and has no time for it, and asks his acolytes if they love Australia and all Australians – but not, presumably, those nasty foreigners. These days so-called patriotism is not just the last refuge of a scoundrel: it has now blown into full-on jingoism. The pursuit and exploitation of prejudice and bigotry has become one of the main foundations of the coalition’s hopes for re-election. That, and religion – or faith, as Morrison prefers to call it. And without much hope or charity, it is probably all he has left. The terrible reality of a Liberal loss struck at last weekend’s Wagga Wagga by-election. True, it was a state poll rather than a federal one, but a swing of 30 per cent in one of the safest Liberal seats in Morrison’s home state of NSW cannot be dismissed as an aberration. Nor will it help Morrison to blame everyone else or to say that it is now in the past, time to move on, nothing to see here. He has to remain defiantly ordinary and upbeat. Ordinary and upbeat worked for Menzies over a brief few months in 1939 before WWII, a conflict that destroyed not only Europe but his government. A few months is all Morrison has before he has to face the people. Worth a try – there isn’t much else.

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Nicholas Shand 1948–1996 Founding Editor

as asylum seekers in overseas detention can stay there until they rot. This policy has always been arbitrary, and arguably against international law – it is clearly against international standards of human rights. But last week Payne took it to a new level of cruelty. During the Pacific Islands Forum at Nauru, the New Zealand deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, repeated his country’s longstanding offer to take 150 refugees from Nauru. Knowing that the island and its corrupt and despotic ruler Bar-

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The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.14 – September 12, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.14 – September 12, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.