Saturday, December 20, 2008

Penny Wong

Penny Wong is on my list and I actually remember who she is. She's one of the other openly gay people in parliament. She's also Asian. I think she's in the Labor party. Maybe?

But that's not much to know. I shall find out more.


Right now, I'm going to go and do our electronic visas for our little holiday in February.

I need to go downstairs and get our passports......

All right. Visas and failed attempt at holiday shopping is in the past now.

Onto Penny Wong.

She was born in Malaysia. Her father is Malaysian Chinese and her mother is Australian.

She moved to Australia when she was eight-years-old. Her parents had separated, so I guess she grew up in a single-parent household.

Lord Wiki doesn't say what schools she went to; but he does say that she went to Brazil for a year via an exchange program. I wonder why she picked Brazil? Did it interest her, or was that just where there was a slot available?

She went to the University of Adelaide in South Australia. During her school years, she worked part time for the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union. It looks like that's a trade union. I wonder if Wong was interested in this.  Or was that just where she happened to be able to find employment?

Oops! I forgot her birthday stuff.

What's wrong with me?

She was born on November 5, 1968. She's a Scorpio.

This website provides information about Scorpios. I'm going to check this out because I'm sort of a Scorpio. I'm a bit of a mixed breed.

This here totally fits me: Scorpios have an excellent memory and combined with an inability to let things go, they can hold a grudge against someone who did them harm forever, in fact a Scorpio rarely if never forgives and forgets.

I usually don't dwell on things that people have done. It will kind of slip my mind (after a little bit of time) UNTIL they do something that hurts me again. Then when they hurt me, I'll remember very clearly previous thing they've done.

But on balance; I also never let go of the bad things I've done. The guilt never fully fades.

As for people who tell me to stop dwelling in the past.   I say treat me well in the present, and I'll be so busy being happy about that; I won't be thinking about the past.

Although my problem is that once the trust level goes below a certain level, it's hard for me to believe that someone is truly being nice to me. I feel they have ulterior motives and it's really hard for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. But those cases are rare in my life. Fortunately!

Back to Wong. She's a 4 in numerology. That's about limits and order.

She's a monkey in Chinese astrology! I guess that might be important since she is Chinese.

Lord Wiki says she is a committed Christian. The church she belongs to is the Uniting Church. It sounds like a good one, and they ARE open to homosexuality. I was wondering about that. They also share concern for environmental and indigenous issues.

It's the third largest Christian denomination in Australia. And I think it's only in Australia. Maybe I can think of it as Australian Christianity.

During her university time, she was an executive in the National Union of Students. This was at the University of Adelaide where Natasha Stott Despoja was also a student, and involved with the union thing. Natasha is only a year older than Penny. I wonder if they knew each other. Maybe they were friends.

Wong joined the Labor party in 1988, while she was still a student. She became a delegate to the party's state convention, and has been a delegate every year except for 1995. I wonder what happened in 1995.

She worked for the New South Wales government as an adviser regarding forest policy. I guess that goes well with her past part time job. I wonder why she went to New South Wales.  Anyway, after awhile she returned to South Australia. She practiced law.

Well, I guess now I know what she studied at school.

In South Australia, she was a legal officer for the Liquor, Hospitality, and Miscellaneous Union. This union is the one that deals with childcare, so they're working with the whole ABC mess right now. Yikes.

Wong is involved with an organization called Emily's List Australia. The goal seems to be to get more Labor woman in Parliament. And they want these Labor woman to support childcare issues, equal pay, and reproductive choices for woman. I get the feeling they're more aligned with working woman than stay-at-home mothers. I say this because of their emphasis on equal pay and childcare. I don't see anything about Paid Maternity Leave.

The United States also has a Emily's List. This one is for female Democrats. Their site does actually mention stay-at-home mothers.

Do you know who Emily is? She's not a person. It's an acronym for Early Money is Like Yeast. Okay, that's just weird. It makes me think of yeast infections. I guess instead I could think of pizza dough rising. Oh great! Now when I eat pizza, I'm going to think of yeast infections. Thanks a lot, Emily!

Lord Wiki names Wong's political roles.

She's been

1. Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation

2. Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility

3. Public Administration and Accountability

4. Corporate Governance and Responsibility, and Workforce Participation.

The latter two were after the reshuffle of December 2006.

 Reshuffle? What happened?

Well, Lord Wiki says it had something to do with Kevin Rudd and Julie Gillard. It's confusing to me. I guess it was a change in leadership--switching roles/jobs around. Something like that.

When Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, Wong was promoted. She is now the Minister for Climate Change and Water.

That's it for Lord Wiki.

Let's see what else I can find.

Here's her government website.

She mentions Indigenous Australians in her first speech. Good.

Here's a really lovely piece from her speech: What lies at the heart of any truly civilized society? Surely it must be compassion. Compassion must be that underlying principle, that core value at the heart of our collective consciousness. If not compassion, then what? Economic efficiency? Or the imposition of some subjective moral code, defined by some and imposed on the many?

Amen to that!

The world would be a much better place if we all had more compassion.

Here's a beautiful reference to Pauline Hanson: Let us reclaim the phrase `one nation.' I seek a nation that is truly one nation, one in which all Australians can share regardless of race or gender, or other attribute, regardless of where they live and where difference is not a basis for exclusion. We do not live in such a country. We are not yet truly one nation. But it is the task of political leaders to build one.

That's it. It's official. I like this Penny Wong person.

She talks about her father in the speech; so I guess even though there was a marital separation, there was not complete abandonment.

She talks about being Asian in a country that used to have a White Australia Policy. She also mentions that the lovely Howard wanted to limit Asian immigration.

Anyway, remember what I said above about never forgiving or forgetting? Howard has just been added to my VERY VERY bad list. I did not like that guy before, but now I absolutely can't stand him. You know.... in a few paragraphs Penny Wong has managed to freeze my heart towards that guy more than three full episodes of The Howard Years.

In this opinion piece, she talks about climate issues. She says some people question why she puts more emphasis on climate change than water issues. Her response is that they go hand in hand. Climate change reduces rain, and if you have no rain that's problem for the rivers.

A gay/lesbian organization called Same Same included Wong in their list of the most influential gay and lesbian people.

Wong is Australia's first Minister for Climate Change and Water. Who will be second?

According to Same Same, she has been open about her sexuality since August 2002. It was that same month that she gave her first speech to parliament. I wonder which came first? The website also gives more insight into her Brazil and university years. She was planning to go into medicine, but when she did volunteer work in a Brazilian hospital, she realized she wasn't into the whole blood thing.

Here's something very sad. Ten days after she was elected into parliament, her brother committed suicide. This has given her compassion for people who are marginalized.

She's on MySpace! I love Australian politician MySpace pages.

Her last log in was December 10. That wasn't too long ago.

Her mood was jolly.

There's not much excitement on her site. Well, at least not in my opinion.

This SMH article talks about how Wong is trying to help lower-income families be green. I guess what they want to do is have these families pay less for their energy. People worry that this will cause them to not be conservative with energy. They're paying less so they might as well use more. But Wong says in her plan, things that cause more climate change will cost more and things that cause less climate change will cost less.

I really think we need to emphasis the wallet more. I know from personal experience that some people do things that are environmentally friendly not because they care about the Earth, but because they want to save money. I think we should do less preaching towards these people and more price-raising.

In terms of the environment though, the Rudd Ministry's decisions about carbon emissions are not popular with many environmentalists. Rudd's target is to reduce emissions by 5-15% by 2020. Many think that's not enough. I probably agree. Does Wong agree?

I guess the problem is you have to balance other issues.  Hopefully they're meaningful issues that effect the average human being and not just a matter of corporate greed.

And as the title of this editorial says....The Economy Won't Matter if the Earth Dies.

It's a tough battle with tough decisions. I'm wondering what Obama will do. I'm sure it will be better than Bush, but will it be better enough?

If the Earth gets too warm, the catastrophes costs will outweigh the costs we face today. But I think it's hard for most people to look to the future and care. First of all, some people don't even believe in Global Warning. For those of us who do believe, the consequences can seem so far off. It can be hard to make sacrifices today to prevent problems that will occur in several years.

Education can help help sometimes. Although with some people, education doesn't work. They refuse to listen and/or believe. Or they listen and believe, but still feel entitled to be extremely wasteful of energy and other resources.

How hard is it to turn the water off while brushing your teeth?

How hard is it to open the shades and turn off the light during the day?

How hard is it to use a reusable bag instead of a plastic or paper one?

How hard is it to reduce the amount of meat you eat?

How hard is to provide recycling at your store or cafe?

I know climate change issues need more than just the average person doing small things. But I think every little bit helps. And even if someone doesn't believe in global warming, I think it can be seen as a spiritual/ethical exercise. Less is more. Don't be wasteful. Respect the planet. What kind of person would disagree with these values? That's what I'd like to know.

I hope Wong and Rudd change the emission goals to something more substantial; and I hope that inspires the United States to do the same.


  1. Hello to someone obsessed with Australia! I am writing to you from Wollongong, one hour south of Sydney. It is one of many weeks of perfect summer weather - fluctuating between 15-17C overnight and 24-27C during the day. This time of year we have what is called King Tides, so the Pacific Ocean which is located at then end of my street, has waves booming a bit more than usual.
    I am writing about Penny Wong. There are in fact quite a few openly gay politicians in Australia and she is one of many. Last week our gay High Court Judge Micheal Kirby [also appearing in the Same Same list] retired. He was replaced by Justice Virginia Bell who was promoted from the NSW Court of Appeal. She is our first open lesbian on the High Court [which is the highest court in Australia and equivalent to the US Supreme Court]. Justice Kirby gave an interesting farewell speech at Newcastle University last week on the topic of love and compassion. You may enjoy reading it.

  2. Hi George!

    The weather does sound perfect there.

    I would love to live so close to the ocean. I envy you.

    I'd be interested to know more about Kirby and Bell. I might add them to my list. Thanks!

  3. You know a LOT more about Australian politicians than I do. I've never heard of her!

  4. Penny Wong is a very committed, hard working politician. You have researched her well.

  5. Lightening: Well, I don't know much about American politicians so we're even!

    Anja: I agree. Thanks : )