Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steve Bracks

Steve Bracks. Premier....or not a Premier. That is the question. Well, that's MY question, at least.

Lord Wiki says....

The answer=Premier.

Steve Bracks is a former Premier of Victoria.

He's the guy who was in office before John Brumby.

Little baby Steve was born on October 15, 1954, in Ballarat. That's where one of my friends lives. It's also where they had that Eureka thing. What was it called again? I'll have to look that up.....

Eureka Stockade.

Thank you, Lord Wiki.

Bracks is Lebanese-Australian. He's third generation Australian. His grandparents came from Lebanon.

You know, I recently told someone I was third generation American. But now I'm thinking I accidentally gave them false information. Three out of four of my grandparents were born in America. So actually I'd be fourth generation American.

For his education, Bracks attended St. Patrick's College, and Williamstown High School. From the photos I can see St. Patrick's College is a boy's school. I'm guessing (from the name) that it's Catholic as well.

Here's some disturbing stuff. Lord Wiki says there was a lot of sexual abuse going on at St. Patrick's College. There were six teachers who sexually molested the boys. Lord Wiki says the worst guy was probably Gerry Ridsdale. He was eventually convicted of abusing forty children between 1961 and 1987.

The bishop learned of the abuse. Did he fire Ridsdale? Nope. He got the guy some counseling, and allowed him to continue working with kids. That's really sad.

For his University Studies, Bracks went to Ballarat College of Advanced Education. That later became known as the University of Ballarat. Bracks studied education and business. Around that time period, Bracks became passionate about Australian Rules Football. He became a fan of the Geelong Football Club.

Lord Wiki says from 1976 to 1981, Bracks was a school commerce teacher. I'm not sure what that is. I guess it would be business related? Maybe it's what we Americans would call a economics teacher.

Sometime in the 1980's, Bracks became Executive Director of the Ballarat Education Centre. In 1985 and 1988, Bracks tried to get into the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Ballarat North. I'm actually not sure if he got into the seats. I'm not able to understand Lord Wiki. This article might clue me in......

Yeah.  That article was easier for me to understand. Bracks lost both times.

In 1989, Bracks was given the job of managing Victoria employment programs. Then he became adviser to the Labor Premier, John Cain. When Cain left the job, Bracks became adviser to Victoria's first female Premier....Joan Kirner. The other day I thought I had encountered the first female Premier....Carmen something? But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was Kirner.

Kirner was Premier from 1990 to 1992. Oh. Okay. Carmen Lawrence became Premier in 1992 as well. Lawrence started the job in February 1990....six months before Kirner.

In 1992, the Liberal Party got back in power with Jeffery Kennett. Ah! I thought that name sounded familar. Lord Wiki says he was the guy who had the colorful phone conversation with Andrew Peacock regarding John Howard.

In those early 1990's, Bracks worked as the Executive Director of the Victorian Printing Industry Training Board. I'm not sure if that's a government job or not. I think this MIGHT be their website. It looks like it's a nonprofit organization, partly funded by the government.

In 1994, Kirner retired from Parliament. That left her seat open and waiting for someone else to take it. Bracks quit the printing stuff, and took the seat. The seat was Williamstown, and it's in the south-western suburbs of Melbourne. That seat has been Labor since 1904. Lord Wiki says it was Liberal sometimes before that. But there was no Liberal Party back then. Maybe he just means it was from a party that was similar to the Liberal Party.

Once Bracks was elected into Parliament, he quickly became part of the front bench. By 1996, he was Shadow Treasurer. During that time period, John Brumby was Oppositional Leader. It came to people's mind that Brumby would make the Labor Party lose an upcoming election. He stepped down as leader, and Bracks took his place.

During the 1999 election, people believed that Liberal Kennett would win. Bracks and his Labor Party people refused to give up. They campaigned in regional areas that they felt Kennett had ignored. It worked! Labor ended up with forty-two seats, and the Liberal Party ended up with forty-three. If it was up to just that, I guess the Liberal Party would have won. But there were three independents, and they agreed to support the Labor Party.

In 2000, there were some train issues. I'm sure Andrew would understand all this.

It was called the Regional Fast Rail Project. I guess they wanted to improve travel times between Melbourne and various other towns....Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, and Latrobe Valley. Lord Wiki says the project was expensive, and the results were not too impressive. That's unfortunate.

In 2001, Bracks introduced something called the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Wow. You'd think something like that would be simple and straightforward. But Lord Wiki says it has caused all types of controversy.

I guess the issue is people can't agree on what constitutes intolerance. If I write something on my blog that criticizes Scientology, would I be breaking the law? Well, no...because I'm not in Victoria. But let's pretend I was.

In 2002, there was a conflict that began when someone from Catch the Fire Ministries said some stuff that was anti-Islam. I'm going to read this editorial about it. Actually, I'd rather read an article. I want to know more about what happened.

Here's one. It happened in 2002. A person from the fire ministry thing did a speech in which he talked about Muslims being bad people. That got him in trouble with the Racial and Religious Tolerance Law.

Basically, it's a battle between free speech and intolerance. My gut feeling is the law goes too far. I don't like when people say offensive things about various races and religions. But then who draws the line between what is okay and not okay? Well, I do think SOME line has to be drawn. Probably. I don't know. This all scrambles my brain.

I think it's probably best if the government keeps their hands off....unless it resorts to speech that persuades people to become violent. I think there's a big difference between saying Jews are ugly and saying Jews are ugly. They deserve to die. They MUST die! Anyway, I think government should stay out of it for the most part, and private businesses should do the censoring. For example, I'd say it should be legal for people to have hate websites. But then I think the companies that provide the websites should have their own regulations. Blogger has policies against hate speech. They say:

We want you to use Blogger to express your opinions, even very controversial ones. But, don't cross the line by publishing hate speech. By this, we mean content that promotes hate or violence towards groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity. For example, don't write a blog saying that members of Race X are criminals or advocating violence against followers of Religion Y.

Again. There's that line. And who decides who has crossed it? I know I have said things on this blog that are critical of Christianity. Could a Christian come on here and complain about my blog? Oh, and I've also been critical of atheism. Could I get in trouble for that? I've seen stuff on other blogs that were negative about Jews. Could I point that out to Blogger and get someone in trouble?

The interesting thing about the Islam/Fire Ministry Case is that some Muslim folks aren't happy with the law. The director of the Australian Public Affairs Committee(Amir Butler) argued against it. He says.... at every major Islamic lecture I have attended since litigation began against Catch the Fire Ministries, there have been small groups of evangelical Christians - armed with notepads and pens - jotting down any comment that might later be used as evidence in the present case or presumably future cases.

We're all going to be siting here waiting for people to say something mildly offensive, just so we can get them into trouble.

Butler also says the law interferes with the right of believers of one faith to passionately argue against or warn against the beliefs of another.
My feeling is people should have the freedom to say their crap. Then other people have a right to ignore them or debate them. There's a part of me that feels hate speech directed at individuals should be disallowed. But there were bloggers who wrote awful things about me in their posts. It was hurtful. I had trouble eating and sleeping. But after a few days, I learned to just ignore it, and stop visiting the blogs. It may have been more of a problem if they had mentioned me by name, and/or distributed my email address and other contact information. Also maybe there should be laws against hate speech that target people under a certain age. Besides that though....let people say what they want to say.

Anyway, enough of that law. Back to Bracks....

In 2003, he broke an election promise. He had said that a new road would be a freeway. Then he changed his mind, and proposed that it become a tollway. The Howard government was not happy because they had given funds to the project. Oh yeah, and of course the general public wasn't too happy either.

In 2005, there was more controversy. Bracks announced that cattlemen would no longer be able to graze their cattle in Victoria's High Plains. I'm sure there were environmental reasons behind this. But it was not readily accepted because grazing cattle there was a 170 year tradition.

Here's an article about it. The land in question was Alpine National Park.

I'm going to skip ahead a bit. Sorry. I'm getting tired...and hungry. I could take a break and come back. But I don't feel like it. All that free speech stuff made my brain tired.

Anyway, Bracks did three terms as Premier. Then he retired in 2007.

Here's the Steve Bracks home page. I'll give it a quick look before I sign off. Well, nothing there excites me too much.

Oh, this article some juicy and disturbing stuff. Lord Wiki mentioned it, but I kind of ignored it. But now I'm feeling maybe I should mention it.

Bracket's son was arrested for drunk-driving. His blood alcohol level was at .31. That seems pretty high to me. The guy was fined $750 and banned from driving for fifteen months. I don't think the $750 dollars is enough, but I like the banned from driving part. That would be a huge inconvenience to some people; so it's a pretty good punishment.

The article says it's believed that the incident may have been part of the reason behind Brack's resignation. That happened two weeks after the accident. Yeah. I doubt the timing could be a coincidence. I'm sure that would bring about two reasons to resign. First of all, Bracks probably felt his son might need some more fatherly attention. If he retired, he might have more time to spend with his wife and kids. Second, the drunk driving would surely cause a scandal, and it would probably effect election results.

Wait. I misread the article. He didn't have a .31 alcohol level during the accident. It was at .129. Then the court installed what's called a alcohol interlock device. That later gave young Bracks a reading of .31. I'm not sure what this device does. Let me go see.....

Okay. I kind of thought this was what it was. What is it? The court puts it in a car. A person has to breath into a breathalyser, and pass a test, before their car can start. I personally think that's AWESOME. I think all cars should automatically have them. Yeah. I'm all for the freedom of speech. I am totally NOT for the freedom of drunk driving.

Now this is what I find to be completely crazy. After the court person lectured Bracks about having a .31 blood level, he ordered the device to be removed. What the hell????!!!!

I wish EVERYONE could have the device in their car. Really. You never know when someone is going to drive drunk for the first time. But if not that....I think once someone drives drunk, they should be required to always have that in their car....forever!


  1. Ah, the not so fast Very Fast Train project. The worst thing they did was when upgrading tracks, they turned some into single lines, meaning trains have to wait at sidings for another to pass. It can work ok if everything is running in the right place, but they don't always.

  2. Andrew,

    I think there was also something in Sydney a few years back. It was something like they wanted to make things go faster, but with the way they had, there'd be no time for the passengers to get on and off. Or maybe I dreamed that???

    Funny/sad about the single line issue.