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"Jonathan your going to become a man today." Lord Gregor Hugh Of Whitefort proclaimed. His stern face hard as the oaken table he sat behind.
"You are Jonathan of House Hugh and heir to Whitefort, your ancestors raised the first stone towers in this land when the savages still roamed the soft southern lands and you bear the name of of Jonathan The Great who pushed the savages into the wilds beyond Wold End."
Jonthan could see his fathers eyes boring into him as he spoke with pride about his house and the history of his eldest son's name.
"I, your father, have fought in the name of this kingdom against invaders and those who would deny us that which is ours. And today you will become a man. You will wear the colors of our house, carry a steel blade and act in my sted when I call upon you to do so." Lord Gregor smiled "Are you ready to hunt?"

LOGAN

"This damn horse is lame Percy!" Logan yelled across the stable still examining the hoof of the piebald gelding. The horse had thrown a shoe earlier in the day as Logan had been riding it across the city. The hard cobbled streets hadn't been very forgiving to Logan's body either and it was only thanks to an instinctive crouch and roll that he had avoided serious injury.

"Well its not surpris'n. He threw a shoe and in this city more'n likely he's stood on sumting hard'n sharp. Highness." Percy, whose posh name did nothing to hide his less than posh unbringing, was always upfront with the Crown Prince.

Logan shook his head as he put the horses leg down. "I know your right. The city does seem more disordered of late."

"There's more'n more folk coming in from round the country side highness. Troubled times people say. Out there." Percy raised his head back towards the walls of the city.

Logan was about to answer Pery's unspoken question when a long shadow dropped over them from the door way.

"Your highness the small council is waiting for you. You have been missing all day." Ser William of the King's Arm stood tall in the door way. Even though Logan couldn't see his features with the sun behind his head he could tell the knight was furious. He was sworn to protect the Crown Prince but Logan had spent the morning giving Ser William the slip and had gone into the city alone. Again.

Sighing deeply Logan patted the gelding's neck. "Well Percy matters of state are calling. Perhaps we will discuss what to do with all these new arrival's to the city."

"As you please highness"

Logan clapped Percy on the shoulder and walked out of the stable with Ser William.

The stable was in the seaside corner of the Great Citadel while the tower, Melkar's Eye, where the small council met was in the middle of the Great Citadel's grounds. The whole fortress, with its palatial towers, massive kitchens, stables, kennels, servants quarters, barracks and various buildings for storage and work covered the large cliff top that dropped on one side into the vastness of the Western Ocean and slopped down to form the solid ground on which the city of Farhaven was built.

As they crossed the yard towards Melkar's Eye, or The Eye as people called it now that the king was named Melkar, the stable hands, kitchen boys and men at arms nodded their heads in quick bows and hopped quickly out of their way.

"Your highness I do not wish to make your life difficult but if you continue to try and escape your protection I will have no choice but to inform his Royal Majesty." Ser William said striding with purpose and without looking back.

"What do you mean trying William? I remember leaving you in the spice market and not seeing you again until just now." Logan smiled happy at the thought that he had ruffled the only slightly older man whose demeaner always made Logan feel as though he was a child in the presence of a character from a story.

"Your highness is of course right. You attempted to leave me in the spice market and did not see me again until just a moment ago. That does not mean that I did not see your highness." Ser William gave the slightest hint of a smile.

"Oh really William? Your just trying to make me think you could keep up." Logan shook his head. There was no way that the stuffy knight had followed him through the twists and turns of the city.

"Really your highness? I'm glad you decided against buying one of those meat pies. They looked none to fresh. Nor did the pie boy to be honest." Now Ser William gave a full flash of his white teeth.

Damn it thought Logan. This man was impossible.
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Welfare Reform Part II: Unemployment protection

My theory on "Newstart" is that it doesn't actually provide a new start. You have to wait 8 weeks after you lose your job to get payments. You have to have no money in your bank account and you have to be about to lose your house because you can't make mortgage payments.

Its a system that punishes the least trained and least educated who are up too 15 times more likely to be unemployed and at the same time are as more likely to spend 115% of their annual income by incurring debt then middle and upper income earners.

I believe that the system should provide for people to live their lives while they transit through unemployment and for the small percentage of society, the 4% that lives in the underlying unemployment rate, to live their lives without shame, poverty or embarrassment.

I believe that we should have a system that provides 75% of your wages in Unemployment protection for the 1st 3 months. 50% for the next 6 months and a liveable allowance for any period of time spent unemployed after that.

The system is straightforward. It provides significant resources for people to aid them in the search for work as soon as they are made unemployed. This is the period they will most likely find another job. The incentive is the staged reduction. a planned staged reduction in income allows people to transit their lives as their income transits rather than shifting to nothingness.

Work for the dole programs should kick in after 18 months of unemployment but should be offered along with genuine education and training. Work for the dole should be removed from private providers and the programs should be focussed on nation building projects.

Education payments should be greater than the liveable allowance of unemployment protection to encourage the long term unemployed to take up education options.

People should be refered to as citizens and not customers by the government. People who rely on the government for their income are not customers. Customers have choice and can choose to access other suppliers of goods and services. No one else provides government. There is no choice for people and there is no consumer market relationship.

Its a falsehood born of the need to legitimise treating citizens who breech their "mutual obligations" like criminals and provide a moral soapbox for conservative politicians to bash the poorest members of our society.

A citizen has rights where as nobody likes a bad customer. The unemployed aren;t shoplifters and its criminal that they are treated like petty theives by conservative media and politicians and its negligent that we allow them to manipulate the language to swing Joe Blow to thinking the same way.

The livable allowance needs to take into account part time work. For those who were employed previously the ceiling when the allowance cuts out should be when the income levels are compareable to the previous employment.

This is system costs a lot of money. Most of my policies, including my tax policy, probably cost more money than current systems.

These policies also give greater incentive for people to work hard, have children, become smarter, become more innovative and to produce more.




Welfare Reform Part I: Parenting payments

I should start this policy thought by saying that I am a firm believer in the wlefare state. I don't believe that we are born with equal opportunity and that as a result the state should play a role in providing opportunity to those who are born without. I also believe that givena choice between having to work for money or getting money for nothing people will always choose to get their money for nothing. Hence the reason why people play Tattslotto every week. I do believe in supporting those who can't support themselves and I do believe that people are entitled to enjoy their final years after making a contribution to society. I believe that social secruity is a way of sculpting our society. So what do we do about social security payments and welfare?

Here is a table that shows what payments have an income and asset test attached to it.

Payment Name Income Test Assets Test
ABSTUDY Yes Yes
AGDRP No No
Age Pension Yes Yes
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme Yes No
Austudy Payment Yes Yes
Bereavement Allowance Yes Yes
Carer Allowance (adult) No No
Carer Allowance (child) No No
Carer Payment (adult) Yes Yes
Carer Payment (child) Yes Yes
Child Care Benefit Yes No
Disability Support Pension Yes Yes
Double Orphan Pension No No
Employment Entry Payment No No
Family Tax Benefit Part A Yes No
Family Tax Benefit Part B Yes No
Maternity Payment No No
Maternity Immunisation Allowance No No
Mature Age Allowance Yes Yes
Mobility Allowance No No
Newstart Allowance Yes Yes
Parenting Payment Yes Yes
Partner Allowance Yes Yes
Pensioner Education Supplement No No
Pharmaceutical Allowance No No
Remote Area Allowance No No
Seniors Concession Allowance No No
Sickness Allowance Yes Yes
Special Benefit Yes Yes
Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme No No
Telephone Allowance No No
Utilities Allowance No No
Widow Allowance Yes Yes
Widow B Pension Yes Yes
Wife Pension Yes Yes
Youth Allowance Yes Yes


Lets start at birth. Below are the payments that a person is entitled to when they have a baby.

The Baby Bonus payment of $3,000 or $5,000

Family Tax Benefit Part A - for parents or carers to help with the cost of raising children.
Family Tax Benefit Part B - for single income families or sole parents.
Parenting Payment - for parents or guardians to help with the cost of raising children.
Child Care Benefit - for families to help with the cost of child care.
JET Child Care Fee Assistance – for help with the cost of approved child care for people receiving income support and who have an activity agreement.
Maternity Payment - for help with those extra costs after the birth of a new baby.
Maternity Immunisation Allowance - for fully immunised children or those exempt from immunisation.
Double Orphan Pension - for people who are raising children who have lost both parents.
Carer Allowance (Child) - for people who care for a child with a disability at home.
There is a wide range of payments for people who have children. I do not have a problem with this. I believe we should be more targeted with the use of these payments. Family tax benefits should only go to the poorest members of our society. The child care benefit should be increased to 80% of child care costs and be avaliable to all people who earn under $100,000 individually or under $150,000 as a couple. The baby bonus is social engineering but it is targeted incorrectly. It should be means tested and only avaliable to people earning between middle tax bracket incomes (refer to the previous polcy). People on the lowest incomes are still having children as are people on the highest incomes. Its the people in the middle who are having less and need to be encouraged and supported.

All people who recieve parenting payment and/or family tax benefit should be required to attend training classes on childhood nutrition, childhood education, childhood safety, conflict resolution, financial management and health in order to be eliglible for payments.

a 50-50 arrangement should be set up with employers for maternity leave that allows for paid maternity leave for both parents (if in a couple) for a minimum of 6 months and to work alternate days for the first 5 years of the childs life while each keeping a fulltime wage. This means that on monday mum looks after Billy while daddy works and on Tuesday daddy looks after Billy while mum works. Parents who opt for this program would be inelgible for the 80% child care rebate and vice versa.

A parent who gives up work to stay home should recieve 75% of their wages in parenting payments but will be ineligble for the child care payment.

For the purposes of all these payments same sex couples should be recognised in the same manner as couples of the opposite sex.

I will continue with Part II of welfare reform. Unemployment life support



BJD
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The Road to Universal Higher Education: Educate the masses and they will reward the state with more than money.

One of the things that I find irksome about our current higher education system is that the basis for the government charging HECS seems to be a notion that the debt recorded on the balance sheet is an asset and therefore of value. Yet the educational outcomes that give people the skills and knowledge to create, invent and drive the products of our economy seems to be of little value. Except as a personal outcome. I disagree. However realising the corpratist mentality will enevitably win out I have included it in this policy.

Key Points:

Raise the Student Contribution repayment cut in level to $80,000. This is a two fold policy. It means that for the majority of education, nursing, arts, and many other degrees the graduates would not pay back their degrees. Also it encourages many of the best teachers, nurses and others to stay in the front line of those professions. Some will argue this punishes the best people in these fields. Rather it encourages them to stay in the vital areas.

In order to combat what could happen: A shortage of business/law/other high earning graduates I propose reducing the student contribution rates for these degrees. this opens these degrees up to those who would never have considered it due to cost and still allow the government to reclaim some of the costs. These graduates are most likely to move into careers where their earnings will be over $80,000 per annum and have to pay back their education which means that their degree costs should be lowered.

The same system should apply to post graduate courses.

reseach funding should be granted on the basis on national criteria which should be set by a panel including the VCC, the minister's rep, the CSIRO and a peak employer body. This would allow for the criteria to be based on economic requirements plus academic merit.

All university funding links to industrial relations legislation should be removed.

Student Associations should be funded by the Federal Government. These organisations serve an important nation building purpose. Above and beyond the standard student services argument is the fact that the majority of both sides of the house served 1st as a student representative. This has been the case for over 4 decades. A viable and important part of the continued health of our democracy.
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Changing system from monetary cap to EFT cap. Businesses with 20 or less EFT staff would be exempt from payroll tax. This increases wage capacity and encourages further employment from current system which effectively caps out at 10-15 staff.



Abolishing payroll tax for employees under 20 and over 55. This adds potential for a split wage increase at the top and bottom end of the age spectrum with no bottom line impact for employers. Encourages the hiring of youth workers and retention of older workers.



Payroll tax exemption period of 2 years for all employees hired who have been on unemployment benefits for 18 months or longer. Encourage the employment of long term unemployed.
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With unstable interest rates, ever increasing house prices and the threat of constant urbanisation until Melbourne merges into Ballarat a number of government policies should be brought to bear. One of which is Land Tax

The payment of land tax is due on all property over the value of $200,000.

My proposal is to abolish land tax on all properties for 1st home buyers that is purchased within the metropolitian zone for a period of not less than 5 years. Not outer suburbs or new developments. Only exsisting houses or new high density accomodation in inner Melbourne would be exempt. I would propose the removal of all government charges for property under $500,000 within that area for 1st home buyers.

This program could be used to encourage growth in regional centres as well.

I would increase the percentage charge on new development in outer areas to 2cents for every dollar up to $200,000, 3cents for every dollar between $200,001 to $450,000, 3.5 cents for every dollar between $450,001 and $1 million 4.5 cents for every dollar after $1 million.

This money would be used to pay for additional infrastructure such as a new rail line, roads and tram extensions.

An additional 1% levy would be charged to all groups purchasing and subdiving new tracts of land in outer suburbs which would be put into a "Public amenities" fund to be used to provide public transport services.

Ben
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but the steward was waiting in his room.
"Master Jonathan your lord father is waiting for you in his solar. He wishes to speak with you before the days hunt." Steward Raymond was neither kindly nor harsh and the plain grey robes he wore everyday were neither stained nor sparkeling. A thin man in his late forties who had served as Jonathan's father's steward he was, as most stewards across the kingdom were, seemingly unremarkable. "No steward wears fine clothes. It is for a steward to teach and serve others who stand in the sun. We are men of neither darkness nor light. We are the shadow of great lords." Steward Raymond had told him when he was a boy and had asked why he didnt wear nicer clothes and whether it was because his father was too niggardly with coin.
"Is something wrong Raymond? Are we not going hunting?" Jonthan was uncertain of what his father would want to speak to him about in his solar this early in the morning.
"Nothing is wrong as far as I can tell. Your father seems in good spirits." the steward unclasped his hands from in front of himself and flicked back his sleeves. "Come along when you are dressed."
Jonathan dressed quickly, not wanting to keep his father waiting, and wondered why his father wanted to see him before they set off on the days hunt. The stairs up to his father's solar in the main keep we sttep and winding. Arrow slits in the thick granite walls let in shafts of soft grey light that broke the darkness of stone. How often had he been called to his father's solar for bad behaviour? There was the time the steward had caught Jonthan and one of the kitchen boys chasing the chickens around the yard with sticks. His father had made the kitchen boy report to the kennels for a week and had given Jonathan naught but vegetables, bread and water to eat. "Animals serve us but we must not torture them Jonathan. You will go without what they give us until you understand that." After three days Jonathan had realised why he needed to be kinder to the chickens.
"Come." His father's voice sounded deep through the thick oak door.
Jonathan opened the door and walked into the room. The great hall was where the lords, knights and vassels came to bend their knees to the Lord of Whitefort but it was from his solar that Jonathan's father ruled the vast cold expenses of the north. Here he studied reports, recieved messages and took counsel with his advisors. It was here that law was made before it was proclaimed in the Hall.
Jonathan's father looked up from behind his desk. A large dark desk made from the wood of pirate ship by a distant ancestor or so his wet nurse said.

to be continued.....
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Jonathan woke up before dawn. Today he would become a man and he was too excited to sleep. His father had promised that they would go hunting for a stag today. Jonthan wanted to become a man in the traditional Northern way. Hunt a stag, kill it and eat its heart.
As he got up from his bed his dog, Max, raised his large head and sniffed at him.
"Go back to sleep Max. You have a long day coming." Jonathan shrugged into his warm furs and snuck down to the kitchen for an early breakfast.
"Lord Jonathan Sire it is a pleasure to have you in my humble kitchen." Cookie greated Jonathan as he tried to sneak into the kitchen. Cookie had his greasy apron covered in flour tight across his large belly that seemed to be a whole other person stuffed under his shirt. The cooks face split wide with a friendly smile.
"Cookie stop playing with me." Jonathan replied. "Its my birthday that's all." Jonathan was trying to act nonchalant even though his chest felt full to bursting at the prospect of finally leaving childhood behind.
"Ah well you'll be lord here soon enough if you keep growing like you do."
Jonathan liked the kitchens. It was always warm and smelled of delicious foods. Mornings smelled of fresh bread and evenings of roasting meats. Cookie was friendly enough when he wasn't swatting kitchen hands or pot boys with the gnarled wooden spoon that he wielded like a marshall's baton. Come to think of it Jonathan had never seen Cookie use that spoon for anything apart from swatting people. He had seen Cookie chop a big nasty rat in two with one of his nasty looking cleavers. "That will do for your dinner." Cookie had said to him with a wink as he dangled the two parts in front of his nose.
"Here you go master Jonathan fresh bread, butter, crispy bacon, lemon water and warmed milk. A breakfast for any new man." Cookie put the plate on the chipped wooden table that Jonathan liked to sit at with the other kitchen boys. When Cookie saw the slightly hurt look on Jonathan's face he added, "Of course a new man can keep some of the niceties of boyhood. Here." He pulled a honey cake out of one the large pockets in his apron and tossed it to Jonathan.

After breakfast Jonathan tried to sneak back up to his room before the steward found he wasnt in his bed.

To be continued............
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The white caps broke over the bow of the ship. The black sails were full of wind and his cloak whiped around him as he stood looking out to sea. He refused to look back. To look at the crew scampering around the deck hauling ropes, or at the men firing arrows back towards the shore or at the captain standing bellowing instructions at his men.

He certainly would not look back to the shore. A shore where men were launching arrows wrapped in fire. Men who had persued him hard for over a week down the coast to the small cove where this fast galley picked him up. A galley painted black, with black sails and a crew that knew the coves and inlets that no customs ship patrolled.

"Your highness, please its much safer below the decks."

He turned around and faced the barrel chested man who was now the Commander of the Kings Arm. His face was half covered by the now white beard that had grown somewhat scraggled during the last few week. His gleaming white armour was visable beneath the plain brown tunic where arrows and sword slashes had cut through the rough wool during their latest escape. Sweat had carved channels through the grime on his face. "My loyal protector." He thought.

"I am fine here Ser William. We are pullling away and they have no ships in this area."

"As you say your highness. Still it will not take them long to send for a galley to persue us." Ser William's eyes were as steady as they had been the first time he had been introduced to the mighty knight over twenty years ago. It had been a wonderful summer and he had been only a small boy prehaps just past his sixth or seventh birthday when his father had called him inside from the pools where he spent the summer playing with the other boys of the court.

"This is Ser William Morris of Landsdown. He is a knight of the Kings Arm. He will protect you from now until the day he dies." His father he told him when he had introduced the broad shouldered man known to the commons as Morris the Mighty. he had known of Sir William before his father introduced him. All boys with dreams a valour did. Six and a half feet tall and pure muscle, William Morris was the fourth son of a minor noble family from the Westlands. He had been made a knight on the battlefield at age 16, slew the Green Knight of the Fields at age 18 and been made the youngest knight to don the white armour of the Kings Arm at age 19 during the infamous Northern Rebellion. He had protected his older brother until the accident and so he then protected him in turn.

"Am I such a monster?"

"Your highness?"

He realized he had spoken aloud and looked at Ser William as the old knight looked back at him with puzzlement in his eyes.

"It is nothing William. You are right. They won't stop just because we have taken to the sea. I should go below decks."

So he walked across the decks of the smugglers ships to the hatch and ladder. Down into his cramped one bed, one bolted to the floor stool, one bolted to the floor table cabin.

The Crown Prince of Logan, rightful heir to King Melkar III, Thomas II sat in his cabin and cried as the loss of his family, his friends and his kingdom struck him for the first time since he had fled the citadel over three months ago.
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If two people have spent 8 years engaged in trying to reconcile their relationship surely thats enough time?

Having only one side make concessions, make apologies, make reperations only fuels resentment. As time progresses one party will become increasing disillusioned and disaffected by the situation. A review of why reconcilliation was desired takes place.

Have any of the reasons why the path of reconcilliation was chosen been brought to fruition? Has any progress been made towards the "ideal" situation?

If the answer is no then why would you continue to make the effort? Why would you subject yourself to the pain and trauma of concilliation? You wouldn't.

And I won't do it anymore.

Eight years of apologies unreturned. Eight years of efforts ignored. Eight years of opportunities spurned. Eight years of non-reciprical respect.

And its enough. No more.

This is the year of unburdening.

And now you will die alone.

Current Mood: peaceful peaceful

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When people think about what happened today in the future they will change the details just slightly.

Over time each remembering is slightly different to the last.

Emotions get stronger. The positives are more positive and the negatives more negative. It was the best of times it was the worst of times.

In reality it was likely not dissimiliar to these times. When people see an old picture, re-connect with an old lover, smell a familiar scent all they will remember is the extremity of that memory.
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