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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Maintaining standards

Dr Frances Chandler

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Maintaining standards

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I congratulate Mrs Pat Layne, OBE, personal secretary to the Governor General, on a job well done and wish her a healthy, fulfilling retirement. I’ve known Pat for years, my sister and I having attended Queen’s College with her in the 1960s. Our paths met during our careers, especially at the Ministry of Agriculture, and later when I coordinated the Governor General’s Agricultural Camps for the then Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands.

In a Sunday Sun article she was described as the “epitome of efficiency, someone who stands on ceremony and correctness, and whom some view as aloof”, and “she has a reputation for being a stickler for protocol”. While some may have criticised her, I agree with her approach which is to be distinguished from using bureaucracy as a hurdle to getting things done. She proved this when she started in the public service and went to a desk that had so many files, you couldn’t see her. She cleared out all that work.

Certainly any function I’ve attended at Government House has been dignified and meticulously managed as would befit the office of governor general. Let’s hope her successor maintains these standards.

As Richard Hoad stated in the August 22 Lowdown, things have crept up on us imperceptibly in the last 50 years until “we have become beggars, downgraded . . . considered junk . . . our country looking like a disagreeable dump tourists no longer want to see . . . . Our women the fattest in the world, chronic diseases rampant, murder abounding, manufacturing and agriculture in ruins, tourism struggling, taxed to death with little to show for it”.

That’s what happens when we lower our standards, and those who insist on maintining them are ridiculed, told to go with the flow. Parents, teachers, children, everyone is being pressured.

I couldn’t believe it when I read of the 24-year-old accused of murder and other violent offences while on bail for a 2010 murder charge. How can someone accused of murder, rape or any violent crime possibly be  granted bail? And why does it take four years for the case to be heard?

Our justice system seems to be in shambles, with backlogs abounding. I recall the Chief Justice making lofty statements about cleaning all this up. What has he done to improve the system? Whatever it is, it’s not obvious to the public. Same for the Attorney General who, based on his recent TV interview, seems better suited to the diplomtic corps.

We must maintain standards if we want to leave our country in a liveable condition for our children and grandchildren. I’ve always maintained that I’m glad I’m on my way out, but I have grave concerns for future generations. Well known actor, Bill Cosby, expresses a similar sentiment. He says: “I’m also glad to be 83. Because, mostly, I’m not going to have to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter and their children. Thank God I’m on the way out and not on the way in.”

Here are other sentiments expressed by Bill Cosby: “I’ve worked hard since I was 17 . . . . “I put in 50-hour weeks, and didn’t call in sick in nearly 40 years. I made a reasonable salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. 

“I’m tired. Very tired. I’m tired of being told that I have to ‘spread the wealth’ to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it . . . .

“I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?

“I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor. I’m really tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions.

“I’m also tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and early 20s bedeck themselves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making themselves unemployable and claiming money from the government.

“Yes, I’m damn tired.”

I am too!

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator.