ggs thoughts some very wise words

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    GG's thoughts
    Article from: Sunday Herald Sun

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    Brad Crouch

    April 06, 2008 12:00am

    GOVERNOR-GENERAL Maj-Gen Michael Jeffery has called on young Australians not to "hero-worship" celebrities.

    Maj-Gen Jeffery and his wife, Marlena, also urged the country's youth to embrace a "moral obligation" to reject rampant consumerism in favour of simpler, more sustainable lifestyles.

    The Governor-General said the young should reject shallow celebrity glitz in favour of celebrating genuine achievers and the wisdom of the elderly.

    His comments come amid growing worries that society is increasingly rewarding bad behaviour -- suburban party pests such as Corey Worthington being hailed as celebrities and magazine-famous bad girls Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan elevated to youth-icon status.

    In a wide-ranging interview, Maj-Gen Jeffery said:

    THE war on terror was a "second order issue" compared with the looming challenge of finding sustainable resources to feed the world.

    NUCLEAR power should be considered by Australia as an energy option.

    THE seamless transition of power after the last federal election was a highlight of his term in office.

    PLANS were in progress for a $30 million non-profit think-tank that would seek solutions to national challenges.

    Maj-Gen Jeffrey urged the nation to acknowledge genuine achievers of all ages.

    "We have had too much of an emphasis on celebrity and that tends to be younger people," he said.

    "It tends to be the glitz rather than the substance and perhaps too much of an emphasis on controversy rather than on genuine achievement.

    "I don't think we spend enough time extracting the wisdom of older people.

    "I think there is a lot of the glitz and the hero worship of so-called glamour, as against substance. And that impacts on the respect for older people."

    Both the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery also cautioned young people against "wanting it all, now".

    He said he and his wife "did it pretty hard" in earlier days.

    "At one stage we had three children under two and I was off to war periodically. It wasn't easy, but our expectations were less," he said.

    "We weren't looking for four bedroom houses and two cars and everything brand new," the war veteran and former commander of our elite SAS regiment recalled.

    Mrs Jeffery added: "They were simpler times. As young parents, we didn't have expectations to own so much, to have it all early.

    "People made do building their bunk beds and book cases and things like that. There wasn't the pressure to have it all, so it was easier to live on one wage.

    "These high expectations today go hand-in-hand with looking at the world and its resources; there is now a moral obligation to cut back, for all of us not to look for so many consumables.

    "We have to look at getting more meaning out of simpler things and perhaps turn the clock back a little bit. It is just that everything is so available now, but we have to start looking at the way we do things and perhaps get our enjoyment from other things."


    Maj-Gen Jeffery said it was vital the nation understood the environmental challenges ahead.

    "The greatest challenge we are about to face is whether the globe has sufficient renewable resources to meet the aspirations of, firstly, a burgeoning 'middle-class' in China and India, and, secondly, the global population expansion estimated to go to 10 billion by 2050," he said.

    "There is a fair bit of evidence to say already we are living off our fat -- we are consuming 20 per cent more than the world is capable of reproducing.

    "When you look at the rate we are utilising very scarce arable land for big cities and urban developments, when you look at problems of water -- its ownership, availability, distribution -- they are the critical issues this generation faces.

    "We have to do something about it now to try to save . . . coming generations."


    Maj-Gen Jeffery said nuclear energy should be considered along with all other power sources.

    "All options should be considered," he said.

    "There is an alternative to the use of uranium in the nuclear sense -- a material called thorium.

    "And, I understand, the advantages are the reactors are much smaller and cleaner and do not produce nuclear weapons-grade material as a by-product.

    "It is something -- along with everything else . . . wind power, tidal, wave, solar, ultra-clean coal . . . all those things -- we should be looking at in an educated and informed way to come up with the best solution.

    "I guess what will happen is there will be a whole series of different options that will suit different purposes and perhaps even different states."


    Maj-Gen Jeffrey urged Australians not to let the threat of terrorism rule their lives.

    "The war on terrorism is perhaps a second-order issue in comparison to problems we are are going to have with resources and water," he said.

    "It is going to cause us inconvenience and huge cost rather than be a threat to our national survival or system of government.

    "We've got to remain on the alert, of course . . . but we should still be able to relax and enjoy ourselves and go to the footy and the opera without having to think about what terrorists may be planning."


    Two royal weddings and the papal funeral were among 21 State visits, but the vice-regal couple said two events stood out.

    "The transition of power in the last election was a highlight in a constitutional sense -- it gave a very good example to the rest of the world on the seamless transition of power," Maj-Gen jeffrey said.

    "And Gallipoli was outstanding in 2006 -- so many of our youngsters walking arm-in-arm with Turkish youngsters, swapping flags. It was a very clear statement that Australians don't hate. We fought lots of wars for various reasons but we are a country that doesn't bear grudges and that's a strength of our national character."


    "I thought water was our greatest problem, but it is finite resources across the board . . . it will be food, which is linked to water," he said.

    "Whether we can sustain traditional farming practices, or look at other systems of food production that will be more relative to health needs, and at the same time produce the required quantities, that is a whole area of research."


    "Women make up 50 per cent of the population and probably 70 per cent of our compassion, so I'm sure a female governor-general will arrive in time," Maj-Gen Jeffrey said. "But whether it is next time I can't say because that's entirely a matter for the Prime Minister and the Queen."

    Mrs Jeffery noted that a woman could do the job as well as a man: "There are many women in Australia who could do the job brilliantly -- within reason anyone could be governor-general because you don't have to be born to it, be rich, be a celebrity or be famous, that's a strength of the system."


    "Mateship is as important as ever," Maj-Gen Jeffery said. "Australia Day is a celebration of what being Australian is about, but Anzac Day is a hook for young people on which to hang a coat of values, such as mateship, courage and self-sacrifice."

    Mrs Jeffery noted that immigrants generally accepted national values: "We do multiculturalism very well," she said.

    "What we value as our Australian ethos and principles is readily accepted by people who come here.

    "We are a lovely melting pot with very few blips; it's one of our great strengths."


    "WE HAVE five million volunteers giving an average of 3.5 hours a week -- an extraordinary commitment," the Governor-General said.

    "People are very busy, but it is essential that after we look after our health, then look after our families, which is the real basis of a cohesive society, then we look after one another -- that's where volunteer works comes in."


    "WE HAVE to pay great attention and give great support to the study of science in all its forms," he said. "I'd love to ask the media to encourage it as their contribution to a more productive and far-thinking Australia.

    "Australia can set the example for the world as a nation of excellence. It would do two things -- guarantee our prosperity as the leading country with technology and, secondly, it would play a great role in ensuring our security.

    "Countries won't want to knock us off, they will want to send kids to our universities, trade with us, learn from us . . ."


    MAJ-Gen Jeffery and Mrs Jeffery hope to enlist public and corporate support to raise $30 million for a not-for-profit foundation, which would then be self-funded.

    "This would attract some of the best brains in the country and perhaps from overseas to focus on issues such as water, salinity, population, social conditions and governance.

    "It would not suggest policy, but give direction to which any political party could tweak to their own philosophies."

    The Jefferys also plan to work with favourite charities including School Volunteers and the Kokoda Foundation.
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