The stories that enrage and sustain us.
 
rage \ respite
edition 18
the stories that enrage and sustain us.
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rage
As a student of high school-level politics you learn that - alongside transparency and representation - accountability is one of the major tenets of democracy. But as with many of the expectations we have of our leaders, these three pillars are often ignored; and in Australian politics’ case this week, slandered.

One of the many benefits that come with having a state system in Australia is being free from the federal government’s involvement in every corner of our daily lives. But more importantly, it is the presence of anti-corruption bodies that hold political leaders to account in every state around the country. They are bodies that scrutinise political processes, investigate raised concerns and uphold the integrity of Australian democracy. 

Late last week, New South Wales’ former Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned due to an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) case being brought against her. The case is investigating whether Berejiklian breached public trust in the awarding of grants that favoured her former partner and disgraced former MP, Daryl Maguire. The investigation will determine whether, as NSW Treasurer, Berejiklian made calls that allowed for the awarding of a grant that saw Maguire draw a profit. A blatant conflict of interest, breach of public trust and nepotism firmly at play.

Normally, when a politician resigns in the midst of alleged corruption, they resign in shame. Their legacy is pulled apart, their conduct is scrutinised and public trust plummets. But this week we saw something extraordinary. 

Following Berejiklian’s resignation, her colleagues, federal counterparts, constituents and the Australian media jumped to the former Premier’s defence and lauded her integrity and legacy in leading NSW through this year’s disastrous outbreak.

The Prime Minister
said he joined with “the many thousands, if not millions of people from New South Wales, who are very sad that she has had to step down." Unsurprisingly, Scott Morrison and his political mates have consistently voted against the creation of an anti-corruption body at the federal level.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce
likened ICAC to “the Spanish Inquisition”, an interesting turn of phrase for a Roman Catholic. He also said ICAC made politicians “terrified of doing their job”, because in Joyce’s mind, the lines of corruption are too blurry to comprehend. 

Major media outlets chronicled Berejiklian’s legacy in government, with even the ABC calling it a “gloomy night”. Veteran ABC Barrie Cassidy said it well when tweeting, “Watching the ABC you would think the NSW premier has just been struck down by poor health…She is under investigation for alleged corruption.” 

Likely influenced by this misguided sentiment of the media that night, Berejiklian’s constituents plastered her office in the cushy Northern Beaches seat of Willoughby with signs reading “Long live Gladys”, seemingly unphased by her potential misuse of their taxes to line the pockets of her boyfriend.

If we really want to hold onto those core tenets that uphold the integrity of our democracy, it means holding everyone to the same set of rules. One day, the federal ICAC equivalent we dream of may come into existence. But until then, we can watch our leaders decry accountability in order to protect their own arses.

respite
It’s no secret that housing is more expensive than ever - for buyers and renters. Gentrification is running rampant in cities, and indeed regional towns, around the world, and the wealth gap is creating a stark landlord/renter divide. But a grassroots movement in Berlin is seeking to halt this downward spiral and redefining housing as a right for all.

Once one of Europe’s most affordable cities, Berlin’s rent prices have more than doubled in the past decade, causing displacement and the breakdown of community bonds. But with more than 80% of the city’s population being renters, this majority is fighting back. 

The DW und Co. Enteignen (Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen and Co.) is seeking to allow the government
to expropriate properties held by mega-landlords, ie. those who owns thousands of units of property in the city. Their major target is Wohen and Co, a corporate (for profit) landlord that owns around 113,000 housing units in the city. 

Expropriation is when a government takes a property out of private hands for the benefit of the public; this is often done for the creation of railways, roads and airports. But the DW and Co Enteignen want to set a new precedent that will allow the Berlin government to expropriate for the purposes of combatting gentrification and making housing more affordable for local residents. 

Recently, the campaign gathered over 350,000 signatures, which allowed them to trigger a public referendum. Excitingly, over 56% of Berliners voted ‘yes’ to allowing expropriation to curb gentrification.

While this referendum is not legally binding, and there are many political and legal obstacles to overcome, this campaign and vote sets a precedent for how communities and cities could take housing into their own hands. We will be watching.

ritual
I am not a foodie. I enjoy food, I occasionally make food, and I understand the obsession with food - but I tend to spend none of my time thinking about food. But this week I discovered a food that I can’t stop talking about. Almost five months deep into lockdown, and deprived of exciting (sweet) foods, I resorted to making my own.

Enter: homemade apple pies. Step 1: stew apples. Step 2: make date paste, a natural sweetener consisting of blended water and dates. Step 3: purchase puff pastry. Step 4: combine the outcomes of steps 1 and 2 inside step 3 with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake until golden. Eat for breakfast. Imagine you’re in an Austrian village with your morning Apple Strudel. 
This newsletter is created on the stolen lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people of the Eora nation. I pay my respects to their elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.
I'm Georgia Gibson, a freelance content strategist and writer working with impact-driven clients.
You can visit my website or follow me on Insta for more.

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Clovelly, Clovelly, NSW, 2031, Australia