No more "good blokes": a call for guidelines on reporting murder

Somewhere in Australia, right now, there is a man considering killing their entire family, and themselves.

There may, in fact, be more than one. Probably is more than one, in fact. But we know it's a man; perpetrators of familicide, or family annihilation, are almost exclusively male. Maybe he's lost his job, gambled his way into debt, believes the world is an evil and corrupt place; maybe it's for no reason at all. For whatever reason, he's decided that he wants to die. Not only that, but that everyone he loves most should die with him. And why not? If he was to simply kill himself, he'd be leaving them with the debt, with the shame. For that, he may be remembered as a coward.

But the man planning how he can wipe out his entire family can be sure that if he does so, that act of murder will not define him. He'll be remembered as a good bloke.

Like Geoff Hunt, who pointed a gun at the heads each of his three children and his wife, and pulled the trigger. He was remembered as a lovely bloke, a hardworking family man, driven to despair over his wife's traumatic brain injury and sparing his family the pain of their unbearable lives. As with reports from the Margaret River shooting that one or more of the children have autism, the mention of disability adds to the redemption of the murderer; the stress of coping with a loved one's disability makes murder all the more understandable. And when the murder of the Lutz-Manrique children in 2017 was described as "an act of love", it tells us that the lives of people with disabilities are not quite worth living.

Channel 7 journalist Robert Ovadia is apparently angry that people are challenging the good bloke narrative. Ovadia asks whether we need to spell out that mass murderers are bad people, before stating we need to leave Aaron Cockman, who described his former father in law, who'd murdered Cockman's four children, as a good bloke - alone.

The people who needed to leave Aaron Cockman alone are the media who broadcast the words of a man who was obviously in shock hours after losing his children. But no one was challenging Aaron Cockman. They were upset and angry that yet again, a man who murdered their entire family was being remembered as a good bloke - in one case, described as such in the headline of an article despite no one quoted in the article describing him that way. 

The NSW Coroner found that Geoff Hunt murdered his family because of an "egocentric delusion that his wife and children would be better off dying than living without him." That is how we should be talking about family annihilators. Not what great blokes they were. The man planning how he will kill his family does not need to know his actions will be rationalised, explained away, forgiven. In the murderous, egotistical scheme he's devising, he doesn't need encouragement to see himself as a hero.

Do we need to spell out that mass murderers are bad people? Yes. We need to say that good blokes don't kill their wives, their children, their grandchildren. We need the next "ordinary decent bloke" who plans to slaughter his entire family to know he won't be remembered as a good guy. We have guidelines for how suicide is reported in the media, to discourage anyone who may think of copying; we need guidelines on reporting mass murder. Of course family are entitled to remember the deceased however they choose; it doesn't mean the media need to report it. When it happens again - and of course, of course, someone killing their entire family will happen again, cause the world is a bit shit - then at least we can know we are trying a bit harder, as a society, to prevent it. 

Quinceañera

This blog started life from the Xander and Nico pod, so yes I will post to wish my cat a happy birthday. When you have your own blog, you can post whatever you want.

Onward Christian Hypocrites: The strange logic of Trumping God

I don't think there's anyone who, by now, does not believe that at some time in the last 15 years, Donald Trump had sex with Stormy Daniels. The details of who paid how much when to shut who up about what are all a bit hazy, but it's pretty much agreed by everyone that the President of the United States, weeks after his third wife gave birth to his fifth child, had sex with a porn star. 

(And on that, why is everyone in porn a "star"? How come you never hear of "porn extras" or "porn character actors"? No wonder porn stars have all got about 280 film credits to their names; they're busy having to do all the acting. I digress). 

Even Evangelical Christians accept that Trump has been up to some shifty business, what with the Access Hollywood tapes, and now this; never mind that the man hasn't set foot in a church since elected. Evangelical Christians still love him. Prominent Evangelical Franklin Graham, son of the recently departed Billy Graham, has come out declaring that Trump's affair with Daniels is "nobody's business". You probably find it a bit revolting, and pretty baffling, that Evangelicals can protest gay marriage and in many US States make it almost impossible for a woman to access her right to control her own reproductive freedom, whilst seeing Trump as doing the Lord's work. 

There's logic behind it, though. A creepy, weird logic, but a logic nevertheless. You see, God famously moves in mysterious ways. God, in fact, likes to choose flawed and ordinary humans to do his work. St Paul enjoyed torturing the early Christians, before a a funny thing happened on the way to Damascus and he turned to spreading The Word of Jesus. 

But there's another Biblical figure Evangelicals have in mind when it comes to Trump. Specifically, Evangelical leaders are speaking of Trump as Cyrus, a 6th Century BCE Persian King who, whilst not a Jew, ended the Babylonian Exile, allowing the Jews to return to Israel and build the Temple. Whilst not being religious himself, Cyrus was used by God as a "vessel" to achieve His aims. Similarly, as a "flawed vessel", Trump is being used by God to achieve His aims, restoring America's place as a Christian nation.

How is Trump doing the Lord's work? First of all, by stopping Hilary. They can't quite articulate why - some furious spittle about gas pipelines, Benghazi, Monica Lewinsky and headbands - but they're convinced that Hilary Clinton is evil, actually evil, an instrument of the devil; and Trump, by selflessly putting aside his own interests to run for President, has saved America from this scourge. 

Then he announced plans to move the American embassy to Jerusalem; also good stuff. In Evangelical theology, it's all part of the plan to kick off with the end times and bring on the second coming of Christ. (Seeing Ultra Zionists and Fundamentalist Christians happily shaking hands over this when their end goals run at cross purposes is creepy, to say the least). 

And Trump won't take away their God given right to have guns. (I mostly read an ESV Bible, and it seems to be missing the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus sang the praises of the AR-15; maybe that's why the fundamentalists tend to prefer King James). They're not worried about their kids getting shot just for going to school, because their kids don't go to school; they're at home, getting homeschooled, not being "handed over to the state to raise". 

But Trump's real opportunity to do God's work is yet to come. The Fundies are counting on him to stay President long enough to appoint at least one more, conservative, justice to the Supreme Court. There's 9 Justices on the Supreme court, and they've basically had a balance of 4 conservative Republican, 4 Democrat and one Independent for the past few decades; this has been useful in ensuring judgements tend not to fall on the ends of the political spectrum. When Justice Anthony Scalia, a conservative Republican, died in early 2016, normal procedure should have been for Barack Obama to nominate a replacement; but the Republicans infamously held the seat open for a year, refusing all nominees until after the election, when they got their wish of a Republican president who nominated another conservative judge, Neil Gorsuch; keeping the ideological balance. 

The reason all this is an issue is because, if any of the Liberal leaning justices die or retire, Trump will replace them with a conservative, and the composition of the court will be 5 conservatives, 3 liberals and an independent  - paving the way for the Supreme Court, so the Evangelicals hope, to overturn Roe vs Wade, the judgement that mandates a woman's right to abortion. If Roe vs Wade is overturned, the right to legislate abortion devolves to the States, and you best believe the likes of OhioIowaKentucky and Alabama would be wetting themselves in the rush to make abortion illegal.

This is the issue Evangelicals care about more than just about any other. Not poverty or schooling or rising rates of maternal death or Presidents bumping uglies (a term that was rarely more apt) with a star of the adult film industry. Trump has been put in office to protect the millions of unborn babies liberals hate so much, and if the man has paid for or provoked an abortion or several himself over the years, well, that's none of their damn business. 

Not a good look

I felt annoyed, kinda disgusted and above all, tired when I saw this photo of NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham at a Greens trivia fundraiser:



(I debated whether I should include the actual photo, but decided to because the post won't make much sense unless you've seen it and anyway, with all the stuff I've discussed over the years, this isn't exactly a safe space.)

I felt disgusted because it sure looks to me like he's making a lewd gesture that refers to cunnilingus. And that makes me tired. I'm sure it would make many other women feel tired as well, because we're so tired of the graphic abusive messages we receive online. Just recently, a man added me as a friend on Facebook. I don't normally accept friend requests from people I don't know or share any mutual friends with, but in this case, I'd seen him commenting on several political posts and he seemed okay, so I accepted this one. Well, he started with messages saying he wanted to meet me and when I demurred, it escalated to vile messages with graphic descriptions of sexual acts. And then again I felt annoyed, but also exhausted by the amount of misogyny women encounter online.

So I felt pretty revolted and disappointed by what Mr Buckingham appears to be doing in this photo, and it seems I wasn't alone. There was fairly lively discussion on a (public) Greens supporters Facebook page, with defenders of Mr Buckingham stating that he is simply making an "up yours" gesture at the losing trivia team - and that inner city types wouldn't understand. Now, I'm from Newcastle, and I've never seen anyone give an inverted v salute to indicate up yours. It is always the middle finger. I guess things are different in other, non-inner city parts of NSW.

But I always try to see the good in people. I know things can be misinterpreted and people make mistakes. I decided to reserve judgment until Jeremy Buckingham had a chance to respond to allegations he, as an NSW MP, is making graphic reference to a sex act in a photo - not a good look. This is the kind of thing I wanted to see:

I want to apologise for being photographed in what I now understand is an inappropriate and offensive pose. Whilst no offence was intended, I apologise unreservedly to anyone who was hurt or offended by this gesture. I understand we all have a part to play in eliminating sexual harassment and assault from society. The Greens are committed to providing a safe environment free of assault. Anyone who wishes to discuss this further is welcome to contact my office. A link to the Greens Sexual Harassment policy and resources for those needing assistance can be found here:
https://nsw.greens.org.au/nsw/preventing-and-responding-sexual-harassment 

That was pretty much what I was hoping for. No blame shifting, no victim blaming, simple, gets the job done, offers help to anyone who needs it. I've cribbed this from John Scalzi's excellent guide to apologies, which lays out what a good apology should and shouldn't contain.

You might argue that this is all a bit of an overreaction to a simple photo. Do we all have to issue formal apologies for everything we do in life now? In this case, no, it really isn't over the top. Jeremy Buckingham is a Greens MP, a public representative, a group we would hope is held to higher standards of public conduct. He also represents the Greens, a party which stands for progressivism and human rights. I know for me, there's no "confected outrage"; I simply saw the photo, prior to most of the discussion on the matter, and felt disturbed and disappointed, and didn't really appreciate being told my visceral reaction was petty, prudish or over reacting.

In the case of Mr Buckingham, there ought to be an extra level  of sensitivity to these matters. The topics of sexual harassment and assault have been much discussed in recent times due to the #MeToo movement; in the case of the Greens, these discussions have been the more necessary and painful due to several incidents involving Greens members. High profile Greens member Jarah Crook, a former staffer of Jeremy Buckingham's, was accused of sexual assault by several young women, who allege the Greens failed to take proper action when alerted to the offences.

There was also the case of the ACT Greens volunteer allegedly assaulted by a senior Greens member, with Greens founder Bob Brown appearing in the media attacking the victim for her public anonymity and not going to police sooner. At a recent "meet the candidates" forum for the NSW State election, candidates were asked about Brown's comments in light of Greens harassment policies; all disavowed the comments except Mr Buckingham, who stated he was unaware of any such comments, which seems slightly disingenuous considering they were the talk of Greens' circles for weeks (I never know anything that's going on, but I was well aware of this). At any rate, I hope that Mr Buckingham took the opportunity to fully inform himself of what Bob Brown said and shared the view that it smacked of victim blaming.

So yes, I would expect Jeremy Buckingham to be more sensitive to matters surrounding sexual harassment and abuse; and to realise the hurt this photo caused and react appropriately.

Instead what we got was this:

“Attributable to Jeremy Buckingham: “This was a light-hearted up-yours and raspberry blown to the opposing trivia team after we won a trivia night. It was not intended to be anything else. I have apologised to anyone who has interpreted this gesture differently and any offense that it has caused.”

and

“I am a fan of 1970s punk rock and Rick Mayall from The Young Ones who often used the two finger up-yours as a cheeky gesture.”

and

“Hi Chris, Background (not for attribution) the photo was taken of the winning trivia team at a Greens trivia night. Jeremy is giving a light-hearted up-yours and blowing a raspberry at the opposing teams. It was not intended as any kind of sexual gesture. Perhaps it is the camera angle that makes it look like something it is not. It was posted by one of the other members of the trivia team to a private Facebook but then taken and publicised by former Shoebridge staffer Lauren Gillin.”

Said responses being provided by email to a journalist from New Matilda as outlined here. No ownership, no real apology - it's not I'm sorry for what I did but I'm sorry that you took offence. And all finished with an attempt to paint this as some sort of factional smear in an internal NSW Greens battle I'm not even going to start trying to explain here.

I was upset and disappointed by this photo, but I was willing to give Jeremy Buckingham the benefit of the doubt here, I really was. Instead, a learning opportunity and a chance to take the dialogue on sexual harassment in healthy directions regarding respect and a chance to link survivors with helpful resources  has turned into a disaster which does nothing to correct impressions that the Greens are a boys' club like any other party, that women can never feel entirely safe in politics, that concerns regarding harassment are not taken seriously or that as a Greens MP, Jeremy Buckingham understands the importance of his role in all of this. The photo was bad, but the obfuscation and cover up are so very much worse. And I'm feeling even sadder and more worn out than before.

Edit: an earlier version of this post showed an uncropped version of the above photo.

Why can't we have anti depressants that work?

I had another mental health episode recently. You wouldn't know anything was wrong to look at me; no talking to angels or strangers. But inside, I felt dreadful; an emotional flu, spiritual hangover, psychological gastro. Without going into gory details, in weighing up my options and desperately wanting to feel better, I considered heading to hospital. But I didn't, because aside from not much being in the mood for boiled carrots, I knew there was very little they could do to make me feel better. Sure, they could give me some valium to take the edge off and make me sleepy for a few hours, but that was about it.

Pharmaceutical treatments for depression are still stuck in the Prozac era of taking some pills, waiting three weeks and hoping for the best in the meantime; yet as I discovered there are other treatments which may well offer longer term cures; but the powers that be have decided we can't have them.

When it comes to antidepressants, we really haven't moved pharmacology much past the Prozac Nation era of the early 1990s. There have been minor developments, tinkering here and there, but SSRIs and SNRIs remain the fundamental pharmaceutical approach to depression. If someone suffering severe depression seeks medical help, the best they can be offered in most cases is to take these pills and hope there will be some improvement showing in a few weeks time.

There is some evidence that SSRIs are linked to increased rates of suicide, particularly in the early stages of treatment; whether this is because the drugs elevate energy levels before they improve mood, or due to another mechanism, is still a topic of intense debate in the psychiatric community.

Perhaps the worst aspect of modern antidepressants - aside from the fact that they don't actually make you feel better - are the absolutely horrendous side effects when you quit using the drugs. Symptoms of discontinuation syndrome include dizziness, confusion, fatigue and the brain zaps which will be familiar to anyone who's suffered from them (you know when you're falling asleep and feel like you're falling? I had that happen when I was walking down the street. It wasn't so great). Nearly half of users who tried to quit were unable to because of the severity of symptoms. My current primary medication, Effexor, causes withdrawal symptoms within hours; this is especially grim when I run out of pills near the end of the fortnight and have to wait a few days to afford to fill the script.

And when people stop taking them, they are still depressed.

So I kept searching for answers and found myself in forums for people who felt just as bad as I did. People struggling with severe depression, complex trauma, PTSD, able to openly share how bad things were and what they felt were their options. And of course the subject of suicide came up; someone said how they'd been dealing with the fall out from sexual abuse for decades, they'd tried every treatment available and now they were ready to give up. And someone said to them, I understand where you're coming from but before writing life off entirely, please try DMT. It will change everything.

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a psychedelic compound found in the ayahuasca and other plants. It's been called the spirit molecule, an experience which cannot be expressed in words (although this very long and odd article from VICE tries). It's been used in South American spiritual ceremonies for centuries, and there's a tonne of testimonies online of people who have used them successfully to treat depression, anxiety and PTSD, but in Australia DMT is a Schedule 9 substance prohibited except for research purposes.

Many online commenters suggested one should travel to South America for the authentic ayahuasca experience under supervision of a shaman, but if I was able to afford an overseas trip I wouldn't be so depressed, so that's out. There are DIY groups holding ayahuasca ceremonies in Australia, but you have to know they right sorts of people to be invited, which I don't, and anyway it all sounds a bit too much like ponchos and white guys with dreadlocks for my liking.

What I would like, without having to break the law or learn Spanish or hear bongos, is to be able to take myself along to a nice, clean medical centre and access treatment that would actually make a real, tangible difference in the way I feel.

The Greens yesterday launched their policy of legalising cannabis for adult use, a sensible move long overdue (and I don't even smoke the stuff and still won't if it's legalised; I just never liked the way it made me feel). But overshadowed in the fuss is the Greens calling for more research amid concerns that Australians are missing out on a global renaissance of psychedelic drugs used in treatment for depression, addiction and in palliative. Australia is lagging behind on use of psychedelic drugs in psychiatry and there are no trials underway, with authors of an article published in Australian Psychologist advocating for the research into their use lamenting the conservatism in academic and research circles (remember when Australia used to be a forward looking, innovative nation? Now we can't even have decent internet let alone medical research).

Stephen Bright and Martin Williams write in Australian Psychologist that whilst a range of effective therapies have been developed for conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and phobias, current treatments for severe depression and PTSD are not as effective. Psychedelic drugs enjoyed a period of successful use in psychotherapy:

First synthesised by Albert Hofmann in 1938, LSD [...] led to a paradigm shift in psychiatry as numerous medicines were developed based on this new understanding of the brain. In the context of psychotherapy, LSD itself was also found to be effective in the treatment of a range of mental disorders, including addiction, anxiety, and depression. Just one or two sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy were found to produce profound, rapid, long-lasting positive effects with little need for further interventions, unlike psychoanalysis which involved years of therapy sessions.

But despite little direct evidence of ill effects, the recreational use of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s lead Richard Nixon to ban all use under the guise of the War on Drugs, despite the protests of psychologists and psychiatrists as to their therapeutic value. Moral panics were indulged, risks wildly exaggerated. We know now that the War on Drugs has been one of the largest and most expensive failures in human history, but as the rest of the world begins to wind back the prohibitions on therapeutic use of psychedelics, Australia remains stuck in moral panic mode.

It seems that there are drugs out there that when you take them, can make you feel better right away and offer some long term relief from symptoms of severe depression and trauma. Can we have them please? The war on drugs has had many terrible effects in four decades, certainly one of which is that people struggling with severe symptoms of trauma and depression cannot access real relief. For myself and others like me, any risks have to be weighed against the risk of the days when I don't know if I should board the train I intended to take at the station or jump under it. Let's get the trials going; I'll be the first one in line. 

The appalling legacy of Jocelyn Newman

Howard government minister, political matriarch, social reformer and Godmother of Centrelink Jocelyn Newman passed away over the weekend at the age of 80.  Don't go to a Centrelink office to express your grief, though; security guards are trained to surround you if you cry. Instead, I thought we'd take a chance to reflect on Ms Newman's terrible legacy.

Campbell Newman being interviewed (cropped)
No, not him.

When I refer to Jocelyn Newman as a social reformer, it is not a compliment. Ms Newman was architect and engineer of Centrelink, the interface of the Australian welfare system. Centrelink was established on Ms Newman's watch in 1997, combining several previous government departments such as the Department of Social Security and the actually useful Commonwealth Employment Service into a one stop shop of human misery. It's worth reflecting that it whilst the Liberal party claims to be for individual choice and small government, it was a Liberal government who created a horrifying byzantine bureaucracy. They labelled it all under the auspices of choice but for Australia's disadvantaged, the "choice" means submitting to the routine humiliations of Centrelink, or resorting to poverty and potential crime. And for all the rhetoric of a single government agencies reducing inefficiency, duplication and waste, the myriad sections of Centrelink are often completely separate from each other, unable to access each other's systems or even contact other departments.

A full account of the miseries Centrelink uses to punish those who require its services would be depressing to write and tedious to read. The mainstream media brings us frequent accounts of Centrelink woes, sometimes ironically, such as in this article from the Daily Telegraph about the Welfare Super Bludger, which is not a really shit new children's superhero but a mythical recipient of Newstart allowance with the article highlighting one putative job seeker who stuffs up. (Apparently the guy misbehaved at 99 job interviews. How does anyone get 99 job interviews in a single year, let alone through employment service providers?!). There's little indication of larger issues, such as the cost of all the monitoring, the fact that people with disabilities are largely forced to rely on Newstart (and comply with "mutual obligation" requirements) instead of receiving the disability support pension let alone basic problem the ratio of jobseekers to jobs. 

It all feeds in to the myth of the welfare bludger, whom everyone seems to know - any facebook post about the low rate of Newstart is flooded with irate commentators describing their neighbour who's been on the dole for years, spending all day playing video games, getting tattoos and going on holidays - triggering endless audits and crackdowns that but never shows up in audits. When there are not enough jobs to go around - especially with the loss of blue collar and unskilled employment - demanding job seekers comply with mutual obligation requirements is a farce. Requiring job seekers to show up at an office for a day a week applying for jobs that don't exist without addressing any of the reasons why they became unemployed serves little purpose other than to punish the job seeker for being unemployed in the first place. It's not at least giving them a chance or getting them out of the house; it is demeaning, humiliating and horrible.

And today we won't even get started on the changes to granting of the disability support pension with insanely restrictive criteria forcing thousands of ill and injured people to deal with the job search system and providers with no understanding of disability - again, all to catch out the mythical bludger:


"The best form of welfare is a job" is the homeopathy of social services. It doesn't work and it makes no sense, but its adherents cling to it with religious fervour and become defensive and angry when challenged.

Jocelyn Newman cannot of course solely be blamed for the sorry state of affairs for Australian job seekers today, just as Centrelink cannot really be blamed for the policies they are forced to enact, like denying dying people the disability support pension. It's takes an entire government, and their mindset of the disadvantaged as a societal evil writ in policies punishing the poor for their very existence, for that. (Not that Labor is ever much better; witness the Gillard Labor government turfing single parents, regardless of training or childcare or anything else, off single parenting payments and onto Newstart).

In truth, it's been decades of bloody minded adherence to neoliberal policies in spite of all evidence that has created the whole welfare hell; but in creating Centrelink, Jocelyn Newman opened up a corporatised, centralised portal to that hell.

It's worth examining how far the current Australian welfare system has strayed from the ideals under which it was established in the days after World War Two: 

"The moment we establish, or perpetuate, the principle that the citizen, in order to get something he needs or wants and to which he has looked forward, must prove his poverty, we convert him into a suppliant to the state for benevolence.

That position is inconsistent with the proper dignity of the citizen in a democratic country. People should be able to obtain these benefits as a matter of right, with no more loss of their own standards of self-respect than would be involved in collecting from an insurance company the proceeds of an endowment policy on which they have been paying premiums for years."


Which raging lefty socialist uttered these words? Why, it was Robert Menzies. Now there's a legacy I'd like to see revived.

The only guide you'll ever need to the Reserve Bank of Australia Museum

Some people mark the end of their treatment for cancer by going to Disneyland or swimming with dolphins. I celebrated the end of my treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome by visiting the Reserve Bank of Australia museum. Don't hate me cause you ain't me.

You may not even have known there was a museum at the Reserve Bank of Australia HQ, which is on Martin Place in the Sydney CBD, bucking the trend of Australian government entities being based in Canberra. I didn't know there was a museum there, until I happened to be walking past after completing treatment at the Sydney Hand Hospital and saw the small sign proclaiming the existence of a museum. I decided to go in and take a look. I figured somebody should.



I neglected to take a camera to capture my experience in the full, rich detail it deserved, so photos are from the Reserve Bank Museum website. It was less busy when I visited. Considerably less busy. In fact I was the only person there, and the nice but not overly friendly lady behind the desk look slightly startled to see me (although people often look slightly startled to see me, once including John Cleese. But that's another story). She walked me in, explained the layout and exhibits, and told me there was a university group visiting from Sweden I think it was? and I was welcome to join there tour if I wanted, but I'm sure none of you will need smelling salts to learn that I decided I'd have a look around for myself.


The museum is dedicated not to the economic history of Australia in general, with all its panics, crashes and housing bubbles, but to the history of Australian currency manufacture, a very specific and odd focus, considering Australian money is printed elsewhere - at Cragieburn in Victoria, for those of you playing at home - and one that may well be rendered completely redundant by technology in a few years. They do not give out free samples, although I'm sure every Dad whose ever visited asks.

Image showing a £20 note

For history buffs or those who like to reminisce fondly about old money, the museum is interesting enough in a low grade sort of way, with chronologically organised displays ranging from a brief and unsatisfactory paragraph about the barter system in traditional Aboriginal society; through rum currency; shillings and pence, the introduction to decimal currency (Menzies wanted to call the Australian monetary unit the Royal, I learn with very little surprise) and on to the bragging rights to our world leading polymer currency. I never did find the Swedes, but I did run into a class of bored and unhappy 12 year olds being lectured by a museum guide about the introduction of polymer currency, with the new $5 featuring a portrait of the Queen "...of course this was in 1992, when she was considerably younger". "Well, we've all lost some bounce since then", I chimed in helpfully, but receiving only blank looks, I decided it was time to call a halt to my brief new career as assistant docent, and moved on.

I was pretty much done with the museum after about fifteen minutes, but didn't want to leave quite so soon. When I visit these niche museums, I'm always worried that if I leave too soon, I'll hurt the staff's feelings. You walk past the guides on your way out, and feel you've let them down somehow. "I'm sorry, you've got a great little museum here, but it's just not what I'm looking for right now." But I was hungry and tired, and decided I was going to have to make a break for it. Luckily on my way out the nice guide lady was busy with actual Reserve bank staff, so I was able to leave without upsetting anyone, unless they read this guide, and I'd like to think I'm actually encouraging people to check it out for themselves.

The Reserve Bank of Australia Museum is located at 65 Martin Place, Sydney, and is open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays and NSW bank holidays. The author traveled on an Opal and has this weird itch on the back of her knee.

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