Yesterday I met a man.

‘I’ll probably die out here’ – The human face of Perth’s homeless. WAtoday Photo and caption. It is also the human face of the homeless in Albany, which many claim as the promised land.

At 7.15 am yesterday I met a man. He was waiting outside the dental clinic at Albany Hospital — you have to get there early if you want emergency treatment. It’s not the clinic’s fault — that this is the ‘system’. Ever increasingly there are those in this town and around Australia who cannot afford medical insurance and the extreme costs of private dental care, so we queue. Think about it.

So, me, an eighty something year old senior citizen and a thirty five year old young man sat on the cold and damp veranda at the dental clinic and waited for opening time at 8.15am just an hour, only an hour away.

I was well wrapped in a coat designed for Polar Regions and my companion was shivering. He said his clothes were damp from the day before. He told me he was homeless. He had a persistent, dry, cough. He did not look well. He was at the clinic because he thought his teeth were full of holes and making him ill.

My companion for an hour or so was well spoken, clean-shaven and showed no outward signs of his homelessness. He told me he had never drunk alcohol or smoked and had never taken any prohibited drugs, he had seen people gradually die taking drugs, he said.

I did not press him as to the reason(s) for his homelessness, he said he has had good jobs, but was fired within two hours at his last job, he said he was so nervous he couldn’t swing the hammer. He said he had also run his own business at one time, and designed websites for which he was paid. I did not doubt what he said. As he talked it appeared that he was a bit confused by his current predicament.

He told me that recently he had been very sick. At the time he was living in a tent somewhere out the back of Middleton Beach. Unable to move and in a fever, another homeless person found him and called an ambulance. He was admitted to hospital where he stayed until it was decided he was fit to be homeless again.

He told me that since being discharged from hospital he had been given shelter for a few days in a motel and has since found temporary overnight shelter and some food in Albany.

When he lived in his tent, he walked every day into Albany to get food and then walked back to his tent in the bush, that was his day, every day, a 6-kilometre walk for food. He didn’t appear to be angry, just resigned that that was the way it is in Albany in 2019.

That is not the end of the story. Homeswest and other agencies have helped my dental clinic companion. He is shortly to move to a house or an apartment, he was not sure which, but he knows the name of a wheatbelt town several hundred kilometres from Albany, which is to be his new home.

Why, I asked does he have to go to a town where there is no Centre Link and where he knows nobody? He said it was the only vacancy that Homeswest had. I didn’t ask how much money he would be left with after the rent had been deducted.

He has no furniture, no kitchen utensils, no money, nothing apart from his gear from his bush camp and of course no job and as far as he was aware no prospect of one. ‘Maybe some farmer will give me a job?’ he said. He also said they, those who are helping him, are trying to find him a fridge.

It seemed to me that his worldly possessions are a mattress from his tent and the clothes, damp clothes he stands up in. He was wearing thongs on that cold wet morning. He smiled, a wan smile, at his predicament.

He was the first to see the dentist and he was assured that his teeth were not making him ill — he was told his teeth were near perfect. He shook hands with me when he left. His hand was cold and yet sweaty. So he left presumably not knowing what was making him feel and look so ill.

This is Albany today. I have a copy of and have read over and over again the ‘2018 Feasibility Study, Addressing Homelessness in the Great Southern’. It is a comprehensive and detailed report of some 172 pages. The analysis provided on the problem of homelessness in the Great Southern is in extreme detail.

On page 18 of the report it states ‘It should be noted that, anecdotally, the number of homeless is far higher, with Albany alone estimated to be 300, or 1% of the population’.

Is the answer to homelessness sending people like my companion for a few hours, to a wheatbelt town so he and his fellow travelers, the homeless, will not be seen on York Street or queuing at 7am on a cold and wet morning to get emergency dental care or even looking for food and shelter when and wherever it is available?

 

An Embarrassing Amount of Gas.

General can close Hormuz
Iran’s top general Mohammad Bagheri has warned Tehran could close down the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it faces increased “hostility” SANA/AFP/File 28.04.19

In last month’s Global Farmer, I discussed the possibility that a minor  conflict, or even just a few angry words on the South China Sea or in the Straits of Hormuz could cause Australia to at best ration petrol, diesel, AV gas and other fuels — or at worst, cause this country to grind to a halt within weeks. Why?  Because our current fuel reserves, in January of this year stood at 22 days’ worth of petrol, 17 days of diesel and 27 days of total petroleum products.

And the problem for Australia is that they nearly all our fuel oils start as crude oil in the Gulf region before they go to Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia to be refined. If supply stops our reserves will barely last us for thirty days. After that everything, everything, not could stop, will stop! Think Venezuela.

Continue reading “An Embarrassing Amount of Gas.”

Less than 30 days fuel and it’s not an election issue – Why is that?

Image result for picture petrol pump out of stock
Photo: Daily Mirror.

I wrote last year about the alarming and strategically dangerous state of our national fuel oil reserves, in as much as we hardly have any. Bill Shorten the Leader of the Opposition in a recent speech told his audience that, “Right now, we have just 23 days of jet fuel, just 22 days of diesel and only 19 days of automotive gas.(petrol)” He added that when Prime Minister he would fix it. The Prime Minister, Scot Morrison, has not mentioned the problem, maybe he doesn’t want us to know?

Both of our would-be leaders are more interested in the show-time of denigrating each other and so winning the upcoming election — the security of the nation runs a distant second to getting their hands on the keys to The Lodge and even better, Kirribilli House.

Continue reading “Less than 30 days fuel and it’s not an election issue – Why is that?”

Australia – An Astounding Place.

 

fullsizeoutput_13e
A new dawn for Australia? The Stirling Range from the Porongurup, Western Australia. Photo: Roger Crook

Australia – an astounding place.

In the Beginning.

It came as something of a surprise to me the other day when I realised that my wife Lynne and I have lived in Australia for over fifty years — half a century! Most of that time in Western Australia.

As I write, it is Australia Day. For some there are parties and fireworks. For others there are protests, rallys and marches because they believe that today should be a day of shame, because it is the day that the British stole Australia from its indigenous people.

Jacinta Price puts Australia Day into context for me:

Australia Day is often heralded by ads about lamb and barbies being ‘Australian’. But what does it actually mean to be Australian? I am half Warlpiri and a mixture of Irish, Scottish and Welsh. My sons are of Warlpiri, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Malay, Indian, French, African, Chinese, Scandinavian and German ancestry. My stepson is half Scottish and a quarter Mauritian. They are all 100% Australian. My husband and stepfather of my children is Scottish but calls himself a ‘Scaussie’. What we all have in common is a love for this multifaceted and beautiful nation.

My great grandfather’s grandfather was convicted of ‘robbing a soldier of his arms’, in 1832 in Kilkenny at the age of 21. He came as a convict in 1833. He was an Irish patriot fighting for his faith and people. In the current political climate I would not be expected to acknowledge and celebrate his life because I have a Warlpiri mother. Most of the self-identifying indigenous members of our community who claim to feel hurt by Australia Day being held on the January 26 would also have white ancestors in their family trees and may not even have been born if the First Fleet hadn’t come.

Continue reading “Australia – An Astounding Place.”

NAB Fleecing Struggling Farmers – Now they must pay Restitution.

The Fleecing of Australian Farmers.

The headline on the front page of The Australian of July 24, 2018,  ‘NAB promises to stop fleecing struggling farmers’.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘fleecing’ as;  ‘to take someones money dishonestly by charging too much or by cheating’. The Legal dictionary defines ‘restitution’ as; n. 1) returning to the proper owner property or the monetary value of loss. Sometimes restitution is made part of a judgment in negligence and/or contracts cases.

The NAB has admitted that it has fleeced (stolen from) some of its farmer customers and now, having realised the error of its ways, promises it won’t do it again. Isn’t that great?  Will the other banks now admit to stealing? They should, because they all behaved in the same callous and reprehensible manner if the evidence presented to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is anything to go by. Only a few of the many, many farmers who have been ‘fleeced’ will get the chance to testify, how many nobody knows, but the commissioner in reply to a question from Bob Katter MP has indicated that they won’t be forgotten. It may well be that Bob Katter has secured an extension of time for the Royal Commission to hear more from farmers. There is never any question where Bob Katter’s heart is, it’s with the people on the land. It’s a pity there weren’t a dozen politicians from rural electorates in court to give the commissioner a reminder, not that it seems he needs one, of the fleecing that has gone on in the bush.

Continue reading “NAB Fleecing Struggling Farmers – Now they must pay Restitution.”

Take control of the wheat industry.

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 3.00.03 pm
Wheat and Merino sheep are the parents of Australian agriculture.

It’s time to talk seriously about re-structuring the wheat industry in Western Australia and probably Australia. It’s time that wheat growers demanded recognition for the contribution they make to the national economy. When was the last time you heard the Prime Minister or the immediate past minister (Barnaby) or the current Federal Minister for Agriculture, or even the current crop of state ministers talk about the financial health of the producers of Australia’s biggest cash crop?

It’s time that the wheat industry faced reality, the bureaucracies they fund have failed them.  Have a look at what Negative Profit means, it’s a euphemism for loss; then read on and tell me what you think, tell me if I am wrong in calling for change.

 

Continue reading “Take control of the wheat industry.”

There will be no Australian wheat industry in 23 years time.

Image result for photograph of the Chapman Valley geraldton
Chapman Valley. Northern wheat belt Western Australia. The Garden of Eden.

 

In the last issue of the Global Farmer I discussed the need for change based on a strategic plan for the behemoth called Australian agriculture. It is not possible to look at the whole until the parts have been examined.
To start with the wheat industry is logical and relevant considering this is the time of year to review last year and make plans for and give a commitment to the next season and beyond.

The headline says it all, based on current trends, the wheat industry in Australia will be gone in twenty three years. If you are having difficulty in trying to remember what was going on in Australian agriculture twenty three years ago, it was five years after the wool price crash and we were all being told to get rid of our world beating merino sheep. That is how close we are to the demise of the Australian wheat industry. It won’t happen like the wool crash, for those who refuse to recognise the signs it will be a slow, painful and imposed exit.

Continue reading “There will be no Australian wheat industry in 23 years time.”

Evolution or Revolution-Here come the Russians.

Bring in the Clowns

Related image
Cleaning the swamp?

I blame politicians and their apparatchiks for my ever-increasing sense of despair regarding the future of this country and its agriculture. The evidence is clear and apparent. We are in debt up to our eyeballs and we shouldn’t be. We are a country rich in valuable natural resources from which we, the people, gain little benefit. We are rich in coal and gas and we have an power crisis for which we the people are paying dearly. Astonishingly, we continue to pay billions of dollars in subsidies to so-called renewable energy companies to generate the power we need, yet, even more astonishingly, we have failed to understand that when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, they don’t generate power. To add insult to injury the wind turbines and the solar panels used in this massive ‘con trick’ are imported, mainly from China.

Continue reading “Evolution or Revolution-Here come the Russians.”

We are giving Australia away.

 

fair-go Who would have thought it? This year Australian agricultural exports could be just $3 billion less than the darling of every politician and the maker of billionaires in this country, iron ore. The leaders of this land love to wear the high vis vests, helmets and glasses, tug their forelocks and queue up to have a ‘selfie’ with ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and Gina Rhinehart or make sure they are seen wining and dining with the captains of BHP, Rio Tinto and anybody in the A League of world business. I haven’t noticed the Prime Minister or the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition queuing up to have their selfies taken with the President of the National Farmers Federation or the leaders of our state farmer organisations to say ‘thank you’ for the contribution agriculture is making to the economy of this great country. What a dreadful display of ignorance, an indictment against the government and the opposition of this country that they cannot spare the time to be seen saying ‘thank you’ to the thousands of Australian farmers, for striving to achieve the targets predicted in March of this year by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) that total agricultural production for 2017 will be $63.8 billion and that exports could reach $48.7 billion.

Continue reading “We are giving Australia away.”

The Absence Common Sense has Sent us Broke.

I have lost all Image result for pictures broken piggy bankfaith in the political process in this country. I no longer believe that those whom we have elected over the last decade have the ability to run this country. We are one of the most naturally wealthy countries in the world and we are broke. Governments are elected by the people to manage the assets of the country for the people. Our governments have manifestly failed. They have abrogated the powers of government to multi national companies and financial institutions many of which are not Australian and who have demonstrated they have no interest in the welfare of Australia. Our assets have been colonised and to all intents and purposes stolen to build financial empires in other countries.

Nobody is born with common sense; it is acquired over time and by experiencing the joys and hardships of life. The mistake we the electorate have made, is that with a few exceptions we have assumed that those whom we have elected to run our States’ and our country had benefited from life’s experiences and when we elected them had at least a modicum of common sense and some experience and skill in financial management. How wrong we have been.

Continue reading “The Absence Common Sense has Sent us Broke.”