Our Big Challenge – Housing those in Need

Princess Royal Harbour, Albany, Western Australia.

Albany, where I live, is on the banks of Princess Royal Harbour, one of the great natural harbours in the Southern Hemisphere.  This little historical town with its Mediterranean climate and a population of around 37,000 is the centre for the Great Southern Region of Western Australia.

The Great Southern Region with a population of about 60,000 stretches 200 km along the magnificent south coast  of Western Australia and for about the same distance inland.

Everywhere in the so-called Developed World homelessness is increasing — people are roaming the streets with nowhere to live  — and the Great Southern Region and Albany Town are no different to the rest of the world.

Reality in 2021.

In May 2018, here in Camelot, it was estimated that at least 200 people were homeless, maybe 300 .

It was reported that they were living in the sand dunes and anywhere where it was dry and in winter, warm. Men women and children were living in cars and couch surfing and where they could find somewhere, they would squat.

Those disturbing numbers were revealed in a ‘Feasibility Study’, commissioned by a number of businesses and organisations in Albany and the region, together with the Town of Albany and the Great Southern Development Commission, the regional arm of the West Australian Government.

The aim of the study was to ‘investigate developing crisis accommodation for the at risk population in the Great Southern Region.’

The report was excellent. It detailed the challenges the community faced in helping the homeless in the Great Southern Region. It identified a number of realistic and achievable answers. The problem was then and still is, funding. There is no money.

Therefore, surprise, surprise, nothing has really changed in the 3 years since that report was written, if anything the homeless numbers have increased, as they have all around  Western Australia.

The  crisis centres in the region are still full and inadequate. Some don’t have the money to stay open all year round.

Optus Stadium Perth Western Australia. Total cost $1.6 billion.

Why is it in our privileged world we can find millions even billions to provide sports facilities for everyone, many of which are only used once or twice a week, yet we struggle to find the money to put a roof over the heads, to provide shelter and warmth for the homeless, for the destitute?

The temperature as I write is 12.5C and there were hailstones 10cm deep in Albany this morning after a night of thunder, lightning and torrential rain. There is snow on the nearby Stirling Range — what the hell it must have been like trying to sleep rough or in a car last night, I cannot imagine. Probably hell.

Governments are always claiming they don’t have the money for this and for that except if it is for something that will attract votes. The homeless will never elect a government but that is no excuse to ignore study after study that show there are big savings available to government if only they would address the challenge of housing the homeless and not, cynically, have their eyes on the next election. This is one study:

In the 12 months after the 44 clients in this Perth-based study were housed, emergency admissions were reduced by 57% and overnight stays by 53%. The overall health-care saving was A$404,028.

Here’s another – note this is after housing was provided:

Even after deducting the cost of housing, a 2011 Australian study of 268 participants found savings of $2,182 per person after 12 months.

There have been so many of these studies, all have the same result. There is a return on investment when the homeless are housed which is as good or better than any investment governments may make and that is just the dollars. The improvement in the condition, the return on  the human capital is immeasurable.

So why don’t governments, both state and federal do something positive about the national shame of homelessness? We have a federal government which has just brought down a budget that has put the country into debt for decades, all designed they tell us, to provide funds so that Australia can recover from the Covid19 pandemic and build an infrastructure and a labour force for the future –a future, that, obviously, doesn’t include caring for the homeless.

Andrew Forrest of FMG celebrating iron ore prices

The Government of Western Australia is rolling in money as the price of iron ore sky rockets and other minerals, like gold, not far behind. Thirty per cent of the gross income of the WA Government is currently derived from royalties from the minerals being dug up and exported. So the question is why can’t some of this windfall go into homes for the 10,000 who are homeless in Western Australia?

The Story Gets Worse.

In addition to the hundreds of people who are homeless  there is a social housing waitlist in the Great Southern of 500, most of whom are in Albany. There are 15,700 families on the social housing waitlist in Western Australia, some 30,000 to 40,000 people.

That means that  between 1,000 and 1,500 people in the Great Southern are paying rents which they cannot afford and are therefore in the awful predicament of  ‘rent stress’.

Social or Community Housing is for those on low to moderate income and for those with a disability. There is an international standard which states that if anyone is paying more than 30% of their household income in rent then they are deemed to be under ‘financial or rent stress’.

Experience, not just in Albany, but around the world shows that when there is ‘rent stress’ the first item to be cut from the budget is food. Just ask Foodbank, ask the Salvos and the Vinnies about the demands on their services to provide for those, who after paying all their bills, have no money left  for food.

In the UK they have recognised this problem and free school lunches are provided for all children in grades 1 and 2, and to others where there is a social need. What a great idea and I’ll bet there are kids in Albany who wouldn’t mind a good feed at lunch time. What a caring way to ensure that our precious children grow to their potential during those early years and of course, don’t eat cheap junk food.

There is another factor in Albany that digs into the family budget and that is the lack of public transport and like everywhere, the lowest rents are those farthest away from the CBD, so having a car is a must and paying for it can be a problem and another drain on the family budget. That’s why so many turn up at Foodbank driving a car, it’s a necessity.

Our rural towns are shrinking, shops are boarded up the banks have gone and as the farms get bigger, big machinery with self steer and satellite navigation is replacing people. Increasingly people who have spent many years living and working on farms are now migrating to the regional centres. The majority are at the time of life when retraining is necessary and difficult, so it takes them time to settle into a new life.

There is no safety net for these people many of whom only have their furniture, a car and their superannuation available to them, the latter many years away, so they have no option but to accept a period of low wages as they retrain. Unable to fund a mortgage the only option is to rent, which invariably means ‘rent stress’.

As house prices escalate all over the country and rents increase, they are forecast to increase by another 20% in WA in the next 12 months, more and more people, people vital to the functioning of society and through no fault of their own are finding there is nowhere to rent and when there is, the rent will put them also into ‘rent stress’.

A few years ago there was a report from the UK discussing the need for social houses for ‘key workers’ in the London area found that ‘key workers’ like nurses, police, council employees  (garbage collectors, parks and garden workers etc), bus drivers (3000 vacancies) and the like, could no longer afford the rents that were being demanded.

Job vacancy rates were becoming an embarrassment for councils especially when they couldn’t put enough police on the beat, enough nurses into the hospitals and care homes and when the garbage was being left in the streets.

Some key workers had tried moving to the outer fringes of south east London where rents were lower, only to find the costs to get to work and the time it took on public transport negated what they saved on rent,  it became too hard and they quit and moved to a cheaper area.

‘Anthony Scantlebury from the GMB London Ambulance Service comments on a typical emergency workers daily routine:

“If you finish at 7pm in the evening, before you get home and get yourself sorted out, it is probably 10 o’clock at night. And then you need to leave home at half past four in the morning again to start work at seven.”

He continued “that cuts down on your sleep time and you get progressively more tired as the week goes on.”

Additionally, Ken Marsh, the chairman of metropolitan police federation has noted that whilst the very nature of policing has always been challenging, stress levels are the highest they have ever been, with the average shift being 10.5 hours. If one takes into consideration the commute of the officer from outside of London, this can lead to a 14-hour day.’

When I read the article I thought, that is London and their high prices, prices far in excess of prices in Australia and particularly in Perth – so it will never happen here.


How wrong I was, the same challenge is now emerging not only in the big cities in Australia where the median house price is over $1 million and out of reach for nurses and police on $60,000 to $70,000 a year, but the problem is now spreading to some regional towns like Albany, where the median house price is $500,000.  There are houses in the $400,000 to $450,000 range however the mortgage on those houses over 20 years and with a $20,000 deposit incurs monthly repayments of about $1,700 which is more expensive than the cost of renting in the Great Southern at about $1,450 a month.

We Know the Extent of the Problem.

On the 27th and 28th of March 2021  Anglicare Western Australia (WA)  took a Snapshot to capture the number of properties suitable for people on low income. The results were disturbing to say the least. It found that the total number of rental properties throughout Western Australia on that weekend was 3,695, just half the number that were  available on the same weekend in 2020. For the South West it was down by 30%. The housing market boomed and landlords it seems, sold their investments, perhaps to help with the cost of the pandemic?

For those landlords left in the market the laws of supply and demand came into play and in spite of inflation and wage growth being at almost zero, the rates in the metro area increased by 16% from $370 to $430 per week, in the South West and Great Southern the increase was 12% from $330 to $370 and in the North West the rates had increased by 17% pushing the weekly rent to between $470 and $550.

That weekend in Western Australia:

  • Only 1% of rental properties in the state were available for rent. So 36 properties.
  •  98% of the properties available were not affordable to those on a minimum wage. Really none especially for the young.
  • 15,700 households were on the waitlist in Western Australia (around 30,000 people)
  • 8000 people were living in temporary accommodation, couch surfing, squatting, living in cars
  • 1000+ people were sleeping rough
What is Being Done to Meet the Need?
Photo: News.com

The story is a bad one for the State  where the Premier has been known to claim  WA is keeping Australia afloat with the boom in mining. In a State where nearly 30% of its gross income comes from mining royalties the lack of social conscience in a Labor government is breathtaking and and runs against the ethos of the party of the working man and woman. This is the record of the WA Government:

  • Over the last three years the number of social housing properties in Western Australia has declined by 1155.
  • Only 119 social housing properties were built in the last 3 years compared to 956 in 2016-17
  • For the period 2017-2020, the West Australian government delivered 224 new social housing homes, but sold off 726 social homes.

If those numbers seem a bit confusing it is because there are others in the business of providing social housing as well as the State Government and logically enough they are referred to as Community Housing Providers (CHPs) who are all not for profit companies.

Community Housing Providers.

In the main Community Housing Providers or CHPs, not for profit companies, in each state, do two things:

  • They manage a portfolio of properties for the State Government.
  • They build their own properties for rent under the same terms and conditions as the properties they manage for the government.

In the commercial rental market landlords only provide accommodation for rent when they can show an acceptable return on their investment. They can also increase the rent on the property when demand is strong, like now and they can, theoretically, reduce the rent to meet an oversupplied market.

Social Housing Perth, Western Australia. WA Government.

The same conditions do not apply to CHPs because they can only charge between 25% and 30% of the household income for rent. Only those with a low to moderate household incomes qualify for a CHP property, so, the CHP knows to within reasonable limits, what income it will derive from every property.

It also knows again within reasonable limits, what it will cost for each property in annual repairs and maintenance.

There are no concessions in the building industry for CHPs. CHPs pay commercial rates for land and they pay the same amount as any developer or builder to have houses built on that land.

What the CHP cannot do is charge a rent, comparable to the market rate which means that the CHP is denied a rate of return comparable to commercial rates, which in turn inhibits their ability to make a profit and put that money to build more houses to meet the ever increasing demands from the most vulnerable people in our community.

Research has shown and has been confirmed by CHPs new housing budgets,  that it is difficult for them to grow and provide homes to meet the ever growing need, without some help from government.

The West Australian Government has shown over the last few years that it isn’t really interested in providing homes for those who need them.

These statistics demand to be repeated again and again.

The state waitlist stands at nearly 18,000. Over the last 3 years the number of social houses in Western Australia has declined by 1,155.  Just 119 social housing properties were built in the last three years, compared with 956 in 2016/17 and over the last five years a total of 945 social housing properties were sold off. There has been a net loss of 502 properties which means the government of WA has sold more properties than it has built.

Where to From Here?

It is evident from their recent performance that the West Australian Government  doesn’t have social housing as a major item on their budget. It is also plain as day, that the Federal Government don’t know anything about the subject so they care even less. In the billions of dollars in the federal budget not one shekel has been allocated to one of the biggest challenges facing Australia today and that is housing the homeless and the needy.

Why is it that our normally rapacious governments don’t have any appetite to find homes for the homeless and those under rent stress, when the financial gain to them is substantial and proven? Do they not want the pressure on the health service reduced? Do they not want more money to put into medical research, or aged care?

Money is as cheap now as it will ever be, CHPs are in a good position to borrow, to build to meet the needs of our most disadvantaged, what these not for profit organisations need is some understanding and some help not only from governments but from society in general, from philanthropists in particular, no matter how big or small, to help them build a solid foundation to build more houses well into the future. The problem is only getting bigger and it will not go away without a huge effort from every sector of society.

There is a great story in the Bible of the Good Samaritan. A man was beaten by robbers and left for dead. A priest came by and passed on the other side, so to did a Levite, but a Samaritan crossed the road and gave aid to the man, put him on his donkey, cared for him at an inn and when he left he gave the innkeeper money to take care of the man and said that if more was spent then he would pay it on his return.

I am not an outwardly religious person, but I have remembered that story because it is all about care, care for neighbours, treating neighbours like you would want to be treated. It is time that pressure was put on our governments by the voters of this land to take care of  our neighbours, those who deserve a roof over their heads and enough money to pay for food.

Think about it tonight when you have dinner and then later go to a warm and clean bed.

Note: I am a director of a Community Housing Provider. The views expressed here I mine and mine alone and not necessarily those of the CHP.












Beer – Beef and China.

“An economic rule states that one should never underestimate the inability of free marketers to use common sense,”

K J Galbraith 2006. Lincoln Journal.

One of the interesting aspects of the current debate on the behaviour of China towards Australia, after Australia asked for an enquiry  into the source of Covid19, is that many of those who are well known as journalists and commentators, and even some hopelessly naive Australian politicians, and we have our share of them, have shown most clearly that they know little to nothing about the art of negotiation or as many of us know it by another name ‘bloodless warfare.’

It is well known that when it comes to selling their wares farmers around the world are weak, some weaker than others. It is also well known and oft quoted the statement by President J F. Kennedy “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” These days we would say ‘person’ but the statement remains correct. The question is what have farmers done, particularly in Australia, to redress what is an iniquitous situation?

Continue reading “Beer – Beef and China.”

The $100 billion National Farmers’ Federation Dreamtime #2

In 2018 the National Farmers’ Federation of Australia, set a goal for Australian agriculture to achieve production at the farm gate worth $100 billion by 2030. The production in 2018 was some $57 billion.

This is what I wrote for Episode 1 in The Global Farmer in December of last year:

That ($100 billion) is an increase of 66.6% on the production of 2018 or an annual increase of about 4%, and presumably, though they haven’t said as much, they all expect the producers to make a profit every year— which is more than they do now — but they don’t tell you that.

There are some truly grim truths about the financial ill-health of Australian agriculture and they are all produced by government statisticians and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

I then go on to dissect agriculture in Australia as it is now, warts and all. I look at debt levels and question whether they are sustainable. I note that as farms have got bigger, productivity has decreased and debt has increased. Skills are being lost at an alarming rate.

Cereal yield increases are not  keeping up with inflation and the real value of wheat is declining and according to research in 2019 our producers have high costs and low yields when compared to other countries. Cereal farmers in the low yielding areas are having difficulty making a profit year on year; some if at all.

The statistics are blunt and uncompromising.  They are the sort of numbers that not many producers like to recognise in public, but they are true and factual and researched by the profound Ben Rees, an Ag economist  and farmer with over 50 years experience of agriculture and economics; Ben tells it as it is.

It would beneficial and help with understanding the perspective of this article which is Episode 2, to first read what I wrote in Episode 1 in December 2019.

This article may also at first glance seem to be at odds with what I have  written recently, regarding the $18 billion, we are spending on imported food every year—but it isn’t, the reason being that what is discussed in this Episode is food which is surplus to our requirements in Australia, at least at the moment.

The population of Australia will increase by about 300,000 a year or 3 million by 2030 an increase of 12%. Unless production increases, exports will decrease as we feed more people and food imports will increase.

Continue reading “The $100 billion National Farmers’ Federation Dreamtime #2”

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.


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.”

Going Vegetarian

It’s a Monday morning in mid September in Albany, Western Australia. Albany is on the far south coast of Western Australia, it has a population of about 36,000, and is the main town in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia which has a population of about 60,000. It has a wonderful climate and is recognised as being an ideal place to retire, which is why I am down here working at trying to make the pension do the impossible. I wish Jesus was still around and he could tell me how he fed the 5000 with five barley loaves and two small fish. We would have to catch the fish because the price of imported fish not cheap in this fishing port, but cheaper than the exorbitantly price locally caught fish — that stuff really is for the seriously rich.  Last week in the supermarket in this town which has a fishing fleet, the Barramundi was from Viet Nam.

Continue reading “Going Vegetarian”

National Bank Bastardry. Part IV. Summing up a Tawdry Affair.

Image result for winston churchill pictures

“This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning.”

The first three parts of this series ‘National Bank Bastardry’, dealt with the simple fact that the NAB seized over $9 million worth of the Cronin family assets to settle a debt to the NAB of just over $5 million. The Cronin’s assets were six farms (Chambejo Farms), including the family home. When the NAB seized the Cronin’s land they (the Cronins) had four farms on the market with Landmark. The seizure was unnecessary and according to every reference I can find, probably illegal. The law is unequivocal, the mortgagee can only seize asset(s) to the value of the mortgagors debt to the mortgagee, and the family home should only be seized as the last resort. The NAB ignored that ruling and seized six farms including the family home worth, according to the only FH valuation we have been allowed to see, some ~$8.5 million— an independent valuation $9.4 million both valuations  well in excess of the debt. That didn’t stop the NAB — they seized the lot. There was a now famous court case Nolan v MBF Investments. It’s not unreasonable to assume that banks and receiver managers know of the judge’s determination in this landmark case. This reference also explains in detail what is meant by ‘duty of care’ as it applies to property sales. I have quoted this ruling many times in previous articles and neither the NAB or Ferrier Hodgson have replied.

Continue reading “National Bank Bastardry. Part IV. Summing up a Tawdry Affair.”

This little Piggy – #2

It’s all a load of pigs.






I thought the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, might have a view, which he could share with us regarding the alarming statistic that 80% of all processed pig meat consumed in this country is imported. I was wrong.

I thought he might, together with his state counterparts, also have a view on the plague of  wild pigs, some twenty million many say, that roam this land and by their very existence threaten our major livestock industries. I was wrong.

I accept that in spite of what I have written those who administer agriculture in this country don’t know or don’t care or both, about the domestic pig industry and threat feral pigs present to our livestock industries.


It would be easy, when reading what follows, to conclude that as the author, I am suffering from an acute case of self-righteous indignation because nobody in government, anywhere in Australia, has responded in a positive way to my original article and personal letters. So before anyone has such scurrilous thoughts, I should explain myself.

I understand that it is in the view of the Australian government, as demonstrated by their actions, that it’s easier or they are more content, paying interest on the money the country has borrowed and continues to borrow, in part to pay for the shortfall in our balance of payments, that is we import more than we export, than pay that money to Australian farmers so that this country can be where it should be, self sufficient in food.

Compiled from: ABARES Agricultural commodity statistics 2014 Table 7 by Ben Rees. The difference between the Trade balance and B.O.P is net income flow. Net Income flow comprises net flows of interest on debt , dividends and transfer payments.

I also understand that this is a free country and that Coles and Woolworths who between them control 80% of the food retailing business are free to roam the world seeking the cheapest food they can get their hands on so they can continue their price war with the objective of increasing their respective market share, so they are part of our balance of payments problem. It is quite evident they would rather do that than support the Australian pig industry, so that it can employ and deploy, by the size it could be, the latest in technology and science in the world of pig meat production, from genetics to processing. The rise in food imports and the decline in food processing in this country I have written about before —but here it is again in case you have forgotten. Trends in Australian food trade.

Stats ABS. We are always ready to believe our own propaganda. Food exports, whether we like it or not have been falling, imports have been rising. Food processing in this country has been falling.

I will also show in a later article that not only China, but many countries within our region, like us, import thousands of tonnes of pig meat from the EU, America and Canada, when we in Australia, as it were, are on their doorstep and desperate to grow our export trade.

Am I being dramatic?

It would be easy to construe that I am being a bit dramatic when I write about the threat wild pigs present to the livestock industries in Australia. I deal with this matter specifically later in this article — there is just one thing I would like to add, well two really. I have twice seen, first hand, the devastation that Foot and Mouth disease can cause – both times in the UK. The first time when I was about 13, the family put a barrier across the narrow lanes leading to the farm. There was disinfected straw everywhere even the crows were viewed with suspicion. The closest outbreak was five miles away. The fear in my family was palpable. Their dairy herd was their pride and joy and the sheep that grazed the mountains provided stability to the tenuous hold they had on their post-war hill farm.

The second time was maybe twenty years ago, when I was working over there for a few weeks. An outbreak was traced back to northern England and within days they were searching for sheep and cattle all over Europe. Meat exports stopped and markets closed. The losses ran into billions of pounds. Both events, disasters, caused the massive loss of some of the best animal genetics in the world. When it was all over there was a debate on whether if it happened again, the UK would start vaccinating. I think it was decided it would be impractical considering the movement of livestock around the EU.

Some countries in South America do vaccinate and they have developed internationally recognised foot and mouth free zones and this has enabled them to continue to sell boxed beef into Europe. They continue to export live cattle to those countries, mainly in South America, which have F & M.

Writing letters.

I wrote to the Federal Minister for Agriculture. I didn’t get a reply or even an acknowledgement of receipt of my letter.

There are obviously more important matters of State and photo opportunities regarding national biosecurity than 20 million wild pigs – like Johnny Depp’s dogs. They are not coming back evidently, not the dogs, but Mr and Mrs Depp.

This was the letter I wrote to Minister Joyce: Continue reading “This little Piggy – #2”

Multi Peril Crop Insurance


Bob Hall is a well-known agricultural consultant based in Darkan, Western Australia.
Back in the sixties Bob challenged us all about the way we managed our merino sheep.
There was nothing theoretical about Bob’s challenges. They were based on sound, practical and proven experience gained through working with his clients.
Bob offered solutions stretching from sheep yard and shearing shed design, to management practices designed to improve the efficiency and profitability of growing merino wool, which are still, maybe even more, relevant today.
Bob now manages a broad portfolio of consultancy covering all aspects of farm management in the wheat sheep belt of Western Australia. Here he presents his views on a hot topic of the day, Multi Peril Crop Insurance.

Continue reading “Multi Peril Crop Insurance”



Why are stock dying in the north of Australia from starvation when there is plenty of stock food in the country? For the same reason, I suppose, that thousands of people all over the African continent and in refugee camps in the Middle East, especially children are dying every day from starvation and deprivation while there is no shortage of food in the world. If we are honest with ourselves, the majority of us, as we fill the larder for Christmas, just do not care. The statistics say that after we have finished our celebrations, we shall throw away half of the food we have bought.

There is a story of Bono of at a U2 charity concert, must be over ten years ago now, quietened the crowd, raised his hands above his head and clapped his hand together once. Three seconds later he did it again, and then again and again every three seconds. The, crowd, I think it was in the Albert Hall was quiet. Very gently he spoke and said, ‘Every time I clap my hands together, every three seconds, a child dies in Africa’. Someone in the audience shouted ,’Well stop f*&$#@ng  clapping then.’ The crowed booed. The money raised went to help the children in Africa yet to this day they still die of starvation.

There is nothing I can add to the disaster that is the drought in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, except to say as a nation we have always been able to find millions of dollars to help people in other countries to survive and recover from natural disasters like earthquakes  and tsunamis and as a nation we have been proud to help.

Now we have a disaster as bad or worse than any we have helped in other countries going on right now in the north of our own country and it seems we cannot come to our own aid. I ask the question why and who gives a damn about a deficit or a surplus budget when the heart of our northern agriculture is suffering unimaginable hardship? It is a situation that could  be substantially ameliorated, made unimaginably better even fixed by spending money, government money, our money.

Irrespective of one bank agreeing not to foreclose and threats being made to name and shame, and high profile media people giving their support to the beleaguered landowners, the drought remains, stock continue to die. The Intellectual property of ‘Agriculture Australia’ is substantially in the genetics of the stock we have bred over many years. That gene bank is among the best in the world, it is priceless and will take years to replace.

One of the great shames of the unnecessary ‘selling off’ of the Australian merino flock for meat, is that some of the best wool producing genetics in the world finished up as Ugg boots, sheepskin coats and on the barbecues and in the cooking pots around the world.

The task before us now is to feed the stock that remain,  we have and stop the death from starvation of Australia’s greatest asset, the gene pool of Australia’s national beef herd that has taken generations to build and which is in the process of being unnecessarily lost for all time.

During the week I had this web address sent to me.

If you haven’t seen it, do so now, before you read what follows.