Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Shout Out to Save the Children About Their Age Discrimination

Countin' flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do

On the second of June just past, I celebrated reaching threescore and ten. And to misquote the throw-away line from Woody Allen's 1988 movie Another Woman, "The one good thing about becoming 70 is you don't have to do it again." For at this age, my doctorate in Risk and Reward management is secure. To just have survived a biblical lifetime, conclusively demonstrates I have a wealth of experience handling these two larrikins.
The day after reaching this milestone the management of the Save the Children Op Shops told me I could no longer volunteer at their Morley shop. I was banned entry as a worker to the store at which I had been a shift supervisor four days a week for the last two years. Management said it was for my own safety.

Due to the fact that people over the age of 70 were liable to have a complicated reaction to the COVID 19 virus, Save the Children had decided to cull their volunteers aged 70 and over. It was an edict proclaimed by the organization's 'Head Office' without any consultation with those it affected. And because of a loophole in The Age Discrimination Act of 2004, The Australian Human Rights Commission is unable to prosecute this blatant example of age discrimination. (Voluntary work and domestic duties in private households are not covered under the law.)

Based on this rationale, Save the Children would, no doubt, like to see people over 70 banned from crossing the road. Should they be in an altercation with a motor vehicle, their resultant injuries could possibly be greater than those experienced by a person from a younger age group? Save the Children conveniently ignore the fact that 70-year old's have a great deal more experience in reading traffic flows than younger people and consequently have a reduced potential for such an altercation.

Likewise, this banned cohort has the smarts to ensure their own safety during a pandemic. It is the height of conceit that some wet behind the ears 40-year old has the effrontery to dictate the behaviour of those who taught them all that they know.

To say I am disappointed in Save the Children is an understatement of massive proportions. They have cast themselves in the role of the nemesis in the 1966 Grammy award-winning song 'Flowers on the Wall,' the chorus of which opens this blog post. The full song can be seen below.

PS. Save the Children have deemed it is OK for those aged 70 and over to enter their Op Shops as customers.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A Parable for this Time of Corona

Despite our advanced individualistic civilisation, we are more connected and closer to nature than we have hitherto liked to admit.

Yesterday, my housemates finally caught the mouse who had been treating their room in Casa Mangini as a personal food court. Being humane and from overseas, (he is from France and she is from Austria) they are foreign to our ways. So, they decided to relocate their prisoner in a land far away. They were planning to go shopping in an adjacent suburb anyway and dropped the felon off close to their destination. Lisa did it all the time with field mice on the family farm back home. Little did they realise they had condemned the rascal to death.

Disregarding the different skill sets of house and field mice along with our rodent housemate’s ignorance of, or even interest in, frequent flier points they were happy to relocate the miscreant to the other side of his world. They reasoned that mice were mice and being feral all the great outdoors was a home away from home. Mickey or Minnie would easily fit in.

Older hands at the casa were not so sanguine. They reasoned there may be lions and/or tigers in that land on the other side of the mouse world. Whilst for Mickey or Minnie, it was a case of “here be dragons.” And then there were the locals. Walt's alter-ego knew family safety was a paramount concern of their cousins, be they agrarian or otherwise. And even though Mickey or Minnie looked similar, a grey house mouse is a mouse of a very different colour.

Our EU backpackers were dismayed by these revelations. Their embarrassment was complete when the realisation dawned that Micky or Minnie’s cousins were Australian. For the whole world knows how expendable Australians regard foreigners in general and refugees in particular.

And as I contemplated the coronavirus riots in supermarkets and our flirting with a M.S. St. Louis moment off the coast of Western Australia it dawned on me that we are starting to treat each other in the same manner. As we are forced to endure this script read through our current crisis affords us, it is with bated breath that we anticipate the full production. With its multitude of bells and whistles preparing for the next crescendo, the climate crisis’ has its advanced publicity well in hand.

For while, as far as we know, the Coronavirus is life threatening, the climate crisis is species threatening. And how we react to the first is a pretty good indicator of how we will react to the second when sharing becomes mandatory for survival.

Despite the obvious negative social and economic impacts separation is the best way to share at this time. So, please, just stay the at home. Hell, even go play on Facebook if you must, and help it morph into something more than an electronic billboard.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Henry’s Spag

Or how to make cooking fun in this Time of Corona.
The Sauce
Open a bottle of your preferred red wine. For me that’s shiraz, although cab sav or merlot work almost as well. If using merlot halve the amount of sugar. While the wine is breathing (yes, it should be a half way decent one, cheap wine does nobody any favours) dice the onions on the smallish side, dice the salami into one cm or 7/16 of an inch squares and dice the olives into six segments each. In a separate bowl mix the basil, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper (if using). Mince three cloves of garlic (if using fresh). If you’re using fresh tomatoes, dice them into bite sized pieces and retain as much of their juice that you can.
Taste the wine, if its drinkable pour yourself a glass, you deserve it. If you’re a smoker you no doubt deserve one of them as well, so sip and puff.
In a wok or a frying pan with high sides add the olive oil and heat over a high flame. When warm add the diced onions and sauté for a couple of minutes then add the garlic. Stir and mix with the onions, then add the salami and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the mixed herbs and spices and mix. It should be starting to look pretty dry. Add the olives followed by the tomatoes and their juice. Stir well then add the tomato paste and mix. Then add 1 ½ standard glasses of wine and mix well, then add 300ml of water and stir. Add two heaped dessert spoons of raw sugar (one if using merlot) and mix.
Bring to the boil and have another weel deserved drink and a fag (about five minutes). Then set to a brisk simmer and let it reduce by at least a third. Have another drink and ciggie if so inclined. It’s going to take 15 to 20 minutes to reduce and should be stirred regularly. At the 10-minute mark spoon off any excess oil sitting on top. Just before finishing taste for sweetness and add sugar, if needed.
Once cooked let it rest for half an hour. Then you can serve with your favourite pasta (see below) or put into containers and freeze. It should serve six average appetites and when thawed can be heated in a micro-wave in three minutes. Mix through a tablespoon of water for each serving when micro-waving.
The Pasta
Pasta is not porridge! Consequently, cooking pasta isn’t a set and forget process. You cannot un-cook pasta but when overcooked it ends up with the same texture as porridge. Porridge with a sweetener and moo juice is a fine breakfast, with a savoury sauce, mmm… not so fine.
When selecting dry pasta, the colour of the packet doesn’t matter as long as it’s made from Durum wheat, a hard wheat that mills very fine. Whilst you can make your own pasta from scratch is far too much of a fiddle for this little black duck. Cooking should be fun, and making pasta is a chore.
The first time I cooked this meal for the best beloved she upbraided me for serving her raw pasta, now, some 20 years later, I get the same tongue lashing when it is limp and soggy. She indulges the same rigour to my pasta cooking as she applies to her rice cooking. It should be light with a resistance to the bite which cooking shows say is “Al Dente.” This is easiest to achieve by following the packet instructions up to a point. Boil in the recommended amount of water and if they say for ten minutes start tasting at eight and turn off the heat when it is almost done, the residual heat will take it the rest of the way.
If you have a pasta style that requires draining, count to 20 then pour into a colander, shake but don’t rinse. If you’re cooking spaghetti use a server to lift it straight out of the pot, let it drain and then place it in a bowl. Repeat until you have the desired amount. Mix a generous amount of sauce through the pasta and serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, which for me is lots, pasta is my excuse to eat Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with what’s left of the wine or if a shared meal opening a second bottle is recommended.
1 Bottle of red wine (optional but fun)
3 or 4 cigarettes (optional except for addicts)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 small onions (Diced)
3 cloves of garlic or 3 teaspoons (heaped) of pre-minced garlic
100gms of Hungarian salami (hot or mild according to taste)
70gms of diced Greek Kalamata Olives
2 heaped teaspoons of dried Basil
1 heaped teaspoon of dried Oregano
2 ½ heaped teaspoons of Hungarian paprika
¼ flat teaspoon of Cayenne pepper (optional)
2  400gm tins of diced tomatoes or 8 Roma tomatoes cored and diced
3 ½ heaped dessert spoons of triple concentrated tomato paste
1 ½ glasses of red wine (from the bottle above is recommended but not mandatory)
300ml of water
2 dessert spoons of raw sugar (halve if using white sugar or merlot)

Monday, March 09, 2020

Trust in Wonderland

Also published at John Mendue's Pearls and Irritations

An Irishman, a Frenchman and two Aussies share a house. That it sounds like the start of a bad joke is deliberate ploy to counter the ignominy associated with this deliberate housing choice. For most people a share house reeks of student days’ squalor or welfare desperation. But, as the housing market tightens, homelessness increases and the climate devastation of habitat impacts, share housing is an option gaining validity. And, not only as a stop gap measure, this wonderland has lesson’s our governments could well heed.

My share house sojourn, since returning from overseas a couple of years ago, has privileged me with a range of interesting and informative opportunities that have, amongst others, included: a Thai student on a gap year to study English before completing her master’s; a trio of Indian students whose desire for permanent residence was palpable; a young professional Samoan footballer and his chaperone; a Dutch couple on secondment to UWA; a Aussie couple starting out on their life of exclusivity; a Frenchman awaiting a Canadian visa who avoids boredom by driving for Uber Eats; a Filipina trying Australia on for size; an Irish backpacker on a working holiday; and a fellow Victorian. The youngest was 19, the eldest would never see 64 again. All had tales to tell and cultural differences to share.

The glue that holds this disparate, fluctuating group of individuals together is trust. Not only the protection from the elements offered by the landlord’s “Mi casa es su casa” policy, but also the lack of the need to keep everything under lock and key. And when that trust is present housing security is ensured especially when the tenants validate said trust each fortnight. A trust that is currently enhanced in this multi-cultural house, spent most clement evenings on the front veranda, by “never jam to-day” games of chess. In which more knowledge than the moves is required to combat the Irishman’s wicked opening.

It can also be the glue that holds society together. It is the major duty of all levels of government to foster this bond with and between the people who live in this wonderful land of ours. From delivering on the promise of rubbish removal each Tuesday by the town council to protection from existential threats to health and safety by the institutions operated by our state and federal governments. And the stronger that trust the more liveable is the society in which they govern.

To foster the superglue needed by communities the size of a country, this quality must exist across the board to counteract its inherent ephemeral nature. Not only must the people trust their government, more importantly, the government must trust their people. Whilst being ever vigilant of the Jabberwock of vested interests that can reside on the other side of the mirror to which we are often drawn to preen.

As was the case with the privatisation of the electrical grid on Australia’s east coast, which has slowed down its decentralisation despite the climate crisis imperative. Sold as a potential cash cow the investors are now loath to forego their return. Whereas in the government owned Western Australian grid customers are already starting to enjoy the benefits of this decentralisation.

A similar state exists in that most central of human needs: a roof over our heads. The transition from housing as home ownership to investor ownership is excluding many from this basic commodity. And while the Federal Government talks the Australian dream of a home of your own, its actions encourage investors to become our share house landlords. This is not necessarily a bad thing with our rapidly increasing population in which the virtues of recycling and decluttering are being extolled.

Although it does become a concern when the deeds and the rhetoric become "A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach.” Increasingly on the other side of the looking glass, whatever it takes to win is considered a prerequisite for participation. So, when it spills out into the wonderland it dries up all the trust, as the independent senator from Tasmania recently discovered.

With hand on heart and tear in eye she begged the country to just bloody well trust her on National television. In defending the silence about her reasoning, she admitted to sipping from the National Security cool aid chalice. When pressed to say when she would trust the people with the said reasoning, Ms Lambie went the full Sir Humphrey Appleby with her “in the fullness of time” promise. 

The disappointment of the studio audience was audible. For National Security is a favoured trope that government politicians use to shut down questions, especially about their secrets that make us vulnerable. In this silence the dripping of trust upon the pavement resonates with those who care to listen.

The share house horror stories, beloved by tabloid television, stand testament to this potential corrosion in the body politic. Or, as my landlord so succinctly put it, “They keep going to the wrong house.” While shonky landlords, like shonky politicians should be called out, the demonisation of a legitimate housing option should be avoided. This, with the recent destruction of over 1800 homes is increasingly becoming a necessity.

Added to that is a pandemic following on the heels of these natural disasters of fires, floods and cyclones.  About which our elected leaders must be forthcoming with validations for their decisions if they wish to maintain the trust necessary to implement the required actions. And in this highly leveraged society, as insurance premiums, for a significant number, become a luxury item, just how many unsecured mortgages will our banks be prepared to carry?

As our house of cards weathers the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” our wonderland needs to be decoupled from the antics on the other side of the looking glass starting by dissuade them from squabbling over the rattle.

Friday, February 21, 2020

What Malnutrition Looks Like

Also published at John Menadue's Pearls and Irritations

A few days ago, the first Friday in February to be precise, I was banged up in a building dedicated to my survival. The day had barely begun, and I was already feeling the fickle fingers of boredom flit lightly across my mind. The previous afternoon had been spent in painless slumber, awaking long enough for a bite of dinner before dozing through the evening’s entertainment. It was the bewitching hour, and much to the dismay of the night nurse, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

After having waded to page 166, my growing indifference with the book I had brought with me to while away the hours reached a critical mass that saw Mr Brand abandoned to the “who cares” pile. I’d had enough fairy floss, I needed some meat and potatoes. That, and our three-ring circus of the absurd was also back in town. Could Aunty, as she had done on past occasions, come riding to my rescue?

I ponied up my 13 bucks and got the telly turned on. The Royal Perth is a venerable teaching hospital and patient internet is a mostly un-needed luxury. With my phone reduced to on-board games, I ruefully contemplated last century’s technology. I scrolled through the 1300 infomercials and product placements of early morning network scheduling in search of the facts that can and often do trump fiction.

I was eventually rewarded with a reference to the put down of the week, politics is, after all, a blood sport. A rambunctious general turned politician had been put in his box a couple of days before by a scientist who had had a gut full. And as the repetition of the 24-hour news channel began to pall, ABC Breakfast, from another stall in the informed Aunt’s stable, arrived with a little bit more variety in her saddle bags.

Not being a regular viewer, the comfort of a studio just ten paces from a coffee machine voiced several times by the live cross reporter in the wind and rain was an irony that almost matched General George Custer’s speed fetish at Little Big Horn. A running jest that only became apparent during the closing credits.

For, you see, the aforementioned coffee machine is located in the foyer of our sometimes-cavalier Aunt’s Southbank home. The studio coach was just those 10 referenced paces from the machine now basking in its 15 minutes.  And when the symphony of reversing trucks and passing trams reached a crescendo, pre-recorded packages were dispatched post-haste forcing mine hosts to play catch-up on live TV. A game they had been playing for two months as they awaited a purpose-built facility.

It is to the presenters’ credit that their skills in dancing to this improvised melody were such that they could serenely maintain a professional façade.

For it is those who can perform under duress, be it a bushfire, a dissembling politician or just turning over rocks, some of which often require serious digging, that Aunty respects and nurtures. It is little wonder that some of the industry’s most talented are joining the regiment.  And those who have successfully ridden with her for some time can easily find a ride at other stations, should they so choose. 

It is these skills that make Aunty not only a national treasure but an essential service. Aunty is there when your phone is not. She can fight on foot as well as on horseback, which she so ably displayed during the east coast’s recent conflagration. When the environment punches back, it is good to know we have her in our corner.

That we allow our politicians to ignore this evidence, is at our own peril. Be it through the blindness, the pettiness or the avarice of these elected leaders, we will be the losers if we allow it to continue. It is the ABC who should be gold plated not the poles and wires. Not only do we need our best people in the saddle, we need the best horses to carry them into battle.  Be it television, radio, or the internet, the infrastructure they require must be given to them in a timely manner.

This lack of resources became apparent at the close of that Friday morning broadcast. A panoramic view of the make-shift studio was followed by a shot of the six-member cast wandered down a corridor leading into the bowels of the building, one hoped to their dressing rooms. Michael Rowland’s wave goodbye underscored the poignancy of the moment. It was a powerful piece of television that the old girl does so well.

We cannot afford to repeat General Custer’s mistake and leave the artillery in a field far away. Nor should we underestimate the ruthless determination of our current foe.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Time to Act is Upon Us

In amongst the sleaze and the glitter of his second memoir, the self- obsessed jester, Russell Brand, drops the observation; “Do we humans yet properly understand the notion of the future? It doesn’t seem that we do.”  Whilst written with a British tabloid audience in mind it is an equally pertinent character trait applicable to those of us who qualify as Scott Morrison’s “Quiet Australians.”

Take my mate Joe’s eldest son, a millennial father of three, all under 10, for example. Gifted a solar roof installation by an indulgent parent instead of doubled down of his good fortune, Joe’s son has elected to install a swimming pool in his postage stamp outer suburban backyard. This $30 thousand home improvement is justified by a) ensuring his offspring’s aquatic enjoyment is enhanced at this early age and b) how it will increase the resale value of his property. Consideration of the future advantages of electric power security is relegated to an afterthought that vies with dreams of being a contestant on a televised gymnastic game show.

This exhibit A in the Morrison catalogue holds its future in their own hands. Not so much at the voting booth but in their willingness to turn the ubiquitous they into a personal us. Like the pundits and the government there seems to be a reluctance to embrace this level of responsibility.

As the father of the Goons, Spike Milligan, wrote almost 50 years ago.

They chop down 100ft trees
To make chairs
I bought one
I am six-foot one inch
When I sit in the chair
I'm four foot two.
Did they really chop down a 100ft tree
To make me look shorter?

Yes Spike, I’m afraid they did. So, sit back, relax, put your feet up. Turn on the tennis. Oh, a politician has been caught with their fingers in till. Or as Mr Eliot so eloquently wrote a hundred years ago “another bank defaulter has confessed.” That will give the pundits something to jaw about. And a pandemic, well that’s not our fault. Fortunately, our world class medical profession is up to the task, they’ve won that match before and for the most part they’re steeped in integrity. So, “Don’t you worry about that.” BTW, who is this week’s winner of Australian Ninja Worrier?

Australia is a relaxed country, an indulgent country, we take great pride in our comfortable, laid-back reputation. Even a lucky country, if the success that’s been under pinned by the husbandry of our indigenous forebears can be called luck. Very few countries can boast the luxury of an honest low-level public servant bothering to contemplate the merits of personal battery storage or an inground swimming pool. Let alone purchase their considered preference secure in the knowledge that if they go with the luxury item the they will provide an uninterrupted power supply.

Well that is all about to change courtesy of global warming. And we must convince the they to adapt to climate friendly processes and products.

Our governments are struggling, they are not up to the job. For the most part their indulgence is just ours writ large. So, with the situation demanding we change our world, we must first change ourselves. Fortunately, that is something of which we are personally capable, should we so choose. 

Not only must we stand up, we must also dismantle the chair. It is very close to its use by date. If we continue as we are, it will collapse with us sitting in it and that is going to hurt big time. If the current bushfires are any indication, we are even in grave danger of self-immolation. But for the they, if there is a profit to be made, making these chairs will continue to be their raison d’être. We need to tell them to stop.

And we must do it in a language they understand. From the homeless dole bludger begging in the street to the chairman of the mob who run the banks, our choices are either to forgo or become DIY experts. To move beyond fossil fuels, we must stop using petrol and become energy independent. If we do that, they will notice, and they will act.

The technology exists to do the latter, if not individually then in concert with our local neighbours. The first is the big ask. We need a transport system that matches our health system. A pedestrian lifestyle is possible in 21st Century Australia, especially in urban Australia, but it’s not all that easy. Although the more people who adopt walking as their primary mode of transport the easier it will become. The joy ride is over, it’s time to put away the toys and become serious.

Climate change has moved in and is here to stay. The future is today on steroids. And like all drugs it has side effects, some of which are deadly. And a tip for Joe’s son, when the time comes to upgrade your accommodation, a house independent of the grid will trump a swimming pool by noticeable order of magnitude. Don’t take my word for it, check out the man with the leather jacket’s response.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

What are they Thinking

To say that a problem is a challenge wearing a hi-vis vest maybe glib, but it does contain an element of truth. One that our governments, both state and federal, would be well advised to investigate as they contemplate the infrastructure needs arising from our spate of climate fires.

At 19,000 and counting, bushfire damaged and destroyed power poles are starting to litter the affected areas of NSW countryside. About which the state government owned electric power distributor, Essential Energy has said “it was looking at replacing destroyed power poles with composite poles, which could withstand high temperatures, and employ other new technology to improve its network.”

Then there is the reputation these necklaces that stretch from town to town are gaining for the part they play in generating bushfires. As reported by the American Electrical Contractor magazine “During the summer of 2018, the Department (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) reported at least 17 more major wildfires that were triggered by power lines.”

In the West examples are emerging of these other new technologies that should become the replacement for the poles and wires that decorate our highways and byways. Utilising solar, batteries and generators, Western Power, the Western Australian State Government owned electrical distribution corporation has started creating micro electrical grids. A 2016 trial of six stand-alone power systems on remote farms in the state’s southwest region has grown to 57 such installations today. And the corporation is currently trialling community sized batteries in a metropolitan setting in Perth’s southern suburb of Mandurah.

Meanwhile further up the coast, 10 hours’ drive from Perth, is Denham, the tourist town and administrative centre for the Shire of Shark Bay. Horizon Power, the State Governments regional electrical power enterprise, is installing a 500w solar farm to power a hydrogen electrolyser to back up the four wind turbines that currently supply 60% of the town’s electricity.  It is hoped that this micro power grid will replace the town’s old diesel generators and supply all the town’s electrical needs.

And in the last six years over three million solar-battery storage systems, that have had a positive effect on 16 million people, have been installed in rural Bangladesh. A pioneer in the micro finance movement, micro solar systems are a natural fit. And the combination of these two systems has seen the creation of nano and micro grids. Utilising peer-2-peer networks Bangladeshis trade electricity, each according to their needs.

With these baby steps in the First world and toddling ones in the Third, one cannot help but wonder what our Federal Government is thinking. Encouraging investment in coal assets will see them become at best stranded, as feared by the ANZ bank amongst others, or at worst a major contributor in our impending suicide. And the high temperature resistant composite power poles are just a continuation of the short sighted, business as usual mindset that saw firefighting experts ignored by the Federal Government.

One can only hope that NSW will in its turn ignore their big brother and embrace the adoption of the small-scale other technology that improves its network rather than more of the same poles and wires technology fed by fossil fuel behemoths.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Digging Holes After the Bushfires

It is a truism that the best advice when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. The past four and a half months of bushfires indicate that we are in carbon induced climate change hole. And nearly a quarter of the world’s and a third of Australia’s carbon emissions are generated by transport. But our shakers and movers, from the grassroots to Canberra’s hallow halls of government, seem intent upon ignoring the application of this extractive advice in their rush back to economic normality.

For the third year running, with over 47 thousand sales last year according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Toyota Hilux was Australia’s most popular motor vehicle. Another dual cab ute, the Ford Ranger, came in at number two. Both these vehicles have carbon emissions of around one kilogram for every four and a quarter kilometres driven.

With this level of popularity, it is fair to surmise that a goodly number of these tradies best friend were part of the climate change induced bushfire exodus from Batemans Bay just a couple of weeks ago. Now that the rain has come, and the Kings Highway is no longer a raging inferno and has been reopened to the public, the good burgers of the Canberra beachside playground are calling for their return. They have released a video to push home their plea; a parody of the 1977 soft rock song “Baby Come Back.”

While one can appreciate their current economic pain, is more of the same the best way to go? If as suggested by the boffins that carbon in the atmosphere is a major causal factor of this recent existential holocaust surely a rinse and repeat is a very short-sighted response.

The round trip for a Canberran to enjoy a day of surf and sun with a take-a-way lunch is all but 300 kilometres. This equates to an additional 70 odd kilograms of carbon being pushed into the firmament with each trip. This equates to a tonne of carbon being emitted for little bit over 14 such trips. And with 43% of Australian cars being of this type the hopes of Batemans Bay’s tourist orientated businesses will ensure the hole keeps getting deeper.

Living up to his internet meme, our Prime Minister, Scotty from marketing, has implicitly endorsed this activity. Within the Government's national bushfire recovery fund is an allocation of $20 million to market destinations for domestic travellers and $25 million for a global tourism campaign. He wants us and the world to know that Australia is "safe and open for business."

Announcing the package Mr Morrison said "This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria. "

Tourism Australia figures also show that visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and China are reluctant to experience our fires and smoke ravaged cities. For the first fortnight of the year international bookings were down by 20 to 30 per cent.

About which Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum stated, "People are believing everything they see on social media — the country's on fire, top to bottom, coast to coast, don't go to Uluru because it's on fire, Sydney airport's on fire — crazy stuff."

But not so crazy if our bushfires have shown our potential visitors a deadly cost associated with international air travel. Which the New York Times reported, back in September at the start of our bushfires, accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. And at its current growth rate, air travel has a bullet to become a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 alone.

Perhaps our international visitors, not being so blinkered in their outlook, are prepared to take on board the axiom associated with holes and digging. Whereas our government and those at the coal face seem to be intent on doubling down on the short term, business as usual thinking that's driving the Ardini mining adventure.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Our Survival Depends Upon Us

In this age were future growth is being replaced in the popular lexicon by future survivability and leadership is conspicuous by its abstinence it becomes a necessity to take matters into our own hands.

For the last 15 years I have, in successive stages, been decreasing my carbon footprint. Over this journey I have found my pleasure in life has increased and further forward movement has become easier.

The first was the toughest; abandoning of my beloved Alpha for the inconvenience of a pedestrian lifestyle. When I gave up putting a kilogram of carbon in the atmosphere for every five and a half kilometres travelled my world became a much larger place. There were birds and trees, flowers and shop windows to observe and enjoy in all their complexity rather than them just being a blur on the periphery of my bubble. There was my suburban neighbourhood to discover and it is a wonderous moment indeed to eventually look a magpie in the eye and see the spark of recognition that says, “I know you, you’re not an immediate threat.”

After a decade of living in urban Asia, share accommodation in Australia has a ring of familiarity. After thoughtful consideration of location, my current address affords me the same level of variety I enjoyed in a city ten times the size. I have nine supermarkets within 5 minutes’ walk of my front door. Two Asian, one Korean, two Indian, one West Australian, two National, and one international/German. I also have a daily park vista to entertain me, I can and often do watch dogs chase balls while breakfasting and men doing the same as I sip a relaxing sundowner. The dogs are more elegant and seem to derive greater pleasure from the pastime. Expectations anyone?

Since I started working in recycling with Save the Kids, I have been able to extensively update my wardrobe and have change from a hundred. I have also decorated the walls of the house with a selection of artworks for less than $50, fortunately my eye is good enough to please both my housemates and my landlord.

Then there is exhilaration of helping to bring the Perth CBD to a standstill for a morning, nonviolent civil disobedience is fun. Shamed by the school kids into joining Extinction Rebellion the opportunity to write a play for the group and being encouraged to produce it has reawakened a somnolent skillset.

And to look to the future without trepidation is to be fool hardy in the extreme. Any fears I have are not for me but for those that follow. When another 30 summers have blazed away it will be a very different world and if we don’t mend our ways, perhaps being trapped on the beach by a bushfire will have become common place? And Jonathan Watts’ bubbles of climate anxiety will not be massing near the surface as he says they are today; they will be exploding upon it with a monotonous regularity. Frogs legs anyone?

Unfortunately, it is you and I, as individuals, who will have to effect any change for it seems to be beyond the skill set of our leaders. And the best way we can do that is by how we conduct our day to day lives.