Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 6, 2011

Wednesday, 5th January 2010 – Queensland floods a real concern

Day 2 at the office for 2011, and by early afternoon, I’d had enough, was bored, and wanted to be elsewhere. Not a great start to the year! Also noticed that Jackie [the boss] was still ‘carrying’ around the tail end of that virus she’d had before Christmas, now in the form of a cough. Pity she didn’t take an extra week off!  Stayed out of her way as much  as I could.

Of course, while I’m  feeling sorry for myself, my thoughts went up the people in Queensland, where some areas seemed to be having the worst floods in history – certainly not an experience that I have ever been through. I think the closest I have come to any kind of flood was on a trip back from Sydney, with a very young Susie – the section of about 10 kilometres on the Hume Highway leading into Wangaratta [about 3 hours north of Melbourne]. There was water across the highway, and the traffic was either stopped for a little while, or it was very slow and careful driving into Wangaratta. Think I have some photographs somewhere, but anyway, compared to what was happening up north at present, that was a mere splash of water.

Today, the city of Rockhampton, where my brother & his wife now live, was bracing for a flood peak , with the Fitzroy River through the city predicted to reach 9.4 metres. About 400o homes had been inundated already, and it was estimated that figure could double in the next 24 hours. Colin was apparently safe, on higher ground about 10kms from Rockhampton, although I imagine his job as a train driver was still on hold, with trains unable to operate in any direction from the city. While the road to the north,  the direction my brother is in] remained open this morning, access by any other means to the south etc, is closed, and could be for another 10 days, while the airport is also not operational.

Apparently, an estimate yesterday, suggested that about one million megalitres [double the capacity of Sydney Harbour] is flowing past the Rockhampton regional centre every day, that’s a lot of water. I wonder where it all goes to – obviously down some of the natural water course towards New South Wales and across to South Australia, but so much of it is also probably lost. We need our engineers and technical people to find an urgent way of harnessing so much water – particularly in view of the drought conditions of the past decade in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.. For years, we have had not enough water, now there is too much to save and store for proper future use, and in the meantime, the national financial impact is beginning to be felt in other quarters. More than $830 million was stripped from the value of Australia’s top three general insurers yesterday, as investor concerns intensified over the financial impact of the Queensland floods, and the anticipated massive $1billion flood bill. Personally, my immediate concern would be for the thousands of individual home owners and businesses, but then I suppose it is the combined weight of their individual flood repair costs, reconstruction, etc, that make up the total projected outlays. This is a disaster of major proportions here in Australia – however, I wonder how it compares with the widespread human disaster and tragedy of the floods in Pakistan, or even China, last year – such a comparison is of course no comfort to the thousands currently affected here in  Australia, and it’s probably a discussion that’s not appropriate at this stage.  But sometimes, on a total scale of affects on humanity and populations, these things need to be put into some kind of context.

In the meantime, I must seek an update from Colin, on the direct affects of the flood situation, on himself, since I last spoke to him, on New Year’s Eve.

Back here in Sunbury, I watched a new late night ‘chat show’ last night which I found both  interesting and entertaining. On SBS television, it was called ‘The Late Session’ and dealt with the subject of ‘Storytelling’.  It was compared by a guy named Waleed Aly [not sure of his nationality] but he is a mixture of lawyer, commentator, academic, rock musician, TV and radio personality, and amongst other roles,  he has also been a regular guest on such shows as Q&A, Meet The Press, The 7.30 Report, The Drum, Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, The 7PM Project and BBC World. The first episode last night,

Waleed was  joined by Australian actor Jack Thompson, playwright David Williamson, singer/songwriter Dan Kelly, writer and teen-lit activist Randa Abdel-Fattah  [who was born in Australia of Palestinian and Egyptian parents. Randa, and a  Muslim, attended a Catholic primary school but graduated from an Islamic College], and investigative journalist Kate McClymont, and as the subject matter indicated, all  five discussed a subject that is synonymous to them all – storytelling. Amongst other topics, Aly  asked them why Australians are so fixated with the outback and how we create the characters that resonate whether they be a Muslim teenager, a Sydney crim, a fantasy eco terrorist or a laconic Aussie larrikin?   The Late Session is intended to be in the format of a one hour dinner party with Aly and an array of different guests each episode, including writers, musicians, artists, and business leaders discussing some of the “bigger themes of contemporary life from identity to modern families and the global search for happiness.”  It promises insights, revelations, music and engaging company. I had a particular interest in last night’s show, because of the writing theme, be it of novels, poetry [Jack Thompson read a personal poem to the group] or through music [Dan Kelly sung a couple of his ‘own’ compositions]. On that latter point, I personally cringed a little bit at some of the language in Kelly’s closing song, and while the other guests all went along with his singing of it, I’m not totally sure that one or two of them felt as uncomfortable as I did, of it’s presentation on [admittedly] late night television. Apart from that little moment, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the dscussions that took place, and the general casual informal format of the setting for the program. Apparently it is one of several new chat style shows coming to television in 2011 – I think I might stick with this one, and Q & A when it returns to the ABC. It’s a pit that Randa can’t be in some future editions – her face on screen provided a rather sparkling addition to the panel 🙂

photo of Randa Abdel-Fattah Found an interesting little introductory bio on her, from Wikipedia which I thought I’d Keep for future reference – “Randa Abdel-Fattah is an Australian-born writer of Palestinian and Egyptian parentage. Abdel-Fattah grew up in Melbourne but now lives in Sydney where she is a lawyer. She lives with her husband and young daughter. She is extremely active in the inter-faith community, gives talks at high schools, and has been involved in Palestinian human rights campaigns. She is also a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign, the Australian Arabic Council and various Australian Muslim networks. She loves to travel, and her favourite places are Egypt and Palestine. She loves to read and her writing reflects on her personal views. She enjoys romantic comedies, her husband’s humour, getting a seat on a train and any movie starring Colin Firth”.   I wonder what she really thought about the ‘words’ of Dan Kelly’s song?

Incidentally, the 3rd day of the cricket test ended this evening, with the English team still batting and in a dominant position – over 200 runs in front of Australia, with their score at 7 wickets for 288 runs – individual English batting performances including 189 runs by Alastair Cook, and 115 for Ian Bell. It’s fairly obvious that dominance is likely to continue until the end of the Series. As I suggested to friend Maureen over in the UK, she doesn’t need the ‘Fat Lady’ to sing for the English victory, because the Barmy Army have been doing a great job at that throughout the tour. The Australian press and public have got to realise that cricket like other sports has it’s periods of highs and lows, and at the present, the Australian team is in a low trough – one team cannot expect to be the best and on top of the pile all of the time, although reading some so called expert opinions, that role seems to be assumed. I also believe I’m a little more realistic than temporary captain, Michael Clarke, who was still telling the press tonight, that he believes Australia can win this game  –  maybe if Clarke himself starts to get some runs!  Yes, it’s time to start rebuilding, and the inclusion in this match of two new players  is a beginning, regardless of the outcome of this particular test match.




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