Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 10, 2011

Thursday, 10th February 2011 – general ramblings on climate, budgets, international relations, and the local scene

Reporting in the weekly rural newspaper ‘The Weekly Times’ yesterday,  things were not sounding too optimistic for our country folk. As Fiona Myers and Andrew Mole wrote – ‘Victoria is awash – again. Falls of up to 240mm at the weekend have closed roads, flooded rivers, swamped farms, drowned vineyards and vegetable crops and created havoc. And there are fears further falls predicted for this weekend could mean more flooding for the already sodden north of the state. Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said floods during December and last month were estimated to cost $1.5 – $2 billion and weekend rain would ‘add to this’. “The major damage from the recent rain would be to dried fruit, wine grapes and table grapes in the Sunraysia [district] and the vegetable crops south east of Melbourne” Mr Walsh said.  He described the rain as “soul destroying and depressing….I said I would never complain about rain again, but it is starting to wear a bit thin”.

I guess that is the nature of our climate here in Australia, where not more than twelve months ago, most of the south east of the continent was desperate for rain, but now we have too much. In fact, one week into our last ‘official’ month of summer, many would suggest that apart from a few odd days, we have not really had as normal summer. A read a friend complaining the other day that ‘she was cold’ and was ‘rugging’ up as if it was winter – I did suggest to her that the word cold was a bit of an over reaction, ‘cool’ perhaps, but not cold. However, it has certainly been a cooler summer overall than we would normally experience, and of course, the rain has been far in excess than what would normally be anticipated at this time of year.

One of the political consequences of the Queensland floods and cyclones in particular relates to debates about the imposition of a flood levy on the Australian taxpayer and/or the creation of  ongoing disaster re3lief funds, etc, and whether the government should forget about trying to reduce the current deficit in the near future, and concentrate on flood and storm reconstruction works and repairs. Plenty of people in the community have opinions on this area, and over the next few days, it will feature as the principal point of debate in Federal Parliament. A group which probably doesn’t get much recognition in the broad community unless you are specifically involved in that sector are the Certified Public Accountants [CPA], who issued a statement on the 3rd February regarding what they see as  the approach that should be taken towards the Federal budget. The CPA view is that:-

‘The next Federal Budget must be far-sighted and allow for important decisions on key issues such as infrastructure, tax, superannuation and comprehensive measures to absorb the cost of natural disaster recovery, CPA Australia has said in its Pre-Budget submission.  ‘The Australian economy faces a number of challenges, both domestic and global. While it weathered the global downturn, it is clear that more must be done to improve productivity and boost international competitiveness. This budget presents the ideal opportunity to lay the groundwork,’ said CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley.  ‘Among the challenges we face are ensuring Australia’s capacity to make the necessary investments in much needed infrastructure — including roads, rail, ports and broadband.’ ‘We strongly support the aim to return the Budget to surplus, but there is the real danger that trying to do so in record time for its own sake would come at the expense of a far-sighted, measured approach, with serious consequences for Australia’s economic strength over the next five to ten years,’ said Mr Malley.  ‘Extending the return-to-surplus deadline would enable the government to address the immediate issue while ensuring a solid platform for sustainable economic growth and addressing medium to longer-term challenges.’ “These issues cannot be viewed in isolation. They are all interrelated and together have significant implications for Australia’s ongoing economic health,’ Mr Malley said.  ‘As such the next Budget must take a big picture and longer term view based on sound business and economic practice.’

So the CPA is looking beyond just a solution to the  costs of the natural disasters, but more of a long term aspects. I imagine that if our major political parties, and their representatives were not so concerned about maintaining control of government, and protecting their Seats, etc, within the confines of the short term political cycle, we might see some semblance of the kind of scenario the CPA is proposing. – establishing long term platforms rather than rushing to get the budgets back into surplus. In many of these things, there is a real case for a lot more bipartisanship amongst our politicians, because I think we would see better results and outcomes, but of course we are not going to see that happen.

On the international scene, I was interested to note the story about the Palestine National Orchestra creating history, by performing in Israel! The orchestra, which is made up of  Palestinian and foreign musicians performed in Israel for the first time in the history of the Jewish state, described as ‘a landmark cultural event for residents of a region wracked by conflict for generations’. The group debuted on New Year’s Eve in the West Bank city of Ramallah to a packed audience, and then,  were on the road to Jerusalem and Haifa.  Some of the Palestinian performers, who began life as refugees in neighbouring Arab states, set foot in their ancestral homeland for the first time in their life. I’ve referred previously to the importance of sport in bringing ‘warring’ nations together, albeit usually for just a brief time, but had overlooked the sharing joint relevance of music as a similar factor. In the broad spectrum of overall situation between places like Israel and Palestine, it is perhaps just a very small pebble of hope in a huge rock pile, but as the words from various sources will tell us ‘from little things, big things grow’. We can only hope!

Here’s an interesting little quote from Australian pianist, conductor, writer, and radio personality, Guy Noble. Writing in the February edition of ABC Classic FM’s ‘Limelight Magazine’, Noble says [in the context an article entitled ‘Bad news is bad news]’ that:-

“The media tells us everything that’s wrong with the world, but not how to fix it. The news should be renamed ‘Things That Went Wrong Today;  the 7.30 Report updated to Reasons Why Things Went Wrong, and Four Corners might as well be called Things That Are Going To Go Wrong That You Don’t Even Know About Yet. I can’t keep up with all the things I have to be concerned about. I’ve started a list of T^hings To Worry About so I don’t forget any of them. Recently, I mislaid my list and became worried that I wasn’t worrying enough about the things I had to worry about”…………Well, life is hard enough without being alerted by the media every day of the year to all the awful things that could happen to us. Radio and TV should carry warnings not just about the possibility of violence or sex scenes but also whether the following program is going to depress the hell out of you. H for Happy, M for Moderately Depressing, and A for Avoid At All Costs If You’re Having A Bad Day”  Guy Noble concludes his article with the sure advice that ‘music is the best anti-depressive of all!. I can vouch for that!@!

Meanwhile, back a little closer to home, last night’s ‘Family History Society committee meeting left this member feeling as little tired by the time I’ escaped’ – it went a little longer than had been anticipated, but it was at least promising that the society was still operating, as late last year, that seemed unlikely because of a sudden drop off of members, and a lack of interest by others. However, with the AGM in November last seeing the re-emergence  of some members, and a perceived new enthusiasm, here we are at the beginning of another year with the promise of a new approach to the group’s activities and aims. However, as I was one of those who was keen to see the group keep operating, and in doing so, had opted to be a part of the committee, following my brief role in the closing months of 2010 as acting President, I guess I have given myself some extra jobs, in this, my planned last year of full time employment!   However, both that, and my roles at the radio station should have some more time available to be allocated to them after this year, so I do consider my ongoing interest to be worthwhile.

Certainly, not much spare time at home in the evening this week – because tonight, we have the Radio Member’s bi-monthly General Meeting – let’s hope we get more than just the committee turning up to that one! I was pleased to hear that our Station Manager was back on air this morning after his long period of illness. I think he still has some time of the recovery phase to get through yet, but as Mike put it himself, he needs to slowly work himself back into his various roles. No better way to start, then sitting up in the studio doing what comes naturally – entertaining the listeners with one of his regular programs. Incidentally, tonight’s  meeting – well, fairly successful despite the low number of members who turned up. Plans made, amongst other things, for our participation in Sunfest [the annual Sunbury Festival, in the middle of March] – in fact the meeting I was at last night were making similar plans!  Seems like I might be in two places at once that day!




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