Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 5, 2012

Sunday, 5 February 2012 – flood crisis worsens up north, the heat rises on Labor leadership issue, and this writer receives inspiration from a piece of music.

This sounds like a repeat of 12 months ago with parts of both southern Queensland, and northern New South Wales in the midst of major floods concerns from recent heavy rains. For example, as the following report from ‘The Australian’ indicates, the south Queensland centre of St George is suffering from the unfolding inland flood crisis, with its residents now being urged to flee their homes.  Authorities will consider mandatory evacuations amid predictions that the Balonne River will hit 14m, topping the 2010 flood that swamped the town. The town of 3800, about 500km west of Brisbane, is the latest to be threatened by floods that have precipitated the declaration of a state of disaster across southwest Queensland. Army helicopter have been deployed to assist with evacuations and supplying communities cut off the sea of flood water, that stretches from the central-west town of Alfa to the Queensland-NSW border. Moree and other centres in northern NSW continue to be cut off. A search continues at Roma for mother-of-two Jane Sheahan, who was swept away on Friday when her car, with 7-year-old son Darcy inside, was caught in floodwaters. She pleaded with rescuers to “save my boy’’ before being carried away. Darcy was saved but grave fears are now held ofr his mother. Levees at Charleville, 740km west of Brisbane, continue to just hold, with the swollen Warrego River lapping at the top of the barriers in some places. Local authorities say they are confident the worst of the emergency has passed – provided there is no further rain in the catchments. At Mitchell, 590km west of Brisbane, locals returned to heart-breaking scenes as receding waters allowed them to re-enter flooded homes. Queensland police deputy commissioner Ian Stewart says emergency crews are focusing their efforts on the town of St George, which is facing record flooding. Mr Stewart believes it may be necessary to evacuate most of St George and neighbouring towns. “We are working on our contingencies to manage the potential evacuation of areas south of Roma and in particular, St George,” he said today.  “There are very large volumes of water in those systems getting to record levels as the predictions are currently telling us. “Whilst there is some time to make these arrangements due to the water flows, certainly we are taking very seriously the potential for mass evacuations in that area so that people are absolutely safe from this very large scale event.”  By this evening, as the situation worsened in St George, the order was given for the whole town to evacuate, with no exceptions!

Meanwhile, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard hosts a barbeque for fellow Labor politicians today, the widespread media and other speculation about her future as leader continues to keep many journalists and media commentators on the payroll!  While most Labor MPs were putting on a strong front today, it is widely thought within caucus that a challenge is unavoidable, yet despite a reported shift in support to Mr Rudd’s camp in recent weeks, it is not yet clear he will have the numbers to be successful in any leadership challenge.  Certainly people like the PM’s deputy, Wayne Swan, and other senior cabinet ministers have brushed off leadership speculation ahead of an ALP crisis meeting being held for the new parliamentary year, which was also being held today I believe –  with Mr Swan and Finance Minister Penny Wong kicking off the gathering with presentations about the state of the economy and Labor’s economic framework.  In an interview this morning, Treasurer Wayne Swan denied that Kevin Rudd was plotting a return to the prime ministership. “The fact is a lot of the media coverage at the moment is simply bizarre,” the Treasurer told ABC’s Insiders program. “I think the community has had just a gutful of so much of the commentary and speculation that is out there. Most of it is just a huge beat up, sure there are one or two individuals out there who are disgruntled and they are feeding some of these stories but the great bulk of the coverage that I read is completely divorced from reality.” Mr Swan said he took Mr Rudd “at his word” that he was happy being foreign minister and said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard had the “overwhelming support” of caucus. “She is someone who is getting things done,” he said. “Our Prime Minister has the strong support of caucus. She is a tough leader, a person of integrity and great strength and great vision.” Meanwhile Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the leadership issue was being blown up by the media but said the government was determined to “get on with the job of governing”. “I think once parliament goes back this week people will see the business of government taking place and that begins today with the special caucus meeting,” Mr Albanese told Sky News’ Australian Agenda. “What we need is for government members to continue to focus on selling the government’s message. That’s a job not just for the Prime Minister but for the whole team.”

Some of the other conflicting media headlines this weekend relating to the leadership issue included:-

  • Opposition leader Tony Abbott said this morning Labor would gain very little from changing leaders and denied Kevin Rudd would be tougher to beat than Julia Gillard at any future election. “In the end the government doesn’t have to change leaders – it has to change its policies,” Mr Abbott told Network Ten. “If they have Rudd or Gillard they’ll still have the carbon tax, they’ll still have the mining tax and they’ll still be a government that is addicted to spending.” Mr Abbott said the leadership should be decided at an election. “They’ve got to change the way they do things,” he said. “People should choose the Prime Minister of Australia at an election. That’s what we need. “Unfortunately I think we’ve got to the point where this Labor government is so tainted that it needs a good period of time in opposition to work out what it actually stands for.”
  • Kevin Rudd hasn’t got the numbers to defeat Julia Gillard yet, but his support is growing in the Labor caucus.
  • Julia Gillard’s days are numbered. The dilemma is: who could replace her?
  • After 2010, no political analyst is prepared to say something can’t happen – that no matter how outlandish, it is not possible.
  • Two independents say they have grave concerns about whether they could support Kevin Rudd as ALP leader.
  • Labor MPs supporting Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd agree there has been a shift in support to Rudd.

In the meantime, the weather down here in Victoria [this part anyway] has seen a bit of a change this afternoon, after temperatures reached 33 degrees again. By 3.30pm here in Sunbury, the gauge had dropped to below 28 degrees, and the strong winds which have been blowing all day, freshened a little and brought a few patches of rain with them. When I was up at the radio station early this morning, it was quite warm, even in the studio – perhaps that led to my feelings of tiredness in the subsequent time since then, though admittedly, with the air feeling a little cooler later in the afternoon, my energy levels rose somewhat.

The major piece of music I played in the classical music program this morning, was by the Spanish composer, Joaquin  Rodrigo [born in 1902, died 1999], and his composition called the ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’, written in 1939.  A piece of music which has enjoyed widespread popularity from it’s first hearing to the present day. In the recent ABC Classic FM’s vote for the 100 most popular 20th century classical compositions,  it came in as No. 6.There were a number of reasons for it’s popularity. As Thomas Kahlcke writes [translated by Mary Adams] – ‘In a time of great political and cultural uncertainty – in Spain the Civil War had just ended and many intellectuals and artists were fleeing the Franco regime – the guitar concerto sounded [and still sounds today]

like a soothing reminder of an idyllic epoch. And indeed it was Rodrigo’s intention to provide musical compensation for the outward and inward ravages to his native land by recalling with the harmonious music an age long forgotten. Even the title manifests this: Aranjuez, the name of the magnificent summer seat of the Spanish kings, not far from Madrid, awakens associations of luxurious indolence and the splendour of past times, of vast gardens, fluttering breezes and cool fountains. And the music affirms these associations in that it transports folk elements from the Flamenco culture into the framework of  of a classical form, evoking a subtle atmosphere of vitality and elegance and overlaying it with an archaic patina….’  In other words, the music attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature, through the guitar and orchestra, and it does so beautifully.   According to the composer, the first movement is “animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes… interrupting its relentless pace”; the second movement “represents a dialogue between guitar and solo instruments (cor anglais, bassoon, oboe, horn etc.)”; and the last movement “recalls a courtly dance in which the combination of double and triple time maintains a taut tempo right to the closing bar.” He described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains” in the gardens of Aranjuez.

For myself, the second movement [the ‘Adagio’] represented 12 minutes of pure beauty, and while it had at times a familiar melody from traditional adagios of other composers, it became something special with the addition of the guitar as the principal source of melody. Apparently,  Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in 1937. In her autobiography, Victoria eventually declared that it was both an evocation of the happy days of their honeymoon and a response to Rodrigo’s devastation at the miscarriage of their first pregnancy.  I suggest readers find a copy of the internet, and have a listen for themselves, to the second movement in particular. It should provide inspiration.

Susie’s gone out again, Dad’s home, again, with a ‘upset’ digestive tract again, this is beginning to become rather annoying, almost distressing!! Putting off going back to complain again, for a while!!



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