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Australia; The primary industry trollop

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Australia used to have some dignity and class.

Today however it seems to have departed from past standards of excellence and lost any vision it might have had for the long term future.

When it comes to management and export of primary products
it now behaves like a cheap hooker standing on a dimly-lit world corner eagerly waiting to service every needy overseas kerb-crawler with immediate bargain-basement satisfaction.

Coal and minerals are being dug up and exported at an unprecedented rate with total disregard to the effect this will have on the environment and the future food supply of this country.

Farming is now apparently regarded as an optional occupation in this nation.

The average age of Australia’s farmers is 55.

Agricultural research and education facilities have progressively been closed down during the last two decades.

The two dominant supermarket chains have been allowed to screw smallholder farmers into unprofitablilty by manipulating wholesale markets and importing cheaper overseas food products of dubious quality and uncertain pesticide-residue status.

Government disinterest and the failure of our leaders to look beyond the next election could well ensure that Australian farmers will become totally extinct during this century. We have embarked upon the potentially disastrous road of relying upon imported food paid for by the contents of all the holes that mining companies are digging in the ground all over this continent.

Eighty-three percent of mining companies operating in Australia today are foreign owned.

They are digging up our heritage and agricultural land as fast as their giant machinery will allow, with scant regard for the long-term consequences.
A Chinese mining company has bought up 43 farms in New South Wales.  What sort of Government stupidity allowed this to happen.
Hands up anyone who thinks they are going to start growing rhubarb and cabbages on this land for Australia’s future health and prosperity.  They are going to dig it up and mine coal for export.
How utterly foolish can one country become?

There was a time in recent history when Australia thrived and “rode on the sheep’s back”.  This happened because we were smart and industrious and the woolen mills dotted all over southern Australia added value to wool and exported the finest quality garments to the world. We will never, nor should we attempt to, return to those days, but we are capable of making smarter decisions than we are presently making.

The factories are now long gone. We chose to take the easy road and send our cheap raw materials overseas so the industrious (albeit poorly paid) folk there could do all the value-adding, before reselling finished product back to us.

Similarly, we can’t even be bothered slaughtering all of our own sheep and cattle any more, instead opting for the easy and cheap solution of exporting live animals to places like Indonesia where, as we now know, they are butchered with atrociously inhumane
un-stunned blunt-knife-throat-slitting barbarism.

One yardstick by which civilised and evolved society might be judged is the way it treats every other living thing with which it shares the planet.
Another one is it’s ability to provide every one of it’s citizens with an affordable and secure food supply.

It is imperative that Australian agriculture be rejuvenated and encouraged to look towards the longer term opportunity to supply value-added food products for the increasingly protein-hungry Asian nations to our north.

Instead we are irreversibly destroying productive farmland by permitting open cut mining, and allowing 40,000 coal seam gas wells to be bored into it, the pollutants from which will probably destroy forever our inland lifeline…..underground water in the Great Artesian Basin.

The sacrifices made by our ancestors demand that we should behave more intelligently, exhibit greater dignity, and have more respect for this land. We should learn from the care bestowed upon “country” by it’s aboriginal caretakers.  Before it is too late.

By failing to do something NOW we are ensuring that future generations will inherit a barren, desolate, pock-marked continent that is incapable of providing sufficient food to feed it’s own population.

May God help Australia, because we are surely failing to do so ourselves.

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Ahhh…good.    Better out than in.     I feel better now.

About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

27 responses »

  1. How utterly foolish can one country become? I think we are yet to reach rock bottom on stupidity!

    • I agree FD….fortunately for me, “rock bottom” will not occur in my lifetime, but I can’t help being concerned for the long-term future of Australia.

  2. Congratulations Australia, you have become….Britain. We did pretty much the same thing and now, should there ever be a war that means we become surrounded and can’t ship in food or buy in energy, the British are utterly screwed. The short signtedness of politicians never ceases to amaze me.

    • It is all rather disheartening Vicola and as long as politicians remain in the pockets of big business I can’t see any change in policy unless the majority of voters one day understand the vulnerability our island nations have to outsiders controlling our food and energy supplies.

  3. Oh no no no. I was going to say “Woe is you, Australia, you have become the USA.”

    How sad and scary and short sighted and greedy. That’s the “leaders” of our once great countries for you.

    • Your country also has a proud history that is being eroded Lauri. Most Australians are enjoying the financial spoils of this current mining boom so there is unlikely to be any political or economic change in the near future. It will probably require a catastrophic shortage of food before people here realise what they lost by not protecting farmers.

  4. This is why we should never, EVER elect politicians to any position of authority or importance. Which is sort of a problem, since politicians are the only ones who know how to get elected…

    • Sigh. So true, AB!

    • Perhaps the system by which politicians and leaders of our countries are elected should be changed Auntie B. There are several prominent Australians who I would like to see running this country, but none of them would consider running for the top job because they would be emasculated by having to always toe the line of the political party in power.

      • Oh yes! I’ve often said that we should eliminate all political parties and make these clowns run on their own qualifications instead of letting the party “platform” carry them. Then maybe we might actually get some quality candidates to choose from.

        • I agree. What is the point of having a brilliant leader who is always hamstrung by having to dance to the inferior tune of his/her faceless political party puppeteers.

          There is an argument to be made for benevolent dictators.

          Are you interested in a top job in Australia Auntie B. 🙂

      • Now, now … Elle can’t do everything!

        (just trying to inject a little levity …)

        • So far Elle has DONE NOTHING that I expected of her GOM.
          I’m almost disillusioned, but where there’s life…………. 🙂

          (levity appreciated)

  5. And to think you don’t sound as bad off as we are. Don’t worry, you’ll get here. I hate to see where we’ll be once you do.

    The term I’ve heard bandied about recently and didn’t think anything of it til a couple days ago is: class warfare.

    After primarily shoeing that away as nonsense and pundit-prattle, I studied on it a bit. Oh, YEAH. I think they’re right. That’s what this was about all along and they’re doing quite well. Thing is, as long as humans are alive, tides TURN. Sadly, things will probably get only worse in our lifetimes but if I’m quite lucky, my elderly years may be soon enough to see things start swinging the other way (to mix metaphors).

    • Thanks MT. I’m wondering if the US allows such a high level of foreign ownership for mining companies operating in your country and if it’s open slather for anyone around the world to buy whatever land they want to. I know that New Zealand used to have laws preventing anyone who was not a New Zealand citizen from buying land. That sounds like a sensible idea to me……people who do not have a vested interest in the country should not be permitted to own a part of it.

      I’m hoping as you suggest the tide will turn, and not before it is too late.

  6. I don’t know if it’s the case in Australia, but one reason for the demise of the family farm in the U.S. is because it can’t compete with corporate farms, which take up hundreds of acres of land and devote them to just one crop, usually a commodity market item like soybeans, corn or wheat. The corporate farm can then afford to sell its huge harvests at a cheaper price than the family farm, which might have at best a hundred acres devoted to a variety of crops, many earmarked for shipping to local groceries. However, the tomatoes sold by the large corporation will be cheaper than the tomatoes sold by the family farm. Guess which one the grocery chain will start buying?

    Many individual farmers support their farms by taking factory jobs while the older children are left to take care of farm chores. This has resulted in a number of horrific accidents involving children trying to handle tasks too complicated or potentially dangerous for them. Many young people give up on agriculture and take off for the cities and college. Few of them return, and the result is the sale of the family farm—usually to a corporate farmer.

    So the United States does produce a lot of its own food still: but like Australia, a lot of it is shipped out of country to be processed and sent back; or large food conglomerates like Cargill and ConAgra, which grew the crops, turn it into microwave dinners and chicken nuggets for restaurants like McDonalds and KFC. But we have fewer producers, which allows them to jack up the price of our food, or market absolute crap in our stores and restaurants. Consumers are becoming more conscious of this and are moving towards farmers’ markets and community-supported farms, if they’re lucky to live in an area where those are present. So I’m hopeful: and I think Australia is still able to change too.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful contribution HG.

      There are many similarities between your country and ours. Our problem is exacerbated by the dominance of only 2 supermarket chains, one of which is owned by a large agricultural corporate.
      The supermarkets refuse to buy produce from local growers. We have the ridiculous situation in North Queensland where many vegetables are grown within 50km of the city of Cairns, yet they are trucked to Brisbane central markets 1000 km away, then trucked back up here again to the supermarkets.

      We survived (somehow) from growing vegetables here on only 3 acres of arable land for 15 years, and selling the produce at local markets direct to consumers, but were eventually forced out by diminishing returns brought about by trying to compete against imported produce from Fiji that was subsidized by the Australian Government as part of a foreign aid project.

      Sadly most young rural people can see no future on the land.

      Let us hope that the future will see a resurgence in home-grown vegetables and farmer’s markets.

  7. Any country that cannot feed itself is in trouble.

    One thing you mentioned that I hadn’t thought of – you’re right, Australia is in a prime location to produce food for your neighbors to the north. But I guess there’s more government money in mining … or selling mining permits.

    I live in an extremely agriculturally rich part of our country, and I can only think of a handful of folks who farm as their primary occupation. There are a lot who farm and raise cattle, mind you, but they do it more as a second job now.

    • “Any country that cannot feed itself is in trouble.”

      Spot-on GOM.

      We have the perfect opportunity to supply value-added food to China, and perhaps even moreso to India where there will be a huge demand for protein-rich food. The animals we now export live to Indonesia could be processed at home and turned into a variety of foods to supply these new markets.

      I think many parts of Australia are now also farmed as you describe by part-time farmers.

  8. The average age of Australia’s farmers is 55 – I’m almost surprised it’s that young. Looking at the kids from the land that I went to school with I think we are the last generation of “family farmers” – most of the guys went back to the family farm and some girls married farmers but none of our children are now on the land. My brother farmed my parent’s farm after my father’s stroke but he had a perfectly good job with Telstra before that. He actually had to farm *and* work with Telstra to eek out a living. A couple of years ago coal was found on the farm and that was that; there’s not much you can do when a precious resource is found under your land .. …no more farm in this family! Even though neither my own children nor any of my siblings’ sons (or daughters) had any interest in going on the land it’s sad to think there is no longer a family farm after all those years of the xxxx family being on the land.

    The friends of my age (54) still on the land, with no child interested in going back to farming, are starting to think – what next? It’s difficult to transition from a life on the land to a town “career” – and that’s supposing they can sell the land – who do they sell to? Farming can be tough and especially so as one gets older…..

    • Thanks for your family story Emjay….similar things are happening all over the continent. It makes you wonder where all our food is going to come from in the future, because no-one in power seems to care anymore.

  9. I think the current process of elections works almost perfectly with the underlying problem being that we don’t demand better from our pollies.

    Whenever I ask folk if they have ever written to their local MP, it seems they think they owe the pollie something. The idea they are actually working for us has evaporated. Add laziness into the mix and we have a self steering system that will obviously drift towards the lower ground.

    I’m especially critical of the Nationals who claim to stand for farming communities but invariably side with the big mining companies when push comes to shove. The brainless Barnaby managed to highlight this a couple of years ago when he made a statement in favor of the farmers over water rights then reversed it after the Mining Industry berated him in Public. To add insult to injury he even admitted he changed his stance because of a phone call from the Industry head.

    Effectively it came down to hints that Farmers didn’t join the party and the Miners donations funded the party. How this didn’t see him shot by an angry farmer still surprises me.

    Our Democracy is set up to deliver the goods but when we don’t fulfill are part of the deal we get exactly what we have now.

    • This is precisely the reason why I have so much respect for Bob Katter. Despite his tendency to wander off onto tangents occasionally he is very much a politician who does whatever he thinks is necessary to benefit the people in his electorate. He is a lone voice in Parliament speaking for farmers and very few people take him seriously.
      History will prove that they should have.

  10. I like you because you put into words the things I am too ineloquent and uneducated to express.

    • You are absolutely capable of doing an even better job…’s just that you don’t have spare time on your hands to do it at the moment…..God help the blogging world when you get into your sixties. 🙂


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