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Look what they done to my pump, Ma.

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The bastards put this on it.

Only once before in my life have I been angry enough to take up my ‘pointless pen’ and write a Letter to the Editor of a newspaper.
Way back in 1975 I attempted to bring to public attention the extent to which village smallholder coffee growers were being short-changed by the foreign-owned coffee millers in Papua New Guinea.
It did not make me a popular man amongst the perpetrators of this injustice.  Today I find myself again having to speak out, this time more selfishly about another sort of inequity.

I know not whether the following letter will make any sense to you given that the facts had to be compressed into fewer than 200 words.
Nor do I know or care much whether it will be published. We live too far out of town to get newspapers and just writing the letter has been a sufficiently therapeutic exercise for me.

Now I need to get on with my life. I refuse to allow the bureaucracy to spoil the dream which is GOF’s Paradise, but sometimes….just sometimes, even Australia gives me the screaming shits.

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Year of the Farmer.

My walkman radio told me the other day that 2012 was the Year of the Farmer. My mouth immediately opened so wide with astonishment that my vegetable-chipping hoe handle ended up half way down my gullet.

I for one will not be celebrating.

Thirty years ago I moved to this somewhat inhospitable rural smallholding in an attempt to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. We built a small dam to provide permanent water where previously there was none, and eventually made a modest living from vegetable growing.

This year, The Year of the Farmer, the Queensland Government via the Department of Environment and Resource Management installed a water meter on our little pump to raise revenue for itself.

Even though we only use a fraction of one megalitre each year, there are annual charges of several hundred dollars payable for licences, for maintenance of the Government meter and to pay someone to travel to read the meter which serves no purpose. No purpose at all, because even if I further reduce my water consumption the flat fees and bureaucratic charges will remain the same.

I am amenable to initiatives designed to ensure the sustainability of the planet’s water resources, but these fees have nothing to do with responsible water management or encouraging me to use less.
They are simply an inequitable tax on those who can least afford it.

Any country which actively discourages primary producers deserves the fate which will ultimately and inevitably befall it.

Year of the Farmer?  I think not.

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Let’s hope the meter reader does not expect our usual country hospitality and a cup of tea when he arrives.


The joy of tax

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It is that time of year in Australia when tax documents must be lodged for the previous financial year.

Mrs GOF and I look forward to it, because our tax accountant relocated to the beautiful tropical mountain village of Kuranda.

We can behave for the day just like the tourists who disembark from either the train which winds its way through tunnels up the coastal escarpment from Cairns, or the world renowned Skyrail rainforest viewing cablecar.

We dine out cheap and alfresco on a village specialty; 
Kangaroo pie with coffee, and watch the world go by, which it does very slowly, in this stunningly beautiful part of North Queensland.

The Taxation Commissioner of Australia I suspect rarely schedules an office party to celebrate the electronic arrival of our paperwork, for our little plant nursery provides only a basic income for ourselves, with an occasional allocation of beer money for him.

Sometimes I feel that we are a very weak link in Australia's economic chain, for there has never been a time in my life when I was driven to try and make large amounts of money and accordingly pay more tax.

I subscribe to a quaint old country boy's belief that my entitlement to riches does not extend above that which accrues proportionate to the physical labour I put into the project.

Lotteries, share trading, speculative investment, get-rich-quick schemes and chasing rainbows are of no interest to me.

Once again the poetic and philosophical words of LaPoone;

"Eyes unblinkingly focussed on some distant pot of gold
 Will never see peripheral beauty along the way unfold."

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