Thursday, 7 June 2012


Not a lot happens at Toowoomba, and when it does, it's rarely caught on video. This is the exception that proves the rule. Only damage done was to the machinery.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

L Plates

One furry Queenslander shows his opinion of Cando.  
It didn’t take long for the new Queensland government to get offside with a range of people.

First, of course, there was the issue of the Premier’s Literary Awards. That’s no biggie, I guess, although as a self-published author, I take a dim view of writers being treated as collateral damage in the culture wars. This was very much an ideology driven decision. It makes buggerall difference to the bottom line.

More recently, we’ve seen the Toowoomba Chronicle issue a strongly-worded editorial about the cancellation of improvements to the Warrego highway just to the west of Toowoomba.

As the editorial put it (under the heading “Voters feel betrayed”). “Voters expect to see results in their electorates, not excuses. Forget what Labor did or did not promise in the past, you’re in power now gents, and the pressure is well and truly on”.

That would be OK; the new government has the right to manage their budget. Trouble is, they can’t get their story straight. On the one hand, the Premier talks about “maxing out the credit card” (despite the fact that the work was funded in the forward estimates). 

On the other, the local member (Trevor Watts - Toowoomba North) declared on an interview on WIN the evening of the announcement, that providing four lanes through Charlton would cause bottlenecks on the western approaches to Toowoomba. This sounds strange, given that approaches from the north, south and east are all four lanes. Perhaps the compass orientation has something to do with it? Maybe Trevor, with his valuable experience running pubs and nightclubs has expertise in road building that he’s been hiding under a bushel.

Then of course, there’s the fact that a number of contractors involved in the planning of the project heard about the cancellation first on ABC radio. They’ll be laughing all the way to the bank, of course, as their contracts are already signed, and they’ll be paid handsomely for doing absolutely nothing. Now that's the way to save the taxpayer's money!

Other signs that the new administration is driven by ideological spin, rather than pragmatics include the following –

Disbanding of Greg Wither’s Queensland's Office of Climate Change, an agency that was no longer politically correct in the new dispensation, but with a bit of lateral thinking, could have been renamed and put to work, for example, in assisting the planning for many of the new mining developments on the horizon. Given the imbroglio that has developed around the Galilee basin project, Campbell looks as if he needs all the help he can get on this one.

(In case Rupert’s firewall gets in the way, Google “Burke 'stops clock' on Gina Rinehart's Alpha coal mine in Galilee Basin by: Sarah Elks”)

Michael Caltabiano, the new DG of Queensland Transport and Main Roads (defeated LNP candidate for Chatsworth in 2006) has already got most of his department offside by insisting that all staff call him “Mister” on day one. He’s obviously got a bit to learn about what Queenslanders think about people who have tickets on themselves.

This same DG also insisted that he personally approve all travel requests. That protocol lasted about two days as “Mister” Caltabiano slowly disappeared behind his “in” tray. 

Then, of course, there’s the amazing money-saving initiatives trumpeted on the websites of every state agency. They include printing in black and white only, double-sided printing and photocopying, electronic payslips, plants to be removed, newspaper subscriptions cancelled, and no expenditure on furniture or office equipment.

That will save a motza. Now if Cando is fair dinkum about savings, how about selling the state government jet? I reckon it would take a great deal of double-sided copying and indoor plant hire to add up to the fuel bill and pilot salaries for this piece of indulgence. After all, Cando has railed against its use during the election campaign.

(For the firewall – “Campbell Newman's travel jet jibe against Bligh boomerangs by: Rosanne Barrett”)

They’ve also run into trouble already with a couple of election promises. The standard electricity tariff, which Newman promised would be frozen, will actually rise.

He’s blaming the carbon levy, of course. I wonder how he missed the news that a price was being put on carbon before the election. Perhaps because he was busy telling us that he’d freeze car rego costs.

That hasn’t happened either.

Again, I’ll be charitable. They still have their “L” plates on.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Dog is Love

Bella is my sister's dog. We mind her when they go away. She likes cars.

This piece is from yesterday's Weekend Australian magazine. Author is Phillip Adams.

I'm posting it because it is a delightfully whimsical treatment of the topic canine.

I hope you enjoy it.

The dog in the pic is Bella. She's not my dog. After owning a series of Heelers down through the years our current urban location makes further involvement with Heelers impossible - more's the pity.

They're my favourite breed.

Asked to write an intro to a book on dogs. Got me thinking about them again. Not that they're ever far from my mind.

The first column I remember writing, about 200 years ago, was about a dog who followed me on my bike along the rutted, dusty roads to Eltham High. A beloved bitzer who gave dignity to the unfortunate term mongrel. Mongrel? A derogatory word - yet as fine a breed as the most pure-bred and patrician pooch. Which all too often is a canine fashion statement doomed to be dumped in the death rows of dog pounds once the fashions change.

(To deviate briefly. It is greatly to Australia’s credit that we are a mongrel nation. None of that Aryan or ethnic purity for us. We benefit from hybrid vigour. Every race and religion - as mixed up as the flora in our multi-horticultural society.)

I regard dogs and trees as superior beings to humans. Trees are reliable and beautiful. They give us shade, timber and oxygen - and the paper on which our books and this journal are published. And, unless set ablaze by terrorist arsonists with the WMDs that come in a matchbox, they also store carbon.
Give trees citizenship, I say. Give' em the vote. Governments of oaks, elms and eucalypts would be a huge improvement.

Ditto for dogs. Since that first bitzer I’ve had dozens, mostly mongrels, all friends. As reliable as trees, but with a sense of humour. 

Some were gifts, others refugees who just turned up at the farm. A few would die from snakebite, one was killed by a kanga, but mostly they had good lives and died of old age. All intelligent, loyal and sweet of nature. Devoid of vanity. They taught me a lot - particularly how to live in the moment. A few taught me to chase sticks but I'm still trying to learn to wag my tail. It’s not for nothing that dog is god backwards.

Perhaps He put them on Earth to keep an eye on us, to appeal to the better angels of our being. Perhaps they are angels, wingless and furry ones. With fleas. (Well Perhaps dogs are angels, wingless and furry ones. With fleas why not? The standard-issue angel resembles a human chook.)

Certainly the farm's surviving dogs - one-eyed Tommy and his son Squire - retain a degree of spirituality, despite rolling in cow dung and chasing rabbits. Looked into the eyes of an adoring dog lately? God is love? So is dog.

There's no denying that some dogs, judged in human terms at least, seem more demonic than angelic. Ask Lindy Chamberlain - or people in the bush besieged by wild dogs that tear the throats from their lambs. But let us remember that every dog on Earth - and there are hundreds of millions of them - descended from the grey wolf. Every breed is a result of human intervention. We've been designing dogs for specific purposes for 15,000 years - from the poodle to the Pekingese, the Jack Russell to the Alsatians beloved of the Nazis. Many of the wild dogs on our place were bred for pig-hunting - and went AWOL. So canine criminality is as much our fault as those poor, preposterous, powder-puff pooches created for the aristocratic lap.

While I'm writing an intro for a book about dogs, it's also about people who try to
free the dogs dumped by humans on death row. Give them hope and a home. Many puppies are mass-produced in appalling puppy farms, pumped out of bitches in circumstances not much different to the factory farming of penned pigs and poultry, producing stressed and neurotic animals.

Meanwhile, ever greater numbers of unwanted dogs are being "put down", to
employ the approved euphemism. Australia has one of the world's highest rates of capital punishment for entirely innocent animals.

Hundreds of thousands of dogs are executed per annum. So, think before you buy. Talk to a pet rescue organisation.

Visit a pound. Get a pre-owned dog - and save it from the needle. You will be amply rewarded. Try

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