Opinion

The Say

By Cagerattler

We’ve been watching the ads on television of late dealing with Australian-made articles and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only given them scant thought.  Just this past week though I put it into more perspective. As an avid model rail enthusiast I enjoy being on a forum site. One of the topics deals with wait times on supply from an iconic American manufacturer, or so I thought.  Due to re-location and re-tooling offshore, this company will not be providing  orders to dealers/customers for a few months. This supply issue made me consider the big picture, particularly in an Australian context. If the USA, home of free enterprise, is sending so much stuff offshore, then God help us.

In the next decade our once quite well-supported car industry will be gone, never to return.  Ford Australia have already announced that the  local car building industry will be finishing in 2016, and you can bet your boots that GMH won’t be too far   behind. This then flows on to components companies in the main, unless they can find markets elsewhere. Electrical/white goods manufacturers have either been bought out by overseas big players or ceased trading     altogether, as have clothing and food companies unable to compete with ridiculously cheap imports. Don’t let’s even  start on the out-sourcing of call centres, newspaper  sub-editing etc…

Why can’t our stupid politicians see this? Stop putting   political correctness first and start making decisions such as giving the Free Trade Agreement the flick or at least putting some substantial reforms in place within it. GEE…it’s done our manufacturing industry the world of good so far.  Just wait while I get my tongue out of my cheek as I say that… So often, it seems, we are buying items made cheaply by low paid workers employed in  bad conditions. We ignore the   corruption – out of sight out of mind, just so we can save a few dollars on these goods.  Don’t be fooled, some of these “iconic” companies are using sweatshop labour to boost profits.

I think most of us would be happy to pay the few extra  dollars if we knew that it was genuinely supporting local manufacturing, and ethical enough to spend a little more if  the sweatshop workers were better paid. I’m no genius (far from it) but at least lesser disparity between overseas to locally manufactured goods would present a  choice of quality rather than just cost,  and up the overall picture in a competitive sense.

Come on Rudd and Abbott, do something really useful and make some changes to help our manufacturing industry in a real way before it’s all too late.

What do you think?  Rod McGiveron.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

What can you do in St Marys in two minutes (that’s 120 seconds), without any effort on your part, that will change your life forever?

Die in a building fire! Two minutes is all it takes from ignition to flashover occurring, that is when the smoke in the room ignites, engulfing the room in flames.

If you do not have a WORKING smoke alarm and you are asleep when a fire starts you will not wake up, I say you will NOT wake up ever again.

This is fact, not fiction. The fire that occurred in the  garage in the Main Street of St Marys could have easily spread to the adjoining buildings, up to and including the Post Office. Thankfully due to good fortune, combined with the efforts of our volunteer fire fighters, it did not – this time.

If this fire was deliberately lit, people in this community will be aware and you need to speak out; lives could have been lost.

David Watkins, St Marys.

The Say

By Cagerattler

Any chance of emigrating for the next month or so, maybe to Siberia or somewhere  that doesn’t get Aussie news. Bloody election. The campaign has been going a bit over a week and it’s already driving me crazy. So much rhetoric, inflated egos, untruths (better not say the ‘L’ word), core promises, non-core promises and the whole kit and caboodle.   Politicians of all persuasions irritate me these days, the ‘white knight’ Greens being no exception. I was listening to one of them being interviewed the other morning, maybe listening to someone dragging fingernails down a blackboard would have been more entertaining, and if you were gullible enough to believe them they could solve all the world’s problems in one fell swoop.

The Labor Party, the Coalition, the Greens…all the same I’m afraid and you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. If some of these pollies were told ‘if you’re  re-elected but your party doesn’t win government you can’t retire for at least half of the following term,’ I bet many of them wouldn’t stand so they could just sit on the backbenches in Opposition…such are their egos. I’d have a lot more respect for  them if they did something about the  parliamentary pensions and fringe benefits etc. that not many of us get.

As for the Senate – my goodness – some of the backroom stuff on who heads the tickets etc. by the parties is just so strange and it seems in some cases you get appointed to the Senate, not necessarily elected through a by-election. At least in the House of Representatives you have to win one of those to earn your spot. Maybe over the next 4-5 weeks  the pain tablet companies will do well, selling  panadol, paracetamol,  aspirins, etc., while we sit and  endure the manure from the mouths of all these egocentric politicians. Call me cynical if you like but I think a realist is a little closer to the mark, I really do.

Another thing ALMOST as serious…the AFL drugs investigation. GET ON WITH IT AFL COMMISSION. Impose the fines/sanctions if you are going to, or don’t. I don’t even barrack for the Bombers but for a few people I know that do it’s excruciating not to know what’s going on and I genuinely feel for them.

What do you think  ?… Rod McGiveron.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Sunday the 18th August is the 47th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan; it is also the date set as Vietnam Veterans Day.  Two years ago on the 45th anniversary, after 15 years of battling the Australian government for justice and due recognition, veterans of D Company, 6th Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), were awarded an Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry (the highest award a unit can  receive). The unit had been recognised by the American and  South Vietnamese governments in 1968, with their equivalent citations. Individual medals were also presented due to a reversal of a quota system  employed by Australia at the time the battle was fought.

“The Vietnam war was mis-reported and is mis-remembered,”  President Nixon said. Probably not the soundest person to quote but I believe the sentiment is very true.

A matter I feel I need to address is the issue of Conscription (National Service Scheme), whether you agreed or disagreed with it.  It was NOT originally started for the Vietnam war but enacted due to the Malaya and Indonesia conflagration, which Australia believed would spill into New Guinea, an Australian territory at that time. The Australian government believed the army was undermanned to handle such an eventuality. Between 1964 and December 1972, 20 year old males were required to register and 804,286 young men complied.

The voting age was 21, this was reduced to the current age 18 in 1973, after the Scheme had been revoked.  The legal drinking age (more important to many) during this time varied from state to state, along with the conditions that applied, but was generally regarded as 21 until 1974, then reduced in all states to 18.

The selection ballot resembled a lottery draw and was performed bi-annually to determine who would be called up to serve in the Army; exemptions were granted after call-up. 63,735 men served in the army – 15,381 actively served in Vietnam.

Service requirements were two years in the regular army, followed by three years part-time in the army reserve. Men who failed to comply, misled the medical board (standards were the same as for regular soldiers) or who made false or misleading statements were prosecuted.  Fourteen men were prosecuted and served the equivalent of their national service in prison.

Some 200 national servicemen lost their lives in Vietnam.

The ratio of national servicemen to regular soldiers in the regiments that served in Vietnam was generally 50/50 and no distinction was made by the soldiers that served.

‘We should not mourn the loss of these men, but be   grateful that they lived’ said Gen. Patton. A different war, but still relevant.

I hope to see you at the St Marys Cenotaph at 11 a.m. – inside if the weather is foul.

David Watkins

The Say

By Cagerattler

I’ve just made contact via a model rail forum site with a new friend. This bloke has just retired, mainly due to illness but is recovering now.  A really nice person to correspond with, as is his wife whom he suggested was the main reason his health improved again. His name is Louis  – why am I telling you this, you might ask ?

One of Louis’s first  admissions was that he knew very little about Australia, and even  less about Tasmania. Over the past two weeks I’ve been trying to fill him in about Tassie in particular.  He’s done the same about Baltimore and the State of Maryland in return. I haven’t told him anything that’s not true, just about the geographical, cultural and lingual differences that fascinate him no end, and economical issues. HE ALREADY LOVES TASSIE…and has since learned more, as have I about Maryland on the east coast of the US. Louis’s main and succinct comment is “Man, what a great place to live.” How can I disagree?

His neck of the woods is pretty industrialized with a rich history, but many still struggle on the back of the GFC and this leads to so many other things. So why do WE continue to whinge so much?  Could it be the case of the old adage  –  “The grass is always greener?” This leads to the second part of my article.

Boat refugees. I’m ashamed of our politicians of all persuasions at the moment on the “stop the boats” comments. It was revealed just recently that Australia  is one of the most well-off countries on the planet…apparently the 8th strongest   economy per capita overall, so why can’t we at least process the genuine refugees more quickly and try to encourage those escaping persecution, overcrowding and war zones?

To be frank though, in an ideal world  you’d have nice people in clean, airy offices sorting prospective immigrants to our country before those people hop on an aircraft and become new citizens. In the real world, nothing could be further from the truth. The people trying to reach our shores via these boats  are often poverty stricken, desperate, ill-informed people;  many are or have been mistreated with little or no documents or money to even consider starting a new life somewhere better through the normal channels.

Can you imagine even considering risking your family, not really knowing the outcome on a boat that most of us   wouldn’t take up Georges Bay let alone across expanses of ocean? It’d have to be pretty bad where you came from to take that sort of risk wouldn’t it? In this case, the grass is ALWAYS greener.

These people then usually spend months and years in detention, treated like criminals, when many could and should be offered temporary protection visas, and billeted with either family or compassionate Aussies while their suitability for citizenship is determined.

Whilst under protection, maybe a requirement would be that they attend language lessons, engage in community work  or go to school wherever possible.

Surely we can reconsider our asylum-seeker process in relation to numbers we can realistically accept,  and negotiate alternatives for the people who may be unsuitable, or can’t assimilate or contribute one day as citizens. As a first world country it has to be our responsibility to do a better job and once this expensive  involvement in Afghanistan is finished, the many millions of dollars thus spared could be better re-directed to an improved performance on our current refugee policies.

Guess what…we were all refugees once, some sooner than later.

What do you think ?  Rod McGiveron

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

I would like to say thank you to Rita Summers for her story about the Jestrimski family.

(Valley Voice, Vol 46, No. 6.)  The Jestrimski family  pictured in the photo with Rita’s story are my grandparents and Clara on the right of the photo was my mother.

Rita wrote about the accident which took the life of my grandfather Jakob, after being thrown from a ‘Jinker’. I was only five years old at the time, but I remember it so well. The horse he was using in the jinker was renowned for being frisky, and I remember driving past him in our first car, an Overland, on that day, waving to him as we passed. The theory later was that the horse was spooked by the car and they never made it around the next corner.

Our family had gone to visit our Uncle Ralph ( third from left in photo) and Auntie Mathilda at  “Anchor Vale”. We loved to get together with our cousins. Ralph and Mathilda had a large family, 14 all told.

Uncle Ralph was blind, losing his eyesight at the age of twenty-five. Despite this disability he did all his own work.

His vegie garden was a sight to behold, rows and rows in such straight lines. He had sticks cut to the sizes he required to measure distances, and his garden would put many in the shade today.

We lived at the time in the hills above Pyengana, about 5 miles away. Uncle Ralph never missed my mother’s birthday which was on Boxing Day. He walked from   Anchor Vale to our home, about 10 miles, on his own, using only a walking stick.

This remarkable man, on the way to our house, would call into the Pyengana Post Office and local shop, doing all this unattended. He would then arrive at our  home in time for breakfast at around 8am.

I have very fond memories of Uncle Ralph’s visits, he always had sweets in his pockets, which was most important to a young child. When it came time for him to leave, I was allowed to go a short way with him, to a place called “where the water goes over the road’, and the last thing he did was to give me a sweet.

In the early days when the pioneers were beginning to settle at Pyengana, the first thing they did was to plant an orchard, usually apples, pears, plums and cherries.  My dad did the same thing and I remember what a lovely orchard it was, the cherries in particular doing very well. Most settlers did not stop at one tree of each, but had many of all  varieties in a well fenced garden, also  including a lovely vegetable garden.

Although we don’t see them today, gooseberries were another popular fruit, which tasted like the Chinese  gooseberry or Kiwi fruit we have today.

Here is my mother’s recipe for gooseberry pie:- Top and tail the gooseberries and place in a large pie dish. Make a very rich custard using 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups cream, ½ cup sugar and pour over gooseberries. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Cook in medium oven and ENJOY (if you can find gooseberries).

(As I said before, gooseberries had to be topped and tailed ready for use and using a pair of scissors to do this job, I managed to give myself my first hair cut – a lovely fringe!)

Maisie Finney, aged 98½. St Marys

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

My working life at the St Marys Post Office.

I began working at the St Marys Post Office in 1965, first as a full-time employee for Australia Post, then part-time for many years. When the Post Office was privatised and sold to Peter (Wombat) Wilson I continued to work with him on a casual basis. What great times we had, Wombat, Peter Lohrey and myself. Wombat always had a joke to tell (or play on someone else).

I remember us wrapping up rose-coloured heart-shaped spectacles many times and handing them over to different customers who had been waiting for their new glasses to arrive.  Wombat always asked the customers to undo their parcel and try on the glasses so we could see what they were like.  The result was lots of laughter at the reaction from the customers, then their real parcel was taken from under the counter and handed over.

I recall at Christmas time, the two Peters joining in the festivities with the mail sorting bin being wheeled up and down the street, one Peter in the bin and the other Peter pushing from behind (the wheels have never been the same).  Sweets were handed out to children when they came into the Post Office, and all the returns trips by the kids just checking to see if Mum or Dad had any mail  today! (A supply of sweets were always on hand.)

The two Peters had pleasure wrapping up an emergency package for the newly-weds in town, not sure they were always appreciated, but a lot of fun.  Telegrams were   always made up and delivered in time for the wedding reception which sometimes caused some very red faces.

Then the Posties on their bikes, they used to have to blow their whistle when they put mail in your box, but this alerted the dogs and many a time the postie would arrive back at the Post Office looking for a bandaid or bandage – *x*x*x Dogs!! Then, whistles were finally banned.  Way back in those early days on push bikes, rain, hail, frost or sunshine, they had to put up with a lot. Names I remember – Scott Bean, Peter Izard, Peta Thomas, Dave Green and Craig Freiboth.

Then Wombat sold the Post Office to new owners Harry and Kerry Veldums from the mainland.  I worked full time with them for about a year until they got to know the members of the community after which I officially retired. I was asked to go back to work whenever they needed a holiday, which kept me from getting bored at home but also kept me up to date with all the changes with Australia Post. The increase of mail, especially parcels (thanks to internet shopping) has been incredible. Some mornings we would arrive for work and have to step over dozens of mail bags to start sorting letters while our Postie sorted parcels and large letters for St Marys, Bicheno, Coles Bay, Swansea and Scamander.  Yes, it’s not just sorting mail for St Marys, it takes 3 people working from usually 6.30 am to about 8.30 am before the mail is done.  Then there is John Goss who has the St Marys/Swansea contract and Bob  Broadby with  the  St Marys/Derby  contract  waiting on staff to have all the bags tied up, and the roadside deliveries and private bags ready before they can head off.  All the parcels then had to be scanned through the      computer, mail sorted to private boxes and parcels carded. Then redirections and mis-sorts handled, and then hopefully a well-earned cup of coffee and time to open the doors.

Working at  the Post Office I  have met lots  of interesting families from all walks of life – some stay, some move, some pass on.  I have seen little ones born and grow up, some move away, some stay and take an active part in our community.

My time working at the St Marys Post Office has  always been enjoyable and rewarding.  I know I am going to miss the interaction with customers and getting to know all the new residents of St Marys.

Finally, I wish Sue and Barbara all the best for the future in their new venture at St Marys Post Office and hope they get as much enjoyment from being there as I have over the years.

Ruth McGiveron  (Born and bred in St Marys)