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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Where is everybody?

So since April I’ve been working off farm as a relief utility for ESS, the company that provides catering and cleaning to a lot of the mines. Up until today I’m on my fourth site. I’ve been to Karratha, near Onslow at Wheatstone, way out whoop-whoop at Telfer playing with dingos (that’s a WHOLE new post in itself) and now I’m at Mooka, near Port Hedland.
Being relief means you get dropped in to help out the permanents at each site, either covering someone who’s sick, on holidays, or providing a temporary boost in numbers during busy times like shutdowns. As a result you meet so many people, all from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and religions. It’s great. And being new, the general first conversations go something like this.
Them: ‘So, where you from?’
Me: ‘Yalgoo.’
Them ‘What goo?’
Me: ‘Yalgoo. Couple hundred clicks in from Geraldton. Out in the scrub, in sheep station country.’
Them: ‘Oh. You live out there?’
Me: ‘Yeah, on our sheep station, Gabyon with my wife Gemma and her parents.’
Them: ‘You own a sheep station? How big? How many sheep do you have?’
Me: ‘Well, the bank owns it at the moment, but it’s 670 000 acres. It’s a big place. And about eight to ten thousand sheep.’

It’s at this point they usually take a minute to recover, especially the people of Asian background. To many of them, any one who owns land is extremely wealthy, so to own that much means I’m obviously a squillionare who is slumming it, bank mortgage or not. Then the inevitable question follows.
‘What are you doing here?’

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows very well why I’m ‘here.’ But in case not, here’s what I told the former (thankfully) Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig a while back.
So I give them the short version. Rules changed, we had the rug ripped from under us and you can’t go two years owing a few mill with little income. Then I warn them I can go on about it for hours so feel free to stop me.
Most don’t. In fact pretty much everyone I’ve worked with want to know more. Not just about the whole live ex thing, but about what we do, how we do it. They are fascinated by the idea of five people (four, now I’m away) running a property that big with only a few backpackers to help.
Which brings me to my point. So often we hear how 99%, or 83% or ‘the vast majority’ (SPOTTO) or whatever 'figure plucked from nether regions' of Australians are against live export.
I call bullshit.
99% of Australians are against the mistreatment of animals we send. As it should be.
In the last four months I’ve met and worked with just over a hundred individuals. Some it’s side by side for twelve hours, others we see each other in the crib (smoko) room and at the Pre Start meetings. Everybody I worked with eventually knew my story, what we do and how we do it. They ranged from young women to older men, Kiwi’s, Cook Islanders, Thai’s, Kiwi’s, Philippino’s, Indigenous, Caucasian and even more Kiwi’s.
There was only one lady who hated the idea of live export. Why? Because we should be doing it here to create jobs. Now my first reaction was to point out the irony, seeing as we worked for a large Company who facilitated the export of the raw materials to make steel overseas, then buy the steel back in, however the lady happened to be the Site Supervisor and at only week two into my first swing I wisely kept my trap shut, a rare thing indeed.
My point is, a survey of inner North Melbourne probably will get you that figure so often quoted. But to apply it across the country is wrong, misleading and illogical. Which pretty much sums up most of the activists arguments. Stupid thing is, we all want the same thing, cut out the cruelty. But their solution is akin to taking cars off the road to stop road kill, both animals and people. Sure, it’d work. But have they thought it though? Because we are the perfect example of what happens when policy is whacked in with little or no thought given to the consequences.

               As a sidenote, a dozen or more fellow workers remembered the Hadagutful Rally of 2012. Which makes me very proud.

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1 comment:

Newsklic said...

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