The Good Oil by Rod Brown – Delegate – a great use of Bushfire Recovery funds
Delegate is a small town (population 350) way up on the Monaro high plains, close to the New South Wales/Victoria border. Three hours from Canberra, and you get there and back via Bombala.
The area is a mix of forest and beef/sheep properties, intersected by the Delegate and Snowy rivers and their tributaries. One of those places that you’re vaguely aware of.
But now I must visit. The reason is that it’s got energetic people doing great things. Snowy Monaro councillors had put me onto the fact that Hilda Rix Nicholas – an internationally-regarded painter of the Great War era – had lived and died in Delegate.
Her work is featured in the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery and sundry state galleries. But Sharon Buckman from the Delegate Progress Association (DPA) explains that they too wanted a piece of the action, specifically that a revamp of their local gallery would feature indigenous art as well as Rix Nicholas’ artwork. It could also be to blend that artwork with photos and cartoons of other Local Legends around the Snowy Mountains. Readers might recall that we are working with the Coffs Harbour National Cartoon Gallery and other communities on this concept.
Accordingly, the DPA made a submission to the Bushfire Recovery Fund, and in due course it received a grant of $686,000 to revamp the existing gallery to progress the above concept. But there was another smart angle. The town suffers a lack of tourist accommodation – so the grant also provides for the purchase of three cottages, with takings to be ploughed back into other development initiatives.
Coincidentally the cottages are manufactured in nearby Jindabyne, so the money stays in the region. Sharon explained that the whole project was conceived by a group of people, including Karen Cash who was formerly the Shire’s economic development manager. Karen’s submission writing skills came to the fore.
Sharon and I discussed the potential to build on the above grant to create an Adventure Tourism industry in this pristine environment viz. walking trails, canoeing down the Snowy, 4WD trips, school camps, feasting on signature dishes (roast beef and lamb, Snowy trout), and crossing McKillop’s Bridge (spectacular – Google it!).
And think about this – Canberra and indeed Australia have many citizens who’d be attracted by Rix-Nichols’ depiction of the Great War and the Snowy Monaro lifestyle of the early 1900s. Given the world’s problems at present, nostalgia art is reportedly the next big thing.
The bottom line is that Delegate is an outstanding example of proactive, persistent people unlocking a rural community’s potential.
AFL industry under
Sport is a big industry in both economic and social terms. So it’s noteworthy when arguably our biggest sporting industry is accused of abusing market power and lacking integrity.
The revelations come via a Melbourne-based sport journalist, Michael Warner, in his recent book ‘The Boys’ Club’. It’s riveting stuff. The coverage of the treatment of James Hird during the supplements saga is worth the price of the book alone (around $20). The seminal message, to me at least, is that the AFL is a very significant employer with a huge impact on people’s social and sporting lives, and that Warner’s book provides the evidence for a major enquiry into its conduct. However the media reporting of Warner’s revelations has been muted, presumably because other journalists are afraid of being black-balled by the AFL. This proves the point!
James Hird’s father Allan is understandably keen for the truth to come out, and he has penned a review of Warner’s book on the Institute of Public Administration website – go to ipa.org.au/ipa-review-
By the way, Michael Warner’s dad Nick was a handy half-back flanker for the ANU in the 1970s, and went on to become Australia’s top spy. And Warner’s grandfather was the late Denis Warner, the celebrated war historian and media commentator. So there is some principled lineage there.
COVID-19 defines the next federal election
The considered opinion of my Friday night companions at the Murrumbidgee Golf Club is that the Morrison Government has ‘stuffed up’ the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and quarantine arrangements. My companions are mostly rusted-on conservatives, and it’s their words not mine. And their views are being echoed by Cockatoo members across this wide, brown land.
The federal Opposition is onto this, with leader Albanese currently hammering these two failures at every opportunity. But he must broaden Labor’s policy offerings via the articulation of a vision that includes the existential threats to our health and wellbeing (pandemics and climate change), fairness (via tax reform) and transparency and accountability (a corruption watchdog). And Labor would be well-advised to push Tanya Plibersek forward – she has a great political brain, is a great media performer and will help secure the female vote. The current Deputy Leader, Richard Marles, is a waffler.
The smart money is on the federal election being in the March-May 2022 window, because Morrison cannot call an election until he’s sure the light at the end of the Covid tunnel isn’t a freight train.