Icing on the Cake, Human Beings

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

Human beings really are contradictory, curious creatures. We often seem to peck away at little things – rather like when Queensland’s late politician, Joh Bjelke Petersen called talking to journalists “feeding the chooks”. If there are big lumps of news, we can tend to look away and choose to “sweat the small stuff”.

When press stories recently reported the world’s insects were disappearing, it barely seemed to last a day in the media. I sat down with entomologist Professor Nigel Andrews in UNE’s terrific Natural History Museum to talk about the disappearing insects. Insects have a vital role in the interconnectedness of life, and their disappearance is an increasingly obvious issue: changes in land use, ground temperature and micro-climates, plus the use of pesticides are some of the reasons we’re losing them. As Nigel says, some do well with change – some don’t, and those species are then lost. With e.g. extinct ant species, we lose their part in the food chain, soil aeration, plant pollination and cleansing of dead species in the environment. Everything is interconnected. The knock-on effect means then we lose a whole range of plants … birds … animals … on and on, and the knock-on pace continues. We’re world leaders in mammalian extinctions. Whole dynamics change and while it’s recognised the environment has never been static, man has superimposed his changes. We’re lucky here, with a university so accessible if we choose to involve ourselves and heed the science.

Australia’s 2018/2019 summer has been our hottest. Locally we’ve seen devastating flames licking at the Tingha Plateau with all the heartache involved, and we’re told that bushfire seasons are lengthening.

When this column appears, State Government elections will be over. We can only hope our political teams lift their standards above the past fray to concentrate on what concerns voters, giving us intelligent leadership on vital issues. And, country people in particular won’t forget the money directed to city stadiums when there are so many competing needs. 

Dealing with the future is a vital but unenviable task. Carolyn Lasker outlined the approach she’ll be taking as Principal of the new Armidale Secondary College at a NE Visions 2030             Forum at the Bowling Club. The way education was delivered – even in the recent past – has been totally redesigned to equip students for their 21st Century lives ahead. To me, her conviction and preparedness were impressive, as was her overriding concern for the welfare of the students. May she and her team succeed.

Interesting to read fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell’s question for the Australian Fashion Summit: “What kind of company are you – data led or data informed?” Data has become an exceedingly big subject.  Of course, it’s very useful to receive trustworthy data on your project. But I don’t believe it’s everything – in fact, sometimes it’s an advantage to work contrary to the data, making strategic niche market points from the opposite position. Think.

When Government cost-shifted responsibility for airports onto Local Governments, they passed on a very heavy load; in fact, a totally unreasonable load. At least the Armidale Airport Business Park is finally on the go, and Cr Andrew Murat in particular should be congratulated for his persistence in hanging on in there over the years. I guess the roundabout will be finished eventually. Calvin Coolidge, 1920s US President, said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence”.

The overnight NPWS tagalong tours through our ancient Gondwana Rainforest sound a memorable initiative. Next chance – November 2/3. Contact NPWS Northern Inland office.

Recently a surprised 45 year old passed me a letter from the Federal Government, signed Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt, directing her to www.lifechecks.gov.au – while it’s good the Government cares, we wondered about the sentence: Answer a few simple questions about health, finances, work and social connections, and you’ll get personalised information about how to plan for your best future. Well meant, I’m sure, but is that just a tad Big Brother? I wonder if the distribution list included 45 year olds in remote Aboriginal communities?

Susie Dunn.

P.s. Country Garden NERAMble FUNDRAISER, 6th/7th April: check out “What’s On”
neram.com.au. Always great days.

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