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Showing posts from June, 2016

Country trust

I thought that I was back in Tasmania or visiting one of those honesty roadside fruit stalls in Qld ...

Today I headed up the freeway to Littlehampton to visit the Agapanthus Farm to buy some white agapanthus. No one was around. There was a sign that said to sound the horn loudly or ring a mobile number. I tooted and tooted to no avail. An old black dog came down from the house. He gave me a sniff and just hung around. I called the mobile and the woman explained that they had gone out for lunch. They thought that with such lousy weather no one would come to visit. Who would make the trek to the hills to buy agapanthus on such a day?
An arrangement was made. I made my selection and took 4 bags of plants home. I've just sent the farm an email asking for their bank account details so I can make payment.

It's nice to experience that country trust.
Can you imagine a shop in the city extending that same trust? Then again, they probably wouldn't leave the shop open and unattended…

Dirt in Adelaide

Last week I said that the Federal election would heat up this week with dirty tactics emerging in the marginal seats ... and it has started in the seat of Adelaide.
Yesterday in my letterbox I found a flier from one of the major parties. It criticised the other candidate.
It was brilliant; it was cruel; it hit below the belt; it had impact; it was disgusting.
And the photo (taken in a dark corner at some event) was Photoshopped to show the hapless candidate at his worst. It painted a sad picture.
It probably was truthful, but it was unnecessary; and significantly reduces the credibility and niceness of the candidate who sent it.

A tip for budding politicians:
Never say anything stupid. Pause and think before you speak.
If you wear a jacket, then do up the buttons, especially when it is a black tie event.
(If you can't do up the buttons, then buy a bigger jacket.)
Avoid being photographed when holding a stubby of beer. A glass of white wine would be more acceptable; it demonstrates…

Tunnel trams @ Unley

At the recent Unley Council meeting (June 2016) there was healthy debate about the merit of underground trams (in a tunnel) under Unley Road; from Greenhill Road to Cross Road, a distance of ~ 2km.
Mayor Lachlan Clyne had publicly proposed consideration of underground trams.
Unley Council responded with a motion on notice that sought to publicly disassociate itself from the Mayor's proposal.

It was a healthy debate.

My argument against the proposal was as follows:

My costings, formulated by assistance from civil engineers, forecast a cost of $1.5b.
That cost may blow out to $2b within 5 years.
The new Sundrop solar powered salt water tomato farm at Port Augusta costs $180m. At that price we could build another 5-8 Sundrop tomato farms.
The proposed solar powered and thermal storage power station at Port Augusta will cost $1.2b. We could build another one and have $300m left over.
These project costs at Port Augusta put the proposed expenditure at tunnel building in Unley into pers…

New grub @ Parkside pub

I remember good times at the Earl of Leicester hotel at Parkside (Unley, SA).
I used to work nearby.
It's a great suburban pub. A hidden treasure. A place where it's hard to be found.
But pubs get stale and dated, so is good news to hear that there will be a major make-over and the Earl of Leicester is to be reinvented as a London style gastro-pub.
The famed schnitzels will remain on the menu.
Families will be enticed to enjoy a Sunday roast with all the British trimmings including  Yorkshire puddings.

The renovation is about to commence.

Rates down down @ Unley

At this week's Unley Council meeting, a low rate rise of 2.2% was endorsed; at the expense of debt that is forecast to climb to a whopping $17m by June 2017.
I argued against this increase in debt whilst keeping a low rate rise.
I called it fiscal irresponsibility; and it is.
The motion for a low 2.2% rate rise passed with a slim majority.
On the home front, we would not (or should not) increase our debt to reduce the yearly repayment. That's what has happened.
The low rate rise means that Unley is transferring the financial burden to our children and to us as we age; at a time when we can least afford it.

The low rate rise also will impact the financial viability of future projects across Unley.
I suggest that over the next 2 years Unley cuts the big projects and works on reducing the $17m debt. Projects that would be affected by a delay are Unley Oval redevelopment, King William Road upgrade, Millswood Sporting complexes, ... anything with a hefty price tag.

It's time for…

Kate's big map

I live in the Federal seat of Adelaide and whilst being marginal it has comfortably been held by Labor's Kate Ellis with ~ 3.5% margin.
Times change and according to commentators and party polling we are told that it now down to the wire. So Adelaide may determine who forms government, but that is somewhat fanciful. More than likely it will be a barometer of how well Labor will fare elsewhere; across the nation.
It's a flurry of activity by the political parties; whilst the people blissfully go about their daily lives. I have yet to see any candidate in Adelaide out on the streets; no one has door-knocked me; no one has stopped me on the street.
Each night the phone rings a couple to times and after an uncomfortably long pause (that is longer than when an offshore Indian calls with some deal) there is a recorded message about the election. Damn calls. Quickly hang-up and get back to cooking dinner.
Each day brings letters with messages from Shorten, Turnbull and the local cand…

BREXIT whine

So Britain has voted to exit the EU; by a small majority.
It makes sense on the surface. I would have voted that way.
Now it seems that no one had given much thought to the consequences; they were just swept up in the romance of going it alone and becoming British again without the bureaucracy of Brussells.

What annoys me is the whinge from the 25% of people who did not bother to vote; mostly younger people. Now they want to right the wrong by signing a petition to have a fresh referendum. Fat chance. That would be a mockery of democracy from a place that we hold dear as the birth place of modern Western democracy.

You lie in the bed you make; and I say just get on with it.
Like with any new nation, there will be pain and challenges.
It calls for stiff British resolve and determination.

The Scottish uproar is more I suspect driven by their desire to exit Britain.

Australia Votes 2016

A few weeks ago I said that I was prepared to call the Federal election outcome, but wouldn't declare it publicly; as it's not my place as a Councillor to go around saying who I think will win. Here's what I said a few weeks ago ... election blues and reds

Three weeks later and with one week to go, I remain convinced of the outcome.
It's really a no brainer.
The long campaign period has flushed out the dills, identified the better performers and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Labor and Liberal leaders. Unfortunately, it's only the leaders that really matter in our presidential style campaign. The local candidates can't have a private profile; they just have to fall into line and sing from their leader's song-sheet. It's rather sad when I know that a complete dill is going to get elected in a particular marginal seat in SA; and the incumbent is not that appealing either.

As we enter the final week, it will heat up and start to get ugly. …

Maroon King

A great game, the second win in this year's State of Origin league contest of Qld vs. NSW.
Like most South Australians, I was on the edge of the couch barracking for the Maroons. A fine red wine and dark chocolate helped the night pass.
The Cockroaches had the brute force and determination, but not the finesse and strategy of the Maroons.
Jonathan Thurston just kept on booting a curving ball through the goal posts.
He is truly the greatest league player ever.

Quail eggs

Most of us want backyard chickens, but space is often the problem.
There is an alternative.
Consider having a flock of quails.
They are smaller and more trouble free; and they usually lay an egg a day.
The eggs are smaller and have a nice colour, but have more protein and a relatively larger yolk compared with a chicken egg. Yes, it takes five quail eggs to make up the weight of a large chicken egg; but it is better value.
An added bonus is they are great to have with young kids who get enormous enjoyment.
Quails don't roost and it is easy to move a pen through the backyard; to feed the quail and nourish the garden.

Give it some thought.

Here's a link for more information

Kate's pork barrel

Other than trams in Unley (and you know my thoughts on that) the Federal election has delivered the first Labor promise of pork barrel funding for Unley (and four other metro Councils).

Well done Kate Ellis for the commitment to fund $44m, a 33% contribution to the remedial flood mitigation work in Brownhill Keswick Creeks.
Unley (and the other Councils) need 2/3 funding from the Federal and State Governments.
So Kate, to make the commitment meaningful, I urge you to re-package the offer by also securing the SA Labor Government to match your funding. Without additional State Government funding (of $44m) the project can not proceed.
Trust me, in these delicate times, you are the best person to get the State Government onboard.

I look forward to a fresh announcement, a joint commitment by Federal and State Labor, to fund the project to the tune of $88m. The five Councils will jointly fund the remainder.

We need a water tight commitment.

BREXIT

I wouldn't be surprised if the British people decide to exit the EU.
If I were British then I would probably vote to exit.
The desire to remain (and regain a British flavour) is strong.
Sure, there might be pitfalls and need for restructuring finances and trade.
Hopefully the British Government has made contingency plans for the event of a BREXIT; that would be a responsible government in readiness.

In thinking about a BREXIT, I recall an episode of that brilliant BBC series 'Yes Minister' or was it 'Yes Prime Minister'.
The Minister was caught in the dilemma of how to preserve the British pork sausage. If he embraced the EU then the British sausage would be sacrificed; as it could only be manufactured as per EU specification; and it would no longer be British.
He avoided the tangle of a closer embrace with the EU by declaring the British sausage sacred; and not to be sacrificed.

BREXIT is all about preserving the British pork sausage, preserving the British herita…

Gnome City at Unley

I am a member of the Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee @ Unley Council.
At the meeting on 07 June, one of the agenda items was 'Greening Our Verges'.
This item was given healthy debate.
It involves encouraging residents to plant and maintain the verge in front of their home to beautify and help to cool the suburbs. Further, a street with healthy street trees and roadside plantings makes a welcoming visual impact and encourages drivers to slow down; rather than speeding down a bland looking street.
The recommendation to encourage the greening of verges will go to Council in June 2016.

What really appealed to me was the proposal to give Golden Gnomes as awards to residents for excellence in planting and maintaining their verge. It is a low cost proposal and I am sure that residents will embrace the concept and try to receive an award. It is considered appropriate that the Ward Councillors will decided on who gets a gnome. Each Councillor will have 4-5 gnomes to give aw…

Bold woman

I was out in the front garden; deep in the overgrown rose bushes.
This year they needed a good slash; a heavy prune.
I could hear footsteps on the footpath and then a woman's voice said 'hello georgeous, aren't you beautiful'.
That gave me a warm feeling.
I backed out of the rose bush, stood up and said 'hello, are you talking to me?'.
The startled woman blushed heavily and awkwardly explained that she had been talking to my two dogs that were sitting at the gate watching the world go by.
The woman moved on quickly getting into her car and getting out of there.

Hidden deep in the roses I knew that she was talking to the dogs - they are good looking; but I couldn't resist the opportunity.
Besides it broke the monotony of pruning the prickly roses.

Quorn Cafe chillies

Last week I spent two nights in Quorn, the claimed entrance to the glorious Flinders Ranges.
Driving through the towns of Laura, Stone Hut, Melrose and Wilmington each town laid claim to being the start of the Flinders. Years ago these towns were booming; today they are sad remnants and struggle to survive. What impressed me was the width of the main roads; about 4 times the width of Goodwood Road; plenty of room to slip into the left lane and cruise along at 10kph and take in the sights and look-out for shops and places that warranted a quick visit.
Actually the town of Hawker is the real entrance to the Flimders; it's where you go either left or right around the ranges.

I was in Quorn to bury the ashes of my Mother who died in 2015.
Her ashes were interred at the grave of her father in the Quorn cemetery.
The local council (Flinders Ranges Council) was great to deal with. They placed a plaque and dug a hole in readiness for my visit. I placed the ashes and then back-filled the h…

Sheep milk cheese

Whilst on holiday recently in Tasmania I visited the Grandvewe cheesery.
100% sheep milk.
100% fantastic.
Down there I bought some Brebichon and enjoyed it with cold smoked salmon on crusty bread @ sunset, overlooking the River Derwent. A memorable night.

Back home, some weeks later, I ordered some cheeses and other produce (to get the free postage). Yum! It brought back memories of Tasmania.

More about the cheese:

Brebichon - soft, an easy to eat washed rind, a slight strong smell (which gets stronger as it comes up to room temperature) made in the style of Reblochon from the Savoie region in Eastern France. Score 9/10

Sapphire Blue - strong, salty and made in the Roquefort style; although it is more dense and crumbly than Roquefort. Score 8/10

Do yourself a favour and go online and order some cheese from Grandvewe

Electric toilet seat

It was a blistery cold day up in the Adelaide Hills.
It is at this time of the year.
I was visiting friends at Crafers.
And they were so pleased with themselves; they had just bought an electric toilet seat and wanted to show it off.
The thought of such comfort just made you want to go; to experience the warmth on the buttocks. It was glorious; just so soothing and warm. The thought of getting electrocuted did pass my mind, but it passed as the warmth seeped in.
I'd read about them, but hadn't experienced one.
The problem with most households is who has a power point (plug) in the toilet to connect the device? Most I suspect do not have power in the toilet.
I just hope that my friends buy green electricity to power their bottom warmer.
Back home, there is no such luxury; and there won't be.
At home, to avoid a cold bottom during winter, it's a matter of strategy. If you need to visit the toilet (to sit down) then wait until someone has been. Wait for a few minutes (and…

Unley trams a tight fit

There's been lots of talk and chatter about running a tram line from CBD Adelaide, through Unley and up to Micham.
Sounds great, sounds innovative; nation building stuff.
The SA Government will make a decision in 2-3 weeks about which route to take ie. along Unley Road or perhaps Goodwood Road.
I thought that the tram (and any form of public transport) was about getting bums on seats and cutting the car commute through the suburbs to CBD Adelaide.
For the record, I'm opposed to a tram through Unley and would prefer the cheaper and more efficient option of hybrid diesel and solar powered buses.
The bottom line is the need for an improved public transport system.
And why not make it a free service to get the bums on seats?
It is amazing how many people won't pay the fee on the long runs eg. Glenelg to the City.
A tram through Unley will visually devastate the streetscape with giant poles and cables; just look at the tramline to Glenelg. Do we really want that visually pollut…