Monday, August 06, 2007

What are the cockies thinking about?

I’ve bought the last couple of issues of The Weekly Times -the Melbourne-based 'voice of the country' - it has operated since 1869. More than anything I bought it to find out what country people are thinking about. It is an informative newspaper where most major stories are published online. What worries the cockies? I did a random flip through the last two issues and some things stood out. The choice of stories I made is not a random sample but I did focus on major stories. The issues emphasised included many that interest an ‘urban greenie’ such as me – climate change and the environment, trade liberalisation, animal rights, economics.

The following provides a survey of selected issues discussed in no particular order.

1. How the rise in the value of the Aussi dollar hits those farmers hard who are just recovering from the drought. There is particular concern about increasing food imports from China and the prospects for stone fruit producers of a free trade agreement with Chile. It is a sound observation particularly given that in some sectors, such as wool, there is expected to be price weakness anyway.

2. This Melbourne-based newspaper is very concerned about Victoria being shut out of the Commonwealth’s national water plan and potentially missing out on millions of dollars in handouts and free infrastructure. The paper seems broadly supportive of the Commonwealth’s approach to giving handouts.

3. The economics of organic farming, farming native species and game, genetically modified crops and bio-fuels. All interesting niche areas for those of us interested in pursuing green alternatives in the agricultural sector.

4. The paper has concerns with promoting the health benefits of red meat. It also remarks about Australian lamb being sold in New Zealand. Interesting for me, at least, since I have always thought New Zealand lamb was much higher quality than the pongy Australian stuff. Australians seem unable to produce quality lamb and to deliver pork to supermarkets that doesn’t have a disgusting odour.

5. There were fearful observations about the role of flatulent beef cattle in promoting global warming. Also there was concern for the wine industry, which will be one of the agricultural sectors most hard hit by climate change – grapevines are sensitive to climate. In the longer-term these emissions will need to be included as a component of the Commonwealth’s emissions trading schemes.

6. There were fears for the consequences of Victorian moves to treble red gum forest reserves along the Murray River in Victoria and to ban grazing of cattle in the Barmah forest. An editorial thundered over the evils of ‘urban green environmentalism’ that will involve huge water diversion costs – these forests will need to be flooded once every 5 years. This periodic flooding I have suggested in an earlier post are essential for biodiversity conservation but of course they make some of these greedy sods cranky.

7. There are concerns over animal rights organisations such as PETA and such issues as sheep export deaths. In my view unless humane practises can be established here the trade should be banned. It is a national disgrace to assign sheep for export slow, agonising deaths.

8. The role of the WTO and the Doha round aroused interest and there were the usual concerns over US food subsidy plans for the next five years. Ho hum, these justifiable complaints have been around for a while.

9. Finally there is lots of information about new developments in agricultural machinery that meant little to me. Ditto for information on sheep and cattle prices, weed problems as well as wool and canola prices. There is detailed information on very recent rainfall trends and current water storage levels is provided but not much in the way of long-term forecasts that I assume farmers access from the Bureau of Meteorology website. I was interested also in the obviously deep market for Australian agricultural properties and, as I have remarked before, in the surprisingly high prices paid for capital assets in this low rate of return sector.


Yobbo said...

In my view unless humane practises can be established here the trade should be banned.

Big surprise there Harry. A more interesting question is "What Doesn't Harry Clarke want to ban?"

Francis Xavier Holden said...


hc said...

You support the practice of exposing animals such as sheep to long and painful deaths do you Yobbo? Does it establish your Libertarian credentials? Or your down-to-earth disregard for such things as animal right?

Note I used the word 'unless'. I am in favour of the trade but not if it inflicts undue suffering.

Yobbo said...

Sheep are not people. My family exports live sheep, as do all sheep farmers.

Cutting out the live sheep trade wouldn't magically transform a Sheep's life to anything less miserable.

They are livestock. The livelihoods of humans are more important than the comfort of animals.

"Undue suffering" is a comical concept when you are talking about animals bred to serve us in their death.

The fact is Harry that there is no "humane" practise that animal rights nutters would be happy with. They want eating of animals banned, period. They want farming of animals banned, period.

hc said...

You make the standard mistake of assuming the lives of farm animals are totally miserable so that any extra suffering does not matter. To the contrary I believe non-human animals experience both pleasure and pain.

Its not accurate to say their life is pure hell so that their treatment does not matter. This assumption is mainly intended to conceal bad treatment of farm animals.

I am a meat eater and don't worry about that. I think humans are designed to eat meat. But a humane way of treating animals is to avoid unnecessary suffering such as slow agonising deaths.

Yobbo said...

Its not accurate to say their life is pure hell so that their treatment does not matter.

That's not what I'm saying Harry. I'm saying it doesn't matter as much as profits and prices do.

It wouldn't be too difficult to greatly the increase the quality of life of farm animals at all. As long as you don't mind paying $10,000 for a steak.

The live sheep trade helps keep down the price of goods you buy - we get a better price sending our old Merinos on a ship to Iraq than we would if we sold them as pet food.

If we didn't, less people would farm merinos and wool would be a lot more expensive.

Reflexive greenie bullshit has consequences, just like everything else. And it's no coincidence that the people who complain the loudest are inner-city residents on high incomes - because they are the only people who don't care how much meat costs.

Do you realise that a great deal of Australians can't even afford to eat meat every day at current prices?

Bring in the changes the greenies want and that percentage becomes a lot higher. What are the consequences of a national diet consisting of polony and bread, Mr Health researcher?