Join the debate on a Northern Food Bowl, a Referendum, Voter Intentions and Boat People

 I note with considerable interest that the creation of a food bowl in Northern Australia is now very much on the political and business agenda, particularly as there are persistent reports of interest from Chinese corporations in exploring the prospects of investment in our agricultural industries. I am especially heartened by the leadership that Andrew Robb is giving to the urgent need to have a master plan for the development of Northern Australia, not only as a new centre of food production, but also as a base for research into all aspects of tropical living.  My readers will recall that I have been writing articles for some time about diverting some of the water that flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria and using it to irrigate the great black soil plains of North Queensland as well as create a permanent water flow into the Darling River system near Tambo so as to regenerate and expand agricultural production in the Riverina as well. With my enthusiastic support, a good friend, John Thompson, has put a lot of excellent work into the writing of a Proposal for a Preliminary Study of a water project called ‘The Gulf to the Darling’. I recommend that you read it and give political support to this initiative which will cost less than five million dollars and can be carried out by one of our regional universities in less than twelve months. Send John Thompson an email at and he will email you a copy. You are welcome to send it on to friends who are interested in developing agriculture in the north and saving the Riverina in the south.

Some time back, I read Tony Abbott’s book ‘Battlelines’. In it, he advocates the holding of a referendum to give the Commonwealth power to override State legislation where there are inconsistencies that hinder national development. This is the most positive political statement that I have ever heard from Tony and I hope that he might make a few more. It is certainly a subject that we should debate widely as it has real merit.

 An objective analysis of the latest opinion polls tell us that a significant trend is developing in voter intentions. A steadily increasing number of voters do not want to vote for either one of the two major parties. One recent Newspoll has shown that 15% planned to vote for Others. This is one of the highest figures of political disenchantment that I have seen for a long time and shows that the main beneficiaries are the Greens and Independents, despite the high profile bashing that they receive on a daily basis from their political opponents. The next Federal Election will be a very interesting event. If the vote for Others continues to rise, we may yet see Tony Abbott leading our next minority government.

The debate about boat people drones on relentlessly and soullessly without achieving anything of real value and it is really one of the most disgraceful political struggles that I have ever witnessed. It reflects poorly on the Parliament. Politicians are so fixated on short term solutions to problems that the obvious entirely eludes them. It is an indisputable fact that in the entire recorded history of humankind, covering thousands of years, there have always been many refugees fleeing tyranny and searching for freedom. Right now, the world has millions of refugees scattered across all continents, yet Australians feel that we are the only ones who have to face this issue and we are ridiculously aggrieved about it. It is time that we dispensed with our overpowering racist prejudices and face the fact that offshore processing won’t work because we can’t keep it going for another thousand years. Let the boats land in the Pilbarra and let us build several major and liveable migrant housing centres there, complete with TAFE Colleges and work training programmes in nearby mines and their service industries. Boat people could be required by law to stay there for two years before they are given the choice of moving to another part of Australia, a decision that would then require them to repay the government for their education and accommodation in the same way as thousands of our university students do right now. In the meantime, the thugs and gangsters in their midst must immediately be sent back to their country of origin. This will not only put a human face on Australia, it will save us billions of dollars that are currently wasted on ridiculous and pointless offshore processing.

Paul Cleary wrote a good article in The Australian the other day about Australia’s dysfunctional freight system which costs the nation billions of dollars and causes us to be uncompetitive on world markets. Cleary reports on a conversation that he had with John Balassis, Chief Executive of the ATEC Rail Group, who said that every government in Australia needs to appoint a Minister for Freight who would spend all of his or her waking hours working at fixing this long neglected and costly problem. Balassis is spot on. Our freight system is retarding our national development and our prosperity. It’s time that governments took it seriously.