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Illegal ‘ice’ and pharmaceuticals are ‘Not Our Way’Video

The NSW Police have launched a new campaign in Dubbo aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of illegal drug use in Aboriginal communities across the state.
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‘Not Our Way’ has been developed by the NSW Police Drug and Alcohol Coordination team in conjunction with Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers (ACLOs), key health industry stakeholders as well as local Aboriginal elders and community members.

The campaign consists of dual videos that address the rising issue of methylamphetamine (‘ice’), the illegal use of pharmaceuticals, and the associated health and safety risks to both individuals’ and the wider community.

Additional educational resources – including youth-focused story books as well as brochures on health services that specialise in drug and alcohol recovery support – have been created as part of the campaign.

NSW Police Corporate Sponsor on Aboriginal Communities, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie, said the campaign aims to highlight and address the challenges facing local Aboriginal communities.

“Research shows that Aboriginal communities are at greater risk of developing harmful long-term drug use than the general population, and both ‘ice’ and pharmaceuticals have shown the biggest spike more recently,” Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said.

“The use and distribution of illegal drugs is not only against the law but it’s incredibly harmful to your health and can lead to many serious consequences including the breakdown of families and local communities.

“The rise in recreational pharmaceutical usage also shows that drugs don’t have to be illegal to be lethal and they can prove to be just as dangerous as their illicit counterparts,” Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said.

“Both trends are of great concern so we’ve decided to get on the front foot and work with the Aboriginal community to address these specific challenges together, before people are faced with possible jail time and serious health effects.”

Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said the campaign seeks to educate people on the dangers of ‘ice’ and illegal pharmaceutical use by discussing their short and long-term effects while illustrating warning signs for friends and families of those possibly affected.

“Importantly, this is an initiative for and by Aboriginal people – it’s absolutely crucial that we work closely with one another to foster relationships and build stronger, safer communities that acknowledge key challenges while working collaboratively on solutions,” Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said.

“The campaign videos also feature two individuals who speak candidly about their path to recovery and their associated experiences. Our hope is that their voices transect the community and let people know that help and support is available.

“Following today’s launch the campaign resources will be progressively rolled out across the state to send a positive message on behalf of the community that dangerous drug use is ‘Not Our Way.’

Members of the community can contact ADIS at any time for confidential information, advice and referral services.

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Help to live with loss

Compassion: Karen Vial and Jan Moore making butterflies for the day seminar being held next month. Photo: Peter Hardin 220217PHB027TAMWORTHwill host its first Compassionate Friends day seminar next month and the group hopesto get the word out to as many people in the region as possible.
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Compassionate Friends is a world-wide organisation that helps people who have lost children or siblings. While the Tamworth branch meets every month, this is the first time they will host a full day seminar with guest speakers.

Tamworth chapter leader, Karen Vial, said the day and the group can be a powerful tool in helping people to learn to live and look after yourself following the deathof a loved one.

“When people come to the group they find that they make friends instantly,feel comfortable and develop instant bonds, as we all have something in common,” Mrs Vial said.

“It can really reinforce that they are not alone and we want them to take away that they will survive and will get through it, regardless of how far along they are in grieving.”

Some members of the local chapter met last week to make decorated butterflies, which are the symbol of the Compassionate Friends, and will be used at the seminar.

“People write the name of their child, or loved one, on the butterfly and a little note and we hang them on a tree,” Mrs Vial said.

Guest speakers on the day will include acclaimed grief author, educator and trainer Doris Zagdanski, who will be doing a presentation titledThe elephant in the room –Why no one will talk about our children,while Linda Campbell will hold a session calledLiving with loss.

There will also be a workshop on mindfulness and caring for yourself.

“We know that unfortunately there are a lot of people around the region that have been affected,” Mrs Vial said.

“People can just sit and listen if they like – just making that move is the first step.”

The seminar will be held at the Frog and Toad from 9am until 5pm, on Saturday March 18. The cost is $20, and that includesall catering as well as lunch.

Bookings are essential. For more information or to book, contact Karen Vial on 0427922714.

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Iconic takeaway The Big Red Hen closed after 35 years

Iconic takeaway The Big Red Hen closed after 35 years ICONIC SHOP CLOSES: Sisters Angela Ginis (left) and Helen Waller have closed their The Big Red Hen business after 25 years. Picture: Geoff Jones
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Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

A 1982 newspaper clipping from Macquarie Towns Review when Jim and Cathy Bacasetas originally opened The Big Red Hen.

Helen Waller (left) and Angela Ginis on their final day of trading.

‘George’ the iconic hen statue will have a new home in the sisters’ Lennox Street residence.

The shopfront is now for lease.

Farewell scrumptious chicken, chips and gravy.

The team’s announcement on The Big Red Hen Facebook page attracted over 400 comments from customers who were sorry to see them go.

Picture: Facebook

Picture: Facebook

Picture: Facebook

TweetFacebookand dinner here. I’m just devastated,” says Richmond resident, Greg Sheppeard.

He’s standing on Windsor Street, Richmond, outside The Big Red Hen, and today is the store’s final day of business.

“Everyone’s been talking about it, up at the Marketplace, everywhere. Twenty five years of coming to the one shop – you weren’t just a customer, you became family,” he says.

Mr Sheppeard, 50, is just one of likely thousands of current and ex-Hawkesbury residents who are sorry to see their beloved local takeaway close its doors.

Two of these residents, who happen to be walking past the store, stop and chat to Mr Sheppeard – it seems they were regulars, too.

“My husband and I were so upset when we heard the news,” says a lady. Like Mr Sheppeard, she has been eating at the establishment for decades.

“Are we all here to commiserate the loss of The Big Red Hen?” says a man. Clearly, that’s what’s happening.

On Facebook, The Big Red Hen page has almost 1300 likes, and the closure announcement posted a few days ago already has over 400 comments.

Some asked for their gravy recipe, and others asked for the name of their chicken croquettes supplier. Even their fruit salad and yoghurt was mentioned as a firm favourite.

Many of the comments shared personal stories about coming into The Big Red Hen, through school and while working. Some were simply passing through the neighbourhood, but it tasted so good that they remembered it, they said.

For Mr Sheappard, The Big Red Hen’s closure is the loss of an institution, and he mentions numerous times how devastated he is.

“I actually cried when I heard the news. So many friendships were made in here,” he says.

Over the past quarter-of-a-century, Mr Sheppeard has sampled the entire menu – many times over. The dish that originally got him hooked, however, was the hot chips and gravy. With chicken salt, of course.

“Lately it’s been fish and chips, but it’s also been schnitzel wraps. It’s been hamburgers. Ohhh and the creamy pasta!” he says.

“You could walk in and they knew exactly what you wanted. They were really on the ball. Nothing compares to this shop, mate. Trust me, it’s the best.”

Richmond resident Greg Sheppeard has been eating at The Big Red Hen for 30 years.

Family businessThe heroes behind all the hype – and arguably the best hot-chip chefs in the Hawkesbury – are sisters and business partners, Angela Ginis and Helen Waller.

Richmond born and bred, the sisters shut the doors on 25 years of memories when they closed The Big Red Hen for the final time.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it wasn’t taken lightly. It’s been very emotional,” Ms Ginis told the Gazette.

“People are devastated. The business has taken on its own entity – it’s like somebody’s died.”

The duo attempted to find a buyer for The Big Red Hen, but none came forward. Their family owns the building, and they are now looking for a lessee for the shopfront – though they are still hoping a white knight will snap-up the business and keep its legacy alive.

“It’s sad no one bought it so The Big Red Hen could carry on for the community,” said Ms Ginis.

Their father, Steve Ginis, originally purchased the shop as a fruit shop in the 1970s. He had arrived in Richmond in 1956 and purchased a home on Lennox Street – which the family still owns.

In 1982, a ‘specialist bbq chicken shop’ opened up the road from Mr Ginis’s fruit shop, under the ownership of husband and wife team, Jim and Cathy Bacasetas. The duo went on to sell the business and it changed hands a couple of times before Mr Ginis acquired it in 1992 and moved it to its current premises.

By this time, Mr Sheppeard had already begun to get ‘hooked’ on The Big Red Hen’s tasty flavours, and he soon began to put in daily appearances at the new location.

The team’s announcement on The Big Red Hen Facebook page attracted over 400 comments from customers who were sorry to see them go.

Community storeWhen Mr Ginis passed away approximately 10 years ago, Ms Ginis and Ms Waller took over the shop’s reigns. His daughters had already been working there for around 15 years, and they knew the family business like the backs of their hands.

“It’s time to do something new now,” said Ms Ginis. She also owns Hawkesbury Natural Therapies Centre, and is studying to become a naturopath.

“We’re really open to whatever’s out there. Life is an adventure! But we’ll still be around the area.”

The sisters and business partners wanted to thank their staff, customers, and suppliers.

“A huge ‘thank you’ to all the staff over the years. They were all dedicated, honest and hardworking, and we would not have been successful without them,” said Ms Ginis.

“We had staff who started when they were 14 – we really enjoyed giving kids their first job, watching them growing up, and then coming into the shop with their own families.

“A huge thank you to our customers, for their dedication and loyalty. And to all our suppliers – we would not have had our success without them.

“We are only two people, and it takes a community to help run a store.”

The iconic hen statue that has resided inside the store for the past 20-odd years – the sisters call the statue ‘George’ – will now go home to live with their family.

Helen Waller (left) and Angela Ginis on their final day of trading.

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Peel Cricket Association round 17 previews

Peel Cricket Association round 17 previews TweetFacebookWhite Knights Baldivis v PinjarraLadder position
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Baldivis: Fifth

Pinjarra: Sixth

Short story

A loss in this game would see Pinjarra’s finals ambitions squashed and Baldivis’ hopes severely decrease; it’s really a do-or-die for both sides. On recent form, you give the edge to Pinjarra, but only by an inch. Their last two games saw them defeat Hillman (ninth) and lose to Singleton (first), whereas Baldivis have dropped games to both Hillman and Warnbro (tenth). This game will go to whichever side comes better prepared on the day, but it should be a cracker.

Fixture

Settlers Turf, Saturday, 12.15pm

Mandurah v SingletonLadder position

Mandurah: Fourth

Singleton: First

Short story

For mine, this is the match of the round. Mandurah has to overcome the competition’s most in-form side to keep their grip on a finals spot, while Singleton will be keen to stretch their winning streak to four games. It’s a daunting task, but if Mandurah can overcome the Irwinians and then take down Warnbro next week, they would go into the finals on a three-game winning run and would carry plenty of momentum.

Fixture

Meadow Springs Turf, Saturday, 12.15pm

Hillman v WaroonaLadder position

Hillman: Ninth

Waroona: Second

Short story

Waroona’s win over Shoalwater Bay last week, which came on the back of a few impressive individual efforts, could be considered a statement victory. Taking down a team that was in second place was a big win, and now their two matches before finals are against sides outside the top four. Given their form last week, it’s fair to assume they’ll be in good touch again, but underestimating Hillman could see them slip back to third if they don’t bring their best.

Fixture

Stan Twight East Turf, Saturday, 12.15pm

South Mandurah v Shoalwater BayLadder position

South Mandurah: Seventh

Shoalwater Bay: Third

Short story

South Mandurah’s win over Warnbro kept their slim hopes of playing finals alive last week. Now, they are tasked with a much more difficult opponent to keep their season running. Shoalwater is fighting for second place and a final on their home wicket, and they’re coming off a loss they will be keen to redeem themselves for.

Fixture

Peelwood Turf, Saturday, 12.15pm

Warnbro Swans v Halls HeadLadder position

Warnrbo: Tenth

Halls Head: Eighth

Short story

Neither of these sides will make the finals, but the question now becomes whether or not they can finish the season with a couple more wins under their belt. The Swans got the monkey of their back when they claimed their first win of the season over Baldivis three weeks ago, but they will be eager to finish the season with more than a single victory. This isanother match that has the potential to go either way.

Fixture

Warnbro Turf, Saturday, 12.15pm

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Caution on El Niño forecasts

NOT ALARMED: Wet conditions such as these captured in Victoria last spring are unlikely this year according to early climate forecasts.THE FARMING community has reacted with alarm to media reports on climate forecasters speculating that 2017 could see a return to the El Niño climate conditions that are correlated with drought conditions over much of Australia.
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However, Agriculture Victoria climate agronomist Dale Grey has urged farmers not to press the panic button just yet.

“It is true that a number of climate models have raised the possibility of an El Niño developing in the Pacific, but it is also the case that this is the time of year when forecasters have the lowest amount of skill.”

“Looking at the situation now, you would have to see the trade winds around New Guinea go in reverse and a number of things fall into place, none of which are actually happening right now.”

“It is not to say that it could not happen, just that farmers should recognise the low skill in forecasts from this time of year.”

Mr Grey did acknowledge parts of the Pacific were considerably warmer than last year and said on the balance of evidence around at present it would be unlikely Australia will see another year at near La Niña levels.

“The skill is low, but with what we are seeing with all the models predicting either neutral or El Niño seasons, it does appear if the season is outside the norm it will be on the drier side.

“Having said that, it is not until May that the models start having reasonable skill.”

National Australia Bank (NAB) agribusiness agronomist Phin Ziebell said Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) long-term forecasts raised the possibility of a return to dry conditions.

“While it’s arguably too early to assess the coming season with any certainty, BOM models point to the emergence of El Niño in winter this year, which is associated with hotter and drier conditions in eastern and northern Australia.

“The BOM outlook is unfortunately very different to last year.”

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May’s day celebrates milestone

May’s day celebrates milestone BIRTHDAY GIRL: May Fisk with her son David Fisk.
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CELEBRATION: May Fisk was front and centre with her son David, daughter Helen, daughter-in-law Trish and son David.

TweetFacebookFamily, friends and staff sing ‘Happy Birthday’ before cutting the cake.That did not stop the Royal Humane Society of Australasiapresenting May with abronze medallion for her bravery.

The boy she rescued, Fergus Campbell, has maintained a friendship with May and calls his rescuer on her birthday each year.

The story made front page news in Melbourne’sThe Argusin 1941 and was retold at May’s birthday celebration.

The centenarian was joined by her three children and their partners, as well as friends and staff from the nursing home.

May was in good spirits, accepting the celebration after promising at her 90thbirthday that she would not have another party until her 100th.

In addition to the obligatory cake and speeches, a presentation about May’s life celebrated her achievements and exploits, from motorbike riding and chainsawing to raising a family in Canberra.

May was born on February 25, 1917, and wasthe oldest of three childrenin their Port Pirie home in South Australia.

Recreation officer Kay Pope delivers a birthday speech about May.She was a keen athlete, playing basketball, tennis and swimming and honed her craft in dressmaking and bookkeeping.

She moved to Canberra after meeting her husband Noel, which was likened to moving countries back then.

The pair raised three kids –John, David and Helen –on their Hillside property before a bushfire destroyed the farm’s orchard, garage, stables and chicken shed in 1952.

Despite the house withstanding the blaze, the family moved to the Canberra suburb of O’Connor.

The beach life came calling when the pair moved to Pambula in 1964. Noel was one member behindFisk & Nagle in Merimbula and May ran a shop with a friend that sold ice-creams and milkshakes among other items.

They later moved to Tura Beach in what was the first house in the suburb.

The pair took off on an eight-month caravan trip around Australia and spent many holidays at the Far South Coast with their children and grandchildren.

May’s adventurous life continued in her late 80s, exploring Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland and the Snowy Mountainswith family.

Sitting among her children on Friday, May was optimistic for the years ahead.

“As long as I’m in good nick mentally and physicallyI’ll be happy,” she said.

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Cops break down barriers over coffeephotos, video

Cops break down barriers over coffee | photos, video KEEN FOR A CHAT: Shoalhaven Coffee with a Cop co-ordinator Inspector Susan Charman-Horton and acting Superintendent Mark Robinson chat with Miriam Mackie at the Nowra event.
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CHEERS: Shoalhaven Local Area Command officers during the Berry Coffee with a Cop program.

INFO: Shoalhaven LAC acting Superintendent Mark Robinson chats with Lani Spencer at the Nowra Coffee with a Cop.

NEW FRIENDS: Jessica Clarke with her children Amierah (2) and Merekai (1) meet Detective Senior Constable Simone Hackett, acting Sergeant Adam Hunt and Senior Constable Dave Taylor at the Nowra Coffee with a Cop.

INFORMAL CHAT: Local residents Bill and Chris Bolton talk with Shoalhaven Coffee with a Cop co-ordinator Inspector Susan Charman-Horton.

COFFEE TIME: Shoalhaven crime prevention officer Senior Constable Anthony Jory and Leading Senior Constable Garry Hayden grab a coffee from Zoe Hilman and Peta Jackson at the Hopper Society in Nowra.

REUNITED: NSW Police Shoalhaven crime prevention officer Senior Constable Anthony Jory caught up with former South Coast Register journalist Jess Long, who was visiting from New Zealand, at the Nowra Coffee with a Cop function.

GET TOGETHER: Shoalhaven LAC officers give the Nowra Coffee with a Cop event the thumbs up.

CATCHING UP: Shoalhaven crime prevention officer Senior Constable Anthony Jory talks with former officer Herbie Snell at Nowra Coffee with Cop.

DISCUSSION: Nowra businessman George Parker chats with Shoalhaven LAC acting Superintendent Mark Robinson at Coffee with a Cop.

COFFEE BREAK: Ron and Judie Clark with Senior Constable Tiffany McLean at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

FUN EVENT: Senior constable Douglas Nyholm with Inspector Susan Charman-Horton at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

AFTERNOON BREAK: Senior Constable Tim Goodison and Geoff Manias at Ulladulla.

BARRIERS DOWN: Kevin and Jan Kearns with Detective Michael Ricketts at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

CONNECTION: Dom and Liz Fondacaro with Senior Constable Anthony Jory at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

COFFEE BREAK: Georgeina and Jim from Mollymook at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

ATTENDEES: Jeannette Nightingale and Shirley Evans at the Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

INFORMATIVE: Ian Evans took time out to attend at Ulladulla Coffee with a Cop.

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Heading way out west

THE only thing betterthan a visit out west, Parade reckons,is a visit out west to somewhere you’venever been before.
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That was what Parade did last weekend when he spent a couple of days beside the lazy Lachlan River in the small agricultural community of Hillston.

Given the summer NSW has experienced, Parade was prepared for a weekend of face-melting temperatures, but Hillston instead turned on two days of very mild weather –perfect for wandering along the main street looking at the plaques and grand buildings and reading the historical information signs.

Parade learnt that Hillston was going to be called Redbank, but NSW already had one of those, so it was instead named after its first publican (a Mr Hill). It celebrated 150 years in 2013and it has a section of town in the north where the streets are named after poets (Keats, Shelley, Byron, Milton, Burns) –which made Parade think of Oberon being named after the Shakespearecharacter.

Parade’s visit also reinforced to him, once again, that in every town in Australia (no matter how remote, blazing hot or inaccessible) you will find people whose pride in their home is palpable.

In the one conversation on the weekend, aHillston local told Parade that the town endures temperatures in the late 40s in summer (and having seen the flat, exposed terrain, Parade wouldn’t doubt it)and that she absolutely, positivelywouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

The days of the old schoolyardANNIVERSARY celebrations have lured quite a few people back to Bathurst.

Over the weekend, MacKillop College is celebrating its 50th birthday with a number of events.

On Friday night, a group of around 25 former students from the 1982 Year 10 class and the 1984 graduating class met up at the Kings Hotel.

A number of women were still living in Bathurst, but there were quite a few who made the journey from quite a considerable distance to be part of the fun.

It’s good to see that school friends still like to reconnect so many years after their graduation.

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Anderson: Plenty of fake news in agriculture

BE REAL: Crawford Fund chairman and former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, says fake news could hurt Australian agriculture.FAKE news is an ever-present danger for Australian agriculture that hinders access to scientifically approved Genetically Modified wheat varieties, while prompting emotive debates like the current one on energy affordability.
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That’s the view of new Crawford Fund Chairman and former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson in calling for less emotion and great scientific focus, in such critical policy debates.

In an interview with Fairfax Agricultural Media, Mr Anderson – an inter-generational farmer from Gunnedah in NSW – also urged Australia’s farm industry leaders to engage politicians in response to the current political stoush on energy affordability and security, ignited by power blackouts in South Australia, given its significant threat to farm viability.

Mr Anderson is also co-patron of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia and said despite GM wheat varieties being foreshadowed for commercialisation in seven to 10 years, that time-frame was closing but progress had “stalled”, despite advanced science.

“But I believe we need to get it moving again – we really need to,” he said.

“This is not a hick country; we have good scientists and we have good regulatory bodies in this country.

“There’s no suggestion of Frankenstein-foods here in Australia but we have drought resistant wheats for example, developed by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food that are being sat on, for ideological reasons, which to me makes no sense at all.”

Asked how it was possible to move forward with the development of GM wheat and what needed to change, Mr Anderson said that was “a deep philosophical question”.

“These sound like big words but it is true,” he said.

“Western Society needs to make up its mind whether it’s going to become irrational and abandon the age of reason, or whether we’re going to commit ourselves to calm, reasoned science.

“If we’re talking about fake news now, there’s plenty of fake news when it comes to the use of science in agriculture and indeed in energy policy.

“No sector of the Australian economy is more dependent on energy than agriculture but we are headed into the greatest mess on energy in this country that you could ever imagine and yet calmed reason is being swamped by emotion and hype.

“That’s not the Australian way.

“As an eminent Australian scientist commented in London the other day, which I read on the internet, we need to be careful that the age of reason, which has given us such tremendously prosperous societies, is not allowed to close-off.

“We’ve got to get away from this business of having two sets of facts, and choosing one that suits us, and start going for the real facts; whether it’s energy policy or biotechnology or the use of glyphosate, whatever it is.”

Mr Anderson said Australian farmers should note the “chilling reality” that Europe was very close to banning glyphosate due to policy debates that also misrepresented scientific evidence.

“I’d be one of those farmers who would say that banning glyphosate is based on emotion and it would be immensely damaging,” he said.

“I mean fancy environmentalists being in a position where they’re actually closing something down – for no sound reason at all – like the use of glyphosate, in a way that would result in an outcome I’d have thought was an anathema for greens.

“We’ll all have to go back to using a heap more fossil fuel, driving big heavy tractors around ploughing country up – but that’s not the sort of thing we want.

“We need to be cool-headed and respond to the science which is what the Crawford Fund is all about and what biotechnology is all about, and make calm, reasoned, rational decisions and not be so driven by emotions.”

Asked where US President Donald Trump fitted into the fake news, post-truth political equation and the potential impacts his administration could have on global agricultural trends, Mr Anderson said he was unsure what direction it would take.

“We don’t know how that administration’s going to unfold and I’m not sure that they really know – that’s the really frightening thing – but we do hope they find their feet quickly,” he said.

But he said the biggest immediate threat to global agriculture was that the Americans were “plainly now going to enjoy an era of cheap energy”.

“Now there is no bigger input cost, in its various parts, for Australian farmers than energy, whether it’s fuel, fertiliser, chemicals or diesel and transport,” he said.

“The reality is energy prices will be a killer in an era of low grain prices.

“If there’s one thing we need to do urgently, and I would encourage the National Farmers’ Federation and other groups to do it, is to really engage the government on energy policy.

“I’d be interested in their perspectives and they may see things that I don’t see, but I would have thought that this is a very important policy area for our farm groups to start focussing on, because the warning signs are all there.

“The huge furore we’ve seen in South Australia recently is just the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s very obvious energy policy and energy security is going to be huge in Australia because we’re importing it all.

“Not many people know this but during the recent Queensland floods it was a sensitive time for harvesting and so forth but the east coast of Australia got down to almost running out of diesel.

“This energy debate is a test of whether we can be calm and rational in Australia and seek out our own best interests or whether we’re just going to simply shoot ourselves in the foot and at the moment it looks like we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Mr Anderson said the US was about to enter an era of cheap energy due to its “extraordinary exposure” to unconventional gas supplies and oil production which also meant cheaper input costs for local farmers.

“For the first time since 1970 the US have an expanding energy and oil base and its cheap and it looks like it’s just going to get cheaper and in fact in a funny way Australia are great beneficiaries,” he said.

“If not for the shale gas revolution and condensate in America today, we would be paying a heck of a lot more for our fuel at the bowser; never mind on the farm.

“But in the mean-time we’ve got a very serious issue about access to primary source materials for inputs like fertiliser and chemicals and the irony is we are buying a lot of this stuff from our direct competitors.”

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Celebrating national parks

INTO NATURE: Sharon and Joe Guastella from Beaconsfield exploring the Grampians and Wimmera. Picture: OLIVIA PAGEPARKS Victoria will celebrate the Wimmera’s stunning natural sights and is encouraging residents to get out and active in nature this Parks Week.
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Parks Week runs from March 4 to 12 and celebrates the vital role of parks in keeping communities and the natural environment healthy.

Parks Victoria said it was the the perfect reminder to take a break and get into a park this autumn.

Parks Victoria chief conservation scientist Mark Normansaid western Victoria had some of the most beautiful parks in the world, from the Little Desert National Park and Grampians National Park in the west, to the famous coastal parks and rainforests of the south and south-west.

Mr Norman said residents could escapeduring Parks Week and soak up nature.

“Victoria’s amazing national parks, reserves and sanctuaries are protected as the best examples of the state’s natural and cultural heritage – its spectacular wildlife, plants, wild places and scenery,” he said.

“We are blessed with such a huge diversity, from deserts with bearded dragons and red kangaroos, to alps with pygmy possums and snow gums.

“We have dense ancient rainforests that are home to lyrebirds, kelp forests and seagrass meadows, and iconic much-loved places including Wilsons Promontory, the Otways and the Grampians. Seventy per cent of our beaches and coastlines are also in our parks.”

Mr Norman said more than 100 million visits were made to Parks Victoria sites each year.

“This includes, national, state and metropolitan parks, piers, jetties and marine national parks and sanctuaries. Their value and draw power is obvious in the steady increase in the numbers of people visiting parks over the past decade,” he said.

“And don’t forget that our parks and their ecosystems also work for us.

“Our parks giveus clean, filtered air and water, helpus regulate the climate and bringcritical tourism dollars to our cities, towns and regions.”

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