Sunday, January 15, 2017


Kipling was spot on when he wrote  that East is East and West is West , and never the twain shall meet . At the  front of the Little  Darwin cluttered  den , Wingy , seen here standing  defiantly  in  the gutter ,   a raucous  Curlew   with an injured  wing  and  a  partner named Skinny Minnie  , in  a  moment  of   confrontation . 

Frequently at the back  door  are  our  resident  Curlews and their now big, ever hungry  chicks . When   the   pair  of adults  and  Wingy and  mate  meet  there  is a  territorial  battle .

Early one morning  there was  uproar  out  the front , Wingy heard  shrieking . On investigation, feathers were  found  on  the  lawn . Wingy often takes up  a  position    outside  the  wire  door  and   peers  inside , making impatient noises  indicating  he  wants  to  be  fed .  
Like the Where's Willy  game,  if  you closely  examine  this  Curlew, in a secluded spot at the front of the Little Darwin zoo/bookworm farm , you   will find  the beak and  tiny  head of  one of  two  new chicks. The  latest arrivals were  discovered  during  a  break in  the most  welcome   wet  weather . The family  has  since  vanished to  a hopefully  safe  position , away  from  the  road  and   marauders.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


The  North Queensland  Tully Sugar  Mill, above, owned by the Chinese   agribusiness  company COFCO , which  will   undergo  a  $6.5 million upgrade between  now and  the  start of  the   next crushing  season  in  late May .

Meanwhile ,  Prime Minister   Malcolm Turnbull   has been   called  on  to  play a leading part in settling  the  contract  dispute  between  canegrowers  and  the  large  Singapore  based   agribusiness ,  Wilmar  International.  A full page  newspaper  advertisement   inserted by   Geoff  Cox, of Ayr ,a substantial supplier of sugarcane  to Wilmar's  Pioneer  Mill  in the Burdekin ,  says  he  is aware that  the company's chairman , Kuok  Khoun Hong , third richest man in Singapore, has written to the PM  seeking his intervention in the dispute, negotiations   said to have become "personal and bitter ."  He  urges  the PM  to  seriously consider  the letter  and  adjudicate a meeting between  Kouk  and  fresh eyes in the hope to resolve the issue , taking  into account  there are  factors relating to  the  Australian  industry that he  has  not  fully  appreciated.


Dr  Pauline  Wilson   AM    who   died   recently in  Darwin  was  involved in an interesting  case  involving  outspoken  activist  doctor  , Philip Nitschke , who  later  became   internationally  known   for   his   euthanasia   advocacy .  

For  many  years  she   was   the  Royal   Darwin  Hospital medical superintendent  and  became  a   key  player  in   the whistleblower    episode   which  resulted  in   a Senate  inquiry   into a   claim     that  Dr   Nitschke    had   suffered   possible  penalty  or  injury   as  the result  of having been a  witness    before   the    Standing Committee on  Industry, Science, Technology , Transport , Communications   and   Infrastracture, resulting in contempt of  the committee.

Briefly, in  1993 , he  got into  hot  water. Speaking    for  the  Medical Association for the Prevention of  War , during the  visit of  the  USS  Houston   to Darwin , he  said the  Royal Darwin Hospital  (RDH) could not cope with a nuclear accident,  his  views said to  have  caused  great disquiet  to  senior management .The  Senate report   said  he had  been " vigorously "  reminded  of  the  guidelines governing all  public servants  .

However, the NT Health Department acknowledged inadequacies in the Royal  Darwin Hospital  protocols for dealing  with nuclear ship visits  and  Dr Nitschke's   contribution  . 

 Later , giving  a lecture sponsored by the NT  Branch of  the  Public Health Association , entitled  Public health and private conscience : whistleblowing and its impact on health,  given to the Menzies  School of  Health Research, he again mentioned  the   RDH   nuclear protocols  and   discussed    the needle  exchange situation  .

 An ABC radio interview   upset the  NT Minister for Health and Community  Services , Mike Reed , of  Katherine, who supported the RDH  needle exchange and    said   the   doctor  seemed unable to  come to  grips with the fact that public health policy was not set by him but by the NT Government and the Health and Community Services  Department . If he could not cope with this fact of  life , he  could  go .  Dr Wilson asked  Dr  Nitschke   for a  written explanation , which she subsequently accepted .

 The  explanation    was  supplemented by  a letter from the Public Health  Association   NT   branch , outlining the  circumstances of the lecture  and expressing disappointment  that RDH  had  started an investigation of  the  doctor.     A     proposal   by  some within   hospital management   to  discipline   Dr  Nitschke  by  failing  to   conduct a  first round  interview   for renewal of  a  six month  contract  did  not  go  ahead.  However , life was  made  difficult  for  him  ,  he  departed   in  1994 .  The  committee   failed to find that  there had  been  any  contempt  due  to  Dr  Nitschke  having   given  evidence  before   it .

 It  went  on  to say that it would be  especially worthwhile  if a remedy could  follow " from  those who  have  punished  Dr Nitschke  for  exercising  what should be  his right as a  citizen , as a representative of a  community organisation  and  as an informed    professional to state publicly his medical opinions ."  
NEXT: Little  Darwin's sometimes smelly connection with  Dr  Wilson's  champion   wayward   dog .

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Shorten  to  defend  saucy  icon  from  Mad  Monk

CANBERRA:  Angry ALP  leader  Bill  Shorten today accused  former PM  Tony Abbott  of deliberately  planning to  flood  Australia   with  inferior  Pommie  pork pies , Windsor  sausage   and  SPAM  under a proposed one  page trade  deal with  Britain . This , he said , would  lead to the demise  of  the  famous  Australian  Democracy Sausage  and   the  much  loved  ALP   charcoal  burger .
The  Brits, said Shorten , were  force  fed  inferior  tucker under  its  involvement in  the  EU . The once almost  edible  British Sausage had been  killed off  by the Euro Sausage .  It must be said, he added,  that  the extremely brave  British politician Jim Hacker   tried  to save the local sausage  from the Continental crud , but  he  had  died  broken hearted , with  a  falafel  in  his  hand.  
Now   the ghastly English grub  would be  dumped on  the  unsuspecting  Australian  community   under  the  proposed Abbott  trade  pact . In  the  process , the  highly nutritious  Democracy  Sausage    would    go  the  way  of  the  tasty  stir-fried  Dodo.
"We  do not  want any food  parcels  from  Britain," Shorten declared . " It  is just a blatant  move  by  Abbott , born in  the Mother  Country to  get a  knighthood  from   the  Queen . " 
Sporting a  brand new  jockstrap  from  Vinnies , eating  a  curried  onion  and  codliver oil   pie , Abbott  strongly  denied  he is  angling for a knighthood. "I'll settle  for Lord Warden  of  the Cinque Ports , like the  great gourmet in the sky , double-breasted  Sir  Robert ."   


Sign  which  went  up  on   public notice board   at  Foodworks  during  holiday  period  urging  care on  the  roads  . 

Curlew  masquerading  as  a  Scrub Turkey . 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Media  outside  court in Darwin.
The death of  Michael  Chamberlain has revived  memories   of  the  terrible ordeal  that  the  Chamberlain   family  endured  and  the  massive media hysteria   about  the  case .  Despite  all  that   has been written    about   the affair , there  are  still aspects  of  the  episode  which , I feel, would be interesting  to  explore,   difficult as this  may be after  the passage of time  since the   taking  of  the  baby  Azaria   at  Ayers Rock /  Uluru  in 1980. 
Still  alive  are members   of the  Northern Territory government  at  the time  who could   provide   detailed  information about the   obvious   many  tense   conferences  held  in  the  corridors  of  power  over  the  years.   Unfortunately,  a  person  I  believe who   must  have  played a  large  part in feeding  the media  frenzy  is no  longer  alive.  Knowing  his  modus operandi , his  outlook , I  reckon eve  he   fanned   the   media  fires  with   gusto .

Very  early  in the   Chamberlain ordeal, I was press  officer  for the Northern Territory  Leader of  the  Opposition , Jon Isaacs   (ALP ) , and a  Sydney newspaper offered  me the  front  page  anytime  I   could  get  Isaacs to  make a  statement about   the case , such  was the  insatiable  media  demand  for  anything  related  to the  Chamberlains .  Isaacs  rightly refused  to play the media  game .  In  recent times , this  blog has run  posts  about  the  case using material  from  the files  of  Darwin  agronomist , Rob Wesley-Smith , founder of  Northern  Territory  Civil  Liberties , and  information  from  other sources.

One post  dealt with the extensive Chamberlain  Papers  Collection in the  National Library of  Australia , the subject  of  a  fascinating 2005  talk  by manuscript  librarian Graeme Powell  at  a  Macquarie University  symposium  , Sydney,  Lindy Chamberlain  in  the  audience,  the  script and  notes  for the 1988  film Evil Angels , which starred Meryl Streep and Sam Neill ,   mentioned . ---   (Peter  Simon )


While not in  mint condition when  bought   in  Adelaide some years ago , the book  from  which   this   view   of  the  Acropolis   comes   has  been carted about   parts  of  Australia  and  is  currently   in   bad   shape  in  the tropics , now  discovered   to   have  been  severely   munched   by  accursed   bookworms .

Published  in 1949 by  Batsford  ( London, New York ,Toronto , Sydney ) ,  entitled  The  Drawings  of  W. Curtis Green , it  contains  148 of his pen and ink drawings and  watercolours  of the  world's  architectural  masterpieces .   An English architect , Green (1875-1960) , did  reviews  of   architecture   books for  The Athenaeum  and  while connected  with  The Builder   toured far and wide  writing and  illustrating  articles , many of  the  drawings  included  in  this book .  A  book collecting   friend in  Adelaide   once  picked up some nice volumes  of  The  Builder  while  travelling through  Victoria .    

President of the  Architectural  Association , 1912-13 , Green  was  also  chairman of the   Board  of  Architectural Education ,  1920-24.   Over  the years  he  designed  power stations , banks , the  Dorchester  Hotel  and  Cambridge University  Press  in  1938. 

The book , from the Adelaide Kelvin Grove State High  School Library ,  contains  a  handwritten  inscription : In  memory of  our son . Mr and Mrs  T. N. Mitchell , Guernsey , Channel Islands .

The   view   of  the Acropolis ,  from  the missing  cover  jacket ,  is    taped    inside  as   are   portions  of   the  blurb  and  other   illustrations .