Fair trade or no trade? Economic illiteracy alive and well in our think tanks

The right wing think tanks have been having a ball denouncing dreadful things like fiscal stimuli which saved a good hundred thousand odd jobs in Australia. Meanwhile New Matilda carries a story about life in Ladakh:

Sun-drenched images of rural life in Ladakh in the 1970s where Himalayan villagers in traditional clothing sow and winnow before sharing joyous meals with their extended families are all very evocative. But what relevance can this view of life in an exotic locale during a much earlier era possibly have for our highly urbanised modern world? A great deal, according to Helena Norberg-Hodge, whose documentary The Economics of Happiness, has been showing around Australia.

Globalisation is bad, and what you need to do is buy local food. No matter that if you buy food from Mildura it is local food for people in Mildura. No matter that there might be a reason, like season, varieties or quality that might mean that you want to buy a pineapple from Queensland and Kiwifruit from Tassie and not the other way round.

From San Francisco, where all the food for public facilities — hospitals, schools, even prisons — is now sourced locally, to places as far apart as Ogawamachi in Japan and Lewes in England, where each town’s own currency can be used to buy goods and services from local providers, more and more people are appreciating the benefits of keeping money at home.

Dear oh dear.

Prosperity through autarky.

No mention of the billion odd people that globalisation is lifting out of poverty. No mention that Oxfam is one of the leading advertisers on the New Matilda website – in this case advertising pineapples which, when exported, earn the poor people who grow them some income.

Maybe Ladakh is the only place ever in the history of the world where people wouldn’t prefer to trade and become richer . . .  but I doubt it.

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wilful
wilful
10 years ago

Sue Jackson is a Melbourne family therapist, writer and occasional social activist. As a therapist, she is confronted daily with the multiple stresses that afflict the modern Australian family, which have propelled her into writing widely-published articles on the environment, water, food and other issues of social justice. She has also written two books – Women of Substance (Allen and Unwin, 1998) and The Crowded Nest (Lothian, 2006). Her website is at http://www.suejackson.com.au

New Matilda’s just a website, and Sue Jackson is just an interviewee, to be fair to them both.

But your arguments seem to be talking past each other. I don’t doubt (though I bet Ms Jackson does) that trade makes people materially better off. I think her point is rather that does this increased material wealth increase net happiness? Of course you and I accept that it does when they can get doctors and literacy etc. But other things can be lost along the way, local relationships and a sense of community. I buy local apples and potatoes and shop at the local greengrocer not only because the quality and freshness is there for an equivalent price, but because it benefits my local community and increases trust and empathy, social bonds that are being weakened by globalisation and atomisation.

Yobbo
10 years ago

I buy local apples and potatoes and shop at the local greengrocer not only because the quality and freshness is there for an equivalent price, but because it benefits my local community

It doesn’t benefit your local community any more than shopping at Coles does.

I think her point is rather that does this increased material wealth increase net happiness?

I would like to see how happy she would be if she had to spend 6 hours per day washing her clothes on a washboard, instead of pressing a button on her washing machine that’s made in China.

Greens don’t realise how lucky we are, and how miserable the existence of the noble savage myths that they idolise really were.

.
.
10 years ago

I like slow food. I like hunting and I like gardening. Rabbit (shot with a bow in your ‘backyard’) stew with carrots (grown yourself) is damn appetising and rewarding.

Here’s the deal. It is a luxury myself, my friends and family can afford.

It might even save you money. When it goes tits up though, you starve if it is your only option.

Most Greens have never done a day of hard work in their life or ever had to kill and dress their own meat.

The thought of 99.99% of them actually doing a smallholding thing is such a joke.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

Ah, net happiness! I’m so glad you raised that, wilful, because I’m pretty sure that happiness is basically a function of wealth, much as any sensible person would predict:
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/08/scream-it-from.html (inequality in happiness is mainly determined by outputs not inputs so inequality is declining; i.e. marginal utility of money)
http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_17.html#kahneman (people are happier with wealth but not necessarily more ‘satisfied’ since they expect more)
And this discussion, including some of the above:
http://www.economist.com/node/17578888

And on material well-being this tool seems to show a strong correlation between old-fashioned wealth and nearly any measure of well-being you can think of:
http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/
Note this table:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/05/well-being_and_wealth

(I hope the absence of href tags, whilst a pain in the proverbial, will avoid the spamfilter).

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

It doesn’t benefit your local community any more than shopping at Coles does.

Yes it does.

I would like to see how happy she would be if she had to spend 6 hours per day washing her clothes on a washboard, instead of pressing a button on her washing machine that’s made in China.

I don’t think she’s saying that. I’m certainly not saying that.

Patrick, I don’t claim to be fully across the literature, but my undertanding is that this is a highly contested area, and I’m sure all sorts of claims and counter-claims can and would be made. Happiness ? more money? Not proven.

Yobbo
10 years ago

Yes it does.

Explain how then.

TimT
10 years ago

God I hate people who want to make me happy. What if I like having a bit of cash and being miserable, eh? What if I want to be grumpy? Ever think about that, Helena Norberg-Hodge-Podge, eh?
/old grouch

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

Explain how then.

The onus is equally on you to explain your case, but leaving that aside, our potatoes and apples are grown locally, they establish long-term relationships between producers and retailers, aren’t screwed by duopolist trading practices and aren’t price takers, the carbon emissions are lower, their reputaiton is more important since they have to live and employ people in the community (so for example an incident of spray drift that got reported in the local paper would carry more weight), the middlemen and unnecessary handling costs are reduced leaving more money in the hands of all three parties (producer, retailer, consumer) and greater confidence on the product brand is engendered.

KS
KS
10 years ago

Thanks for that post Nicholas. This approach of localism and self-sufficiency extends well beyond food, and local preference policies seem to be prominent currently in USA. I presume this is also related to the economy just as in the past tarrifs and ‘Buy Australian’became issues during recessions. It is also currently prevalent here in Cairns (with high unemployment)that if we all just buy off each other the money stays here and we will all be better off. This belief extends beyond food to manufacturing and service sectors. Council procuring a cheaper footbridge from Germany rather than a local manufacturer becomes a prominent media story with community outrage. I have previously argued to some that if this approach was correct North Korea (the closest thing to an autarky?)would be an economic power,as well as a happy place.

I am a strong supporter of our local food although that has become mostly a lifestyle phenomenon and is as much entertainment or a cultural experience and I certainly only support fresh quality regional produce not simmply because it is local.

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10 years ago

the carbon emissions are lower

No they are not. Dude. Economies of scale.

Well maybe they are. Not if we rely on this agricultural system though.

.
.
10 years ago

It is also currently prevalent here in Cairns (with high unemployment)that if we all just buy off each other the money stays here and we will all be better off. This belief extends beyond food to manufacturing and service sectors. Council procuring a cheaper footbridge from Germany rather than a local manufacturer becomes a prominent media story with community outrage. I have previously argued to some that if this approach was correct North Korea (the closest thing to an autarky?)would be an economic power,as well as a happy place.

Clearly they need some dirty stinking foreigners to invest in the area. FDI usually results in higher wages as well.

JC
JC
10 years ago

Wiful:

Local doesn’t mean better emissions. It may mean the opposite actually as you’re potentially promoting inefficiency. Higher prices can mean you have less money to be buying more efficient goods. This all has knock on effects you haven’t considered.

the middlemen and unnecessary handling costs are reduced leaving more money in the hands of all three parties (producer, retailer, consumer) and greater confidence on the product brand is engendered.

Really? Here’s a bet I reckon farmers markets especially those that sell themselves as local are the most expensive.

The onus is equally on you to explain your case, but leaving that aside, our potatoes and apples are grown locally, they establish long-term relationships between producers and retailers,

You actually don’t think big producers and big retailers have strong ongoing relationships? That’s simply not true as the opposite is the case. And seriously, why would you care if producers and the buyers are hanging around with each other at the pub?

the middlemen and unnecessary handling costs are reduced leaving more money in the hands of all three parties (producer, retailer, consumer) and greater confidence on the product brand is engendered.

What unnecessary handling costs would they be? Prove there are inefficiencies in the logistical framework an economies of scale doesn’t function.

JC
JC
10 years ago

I am a strong supporter of our local food although that has become mostly a lifestyle phenomenon and is as much entertainment or a cultural experience and I certainly only support fresh quality regional produce not simmply because it is local.

That’s fair enough too by the way. Each to his own and if you find it satisfying well and good.

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

How can local not mean lower emissions? The truck goes 15 km up the road, rather than to Altona into a chilled store room for however long, then shipped around Australia, multiple handling, into Coles on whatever interval. C’mon. Weak.

The “strong ongoing relationships” between the buyers for the duopoly and producers is more akin to “bend over son and drop your pants” than “oh that sounds like a fair price”.

And seriously, why would you care if producers and the buyers are hanging around with each other at the pub?
Demonstrating that you don’t get society and human interactions and the value of relationships, beyond efficiencies. I’ve already given an example, I could give more.

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.
10 years ago

How can local not mean lower emissions?

Economies of scale.

C’mon. Weak.

Don’t be so churlish when you’re both wrong and naive.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

I’d agree wilful is probably being simplistic in his assessment of what direct economic savings there are from keep distribution chains local. However there’s definitely some less tangible benefits – e.g. food produced locally is unlikely to have been in cold storage for extended periods, which in some cases has a marked affect on the product quality, and in others on its nutritional value.
And he did expressly say he only bought such goods when the price was comparable, which is exactly my position – if I have to pay twice as much for something produced locally when the quality is not obviously better, that’s a pretty sure sign of economic inefficiency, and it benefits nobody in the long run to support that.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
10 years ago

not much doubt that going up in the world when you are poor in a poor country is good for happiness, both at the individual and national level. It is only when you get to fairly rich countries that it starts to be dubious whether becoming even richer as a country has any more happiness benefits. Ladakh doesnt seem to me to be at that point yet.

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.
10 years ago

However there’s definitely some less tangible benefits

Which are gainsaid at the margin by a marked increase in costs.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

wilful, there are actually some measured real examples of that – I remember reading that lamb can produced in NZ and freighted to the UK at a lower carbon cost than lamb produced locally in the UK due to the fact that something like 80% of the total emissions occur on the actual farm and for various reasons NZ farming practices were considerably less carbon intensive than UK ones.
Yes the study was probably funded by some body representing the interests of NZ farmers, but I don’t remember reading that anybody had found a significant flaw in such research.

.
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10 years ago

Paul,

I thought the “secret” once wealthy was winning at sport and a lot of sex.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

I doubt that many will take up the path … but

Growing veggies and fruit is good for your mental and physical health.
From the minute they are picked many vegies start converting sugars to starch and losing flavor , they are still fine to eat but they are as a store bought fish is to a fish cooked on the beach just after being caught- not nearly as good.

We have Jammon and other porky delights of a local free range pig that cost us 7 dollars a Kilo. We also have a few hares ( they are a nightmare for tree plantings) – cooked in red wine with juniper berrys a bit of dark chocolate served on papadella with bitter greens hare is hard to bea)

We have about 200 head of garlic going (cost seed stock 25 dollars)

If people want to buy/grow local , its a free market, no?

Pedro
Pedro
10 years ago

Wiz, you’re not really making the “buy local” argument if you only buy local for quality reasons. The “moral” imperative is to buy local for environmental and protectionist reasons. Otherwise you can rely on market forces to have people buying the products they want at the price they want to pay.

“But other things can be lost along the way, local relationships and a sense of community. I buy local apples and potatoes and shop at the local greengrocer not only because the quality and freshness is there for an equivalent price, but because it benefits my local community and increases trust and empathy, social bonds that are being weakened by globalisation and atomisation.” I wonder if you would keep shopping there if the prices were 20% or more higher?

I reckon that supermarket fruit and veg is bad value and don’t buy much of it. Because I am fussy I spend time, and some money, going to more than one shop to get the products I like. But I can easily imagine that many people put up with the Coles and Woolies f & v because they don’t want to take the time to go to extra shops, even when they are right outside. The f & v tends not to be good value, but they kill the other shops on drygoods and most dairy.

As far as I can work out, most of the best greengrocers in brisbane (and delis too) are not outside supermarkets.

wilful
wilful
10 years ago

churlish? When all you’ve said is “economies of scale” without any justification? That makes me naive?

What economies of scale? There are none. Big B-doubles travelling 250 km at least, being handled many times and spending extended periods in storage, versus a 15 km trip up the road in a (admittedly less efficient per km/tonne of frieght) 8 tonne truck.

JC
JC
10 years ago

How can local not mean lower emissions? The truck goes 15 km up the road, rather than to Altona into a chilled store room for however long, then shipped around Australia, multiple handling, into Coles on whatever interval. C’mon. Weak.

What Dot said. If one of your aims is lowering emissions, you should always, always be thinking of ways of creating efficiencies as in the end that is what has a material impact.

Buying local and other stuff like that is watching your pennies while the notes fall out of your pocket.

Look I’ll give you an expanded example to make it more obvious.

South California produces a lot of fruit etc. But it’s highly inefficient agriculture as it exists nearly all on subsidies in all sorts of ways. So if you were Californian you would be buying local, right? That sounds good. They get the water down by canals from the north of the state thereby depriving that part of valuable water.

It would be far more efficient to open their markets to places like Columbia that have extraordinarily efficient fruit production. Far less land would be needed and it wouldn’t place as much pressure on the much drier and unsuitable california environment.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

wiz, the same applied to tomatoes grown in Spain, since Spain is made for growing tomatoes and Britain isn’t. Also it is so much more efficient to transport lots, even by plane, compared to a few by truck.

JC
JC
10 years ago

Growing veggies and fruit is good for your mental and physical health.

I think it would kill me instantly.

Yobbo
10 years ago

What economies of scale? There are none. Big B-doubles travelling 250 km at least, being handled many times and spending extended periods in storage, versus a 15 km trip up the road in a (admittedly less efficient per km/tonne of frieght) 8 tonne truck.

You just admitted there are economies of scale at play in your very own post. I’ll give you a hint, it’s this sentence: admittedly less efficient per km/tonne of frieght

our potatoes and apples are grown locally

As are many of the products sold in Coles/Woolies. They don’t freight stuff across the country or from overseas if there is an equally good product available locally.

Of course they have to freight stuff that isn’t available locally. It’s quite hard to grow grapes in Kalgoorlie, for example.

they establish long-term relationships between producers and retailers

You think major supermarkets don’t so this? In fact many of our primary producers would not be in business at all if it wasn’t for the national supermarket chains being able to guarantee sales of a certain tonnage each season.

aren’t screwed by duopolist trading practices

There are at least 5 national/international supermarket chains operating in Australia. Coles, Woolies, IGA, Aldi and Costco. And that’s just the ones I thought of without Googling. Some duopoly.

and aren’t price takers

Farmers are price takers, not retailers.

their reputaiton is more important since they have to live and employ people in the community

Where do you think people who work at Coles live, on Mars? This is one of the stupidest reasons yet. It’s a publicly traded company, they are responsible to investors everywhere in Australia. Including, I would guess, many of the people reading this thread.

the middlemen and unnecessary handling costs are reduced

Rubbish. The opposite is true, and to quite a large degree. This is due to the economies of scale discussed earlier.

and greater confidence on the product brand is engendered.

Only in your head, and only because of your quite obvious pre-existing opinions.

Not a single reason you have given is valid. Which is to be expected since you are trying to explain something that is obviously untrue.

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10 years ago

FFS wilful do you believe that trains are efficient or not?

What economies of scale? There are none. Big B-doubles travelling 250 km at least, being handled many times and spending extended periods in storage, versus a 15 km trip up the road in a (admittedly less efficient per km/tonne of frieght) 8 tonne truck.

What are you discussing here? Tell us what the cost per unit (say kg or tonne) to get to market is in each case.

Please tell us what the cost would be if we replaced all conventional production with what you would prefer.

I’ll give you a hint. Sydney is a terrible place to grow wheat. It has to be transported from the Riverina or from around Walgett etc.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

JC this is one of those things that can go on and on in circles- What you are saying is true ..enough .. but there are a lot of details in the devil.

We do grow a lot of milk on irrigated pasture on the Murry , partly because we have turned a lot of our most arable and well watered pastures on the coast into housing.

The founders of the Mildura ‘riverland’ were American. American approaches to irrigation are famously wasteful , bosterist and literally command economy in approach; For years American river management was by the US Army’s engineering branch.

Anyway as the Americans say ‘have at it’

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

PS the riverina is not, out side very wet years, a wheat area Mildura average rain fall are only 180 mill.

JC
JC
10 years ago

So you’re a farmer, John?

Honest and decent profession.

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.
10 years ago

I think you are excluding the SW Slopes of NSW from the Riverina. Good land management can see profitable and sustainable dryland farming too.

JC
JC
10 years ago

Patrick says:

Ah, net happiness! I’m so glad you raised that, wilful, because I’m pretty sure that happiness is basically a function of wealth, much as any sensible person would predict:

You know what Patrick, these happiness studies are total crap. some of the most miserable, unhappy pricks on this planet are the billionaires. I’m not buying anything to do with these studies.

The fact is that our species has an unhappy, miserable disposition at any time, rich or poor.

My hunch is that it has to do with evolution. I reckon miserable pricks would have been far more successful on the savannah than happy little darlings.

rog
rog
10 years ago

It doesn’t matter if the grower is 1km from the local Woolies, all product is sent to a central market then distribution centre then back out to the stores. You get a road train of produce going from Ord R to Melbourne Sydney Brisbane markets and then back again to the local shop. The system is simple and supply can be virtually guaranteed across Australia. Cost of transport per unit is minimal due to size and regularity of transport contracts. The downside is that product is picked green, is selected less for taste more for ability to withstand the process and spends a lot of time in transit.

Transport efficiencies drove down dairy prices as the Victorians had better pasture rainfall, were more productive and could then compete nationally.

Having said all that, our local markets have fresher, cheaper and better tasting product. The only downside is that they are held once a fortnight for 4 hours so you have to plan ahead.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

Yobbo all your points would be valid if it was resulting in cheaper produce. From what wilful was saying, he wasn’t paying significantly more for his local apples and potatos. It seems perfectly conceivable to me that it there are products that can be distributed locally far more efficiently than over long distances, despite economies of scale. Now you could say, if that were true, the big supermarket chains with arguably the biggest profit motives are the most likely to buy up that local produce for their local stores. But I can think of lots of reasons that mightn’t be the case, not least because supermarkets usually have very particular ideas about presenting produce with an exaggerated consistency of appearance (*), but also because agreements they make with their existing supplies makes it difficult for them to do so.

(*) For instance, I’ve bought apples at 20/1$ from a farmer’s market that a supermarket wouldn’t stock because they’re unusually small.

Yobbo
10 years ago

Yes, Wiz. That’s one of the few advantages of shopping at local markets – a greater selection. Supermarkets have limited space to sell a huge range of merchandise and don’t like to take up shelf space with stuff that doesn’t sell like hotcakes.

You will also find higher quality cuts of meat and premium fish at specialist butchers and fish markets – but you’ll pay extra for it. Again, this is mostly because it’s lower turnover produce, there aren’t many people around who are willing to pay $30-$50 per kilo for meat.

All the reasons that Wilful posted for the moral superiority of local markets though were absolute rubbish.

jc
jc
10 years ago

Which is perhaps indicative they don’t have that much to offer as their production resembles that of a fashion boutique.

Again there’s nothing wrong with that but we shouldn’t be deluded as what it represents.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

Patrick, I know how much you love reading The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/money/investing/the-happy-medium-20110726-1hxin.html

jc
jc
10 years ago

In the 80s when money meant something this young dude I knew was involved in ay serious car crash. He received something like 140g as comp as his face was partially disfigured. Anyways he as soon as he got the money and the cheque cleared he organized 10 or so of his friends (no not me) and went to honkers for an extended weekend. The entire sum was blown by the end of the weekend. Nothing was left. That I suppose is how money can buy happiness.

conrad
conrad
10 years ago

“That’s one of the few advantages of shopping at local markets”

You need better local markets. Here’s why I don’t buy vegetables, meat or snackables at the big supermarkets (there are three near where I live):
1) Their fruit is always unripe, and things like the apples are often almost inedible because I assume they’ve been stuck in cold storage so long
2) Their cuts of meat are quite frankly hopeless.
3) The 16 year olds they hire at the delhi in the supermarket where I go to buy other stuff are rude and often talk to each other rather than serve people.
4) Their bread and cakes are comparatively horrible (just the same old genericus stuff you can buy everywhere)
4) Their vegetables, meat, and snackables are more expensive than the small stores down the road.
5) They sell very limit amounts of good cheese. Just that horrible plastic tasting stuff Australian-born people seem to like (or just eat?).
6) Both my butcher and the cake shops I go to know me, so they can actually give me good advice on what happens to be good (e.g., we’ve got a new type of cake or this cut is really good this week).
7) All of the small stores I got to have friendly staff working there.
8) You never get really bad queues at the small stores.

Now maybe I’m lucky because I live on Centre road, where there are 3 butchers, 4 bakeries, two European delis (no Greek one unfortunately), and a few extra shops selling cakes, and I work in Hawthorn where there is also an excellent Greek deli that sells a vastly better selection of olives and cheese. But it’s clear to me that small stores can offer cheaper produce that is of a higher quality. I imagine that the main difference is they have very flat employee structures and so they save more money than Coles/Woolworths/Aldi can via have economies of scale. I also think it’s area dependent — where I live, lots of people are not too lazy to walk down the street rather than buy all their stuff at the big supermarkets (no matter how tasteless). I guess the moral is that you need to live in a place with lots of Asian/Euopean people that don’t mind doing this, presumably in part because that’s what you do in many (perhaps most) countries, Australian not included. Don’t live in some weird place in WA.

conrad
conrad
10 years ago

erghh. Excuse the typos above.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

JC, it should be pretty obvious to you how money can buy happiness. Try imagining not having enough money to buy a car, or enough money to buy a comfortable bed, or nice steaks, or … well anything really.

jc
jc
10 years ago

Patrick

I’m not in the least doubting that, especially in a nation of lots of haves like ours.

But my point isn’t mutually exclusive though.

So you get the new car and two weeks later one is basically back to their regular miserable self.

The point I was making is that humans are not by nature a happy species. We’re miserable by and large.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

I would say in defense of Aldi conrad that their stuff isn’t technically the “same old genericus” stuff – there’s virtually no brand overlap between anything there and what I see in other supermarkets. Having said that that’s partly why I don’t often shop there, as there are a few grocery type things I do tend to prefer particular brands for.

Anyway, horses for courses…for plenty of people the convenience of supermarkets is worth more than what you get at smaller/’local’ stores or markets. And their fresh produce is generally good enough that I’ll buy it from time to time when I just need a couple of things and I’m in there anyway.

Yobbo
10 years ago

Conrad, the reasons you list are all perfectly valid reasons for wanting to shop at speciality food retailers. They exist to serve people like you who eat mostly fresh food, want to eat top-quality food and better service, and are prepared to pay for it.

I disagree with you though that the food at speciality stores is cheaper, but since I am unable to do a price comparison online we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Supermarkets exist to serve people who want to do all their food shopping at once. Their fresh produce section is comparatively a very small part of their business. Typically it takes up about 10% of their floor space. They are aimed at different markets, to be sure. But that’s a completely different discussion than what Wilful was talking about.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

. said

I was responding to a comment about irrigation . If you want to be pedantic… I would have to check the map… personally I tend to think of the riverina as being past the fruit fly sign.

As for ‘happiness’ the hum of a big turbo4 at 180k on the hay plains dose raise a smile in me.

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10 years ago

Yes there is a little Riverina and a big Riverina.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hardy-charles-downey-6561

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

Yes
National socialists can be even worse than International socialists.

Have you read ‘kangaroo’?

Facists in Australia did have one biggish handicap; the Deeply revered ( his funeral attracted 70thousand) commander in chief of the AIF was the son of two German Jews.

What his men remember most about him was that on the morning of the 8th of august 1918 he made sure that every man in the front line got a hot breakfast.

.
.
10 years ago

Kangaroo? I’ll look out for it, a link from Amazon etc would be useful.

john walker
john walker
10 years ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_%28novel%29

DH Lawrence whilst in Australia was in close contact with the New Guard – they hoped to recruit him – and he went along for the story.

Some think it one of the best books written about Australia.