To all those who have inquired about my medical progress, thank you. I had my first hip replacement in 2018 and it is perfect. I am now recovering well from the other hip being replaced on 7 May this year. Thank God I only have two hips! A mate said to me that the only good thing about having bad hips is that you forget how bad your knees are! I spent 5 days in hospital and have been at home ever since. I had the staples removed yesterday, and while my mobility is better than with my last hip replacement, I’m still recovering. However, from next week, I will be part of everything – but may be moving a bit slow for a month or so.
The Eden Monaro by-election waits for no man. By the time you read this, we are likely to have chosen our candidate. This will be a very hard one for us to win and although I am not authorised to speak on behalf the campaign, we will give it our best and we have two good candidates vying for pre-selection.
For me the most important occurrence over the last fortnight was a combination of COVID-19 restrictions and national security issues. National security is not just about the military, or even mostly about the military. National security is concerned with how secure our ability is to sustain our national sovereignty in diplomacy and finally the military. National sovereignty is about values and interests, how Australia can define its own course in the world as a liberal democracy in the interests of a free people. As we come out of COVID-19, we have the chance to redefine what Australia’s priorities are, and what our future should be in all these areas.
What has occurred in the last few weeks has been a number of remarkable events in Australia and across the world which, in a logical system, would have Australia redefining the basics of its own security, physical and otherwise. Only in the last fortnight have we been made aware of a number of disturbing reports that reveal the challenges we face.
Our lack of self-reliance applied to defence would have Australia on its knees in three months, according to two reports. We have seen during COVID-19 our dependence on China. Another recent report showed that Australia is the most dependent of the Five Eyes Nations (Australia, US, UK, NZ and Canada) on China. We have made a good start, but remain years away, from establishing a strategic liquid fuel reserve. The commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific has reported publicly to Congress that he is incapable of filling his role in the US National Security Strategy by being able to deter China. Most ominously, a series of wargames have supposedly shown that the US cannot win in a war against China, much less against China acting in concert with other authoritarian powers.
The US Secretary of State is now talking in terms of a resumption of a cold war situation with China because it is inimical to everything the West stands for. At the lowest tactical level, of the 186 F22 fighter planes in the US air force, the best plane in the world, only 33 are available to fight at any one time, casting doubt on the US’s ability to come to the aid of its allies, even if it wanted to, across all the US military. And all of this is occurring in just the last few weeks, when China is once again throwing its diplomatic weight around over trade and It is difficult to say how much of this is perfectly true, but it should be of utmost concern to every Australian even if only partly true. From my experience, I believe that they are all far more than partly true, but depressingly, they will be ignored in this country, to our peril. How long can we keep being the lucky country when we face a strategic environment that was more unpredictable before COVID-19 than at any time since World War 2, and is now even worse as we come out of COVID-19.
Last week, National Cabinet announced a 3-step plan that will provide a pathway for states and territories to move toward easing restrictions that suits their circumstances. States and territories will each move between steps at different times, in line with their public health situation.
This plan gives Australians some certainty about what to expect in the months ahead. This allows business owners, parents, carers and vulnerable people to make decisions about how they can operate in a COVIDSafe way to protect themselves, customers, employees and families.
For more information on Australia’s response to COVID-19 and to download the CovidSafe App please click here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app
Business Shoutout – The Banjo Paterson Inn Jindabyne
Today’s shoutout goes to yet another business which missed their summer season because of the devastating impact of bushfires, before facing the current challenges of COVID 19. Most travellers to Jindabyne have either stopped at the Banjo Paterson Inn for a refreshing beer or a wholesome burger, or been tempted to do so by the fabulous sight and atmosphere of the deck overlooking the breathtaking vista of Lake Jindabyne!
Primarily a winter business linked to the ski season when current owner Cameron McKid arrived ten years ago, Cameron recognised the unique appeal of the summer season, and focused initially on developing a year round relaxed and enjoyable venue offering locals and visitors quality accommodation, dining and entertainment options. Even before COVID 19 restrictions were imposed, the Banjo Paterson’s bookings went from 100% to 0% literally overnight. Like so many business owners, Cameron’s first thoughts were to try to operate on a modified basis to enable him to assist staff, and then to forge a way ahead committed to the support of staff, patrons and the local community.
The Banjo Patterson has adapted the menu and service of the legendary upstairs eatery, The Overflow, to a purely takeaway facility, with delivery also being available for dinner. Seven days a week, for both lunch and dinner, the famous burgers and pizzas are on offer, but so also are varied classics, and all can be accompanied by your beer or wine of choice. All operations are conducted with strict compliance to COVID 19 regulations, and in accordance with additional NSW Government, Snowy Valleys Council and Australian Hotels Association advice. There’s also been some time to devote to maintenance, with the staff keenly participating in freshening up and rejuvenating selected areas of the popular venue.
And remarkably, you don’t need to order a meal to share the fun – the Banjo Paterson Inn has reached out to its community very actively through its prizewinning social media platforms of Facebook and Instagram during this difficult time. Trivia competitions, nostalgia pieces, quizzes, giveaways, and features on local tourist attractions add a great dimension of interest to the routine of isolated living, and have been enthusiastically supported.
To Cameron and his staff, thank you and well done – we join you in welcoming the exciting news that regional travel within New South Wales can resume on 1 June this year!
Local Hero – Dr Stuart Williams, Remount
My local hero this week provides incredibly valuable services to a stunning group of national heroes – Dr Stuart Williams, a veterinarian at Yass Valley Vets, is readily identified by the not-for-profit organisation Remount as one of the many ‘heroes’ of their operations.
Remount offers those who have served, and who may be experiencing stress related to their service, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and/or physical injury, the opportunity to get ‘back in the saddle, and reconnect through horsemanship’. Two, three and four day musters include onsite accommodation, catering, tuition and work gear, with the important after hours activities based on group and quiet times around the camp fire – all focused towards adapting to post-military life.
The horses in the Remount team are chosen for their breeding and experience, and must be, of course, very special animals indeed. Stuart enjoys keeping the horse team healthy and serviceable to ensure they are in top condition for the dedicated volunteer horsemen and women and, most importantly, the clients. Remount is based at Bowning, approximately an hour’s drive from Canberra through Yass. Stuart appreciates the valuable opportunity that Remount offers to former servicepeople and is delighted to contribute to this worthwhile and therapeutic charity organisation, noting especially the “feeling of worth, satisfaction, achievement and release from their difficult daily lives” that a Remount experience involves.
Ben Maguire, Director of Remount, which is a Not-for-profit Company that he and his wife Marina dreamt, established and financed, acknowledges the corporate and private sponsors whose support keeps Remount operating, even in these difficult times when COVID 19 restrictions on travel and social gatherings mean that programs have had to be cancelled. Remount is offering any assistance possible to its clients during this inactive period, and Ben confirms that the organisation is very much looking forward to resumption of all activities, including riding tuition, ground work, trail riding and cattle mustering, as soon as possible.
To Stuart, Ben, Marina and all volunteers and supporters of Remount, thank you and well done!
Boost for Bushfire Recovery
Last week, the Government announced a new $650 million package of support to help towns and regions hit by bushfires get back on their feet.
As part of the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program, bushfire affected communities will share in $448.5 million to support the delivery of local recovery plans. Priority will be given to the most severely impacted regions, drawing on both individuals and local governments in close partnership and as part of cost-sharing arrangements with states.
The National Bushfire Recovery Agency (NBRA) will lead this work to drive a strong economic recovery. To access support and to find further details, visit the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au
Veteran’s Employment Awards
This week saw nine organisations and individuals recognised in the third annual Prime Minister’s Veteran’s Employment Awards.
The Awards recognise organisations who employ and support veterans to transition to the civilian workforce, as well as recognise veterans who are making a significant contribution as
Articles of Interest
Discussion around the requirement for Australia to have a National Sovereignty Strategy continues to build.
- My colleague, Senator David Fawcett’s article of 12 May 2020: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/covid-19-shows-australia-needs-a-national-sovereignty-strategy/
- ‘We can only count on 33 F-22s to fight tonight’ – the article I mentioned in my introduction. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erictegler/2020/05/19/we-can-only-count-on-33-f-22s—-to-fight-tonight/#1810cb8c4531
My sincere thanks again for all your support.
Senator Jim Molan AO DSC