What’s Good for the Goose …

For more than twenty years the Country Women’s Association of NSW has lobbied against the importation of foods and to improve biosecurity laws and systems so that our fruit and vegetable industries are protected and the possibility of food contamination reduced.

Constant assurances have been given over that time that the processes in place were adequate.1-cup-frozen-berries[1]

If that is the case, how do we now find ourselves at risk of contracting Hepatitis A from contaminated fruit imported from overseas?

The Department of Agriculture operates a risk-based border inspection scheme to monitor importers’ compliance with sourcing food that meets Australia’s food standards.

According to the Departments “Imported Food Inspection Data” report for January – June 2014 horticulture, which includes fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, was the second highest single commodity (after seafood) requiring inspection. However fruit was only tested as a ‘surveillance food’ for pesticides using electronic profiles.

Clearly not a good enough system, especially when our local growers are subject to such high standards.

Where will you now buy your fruit and vegetables?

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Meet our ‘D’ Team

Most farms have dogs; be they working dog, house dog, guard dog or child’s pet. They are a mate, a companion, a confidant or sometimes even a pseudo child. The sheer excitement of their greeting each morning, where it is hard to tell if the dog is wagging the tail or the other way around, is enough to brighten even the darkest day. Let me introduce our favourite four.

Marvin

Marvin (aka “Big Dog”) – Australian Blue Heeler and faithful friend who loves to fetch anything that can be thrown, shake your hand, catch water spray from the hose, hang off the side of the ute (sometimes a little too far), and tag along with Josh.

Sarge

Sarge (aka “Scoob”) – multi-cultural dog who lives up to his nickname and likes to share the swinging seat with Marc; is an important member of the Pest Control Pack (PCP) and the only one who can slap his lips together when he shakes.

Gemma

Gemma (aka “Gem-Gem” or “Piggy”) – English Staffy who arrived with Roz and is now retired from the position of fearless leader of the PCP, much to her disappointment; who can hoover her food and grunt as well as her old quarry (very un-ladylike!), but has a wonderful personality and great sense of fun.

Chipolata

Chipolata (aka “Chip”, “Chippy”, or  “Rodent” to the boys) – miniature Dachshund and self-appointed Chairman of the Canine Board at Mayleigh who can be totally arrogant and disobedient or playful clown and couch companion; is best friend to Emma (unless Jeff is going somewhere) and a very plucky little watch-dog and fanatical mouse hound.

Early morning and late afternoon finds the three larger musketeers either racing at breakneck speed around the house, or playing rough and tumble games on the front lawn, whilst the fourth and smallest of the team prances around the edges (deftly avoiding much larger, feet, bodies and jaws), all the while barking instructions and truly believing he is the circus ringmaster.

Four dogs playing

Trips in the Ute are a doggy treat; nothing like the wind on your dangling tongue or for blowing your ears back! Gemma quickly, firmly and happily ensconces herself in the spare tyre, Sarge and Marv constantly swap sides (because the view must be better if he’s over there….like grass and fences, you know?) and Chip in the front with the human passengers (of course) and eternally undecided as to whether the view is better from the passenger window or over the dash through the windscreen.

Most days you will find the big dogs on our back porch – Marv behind the gas bottle, Gemma on the folding double seat and Sarge sprawled across the walkway; just in case you should try to go somewhere without them knowing! Where’s Chip? Asleep on his chair near the window where activity can be monitored; if action is detected he will not hesitate to let you know that he needs to be out directing the show.

I hope you have a fury, or four legged, or feathered or finned critter to brighten your day.

Far Horizons

My travels this week have brought me to the top end and the beautiful (if not very tropical at this time of year) city of Darwin and I am here for the annual face to face meeting of the National Executive of the Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWAA) with the State and Territory Presidents.

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National Executive with State and Territory Presidents

It’s my first visit to Darwin, even though Jeff and I travelled through the Northern Territory on our way to The Kimberly’s in 2012, we unfortunately did not have time to venture further north than Katherine before heading west. Even more unfortunate is the fact that we have a very full agenda to deal with at this meeting so there is not a lot of time to sight-see.

Out hosts have given us several “Cook’s Tours” of parts of the city whilst we have been making the journey between our accommodation and the Territory Head Office which has been enough for me to decide that a return trip with Jeff (perhaps during the dry season though) will definitely include Darwin.

The view from our apartment is over the Darwin Harbour and provides an unimpeded view of the famous top end sunsets and you know how I love my sunsets, so yesterday during our back seat tour of the sites we took time to try and capture one. Perhaps my bucket list will include “watch a sunset from every place in Australia”….

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Darwin sunset

As I said it’s a very full couple of days and I am already running late with this week’s offering, which has turned out to be just a heads-up on where I am – apologies!

CWA of NSW has 390 branches and approximately 10,000 members while CWA of NT Inc. has around 200 members in 6 branches and huge distances to cover. Many of the issues for members are the same, just on a different scale, whilst others are vastly different and it is invaluable for the states and territory to be able to share our experiences and ideas in this forum so that the CWAA executive can accurately articulate our concerns to the Federal Government.

Until next week …