Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 15/2/2011

The Doust Files on the 15/2/2011 was a re-write of a letter I wrote to Brendon Grylls. Here is the original letter.

Hon Brendon Grylls MLA

Minister for Regional Development; Lands
Minister Assisting the Minister for State Development
Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport
Parliamentary Leader of The Nationals WA
Member for Central Wheatbelt

Level 9, Dumas House,

2 Havelock Street,

West Perth WA 6005


Dear Brendon,

As you probably know, I was born and raised in Bridgetown and I still receive the Manjimup Bridgetown Times, or, as I prefer to call it, the Blackwood Warren Times. The January 12 edition contains a piece by Adam Orlando. I don’t know Adam but he has obviously misquoted you.

  • National’s leader Brendon Grylls believes centralising the operations of Western Australia’s regional development commissions will make it easier for Royalties for Regions to be administered.

Haha, what a joke, Adam was obviously not listening. Does he not know that you are the Minister for Regional Development? Such a position, by definition, means you are not for centralisation, rather, regionalisation.

And you’re a wheatbelt bloke and know well and good that concentrating regional development in Perth is an insult, inefficient, costly, stupid, naïve and, if I may be bold, dumb.

Please, Brendon, get back to Adam and put him right, put him back on track, complain bitterly to his editor, make a statement in the house. Of course, you know what the problem is as well as I, centralisation. In the old days the paper was run, edited and subbed in-house. Now it all goes over to Bunbury.

I know you’re busy and I’m happy to help you out. Here are some major issues to put to the lad:

  • The centralisation of the control of RDCs to a Perth based department removes on ground, local, regional, RDC ability to be immediate, agile, responsive and locally accountable.
  • The new office will require new staff, new office space, and a cause a budgetary blowout. (Brilliant!)
  • Removing the ability of local CEO’s to deal directly with their Minster - the CEO will become a RBEO, a Regionally Based Executive officer - and will work under the Metropolitan CEO’s direction. (This, again, is a monstrous insult and budgetary stupidity because we all know what big shot, city-based CEOs want for their egos.)
  • And the funding? Where will that come from? The regions’ budgets or RforR money? In addition, will staff be transferred to Perth to fill the proposed new positions? (Oh, that’s a great idea!)

Of course, this has to be a political push from the Liberal hacks, the blokes who have no idea where cheese or potato chips come from, or what it’s like to wake up at 3am and have to run out in the cold and rain and help a sick cow give birth, and, no doubt, they are in the poor lad’s ear. For God and Region, Brendon, put a stop to this rampant idiocy. Or else. Oh yeah, you know how hard we play out here, you are one of us.

Meanwhile, let’s here more from you.

Some down here (Albany) are saying the Libs have swallowed you.

I don’t believe it.

I don’t think they have the stomachs.

Best, Jon Doust

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 1/2/2011

What a year it’s been already.

Albany had one really hot half-day and in typical fashion rose to hell by 11am, then plummeted to a very pleasant heaven by 2.30pm and, in an attempt to enhance the cooling off, arranged for accompanying rain.

What else happened? Of course, Oprah came and went and her website suggests that WA is a “gem waiting to be explored” and that if you join us you can “swim with sharks”. There’s the tip, folks, you see any American tourists wearing an Oprah t-shirt feed them to the sharks. Sorry, show them where they are.

Oh, the Esplanade Hotel site was almost sold, nearly sold, but not yet sold and then there were no buyers on the horizon but some said it looked a lot better without those revolting, culturally offensive socks.

But let’s face it, all these and other local events and non-events don’t amount to a hill of asparagus when we recall the oceans of water that fell on Carnarvon and Queensland.

Given that we are part of WA, as is Carnarvon, you could be forgiven for thinking our media has not keep us as well informed as it might of events in our north. We are, however, swamped with news from Queensland and you would have to be a lump of 4 x 2 not to have been moved by the way Queenslanders and now Victorians have responded to their greatest floods in living memory.

Thousands of citizens have answered the call to spade, shovel and broom and fill the streets in their neighbourhoods and in other suburbs some distance from their own.

And as my old mate Len, the retired Bruce Rock farmer, said to me the other day: “I thought this country was bereft of leadership, but then both the Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, and Anna Bligh stood up.”

Love her or dislike her, there is no doubt the Queensland Premier has worked herself above and beyond and has looked real and knowledgeable even though denied normal patterns of eat and sleep and nice nights at home with the family. She has even been subjected to a rousing round of praise from her arch enemy, the Leader of the Opposition.

To be fair, other leaders of other parties from other places have visited, but none of them have left any impact other than that of folk out of place, out of depth, out of sync.

Just in case we had forgotten, Queenslanders have taken every opportunity to remind us: “We are Queenslanders and we are different.” If the rest of us on this vast continent don’t take notice, we are missing an opportunity.

And, finally, the tale that made me weep more than most, that of Jordan Rice, the 13-year old boy who was afraid of water, the quiet, reserved lad with the nickname Weedsy. Jordan was stuck on a car roof in a raging torrent with his mum and younger brother and when the rescuers arrived and chose to save him first he said: “No, take my brother.” They did and Jordan and his mum were washed away.

As Len said: “That boy may not have looked it before the floods, but he showed leadership qualities of the highest and ultimate quality.”

Let us not forget Jordan and try and make 2011 the year of keeping things in perspective.

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 18/1/2011

My hairdresser, Sandy, has a son. No surprise there, right, but he is also a plumber.

And as soon as I heard, right then and there, I called a halt to the snipping. I wanted his name, his number, his Facebook, uTube, email, MySpace, the lot, each and every way possible to contact him, to find him, to have him visit my house and fix all those little drips, drops and pipe screams that scare the hell out of you in the middle of the night that you have never fixed because you are an incompetent goose.

She looked me right in the eye, with her scissors held high and said: I will never ever give you my son’s phone number.

I was shocked, flabbergasted, perplexed. I asked her to lower the scissors, to calm herself, to take the comb handle out of my nostril and hear me out.

The thing was, I could understand her predicament. Everyone wants a plumber for a friend and that has been the gaping hole in my life in Albany: I have yet to befriend a plumber, a plumber’s son, or even someone who used to be a plumber.

Back in the Big Swirl, I had a great friend, Paul, who was a genius plumber. Paul and I were great mates. We drank coffee together, winged and wined together, went to local shows together and once, during a meal, we shared a toothpick.

All right, not a toothpick, a napkin, but we often shared a shovel.

If I had a plumbing problem, or a problem that in any way remotely looked like it had something to do with a pipe or a tap, I called Paul: he came, he saw, he fixed.

And he never charged. Unless there were costs. And if there was any heavy lifting, or digging, I did it, or we did it together. We were a team, but only at my place.

Like the time my French drain exploded and flooded our block, the block next door, and all blocks on the down side of the hill, with its foul contents, contents we denied all knowledge off.

For example, we don’t eat aubergine. Where the hell did that come from?

I rang Paul. He directed the digging. I dug. He came back. He fixed.

What a guy. But he lives in the Big Swirl.

I know what you’re thinking, that I took full advantage of Paul’s generosity and naivety and that the street was all one way, my way. Wrong.

Paul had the same rights. He knew my skill set and, if he had need of me, all he had to do was call out my name and he knew that wherever I was, I’d come running, to see him again.

Once he had me call a 20/20 cricket match from the middle of the field. That was fine until the Warriors’ Luke Ronchi came out to bat and he thumped a ball that caught me in the rear as I turned to make a dash for the boundary. Couldn’t sit for a month.

Paul was a great local sports organiser and he also had me work benefit nights with the likes of Chris Mainwaring and Kim Hughes, who signed a cricket batt with: Jon, don’t give up your day job.

Paul was well aware of what lay in my French drain and Paul made sure I took plenty of it in return.

What I’m saying is, if you are a plumber and you need a friend, call me, I’m here for you.