Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Paying debts

can take anyone with a mortgage will know.
I spend the last Tuesday afternoon of the month leading a knitting group in the local bookshop. This was not my idea. It often means a bit of juggling and very early rising to get the real work out of the way. It is an interesting group and one of the women mentioned a story she had heard on radio in the morning of a French village which has just repaid a debt of sorts.
Apparently during the war they were protected, at great cost, by Australian soldiers. Although they lost a great deal, including their school, they survived as a village. On their return home the Australians raised enough to rebuild the French school. The French put in the words 'never forget Australia' over the doorway.
Sixty-four years later the French village raised $795,000 to rebuild a school ravaged by bushfires in Victoria.
It is a wonderful story and should be the subject of a book for children but it apparently barely rated a mention on the news.
One reason for this has to be the 'doom and gloom' of the G20 Summit and the Chinese Affair. Neither will go away quickly. If General Motors should go under then Adelaide will catch the 'flu as well. We have been dependent on the car industry for far too long. We failed to diversify when we could. The union movement has always been anxious to preserve jobs in the car industry (after all they paid well) rather than see diversification. The Mitsubishi plant could have been transformed into a plant producing more environmentally friendly items - solar panels, bicycles, mass transport come to mind without thought - but Adelaide has a love affair with the car. We lost the Grand Prix but retained the Clipsal 500 street race. It encourages hoons but the government refuses to acknowledge this even while saying they will refuse to spend money on a drag racing strip. That is probably correct, after all half the thrill of drag racing is to do it on a suburban street where there is a much greater risk - it is, after all, about risk taking. Part of the answer may be to raise the driving age - to a minimum of 18 for a learner and 21 for a P-plater. Perhaps we could even institute a system of Part-P for those under 26 and bring in an 0.01 limit for alcohol for everyone?

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