in South Australia over government expenditure on an envoy for the Puglia region of Italy. This envoy is being paid an insane sum to promote South Australia and develop ties with the region. The problem is that nobody seems to be too sure what he is promoting or what ties are being developed. There is also the small issue that our Premier is married to someone who comes from the Puglia region. This is seen as suspect to say the least.
There are, naturally, varying views on the worthiness of this expenditure but most people appear to be opposed to taxpayer funds being spent in this way. We are not going to be able to export wine to Puglia. They do not need ore from Roxby Downs. I am not sure what else is left - unless it is me. I am sure they could export me. A few years in Bari might be very pleasant. I could take some English language with me. Perhaps they would give me some Italian in return?
We could have lessons in woolly thoughts - or why good Australian wool is exported to Italy for processing and then returns as expensive garments.
I think what worries me is the idea that something will happen simply if we appoint someone and pay them an excessive salary. It will not. Trade ties require hard work. They need cooperation. Each partner needs to have something the other wants - either goods or expertise - and they need to know about it. That does not mean speaking Italian or English but the common language of knowledge about each other's affairs. It means making an effort and having things in place at this end so that we can take advantage of what might be there.
It is like making wine. You have to prepare the soil, plant the vines, prune them, nurture the grapes and keep them free of disease, you have to pick them at the right time and then go through the complex process of making wine good enough to export - not just the sort of rough wine once made by trampling the grapes with your feet.
I do not drink wine but those who do tell me the end result is worth it. Perhaps we should start by preparing the soil here?