Friday, March 30, 2007

New England Australia's Chinese - Reference Post

Photo: Wing Hing Long store, Tingha. Now a museum.

This post simply records some web references on New England's Chinese for general reference, along with my own posts on the topic. As well as New Englanders, I think that Chinese whether overseas or in Australia along with Australians of Chinese ancestry - there are a lot - will find the material interesting.

Web References

The Chinese-Australian Historical Images in Australia (CHIA) database is a catalogue of historical images of Chinese, Chinese immigrants and their descendants held in Australia. You can search by town or name. The photos are great.

Golden Threads records the history of the Chinese in regional NSW in the period 1850-1950. Necessarily it has a strong New England focus simply because the Chinese were important in New England. The site includes a regional search facility along with a number of specific feature stories. Photo Kwong Sing store Glen Innes.

There is also a Chinese Australian Historical Society, although I have yet to follow them up.

Posts linked in some way to New England's Chinese community

26 February 2007. New England's Chinese - Introductory Post

11 November 2006. Secrets of New England - along the Fossickers Way Day Two Nundle

23 February 2007. End Week Reflections - Quong Tart and the Chinese in Australia

28 March 2007. Emmaville Mining Musuem

25 June 2007. Gwydir River - Rocky River

25 June 2007. Towards a Course on the History of New England- The Colonial Period.

10 November 2007. Death of New England Writer Eric Rolls (1923-2007)

2 May 2008. Wing Hing Long & Co - Tingha

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Emmaville Mining Musuem

Photo: Foley's General Store, Emmaville

I have so far carried two stories on this blog referring to Emmaville or Vegetable Creek. The first post introduced the story of the Chinese in New England, the second story dealt with mining, arsenic and the New England pastoral industry.

In both stories I forgot to mention that Emmaville has a mining museum located in the old Foley's general store. This has a major collection of minerals and photographs providing an interesting picture of Emmaville's past.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

NSW Elections 2007 New England Seat Results

I will do a post on the election outcomes across New England a little later.

In the meantime, for members of the New England diaspora interested in the results, I have put up an overall post on my personal blog. This includes links to the Electoral Commission where you can find detailed results for seats of interest down to the individual booth level.

If you are not sure which seat you are interested in because of boundary changes, you can do a town or locality search that will tell you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NSW Elections 2007 - Impact on New England

Photo: Gordon Smith, black snake.

I had not intended to run another snake photo. But, somehow, this seemed suitable.

I have argued strongly on this blog that New England needs to develop an effective voice, that current Sydney Government policies and programs do not meet New England's needs. For some examples see here.

In election commentary on my personal blog I have pointed to some of the strangeness in this election, arguing that that the election has been a policy free zone on both sides with all parties confusing lists of promises and activities with policy. I call this the supermarket or Key Performance Indicator approach to politics.

One of New England's problems has always been the way in which Sydney Governments from the second half of the nineteenth century have used the mess of pottage approach - a school here, a road there - to divide and rule, preventing the development of more integrated approaches.

Reading the on-line editions of papers across New England we can see that this approach is alive and well. However, the current Labor Government has taken the approach to a new level through its ability to recycle and re-package previous promises into apparently new promises.

People know that this happens, but the Government can get away with it because of its control over sources of information. In particular, NSW is the only jurisdiction in the country where past Government policy statements and press releases are not available on line. Comparisons are hard without information.

Am I being unfair? Well, consider this.

You will find NSW Treasury's costings of all the Government's promises here. Let's look at some of them.

Take the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program. The headline number is an extra $160 million. When we look at the details, we see that this money will be made available from 2011-12 onwards. But we also see that, to use Treasury's word, earlier spending has been "reprofiled". By this they mean that planned expenditure in the next few years has actually been reduced to help fund later spend. "Reprofiling" indeed!

Or look at the paper headed North Coast. This actually deals just with health. There are two pages of commitments. Looks good. The Treasury costings show new spend of just $500,000. The rest are earlier promises repackaged.

If you look at the policy promises entitled New England, really the Tablelands and Western Slopes, the several pages of policy promises has no budget impact at all because they are all previous commitments repackaged.

The Hunter promises are much the same, although there is some new money here to fund upgrades to the Maitland and John Hunter Hospitals. But that is the only new money involved in pages of apparent promises!

I haven't had time to go through all the costings, but these examples illustrate the pattern. I just feel depressed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wollomombi Falls

Photo: Gordon Smith, Wollomombi Falls after rain.

I see that Gordon Smith has started a new photo essay on New England's Gorge country. The starting link is given above.

Wollomombi Falls lie to the east of Armidale on Waterfall Way, the road between Armidale and Urunga on the coast. As he has done in other cases, Gordon has walked down into the gorge itself, taking photographs along the way.

I do enjoy his photo essays. Long may they continue.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Sydney Harbour Bridge - a mixed symbol

Photo: Thousands walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

History is written by the victors. I was reminded of this during the week by disparaging comments by historians on Sydney radio that the the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opposed only by a few winging country members of parliament.

Today the Bridge has iconic status because of its design, so thousands turned out to celebrate its opening. Yet the reality is that the Bridge was fiercely opposed by those who believed, correctly, that it was another diversion of money to the city. Debate was fierce. Those supporting the Bridge always had the numbers, but it was still a near run thing.

The initial bill to build the Bridge was introduced by Labor Premier James Dooley but not proceeded with because of the problems facing his Government. Then at the State elections in March 1922 the proposed Bridge was a major issue, igniting Sydney-country divides.

Following the election Nationalist leader Fuller became Premier but faced an uncertain position because of the balance of power position held by the Progressive (later Country then National Party). In formal terms, the Nationalists did in fact have a majority in the house, but tensions inside the Party created a degree of uncertainty.

Neither Fuller nor the Progressives would agree to a formal coalition arrangement. Fuller knew that the conservative wing of the Progressives would not support his defeat, so felt that he was in the box seat. For their part, the Progressives used every technique they could to make the Government's life miserable without actually defeating them.

All this played out over the Sydney Harbour Bridge bill reintroduced by Fuller to the house in August 1922. Recognising the problems he faced even in his own Party, Fuller made it a non-party measure. Labor adopted a similar position, notwithstanding its previous support for the bill.

The house promptly divided into Sydney members versus the rest.

County member after country member attacked the bill on the grounds that necessary country public works had been deferred for years because of lack of funds yet now 5.5 to 6 million pounds could be found for a work that would benefit Sydney alone.

Those supporting the bill always had the numbers, but it was a fierce battle. At one point, after a session lasting more than seventeen hours, a tired Premier was forced to complain that "it seems that the House has determined that this bill is not to pass." (NSWPD, vol 89, 25 October 1922, p3026).

While exact votes varied from division to division, the vote on the bill's third reading was typical of the general pattern.

Of the 39 members voting for the bill 32 came from Sydney, only seven from the rest of the state including five minsters. By contrast, of the 30 votes against, 27 were from non metro areas as compared to only three (including Jack Lang) from Sydney.

Of the New England members, 13 including all three Labor members from Newcastle voted against, two (both minsters) for. In Party terms, Nationalist supporters voted 29 for to six against, whereas Labor voted ten for and sixteen against, the Progressives none for and five against.

All this is hardly a few winging country members.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Photo: Gordon Smith, Great Northern Railway, New England Tablelands

Back last October I carried an introductory story on the history of New England's railways. I see that Gordon Smith is presently running a series of photos on the Great Northern Railway, the inland line that used to link Sydney and Brisbane.

The series starts here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Macleay Valley - The Slim Dusty Centre Project

Photo: Slim Dusty (1927-2003), an iconic figure in the development of Australian music. The biographical material is drawn from the official Slim Dusty site given in the above link.

David Gordon Kirkpatrick was born at Kempsey in the Macleay Valley on 13 June 1927 .

Brought up at a nearby Nulla Nulla Creek dairy farm, he wrote his first song - The Way The Cowboy Dies - in 1937 aged 10. The following year he adopted the stage name Slim Dusty, the name he was to carry all his professional life.

In 1942 the fifteen year old Slim gate-crashed Radio 2KM Kempsey and also made his his first recording at own expense... Song For The Aussies and My Final Song. Also in 1942 he copyrighted his first songs.

Their recent discovery by Australian Archives created national interest. I actually find it quite remarkable that a fifteen year old living in what was then a remote location should have so much foresight, but he was obviously always a very determined boy. For those who are interested, the Australian Archives link includes reproductions of the early material.

In 1945 while still living at Nulla Nulla Creek Slim wrote his first country music classic, When The Rain Tumbles Down In July. This led in 1946 to his first recording contract with the Columbia Graphophone Co. for the Regal Zonophone label. Six titles were recorded, including When The Rain Tumbles Down In July.

From 1948 Slim pursued a part-time show business career with intermittent radio, hall show and tent show appearances. In 1951 he married country singer-songwriter Joy McKean. Daughter Anne Kirkpatrick, herself a well known country musician, was born in 1952 followed by son David in 1958.

From 1954 Slim commenced a full-time show business career, launching the first travelling Slim Dusty Show. Then in 1956 he established in partnership with showman Frankie Foster the Slim Dusty Show as a large tent show on the showground circuit. I remember this from my childhood.

In 1957 Slim recorded the Gordon Parsons written song A Pub With No Beer -- at that time the biggest selling record ever by an Australian. I think most Australians still remember at least some of the opening lines:

It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
But there's nothin' so lonesome, so dull or so drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer

From this point came a string of successes, including the 1980 super hit Duncan.

I love to have a beer with Duncan, I love to have a beer with Dunc
We drink in moderation, and we never, never ever get rolling drunk.
We drink at the Town & Country where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Duncan ‘cause Duncan’s me mate.

By the time Slim died in 2003 he had achieved true iconic status in Australian popular music. A key reason for this is that he captured the whimsy, the sometimes irreverence, of one stream of the Australian experience.

Now Slim's family and supporters have combined to work towards the establishment of the Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey to celebrate his life. Those interested can find the details here, including ways to make a tax deductible donation. The Kempsey location is truly fitting, since the Macleay Valley is the place where Slim developed his initial ideas and particular vision.

The Returns to Tamworth from Country Music

Photo: Golden Guitar, Tamworth Country Music Festival

Back in January I carried a short introductory story on the history of country music in Tamworth. My thanks now to Noric Dilanchian for pointing me to a story in the Country Music Bulletin on the return to Tamworth from country music.

January's Tamworth country music festival brought more than $113 million to the local economy.

The figure is from Rebel Thomson, GM of Tourism Tamworth, as part of preliminary results from a visitor survey conducted in conjunction with Festival sponsor Telstra for the second year.

"The objectives of the 2007 survey were to validate the results of the 2006 data and further understand the tourism trends of festival-goers," Rebel told the CMB.

The survey collected data on demographics, spending and travel trends and concluded that visitors enjoy a high level of satisfaction, a high percentage stay in the city for seven days or more, expenditure is very high and visitation to nearby towns is very high.

In other statistics, it was revealed that the festival drew 75,000 visitors, more than 31,000 went through the visitor information centre during the festival, 40 percent came from NSW outside Sydney while 14 percent were from Sydney; 23 percent were from Queensland and 13 percent were from Victoria.

Thirty three percent of respondents were visiting the festival for the first time; of the 67 percent who had been before, 22 percent had been seven times or more and a large portion of these said the event had grown or improved since they last attended.

Eighty six percent said they had "a fantastic" or "average" time, 59 percent were couples, 24 percent travelled with friends 14 percent travelled as a family, 11 percent were singles.

Visitors spent, on average, $1,500 while in Tamworth for the festival... $387 on accommodation, $247 on meals, $246 on travel/petrol, $211 on shopping and retail, $189 on tickets, $138 on alcohol, $95 on souvenirs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

New England's Universities and the 2007 Good Universities Guide

I have finally done something that I have been meaning to do for some time, get hold of the Good Universities Guide 2007 to look at the latest Australia wide rankings for New England's universities. The ranking system uses stars, where five stars is highest, one lowest.

Starting with student demand, the market mechanism that determines UAis or University Admission Indexes. Here we find:
  • Newcastle two stars
  • Southern Cross and the University of New England one star.
  • Avondale is not listed.

So places in New England's universities are not in great demand. Now compare this with some of the key performance indicators.

Taking research first:

  • Newcastle gets fours stars for the total of research grants, three stars for research intensity and ranks in the big category for the number of higher education students.
  • The University of New England gets two stars for research grants, two stars for research intensity and ranks in the big category for the number of higher education students.
  • Southern Cross University gets two stars for research grants, three stars for research intensity and ranks as average for the number of higher education students.
  • Again, Avndale is not ranked.

So looking at research, New England's universities do not rank in the top group but do rank in front of their student demand rankings. The gap widens enormously when we look at student rankings.

Looking first at entry flexibility, a ranking affected by demand: both UNE and Southern Cross get five stars, Newcastle three stars and Avondale one.

Look now at satisfaction rankings:

  • Avondale and UNE get five stars for the overall education experience, Southern Cross four stars, Newcastle two stars. The Sydney figures are Sydney University and UTS three stars, UNSW two stars, Macquarie and the University of Western Sydney(UWS) one star.
  • Avondale and UNE get five stars for teaching quality, Southern Cross three stars, Newcastle two stars. The Sydney figures are Sydney University three stars, UTS two stars, Macquarie and and UWS one star.
  • Avondale gets five stars for acquisition of generic skills, Southern Cross, Newcastle and UNE four stars. The Sydney rankings are Sydney four stars, UTS three stars and UNSW and UWS one star.
  • In terms of overall satisfaction with the educational experience, Avondale and UNE get five stars, Southern Cross four stars, Newcastle one star. The Sydney figures are Sydney University and UTS three stars, UNSW and Macquarie two stars, UWS one star.

So in terms of the overall student experience, New England's universities are in front of those in Sydney. The position is less clear cut when it comes to career issues.

  • In graduate starting salaries, UNE and Newcastle get four stars, Southern Cross one, while Avondale is not mentioned. The Sydney equivalents are Macquarie, UTS and UNSW five stars, Sydney and UWS four stars.
  • In getting a job, Southern Cross gets two stars, while UNE and Newcastle get one star. Macquarie, UTS and UNSW get four stars, UTS three stars, UWS one star.

Both these rankings are affected by varying course composition. But it is fair to say that while Sydney's universities rank poorly on the educational experience offered, their location gives them a short term career advantage. I say short term, because in the longer term their is a much stronger correlation between the value of the educational experience and career success.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

New England's Poor Towns - a failure in public policy

One of my consistent arguments on this blog is the need for New England to develop an effective voice.
In my posts on the NSW Government's State Plan, I began by looking at New England's needs. As part of this I pointed to the need for economic development to provide jobs and overcome economic and social deprivation.

In my second post I examined the Plan against New England's needs. I concluded:
If you look at my simple analysis of New England's needs in the previous post, and then compare it to the Plan you will see that most of New England's needs are not addressed or addressed in a peripheral fashion.
In this context, one way of testing the potential value of a plan is to ask what the position would be at the end if every target were to be achieved. Here I think that we can say that at the end of ten years New Englanders will be at best marginally better off, more likely they will have seen a further deterioration in New England's position.
Professor Vinson's new national study into economic and social disadvantage drives home my argument about the failure of Government policy to address New England's needs.

Nearly all the poorest and most socially disadvantaged towns and villages in NSW can be found in New England.

Bonalbo, Kempsey, Tingha and Windale. Bowraville, Casino, Deepwater, Urunga and Coraki. Nambucca Heads, Tweed Heads, Walgett and Forster. Kurri Kurri, Woodenbong, Boggabilla and South West Rocks. Tenterfield, Ashford, Iluka and Inverell. Sawtell and Taree. The list goes on.

Circumstances vary from place to place.

I think, for example, that Inverell would be surprised to find itself on the list, yet on the key social indicators used by Professor Vinson the town ranks low because of the presence of disadvantaged groups. On the coast, the presence of retirees pulls average incomes down. There is also , I suspect, a close correlation between the relative size of local aboriginal populations - the Aborigines form a much higher proportion of the New England local population than the national average - and the average measures of economic and social deprivation.

Whichever way you cut the numbers, many New England towns and villages have been going backward in relative terms, in some cases absolute terms, for many years. In some parts of New England real youth unemployment ranges from 20 to over 40 per cent. This sometimes sits side by side with the presence of skilled labour shortages that compound the problem by reducing incomes and support jobs.

I can see no sign that these problems are being addressed. Just the opposite.

The Mid North Coast has the lowest average incomes in NSW with above average unemployment. Yet the NSW State Government's coastal strategy for the Mid North Coast postulates a population increase for the area of 91,000 over the next twenty five years. The strategy is silent as to where the jobs will come from to employ these people.

Unless and until New England can again get its act together to force our politicians to look at New England's needs as a whole, these problems will remain unresolved.

Take Kempsey as an example.

The simple reconstruction of the inland road over the Big Hill to Armidale would increase traffic through the Upper Macleay valley to Kempsey and the adjoining resorts. It would also open up the inland to Macleay valley products. An effective inland New England development strategy would add to the impact.

There are already close links between the Macleay valley Aborigines and those in Armidale. Many of Armidale's Aborigines came to the city in the 1950s from the Upper Macleay Valley. There is scope to develop an Aboriginal tourism strategy that links the Macleay Valley and Armidale. New England as a whole has to learn to recognise its Aboriginal people as a New England asset, not a local concern.

These are not complex suggestions, now will they solve the problem in total. We need to try a whole range of things. But this will not happen so long as New Englanders continue to be bound by localism.

Update 25 July 2015

Over five years since I wrote this post. The latest data shows that the problem continues