Diggings 24 July 2021

Australia’s Thai Embassy’s vaccine joke angers expats

Expats have branded a tongue-in-cheek Facebook joke about coronavirus vaccines by Australia’s Thai embassy as “insulting” and “ridiculous”. Australia’s embassy in Thailand has published a Facebook post saying mRNA vaccines stand for “M – Meat Pie, R – Rocky Road, N – Neenish Tart” and “A – Avocado Toast”.

Mmm .. yeah, but nah, clearly not in the best of taste.


The badly timed attempt at COVID humour

New study reveals history of Aboriginal trade with foreign visitors before British settlement

While the Northern Territory sites are well-documented, the Kimberley fishing camps have not been studied since the 1960s. That’s set to change, with a recently created marine park the catalyst for a fresh archaeological investigation … The Kwini people have visited the isolated island of Niiwalarra for thousands of years. More recently, it was the site of a World War II military base and failed attempts at cotton farming. But the main focus for the archaeologists is a network of hearths still visible on the beach, where trepang were hauled from the ocean and cooked in big iron pots more than 200 years ago.

Wonderful news and heaps looking forward to further insights into the Kimberley part of the trepang trade.


How Traditional Owners and officials came together to protect a stunning stretch of WA coast

Some recreational fishers believe the proposed exclusions are unreasonable. But there is growing evidence fish populations benefit from sanctuary networks. And many local fishers recognise the increasing threats to the region and welcome Traditional Owners playing a larger management role. It’s hoped the final marine parks plan will find the right balance between the needs of Traditional Owners, commercial and recreational fishing, pearling and other uses. By involving traditional custodians from the start, there’s every chance we will realise the ancient Indigenous idea that healthy Country means healthy people – and that will benefit everyone.

More welcome news.


‘The battery hen of the sea’: the fight to clean up Tassie salmon farms

In the late 2010s, at least 1.35 million farmed salmon died from disease and oxygen depletion as a result of severe overstocking at Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast of Tasmania and partly in a World Heritage area. Farms were first established in the harbour in the 1980s, with Tassal starting operations there in 2003, Huon in 2008 and Petuna around 2011. The industry began to expand massively in 2012 and by July 2016, the government allowed up to 21,500 tonnes of fish a year to be farmed there (since revised back to 9500 tonnes). Later that year, environmental monitoring found record low levels of dissolved oxygen on the harbour floor and the presence of bacterial mats at some lease sites. The seabed below and around one of Tassal’s three farms in the harbour, its Franklin lease, was found to be virtually devoid of life, threatening an endangered species, the Maugean skate, and a World Heritage area.

A depressing read as is Richard Flanagan’s book Toxic: the Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry


Biggest NSW irrigators breaking the rules on water take

Nearly half of the biggest irrigators in NSW have made no effort to install meters that comply with new water laws more than six months after they became mandatory, an audit has found … Individuals who have shown no effort to comply face fines of up to $750 and irrigation companies face $1500 fines.

The disconnection between the offence of non-compliance and the fine is staggering.


Combo meal deals and price discounts on fast food encourage us to eat more junk. It’s time for policy action

The high level of fast food consumption in Australia is a serious health concern. Accordingly, the marketing tactics of the fast food industry warrant close attention. Our new study, published today, examined the price promotions offered by the biggest fast food chains in Australia. We found the “combination meal deals” and “limited time” offers from the major chains provide strong incentives for people to over-consume unhealthy food and drinks.

I guess it is good to have data to back up what sounds like a no-brainer outcome. And I won’t hold my breath for any ‘policy response’ toward either making healthier foods part of combos or banning price promotions of unhealthy foods cause, you know, it’s capitalism isn’t it.


‘Revolutionary’ new restaurant pay rules aim to combat underpayment

Chefs will be allowed to trade away their penalty rates, overtime and allowances in return for a flat rate of at least $82,400 for up to 57 hours of work a week in an attempt by the industrial commission to tackle widespread wage underpayment at fine dining establishments. Individual written agreements will be required for the chefs’ deal, but it is not a blank cheque for endless work: chefs on the new pay rules who do more than 57 hours a week will be paid 1.5 times their wage up to 59 hours and double time thereafter.

No comment in the article from any actual chef, however, so who knows that they think of this. Restaurant and Catering Aus sees this as revolutionary. The decision appears to have been taken on Bastille Day so perhaps one should give R & C some leniency for its effusiveness.


‘I was desperate’: the fight to get Australia’s fruit pickers a fair wage

Experienced picker Mahani Mohd Tif, who is also a UWU member, worked a seven-and-a-half-hour day picking strawberries, for which she received just $34.10. At other jobs, she got more – provided there was actually fruit to pick. “The first day you can get more fruit, the second day you can get less,” she says. “Sometimes I got about $50, so about $300 a week.” The uncertainty made it hard to buy food and pay rent. “It was very difficult to plan,” she says. “I prefer to be paid hourly … if you work eight hours, you know how much you get – it doesn’t depend on whether you are stronger or not.”


‘End of my tether’: Two-thirds of CBD kiosks won’t be back

The council said the need for kiosks had changed significantly over the past two decades, as land use altered and more convenience stores and small supermarkets opened.

Sadly I suspect this sounds the death knell for street vendors in the CBD.


‘Cooking is a way for me to share my love’: recipes from Melbourne public housing residents

In July 2020, the Victorian government locked down nine public housing towers, home to 3,000 people, to contain the spread of coronavirus. The decision was based on “patterns of movement, friendship groups [and] family groups”, the premier said at the time. In a step to recover from the social impacts of that hard lockdown, the residents of the same public housing towers, along with Cohealth (a non-for-profit community health organisation), have published a cookbook, Cooking, Recovery and Connections, which emphasises the strength and resilience within these friendship and family groups.

What a generous gift from folk who were shabbily treated by their state government.


How to Feed 10,000 Rebel Fighters for 50 Years

I will never forget my first ranchada [cooking shift],” he says. That first day, Semillas had to cook everything from white rice to fried meat and colada, a thick liquid mixed into agua de panela, a traditional beverage. He was guided by an experienced, old guerrilla who taught new guerrilleros all the “little secrets,” such as how to clean the rancha, or artisanal kitchen station, and how to knead and fry cancharinas. “We passed the knowledge from one generation to the next.”

Utterly fascinating.


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