Teamwork is key
Significant government funding for Longerenong College to become an educational benchmark in the use of technology in grain production is more than a simple win for the college.
It also represents a victory for regional collective thinking and how, if we have the right ideas and avenues to government, we can influence investment in our part of the world.
The State Government is providing $2.5-million for a $3.6-million project to transform the college’s 1000-hectare farm into a technology-demonstration property.
It will add a dramatic new dimension to the college in its ability to provide cutting-edge education services for an industry that is continually capitalising on the evolution of technology
It is a project that comes broadly under the heading of ‘Agtech’, a regional research and development concept that gained traction through a Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.
If the government needs an example of how its direct-avenue-to-government regional partnership process works, it need look no further than this project.
This was an idea that floating in the ether between industry insiders gathered momentum when put on the table in think-tank discussions.
The methodology is perhaps irrelevant. Governments that have come and gone have often used a variety of society-engagement systems to meet the needs of people and communities.
What is important is the example of what can happen, when we are armed with a regional-development agenda, put our heads together and thrash out ideas. It is no surprise that Wimmera Development Association, Longerenong College, Skillinvest, Birchip Cropping Group and Gwmwater as well as regional partnership representatives are all part of this college win.
There are many progressive minds in all these groups.
Longerenong College is on a roll and the Victorian Coalition has also pledged to provide $525,000 to help refurbish the college’s ageing agribusiness centre if it wins power next month.
If the business centre needs some extra oomph to get it across the line, then perhaps it also needs a greater collaborative lobbying effort.
But why stop at the college? If regional partnership community assemblies have told us anything, it is that there are countless beneficial ideas, projects and directions we can nut out and pursue as a region.
SIR, – It is October. Football conversations have dropped and complaints about Halloween have started.
The eve of All Hallow is associated with gaudy orange and black decorations, which spring to life and make the most unrealistic cackles.
Every year my good wife decorates her house and I marvel at the latest plastic gadget, which inspires fear in nobody. She enjoys it and so do the 100 or so children who arrive at her house, on the edge of St Arnaud, laughing all the way.
I hear complaints that Halloween is as American as Marvel Comics and Donald Trump.
Halloween began before the English settled the Americas – in a small place called Ireland. Pagans, before Christianity vilified them, recognised the veil between our world and the next world waned.
To help their ancestors look in and bless the pre-deceased, Irish people hollowed out turnips to hold candles. These would be placed at the front gate overnight.
When North America was being settled the Irish took the tradition and their ancestors with them. Turnips were replaced with pumpkins and the United States obsession begun.
‘Halloween is commercialised’, people groan. Make no bones about it; I am against commercialisation and consumerism. I am appalled at the trillion-dollar industry of Halloween costumes for pets – if you don’t believe me search it up. Pet costumes are a thing and it is big business.
I am appalled by the amount of disposable plastic decorations that fill our shops between AFL grand final and Christmas. Halloween just happens to add to the mix. Yes, Halloween is commercial. So is the AFL grand final, Christmas, Easter, Anzac Day and Australia Day.
Do it on the cheap. Last year, my children went trick-or-treating. My daughter’s costume came from her wardrobe and my son’s zombie clothes cost maybe $5 from an op shop. Make-up was improvised with permanent markers.
‘Children wandering the streets and talking to strangers’ is the next complaint. Supervise them. Dress up yourself, and get in the spirit.
Parents don’t score lollies, we stand back and enjoy our children having fun – my idea of parenting. We talk to other parents about the best homes to visit.
The lazy parent will team their kids up with other kids, send them out as a pack, armed with mobile phones.
As for me, after I run a Halloween trick-or-treat event at Ararat Food Growers Community Garden, I’ll light a candle and place it near the family photos. I’ll say a prayer for my grandma and have some scorched almonds for my dad, knowing that they will be close and proud. Bernard Quince Ararat
SIR, – There has been a lot of clamour by the major parties regarding regional rail, as is usual at this time before elections. They are each offering to improve or extend some passenger services here or there.
Australian Country Party-give It Back sees rail as one of the two key features to its plan to revive the western Victorian economy and communities.
In addition to passenger services to Mildura and other western Victorian cities, a high priority will be a direct connection of western Victoria rail freight to the Inland Railway. This project is already under upgrade-construction.
The Inland Railway connects to the port of Brisbane and the Toowoomba-wellcamp airport with its direct flights to China. This connection is necessary for southern Australia to take advantage of our free-trade agreements with Asian countries.
The second key feature is our export incubator program. Starting with rural businesses, the export incubator will assist small businesses take advantage of our free-trade agreements.
It will take them by the hand and walk them through every step and connect them with approved distributors at the other end. This will ensure all Victorians can have an opportunity to benefit from freetrade agreements, which successive governments of both colours have been so keen to sign.
We believe this plan, coupled with other government incentives, will lead to an era of economic prosperity for western Victoria. Rail redevelopment is not just something that ACP-GIB pulls out every election to win votes. It is core to our strategy of reviving rural Victoria. Costa Di Biase Candidate for Western Victoria Region, Australian Country Party-give It Back