Today is Australia Day. Sadly, most Australians would have no idea what it signifies. Yep, I'm serious. What a sad state of affairs, eh? Okay, so what is it? Today is the very day the white man put foot on this great continent with a serious intention of using it as a convict settlement. Some explorers had seen this big plot of earth 18 years earlier in 1770, but nothing happened until 1788. And, I'm personally glad they did. So, today I'll do something that I'm fairly well known for. I'm going to say a few things that those politically correct people would say is provocative.
Before I give you the down side of this magnificent place, here are some positives. AUSTRALIANS ARE PROLIFIC inventors. From the earliest Aboriginal inventions including boomerangs, woomeras, and didgeridoos, Australia boasts a rich history of innovation. Aussie researchers have spearheaded medical breakthroughs including the manufacture of penicillin as an antibiotic and the development of the cochlear implant. The technology behind Google Maps and the black box flight recorder are products of Australian ingenuity. The following is a list of everyday items that make our lives easier - for which you have Aussies to thank.
1) The mechanical ice-maker
Born in Scotland, James Harrison moved to Australia at the age of 21. While James worked for a number of Australian publications as a journalist and editor, he is best known for his innovations in the field of refrigeration. In 1854, James designed and built the first mechanical ice-making machine in Geelong, Victoria, which was soon made commercially available. He was a pioneer in the area of commercial meat exports at a time when Australia's cattle export industry was still very young, proving that you could freeze meat for a long time and have it remain edible. So the next time you rummage around your freezer for a handful of ice cubes, imagine a time before mechanised ice production - when ice was chipped out of a frozen lake, stored in a chilled location (if one was available), and was considered to be the ultimate in luxury.
2) Wi-Fi hotspots
While the advent of wireless internet capabilities involved a number of research teams across the world, we have Aussie inventors to thank for allowing us to access the internet in coffee shops, airports, train stations, and even on buses. Highly sought-after wireless hotspots were once ineffective means of accessing the internet as the connection in indoor spaces created too much echo from radio waves, which disrupted the connection. Using radioastronomy technology, CSIRO researchers developed a new fast chip in the early 1990s which solved this problem, resulting in quicker, more reliable wireless internet access, particularly indoors.
3) The notepad
Today, if we need to jot something down, most of us turn straight to our smartphone or other electronic device. As the traditional pen and pad are all but obsolete, have you ever thought about the inventor of the first paper notebook? In 1902, J.A. Birchall of Birchalls, a Launceston, Tasmania-based stationery shop, decided that the cumbersome method of selling writing paper in folded stacks of 'quires' (four sheets of paper or parchment folded to form eight leaves) was inefficient. As a solution, he glued together a stack of halved sheets of paper, supported by a sheet of cardboard, creating what he called the 'Silver City Writing Tablet' - the first notepad.
4) The rotary clothes hoist
The rotary clothesline has become so common that it's now unusual to see an Aussie backyard without one. Take a moment to consider the clumsy web of rope that would have to be strung across your lawn or garden if it weren't for this compact alternative. Gilbert Toyne of Adelaide developed several versions of his 'clothesline and hoist' mechanism, patented in 1911, 1923 and 1925. Similar models, such as the popular 'Hills Hoist', were developed later.
5) Stainless steel braces
Anyone who's ever had a mouth full of orthodontic metal knows that getting your braces tightened is not a pleasant affair - and the addition of skull-encompassing headgear and a screw-based tightening mechanism sounds particularly painful. Percy Raymond Begg of Adelaide thought so too. With mercy in his heart, Percy collaborated with metallurgist Arthur Wilcock to develop a gentler, stainless steel system in 1956 involving gradual adjustments rather than earlier brute force methods used to straighten teeth.
6) The plastic wine cask
As the proud stewards of world-renowned vineyards and exceptional wines, Aussies know the value of a durable wine cask. While glass bottles were the standard container used to store and transport wine, Angoves Wines of Renmark, South Australia sought both a method to ship their wines in bulk as well as a way to keep wine fresh after opening. Inspired by the European 'bladder' design, W J Marshall developed a polyethylene sack in 1966 which preserves the wine's freshness, collapsing as wine is poured. This prevents air from spoiling the wine, as is common when an open bottle is exposed to air for several days. A plastic 'tap' was added to this design later.
7) Long-wear contact lens
While contact lenses became popular as a discreet alternative to glasses, they were not always as convenient to use as they are today. CSIRO and the University of New South Wales joined an international research team in 1991 with the goal of developing comfortable long-wear contact lenses. As well as being durable, the lenses had to be thin, allowing optimal oxygen transfer to promote cornea health. The lenses they developed in 1999 were made from a silicone hydrogel which can safely be worn for 30 days and nights without being removed.
8) The electric drill
While the concept of a drill has been in use for thousands of years, the advent of the electric motor in the 19th century led to the development of the electric drill. Designed by Arthur James Arnot and William Blanch Brain in Melbourne in 1889, the size of the first electric drill was, to say the least, massive. It was designed to cut through coal and rock for mining applications. While this initial model was far from portable, the same technology was refined to create the modern-day hand drill.
9) The baby safety capsule
While the use of car safety restraints for small children is common today, this was not the case before the enactment of Australian seatbelt legislation, which took effect across Australia in the 1960s and 70s. In response to the need for child safety restraints, Bob Botell and Bob Heath developed the 'Safe-n-Sound' Baby Safety Capsule in 1984. They crafted their design so that it would lock into a standard-sized car seat, allowing babies and small children to be strapped-in and secure.
10) Salt water pool chlorination system
While we all enjoy a refreshing dip in a swimming pool, the chemicals used to clean and maintain pools, particularly chlorine, can have effects on human health ranging from eye and skin irritation to respiratory difficulty. In the 1970s, Len David researched alternative methods of pool maintenance to reduce the amount of chemicals used in pool cleaning. His work led to the development of the salt water chlorination system which is built directly into the pool. This mechanism produces chlorine by facilitating a chemical reaction between salt and an electric current, rather than being added in large amounts by hand.
11) The Kouris Centri Turbine Generator
The KCT is a non polluting, revolutionary system harnessing the rotational kinetic energy created by the earth to generate free, abundant hydroelectric energy, other than by currents or tides. There are presently Patents in 18 countries namely: U.S.A, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Japan, U.K, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece.
The idea for the “KOURIS ‘CENTRI-TURBINE’ GENERATOR” came to Mr. Paul Kouris while he was completing his education in jurisprudence/ philosophy in the mid-l970s. His Eureka moment occurred whilst observing water spiralling down the sink. This was the time of the Arab Oil Embargo and the resulting energy crisis. It was also a time when the potential dangers of nuclear energy production were becoming more well known. Contemplating the problem and seeking a possible solution, he one day conceived the ‘Centri-Turbine Generator’ and how it could potentially be applied to improve the operation of hydro-generator systems.
Impressed? You should be, because that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could have listed heaps of famous people, including authors, actors, photographers, sports men and women, inventors, doctors, human rights lawyers et al. However, let me be very sacrilegious on this very special day. Mind you, this is my personal opinion, but I know it is shared by heaps of others.
Yes, Australia is a gigantic place, full of interesting animals, diverse people and a variety of landscapes. We have awesome rain forests, harsh deserts, magnificent beaches and high mountain ranges, yet we only have a population of 23.5 million. So, what are the negatives? Where do I start? Well, here are a few comments:
Australia has more mobile phones per capita than any other country in the world.
We absolutely idolise our sports men and women and throw buckets of money at them. I said sports men and women, not rocket scientists, heart surgeons or great humanitarians. Yes, we have plenty of them too. However, recently, a young cricketer died as a result of an on-field accident, and the outpouring of grief and media coverage throughout the world was gob smacking. To the point that it became obscene. Don't forget. He was only a sportsman, and probably a very well paid one as well. Sure, it was a sad occasion, but the longer the media barrage went on, the more I thought of those battling serious diseases. Would they get a State Memorial Service? NO!
In regard to politics, we have two major parties and, in recent years, it has been difficult to work out the difference between them. That is exactly why we have had a string of hung parliaments throughout the country. Confusion reigns supreme.
Now, in regard to immigration, asylum seekers and refugees, both of our major parties have sunk to an all time low. Most other countries in the world have a very compassionate attitude to those seeking asylum. Sadly not here, and I seriously ask why that is.
Our Prime Minister is paid $500,000 to lead 23.5 million people.
The captain of the Australian cricket team, Michael Clarke, is paid the following:
Retainer: $2,000, 000
For being captain: An extra $300,000
Test matches: $14,000
One Day Internationals: $6,000
T20 games: $4,500
And this does not include personal endorsements.
An Australian Rules player was recently paid 10 million dollars for ten years - to play football.
Federal politicians have received a pay rise of 30% in the past three years. And, they receive $268.00 per day for living in Canberra - TAX FREE!
Question: Why is it tax free?
Members of the defence forces have received a 9% pay rise in the past three years.
NOT ONLY BUT ALSO ...
Here are average annual salaries for those who save our lives on a daily basis:
Nurses: $43 - $76,000 PA
Police: $44 - $80,000 PA
Paramedics: $60 - $70,000 PA
Clancy's comment: As you know, I was guest speaker today for our region, and many of the above issues were mentioned in my comments. I have always called Australia the LUCKY COUNTRY. Why, because I was lucky enough to have been born here. However, what's my personal view about the future of this extraordinary continent? In short, it's going backwards. Sadly, we are not encouraging and promoting the plethora of talent we have; inventors, scientists, doctors, writers, poets, singers, human rights lawyers etc. We are certainly not encouraging independent authors.
No doubt, you have heard about two Aussies who are on death row in Bali, Indonesia. Well, I can bet on one thing. Those trying hardest to give them a stay of execution are the lawyers working on their behalf, not our national government.
Australia should be leading the world in so many fields other than sport. Who do I blame? Pathetic leadership! Yes, politicians with no vision. Let's face it. We pay sports people obscene amounts of money - more than those who run this place, and certainly more than those who save our bloody lives every day.
Sounds pretty odd to me.
However, we still live in the lucky country, but let's make sure it stays that way. In the meantime, we all hope and pray that someone will walk out of the mist and lead us to the promised land of opportunity ...