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On Steak, Broadband, & LNPW Tea…

LNPW Tea at Tatts

There were just a few of us thorns among the many roses today at the LNP Women’s ‘Tea at Tattersalls’. A couple of us gents were lucky enough to be at the table with Georgie Somerset (pictured): farmer, President of the National Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network, and guest speaker this morning.

The last time I heard Georgie speak was after standing for 30 minutes in an antarctic gale in June outside Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre waiting for admission to Q&A’s travelling road show. That bone-chilling wait really put the Q in Q&A but it was well worth it – not only for the comedian who warmed up the crowd waiting for the cameras to roll, but for the quality of comments by panellists Barnaby Joyce and Georgie Somerset in particular.

The theme of today’s talk might have been “A good steak does not happen by accident”. So handsome were the steaks in her PowerPoint projection that the morning tea, fine though it was, left one wanting something with more body… But there was nothing left wanting in Georgie’s address: an appealing insight into the high-tech, scientifically demanding, environmentally responsible methods of modern farming – on soils that are marginal, in Georgie’s case, but which, she argued persuasively, would be in much poorer shape if abandoned to the feral animals and weeds and erosion in yet another ‘national park’.

And at an LNPW gathering: what can government offer? Attention to infrastructure: give the body healthy arteries, and the life-blood will flow vigorously. Fix the derelict highways, build the rail… and don’t underestimate the power of internet-connectedness. With decent broadband (and wireless booster towers should do the job, not needing NBN) remote children can have all the curriculum resources of city kids; farmers can improve management by innovations such as remote monitoring of trough-water levels via their iPad; sick people in their farmhouse can see and talk with the specialist in Toowoomba or Brisbane.

All good, and all achievable.

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