People per Hour

Sunday 21 July 2013

 
We’ve had over 40mm of rain over the past 18 hours and our land is sodden. The creek is raging, visible from the house as  foaming white water. Bronte went out to take photos and look at the waterfall. I said to Luke to keep an eye on Dad because if he slipped in we might never see him again! There is standing water on all the paddocks and impromptu streams pouring down the hills. Unfortunately I was out in it most of the day, feeding the animals and preparing to leave them for several days. I cleaned out all the waterers and bowls and re-filled them and did what I could do keep them comfortable. They’ll get one more feed before we leave. I’ve been through three sets of clothes and my week long head-cold feels worse than ever.





The goats are the hardest to keep comfortable in such weather. Whilst they have their huts, they are liable to pick up feet bacteria when it is so wet. Today, Luke and I scraped their yard and made a temporary foot bath at the entrance with 25kg of Zinc Sulphate. Am unsure how well it will work, but it’s the best we could do in the time available. Yesterday, Luke and I tramped into the bush in the big goat paddock armed with bow-saws and cut down several large blackwood branches. The best way to keep goats healthy is to ensure they have plenty of browse. That lot should keep them going for a week or more, plus I can leave them with a good feed and six bales of hay.



 
Bonfire on goat hill
 
Last week, Luke and I gave them a complete going-over: clipped their hooves, treated their feet, vaccinated and drenched them. Can’t do much more! As Bronte says, the goats are more trouble than they are worth. Not that Luke would ever let us part with them. They do make a tremendous job of clearing blackberries and thistles though. An area of their big paddock that was totally infested with blackberries, is now almost clear. They are quite engaging and comical too. When I clip their hooves, the others get bored and start rubbing their heads on mine, pinching my hat, interfering with my back-pack, beating up the one I’m currently working on .. generally causing mischief.

It was not easy driving around the plot today. Having taken the Suzuki down to the turkeys and pigs I couldn’t drive back up the steep hill leading to the drive and garage. Eventually I zig-zagged up on uncut grass, but it was quite a struggle. To get up to the goats I put my foot down on the gravel section and tried to get enough momentum to get us up to the yard. We made it with much fish-tailing – and had a similar problem when driving into the paddock alongside the hay racks. Luke thought this was most exciting.

Luke’s been on school holidays for the past 2 weeks, so he’s been obliged to come around with me to see to the animals on Thursdays and Fridays. Bronte had to babysit on his Monday RDO (rostered day off) and took Luke to a soccer clinic in Kingston. Tomorrow is one of these wretched ‘pupil-free days’ on which they don’t offer vacation care. So Bronte has had to take a day’s hols and now has to take Luke with him for his pre-op (Bronte has to go in for an operation in a couple of weeks’ time).

One of the younger chickens had been broody for some time so I was obliged to transfer it to the anti-broody cage. However, at the time it was snowing and icy cold, so I hadn’t the heart to put it in the unroofed cage in the peacock run. Instead I hung an old cat carrier from the roof of the garage and popped her in there for a few days. She was decidedly unimpressed. It did the trick – much ruffled, she returned to the others un-broody. A few days later, Luke collected a massive egg from their nest box – 100g. Maybe she’d been storing it up!



In the snowy weather I managed to trip over the pig fence when stepping in with a heavy bag of apples over my shoulder. Unable to do anything to save myself I dropped with all my weight onto my right knee onto the hard-standing I’d so painstakingly constructed a year ago. My poor knee was badly grazed and uncomfortable. It was difficult to bend for some days despite putting ice on it for 20 minutes.

You’ll have gathered that we’ve had some very cold and wet weather. It did snow here, but was not cold enough to settle (although it felt it when I was out early feeding the animals). Luke kept on at us to go to the Hartz Mountains, but neither me nor Bronte could summon up the energy or the enthusiasm. Instead I took Luke for a walk up to our neighbours who live at 600m altitude. It took us 40 minutes to trek into a winter fairyland. There was probably close to 100mm of lovely powdery snow. While I sat by their fire drinking hot cocoa and eating custard creams, Luke tore around outside with our two dogs and that of the neighbours’. It was getting dark on the way down and having got wet in the sleet and snow on the walk up, we were quite chilly by the time we reached the car. The following day, Bronte took Luke up Jeffrey’s Track in the Suzuki and found more thick snow. Luke had a great time building a fort and playing snowballs.








In the cold weather I thought we needed some hearty food, so I made a rabbit pie. I actually made proper puff (flaky) pastry – it took most of the day, rolling out and adding butter and then back in the fridge (over and over). The pie was pretty delicious and Luke and Bronte both enjoyed it. It kept us going for 3 days. It will be some time, however, before I can face doing that again (although I did put a big lump of pastry in the freezer).

We’ve been kept busy chopping and packing firewood and getting it over to the house during this cold spell. We get through maybe two feed-bags of wood a day. We've had to get plenty ready for our house-sitter and her Mum who will look after the dogs, cats and house while we are away for a few days. I found her on Gumtree and she's local and not too expensive so it's great for us. While the other animals shouldn't need anything, it's nice to know someone can keep an eye on them.

Bronte’s been very busy re-covering the drive – all 400m of it. We had an outrageous quote which we’ve managed to reduce to a quarter. The guy brought the gravel and tipped it out of the truck as evenly as possible, then Bronte used his tractor and new grader blade to level it as best he could.

The final third of the drive was laid on a day that Luke and Bronte had arranged to do the North-South mountain-bike track on Mount Wellington. I had spent some hours on my new fence line, brush-cutting and mowing, but by late afternoon I realised I needed to do something about the gravel. The forecast was for rain the following day, so it would become difficult to spread. I did the best I could for a couple of hours with the shovel and then ran the Suzuki backwards and forwards over it (Rosie-dog kept following me backwards and forwards until she finally got the message and slunk back to the house).


Eye bloodied by bracken stalk when cutting fence-line


The guys finally came home from the North-South track around 5.30pm – having left at 10.00 in the morning! Having cycled the track itself and then having a barbecue with those of Bronte’s work colleagues who’d also come along, they ended up having to cycle from the north of Hobart (Tolosa Park), right down nearly to the waterfront, in order to get a lift! Luke already had a cold and it was pretty remarkable for an 8-year old kid to manage that distance. Someone took a great video clip of Luke cycling unsteadily along a stony section, stopping and then toppling sideways out of sight! I’d been worried that once again I would be the driver, having to take them up to The Springs, most of the way up the mountain and then have to meet them at the other end. Thank goodness one of Bronte’s colleagues was able to meet them at Fern Tree with a bike trailer this time.
 



I thought I’d done a good job on the drive until the gravel settled over the next few days and began to resemble corrugated iron - particularly in headlights at night. Luckily Bronte had arranged for an extra load of gravel to be tipped in a heap, so he spent most of yesterday tractoring it to low spots with the front-end loader and then using the grader to even it out. Having spent all of Thursday and Friday together, Luke and I ended up entertaining one another all day Saturday too. When Bronte came in and asked if we’d mind if he spent half an hour compacting the gravel down with the ute, we both yelled ‘YES, we DO mind’.

Our car problems (well, actually my car problems) have continued. The Swift was making a dreadful noise from the rear passenger side and it was almost certainly worn bearings. I booked it in one Thursday afternoon only to get a call from school to say Luke was sick. So, unable to hang around in Huonville with a sick kid, I had to cancel and go pick him up in the ute. The following Thursday I tried again. This time, the garage confirmed it was the bearings but then said they were unable to fix the car that day! Finally, I booked it in a third Thursday and had the usual trouble trying to work out how I was going to get home and then get back to pick it up. In the end I left the ute in Huonville the night before and then got an opportunistic lift in with a neighbour to pick up the fixed Swift.

The first quote for new bearings was outrageously expensive. Bronte kindly rang around and in the end the entire job was cheaper than the original quote for just materials! Over these 3 weeks, I've had to drive the ute into work, being concerned that the Swift’s back wheels might seize up or even worse, fall off! The ute, having done 195,000kms, performed admirably, and being a diesel, was much less stressful to drive up and down the hills to Hobart and back. Although it was somewhat difficult getting in and out without covering skirt and tights with mud. I’m fed up with our cars costing so much money and Bronte had the good idea of trading in both my Swift and the ute for a newer ute, one that could be used for the farm and commuting. Even if it wasn’t great on fuel, we’d still save on registration, insurance, maintenance etc. Not so great for the environment, but better for our bank account. They’ve started selling Great Wall utes here for about 30-40% less than anything else on the market, so they are definitely worth checking out.

I’ve been trying to get all the washing done before we go away, so we have our pick of clothes. This has not been helped by the awful wet weather and by Luke forgetting he had a pocketful of beads. We’ve had to change the pump twice on our rotten Bosch washing machine firstly for a coin, secondly for a safety pin. I was sure the beads would bust the pump impeller again. It made a most awful noise, so I had to drain the water, remove the pump housing and pull out all the beads I could find. It seems to have done the trick, although beads do still keep turning up inside the drum.

We watched another Michael Mosley programme recently – this time on intelligence, IQ tests and whether one could improve one’s test performance. There was a guy with an IQ of 195 – although he seemed to be a bit of an unpleasant dork! At the end the presenter took the Mensa test and scored 154, which is pretty darn high. Of course we felt compelled to have a go ourselves! I’ve been doing lots of puzzles since Bronte bought me this annoyingly difficult book which I keep in the upstairs loo. Plus I still have puzzle pages from the Daily Mail newspaper from when we were in the UK last year – and I do all the things in the Mercury each day. So I felt I was in with a chance of a good score! Luke and Bronte found an online test and did one for a 12 year old and scored a combined total of 175! I said that was 100 for Luke and 75 for Bronte. Then I did aproper test for my age and scored only 136 much to my chagrin – although when I checked the answers I had got hardly anything wrong. Bronte said it was probably time-dependant. I’d considered this but since there were no instructions I’d assumed I had plenty of time and spent ages checking my answers. This may be self-denial, but it’s comforting.

I feel inferior enough when I receive the regular CAM magazine from the University of Cambridge. All other alumni seem to be doing something terribly worthy, intellectual and profitable. There was an interesting article this time around (usually I glance through it and then – because it’s thick and glossy - put it under the tub of bird scraps to soak up any spills) on what the universe is made from including quarks, neutrinos and the like. Still no real good candidates for dark energy and dark matter.

Had an interesting experience late last week when a woman knocked on our door unannounced and having established that there was a child in the house, said she was authorised to give us $40 if we completed a questionnaire on his mental state. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I agreed, only to find the whole thing took over an hour. Plus it made out Luke to be a mentally unstable delinquent. Does he answer back or argue? More than once a week? How long has he been like this? Is he often energetic? More than once a week? How long has he been overactive? Does he fidget or wring his hands? More than once a week? How long has he had this compulsive behaviour? Does he often not listen? How often has he had this problem? And so on. At least I got my forty bucks.

Just before the school hols, I picked Luke up from school on the Thursday afternoon as usual. A pile of lost property sat on the concrete with a note to say whatever was left would be donated to charity the following day. So I had a quick sort through and grabbed a couple of size 12 school jumpers, a nice fleece and a warm coat for Luke. Luke kept saying ‘they’re not mine Mum!’ – while I was going ‘sshhh, they are now’. I cut a couple of apple badges off old T-shirts, sewed them onto the jumpers, gave everything a wash, wrote Luke’s name in the necks and felt quite pleased with my bargains.

I took an equally lazy and budget approach to my ironing recently. I never had to iron until I started work again, now all manner of tops were piling up in the office. One nice breezy, sunny day (an anomaly), I put all the ironing in the laundry tub to get thoroughly wet then hung them on the line on coat-hangers to drip dry. I thought myself so clever until all the coat-hangers kept blowing off. In the end I pegged the clothes onto the hangers and taped the hangers onto the line with parcel-tape. It did work, although I’m not sure it took any less time than ironing!

We’ve been greatly enjoying the sport recently and all the British successes, although it’s not good to see the Aussie cricket team playing so abysmally. Unfortunately, we saw little of Wimbledon, Aussie TV choosing not to show highlights or any coverage at a civilised time. So we never did get to view the Murray:Djokevic final which sounded like a classic. So pleased for Murray even though he’s a dour, unlikeable old stick. Then I’ve been hooked on the Tour de France, watching highlights in the evening whenever possible. Chris Froome seems like a real good egg, so it’s great to see him doing so well. Anyone who can cover those distances and altitudes and still sprint at the end, gets a thumbs-up from me. I like Mark Cavendish too, although he’s a bit brusque. Richie Porte, our own Tasmanian cyclist, has been a pillar of strength in the Sky team and I doubt if Froome would have made it without his support. Then of course the British lions rugby team whopped the Aussie wallabies, Man U beat the A League ‘Allstars’ 5:1 or something equally embarrassing, and now the first two Ashes tests have seen the Aussies go down to England (very convincingly in the second test). It all started with the Olympics last year, this new-found British sporting confidence.
 
 
Luke being destructive in the garage


 

Monday 1 July 2013

 
Lizard that Luke found recently. Not sure what sort, but it was very
aggressive for such a tiny creature. It constantly struck at us looked
to have a blue mouth. So possibly a young blue-tongue?
Beautiful metallic blue beetles that appear
to breed exclusively on the horrible ankle-height
buzzies (burrs) that plague our lives in summer.

Our peacock is doing his best to show off to his mate
even though his tail-feathers are barely half-grown.
 
 
The weather has been more than usually variable of late. Firstly we had a week of continuous rain – and I mean continuous. If not actually raining, there was a misty drizzle. It stayed at around 8 deg C for the entire time – night and day. It made working on the farm fairly dismal. Despite the non-stop nature of the rain, it didn’t amount to a large amount – around 5cm (2ins) in total. It was good to see the streams in spate and to have the noise of our creek back in our lives again.

Then it became very frosty, down to minus 3 here, which is pretty cold for Tassie. I preferred the frost to the rain, but my hands got awfully freezy, despite my Ninja gloves. The mornings were magical, with white rime on ground and trees, mist clinging to the hills and early sun lighting the top of the mountains to the west of us. Often, Crabtree valley would be filled with soft fog, either calm like cotton wool or roiling up the mountainsides. The views going to and from work have been ever-changing. On one occasion, the entire Huon Valley was filled with fog as I came over Vince’s Saddle (the highest point on the road between Hobart and Huonville). It was an arresting, surreal sight. The last slice of sun was slipping behind the fog to the west – the top halves of hills visible above the milky sea. I pulled over to take a photo but couldn’t do justice to the view. I drove out of relative sunlight into a murky darkness. According to the lady at the Grove Shop, the fog had not lifted all day – “the first time for years”.











Luke has loved the cold mornings and takes an unbelievable delight in playing with ice. Great plates of ice formed on the birds’ water – up to an inch thick. Luke found these endlessly fascinating. He even paddled in the mud in the pig pens, crackling the ice on the puddles – returning covered with mud from head to foot.

Luke forced us out of bed one Saturday at 7.00am to check the dams for ice. The larger one had some ice around the edge but had apparently been prevented from fully icing-up by the swimming geese. The smaller dam was frozen and Luke had great fun seeing what size of rock would skid across the surface and what size would crack the ice. The following day, Bronte and Luke again went early to the dams while I stayed in bed. Bronte came back soaked to the knees having slipped through the ice at the edge! A bit scary really, as the dam slopes steeply and there is little grip in the thick mud.

The same morning, the brass tap shot off the creek tap up by the goats. As there was no way of turning off the water I was forced to fix it with freezing water spraying in all directions at high pressure. Strangely, battling with the tap warmed me up, despite my soaking legs and face. Handling the icily cold metal wrench and tap in such weather was hard on the hands though. It was too fiddly for gloves. How Luke can spend so long handling ice with bare hands, I can’t imagine. The hoses have been largely unusable in such weather and have sprung leaks at several points. Sometimes I’ve resorted to collecting buckets of water from the laundry.

Over the last couple of days, the weather has changed again, becoming windy and mild. It was Bronte’s RDO today (rostered day off) and he’d scheduled for several loads of road gravel to arrive. He’s quite exhausted this evening having spent all day shovelling and using the tractor to shape and grade the gravel. Our 400m drive has survived quite well, considering we’ve done very little work on it in the 8 or so years since we had it built. But it was beginning to get rough on our cars and rainwater run-off was cutting channels in places where the drains had silted up. So we are investing in a thin covering of red gravel (a fine gravel with some clay to bind it) to smooth it out. Bronte’s been using the new grader blade and the front-loader on the tractor to clear out the drains where he can. The grader blade has been fixed up and strengthened by a local guy who charged a quarter of the price quoted by a firm in Kingston.



We’ve got a few other jobs done on the land. I manoeuvred a small iron water tank into the turkey pen, laid it on its side in the bracken and half-filled it with hay. In all the rain, the turkeys were the only creatures that hadn’t sought shelter and looked like drowned mini-dinosaurs, their feathers sleeked to their backs and scaly heads prominent. I hoped a change of shelter might encourage them to keep dry. It will make a good nesting box come spring too – one that the crows might be reluctant to enter, surrounded as it is by tall bracken. The turkeys are eating huge amounts and I think we may have to cull a couple, particularly the young white male that practically jumps onto my arm to eat out of the bowls before I can put them down.

I’ve been keeping up the maintenance on the goat fence. In places where there has been a tiny electric short, it gradually breaks down the thin wires in the braid, until it hangs by a thread and sparks loudly. I’ve replaced a couple of these and fixed up one of the huts that was rather holey. The goats are in full winter coats, beautifully woolly and soft and – apart from occasional foot problems from the wet ground – seem in good health. Had one scare with young Jill who looked forlorn and refused to eat. I fed her lots of my ‘goat-pick-me-up’ mixture of molasses, dehydration fluids, bicarbonate of soda, vitamins, olive oil etc, designed to cure-all or nothing. Remarkably she was back in good spirits a few days’ later. I suspect she’d pigged out on bracken or something equally unsuitable.

I’ve continued to work on the new fenceline whenever I get a chance – usually only an hour or two at a time, but progress is being made. I brushcut through a thick growth of bracken on Friday afternoon and was swiped in the eye by a thick stem when clearing the cut fronds by hand. By that stage I had removed my safety goggles. By Saturday morning I couldn’t open my eye, it was bloodshot, swollen and weepy and it made me feel quite miserable. Luke was most solicitous, patting my arm and dabbing my eyes dry with tissue – what a sweetie! I drove (one-eyed and slightly erratically) to Huonville and, after dropping Luke off at his soccer match, went to the nearby doctors. She said the eye was scratched and to keep it patched and use antibiotic drops. I’m pleased to say the patch is off and the eye is feeling pretty well back to normal now. Luke thought I looked rather piratical with my patch – said I was “Long John Silver’s wife”.


Part of cleared fenceline


Winston the dear piglet, never turned up and I fear the worse. Either that or he’ll wreak his revenge when a full-grown boar. Rosie-dog is still fascinated by the pigs. Each day it’s as though she’s never seen them before. She catches sight of one, her hackles go up and she races down to the pens barking. The pigs always come rolling up to say hello. Bronte says we should put Rosie in with them and see how brave she was then. The bunnies are doing well again. I fed them recently and crouched down to watch as six little grey bunny babies came out from their burrow under the hut to feed. What a bunch of cuties.

The pademelons are in plague proportions – possibly more than we’ve ever had on the land, and they are still breeding through the winter. I think they had a good summer - dry and warm - and bred madly. Now the grass has stopped growing and the weather has turned nasty, there may be a population decline over the next month or two. Bronte has been out shooting to try and keep the area around the house clear. It doesn’t seem to be doing much good as the amount of wallaby poo is without precedent. Road-kill numbers are up – it’s not unusual for there to be four or five wallies on the 7km of road between us and the Huon Highway. That’s not counting the ones who were not killed outright - poor things - that ran off into the scrub to die.

I came home from work one night and in my headlights saw a large dark lump on the road and two eyes shining back at me. I stopped just in time to allow a small spotted Eastern quoll to leave its wallaby dinner and get to the side of the road. Unfortunately in the morning, I found the quoll dead on the road (no sign of the wallie). They are such beautiful savage little creatures. Bronte looked outside the following evening from our deck and saw one of the big rare Tiger quolls – pale brown with less spots, about the size of a medium cat. It’s lovely to know they are around, but I don’t want them killing our hens!



The older hens have finally started moulting. They look the most terrible sight. One in particular resembles a grey and pink pincushion. Not good weather for them to lose all their feather protection. The egg production has dropped off a little, particularly since one of the young ones has gone broody and stopped laying. She gets most cross when I collect the eggs and haul her out of the nest box.





We’ve continued to have car problems (or at least I have). The work Suzuki started developing road noise which rapidly increased over the course of a week. Bronte thinks it’s wheel bearings. I had it booked in last Thursday afternoon, but I got a call from school to say Luke was sick so I had to go in the ute and drive him straight home, rather than hanging around for soccer practice and for Bronte to pick us up. I’ve got it booked in for this week and in the meantime have been driving the poor old ute to work – with 195,000kms on the clock. Since it’s had new glowplugs and fuel filter, It’s had a new lease of life. I was able to borrow Bronte’s car today since he was on RDO - much nicer to drive than mine. I suggested we swapped cars, which didn’t go down well.

Bronte’s car seems to be irresistible to rats. The wax blocks he’d put in there have been eaten, and there is green poo and rat pee in evidence. He reckons a couple of his cables have been chewed. The dogs were sniffing around my car for a day recently and I actually saw a ratty-rat’s tail when I peered in one corner under the bonnet. Left the bonnet open for the day and I reckon it flushed it out.




Off the farm, we’ve had the delights of Dark Mofo to entertain us. This was a winter festival organised by the Mona museum. Our first experience was a bit of a damp squib. We went to a light and sound show that was extremely loud and lacked evidence of the ‘show’ bit. I hope that it was just that we were there at the wrong time. However, our second expedition was considerably more rewarding. We’ve had an installation called Spectra in Hobart as part of the festival. It’s a grid of 49 large white spotlights (each maybe 45cm in diameter) pointing directly up into the sky – creating a 15km high column of brilliant white light. We could even see it from here on clear nights. Up close it was quite dazzling. When we stood between the lights and looked up we could see the raindrops floating through the pillars of light. As you moved in and out of the grid, sensors were activated which changed the mood music playing around the base of the installation.






Then we went to the Winter Feast, which was somewhat like The Taste, but rather more entertaining. One of the big wharf sheds on the harbour front was lined with food and drink stalls with tables and chairs down the centre. It took some time to queue for our food but was worth it in the end. Nymphs of both genders wafted around, occasionally lifting up their skirts to reveal a garden of paper flowers on the inside!




Outside, there were fire pits surrounded by benches and various entertainers including an ex-pat Greek whose act was similar to that of John Cooper-Clark, a mix of poetry, rap and storytelling, all belted out at high speed. Luke was transfixed. There were giant barbecues and famous chefs cooking up their signature dishes.



The theme of Dark Mofo was red, hence the inside of the Winter Feast was washed with red light at one end and many of the local tourist centres and hotels were similarly lit on the outside to add to the atmosphere. The plane trees in Salamanca Place were complete with sparkling fairy lights and a further installation of a megawatt laser-beam was shone horizontally between the rows of trees. It was not a static display, but a sizzling, whirling lilac tube of light - really remarkable. By this time, we were frozen with cold and glad to get home, but it was certainly an evening to remember.






Our latest excitement is that we are off to see Melbourne Victory soccer club play Liverpool FC at the MCG on 24 July! We shall stay in Melbourne that night and fly to Adelaide the next day to visit Bronte’s Dad. Luke and I will come home at the weekend and Bronte will stay on for a couple of extra days. Should be rather fun. We’re hoping to engage a house-sitter to look after the dogs and cat and house. I can set up the farm animals with feeders and waterers.

I’m hoping the spectacle will cement Luke’s love of soccer. We’ve watched the Socceroo’s World Cup qualifying matches and are excited about them going to Brazil next year (even if the UK press has been having a few digs at Australia’s expense ..). If only Luke’s team could do a bit better, they just get flogged every Saturday. Luke has been scoring a few goals which pleased him but as a team they lack confidence and match-sense. The coach gets quite frustrated (and perhaps a little embarrassed) and even I cringed a bit last Saturday! Never mind, they are having fun and that’s the main thing.

I suppose I should mention the momentous and historic happenings in our Aussie parliament although I can’t get too worked-up about it. Kevin Rudd, who was unceremoniously dumped 3 years ago as PM and leader of the Labour Party, is now back in power, having been voted in over Julia Gillard by caucus (whatever that is). I felt a bit sorry for Julia really. I didn’t agree with the way Rudd was treated in the first instance, but I think Julia has done as well as anyone could in her position. She won an election and held together a hung parliament and passed some highly progressive legislation including the carbon tax, education reforms, mining tax and disability insurance.

I fear the ‘Liberals’ (Conservatives), will reverse all the good she has done and crack down harder on asylum seekers. I’d better not get started on that subject, having just listened to a BBC programme on the Hazaras in Pakistan – how they are demonised and attacked by the majority Shiite community. When you hear some of the personal stories of loss it’s enough to break your heart. I can understand some European countries wanting to limit immigrants owing to them having already opened their doors to millions over the years. Australia is not in that position and people who risk their lives and those of their families to board leaky boats in order to make their way to Australia, must be pretty desperate. And the number who make it here are tiny in comparison to those received by other countries.