Help for the struggling bands of Australia can surely only be a matter of weeks away. As the Federal Minister for the Environment tethered his snorting steed to the rails adjoining the lawns of parliament house and enacted an emergency heritage listing for the high country cattle graziers of Victoria it was apparent that a new mood of beneficence was abroad. That the few alpine meadows extant on the earth’s flattest continent have largely escaped commercial exploitation is a crime against economics. Granted, the welcome arrival of the ski resort righted the injustice to some extent, facilitating a little clear felling that the deserving rich might schuss the slopes without fear of crushing their gorgeous heads against an errant bough. In the main, however, it is the mountain cattlemen of Victoria who, for 170 years have stoically upheld the great Australian ethic of plunder for profit.
No matter how often I tramp Victoria’s lonely high plains I never tire of the delight at seeing a cow midst the largely unimproved wilderness. Many is the time I have collected my evening’s water from within the muddy perimeter of a convenient hoof hole, courteously provided by an 800 kg beast thundering through an otherwise wastefully inefficient Alpine bog. As I drain my cup and the earthy elixir slides down the back of my throat I send silent thanks to the thoughtful licence holders at whose behest the cattle graze unfettered. The Federal government’s move to protect the touching claims of 45 grazing families to continue using the Victorian High Plains as their top paddock sets a highly encouraging precedent. It is now surely incumbent on politicians to extend the clammy palm of charity towards other unproductive minorities – failed musical acts included.
Far from the high country, out on the dusty plains of drought, the Man from Snowy River’s primary-producing brethren are likewise rejoicing at the government’s patrician benevolence. Not before time it was declared that the patriots farming marginal land in semi-arid Australia must be protected at all costs. Core Australian values include the right to run hard-hoofed introduced animals where once only the delicate footfall of native fauna disturbed the fragile soil. Naturally this right is only re-emphasised when conducted from beneath the sheltering brim of a dusty Akubra. Several hundred thousands of dollars worth of off-farm assets should be no impediment to a good old-fashioned leg up – it is the Australian way. Having craftily squirreled the profits of the good years into the hollowed trunks of the few trees not ringbarked by their forebears or pile-driven into the red earth by their own tractors, they now watch the lotto balls fall with moistened lips.
Of course these hardworking men and women are the salt of the earth, if for no other reason than their singular brilliance at coaxing tonnes of sodium chloride from the ancient loams via well-researched ground salination policies. Where misguided heathens tried proclaiming the benefits of crop rotation as far back as Medieval Europe, our enlightened agro-terrorists know that nothing makes the soil work harder than pounding it with a remorseless bovine tap dance. The earth loves punishment and indeed, has adapted to the bitch slap of white farming to such an extent that it will no longer release its bounty without having first been felt up by the leather-skinned grope of a red neck in moleskins and RM Williams boots. It is behoven on all taxpayers to make it their duty to foster mateship by ensuring that the ruthless commercial exploitation of marginal land be subsidised generously. Never shall the sacred birthright of the few be sacrificed to the socialist evil of environmentalism. And, when the last of his malnourished, dehydrated cattle drop where they stood, mere contact with the hyper-salinated soil should ensure years of beef jerky for the hungry grazier.
A bloody-minded determination to farm scorched earth in spite of all good sense has been handsomely rewarded. It surely follows that a similar disposition re-focussed towards the performing arts should likewise be encouraged. It all sounds so promising. Played for years in front of no one? Never sold a record? Feel the world owes you a living despite your steadfast refusal to accept the inevitable? Help is on the way!
After 17 years of chasing the hit record that never came I now eagerly await my superannuation. Like an NBA All-Star running hot from the free throw line I am putting my hand out. Never will I re-train or seek alternative employment for music is all I have ever known. I ask now to be cloaked in the dressing gown of the Australian flag as I leave stage for the last time. Driver be gone with that stretch limo for I need it not! Simpson and his faithful donkey wait patiently at the stage door to ferry my weary body into the heart of the nation’s consciousness. Start handing over the cash you fucking bastards!