Using oxygen to save lives not threaten them

When I was a girl and that was a long time ago I learnt in school the biggest threat to the world was extremism and the conflict in the middle east . Yet did we study this at school??? No way that would be too close to common sense. I live to learn and grow and as a person who is part of a team sending two very special young people to Paris this week I am reading avidly  in a effort to help play my role at home.

Today’s post is a reprint of this article in The Conversation– I found the article extraordinaryly powerful as in how we respond to IS

What are your thoughts has Japan got it right? How do we cut off the terrorists oxygen with as little impact on human life and the planet as possible?

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did

The terrorist attacks in Paris have resonated around the world. In addition to physical violence, Islamic State (IS) is pursuing a strategy of socially mediated terrorism. The symbolic responses of its opponents can be predicted and may inadvertently further its aims.

In the emotion of the moment, we need to act. We need to be cautious, however, of symbolic reactions that divide Muslims and non-Muslims. We need emblems that act against the xenophobia that is a recruiting tool for jihadists.

Reactions from the West should not erode the Muslim leadership that is essential to overturning “Islamic State”. Queen Rania of Jordan points out:

What the extremists want is to divide our world along fault lines of religion and culture, and so a lot of people in the West may have stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims. But really this fight is a fight between the civilised world and a bunch of crazy people who want to take us back to medieval times. Once we see it that way, we realise that this is about all of us coming together to defend our way of life.

Queen Rania’s statement characterises the Paris attacks as part of a wider conflict around cultural values. How are these values playing out symbolically across the globe?

Propaganda seeks predictable responses

IS’s socially mediated propaganda is sophisticated and planned. This supports an argument that the Paris attacks are the beginning of a global campaign. Symbolic materials characterise IS as invincible. However, other evidence may indicate that it is weak.

The IS representation of the Eiffel Tower. SITE Intelligence Group

The spontaneous celebration on Twitter by IS supporters was predictable. Its representational coverage of the Paris attacks, however, suggests deep planning.

This planning is embedded in professionally designed images. A reworked image depicts the Eiffel Tower as a triumphal arch with the IS flag flying victoriously on top.

The tower is illuminated and points to the heavens and a God-given victory. The inclusion of a road running through the Eiffel Tower provides a sense of speed, change, even progress. In Arabic, the text states, “We are coming, France” and “The state of Khilafa”.

IS is using symbolic representations of the Paris attacks to garner new recruits.

A sophisticated pre-prepared image of an intrepid fighter walking away from a Paris engulfed in flames was quickly distributed. It is inscribed with the word “France under fire” in Arabic and French.

IS had its ‘France under fire’ image ready to post immediately after the attacks. INSITE on Terrorism

InFAMOUS IGN Entertainment Games

This image keys into the heroic tropes of online video gaming, such as prototype and inFAMOUS. Chillingly, it is designed to turn virtual warriors into actual warriors.

The five million young Muslims in France are particular targets. Among online recruitment materials are videos calling them to join other young French nationals who are with IS.

Prototype hifisnap

Support for the victims in Paris and for the democratic values of liberty, equality and fraternity are embedded in the blue, white and red lights movement. These lights shone in major cities in the US, Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan and South America. The blue, white and red lights also were displayed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia.

However, the light displays were seen in few countries with Muslim majorities overall. Such countries are in an invidious position. Display the lights and you may be characterized as a lackey of the West. Don’t display the lights and appear unsympathetic to the victims.

Facebook blue white and red Paris author provided/courtesy J. Smith

Support also is embedded in a parallel Facebook function that allows members to activate a tri-colour filter. Adapted from a rainbow filter used to support same-sex marriage, this filter attracts those with liberal sentiments.

The question of whether to use the French flag to show sympathy for the victims is invidious at a personal level. Many people find themselves exploited and condemned to poverty by neoliberal economic models. They are put in a difficult position. They feel sympathy for the victims. However, they are bitter about how they are being treated by “the West”, including France.

Perils of an ‘us and them’ mindset

As the blue, white and red activism plays out around the globe, there is a potential for this to transform into a symbolic manifestation of an “us and them” mentality. Such a division would support xenophobic forces, which steer recruits towards IS.

The global impact of the attacks can be related to the iconic status of Paris. The attacks hold a personal dimension for millions of people who have visited this city. They have a sense of “there but for the grace of God, go I”. This emotion echoes responses to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

The Japanese and Italian cafes included in the attacks are symbolic targets for their countries. In March 2015, IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnan stated that the group would attack “Paris, before Rome”. Rome is a target because of its symbolic role as the centre of Christianity. Japan is a target because of its role in coalition forces. It has already suffered the execution of Japanese hostages early in 2015.

In Japan, the cultural reaction has been relatively low key, as part of a strategy of minimising terrorist attention. The blue, white and red lights solidarity received minimal press coverage. There have been few reports of the Japanese restaurant that was one of the targets. In addition to factual coverage of the attacks, Japanese reports have concentrated on implications for security at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Are there any symbols indicating good news? The Syrian passport found near the body of one of the attackers could be a sign of weakness. It could have been “planted” there – why carry a passport on a suicide mission?

If so, its purpose is to increase European xenophobia and encourage the closing of borders to Syrian refugees. This suggests the mass exodus of Muslim refugees from Syria is hurting IS. The propaganda could be a sign of alarm in IS leadership ranks.

In our responses to the Paris attacks, the grief of the West should not be allowed to overshadow the opprobrium of Muslim countries. Muslims are best placed to challenge the Islamic identity of this self-declared state.

As Queen Rania states, the war against IS must be led by Muslims and Arabs. To ensure success, the international community needs to support, not lead, Muslim efforts.

This article orginally appeared in The Conversation


How many ways can you tell inspiring tales from the farm

I have had a very inspiring 3 week road trip which started with an invitation to judge the Spirit of the Land Farm Art Sculpture’s competition. You can see my photos of this amazing event here

Following the Lockhart Festival I joined The Archibull Prize artwork judge architect Wendy Taylor on her yearly whirlwind tour searching for the WOW Archie. Poor Wendy this year proved to be very stressful – the wow factor was off the scale as you can see here.

For me as a farmer the highlight of this trip is talking to the teachers and students and listening to their journey and finding out the impact the program has had on them, their school and the wider community.

Did the students and teachers and farmers have the courageous conversations we all need to have to ensure Australian farmers can continue to feed and clothe Australian families in the highly challenging environment we find ourselves in on so many levels?

The big threats to reliable access to safe, affordable and healthy food in this country like increasing and prolonged extreme weather events, declining access to land, water and non renewable energy sources, food waste, biosecurity risks and and increasing consumer concerns about modern farming practices.

The students looked at all these big ticket issues and many more. They created artworks, they blogged and they animated and wow did they have courageous conversations,  They have thought boldly . They have  shown they have  the courage to drive change and find new and better ways of doing things . Mega kudos to them and their outstanding example to the rest of us

Lockhart Public School

These little cuties from Lockhart had such a great time making pom pom sheep 

The Archibull Prize is a very costly program to run as you can imagine.  Australia is a big country and transporting life size fibreglass cows doesn’t come cheap. Many people donate their time and expertise to ensure the program is delivered on behalf of farmers everywhere to the level of significance our wonderful Australian produce deserves

In fact the Young Farming Champions – some of Australian agriculture’s most inspirational young people donate thousands of hours between them to gain the skills and knowledge to go into schools participating in The Archibull Prize to tell agriculture’s story and share their values, hopes and dreams for a bright future for agriculture in this country

Interestingly enough it was Cotton Australia who was the first industry to put their hands up to participate in The Archibull Prize. Always an industry that thinks outside the box they could see the potential of using a blank fibreglass cow to tell the story of cotton. Although I must admit it did take me a while to convince them the award shouldn’t be the called The Archiboll Prize. Just to show you what I knew about cotton at that time I had to ask what a ‘boll’ was

Let me show you how inspiring an innovative vehicle, a blank fibreglass cow, an exciting young farming champion and some great classroom resources can be to tell Cotton Tales in a way that resonate with the people that matter – the people who buy what farmers produce and I am not even going to show you the artwork yet

The Many Faces of Cotton

Investigating the Australian Cotton Industry

and this

Did you know Australian Cotton is the best in the World?

How to make a Cotton Calf

And we haven’t even talked about cows telling sheep tales yet

Well check this out

Where there’s Wool There’s a Runway

Weaving the Woollen Dream

And this is just a sample – so glad I am not judging these

BTW Check out the Learn about Wool school resources here 

With a little bit of help from Beyonce we can save the waterways

There is no denying that agriculture can have a significant and detrimental impact on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, This is a big concern for governments, landcare groups, farmers, and the public alike. More and more Queensland farmers are trying to change that and farmers whose waterways flow into the Great Barrier Reef Catchment are keen to showcase how their industries are meeting their responsibility to farm in a way that protects the Great Barrier Reef.

Tambo SHS

Today’s post is a Hats off to the students at Tambo State High School who participated in The 2015 Archibull Prize. It was clear that the health of the reef is a the forefront of these young people’s minds and they have done a great job of using music to show how farmers and they, as the engineers of the future, are protecting waterways

Fencing in the beauty and fencing out future problems   

Tambo State High School

Sadly the distance to Tambo means art judge Wendy Taylor wont be able to meet these amazing students in person.  Which is a real shame as they sure are a talented lot. Check out their blog here

The farmers’ case for leaving coal and coalseam gas in the ground

These days when some-one asks me to speak at, or judge something they usually request a photo and a bio

The photo part is easy but the bio gets more and more difficult. Yes I can always tailor it for the audience I am presenting to or will be meeting but I don’t even know what to call myself any more.

At the moment as I collaborate with a diverse group of people who are helping to send Young Farming Champion’s Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth to Paris for COP21, I am finding myself being referred to as a global campaigner for equity for farmers as we lobby the Australian government for action on climate change.

Anika Molesworth

Australian Young Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth

What does being a campaigner for equity for farmers mean for me?

It means creating awareness and getting government to ‘embrace the future’ by recognising agriculture does so much more that produce food and fibre.  It creates jobs, grows wealth and vibrant, healthy and resilient rural and regional communities. This is the bright future all Australians want and deserve

It means getting our government to understand climate change is happening and it is a real threat to reliable access to safe, affordable and healthy food not only in 20 years’ time but now.

It means I fully support these comments that agriculture can play a big role in helping deliver the solution

Australia’s food production sector can make a substantial contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving our communities, environment and economy to a more sustainable basis.  ….

Farming systems that produce their own renewable energy, and are based on sustainable agricultural practices that increase carbon storage in vegetation and soils, reduce the need for expensive nitrogen-based fertilizer, reduce soil degradation, save water, and protect our natural resource base will have win-win impacts – helping reduce the prospects of climate change to which we cannot adapt, as well as increasing the reliability, profitability and quality of our food supply.

Feeding a Hungry Nation: Climate change, Food and Farming in Australia 2015 by Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr. Martin Rice, Professor Will Steffen

Farmers are perfectly placed to contribute to the solutions to Climate Change. Not only are they on the frontline of Climate Change already, they are innovative, resourceful and determined.

Our Australian farmers are part of a global farming community. They know they have to learn from each other’s successes and failures in order to help us all move forward. Farmers have always been focused on feeding and clothing us, and now they also in a position to POWER us as well using renewable energy technologies.

Its means that I am dedicating every spare minute I have to ensure our farmers are provided with the knowledge, the skills, the support and incentives necessary to help them feed and clothe and power us profitably

With a 2am start this morning catching up on all the things I don’t know that I need to know to be effective at what I do – bloody hell yes did I relate to this story Coal Seam Gas and Country Women #gogirlfriends

Women are very passionate and if you threaten our homes, families and livelihoods we swing into action. Clean water, air and soil are a right for every man woman and child in this beautiful country. We have a right to know how and under what conditions our food and fibre are grown. We owe that to ourselves and our children and grandchildren. The methane is still in the coal seams under the ground so the fight is not over. Sustainable energy is the way of the future. “You can’t eat coal and you can’t drink gas”. Australian agriculture has a huge job ahead feeding the world with only 6% prime agricultural land. If our precious agricultural lands are left unmined, future generations of Australian farmers will still be feeding the world in the centuries to come.

Watch some of these magnificent women here

Where does this leave all the wonderful people who work in the coal industry?

As some-one who has friends with friends who work in the coal industry its is also very important to me that there will be great jobs in clean energy technologies to keep them in work. Here is a great story about Mark Wiggins who after 20 years working in coal and hydro is a coal miner who has successfully made that transition

A career in power generation moves from coal to wind

With the mining boom now at an end, Australia is grappling with a sharp jobs contraction in the coal, gas and resources sectors. As thousands of workers contemplate their futures, many of those in regional Australia will increasingly look to jobs in clean energy technologies to keep them in work.

Wind farms are a logical next step for workers experienced in fossil fuel power generation and that neatly describes the trajectory of AWA member, Mark Wiggins. After 20 years working in coal and hydro, Mark is now Operations Manager at Boco Rock Wind Farm, standing on the Monaro plains, 150 km south of Canberra

Never underestimate our farmers – not only can they feed the world they can also power the world

We all know farmers feed, clothe and house the world the question that is the key focus of my lobbying activities going forward will answer is – can they also power the world through renewables?


Working alongside me are the  dedicated Young Farming Champions team at Picture You in Agriculture who also believe our farmers can help power the world. They are not alone and they have joined forces with a very powerful group (both in size and capacity) of people who vehemently share this belief

There is no denying that an poltical environment in Australia that facilitiates and encourages our farmers and their equity partners to invest in reneawble enery will provide a watershed opportunity for our farmers to not only leave a phenomenal legacy for the planet, it will also provides a new, exciting and pivtoal opportunity for farmers to significant reduce the market and prodcution inputs volitiltyand business risk that a reliable source of dual income from farmers putting energy back into the grid offers

I look forward to sharing our journey to get the Abbott government to share our vision and make it their mission to deliver the necessary incentives and policy to turn “Farmers feed and powers us” from possible into reality

This week as I attended face to face meetings and participated in conference calls from unique locations I was constantly reminded of another often unrecognized service our farmers provide

Last Wednesday saw me travel down the south coast of NSW to meet with farmers and bright minds who share my vision and I documented my journey through the following photographs

Enjoy this pictorial reminder our farmers are the unpaid park keepers of Australia.

Sunrise on my front verandah greeted me like this…….

Sept 9 2015 Clover Hill Sunrise (7)

Salute to Michael and Nicholas Strong who wake up every day committed to growing the best pasture ( and they do) the magnificent rain fed soil the landscape at Clover Hill rarely fails to deliver 

Sept 9 2015 Clover Hill Sunrise (1)

Salute to the magnificent and adorable herd of record breaking “girls” our family has selected and bred over the past 40 years 


On my journey I took this picture of contented bliss on the Burke family farm


My meeting with Mike Logan ( Dairy Connect) and  Rob McIntosh ( Chair NSW Farmers Dairy Committee) took place in front of these scenes at the McIntosh Family farm 

IMG_3542 IMG_3544 IMG_3547and then it was back home as the sun set on our gorgeous girls 
Sept 9 2015 Clover Hill Sunrise (4)

Yes our farmers and Australia’s landscape are definitely worth my time. I look forward to sharing our journey to ensure Australian farmers get a fair return on their significant investment in the health, wealth and happiness of all Australians

Farmageddon Indeed?

Having spoken to a number of people who were interviewed for this article I know it was months in the writing.

Farms Way

What do I think about it.? I don’t know.  It does raise some issues that concern me. I think the main one being does this megatrend and the FTA mean ‘foreign workers”

What it does clearly indicicate is the world finds technology very exciting except it appears when it comes to using it to help produce our food

I had a pre theatre meal in Sydney last week with a small group of non farming background people some of whom I met that night for the first time. Robotic dairies came up as part of the dinner conversation and one of the group said she was uncomfortable with the concept as from what she had seen on television robots for milking cows meant less human/animal interaction

I know where she is coming from Michael Strong always said the reason he loves to dairy is because he loves to milk cows so I can’t see any robots on the horizon for Clover Hill in his lifetime

I on the other hand never wanted to milk cows, and having been to farms where robots milk cows, I love the concept of cows wandering in to get milked voluntarily, getting their backs scratched on the way out and then wandering back to the paddock

I especially love all the data the system collects that allows farmers to spend more time focusing on cow health and less time washing udders, spraying teats and dealing with all the stress milking time invariably brings twice/three times a day

From a dairy consumer point of view – it’s an interesting article. The journalist very pointedly is it appears wanting to be seen to be giving a balanced viewpoint. – Interviews with two farmers, a Dairy Australia analyst, a couple of university experts, an animal welfare group and an animal liberationist group

It reminded me how right Josh Gilbert is in this article titled Whoever Tells the Story Wins the War.

This is part of what Josh had to say ………………….

In Australia, our agricultural industry made towns, supported and raised families and provided resources through times of struggle and conflict. Our farms became a location where dreams were realised, memories created and history shaped.

But too often we forget to share this story, the journey shaped by where we are and the lifestyle we grew up with. Too often, we surrender our love and incite fear that food will no longer be on the shelves. And too often, we fail to recognise that what we want most is equality and the same opportunities as our city peers.

Late last year I stood before agricultural rockstars and policy makers and stated that;

‘The farming narrative will be told- it is up to farmers to decide who tells that story and how it will be remembered.’

That the agricultural world that we want to portray is our responsibility and if we don’t share our story, we risk leaving it to someone else. Someone else who may not feel our love and our connection of the land, someone else who may criticise our actions, with little knowledge for why we do it.

Having spent time this week with environmental groups, faith groups and Indigenous organisations to discuss climate change, I have come to appreciate that there is great respect and support for what we do by all parties. We have people who want to listen, who are thirsty for information, but their ability to find information is limited. Our opportunity to share our story is the greatest it has been- agriculture needs to grasp it, take advantage of it and realise this potential.

Whoever tells the story wins the war- the war of opportunity and of accurate, positive stories

History is indeed written by the victors. I am looking forward to everyone being a winner in the production of safe, affordable, healthy food produced by people who care and get paid a fair return for their efforts.

Cows in Paradise

When political leaders around the globe are getting on board the clean energy train why is Tony Abbott still on the coal train?.

Just as there is love at first sight between people, there can be love at first sight between a person and a place.

 A landscape is more than a location, it is one party in a relationship – Vaclav Cílek ,

Coming from a farming family that supplies 50,000 Australians with the milk for their breakfast every day we have come to realise that farming is so much more than food and fibre production. It’s nature that sustains us and our cows.  When Nature thrives we thrive..

Cows walking home Clover Hill

We live in a world that is becoming more and more aware of our environmental impact and we realise that what our family love doing could damage the pristine rainforest we were surrounded by.

We see our role as a food and fibre producer and custodians of the land is to ensure the people we employ, the people we feed and Mother Nature and the animals in our care have a voice

We realise for nature to thrive we had to be prepared to evolve just like nature

As farmers whether we own or lease the land we farm on we have a responsibility to plan for the legacy we want to leave behind. Until we have a plan, a legacy is only a good intention.

For the last ten years I have been accessing funding and expertise for multiple land holders in my region to help them leave the legacy they will be proud of

Along the way I have met many people with very different ideas on what their legacy looks like and how much time and effort and personal funding they are prepared to put into it.

As I put the final touches on the latest partnership report I am seriously despairing about what the current federal government think their land stewardship legacy will look like.

Banksia (1)

I have the joy of working with people like Erin Lake as young person passionate about our landscape 

Renae Marcus and Megan

The dedicated bush regeneration team Michael Andrews CEG  (28)

Regeneration work as part of the project   Michael Andrews CEG  (40)

Protecting the endangered Illawarra Zieria (Zieria granulata)

Michael Andrews CEG  (30)

.and the  Illawarra Socketwood (Daphnandra johnsonii),


and filming our work to share with the world

I am with the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy on this one and our politicians need to start acting in the interests of the people they represent.

This is what Kelly had to say here

Most Australians want to do the right thing for the environment, but we are seriously lacking in political leadership on protecting nature, life and our shared future.

There are ….local climate action groups working with councils and businesses to reduce their impact on the planet. … Landcare groups restoring creeks and replanting trees on degraded land. …. solar panels going up on rooftops all over Australia. (Did you know one in five Australian households now has solar power?)

….  we should celebrate these acts of leadership which are actively creating a better future.

If only our political leaders would follow suit. Unfortunately political inaction is holding us all back. In fact, some political decisions are driving environmental destruction.

Australia’s environment has never needed a helping hand like it does now. Yet, more than ever, our leaders are turning their backs on our natural places.

…. politicians are making decisions that go against the interests of the people. And right now across Australia decisions affecting our future are being made.

The good news is clean energy is here, ready and waiting, and other countries are deploying it at a fast and furious pace. We just need the political will in this country to move towards a clean and safe future.

At a national level we desperately need multi-partisan support for strong climate change action, after all, it will take more than one term of government and therefore more than one political party to solve climate change.

Most political leaders around the globe are getting on board the clean energy train. It makes me wonder why our Prime Minister is still on the coal train.

I think one of the most important ways to tackle Australia’s environmental challenges is to raise the voices of people in this country who love nature and who want a safe future for their family and friends. That pretty much describes all of us.

Like Kelly my aim is to make it so that our political leaders find it impossible to ignore these concerns.

Surely they can see the management decisions they make now will have impacts far into the future. Surely they care. I look forward to them showing me they do

Want to join me and take a stand and Keep Australia Great Sign the petition here 

Keep Australia Great#aimhigher