Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Peter Spencer on 46th day of hunger strike

Warning: Lack of humour alert!!!

It has taken over a month for the main stream media to cover the hunger strike of Australian sheep farmer Peter Spencer, and predictably, now that the situation has reached an extreme, they are starting to report on it. At this rate, he may even break a record, but I, for one, hope he is back on the ground and tucking into a bowel of broth before then.

For background on his reasons for the hunger strike, this article from the financial times is quite good.

In essence, the government placed land clearing bans on farmer's properties to meet carbon emission reduction targets, reducing the economic viability of the affected farms and virtually destroying the property value. Pretty much without compensating them accordingly.

Contrary to the rugged outback Aussie stereotype, Australias largely urban population are far removed from the plight of primary industry. Food miraculously appears on their tables with no thought of where it comes from, and even the fact that Australian food prices are the second highest in the OECD hasn't given the populace a much needed heads-up.

Given that Peter Spencer is a sheep farmer, I will use the rather topical example of lamb prices. Lamb used to be poverty food in this country, even in my (not too distant, alright) childhood, we were forced to eat lamb chops three nights a week at least, and sausages the other. It was one of the cheapest ways to feed a family. In the last ten years lamb prices have doubled in price, and if the trend remains the same, lamb cutlets could retail for $100 / kilo by 2016.

Rising overseas demand and falling production have been credited with the record highs in lamb price.

Call me selfish, but being able to eat well tops my list of quality of life issues. We need Peter Spencer down from that tree, nursed back to health and herding sheep for our table. Stat.

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