The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 1/2/2011

What a year it’s been already.

Albany had one really hot half-day and in typical fashion rose to hell by 11am, then plummeted to a very pleasant heaven by 2.30pm and, in an attempt to enhance the cooling off, arranged for accompanying rain.

What else happened? Of course, Oprah came and went and her website suggests that WA is a “gem waiting to be explored” and that if you join us you can “swim with sharks”. There’s the tip, folks, you see any American tourists wearing an Oprah t-shirt feed them to the sharks. Sorry, show them where they are.

Oh, the Esplanade Hotel site was almost sold, nearly sold, but not yet sold and then there were no buyers on the horizon but some said it looked a lot better without those revolting, culturally offensive socks.

But let’s face it, all these and other local events and non-events don’t amount to a hill of asparagus when we recall the oceans of water that fell on Carnarvon and Queensland.

Given that we are part of WA, as is Carnarvon, you could be forgiven for thinking our media has not keep us as well informed as it might of events in our north. We are, however, swamped with news from Queensland and you would have to be a lump of 4 x 2 not to have been moved by the way Queenslanders and now Victorians have responded to their greatest floods in living memory.

Thousands of citizens have answered the call to spade, shovel and broom and fill the streets in their neighbourhoods and in other suburbs some distance from their own.

And as my old mate Len, the retired Bruce Rock farmer, said to me the other day: “I thought this country was bereft of leadership, but then both the Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, and Anna Bligh stood up.”

Love her or dislike her, there is no doubt the Queensland Premier has worked herself above and beyond and has looked real and knowledgeable even though denied normal patterns of eat and sleep and nice nights at home with the family. She has even been subjected to a rousing round of praise from her arch enemy, the Leader of the Opposition.

To be fair, other leaders of other parties from other places have visited, but none of them have left any impact other than that of folk out of place, out of depth, out of sync.

Just in case we had forgotten, Queenslanders have taken every opportunity to remind us: “We are Queenslanders and we are different.” If the rest of us on this vast continent don’t take notice, we are missing an opportunity.

And, finally, the tale that made me weep more than most, that of Jordan Rice, the 13-year old boy who was afraid of water, the quiet, reserved lad with the nickname Weedsy. Jordan was stuck on a car roof in a raging torrent with his mum and younger brother and when the rescuers arrived and chose to save him first he said: “No, take my brother.” They did and Jordan and his mum were washed away.

As Len said: “That boy may not have looked it before the floods, but he showed leadership qualities of the highest and ultimate quality.”

Let us not forget Jordan and try and make 2011 the year of keeping things in perspective.

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