The all too brief sojourn in the Hunter Valley is over for the family and I. And on we have moved to the slightly busier city of Sydney for three nights. After that it’s on to Pretty Beach before heading back to Brisbane and the realities that being back home will entail.
The trip to the Hunter has created many memories. There’s the night in Tamworth, a place I’ve stayed in or driven through many times over my 28 years. And then there’s the wonderful stay in Mount View where we spent some time with my great aunt and her family over three days.
The Mount View part of the trip has produced the fondest of memories. I have spent the last three days catching up with my great aunt and her husband, one of their children and their children’s children.
Over the last few days we’ve visited wineries and gardens and stayed for the duration at Bonnay, a gorgeous French style farm cottage next door to Aunty Nita and Uncle Ron’s place.
Over a few lunches and dinners we have shared photos and memories, all fondly remembered. In particular, the ones I remember most are a photo of me, all of two years old ‘steering’ Ron’s boat. The other was of me using the boat’s radio as a phone, apparently because I dad had a car phone and I couldn’t tell the difference!
One thing in particular has dawned on me over the last few days- Ron and Nita feel like grandparents to me. Perhaps that is because of some subconscious void in my life, with all my maternal and paternal grandparents gone- the only one who remains is my step grandfather in Bundaberg. Or perhaps it’s because I feel so loved by them. Either way I will cherish my time with them.
I will not forget my time with Dale, Kelvin, Jade and Jenna either and the memories and laughs shared just as much with them as with Nita and Ron.
Yesterday we also spent a little time with another great aunt and uncle- Ron and Joan. That too was special as we have not seen them for well over a decade. But it was also sad. Joan is very frail and Ron in the early stages of Parkinson’s- a big change from their health during the last visit all that time ago.
I will cherish my short stay in the Hunter Valley. And I will never ever take for granted the beautiful, loving and caring extended family that I am blessed to have been born into.
It’s Thursday folks and that means, for those who get their political fix from watching the nightly news bulletins that it’s the last day of the week that you have to endure shouty and often silly grabs. It’s been a rather subdued week of Question Time from Canberra with the House of Representatives not seeing a single motion to suspending Standing Orders in the three days that have elapsed in this sitting week and that doesn’t look set to change today. It has however been a week full of one-off vitriolic comments and that is an immense shame. It has been a very predictable week in Australian politics again and that will almost certainly continue today to round out the week.
The Coalition have spent the first 3 days of Question Time this week focusing on the Roy Hill Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) and the reported consultation gaps (read complete lack thereof) between the Prime Minister and her Minister for Immigration. Aside from the nearing carbon price commencement on July 1st this issue has completely dominated political debate in the parliament since the decision was announced by the Immigration Minister last Friday at the National Press Club.
Things could change slightly today in Question Time in the wake of comments from the Prime Minister to a group of miners overnight which could precipitate a return to questions around the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
Of course, the other focus of the Coalition as it has been since the broken promise just after the 2010 election will be on the carbon tax which will be commencing in just over a month. It is entirely possible that this could become the main focus of tomorrow ahead of, or in place of the EMA debate which only has so much to give.
The Gillard Government will undoubtedly pursue the same two-pronged post-budget, pre-carbon price commencement Question Time strategy that has been used almost continuously since the budget was delivered on the 8th of May. This will mean most attention is drawn to selling the family and low income earner assistance that was delivered as part of the supposed surplus-returning fiscal statement delivered by Treasurer Wayne Swan only three and a bit weeks ago. The questions as they have relentlessly, will focus around the education payments and the increased family tax benefits.
The other focus which has been essential for the Gillard Government in an attempt to claw back ground on the issue after losing it just after the election has been to highlight the overcompensation that many will receive after the carbon price commences in July. This means many questions about how the Household Assistance Package will help the electorates of those asking Dorothy Dixer’s to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Climate Change, the Minister for Family Services, Communities and Indigenous Affairs, Treasurer and perhaps other ministers.
Further, although minor in focus during Questions Without Notice and not guaranteed, the ALP Government backbenchers have asked their ministers about environmental issues and education, although the latter has largely been tied to the payments tied in with the budget.
So that’s likely to be Question Time for Thursday with only minor exceptions likely or the level of focus of each topic varying a little bit. After today we’re set for two weeks respite from the Canberrra theatre before two more weeks of parliament and then the long winter recess saves the day for those of us not too keen on the theatrical side of politics, especially when it ain’t no Shakespeare and isn’t funny enough to match the likes of Gilbert and Sullivan.