Is there hope for a town called York?

I visited the WA country town of York last weekend for the first time in probably 12 or so years.

Not much had changed, except that it probably looked a little more run down than I remembered.

The point is, not much had changed.

I took my wife, who hadn’t been there before. It was a great ride on the motorbike.

She summed it up, saying it looked like a half-deserted wild set town. Apt description. There weren’t any tumbleweeds, though there could have been, as the surrounding country was dry and dusty.

The district’s farmers are obviously doing it tough and this impacts on the economy, notably the town’s businesses. The Imperial Hotel is for sale. It has been for about a year. Another relatively newly-renovated establishment has gone broke.

York was in the news two weeks ago, with local businesses complaining the local council wasn’t helping them to attract tourists. The council said it wanted to see a plan. Fair enough.

One local businesswoman I talked with has been there for 18 months, but she still hasn’t got an online presence. Alarm bells.

If she’s typical of the businesses in York, then what hope?

I pointed out some of the wares she could be selling on line and how she should go about it (Facebook and Twitter for a start). I gave her my card, which shows me as a marketing communications professional with a PhD.

She didn’t get it and didn’t want to know much, saying she’d ask her daughter.

I wasn’t trying to pitch to her, merely offer advice, which she didn’t seem interested in.

God helps those who help themselves, so they say. But I doubt whether she’s going to get much help from above.

Like I said, I hope this isn’t typical of the town. If it is, heaven help York.

Australia vulnerable to “desperate” world, says Salt

Western Australia could find itself at the centre of growing international tension over its mineral wealth. And governments aren’t prepared.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the prediction at a forum of WA Vocational Educational Trainers in Perth this week.

“The world wants and needs what we have, and there’s going to be a made scramble for all of these things,” Salt said.

“We have what the world wants. That makes us valuable, but also vulnerable.”

Alarmingly, the scramble will come sooner than later.

“Most people are predicting this will happen around 2070, but I think it will come by 2020,” said Salt, who was addressing 200 VET industry representatives in a forum sponsored by the Department of Workforce Training and Development.

“For me, this is the biggest issue facing Australia, and governments are doing nothing about it.

“Look at where our military presence is. We have Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. It was built in the sixties. What’s it protecting now? We have Robertson Barracks in Darwin, which was expanded during the East Timor crisis.

“But there’s no military assets of note between Darwin and Perth – an area that contains pretty much all of Australia’s wealth – about $43 million worth of gas and oil.

“The Chinese have already demonstrated they need the raw materials. Gorgon was about China shoring up its assets.”

Salt was quietly scathing of government inaction, saying while we had aligned ourselves militarily with the US, we expect our financial support to come from China.

“China is now the emerging power, but it remains to be seen how governments deal with the dilemma.”

Salt called for a massive boost to infrastructure, including a larger military presence with at least 5000 soldiers, and a regional town of 150,000.

“It only makes sense to put the military hardware where you are most exposed.

“This is the biggest issue confronting us.”

Who needs sub editors?

Bad of me to pose a question in a headline. Sub editing Rule 1: tell the reader, don’t ask.

I read an alleged memo to journalists from the CEO of Fairfax regarding the sacking of all it’s sub editors. The poor chap is a poor writer. Stilted and verbose. So he sent it to be “subbed”.

It came back; still verbose and lacking warmth. The sub also didn’t know the difference between alternate and alternative.

So maybe it’s a good idea Fairfax is ditching it’s subs. No. I jest. For the most part, subs are a paper’s energy source: certainly the source of information and knowledge.

I hope they all find alternative jobs.

Maybe Twitter not so popular

In setting up next semester’s “e-PR” unit for students the the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle), I have created a google group, blog and twitter account. The students will use google as a hub to conduct a range of activities, including surveys and blogs.

In setting up Twitter I have grabbed some of the peope I’m already following from another account. In an effort to inject more local “content” (more Perth PR practitioners) I searched google for “Perth public relations”. In the first two pages of results, 10 companies were listed (not including paid ads).

To my surprise, only two companies mentioned on their web site they had a twitter presence. Given all the hype about the medium as a communications tool, I found this strange. I now feel a survey coming on. But I’ll save it for class.

Step in the right direction

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has taken a step in the right direction by announcing an independent enquiry in to the Australian Defence Force Academy. He will also hopefully be able to follow up with an independent psychological assessment of many senior officers and NCOs. Seems like massive cultural change is necessary. The immediate threat is to recruitment. Would you encourage your son or daughter to join? Peter Cosgrove, where are you?

Break out the beer

I have to ‘congratulate’ the makers of VB (a beer) – from a PR perspective. Every year around ANZAC Day they roll out the Raise A Glass campaign, which is run in conjunction with the RSL. Previously they used Maj Gen Peter Cosgrove. This year they’re using recent VC winner Mark Donaldson, from the SASR. Call me cynical, but I’m against this campaign, as I see it primarily as a selling tool. I might be labelled un-Australian. Not so. I served in the Army for 22 years (four in the Regulars and 17 in the Reserve). My gripe (whihc I expressed two years ago to the RSL in writing) is that with alcohol abuse such a problem in the Defence Force, this product is not really the ideal vehicle for fundraising. While part proceeds of beer sales go to the RSL (of which I’m a member) the cynic in me sees it purely as a company riding on the coat tails of Defence and Australian patriotism around ANZAC Day. I suppose the beer needs all the help it can get, as it’s a pretty boring drop. If you want to support the RSL, make a direct donation.

Aussies abandoned by government

What exactly does the Department of Foreign Affairs do?
Two indicents this week highlight the ineffectiveness of Australia’s overseas representatives.
Aussies stuck in Libiya got no assistance and were told to book their own flights out. Then, just across the ditch, they were told the same thing.
Two massive events in which citizens in danger received zero help.
And don’t start me on QANTAS charging people $900 for a ticket home from NZ, when Air New Zealand offered flights for $70.