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The Forum > Article Comments > The great Australian rural city divide > Comments

The great Australian rural city divide : Comments

By Russ Grayson, published 23/8/2005

Russ Grayson argues the National Farmers Federationís new campaign must promote positive aspects of the farming community.

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I am a third generation Australian farmer, Mr Grayson, who also lived and worked in London, HongKong, Athens, Vancouver and 15 years in Sydney. And, contrary to your assertion, I can't recall meeting many farmers who don't know exactly what urban life is all about. Indeed, most would see right through your attempt to put a veneer of moderation and reasonableness to the green persecution of the rural minority.

The only thing you left out was a call for the farming equivalent of the "good nigger", some urban invented ideal of a forelock tugging rustic who is forever grateful for his modest circumstances and, above all, knows his place.

Our Black Fellas can recognise the new target and the same old scam. We are both minorities in an urban culture that dispossesses it's farming community every 100 years.

You practise what Christopher Isherwood termed "annihilation by blandness", where the real and substantive issues of concern to a minority are reinterpreted by self appointed intermediaries and subsumed into an amorphous white noise.

I don't know which planet you have been on lately, but country people have been villified as racist rednecks for having the nerve to complain about foreign doctors who have maimed and killed their loved ones. And as the Dylan song goes;

"you got a lotta nerve, to say you are my friend, when I was down, you just stood there grinning! Do you take me for such a fool ..."

Regional readers may be interested to note that NSWFarmers will host a presentation on the viability of new "non-metropolitan states" at the Bolivia Hall, 30km south of Tenterfield, 5pm 27th August.
Posted by Perseus, Thursday, 25 August 2005 10:24:44 AM
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"Russ Grayson argues the National Farmers Federationís new campaign must promote positive aspects of the farming community."

Well Perseus you can be proud of yourself for trying to put an end to that. And thanks for the example of wedge politics. Aren't you too sensible for that kind of carry on - MATE?

Whenever there is social and economic stress people look for answers. The right-wing mob have locked onto to country folk. Thus we see redneck attitudes and behaviour out there. Why? because the answers provided usually involve blaming or attacking some minority or group? Often the actual ideas of people criticising farming practice are lost under all the tit for tat.

As the city stresses increase the ideas of the bigoted right are becoming more acceptable here - the negatives are rationalised away. So the bigoted right are now finding fertile ground in the outer suburbs.

I am a former farmer. I worked all day in my business. Then at midnight, I would hop on my small motor cycle and ride twenty (cold) miles to a factory. There I would load sides of beef into trucks until dawn. I would arrive home about 8 am. Most of the guys on that crew were small farmers - trying to survive. Yes Perseus - all have been swallowed up.

My business involved contact with a lot farmers. Not one of those farmers ever made a malicious racist remark. There must be rednecks out there - you just have visit websites and read the Letter to the Editor columns. But I don't think that they are representive of rural Australia.

So as the country becomes more challenged with under employment, over-exploitation, etc - out come the wolves. Whether it be in the western suburbs, uni's or out bush, you will always find those who have the answers to everything - if it is isolating, blaming and wedge politics - I don't think they are fair dinkum. Russ Grayson's way is closer to the mark.
Posted by rancitas, Thursday, 25 August 2005 2:58:16 PM
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Thanks Russ for your article and I think some of your comments are quite valid.
Country people can be categorised in almost as many categories as city people so it is very difficult to generalise. Farmers also cringe when farm leaders make some comments that confirm your generalisations.
While there are some roughneck farmers, most farmers do everything we can to keep our land in the best possible condition we can as our land is our livelihood and it needs to be sustainable for the following generations.
We also care what city based consumers want and we try to comply with the expensive increasingly regulated conditions we are faced with but we do find that it is extremely difficult to compete with cheaper imports from nations that are highly subsidised or who have less regulations and cheaper labour etc in producing their crops.
While niche markets (like the eucalyptus trees in Narrogin) seem like a good idea, this method of farming is not sustainable for the general mainstream farmer.
My grandfather founded land in this area and one thing that the early settlers found eerie was there were no animals. The area was known for its salt lakes (inland seas) and as there was no fresh water, there were no animals. When the settlers established permanent water, animals migrated to the area and now we have an abundence of varied animal life.
The land in this area was declared by early explorers as "unsuitable" for development but is now in the heart of the wheatbelt in WA and most farmers budget a significant proportion of their income to environmental practises such as fencing remnant bushland, planting trees, draining salt, building up soil microbes etc.
Any improvement in communication can only be beneficial. For example, we are farmers that are wanting to sell what the majority of consumers want... a non-GM product. If consumers want to maintain that choice, we need additional help to lobby government to ensure non-GM farmers can market the non-GM product some consumers want.
Posted by NonGMFarmer, Thursday, 25 August 2005 5:47:59 PM
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Rancitas, the way terminology like "redneck attitudes" and "right wing bigots" slips so easily off your keyboard suggests that your links with the rural community were only, ever, tenuous at best.

Rural communities have always voted for the political right for the very good reason that the left has consistently demonstrated a propensity for murderous dispossession of farmers and have tended to make no secret of their intentions towards us.

Ukrainian farmers did not side with the Nazis out of some moral or intellectual failure as urban revisionists like to portray. They had a hard choice between two murderous regimes. One was killing bankers, goldsmiths and lawyers while the other was killing farmers and priests. Do you seriously expect them to support the rusticidal maniac out of some supposedly higher urbane consciousness?

Right now, in Australia, there are farmers who are pleading guilty to clearing offenses, getting hit with $20,000 fines, not because they are guilty but because they cannot afford the $200,000 needed to defend the case. And even if they were to establish their innocence (yes, the reversal of the burden of proof)the official schedule of reimbursed costs comes to only $6,000.

So tell me, is protesting about injustice a "redneck attitude"? Is it "wedge politics"? Or is it only a "redneck attitude" when the source of the injustice is an urban policy imposed on a rural community?

If I made reference to "sleazy urban scumball attitudes" you would be the first to highlight the depth of the offence it has caused you.
Posted by Perseus, Friday, 26 August 2005 10:15:26 AM
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Perseus. What are you on about?

Reconsider my statement: "There must be rednecks out there - you just have visit websites and read the Letter to the Editor columns. But I don't think that they are representive of rural Australia."

Rural Australia does have its fair share of extremist groups and redneck attitudes. Of course, we have plenty of rednecks in here too. These pretend bushmen generally live in the outer suburbs, drive zillion dollar chrome-wheeled SUV's (while dairy farmers get around in clapped out HG utes).

My point (and I think RG'S) is that often the carry on of certain sections of the rural community with their redneck attitudes, their racist talk and dis-respectful language has little to do with farming practice - but this is mostly all that people hear about from the bush. City folk often get a scewed view of the average farmer. You catch more bees with honey than a shotgun.

What has the Left, Nazi's and Ukrainian farmers to do with Australian farming practices and Russ Grayson's article? More Australian farmers have lost their farms to other capitalists than your imaginary left. Are you involved with one of these groups that pump out all this rubbish?

You say: "Rural communities have always voted for the political right for the very good reason that the left has consistently demonstrated a propensity for murderous dispossession of farmers and have tended to make no secret of their intentions towards us".

Who murdered and dispossed Australian farmers? Labour, the socialist kids down at the uni? Some rural folk vote National/Liberal because they think that they have the best policies -not because of conspiracy theories. In my rural days I voted National.

Farmers pleading guilty to clearing offences that they are innocent of - now that sounds tenuous (made that comment to just show that two can play that game). In fairness, like most city folk, I can't comment because I don't know what the situation is. Nevertheless, it is a cause for concern because people of all walks of life often plead guilty to avoid the court costs.
Posted by rancitas, Friday, 26 August 2005 4:28:06 PM
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You are continuing to attempt to suggest that any adverse view of the urban community, that may be expressed by a member of the rural community, is somehow fringe and unrepresentative. You continue to use offensive terminology, like "redneck attitudes", to describe rural views while trying to convey an impression of your own reasonableness. The Ukrainian farmer analogy was clearly made to highlight your attempts to portray any rural views contrary to your own as either unrepresentative or subject to some sort of moral failure. And when cornered, like a junkie with a DVD, you feign incredulity.
Posted by Perseus, Sunday, 28 August 2005 3:12:01 PM
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