February 18, 2009
US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

Hillary Clinton was on ABC’s AM Radio programme this morning, defending why she wouldn’t be visiting Canberra during her first official overseas trip to Asia, as Barack Obama’s Secretry Of State. Without falter, Mrs Clinton immediately launched into the well versed and practiced statement about the US/Australia allience – a marriage between our two countries forged during the unknown days of World War Two.

“We know that Australia is one of our most trusted allies in the world” said Hillary Clinton, “.. and we remain grateful for our work together in the past and what we will do together in the future.”

Hence explains the welcoming mat shown to a seven piece band from the US Air Force at Palmerston High School. “We’re not your typical military band”, an enthusastic keyboardist spokesman Master Sergent Neill Herndon explained: “This is very exciting for us .. as a musical group it’s very exciting for us to get out and play for the younger audiences. We get to play some exciting music, more modern music. We play for a whole lot of different audiences and some of the folks that are older .. we’ll play that kind of music for them. But today, it’s the younger folks music and it’s very exciting.”  

The excitement was catching!

US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

Within minutes of the lead male vocalist launching into “Living in America” .. some of the 200 students in the audience were on their feet and dancing to the yanky tunes.

At a time when the US military fills the daily news pages with coverage from Iraq or Afghanistan – the Band leave’s a positive impression of the US in the minds of the several hundred students, who are no doubt enjoying the chance to skip class, at least for half an hour. 

According to MSG Herndon, the Band had to go back to school too:  “We looked up Waltzing Matilda and found out a lot of different words, tucker bag – billabong and those types of things so we’re learning a lot about the culture and it’s wonderful.”

The US Air Force Band visit coinscides with Thursday’s 69th Bombing Of Darwin Ceremony. The exact number is not known – but officially 251 people were killed in the first Japenese bombing raids on the 19th of February, 1942. 91 of the dead were American sailors, onboard the USS Peary docked in Darwin Harbour.

US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

US Air Force Band - Palmerston High School

So over five days – performing at schools, retirement homes and Royal Darwin Hospital, the Air Force crew are sharing the unspoken bond – a mix of gratitude, understanding, loss and commitment – between Australia and the United States.  Turkey’s leader Mustafa Kemal Attaturk wrote – “You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears: your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.” Like the British, Australia, New Zealand, French and other nationalities buried at Gallipoli – the 91 USS Peary sailors entombed in Darwin Harbour – are now treated as Australian’s. Explaining in part the ‘no worries’ and unconditionally welcoming additude shown to this US Air Force Band.


February 11, 2009
Greenie throws out damaged stock

Greenie throws out damaged stock

Put yourself in this Darwin shop owner’s shoes – it’s seven thirty in the morning, you’ve rocked up to open for the days tranding and you find the power/electricity isn’t working .. it’s been out since ten thirty the night before!

Mal Green, owner of ‘Greenies’ organic fruit and veg says: “Maybe they should have a list of businesses – that need power and we could have got a phone call last night.” He begins the day, emptying out a fridge of all it’s dairy products – milk, butter and yogurt – the camel meat will have to go too. Speaking as he works: “You got to throw all your dairy out – simple as that and your meat – so .. and some of the veg’s .. all the greens are buggered.”

“Wasting food .. good food down the chute” – a layed back Mal complains, it’s the third time since October’s catastropic implosion  at the PowerWater Corporation’s Casaurina sub-station that ‘Greenie’ has had to turf out hundreds of dollars in stock.

PowerWater released a media statement about the blackout – ‘.. power supply was interrupted to 664 customers .. by 11.50pm power was restored to 95% of customers.’ Greenie was in the unlucky 5%. The blackout couldn’t have occured at a worse time for PowerWater, it’s management and the Henderson Government who have been in an tidal battle to repair the image of the Territory’s power supplier. A week ago, the Davies review into the Casaurina sub-station explosion revealed two decades of underspending in necessary mantience by CLP and Labour Government’s, low moral and a workforce with an additude of – ‘why should I care, no one else does.’ 

Interviewing Mal Green, he hit the nail right on the head: “Just part of the two party system mate – one mob save money for years and the other mob got their turn and did nothing about it – so they’re both at fault”.     

PowerWater workers walked off the job yesterday, allegedly fed-up with the inaction or unwillingness of management to entertain their mantenience and safety concerns. For the workers, the Casaurina sub-station explosion couldn’t have come at a better time. They now have the eyes and ears of Government. While the next election is three years away, Chief Minister Paul Henderson knows the blackouts could spell electorial defeat via the Northern suburbs ballot boxes. Millions of dollars are now promised the fix mistakes of the past.   

 ‘Greenie’ will cover his expenses by claiming the losses on his insurance – the flip side he’ll still pay through higher premiums.

Living in the Top End – you grow used to the occassional blackout. But when the blackouts continually occur during times of no rain or wind, you have to say – enough is enough.