Haulier swaps the high road for burgeoning home deliveries after family farm shop purchase

A former haulier-turned-shopkeeper has stepped into the driving seat of a long-established rural retail outlet after securing funds to fuel his entrepreneurial aspirations.

Michael Fisher parked a career as a long-distance driver when his father-in-law John Money decided to hang his apron at the popular Stallingborough Farm Shop.

And the 30-year-old business is now increasing its presence on the road, having bought three vans to expand a burgeoning home delivery service.

Nine new staff members have also been hired to meet demand for fresh fruit, veg, meats and flowers.

He said: “I always like the idea of running my own business and when the opportunity arose to secure the future of the business and give my father-in-law a long and well-deserved retirement plan, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I knew from the outset that running my own business would be a challenging and exciting journey, but when we signed on the dotted line, little did we appreciate just how much and how quickly the business would need to adapt as a result of Covid-19.”

Funds initially stopped the dream, with a need to purchase the business and stock. After exploring different ways of raising money needed, a friend suggested Finance For Enterprise – a delivery partner of British Business Bank-backed Start Up Loans UK.

Michael and Maria Fisher at Stallingborough Farm Shop.

He discussed his plans with Grimsby-based investment manager Jane Cusse who helped Mr Fisher and his wife Maria to secure £40,000 through two start-up loans, topped up by funds provided direct. “The financial support we received helped us to manage our cashflow, particularly during our first few months of trading when we didn’t know how lockdown would affect the business,” he said.

“The Farm Shop had always offered a home delivery service, but the funds we were able to secure from Finance For Enterprise enabled us to continue trading by delivering the fresh produce to the doors of our customers and as a result, we’ve managed to grow the business and create new jobs, something I feel incredibly proud to have achieved.

“Jane was amazing, she took the stress and worry away and kept us regularly updated through the application process.”

A willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty has seen the company receive rave reviews from its growing numbers of customers, with plans afoot to further expand the delivery fleet.

Jane said: “The retail sector has been particularly hard hit during the Covid pandemic, Michael and Maria spotted an opportunity to build and diversify their new business and they seized the opportunity.

“After spending time reviewing their business plans I put together a lending package which enabled them to not only acquire the existing company, but one which would help them to put their own mark on the business.

“Despite working in a challenging business climate, Michael and Maria’s hard work has really paid off and the amount of positive feedback they’ve received from their customers is a testament to their dedication and hard work. The Farm Shop is something of an institution in the Grimsby area and it’s great to see that its future is in safe hands.

“Accessing finance is one of the greatest challenges that many new business owners face, but the Start Up Loans scheme was specifically created to support new entrepreneurs. Michael and Maria presented a well thought out business plan, backed by forecasts based on the historical performance of the business and under their leadership the business has gone from strength-to-strength.”

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Couch Opera diva swaps online for The Maj at Perth Fringe

It’s off the couch and into the theatre for soprano Magda Lisek, founder and presenter of Couch Opera Live during Perth’s COVID-19 lockdown last year.

Five episodes of the YouTube offering, broadcast from South Perth, brought together WA artists and others using video clips shot in living rooms and kitchens, dance studios and churches across the world, raising money to replace live performance fees.

It also helped sustain young careers stalled by the pandemic.

Now Diary of a Couch Diva, directed and written by baritone Gregory Yurisich, puts the whole experience on stage at His Majesty’s Theatre Dress Circle Bar, full of opera, musical theatre, comedy and drama.

“The title and idea for the show had been sitting on my desk for a good few months. When I approached Greg the show came to life, and it’s been an absolutely thrilling journey working with him,” Lisek said.

“It’s great to see Couch Opera Live actually go live, and I think Fringe World is the perfect place for it!

“COVID-19 has affected artists all over the world and I feel that we are so blessed here in WA to be able to see our audiences in theatres and in person.”

Co-starring soprano Yann Kee and music director George Unkovich, with tenor Ammon Bennett and baritone Nathan Breeze, Diary of a Couch Diva finds two divas in a state of desperation during the pandemic.

They take matters into their own hands, with unforeseen results.

Magda Lisek as Pavarotti.
Camera IconMagda Lisek as Pavarotti.

“There are a lot of quick changes in the show, with me dressing up as Pavarotti and Yann dressing up … well I think I’d rather not give too much away,” Lisek says.

“There are a few surprise visitors on stage, one famous visitor who is very unexpected but I’m sure everyone in Perth will know. You’ll see him the moment you enter the venue.”

Having a speaking part is a first for Unkovich, who accompanied Lisek on her YouTube clips.

“Even having one line in Diary of a Couch Diva is quite an experience,” he said.

Diary of a Couch Diva is at The Maj Dress Circle Bar, February 9-13, at 6pm. Details and tickets from www.fringeworld.com.au.


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Chester the fibreglass horse swaps the paint shop for a life on the stage

An icon of the streetscape in Moonah in Hobart’s north is destined for a new life on the stage.

Chester the horse had stood outside a paint shop on Main Road since the 1970s.

The 25-kilogram fibreglass horse was one of many around the country used to market Wattyl paint products.

Each day the horse was taken out of the shop and stood by the front door during opening hours.

When Hobart actor and theatre producer John Xintavelonis heard Chester was being retired from the shop, he jumped at the chance to provide the horse with a new life.

Mr Xintavelonis said Chester was available for bookings.(ABC News: Janek Frankowski)

“I was over the moon, it was like Christmas,” he said.

“It’s part of Tasmania, it’s an icon, it’s like having the Tasman Bridge at your house, or David Boon, instead I’ve got Chester the horse.

Chester being taken away from Wattyll Paint
Chester left his store in a horse float, of course.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

In 2019 Mr Xintavelonis used the horse in the Bawdy Panto, a satirical, adult-themed pantomime performed annually at Hobart’s Theatre Royal.

Chester featured in a medley about Tasmania’s Parliamentary Speaker, Sue Hickey.

Chester at the races.
Painter Kevin Foot took Chester to the races.(Supplied)

Chester also made appearances at the Hobart Cup over many years, thanks to local painter Kevin Foot.

Craig Lawler, who worked at Wattyl Paints for 15 years, said customers loved to greet the horse.

“It became an institution,” he said. “They petted him and they talked to him, so he’s quite a sociable animal.

“Kevin went to a lot of trouble with his own little area of the Hobart Cup.

“And we’d dress Chester up with saddles, and Kevin’s advertising spiel as well. He was certainly a hit out there.”

The painter died about six years ago.

Wattyl Paints declined to say why it was getting rid of the horse.

Man with tin of paint.
Former Wattyl employee Craig Lawler says the horse became an institution at the Moonah paint shop.(ABC News: Selina Ross)

Many see Chester’s disappearance from Moonah as a loss to the local streetscape.

“As people drive by or walk by, he certainly draws quite a bit of attention and that part of it is going to go,” Mr Lawler said.

Local resident Joanne Green agreed.

“I’ve lived in this area for 22 years, and it’s always been there, I’ve never known it not to be there,” Ms Green said.

‘Everyone knows who he is’

Mr Xintavelonis said the horse had “street cred”.

“He got a massive reception from the audience because everyone knows who he is,” he said.

“I got to ride him around on a big revolving stage, and to have him now as part of the family and to be able to feature him every year on the stage, I’m really happy.”

Lutana resident Joanne Green.
Lutana resident Joanne Green described Chester as an icon of the area.(ABC News: Selina Ross)

Mr Xintavelonis hopes to lend Chester to other people who want to use him for events or festivals.

“He’ll be around, he’s certainly not going to disappear from view, that’s for sure,” he said.

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AFL Draft 2020: Trades, North Melbourne not trading Pick 2, teams impacted, analysis, pick swaps, Essendon, top prospects

The top of the draft always shapes the rest of the order – and we’ve just been given a crucial sign into how 2020’s picks will play out.

North Melbourne will take Pick 2 to the national draft and, unless something majorly changes between now and next week, use it on the best-available player, reports the Herald Sun.

Many analysts felt the Kangaroos trading out their top pick made sense because of the position of their list – needing as much talent as possible rather than one potential superstar.

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AFL Draft 2020: Draft Whispers, trades, Maurice Rioli junior, Essendon, pick swaps, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, GWS, Adelaide, latest news

Essendon is said to be making a last-ditch effort to nab the next member of the famous Rioli family.

Plus some blockbuster draft night trades could be on the cards, including one in the top five.

Catch up on the latest AFL Draft news in Draft Whispers!

Watch the 2020 AFL Draft Live on Fox Footy on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >

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Independents’ day: seat swaps that could turn the next election

Former Labor MP-turned-independent Frances Bedford could turn the next state election on its head as she considers a tilt at the Marshall Government’s most marginal seat.

Bedford told InDaily she would consider her options after a recent electoral boundary redistribution shifted a significant chunk of her Florey electorate – which she retained as an independent after serving there as a Labor MP since 1997 – into neighbouring Newland.

Newland is held by Liberal Richard Harvey with a slim nominal margin of 0.2 per cent following the redistribution.

It comes as another independent MP – former Weatherill Government minister Geoff Brock – prepares to fight for his political future against Energy and Mining Minister dan van Holst Pellekaan, who has confirmed he will recontest his Port Augusta-based seat of Stuart.

But the redraw has also shifted Brock’s electoral heartland of Port Pirie from Frome to Stuart, with Brock confirming: “I’ve got to go where Port Pirie is, and that’s in the new Stuart.”

In a week in which Liberals Stephan Knoll and Peter Treloar declared they would pull the pin at the 2022 poll, Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum has confirmed that the party’s 22 other lower house incumbents have nominated unopposed for their existing seats – including van Holst Pellekaan in Stuart.

Brock said van Holst Pellekaan came to see him yesterday after putting in his nomination “and let me know he’d done that”.

“We’ve been friends for years so it was good of him to come,” he said.

“I’m disappointed Port Augusta has been split into two electorates – that’s an utter disgrace, irrespective of politics… going forward Upper Spencer Gulf will only have two representatives in state parliament – I personally think it’s a kick in the rear end, essentially for the powerhouse [region] of the state, where everything’s going to be produced in the next four or five years.”

If Brock is successful, however, it would merely retain the status quo in terms of seats – but Bedford’s prospective move could effectively snatch the Liberals’ most vulnerable seat, while also gifting Labor her current seat of Florey.

If no other seats changed hands, that would give the Liberals 23 seats to Labor’s 20, with four independents – effectively creating a hung parliament.

The redistribution has moved Modbury – for whose hospital Bedford has spent years campaigning – from Florey to Newland, while bringing other Labor areas such as Mawson Lakes and Parafield into her existing seat.

“We’re had a brief look at it,” she told InDaily.

“I don’t know yet [what I’ll do] – there’s a lot to consider… I feel really close to the people who elected me last time but Mawson Lakes and Parafield are quite a way from my white-ant infested home – and quite a way from Modbury Hospital.”

Asked if that meant she was minded to contest Newland instead, she said: “Not necessarily, but it’s a fact I suppose.”

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought… but it’s a long way away and that’s a huge problem in itself.”

She said it would “probably be more of a challenge to run in new ‘new Florey’”, which party sources have linked with Meagan Spencer, a staffer to Right-faction senator Don Farrell.

However, it could also provide an avenue for federal MP for Spence Nick Champion to make his expected shift to state parliament, which was thwarted when the boundaries commission changed its mind about shifting the boundaries in Schubert, which would have seen current Light MP Tony Piccolo vacate his seat to contest the Barossa Liberal stronghold instead.

Champion’s name has also been linked to the northern suburbs seat of Taylor, but incumbent Jon Gee told InDaily he intended to run there again.

It’s understood Labor will soon confirm a candidate for Newland, with the party’s former MP for the seat Tom Kenyon endorsing his former staffer Lucas Jones.

“I’m absolutely convinced that Lucas is the best chance of winning that seat and I’ll be doing everything I can to help him,” he said.

InDaily however understands that senior figures have ruled Jones out for the north-eastern electorate.

Of Bedford’s prospects in his former seat, Kenyon said: “I’ve always thought that an independent would have a good chance in Newland [and] by taking a marginal seat she’d deal herself a better hand in terms of negotiations in the event of a hung parliament.”

However, others in the party said Bedford would be “crazy” to consider leaving Florey.

“It’s not like I’m desperate for a role in public office,” she said.

“I feel beholden to the people who elected me last time – the great people of ‘New Florey’ – and Ingle Farm and Pooraka.

“It’s really hard for people who follow their MP to have to go through this every four years, so it’s going to be a hard decision any way – but we still haven’t made up our mind.”

Former Adelaide United star – and current administrator – Bruce Djite appears unlikely to contest Labor-held Badcoe after an enticing two per cent margin in the draft boundaries report was bolstered beyond four per cent for incumbent Jayne Stinson in the final report.

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7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps

When it comes to holiday meals, we tend to forget about the healthy diet and lifestyle choices we make the rest of the year in favor of whatever is put in front of us, which is completely okay. There is no harm in enjoying in a holiday meal; however, sometimes, we overdo it and wish we had used a little more discretion to avoid the stuffed and bloated feeling.

To have a healthier holiday, you don’t have to throw all your traditional favorites out the window. Instead, you can make a few swaps to just a few of the dishes on the menu and still make a dent in your calorie intake (and guilt too)! Here are seven healthy holiday food swaps that taste just as good as the traditional offerings:

1. Swap Creamy Dip and Chips For Hummus and Fresh Cut Veggies

Creamy dips, an appetizer favorite, made from full fat sour cream or cream cheese pack a whole lot of calories! Before you know it, a few scoops of dip could add up to more calories than should be consumed in one meal. Instead of creamy dip and chips, save your calories for the main course and try eating fresh cut veggies with hummus. Made with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini, hummus is packed with the good stuff and only provides 1g of fat per tablespoon!

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

2. Swap Mashed Potatoes For Mashed Cauliflower

Just replacing mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower is the first step to saving unnecessary calories. A 1-cup serving of potatoes delivers 113 calories and 2 g of fiber; whereas, a 1-cup serving of cauliflower provides just 25 calories and 3 g of fiber. To save even more calories, skip over the cream and butter, and use roasted garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary or fresh chives.

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

3. Swap Dark Turkey Meat For White Turkey Meat

Dark turkey meat is tempting and tasty, but it also has whole lot more fat and calories! A serving of skinless turkey breast meat provides 30 g of protein, 2 g of fat and only 147 calories; whereas, dark turkey meat provides the same amount of protein but 206 calories and a whopping 10 g of fat! And that’s only if you stick to one helping!

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

4. Swap Bread Stuffing For Rice Stuffing

Bread just adds unnecessary calories and carbs we don’t need. Instead of bread stuffing made with butter and white bread, try making a rice stuffing using wild rice, sticky rice or quinoa. Sauté mushrooms, onion, celery and garlic with coconut oil or olive oil. Then, add dried fruit and nuts, like pecans or walnuts.

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

5. Swap Cranberry Sauce For Cranberry Relish

Since cranberries are sour and bitter, they are sweetened with a whole lot of sugar or corn syrup, if you buy it from the can. Instead of eating cranberry sauce, try making your own cranberry relish using natural sugar alternatives like Stevia or naturally sweet fruit juices like orange or pineapple, along with zest from fresh orange and lemon. A two-tablespoon serving of cranberry relish made with Stevia and an orange will provide just 28 calories per serving and only 7 g of carbs; a store bought cranberry sauce will deliver 86 calories and 22 g of pure sugar!

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

6. Swap Alcohol For Soda Spritzers

Not only does alcohol provide empty calories, it can make us feel hungry causing us to eat even more! Alcohol is also considered a toxin in the body and causes the body to stop all other metabolic processes until it is completely removed from the body. If you still want to indulge with some holiday cheer, reduce the amount of alcohol you are consuming by watering it down with club soda or a clear diet pop. A full glass of wine can provide about 120 calories; however, if you cut that glass in half with soda water, you will save yourself 60 calories!

7 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps - Switch ups that taste as good as the original

7. Swap The Christmas Cookies For Fruit With Dark Chocolate Fondue

Sure, its once a year when these tasty treats come around, but just a few Christmas cookies will skyrocket blood sugar and push your daily calorie consumption over the edge. Instead of cookies, pies, squares or whatever else is put in front of you, try making a dark chocolate fondue. Use a dark chocolate with a minimum cacao content of 70%, add Stevia to sweeten instead of extra sugar and a bit of coconut milk to thicken, and then serve it with fresh cut fruit!

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Collingwood Magpies pick swaps still possible

Collingwood could trade their future first round pick in order to further improve their 2020 draft position, with next year’s highly-rated father-son prospect Nick Daicos expected to attract a bid early in the 2021 national draft.

With Daicos likely to command the bid under the father-son rules within the first five selections of next year’s draft, a club source confirmed the Magpies are open to trading their first pick for next season, to improve the set of draft selections they take into this year’s draft, having acquired the Bulldogs’ future second round selection to use on points required for Daicos.

Trading decisions at Collingwood have angered fans. Credit:Getty Images

After poorly communicating their rationale for trading out new Bulldogs midfielder Adam Treloar and North Melbourne forward Jaidyn Stephenson to both the players involved and fans, Collingwood have picks 14, 16, 65, 70, 75 and 92 in this year’s draft.

They are expected to look to use picks 14, 16, a future first round pick and two future second round picks they now hold to swap picks in coming weeks with other clubs who may desire an extra first round draft pick next season.

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Riverland teen’s push for sustainable living starts with clothes swaps, compost and community garden

Young women are taking on the war on waste in South Australia’s Riverland region, creating and sharing strategies to change the way locals think about their rubbish.

Sixteen-year-old Deepkiran Kaur is a member of the Berri Barmera Council’s environment and sustainability committee and provides an authentic voice for the youth in the region.

“There’s a lot of older people already on the committee in these leadership positions who are making the decisions, not only for now but for the future,” she said.

Feeding locals waste solutions

The Glossop High School student said food waste was the main issue young Riverland residents were concerned about, alongside the pollution in surrounding areas like the Murray River.

Deepkiran Kaur says a community garden would bring people together and link into her food waste strategy.(ABC Riverland: Anita Ward)

Through Deepkiran’s committee position, she is connecting locals who have food waste to dispose of, to those with compost systems, worm farms or chickens, through a website called ShareWaste.

“At Glossop High School we use food waste from the canteen and home economics facilities for our ag block.

“So, I guess, it already happens but it’s not as widespread as it could be and there’s a great opportunity there.”

Fruit and vegetable scraps on top of a pile of green waste in an wooden compost pile.
People with food waste are being connected to those with composts, worm farms and chickens.(Pixabay)

The teenager would also like to see community gardens started in the Riverland’s council districts to be used in conjunction with the website.

“To have people come together, grow our own produce … and then share the food waste with those who’ll use it; that would be really great.”

Shopping and swapping sustainable clothing

Local agronomist Kimberly Pellosis is using her environmental background to combat a different type of waste — clothing and fabrics.

A woman is standing in the middle of vines, smiling.
Kimberly Pellosis is encouraging Riverland locals to make more sustainable fashion purchases.(Supplied: Kimberly Pellosis)

The former Melbourne resident is creating an official clothing swap in the region to run through Part of Things in Barmera, modelled off a previous exchange she was involved with.

“In Melbourne, the hipster capital of Australia, people love to op shop, so I’m very used to buying clothes second-hand … and doing clothes exchanges,” Ms Pellosis said.

She explained the swap was designed not only to encourage people to donate clothes, but to keep pre-loved items in circulation rather than buying new ones.

Woman looking at dress hanging on rack while standing at store
The Riverland clothing swap would be set-up like a store, where community members can exchange donated items with each other.(Getty: Maskot)

“People register, they bring six good quality items which the volunteers hang on racks, like at a shop,” Ms Pellosis said.

“The clothes are swapped for buttons … which you use as a currency at the event to go shopping for other [people’s donations].

While buying second-hand is the way forward for the young Riverland local, she acknowledges purchasing new items is sometimes a necessity.

“It’s more the culture of being aware of what you buy,” she said.

“Trying to buy local is a great option … and where possible, source local food and natural fibres which are more sustainable.”

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Pezzullo swaps ‘dark kaleidoscope’ for a rear view mirror

In an October 2020 speech, Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo increased his list of major threats to Australia from the seven he gave us in March 2019. So how do the two lists compare?

In his March 2019 speech, delivered just two months before the 2019 Election and just days before the Christchurch massacre, Pezzullo said he had seen “a dark kaleidoscope of future stormy possibilities” which threaten a great cost on the nation.

The list he provided in March 2019 was as follows:

  • great power war;
  • employment of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons;
  • a cyberattack with economy-wide ramifications;
  • deliberate subversion of our democratic institutions and our social cohesion;
  • ungoverned and dangerous territories which host terrorist groups;
  • radical extremist Islamist terrorism; and
  • transnational, serious and organised crime.

Pezzullo went onto stress:

…this is not a randomly generated list of “scares”; It is an evidence-based risk framework for thinking about national security in the 2020s and for making decisions about capabilities, strategies, plans, operations and resource allocation.


Lest it be thought that this represents a sinister and cynical “dark view” of humanity, let me stress that I am a strategic optimist. If threats are realistically assessed, if risks are properly appreciated and managed, if all do their duty, if the nation is engaged intelligently on the challenges that lie before us, in a discourse which brings together parliamentarians, journalists, business leaders, academics and others, if difficult choices are taken in good time, then we will be able to navigate these storms, ever hopeful of clear skies and calm seas.

Sadly, Pezzullo did not provide any of the so-called “evidence” he used to come up with this list. If we had access to that evidence, we might be able to identify why Pezzullo completely missed the three biggest threats that hit Australia and our region in 2019 and 2020.

All three risks sit firmly within his portfolio responsibilities:

  • the emergence of White supremacists, neo-Nazi groups and individuals such as the Australian who participated in the Christchurch massacre. ASIO’s Director-General has said they now spend 30 to 40 per cent of their time monitoring and disrupting such groups and individuals;
  • natural disasters generated by climate change. We know from information revealed via FOI that in the lead-up to the 2019 Election, Emergency Management Australia, a division within Pezzullo’s Department, was warning of the catastrophic risks of bushfires associated with climate change. The dire warnings were not only provided to Pezzullo but he forwarded them onto Minister Peter Dutton. Yet he saw no reason to mention this in his seven great threats speech of March 2019. He may have been worried mentioning climate change might have been frowned upon by Dutton et al; and
  • the global pandemic. The former Department of Immigration played a key role in countering the SARS outbreak years earlier. The Migration Act, Schedule 4, Public Interest Criterion 4007 (1)(ab)(b) states visa applicants must be ‘free from a disease or condition that is, or may result in the applicant being, a threat to public health in Australia or a danger to the Australian community’. Despite Pezzullo holding this very explicit responsibility for public health risks being brought in from overseas, as well as his Department’s crucial role with SARS, Pezzullo did not see a global pandemic as any sort of risk worth mentioning in his March 2019 speech. Indeed, it appears Pezzullo didn’t even advise Dutton of his responsibility in this regard.
Mike Pezzullo's denial results in asylum seeker surge

Luckily for all of us, in his October 2020 speech, Pezzullo has corrected these omissions from his March 2019 speech.

With extraordinary hindsight and not a hint of embarrassment, Pezzullo now says:

Australians have come to fear assaults from the natural world and it is no longer tenable to think of security as only about defence from armed attacks.


…one of the most vital security practices in the face of the threat of COVID-19 is hand-washing and good hand hygiene, a measure which is as far removed from the appearance and character of a complex weapon system, and yet of more importance to the current security of the population than every weapon in our armed forces.

Talk about a Road to Damascus conversion.

Imagine if Pezzullo had taken himself out of his “dark kaleidoscope” that operated largely in a narrow defence realm a little earlier and actually listened to people in his Department and read his own legislation and departmental files?

Would that have enabled us to be better prepared for what we have seen in 2019-20?

Abul Rizvi is an Independent Australia columnist and a former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration, currently undertaking a PhD on Australia’s immigration policies. You can follow Abul on Twitter @RizviAbul.

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