Zoom Meeting 20th May 2020 Michael Pengilly Kangaroo Island


29 Participants and Leonie met on Zoom again. What an exciting thing to do and how marvelous that we as members of BMC are able to join in a meeting and actually not leave home!! This technology enables people like Glenda to join us from North Queensland! and allows our guest Speaker, Michael Pengilly, Mayor of Kangaroo Island, visit and tell us about the trials and tribulations of his beloved piece of Australia without leaving his home. We were also privileged to have Tim Wilson our Member of the Australian House of Representatives visit us. This wonderful morning was hosted yet again by the very efficient and charming Helen and thanks go to Geoff Gartly who once again made all this possible. Pres. Geoff welcomed us all and reminded us that regardless of not meeting in person discussions are still ongoing for the board to consider how to support our projects without an income and work in preparing for the return of the market is still an important consideration. He especially welcomed Mayor Michael Pengilly and mentioned that Tim Wilson was going to “drop” in later in the morning. Geoff Gartly introduced Michael to us and reiterated how good it was that we were able meet through Zoom. Mayor Michael began by telling us that it was still dark outside as   Kangaroo Island is 30minutes behind EST. He informed us that he has 3 children and is very passionate about Kangaroo Island and is a third generation while his wife is a 6th generation inhabitant. Kangaroo Island is the third largest island of Australia, Tasmania is the largest and Melville Island (Northern Territory) the second largest.  Michael told us that farming has been the largest commodity earner, followed by lobster fishing with sheep as a primary income. Kangaroo Island was thrown into view when the devastating bushfires began with lightning strikes that began in late December and by 10th January had burnt about 100,00 hectares. The island is mostly bush land. 2 lives were lost and at one stage the whole island was subject to either an emergency warning or watch and act. Michael told us that there was a massive ADF presence. About 100,000 sheep were lost, 80,000 homes and 110 buildings. The fires were unstoppable and Michael was able to warn his wife not to go home as the fires were travelling in that direction. The estimate of wild-life that was destroyed was huge with the deaths of 50,000 koalas. On Jan 4th a Fire Relief was set up.  The Mayoral Relief fund paid out $2,9 million. Mayor Michael explained that one needed to be ruthless in order to administer the funds fairly and correctly.  A question was asked about the Air Port and its usefulness during the bushfires. While it is a good facility and was a great help with the ADF and other aircraft, the runway needed to be lengthened. Now it is not a happy time and due to COVID 19 the island has been shut down.  At the time of Michael Pengilly’s talk there was only 1 case of COVID 19 but the risk was too great.  One of the main tasks is to recover farming. Plantation timbers were lost and the farmers lost their stock.  Packers have helped rebuild fencing costing millions of dollars. Rain has come early so there is green appearing with animals finding the oasis in the burnt land. The population consists of 4,000 permanent people but at the height of tourist season, there are many cruise ships, overseas and Australian visitors the island would have an active tourist business. We were told that as with other places that have been affected by bush fires, issues such as mental health, dealing with rebuilding, financial problems are huge and in many cases relocating and learning of new building standards. In concluding his very interesting, and many faceted talk, Mayor Michael told us that the island was named by Captain Flinders who on arriving on the island looking for fresh meat came across many kangaroos, hence the name Kangaroo Island. Thank you Michael for joining us and we are amazed that you had committed to speak to us so early in the morning.  Perhaps you might return in a year’s time and share the recovery progress on your beautiful island. We would love that! After bidding Michael farewell and luck with all that needs to happen, we welcomed Tim Wilson. Geoff Gartly in his introduction announced that Tim is a well-known politician who is not afraid to “call as it is” and always argues factually. In these difficult times, Tim told us that the essentials are Health, Politics and Economics. He felt that health is largely under control. Replication is less and outbreaks of COVID 19 are well contained, with people who are asymptomatic are responsible for new infections. Privacy is most important in these cases. The principle driver for being able to control as well as Australia has done is that we stayed home. The biggest factor was that we stopped people from coming into the country in February and introduced forced quarantine. We are an island while the challenge for other countries that their borders are more open with neighboring countries. It is possible there could be a 2nd wave as is happening in Europe. Therefore, no overseas travel until possibly next year or even longer or if medical help such as vaccination will be available. He talked of the economic consequence which is extraordinary as a result of this disease. Unemployment is rife, and there is talk that Job-seeker and Job-keeper will need to stop. The reality is that many businesses will not survive so even more people will be out of work. The property market has suffered a decline in asset prices. The bad news is that the economic down-turn could last for many years.  Tim made suggestions of where help is needed. Viable help where food and support is important where people need to sustain themselves in this changing environment. There is a lot of isolation in the community especially amongst the vulnerable and often the only people they see are the delivery men or women. So we should be in touch with our neighbors and build a social support. Tim continued and talked of the worked on the difficulties in the economy, of discussions and the demand for higher based labor. The gap is hurdle the gap. He touched on how Australia will diversify for example buying a stock of crude oil which at this stage is being stored in the US. The problem should not be overstated. There are risk management plans and that Australia has worked with the problem as to not to cut ourselves off. Tim made mention that Australia is the leader of the research into how the COVID 19 began and has countries other than the US backing this venture. There was a lot of information given to us, too much for this article to continue. Thank you Tim for joining us and in your usual factual way giving us an insight as to how Australia is participating in this troubled world. The meeting this morning was so packed that although Sergeant Tim’s Sound was working for fining us there was no time left to do so. We began at 7:30 am and now it is 9:00 am. It was time for those of us who work from home to actually “go” to work! Thank you Helen for your cheerful hosting and to Geoff Gartly for making it possible. We should remember that ROTARY CONNECTS THE WORLD and to be SAFE and WELL. Zilla (Bulletin Reporter)

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