The Pickering Post
Sunday, 21st October 2018

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Larry Pickering

Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.


The Kiwis flew over Vanuatu’s southern island of Tanna to record cyclone Pam’s devastation, but Tanna’s topography allows for more protection than most of the northern islands where the real death toll will rise dramatically.

When I took my Jetranger to Vanuatu to start a tourism business the Government legally commandeered it, saying, “you must now fly it where we say to fly it or we will get someone else to fly it”... they were right, my tourism business soon became a mostly unpaid, full-time search and rescue business.

My house overlooking Port Vila bay shook violently each night, shifting furniture around and breaking stuff, but my 100 kilo pet bush pig, Murphy, never batted an eyelid, he was used to the earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis that bedevil this archipelago.

Up until May each year there were regular cyclones that stripped every tree of its birds, and branches and lifted boats in the air to spin off their moorings while parts of houses whizzed by horizontally.

By Spring everything was back to normal.

But Pam was a super cyclone and most of the smaller northern islands will have been flattened beyond recognition. Without satellite phones or airstrips, their only hope is a helicopter.

This is a land of death and disaster. In the aftermath of a catastrophic tsunami in The Banks, a remote archipelago south west of the Solomons, in 1998 (not reported here) only the steeple of a church remained above the mountains of sand dumped on the village by the massive rotating wave. I got there to find people were dying from horrific injuries.

But they would not allow me to transport the injured back to Port Vila hospital until all the dead were returned to their islands of birth.

Dumping mangled bodies from a net sling on to other island communities didn’t work because most natives wouldn’t accept them, so I dumped them on a remote beach somewhere and tore back to pick up the injured.

Unfortunately, most of the seriously injured were now dead and, after returning to Santo to refuel, I had to start over again.

In the end no-one was saved. But this is Vanuatu where life seems less important.

Australia’s base aid package of $60 million a year is mostly lost in corruption and much of the extra emergency material aid, in cases such as this, is lost in bureaucracy.

I received no help from the Government, my nets, strops, and rope ladders I made myself by hand. I bought my own inflatable rafts and other much needed equipment.

So you can imagine my delight when I found $100 grand worth of Australian-donated search and rescue equipment gathering dust at the back of a hangar at the airport.

There were inflatables, navaids, medical supplies, nets, a generator, lights, survival suits and every type of tool needed in an emergency. I called the Minister for Home Affairs and he turned up in a singlet to tell me the price to me was 1 million vatu. After calling him a dark female genital part, I suspect it’s all still there.

Recently, my co-pilot and drinking mate, known as Shags, crashed and died still trying to save a few more natives from their acts of God.


I was so sick of seeing, a week after the cyclone, the people standing in their rubbish, waiting for volunteers to come from overseas to pick it all up and then build them new houses. I would not help anyone who did not do at least some acts to help themselves, rather than expect everyone else to do it for them. :P

There's the additional problem of too many chiefs. If you can't be a chief then a pastor is the next best thing. The chiefs or pastors (yes there are some good ones) tend to take the aid that does get their way and keep it for their family, rather than the community.

On 24Apr77, we unloaded a RAAF Iroquois from a C-130 at Guadalcanal for earthquake relief, within 24 hours of a request for Australian assistance being received. Now, it has taken about 10 days to deploy 2 Army Blackhawk helicopters to Vanuatu by Air Force C-17. Why the delay?

Mandatory exhaustive preferential voting is one of the most anti democratic processes I can imagine. It is also responsible for the misfits we have in the senate stagnating our political process. If is a sad truth that Abbott lacks the political courage to address this travesty.


This is from their website:

"As we embark on this large scale project, we understand that it will be a long and complex journey, but a necessary one. In order to make this project effective and successful we will be utilising specialised skill sets from within the community and abroad.

We aim to deploy the latest technology, trends and develop access mediums including set top boxes, smart TV apps, smart phone & tablet apps (IOS & Android), streaming website, a Live & On-Demand portal, YouTube channel, social media platforms, partner broadcasters and a dedicated satellite channel."

I wonder who the partner broadcasters are going to be, and note the satellite channel, as well as flooding social media. And whose specialised skill sets from abroad?

The official confirmed death toll was 24 then down graded to 11. How does that happen?

Above or below the line, that is the question. Don't ring the electoral office as they flat out said they can't explain it over the phone BUT directed me to their website which did. To see how the smoke and mirrors work check out the sites below.

I always vote below the line but this time the preference distribution is hard to find so I will have to vote above the line

What does anyone do in a case like this LP nothing? Sorry for Shags .

My mistake, yes a lone 1 above the line is sufficient, if below the line 15 is the minimum

Thanks D. It would also be nice if our schools could pass this knowledge on (without a bias to the left) during the final years of a students schooling.

It would be nice if the electoral office sent out an how to vote form to all voters on the electoral roll. It should explain all the possible combinations of marking the boxes for upper and lower houses as well as the way the results are interpreted of the method you choose to use. Everyone you ask has a different view. How can first timers make any sense of it all.

Quote"Mike Baird has asked that the people of NSW to not vote preferential. The Greens and the Liars Party (aka Labor) have struck a deal to swap preferences which could see them control the Upper House if preferences are marked.

As this is an optional preferential election, he asks that you mark only one square, for the Party of your choice. "

Yes that is allowed for the lower house, but it will be invalid for the upper house, that paper (the Large one) needs to be numbered i1 to 15 as a mininum !!!

How do we get rid of preferential voting ? Yesterday I was err, discussing this system of voting with an ALP placard holder ( bussed in union thug )who said if it weren't for preferences the ALP could never have got rid of Campbell Newman and in our local area our Federal ALP member has never ever won the popular vote only getting in on preferences from the Greens each time .

Is there an instance where a Muslim country gives aid to a non Muslim country in need? Would not surprise me if there isn't!!!!

I have seen some Greens materials which are really down on the ALP after the announcements by Palletshit of new coal mines and ports in QLD ( last week ) They seem to be pretty pissed off.

I'll be voting for Mr. Baird's party... he's a good man!

Considering the great stab in the back by Labor against the Greens in Queensland over new Coal deals is a wonder Greens are still supporting Labor.

Just received a Baird, Lib how to vote card which suggests a single, above the line vote, not preferential, for both houses in Drummoyne electorate?