Monday, February 1, 2010

They couldn’t train a choko vine over a country dunny!

In Australia we have an annual Clean Up Australia Day.

It’s a strange concept but just bear with me. I know you are thinking ‘why would they have an annual day to do what people should do every day?’ Well, you see - people don’t.

Now I am not talking about people like you and me – I am talking about the types of people who – for example – throw old beds into ponds, dump their household rubbish and old car tires into rivers, hack their lovers to death with axes and bury them in forests, throw rubbish from their cars as they drive along roads and highways and, when they have an old car, dump and burn it in the nearest forest.

Now you are asking ‘what types of people would do this?’ and I really cannot answer that question because I don’t think I have ever met one who confessed to doing it – and I don’t think they have them in Austria.

In Australia we have whole hordes of people who – for example – buy fast food and simply drop the rubbish where they happen to be where they are eating. This could be on the beach, in a park or driving along the road.

When Cate and I went to Sydney last July we drove into the city from the airport early on a Sunday morning. I have never seen it so dirty, it looked like 1,000 garbage trucks had exploded high over Sydney and scattered their contents across the city.

Maybe it was always like that and we did not notice until we came to somewhere like Vienna where people take some pride in what their city looks like – and they have street cleaners.

Austrians are – or course – undisputed world champions at polluting their cities with cigarette butts and dog poo – so are not entirely blameless in the litter stakes.

Anyway, when we have our clean up day, one of the things that the clean up people find absolutely everywhere – is shopping trolleys. They find hundreds of them – abandoned everywhere – particularly in creeks and rivers but also in the bush and even in Sydney Harbour.

This is a phenomenon in Sydney in particular and everywhere you go you can see trolleys abandoned in the streets or in parks. There are of course millions that have actually been stolen and are used in backyards to hold plants, garden tools, bodies waiting to be taken to the forest, barbecue bits and pieces, rubbish, compost and anything else you can think of.

It would never occur to me to push a trolley laden with groceries to my car – parked say 200 metres away – and then abandon the trolley in the street. It would never occur to me to steal a trolley. But then it would never occur to me to throw a wrapping from a Big Mac, together with a fries packet, a strawberry shake holder and the whippee whoppee whappee packet and all the associated wrappings – out of the car window when I was driving along the street. It occurs in Australia to many thousands of people every day.I am obviously different to the people who do this.

But I have never seen an abandoned trolley in Austria. It might be because they want deposits here. In most major supermarkets in Australia they do not have a deposit system where you insert money to get a trolley and get a refund when you take it back. This guarantees that most will be returned, if not by the patrons, then by small armies of people who will return them to get the deposit.

Here almost everyone has this system and where they don’t, as in BIPA, the trolleys are too small to be of use to anyone at all so I can’t imagine there ever having been one stolen. The BIPA trolleys are so small I could not take Muffin to the vet in one.

The other day I was talking about dangerous occupations and discussed Coal Miners in China and Crab Fishermen in Alaska. There is a place much more dangerous than this. It is the NSW Hospital System.

A succession of incompetent governments (the only type we elect) has so effectively destroyed the hospital system that it barely functions. There are daily stories of women having babies in toilets in Emergency sections, people with serious injuries being sent home to die, 12 hour waits unattended in emergency wards, dreadful doctors, banned in other countries – doing dreadful things, hordes of people contracting fatal infections etc.

Pensioners in ambulances being taken to hospital are given the option of cutting out the middle man and being taken straight to the morgue.

Every crisis prompts another inquiry. Each inquiry brings forth a long list of shortcomings. The government apologizes, sacks some staff, adds another layer of administration in the health department and carries on in its customary stumblebum fashion as usual. It is as effective as Amy Winehouse at 3:00 AM any morning.

The hard working doctors and nurses are always blamed and whistle-blowers are hunted down mercilessly and destroyed. Somehow additional funding at the coalface is always overtaken by something more pressing, a car racing track or new gold taps for the Premier’s Office Spa.

So - now for one of the finest pieces of Polispeak I have ever seen. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Public hospitals in NSW are the worst performing in the country when it comes to causing death and serious injuries to patients.

New Productivity Commission figures on ''sentinel events'' - severely harmful incidents that occur due to a failure of hospital systems - showed 59 cases in NSW, compared with 28 in Victoria, the next worst-performing state, and 147 nationwide.

Even accounting for NSW having the largest population and the largest number of hospital admissions, the figures still show the state performing worse than the rest of the country, with 40 per cent of sentinel events but only 30 per cent of public hospital admissions.

The figures, from 2007-08, represent a significant deterioration from a year earlier, when NSW was one of the best states, recording only 32 events”

Now for the classic response from the government. So eye-poppingly fatuous that it wins - hands down –the February 2010 Polispeak award – and it’s only the 2nd.

“A spokesman for the NSW Health Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, said the state's performance reflected the fact the state had better systems for collecting and reporting incident data than other parts of Australia”.

Get that! We are not killing any more of you than anyone else – we are just killing you at the same rate - and recording it more accurately.

And we are so accustomed to this rubbish from our elected nincompoops that no one even questioned the response!

Jeez I’m dark. They couldn’t train a choko vine over a country dunny!


  1. A great description regarding annual Clean Up Australia Day! Really interesting to learn about this..
    Sydney Harbour Things To Do

  2. I have found that a British two-pence coin (= 2 euro cents) perfectly fits the Billa trolley. It is exactly the same size as a 2-Eurocoin. So the coins are the same size but the euro is worth 100 times as much. Is there a message hare?

  3. Next time I slip and fall into dog excrement here, I shall be grateful that at least I am living in Vienna where the AKH would take good care of me if I break my neck! ;-)

    A recent news bulletin asserted that the City of Vienna has to remove 868 Millionen Zigarettenstummel a year - 868 million cigarette butts a year! - from the streets, enough to cover 30 football fields. Cigarettes take up to five years to decompose. Source: Vienna Online, "Host an Tschick?" - Wien macht gegen Zigarettenstummel mobil.

    The only people ever leaving trash in front of our apartment building are smokers cleaning out their ashtrays while in the car waiting for their companion who is getting cash at the ATM next door.

  4. I'm afraid your British ancestry may be at fault here. I am forever in despair at the lack of care we Brits give our environment. I cannot understand why my people spend so much money going on Holiday to nice places and then just leave all their rubbish where they sit.

    Our beaches are left with so much litter on them after a sunny day that you can’t see the sand. Outside any fast food shack in any high street sit empty bins, surrounded by greased up bags of half eaten burgers.

    Happily they do generally get cleaned up afterwards, but it is that “somebody gets paid to clean this” attitude that allows these humans the luxury of being pigs.

    I walked past our local Doctors the other week and caught MRSA, Swine Flu and probably Anthrax. Luckily I can have an appointment in June to get it checked out!

  5. Nice. Maybe the Austrian Times could conduct a poll to see how Austrians feel about the NSW government's performance on incident reporting. As compared to snow (with comparative pie charts).

  6. On January 9 and 14, the Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine created a stir through two harsh articles on Sydney's George Street, designated as "our Champs-Elysées, our Fifth Avenue": Risk a trip down Filthy Avenue and By George, this blight has to stop, for Sydney's sake.