Columns

Squirt under pressure

ASTUTE readers may remember my saga years gone of emptying the fire pump tank. I had to do it again this year, and despite my best intentions it all went horribly wrong. I have a token 1000 litres in a tank on tandem trailer, but come autumn I drain the water from the...

mayor’s opinion

A few weeks ago I took a tumble at a Listening Post.  I rolled my foot on some uneven ground and over I went. Mildly embarrassed, I got up and kept moving, not thinking much of it. Only when I got home did I think that a visit to the doctor might be a good idea and it...

Bendigo Weekly – Friday, April 5, 2019

The Real Estate Institute of Australia claims the federal budget provides a fiscal stimulus by increasing infrastructure spending and delivering higher disposable incomes to 10 million low to middle income earners. REIA president Adrian Kelly said whilst there were no...

Friday, March 29, 2019

The events which occurred in Christchurch witnessed the death of 50 innocent worshippers. This barbaric action by an Australian-born right-wing extremist has properly been condemned by religious, political and civic leaders of all stripes. It has rightly shocked both...

Respect is not about age

LAST week’s climate change strikes and rallies by young people fed up with the major political parties’ inaction has drawn a mixed response from the rest of the community, but it’s something we should expect to see a lot more of. I have no problem with young people...

A lesson in isolation

IF you’re my age, 20, there’s no doubt you’d remember reading the John Marsden classic Tomorrow, When the War Began as part of your high school studies – or, if not, would at least know its general gist. It’s where a bunch of teens head away on a camping trip together...

Mayor’s opinion

Council has given the Victorian government its approval to progress the much-talked-about GovHub. This is a $90 million city-building project that will drive investment and job creation in Bendigo. The GovHub will tip $131M into the local economy during construction...

Opinion: STEVE KENDALL ,Bendigo Weekly Chief of Staff

What a pathetic pair. Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton hold high-powered positions in government, at the moment, and all they care about is hanging  on to their jobs. They have Buckley’s. In their desperation they are turning their historic loss in parliament this week...

Opinion – Steve Warrington CFA chief Officer

THE County Fire Authority is remembering and honouring everyone affected by the devastating 2009 Victorian bushfires which claimed the lives of 173 people and destroyed thousands of homes across the state. Yesterday was the anniversary, and this week is a very...

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3 days ago

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6 days ago

Bendigo Weekly

When you run a writers festival each year, one of the good things that happens is, you get to thinking about people, about society, about what makes us strong, what gives us hope.
There are people who - no matter what stage of life they’re at, no matter what kinds of experiences they’ve had to date – think they know enough.
You’ll know some of these people, and, unfortunately, many of them are in public life and even hold positions of power and influence.
Not everyone wants to read books. Some people are perfectly happy doing without the soul-lift provided by a full-on reading experience. It’s not the be-all and end-all of a fortunate life, the gift of reading (although the lovely thing is the desire that readers have to share their joy makes a very interactive and therefore generous-spirited community among readers).
So, while I’d defend anyone’s decision not to read more than what’s essential to coping in the contemporary world, what I can’t defend is the acceptance of ignorance from people whose roles demand they read.
Say, for instance, you’re a politician or manager in a government department. Your job comes with generous superannuation, and well-endowed workplace benefits. It also comes with civic responsibility.
You got the job because people were impressed with your credentials, and trust you to have the skills to do the job.
Why do we not then regularly check that person’s knowledge base – check that they are expanding their intellectual capacities, challenging their thinking abilities? Being intellectually lazy myself, I’m so grateful for the job opportunities I’ve had, and for this festival role that came along to utilise so many of the things I’d learnt to do when I was full-time in the workforce. One of those things is, I think, an appreciation of open-mindedness, as well as a huge admiration for research skills.
I was thinking about this as I listened to Julie Rudner from La Trobe University respond to what British philosopher and commentator Kenan Malik had to say last week about inclusive cities.
Julie was just so good: she heard what he said, picked up on the ideas, then asked questions to deepen the discussion. It’s a terrific skill, and one that I am very grateful for, when people apply it in events such as that. I know there are lots of reasons why question time in Festival sessions can be frustrating (more on that down the track a bit), but it’s important people do have a go, and that we respect the process of interviewing.
In my own experience, I can count on one hand the times I’ve felt I’ve really done the speaker justice, and I’ve got innumerable instances when I’ve come away cross with myself for not doing an interview well.
Which is why I’m astonished that people in public office don’t count it a priority responsibility to work on their own skills and knowledge.
As Malik said, with governments so pressured and controlled by business interests, it is at the level of civil society that decency must prevail.
If you think there’s value in community discussion, in events that allow us to hear informed thinking presented in engaging ways, if you’re someone who enjoys our writers festival – whether you’re a single session focussed kind of person, or one of those all-in-for-a-full-on indulgence that fuels your thinking for months to follow – give someone who thinks they are just too busy doing a responsible job to find time to come along on festival weekend a nudge.
Tell them they owe it not just to their community, but to themselves.
And let’s see if we can help convince some of those yet to get the festival thing that they really ought to give it a go.

thanks for listening! Rosemary Sorensen
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Every year thousands of people around Australia walk, run, volunteer or fundraise at the Mother’s Day Classic. With 50 women diagnosed with breast cancer every day, we need your help now more than ever. You don’t have to go far to take part.
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