There’s a phenomenon perhaps not unique to Australia, but is particularly noticeable in regional Oz … especially around these parts of the Mallee where you can see the material progression of the process toward the almost inevitable “Third Generation Syndrome”, where you see the original pioneers pine and daub shanty, followed some years later after some modicum of farming success in “The New House” and then finally to the much later triple-fronted brick-veneer showpiece of the farm’s success story …
Then comes the next generation … the third generation syndrome where all that hard work gets “pissed against the wall”.
This breakdown with the family structure is jeaulously guarded from outside eyes and sometimes only the most intimate members of the family, even right up to the one parent knows of the inevitable collapse … I have heard of wives continuing on their merry way, involved in this or that community group; the bowls club, the local op-shop, even the choir group … totally unaware of the stalking of Nemisis until the fatal blow falls and then the shock of total destitution stares them and the family in the face. Some never recover their equilibrium and go on in a kind of continuous methodology of habit … like the setting of one foot in front of the other as in walking.
Many times it is not anyone’s particular fault: The produce market might collapse just when they are most vulnerable with a loan, or an accident may befall a family member or members plural … or health issues etc … But in the saddest cases, it can be gambling (perhaps even “pre-selling” of a crop) or the drink that does the most damage … and when that is the cause of the family breakdown, then truly within the group, it really is; “For your eyes only”.
It was booze that done for the next generation of some of my family, booze mixed with the stagnation of life progress in a dying district. A district that was once a booming area with all the bountiful residuals of a virgin-land cleared and cropped for several generations until … until the ground water started disappearing or becoming too saline … before the top-soil, held together for many millennia of Mallee bio-forest was clear-felled to every fence-line and then grazed almost to bedrock and the dirt-farmers became chemical farmers and that was alright while the rain was predictable and of a certain measurement … until …
Then … then we see the breaking spirit, the breaking health, the closing businesses and the loss of population drifting away from these “sad shires” … friends, family, networks, transport capabilities and the final straw; the ”free-market” that destroyed many agricultural boards and guaranteed buyers. Then comes the drink.
I saw it here when we purchased this property from an obscure Aunt (obscure to me, because I had only heard of her mentioned in vague conversations as “Aunt..X”). I never met her till we came to inspect the property that was on the market. I didn’t even know it was her property … and when we did purchase it, we were pressed by those who bought our own property to move out and yet my Aunt had made no move at all to vacate her place. I had to recruit my other relatives up here to please intercede to assist the aged Aunty (their aunt as well!) to move her to her new unit in the Barossa. It was curious that there did not seem to be much enthusiasm on their part, until after I moved here and discovered some awful truths I was not supposed to know.
I won’t reveal those “truths”, as I suspect many regional families have lived their own situations that have for a short time at least wrought havoc onto their lives. Sufficient to say that it was a third generation syndrome moment that resulted in extreme trauma for the family of my Aunty … may they rest in peace.
But sadly, this generational thing is exactly identifiable in the behaviour of the right-wing governments of this nation these last decade or so. We are … what? … three generations from WW2, where militaristic discipline shaped social structure and obedience to such a degree that the imposed impossibilities placed on society caused the social upheaval that resulted in the huge changes in social welfare and health commitments of the preceding Labor governments. But the Liberal/National parties still cling to those perceived halcyon days of the Menzies era as the yardstick for measuring industrial, social, financial and status capacity in a world that is ploughing forward at a pace they completely fail to comprehend … and so the resulting chaos we see in day to day running of the nation could very easily be recognised as that same “Third Generation Syndrome” collapse that is going to leave the nation so vulnerable to what is akin to a family collapse.
With the by-election in New England, we are seeing a person totally incapable of viewing the big picture of the national needs and totally unsympathetic to any other electorate outside his own … If he is re-elected and given back the water portfolio, it will be akin to the naer-do-well son making his way to the front-bar of the local until in a drunken stupor he writes himself and the family’s future off in a wreck of his own making. The voters of New England would be wise to consider if they wish to be joined with or cast adrift from many of their “near relatives” with such selfish representation. They would be wise to consider this risk, for; joined with a country-wide community, they could contribute with others to build the next “house”, while on their own they will, for a time flourish, but it will be by spending their accrued assets and good-will capital … a capital that is heavily invested in a person and a party that has in the recent past squandered resources and capital investments to what could be a criminal conglomerate. Look to your “house”, New England … because we further down the river catchment are looking at you!
So the nation must soon consider if these people now in government have the honesty, the capacity and the integrity to lift the nation from one level to the next to promote community growth and prosperity, or will they do as has been done so many times in a once hard-won successful family and piss it against the wall? … And if they set about doing the latter, will we be satisfied with standing by and witnessing the sad, long, debauching of our nation and our children’s future with the pathetic explanation to those inheritors that it was done in the interests of …
“For your eyes only”.