Brave New World?

Day 1 of the new arrangements:  The alarm clocks did not go off this morning. The reason is simple, I  changed the times. Over these last few days Annabell has been concerned about me wandering around the district in the

Benji observing Social Distancing

early morning darkness – even with two dogs.  This is a quiet and I believe, generally safe area, but I decided to delay our walks from 6am to 7am when it is starting to get light. I changed the time from 05:30 to 06:30. Did it work? Well for me it did – sort of.. I was awakened by noises at the side of my bed and before I could investigate there was this heavy thump on my chest and a little brown face looking at me and demanding to know why I was not getting up and dressed. At 5:50 I was up but we did not go out. Why?   Well it was raining and still is. However, nothing daunted, I  opened the back door and told them to do as they pleased. They ran out only to turn around and run back in. We are not in lockdown, so I will probably take them to the wetlands (depending on the rain) later in the morning.  Still no word from Adelaide so we  still have no idea how much longer Dougal will be here.

Well that changed quickly and it has been  suggested- officially –  that while we are not on lockdown, movement is restricted and it is probably best that we don’t go wandering in the wetlands or on the beach for the time being. Unless necessary/essential movements outside the house have to be limited. This should be fun. No walks today because of the rain and to say the dogs were bored is an understatement. What are they going to be like after a few days with no outside trips? Anyway, I dare say we’ll manage – somehow.

3 Trips.

Made three trips to the shopping centre in the last two days. Trip 1. Go to SA Pathology for blood tests requested by my doctor. Sit in Socially Distanced Waiting Room. My turn. Question- “Have you fasted?” Reply “No – I was not instructed to and there is no fasting marked on the form”.  “Sorry but the test your doctor has asked for requires fasting”  “OK I will go home and come back tomorrow”.  Trip 2. SA Pathology, sit in socially distanced waiting room. “Oh, good morning John. Nice to see you, how is Annabell?  “Annabell is fairly well.” “Errrrr, I think I have forgotten to bring the form” “Never mind we’ll take blood anyway and you go home get the form and we will see what we need and for what”   Enough blood to float a battleship later I went home and collected form which was on the fridge..  Trip 3 SA Pathology. Place empty. Signed form and nurse sorted out the necessary blood samples. Went home and made bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast. Went to room. One dog on either side of me looking up. No way, not getting share of my bacon and egg sandwich. I showed them who was boss as I finished my egg sandwich on my own…..

Andrew came back from Roxby yesterday. He’s not sure how long he will be home for. He has Connor but they will not be coming over here nor will we be going up. Andrew is going to set up Skype or

Dougal also practicing Social Distancing.

facetime so we can chat to each other.  Well I re-set the alarm clock again. The dogs have to go out and the back garden is not enough. In the interests of Social Distance, I took the dogs back out at 6:15 am – not a single person – not even a kangaroo – around. A few cars passed but that was about it. We completed our walk in isolation and returned home for coffee and treats- coffee for me treats for them——–or was it the other way round??   not sure, everything is just so confused at the moment. Apart from the trips to SA Pathology I have not seen much of the shopping center, but reading the on-line news I see a number of national companies have closed down their outlets, the latest being Strandbags.  Of the three stationery shops in Adelaide, two have closed – Smiggles and Kikki.k : Typo, I think, is still open. Kikki.k is a Swedish company that has gone into liquidation, so they wont re-open. I don’t know about a Brave New World, but it is certainly a Sad Old World at the moment.

Things Fall Apart

The car at Drysdale.
The car at Drysdale.

Having got the car home at the weekend I  booked it into the garage for repairs and service on Monday afternoon. It was returned to me yesterday afternoon ( Tuesday) repaired and serviced. It was mainly ignition problems which meant a new ignition coil assembly and a new set of high tension ignition wires. A few things besides plus a general service and new spark plugs. So the car seems to be running well, but no trips for a little while. I did call the clerk and asked if there were any papers I needed to have or anything I need to be aware of arising out of the meeting I missed. He will send me copies of the paperwork and I’ll send him  copies of the Annual General Meeting Report. I know that one of the issues discussed was the introduction of SKYPE as a means of conducting the meetings. I objected to this last time it came up and I  will object to it again, and fortunately, I am not alone in this. Those who advocate Skype do so on the basis of use for small meetings or the fact that they call their children inter-state several times a week and the system works well. Yes it does for small meetings and for individuals but in our case I do not believe that Skype should be used as it is a poor substitute for face to face meetings and useless in determining the overall mood of the meeting and at times body language is as important as the spoken word in determining the mood of the meeting. Anyway, that’s part of my view and I have no doubt the issue will be raised again in August.

The news from the Administrator of Arrium, however, is not quite so good. It is now generally believed that Arrium will be broken up and sold off. Much of the Arrium holdings are profitable but the steelworks is running at a loss and is responsible for much of the current debt. The University of Flinders have produced a projected  model of the consequences of the demise and loss of the steelworks to the region and the State.  The immediate consequence would be the loss of some 3500 jobs, but then there are the suppliers and contractors and the businesses  that supply Arrium locally – about 4000 jobs locally and regionally – so overall about 7500+ jobs. The financial consequences to  Whyalla and surrounds would be the loss of half a billion dollars in revenue. The consequences to the State is estimate at $800 Million in lost revenue. But according to Arrium there are two sides to Arrium – the good Arrium which has mining interests and two electric arc

The Steelworks ( not my photograph)
The Steelworks ( not my photograph)

furnaces on the East Coast that produce steel products and makes good profits selling these to the construction industry. The Bad Arrium is the Whyalla Steelworks and the South Australian Mining Operations that are burning cash faster than the Good Arrium ( Moly-Cop) can generate it. One of our major hotels has closed down and gone into liquidation as a direct consequence of the Arrium Debacle – it was the preferred hotel for visiting staff, for Arrium Functions and various courses. It had become dependent on Arrium for the majority of its business and revenue, so when Arrium  went into administration the hotel lost its main source of revenue. The banks are – at this stage – opposed to any plan that means the closure of the Steelworks – understandable self interest. What has been calculated is the proposed loss of revenue locally and State, but what has not been calculated is the loss to the banks – the actual money owed by Arrium aside.  There are hundreds of families, these families have mortgages, have loans, have credit cards. If the steelworks were to close and all these people were without jobs – and given the state of Arrium it would be unlikely that they would get anything near their redundancy entitlements – people unable to pay their mortgage. What happens? does the bank take control of this property? Well yes, I guess so. Does this then mean that the banks now have millions of dollars in property that no one wants- well can’t afford. Given that in the late 1970s / early 1980s  when BHP Steel were in trouble – the shipyards closed and the steelworks contracted, we went from a population of 36,000 to about 23,000 – the same could happen again. The Administrator suggests that  the South Australian  operation s – Steelworks and Iron Ore Mines – could be up for sale in July and he hopes to see Arrium out of the hands of an Administrator by Christmas. I sincerely hope so.