Rosemary has a fortnightly op-ed in the Examiner. Check out the Examiner every second Thursday or catch-up on her musings below...
OP-ED: 'Opportunity knocks for Tasmanian lifestyle'
21 January 2021, The Examiner
“Home sweet home” is a song from the opera Clari, Maid of Milan, first performed in London’s Convent Garden in 1823. The last verse of the song proclaims ‘no more from the cottage again will I roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, home! Home, sweet home”.
Fast forward to 1985 and heavy metal Los Angeles band Motley Crue in their take of a song with the same title ended their version with “I’m on my way, Just set me free, Home sweet home”. The Motley Crue version came from their album Theatre of Pain and how appropriate is that album title considering the year we have just endured? Theatre of pain is an understatement in most parts of the world in 2020.
When you look back over the past 12 months the words that come to mind are pandemic, COVID, virus, unprecedented, social distancing, quarantine, shut down, border closures – words of fear and isolation.
Here in Tasmania, and more particularly in my home sweet home of Launceston, those words don’t seem to have the same meaning as in other parts of the globe. I can’t help but feel how lucky I am to live in Tasmania’s northern capital. You just have to turn on the news or open the newspaper to be assaulted by the carnage that COVID was and still is creating worldwide.
You read about China flexing its substantial muscle, or Spain not only struggling with COVID but also having to deal with the biggest snowfalls in 50 years. The UK is trying to come to terms with Brexit and a more contagious strain of COVID, and what can you say about the political turmoil in the USA.
Closer to home, North Queensland has been grappling with flood waters thanks to cyclones and tropical storms while parts of sourthern Queensland are still in the grip of what seems to be an everlasting drought. Drive south of the border, if it’s not closed, and you come to NSW where you will be confronted with life under COVID leading to shut downs, mask-wearing, and the like. The Sydney Cricket Test against India which normally would have spectators stretching the seams of the SCG looked more like a ‘Where’s Wally’ children’s book – find the crowd!
The first ever test match in Australia at the SCG between England and Australia in February 1882 was likely played before more spectators. Further south, we see Victoria falling victim to what COVID has to offer. I won’t go on, other than to say how lucky we are to live on the 26th largest island in the world, otherwise known as Tasmania.
Tasmania is being seen as a safe haven to work, raise a family and enjoy life without the restrictions and uncertainty of other places in Australia, let alone the world. It wasn’t long ago that many people were searching interstate for greener pastures. Not any more, as Tasmanians are staying home and not as anxious to travel interstate or overseas for work or a change of lifestyle.
There is also a growing interest from people interstate who are looking to migrate here to not only escape the regular COVID flare ups but also the rat race of mainland life. COVID has shown us that people can work from home and not be tied to an office desk in Melbourne, Sydney or any other capital city.
I witnessed this last week when speaking to an interstate acquaintance who was enjoying beach life on Tasmania’s east coast armed with an iPad. He was in the process of preparing a quote for a mainland customer. In a world of uncertainty and fear Tasmania was where he was holidaying with his family and doing business on beach with an iPad, towel and sunscreen.
I know this sounds too good to be true, and cannot always be the case for working Australians, but it shows that opportunities have arisen as a result of the virus and some are exploring whether there is a better way to mix work with family and leisure. Many are seriously considering whether this can be done in Tasmania. It’s about lifestyle and life in our state takes some beating.
Launceston, a city with a mix of old and new, steeped in history has the iconic Cataract Gorge with its panoramic views and walking trails, the Tamar Valley with its vineyards stretching along the Tamar River, (let’s not mention the mud), and many historic landmarks within easy reach.
Launceston importantly has that one aspect that sets it apart from a number of other cities – it’s welcoming and friendly people. In summary, it has plenty to offer. The lyrics say it all: “home sweet home”.
Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor
Rosemary Armitage MLC
OP-ED: 'Club ready to put best paw forward in 2021'
7 January 2021, The Examiner
According to the RSPCA, there are over 29 million pets in Australia and we have one of the highest pet-ownership rates in the world. Approximately 61 per cent of households in Australia own pets, with dogs being the most common at 40 per cent. Cats are next at 27 per cent, followed by fish, birds, small mammals and then reptiles.
For the 40 per cent of homes with dogs, I wanted to acknowledge some of the hard work that's being done with our pooches and their families at the Tasmanian Dog Training Club (TDTC), an organisation of which I have been privileged to be a patron for a number of years now. The club was set up to provide puppy training and basic obedience training classes to about 3,600 dogs year year, bot new and ongoing, having been formed in 1959 and known initially as the Dog Club of Launceston. These days, they operate out of Churchill Park on Sundays.
The TDTC is a not-for-profit organisation, and runs classes consisting of puppies, tweenies, beginners, grades 1 to 3, advanced agility and Rally-O courses. Twenty-two volunteers provide in excess of 6,500 hours each year. It is clearly a well-subscribed service and families pay only a modest fee to participate in each session. For the club's volunteers, executive and participants, it is very much a labour of love, with a lot of fun thrown into the mix.
The aim of the club is to provide good value training and advice to the public so that the dogs in our community are well-socialised and well-mannered. Evidence shows that raining provides mental stimulation and adequate exercise for dogs. It reduces barking and aggressive dog issues such as biting and chasing other dogs, animals and humans. Studies also show that training makes puppies more confident, by teaching them proper behaviour through positive reinforcement and gives them an outlet to exercise and burn off excess energy. They learn healthy habits, how not to engaging in destructive behaviours and it sets them up for a longer, healthier life, with fewer physical and cognitive issues. There is literally no downside to participating in a TDTC program.
Dog training is a two-way street - both for dogs and their owners. The TDTC provides training to a wide range of people in the community from kids to older people, able-bodied, as well as for people with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities. It is very much an inclusive space that offers, actively promotes and encourages community participation in fun physical activities.
Training also assists people to understand the importance of correct breed selection to suit their lifestyle and location. It encourages responsible dog ownership which, in turn, makes for happier pups and families. Many people who work with their dogs to build their obedience, rally and tracking skills say that the bond and relationship with their dogs are made stronger and deeper through participating in these programs.
The TDTC also provides information on the requirements of local councils and any possible upcoming changes to dog-related legislation. They provide advice to the public about desexing, microchipping, dietary requirements and animal husbandry and all the necessary obligations of being a responsible dog owner.
One of the core courses available through the club is puppy socialisation; a four-week course of one-hour sessions. This is an introduction to owning a dog and teaches control and socialisation experience, instructs owners about their responsibilities to their dog and the community and offers advice on solving puppy issues such as jumping and biting. It also prepares puppies to cope with stressful experiences such as visiting the vet or groomer.
There is a beginners obedience course, which provides an introduction to owning a dog and focuses on dog training by way of teaching a range of commands useful to owning a dog. Completion of these classes progression to more advanced classes for increasing levels of obedience, which can also provide a lead-in to other activities and sports.
Agility, timed obstacle courses, endurance tests, tracking, track and search and rally obedience are just some of the more advanced activities that owners and their dogs can have the opportunity to participate in. Unfortunately, many of the advanced classes were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the club is gearing up 2021 and is very keen to get back into regular business once social distancing requirements have eased.
Being a very socially-conscious club, the TDTC also participates in fundraising events such as the RSPCA Million Paws Walk and makes regular donations to worthy causes.
If you have a new puppy, considering getting one, or just feel your dog could do with some training, I encourage you to consider coming along for some exercise and fun at Churchill Park when classes resume in February.
Independent Launceston Legislative Councillor
Rosemary Armitage MLC