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Johnson’s Antidote. – AuntyPru forum version.

“Down along the Snakebite River, where the overlanders camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp;
Where the station-cook in terror, nearly every time he bakes,
Mixes up among the doughboys half-a-dozen poison-snakes:
Where the wily free-selector walks in armour-plated pants,
And defies the stings of scorpions, and the bites of bull-dog ants:
Where the adder and the viper tear each other by the throat,
There it was that William Johnson sought his snake-bite antidote.

Johnson was a free-selector, and his brain went rather queer,
For the constant sight of serpents filled him with a deadly fear;
So he tramped his free-selection, morning, afternoon, and night,
Seeking for some great specific that would cure the serpent’s bite.
Till King Billy, of the Mooki, chieftain of the flour-bag head,
Told him, ‘Spos’n snake bite pfeller, pfeller mostly drop down dead;
Spos’n snake bite old goanna, then you watch a while you see,
Old goanna cure himself with eating little pfeller tree.’
‘That’s the cure,’ said William Johnson, ‘point me out this plant sublime,’
But King Billy, feeling lazy, said he’d go another time.
Thus it came to pass that Johnson, having got the tale by rote,
Followed every stray goanna, seeking for the antidote.

Love it – and, with just a little imagination (for those who posses such a wondrous gift) – the parallels between the McDolittle inquiry and a resolution of the thirty year history of WOFTAM ‘inquiry’ may be clearly drawn. For the following of stray Goanna in hope of finding an antidote seems to be the result every time. Well, the politician ain’t Goanna achieve anything following that course.

So, what’s to be done? Or, what can be done, more than industry has already done? Here we stand, watching other nations industry progress, if not in leaps and bounds,  at least viable if not vibrant. The differences marked and defined by important cornerstones. One of the Goannas industry keeps following is ‘the regulations’ – regular pilgrimages made to the alter of the FAA regulation which is all well and good – for they are indeed the gold standard – however. Many believe that the FAR are user friendly and it is true, they are, but they are no antidote to snake bite. The true antidote resides within the FAA itself. I can assure you, that FAA are not to treated as lightweights; nothing could be further from the truth, you do not mess about with these folk. The difference lays in attitude of and approach taken by FAA. Make an application to mount an operation, prepare your paperwork and submit, then wait a while. The will sit down, a discussion the ‘operational specification’ will agreed and, are off to races. Clearly defined limitations and specification, provided those are upheld then apart from routine stuff, is no fear of, or dependency on good will or mood of regulator.

Australia’s regulations are truly abysmal from an operational standpoint. From the administrators POV they are almost perfect and working toward their vision of ‘perfection’. Malleable, manipulable, infinity adaptable to suit whatever decisions are made to help or hinder an operator, as seen by the collective. It begs the question; do we need to change the regulation and regulator? I reckon McDolittle and Master Sterle  could give you a short, sharp answer to that. In fact there is probably a dozen Senators, of all stripes, who could fully, in a bipartisan way, support that notion. Then is there any hope? History is against it, however, many of the BRB believe that McDoolittle’s pantomime may provide a lever to the lid of the snake pit. Much depends on the minister’s cards and how he plays ’em; ’tis a strong hand, the evidence provided by Angel Flight makes it a hard to beat hand, not a lay down mazaire, but, with a little bipartisan assistance – there is a slim chance. But enough…

We were all talking the other night and the topic of working through Christmas came up; many of the fellahin have been airborne throughout; far from their family at home. But then so have many others, folk like the truck drivers. Through this whole Covid thing, they have delivered the petrol, the food, the medicines, the livestock and materials needed to keep this land rolling. Many similarities between the two professions. TOM proposed the toast – “Thank you boys and Merry Christmas to you and yours; safe home.”


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