Chapter 24 Some Home Truths

Good financial arrangements from a legal viewpoint and your own peace of mind are extremely important. Everyone should always draw up a business agreement with friends and relatives, the same as for strangers. As a matter of fact it is more important to 'dot every I and cross every T' with people you know than with others.

When drawing up an agreement with a stranger, you do not know this person, so you really safeguard yourself. By doing this it also helps that person by having everything set out clearly and in a businesslike way. As mentioned it is just as important to have everything set Out in a business-like way for friends and relatives. We often think that those we know well know our plans and how we are thinking. This is often not the case.

I know some people are inclined to be upset if things are really spelled out to friends and relatives alike. However, if they are told this is your procedure with everyone, that even your brother is treated the same, they accept it and it can save a lot of misunderstanding later. However small the business deal is, this strict business approach should be adopted at all times. Then not only does no misunderstanding ever arise, but people say youare good to do business with ('We have never had a query or misunderstanding').

I remember thirty odd years ago I was staying at the home of my North West farming manager at Takone - Douglas and Margaret Fenton. They were a terrific Scottish couple and a hundred percent honest and reliable.

One evening in discussing our beef property the conversation switched to dairying. I understood that Doug really wished to start dairying on the property. I was not keen, but they weresuch good operators I decided to give it ago. After a period of about four months, with drawing up milking sheds, yards and the many necessary costly alterations, we were about ready to start building for dairying.

Doug mentioned this would be good for me as I was very keen. I had thought it was his idea and that he wanted to start. Even Margaret thought it was Doug's idea. You see each one of us really did not want to milk cows, but because we thought the other one wanted it, we were too polite to really raise our doubts on the project.

Unfortunately if things had turned out badly and then the point arose that each was doing the project for the other one, we would have had secret doubts about the other person's reliability! I considered myself a good business person and Douglas and Margaret also were a good business couple. All three of us have since proved this to be correct. We have all succeeded in competitive business enterprises, yet we nearly made a big blunder

If my readers do not get anything else from this book than this one item, the reading has been worthwhile, because there are many friendships that break up through misunderstandings. Family rela- tionships have unnecessary strain put on them because all parties are not business-like in all their dealings. They assume that relatives and friends are reliable and are on the same wave-length. However, apart from any initial misunderstanding, people forget over the years and eventually both parties may have completely different expectations.

At present we are working in close co-operation with the Department of Agriculture in various aspects of development at Rushy Lagoon, especially the sheep project, mainly thmugh Robin Thompson. Robin has been our main contact. Robin is very energetic, and like many others in the Department, very capable and practical. We are fortunate in Tasmania having so many capable people in the government departments.

The fact that we have been able to create quite a lot of employ- ment has helped the area considerably and by helping them we have been helping ourselves also. We have always had full co-operation from all Government departments in any activity we have been engaged in during the past 50 years.

We have had good co-operation from the Hydro, Forestry, Rivers and Water Supply Commission, Department of Main Roads and others. It is also pleasing that the media, especially the radio and television networks, show such a progressive interested attitude to what is happening to our Australian landscape. This augurs well for the future of our country, that people are not prepared to sit back and let anyone ruin any parts of our land, which really, is only held in trust by those who hold deeds to certain areas.

On the political scene I have had no problem working with any political party. As mentioned! have never belonged to any party. The three Prime Ministers I knew best were Ben Chifley (Labor), John McEwen (Country Party) and Robert Menzies (Liberal); all three were great men. I suppose John McEwen, who was Deputy Prime Minister for many years was the one with whom I had the closest working relationship. John would ring me from various parts of the world. I was one of about half a dozen who had his private telephone number. He was a down-to-earth Scotsman of great ability and character.

One time I was having afternoon tea at Parliament House in Canberra. Mr. Menzies came over and commented, I thought this was only for Cabinet Ministers! He then said, Who asked you to this function Mr. Farquhar? I replied that John McEwen had invited me. He said, without lowering his voice, He is one colleague I never have to worry about when he speaks, but I cannot say the same for the rest of them! He was very forthright in his comments, and since he was a lawyer, did not care who heard him.

There are many little items in fanning that makes all the difference between a profit or loss. For example, if you wish to harvest a paddock of seed, there are many things to know. If it is grass and you just catch the grass seed head in your hand and squeeze and no seed comes out, it is too green. Wild white clover in our area is a terrific legume, but if you wish to cut seed off an area, you must realise it is only the first three years after sowing that wild white clover has an abundance of seed. After thefirst three years it will have plenty of flowers, but there will be a very limited amount of seed.

It is interesting that now in 1990, many people, including governments and organisations are pushing the concept of sustainable agriculture. This of course is sound and shows a complete turn-around in official thinking. We consider we have been practising this for forty years.

As mentioned, when I was sawmilling, I rightly claimed at that time that! was the only sawmiller or wood processor in Tasmania who planted more trees than I cut down. Now I guess others are in this position, but at the time people were not generally interested in tree- planting.

The old mentality of the Australian pioneers, that trees were the enemy of getting more ground into economic production still pre- vailed. Actually the forest areas are often out-producing agricultural farming in value and in the utilisation of labour.

Just imagine if 10,000 hectares of virgin timber (or only over-mature trees already culled) were available in New South Wales. The unique red cedar's market value is $3,000 per cubic metre in the round, of far greater value than what the land is producing at present.

However, our nation is now doing a wonderful job with its tree planting, a billion trees to be planted during the 1990's - this is over 8,000,000 per month! I hope we can achieve this aim;

In sustainable agriculture it is impossible to set the same criteria for Australia or even a whole state, or even a section of a state.

As an example, at our place at Scottsdale we can plant one or more eucalypts and fence them off from the stock and they will thrive and make good timber or shelter trees. This is impossible near the sea coast in many areas, where the westerly winds blow.

On our Wyambi and Rushy Lagoon properties we have planted many trees, over 50,000 during the last four years. In this area five acres or 50 acres can be fenced off and the eucalypis will start dying on the westward end of the trees and eventually they will all die. However, if the westward side is protected from the wind by ti-tree, boobyalla, she-oak or pines, the whole area often can be protected.

Bottle brush will also withstand the wind, but they have a short life span. The radiata pine is about the most successful imported tree to plant to protect other trees, stock and pastures in difficult tree areas in Tasmania.

Sustainable agriculture means something different to many people. Some people consider if lots of fertiliser is used and water is pumped on to a property to increase production and the property is farmed well, then this is sustainable agriculture. If there is an unlimited amount of fertiliser available in the world and an unlimited water supply and an unlimited amount of power available, and the person in question is not using more than his share of the world supply, then probably he is practising sustainable agriculture.

In China in 1974 and 1976 when Peg and I visited that country, they were, in many areas, practising sustainable agriculture in my opinion: they often used gravitation-fed water helped by human endeavour using night sOil, or sewerage as we would call it. However, in many parts of the world, 'sustainable agriculture' is the term used to describe good farming practices, irrespective of what proportion of inputs are used. This concept is not necessarily correct.

Encouragement of soil life is very important to sustainable agriculture. As mentioned, in 1842 Charles Darwin experimented with how long it would take earthworms to bury a given object. He used chalk, and the worm buried it at the rate of 5 mm per year over a 25 year period. It shows that worms will bury rocks, sticks etcetera over a period.

I was interested recently to be told by Bill Goodman, Director of Parks, Gardens and Facilities in Launceston that all the best Test Cricket pitches carry worms. It gives more life to the ball and the same applies to the football fields. Bill sent me out details of a big research project undertaken in Britain and Europe, showing the necessity of earthworms for the playing fields.

We have transplanted some 200 kllometres of turfs, holding worms, during the last four winters and I think they would be contributing about $300 to $500 per day to our production. This is part of sustainable agriculture.

The Government has recognised my continuing interest in looking after the land, by appointing me as Chairman of the Year of Landcare for 1990. This will be a very challenging but interesting job.

It will be a challenge to see that all sections of the community work in co-operation with one another and harmony for the State's future.

With goodwill sections of the community can work together without sacrificing their principles. A strong person or plant is one that bends. For example, the giant tree of the forest allows its roots (or principles) to hold tight, but the trunk bends before the gale. If the tree does not bend it is nota strong tree; it is brittle and will crash. The same applies to people; if they will not bend, they are not strong people, but are weak and eventually they will crash and bring others down with them.

Some people retire at 60 or 70 years of age and play golf, and do whatever they like. This is very sound and good for them, but not necessarily the best thing for me. I did join a golf club some years ago, and I agree it is a wonderful sport, enabling one to meet other people, exercise in the fresh air, and keep oneself competitive and alert, and to enjoy oneself.

However, I sold my golf clubs, for I found I could do all those things on my property, while keeping myself young mentally and reasonably fit physically.

While planning and operating our property and making it better for future generations, I am also in touch with my domestic animals, horses, cows, calves, sheep and lambs, and I have seen the shelter trees and berry bushes I have planted maturing and sheltering the native birds and native and domestic animals.

Therefore, in my particular case I would be foolish to retire and do something less interesting and rewarding. I have developed an expertise, part of which only comes from experience.

During my 54 years in business the last 25 years have seen the most progress, as well as being easier for individuals and businesses to expand. In my opinion the 80's have been by far the best for people in all walks of life, because finances have been deregulated, so that Australians now have the same advantage in procuring finance as Americans have enjoyed for 50 years.

However, 1989 has seen some very high interest rates. Although the rates were not record figures it was causing us and others some concern.

Therefore on my 71st birthday December 19891 thought I would tell the farm overseer, David (known by his mates as Dig) and Rodney, the sheep manager (known again by his mates as Short), the serious side of our activities in verse. The following is my first endeavour in this field. Peg did not think I would become a famous poet, but it caused a bit of fun! To really understand the verse you need to be listening to the 2-way: Rodney checking when it is going to rain and the Gold Coast chaps coming in on our wave length and spoiling our conversations.

I've done all kinds of work
From which I do not shirk
From shifting logs
To draining bogs.

But I know of nothing tougher
For the jackeroo or duffer
Than budgeting for a profit
But others may think nothing of it.

It's 'Hey Marg. Ring Jill.
Find Out about this bill.
It's far too big
So check with Dig.

Can't understand his talk.
Check with Short.
Did he say a big sheep
Or say he wanted a big sleep?

Did Dagwood say a new wrench
Or was it Mick's new fence?
David says Rodney not in pain
He only wants to know will it rain.

We must all keep our humour
Or we will make a bloomer
The big work's thrust
Is not to go bust.

For a start
Don't let us lose heart
Marg, type this letter
Sorry my writing's no better.

But tell Westpac -
The prospects are bright
If only they can see the light.

Easy credit has created some problems. With the availability of easy money many young people have wanted expensive motor-bikes, cars and big homes. They are not content to live modestly like their parents did until they can afford to pay for the better things, but they want everything immediately. Then so many of them cannot meet their interest payments, particularly since the recent escalation of interest rates. However, those willing to work a little harder will survive, and I think the 90's will be an even greater period for Australians. Personally, I look forward to the year 2000, which I think will be really exciting.

The Wyambi and Rushy Lagoon properties will be second to none, and will be a joy to ourselves and others, too. Wyambi, East Wyambi, Rock Bank, Miegunyah and Rushy Lagoon are world class properties. Recently I had a visit by a buyer who wished to purchase the whole area on behalf of European interests, who were interested only in 'world class properties'.

Each year as we improve facilities, pastures, irrigation and shelter, the property will continue to attract world attention. There are not many. places in the world where the grass will grow all the year round, as it will here. With our irrigation schemes our summers and autumns are now assured, and bad droughts should never occur.

In saying that the 1980's were the best years that I remember business-wise and that I think the 90's may be better, I do not imply that life is easy for the youngster, for parents raising families, or even for 70-year-olds without a son to lean on sometimes. Things are tough often; they always have been throughout history, and always will be. However, Australians have great opportunities and every chance to better themselves.

I know I will not be popular in commenting that I do not think any government should give first home owners or anyone else a grant of money, unless it is solely for lifting the economy. It has always been hard to own your own home and it is definitely no harder now than fifty years ago. However, then the man's first priority was to save up all his money to provide his wife with a house. Her job was to have enough to supply many of the household items such as sheets, pillow slips and general household items.

Now the young people consider the government should give them a handout and they do not bother to save; they buy luxury items and buying the home is not their first priority!

In 1990 many companies have gone bankrupt. Competitiveness has been the pattern in the U.S.A. for fifty years, some companies rising and some falling through their deregulated financial system. Notwithstanding the problems this causes, in my opinion this has been responsible for their great progress over the years.

Some of the crashes have been unavoidable. However, many have been caused by the owners skimming off too much for them- selves in good times. Then sometimes the staff also consider money grows on trees and they are entitled to rip off whatever they can get.

They just work their exact time and never give good measure in whatever they are doing. The profit or loss margins are very close, so if owners, staff or both have gone to excess over any past period, the business will crash during a tough time.

We put everything back into our business and in no way do we cream off any part of it for our personal benefit. Also our staff are sound, practical people and they also give good measure for a day's work. They know they are not being ripped off and so during difficult times, we have always survived, but at times it has been very difficult.

I worked the hardest and had the most stressful period in my life as Managing Director of Dewcnsp factory and received less salary than my out-of-pocket expenses for a ten year period - 1946-56. However, we were successful and the processing factory has and is playing a major part in the viability of the North East and Tasmania generally.

If we are interested in our work, the environment and general progress we must not let our mind be cluttered up with any negative matters. For example, there is no room for hate in our world and in our lives, if we are going to progress and grow. We must learn to think and act positively, whether personally or nationally and then we have a bright and wonderful future.

With peoples in other countries, Australians have awoken to the fact that we must not waste our resources and that every effort must be made to stop the pollution of our environment.

We all know the value of good water, but water of any quality is essential. I was amazed to heir that a visitor to our property, from Queensland, had paid $1,000 a megalitre for water for his stock. Another visitor from South Australia had paid $1,500 a megalitre for water for his stock during a drought. (A megalitre is a million litres.) It would nearly be cheaper to let them drink beer!

The challenge for us all is whether we accept the various opportunities throughout our lives or whether we think they are too hard and pass them up.

No one person has all the answers, but if he or she accepts the challenges and decides to do the job, whatever it is, the job is then half done. We all have our successes and our failures, but the real triumph is when one turns a failure into success, as I hope my story illustrates.

Henry Ford said his failures made him a millionaire. If he had always made 6 per cent he would have remained a small time operator; but some years he showed quite big losses, causing him to really pull up his socks and become more efficient. It was either that or lose his business. With this new efficiency, when business picked up he made far greater profits. I agree with Henry Ford. Itis easy to get into a frame of mind that you and your staff are working to capacity, with the utmost efficiency. However, under pressure you learn more can be accomplished.

Our heritage includes many things, such as the natural beauty of ourlandscape, our forests, mountains, rivers and oceans, and our man-made historical buildings. And similar to many of our early Tasmanian buildings is the Mt. Cameron water race and its dams, so beautifully constructed by the early miners. They were real artists and the result was a legacy of great historical importance.

Hopefully the 1990's will be years of great achievement for Australians generally, with improvements to our waterways, landscape, health, relaxation and the quality of life generally. Greening Australia is a very big ambition, but an essential project in planning to plant over 270,000 trees every day for ten years! This is going to produce a lot of worthwhile work and will eventually generate a lot of wealth, not only from timber production but also from increased agricultural production, while also boosting our tourist trade and decreasing health problems.

The 'Decade of Landcare' will weld many important organisa- tions together - Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Austra- lian Conservation Foundation, Forestry, Greening Australia, Municipal Association, Rural Youth, Parents and Friends Association, Business and Professional Women's Association, representative of service clubs, Country Women's Association and media representa- tives, for our general well being.

I have had the pleasure of chairing Year of Landcare meetings with the above organisations in attendance and it says a lot for the individuals and their organisations, that all our motions (after considerable discussion) have been unanimous. People from all walks of life realise the necessity for co-operation and understanding to help our nation to even greater heights in productivity and living standards during the present decade and future decades.