Monday, January 30, 2012

Local sculptures

Al Phemister, resident artist (sculptor) in Yass:

A pear, sculpted out of welding discarded horseshoes together.

"Bronze pear"

A Dandelion made from discarded steel 

"Dandelion on the breeze"

Phemister's "workshop' - includes partly finished birdhouse made from an old copper boiler.

Birdhouse in-situ

Preparing for the annual "Billycart Derby" - Al Phemister 
in multi-coloured aeroplane billycart.

Phemister's Celebration tree


Types of Football in Australia

We have four types of football we play in Australia. Mostly all games take place during our Winter but begin in Autumn and can run into Spring.

There is the 'round ball type of football, which to myself is one great melee where twenty two players on the pitch move a small round ball around and you need to be Stephen Hawking to work out the "rules".

Next, there is the rugby games and the oldest form of these is a game called Rugby Union. A rough, fast game, played with little player protective equipment but with many interruptions to play and games frequently decided by penalty goal points for player infringements. The idea appear to be that if you cannot score a 'try' (read 'touch down'), then get into your oppositions half and force them into an error whereby your ace goal kicker can kick a penalty goal worth 3 points.

Then there's the so-called 'professional' form of rugby - Rugby League, again, a rough, fast game, played with little player protective equipment but played at a much faster, even frenetic speed.

The latter game has a habit of seeing the players let of some steam - against each other!

Then there is the game played mainly in the southern states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia - believed to have its origins in Gaelic Football, its played with a modified rugby-type ball on a round oval with four goal posts for differential point scoring at either end. It can be physical but is more known for some of the spectacular leaps ("Marks") players make, often climbing up the back of another player to leap into the air to seize the ball.

Our football season is about to go into "pre-season" games and then the fun really begins. Most games are broadcast with many broadcast live, so that Winter is a Football Feast.

Weight loss No 4

Originally - 116.8kg

Today - 114kg (weigh No.4)

Loss this week - 0.8kg

Total loss since start - 2.8Kg (6.2lbs)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly Words No. 9

"... to piss in someone's pocket ...", phr. [1940s+] (Aus.)   -  to curry favour, to be extremely close to someone, to ingratiate oneself.

If someone tells you to  "Don't piss in my pocket" and intones it in jocular, familiar terms they are indicating that they reckon that you are taking a lend of them, trying to put one over them, trying to 'pull the wool over their eyes', or, even 'taking the Mickey out of them'.

Fair enough?

But what if someone says it to you in an aggro format, with an indication of anger or affront? In this case . It means “don’t take me for a fool, don’t try to deceive me, don’t flatter me with your lies”.

In Australia it is common or vulgar language, often the domain of the working class who are in no way backwards in letting someone know where they stand and what they think of the other person and, frequently, they do this by use of colloquial phrases. 

As they are not raised and educated in an insular fashion, most Australian schoolboys know the phrase, even if they are too genteel to use it in common use. In most practical ways, Australia is an egalitarian society. This does not mean that everyone is the same or that everybody has equal wealth or property. But it does mean that there are no formal or entrenched class distinctions in Australian society, as there are in some other countries.

Australians tend to be gregarious and outgoing. Most are relatively informal, socially and in their relationships with acquaintances and work colleagues, so much so that the use of such phrases comes easily to many tongues in everyday interactions..

Fair enough .... but .... what is the origin of this term?

Michael Quinion, writing in "World Wide Words" , 1996–2012, says:
"It’s a modern Australianism, recorded from the 1960s, but a precursor — pissing down any one’s back — is recorded in the same sense in the 1811 enlarged edition of Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue."
 The reason why it’s obscure is that its only half the expression. Don’t piss in my pocket is a shortened form of don’t piss in my pocket and tell me it’s raining. It means “don’t take me for a fool, don’t try to deceive me, don’t flatter me with your lies”.
There is another version which states: "Don’t piss down my leg and tell me it’s raining" and has its origins from the earlier English expression of:  Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining! 

So, If an Australian  says to you  "Don’t come the raw prawn with me - Stop pissing in my pocket!" they are telling you that they don't believe you and you better not try and treat them like a fool or suffer the consequences.

"Don't come the raw prawn with me?" Oh dear!  Another can of worms that will have to wait for another day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

cookie recipes


¼ cup of cooking choc chips, rolled and crushed into small pieces
Mixed unsalted cooked nuts – halved macadamias, slivered almonds, pine nuts
250 g butter, softened
¾ cup of caster sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 ¼ cups of self raising flour
Milk for glazing

Using hands, knead the butter, flour, sugar, choc chips and vanilla essence in a bowl until combined and smooth.

Roll into smooth walnut-sized balls and place on some sprayed baking paper on a tray, leaving plenty of room for the biscuit mixture to expand as it cooks.

Flatten the top of each ball with a fork, criss-crossing it until about half a centimetre thick.

Decorate as desired with slivered almonds, macadamias and pine nuts, pushing those slightly into the surface of the biscuit mix.

Brush the surface of the cookies with milk and then place the try in a pre-heated oven at 180C (Gas mark 4 – 355F) for 15-20 minutes. When the top of the nuts begin to brown the cookies are cooked. Remove tray and set aside to cool. Repeat process until all the biscuit mix is used up.

When tray has cooled, remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool some more and then store in an airtight container.


(Image Source 2011 Kitchen Riffs -


220 g firmly packed brown sugar
115 g butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Extract
1/2 teaspoon ground Anise (Five Spice powder makes a good substitute)
2 g ground Cinnamon
3 g baking powder
3 g salt
1g Ground Black Pepper
a good pinch of ground Nutmeg
a good pinch of ground Cloves
220 g sifted plain flour
icing sugar

Place brown sugar and butter in bowl. Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. 

Add remaining dry ingredients, except icing sugar, to sifted flour and sift again. 

Gradually add to butter mixture, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C 
 (Gas mark 4 – 355F) 

Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into ovals and place 2.5 cm apart on ungreased biscuit trays. Bake 10 minutes. 

Remove from trays and place on wire racks. Sprinkle with icing sugar while biscuits are still warm. When cool, store in airtight containers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter's best roast lamb

This is truly one of the best lamb roasts going and it is so easy and quick to prepare, however, you may need some help from your butcher in preparing your rack of boneless lamb loin.

Boneless lamb loin is the same as rack of lamb chops but with the bone removed from the loin, the latter cut and rolled, pinwheel fashion, and secured to make a compact boneless roast. The muscles include top loin (larger muscle) and tenderloin (smaller muscle).

Ask you butcher to cut you a piece of lamb loin - mine was slightly over 1 kg (about 2lb 4 oz) and have the butcher to leave about 5-7cm of flap on the loin for securing the rolled loin at the end of preparation.


Apricot marries beautifully with lamb and of course rosemary is a classic partner for lamb.

1 kg loin of lamb (increase size of loin according to needs)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 small branch or a few sprigs fresh rosemary
12 dried apricots


Place the lamb skin side down on the chopping board and season the meat side well with salt and pepper.

I do not peel my garlic cloves, instead I remove the papery 'skin' then I squash the whole cloves with the back of a broad flat knife and then slice the flattened cloves. Scatter the sliced garlic on top of the lamb muscle and then top with the rosemary. 

Arrange the apricots in a layer down the centre, close the meaty portion of the loin. Roll up and secure the extra flap with toothpicks or skewer. I prefer to 'sew' a long metal skewer up the length of the rolled lamb loin.

Roast at 190 degrees Celsius (375 F) for 1 hour. At this stage the lamb will be cooked to medium, if you would like the lamb well done, cook for a further 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and stand 10 minutes before carving (but remember the roasts continues to 'cook' as it stands). Cut about the width of a normal lamb loin chop to serve. Accompany with gravy, or your favourite relish.

This roast is delicious with homemade Indian chili chutney.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Record year for Macca's

We don't know how many burgers they made, but the other numbers are big enough.

McDonald's rang up record sales of $US27 billion ($25.6 billion) in 33,510 restaurants worldwide last year, an increase of 12 per cent, turning a profit of $US5.5 billion from the 68 million customers it serves each day.

Although there is no country breakdown, it seems Australia was a weak contributor, with our stronger dollar biting into earnings and its chief executive, Jim Skinner, noting ''lagging consumer confidence as a result of the economic slowdown''.

Just 34 new stores opened in Australia last year, McDonald's US filings reveal, lifting this country's total to 865. That compared with 177 new stores opened in China.

But Australia again lived up to its track record as a hotbed of new ideas for the fast food giant. Chicken McBites have just been launched in the US after being invented in Australia and launched in 2010. ''That's something we're really proud of,'' said a spokeswoman. ''Lots of innovation in McDonald's starts in Australia, like McCafes.''

In the December quarter, McDonald's reported sales of $US6.8 billion, up 10 per cent on the previous year, and net income of $US1.4 billion, up 11 per cent.

McDonald's does not give a country-by-country breakdown but the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa were the strongest of its geographic regions, with sales up by 11 per cent both for the quarter, after stripping out currency impacts, compared with a year earlier, and for the 2011 full year.

Read more: McFlurry of trade brings record year

Note: I'm not a "Macca's" fan and if faced with the requirement to purchase their product I would sooner throw away the contents and eat the packaging as it is probably more healthy and has more fibre in it!

Idealised picture of an outdoor nation

Brains trump brawn in idealised picture of an outdoor nation


The uniformly admirable citizens held up for acclaim each year say a lot about what the country aspires to, writes David Marr.

WINNERS make awards. The list of Australians of the Year has been so good for so long we've forgotten how odd it is that every summer a rather shadowy committee plucks out an Australian for the rest of us to admire. And we have for over 50 years.

The first and latest choices have a lot to say about the possibilities of distinction in this country. The Nobel prize-winning immunologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet was the first Australian of the Year in 1960. He made heart transplants possible.

The latest is the Academy Award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush, who has packed out a Melbourne theatre for the past two months playing Oscar Wilde's great ogre Lady Bracknell. Seats weren't to be had for love or money. Laughter could be heard blocks away.

Virologist and immunologist, Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet,
was the first recipient of the Australian of the Year award.

Money and power aren't the point here. The rich have no place on the list. Raw success isn't enough. There has to be something more, some sense of distinction that lifts a candidate out of the ruck of the famous.

Brains have beaten brawn hands down. Yachting, swimming, cricket, boxing, tennis, athletics and formula one have delivered only 15 Australians of the Year since 1960. The rest are all brains: lawyers, a couple of upper level bureaucrats, environmentalists, a painter, half a dozen singers - including all the Seekers (1967) - and 11 scientists and medicos.

The committee loves the lab. Theirs is an indoors Australia, not perhaps the country we live in but the Australia of our best intentions. Businessmen need to be philanthropists to make the grade. No footballers.

The only near-guarantee to a place on the list is winning the Nobel prize. Patrick White (1973) was one of these. Ditto Sir John Eccles (1963), Sir John Cornforth (1975) and Professor Peter Doherty (1997). Brian Schmidt of the infinitely expanding universe who won in Stockholm in 2011 is a sure-fire Australian of the Year sometime soon. Perhaps in 2013.

Yachting is the single most favoured sport. The track has never had a guernsey. Only two writers have made the grade and that was years ago: Patrick White and Manning Clark (1980). Joan Sutherland (1961) and the conductor Bernard Heinze (1974) are the only classical musicians on the list. Johnny Farnham made the grade in 1987.

The good news is that the only Australian of the Year to end up in the clink was Alan Bond (1978). He went from winning the America's Cup one year to a spectacular business crash soon after and found himself behind bars for four years. The tax collectors have not laid a glove on Paul Hogan (1985).

Geoffrey Rush is the latest of a long list of show-offs that began with Sutherland and dancer Robert Helpmann (1965), Paul Hogan, Johnny Farnham and Mandawuy Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi (1992). By some strange oversight, neither Barry Humphries nor Edna Everage has had a chance to be the promised ''role model for us all''.

The Yunupingus seem to be the only family that's given us two Australians of the Year: Mandawuy and the rights advocate Galarrwuy (1978).

It needs to be noted that black leaders have a distinct advantage over white. The only white politician ever to be Australian of the Year was the former Liberal foreign minister and later governor-general Richard Casey KG, GCMG, CH, DSO, MC, KStJ, PC (1969).

Nothing comes with this office except an inscribed chunk of green glass. There's no title; no stipend; no uniform; no official residence; nothing to pin in the lapel; and only the haziest of duties.

What the winners are given is a voice. Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry (2010) used the award to address a few problems he saw in his country, including detention centres which he spent the year blasting as ''factories for producing mental illness and mental disorder''. He was listened to. That's the only privilege of what's now an old and respected office.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australia Day - January 26th


This year it falls on Thursday. To most Australians it is regarded as our country's birthday, it is a Public Holiday and many will add in Friday and possibly next Monday and make it the "Last Hurrah" of the Christmas/New Year festive season before the country gets back to normal (until Easter holidays, that is!)

Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, and ANA Day) is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. It is presently an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia and is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Honours List for the Order of Australia and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

The date is controversial to some Australians, particularly those of Indigenous heritage, leading to the use of alternate names, such as Invasion Day and Survival Day. Proposals have been made to change the date of Australia Day, but these have failed to gain widespread public support.

Most Australians - ourselves included - will 'fly the flag' for Thursday. In fact our flag was pinned to our front verandah this morning. Tomorrow there will be a 'Breakfast in the Park' run by the local Lions Club. We will have a visit from a government nominated prominent Australian as our own Australia Day Ambassador, citizenships will be endowed on migrants applying to become naturalised Australians and there will be many other festivities - e.g. a "Dive In" at the local swimming pool tomorrow afternoon and evening where movies will be shown (kids movie in the afternoon and a family movie in the evening) and the local supermarkets will have promotions and give-aways - Woolworths are holding a 'Gold Coin' donation sausage sizzle with all proceeds going to Can-Teen , the charity that supports teenagers with cancer.

Many households will have a barbecue and, of course, there is a cricket Test in progress between Australia and India in Adelaide, South Australia, so 'backyard cricket games' will also be the go as the TV's show the real game live and the steaks are sizzling on the barbecue and a few "frothy chops" (beers) are consumed!

So, Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's a conspiracy .....!!

Ever wonder why the structured/desired entry to a supermarket/Markets, Food Court, etc always has a display counter of flowers for sale?

The idea behind the flowers is that hitting you with a product that is highly perishable yet fresh will "prime" you into thinking of freshness, and that you will carry that "freshness" mindset with you all the way back to the discount meat case. It sounds like bullshit -- humans don't connect completely unrelated ideas like that, right? Yet it's confirmed pretty much every time they test it.

It’s called “priming”. Sometimes "priming" is as simple as finding that people will keep a room cleaner if it smells like disinfectant - that subtle reminder is enough to make people think, "This is a clean room, I should keep it clean." But when you see how far they can take this, it gets weird.

It is entirely possible to manipulate people into certain behaviors without them knowing it. We're not talking about subliminal suggestion, the disproven gimmick that claimed it could make people buy products by inserting hidden messages in movies. No, the real technique is priming, and it's as sinister as a windowless white van at a playground.

The next time you see an ad on TV, take a moment to notice the show or scene preceding the ad. Because advertisers are paying more for placement that will prime the viewer. For instance, one US company ran ads for its emergency vehicle service during a commercial break that came right after a car crash scene in The Bourne Supremacy. The idea was for people to ‘associate’ the “accident” with their product and “prime” people to remember them as the first to call in a breakdown or accident.

Oh! - and btw - why do Drs surgeries seem to never have a clock on display - seems that way the further up the medical totem pole you go - and the fastest task that the receptionist/office staff can do is to take your payment.  Ever pondered the architectural layout/floorplan of multi clinics? It's real interesting when you look closely at the dynamics in play.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Words No. 8

Containing or getting to the ‘gist’ of the matter, what a wonderful word that is – GIST.

“Gist” means the central idea; the essence of the subject matter, and is synonymous with ‘substance’ – to get to the essence or substance of a matter under discussion.  

The word ‘gist’ has a sound heritage. It comes from the from Anglo-French, as in ‘… cest action gist en …’, meaning “This action consists in ….”,  and, literally, : lies (with)in from the Old French ‘… gésir …’ to lie (within)

There is a direct trace of its origins back to the old language – Latin – in the term ‘… jacēre  …’ from its meaning  “to throw”!

So, If you were throwing your hat into the ring you had better know the gist of the problems facing you! LOL!

Weight loss week 3

This Monday I weigh 114.8kg

I've lost 0.5kg (1.1 lb)

I'm happy with that - with Rhonda home for three days shee's been keeping me supplied with mugs of tea during the day and we always eat well on her days off - being a weekend also means a 'cooked breakfast'!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crazy weather ... Grrrr!!!

After tops of 35C (100F) it's gone cool with a southerly breeze and overcast here. Unreal weather - shorts and "T's" one day, woollen shirts and "Trakkie Daks" the next. At lest last night was a good sleeping night - nice and 'snug' (thanks mummy) LOL! We had 18mm (3/4 inch) of rain yesterday, so now the grass has started to shoot again and will need cutting.

Cooking slow cooker Goat meat on the bone in a mushroom, carrot and onion ragout today and will have that with pasta tonight.

Went to the markets on Friday and bought a whole bag of seafood - 2kg of uncooked king prawns (shrimps) baby octopus, squid tubes and whole baby squid, New Zealand blue lip mussels, Tasmanian salmon fillet and skinless and boneless Basa fish fillets. Chopped, sliced and diced it all up and parcelled it into four batches, froze three down in 'Vac Paks' for later.

Cooked up the other for dinner. Did it as a seafood Marinara in a tomato and grilled olive sauce. I add chopped chives crushed and diced cloves of garlic, some olive oil and a few spicey leaves of Vietnamese mint (finely chopped) and a couple of shallot onions. I let it brew in a covered bowl in the fridge for a few hours, then lightly fry it up and add the sauce, stir through and heat through. Serve straight to the table. Ate that with slices of crusty Italian bread that was baked in wood fired ovens.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Easy scone recipe

We call these "scones" - that's 's - kons' and not 's - cones' - however, in the US and other parts of North America I believe they are commonly referred to as "biscuits"

Here's a dead-set easy, "dig a hole and bury me, it just doesn't get better than this", recipe for scones.



1 cup of lemonade (not flat)
1 cup of cream
3 cups self-raising flour
Handful of sultanas (optional)


Preheat oven to very hot 220°C.
Mix flour, a few sultanas, cream and lemonade. Mixture will be soft
Turn onto a lightly floured board. Pat down, do not roll. Use a round cookie cutter to cut scones.
Brush tops with milk or a lightly beaten egg.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until tops are golden

When you turn the mixture out onto the kitchen bench, dust it again with more flour so it isn’t too sticky to cut up. This will allow you to get a lovely ‘scone’ shape.
I prefer using egg to brush pastries as this makes them more golden after cooking.

These scones are wicked straight out of the oven with a slathering of butter, or, let them cool, slice them in half, lather with strawberry jam and top off with a big spoon of whipped double cream.

btw - these are "biscuits" in Australia":

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yass Dam Upgrade

Walked up the river yesterday - took Denny-the-Dog and my good Nikon and got a few pics of the work being done to raise our dam wall 1 metre (thus tripling capacity) and, hopefully, drought-proofing us - but I 've heard this before when it didn't work - Pejar Dam at Goulburn was s'posed to drought-proof Goulburn but ran dry and stayed that way through the ten worst years of the recent drought!

Downstream of dam wall - not an easy trek!

Very rocky terrain - basalt and granite outcrops

Construction work in progress

Construction Works Depot - not sure what the green building in
foreground is suspect it is part of the existing Water Treatment plant.

I managed to find a ledge on the high ground to get these photographs and attracted much attention from the construction workers - maybe they thought I was some sort of spy from some regulatory agency (River water IS very dirty from all the construction work and I'm surprised that our Fisheries Inspectorate haven't said something about this - they kicked up a stink when council wanted to widen the low level river crossing to allow two lanes of traffic!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quick trip to Sydney

We had to make a quick trip to Sydney - stayed at our favourite hotel, the Sheraton on the Park in Elizabeth street, opposite Hyde Park. It was a bit 'up-market' I s'pose but considering it was one night only, had secure parking on-site and was right next door to the business we had to attend to, it was worth it.

Sydney's weather cleared for 24 hours - they've had a terrible run of inclement weather - just long enough for our stay.

Some pictures.

View from the window alcove of our 'front-of-house' room overlooking Hyde Park.
You can see the gloomy sky that was present when we arrived in Sydney.

The spire/tower of St Mary's Cathedral across Hyde Park the
following day, framed by a beautiful blue sky.

The walkway from St James station, Elizabeth Street towards
the Archibald Fountain and St Mary's Cathedral in the background

The steps off  Elizabeth Street into Hyde Park

We had a very nice dinner in the Sheraton's Brasserie restaurant and I was prepared for the $AUS65/head charge for the 'all-you-can-eat' buffet, however, I shirked at $AUS28/head charge for dining room breakfast of buffet eggs and bacon. So we wandered out the Castlereagh Street entrance to the Sheraton and went across the road to Suncorp-Metway Building and found a nice little cafe where we had a very full hot breakfast for an economical $AUS8.50/head.

Castlereagh Street - Suncorp-Metway Building on the right adjacent the parked trucks.

Coffee lounge/Cafe for breakfast

As we ate our leisurely breakfast we were absolutely amazed to see the queues of workers lining up at the counter to get their morning containers of their favourite 'coffee-fix' and paying up to $AUS8.00 for the same.

Rhonda tells me that at her hospital the morning 'coffee run' to the canteen is a daily ritual, one she avoids as she only drinks weak black coffee and finds it cheaper to take her own little container of coffee granules.

As you may gather, I am not a coffee drinker. LOL!

Volunteers and health and safety law in Australia

Organisations which rely heavily on volunteers are warning they will have to have cut back on services because of changes to health and safety laws in Australia. Under the law changes, volunteers are now considered as workers.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a staggering 6.4 million people do unpaid work.

Some volunteers deliver meals to the sick and the elderly, others provide community support services such as home-based household care, while other volunteers donate their time to driving the elderly and infirm to appointments – mostly medical appointments – where public transport is not ordinarily available.

Even those volunteers who supervise scout camps or work as marshals at community events are in the firing line under the new laws.

What’s happened, you may ask?  What’s changed?

Well the Australian federal government has tried to reach an accord with all the states and reach a standard set of occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations and a standard OHS Act that stops each state from ‘doing its own thing’ and having OHS law that applies to all workers no matter what part of Australia they happen to be in. The jargon term is “Harmonisation”, harmonising the legislations between states. So far some states, like Western Australia, have refused to come to the party. Others, South Australia for example, are being more circumspect and refusing to commit until more clarification of the ‘volunteer conundrum’ is forthcoming. Others states, such as New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory have already agreed.

As a result everyone is now exposed in a way that they have not been exposed in the past and the expectations on them now are to have the full resources around OHS that you would expect of a government department, mining companies, retail and department stores, etc.

Put simply, these new OHS laws redefine volunteers as workers for health and safety purposes, which means they now have a duty to do what is reasonably practicable to prevent injury.

Breaches to those laws can attract large fines with volunteers facing penalties of up to $300,000.

Lets take the scouting organisations by way of example. Scouts Australia has already warned its volunteers that if they do not follow their organisation's new procedures, they (Scouts Australia) may be fined.

What's always happened with OHS in terms of volunteers, it's the full application of common sense and that's really what drives the current situation. What the situation now is that of bureaucratic requirements in terms of red tape, form filling and so forth that just are endless.

In the case of the Scout Association they have said that all scout games are going to have to be reviewed. They're going to have to have safety procedures around those games, they're going to have to have documented them and have all the procedures in place.

The possible ramifications of these new laws are extensive and the volunteer committee that, for example, manages the local scout hall, are saying that they're not going to let people use the scout hall for parties anymore because the volunteers could be held liable if there's an incident at the party.

The new harmonised laws are creating an environment of complete confusion, not providing better protection mechanisms.

Previously, under OHS law, i.e. normal OHS law, people are held responsible for what they reasonably and practicably control!

These new laws for some strange reason have said, well you'll be held responsible for what is reasonable and practicable and they've dropped the word "control".

The big debate occurring in the legal profession is whether or not now people can be held liable for things over which they didn't have control.

OK!  I can see the need for organisations that involve themselves in a higher degree of ‘risk taking activities’, such as scouting organisations, having policies, procedures, safe operating procedures, risk assessments and checklists that are all aimed at bringing the chance of harm occurring from any of their activities to an absolute minimum risk.

And yes! – this will mean that the organisations like the scouting groups will have to devout a lot more time, energy and finances towards ensuring that their volunteers are properly trained and inducted to health and safety as a routine part of their activities.

But it’s the lower risk groups that will feel the greatest impact – those operating on a shoestring budget of (mostly) hard fought for funding from government and public grants that will feel the impact of these new OHS laws the most. Those where failure to comply with the new regulatory requirements will mean funding being cut-off. Those where many of its volunteers are well-minded, caring community members who, themselves, are not that far off reaching an age or state of health and well-being where they will be dependents upon the very services they now provide.

According to the head of Meals on Wheels in NSW, Leslie MacDonald, it is the charity organisations, not the volunteers, that will be exposed.

"The real concern that I have is that there have been no discussions with government at all at this stage, or no suggestion from government that they're going to cover the substantial additional cost that that's going to require," he said. "In terms of worker's compensation premiums but also in terms of the additional workload that's going to impose on the paid staff in terms of making sure that the legislative requirements are being met."

It is difficult to know yet what the extra costs will be.

There has been little time or chance to analyse in detail the additional administrative requirements. The best guess is that, talking in terms of the workers comp premium, a very substantial increase.

With no extra funding support from the Federal Government, charity organisations like Home and Community Care, Meals on Wheels, etc  will be forced to reduce their services. That’s going to mean a substantial reduction in the services that charities can provide. That seems fairly logical.

The Minister of Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, released a statement saying safe workplaces will not be adversely affected by the changes and that his department wants to avoid any unnecessary administrative burdens on volunteering organisations. Reading between the lines, Mr Shorten has really said that charity organisations, like any other organisation using human services, are going to have to get their house in order and develop better management systems that satisfy the requirements of these new OHS laws.

The only people to be better off from all this will be the OHS Consultancy firms who will hit the market place trying to sell their ‘off-the-shelf’ OHS Management Systems, systems devised by the consultancy and not by the people actually delivering the volunteer care!

I'm not yet convinced that we've gone down the right path. Does this mean that the ladies who provide tea and sandwiches to emergency workers in times of disasters will need to be inducted into OHS requirements?