Happy Australia Day!

Friday, 26 January 2018
Melbourne, Australia
By Kris Sayce

Happy Australia Day!

We don’t say it out of any devotion to Australia.

Although your editor has lived in Australia for over 21 years, we aren’t a citizen.

Not that we’re vehemently opposed to the idea of becoming one, we just struggle to see the benefit.

As a permanent resident, we’ve discovered that we only miss out on two things that are only available to citizens: the right to unemployment benefit, and the obligation to vote in every darn election.

Quite frankly, we’ve managed to live just fine without those two things for 21 years. So we’re in no hurry to sign up for them now. And, we figure that democracy ain’t all it’s made out to be anyway.

No, the reason we wish you a Happy Australia Day is really as a means of annoying people.

Barely two years ago, most Aussie weren’t even sure on which day Australia Day fell. Most were (to be polite) indifferent about the whole thing.

It was another day off. An excuse (if any were needed) for a barbecue. An excuse for a VB, Toohey’s, XXXX…or whatever your tipple.

But suddenly, from indifference has sprung extreme opinion.

Conservatives insist that 26 January must be honoured — it’s a slap in the face of Aussie war veterans if you don’t honour it.

Lefties insist that 26 January must be dishonoured — it’s a slap in the face of indigenous Australians who prefer to see the date as ‘Invasion Day’. A day of mourning…a loss of freedom…a loss of land…a loss of culture…and a bunch of other stuff.

As a natural born Englishman, we couldn’t care less either way. Unless we have the urge to look it up, we have no real recollection of the date on which St George’s Day falls.

We think it’s April…but, then again, maybe that’s the month of Hitler’s birthday. Or maybe it’s May. Who cares? Not us.

As we see it, if you want to celebrate 26 January as Australia Day, go ahead…be our guest. We’ll certainly enjoy the opportunity for the day off.

If you don’t want to celebrate it as Australia Day, that’s fine too. Make up another reason to enjoy yourself — who needs a reason? Or mourn and sympathise about the other meaning of the day too, if you like.

Whatever. We don’t care. In fact, it’s always struck us that the real Australia Day for Aussies is actually ANZAC Day. There always seems to be more reverence for that day than today.

But from a logical perspective, we do have to wonder if Australia Day really means anything anyway.

It’s long been accepted that Captain James Cook wasn’t the first ‘whitey’ European settler to step on the Australian shore. It was likely the Dutch or the Portuguese some years before.

Although, who’s to say it wasn’t some unknown European. Or maybe an Asian or African, who managed to drop by…surmise there wasn’t much worth sticking around for, and then paddled or sailed off somewhere else. Bali is nice, we hear. Perhaps they settled there instead.

If only they had known about all the iron ore in them there hills. Their ancestors must be kicking themselves now.

All we know is that we’re rather fond of history. And we’re rather un-fond of those who try to rewrite it, misrepresent it, or who try to destroy it because it doesn’t fit within their modern-day, mostly PC, narrative.

Pull down statues. Pour paint over them. Deface them. That’ll make up for it. Except…it won’t. Besides, we like statues. Especially those of people we’ve never heard of. They must have been important once…there’s a statue of them, after all.

Besides, it’s always somewhat dangerous to impose the ideals of today on the ideals of the past, and then vilify their statues and memories.

But tearing down statues isn’t the only ‘fashionable’ thing these days. The other is the offering of fake amends for errors and misdeeds of the past. That won’t help either.

As an example, we have a scepticism about the motives of ‘recognising the traditional owners of the land.’

Every school event we attend for our children, begins with the statement about how the organisers ‘recognise the [insert name of indigenous group] people as the traditional owners of this land’.

We attended a week-long course last year. It was on the 20th floor or something of a building in the Melbourne CBD. The presenter insisted on ‘recognising the traditional owners of the land.’

We couldn’t help thinking: ‘What? On the 20th floor?’ We were unaware that skyscrapers were also native to pre-Cook Australia.

But more than that, what does it mean to recognise the traditional owners of the land?

And furthermore, although we don’t know for sure, would the presenter have made the same statement if it wasn’t for the presence of a well-known indigenous Australian who was taking part in the course?

As we say, we don’t know. But we wonder.

The answer is, as far as we can tell, it doesn’t mean anything…except to make good on some feelings of ‘white guilt’.

That’s not to say organisations shouldn’t do these things, but sincerity would be nice. Don’t just invite the Aboriginal elder along to a fancy lunch or dinner, in their traditional dress to do a dance and then get them to leave.

Why not invite them to stay for the lunch or dinner? Why not get them to sit among the rest of the guests?

We’re yet to see anything near that happen. It’s usually a case of now they’ve done their thing, let them shuffle off before the hors d’oeuvres arrive.

We can only think that ‘white guilt’ doesn’t stretch quite that far among the champagne-swilling chattering classes of South Yarra, Camberwell, and Malvern.

Anyway, that’s our take on Australia Day. For what it’s worth. Probably not much, if we’re honest.

Saying all that, while we’re not into nationalism, we do like the idea that folks get passionate about these things one way or another.

Now, if only we can get folks to be as passionate about the fraudulent nature of the world’s money system, and we would be so much happier.

But that’s probably about as likely to happen as a traditionally dressed indigenous Australian being invited to sit down for dinner at the next fancy white-tie gala ball.

Markets

No market data today, as (if you can keep this a secret) we actually wrote today’s Port Phillip Insider on Thursday afternoon. Shush!

The end

A post script, of sorts.

Earlier last year we highlighted in these pages our scepticism about then-listed company, Quintis Ltd [ASX:QIN].

That was following a report by a US-based short-selling firm, that valued the company’s shares at zero.

On reading the analysis, we couldn’t help but agree. You can find our original article here.

To us, the business looked like every other timber and forestry management firm that had gone bust during the last financial meltdown.

Several readers wrote in to tell us we were talking nonsense. That Quintis was special…what was especially special was the type of wood they were cultivating.

‘Hmmm!’ We thought. Anyway, to cut a long story short, this week The Australian Financial Review reported:

Quintis has appointed KordaMentha as administrators after its cash reserves were finally exhausted following a hedge fund’s decision to force the sale of a plantation parcel back to the company.

By placing the business into voluntary administration, equity investors face the risk of realising zero return on their shares, which have not traded since May 2017.

Oh dear. And we mean that. We recall that not long after our review of the company, an angry reader wrote to us telling we were wrong…and that we were definitely wrong, because he had invested a large part of his savings in the company.

It’s a worthy reminder. That which goes up, does indeed come back down again. The Quintis share price gained 665% from 2005 to the peak in 2014.

It fell 85% from the peak in 2014 to when it last traded in May last year. As of this week’s announcement, the effective price drop is likely to be 100%.



chart image

Source: Bloomberg
Click to enlarge


We say this in all seriousness, and with reference to the current hot investment — cryptocurrencies. Have a crack at them if you wish. But for heavens sake, don’t invest more than you’re willing to lose if the whole thing goes pear-shaped.

It’s true for Quintis. It’s true for cryptos. And it’s true for any other investment you can name too.

Cheers,
Kris