OPINION | The same old story…

SHOULD BE MANDATORY: A 20 megalitre recycled water storage tank owned by CityWest Water. We have so many ugly blots on our landscape...at least these are useful.
SHOULD BE MANDATORY: A 20 megalitre recycled water storage tank owned by CityWest Water. We have so many ugly blots on our landscape...at least these are useful.

Did you see that story about Wollondilly Council’s calls to use recycled sewerage and grey water on local drought-ridden farms?


It got me thinking about the different types of news stories I came across in my past life as a reporter/editor, a few examples being...

The seesaw story:

A good example appeared on the Advertiser website last week: the latest medical study says “coffee may boost chances for a longer life!”. Great…until next week when another report cites another study claiming coffee will kill you. Arrrgh.

The deja vu story:

This is a story that always remains the same, just the names and dates change. Like the politicians screwing workers and then give themselves a pay rise.

For a specific local example of deja vu, remember when Wollondilly councillor Ray Law resigned in 2017 complaining council was not run “effectively”. Well, I recall in 1988 reporting on another Wollondilly councillor, Joan Brown, resigning because council was “ineffective”.

Just the names and dates...

The silly story:

Like when a paper runs a photo of “a cloud that looks like Jesus” and it gets 1000 times more online views than an investigative report (using scarce staff resources) about how ratepayers are getting ripped off. The silly story is the way of the future.

The cliche story:

The story that cites “tinderbox” conditions in the lead-up to summer, or uses the word “sleepy” to describe a small town. Classics.

The official fake story:

Like, for example, when Tony Abbott loses his PM job and vows, “no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping”. Or in other words, complete and utter bulldust.

The state government backflipping on enforcing open-slather medium density codes on local councils, is another example. We all know it will only remain a backflip until the day after the next election.

Which, before I run out of space, brings me to…

The no-brainer story:

This is the news that is so bloody obvious that we are left scratching our heads and asking, ‘why is this actually news at all, why wasn’t it done in 1901 or even 1788?’.

A good example would be one of those stories that declare, shock horror, that the Housing Department is going to start evicting tenants who destroy their homes.

Or news that the government is thinking about cracking down on billionaires and squllionaires who pay no tax.

You’ve got to be friggin’ kidding...again and again.

To this category I would add the story I mentioned at the start: using recycled water on drought-ridden farms.

Congrats to Wollondilly Council or anyone else who wants to see “recycled” and grey water (from our baths, sinks and washing machines) treated and reused on farms and sporting fields.

“Sydney Water is investigating whether a recycled water scheme is a viable option,” the Advertiser reported. Brilliant. But why wasn’t it done decades ago?

I reckon it should be mandatory in all new estates.

People who think recycled water is cholera-ridden semi-poo are living in the dark ages. We’re told it’s almost drinkable these days.

In fact, if any readers are outraged by the mere suggestion of using recycled water on their gardens...

The mystery of water recycling? Why it wasn’t done decades ago.

Do you know that places like Goulburn and Bowral discharge their treated sewage into the same river systems that form the catchment of Warragamba Dam, which in turn provides most of Sydney’s drinking water?

I’ll let you join the dots on that one.

Hats off to our history buffs

I had hoped to give you a happy update to my column last week, as I search for the missing oil painting of Quondong by Sandy Inglis.

But alas...no good news yet. Fingers still crossed.

However, I have been absolutely blown away by the response...emails, letters, text messages, the story being shared around on Facebook by local history investigators, members of Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society going above and beyond as they hunt around.

We live in an amazing community.

I have also been reminded of that passion up close.

In the past week, I’ve been honoured to be invited to speak at Camden Family History Society, then Campbelltown Family History Society, and now its Camden Historical Society tonight. Then Campbelltown Rotary Club next week...

In the process, I meet the most friendly and interesting local people, and am constantly reminded about the passion that fuels Macarthur.

And look at the talent...Dr Ian Willis of Camden (a fantastic grass roots academic) has just been presenting a paper on local newspapers and how they tell “a different story” on the history of World War I, to a major conference in Melbourne.

Our local groups create no end of journals, papers and ponderings on history. And importantly, local historical topics that haven’t been covered in detail before. They are local treasures.

- By Jeff McGill