Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

The age of grab-rails is nigh.

January 15, 2018

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Perhaps wooden handrails come in limited sizes. In our double story town-house the handrail leading to the upstairs part runs short at the very top of the stairs. It means that going down-stairs one had to lean forward to grab the handrail. A rather risky manoeuvre for those whose final celestial real estate deal is getting closer. It doesn’t help to hasten this by having risky handrails. We might as well sing it out as long as possible. The prospect of rolling down the stairs during a windy and dark nightly wandering, just did not appeal.

‘Why don’t you go to ‘Bunnings’ and see what you can rustle-up for a handrail, Gerard?’ Helvi said yesterday. For those that are unfamiliar with the concepts of ‘Bunnings’. They are a huge empire of giant hardware stores throughout Australia. It’s more a way of life than mere hardware. Whole families can easily spend a cosy Saturday inside those giant metallic halls. Bunnings are good at promoting themselves. They have special ‘ladies nights’, whereby the finer points of the latest of demolishing tools are explained to willing females. Giant wrenches and spanners are passed around and fingered lovingly, accompanied by videos showing women on how to beat a disobedient husband into submission to fix the leaking shower head or rotting fence post.

There are child-minding facilities, line-dancing competitions, coffee lounges and on most Saturdays they have charities raising funds for the local fire brigade by selling sausage rolls and soft drinks. All in all, a rather new concept of ‘everything for the home.’ Australia has always been rather fond of doing up homes, renovating or modernising and generally vying with each other to make sure that the ever avoiding and mysterious ‘life-style’ is maintained. Bunnings is the Aldi for the home-renovator.

I duly took myself off to a Bunnings not far from here. The staff are always welcoming and trained to be helpful. Generally, you go through mile after mile of isles filled to the roof with hardware. The isles are well organized and adequate signage show clearly the available products. I headed for the handrail section. I was hoping to find something similar in design to the existing handrail. I did not find this so decided to visit the bathroom handrail section. Of course with the ageing population now greater than the younger ones, handrails are a huge market. Have you noticed that more and more handrails are being installed in public places? Only yesterday, while bending to bowl I needed to visit the men’s convenience, and the chosen cubicle had a mouth watering arrangement of aids to hoist yourself up from the bowl. Amazingly, both the tap and soap holders were activated by merely approaching them by hand. No more touching required! A win for the medical world avoiding those dreadful flu infections. Did you know that the latest to do the rounds in Europe is called ‘The Australian Flu?’

I finally found a rather nifty piece of handrail. It is made from metal, white coloured, and came with screws. It can hold 110Kilos and guaranteed for five years. I am optimistic and hope it will hold for more than five years. Seeing I weigh a lot less than 110Kilos, I reckon it will see me out for much more than five years.

We shall see!

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An unexpected journey.

January 12, 2018

 

photoflooded riverThe Oosterman Treats has been a bit quiet lately. Let me try explain why. My wife Helvi  was diagnosed with breast cancer some three months ago. Perhaps I should use the more gender neutral word of ‘partner.’ Apparently the gender police want reference to male or female lessened or at least only allow it used for pass-port applications. The same-sex ideology seems to get a bit over-excited.

Anyway, breast cancer struck way out of nowhere. Who would think that having reached the age of late seventies it could still happen? The annual letter to have free mammograms stopped after seventy. The funding apparently is tight and limited.  Helvi never wanted to make a fuss over herself and wasn’t all that keen for me to write and use it in my blog. She is just that kind of girl, always concerning herself about others and isn’t keen to talk about herself or sicknesses anyway.

The subsequent chemotherapy thrice spread at three weekly intervals left her immunity very low with the ever opportunistic infections promptly taking advantage and giving her pneumonia. On Christmas day with a kilo of raw prawns, a leg of lamb and the pavlova ripening in the fridge, I took Helvi to the local Bowral Hospital just a hundred metres from here. She was so weak and could hardly stand up. I get choked thinking about how she was.

Helvi was taken to ‘High Dependent Unit’ and stayed there for five night before going to a recovery ward for another six nights. One night I was asked to spend a night with her and a special roll out bed was provided. She was so sick and agitated. Helvi has lost 15 kilos during the chemotherapy period.

The good news is that the chemo has worked with the experts very pleased. The chemo has now been delayed giving Helvi the chance to get her appetite and reasonable health back again. Within the next couple of weeks Helvi will be operated to have either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The journey is ongoing.

Her care in Hospital was fantastic and the dedication of nurses inspiring. Nothing was too much and to consider the shortage of staff and the hard work they perform I am amazed the system still seems to work so well. I so wished they would get paid accordingly. I noticed some of the most vital equipment seemed in need of repair or modernising. The sink had been taken out of her ward because it was needed more urgently elsewhere leaving the taps open for patients to get water running over the floor. Someone then taped them up to avoid flooding.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-12/nsw-set-for-major-shortage-of-nurses-and-midwives/9321464

So, that is the story at this stage.

A mere bagatelle is that my Visa Credit card had been compromised to the tune of $1100.- I never use credit or any bank cards but have it to get dividends paid in and for automatic payments such as Toll charges and subscriptions. I suspect that my renewal for Norton Anti Virus was used by some scammer to fleece my account. Strange transactions in US dollars in Hong Kong and Cayman islands turned up. My Visa card was stopped and the fraudulent transaction credited to my account. With all that what was going on with my dearest Helvi, I could have done without that.

Please, wish Helvi well.

The running of the Shoppers has started.

December 14, 2017

 

 

IMG_20171013_172328~2 The pansiesThere I was, foolishly hoping that Christmas shopping  would now be done on-line. I rubbed hands in glee when Frank Lowy announced his Westfield Emporiums had been sold. A canny man, I thought. Perfect timing. Shopping malls are on the nose. People shop in their lonely room from a dusty computer. The instant split second excitement at the push of a button.

A few weeks ago at a huge shopping complex in Campbelltown I noticed that shops were half empty. Many seemed to mull around the food hall grazing out of paper plates and sipping luridly coloured slushies out of gallon sized polystyrene buckets. I figured already then that many now shop on-line. Eating was the only thing still somewhat difficult to do on-line

With the advent of Amazon, dire predictions were made, spelling the end of traditional shopping. However, this morning’s trip to a local supermarket ‘Farmer’s Market’ undid my theory. It had all the hallmarks of shoppers in a frenzy. Jaws were being tightened and the trolleys were wrenched out of their coin operated locking devices with more than just a bit of intolerance towards other shoppers trying to free a trolley. One can pick up those signs. It was the same last year. Kids are being smacked and items are being bought in totally unjustifiable numbers with the excuse they might come in ‘handy’ or ‘ just in case.’ I overheard one husband begging his wife not to buy the triple smoked ham, ‘we chucked it out last year,’ he said.

I noticed one shopper on one bare knee digging at floor level trying to get to the back of a mountain of large hams which were for sale at $ 8.- a kilo. The hams themselves were massive as was the exposed thigh of the other knee poking up. Hams at the back are the freshest, she stated firmly. Other shoppers would no doubt follow her and do the same. Some years ago, I lost my mobile phone. It was found at the back of lettuces. I remember doing that trick of digging at the back of the lettuces hoping for the freshest and must have lost my mobile there. It was when I rang my phone that a shopper answered it. She must have been so surprised.

The Government is on holidays till February. That is one of the best presents this nation was given. This should undo some of the pre-Christmas tension and help calm us down.

All the best, dear readers. Enjoy the holiday and stay sane.

A squalid Relic and my brother Frank.

December 9, 2017

1200px-Mental_hospital_c_parkCallan Park

https://yourownbackyardsydney.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/callan-park-mental-hospital-1945-1976-a-squalid-relic-of-victorian-times/

It is interesting that my self published book, titled ‘Almost There’: Fragments of a restless life, is getting some attention from some totally unknown quarters.

As some of you might know, my brother Frank passed away recently at the age of 78, in a Dutch Care Home ‘Atlant-Zorggroep, where he resided since his return from Australia in 1974. Frank was diagnosed when still in his teens suffering from chronic schizophrenia.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=atlant+zorggroep+beekbergen&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwinq_eco_zXAhVLzbwKHSN1A7MQ_AUICygC&biw=1200&bih=587

 

Prior to that he spent almost twenty years in the above mentioned Australian mental institute named Callan Park. This excerpt below tells you a little on how mental patients were treated there.

“By the 1950s, Callan Park was in many ways a closed institution. The 1955 Stoller Report revealed that significant overcrowding, bad smells, dilapidation and short staffing were restricting mental hospitals across Australia to purely custodial roles. Jess Learing explained that, while the patients at Broughton Hall used to ‘go to the pub… up the street… go to the doctor and get a script’ and  ‘go to the chemist and get the script made’, the patients at Callan Park Mental Hospital did not have such freedom of movement[i]. The poet Francis Webb intermittently spent four years at Callan Park. He proved enigmatic, even to his literary peers. He trod a fine line between respect and mocking humour. The poet Geoffrey Lehmann visited Webb at Callan Park in 1966. He recounted: ‘As we were leaving, the nuns produced some bananas, which they handed to him [Webb]. With enormous courtesy – he was always very courteous – he said: “Thank you kindly, sisters. I much appreciate it. Like the animals at the zoo.”’[ii] Webb felt inappropriately caged.

Gerard Oosterman was similarly disapproving of Callan Park’s gaol-like and ‘intimidating’ atmosphere[iii]. In his autobiography, Almost There: Fragments of a Restless Life, he claimed that ‘the one item missing’ from his brother’s time at Callan Park was ‘genuine care’: ‘The nightmare of Callan Park courtyard, with bunches of keys hanging from scowling wardens belts, wasn’t acceptable, nor the wrapping up of Frank in wet bed-sheets when he became violent. This was 1960 not 1860.’[iv]”

The Sydney Morning Herald was especially harsh about living standards and care at Callan Park.

I wonder if the care for the mentally ill in Australia has improved since my brother moved back to Holland. I very much doubt it. Jails still are used as de-facto mental hospitals.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mentally-ill-man-who-killed-his-mother-to-wait-14months-for-hospital-bed-20171204-gzy9ba.html

 

Is the sending of Christmas cards a bit passé?

December 2, 2017

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Last year we still sent some paper Christmas cards by real post but there ain’t as many now of us as there were a while ago. It is a habit dating back years ago before people became mobile and visit each other. Wishing ‘Happy Christmas’ by e-mail can now be put into a ‘Cloud’ app, whereby it will be done automatically each year to everyone in your address book.  I already get daily reminders of birthdays which include people I never heard off. I made the mistake of wishing an unknown person a happy birthday and I got a reply; ‘Who the f**k are you’?

The super-market shops are quick of the mark, this year. I noticed this morning when getting some softening medication that all the cashiers were wearing floppy green and red cone shaped knitted hats and something sparkling pinned on their shirts. All suggestive of the coming festivities. I have as yet be grabbed by the Christmas spirit. We do remember last year’s vow to not buy any ham, no matter how often it has been smoked. I do hope people will remain calm this Christmas and not ram their shopping trolleys in my shins and belt their kids.

Helvi asked me if we had any plans. I answered we should cook the Indian Raan marinated whole leg of lamb dish again. Our daughter usually gets the fruit for the pavlova.  The Raan is a North Indian dish, a bit spicy and somewhat sweet with lots of taste resulting from the lamb being marinated in the fridge over a couple of days by lots of lemon juice, yoghurt, garam masala,  some raisins, chilli, cinnamon, almonds. It is served with basmati rice and a nice crispy salad.

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/spiced-roast-leg-lamb-raan

The grandsons love it. I remember that one of them, many years ago, after we had eaten climbed on the table and started licking the oven dish in which the leg of lamb had been cooked. It takes about three hours to slow cook this dish.

You will make friends and the dish will be talked about for years. Try it.

The one thing I find almost inedible are those sickly sweet mince pies. Who the hell invented those? At first, when told the name, thought they had some meat in them. Can you imagine my horror after biting into them. Last year, we had some offered at a Christmas party. I took one out of politeness and still infused with gentle Christmas spirit. When the host wasn’t looking, put it in my hanky. I hope she won’t read this!

It is amazing what hankies can be used for at times.

Should ‘Milo’s droppings be picked up?

November 28, 2017
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Milo at peace with the world

Many no doubt remember the days when dogs roamed free around suburban circuits and their shopping strips. In our own suburb of Balmain it became very fashionable to have dogs as pets, and there even seemed to be a correlation between the size of the house and the size of the dog. Generally, the smaller the house, the bigger the dog.

There was no law on dog dropping and I remember hopping and skipping trying to avoid huge piles of dog shit on the footpath. People used to scrape their shoes on the concrete kerbs with the more fastidious and gymnastic pedestrians carefully picking the  groves in their shoes with a piece of stick specially taken for just such an occasion.

For a short while, councils introduced painted signs asking dogs to be kerbed. It showed a dog squatting with a nicely formed dropping suspended in mid-air between the dog’s arse and the kerb. Quite a creative bit of a sign really. After a few years a law was passed that all dogs had to be walked on a lead and the days of dogs shitting hither and dither with the resulting littering of footpaths disappeared. Most dog walkers take a plastic bag to take care of any impromptu dog defecating events. You sometimes see  a little plastic bag suspended from the dog’s lead proving the diligence of the dog walker in doing their civic duty and follow the law on dog droppings by picking it up. Some people even bought a special scoop to pick up dropping. It seemed too complicated and I think they have now disappeared. They turn the plastic bag inside out, pick the still warm dropping up  by hand, and turn the bag around to its original form, but now containing the dog’s product.

All this because a few days ago a man ambushed me from behind his garden fence to tell me to pick up Milo’s little turd. “You are not leaving your dog’s shit on the grass verge,” are you, he said? I immediately crouched down and picked up a small brown branch of a wild cherry tree. I answered and said, “I was only too happy to pick Milo’s little shit up but could not find it.” I showed him the little branch and took out my handkerchief. “If I can find it, I will put it in my hanky and in my pocked,” I said.

The man calmed by now. I showed him the branch and still on my knees poked around the grass trying to find Milo’s small and dry little turd. Apparently it was so small it just did not show up.  My eyesight is not he best. The man then relented and said; “no need to put it in your hanky and in your pocket.” “And what is in your hand is just a little cherry branch”. “I am sorry, he apologized.”

Perhaps he felt being a little too severe.

Milo looked up. He did sneak one in somewhere. Should I have looked better and more thoroughly?

What do the readers think of this etiquette of picking up dog shit? Milo’s toilet habits are perfect. He usually goes right underneath some bushes and never on the foot path. Never.

A strange patient.

November 23, 2017
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My paternal grandparents

 

There can’t be anything more telling of old age when conversations focus on ‘sicknesses’ ‘food’ and the ‘cost of electricity.’ I plead guilty to all three of them so my age is showing. But I had a rather unusual experience yesterday in a Doctor’s waiting room. Actually, the term ‘Doctor’s waiting room’ is dated. We now go to ‘Medical Centres’. They are mainly owned by large corporations who employ PhD trained business experts  in maximising returns on investments. The sick and frail now have to travel to those centres. It is rare for the doctor to visit the patient at home.

I had an appointment at 7.45 am to a medical centre’s pathology facility for a thyroid blood test which I haven’t had for a long time. I was amazed how many were already at this centre. There is a waiting room with 27 chairs, all padded and soft-backed with arm-rests. On the floor in one corner it even had a small play- centre for kids. It had a doll’s house and a mini slippery-dip.

During my waiting, several mainly elderly patients shuffled inside, some struggling with walking frames or other mobility aids. One mother with a pram like a WW1 tank manoeuvred around a man who had to keep one leg straight out because it was all plastered up to his thigh.

When my number came up for the blood test, I got up but stopped at the desk as a man had just walked in to tell the receptionist his wife had sent him to see a doctor.

My wife wants me to see a doctor but I also need 10 Dollars. Can you give me 10 dollars, please, he said politely. The man was neatly dressed and possibly in his late sixties or even seventies. He wore black knee socks , shorts and gym shoes. I would never wear knee-socks let alone black ones, but this is a very English type village. A foreign language is hardly ever heard except in week-ends when we receive many tourists.

The receptionists, a youngish woman, told the man she would consult her superior. Yes, but could you please give me 10 dollars now, he said again. The receptionist now somewhat alarmed asked the man if he wanted to see a doctor. Yes, I do, he said, but could you please give me 10 dollar, I am so hungry! Well, just sit down and doctor will see you. At this stage the man walked to a chair and sat down.

I had my blood test done and as I walked out I saw the black knee-socked man still waiting. I don’t know what happened or if he got the 10 dollars. Maybe one of the patients or even the staff had given him some food. It was all rather strange. If his wife sent him to the doctor, could she not have given him breakfast? Why would a neatly dressed man go without food and go to a medical centre to beg for money?

I went bowling afterwards and told the story to the wife of one bowler. She said that many people do go hungry and that poverty in Australia is now widespread. She had a friend who volunteers and drives a van picking up bread and food from the local supermarkets to be distributed to the different agencies that feed the poor and hungry.

A recent ABC TV segment was about the abuse that many elderly suffer in old age care homes. Apparently between 4000 and 6000 elderly die well before their time each year in Australia through neglect in those Aged Care facilities. Many are owned and run by churches. Astonishingly, we were told that there are no qualification required to work in aged care. Most that died pre-maturely were murdered, suicided or just through lack of basic care while in expensive ‘Aged Care’.

What awaits us while shuffling forever onwards towards the promised Pearly Gates?

Is Australia captive to inane trivia?

November 14, 2017

imagesssm

There is a cake and pie shop in Bowral named ‘The Gumnut.’ On its front window it has a very impressive lists of ribbons of yearly ‘best pie or best cake’ of the year won at Sydney’s yearly agricultural show called ‘The Easter Show.’ We often in our daily walk stop to have a coffee and a pie. I still succumb to a ribbon or award winning meaty one but Helvi prefers the vegetable pie with roast pumpkin and sun-dried tomato. Each to their own.

Tomorrow at 10am all TV and radio Stations will broadcast the results of the $120,000,000,- postal vote on SSM. With all that is going, some Ministers and Parliamentarians will try and throw sand over the issue by putting up their own bills safe-guarding religious beliefs or matters of conscience. It is generally predicted through polls that the SSM will get a healthy 60% Yes vote and a 40% No vote outcome.

Many on the extreme right, will under the pretext of protecting religious or conscientious views try and make things more difficult than they are. Some politicians are using the example of cake makers forced to sell wedding-cakes to Gay or Lesbian couples against their conscience or religious beliefs. Can you believe it?  For some time now this cake selling has been popping up almost daily in adult right-wing Parliamentarians seriously rambling on about it on the TV.

One particular Minister gets red in the face about the prospect of SS couples being sold a same sex wedding cake. It gets worse. ‘What about those renting out wedding cars or those celebrants whose beliefs might run against SSM? And so it goes on.

And, while 15000 scientists are warning time is running out for the world to be spared the collapse of our ecology, Australia talks about wedding cakes to SS couples. Are shops at present sussing out homosexual couples and refusing to sell them vanilla slices? I don’t think so. I often see openly gay people munching away on cakes or sausage rolls. Who cares? Why would shops refuse to make a wedding cake just because it might get eaten by people born with a difference. What next. Stop selling cakes to people with beards or with blue eyes?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-14/climate-scientists-issue-dire-environmental-warning/9147334

Yet, not much about the plight of hundreds of asylum seekers now after two weeks without urgent provisions of food, water and toilets on Manus island. Sometimes during my mind’s meanderings I wonder what my father would make of present day Australia. We used to be progressive and forward looking but now have sunk to inane and silliness. Who would have thought that wedding cakes would be discussed while at the same time being tolerant of untold cruelty to refugees?

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/thousands-rally-in-melbourne-in-support-of-manus-island-asylum-seekers-20171104-gzevx0.html

Is the battery permanently flat?

November 10, 2017

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One of life’s more perplexing events took place last Wednesday. The day started positive. The toast was just perfect with no burnt edges but warm enough for the butter to melt within, allowing the cheese to nestle itself in all its hollows and grooves.

The previous couple of weeks, things were far from comfortable. I caught a nasty flu. If a good diet prevents getting colds or nasty flu, I am almost prepared to believe the contrary, eating fresh fruit and different vegetables daily might well be the reason for getting sick. I am just kidding, the reason probably is found in doctors’ waiting rooms often being warrens for the viruses. Helvi had a cataract removed and I had to renew my thyroid prescription. The multiple visits to waiting rooms was asking for trouble. I just knew it. Helvi just now is recovering as well.

Each Wednesday morning is one of my my  weekly bowling appointment. Perhaps the flu virus was caught there. You just don’t know through whose hands those bowls have travelled. Each Sunday evening is the other bowling event. Again, with both being played indoors at Returned Soldier’s Clubs. The flu viruses must be having a ball spreading havoc.

Last Wednesday I played well and on leaving the club was given a nice compliment by another player. I like compliments and somewhat jauntily jumped in the car ready to drive home and have lunch. But, as I turned the key, the engine remained eerily silent. It did not kick over. Modern cars have complicated electrical systems. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t following correct procedure. This car has a computer screen and usually gives written commands.  Nothing appeared on the screen.

I phoned up my National Road and Motor Association and within half an hour was helped out by a mechanic who told me that the battery was not only flat but finished and proceeded with giving me a print-out of the faulty battery’s output. He advised me to go to the nearest dealer and get a new battery. I did this and as the car is under warranty got a new battery for free. I got home at least two hours after my bowling event had finished and was ravenous for sustenance. I almost relented and succumbed to a Big Macdonald’s, but resisted heroically. Heaven only knows what germs thrive in those fast food establishments with snotty kids slobbering all over the joint.

Aren’t we fortunate though to replace the occasional battery? It is different in our Government. We seem to be in a permanent state of flat battery. Nothing gets done. The ennui of nothingness is paralysing Australia. The only thing happening is a permanent lurching from one crisis to another.  The refugees on Manus and the problem of their permanent detention seems unsolvable and intractable by this inert Government in finding a solution. And all those Parliamentarians popping up with dual Nationality? Each evening we watch the news to see who is next to having another nationality. Isn’t it a hoot?

Australia has a flat battery and that is not good.

My free templet to ward off unwanted phone-calls

November 3, 2017

 

 

new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

De Kleine Beer, by Else Holmelund-Minarik is the original most loved children’s story I have kept all those years from when our children were toddlers. It has rested peacefully on my bedside table all those decades. Somehow, I still peruse the wisdom and sheer folly of its story. It seems to suggest that folly and wisdom might well be related.

When I get cold callers from a countries with strong Hindi accents, I now, without further ado, start to recite a page taken at random from De Kleine Beer. Most times at the end of just a few lines read in Dutch, the phone line at the other end is blissfully mute and very silent. It works magically. The true wonder of  good literature.

Here is just a one page templet for your free usage for those that are game and brave enough to try it out. It does no harm and is devoid of malice, anger or retribution.

Zo gezegd, zo gedaan. (As said, as done)

Kleine Beer maakt een pan vol soup. ( Little bear makes a pan full of soup.)

De eerste gast is Kip. ( the first guest is a chicken)

‘Wel gefeliciteers, Kleine Beer.’ (‘Congratulation, Little Bear.’)

‘Dank je wel, Kip.’ (‘Thank you very much, Chicken.’)

Hm,wat ruikt het hier lekker.  ( Hm, it smells so nice here.)

This is usually enough for the caller to give up and discontinue the call. I hope it helps. Please, let me know.

As an aside; Lately we talk a lot about Australian values and how they relate and might even be similar in many other countries, or indeed how they might differ.

Australia has as many good ordinary people as any other country we have lived in., perhaps even more… but what was going on when we elected people such as Dutton into power? We put the most inhumane man in charge of asylum seekers.

We must not ask the possibility of Frydenberg’s dual nationality, yet at the same time allow Dutton the freedom to make 600 refugees on Manus stateless.

Please read this link; The world is watching.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-03/manus-island-un-calls-on-australia-to-end-centre-stand-off/9117996