Michael Gorey in court

The original Michael Gorey in Australia

The original Michael Gorey in Australia was carried ashore by his parents at Port Phillip on 1 October 1841 when James and Elizabeth Gorey arrived as free settlers from Kilkenny, Ireland.

I’m the fourth-generation Michael Gorey from my family in Australia and my son Michael is the fifth.

The first Michael was born on 24 September 1841, a week before the barque Middlesex docked in Victoria. The first European settlers arrived in Melbourne in 1835 and in 1841 the population was 11,738.

Michael was baptised at St Francis’ Catholic Church in Lonsdale Street on 14 October 1841. That was 10 days after the foundation stone for the current church was laid by the Irish Franciscan priest, Fr Patrick Geoghegan.

A small timber chapel (1839) was located on the site while the present church was being built and that’s where Michael received the sacrament.

As far as we know he never married or had children. He died at Nagambie in Central Victoria on 31 July 1908, aged 66.

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Surface Pen

Microsoft Surface Pen the write stuff

The Microsoft Surface Pen is a nifty gadget which I’m still wondering how to usefully deploy.

It’s a pen with a soft nib which writes on a Surface Pro tablet screen, perfectly rendering a digital version of natural handwriting, which is quite extraordinary.

The pen integrates with Microsoft programs such as Word and OneNote through Windows Ink. Windows 10 has ink support built in through apps such as Sticky Notes and Sketchpad.

A number of third party apps have found their way to the Windows Store. Two that I’ve purchased are Index Cards and Penbook.

Both are intuitive and easy to use for making handwritten notes which can be converted to PDF or image files. It’s a nice way to send a personal message to someone as an image file through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Writing with Ink on Surface Pro

How useful is the Surface Pen?

This is the question. I feel it’s cute, but in a novelty way, more a gimmick.

It’s a long time since I’ve used handwriting for notes or communication. I’m more likely to use an audio app today if I want to record a meeting or conversation. In the office or at home, I’m faster at typing on a keyboard than writing.

I’m about to start an online MBA and that’s where I think the Surface Pen could come into its own.

While watching a video or listening to a lecture, it’s easier to jot thoughts down with a pen than it is to type them. By using one of the Windows Ink apps I’ll have a saved digital file to read and refer to afterwards without needing to scan pages or flip through a notebook.

The Surface Pen sells for $140 through the Windows Store, which is expensive given its limited scope for deployment.

I’m also paranoid about losing it. I carry my Surface Pro in a leather sleeve and slip the pen inside with a portable mouse. The mouse is easy to feel and unlikely to slip out, but I worry about the pen.

As things currently stand, the Surface Pen is a fun gadget rather than a practical necessity.

Surface Pro handwriting

Part of the Offas Dyke path

Offas Dyke path from Chepstow to Prestatyn

One of my most enjoyable life adventures was walking the 283km Offas Dyke path from Chepstow to Prestatyn in March-April 2014.

Wikipedia explains that Offas Dyke (Clawdd Offa in Welsh) is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction.

Although its precise original purpose is debated, it marked the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

I started the journey at Chepstow on 24 March 2014 and walked to Monmouth on the first day. I then detoured and spent a day exploring Whitchurch in Herefordshire, where my great-great grandparents James Evans and Sarah Hardwick were married on 25 July 1849. It was a lovely moment to visit the church where Sarah was baptised and the couple wed.

The trail passes Tintern Abbey, which I visited before starting the walk. The abbey was founded in 1131 and fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

Offas Dyke castles

I saw some amazing castles, including Chepstow, White Castle and Castell Dinas Bran. The latter is unique because it was built by the the native Welsh princes of Powys. The others were Norman structures to defend their territory from marauding Welsh.

I passed the site of the Battle of Crogen, where the Welsh enjoyed a rare victory against the English invaders in 1165.

St Tecla’s Well is on the trail, where a 4th century Welsh princess gained a reputation for curing epilepsy and scrofula. Those hoping for a cure had to bathe in the well after sunset, walk around the well nine times carrying a rooster while reciting the Lord’s Prayer, walk around the church nine times again reciting the Lord’s Prayer before entering the church and sleeping for the night under the altar clutching the rooster and using the bible as a pillow.

In the morning they stuck pins into the unfortunate rooster before tossing them into the well and placing the birds beak into their mouth for transfer of the disease to the bird. The rooster was then left in the church. If it died one could expect to be cured.

The hike was a physically challenging experience, traversing about 20-30km per day. The weather was cold at the beginning and I encountered snow in the Black Mountains, but there was little rain and the daytime temperatures in early April climbed to around 12-15 degrees on most days, which was perfect.

The tour company took my suitcase ahead to the next accommodation, which was a mix of private homes (B&B) and pubs. Dinner and breakfast were included as part of the package.

Overall it was a marvellous experience and I hope to undertake similar walks in future.

Offas Dyke walking itinerary 2014 by Michael Gorey on Scribd

Michael Gorey has lived almost everywhere in Australia.

I’ve been everywhere man!

I’ve been everywhere man! The map shows the 16 towns and cities I’ve called home through my 51 years on this planet from Gippsland to Queensland.

I don’t remember anything about Warragul because I was a year old when my parents moved from there to nearby Traralgon in 1968.

Warragul is special as my place of birth. It’s a name I often have to write on forms and so forth.

Traralgon is where I consider home to be. It’s changed a lot since I grew up there in the late 60s, 1970s and early 80s. I started primary school at St Michael’s in 1972 and finished at Lourdes College in 1984.

The city had a population of 14,000 when I was young; at the 2016 census it was 25,485. I remember when there were no traffic lights and a single-lane road to Melbourne.

The nicest place I ever lived was Porepunkah. Maybe I just have happier memories from there. We had a lovely home and my older kids grew up with an idyllic lifestyle, playing outdoors, swimming in the river and attending a small school.

After my divorce I came to like Adelaide for its vibrancy, cultural scene and fantastic restaurants. Canberra was good like that too, but it’s very expensive. I now live 200 metres from a sandy beach; that’s pretty special too.

The map doesn’t reflect that I often changed address in the towns and cities where I lived. In Adelaide, for example, I lived at five different places in four years. I had two stints at Alice Springs, in 1988 and 2014-16.

I’ve been fortunate to live in some lovely homes.

The only significant gaps on the map are North Queensland and Tasmania. I doubt I’ll ever end up at either of those places during my everywhere life, but you never know.

James Daniel Gorey write The Boozer's Lament while serving in France

Boozer’s Lament: A poem by James Gorey

The Boozer’s Lament is a poem written by my great-uncle James Gorey during the First World War.

I found it while researching family history in a copy of the Wangaratta Chronicle. He had sent the poem in a letter home to his sister Mary.

It was written sometime in 1916, apparently in response to the military authorities banning alcohol.

It’s funny and clever, showing more of his personality than can be gleaned from official papers in the National Archive.

Here’s the factual story of James, obtained mostly from military records. Sadly he died on October 13, 1918, a few weeks before the Armistice.

The Boozer’s Lament

We’ve fought upon Gallipoli and toiled on Egypt’s plain,
We’ve travelled far across the sea to face the foe again,
We’ve braved the perils of the deep, and faced them with good cheer,
But now they give us cause to weep, they’ve gone and stopped our beer.

We wouldn’t mind if they had stopped the pickles or the cheese,
They might have cut the marmalade and issued fewer peas,
But it’s a sin to drink red vin or for a cobber shout,
Which kind of sets me wondering they’ve cut the champagne out.

They stopped our rum, we didn’t mind, while we had been to soak,
But now they’ve gone and stopped our wine, it’s getting past a joke,
Each countenance you see is sad, within each eye a tear,
The greatest injury we’ve had is cutting out our beer.

For you must shun the flowing bowl and turn you from the wine,
And water drink to cheer your soul if it should chance to pine,
You must order coffee now to toast the folks at home,
And spend your cash on chewing gum and honeycomb.

There’s microbes in the water lads, so drink it with a will,
And every mother’s son of us will jolly soon be ill,
And when we are on sick parade, the doctor he will cry,
The lads, I fear, must have their beer or else they will surely die.

Here’s my rather poor reading of it:

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Fraser Anning

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stifles free speech

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has failed in her attempt to force state MPs to denounce a speech by one of their federal colleagues.

I don’t condone Senator Fraser Anning’s reference to “the final solution” in his maiden speech, but I also don’t support the Queensland Government withdrawing funds for the Katter’s Australia Party to employ state parliamentary staff.

Ms Palaszczuk said Senator Anning’s comments were abhorrent and counter to the most basic human rights, including equality and freedom from discrimination.

“To believe, as we do, in equality and basic human rights means we do not merely support their existence,” the Premier said in a statement.

“We stand up and call out those who would rip them away.

“No one uses the words ‘final solution’ except in sorrow, anger and shame.

“Yes, we have the right to free speech in our parliaments but that free speech is not free of consequence nor is it free of responsibility.

“So, because his party will not denounce him, I denounce his party and I withdraw the additional staff I granted to the Katter’s Australian Party.

“That party tolerates the intolerable and defends the indefensible and I will not be a part of it.”

For the record, here’s the relevant extract from Senator Anning’s speech:

In the days of Menzies, immigrants arriving here were not allowed to apply for welfare and that attracted exactly the right sort of hard-working people this country needed. We should go back to that and ban all immigrants receiving welfare for the first five years after they arrive. The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy, end Australian-job-stealing 457 visas and make student visas conditional on foreign students returning to the country they came from. What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here.

Was it a deliberate reference to Nazi Germany’s euphemism for mass murder? I doubt it, but don’t know. His party leader Bob Katter made a spirited defence:

The Premier demanded Senator Anning’s state colleagues denounce the speech, otherwise she would withdraw their staff entitlements.

Katter MP Shane Knuth told Parliament:

The attempt to twist Senator Anning’s words to link him to past atrocities is shameful. Nobody has said that they want to return to the White Australia policy. That is a ridiculous assumption borne from hysteria.

Seems like a denial of the Nazi reference to me.

It’s a shame this furore has overshadowed Senator Anning’s speech because he made some interesting comments that are worthy of public debate.

For example, he called for the establishment of rural development state banks, the reinstatement of statutory marketing for agricultural products and building the Bradfield Scheme.

In 1938 Bradfield proposed diverting water from the tropics to irrigate and drought-proof much of the western Queensland interior and large areas of South Australia. The idea had wide support at the time, but the Second World War intervened and critics canned it in subsequent years.

According to Senator Anning:

To imagine the befits of the Bradfield proposal, we only need to see what has been achieved in places like Israel and California, both places in which virtual deserts have been transformed into enormous food bowls which helps drive their respective economies.

He went on to talk about improving port infrastructure and affordable home ownership. Sounds like a manifesto the old Country Party would have been proud of.

Hardly the rantings of an extremist! Indeed, the cynic in me suspects the major parties are happy to collaborate in shutting him down because his views have populist appeal.


Journalists should have life experience

Journalists should have life experience.

Does a journalist’s background matter? Not for the individual journalist, reader or listener it doesn’t, but a publishing enterprise benefits from having a diverse group of people. This is even more important today than it was 20+ years ago.

In previous eras, journalists were reporters. Their key skills were shorthand, typing, observation and curiosity.

As an editor I liked to employ people from different backgrounds. It meant they had diverse networks and sources.

Like most things I do it was intuitive and reactive. If I had four similar employees and one left, I sought to replace him or her with someone different.

While Editor in Chief of The Border Watch, I responded to a student’s questionnaire about journalist training.

I mentioned how I like to employ school leaver cadets using a merit-based assessment system.

After answering the questions, the student responded:

It is great to see The Border Watch offers opportunities for entry level cadets (especially when a number of the metropolitan dailies now require not only a degree, but also several years of industry experience). I think journalism should be a career that is accessible to a wider range of people than just the graduates of the top journalism schools, and it is a pity there appears to be less and less opportunities for others.

The response made me wonder if the industry was becoming elitist.

Journalists my age had all heard stories of the previous generation spending two years on shipping reports or racing results before writing a story.

By employing university graduates I questioned if we had relegated talents such as curiosity, eye for detail, shorthand, impartiality and determination. I think we did.

Are too many journalists academic achievers without an understanding of grassroots reality? Possibly.

Training a journalist from scratch provides an opportunity to constructively cultivate an individual’s personal skills over several years.

The student’s comment that “journalism should be a career accessible to a wider range of people than just the graduates of the top journalism schools” is a good one.

Providing the individual has good English, curiosity, confidence, strong general knowledge and a polite manner there is no reason they couldn’t make a good journalist.

Modern journalists lack experience

Update: How does this message apply in 2018? I think it’s the same. Anyone who’s reporting or commenting on current affairs should have relevant life experience.

The big shift in my time as a journalist was from reporter to commentator. As a young cadet, I learnt to suppress my opinions and simply report what I saw and heard. Today’s journalists are expected to interpret the news and explain it.

It’s disappointing that young journalists today are given responsibility greater than their experience as a matter of course.


Communications should be at the heart of decision making

Communications should be at the heart of decision making.

My first exposure to local government was reporting council meetings as a cadet journalist in country Victoria during the 1980s. A lot has changed in newspapers and municipal governance since then.

Journalists don’t use typewriters any more and digital cameras have made darkrooms redundant.

Since those early days, my career has taken me to various roles in media, state and territory ministerial offices and corporate communications.

A key learning I’ve drawn from those experiences is the importance of involving the “comms guy” (or girl) at the highest level of an organisation.

There should be a direct report to the CEO and decision makers.

In state governments, effective ministerial advisers are able to politely cut through red tape and reach senior bureaucrats to ensure policy and operational outcomes are sensitive to public opinion and don’t have unintended consequences.

At the federal level there are geographical and systemic hurdles to overcome. The Commonwealth public service is also notoriously moribund.

In Canberra, I became aware of communications officers who spent several hours crafting a Twitter or Facebook post, and then had to wait up to 24 hours for departmental approval, only to have it vetoed by a minister’s office.

It made me realise the ABC program Utopia is actually a documentary.

Local government communications

Local government should be much more agile, although I’ve observed in the past this isn’t always the case.

Communications and media staff should give a community perspective to operational matters. They should be like political advisers in a Minister’s office, sensitive to potential negative events that could damage a council’s reputation.

For example, a media enquiry to Bundaberg Regional Council involved the issuing of a compliance notice to the owner of a cockatoo, which was being kept contrary to a local law.

The bird was a companion to disabled children and there were no complaints from immediate neighbours. All the ingredients were there for this to be an extremely negative story for council.

Instead of giving media an officious regulatory response, communications staff worked across the organisation to compile a more compassionate message, highlighting the bird owner’s right to comply within a reasonable timeframe, which was at council’s discretion.

If my position didn’t interact directly with the Mayor and CEO it would have been much harder to achieve that outcome.

A recent restructure by Bundaberg CEO Steve Johnston means the position I now hold is part of the Executive Leadership Team and has broader management responsibilities.

It’s a good model which means that communications is at the heart of decision making.

  • A version of this article was originally published on the LGAQ website.