The National Farmers' Federation is highlighting the shocking injuries incurred by a young NSW farmer in a call for better mobile phone communication. Yes, it is election time and the NFF are not the only ones calling for what would be universal coverage of all areas of Australia to a mobile network.
In June 2020, the young man was mustering when his bike hit a wombat hole, throwing him off. There was zero mobile service. He couldn't even make an SOS call. In enormous pain, he crawled a kilometre to a roadside where he had just enough service to make a call alerting his plight. More than one year later, he is back working on the farm but does experience ongoing back pain. He is not suggesting that complete mobile coverage is possible; however, he believes the situation needs discussing.
Well, perhaps we need to go back to the start. Absolutely years ago, people died from accidents and misadventure and even a mobile phone would not have been much chop if the only transport was on horseback or in a jinker. And, they would not have fallen from a farm bike; it would have been a horse. Snakebite, well, read the last rites. Bushfire, good luck and the same with floods. Slowly, but surely, we gained bush nursing hospitals, ambulances and local firefighters.
The phone was probably a party line strung up on bush poles. The mail came somewhere nearby once or twice a week, and at night, we listened to radio plays or serials on the old valve radio.
Now we know instantly what is going on around the world and speak to anyone on skype. Maybe we expect too much. Have we become flippant about personal safety? After all, people working in risky jobs in an isolated place should probably look at a satellite phone or UHF.
The current world political situation is adding weight to the calls for Australia to become more self-sufficient and ramp up manufacturing. Anecdotally, there is a shortage of urea, which impacts directly on agriculture. Fertiliser made from urea is crucial for many Australian farming operations. Why is there a shortage?
A supply crunch of another product is causing the AdBlue problems. Globally, stocks of the key ingredient, urea, have run dangerously low. China is the world's biggest producer of urea and, in recent weeks, has been moving to dramatically tighten its grip on supplies to keep a lid on surging prices. That's hit Australia particularly hard, given we source up to 80 per cent of our urea supplies from the Middle Kingdom.
Leaving aside the burgeoning prices of urea, what is AdBlue?
Technically known as diesel exhaust fluid, AdBlue is ostensibly an anti-pollutant that's added to most modern diesel engines. The fluid, a mixture of the organic compound urea and deionised water, is injected from a separate small tank into a vehicle's exhaust system to cut harmful emissions.
Essentially, tiny amounts of AdBlue are squirted onto the exhaust gases, turning the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water before they are vented from the vehicle. For anyone with a diesel car, you might be familiar with the blue cap that sits alongside the cap for the fuel tank. That's the tank cap for AdBlue, which can be purchased at service stations and auto retailers. Demand for AdBlue has risen as fuel standards - particularly in Europe - have become more strict.
Thankfully, action by the federal government and a Queensland manufacturing plant has overcome the immediate problem.
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