The Spud Diaries – Entry 18 – Defending the Reef

The Spud Diaries – Entry 18 – Defending the Reef


Opinion
ROLL UP: Part of the audience at the World Potato Congress which drew delegates from 50 nations.

ROLL UP: Part of the audience at the World Potato Congress which drew delegates from 50 nations.

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An off-the-cuff question from a US journalist highlights the delicate ownership Australia has over one of the world's natural wonders.

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THE World Potato Congress has been an amazing experience. Credit must be given to the hard working media and communications team, particularly Daniella and Viviana.

They had to work with some late curve balls by the sounds of things, including having a media room at the Congress venue for journalists overtaken for other uses at the request of the government.

They adapted though, and provided a room at a nearby hotel, complete with WIFI and even lunch bags so the girls and guys of the media could eat on the run while filing breaking news about late blight resistance and so forth.

The media representatives are as diverse as the delegates themselves. I meet several from various countries. 

I have to grin when a Swedish journalist makes it known the program is running late, something that obviously grates against her country’s traditional precision. 

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While in the media room, I become part of a conversation with two American journalists who are science writers.

Neither of them is probably keeping a tongue-in-cheek blog about their journey and it sounds somewhat like this is "just another conference to cover" for them.

We natter about where we are from, when the female environmental writer turns to me with: "So, are guys going to come together to save the Great Barrier Reef?"

It puts me on the backfoot straight away. I've seen online media analysis figures that any headline with the Great Barrier Reef in gains international attention, perhaps not always for good reasons.

DOWN TOWN: A typical Cusco street which are generally shared by both vehicles and humans, each at their own risk.

DOWN TOWN: A typical Cusco street which are generally shared by both vehicles and humans, each at their own risk.

While she hasn't exactly laid blame, I can sense from our conversation and the topics she's covered previously that the question is curiously laced with an accusatory finger.

I want to bite back with one of the following:

  • "Only when you pull together to do something about those IT millionaires harvesting all our online information."
  • "So, are you guys going to curb the number of night time talk shows being spewed out to the world?"
  • "Bombed anyone, lately?"

That last one is probably going a bit far.

Instead, I immediately go into bat for Australian farmers, making an argument about how there have made huge improvements in best management practices in many industries and how they seem to cop a bad wrap for the Reef's woes.

It seems to have little impact and it's obvious her mind has been made up. It strays off into discussions over the Gulf of Mexico and I tune out somewhat.

I don't have time for this global environmental blame-game; there are spuds to be eaten.​ 

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  • Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.​ 
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