Video: An interview with my Dad

This week I did an interview with my dad for a school assignment for my teachers, Mrs Stephanie Affleck and Mrs Justine Holden. I chose to interview my dad because he had a very different childhood to me. I live in the city of Sydney and my dad lived in the country. I do many different planned activities before and after school and dads only planned activity was the milking of cows. I’ve never milked a cow in my life yet dad milked hundreds every week!

There were many topics that we talked about during our interview and my favourite was that he owned a gun. Dad also talked about how gun ownership in Australia is now not allowed.

Where it all began…

My dad, Adam Jon Cogan was born in Sydney in 1970 but was raised in the Hunter Valley on a Dairy and Beef farm called “Eden Valley”. Dad was the oldest child of Jack (John) Francis Cogan and Eve May Cogan. In 1972 Eve and Jack’s second child was born, Louise Eve Cogan. My dad and Auntie Louise had a very happy and simple childhood.

Figure: Dad grown up in a farm

Figure: My dad grew up on a farm and he often tells us how he was on the front page of the newspaper with his hand in the mouth of an albino calf

On the farm, their day would start early, dad would rise at 5am to eat porridge and then help his father milk cows. This happened every day, even on Christmas Day!

After school, my dad would often do some practice shooting. Grandpa Jack had given dad a number of guns and he usually did practice shooting at cans or went up the back paddock and shot rabbits and sometimes kangaroos. Dad would also create motorbike tracks. Apparently dad had no homework!

After dad left the farm, in 1996 all Australians had to hand in their guns for a small amount of money. This was called the “Gun Buy Back Scheme”.

Why did this happen?

In 1996 there was a massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, which killed 35 people. At the time this was the biggest peace time massacre in the world by one man. Australians were outraged. The government introduced strict gun laws all around the country.  Today, Australia is a safer country because we are not allowed guns. I am grateful that these laws were introduced because there hasn’t been any massacres in Australia since. In America, these massacres unfortunately happen all the time. Just last year, in December there was a massacre at a primary school in Connecticut where 28 people were killed. Most were children.  Even after this massacre, America did not change their gun laws.

Figure: Guns were banned in Australia after this massacre

Figure: Guns were banned in Australia after this massacre

Now back to my dad’s story…

In 1982 a geologist that worked for the State Government came along and asked Grandpa Jack if he could do some testing on his land. Grandpa Jack, not knowing what it was all about, told the geologist that it would be OK. So the geologist drilled a deep small hole in Grandpa Jack’s farm and found some good coal. In fact this coal was called “first class coal”. Grandpa Jack was then told that the government was going to take his land away from him. This is called “resuming land”. Grandpa Jack did not want them to take away his home, farm and business, just so that the government could then dig up the farm. Surely that was his job! So Grandpa Jack did a lot of marching and protesting and tried to take the government to court, so he could keep his farm.

Sadly the government won and Grandpa Jack lost everything, his farm, his home and his business. Grandpa Jack received compensation from the government but not enough to buy another farm on the Hunter River. So Grandpa Jack and Grandma Eve decided to move away from the country. This is how my dad’s family ended up moving to Sydney.

The government resumed many farms in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales because they discovered that Australia has massive amounts of coal. The government sold the land to mining companies and soon the mining of coal in the Hunter Valley began. The mining companies use the “open cut” method and they leave the land a mess, with all the ground ripped out.

Figure: Mining companies

Figure: This truck is enormous and carries the coal from the open cut mine. Mining companies in the Hunter Valley have done a lot of damage to the environment.

Grandpa Jack was kind of a business man. He always had his own business. He started with a garage that was a petrol station in North Sydney. Later he started a truck business and after that he bought some land in the Hunter Valley and started a dairy and beef farm, called “Eden Valley”. Both of Grandpa Jack’s children (my dad and his sister, my Auntie Louise) now have their own businesses. Dad has a software business and Auntie Louise has a cosmetic surgery business in Malaysia and Bali. They are very different businesses, but they always talk about their businesses. Dad did a Bachelor of Business and Auntie Louise studied Commerce at the University of NSW. They have both followed in their dads footsteps.

Figure: My grandpas gas station

Figure: My grandpa’s petrol station on the Pacific Highway, Gore Hill

So what did I learn from interviewing my Dad?

I asked my dad if he was angry about his family losing their farm. I thought he would still be angry or upset. Dad believes that the government has the right to resume land whenever it is necessary, for the good of most people, even if this means some people must lose their homes or businesses. My dad used another example to explain this to me by saying that if the government decided it needed to build more roads or perhaps introduce light rail, this decision would affect some people in a bad way, but many more in a good way. For some people it might mean that they would lose their home and need to move, but for many more people it would mean that they had a much faster trip to work. Dad said you need to think in a way “for the greater good of everyone”.

I am grateful that my dad did move to Sydney with his family, did go to University because he did meet my mum, so I could tell this story!

Figure: Me and my dad

Figure: Me and my dad

Thank you Dad – I love you

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