Providing Food During Pandemic – Interview with Peter Pilt (CEO, Foodbank NT)

Image courtesy of Foodbank NT

The Foodbank Hunger Report makes for sobering reading as we tuck into our smashed avo breakfast and second chai latte, or rip into a chicken parmigiana and included pint of tap beer. That bar bill you’re stumping up for could put food into the mouths of many starving Australians who might not have the luxury of three square meals a day.

If you’ll crave an indulgence, the author spent several years in the mid 2010s when $10 could and did provide enough groceries to keep going for three days. Necessity is the mother of invention, and you might be amazed at the creative ways some people are forced to employ just to provide themselves with the most essential sustenance to keep alive.

“Foodbank is Australia‚Äôs largest food relief organisation, operating on a scale that makes it crucial to the work of the front line charities who are feeding vulnerable Australians. Foodbank provides more than 70% of the food rescued for food relief organisations nation-wide.” – What We Do, Foodbank website, https://www.foodbank.org.au/hunger-in-australia/what-we-do/

In late June 2020, I met with Peter Pilt at the Berrimah warehouse of Foodbank NT to find out more about their operations with special interest in their work during the pandemic of Covid19. No further preamble is necessary. Peter is one of the most eloquent, passionate, and driven individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview, and the audio needed no editing:

Peter Pilt, CEO of Foodbank NT talks about their operations

Bill Q: Good morning from beautiful Berrimah in the Northern Territory.

Now, for anybody who might be listening in around the country, it’s the start of winter in Australia, and I’ve got to tell you it’s currently 29 degrees and feels like 31 degrees. So if you’re suffering in the cold, hunched around the fire, so sad for you.

But anyway that’s enough of that. I’m speaking with Peter Pilt, and Peter runs the Foodbank NT out here at Berrimah.

G’day Peter.

Peter Pilt: Hey, how’re you doing? And hi to everyone listening.

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Surely Goodness and Kindness: Talking With Brian on Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf, New South Wales, Australia
Manly Wharf, New South Wales, Australia

I overheard a man on Manly Wharf beach one afternoon and his story became one of the most compelling interviews.

Let’s get there, unlike the Manly Ferry which darts out of Circular Quay and pretty much makes a beeline for Cabbage Tree Bay.

Let’s take a slightly circuitous root.

I grew up in the mid sixties and seventies with something of a hefty disdain for Manly.

It was a disdain maintained from a distance of about 366kms away in Canberra, and it was all based on the eternal battle between the mauve of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (‘Silvertails’) and the Black and White of my beloved Western Suburbs Magpies (‘Fibros’). Rugby League, for the uninitiated.

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Traditional geographic and tribal rivals

My family hailed from the west: Parramatta, Harris Park, Guildford and Baulkham Hills. My anti-Manly bias was born of those silly tribal rivalries that sound so pointless in smaller towns like Canberra where I have never been able to take the north vs south thing seriously.

“We’re not that [farnarkeling] big!”

Cliff Notes: I’d never spent much time there, and while visiting friends in Fairlight and on other trips, I was looking for reasons to like the area.

Yes, we’ve fast-forwarded to 2013, and for some reason one day, I’d gone across the briney foam from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf and drifted up and down the Corso and around the back lanes and alleys.

And fell completely and totally and hopelessly in love with the place.

When you get just a little bit out of the centre of Manly, things get a little beige, bland and neo-conservative. But right in the middle of town, it’s like a little melting pot, albeit a flashier more glamorous pot than some other localities that host meetings of many cultures within the scope of what is loosely termed ‘Greater Sydney’.

Me, I love them all.

Walk from Punchbowl train station to the Boys High School (which I did when I first moved to Sydney in March 2013, to interview the assistant principal) and you see pretty much no white faces, hear no Australian spoken, and smell smells that don’t feature in, say, the main street of Miranda.

Take a walk along Forest Road in Hurstville CBD and to have a conversation or transact some business, a working knowledge of Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean would serve you well.

Hang out around various parts of Liverpool and a little Italian will get you a long way.

I know a little Italian. His name’s Marco and he’s a retired jockey.

(Dips the hat towards the film ‘Top Secret’ for that gag. I’m here all week, tip your wait staff, try the risotto.)

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1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born! (1993)

1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born!

1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born!

In 1992 I was press-ganged, as organically-chosen head of the social club of my workplace, and the person most likely, to present a charity trivia quiz for a couple of hundred people.

That night in mid-September 1992 when I picked up a microphone for the first time properly — the Kraken awake’d.

Bill Quinn died that night and Billy Quinn awoke.

Some months later, needing a gag for our follow-up, I wrote to two likely lads who were then plying their trade on Triple J, formerly 2JJ or 2 Double J.

I wrote my letter, forgot about it and life continued. Six days before the 1993 quiz, I came rolling in, rolling in, rolling rolling, as I came rolling in [drunk] and my long-suffering then wife said a package had arrived and was in the hall.

Yeah, I did a few cartwheels and dive rolls that night. Therein was the tape with this on which I later edited to remove references to the selected charity (The Smith Family) so I could re-use it to get utility for many other charities, not for profits and 21 years later…. I think I need to book a certain venue for a date in September.

Enjoy. I know I did and have!

Billy Quinn
Overheard Productions
www.overheardproductions.com