Noone would ever accuse me of being a patriot. I don't have a Southern Cross tattoo, I don't own an Australian flag, and I'm pretty sure I've never uttered that hideously cliched phrase, 'G'day mate'. But I do care about this country, and more to the point, I care about its people. So it's been with a growing alarm that I have listened to news report after news report in the last several years of Australians losing their jobs as Australian companies go under or are bought out by foreign enterprises. We all wrung our hands and muttered about the irony of Vegemite being owned by an American company a few years ago, but did we do anything to rectify that matter? No. Do we all still buy Kraft Vegemite? Yes. Despite the fact that we are, I dare say, Vegemite's only customer, given the rest of the world think its like tar in a jar - and yet, the Americans are getting all the proceeds from that particularly Australian culinary treat. I've also become increasingly distressed this year as more and more workers from car manufacturers in small towns are laid off in the droves - it's reported on the news for one night, and the government shakes its head in dismay - and then we move onto the next night's news, already forgetting the plight of the car factory worker who has a mortgage to pay, children to feed, and a new job to find at age 45 in a small town.
The financial trouble of family owned Darrell Lea was the final straw for me. Here's a company that is owned and run by an Australian family, it has products that have great meaning and memories for millions of Australians, and its products are well manufactured, reasonably priced, and available to all Australians. The global financial crisis no doubt hit Darrell Lea hard as it did with all the retail sector in Australia - and chocolates are a luxury item. We all know that. But what a shame that this company will be bought, possibly by a big, anonymous, probably foreign company - an Australian institution will be lost yet again, and gradually all the workers that would have been nurtered by the family style management of the Australian company will be laid off as the company is streamlined, commercialised, probably Americanised. And while there has been a surge of support for the Darrell Lea stores, as reported by an increase in their sales as Australians rally to provide enough wages for the staff during the takeover - I'm afraid in a few weeks time, it will be old news. Noone will give a Bo Peep.
Well I give a Bo Peep. We quite regularly buy Darrell Lea chocolates, in particular the Caramel Snows and J's favourites, Peanut Brittle. I bought some today. And we, as a family, have agreed that we will make a concerted effort to buy Australian owned. Now I must admit, I've made this promise before, and then failed as the temptation to save dollars by buying the 'Store Brand' products has taken precedence. But these products are all produced overseas - I've started looking at labels again. New Zealand seems to feature prominantly - well, lucky they are pretty much friends I guess. But I'm deternined to do my bit to save Australian companies. So we're sucking it up, and paying a bit more to have it pay off at the end. For our children, and their children. May they always eat Australian made Rocky Road.