Friday, September 12, 2008

It's National Costello Week

It was in 1985 I first read 1984. I became an Orwell fan immediately. In the same year discovered in a friend’s older brother’s record collection a single called ‘Nick The Stripper’ by The Birthday Party, and a week later, on the Channel 0 music show ‘Rock Arena’ discovered the Jesus and Mary Chain. Within weeks I had gone from stretch jeans and V-necks to apprentice goth clutching my Emily Dickinson poems, quoting Orwell and chasing any girl in smudged mascara I could find.

I was in Year 11 at Generic High in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and, when we had to do our two weeks of work experience, I ended up at Channel 9.

On day 1 I went out with a news crew and interviewed some doctor bloke about this new fangled thing AIDS.

On day 2, I was sent out with a news team to interview a man called Stauder, a former VFL footballer (St. Kilda reserves) and owner of a small confectionary company called Dollar Sweets who were facing union pressure by his employees, and had suffered a protracted series of strikes and pickets.

I didn’t really understand the significance of it at the time, but one of the network bosses, back in the news room, muttered something about how, ‘even Hawkey’s got no time for this union.”

I followed the case for the next few years and it was of course the event that brought two young smarmy knob lawyers to the nation’s attention – Michael Kroger and Peter Costello. The case is still talked about as the one that signalled the end of union-dominated workplaces, and all under the watchful eye of the Hawke Government, lead, obviously, by our most famous and accomplished unionist.

Both my Dad and paternal grandfather were old-school unionist lefties (granddad was in the Communist Party and liked to read Lenin on his lunchbreak in the back of the hardware where he worked all his life, then would go home to his housing commission flat in Ascot Vale and watch sport), and I remember them totally ignoring everything Hawke was doing at the time.

“Dad, Hawkey’s on Rupert Murdoch’s yacht eating caviar!”

“He knows what he’s doing, son. Good old Hawkey. He’ll be ripping into Rupert!”

(He was not)

In hindsight, Hawke and in turn Keating were modernising the country, but in doing so, forever blurred the lines between Liberal and Labor policy. Oh, I know, there’s noted differences, but it’s not like the good old days. Costello himself, as Bob Ellis often makes mention of, was courted by both parties after his Dollar Sweets performance, but just imagine if Costello had woken up and decided, “I’ll go ALP”. I put it to you that ‘Labor fundies’ (as Squib put it) like my dad and Ramon, may, just may have had a different opinion of the man.

As Orwell says: "In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."

It doesn't matter any more where Costello went.

He's been around a long time this Costellopto fellow. He's part of the nation's furniture. I've never had much time for him. But, now that he's harmless, I don't mind him popping up every now and then and talking shit.

I think I'd like to see him and Keating host their own TV show or something, just for a bit of pre-1985 good old days debate.


shitbmxrider said...

Dollar Sweets eh?

My condolences for having to visit the hamlet of Pakenham.(My step-dad's company is a whole 100m away)

Perseus said...

Aside from going to the races at Pakenham, I've never been there.

Dollar Sweets was inner-city back then. Collingwood, I think.

Hey - how good was the BMX at the Olympics? I loved it. Crashes, 37 second events, 'Kamikazi'... I hope it stays.

shitbmxrider said...

When ever the races are on in Pakenham, its a fucking pain in the arse(I live off of Racecourse Rd) to get out of that shit hole of a town..

BMX Racing was good to see, the tarmac sorta put me off tho....besides, im more a freestyle BMXér myself...

Desci said...

In that you rock da microphone whist riding that little clown bike, SBMXer? xo

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

From memory, Dollar Sweets was then based in Prahran.

I think I'd like to see him and Keating host their own TV show or something.

They should call it Meet the Scumbags.

shitbmxrider said...

Desci: Yep, got it in one.

Ramon: Well....there based in smackie Pakie now, so nyerrr

squib said...

I would just like to point out, lest there be any confusion, that I come from a come from a long line of rabid Scottish coal miners (my great uncle learned to read from Communist newspapers) and Melburnian Labor fundies

I would no sooner vote Liberal than I would stab my eyes out with a corn cob fork

I just think Labor and Green should always be seen together. We should be nice to each other. We should give each other lamingtons and sprinkle each other with golden stardust

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Squib, we'll be nice to you if you're nice to us.

wari lasi said...

I would no sooner vote Liberal than I would stab my eyes out with a corn cob fork

Nice visual squib

And I feel exactly the same way about voting labor, if for no other reason than why did they choose to spell it that way?

Fuck all difference between the two (two and a half?) parties policy wise for decades now. It's all about the personalities. Every so often some loony right gets too much influence in the liberal party and by the same token some bleeding heart will do the same at labor. It's really boring, I'm with Puss, at least US Politics is so fucking ridiculous it's actually intersting to watch, in a train smash kind of way.

And just so you know, Wari is coming to you live from the Cairns International Hotel this morning. Emma is enjoying her inaugural trip to Oz. She had her first Happy Meal last night, it was a beautiful thing.

Perseus said...

Cairns is only technically part of Australia.

wari lasi said...

Jealousy is a curse Perseus.

But you're kind of right.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

And I feel exactly the same way about voting labor, if for no other reason than why did they choose to spell it that way?

Party changed it around 1908, wari, as it was thought the English spelling was old-fashioned.

More fab ALP facts.

Did you know;

The ALP is the third oldest social-democratic in the world.

It has been represented in every single Commonwealth Parliament since 1901.

The Party's song is Solidarity Forever.

Fad MD said...

And the Party dance is the polka-mazurka.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

"You can't expect to change the world by singing along to the simplistic lyrics of a song.

"Oh no, you have to do the dance, as well."

Alexi Sayle.

Leilani said...

Totally off topic but I've just noticed Clam's performing in the Fringe Festival.

Anonymous said...

Rename that the Cringe Festival then.

patchouligirl said...

My dad has always been a Liberal supporter. Loves John Howard. Hated Whitlam - reckons he was selling the country to the arabs. He says as soon as Labour gets in the country gets into economic strife (this has actually been true in my adult life). He says Rudd has done nothing so far and predicts economic doom for this government, especially if they spend money on climate change. He says climate change is part of a natural cycle and it is useless trying to reduce carbon emissions.

My husband is a tree huggin always vote Green hippie. His father is a die hard Labour voter and a distant relation of Cheryl Kernot. I can't afford to have any strong convictions.

wari lasi said...

Party changed it around 1908, wari, as it was thought the English spelling was old-fashioned.

Lame Ramon, lame. And profoundly arrogant to boot. That actually sounds more like something the liberal party would do. And you, a custodian of the language, should be equally appalled.

Anonymous said...

Also, Perseus, have you seen this?

Her rifle would go nicely with your chainsaw, eh?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Wari - meh.

And Clam's in the Fringe Festival? They really do take any old rubbish.

For next year's Fringe, I'm going to put forward my idea for a show.

Called Ramon's owl-stretching time it will consist of me, drunk, stumbling around the stage smoking and hurling abuse at Michael Leunig for half an hour, before I pass out.

Book your tickets now!

wari lasi said...

I can't afford to have any strong convictions.

While we're on lame Patch. That's really lame. You can't afford NOT to have any strong convictions.

I too grew up with a father who cursed Whitlam, and indeed his economic views were a disaster. The whole Kemlani (spelling?) loans affair was amazing. But it was a pretty hilarious period of Australian politics. Jim Cairns and Juni Morosi too.

But as I matured a little I came to believe (and still do) that Whitlam was a man of poltitcal integrity, even if his views were ill founded, he stuck by them. And he remains with out peer (ok PJK gets close) as an orator.

patchouligirl said...

Hitler was a great orator. Call me lame if you like, but I'm a classic swinging voter. Maybe I'm rebelling against being surrounded by men who will only ever vote for one party, regardless of what their policies are and what talent or lack of talent they have on their front bench. Especially, as has been said here, when the lines between the parties are so blurred sometimes.

Kerces said...

So I know you guys are a little Melbourne-centric, but you can't tell me none of you noticed the underpants-dance shenanigans of NSW Labor this week?
Said undies-dancer is my local member (well, I didn't actually vote in the last state election so he's not my fault) and I'd love to know if the outsiders' view is the same as the insider's. Is NSW Labor going to hell in a handbasket? Or is it already there?

Perseus said...

I dunno Kerces, ever since the WA chair-sniffer, anything anyone does in politics is dull.

So some NSW politician dry-titty fucked some other politician.


Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Is NSW Labor going to hell in a handbasket?

I'd say "yes" Kerces, were it not for the capacity of the NSW Libs to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - time and time again.

Perseus said...

There's a NSW Liberal Party?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Strange but true, Pers.

Kerces said...

Come on perseus, dancing in your underpants in front of a room full of your colleagues (and their daughters, apparently) has got to beat boring old sniffing a chair any day...