None so blind…

19 08 2014

By the 2011 election, I was so mentally & emotionally done with all things Macquarie Street that when my sister casually mentioned the Liberal candidate for Newcastle, Tim Owen was carpet bombing local television with this ad, I shrugged.

As far as media buying goes, Newcastle is a pretty expensive market. Political parties’ TV spend in State elections is usually devoted to a few generic ads.  A major party candidate producing & buying space for his own TVC? Pretty rare.

Tim Owen’s free-fall from respected senior military officer to politician (a tumble in itself) to bum-fuzzled early retiree from politics to self-confessed liar and taker of cash from Jeff ‘Walking ATM’ McCloy might have come a little earlier if someone – anyone – had done the sums on that ad.





How stupid are you?

12 06 2014

So who’s stupid? Not you, of course. Certainly not me. Hey, maybe none of us.

No, that’s not what people were saying today as journalist Mark Sawyer opined that anything less than white supremacy was not racist, parsing a quote from an Australian Army officer condemning the sexual abuse and harassment of women in the defence forces that included the word ‘’standard’’.

Here was another cretinism, depressingly fresh on the heels of Mia Freedman’s insight that Madonna’s poor brown children from a poor brown country were better off skiing with the rich people.

It may pay to look at the bigger picture pays to have a long, hard look at ourselves. We’re living in a an era when evil critical thought is an outmoded concept, when there are no bad people, only bad acts only baddies and more baddies.

Yes, of course, ‘‘the stupid I walk past is the stupid I accept’’, to paraphrase the angry Army officer again vogue reasoning . Sorry #notsorry but I stopped walking past it plenty of times.

I stopped walking past it when a man in Spain told me not to put my Masters degree on my CV, because I ‘look too smart on paper’, when the mother of an old friend asked if I still ‘had my little job’ and when an old lady in country NSW offered me his ultimate accolade a bewildered stare: ‘Press secretary? Are you from the typing pool?’

Hey, I also stopped walking past it when people assert that Australia is a uniquely wicked racist <WAIT… DIDN’T HE SAY TEH EVILS WERE NO MORE?> country. I said Australia wasn’t unique, or wicked, but we are home to a hella bunch of racists.

You see, indigenous Australians once won a court case against Andrew Bolt. From this came the appointment of a Freedom Commissioner to protect us from the oppressive dictatorships which terrorises us daily … what exactly? To fight for the freedom of satirists to call someone a dog fucker on a comedy programme oh wait that didn’t happen.

But how many people alive today are honest to god stupid? You know, willing to grandstand at the school gates like a southern US governor in the 1950s and ’60s on panel shows and say “you shall not pass university without incurring crippling debt”? Refuse to not quit Twitter WHEN YOU PROMISE IT, drama monarchs (© Dan Savage)? Oddly, when Prime Minister Abbott failed to offer his hand to European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton kick Russia out of the G20 there was not a glimmer of protest from those who are “for freedom” and apparently little else. Abbott saw fit to call Russian President Vladimir Putin a “bully”. Truly, a foreign policy colossus.

Are white South African migrants to Australia racist? Are black Zimbabwean leaders racist for pushing whites off farms? Considering the hierarchy of oppression that is so fashionable now, are any non-white people racist at all? Fuuuuuuuuck… shelve your bullshit “what about Mugabe” logical fallacies.

<INSERT RANDOM EXAMPLE OF RACISM>

For seemingly endless days in May 2013, Australia was obsessed with the Eddie McGuire controversy. The ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire/Hot Seat/Hotpants/whatever it’s called these days’ host and President of the Collingwood Football Club doubled down on racist comments about Adam Goodes. He now has to sell the franchise and will end his days as a pariah called a laughable press conference, kept all of his lucrative media gigs, including ‘Press Red for Ed’. Isn’t that enough? Not for Sam Newman, though The Footy Show was not alone. Fox Sports’ AFL 360 anchors weighed every nuance, reading tweets from another brown AFL player Eddie took on the show with him to prove he wasn’t racist, interviewing each other endlessly.

For what? Only because there was bad press at stake for the AFL did McGuire even try and weasel out of his ‘brainfade’. And yet plenty of stupid people think and say and write in the most appalling “English” on any social media platform/online comment section they can find, McGuire’s racism is the fault of the brown person who should STFU & HTFU. I’d rather ask how healthy it is for the leader of any sporting team to be owned by a single plutocrat this level of stupidity to go unchecked. Minimising racism emboldens other racists.

<THANKS, EDDIE. THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF WHAT MARK SAWYER WOULD CALL “NOT RACISM”>

My contention is that people can say racist things because they are afflicted, temporarily or permanently, with stupidity racism. Why? Because I believe there are that many racists, even if they lack the self-awareness to realise they are, in fact, racist. These would be people <FAIRFAX YOU REALLY NEEDED YOUR SUBS> obsessed with the supremacy of their race feels to the exclusion of facts. They are out there. And their numbers are significant. And the best frontman they can present is not the Prime Minister, as John Oliver found in Last Week Tonight last fortnight, he ain’t growing the brand. Scott Morrison. Seriously. He is my worst nightmare. Because he would win a poll held whenever in a canter. Because of the stupid racists.

I’d wager that the overwhelming majority of us, no matter the colour, are roughly as ‘‘racist’’ our formal education, are is not as stupid as each other <OK WHOEVER PRESSED ‘GO’ WITHOUT SUBBING THIS COLUMN IS DOING MY HEAD IN>. In other words, let’s stop the stupid. Not just the stupid things we say. Stop electing stupid governments. Stop watching unqualified people erect plaster board and selling their bodgy renos to stupid people with more money than sense. Stop labelling basic human decency and not being a racist as “political correctness”. Stop appropriating the future by thinking about electricity bills. Stop decrying learning and instead reach for something beyond ourselves. Just stop being so bloody stupid.





To: Tony Abbott, Shite Minister, Australia. From: M. Tucker, undisclosed location, Spain.

21 05 2014

Dear Shite Minister,

DO NOT take this missive as a sign that I am writing to you in any capacity other than to instruct you like a boarder at a De La Salle Brothers’ List D school. My old mate Tex tells me you’ve got a regular Jesuit jizznado for me (something to do with self-flagellating and a flute, Christ on a bike, what is it with you lot?), that you won’t listen to him, or Peta, so here I am, emailing you at TOO EARLY SPANISH TIME.

Some twatweasel from the BBC – Jon high & fuckin’ mighty Donnison, sent to the  colonies after he messed me over some shitwank Parliamentary Committee hearing – thought dropping my name into a story about you winking at some fuckin’ Trot radio presenter when Granny Grindr called the station was a great idea.  The days of me getting Paxman and those other knob jockeys off my back by raising an eyebrow over the phone may be over, but don’t worry about Donnison, I’ve been onto the new Generalissimo and all I can say is, ‘good luck in Goma, gitface’.

I digress.

Abbott (may I call you Abbott? It’s a step up from numpty, so there’s that).

Abbott:

Now, listen to me, son. Listen to me very fuckin’ carefully, because I do not have the fuckin’ space/time thing down (YET) to RAM MY FIST UP YOUR ARSE SO FAR I CAN BREACH YOUR LARGE INTESTINE AND FLAP YOUR GUMS FOR YOU, YOU FUCKIN’ INSULT TO VENTRILOQUIST DUMMIES.

In my many, MANY years of running countries for cunts like you, I’ve never seen someone go from on-message to on-Mogadon so quickly. You’re like one of those French trains on tilt rails. Tilting Tony. Fuck, I thought I had seen it all with Blinky Ben and Nicola fuckin’ Murray. You son, you are a slightly less medicated Tom. You look like a demented Komodo dragon with Tourette’s. Apologies to anyone living with Tourette’s. You’re an insult to people with the fuckin’ balls to live with Tourette’s, you shiny-faced fuck.

Speaking of shiny-faced fucks, will you do something useful, there’s a good lad – tell Peta to check her voicemail (on the burner, not the NSA-approved device), yeah? I saw some gifs of that gommy Hockey on a mate’s Tumblr (don’t you DARE question me about Tumblr) and that bastard looked like he’d been caught ram-raiding on a Vespa. Couldnae help but share them with Jamie, he agrees (if you call cackling like an annoying cock on the weekend ‘agreeing’). If you don’t bang that bawjaws with some Botox PRONTO FUCKIN’ PRESTO there is nothing the Gorbals Goebbels can do for you.

To top it off, you and that great heaving jessie, Pyne then have the fuckin’ TEMERITY to fanny about with the public schedule for ‘safety reasons’? WELL SPIN ME AROUND AND CALL ME SUSAN. All the hats doffed in your direction, Antoine. Pissing your jimmies over some pock-marked teenage pinkos who will be voting Tory in 10 years and calling it ‘protection advice’ from those gawping great gin-soaks at your piss-ant imitation Scotland Yard (have you ever thought of calling it ‘Shitehouse Yard’? I quite like that)… anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, THAT… THAT takes some fuckin’ balls. To be fair, I wouldnae ride Pyne into battle against UNDERGRADUATE TROTS, either. ‘Stop the boats?’ Stop the fuckin’ Cliff’s notes being passed to the despatch box more like.

Right, I’d rather have Ebola than continue this email, so flap those jumbo ears and listen up, scrote with eyes: I am not your enemy and DO NOT START ME ON THAT QUIM-STARVED CUNT TURNBULL. Apparently, you’re such a dozy cunt you gave MORRISON  a private navy? How many punches to the head did you take at Poxford? He looks like a tall Napoleon when that Corsican cunt was conquering Europe (i.e. before all that shite went down outside Moscow fuck just read that thick Russian book, it ends badly) and you’re falling apart like a badly-packed kebab. No wonder you’re not sending him out to sell your Budget. He could probably DO THE FUCKIN’ JOB and you handed him a fuckin’ quasi-Stasi! Operation Sovereign Borders? Operation Shitey Britches. Jesus Howard Ker-ist on rubber crutches you are beyond all repair.

The thing people like you don’t get is that you are DIS-FUCKIN-SPENSABLE. OF ALL THE FUCKS, THERE ARE ZERO FUCKS FOR YOU. PETA?  SHE WILL FUCKIN’ JUMP, OR I WILL PUSH HER INTO NAPOLEON SHITOMITE’S DIRECTION BECAUSE WE ARE THE INDISPENSABLE ONES.

Yours, (not really, but I’ve leaked this to the Graun, bang up job on your daughter, hey?)

Tucker.

PS: DONNISON! Next time you want my attention, son, have the fuckin’ decency to leave a message back at HQ for Jamie. This, ‘sorry Malcs to interrupt your retirement on the Costa fuckin’ Brava but you’re my only hope of getting back to London’ bullshit disnae wash. Neither will you out in the bush, mate, and I don’t mean some fuckin’ air-conditioned tent in Alice Springs trailing after Kate fuckin’ Middleton. Your all-expenses-paid vacay to the DRC starts next week, pal. Drop me a note. Yes, I cocked an eyebrow like a boss and the BBC’s deflector shield was down.





An humble and a contrite heart…

25 04 2014

Cornelius Wilhelm Jäger.

Cornelius was born in 1850, in Hallgarten, a village in the Rheinland, the third of 11 children of Wilhelm Jäger & Anna Storzl.

I don’t know why my great-great grandparents swapped Germany for the fledgling vineyards of the Hunter Valley.  All I know is that my great-grandmother, Mary Jäger, was born in 1899, the 10th of Cornelius’ children.

‘Grandma Mary’ died when I was 19.  Her hands. gnarled with arthritis, were a constant of my childhood.  It’s only today that I wished I’d asked her, instead of my WWII-vintage grandmothers, to tell me about her ‘wartime experiences’ in those yearly school assignments.

Not only had she lived through all of Australia’s foreign wars; my great-grandmother was a ‘Hun’.

It’s not as if I was asked in a Fawlty-fashion to never mention the war.  Our ‘German-ness’ was erased long before my birth in 1971; so when people criticise ANZAC Day as the epitome of jingoism & warmongering, I think of that wizened old lady, and what life must have been like for a 15-year-old German girl in country NSW when war broke out.  What it was like to be part of an insular migrant community (all of her uncles and aunts married other German immigrants) reviled as Belgian baby killers.  What it was like to think of cousins fighting for the Fatherland.  What it was like to be the enemy.

What a strange pull of forces.

~~~~~

Stanley Richard Portus.

‘Uncle Mickey’ was born on May 4, 1925.  According to his sister – one of the grandmothers whose ‘wartime experiences’ I gathered – her lovely little brother was gobbled up by the air force as a teenager, trained to fly in a few weeks & sent off to fight the Japanese in the skies over the Pacific.

It is with no small shred of shame that I say I was terrified of the man who quivered and quavered when we visited the small house in Mayfield he shared my great-grandmother.  She would make tea on the wood-burning stove, and Mickey’s hands trembled as he held the cup in his hands.

Mickey was the saddest person I have ever known.  His eyes, watery, held no light.  He spoke, in the sense that he would answer when his mother, sister or niece talked directly to him.  Apart from that, Mickey sat at the kitchen table and stared at things that no one else could see.

‘God help anyone who knocks on that door after dark,’ my Mum would say.  ‘He’s got a rifle with a fixed bayonet in his bedroom, and he’d use it, too.  It’s not his fault he’s like that.  He’s got shell-shock.’

This was the 1980s. We still said shell-shock to describe post-traumatic stress disorder.  To the best of my knowledge, it was never treated.  Mickey’s life ended before he turned 20, but he heard the screams of Japanese soldiers burning alive at the end of his flamethrower for another 60 years.

It may be sweet & fitting to die for your country, but to bury your self, or your history in it… that’s hell.





Our greatest Premier?

21 04 2014

A dear friend compiled this list of Neville Wran’s achievements and poses a worthy question: was he our greatest Premier?

  • founded the University of Western Sydney
  • electrifying the railways to Wollongong and Newcastle
  • saving the north coast forests
  • Aboriginal Land Rights Act
  • working with Blewett on the AIDS response
  • beds to the west, including building Mt Druitt Hospital
  • all the great arts work for the suburbs and regions eg Riverside Theatre, Campbelltown City gallery
  • created the Powerhouse Museum and Wharf Theatre
  • gay law reform
  • Darling Harbour
  • Anti Discrimination Act 1977
  • built the Sydney Football Stadium
  • NSW Film and Television Office
  • democratised the Legislative Council after a titanic constitutional battle with the dinosaurs
  • appointed Michael Kirby as President of the Court of Appeal and Mary Gaudron as Solictor-General and QC (first female in both)
  • appointed the State’s first female Minister
  • created the DPP
  • introduced AVOs
  • introduced Random Breath Testing
  • passed the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
  • set-up the Land and Environment Court
  • passed the Heritage Act and Coastal Protection Act
  • established the Historic Houses Trust
  • Parramatta Stadium
  • Sydney Entertainment Centre
  • purchased all those ferries that we still have
  • restored Macquarie St and Hyde Park Barracks
  • the Premiers Literary Awards
  • sister-state agreement with Guangdong Province
  • commenced the new wings of the State Library, Australian Museum and Art Gallery of NSW (opened in 1988)
  • development of the old Treasury building as an hotel
  • modernised the coal industry – new coal loaders and rail lines

It’s an impressive body of work which doesn’t rely on, ‘but we passed hundreds of pieces of legislation’ as a measurement of good government.  The Hon. Neville Kenneth Wran AC QC did things.  He invested in the future.  He protected our past.  He acted, where others mouthed the words.  For fuck’s sake – the Shitkansen takes as long to reach Newcastle as it did when the line was electrified.  A great many last week judged a Premier who signed up to an education package that delivered NSW more money as ‘great’ and ‘honourable’, all the while ignoring the fact that he took lifetime medical cover away from people who lose a leg below the knee in the workplace.  As acts of bastardry (not political bastardry, complete bastardry) go, that’s right up there.

Unless all political parties get rid of the cookie cutter hacks who are ‘for’ an electorate (spin me around and call me Susan if there’s a candidate who’s ‘against’ being elected); the venal cyphers who think we are unworthy of the truth while they line their pockets, abuse their influence, reward their mates and generally take the fucking piss; the timid and weak who follow opinion, rather than establish the theme; the empty shirts blathering endlessly to the cameras for next to no return, we will never see the likes of Neville Wran again.  Who am I kidding?  We are getting the public representatives, at all levels and all shades of the spectrum that an exclusive pack of pricks with limited life experience choose for us.  The only time they speak their minds is when the system that suited them fine on the way up screws them on the way down.  Wran had facets of each of these faults, but set against the dreary, small minds in the back seat of too-large white cars, he was a colossus.

~~~~~~~~~~

Enough vitriol, time for a personal reflection on ‘Nifty’, the dapper QC, the brilliant Balmain Boy who never forgot his roots as he rose, inexorably, to what passes for high society in Sydney.

I was awestruck when I met him almost a decade ago.  He had agreed to head a mine safety review my-then boss, Kerry Hickey, commissioned after NSW lost three miners on one of the single darkest days I hope to ever know.

He came into the office for a preliminary meeting. He extended his hand, one of an old man.  The rest – the intellect, the commitment to the cause of ensuring people could do a day’s work and return home to their families, the ‘dash’… it was all still there.  The grin, still blinding, even though the teeth were discoloured by age.

‘I’m Neville’.

The Hon. Neville Wran AC QC defied the truism about the charismatic, that they have the ability to make you feel like you’re the only person in the room.  Neville made you feel like you were an old mate in a room of good friends.

‘I’m sorry, but I have to call you Premier.  ’78 was my first political memory.  You’ll always be Premier to me’.

Again, the grin and chuckle.  ‘You’re too young to remember ’78!’

If you could muster indignation with Neville Wran, that’s what I felt.

‘I was seven! ‘Wran’s Our Man’ was our mantra’.

He chuckled again, and then his face changed.  The eyes ceased crinkling in good humour.

‘We’ve got a lot to do’.

Kerry, Neville, Genevieve, Siobhan and I stood in silence in the middle of the office at GMT.  Kerry had been hit hard by the accidents; the dead were his constituents.  People outside mining communities rarely understand the shockwaves these godawful events send through anyone with a tie to the industry.

There’s a wall outside the CFMEU’s Cessnock office inscribed with the name of every miner killed since the northern coalfields were founded in 1801.  More than 1,800 men and boys – almost four times the Australian lives claimed during Vietnam and a quarter of those who died during the entire Gallipoli campaign.  I have seen the damage first-hand: widows, wheelchairs.  A childhood walking home from primary school and looking for Dad’s bicycle in the garage.

As they say, you never start an inquiry without knowing the outcome.  We were about to wage war, and Neville was our Ajax – powerful, intuitive and intelligent.

The government adopted all of the Wran Mine Safety Review recommendations.  Sadly, two more names will be added to the Jim Comerford Memorial Wall over the coming weeks, and the CFMEU is calling for another review.  If one is conducted, all workers who give evidence (and the government) will be poorer for not having Neville Wran’s expertise and empathy to guide the process.

I know this is a small remembrance of a very public life, a sketch of one of the end notes of a full working life – and that everyone has a Neville yarn.  I’m grateful that of all of them, I’m able to tell this one.





So, I’m gonna write about this…

21 03 2014

An abridged version of a comment I left here because enraged…

Yesterday, I snarked at Natalie Barr because in my fancy little mind, I had the notion that she threw women under a bus.

“Cut the carping, girls!  Stop blaming men!  Knuckle down & YOUR DREAMS WILL COME TRUE!’

Bullshit.

I’m delighted for Natalie Barr that her experience as a professional woman has been a largely happy one, free from blatant sexism & structured gender inequality; but it is in such stark contrast to that of so many of her female peers, her words rang hollow.

How could this come from a woman who saw her female colleague shafted just last year?  Related: that Barr’s column was endorsed by that woman’s younger replacement in the ‘next to the middle-aged bald bloke’ spot on the sofa’ did give me the lulz.

As for ‘it’s about equality, not gender’… it is about gender.  When Kochie & Mark Beretta’s daily fashion choices are tweeted by ‘Sunrise’, I’ll stop snarking.  When you google “Natalie Barr” + “Samantha Armytage” and don’t wade through several pages of ‘how Nat helped Sam shed the kilos’ yarns’, I’ll stop caring.  When I don’t have to prove that I’m ‘up to the job’ by going to a strip club with the boys (no joke); that my lived experiences might make me out-of-the-box but just maybe (again, in my deluded little mind) a ‘high on empathy, low on cookie-cutter bullshit’ prospective employee whose default position is ‘I would sooner take a bullet than fail'; when people don’t tell me to my face and on social media that having a postgraduate degree makes me look ‘too smart on paper’… maybe then I will stop sweating the ‘small’ stuff.

I didn’t write about Barr yesterday (except on Twitter) because I didn’t think she provided a cogent argument. Did my tweets change any minds? Maybe they did. I’m proud to be a feminist, not a ‘so-called feminist’, ‘bottom feeder’ or part of some mean girl clique who loves tearing another woman down. If I roll my eyes  at twaddle, that doesn’t validate the twaddle.

It boggles my mind that writers believe because they haven’t experienced something means they shouldn’t/don’t/won’t write about it.  It’s not my lived experience, but I found Barr’s comments re: people who take breaks or modify their work hours to parent a throwback to an era I can’t begin to contemplate.  I don’t want to work in an atmosphere where parents are made to feel less committed, driven or capable because they want to see their kids school play, or special assembly, or their child is ill – or that because I don’t have children, I don’t have a family life.

Finally (for now): the real, sad outcome of Barr’s column is stuff like this – a rag which uses it to further its ‘gender inequality is a myth’ stance: http://washingtonexaminer.com/australian-anchorwoman-stop-blaming-men-for-your-problems/article/2546014 … yeh, I’m gonna write about that.





sunday afternoon ladyboner courtesy of @twhiddleston

16 03 2014

Behold the wonder that is the Tom Hiddleston grind face…

tom hiddleston grind face