Big Blue Sky

"oh the temper of the time..." (photo Gympie Times)

(by Peter Garrett) (2015) A famous singer in a leading Australian rock band, environmental activist and all-round bien pensant, it was Peter Garrett’s stint as Federal Arts Minister that impelled The Varnished Culture’s perusal of his book. A lot of the time it is a happy memoir – from middle-class childhood in suburban Sydney, with warm milk and bush cricket, trains into the city and boarding school, discovering girls and rock and roll. Garrett’s early account is written with flair and humour.  When as a kid he signed up to Australian Record Club, receiving a record in the mail every few months, it “was the only…

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“A Vast Scene of Confusion”

September 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, HISTORY, Ulalume |

"the tide of popular fury returned..."

On the eve of the ides of September 2015, Monday 14th, the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was assassinated in the Liberal Party room and his usurper, Malcolm Turnbull, assumed the imperial purple.  One hopes this will end a strained period in the nation’s body politic – over the last 6 and a half years, there has been blood in the corridors of power, and 3 serving Prime Ministers elected by the people have been boned. 1/12/2009 – Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, is defeated by Tony Abbott by one vote.  Mr Abbott becomes leader of the Coalition opposition….

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The Holt Report

Open water

(by John Larkin and Geoffrey Barker) (1968) Yes, Americans can joke about President Taft being eaten by wolves (particularly greedy wolves) but only in Australia could a serving Prime Minister be taken by a shark.  On Sunday 17 December 1967, Prime Minister Holt went for a swim near his beach house at Cheviot, near the Heads leading from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, into the Bass Strait, and was never seen again. Though a shark is The Varnished Culture’s preferred theory (and after all this time, chances of finding traces are approximately nil) there are a number of other possible solutions; kelp…

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Malcolm Fraser – Vale

March 20, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics |

Life wasn't meant to be easy

(21 May 1930 – 20 March 2015) Fraser is a rather opaque figure.  Not warm, not particularly consistent, diffident in personal and political relationships, and for all his aloofness and well-heeled background as the squire of Nareen, he was rather a mushy ‘wet’.  He actually stood up for the downtrodden and appeared to mean it, both as Prime Minister (1975-1983) and afterwards, often when it was unfashionable, such as with African poverty and apartheid, Vietnamese boat people, and aboriginal land rights.  He formally broke with the Liberal Party around 2009 but had been a thorn in its side for years…

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Triumph and Demise

(Paul Kelly) An account of the Australian Federal Labor Government 2007 – 2013. Kevin Rudd, his bete noire Julia Gillard, et al, stalk about like characters in The White Devil, passionless and brainless villains. You could play ‘Sortes Virgilianae’ in respect of some of the players, substituting DSM 4R.

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