Alice Springs (book review)

June 17, 2013 by

Alice Springs
Eleanor Hogan
NewSouth Publishing 2012
A book review by Danny Yee © 2013
Written by an outsider who lived and worked there for six years, Alice Springs captures something of the strangeness of a city which is far more foreign to most Australians than Auckland or London or San Francisco. It consists of largely independent stories that mix travel writing and reportage, loosely structured around the seasonal cycle of the year and focusing on Alice Spring’s social geography and its indigenous Aboriginal population.

It is drug and crime and health problems that most often make the news here, and those are central to Hogan’s account too. Her experience left her “fairly disenchanted with left-wing politics, particularly its current capacity to deliver to Aboriginal people”; her stories highlight the complexities of the problems and the absence of any easy solutions. (She is up front about her own position, as a middle-aged white woman working for an Indigenous policy organisation, and always makes her own connection to her subject material clear, but she refrains from inflicting details of her life on us.)….


Aussie edukashun from 1980 til now. Importing our brains, creating HR jobs etc

April 2, 2013 by

This is fun –

Let us pretend you are the benevolent elected dictator in Australia. It is 1980 and you have to decide on education and migration policy. Your wily political adviser comes to you with the following plan: he tells you it would be popular and cheap to stop inflicting difficult and painful education on Australia’s kids, instead importing foreigners who have gone through the pain of elite education….

Read on –

Defending #Australia from #Climate Change?

March 30, 2013 by

Or, as one of the commenters points out, a question of defending what (i.e. property and privilege). That’s how armed forces work. Sure, states can be different (pace Jessop), but not without a bit of a push. And I don’t see any Big Push happening…

Talking utter bollocks about Australian Aborigines

March 29, 2013 by

I’d never had the pleasure until today

Imagine if someone spent a few months in Tibet and came back claiming to have been chosen as the “true” Dalai Lama.

Would anyone take it seriously?

Well, meet Marlo Morgan….

Fires on the whole…

January 8, 2013 by

In a thread on the Grauniad about the bushfires

It’s about time we Australians really had a long, hard look at ourselves. Our attitude to the planet is disgusting and a national embarrassment. Just when the rest of the world begins to take environmental issues more seriously, we seem hell bent on appearing to care less and less.

I’m so ashamed of being Australian. We’re a nation of complete bogans. We are uneducated, unsophisticated. Even our prime minister is proud of speaking like a bogan. We essentially stole our country from the aborigines and we continue to insult them by marginalizing them into alcoholism and petrol sniffing.

It’s shameful to be Australian in these times.

And then this

@GordonLightfood –

Australia is full of lots of people, sure it has working class people but which country doesn’t or does bogan mean something else to you?

Australians are quite well educated with significant proportions holding tertiary qualifications, like most countries.

Whats wrong with the Prime Ministers working class accent? Love her or loathe her, I cant think of many countries with an atheist, unmarried and female leader from a working class background, can you? I think that says something about ‘meritocracy’, remember that word?

How one can judge sophistication or for that matter taking environmental issues seriously is harder to respond to but I believe the link below may make you smile. Lets not get too carried away..

Misogyny in Australia? Shurely shome mishtake

October 10, 2012 by

Awesome.  This is how you tear an arsehole a new arsehole

Book to read: “The Words That Made Australia”

October 6, 2012 by

Hmm, probably need to read this…

The Words That Made Australia

How a Nation Came to Know Itself

Edited by Chris Feik, Robert Manne


“three horrible Australias that substitute for the Australias we actually live in.”

September 30, 2012 by

Australian Art : In the suburbs, and below them
from Club Troppo by Richard Tsukamasa Green

Australian art (in the form of literature and film) is afflicted with three horrible Australias that substitute for the Australias we actually live in.
The first is the fake hinterland. The small country town, the drover, the bush. Australia has always been mainly urban, but this doesn’t rid us of the idea that the rural is an authentic part of a nation’s soul, and the city a false one – so we end up with a literary bush that represents neither Australia, nor even the bush that exists. We should be thankful I guess. This distrust of the urban led to pogroms elsewhere, here it just led to shitty literature.
The second is focus group suburbia. Apparently the same demographers that control political campaigns also write dramas for television. They’re understanding of the country is as strong, and as fruitful in both contexts. The resulting product is for an average Australia in suburban Sydney or Melbourne that doesn’t exist, and is resolutely (and carefully) boring.
The third is determined to address the chronic underrepresentation of middle class white people on TV. They’re there to remind you that the self conscious Fitzroy/Newtown monoculture is fascinatingly distinct, despite all evidence to the contrary. To remind you that all one needs to know about an entire society is found in a shallow pond of wealthy lawyers.
The portrayal of these Australias share a few rules;

  • One can only learn about Australia through Big Issues like drugs and murder and adultery, regardless of the limited role they play in the lives of most people.
  • People can only express themselves to each other through confrontation, which always them to exposit their viewpoints and motivation without them having to actually be developed characters.
  • Under the Australian Film and Drama Act (1992) they must also do this in full sentences with pronounced full stops – speaking like a human being would be inauthentic…

Taint misbehaving

August 29, 2012 by

Having a convict ancestor is quite the thing in Australia now. There’s even a society for descendants of the very first ones, the First Fleeters – the aristocracy of convicts. It’s a perverse kind of prestige.
When I was growing up in the 60s, through, it was nothing to be proud of. The index cards in the state library were regularly thinned-out by people who surreptitiously ripped out the card that proved their convict ancestry. Having a convict in the family was called “the taint”. There was even a suspicion that it might be a hereditary defect.
Kate Grenville Guardian 18 February 2006

This is an authenticity bid, isn’t it? Between the 60s and now whitey has had to admit he (and she) nicked the land. And have been joined by “waves” and “floods” etc of “foreigners”, that is to say, not white – or at least European – like us. So, being able to trace yourself back to the “real” lot becomes a mark of respectability. FFS.

The Sweet Spot – How Australia made its own luck – and could now throw it all away

July 29, 2012 by

cross post from the very useful “The Political Sword

Australia is ‘The Sweet Spot’ to be

Saturday, 16 June 2012 19:55 by Ad astra

In recent days we have luxuriated in great economic news: strong growth, low inflation, falling interest rates, low unemployment, good jobs data, renewed triple A rating by Moody’s, low net national debt, massive investment in the pipeline, and an upbeat RBA and Federal Government. Each piece of good news has added to a sense of euphoria about our situation and our prospects. We live in a great nation.

In the light of this great news, it seems a good time to review a book that transmits this very message, and asserts that our favourable position has not happened by some accident of good fortune, some stroke of good luck. In his 2011 book: The Sweet Spot – How Australia made its own luck – and could now throw it all away (Black Inc), Peter Hartcher shows how it has all come about….