As the Anzac commemoration industry, awash with millions of dollars of government and corporate investment, gears up to celebrate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015 (embracing in the process all Australian military adventures overseas going back to involvement in the New Zealand Maori Wars of 1863–64), and the Sudan intervention of 1885), it is salutary to reflect on a seldom discussed Australian military tradition closer to home – in fact, at home.
The first poster of a musician I ever had on my wall was of Kate Bush. I had just started primary school in a small country town on Melbourne’s western outskirts, an area that has since been swallowed up by the ever-expanding urban spread.
I remember this poster vividly: Bush wore a white baggy jumpsuit with blotches of multi-coloured paint splashed over it, playfully wielding a paintbrush towards the camera.
I often stay up late, trying and always failing to catch up on reading and study, only looking up every now and then to watch the workers across the road. It’s my own way of standing in solidarity, a pathetic gesture if ever there was one. On one such an occasion, I came across a tragic news article: having just finished a three-hour cleaning shift, a worker in one of Sydney’s shipping yards walked out of the premises and then doused himself in petrol and set himself alight.
Only a few months ago, Joe Hockey launched what his friends at the Australian called a ‘bold mission to end [the] culture of handouts’. ‘The age of entitlement is over,’ Hockey explained. ‘The age of personal responsibility has begun.’ Barely had the glorious new epoch dawned when we learned that Hockey’s offsider, Arthur Sinodinos, sat on a board that casually allocated (as you do) $164,275 on a corporate box at Stadium Australia and $28,738 on limousine hire.