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.
After my partner left the room, the man in the mechanical repairs shop went on to tell me that one particular machine was ‘idiot and blackfella proof – you can’t break this baby’. He had no idea I was the partner of the Aboriginal man he had just been speaking to. And why would he: in Kununurra in 2014, how many people are in interracial relationships? We turn heads when we hold hands in the street.
Imagine a map of Australia, flattened by a steamroller and tipped up on its side. Next, visualise the history of Australia, tipped upside down and run over by a tank. You now have a geographical and political portrait of Chile.