Report from the Coalface

Have you ever thought about closing down the biggest coal port in the world?

Well we did, and we did!

A group of enthusiastic activists young and old, calling themselves F.L.A.C. (Front Line Action on Coal), put out the call around the country to come and join them in Newcastle, where the coal from the Hunter Valley is loaded onto ships and sent all around the world to be converted into black soot and pumped into the sky.

A mob of us from Castlemaine heed the call and spring into action. I come to realize I have languished somewhere between a clicktivist and a slacktivist for far to long. It is time to become an Activist!

We set off at first light for the long and boring trip. Driving over Mount Alexander as the sun rises, a pink ball shimmering in the fog, the thrill of adventure pulsing in our veins (plus a dose of black coffee). The rest of the day is uneventful; the constant threat of being crushed to death by a Mack truck keeping one from nodding off, till at last we see the sun setting on the Hunter River at the other end of a long day.

After dark we arrive at the rendezvous, to a warm welcome, complete with hot soup and fresh baked bread, mm, starting to feel at home already. There are over a hundred of us, from crusty old veterans of past battles; Roxby Downs, The Franklin River, The Vietnam War, to baby faced innocents on their first mission, all as keen as mustard. No one seems to be in charge, but we all lend a hand and things get done with a minimum of fuss. The next three days are a whirlwind of meetings and workshops and N.V.D.A. training (Non Violent Direct Action) for the upcoming events, in between eating our fill of delicious vegan food (plus some kangaroo) and getting to know a hundred strangers all at once.

We divide into groups to hammer out the details.

Like filming a remake of Gone with the Wind, where the evil Scommo ditches his long and passionate love affair with Coalene (or was it Coalette) and ends up tying the knot with the mercurial Wendy Turbine.

Shot in an hour and a half with no rehearsal; no mucking about, this mob!

My group hive off to plan our actions:

We go straight into NVDA training: lining up in two rows, face to face, and practing the art of de-escalation. We feel what it feels like to have someone yell in our faces, and learn not to get aggressive in response, but not to shrink away either. We hold our ground, then we swap roles.

Once we are fully versed in the philosophy and practice of N.V.D.A. we get to plan our actions. Over the last few days there have been sporadic actions targeting the coal trains, including a brave young teenager locking-on to a locomotive. Looking around at all these people ready to put their bodies on the line, there are people from all up and down the east coast. Proudly, there are more of us from Castlemaine than from Sydney. Altogether there are enough people to bring the whole God damn port to a stand still. Yeah!

The coal comes rolling in on freight trains over a kilometer long from all over the Hunter valley. It is stacked neatly in 5 huge piles about 15m high and as long as a coal train.(see above) Next to each stack runs a conveyer belt and a rail. On the rail runs the biggest moving machine I have ever encountered in my entire life; the stacker reclaimer: A behemoth with a giant arm that wheels about, scooping up coal and loading it onto ships. There are 9 berths for 9 ships. There is always a ship being loaded, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The loaders never stop loading, the ships never stop shipping; 100,000 tons a day, 40 million tons a year, the juggernaut rolls on relentlessly, keeping the coal fires burning, add infinitum till the coal runs out (in about 500 years, unless they find some more, or unless someone puts a proverbial spanner in the works. That’s where we come in.) After much tooing and frowing we are all agreed that the best course of action is to target the stacker reclaimer, bringing the entire juggernaut to a grinding halt. All decisions are consensual, of course. We use hand signals to communicate, showing our approval by raising our hands and twiddling our fingers. For disapproval we do the same thing but upside down. This is part of an elaborate sign language that means we can communicate without talking over each other. Very democratic, very harmonious. Very fun!

D-Day – Saturday morning, early. We finish our porridge, synchronize our watches. Water bottle-check! Hat-check! Sandwiches-check! Nappies-check! (we could be there all day)

We hit the road, heading off into the unknown. Rumour has it there are 60 cops lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce the moment we show our faces. The entire police force is represented; The Dog Squad, the Riot squad, Search and Rescue, the Mounted Police on their magnificent steeds, there are frogmen in zodiacs zooming up and down the river, choppers buzzing overhead, scanning ever inch for suspicious activity; the whole menagerie: Basically anyone who wants to get away from the office and get a piece of the action.

The Street Theatre Group head off first and create a noisy and colourful event in the park, attracting a big crowd of curious onlookers. Naturally the Dog squad and the Horse Squad and the Riot Squad rush over there to see what all the fuss is about. The frogmen want to come too but are ordered to stay put as they would look ridiculous and put the Police Force in disrepute.

Our number one recruit Bill Ryan, a crusty old war veteran who survived the Kokoda trail (impeccable credentials wouldn’t you say?) sets off on his zimmer frame (he is 92 years old) with his faithful partner-in-crime, to lock-on to the railway track, yet again! Last time the magistrate said:

“Bill, couldn’t you take up another hobby, like fishing.”

So this time he brings his fishing rod.

Bill is quite possibly the oldest person in Australia to be arrested.

Meanwhile our gang is waiting for the call, hiding in plain sight. We sit in silence, a bit edgy, a bit anxious, just waiting till the coast is clear. Someone jumps up and heads for the nearest shrub to do a bit of ‘live streaming.’ Pretty soon there is a stampede in all directions. An old lady across the road is clearly amazed by the sight of so many bare bottoms. She picks up her mobile. Oh no, we are sprung. Quick, everyone let’s get out of here!

As luck would have it, we all manage to cross the entire city of Newcastle undetected by the best and brightest of the NSW Police Force. We all manage to scrabble under the fence of the facility and make a mad dash for the Stacker Reclaimer humming away in the distance, scooping up truckloads of coal in every mouthful.

We decend on the machine like ants looking for honey, searching for the perfect place to lock-on. Ideally a shady spot, not too windy and not too dirty. But the whole thing is covered in a blanket of black soot, so we all end up looking like coal miners anyway. Our affinity group heads for the highest point. It has a commanding view of the endless mountains of coal and a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, perfect for selfies.

Once everyone is comfortable, we stop behaving like a colony of ants and start behaving like a flock of cockatoos. Whooping and howling and singing and chanting, asserting our territorial rights over our new home. One sprightly young fellow has managed to find a cozy spot dangling from a rope at the far end of the gantry that scoops up the coal in its giant maw, looking for all the world like a giant tea bag. He immediately launches into ‘live streaming’ on Facebook; describing the situation in graphic detail while slowly panning over the mountains of coal, every minute or two encouraging the viewers to share the stream. After a couple of hours of non-stop streaming there are over seventy thousand viewers. Wow, these young people really know how to use social media!

After a while, just when we are starting to get bored, the cops arrive, en mass; lights flashing, sirens wailing, a convoy of black SUVs with tinted windows, crammed with men in black uniforms wearing tinted sunglasses. Quite a spectacle! Eventually, after much coming up and going down and huddling together and gesticulating and talking authoritatively, they make their move. The first onslaught is the crack team of negotiators specially trained in the art of psychological warfare, flown in by chopper from the latest global hot-spot. But they are no match for our crack team of trouble makers; everyone from young ingénues fresh out of high school, to a phalanx ofcrusty old grandparents anxious about the future of their many grandchildren; a formidable combination!

The next wave is the riot squad, six burly blokes, all in black, boots polished, shirts ironed, bristling with the latest high tech gadgets. They don’t actually have much to say, preferring to mill about scowling menacingly. No results. Time to deploy Search and Rescue; six burly blokes all in white (to match the riot squad, no doubt.) An angle grinder is produced. It is turned on. It makes a load noise.(that should scare the living daylights out of them) Their leader explains in graphic detail how painful the procedure can be. Safety cannot be guaranteed. Permanent disfigurement is a real possibility. Our brave captives do not flinch, their resolve does not waver for a moment, knowing full well it is all bluff and bluster. The Grinder must be deployed. Sparks fly, metal heats up. It is getting scary. We are covered in blankets, strapped down so we can’t move. We can’t see the grinder just centimetres from our fingers, we can’t feel the sparks cascading down the blanket, but we are getting sprayed with water so we don’t get burnt. Despite all that bluff and bluster the rescue team are actually trained not to hurt anyone, which they manage to do by and large, with a couple of painful exceptions. (Their adversaries are not after all, hardened criminals, but harmless protesters.)

Search and Rescue have brought only one small angle grinder. Maybe only one person is trained to use an angle grinder. (They can be dangerous if handled inappropriately) Or maybe they have pretty strict fiscal restraints in their department, what with the budget deficit and all. There are 26 people locked on, so the entire operation ends up taking all bloody day, which suits us fine.

Eventually we are hauled off to the cop shop to be processed, like cheese. The poor staff have to spend hours filling out boring paper work, all generated by their colleagues, outside all day having fun, except for the Riot Squad who seemed palpably chagrined at the extreme lack of riots.

We manage to keep our spirits up in the cells by singing silly songs and playing silly games, and then it is all over. A day well spent, a job well done. Yeah team!

All the 26 activists charged, including my daughter, were released on bail to appear in front of the crusty old Magistrate in early October, so stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

Ben Laycock, crusty old activist 2018

If you want to join Central Victoria Climate Action click Here

Or ring Trevor on 0412 250 392

If you want to follow F.L.A.C. Click here Here

If you want to see the live stream from Max, doing ‘the teabag’ click Here

 

 

Safe Cars or Safe Climate – The choice is yours

We all want our kids to be safe, don’t we? That’s why we drive them to school in G.H.S.U.V.s(great hulking sports utility vehicles), rather than let them run the gauntlet of kidnappers and pedophiles lurking behind every bush, not to mention G.H.S.U.V.s hogging the roads. But don’t you think that’s a little selfish? Yes, your child will be safer inside your G.H.S.U.V. but the children in the other car you may crash into, the small family car, has far less chance of emerging unscathed.

Whilst we are in thinking mode, it is worth comparing the manifold dangers our offspring will face in their lifetime. Car accidents could turn out to be the least of their worries. We are all inured to those graphic T.A.C. adds. We can imagine our grizzly fate in gory detail, but we find it far more difficult to imagine the world that awaits our blessed little sprogs if things go pear shaped. We are just starting to see a few teasers pop up on the screen, for the action packed sci/fi thriller to come.(soon to be relabeled ‘Documentary’) Bushfires are breaking out at any time of the year, even the depths of winter, and in the most unlikely places, like inside the Arctic Circle. The droughts are getting drier and storms are getting stormier. People are on the move all over the world, mainly from there to here. The trickle of refugees that has snuck past Peter Dutton could soon become a tsunami of humans invading the more habitable parts of the world, such as dry land, especially vast empty continents full of fat kangaroos, if you get my drift. (Bangladesh has a population of 150 million souls and they are breeding like Catholics, even though they are Muslims. Almost half of them live on land that is less than 10 metres above sea level. Think about it!)

So, if our little cherubs are lucky enough to escape death by motor car, there is every possibility they will live to see the next century, if, and only if

they can overcome the enormous challenge that await them. Something those of us born in the last century have utterly failed to do. We shall be handing over the baton to the next generation just as we watch Runaway Global Warming sprint off into the distance.

…and that is the view of an optimist. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but there are other, far more alarming scenarios emerging with monotonous regularity.

Why only last week The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America* no less, released a report finding that the tipping point for the creation of a ‘hothouse earth’ (4-5 degrees above preindustrial levels) could very well be as low as 2 degrees above preindustrial levels. We are already 1 degree above. We could reach 2 degrees within the next 10 to 20 years if we don’t pull our finger out.

A ‘hothouse earth’ would mean a sea level rise of 60 metres, and a rise in temperature that would make it extremely difficult to survive outside Antarctica. Ticket to Mars anybody?

So those of us born in a bygone era of peace and prosperity may well be faced with the consequences of our inaction being played out right before our very eyes, our very cloudy eyes, as we languish in our nursing homes unable to lift a finger to help our progeny tackle the momentous task thrust upon them. One can only hope they haven’t introduced Involuntary Euthanasia by then.

*for details go to:

http://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

Ben Laycock 2018

Straya Day Reflection

The Queen Must Die!

-An Australia Day Reflection

(as in looking in the mirror)

 

I don’t celebrate Australia day because l am a traditionalist.

Let me put that another way;

l don’t celebrate Australia Day, because l am a traditionalist.

The blackfellas have a long tradition of not celebrating Australia Day, dating back many thousands of years. It is this ancient tradition that l like to uphold.

As you may well know, our venerable Prime Minister is an avowed republican, but he has vowed to wait for our venerable queen to die of old age before he sets about the long and arduous task of establishing The Republic of Australia. While this is very sensitive of him, it could mean we are in for a long wait. Apart from the occasional sniffle she is in rude good health. Many of us may die of old age ourselves before our cherished republic comes to fruition. She could do us all a favor and abdicate, but she is a bit worried about her darling Prince Charles. Rumor has it he is a bit flakey, always banging on about organic vegetables and renewable energy and hippy shit like that. He could very well declare a republic himself if we’re not careful.

But when she dies, as surely she eventually must, we must be ready to grasp the nettle.

Let’s face it, this place needs a total makeover, root and branch.

 

  1. A new date for Oz Day (l suggest May 8 – pronounced ‘maaate’, or even better, the day we                 declare a fucking republic)
  2. A new National Anthem (l would suggest Waltzing Matilda, but standing on the                podium at the Olympics and breaking into song about a vagabond committing suicide because he was caught inflagranto dilecto with his favourite sheep would make us the laughing stock of the entire world, if we are not already)
  3. A new National Flag that includes a kelpie and no union jacks
  4. A stronger constitution, because you need a very strong constitution to stomach some of the shenanigans of our national parliament.
  5. A Republic – Based on true Australian values like barracking for the underdog.
  • Let’s face it, we are a nation of failures and proud of it.
  • The Blackfellas were decimated
  • The convicts were flogged
  • The Eureka Stockade was a massacre
  • Ned Kelly was hung
  • Gallipoli was a disaster
  • The Tazzy Tiger was exterminated
  • Phar Lap was poisoned
  • Gough Whitlam was sacked

But we’re still rooting for them, aren’t we? You bet we are!

 

We are like an old FJ Holden, limping along on 3 cylinders and spewing out black smoke. We don’t just need a grease lube and oil change, we need to recondition the entire engine, and bog up all the rust, and give her a new paint job.

(green and gold of course, or should that be black & gold)

 

So if Oz Day is destined to be more than an excuse for a a piss up and a piss take, it is timely to nail down just what it is Australian Culture? Does it even exist? And while we are at it, what is culture anyway? Maybe its easier to define what isn’t culture. Bar-B-Qs, fishing, surfingtaking the piss, wearing thongs on your feet instead of your crotch, playing sport, this is a way of life, but it isn’t culture. In fact it could be argued that playing sport is what you do when you have no culture. The Greeks don’t run around all weekend getting skin cancer and acquired brain injuries, do they? No, they have weddings, really big weddings where they sit around inventing democracy and philosophy and shit like that. The Italians, ditto, more weddings, where they sit around eating pasta made with tomatoes grown in polystyrene boxes in the front yard. The Lebanese have endless weddings, where they sit around inventing cumbers with edible skins.

Culture grows out of the land we live in, much like yogurt. Most of us here in this nacent nation haven’t been here long enough to create a culture, so maybe we should look to those who have, the local blackfellas. We may just find we have a lot more in common than we thought, such as camping. According to the stats, we are the most urbanized society ever invented, huddled together like ginea pigs, clinging as close to the edge of this vast continent as we can possibly get, starring longingly out to sea. But we do love the great outdoors, don’t we? You bet we do! Learned anthropologists have postulated that this quite possibly due in large part to the influence of the locals, they call them ‘aborigines’. These so-called Aborigines love nothing better than going camping, in fact their entire ‘life-style-choice’ is designed around the ability to pull up stumps and ‘go walk about’. No need to work overtime all year round to afford the airfare and the hotel and the restaurants and the exotic trinkets. Imagine the freedom of waking up one morning, any morning, grabbing your hunting gear and heading out on an adventure. No 20 kilo packs to lug, food and lodging provided as need be, and when you arrive your relies cook up a mouth-watering feast and put on a real song and dance to knock your socks off.

So we can see that the vagaries of the local climate dictate a nomadic lifestyle, including a life of feast & famine. None of this toiling all season and salting it away for the winter, to be nibbled one morsel at a time. When there was food you ate it all, when there was none, you went hungry. This life of feast & famine is yet another custom adopted and adapted from the locals. With the subtle difference that we have forgone the traditional famine bit, preferring instead, to feast pretty well constantly. In turn we have taught this recent adaptation to the blackfellas, with obvious consequences.

We can see that all true culture is shaped by our surroundings, and the elements of our surroundings that are unique is what will make us, in time unique. The unique climate created by the oscillations of El Nino have created a culture based on camping and partying (safe in the knowledge that it probably wont rain much for at least another few years.)

So what are some other unique aspects of the nature of our nature that is nurturing the unique nature of us?

Well, the place is very flat and very dry and very empty, (having decimated what few inhabitants there were) hence we have large cow farms that sport drovers with RM Williams boots and hats and a kelpie by their side, and feisty women who can ride a fucking horse and crack a whip.

We have more beaches per head than anywhere else except Canada, but most of theirs are frozen solid all year round (know anyone going on a surfing trip to Canada? No, l didn’t think so) Thus is born the surfing lifestyle – driving old Volvos, smoking bongs and eating junk food, getting up early to check the waves before going back to bed, roaming around the country in semi-nomadic fashion (just like the locals)

Fishing – Many of you may remember that oft quoted saying from the great Mao Tse Tung himself, that was drummed into us all throughout grade 3 Political History: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day- teach a man to fish and he will spend every second weekend with his mate, sitting in a dingy in the middle of a lake, getting quietly sozzled. It is a well kept secret that the fish are of secondary importance and it is actually all about contemplating the awesome beauty of the natural world. (the Japanese have a special word for this; ‘shinrinyoku’ – forest bathing)

Alas and alak, these embryonic cultural practices have begun to die out before they are fully formed. As we speak they are being guzzumped by new cultural practices like Instagram. (my friend Alex says we should start Consider-a-gram, where every comment has a 24 hour delay before it can be posted. In Consider-a-gram it is a real no-no to boast about the great fun you are having, as it tends to have a deleterious effect on those not having an orgasmic experience every five minutes. In Consider-A-Gram we like to post about the truly boring time we are having so no one gets jealous.)

Yet another unique aspect of our way of life generated by the vast emptiness that engulfs us (literally as well as metaphorically) is immigration, immigration on a vast scale. We currently import more people per head than any other country on earth. (not counting refugees of course, because they don’t count). We may not be the most multi-cultural nation on the planet but we can argue that we are the most successful at it. (Just look at The U.S.A. – now referred to as the D.S.A.) We may be lacking in culture but we are not lacking in cultural choice. This has made us a nation of foodies. A whole new growth industry of people who get very well paid to eat food and talk about it while we watch.

(Back In my day if we uttered a single syllable at the dinner table we got a whack in the earhole.)

So to be an Australian is to be into eating food, strange, exotic food.

We are big eaters, now officially the biggest in the world.

 

The more we look, the more aspects of our way of life we find that are really quite unique and special, and the deeper we look, we see that these things have sprung from our unique geography. So to sum up l would venture to say that culture is a product of the interaction between geography and time, but most of us have not yet spent enough time here to acquire culture, nor have we spent enough time interacting with our geography or learning from those who have.

 

 

 

West Papua – A Short History

West Papua History

 

In 1949, Sukarno led Indonesia to independence from the Dutch, but West Papua remained under Dutch rule. After a while the Indonesians began threatening to take over West Papua from the Dutch. The Australians wanted the two halves of the Island of Papua reunited. (A very sensible idea, that would have avoided much future suffering) but John F. Kennedy would have none of it, so in 1963, The U.S. brokered an agreement with President Sukarno, where by the U.N. would run the province till it was handed over to Indonesia on the condition Indonesia organized a ‘Vote of Free Choice’ (some call a vote of no choice) within 7 years. None of the local Melanesian people were consulted, so they started their own independence movement, the O.P.M. – Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Papuan Freedom Organization) with the words

“We do not want modern life! We refuse any kinds of development: religious groups, aid agencies, and governmental organizations just Leave Us Alone!”

In 1965 the leftist Sukarno, was overthrown by the authoritarian dictator Suharto. Every member of the Communist Party of Indonesia they could find, was rounded up and murdered. One of the worst crimes against humanity of the 20th century.

In 1969 the Indonesians conducted the so called ‘act of free choice’:

It was run by the infamous TNI – Tentara National Indonesi ( the Indonesian Army, a law unto itself) The U.N. stipulated that every local Melanesian adult could vote,( over 900,000 people) but the T.N.I. hand picked 1000 village chiefs, whom they convinced, via threats and bribery, to throw in their lot with Indonesia. The vote was unanimous, quite an unusual outcome for a free democratic vote.

In July 1971 the Melanesian people of West Papua declared their independence, but unfortunately no one was listening, or almost no one. The Peoples Republic of West Papua is recognized by one country, Vanuatu. Very soon after, the Freeport mine began operation in the province, the largest and most profitable gold mine in the world. This mine remains the largest obstacle to independence for the people of West Papua.

 

Meanwhile, in 1975 there was a revolution in Portugal. In an act of gross irresponsibility, the Portuguese unburdened themselves of their remaining colonial assets, including Timor L’este. The Indonesians moved into the vacuum, snuffing out a brief flowering of freedom for the Timorese. It would be 25 years before they once more regained their sovereignty, due largely to the efforts of one man: Jose Ramos Horta, the Timorese ambassador to the U.N. who devoted his considerable diplomatic skills to putting the Tiny country on the map.

But West Papua is not Timor L’este. It was not administered by a European Colonial power for 500 years. It is not, and does not want to become, part of the modern world. An admirable ideal, but one that makes it very difficult to get heard in the clamour of the rat race. As the last of the unadulterated indigenous peoples of the world become swamped by the metastasizing cancer of Consumerism, keeping up the unique way of life of the people of West Papua becomes ever more precious, for them and for all of humanity.

 

Ben Laycock 2016

The 2016 Len Fox Painting Award Exhibition

untitled

Castlemaine Art Gallery

-till December 31st

This triennial award is for a painting ‘in sympathy’ with the work of Emanuel Phillips-Fox. The $50,000 prize money was put up by his generous nephew Lenny, who was apparently a card caring member of The Communist Party, but he obviously came across a large stash of cash that he failed to squander on the great unwashed.

Emanuel, or Manny to his many friends, was born and bred here in Australia, but he far preferred to spend his time in gay Paris, documenting every nuance of the bourgeoisie as they indulged in their endless pursuit of leisure and pleasure, oblivious to the Marxist revolution unfolding all around them: Boating on the river, tea in the arbor, croquet on the lawn. Mr. Fox was especially fascinated with the young ladies in all their finery, frolicking in the fields, or reclining in a hammock in the dappled sunlight with a book in hand, a flower in their hair and vacant look on their pale faces.

When he did happen to pop back to Oz from time to time he was at pains to highlight the immense civility of this nascent society, despite the tyranny of distance and the proximity of tyranny.

Of course it would be nigh on impossible to find any self-respecting artist turning out that sort of sickly sweet romantic schmaltz these days, so the judges were required to seek sympathy for other qualities in Mr. Fox’s work:

Vibrant colours, impressionist landscapes, scenes of everyday life, women standing around without their clothes on.

Here at the gallery, l note that every picture in the room has ticked one of those boxes, but it seems none of them has ticked two.

Let’s circumnavigate the room in a clockwise direction, clinically dissecting each work as we go. (At this point it is germane to confess that l myself entered this very prize. Having failed to make the cut, l have been dining on sour grapes ever since.)

A quick look around reveals an overwhelming preponderance of landscapes, either realist or expressionist, though none could be described as impressionist. (As l said impressionism is no longer de riguer – or ‘cool’) There is a little cluster of vibrantly coloured works, some might say garishly coloured works, that l fear Mr. Fox would have no sympathy for at all. Then we come to the work of the renowned John Nixon. Harking back to his glory days in kinda, John has used all the bottle tops and bits of wood in the craft box to make a picture. (Well done John, keep up the good work.)

Bill Sampson, a local lad, has done a conceptual take, reducing one of Mr. Foxes vibrant landscapes (‘On the Mediterranean Coast.’ It is in the gallery so you can compare it if you like) to a few enormous pixels, each one the size of a lamington. Very post-modern Bill, but l don’t think Mr.Fox would approve of your conceptualism, or your post-modernism for that matter, he was having enough trouble getting his head around impressionism.

Jason Jones, another local to make the cut, has faithfully produced a simulacrum of a genuine Fox landscape, in fact it is so simulacrimous (sick) that l took it for a direct copy of ‘Gumtrees at Cremourne’, but Mr. Jones swears black and blue that he has never set eyes on the work in question. l will let you be the judge.

Next up we have a cluster of moons. I imagine Mr. Fox would like all these. He does appreciate a good moon.

David Falzon has entered the only work that seems to evoke anything like the saccharine romantic tones that saturates Foxe’s oeuvre, but it is crying out for a young damsel in a bustle picking daisies with a vacant look on her angelic face.

There is a smattering of eerie dark works, one or two even bordering on the sinister. Mr. Fox would not approve. He didn’t do spooky.

Lynne Boyd, (one of the lesser Boyds, no doubt overlooked due to her gender) has done perhaps the only work that could vaguely be described as impressionist.(If you squint a bit and look out of the corner of one eye) Excuse me for bragging but l went to art school with Lynne and l would have to say she is by far the most consistent artist l have ever come across, except for Prudence Flint. Her work has not changed a jot (or is that a dot) since those heady days back in the early 1980s.

Well done Lynne. Do not be tempted to stray from the chosen path of enlightenment..

One Kevin Chin has produced one of the most life-like impressions of a drug induced psychosis outside of the psyche ward, but l fear once again, that our Mr. Fox would not approve. Drugs were rather frowned upon in those days, even though they were perfectly legal. Go figure?

Abdul Abdullah has a foreign sounding name and has done quite a disturbing piece referencing those poor unfortunates incarcerated in remote islands in the vast Pacific Ocean. Now l don’t know where Mr. Abdulla comes from but here in this country we don’t bring up such nasty topics in a nice place like an art gallery.

Last but not least we come to the winner.

‘Wash’ by Prudence Flint. Prudence is by far the most consistent artist l have ever come across, except for Lyn Boyd, of course. She has been painting the same painting all her life, using exactly the same model every time, (I kid you not) stuck in the very same room, with the very same tiles and the very same slightly nauseating colour scheme. You would have to agree, she has got it down pat.

The subject, who has shared all the most mundane moments of her prosaic existence with us, over all these years, without leaving her room/cell, without growing older, or younger, or even changing her expressionless expression. Not even her newborn babe can raise the hint of a smile.

I feel like l am looking at stills from CCTV footage shot inside a lunatic asylum, featuring a patient under heavy sedation since the 1950s who is only allowed out once a year to feed the pidgeons.

When will this woman tear off her straight jacket and go running down the road stark nakid, squeeling with joy?

 

Footnote:

As you are no doubt aware, Len Fox amassed his not inconsiderable wealth driving trucks. His next award will be for a painting of a truck. Hopefully this will bring a few more locals into the art gallery.

 

To see a lot of Manny’s work just go to google images and type in his name.

To see a lot of Prudence’s work go to google images and type in her name

 

Ben Laycock 2016

 gum-trees-at-cremorne

Gumtrees at Cremorne – Manny Fox

Radio Roundup -Final Show 8/7/16

Local news-

Jail Birds Escape

Stone Quarry rejected – Council states:

‘We have enough stones”

Midland Downgrade-

Just 30 seconds can save a life

+

Malcolm Turnstyle stars in

The Never Ending Election

Pauline Hanson stars in

Return of the Living Dead

Greyhounds star in

Cry Freedom

Sam Hains stars in

The Hipsterproof Fence

John Howard stars in

W.M.D. – A Fantasy

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Mice trained to detect W.M.D.s

(Weapons of Mice Destruction)

l have been on MainFm for over 5 years now, and my faithful companion has been by my side for 2.

l am sick of missing all the Friday night fun but management won’t give us another time so we have called it quits.

Watch this space for the next exciting adventure

Chow Ben Boyang

The Senate –A Cornucopia of Choices

HEALTH AUSTRALIA PARTY

Careful, this mob could well be a front for The Anti-vaccination Crusade, who fervently believe vaccination should be illegal rather than compulsory.

 

SOCIALIST EQUALITY PARTY

Lookout, this mob could well be a front for The Trotskyists – enthusiastic young revolutionaries directed to infiltrate Stalinist committees and make them unworkable.

Since the fall of The Soviet Union this strategy has been extended to all committees.

 

SOCIALIST ALLIANCE

BEWARE – these people are Card Carrying Communists

 

VOTEFLUX!

A web savvy mob who would like to introduce internet voting on specific issues. The entire country could vote on any issue that takes their fancy. Or the whole world could vote on how to run the whole world. This is definitely a visionary concept well worth considering

 

The CycIing Scientists  

We are really keen to create a whole new city especially for Nerds, so we can ride around on bicycles and figure out how to get to Mars via teleporting.

 

SUSTAINABLE AUSTRALIA

We want a smaller population for Oz, as well as smaller people. (apparently there is a drug to arrest human growth at the desirable size. At present this drug is only given to disabled kids so they don’t grow too big to carry, but if we all reduced our size by half we would naturally need only half as many resources and create half as many emissions. If we were the size of ants we could send half the world’s population to colonize Mars, in one spaceship.(if teleporting proves to be impractical)

Think about it. But not for too long .

 

PIRATE PARTY

This mob are Computer Nerds whose favourite sport is hacking.

They do have some affinity with the Cycling Scientists but would not be welcome in Nerd Utopia as they might fuck things up big time.

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY PARTY

Zero Emissions by 2050! Good Luck!

 

THE ARTS PARTY

This mob believe artists should be paid money for making art.

Whilst this novel idea would bring about a marked improvement in their general wellbeing, it would no doubt have a detrimental effect on their art, since, as we all know, great art emerges from great suffering. Alas, a pleasant life makes for pleasant art, at best.

 

SECULAR PARTY OF AUSTRALIA

This mob believe God Almighty is persecuting Atheists for their beliefs (or lack of them) They promise to introduce a law banning God from Australia. If she so much as sets foot on Australian soil, or makes her presence felt in some other occult way, she shall be incarcerated! No ifs, no buts!

 

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

This mob fight doggedly for Gays to have the right to get married, fight in the armed forces and become priests, blissfully unaware that these pursuits are no longer cool.

 

The Pot Party Party

This mob think pot is the panacea for everything, especially the decline in rural industry. There is apparently a vast pool of untapped experience in the area of marijuana cultivation. Some of our most skilled horticulturalists are languishing on the dole whilst little kiddies die for the want of Medicinal Marijuana.

 

AUSTRALIAN PROGRESSIVES

This lot believe in social progress(the development of human consciousness)

as opposed to industrial progress (digging shit up & selling it to China)

 

VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA PARTY

We vow to commit suicide on mass if we are not given the right to die with dignity.

The Shooters Party has offered to help.

Have perennial problems with ever decreasing membership

 

MATURE AUSTRALIA

We want to grow old gracefully, unlike our sister party, who don’t seem to want to grow old at all.

Claim The Voluntary Euthenasia Party are poaching their members

 

Euthenasia Party

Similar to Voluntary Euthenasia Party but don’t feel it is necessary to ask first.

 

AUSTRALIAN SEXY PARTY PARTY

The Sexy Party says it’s not all about the sex.

They are actually looking for a committed long

term relationship with the voters.

Note-Funded by the Porn Industry

 

ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY

Party Leader: Mr. Ed

Calling for voting rights for all animals, not just humans.

Should get the donkey vote if The Shooters Party don’t get them first

 

THE GREENIES

We Greenies are one big happy family made up of nice, well educated middle class people who care very much about those less fortunate than ourselves, like poor people.

We love the bush but we have to live in the heart of the city because it is cool. We like to see ourselves as the beating heart of an otherwise heartless nation.

 

LABOR

1 Wind not Coal

2 Trains not Trucks

3 Schools not Prisons

4 We are like the Liberals, but nicer

 

LIBERALS (Conservatives)

1 Coal not Wind

2 Trucks not Trains

3 Goals not Schools

Retrain teachers as prison guards.

“My new clients are more polite and less violent than my previous charges and the pay is better”

– Jenny; trainee guard at Loddon Prison

– former Prep teacher at Sleepy Hollow Primary

 

4 Decrease spending to zero and ultimately liquidate the Government

 

The Gnats

The Gnats once swarmed across the plains like locusts but are now a mere shadow of their former selves. Shriveling inexorably to the point where they could disappear up their own arsehole at any moment.

This is due largely to the natural attrition of death.

 

MFP

John Madigan’s Manufacturing & Farmers Party

Mad Dog Madigan would have to be The Patron Saint of Lost Causes.

No sooner does he raise the DLP from the grave than he reburies them even deeper and goes into bat for farming & manufacturing before they disappear altogether.

Claims to have invented the stump-jump plough.(along 47 other claimants)

 

SHOOTERS & ROOTERS PARTY

This gang claim to be the true conservationists; preserving wetlands and forest habitat for them to hunt in. Whilst it may be a noble act to kill wild animals to feed your hungry family, this is a far cry from killing them for the shear pleasure of killing. Whilst hunting for sport may be environmentally sustainable it is hardly morally defensible, as it tends to encourage unhealthy psychopathic tendencies amongst participants.

 

AUSTRALIAN MOTORING ENTHUSIAST PARTY

It seems the people of Victoria are not as enthusiastic about their motoring as we were led to believe, but Ricky has turned out to be a decent chap, and living proof that a Nobody plucked at random can turn out more worthy than those we felt we could trust.

 

AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY PARTY

(often confused with the Austrian Country Party, especially in Austria)

We have adopted the No Policy Policy.

All decisions will be arrived at through community consultation.

Whatever bills The Greens vote for we will oppose on principal, and vice-versa

 

DERRYN HINCH’S JUSTICE PARTY

Led by the eponymous Mr. Hinch, AKA – The Human Headline

Derryn’s main focus is on self justice. As we all know, poor Derryn has been treated shabbily by the justice system every time he deliberately floats the law to increase his ratings. Derryn’s concept of self-justice also involves justifying his reason to be alive. (the most obvious reason being that it is illegal kill people)

Derryn’s goal is to have the privilege of exposing suspected pedophiles in parliament, thus avoiding going back to gaol yet again.

 

Pauline’s Personal One Notion Party

Pauline’s policy is to be as politically incorrect as possible whenever she is given the opportunity. When Eddie Maguire expressed the desire to drown a journalist, Pauline said with a straight face “ Personally, I would gleefully drown them all”.

Well said Pauline. All publicity is good publicity, as they say.

 

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS (often confused with the Democratic Liberals)

This mob would like to do away with laws and governments altogether and replace them with private armies defending private wealth, not unlike the Dark Ages or ‘Game of Thrones’. Lots of sex, lots of wars, lots of blood, lots of fun!

Not to be confused with the Anarchists, who would also like to do away with laws and governments, but they would convince everyone to be nice to each other and share everything so guns and money would be redundant.

 

FAMILY FIRST PARTY

“We refer to ourselves as The Anti Party or The Anti Party Party

Our detractors call us The White Anty Party

We are anti action on climate change

Anti Government

Anti Tax

Anti Unions

Anti Drugs

Anti Euthenasia

Anti Abortion

But Pro Life (at least until you are born, then you’re on your own, baby)

 

RISE UP AUSTRALIA  

-We do not sell Viagra

Possibly the most extreme far right of the gaggle of extreme far right parties on display,

and they do have some stiff opposition. (no pun intended)

Their glorious leader, one Daniel Nalliah of the infamous Catch Fire Ministries

Is quoted as saying soon after the Black Saturday Bushfires that killed over 200 people, “This is God’s punishment for Victorians allowing abortion.”

 

Assorted Bigots Lucky Dip

 

JACQUI LAMBIE NETWORK

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY (FRED NILE GROUP)

AUSTRALIAN LIBERTY ALLIANCE

CITIZENS ELECTORAL COUNCIL

AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS

 

NICK XENOPHON TEAM

Nice guy Nick takes a Big Gamble and goes national. Good Luck Nick!

 

The Recycling Party

We recycle everyone else’s policies ad infinitum

 

The Dog Walkers & Pet Groomers Party

Dog walking and pet grooming should be compulsory

This would provide much needed employment opportunities for dog walkers and pet groomers, and the dogs like it too.

 

Random Wannabees

Loners who can’t muster 500 other loners to form a Loners Party