Political Infamy

A little earlier this evening there was a short debate that seemed to have at its core the origins of the worst ever Australian politicians.

This is my contribution.

State and Territory rivalry when it comes to appalling politicians?

Nah, every, but every, bit of Oz has produced them.

Queensland? “Sir” Joh has to take the pumpkin scone,


but he may even have been excelled by Sir Russ Hinze,


not to mention Candont:

Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear

New South Wales? Ladies and gentleplums, I gives ya The Rum Corps in all its manifold manifestations up to the present day.


Especially Robert Robin Askin.


Victoria? Bolte goes without saying (pity he didn’t go without hanging someone else).

Australian Screen



The so appropriately-named Sir Thomas Bent?

Kingston Historical Website

Mania? The prize pig at the moment is obviously Erica, but


Andrew Nikolic

Launceston Examiner

and possibly Joe Lyons

Australian Prime Ministers

should get a mention. Or a guernsey. Or a life.

South Oz? Laydees and Gemmum, I gives ya Corgi Bernardi.

Daily Mail

Enuff said (but sure, there’s more – XXXXX).

Sandgropers? Brian Burke


Noel Crichton-Brown:


Ross Lightfoot (and light other things):

Penny Bradfield; Fairfax

Don Randall:

Perth Now

. . . need I continue?

ACT? Kate Carnell,

Harm Reduction Australia

Zed Seselja,

Canberra Times

but in spite of everything I adored Gus Petersilka (yeah, well, once upon a time self-government seemed to be a good idea):

Libraries ACT

Northern Territory? Hard to know where to start, given the astonishing fluidity of politics there.

Of course my bias is showing. I would be delighted if you would share your own particular biases with The Pub!

288 thoughts on “Political Infamy

  1. The true story of Artini the woodcutter and Tess his aboriginal lover.

    This is a story untold, indeed not even recorded or admitted in the war records of the Italian internees sent to camps in the mallee to cut wood for the charcoal pits during the second world war. You can still see the pits and camps both in the Brookfields Conservation Park and at a secluded location I know of over the other side of the Sturt Highway.

    I had heard bits and pieces of Artini and Tess from my mother who worked at a station near Swan Reach during the war years and it was there she met my father..an Italian internee at one of the wood-cutting camps nearby. The young woman, of aboriginal descent worked on some days alongside my mother at the station . She lived at the mission over the river…many times, my mother told me, some men and women from the mission would cross the river using a secret ford only the aborigines knew of and would collect supplies from the station (Punyelroo) to carry back a night across the river..no-one ever saw the ford they took, they being too clever to let them be seen.

    Artini was the name of the young man (in his twenties) who fell in love with the girl..I first heard his name when my sister, who visited last summer, translated some letters between my father and his relatives back in the dolomites village where both he and the young man came from. He told of the tragedy of how Artini drowned in the Murray River whilst crossing the ford on instruction of his love, who whilst on curfew and not permitted to be across that side of the river after dusk, sent a message that she would sing a song for Artini to follow and to use as a direction to cross the river and escape the internment camp.

    He would be hidden in one of the many caves along the cliffs of the Murray..a secret cave again known only to the indigenous people there..my mother told of these caves and today some are open to the public to view..My father wrote that they tried to dissuade Artini from following through with his reckless plan and pointed out the difficulty he would meet being the lover of a native woman..But the more they tried, the angrier he got and finally he said angrily to them ;

    “So what if she is of another people..am not I , are not WE despised only for our blood?…and if she is “native” of this land, am I not also “native”of my land?..And I am a son of the Dolomites ..I am a man of the mountains of Italy and I..Artini, while I am yet a man, will decide who I will love, not the guards of this camp nor anyone else.”…and that was the last he would hear of it..he was decided..

    During the second world war, all Italians and other “enemy alien” males over a certain age were rounded up by the military and put in internment camps..there were several camps in South Australia along the Murray River..Some of these men were sent in working parties to other camps amongst the mallee in the vicinity of the Murray River to cut the trees to be made into charcoal. There is not much detail about those men’s lives in the war years..but it couldn’t have been easy. This is the heroic story of one of those men and an aborigine girl who befriended him.

    The conspiracy was going to plan..Artini had crept away from the makeshift woodcutters camp in the mallee..These camps were temporal things and so isolated that the guards saw no great need to be severe in their habits..indeed, the Italians, using the grapes from the Loveday area near Loxton made their own wine which they smuggled along with them whenever they were sent to the wood-cutting camps..On the night of Artini’s escape, Some other Italian men conspired to distract the guards with wine and song..they sang their songs to the accompaniment of home-made instruments…in this case a ukulele, made from tea-chest plywood, mallee stem and some fine piano wire .

    The tragedy happened with Artini disobeying the request of the young Tess, distressed at the wanton cutting down of so many trees, to leave his mighty axe on the other side and cross the river by himself..but he decided he would need the axe to cut and build a humpy for themselves after he crossed..so he secretly strapped it to his back under his coat so as not to offend her and he would reveal it once across when it would be too late for Tess to protest.

    Unfortunately, on that very night of his crossing, the sluices-gates of Lock 1 just up-river at Blanchetown were opened and a surge of water came down the river to catch him whilst in the middle of the ford..He was swept away and he called that it was his axe, his mighty axe that was dragging him down and he could not swim…Tess cried for him to throw the axe away, but it was tied too tight and he could not get it off…and he consequently drowned that night in the river..His body was later found and it was recorded as “death by drowning..an unfortunate accident “…But my father’s letters tell a different story.

    But here is the mythological songline that has grown around the story..It goes like this :

    “ Artini was the biggest, best, strongest Italian woodcutter in the Swan Reach district during the war years..The ‘ring’ of his mighty axe could be heard miles away through the mallee! His axe was of the hardest steel special made from his own instructions by the blacksmith in the camp…the handle he cut and shaped himself from the hardest mallee wood..and it was so heavy, it could not be used by any of the other woodcutters in the camp. Artini was an “enemy alien” internee from the Italian Alps; The Dolomites, who used to cut wood for the charcoal burning camps in the mallee.

    Artini could often be heard singing an alpine song “Ill tuo fazzolettino”(“Give me your bandana, my darling…”) in his dialect as he swung his mighty axe at the mallee trees ..His voice was so strong it would carry for a great distance through the tops of the mallee trees and it was heard by Tess one day as she fetched water from the river.

    Tess was a young aboriginal woman who lived at the mission over the river at Swan Reach. She would also get some work at a station just up the Murray a bit from the mission. The trees were a part of her life and of important tribal significance..and every tree that Artini cut down was as a wound to her heart. She set about to lure Artini with affection to stop cutting the trees, throw away his mighty axe and escape the internment camp to cross the river and be her lover. He could be hidden in a secret cave known only to the aborigines of the river.… Artini agrees, but he cannot swim , so Tess says she will “sing” him a song one night to guide him across a secret ford in the river known only to the aboriginal people there, but on one condition…; he must leave his mighty axe behind and cross without it..

    Her “song “ she disguised as a lyrical call similar to the call of the Bush Stone Curlew..

    He agrees , but at the last moment secretly straps his mighty axe to his back under his coat .. but when he sets out to cross the river…The river spirit , seeing his duplicity and intent sends a torrent of water down and he is threatened to be swept off the ford..Tess, on hearing his cry, realizes he is weighed down by his mighty axe and tells him to throw it into the waters..but he cannot untie it from under his coat and so he is swept away ….

    And to this day, his cry of despair and her intermingled lament can still sometimes be heard as the call of the Bush Stone-Curlew blown in the wind through the mallee trees…”

    There is a song that accompanies this story-line, to the strumming of the ukulele,but it would not suit this post.

    Perhaps I will put it up one day.

    • The ABC has called the ACT election: Labor 12, Greens 2, Libs 11

      Back to Labor 12, Greens 1, Libs 11, 1 in doubt.

  2. The ABC has issued a strong statement defending Monday night’s Four Corners.

    Dutton does not come out of it well.

    I have to say it’s been sickening seeing the government, the Murdoch rags and assorted other sycophants all saying the program was an invention, or lies. Those of us who have been following this for years know it is the absolute truth and barely scratched the surface of revealing what goes on in Australia’s detention centres on Nauru. For the Fizza government to claim the centres are Nauru’s responsibility is the biggest lie of all.

  3. Leone,

    I have to say it’s been sickening seeing the government, the Murdoch rags and assorted other sycophants all saying the program was an invention, or lies.


    However, it is pleasant – albeit surprising – to have the ABC showing a bit of bottle for a change.

    • I’m not keeping up with the senate estimates stuff because it’s the last week of semester, I have students wanting to see me about the assignment for which they have now received their grade marks, plus those wanting to see me about the assignment that’s to be submitted next Monday.

      I did manage to bring the house down today when, during the “help” session for the next assignment I related the tale (it is a true tale) of the student from ages ago who wrote in their report that “X was born after a normal conception”, with my reaction being to restrain myself from asking the student how they know that!

  4. Back to this week’s subject.

    Thanks to Kambah Mick for mentioning and reminding me of Sir Arthur Rylah. No mention of Phillip Lynch- how soon we forget. No mention of the Patron Saint of Balmain, – what was his name, “Never Wrong”?

  5. One year ago – how things have changed. These days a dog turd on your shoe is more popular than Turnbull.

    • Good gawd. That photo makes him look closer to 86 than 68%. His make up artiste must have taken a day off that day.
      As for ‘how things have changed” . Well, not at all if you read the top left hand corner headline about the All Blacks 🙂

  6. KP Trev,

    There is a real embarrassment of riches when it comes to selecting the worst of the worst, not to mention the necessity to protect The Pub and its moderators – especially The Boss – from suits. Which is why I mostly chose dead ‘uns, or those whose phwoarm was very well known.

    Colourful identities . . .

  7. Funding cuts we don’t hear about.

    Federal Government Plans To Axe Sounds Australia Funding At End Of Year

    A statement from Tony Burke, the Shadow Minister for the Arts, confirms that the Australian government has no current plans to continue to fund Sounds Australia past the end of this year, putting Australian acts who export music around the world via conferences such as SXSW, Musexpo and Canadian Music Week at a loss for overseas support


    Mentioned in that article –
    Higher visa fees for touring artists could cripple the Australian music industry warn promoters

    Higher ticket prices, smaller festivals and fewer tours are the likely outcomes for music fans in Australia thanks to what is effectively a 300 per cent increase in federal government visa fees, warn the touring industry’s peak body and major promoters.

    The move by the department of immigration and border protection to reduce some fees but also remove a cap which limited the cost for large touring parties and multi-act festivals has been described as “a money grab” which could cripple the touring scene by veteran promoter Michael Chugg


  8. Leone,

    This “government” is nothing more than a highly-destructive toddler, who will destroy everything in sight given half a chance during one of its tantrums.

    They have utterly no clue about what they are “doing”, what they are destroying, and the results – the havoc that destruction will unleash on so many aspects of Australian life.

    Example 1: Demolition of the Australian automotive industry.

    Stupidity, malignity, and venality writ large.

  9. Ducky,

    I wish those knickers would twist just a leetle bit more … and a leetle bit more … and a leetle bit more …

    After all, as a good ex-seminarian, he should take no pleasure in earthly delights.

    Just ask tones.

  10. As a South Aussie, Uhlmann et al are giving me the irrits. How dare he use OUR weather event, OUR blackout, OUR emergency, to run their stupid anti-renewable energy agenda! I hope these right wing wangkers don’t expect the LP to get a single vote in the next election in this state.

    Att: Uhlmann,

    F^ck off.

    South Australia.

    • There are just so many reactions to be expected from such an erudite headline. And the daft thing is, there are probably some folk who will insist that the date is wrong because the greatest eclipse will happen next month when their “messiah” is not elected president. (Or would that be the greatest conspiracy? I’m not sure those folk would notice the difference *sarcasm overload*)

      And on that note, I’m fairly sure there should be something appropriate appearing soon from either Revelations or Nostrodamus with respect to the revolutionary rumblings that are revolving about certain revolting reactionaries, I’m just waiting to spot them in the twitter feeds … *cynical sighs*

  11. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Peter Martin looks at the prospect of people never paying off their houses.
    How’s this for profligacy from Mesma’s outfit!
    Our former intelligence chief wants cyber security to be at the forefront of our defences.
    It seems that Trumpism has had an effect on increasing hate stuff on Twitter.
    Josephine Tovey writes that despite Michelle Obama being currently the most popular political figure in America she will not stand for President.
    You’d have to be nuts to invest in housing right now says Scott Phillips.
    This economist warns that apartment prices are setting up for a fall of up to 15%.
    Joe Tripodi is in another spot of bother. This time for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident.
    The spotlight is on the NSW RSL’s $350m of liquid assets.
    Alan Fels in his new job has found an “error” with IAG’s handling of the ESL component of its policy billings. As a result IAG will return $1.1m to customers and $7.5 going to emergency services operations.

  12. Section 2 . . .

    Workplace culture is a very important factor for employees. And so should it be.
    Paul McGeough on how Trump doesn’t have any idea about the law. His solutions are more about white America than they are about law and order.
    This could well be the ugliest presidential debate yet.
    This is going to really mess with the one demographic that favours the Coalition – the letter soon to be sent to pensioners about significant changes to pension arrangements. It will hit part pensioners very hard.
    In an op-ed Dave Oliver writes that tackling corruption is not as simple as ABCC. well worth a read,
    Peter Martin on how ASIC’s Greg Medcraft told Estimates that the banks are having us on about tracker mortgages.
    Mark Kenny reckons Turnbull and Abbott have switched places on guns.
    According to James Massola Abbott reckons Australia would be “crackers” to relax our gun laws.
    Phil Coorey describes Abbott’s statements on the Adler ban as a wedging of Turnbull. Google.
    Kristina Keneally uses the Adler issue to show how the government still hasn’t worked out how to deal with crossbench negotiation.

  13. Section 3 . . .

    Michelle Grattan says Abbott has taken centre stage and Leyonhjelm is looking for another bargaining opportunity,
    David Uren says that fears are growing that the midyear budget may lead to us losing our AAA rating. Google.
    Steph Peatling asks a no-brainer question – are Macdonald and O’Sullivan the two rudest men in Australia. IMHO they are a disgrace.
    Questions the Crown board can’t answer about the Packer 18 at this week’s AGM.
    Coles is putting its toe in the water in advance of taking on Dan Murphy’s. I must say that the livery of the shop looks overly garish!
    The unauthorised demolition of the Carlton pub gets even worse as asbestos is found in the rubble. Unions have slapped a work ban on the site. It will be very interesting to see how the council will handle all this.
    The new owners of CUB are attempting to settle the 132 day long dispute.
    This environmental academic writes that Mike Baird is wrong in supporting coal mines.
    The decline of Pokemon Go carries a lesson for product introduction and maintenance of profit.
    This SMH editorial says that Turnbull must fix Direct Action and encourage renewables.
    Where are we headed with media reform?

  14. Section 4 . . . with Cartoon Corner

    The ABS chief gave a bit of a mea culpa at Estimates yesterday but his troubles will really start when he fronts the Senate inquiry on the census failure next week.
    This government has squeezed and squeezed Centrelink and its performance is deteriorating. It’s terrible. Labor should go after Porter on this.
    Brian Morris says that our taxation treatment of churches is about 400 years past its use-by date. If the Greeks can get it right why can’t we?

    There are some shady characters in this David Rowe effort.

    Alan Moir and Toad’s day in Estimates.

    David Pope enters the battleground with baby boomers.
    Mark Knight from the News Ltd stable gets down and dirty on 18c.
    Bill Leak’s getting all snarky.

  15. I’m so sick of the stupid avocados/home prices/war on the young/hate the Baby Boomers crap. So very, very sick of it.

    I must be one of the few people who actually read Bernard Salt’s little piece the day it appeared. I took it more for criticism of stupid people who pay $22 or more for a breakfast of smashed avocado on toast, with some feta crumbs sprinkled on top. I thought he was having a go at idiots who are happy to pay inflated prices for cheap meals at hipster cafes. In passing he said $22 spent on breakfast a few days a week could instead go towards a deposit on a house,

    But silly me, it was all about the poor young things being priced out of housing, it was not at all about hipster cafes and over-priced pretentious food. How dumb am I not to see the real ‘let’s deny young people their future homes’ agenda. The poor things have been snarking about this for days now, and I’m sick of their whining. Poor precious petals, did some nasty old man say mean things about them?

    Anyway, you probably missed the article that started all this, so here it is – Bernard Salt is not one of my favourite opinion writers but I loved his comments on ridiculous hipster cafes. He’s spot on.


    • Here was I thinking BS was suffering from relevance deprivation syndrome.
      Perhaps he needed to get his click bait up to keep his gig at the Oz
      Amazing the number of people who wholeheartedly agreed with him

  16. More obscenity from the Antisocial Minister

    Social services minister Christian Porter is introducing the Fairer Paid Parental Leave bill. This is the so-called “double dipping bill” that removes the right to claim government both a government scheme and an employer scheme.


    Employers will stop paying and the government will have to. Until they decide to “tighten requirements”.

  17. Crikey playing up again refresh does not work, last entry 3 hours old reload call up last page find no entrys just tells one xxx no of comments and leaves you in limbo, it is really going down hill fast and trying to log in gets you mesma. Thank god for the Pub I need a drink whats on tap.

  18. Gina and her Chinese friends might not get their grubby paws on the Kidman empire.

    S Kidman and Co: Australian graziers challenge Gina Rinehart with home-grown bid for cattle empire

    The first entirely Australian offer for the Kidman cattle empire is due to be lodged this weekend and will be higher than Gina Rinehart’s Australian-Chinese bid, a member of the domestic syndicate has told the ABC.

    The offer by four of the nation’s wealthiest outback cattle and transport families is likely to be around $385 million, more than the joint bid by Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and Chinese real estate conglomerate Shanghai CRED.

    “We intend to put a bid in that will be absolutely competitive [and unconditional],” said West Australian and Northern Territory pastoralist Sterling Buntine, who is a member of the BBHO syndicate.

    “It will be more than what the current bid is on the table and we would expect the Kidman board to treat it with due respect.”


  19. Doctors freed to speak about Australia’s detention regime after U-turn
    Government backdown means health workers are permitted to air concerns about Nauru and Manus centres, although other staff still face threat of jail terms

    The backdown came ahead of the commencement of high court challenge from medical advocacy group Doctors for Refugees contesting section 42 – the secrecy provisions – of the Border Force Act.

    Dr Barri Phatarfod, president of Doctors for Refugees, said the decision was a “huge win for doctors and recognition that our code of ethics is paramount”.

    But she said the change only allowed for doctors to publicly advocate on behalf of their patients, “it doesn’t change the appalling lack of care they often seem to


    • The backdown came ahead of the commencement of high court challenge from medical advocacy group Doctors for Refugees contesting section 42 – the secrecy provisions – of the Border Force Act.

      is the government frightened that the High Court challenge exposes all of the legislation to scrutiny and potential for be over turned

  20. Pauline Hanson is enjoying a taxpayer funded week on Norfolk Island, on the excuse of talking to locals unhappy with the Australian government taking over.

    She has cunningly calculated the timing of her visit – the island’s administrator is in London.

    This is what it’s all about.
    Norfolk Islanders protest, demand removal of Australian Government-appointed Administrator

    Fiona Nash says Hanson can go jump.

  21. When I was on Norfolk the locals knew that the next Liberal government would abolish self government. The governor at the time Neil Pope appeared on radio every Tuesday to answer the locals questions and his broadcasts made for very funny listening

    “I wasn’t going to mention Bingo’s* horse but since you bought it up, I have made my views known to Bingo*”

    “yes I am going to Melbourne for Easter to visit my elderly mother and will return for the handover”

    nickname was not *Bingo
    The governor also used to mow the grass surrounding his residence on the ride on mower wearing pyjamas (tropics = skin cancer)

  22. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-20/barnaby-joyce-failed-to-deliver-on-inquiry-promise-abcc-bill/7948322





  23. Just rather lamely turned to Pres Debate 3 will monitoring the Crows rather fruitless efforts to get Gibbs from a sulking Carlton.

    Don’t know who the moderator is, but he seems to be allowing debate on frivolous Trump type issues like building a wall /open borders and abortion. Seems a little flattering to Trump talking points albeit Trump is still telling lies, interrupting and talking over her.

  24. AngryBee,

    Apologies for not responding to your comments earlier.

    Thank you for the link – very interesting. Wouldn’t have happened in Paul McKeown’s day!

    • Co-ed won’t ever fully happen at St Clare’s, but with St Eddies just across the road they were always “near enough” !!

      Or in the case of Friday lunchtimes ‘senior boys allowed to cross the road and socialise with the senior ladies” under the Nuns supervision they were always standing too close! Measuring tapes weren’t just for the hems of skirts!

  25. For fuck sake Hillary, point out that she was a Senator under George W. Bush, there was very very little that she could have done to change laws.

  26. Whew, glad that’s over. Trump makes me shudder with revulsion as much as Abbott.

    But yeah, Trump did lose it I think, he was at his petulant worst. Refusing to say he’ll respect the result of the election, interrupting with “Such a nasty woman!” at the end, and responding to Hillary’s accusation that his refusal to condemn Putin would make him a puppet with “You’re the puppet! No you are!”

  27. You have to understand the way the word “nasty” is used in relation to female sexuality to fully comprehend the viciousness of Trump saying, “Such a nasty woman!”

  28. https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/10/19/post-debate-poll/



  29. Baird government sells half of Ausgrid to two Australian superannuation funds –

    Good luck with that deal, Mr Baird. It might be challenged.

    Ausgrid deal may break NSW guidelines on unsolicited bids

    A deal giving two superannuation funds an inside track to buy NSW’s $10 billion Ausgrid electricity network appears to breach the state government’s own guidelines.

    NSW rules on such “unsolicited proposals” issued in February 2014 say “proponents seeking to directly purchase a government owned entity” are “types of proposals that are NOT considered unique and are unlikely to be progressed.”

    It says the process can only be used in cases “where both the proposal and the project have unique attributes such that others could not deliver a similar proposal with the same value-for-money outcome.”

    That would seem to exclude NSW from accepting the unsolicited “Australian-only” bid from IFM Investors and Australian Super for the 50.4 per cent long-term lease in the electricity grid firm


  30. Ben Fordham on 2GB put it as Turnbull and Abbott throwing each other under a bus.

    At last! I see now what Turnbull meant by “agility”.

  31. From Gabrielle

    Also today, we learned that the government through the department of foreign affairs and trade knew of plans by former Liberal MP Wyatt Roy in Iraq because they were told he was interested in any “meetings” while he was there. Dfat told him there was a no travel order on the country but it contradicts a statement from Julie Bishop that the government knew nothing of it.

    AFP? What AFP?

    Has Bananas gone bananas again? Or is she just lying, as usual?

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