The Festival Hall Organ

Today’s Guest Author is the wonderful Gorgeous Dunny. Thank you so much for honouring The Pub again, GD!

[Recently I was asked to relate some of my political experiences, having worked and lived through the times of our more charismatic leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, Don Dunstan, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke. They transformed Australia’s outlook on things from a colonial outpost in the British Empire, to a broader view of the world and our role in it. In a current age where we’ve allowed parochialism, paranoia and selfishness to dominate the way we are governed, it may help to know that once we were led by vision and hope.]

This is the story of the purchase of Adelaide Festival Hall Organ and how a major philistine bunfight was avoided in doing so. The story involves two States and two major cultural buildings in their capital cities: the Sydney Opera House and the Adelaide Festival Centre. Firstly, it should be acknowledged that they are not strictly comparable. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder of the world, a unique sails-like roof design looking out to the glorious Sydney Harbour and facing Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney. Its site at Bennelong Point had earlier been a tram barn.

The Festival Hall is modest by comparison, overlooking the Torrens Lake or River and the Adelaide Oval. It’s walking distance from Adelaide Railway Station and Parliament House. It was almost an accident of choice. Don Dunstan, who succeeded Frank Walsh as Labor Premier, and was determined on a Renaissance for Adelaide on lifestyle, had wanted a suitable ‘home’ for the Adelaide Festival of Arts (later to be known simply as the Adelaide Festival) rather than the various halls scattered around the city.

His first choice was Government House, the residence of the State’s Governor at North Terrace, on the Eastern side of King William Road, and backing on to the Military Parade Ground before joining the banks of the Torrens opposite Adelaide Oval. It was a superb location only walking distance from the Museum, Art Gallery, Library and University.

However, he lost the election in 1968 on gerrymandered boundaries, despite getting 54% of the vote. The incoming Liberal Government of Mr Steele Hall and able Attorney-General Robin Millhouse, was exceedingly embarrassed at winning government with a minority vote of around 46% and a minority of seats, relying on three independents to form a government. To their credit, they embarked on a series of reforms aiming to match the Dunstan zeal. It included such things as abortion law reform. Importantly, Hall realised that the voting system must be fairer if public confidence was to be maintained. At that time two thirds of the State’s population lived in metropolitan Adelaide. Yet the MP representation was exactly the opposite. Two thirds of the seats were in country SA, and only one third in the rapidly growing Adelaide metropolitan area. It had been going that way for years, but it only looked so blatantly disproportionate with post-WWII immigration.

The biggest obstacle for reforming the voting system were the Liberal & Country League’s (LCL) own conservative colleagues. The Upper House Legislative Council was even more gerrymandered than the House of Assembly. Members were elected via a strange alliance of property owners heavily tilted towards country zones and wealth. Voting was voluntary.

As another disincentive, the Legislative Council Electoral Roll was used for summoning people for jury service.  The office of Chief Secretary was also Government Leader in the Council and virtually Deputy Premier. It was held by Mr Ren De Garis.

He saw no advantage to the state in changing the LCL’s privileged position. He had no interest in changing the Upper House. In his own words, Upper House MPs, propertied people, represented the “permanent will of the people”. Nothing like these fly-by-nighters flitting in and out of jobs, living in rented accommodation or boarding.

The struggle for fairer voting representation was mostly between the progressive section of the LCL, and its more reactionary colleagues mostly in the Upper House. Dunstan stirred it along, referring to the outrage of the unfair election result through large public protests. But Labor was always likely to support a voting system that would almost guarantee their return to power. That was easy enough in the Lower House where they already had the most MPs.

Just a few progressive LCL MPs would get it through. The Upper House, where De Garis was in charge, was the real challenge. Labor had only a handful of MLCs. Hall and Millhouse had to win over nearly half of their LCL MPs to get the laws passed. To their great credit, they did that. It was that sort of time when members of the political parties could work together for the greater public good. Dunstan was thus assured of return to the position of Premier as soon as an election was held.

Knowing that reality, Hall and Millhouse worked hard to pass progressive social reforms in the hope of gaining voter support. It did not work out that way, despite some excellent legislation. They did make one change, however, which appealed to both sections of their Party. Government House would remain as it was. The new site for the Festival Centre would be in Elder Park near the Railway Station and Parliament House. The site had been until then a Migrant Hostel, albeit in shabby condition. A new Hostel was built at suburban Woodville.

The site, although covered by derelict old buildings and storehouses at that time, lost nothing in comparison to Government House. It still had a splendid outlook to the Torrens on one side, and the classical old buildings of Parliament and Adelaide Railway Station, plus easy access to transport or parking. Importantly it became a home for performing groups in theatre and music so that workshops and experimental exercises could be conducted. In the performing arts whether theatre, music or song, marionettes, dance… a critical component is the development of skills through training and experiment. Workshops and studios were available for such work. Craft support via make-up, costumes, set design and construction, technical through sound and lighting and through secretarial and publicity services. It could provide some sort of home or forum for almost anything creative.

Dunstan’s own lifestyle had given him an identity and affinity with the arts. When studying law, he supported himself through employment on radio and the stage as an actor. He retained his membership of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance throughout his political career. The ABC, as now a national broadcaster, was then very much a federation. It set up an elaborate studio at Collinswood which produced national TV programs, plus national radio via Classic-FM. Don was given his own program on lifestyle in suburban Adelaide. He argued the case strongly for a Mediterranean lifestyle.

In politics he set out immediately to transform people’s lives, aiming to end racial discrimination and for a better way of living, dropping SA’s ‘wowser’ types of attitudes to alcohol and recreation. It helped that he was an elegant speaker, a voice sounding ‘posh’ yet ready to talk and listen to anybody. He even learned Italian so that he could communicate better with many of his Italian-origin migrants. He was a founding President of Meals On Wheels, dedicated to providing meals to aged people in their own home. Though his political work often took him working into the small hours for reforms and helping people, he had two other passions. One was for anything to do with the arts. The other was for friends with interests in food, wine and stimulating company.

One of his great achievements (with excellent advice from Melbourne Labor ‘Participants’ Philip Adams, Barry Jones and John Button) on setting up the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) as a body with some independence of bureaucratic and political interference. Though Australian movie production was almost extinct by the 1960s, apart from a few successes in Melbourne, he was determined to establish it as a viable film industry, providing world-quality standards and the opportunities for employment with it. In that, SAFC had some remarkable successes in the 1970s and 80s. It was soon imitated by other States and private syndicates. Australia was a world player: small, yet exciting here and abroad. Picnic at Hanging Rock and Storm Boy were two standouts of many.

Dunstan had learned along his way to compartmentalise his primary interests so that his political and governing work did not overlap his encouraging the autonomy of the creative arts, nor his own recreational activities among close friends. He ran a very well-disciplined ministry which had clear objectives and kept well within budgetary limits. However, his determination to let the creative arts flourish fully without interference led to one major problem at the Festival Centre. In the main performance hall a decision was made to purchase an elaborate organ for feature performance at opera and musical concerts.

It was no ordinary organ, as you might expect in a new Centre. It was of such size and weight that it could only be transported on and off the stage being powered by a hovercraft underneath it. If this wasn’t enough of a worry, the bill for this revolutionary instrument certainly would have set the alarm bells ringing among the Premier and his close staff. I can’t remember the exact figure, but was about $500K, something like $400K over what had been budgeted for it. In those days, that was a huge overspend, which neither his public service advisers nor his political ones could justify. Vivid memories of how the NSW Labor government was hammered for years about the overspend at the Opera House. It became a major political football, largely because the populist-style Cahill govt had been very shy in admitting the real cost of the Utzon masterpiece. Davis Hughes, the Minister in the incoming Askin Liberal-Country Party, had made much capital complaining about it and the delays when in Opposition. He did not stop when becoming Minister and it led to near-disaster when Utzon was sacked. There was no way Dunstan would let that happen. But it went against his rules to interfere.

I’m glad it is now 45 years on. I no longer feel obliged under Public Service rules to keep confidentiality. His solution to this dilemma was incredible. He contacted a professional fundraiser in Sydney. What they worked out was that Don Dunstan would give two special fundraising talks. Essentially, they’d be about what he had achieved during his time as Premier and how it had changed South Australia and its people.

The fundraiser contacted me. What he wanted was some secretarial assistance as he went about asking people to the first and second luncheons. It would be our phone number which subscribers would call to book seats. As our senior receptionist usually took the first phone call anyway, it was sensible to give her the task. She needed to log names, companies and phone numbers of those attending. Then she would give those details to the fundraiser for any of the follow-up and payments. It took quite a bit of her time, but she was thorough.

Don Dunstan was a celebrity in Sydney. He’d been known before he became SA Premier due to his popular television show. But the dazzling array of achievements during what became known as the Dunstan Decade was enviable to all interested in a fairer, more reasonable society. Adelaide, which functioned almost like Ancient Athens as a City-State, was suddenly a civilised place to be. He even coaxed Robert Helpmann back to direct one Festival. He in turn got his friend Rudolph Nureyev to perform. Don was famed for setting style in appearance (once wearing pink shorts into parliament) and his good looks and eloquent voice. Don Dunstan even performed at one Festival. At the Adelaide Zoo, supported by the SA Symphony Orchestra with live animals, he recited Ogden Nash’s poems to the Orchestra playing Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. At the nearby Botanic Gardens, SA’s Chief Justice Dr Bray recited his own poems. It was that sort of place. 

From memory both lunches were oversubscribed. Payment for that organ was now by subscription not public money. The fundraiser was paid a commission on the amount raised. Our receptionist received a huge bunch of flowers for her trouble. The only public expense was the receptionist’s work and telephones, and air fares for Don to come to Sydney twice. But those would’ve been amply repaid by publicity to Don’s public speeches on both occasions. The people attending would not easily have forgotten. To me, it seemed a win-win situation. The Arts people would have their organ. The SA taxpayers would not be slugged an outrageous sum for a world-rated instrument that cost too much for such a rarely-used asset. Dunstan was able to avoid any accusations of waste. SA and its Premier got some publicity for a minimal cost. The donors got their money’s worth. Only Philistine politics missed out.

427 thoughts on “The Festival Hall Organ

  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. It’s rather a paltry proffering, I’m afraid.

    The SMH editorial says this election must deal with the increasing inequalities in our community.
    https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/this-election-must-deal-with-the-increasing-inequalities-in-our-community-20220121-p59q96.html
    From wrestling in the aisles over toilet paper to fears of continuing supply shortages, the pandemic has inflamed a perpetual anxiety among Australians about the rising cost of filling a shopping trolley, writes Jess Irvine.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/are-groceries-really-getting-more-expensive-20220121-p59q75.html
    Lisa Visentin points to a new survey, writing that the price of groceries is the top concern of voters when it comes to hip pocket expenses, as Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese prepare for cost of living pressures to be a key election battleground.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/feeding-the-family-tops-voters-cost-of-living-concerns-20220121-p59q3o.html
    Tim James’s preselection in Gladys Berejiklian’s former NSW seat shows the growing influence of the hard right in the state, writes Anne Davies.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/23/the-right-stuff-why-shellshocked-nsw-liberal-moderates-are-fearing-factional-fights
    ‘If Australia plays its cards right, we can build a thriving local electric bus industry and at the same time kickstart a green industrial revolution – bring on “jobs and growth”, baby!’, say Karl Kruszelnicki and Bridie Schmidt.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/australia-must-jump-on-board-the-e-bus-express-20220118-p59p7o.html
    Is a third of the Australian continent planning to stay cut off from the other two-thirds forever? Mark Sawyer ponders an unlikely but not impossible future of the great big state of Western Australia.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/slip-sliding-away-is-western-australia-doing-a-bit-of-conscious-uncoupling-from-the-rest-of-oz/
    There’s some good news in new Victorian hospital data, which reveals patients who had their booster are being admitted to hospital at very low rates.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/older-victorians-the-hardest-hit-by-latest-covid-19-wave-20220122-p59qd4.html
    Ged Kearney argues that the Djokovic case highlights the stark contrast of our treatment of refugees.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/opinion/2022/01/22/ged-kearney-refugees-djokovic/
    Booze-busted Boris still rules the party room, for now, writes Dom Knight.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/booze-busted-boris-still-rules-the-party-room-for-now-20220120-p59q0x.html
    Some Trumpland observers are convinced that he is in serious legal trouble as New York’s AG investigation of Trump Organisations’s finances intensifies, explains Ed Pilkington.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/22/donald-trump-legal-perils
    The rabbi father-in-law of accused child sex abuser Malka Leifer has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a child and a teenager in Israel. Nice.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/malka-leifer-s-father-in-law-arrested-over-child-sex-assault-allegations-20220121-p59qba.html

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  2. “Tim James’s preselection in Gladys Berejiklian’s former NSW seat shows the growing influence of the hard right in the state, writes Anne Davies”

    Easy enough to keep him out – if you do not like the candidate then do not vote for that party. But how many rusted-on Liberals would do that? Probably nowhere near enough to prevent this mindless Abbott clone from taking up a seat in Macquarie Street.

    Tim (what is it with Libs and the name “Tim”) probably has his eye on a rapid rise to the top and being premier ASAP. Heaven help NSW if his dreams come true.

  3. This will not end well

    NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell is giving more information about rapid antigen tests for students.

    Mitchell says that more than 6 million RAT tests will be distributed to schools by Tuesday night, ahead of students’ return on 1 February.

    She said that schools will be in touch with parents to organise the pick up of these tests.

    All staff and students will be required to take a test before the first day back to school, and will then need to do twice-weekly surveillance tests for the first four weeks of term.

    If students test positive, they will need to let their principal know, and also report the positive test via the NSW Health app.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/jan/23/australia-live-news-updates-nsw-victoria-covid-schools-plan-rats-masks-omicron-deaths-cases

    • It definitely will not.

      Primary and infants school kids spend all their time together – about 6 hours a day. Even during breaks for meals/snacks they tend to stay with their friends. Plenty of time to pick up an infection.

      Consider this – children under 16 returning to school will have only had one shot of vaccine, most will still have not had that first dose. The shots are eight weeks apart plus another two weeks to become fully effective.

      Why are we sending kids back to school with no protection against a definitely NOT “mild” virus?

      NSW has a real disaster looming and Domicron is too stupid to see it coming.

  4. They’ve done zero planning

    So, in terms of our final year university students and our retired teachers, we already know that we have a pool of about a thousand staff we can draw on to fill those gaps, and I anticipate those numbers will increase over the coming days in the lead up to school.

    We have hundreds of departmental staff who are themselves experienced teachers. We have a workforce within a bureaucracy that we can should we need to have them back in the classroom… So if you need to on any of our admin department staff to fill any gaps, they are available as well. We have lots of different opportunities and options available for schools, but it will be very localised…

    We also have many teachers who are working but maybe in a non-teaching role, so you might have a deputy or an assistant principal who is not on a class but can be allocated to a class for a period of time to fill any gaps, so there are several layers of contingency and place ready to go to support schools if they should be impacted in terms of COVID and their staff.

    • Oh great!

      Half-trained teachers without any qualifications, oldies who have not set foot in a classroom for years and assorted staff who thought they had escaped the classrooms years ago, all being summoned back to feed Domicron’s ego.

      What could possibly go wrong?

    • I wrote about how schools could help some years back when the the virus was a looming threat and the debate was about keeping kids at home. With hindsight I think that we missed then out on a great opportunity for local communities to use their education infrastructure to help their state and local governments develop a planned response to what has became a national health crisis with disastrous impact. So, it is right to push the need for developing such a plan, but now its a plan about how to deal with the original failure to have a plan to prevent the crisis. But I disagree about how useful the ‘wisdom of the aged’ might be. Yes many of us are past our-use by date, but with as many hands to the pump as possible, there’s plenty of still useful expertise out here able to help, while others are willing, with proper controls, to hold the hands of the lonely dying. So who is the Officer in Charge of organizing the plan and then its execution?

    • I tried in vain to link this to my comment above re the COVID issue – my opinion about schools and their use in community crises is unchanged – so here it is in full…..

      Keep The Kids In School? Posted on March 15, 2020 by patriciawa
      Please! Legislators, regulators and parents, please don’t close our schools and kindies! With or without this Corona virus pandemic kids are always safer supervised at school. Historical data annually shows they suffer more deaths and injury, in their hundreds, if unsupervised, by accident at home after school hours, weekends and holidays. At school, they, along with mums and dads, can be readily kept up to date and well informed by teachers who’ll remind them regularly about washing hands and other healthy habits. Our schools and education system are a great communication system for the nation.

  5. Begorrah they’re a weird mob 😆

    Two men take corpse into Irish post office to claim dead man’s pension

    Deceased man ‘propped up’ by two men as they walked into the building in County Carlow on Friday morning

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/22/two-men-take-corpse-into-irish-post-office-to-claim-dead-mans-pension#:~:text=Garda%C3%AD%20have%20launched%20an%20investigation,attempt%20to%20claim%20his%20pension.&text=No%20cash%20was%20handed%20over,alarm%20with%20a%20staff%20member.

  6. A very interesting and scary thread about the dangers of Omicron for the very young.

    The youngest children (no plans to vaccinate them) WILL catch Covid from their bigger brothers and sisters who bring the infection home from school, passing it to their parents and younger siblings.

  7. Fraudenburg – dumber than a box of extra-stupid rocks.

    After two years of the pandemic he STILL hasn’t worked out how to wear a mask.

  8. Amy

    Women have been angry since Eve. And the responses to that anger are just as old.

    We saw it play out as the prime ninister and his government struggled to get a handle on the issues Brittany Higgins’ accusations raised, held up by the swell of voices rushing in behind her.

    The platitudes and the “that’s terrible, but what can we do” shrugs. The attempts to move on. The pushback and the patronising “when will these emotional women stop being so emotional” sighs.

    There isn’t a woman alive who wouldn’t recognise the signs. In men, anger, no matter how unreasonable, is always reasonable. At least at first glance. In women, that same anger is irrational – spurred by emotion, not rationality.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/24/womens-anger-is-not-dissipating-and-politics-as-usual-wont-solve-it

    (Love the “prime ninister.”)

    • I am so angry and outraged that my grand-daughter will still be dealing with the same shit I have had to deal with.

      That’s why we need positive change, starting with rotting head on the stinking fish called the Australian Parliament.

  9. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    David Crowe tells us that the Liberals and Nationals are preparing to go to the election with a pitch to the young to back the government on economic management.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/young-australians-win-from-tax-cuts-as-both-parties-target-their-votes-20220123-p59qiu.html
    Matthew Knott looks back at Grace Tame’s tenure of Australian of the Year and says her willingness to criticise Scott Morrison has won her many admirers but also generated a backlash from conservative figures.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/uncontrollable-how-grace-tame-threw-the-rule-book-out-the-window-20220123-p59qja.html
    If you care about government integrity, here’s what to look out for before the election, say the Grattan Institute’s Danielle Wood and Rebecca Joiner.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/24/if-you-care-about-government-integrity-heres-what-to-look-out-for-before-the-election
    Business leaders — and the politicians that enable them — must be put on notice that they must serve society, not the other way around., says John Menadue.
    https://johnmenadue.com/society-has-to-create-the-framework-in-which-business-works-not-the-other-way-around/
    Living with COVID doesn’t mean living with incompetence, declares Jennifer Hewett. She says veery country is struggling with omicron, but there’s no excuse for the failure of Australian governments to order enough rapid antigen tests, leading to too many crippled businesses over a hard summer.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/health-advice-on-rapid-antigen-tests-led-to-dead-end-20220123-p59qiz
    To achieve true reconciliation, tough discussions about Indigenous dispossession and disadvantage can no longer be confined to the week of Australia Day, writes Sean Kelly.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/to-tell-the-truth-our-flawed-emotional-logic-must-be-laid-bare-20220122-p59qdb.html
    Prominent medicos, Dr Tony Joseph and Dr Ruth Arnold, explain how, on Omicron’s hospital frontline, goodwill is wearing thin. They are concerned that the NSW government’s management of the Omicron COVID-19 outbreak has led to significant concerns about the sustainability of public hospital services and staffing levels into the future.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/on-omicron-s-hospital-frontline-goodwill-is-wearing-thin-20220122-p59qdf.html
    The back-to-school plan announced by the Victorian government on Sunday strike a sensible balance between the essential goal of getting children back to class and managing the spread of the Omicron variant, opine Jordana Hunter and Stephen Duckett.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/back-to-school-plan-strikes-a-sensible-balance-but-it-won-t-be-easy-20220123-p59qjh.html
    Dana Daniel reports that chemists across the country are saying they do not have enough rapid antigen tests to start handing out free kits to pensioners when the federal scheme begins on Monday, with the Pharmacy Guild criticising the government for failing to regulate the kits’ sale.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/pharmacists-struggle-to-meet-demand-for-free-covid-test-kits-amid-stock-shortage-20220123-p59qi1.html
    Women’s anger is not dissipating – and politics as usual won’t solve it, writes Amy Remeikis.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/24/womens-anger-is-not-dissipating-and-politics-as-usual-wont-solve-it
    Michaela Whitbourn writes that experts say the plan to amend the country’s defamation laws will increase legal costs, waste court time and make it harder to get some online comments removed.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/defamation-experts-reject-morrison-government-s-anti-troll-proposal-20220123-p59qg4.html
    The NDIS continues to embed structural stigma into its service delivery. Meanwhile, the Coalition ignores those floundering in the messes that ill-considered public policy maintains, writes Fi Peel who says that NDIS users have been ripped off.
    https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/safety-rights-and-justice-our-ndis-is-failing-to-keep-its-promises,15967
    Kaye Lee thinks time might be up for Eric Abetz. He would be no great loss.
    https://theaimn.com/is-time-up-for-eric-abetz/
    Travellers here hoping to book a holiday in Europe may face being locked out, after the European Council advised member states to block visitors from Australia.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australian-travellers-may-be-locked-out-of-europe-as-omicron-surges-20220123-p59qhy.html
    Karen Fox tells us why controversy continues to follow the Australia Day honours.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2022/01/23/controversy-australia-day-honours/
    The assault on Old Parliament House in Canberra last month illustrated the depth of pernicious American influences on Australian public life, argues historian Henry Reynolds.
    https://johnmenadue.com/right-wing-protesters-in-canberra-lit-a-fire-under-our-democracy-but-did-we-care/
    Some investors see bitcoin’s price plunge as an omen for global share markets, but others are hopeful that this week’s Fed meeting can restore the market’s mojo, writes Karen Maley.
    https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/is-bitcoin-the-canary-in-the-financial-coal-mine-20220123-p59qhj
    Tories beware. There’s nothing a desperate Boris Johnson won’t do to try to save his skin, says Andrew Rawnsley.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/23/tories-beware-nothing-desperate-boris-johnson-wont-do-to-try-to-save-his-skin
    Law professor Kirsten Carlson, in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s rejection of Trump’s blocking the handing over of documents relating to the events of 6 January, provides us with three takeaways from the ruling.
    https://theconversation.com/supreme-court-rejects-trumps-blocking-of-jan-6-docs-3-key-takeaways-from-ruling-175381

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  10. “notionally” is right. It typifies everything Scovid and his scurvy crew have done

    From today, more than six million Australians will notionally have access to free RATs at pharmacies. But I say “notionally” because pharmacists say that the widespread supply shortages mean that it could be borderline impossible to meet demand.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/jan/24/australia-news-live-covid-coronavirus-omicron-nsw-victoria-qld-wa-weather-scott-morrison-rapid-antigen-tests-case-numbers-wa-qld

  11. Keating takes a good swipe at Britannic visitors’ ogga booga tale to the colonies.

    Herald indulges UK Foreign Secretary’s demented remarks on China
    By Paul Keating

    ……………………..Hartcher pounced, carrying the notion to the readership of the Herald — and the Melbourne Age — that China and Russia are working in concert, justifying the headline, that ‘China could follow Russia into war’.

    The irresponsibility of the story and Hartcher’s writing of it is breathtaking.

    https://johnmenadue.com/herald-indulges-uk-foreign-secretarys-demented-remarks-on-china/

  12. Also HURRAY the heatwave is over. After 6 days of 40C + a chilly feeling 21C at the moment on the way to a blessed 32 C

    • I will die in my house before my family is asset-stripped of the only product of my working life, and my husbands. I will never go into a nursing home.

      Talk about robbing the grave of the working class before they are even in it, nursing homes companies are akin to any religion’s evil being, in my opinion.

  13. What a waste of money!

    Nauru offshore regime to cost Australian taxpayers nearly $220m over next six months
    Brisbane firm Canstruct International awarded eighth contract extension to provide ‘garrison and welfare services’ on the island

    Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru will cost taxpayers nearly $220m over the next six months as it holds 107 people on the Pacific island.

    Brisbane firm Canstruct International has been awarded a new extension – its eighth non-competitive contract extension – for $218.5m to provide six months of “garrison and welfare services” on Nauru. The company’s total revenue from island contracts over the past five years now totals more than $1.8bn.

    It currently costs Australian taxpayers more than $4m a year to hold one person within the Nauru offshore regime – a little over $11,000 per person per day.

    The government’s latest figures, revealed in Senate estimates, stated 107 people – 81 refugees and 26 asylum seekers – were still held on Nauru

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/24/nauru-offshore-regime-to-cost-australian-taxpayers-nearly-220m-over-next-six-months

    These people could be living safely in Australia and working, paying tax and contributing to the economy, but they are kept in detention in a hell-hole because Scovid sees being mean to refugees and asylum seekers as a vote winner.

    Now read this –

    The asylum seekers filling chronic staff shortages in key industries hit by COVID-19
    From farm work to disability support, asylum seekers who’ve been released from immigration detention have stepped up to fill critical staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    But Thanush believes there’s another way to help fill empty supermarket shelves.

    He thinks refugees and asylum seekers should be freed for detention and allowed to chip in to ease pressure on supply chains brought on by the Omicron wave.

    “We would like to contribute to this country and pay taxes,” he told SBS News.

    “Those of us who’ve been freed on bridging visas only have six-month visas. We need a permanent solution

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-asylum-seekers-filling-chronic-staff-shortages-in-key-industries-hit-by-covid-19/6bbe31de-4e2a-422d-9b18-f6b0f96ff182

    I agree with Tharush. Why can’t refugees and asylum seekers be freed from detention, given jobs and full visas and encouraged to become Australian citizens?

    Because Scovid thinks locking them up for years is a vote-winner, and I’m afraid too many Labor voters share that view, Never forget which party started the “if you arrive by boat you will never settle in Australia” cruelty. It was Labor. And which party re-opened Nauru and Manus Island? Labor again.

    • Damned right. Labor was also the party that started ‘mandatory detention’ in the first place. Did they ever lose their ‘White Australia’ core ?

  14. Compare and contrast. Boozo BoJo vs Ardern

    “My wedding will not be going ahead,” she confirmed after detailing the new restrictions.

    “I just joined many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic and to anyone who is caught up in that scenario I am so sorry.”

    “Such is life,” the New Zealand leader said when asked how she felt about setting regulations which ended her planned nuptials.

    “I’m no different to thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far outstrip any sadness I experience.”

  15. Re the below. To be clear, I really don’t think they will do it, it would be a vote loser overall and backfire badly (and they would realise that), but I fully expect every desperate option is being discussed and mentally turned over within the govt including that one. If twitter randoms can dream up the scenario (and there has been lots of speculation amongst excitable Labor supporters on twitter before today), so can Ministers, MPs and advisors.

    • I have been talking about the “nuclear” election option – having the Reps on the first weekend in September and the half-Senate election in May – for months.

      It would be political suicide to do that. Voters are not going to be happy about paying for two elections within months, but Scovid is desperate to cling on to power for as long as possible, so it is possible – just barely.

      I’ve been very interested in the pile-on Dr Jennifer Wilson earned from (mostly) male tweeters when she started to talk about this option. I wonder how those tweeters feel now the mainstream media have finally twigged to this option.

  16. There are two people I know with compromised intellectual integrity. one from a brain injury in a car accident,who are refusing Covid19 vaccinations, because of all the anti-vax stuff they have seen on tv (rallies etc). When I think of them I know whom I want to see go down with the plague first: Anyone who has taken a public anti-vax stance. When I see one of those pubic scumbags bite the dusk, I never feel pity.

  17. My finger is healing. My little finger, on my right hand, got knocked 45degrees at the knuckle, plus a cut. I lost a fight with a gate.

    Luckily, No2 son immediately put the finger back in place before I felt the pain.

    I cleaned and dressed it myself, so as not to go into the ER for stitches. (12hr wait, they are busy, that’s where covid is? Nah. DIY). It has got infected but the doc gave me some good antibiotics for it.

    Normally I would go in to get treated but not these drastic times. My puny finger injury can heal itself.

  18. Does that itch know how freakin long it takes to get things onto a bluddy NDIS plan so they can be paid for?

    AFAIK, the NDIS is not for medication and RATs cannot be called an Assistance Device. That is NOT what the NDIS is for, you stupid, scumbaggery, thieving Peter to pay Paul useless figgin dunt.

  19. There is no doubt at all. Rapid Antigen Tests should be free for everyone and if people want o to hoard 100 of them, so damned what? They have use-by dates, and a shed load of out-of-date RATs is going to no good to anybody when they have no monetary value.

    The Morrison government is a mob of complete arskeholes.

    All those people who voted against the ALP in the last election really have stuffed it for the lot of us. I am so angry with them. How is that tax-rebate what’s-it you were all so worried about sounding now, in the greater scheme of Covid19 plague things? Eh?

    • IF people are really hoarding RATs (good luck to anyone who finds enough to hoard) then it is no wonder – this useless farce of a government “forgot” to order them, told Australian manufacturers to piss off and has now resorted to stealing them.

      What’s the best way to encourage hoarding? Limit supply.

      I thought we might have learned that with the Great Toilet Paper Hoarding Wars of 2020 but apparently not.

  20. Leone,
    I have read about packs of five being split into singles and sold in petrol stations etc in ziplock bags, without instructions or other bits. Profiteering during WW2 in Britain and others was a criminal offence. Why is this unpunished?

  21. Something stinks. A paper with an agenda ?. For quite some time WA papers have been telling us how medical people were telling them the WA health system is not ready and or calling for the ‘Opening’ to be delayed. Some sample headlines.

    3 days ago ………………… Dr Omar Khorshid on ABC Radio: The hospital system is not ready……
    Health workers ‘relieved’ over WA border opening delay,
    Perth hospitals ‘not prepared’ for expected COVID peak
    Regional WA hospital staff ‘not ready’ for border opening
    Suddenly today
    In an imperfect world, we have the perfect conditions to open’: WA doctors oppose keeping hard border
    West Australian doctors are calling for Premier Mark McGowan to reopen the border as promised, saying the medical system is as ready as it will ever be.
    https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/wa-doctors-oppose-keeping-hard-border-using-false-fearmongering-20220124-p59qt1.html

    • Their masters just don’t know whether to carry on with their usual McGowam-bashing or to boost confidence in the WA health system.

  22. Ah that’s what it is. Good old Doctors Union ‘faction fight’

    Former national and state president of the Australian Medical Association Michael Gannon was among more than 1000 signatures on the petition, despite WA’s AMA branch lobbying heavily for greater suppression.

  23. Now that the Aboriginal Flag copyright has been transferred to the Commonwealth if Australia, I want it incorporated into our Mational Flag, as well as aspects of The Statement of the Heart implemented. It is about time, over 200 years.

  24. Ha, tricked you!

    Concession card holders said they found it impossible to track down rapid antigen tests, on the first day of a federal government program offering access to free tests.

    The scheme, which allows pensioners and concession card holders to access up to 10 free rapid antigen tests over three months through their chemist, had a difficult start on Monday, with supply issues hampering anyone attempting to procure the tests.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/25/were-furious-on-first-day-of-free-rapid-antigen-tests-concession-card-holders-couldnt-find-one

  25. Not only but also …

    Aged care providers are telling essential visitors to find their own rapid tests or be denied entry as the industry grapples with what it describes as a “dire need” for the devices.

    The huge demand for rapid antigen tests is posing yet another Covid-related barrier to those wanting to visit their loved ones in aged care, something crucial for residents’ physical and emotional wellbeing.

    The commonwealth says it has provided 6.6m rapid tests so far to the sector and has also instructed that they be used for visitors, in cases where providers are mandating a negative rapid test before entry.

    The measure is designed to prevent isolation among residents by relieving visitors of the burden of paying for and hunting down large volumes of rapid tests to facilitate their regular visits to loved ones.

    But Guardian Australia has seen evidence of at least one provider mandating that visitors record a negative rapid antigen test, while telling them it was “not able to provide these tests to visitors beforehand”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/25/byo-rapid-antigen-tests-for-essential-visitors-to-enter-australian-aged-care-facilities

  26. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Katherine Murphy looks at the latest Guardian Essential poll that shows disillusion is growing over the Coalition’s handling of the pandemic.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jan/25/guardian-essential-poll-disillusion-growing-over-coalition-handling-of-pandemic
    “Is unsure, cautious Albanese wily enough to outwit Morrison?”, asks Jack Waterford who will follow through tomorrow to complete his avaluation.
    https://johnmenadue.com/is-unsure-cautious-albanese-wily-enough-to-outwit-morrison/
    Looking squarely at Clive Palmer, Paul Bongiorno writes that Australians deserve better than the best government money can buy.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2022/01/25/bongiorno-election-spending-clive-palmer/
    Phil Coorey tells us that at the NPC today Anthony Albanese will promise $440 million to help schools and students adapt to living with COVID-19, and pledge that wages and the standard of living will be higher by the end of his first term in government. Albanese is also expected to flag attempts to reform the Federation, so sorely tested by the pandemic, beginning with a consultation process with the states.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/albanese-pledges-440m-for-schools-outlines-his-legacy-20220124-p59qnt
    Thousands of Australians are suffering pain and discomfort as they wait for elective surgery delayed by the pandemic as new data shows the number of patients waiting more than a year has almost tripled.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/number-of-patients-waiting-over-a-year-for-surgery-has-almost-tripled-20220124-p59qqh.html
    Australia is negotiating new measures to help the Ukraine government defend itself against a wave of cyber-attacks while Russia assembles an estimated 127,000 troops on the country’s border, as fears of an invasion trigger a federal warning for Australians to leave the country as soon as they can, writes David Crowe,
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/australia-offers-ukraine-help-urges-citizens-to-leave-amid-invasion-fears-20220124-p59qu9.html
    There are a number of actors in a complex situation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian state in its present form is a relatively recent creation in historical terms and is still divided by religion, language, geography and identity. The internal problems are further complicated by the interests of other European states and above all of Russia and the USA, explains Cavan Hogue.
    https://johnmenadue.com/cavan-hogue-ukraine-is-not-just-about-goodies-and-baddies/
    A new funding stoush looms between the federal government and the states over COVID-19 PCR tests, with Canberra seeking to recoup millions of dollars it suspects were incorrectly charged to Medicare by private pathology providers.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/minister-orders-review-of-medicare-payments-for-pcr-testing-20220122-p59qc5.html
    The Coalition’s promise of tax cuts for young Australians will only go part of the way to restoring their hopes in owning a home or in building a more certain future, says the SMH editorial.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/time-for-restoring-the-hopes-of-younger-generation-20220124-p59qpi.html
    And if you’re a younger worker in Australia, don’t be fooled on tax cuts, warns Greg Jericho.
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2022/jan/25/if-youre-a-younger-worker-in-australia-dont-be-fooled-on-tax-cuts
    Rachel Eddie writes that demand for Victoria’s Nurse on Call hotline has increased, with some people waiting several hours for health support as the government discourages patients from phoning triple zero or showing up at emergency departments strained by the Omicron wave of COVID-19.
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/rising-demand-for-nurse-hotline-leaves-patients-on-hold-20220113-p59nvn.html
    Waiting times to enter commonwealth-funded aged care facilities have blown out by more than 400 per cent over the past decade, while fewer than a third of ­National Disability Insurance Scheme participants are happy with their level of independence. The insights came from a new Productivity Commission report on community services released today, revealing the NDIS was falling short on key metrics.
    https://amp.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/aged-care-waiting-times-blow-out-new-report-reveals/news-story/e8a9f73aa7539f54c7d074c8abcf96db
    Billionaires Gina Rinehart and Chris Ellison strongly pushed for WA’s continued isolation, while BHP and Rio Tinto are also believed to have been supportive, reports Jennifer Hewett.
    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/the-powerful-iron-ore-miners-in-mcgowan-s-corner-20220124-p59qtt
    A major Guardian investigation examines the 1,700km Melbourne to Brisbane mega project to find out whether communities along its route will benefit and whether their concerns are being bypassed.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2022/jan/25/trouble-on-the-tracks-is-australias-40bn-inland-rail-project-going-off-the-rails
    Kevin Davis tells us why crypto is gambling and not investing.
    https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/why-crypto-is-gambling-and-not-investing-20220123-p59qkm
    The Sri Lankan asylum seeker family at the centre of a high-profile campaign to return them to their adopted hometown in regional Queensland has won a court decision allowing three of them to reapply for bridging visas. But this government will still play hardball.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensland/court-win-for-murugappan-family-still-blocks-return-to-queensland-20220124-p59quh.html
    Michaela Whitbourn tells us that a federal government plan to change defamation laws in a bid to crack down on online trolls has been dealt a fresh blow as the peak body for the legal profession said the Commonwealth should not intervene in defamation policy while the states and territories investigated better options.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/defamation-policy-won-t-tackle-online-trolls-lawyers-tell-pm-20220124-p59qsc.html
    Are retirement villages a rip-off? Retirees could be up to a million dollars worse off if they moved into a retirement village than if they remained at home, according to new analysis. Callum Foote reports.
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/retirement-villages-the-destruction-of-retiree-capital/
    As visa changes are likely to continue the influx of migrants, the Government is prioritising low-skill work that doesn’t guarantee the rights of migrant workers, writes Dr Abul Rizvi.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/visa-changes-target-low-skill-employment-with-few-work-protections,15972
    Jess Irvine puts an economic case for guaranteeing an Australia Day long weekend, citing this year’s falling of the date on a Wednesday as a prime example of poor design.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/the-economic-case-for-a-guaranteed-australia-day-long-weekend-20220124-p59qor.html
    An esteemed panel argues how the pandemic highlights the importance of a sustainably funded WHO.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/pandemic-highlights-the-importance-of-a-sustainably-funded-who-20220124-p59qo3.html
    The US senate presents a long-term threat to US democracy, explains John Harris.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/24/us-senate-v-liberal-democracy-the-battle-in-the-heart-of-washington-dc
    More trouble for Boris as ITV reveals that Carrie Johnson threw a surprise party for the prime minister that broke social gathering rules.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jan/24/boris-johnson-had-birthday-party-indoors-during-lockdown
    The former pope Benedict XVI has admitted providing false information to a German inquiry into clerical sexual abuse. Nice work!
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/24/former-pope-benedict-statement-child-sexual-abuse-inquiry
    Two people have been charged with a combined 67 offences after they allegedly rammed three police vehicles with a stolen car at a shopping centre near Melbourne Airport last week. Standout candidates for “Arseholes of the Week”.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/pair-charged-with-67-offences-after-allegedly-ramming-stolen-car-into-police-20220124-p59qsi.html

    Cartoon Corner

    Cathy Wilcox

    Peter Broelman

    Matt Golding



    Andrew Dyson

    John Shakespeare

    Spooner

    From the US






  27. Do we need an Australia Day? It’s just a marketing opportunity now – “Get your Australia Day caps/booze/pavlova/flag undies/damper here”.

    Also an excuse to award assorted Lib/Nat hangers-on with dodgy awards.

    And, of course, an excuse for a booze-up and wearing Australian flags as capes while drunkenly trashing the front yards of people you don’t know.

  28. The Instagram message shown in this tweet was written by Laura Toggs, daughter of Brian Houston.

    This is the second time I've seen someone high up in the Hillsong machine calling for people to disconnect from news/social media. How do you spell "cult-like behaviour"? pic.twitter.com/j3ejR6RBxL— Sarah Alice… or Sarah… sometimes Alice. (@Sarah_Alice_X) January 24, 2022

    The story –
    https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/laura-toggs-daughter-of-hillsong-founder-brian-houston-slams-media-on-instagram/news-story/09532fe2351845abeea8ac222f5cacbf

    “I didn’t know singing was banned” is not a valid excuse for anyone organising such an event, nor is blaming “the media” for changes to NSW rules.

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