Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some reminiscences of Adelaide in the 60s

Sent to me by an older Australian. I have retained the 60s language. Apologies for that to anyone who needs them. Note: XXXX is a popular Queensland beer. "Piss" is a common Australian synonym for beer, presumably because of its diuretic effects

When I was in RAAF Adelaide in the late sixties the Torrens River was a well know haunt for poofters. It was a bloody nice river but it was not the type of place you wandered around after dark unless you were a shirt lifter. Only ever ventured down there once and that was in daylight. I had a shelia on my arm a WAAF, Frances Thiel was her name, and I would say one of the best looking women I ever went out with.

I took her out for about three or four months until she was posted to Williamstown, were it was rumoured they sent all the best looking new female recruits because there was a lot of officers stationed there and she was a stunner. Don't know what she saw in me.

Anyway back to the poofs and Dunstan. My uncle, mum's brother who was a minister in his government came into the parliament from the waterside workers union and was a rough tough character who wasn't adverse to a bit of biff, was not as far as I know a big fan of poofs so I don't know how he would have got on with Dunstan.

When I went to parliament house in Adelaide the uncle introduced me to a number of pollies but I can't recall him ever mentioning Dunstan's name. When I stayed at my uncle and aunt's house in Port Pirie on weekends, Dunstan's name was never mentioned, not even by my cousins. They talked about just about every other pollie on both sides of the house but never the premier which I thought was strange because he had not long been elected leader.

Back then I had not really heard of Dunstan so his name would not have meant very much to me even if had been mentioned. In later years I often wondered if my uncle knew he was a poof at that time because I reckoned he must have voted for him to be leader. Then again these f*cking pollies, my uncle included, would have voted for the devil if they thought they were going to get a seat on the front bench.

Adelaide was full of pooters, someone told us about a bar of King William Street that sold XXXX beer -- the only place in Adelaide that did, so about nine of us all in uniform trotted off to this pub and lined up for some good old Queensland piss. Apart form the barman and us there was only one other bloke in the place. We only had one beer when one of the blokes with us, John O'Connor, turned around and thumped this bloke and sent him flying across the floor and we all got chucked out or warned to leave by the barman, who told us the bloke my mate hit would be back with about twenty of his mates and don't be fooled they will fight.

We were all pissed off and when we got outside I asked O'Connor why he hit the poor inoffensive looking bastard, he said he had put the word on him and patted him on the bum. We found out when we got back to the base that the place was a gay bar -- probably the first out in the open one in Australia. O'Connor went looking for the bloke who told us about the place threatening to knock his f*cking head off, I think it took him about two weeks to get over it.

Every now and then I used to say to him, f*ck it let's nip into the Napoleon Hotel (never forgot the name, of the only gay bar I have ever been in, and the only pub I ever got chucked out of) and grab a XXXX. Didn't he get cranked up -- reckoned we should have stayed and got stuck into the sick bastards. When I look at the size of that poof Roberts who played league it was probably a good thing we didn't.

When I read about the murders down that way I wasn't surprised, if ever a place was likley to have a gang of homo murderers Adelaide would be the place. It might have been the fact that I was a country boy from Cairns but to me the place looked to be full of weird looking pricks, female and male.

Mind you, there was no shortage of women and most of them were pretty easy on the eye and were not backward in coming forward when it came to a bit of slap and tickle. I can recall taking the head of the Adelaide Fire Service's daughter home one night and giving her a quickie in the phone box outside the fire headquarters, she had her gear off quicker than a fireman slips down a ladder, good thing no one wanted to ring the fire brigade. I got the suspicion it was not the first time she had used that venue for a bit of the other. The good old sexy sixties.

Background on Dunstan here

Australian soldiers headed to Afghanistan told to take out their own life insurance

AUSSIE Diggers being deployed to Afghanistan are being warned by the Defence Department to pay for extra life insurance because existing compensation has been deemed "inadequate". A day after 600 troops from Townsville left for the warzone, The Courier-Mail has revealed hundreds of soldiers have been issued with letters from the department advising of the need for "appropriate insurance". "The additional accident insurance cost for basic cover is less than a night out on the town for a few beers with your mates each month," the letter reads.

The soldiers are required to sign the letter, either agreeing or disagreeing to take out the policy, before their deployment. Those who decline to take out the policy are informed that in the event of injury or death their families will be advised they chose not to take out the extra cover.

A brochure provided by AIG Australia, which is offering the policy, shows the cost of the top cover is about $100 a month. A high-ranking soldier who spoke to The Courier-Mail said troops being sent to Afghanistan had been given the forms to sign along with standard deployment paperwork. The source said many of the soldiers who had received the letter were disgusted. "It's ridiculous," the soldier said. "While the family is mourning and upset they're going to tell them you didn't care about them enough to take out this extra insurance. "If it's that important, the Army should be paying for it."

In the letter, the department admits existing support mechanisms in place for soldiers and their families have been found "not to be sufficient, especially by those who have experienced a loss in recent years".

War widow Naomi Nary, whose SAS officer husband David was killed in Kuwait in 2005, said compensation was inadequate. "It doesn't allow the families to move on in a way that is consistent with what they had before the death of their husband," Mrs Nary said. She said the department had an obligation to inform soldiers about their entitlements but to be "railroaded" into taking out extra cover was wrong. "The way they're going about it is emotional manipulation," Mrs Nary said.

A review of the current military compensation arrangements was announced last month by Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin. Under legislation introduced in 2004, compensation for partners of soldiers killed in the line of duty was increased to a death benefit of up to $118,362 plus a war widow's pension for life or an age-based lump sum equivalent of up to $507,967. War widows are also eligible for free lifetime health care, educational allowances for dependent children and military superannuation.

Under the additional cover being offered by AIG, soldiers' families would get another $250,000 upon their death - providing they pay the premium of about $100 a month. Online calculators indicate a 30-year-old person with two young children and a $200,000 mortgage would require more than $2.7 million in insurance.


Biker laws a threat to rights, says chief prosecutor

For once I fully agree with Mr. Cowdery

THE Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, QC, has condemned the Government's new bikie laws as "very troubling legislation" that could lead to a police state and represent "another giant leap backwards for human rights and the separation of powers - in short, the rule of law".

Mr Cowdery's warning comes after a second wave of anti-bikie laws passed through Parliament this week, this time providing for penalties of up to five years' jail for members of a proscribed gang who "recruited" members. Last month the Premier, Nathan Rees, insisted the first set of laws be rushed through Parliament after the death at Sydney Airport of Anthony Zervas during a bikie brawl. Those laws allow the Police Commissioner to move in the Supreme Court to proscribe criminal gangs and jail members who associate with each other. But the laws are yet to be used and the Government will not say when they might be.

In a paper published on his website, Mr Cowdery says: "There may be a need for better enforcement [rather] than for legal powers." He warns that the law "does not apply only to bikie gangs but 'to any particular organisation' in respect of which the Police Commissioner chooses to make an application. "Where will the line be drawn?" he asks. "These words cast a very wide net … Why should the responsibility for identifying which organisations warrant being declared under the act be vested in the Police Commissioner, an unelected official? "The spectre of a police state lurks here: an unacceptable slide from the separation of powers by linking the powers of the Police Commissioner with those of 'eligible' judges."

Mr Cowdery says the fact the Attorney-General has the power to declare which "eligible" Supreme Court judge could hear an application to proscribe a gang meant an attorney-general could have "unfettered power to 'stack' the hearing of applications for declarations of organisations under the act with judges willing to enforce it". The Attorney-General could also "revoke or qualify the authority of a judge to determine applications for declarations if he or she does not perform to the Government's satisfaction'.

He says that while this may not be the intention of the present Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, "a provision so drafted left on the statute books is extremely dangerous and potentially open to serious misuse".

Mr Cowdery writes: "It matters not that the motives of the urgers or policy makers may be honourable … we all need constantly to be alert to the erosion of rights and be proactive in preventing it … This is especially a time for vigilance in NSW. Someone once described it as the price of liberty."

When Mr Rees rushed through the laws, he said it was "proportionate response to an escalation in violence [involving] outlaw motorcycle gangs". He said bikie gangs had "crossed the line" with the Sydney Airport brawl in March and subsequent shootings on "public streets". The laws received initial internal opposition from Mr Hatzistergos.

Last year, the the fiercely independent Mr Cowdery described the Iemma government as as "ruthless" and guilty of "grubby" tactics and said Mr Hatzistergos was a "micro-manager" who had lost sight of the "bigger picture". Recently, the Government legislated to give a future DPP a 10-year-term in the job, rather than open-ended tenure.


Howard slams Rudd's handling of economy

Former prime minister John Howard has slammed the Federal Government for its handling of the Australian economy during the global recession. Mr Howard says Kevin Rudd wasted money by giving away cash handouts and has contributed to unemployment by scrapping WorkChoices.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Howard says Mr Rudd has made things worse for the economy after inheriting a huge surplus. "Mr Rudd, if he was honest with himself, ought to thank me every night for the state of the Australian economy that he inherited on November 24, 2007," he said. "Because the strengths it now has in the face of the global downturn, are the strengths given to it by my government."

Before the last election, Labor promised to scrap the Coalition's WorkChoices laws and it managed to get its new laws through Parliament earlier this year. Mr Howard says the changes have pushed up the cost of employing people. He says that is bad for an economy in a recession. "The biggest challenge that the Government now faces is stopping unemployment going too high," he said. "They are now by dismantling our industrial relations reforms. They are adding to unemployment. They are doing it deliberately as an act of choice."

Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull has been heavily critical of the Government's debt levels in the wake of this week's Budget, which revealed a record deficit and a peak of $188 billion in net debt by 2013.

The Government says if it did not borrow to fund spending on infrastructure projects and other stimulus measures the economy would be in a far worse state.

Mr Turnbull says a Coalition government would be able to keep debt and the deficit lower but has not put a figure on how much less the Opposition would be able to borrow while still keeping the economy in good shape.


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