Friday, August 25, 2006

Déjà vu

This is going to be my last post for a few weeks – I’ve got some stuff going on, and won’t be online for the duration.

In terms of a meaty post to tide you over, dear readers, all I can offer is this tidbit from today’s AFR (as usual, no URL). Strangely enough, the quote (or even the gist of the story) doesn’t appear in any other media today (AFAICT), nor is the occasion noted at

Anyway, here’s the money shot:

Thirty or 40 years ago many Australians thought the idea of smiling, efficient, enthusiastic service was beneath their dignity . . . Many Australians had this silly idea that waiting was for someone else, that personal service was for wimps, and that real work lay elsewhere*.

- PM John Howard, speaking at McDonald’s head office cum training site in northwestern Sydney, 24 August 2006

I got déjà vu (as well as the creeps, needless to say) when I read the above. I wasn’t able to Google up anything to back my hunch, though, apart from this Howard-as-McDonald’s-and-GenY-luvvie “bookend” from a couple of years ago.

Catch you in a bit.

*Alexander Symonds, “Praise be to McDonald’s burghers” AFR 25 August 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mainstream media disgraces

A breakfast TV (7.30 am) news report (Nine or Seven) this morning reported that the woman who caused a recent terrorist-scare kerfuffle on a trans-Atlantic flight had in her possession banned items, including "Arabic literature".

It is one thing to get facts wrong (the more widely reported “al-Qaida note” also turns out to have been a fabrication), but quite another to make a silent, authoritarian leap of faith in the course of getting facts wrong. If the presence of "Arabic literature" on a plane (when carried in one’s hand luggage, at least) is indeed banned, then surely that fact is a huge, breaking-news story?

A similar media disgrace, albeit one with less serious societal consequences, is the “Dirty Harry” tabloid story and pic. Blind Freddy could see that the pic was old, just by looking at the youthfulness of Prince Harry in it. Unbelievably, it took the intervention of the Royal Family to produce a correction of this elementary fact.

The mainstream media are out of control, yet unable to see their own skid marks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It’s a long, long way to Kalkaringi – the Wave Hill walk-off History War

Actually, it’s more like a not-so-long walk to Daguragu (from Kalkaringi), but such rather lacks headline oomph.

In a few days, it will be the fortieth anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off (or the first of two or three such walk-offs, at least). Duly following their scripts from central casting, the Age has run a worthy, brief article anticipating the milestone, while today’s Australian carries two long articles eviscerating it.

Quoth Nicolas Rothwell:

But there's a problem with [the standard Wave Hill walk-off] story: it is inaccurate in almost every detail . . . For the pastoral managers, [the mid-late 1960s were] a transformative moment: suddenly they were free of their obligations to their Aboriginal residents. They hired small, efficient workforces, and the development of the NT cattle industry into a modern, high-value business began. This story is told in the relentlessly detailed Distance, Drought and Dispossession, by the horsebreaker-turned-PhD Glen McLaren and his research partner William Cooper from Curtin University. In its quiet shredding of the establishment version of Aboriginal labour history, it makes the revisionism of Keith Windschuttle seem a Sunday outing in the park. (same URL)

That last line’s a mighty big claim, Nicolas. Perhaps rather than Keith Windschuttle you mean Michael Connor; a baby-boomer and Windschuttle fellow-traveller, who like Glen McLaren (also a boomer, at a wild guess), came to academia late, saw a market niche, and stuck to it – viz, instead of just being an Annoying Mature-Age Student in class, they could get a zillion times more ROI, crucially without very much additional labour, by becoming the Annoying Mature-Age Footnote Pedant in the OpEd pages.

Rothwell is all the more disappointing for the fact of his being a Territory local. A Southerner might be forgiven for writing this tosh:

To mark the 40th anniversary of the strike . . . a large festival is being staged next weekend at the twin communities of Kalkaringi and Daguragu, which have grown up around the waterholes where Lingiari and his followers first camped. (same URL)

Rothwell however, is just being lazy and inaccurate. Kalkaringi and Daguragu (which are about 10 km apart, BTW) should not lightly be called “twin communities”. Kalkaringi is a former “Welfare Settlement” (a sort of a secular mission, or open-air jail), while Daguragu was the ultimate destination of the protracted walk-off/strike, only being reached and settled in March 1967 (before this date, it was thought fit only for Vestey’s cattle, despite its attractive location). (There were two interim camps at Kalkaringi after the initial ~20 km walk from the labour camp* at Wave Hill Station , first in the Victoria River bed, deliberately away from the Welfare buildings, and then hard by the Welfare/Police buildings during the wet season of 1966-67).

Further, while Daguragu has indeed “grown up around [a] waterhole”, Kalkaringi hasn’t, and couldn’t. Quite apart from its Welfare Department baggage, is its equally unfortunate aspect:

[In 1968], plans were revealed to construct houses for Aboriginal families. Of course there was no consultation with the Gurindji as to the siting of these dwellings which were built on the area known as the ‘drovers common’ a treeless, barren, dusty tract of land which was not part of the Wave Hill Pastoral Lease and which was subject to flooding. The area is now known as Kalkaringi.

That in 2006, the walk-off is still half-stuck, as it were, in Kalkaringi (and all that goes with that) might have been a worthwhile line for Rothwell to pursue. Instead, he chooses to run with a highly-skewed interpretation of the walk-off’s failure, particularly in terms of the now Indigenous-owned Daguragu cattle station failing to make a go of it, compared to the thriving non-Indigenous-owned pastoral leases around it:

The Daguragu cattle property set up for the strikers has been deserted for 15 years, as a culture of dependency on government handouts has gripped the region.

That’s strange, I though when I read this – whatever happened c. 1990, it certainly wasn’t a sudden government handout bonanza. It didn’t take much Googling to solve the mystery, though:

In August 1986 . . . I was disappointed to see helicopters mustering cattle [at Daguragu station] and to learn the Gurindji were paid $50 a head compensation for stock destroyed in the T.B. & Brucellosis eradication campaign when there were serious doubts they were infected. The enterprise was being run by accountants from Katherine and an appointed white manager who did not appear to consult with the Aborigines and was not implementing a training programme to teach the young men stock working skills.

Yes, the Gurindji should carry some of the blame here. But Rothwell’s simplistic explanation of welfare as suddenly sapping the Gurindji’s will to work c. 1990 is patent rubbish. Making this worse is Rothwell’s lack of acknowledgment of past injustices, which were by no means confined to unwaged-labour, loss of land, and the odd massacre. As William Deane reminded us in 1996:

Section 46 of the Wards' Employment Ordinance of the Northern Territory (1953) prohibited enticing or persuading an Aborigine who was a ward "to leave his lawful employment".

In addition, Indigenous employees who were injured at work (common enough in the cattle industry, of course) could not claim workers’ compensation at the time.

Finally, this time pedantically dubious, is Rothwell’s imputation that at Daguragu station has been empty of cattle, and so unproductive until quite recently:

Over the past three years, 10 grazing licences covering more than 14,000sqkm have been set up.

Such may be more recent news for other Indigenous-owned stations, but Daguragu cattle station has been externally leased since at least August 2002 (same URL)

Which killer-point by me makes the footnote-obssessiveness of Keith Windschuttle et al seem a Sunday outing by the waterhole, eh Nicolas? Like Kalkaringi is to Daguragu, you're close, so close - but still so far away.

* “Vesteys had bulldozed the aboriginal camp within days of the Gurindji walking off to avoid national press focus on housing, which could only be described as dog kennels or humpies” (same URL)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Travesties of justice: Gerald Ridsdale and his co-offenders

This paedophile ring (PDF) - based in Ballarat, and at its most active in the early 1970s – has never been tried as such.

On the contrary, the three worst offenders within the ring – Catholic (diocesan) priest Gerald Ridsdale (b. ~1936) and Christian Brothers Robert Best (b. ~1941) and Edward Dowlan (b. ~1950) (the latter two teachers and primary school principal and vice-principal, respectively) – have had their encounters with the law quite remarkably quarantined from each other. In addition, each of their solo trials (which were multiple, in two cases) saw considerable whittling-down of the charges against them, and therefore the eventual sentences received.

Of the three, Robert Best would have to be considered the paedophile’s paedophile, based on his getting away with it almost totally, so far. Here’s his legal lowdown. (Note: all following information is compiled from a number of sources; feel free to email me for specific footnotes.)


Best’s 1996 trial

(There were actually five trials, as separate juries were allowed upon the request of Best’s defence.)

CHARGES: Eight counts of indecent assault involving five boys.

PLEA and VERDICT: Pleaded not guilty; found guilty on two counts, re one of the boys (an 11 year-old St Alipius student, for conduct in May and August 1969) and not guilty concerning the other four boys.

SENTENCE: Nine-months suspended jail sentence.

Best’s March 1998 trial

CHARGES: Multiple counts [20+, at a guess] of indecent assault involving another five boys.

PLEA and VERDICT: Pleaded not guilty; found guilty on six counts involving two of the boys (for conduct between 1969 and 1971 at St Alipius) and not guilty concerning the other three boys.

SENTENCE: 24 months' jail (12 months minimum) jail sentence, quashed on appeal on 23 July 1998, when after three months in jail (the only time he actually served to this day, AFAICT), a new was trial ordered.


Best’s “not guilty” pleading tactic was not followed by the Ridsdale and Dowlan. As it happens however, both Ridsdale and Dowlan seem to have done very well out of their guilty pleas, with a huge proportion (about two-thirds) of the charges originally laid being dropped along the way.


Dowlan’s 1996 trial:

ORIGINAL CHARGES: 76 counts of indecent assault involving unknown number [I’m guessing around 20] boys. Note: “indecent assault” normally suggests groping/fondling (= sexual assault short of penetration), but Dowlan’s conduct included digitally raping one boy.

PLEA and VERDICT: In return for guilty plea, 60 counts dropped. Convicted of 16 counts of indecently assaulting 11 boys, aged 9 to 13, between March 1971 and July 1982 as follows:

• two counts for conduct at St Alipius in 1971

• seven counts for conduct at St Patrick's College (a Ballarat secondary school) in 1973-74

• four counts for conduct at St Thomas' College, Forest Hill, and three at Cathedral College, East Melbourne (either in 1972, when Dowlan seems to have briefly lived and offended in Melbourne, or c. 1975-1982).

SENTENCE: On 6 July 1996, to nine years and eight months' jail with a minimum of six years; reduced on appeal to 6 years and 6 months. In any case, Dowlan is long since a free man; having been released on parole in early 2002 (one report says September 2001)


Most convoluted of all is the trial-history Gerald Ridsdale, who has had three trials to date (most recently being sentenced today).


Ridsdale’s 1993 trial:

ORIGINAL CHARGES: Full details unknown, but was charged with indecent assault of five boys (one of whom was his nephew David Ridsdale) on 4 February 1993, and charged further on 17 February and 25 February.

FRIEND IN HIGH PLACES: Was accompanied to court by now-Cardinal George Pell.

PLEA and VERDICT: Unknown whether in return for guilty plea, any counts were dropped. Pleaded guilty to 30 charges of indecent assault (number of boys and other details unknown)

SENTENCE: On 27 May 1993, to 15 months jail. Served three months.

Ridsdale’s 1994 trial (committal in Warrnambool Magistrates' Court, trial in County Court before Judge John Dee):

ORIGINAL CHARGES: At committal hearing on 3 May 1994, charged with 151 counts total: three counts of buggery, two of attempted buggery, 54 of gross indecency and 92 of indecent assault. One victim from the previous (1993) trial was common to the fresh allegations.

PLEA and VERDICT: Between committal and trial (October 1994), 105 counts were dropped. Thus Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 46 charges. These were against 20 boys and one girl, aged between 10 (nine, in one report) and 16, as follows: five of buggery, four of gross indecency, one of attempted buggery, 30 counts of indecent assault on a male under 16, one of indecent assault on a girl under 16, and five of indecent assault (of a 16 y.o. male). The offences were committed between 1961 and 1982, in Edenhope, Horsham, Ballarat, Swan Hill, Mortlake, Inglewood and Apollo Bay. (Further count-by-count details can be found in Vicki Petraitis and Chris O'Connor, Rockspider: the Danger of Paedophiles (Hybrid Publications, Melbourne, 1999))

SENTENCE: 18 years with a 15 year minimum – a sentence he is currently serving in Ararat prison.

Ridsdale’s 2006 trial (Ballarat County Court before Judge Bill White):

ORIGINAL CHARGES: As late as March 2006, Ridsdale was charged with a total of 80 counts: 12 counts of buggery and 68 counts of indecent assault, in relation to 10 boys. Unknown if any victim from either previous (1993 and 1994) trial was common to the latest allegations.

PLEA and VERDICT: Between March 2006 and his trial in August 2006, 45 counts were dropped or modified . Thus Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 35 charges in total. These were against 10 boys, aged from six years-old, as follows: four counts of buggery, seven of gross indecency, and four of indecent assault. The offences were committed between 1972 and 1987, again in towns across western Victoria.

SENTENCE: On 11 August 2006, to 13 years, with a seven-year minimum. However, today's reports suggest that, taking into account the sentence he is currently serving, it is an effective additional four year sentence – i.e. prior to today, he would have been eligible for parole in 2009, but now has to wait until August 2013, when he will be aged 79.


What next?

It is unlikely that Gerald Ridsdale will be tried again. This is despite his only so far being tried for the sexual assault of a few dozen children (1994 and 2006 total, 31), when his real victim tally is almost certainly hundreds of boys.

To call such a travesty of justice is an understatement. One victim has recounted at least 12 suicides from his (and my) primary school, St Alipius, yet:

Judge White [today] said the statements told of a number of suicide attempts and possible actual suicides.

Then there’s Gerald Ridsdale’s currently-at-large co-offenders; one of whom is only 56 years-old. Scattered reports have suggested that further prosecutions of Best and Dowlan have in recent years at least been considered:

It is also believed that further allegations not to be acted on have been levelled against two of Ridsdale's co-offenders, former Christian Brothers Robert Best and Edward Dowlan, both of whom taught primary classes at St Alipius School, Ballarat. At Dowlan's County Court trial in 1996, the prosecution alleged that three St Alipius boys were each sexually abused by Dowlan, Best and Ridsdale. Ten complainants are believed to have made further allegations against Dowlan and Best.

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale will be investigated over more claims of sexual assault at St Alipius in Ballarat . . . [As well as questioning Ridsdale, police] will interview Christian Brother Robert Best over new allegations he had sexually assaulted a student at St Alipius . . . The two latest victims alleged that Ridsdale and Best assaulted them at St Alipius in the early 1970s. They are believed to have taken their complaints to the police sexual offences squad in Melbourne, which were then referred to Ballarat CIB.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Life imitates blog

Been feeling rather uninspired lately, hence seeing “real” life imitate my blog (“art”?) doesn’t much tickle my fancy. Nor does even – in an autard’s wet-dream – a symmetrical (front page/back page) contradiction within one section of one newspaper on one day.

But here’s the detail on these (related) phenomena, anyway.

Wendy Bacon, an academic, journalist and former Tharunka [student newspaper] editor at UNSW, shares the concern over [post-VSU student newspaper funding] independence but sees the shift to the internet as a potential positive for student activism.

"Perhaps the whole thing could become more interactive and democratic and more difficult to censor," she says. Another former editor, Paul Comrie-Thomson, says that although uni papers were an important alternative voice in the 1960s and early '70s, the internet had probably superseded them.

Sounds like Bacon and Comrie-Thomson read this post of mine from June, and decided that if positing a ~30 year black-hole in recent history (from which emerged fully-formed, the Internet, perky GenY boomer-protégés and all that) is good enough for Keith Windschuttle and the IPA’s Chris Berg . . .

Bacon and Comrie-Thomson’s relishing of greater “democracy” in academia doesn’t seem to have an analogue in inter-generational superannuation equality, however. Bacon (not sure what Comrie-Thomson does for a living) would almost certainly be entitled to retire under a defined benefit (= not funded by personal contributions) super plan. Such plans were closed to new entrants in the 1980s, just as Xers started work. Gee Wendy – wouldn’t it be even more “interactive and democratic” for you to forfeit your demographic windfall (or one small aspect of it, at least), particularly as you insist on crapping on about how cutbacks (of the sort that your generation never had to deal with, then or now) can be “positives”?

A few pages away from Bacon and Comrie-Thomson’s offensive tosh in the Oz’s Higher Ed section comes this:

There's academic freedom and democratic debate. Then there's codswallop. And a new James Cook uni blog seems to have a fair chunk of the latter . . . in its fight for truth and justice, the blog has attracted the predictable raft of anonymous ravers . . . The quality of content on the blog is probably best summed up by this gem: "I have no rumours or facts to offer. I'd just like to say, for the record, that if all this is true ... then I am completely disgusted with JCU."

So media “democracy” can lead to poor quality content. Well, hold the presses! And keep holding them, until boomer fucktards like Bacon are but a distant memory, and “completely disgusted [of Townsville]” has something (positive) to say in the hardcopy media, under his/her own byline.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ideas with (brown paper bag) currency

“Ideas with currency” is the title of an OpEd by Dennis Glover in the Australian a few months ago in which he argued the (obvious) point that Left thinktanks are vastly outspent by the Right, particularly when it comes to the “money shot”: thinktank researchers/fellows writing OpEds or “fighting it out with conservatives on radio or TV”.

But then Glover quickly veers from the bleedingly- (and painfully-, to someone my age) obvious to the insultingly myopic:

It's true some Labor figures are prolific writers. Lindsay Tanner, Wayne Swan and Craig Emerson have written significant books on social policy in recent years, but they're fighting lone guerilla struggles”.

“Lone guerilla struggles?” Yeah right. Quite apart from the fact that today’s Yoof are not wearing the images of any of this trio on their designer T-shirts, Tanner et al are washed-up, boomer lightweights. If Glover really wants Labor to have a future, dumping Tanner and his ilk from their safe seats would be a useful, if small start.

But like all boomers of course, Glover is really only interested in squeezing everything he can out of the present, and never mind anyone else’s future other than his own (generation’s).

He is thus happy to admit to being a party to corruption, in accepting taxpayer money to write a party-political speech:

"This isn't a typical speech for a speechwriter . . . It's a stump speech - a campaign speech - and is an attempt to bring together a whole series of policies, which come within that departmental area".

Why is he so blithe? Because he actually thinks the core issue is that he is a Labor “mate”/member:

Mr Glover, a Labor Party member for more than 25 years, said he earned his money [$2064, at one dollar a word]. "You don't get to work for ministers and have my background without being a party member," he said.

No you don’t, indeed. And I’m sure that such corruption (taxpayers’ money for the boys, as opposed to jobs, on Labor's money ,for the boys) is a beaut way of making the Left ever more "fresh, relevant and appealing".

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ian Thorpe and the Bear closet

Body image issues are supposedly a strongly girl/woman thing – bafflingly so, IMO. Yep, anorexia/bulimia is certainly very gender-weighted, and obesity moderately so, but men have their own (or predominantly so) body image crosses, as well.

Male shortness is widely-enough discussed – albeit usually jocularly, a treatment that I don’t find always satisfactory. But in any case, shortness is the relatively well-adjusted sibling of men’s other body image elephant-in-the-room (or closet): body-hair.

Again, the standard mode of discussion with male body-hairiness is lashings of jocularity – yet a distinct odour of shame is often close to the surface. Unlike male shortness, which is virtually unclosetable (unless you’re Tom Cruise) male hairiness can be endured with a bulimia-like shame-cycle: a combination of passing for “normal” in public with episodic private depilation/“purging”.

Gay men are probably more prone to have body-hair image issues than straight men, but there are some complexities to this. One is that there is a gay male subculture – of the “bear” – which celebrates the hairy (gay) man. But despite being a member of the exact target group, I’m not the least bit interested in bear-dom. I want a partner less hairy than me; indeed, I want a me less hairy than me.

Straight hairy guys have got it easy in comparison, I figure. AFAICT, women have never formed a separatist, hairy-man-lovers subculture. Presumably, this is because: (i) women are less visual-looks superficial than men, but even if not, (ii) women would not continue to accept a half-arsed (or backed) shameful depilator for a partner, anyway – they would either insist that the job be done as matter-of-factly as female depilation is, or they would require that nature be allowed to take its course, so reassuring their men that they prefer “caveman” to “metrosexual”.

I you’d asked me a week ago, I would have said that Ian Thorpe veered very definitely towards “metrosexual”, rather than “caveman”. Today, I’m not so sure. The Australian muses over how two photos of Thorpe, taken moments apart and from a similar angle, can be used to justify alternative readings of his being “fit” on one hand, and “out of shape” on the other. It also quotes as American swimmer – jocularly, of course – on Thorpe, witnessed training in a LA pool recently, as “big, fat and hairy”.

Hmmn. I detect a bear-prism here. By which I mean that the simultaneous fat-Ian/thin-Ian paradox can be resolved, but only by ditching some Thorpie-as-metrosexual preconceptions.

Now if I were a (i) rich (ii) swimmer like Thorpie, I would employ a full-time team of PhD-qualified depilators to nuke every unwanted follicle.

Thorpie, however, seems content to go “bear” – which usually means hanging loose about one’s weight/diet, as well as one’s body hair. I’m not saying that there’s necessarily a gay aspect to this – perhaps the guy finally has met his female match, who’s set him straight about his inner caveman.

His toned inner caveman, I can hear her chiding voice. It’s one thing to come out of the body-hair closet, another thing to do a mid-70s Elvis (albeit with a black, rather than spangly jumpsuit). Meanwhile, I’ll continue to prefer my food naturally guilt-free, but when it comes to my bodily follicles, there’s still not a regime out there extreme enough.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not everybody hates interest rates going up

"Nobody likes interest rates going up"

- PM John Howard, 2 August 2006 and 3 June 2002

Unlike four years ago, today’s Howard quote* came without any caveats, to the effect that higher interest rates are actually good for some Australians, such as self-funded retirees (as Alan Jones prompted the PM in 2002) (same URL).

I’ve previously suggested that there is also quite another cohort – numerically sizeable, but electorally invisible, seemingly – for whom higher interest rates are unequivocally good: those currently locked out of the property market (who are mostly Xers).

From now on, each mortgagee auction of a McMansion will warm the cockles of my heart, as both a marker and a further enabler of property prices ticking steadily down towards something rational – i.e. a half-to-two-thirds fall.

Such feel-good thoughts are not only about property prices falling, though. Alone, such is still not going to allow me to buy a place. Rather, the necessary adjustment will force Australia to get a real economy, rather than the fools-gold one of the last two decades. Economic “growth” driven almost solely by consumption of imports, which are in turn financed by ever-higher house- and mineral prices, neither of which trends are rationally sustainable?

The ugliness of such “growth” has been compounded by the decimation, over the same time of my chosen vocation/employment sector: universities. In the fools-gold economy, tertiary education has suffered a double-whammy: the nude emperor has needed protection from the comments of wiser onlookers, and building up a real, sustainable (= export and knowledge-driven) economy has been deemed irrelevant, at best.

So Western Sydney’s highly-geared Howard-lovers may now like to befriend an educated Xer or two, so as to quickly learn the art of eating crow. When their energy-pig edifices are unceremoniously torn down to free up the land underneath for agriculture (it’s too long a long bike-ride to the station to commute, and owning a car will be so-o-o 2006 when petrol’s $5/litre), the McMansionites might finally get a glimmer of what they – and all of us, this time – have truly lost.

* Which Google ascribes to him uniquely, BTW

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day jobs, arts and dole

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has no time for artists using the dole as a pseudo government grant: . . ."Why does work stop you being creative? Trollope wrote wonderful novels while working full-time in a post office [and] Dickens worked as a journalist and editor while dashing off [their novels]"

Sigh. Not because Andrew Bolt makes a typically (for him) empty point, but because Simon Castles substantially agrees with him:

It's a fair point, though we might wonder how much more Trollope or Dickens could have produced had they not been stuck at the office for years. That Dickens had to clock on like the rest of us appeals to our desire for egalitarianism, but with hindsight, might not we bend the rules a little for another Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities?

Castles thus agrees with Bolt’s premise that there are jobs galore out there in 2006 for post office workers, journalists and editors – but disagrees that it is necessarily a good thing for artists/writers to rely on such a day job to survive.

Crap, on the first point (and FWIW, I'm with Bolt on the second). There are no day jobs galore, not in Melbourne, anyway. But there certainly is a thriving, and seemingly well-paid industry in peddling the day-job fiction as fact. And once one subscribes to becoming such a propagandist, as Castles does, any amount of slackness and misinformation seems permissible:

After six months those aged 18 to 39 must do a work-for-the-dole project or undertake education or training” (penultimate URL)

Actually “Mutual Obligation” was extended to 40 to 49 year olds in July 2002, just as the oldest Xers started to turn 40. In any case, in stating the ostensible range of Mutual Obligation activity choices, Castles misunderstands his bailiwick. Almost any serious artists/writer will have already been to university, and could not reasonably gain anything from further education or training. Hence, the devil is in the detail of Mutual Obligation: it is something most easily satisfied by the young (being prodded to go to university/TAFE is hardly an unreasonable imposition on a young wannabe artist/writer), but becomes steadily more punitive with increasing age.

Castles also gushes:

The young man behind the [Art and Dole] website . . . prefers to remain anonymous for fear of attracting unwanted attention from Centrelink.

Umm, unless Centrelink is yet to discover Google (which is possible, I guess, since plainly Castles hasn’t), the Art and Dole website creator’s identity is revealed in this 2005 SMH story, as Adelaide artist Andrew Best.

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