School of Culture and Communication - Research Publications

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    The marks of want and care
    Lee, Jenny (McPhee-Gribble, 1988)
    It is not true that time heals all wounds. Some wounds linger on until the wounded die and their pain is forgotten. A generation of Australians harboured searing memories of the 1890s depression - of hunger, cold, bewilderment, humiliation and fear. But they are gone now, and their memories with them. If the depression is remembered at all, it is for the bank crashes of 1893, which produced panic among the propertied class. The working people and the unemployed who felt the chill most severely left few written records. Here, as in so many other areas of Australian life, the privilege of being remembered, being included in ‘history’, has been open to only a few. But why would anyone want to re-live the sufferings of a dead generation? Perhaps because so many of the institutions we take for granted began as attempts to do something about the effects of the 1890s crisis. Federation, state welfare, arbitration and the rise of the Labor Party all date back to that time. The crisis also ushered in profound changes in family life. As earlier chapters have discussed, the 1890s marked the beginning of the trend towards smaller families, with all that it implies for the way that people organize their lives. If the memory of the 1890s has gone, its legacy is still with us.
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    Great white noise
    DAVIS, MARK (Melbourne University Publishing, 2004)
    The yawning gulf that everyone talks about isn’t between so-called elites and the mainstream, or even between the city and the bush. The big gap in Australian politics is between cleverly deployed political stereotypes and the realities of growing inequality and widespread dissatisfaction with economic ‘reform’. Elites, in other words, have been made targets of the same strategy of demonising the ‘other’ that has been used on asylum-seekers, Aboriginal land rights campaigners, ethnic youth gangs, ‘welfare mothers’, and so on. On the face of it, the current demonisation of elites is as irrational as it is clever. It is irrational because it shows contempt for the views of the thousands of Australians who wrote letters to newspapers, signed petitions and started community groups to show their outrage at the Howard government’s policies on reconciliation, on the Wik 10-point plan, on saying sorry to the stolen generations, on the treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers, and so on. Were all those who came from far and wide to march for reconciliation and plant seas of hands in capital cities, or who protested against the war in Iraq, really just part of an ‘elite’? The attack is clever because it helps to mask the fact that those who attack elites are themselves part of an elite. How many ‘ordinary people’ have a radio show or a newspaper column? How many ‘ordinary people’ have the opportunity to vet the appointment of a government minister, as radio talkback host Alan Jones did in late 2001 before the instalment of a new police minister in New South Wales?