May 142007

Watching the ABC production ‘Bastard Boys’ last night, I couldn’t help but wonder at the timing of the screening.

Part 2 of this excellent portrayal of the 1998 government sponsored stoush between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Corporation to be screened this evening holds in it’s underpinnings a message to all working Australians of just how bloody-minded the Howardian cabal has always been.
The diversion of September 11, 2001, boat people and all the angst engendered over compulsory detention, the Pacific Solution and the expeditionary exploits of the ADF into Iraq on US orders has dulled the collective electoral memory of what Howard’s intention from the day he took office has always been. To smash the Union movement and subjugate the working class of Australian society under the heel of big business.
Last nights portrayal of Reith, as fleeting as it was, reminded this blogger of just what a ruthless demagogue Reith really was, and how the conservative enclave looks after it’s own.
A mark of the man and his allegiances, indeed, those of the entire Howardian cabal, can be defined by this statement by Reith to the H.R.Nicholls Society following the defeat of Patrick Corporation in 1998.

>”And lastly, I think the H R Nicholls Society ought to have a special place for Chris Corrigan because the fact of the matter is you have never before seen an employer on the Australian waterfront stand up to the sort of thuggery and poor practice that has long bedevilled the Australian waterfront and cost this country very dearly indeed. He has been through a hell of a lot and I would have to say to you I don’t think he has had as much public support as he ought to have had. There are people in this room who I know would share that view and offer your support and congratulations to him on what has been done.”

To my way of thinking, Corrigan was a fool. His was a fight which could never be won in the manner he fought it. It’s quite telling to realise that when push came to shove, the Howard government left him hanging out to dry, having failed to provide the catalyst they needed to sway public opinion in favour of their waterfront agenda in 1998. Sadly, time and a failure of democracy in this country has finally delivered Howard his victory in the form of Workchoices. Ultimately though, and ‘Bastard Boys’ serves to highlight the issue, people will never stand to be prostituted to a minority ideological whim.
Could a piece of entertainment be more pertinent, informative and timely? I think not.

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