Blondie (The Good) squints in the hot
sun as beads of sweat trickle down his
forehead. His weathered face makes him
appear older than he really is. Clutching
a grease gun in his right hand, he chews
his nicotine gum as he stares down his
younger rival. A few feet away, Angel
Eyes (The Bad) fingers the trigger of
his rattle gun, his thoughts lost behind
a thin veil of cigarette smoke. For a
few seconds, the silence between them
is punctuated only by the dust and ash
of the nearby bushfires blowing across
the truck yard. As the tension mounts,
it is the devious Tuco (The Ugly) who
dives between them, emerging victorious
with the last slice of chocolate cake
from the nearly empty Smoko truck.
As we sit down to smoko, Angel Eyes draws
a link between terrorism and the bushfires.
"Australia is vulnerable to attack.
We know there are terrorist cells here.
They don't need to use bombs. They just
have to wait for the right moment and
use a match. The government should round
The others agree, noting that the government
appears particularly impotent in dealing
with such a threat.
"All you need is five terrorists
running around in cars with a box of matches
each, and you could hurt this country
far more than Bali did."
Sound familiar? In another workshop,
Elvis said almost identical words in October's
Smoko column. The government may have
a perception problem here. Indeed, that
problem may well be the truth behind the
recent ASIO raids.
While the three gunslingers wish for
a more pro-active security policy, Howard's
pre-emptive strike doctrine was met with
"Strike? With what?" roars
Blondie, almost falling off his upturned
milk crate in laughter, "we would
be flat out attacking Tasmania!"
The smoko room simply believes that Australia
does not have the capacity to conduct
independent military operations abroad
without strong American support.
If Simon Crean thought he got away with
his demand for John Howard to apologise
to Asia behind the smokescreen of Carmen
Lawrence's resignation, he is very sadly
mistaken. For the smoko room, it was the
final nail in the coffin of a lacklustre
"Dead man walking," was how
Tuco described Crean, arguing in favour
of political euthanasia. "Labor needs
to put him out of his misery."
To answer that certain scribe, Errol
Simper (Media, The
Australian, Dec12), yes, the news
did show up Crean as a consummate dickhead.
Yet these blue-collar conservatives are
the constituency that Crean himself has
identified that Labor needs to recapture.
Memo to Simon: Give it up mate, it's over,
let it go while you still have a shred
of dignity left.
will no doubt be disappointed at being
totally upstaged by the departure of Peter
Garrett from Midnight Oil, whom the workforce
regard as a far more serious player. That
is not to say they support Garrett, they
just recognize him as a person of sincerity
and conviction, something felt to be sadly
lacking in our current crop of politicians.
Paul Kelly (The
Australian, Dec18) reminded us
of former Liberal Party federal director
Lynton Crosby's observations about conviction
politicians, with particular reference
to John Howard and Bob Brown. The crew
are interested to see Garrett's next move.