Dark Knight: "Once there was a time when musicians and poets dented the powers of suppression and tyranny with words and music, with ideas and with dissent.
IIn 1915 it was Joe Hill. He wrote for the copper miners and factory workers in a land racked by inequality....He stood up to the Industrialists across America and on a cold winter's morning in Salt Lake City, Utah; on trumped up murder charges, they led him into the prison yard and executed him for it.
In the 40's, it was Woody Guthrie who toured the dustbowls of America raising the tough issues in his songs. His guitar had four words, "This Machine Kills Fascists", emblazoned across it. Long before the Allies had the guts to stand up to Hitler... it was Woody's brand of Folk and Country Music that was making the voice of Freedom and the plight of Hitler's victims heard across the world.
In the 50's it was Pete Seeger and the Weavers who stood up against the Nuclear Threat and in the 60's there were new voices.
Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Paul Simon and Barry Maguire fanned the flames of a Peace Movement that saw the most powerful nation on Earth dragged out of South East Asia, shamed and beaten. Such was the power of lyrical Music.
The 70's and 80's brought us Eric Bogle, Judy Small, Alistair Hulett, Kevin Baker, Phyl Lobl, Jessie Winchester, Annie De Franco, Redgum, Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg and others whose songs became the conscience of their generation.
Now, what often passes as acoustic music is the unedifying spectacle of a waif-like 18 year old bleating endlessly about their last failed relationship or waxing euphoric about their new boyfriend's cute arse.
Pop music always was the triumph of form over substance. We accepted that for what it was. Brainless.
Folk and Country Music used to pride itself on being a bit above that. What has always separated significant lyrical music from Popular pap was it's capacity to deal with the great themes and to inspire and move the hearts and minds of it's listeners.
This is a song about the writers who did just that....."
White Knight: Oh God! Spare me these angst ridden, aging, singer songwriters attempting to recapture some vestage of their socialist youth by boring the rest of us to death.
Why is it, that the blokes like this, persist in believing that political songs have ever had any effect on the real world at all?
I mean, I don't know if he noticed or not... but George Bush never actually consulted Eric Bogle before sending the troops into Iraq.
And, as for this nonsense about it being the function of folk and country music to change the world, it's not only wrong...it's boring... and it's historically inaccurate.
Most traditional Country and Folk Songs are not about Issues...they're about Love.
People do not want to hear political diatribes when they go to music venues. They want to be entertained, not lectured.They get enough of that during the week. They come out to see us, to get away from all that stuff.
This bloke (indicates Dark Knight) can tell you what he likes but walk around any festival at night and have a look at where the people actually are. They're not beating their breasts about the fate of humanity, hanging out in coffee shops and listening to endless earnest songs in the Key of A minor. They're in the Blues Tent or the front Bar of The Locomotive Hotel at Tamworth dancing their arses off.
Why?? Because Music is now, and has always been, fundamentally about Celebration. The celebration of Life, Love, Courtship and Family; Weddings and Parties, mate. ...It chronicles the truly significant moments in people's lives. Which for most of us doesn't include voting.
Not a lot of us have photos on our mantle pieces of us going into the polls at the last election!
Look, it was the people who wrote the Love songs, The Drinking Songs....The Dance Songs and the Good Time Music that were the real heroes of Folk and Country Music. Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Jigzag, Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Slim Dusty, Hank Williams, Garth Brooks.... The Wolverines for God's sake.
(Sing) 'Hey Good Lookin...What ya got cookin' (spins a stylised pirouette)
Because regardless of what he says..... Music is about PARTYING!!! To whit...
I was down in Ulladulla at The Marlin Hotel. Anyone ever been to the Marlin? ( standard Introduction to song as per Naked Poets 2)
Dark Knight: Yeah... That's Right...Go on partying....
They were partying in the Sari Club when the bomb went off ... They were partying in New York when the planes went into the Towers. The Western World staggered out through the smoking wreckage of it's hedonistic dreams and the most significant thing was not that their populations were outraged....It was that they were bewildered...
They still didn't get it.
They still couldn't understand that their single minded and selfish pursuit of "Margarettaville's" endless party has always been at the expense of the poorest and most dispossessed people on the face of the planet. They were, and are still, emotionally, psychically and spiritually incapable of making the link between 40 years of rapacious Western Foreign policy and the rise of terrorism.
And anyone who tried to explain it to them was howled down as a heretic and a traitor. Anthony Mundine was stripped of his world boxing title as Freedom of Speech became the first casualty at the hands of those who would soon wreak such vengeance in its name.
Even now as we talk about trying to control the rise of Terrorism in countries to our North, our own government and it's corporate partners are attempting to steal the oil revenues from East Timor; one of the most impoverished and war ravaged countries in our region.
And the problem with most of us is that we are as ignorant of History as we are of Economic Politics. It took the Australian Poet, Keith McKenry, to point out to many of us that the date September 11th; was far from random.
That was the date in 1973 when the United States.. through it's funding, training and support of General Pinochet's forces perpetrated an unparalleled act of terrorism against the people of Chile; murdering their Democratically elected President, Salvador Allende and consigning over 50,000 people including the great singer/songwriter and poet, Victor Jara, to torture and death under the new regime.
50,000 people ... That's a number that makes the 3,500 Americans who lost their lives in the New York tragedy pale somewhat by comparison.
And why? Because American companies were about to lose hundreds of millions as a result of Allende's political agenda.
The Religious Right that supports Bush and Howard can say what they like about God ...but they only have one God.....Money. And they'll do anything for it.
White Knight: Yes, go on applaud... but that's nothing short of disgraceful. Like so many other Anti-American idiots around the world at the moment, you seem to have taken some sort of perverse pleasure in what happened in New York.
You finally got to see The Yanks get their noses bloodied did you?.... That's it, isn't it?
Well it isn't....This wasn't David getting in a lick against Goliath. It was 3,500 innocent civilians slaughtered in front of our eyes by a bunch of Muslum Fundamentalist fanatics. And they weren't the 'poor and oppressed of the world' that you go on about either. They were educated, middle class, revolutionary zealots with visas.
These guys have quite an agenda. They're the people you were screaming about to Amnesty a few years back over their oppression of women, and the torture and executions they made commonplace in Afghanistan, as part of their fundamentalist implementation of Sharia Law.
They dispensed with religious freedom, destroyed the giant Buddahs and murdered their own people. They're vandals and they're tyrants. You civil liberties types wouldn't last one day in the world that they would create, if they were given half a chance.
It's people like you that must make Americans wonder why they even bothered with the Battle of the Coral Sea.
And what's most offensive is that, although you're not game to actually say it, you Socialists think that the stockbrokers in the World Trade towers were an acceptable strategic target, that they were somehow 'fair game' because they were (indicates quote signs in the air) 'Capitalists', working in major Business houses.
You quote what happened in Chile because you want to characterise all business people as being simply slaves to Money.
But in your own experience, you know that it just plain isn't true.
You say the first casualty of War is Freedom of Speech. Well, it's also true that the first casualty of Leftist Propaganda is Truth.
Your own work in Country Music has brought you into close contact with hundreds of Australia's most successful business leaders through Rotary and Lions. You've seen their personal dedication to charitable causes. You've personally witnessed the place that Honesty and Integrity and a Spirit of Service has had in the lives of so many of them, often at the expense of their own families and their own wallets.
Remember when we wrote this song? We were up in Dubbo.
(To crowd) Australians have all these terms that we throw around to describe ourselves. We do it constantly and two of the most abused and overused are the terms, 'Fair Dinkum' and 'True Blue'.
Regardless of how they're often used, they don't actually mean the same thing. In the Australian vernacular, to be 'Fair Dinkum' is to be honest. To be 'True Blue' is to have integrity; to stand up for what you say you believe in when 'push comes to shove' and it's going to cost you something.
Both terms would, by all accounts, have been applicable to Bob Scott. He was a successful businessman ( looks at Dark Knight) in the area around Wellington, but he was also renowned as a man of honour and principle, a man whose word was his bond. The presentation of The annual Robert Scott Memorial Award is testament to the regard in which he was held by all his community.
(To Crowd) I never met Bob, but I was at an auto spare parts conference (What a place to get a story about Honesty and Integrity:):)) when I saw his sons, Peter and Ian, stand up and get stuck into that industry over it's reputation for a lack of integrity in the way it did business; and in doing so they told this story about their Dad....
(To Dark Knight ) You want to change the World, Pal? It 's what we hand onto our own kids in the way of personal values and beliefs that does that; because, in the end, that's the only thing that really endures. If you spent a bit more time at home instead of out on the road over the years you might have understood that.
Dark Knight: Honesty!!! Are you trying to claim that Honesty has any credibility as a core Australian value in business or anywhere else any more!!. Tell that to James Hardie, Mate!!!.
Honesty and Integrity are part of our shared Australian culture? (laughs)
Well, explain to me why 56% of Australians surveyed in a recent Newspoll said they didn't care if The Prime Minister had lied to them over The Tampa, The War In Iraq or anything else as long as they got the outcomes they wanted on Border protection; as long as interest rates stayed low and their personal prosperity wasn't threatened.
Liars have always claimed that the end justifies the means. People of moral principle are supposed to reject that outright. But Australians and Americans have just ratified it as the principle on which they voted.
You want to tell me that personal virtue can change the world. That our internal spiritual lives can lead us to some kind of National Redemption. Well, let me tell you. In the face of overwhelming Systemic Greed and Injustice. Personal virtues like Honesty, Integrity, Self Reliance or Initiative count for nothing.
You ought to read a little more History, Pal....
(To Crowd) There used to be Cannery in Eden. It was run by Heinz Watties. It got into big financial trouble in the early 90's..
So the locals formed a group called the Workers of Greenseas. They came up with an idea for a range of flavoured tuna products that became so phenomenally successful for Heinz that it turned the cannery around to the point that they were turning a profit of $8 million dollars a year.
You might know the product. It was called 'Tastetempters'
By 1999 that cannery was processing about 4,500 tonnes of product each year; not big by world standards but it was more than enough to support the coastal village and to be a shining example of how, with innovation and dedication, Australians could hold their own in a changing world.
But was that good enough for Heinz? No, they closed it down anyway, sacked the workers who had come up with the 'Tastetempters' idea and then moved the whole 'shabang' to Thailand where they could pay 'slave labour' rates.
Why? Because while our workers were being unpaid entreprueners to save their jobs; our idiot politicians were signing all these free trade agreement that made it possible fo Heinz to do all that and then ship the product back here to sell in the Australian market.
In Eden, one in every eight workers lost their jobs.
(To White Knight) Integrity and Honour in Business. Give me break!
All this Globalisation the 'Economic Irrationals' on your side of politics are so in love with is just an excuse for multinationals to return to their 'robber baron' days; and to get access to labour under conditions that the civilised world abolished a century ago.
White Knight: You know for a radical.... you're pretty damned frightened of change. It's not a great strength in someone who wants be a revolutionary. I can just hear Trotsky saying to Lenin "I don't know, Vlad. maybe we should keep the Tsar. We don't want to upset anybody too much...."
Yes, there are always distortions like the one you mention that occur when things change. And there's no doubt about it....the world is going through enormous changes at the moment.....but they're necessary ones.
Without Globalisation there is no hope that the poor countries of the world will ever develop. It is the free flow of capital into the underdeveloped nations of the world that will allow the poor, that you're always going on about, to eventually have some hope of a better life.
Look, for hundreds of years, the world's been like a fish tank with a pane of glass dividing it in half. One side is full of water. One side has almost none. Globalisation is like pulling out the dividing glass. The water rushes from one side to the other. There are points of turbulence, things get washed away... but these are temporary distortions and, in the end, the resources end up equally distributed and the poor are far, far better off.
And, yes, I know what you're going to say.... that what is really happening is that multinationals are using the cheap wages of the developing world to depress workers conditions in The West.
Yes, that will happen.... for a while... but eventually labour will start to organise in Asia. Unions will develop.
The worst excesses of Western companies will be curbed by regulation, just as they were in the West and, as living conditions rise and the cost of manufacturing increases in the Third World, work will flow back to the US and to Australia again...... and when the upheaval has run it's course, everyone will be better off as a result of a vast increase in world economic growth.
And it's not as if you can blame the Coalition for it either. It was bloody Keating, one of your precious 'true believers', that was the mastermind of all the economic deregulation ....and the GST too, now that I come think of it. Or have you forgotten option B.
Look, as much as I hate to say anything good about Keating, if he hadn't deregulated Australia's economy in the 90's, regardless of all pain it caused, we'd have been in a shitload of trouble now.
O.K. He might have started it...But it was John Howard and the Coalition that had the guts to finish it. To do the things that the Labour Party would never have let Keating do. The reform of the wharves and the building industry and all the rest of it...
The days of union strongmen dominating our economy; and their thugs on building sites standing over decent people trying to contribute this country, are gone. Your 'Golden Age of Unionism' dissappeared with the Soviet Union, Pal. Get used to it.
You know what your problem is. You're one of those people who think the world used to be better in the 'good old days.' And your attachment to the past blinds you to the opportunities of the future.
You look backwards instead of forwards. All dinosaurs do. It's a recipe for extinction, Pal.
Dark Knight: Children eh? (Parodies the last line of the song) "I'll be looking to our children for hope" Where are you gonna look, mate? On the kiddie porn sites that your newly globalised Australian Entrepreneurs who are looking for those 'opportunities of the future', have been running on the Internet.
So loving our children and raising them properly is the key to the future, is it?. You've been spinning us this line for years. In songs like " Welcome Here" , "Margaret and Joe" , "Good morning Josie" & "Daddy I can Fly"
Surely you don't still believe that stuff. ... surely you're not going to tell me that Respect for children is still a core Australian value.
Yeah sure, Australians are passionate about the way we raise children...Just as long as they're white, Australian and Middle Class. If they're poor, homeless, abused and Moslem... it's an entirely diffrent matter.
(To Crowd) And..it couldn't have been more obvious that while 75% of Australians were screaming for the resignation of the Governor General on the basis that he had somehow failed to protect children under his care some 72% were simultaneously supporting, even demanding, the indefinite imprisonment of hundreds of children in draconian conditions in our refugee detention centres.
Children.... imprisoned without trial; without access to law or even the basic standards of child protection that we demand for our own kids. Children.... locked up in dreadful conditions on Nauru and in Woomera; witnessing terrible acts of violence and self harm, Children left in such conditions; some for periods of more than 4 years.
I played in those Detention Camps camps in 2001. They were places that would have been unthinkable in this country 20 years ago. Places where Habeas Corpus had been completely abrogated.
But (to White Knight), like you, Mate, most Australians couldn't give a damn. You claim that we're a Christian culture. And you tell me that our future depends on passing on decent values to our kids.
I think it's about time you re-read your own mythology, Mate.
Because you choose to casually ignore the fact that the whole Christian story actually starts with the flight of modern history's first refugee family.
And you can thank God that the Egyptians didn't have Amanda Vanstone in charge at the time..... or their story, and yours, might have had a very different outcome.
White Knight: Very emotive ...and that's the problem with your whole approach to this issue . It's being run on emotion, but you're manipulating the truth again and you know it.
The truth is that Australians have always supported and given sanctuary to refugees. We are one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world but.... that's partly because we've controlled the flow of immigrants. We made sure we never had such large numbers at any one time that the social fabric of our nation was threatened. What your suggesting.... the end of mandatory detention... is a recipe for anarchy.
Yes, these people are in a tragic situation... but it is partially one of their own making. And what was the alternative for us? You talk about Habeas Corpus.... which shows how little you know about Law.
The circumstance of Invasion was always ruled as an exception to that legal precedent. It's the circumstance in which P.O.W.s were interred; and make no mistake the activities of the people smugglers in the last ten years was an invasion. What was our alternative? And , bottom line....what we did worked. The boats have stopped coming.
Whether you admit it or not The Howard government has been a record high Immigration Government. That's not an opinion, that's a fact. The numbers are there. 18,000 families last year. Check it out.
Australia has a long proud history of accepting people fleeing oppression, but we are not to be taking as fools either.
The world has become a very dangerous place and we have to be very, very careful about who comes into Australia now. Our own Freedom, and our way of life, is at stake and sometimes you've got to be very tough to preserve those things.
Peace and freedom are fragile. They're very easily lost. Someone once told you that....or have you forgotten.
(To crowd) We were coming into Ballarat in the middle of a rainstorm. There was this bloke was standing beside the road, drenched to the skin. When he got on board I asked him how long he'd been waiting for a lift and he said, "About an hour and half."
I said "In this!"
He said, "Yep, But I'm used to it."
I knew by the way he said it.... that there was a story behind it. He'd been a refugee too, but this bloke had a lot to say about Freedom and how easily we can lose it if we do nothing when it's threatened. .......
Dark Knight: Freedom! You bloody hypocrite..
The Coalition have done more to erode Freedom and Civil Liberties in Australia in the last 5 years than than any government in our young history.
You talk about me only telling half the truth. Why don't you tell them what else that bloke said........That it was our own governments that you have to watch out for, not refugees....not terrorists...not governments on the other side of the world.
...And he said that when they take our rights and freedoms they don't do it in one big bite. We lose them in little nibbles. That's the way it happened in his country..That's the way it always happens. Governments chip away at our Rights and Freedoms when we're not looking.
(To Crowd) For example, first they gave a tax file number. Then it was photos on our drivers license.
Remember we told them in no uncertain terms that we didn't want an Australia Card. We voted on that! We made it clear that Australians wanted no part of a mass citizen identification data base run by a 'Big Brother' government.
Well, next time you go down to the RTA have a look at the little A4 poster hidden right down the back where you are not supposed to even notice it.
It'll tell you that, recently and without your permission, the RTA and their equivalent in every state has begun to store the photo from your drivers license in a mass citizen identification data base. You got The Australia Card.... by stealth! (gestures at White knight) Thanks to these bastards!
And it's not just drivers now....it's kids too. All those young Australians who regularly line up like lemmings at the RTA to be photographed so that they can get a card which gets them into licensed premises... Well, guess what.... they're getting into a lot more than just the pub!
He can say what he likes about legal precedents and invasion, but the Refugee detention camps were the first step in a direct assault on the principle of Freedom for us all. Habeas Corpus guarenteed that no one...no one at all.... could be thrown into prison unless they had been arrested, charged, tried and found guilty of a crime..
It's the bedrock of all democratic Freedoms. It's the one on which all other freedoms are built and without which.... all other freedoms are meaningless.
The Coalition has basically dispensed with it.
How did they ever get Australians to go along with that?
(Looks at White Knight ) How?
(To Crowd) Well, it was classic Nazi stuff. First they used September 11th to get us scared. They lied about the Children Overboard affair and used it to whip up hatred against these people who seemed to be so different to us.
And then, when they removed core Rights and Freedoms from those people; they did it by excising the camps from Australian Territory so that Australian Law could not protect anyone within the confines of those centres....and they counted on our fear....and our inherent racism... to ensure that no one objected.
There's one man...Peter Qasim.... who has been in prison now for over eight years.. Eight years!.... without ever having been charged with a crime....
(Sighs) Once they got us to accept that. It was only a matter of time before they got around to us as well.
(To White Knight) Welcome to 1984, Mate. It might have been twenty years late... but it's well and truly here.
(To Crowd) Because now we've got the ASIO Bill which allows our secret police to take Australian citizens off the street, hold them for up to seven days without charging them with anything... and without even telling anyone that they've got you.
(Ticks off points on fingers)
You no longer have the right to remain silent.
The burden of proof has been reversed.
The maximum length of interrogation sessions has recently been doubled
and, had not the last Senate intervened, there would not even have been the guarantee of an independent observer, to prevent abuse.
(softly and menacingly) And now you don't even have the Senate to protect you.
How much worse does it get?
Well, much worse.....
At a time when even The British Government refused to countenance it, our government rolled over for the US administration by refusing to protest the holding of Australian Citizens in Guantanamo Bay for periods of several years without access to a lawyer or any visitors.
It is clear now that these people have also been tortured.
And......recently, both The British and US High Courts have ruled that evidence obtained by the use of torture is now admissible in Court.
The people held in Guantanamo Bay are held and tried outside of the rules of The Geneva Convention and The US Justice system.
They live in a legal limbo; as a category of human beings invented by the fascist fantasies of the Bush Administration and recognised by no country on earth. 'Unlawful combatants' is the term manufactured for them.
It is unnervingly the same as the one John Howard and The Liberal Party developed for the Refugees.... 'unlawful immigrants'.
'Unlawful', despite the fact that they are held without access to Law...... or even the basic standards of Child protection that Australians expect for their own children.
We turn our back on these people because they are not like us.
We allow their rights and freedoms to be violated because we are suspicious and frightened of them. In doing so, however, we open the floodgates of totalitarianism within our own governments and it is inevitable......inevitable... that within a very short time if we do nothing....these precedents will be used against us also.
Martin Niemoller, the great Protestant theologian,was once asked why he didn't oppose the Nazi's earlier in his career.
His answer should haunt Australians today.
He Said; "First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Finally, they came for me and there was....( slows) no one left to speak out."
(To White Knight) It has been said that one man's Terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter, Mate. Throughout history there have been heroes who have taken up arms against just this kind of oppression.
William Wallace, George Washington, Ned Kelly, Peter Lalor, Che Guevara.... and, be warned, there are new heroes rising...
White Knight: (To Dark Knight) You've got the wrong sort of heroes, Pal. But then again, Australians generally do. They lionize these sort of rebellious figures, thugs like Kelly and Captain Thunderbolt. And it's such a joke!
(To Crowd) Kelly was a criminal rebelling against the Law. He and his family had charge sheets as long as your arm. When he was bailed up in the Glenrowan pub, it was by the very same policeman he had just tried to murder...en masse. Like some kind of armour plated Bin Laden, he'd torn up the railway tracks in the hope that, by causing a train wreck, he could largely wipe out the 200 hundred odd police and railway workers that were aboard.
He was a terrorist. Plain and simple.
He and his gang had plans to walk among the wreckage callously executing any troopers that remained alive. And they would have done it too, if the school teacher hadn't risked his life to escape and raise the alarm.
It was the teacher, not the terrorist, that was the hero that night in Glenrowan. But that's not what most Australians want to hear, is it?
(To Dark Knight) It's always the case with you Lefties. The police, the military, those people that wear the uniforms and put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe are somehow the bad guys in Australia.
And, while you turn disgusting human beings like Chopper Reid into movie celebrities, the real heroes are largely forgotten.
You want to know who they are.... They're the nurses and teachers you wrote about in 'Vertelli's Wire". They're the military, the police, the S.E.S.; the men in uniform that your mob are always so down on.
You want to see a real hero. Have a look at the Australian soldiers in East Timor or the blokes on the ground in Acheh after the tsunami. They weren't standing round debating the Protocols of international diplomacy and the principles of human rights, the way the UN endlessly does.
They were already packed, equipped and deployed. They were saving lives and installing fresh water systems while the rest the world were trying to work out how to spell 'tsunami'.
But while they're trying to get desperately needed supplies to the people you're supposed to care about; those idiots in the Free Acheh Movement are taking pot shots at anything that moves.
(To Dark Knight) The rebels are 'the idiots'.. not 'the heroes'. It's about time we had some songs for the real heroes.
The people who put their lives on the line to pull your arse out trouble when the chips are really down...often at a huge cost to their mental and emotional well being.
I was up in Kempsey...when I met this young bloke who epitomised that. (standard Introduction)
Dark Knight: Ah Yes, Heroes in uniform. Of course
there's two sides to that picture too.
Fact 1. Decent human beings do not support mass murder
Fact 2. Australians were dragged into the war against Iraq by the Liberal National Party Coalition on the basis that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Fact 3. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Fact 4. Over 100,000 innocent civilians, Iraqi men, women and children have now been slaughtered as a result of our illegal invasion.
(To White Knight) And before you say anything, Mate? . That figure's been confirmed by The Lancet, the impeccably researched conservative journal of the British medical establishment. It's not exactly your stock standard left wing publication.
Fact 5. Australians, like you, (points at White Knight) who supported the war are, to a greater or lesser degree, directly complicit in the deaths of those people. Your vote was your seal of approval. Any Australian who voted for the Coalition at the recent election effectively supported that War.
Fact 6 . Exit polls showed that Australians who voted for the Coalition ranked their personal prosperity as being far more important than any other issue, including their military's involvement in the murder over 100,000 innocent people.
What's that tell you? Heroic Men in Uniform...dropping bombs on unarmed civilians? (Shakes his head) You work it out....
Dateline: Mungandi Queensland.
You haven't the faintest idea what life is like for Men under arms. You were a bloody draft resistor. You wear your prison sentence like a badge of honour.
O.K. you didn't run away...you stood up to the government for your beliefs. I'll even admit that took some courage, but at least you knew that it was never going to cost you your life.... or worse still, leave you crippled or genetically damaged by Agent Orange and then return from 'Nam to find yourself reviled and spat on by an ungrateful and ignorant population.
O.K. O.K. The weapons weren't in Iraq.... but not because Saddam Hussein hadn't been offered them...he had....and not because he didn't want them either...he did! But when he was approached by the head of the Pakistani Nuclear Program he thought it was a CIA setup... and turned it down.
The only reason we know that, is that after we went into Iraq, Gaddafi was terrified that Libya was going to be next.
Why? Because he had bought the technology. He knew he was 'odds on' to be the next US target, so he rolled over. He sent his son for a rendezvous with British MI5 agents in a hotel room in Egypt..... and, not only did he give up Libya's WMDs, but he gave us the whole Nuclear Black Market pipeline that had supplied Libya, North Korea and Iran as well.
The head Of Pakistan's Nuclear programme is now under house arrest.
O.K. the intelligence got it wrong about the Weapons in Iraq....but ....if we hadn't gone into Iraq... if we hadn't shown that we meant business.....Gaddafi never would have switched sides.....
And, when a nuclear device was exploded in an Australian city you would been screaming that somebody should have seen it coming and done something.
Well, we did see it coming... and we did do something.
Look, I admit we made some mistakes and some of them were tragic and some politicians did twist things to suit their own agenda but ...look....I don't expect your mob to ever be fond of the military but there was time you at least tried to emphasize with those men.
Remember those visits to John and the blokes on HMAS Melbourne in the mid-eighties. You were a tad less judgmental when you wrote this song.
It was the B side of the Chippendale Song. in 1981
You thought you were writing Science Fiction when you wrote a song about a cataclysmic War in the Middle East set 20 years in the future.
Here, I updated a few lines in one verse to make it bit more current but the bulk of it is still unchanged.
You used to be more compassionate about soldiers. Maybe this might remind you of their lives are really like.
(New last Verse: For while we waste our oil on foreign soil and our blood on the face of the earth There's been terrorist strikes in Sydney and Bright and two hundred dead now in Perth Yes. our country is split... but you ought to know this If we all fight on different sides A people divided can't hope to survive in The Land Of The Great Divide.
Wishing For Home (After The Taps Call)
Wishing For Home (Lying In My Bed)
...And I pray to God for the soul of the Lucky Country,
Yes I pray to God for the soul of the Lucky Country")
Dark Knight: Yeah, you and your God. You keeping thanking him on all your albums. Well, I've got his double set too. Ta daa! (Flourish produces small bible) The Bible Volume 1 & 2! Guess what? He doesn't thank you once.
But I tell you what... (Flips through the pages ) there's some pretty appalling stuff in here. Particularly in (puts on parody of loud authoritative voice) Volume 1:The Old Testament.
(To Crowd) This is George Bush's God of war at His best. On one hand He claims to be the God of all Creation but, on the other, He gives his Arab children to Joshua and the Israelites at Jericho to be put to the sword.
What kind of a callous God would give one half of his children to the other half to be killed. It's pretty revolting. If God really is our father it's time some one reported him to D.O.C.S.
White Knight: (To Dark Knight) So you have judged God and found him to be wanting, have you? You're refusing to participate in his faulted and callous Creation any longer, is that it?
(Sings condescendingly) "Well I could have told you, Vincent.......this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you"
Look Pal, you can beat your breast about the callous nature of creation all you like, but I'm not stupid enough to get drawn into that.
Your problem is that your so 'sold' on the concept of Evolution and the Survival of the Fittest, and all that Darwinian garbage; that you believe that conflict and competition were always part of nature. So you've got no choice but to blame all the bad bits on the Creator! What you can't accept is that these things are actually the product of the reality of Evil in the world.
But you can't accept that...because if you did, then you would have to deal with a theology that included the Devil which is pretty unfashionable among 'Leftie Christians' these days.
Look, I don't have a problem with God's plan. I see ample evidence of His goodness in the world around me and..... I happen to very grateful for the life I've been given.... so I'm going to get on with living it.
I, point blank, refuse to squander one minute of it on Anger, Regret and Guilt... the way you do. You might think God is cruel and callous but the God I know is a God of Love and Celebration.
Dark Knight: Bullshit! Your God is a God of division. I've seen you and you Evangelist buddies in action. You quote Leviticus to attack Gays. You quote Paul to marginalise Women. You quote Revelations to Justify War and Genesis to justify the brutal oppression of the Palestinians. You quote anyone and everything except Christ himself.
Shit no, Because most of what He said was pretty damned left wing.
He kicked the money lenders out of the temple; He said the Rich should give all they own to the poor; He advocated forgiveness and compassion under the Law... not your bloody Right wing, 'Truth in Sentencing', Law And Order codes of practice.
He even stood up against Capital punishment for Christ's sake...well, for the Woman taken in Adultery's sake, anyway....
No wonder the zealots strung him up.
Face it, your religious worldview is very much like theirs was; it's not about Celebration and Worship at all... It's about Exclusion and Division. Your kind of religion is out of control in the States and it's getting a hold here. God help us!
White Knight: Have it your way but I'm more than happy to accept that some things as they are. I'm not qualified in Universe creation so I think I'll leave that to the expert who Is.
You're not happy with the world. That's the bottom line. You want to change it. Well, I'll tell you something, the problem with trying to change the world, is that, in the main, it will not do what it's told.
You're like any number of national and international political figures these days. You think that by invoking the language of religiosity you can give moral weight to your own faulted political objectives. What you're really trying to do is to co-opt the power of religious meta-narratives to remake the world, and God, for that matter... in your own image.
It is! You want to reinvent Christ as some kind of Left Wing revolutionary. Well, he wasn't. I think you're getting him confused with Che Guevara and, let me tell you...the beard was the only similarity.
Civilisations rise and fall. Politicians come and go. In the end, it's our own personal goodness, or the lack of it, and the example we become for those around us and those after us, which is a far more influential legacy than any political or military victories we ever achieve.
If you really want to change the world you could start by changing yourself. You could get rid of half that anger and resentment you're carrying around for a start.
(Addresses Crowd) Look you can't change the underlying nature of any culture through dissent, resistance, terrorism or any other of those political processes.
The Black Knight (gestures) is quite simply wrong.
Christ, Buddha and any number of the great teachers throughout history realised it. Which is why, much to the chagrin of many of their contemporaries, most of them never took overtly political stances. They all knew that the real challenge for those who seek to change humanity is to transform the inner life of the individuals that comprise it's populations.
The culture of the Western World only really began to achieve Tolerance, Justice, Equality and Liberty, not when legislators decreed it or revolutionaries demanded it, but when the individuals that formed it's civil societies were themselves transformed enough to respect those values.
(To Black Knight) For a Christian you're sounding perilously like a Moslem Fundamentalist. Why?
Because you and your 'Martin Luther King, Jnr. School of Radical Christian Clergy' are all making the same mistake that Ayatolahs have. That of trying to turn religion into some kind of a political weapon.
But it's not. Religion is a personal, not a public, thing.... and everything European History has taught us is that ....it's best kept that way. Churches that become politically polarised destroy their sense of community. Faith is supposed to connect us to others not divide us.
There are shining examples of religious communities of all faiths around the world that find that joyous connection to God, and to each other, though Faith and CEle . I witnessed it in Adelaide.....
Dark Knight: Say what you like but there's precious little community or spirituality here. Australians are pragmatic, utilitarian bastards. If you can't milk it , slaughter it, cut it down or woodchip it.... it's classed as....'useless'.
And that... is just about the worse insult the average Australian can hand out.
Why because everything has to 'good for something' here. It's got to be exploitable or it has no right to exist. Values like Beauty, Truth and Heritage have no currency.
I don't know why I bother with Australians at all anymore. Robert Helpman, Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer and any number of expats found this place intolerable and left and, you know what, they were right. I'm getting out and going to New Zealand or somewhere. Anywhere...where I don't have to feel ashamed of who I am and where I'm from.
Australians don't give a shit about principle, as long as their interest rates are low, their property values are increasing and the trains run on time.
They'll turn a blind eye to anything.... as long as their interests are protected. They're anti-intellectual, anti-artistic, profoundly selfish and spiritually ignorant... and what's worse... They're happy to be like that.
White Knight: That's Garbage. Australians do stand for much, much more than that; and people's personal values, when they live them out, actually do change the world.
But you can't legislate goodness. The People come to cusps in their lives and they make decisions. Those decisions define them. Enough people make the right decisions and it defines a whole community..a whole nation.
I know where you're going with this. You're want to turn your back on Australians and leave because they didn't live up to your impossibly high expectations of them..... and you now using that as an excuse to blind yourself to all the good that is still in them.
Well, explain their response to the tsunami disaster... You're the one that is always quoting that drunk, Lawson, and his Left wing Poems when it suits you. (Patterson was the better poet, I might add, but we'll leave that debate to another time)
Wasn't it Lawson who said that it is "The Hope of Something Better that will save us in the End"?
If you don't look for the good in people; if you don't hope for it....you will always be blind to it...even when it's staring you in the face.
You say Australians don't have any ideals anymore...They do.
Their not starry eyed idealists like you, by any means, but they do have a very clearly defined set of ideals; and those ethics do guide our national life. If we temper them with practical commonsense from time to time....well, that's a national strength not a weakness.
You say we stand for nothing.... I say we stand for this.
White Knight: Look I've got a question...What the hell has happened to you?
You spent the 70's and 80's as some kind of eternal party animal; extolling the virtues of never growing old and, with the exception of that strange delayed 'Schooldaze' excursion with your brothers in the mid eighties, you seemed intent on celebrating life in sheer defiance of age.
Dark Knight: Yes, funny you should mention that. I was having fun. But that was before the 9o's hit and you suddenly morphed into a new age preacher of some description waxing euphoric about the virtues of Australia and her people. Half our crowd left in droves at the time. Remember.
The other half, probably out a misguided loyalty or a bizarre desire to share in your embarrassingly public midlife crisis, decided to share in the illusion or at least come along for the ride as you trotted off to become a hybrid of Banjo Patterson and Clark Kent.
White Knight: Yeah well...We made some real friends along that road! People who supported and encouraged an authentic sense of purpose and idealism in Australians...but, then, just when I'd got everyone to the point where they thought they quite liked us again......THIS!!!
Is it a desire to follow Peter Garret into the Parliament House toilet?...or worse, an innate need to end it all by alienating what remains of our listening audience. Because of I deeply suspect it's the latter. It's an artistic death wish on your part, isn't it?
You're such a strange, sad person. I watched you do this once before, twelve years ago...It's time someone told you that you're not the only person who has ever lost a parent or a brother. You're getting weird...
You even went as far as writing that 80 page treatise on grief and then hiding it in the Interactive so that no one could even find it. You think the Chess Set is about being artistic...I think it's a cry for help!
Dark Knight: Maybe it is. And maybe you need help and you don't even know it. It's not just you that's bi-polar. It's the whole bloody country! There's so much wrong in what we are doing in Australia at the moment and you don't even seem to see it. You don't want to see it. Politically and personally, you're in deep denial.
(They turn their backs on each other. Eventually the White Knight turns back and says in a concilatory voice)
White Knight: Look, isn't there any way back for us? Isn't there any point of common ground at all? This bloody show's gone on for hours and we haven't agreed on a damned thing.
Isn't there something that unites us. Isn't there even one song that we could play together?...
Dark Knight: What would you suggest?
White Knight: What about The Trolley Song?
Dark Knight: (wry smile.) I knew you were gonna say that. Everyone thought that was the space filler on the your album. But I knew what you were doing. It's your Modus Operandi. The macro lesson in the micro story again. You've always got an agenda...(smiles and shakes his head)
It was always the pivotal song for you, wasn't it?
White Knight: (Shrugs) It's song about repairing what's broken...about healing division.
Dark Knight: Yes, but you don't mean it...Now your mob controls The Senate you have no intention of healing anything.....
White Knight: (Deep breath) We could give it a go.
Dark Knight: (pause) O.K. You start.
(DVD: The knights walk together into frame and merge. What remains is one man dressed half in white and half in black... with half a beard Theatre Presentation: Centre Mike)
(Song Begins. Right hand picks and left hand remains down at the side. White Knight begins to sing. Cacophony ensues. White Knight glances stage left; irritated and annoyed.)
White Knight: Well... What? What now?
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage right) Nothin'.. I just wanted to realize that you need me......... and if you really want me to be involved.... you're going to have to start to rebuild some of the bridges you've been burning over the last ten years.
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) What?
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage right) You better take this on board. Your right hands doing O.K., but in case you haven't noticed .... without the Left....(holds up left hand) ... you haven't got a future. It's never gonna work. You'll be sabotaged at every turn and in the end it's all gonna sound like...shit.....
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) O.K. O.K. I get the point. Can we play the damn song now?
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage right) Yeah, you get the point, but do you concede?
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) I can't concede.... not while the weakness that you call compassion places my nation and all it's achieved at such a vast risk.
Do you concede?
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage right) I can't concede; not while you pour vast resources into the military and our schools and our hospitals collapse. I can't concede while the children we promised never to forget languish in Australian Prisons Camps....indefinitely....
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) Well, have you learnt anything or... has all of this been for nothing?
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage Right) sighs and says introspectively) Well... I guess I've learnt....... that if something of yours is broken it's up to you to fix it.
And...I suppose you've helped me to remember, through all those other songs we wrote....the goodness that existed within the lives of the people we wrote about.
Maybe..... I've learned that if the Spirit of Australia we dreamed of once, is still there, there might yet be hope that we may soften our callous national heart. That might be something worth sticking around to see.
And ...(exhales loudly) as much as I hate to say it.... I think you might, ....and I only say might, have convinced me that there are times when idealism has to be tempered with pragmatism.
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) Whoa!!!! That's a big statement coming from you.
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage Right belligerent again) Well, what have you learnt?
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left ...thinks) Maybe I've learnt that division is not going to help anyone....
Maybe my side of politics has been overly responsible for promoting division for political gain.
Who knows, I might even start to oppose wedge politics as an election strategy.
I don't know yet... but I do know... that unless we can reach some national consensus on these issues.....the future is pretty bleak for us all.
And.. er.. some of the stuff you've told me about the erosion of our civil liberties has been....Well...let's just say challenging.
....and perhaps it's up to me, more than it is to you to do something about it.
I mean when I think my own side is wrong, perhaps it's up to me to stand up to them and say so.
They're not gonna listen to you. You're never gonna vote for them anyway.. but who knows? They just might listen to the people who do vote for them.
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage Right) We need to listen a bit more to people on the other side of the political divide and I mean really listen instead of just waiting for an opportunity to tell them why they're wrong..
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) That's not bad..... I might even start listen to Philip Adams occasionally, as well as Alan Jones.
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage Right) And I could listen to Stan Zemanic....
(They look at each other and begin to laugh)
Both: ....Nah there are limits...
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left) And.. I might actually read some of those emails from refugee advocates... before I delete them.
Dark Knight: (Turns head stage Right) Whoa!!!! That's a big statement coming from you.
White Knight: (Turns head stage Left, laughs) You want to play this?
Dark Knight: We could give it a go....