my column

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Sat Aug 7 01:09:06 MDT 1999


I occasionally post my column  to the list when I think it is of more than
purely local interest.(It is named 'The Bin' and is written for Brisbane's
only independent left paper -Neighbourhood News) Hopefully this one will be
of interest to some.



Banking on the Bin…

One of the legacies of being Irish, is that I have always been obsessed
with the evil of 'traitors' and 'selling out'. I suppose this was an
inevitable product of Irish history. Always the story was of the rebellion
that had been foiled by a traitor or a spy.  Similarly as boys in the
religious classes we were told harrowing tales of the everlasting torments
of the 'soupers'.  These were the traitors who took soup from the English
during the Famine of 1846-9 and converted to Protestantism.  Hell was their
 reward, we were assured.

As a young teacher I remember my friends and I swearing we would never
'sell out'.  An older teacher once remarked to us that we would because
everyone did.  That raised our ire to dangerous proportions. However at no
time did we ever attempt to define what we meant by a sell out. We were
just determined that we never would.

This frame of mind has stayed with me all my life. I was always been on the
alert for the danger of the bribe, the inducement to win me to silence. I
say now frankly that my fiftieth birthday had long passed before it finally
dawned on me that no one was ever going to make me an offer. The deflation
of my sense of my own importance was considerable.  'Where have I gone
wrong?' I asked myself. Why not even the faintest whiff of temptation?
However recent news has shown me what the missing ingredient is.

For all that I have lectured on the media for over twenty years now, it
seems I have never really understood how the game was played.  But the
scales have dropped from mine eyes. I was blind but now I see.  And I give
humble thanks to that nest of millionaire-battlers that run Radio 2UE in
Sydney. I will name them now in gratitude: John Laws, Alan Jones and Mike
Charlton.  These brave sons of Australia have blazed the trail. They
clearly know that to advance in this wonderful world one has to be
sponsored.  The way to get sponsored is to go up to someone important and
say that you will criticise them in the media if they do not come across.
Or alternatively you say that if this or that company want favourable
coverage then sponsorship should be forthcoming.  So Laws attacked the
banks ruthlessly for a time.  He then sent his agents around to the banks
and they worked out if they wanted the attacks to cease then some money was
needed. So $1.2 million was paid over in a bribe to John Laws by the Bank
Council. Which bank? All of them in fact.  Bank robbery for the post modern
age. Eat your heart out, Ned Kelly.

Well, damn it all, let us see what this infernal soup tastes like. I give
notice now in this here column, that I intend to launch a vicious campaign
in Neighbourhood News against the banks and their rapacious and corrupting
ways. I will demand that not only that Laws should be sacked but that the
bankers who bribed him should be put in prison.  I am also confident that
all those who lecture on Business Ethics throughout the university sector
will support me fearlessly.

I can see it all. Imagine the shiver of fear that is running down the
spines of the boards of Westpac, ANZ, and the Commonwealth Bank.  The Bin
is after them.  I can see the memos flying right now.  'How can we stop the
Bin's attacks?' the bankers are saying.  Shortly my agents will be calling
on them to arrange terms.  I will then have a series of columns on the
wonderful things banks are doing for Australia. That will be pretty hard, I
know, and if any reader can think of anything good the banks have done I
would appreciate a little help.  I will also have to sneak the column past
the ever alert eyes of my Anarchist-Communist editors. That is a tricky
one. They are a hopeless lot, really.

The truth is they just don't know how to do a deal. They will keep going on
and on about building a better world. But maybe an alternative column in
the Courier Mail could be arranged.  If the Brisbane Institute and
Professor Peter Botsman can be sponsored by Murdoch why not the Bin?
Especially, a moderate, pragmatic, reconstructed, realistic, reasonable,
responsible Bin.

I tell you readers glory waits.  Why stop at the banks?  There's Optus. It
might have the odd dollar left over from the $3 million slush fund they
have allocated for Alan Jones.  The Business Council - there's a thought.
Can you imagine the future columns of the Bin calling upon the workers of
Australia to strive harder in the national interest and to have fewer
extremist thoughts about their hungry children?   Watch this space.

2. Vale Mario Puzo.

I have just learned of the death of Mario Puzo, the author of the Godfather
books.  I was saddened by that because it was always my ambition to meet
him one day in New York and tell him that he had taught me more about
Queensland politics than anyone. That I fancy would have surprised him for
I am not sure he ever visited Australia, but he didn't need to.  Corrupt
judges, politicians and gangsters in the Police Force, Mario had it all in
his books and films and so did we. The only difference was that our lot was
real. My favourite in the films remains Godfather 1 but Godfather 2 is also
very good. I am especially fond of the Godfather-in-Cuba sequence in the
latter film.  There we see the Cuban President sitting down at a table with
the CIA, the American Ambassador and the Mafia.  All the participants have
an equal role to play. They constitute the vital ingredients of American

3. Finally the good news…
JFK Jnr is dead. Rich lawyers falling out of the sky.  Maybe there is a
god. There was a sharp debate about the "tragedy" in American Anarchist
circles.  One camp described the whole thing as a tragic waste, because, it
seems, there were three empty seats on the six-seater plane. Another
anarchist comrade replied that this was pessimistic defeatism, and that he
preferred to think of the plane as half-full rather than half-empty.

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