BY JAMES CRAFTI
MELBOURNE Are all Aussies heartless bastards? This was the question that was thrashed out at the third annual Green Left Weekly comedy debate. Almost 200 people crowded into the Brunswick Town Hall on October 25 to find out. The night was hosted by well-known comedian and satirist Rod Quantock.
Arguing for the affirmative, Jeff Sparrow, historian and a member of Socialist Alternative, defined Australians as people like the mother of all Australians, Pauline Hanson and the right-wing cults that support her. He noted that Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Don Bradman, Barry Humphries and Phar Lap were all Aussie icons but only one is famous for having a big heart.
James Hazeldine from the band Man Bites God countered that all Aussies couldn't be heartless bastards because he wasn't one, nor was his Sri Lankan immigrant mother.
Carlene Wilson, second speaker for the affirmative and a member of Workers Power, told the crowd that they need only to look at what is written in Lenin's Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism and Karl Marx's Capital and Communist Manifesto to see that all Aussies are heartless bastards. Wilson described her experience as a refugee who arrived on an over-crowded plane from New Zealand.
In response, Steve Roach from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union talked about the big heart of the Australian government for being prepared to go in and fight any war that doesn't concern us for the sake of our old mate, the US government. Big-hearted Canberra has also provided free bed and board for refugees.
Nick Rashi, the last speaker for the yes case, told the crowd that they were heartless bastards for not protesting the #@%@$# language heard by the children attending the debate. He said Aussies were heartless for allowing the Australian government to support Indonesia's atrocities in East Timor for 25 years before doing anything about it.
The Socialist Alliance's Jackie Lynch finished up the evening with a bit of crowd involvement. Before they knew it, the entire crowd was re-enacting the experience of the First Fleet with bizarre sound effects and singing the Gilligan's Island theme song to the tune of Advance Australia Fair.
So are all Aussies heartless bastards? Nobody cares, but we had a great time and are all waiting for next year's debate.
From Green Left Weekly, November 6, 2002.
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