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Issue No. 278 26 August 2005  

A Secret Country
Beyond the obvious shift in the Australian political landscape, we are currently witnessing major changes in our political culture – personified in the two Herald Sun journalists currently facing jail.


Interview: On Holiday
Historian Richard White looks back on the Aussie vacation - and finds a way of life is under threat.,

Unions: One Day Longer
Nathan Brown travels to the Boeing picket line and find a group of workers with a steely determination to stick together.

Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Jim Marr plays the Howard Government's industrial relations spin job on its merits.

Politics: Spun Out
Canberra’s latest campaign underlines the need for controls over government advertising, according to Graeme Orr and Joo-Cheong Tham

Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
Evan Jones explains how the way we purchase alcolohol reflects the type of economy we live in.

History: Taking a Stand
Neale Towart looks at two books that chronicle how to build community support against social injustice.

International: The Split
Amanda Tattersal outsider's account of an insider's shake-out at the AFL-CIO Convention 2005

Legal: Pushing the Friendship
George Williams argues that the federal government’s constitutional powers are not sufficient to enact a comprehensive national industrial relations scheme

Poetry: Simple Subtractions
The latest blitz of taxpayer-funded advertising has revealed a crisis of arithmetic in government ranks has moved resident bard David Peetz to prose.

Review: Sydney Trashed
Sydney band SC Trash are on a mission to give new life to folk and country music – and the politics of common sense. Nathan Brown had a beer with them


 Busted: Howard's 14 Percent Fudge

 Emperor Stripped on Wages

 Witch Hunt Targets Priest

 No Malice in Pregnancy Termination, Court

 Building Boss Risks Lives

 Cleric Preaches Murder

 Bus Rams Home IR Message

 Contractors Get Run Of “The Mill”

 BHP Mining Cheap Labour

 Toll Bells For Corrigan

 Lorikeet Folds Wings

 Safety Is Apples In Orange

 IR Ads Dubious

 Striking Tongans Serenade Princess

 Activist's What's On!


The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, goes away for a couple of weeks and look what happens…

The Soapbox
The Last Weekend
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson's speech to the Last Weekend - how the Howard government laws will undermine the Ausrtalian way of life.

The Locker Room
A Concept Is Born
In which Phil Doyle helps the proponents of the vision thing across the road.

Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

London Post
During his recent stay in London IEU industrial officer John Shapiro was living only a few hundred metres from the site of one of the bomb blasts.

 Rodent Knows Best
 Godspeed LHMU
 Help Wanted
 Proof in the Pudding
 Safeguards Already There
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Lorikeet Folds Wings

Australia's “poet lorikeet”, Denis Kevans, died at Sydney's Westmead Hospital, last week, following complications from heart surgery.

Blue Mountains-based Kevans built a reputation as "the people's poet" through his close identification with Aboriginals, Irish political prisoners, workers, environmental causes, republicanism and the anti-war movement.

With an Irish Catholic background, where the male side of the family volunteered in both World War One and Two, Kevans excelled scholastically and in sport. He was in the St Joseph's College First XV Rugby team then, two years later, as a junior public servant in the old External Affairs Department in Canberra, was chosen by Sir Robert Menzies for the Prime Minister's Eleven cricket team against the visiting English in the early 1960s.

He wrote many poems on sport, war and politics with a poem on Gallipoli winning the Mary Gilmore Award for poetry in 1959. Legendary folk singer Gary Shearston recording "The Roar of the Crowd" on his seminal vinyl LP "Broadside" as 1960s drew to a close.

Kevans was prominent in both the "Ban The Bomb" anti-nuclear campaign, where his satirical poem "Teen Problems" drew the wrath of The Bulletin magazine, and the anti-war movement, where his "Slouch of Vietnam" poem became the battle hymn of the Vietnam Moritorium Movement.

Kevans mimiced Canberra's Vietnam folly in the Lawson-Paterson tradition of 'I had written him a letter' found in "Clancy of the Overflow". As each American leader arrived on our shores during the war they were greeted with his latest edict : "Welcome Spiro Agnew" was closely followed by "Tell Me Henry (Kissinger) Why I Still Can't Get To Sleep?". The poems were written with laconic wit, irony and Australian vernacular that owed much to the earlier bards. As did his tribute to the suffering of Australian veterans in poems like "Agent Orange, Agent Blue".

Kevans, with his older brother Jacko, who also recently died, were part of the Bush Music and folk song revival period in Australia which began in the mid-1950s with the play "Reedy River" at New Theatre in Sydney. While his brother Jacko stayed with the music tradition his whole life as a performer, Denis excelled at poetry. His involvement with the Realist Writers Group and, influenced by Frank Hardy's "Power Without Glory" and Russell Ward's "The Australian Legend", invigorated him to pursue the Henry Lawson tradition for much of his writing career much to the chagrin of the academic and literary establishment.

Kevans built a strong following amongst Australian workers with endless poems written for and recited on picket lines like "Clowns and other Clowns", "Cockatoo Island", "The Dogman", "Ten Minutes Washing Time", and "The Green Ban Fusiliers".

He wrote "Across The Western Suburbs We Must Wander", a parody of the traditional "Across The Western Plains", to highlight the plight of the evicted tenants of Victoria Street, Kings Cross. Many of the older residents of Victoria Street were on war-time tenancies and were illegally moved with their possessions to the outer Western Suburbs of Sydney in the middle of the night by stand-over men. At the Blue Mountains Folk Festival in the late 1990s Jack Mundey launched an album of Denis Kevan's poems set to music entitled "City of Green -Green Ban Songs and Beyond".

The Kevans legacy will be an enduring one. His verse has been recorded by over 100 local musicians, including Jeannie Lewis and Michael Atherton (from Sirocco), and translated into more than half a dozen languages in anthologies published from Vietnam and Russia to South America. His self-published anthologies were partially funded by royalties from Midnight Oil who used an unauthorised version of the Kevans' poem "Harrisburg Oh Harrisburg" (on the Three Mile Island nuclear incident in 1979) as the lead in track on their "Red Sails in the Sunset". Kevans collaborated with many musicians. His most recent efforts were in conjunction with his long time partner Sonia Bennett on her Wollemi Pine CD of environmental songs.

The Kevans contribution to the peace movement in Australia and globally was also significant. He was a tireless campaigner and performer at benefit concerts over many decades. In the last five years he has twice graced the stage of the Sydney Town Hall to recite at East Timor benefit nights - in November 2000 for the 'Anin Murak' Choir tour from Timor and in April 2004 for the Kirsty Sword-Gusmao Alola Foundation benefit. On both occasions he performed "Your Friends Will Never Forget You", a poem that refers to the Australian Army leaflet dropped over East Timor during World War Two and the betrayal of the the Timorese people by successive Australian Governments. Like many others I can sincerely say in remembering Denis Kevans now "Your Friends will Never Forget You."


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