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August 2005   

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


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.


Iemma’s Dilemmas
The past fortnight has seen the sort of upheaval in NSW that reminds us all that politics is a very tenuous game with few certainties and even fewer rules.


 Carmen's Boss No Fun Guy

 Discriminating Centrelink on Charges

 Uproar Over Holiday Plans

 Do The Bus Stop

 Taxpayers to Fund Advertising Orgy

 Get Up Stands Up

 Andrews Provokes Showdown

 Thousands in Super Rort

 Constituents Don’t Trust Andrews

 Skill Shortage Fabricated

 Yanks Short Change Tradesmen

 Howard Steamroller Hits Building Sites

 CFMEU Bans Ferguson

 Activists Whats On!

 Back To The Past
 AFL-CIO Not The Only War
 Be Afraid
 Frame Up
 We Love Morris
 ANew Development
 A Readers Suggestion
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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


"We didn't wear cowboy hats when we grew up on farms,

But neither did Lee Kernaghan and he's won a shitload of golden guitars."

Combining a no-nonsense punk approach and country and folk roots, Sydney six piece Sydney City Trash are something new in both the city and the bush. Their lyrics are simple, straight to the point and laced with Aussie laconic humour. Fiddle, acoustic guitar, and country bass clash with distorted telecaster and heavy drums. And their proudest achievement is it's all done with Aussie accents.

SC Trash don't pretend to be something they're not - and they make a point of it. They wear baseball caps, not Stetsons. They wear skater shoes, not cowboy boots. They smash two of the most stereotyped music styles out there - punk and country. Free from the shackles of formula, there is a realness and honesty about them that is rare on the music scene.

That realness is reflected in the band's approach to politics. Most of the band's songs have something to say. They sing about things such as big business taking away someone's home. The crowd favourite is "the Ballad of Little Johnny" which is about the utter frustration that stems from our immovable Prime Minister. There is also a very strong union element to their songs, and the band does a modern version of the classic Union Boy.

Where does their politics come from? It comes from family and is a result of their own experiences. It isn't ideologically driven. As singer Mitch Hell says it's just the politics of common sense.

"We try to pitch it towards people who have these opinions but don't necessarily consider themselves political or anything like that, but they're smart enough to realise certain things are wrong and certain things are right," Hell says.

Violinist Jim Bones says, "I can't see of any other way of being politically. It just seems that right wing politics tends to lead to people being poorer - or dead."

They say the old union songs are becoming increasingly relevant in light of the government's industrial relations changes and when politics seems to be in freefall to the right.

"When you look at these songs people would almost laugh at them and say 'why are they so pro-union, and if you don't join the union I'll scratch out your eyes or kill you and stuff', but there was a reason they were written like that and there's almost a call for them now," says singer Mitch.

"They [the Government] are just taking back on a whole bunch work unions have put in over a long time.

"I know my history so I know we've already been through this argument, so why do it again?

"But people seem complacent and resigned to it. They're more worried about vendor taxes or investment properties and stuff like that."

Inspired by the old songs SC Trash try to push the label in their lyrics. They say their aggressive but humorous lyrics are needed to cut through in an environment where people have been de-sensitised.

"Sometimes you need to shock them out of it," Hell says.

"If you want to make people step back and have a think about it sometimes you've got to go real far to wake them up." says Bones.

One example is their version of God Save the Queen, which takes a highly irreverent view of the monarch, but not only for the sake of protest, but also with a view to history:

"God save the queen, well I think fuckin not,

And I pray every day that in hell she may rot,

They brought us in chains, convicts the lot,

And when we tried to stand up, they took aim and shot."

Although they don't necessarily make friends with everyone (the above song led to a scuffle with some skinheads in Melbourne) their music does unite people from a range of backgrounds, from punks to hippies to people who just want to have a good time listening to a band with a good sound and irreverent lyrics.

"Although it's punked up and its really fast, because its got that bush influence it's just really danceable music - it's been like that for generations and that's why they play it," Hell says.

Bones adds, "You can't be serious 24-7, you gotta have fun."

Sydney City Trash are heading to the studio to cut a new album, Once Upon a Time in Australia, followed by a concert in Newcastle in September. To find out more visit their website


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