Living in the Colonies — What’s Left?

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Living in the Colonies, What’s Left?
Paradigm Shift Part I 12 Sept 2012

"Whose land is this land
 is it for you and me
who knows, who knows this land
better than you and me.
The spirit of this land is strong
 for you and me;
 to understand this land
 is up to you and me.
 To find the owner of this land
 is up to you and me."                          

— from title song by Chris Anderson (Monni Zow)


A friend once asked me “What can the old say to the young?”
Well, nothing is one answer.

But we oldies did live in an earlier time. Perhaps we can, once in a while, take the young through time to another era so they can hear what happened when we were young and learn what we learnt. I don’t know.

So that’s the plan today (on Paradigm Shift (1 Sept 2012).

We are going to AHEPA hall in West End (Migrant Resource Centre) in the 1980s to a gig called ‘Living in the Colonies: What’s Left?’

Punk rock was over — Bjelke-Petersen was in power — Azaria had been taken by a dingo at Uluru, Qld police hooligans known as task force were still out on the street.

AHEPA hall later became the Migrant Resource Centre – it was in the middle of West End in Boundary Street. Other venues of the time were Caxton Street Hall. Other venues of the time were Caxton Street Hall, Cloudland, the Curry Shop, Baroona Hall — political music was played outside the pub scene.

Now to the gig.

Doctor Who TARDIS takes Ian and Chris back to the gig at AHEPA Hall in the 1980s

So this is Boundary Street West in the 1980s.

Ian –  my job is to be on the door to protect the gig against Task Force (early warning system) and any right wing interlopers. So I do not hear the entire concert but I can hear Chris A & Monni Zow playing ‘Give me back my Stradbroke Island”

Chris – not one of my best songs lyrically, I actually tell Joh to stuff sand mining up his bum.

Ian – Allellulah I’m a bum was a great old song and it had bum in it.

Announcer – Russ Hinze, minister for everything is trying to build a bridge to Straddie. Marches against this proposal were organised by Stradbroke Island management organisation (SIMO), democratic rights groups and environmentalist activists. Leave Straddie Unabridged was their slogan.

The time is 1983. I wrote this letter to a friend in England who I had studied at Uni with in the early 1970s – we went to an anti-Vietnam war moratorium march together in 1971.

“I sit in semi-darkness at work. There is no power. Telecom has rigged up a generator in the basement. There is no air conditioning. Its too hot on the second floor for people to work. At night I cook dinner on a gas stove by candle light. Joh Bjelke-Petersen is taking 3 weeks to so something that Thatcher has been trying to do for the past ten years. That being, to destroy a state economy. 600,000 workers in Qld have been stood down. All major industries and commerce have ground to a halt. Milton Friedman would be proud of both Joh and Maggie. They both share the economic dream of monetarism. Destroy an economy and then it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes more virulent than before or so it goes.

Joh’s rhetoric tells it all: “We will not turn back till the end of the world”. “This is a life and death struggle” “I’m herding the union bullocks into a small paddock”. The media (Courier-Mail and Telegraph) say that he’ll either brand or slaughter the union organisers.

All the lights just went out again”

Aboriginal activists set up tents in Musgrave Park during the Commonwealth Games – there were a few arrests as we tried to march from Garden City to the Suncorp Stadium at Nathan.

A group of people came together to produce a booklet, a music tape, a gig at Aphepa Hall in West End. It was called “Living in the Colonies — What’s Left? This is a tribute to that work. Thanks to all those concerned and an especial thanks to Sue and Lach (Jumping Fences) for preserving the record of these times of struggle so long ago but so close to current campaigns. I reproduce that work below.

Ian Curr
LeftPress Printing Society

At first this may seem like an unusual collection of music. The musical styles are diverse and such a combination would not usually be found on one cassette. So what has prompted the making of such a compilation?

There have been many people who have added to the history of Brisbane’s politically inspired music. These musicians have most often been part of the political struggle of the time.
One of the organisations they set up was FOCO, at a time when there were demonstrations against the Vietnam war. During the time of the street march ban, imposed by the Queensland Government in  1977, the Popular Theatre Troupe performed political theatre and music.
Later emerged the May 1st Club which presented films, speakers and music. Since then, musicians have continued to contribute to campaigns by performing at rallies, demonstrations and fund raising events.
The record “‘Flames of Discontent” “‘ was produced in response to the Seamen’s Union push to get Australian crews work on Utah ships. Other groups such as the Home Brew Cabaret and La Pena organised regular presentations of left wing
The people who worked on this cassette have been involved with many of these activities. The link between these groups’, therefore, is much stro~er than that of other musicians who may play the same style of music but inevitably compete for recognition.
Combined, the music on this cassette encompasses a broad perspective of people who are working towards a truly liberated society.
Click image to go to booklet

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