Saturday, July 31, 2010


The Coalition’s Dirty Tricks Machine ground to a halt today when the ball bearings seized on Tony Abbott’s bicycle causing him to slam down on the cross bar and crush his gizonkas. The ABC’s Insiders TV show ran a photograph showing the Mad Monk grimacing as a heavy handed Liberal tried to reshape his vitals which, apart from being swollen to the size of the average 800 lb dining room gorilla , have an odious coating of Warringah sand , sunflower seed husks and a pecked piece of tasty cuttlefish bone.

An eyewitness to the tragic bicycle accident said Abbott screamed and called on his heroes and mentors, Archbishop Pell and B.A. Santamaria , to lay healing hands upon his crushed crown jewels .

A doctor told Little Darwin Abbott is obviously suffering from a double hernia and almost certainly has a badly torn inner tube . Singer sewing machine oil may also have leaked out of his sprocket into the gudgeon pin , causing him to backflip from time to time .

The doctor said the only known specialist in the Southern Hemisphere who can repair pulverised gizonkas overnight is a refugee on Christmas Island. If Mr Abbott wanted to get back on his bike and continue the election campaign, his handlers should immediately hire a Manly ferry and proceed at top speed for the island , making sure they dodge the alert navy patrol boats that operate out of Darwin .


Another great Centralian identity , Mona Byrnes , 86, will be buried in Alice Springs on August 4. Mona was active in many spheres-art, theatre, fund raising - and was a member of the NT Museums and Art Galleries Board . Over the years , this writer contacted Mona for information about Alice activities , past history , and its extraordinary residents .

During one conversation she told how artist , Sidney Nolan , early in his career, had given her a sombre looking painting which she had not liked . She had given it to airline operator , Eddie Connellan, to hang in his office . Years later , while preparing an art exhibition, she retrieved the painting and i t was stored in her house. A fire destroyed the painting . As this post is being written , I have before me a 1982 letter from Eddie Connellan in which he discussed author Xavier Herbert , his (Connellan's) wartime activities and lamented the fiery end of the Nolan painting, then worth a lot of money.

Sadly, when Little Darwin recently attempted to renew contact with Mona at the Old Timers residence in Alice, we were told that she was not in a position to respond. A funeral notice says , in lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Alzheimers Australia NT would be appreciated.

Friday, July 30, 2010


There was a time way back in the annals of New Zealand journalism when two thirsty male reporters, with surnames which were also slang for female genitalia, launched an occasional publication which ran outrageous gossip. One scurrilous story said a Minister of the Crown could never be contacted at night in his hotel when on a tour of the provinces as he was pressing the flesh with a local female government employee .

As you would expect, this and other stories attracted letters of complaint and threats of legal action. The terrible two often responded to such letters by running them in full , highlighting poor spelling and grammar , and awarding marks, often than not on the low side, for composition.

Little Darwin was reminded of this Kiwi caper when looking at some official correspondence sent out by a controversial high flyer in which there were several obvious errors in one three paragraph letter relating to a serious Darwin matter .

As possibly two other highly paid people may have contributed to the composition of the short letter, each with the assistance of Spellcheck , you would have expected a bit more professionalism. If those nasty chaps in Aotearoha with the improbable names had seen the letter they would have had great fun. Just to show we are not pedantic hypocrites at Little Darwin, we admit to frequent clangers
. At times we think we have written -The cat sat on the mat, but it has , annoyingly , come out : The coot sank in the moat . Bugger !

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Are the Howard Government days of overseas trained security guards in balaclavas with snarling rottweilers likely to return to the Australian waterfront if the Coalition wins the election? It would seem so going on the hardline action taken by a stevedoring giant against members of the Maritime Union who walked off the job and held nationwide memorial services to coincide with the funeral of a member, Stephen Piper, 41, father of two children , who was crushed to death at Melbourne’s Appleton Dock, on July 14. He was the third person killed on the waterfront in the past five months.

P & O Automotive and General Stevedoring (POAGS) , chairman of which is Chris Corrigan , former managing director of Patrick Corporation , issued please explain letters, with an implied punitive threat, to those who participated in the services. The letters, sent to MUA members throughout the nation , including here in Darwin , demanded a response within a short span of time.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally attended one of the memorial services , also held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle,Adelaide, Hobart , Port Kembla,Townsville , Newcastle , Darwin and Devonport. It seems no member of the NT Government attended the memorial service held at Stokes Hill Wharf. In Tasmania , Chaplain John McMath , spoke out about the heartlessness of POAGS and the lack of feeling expressed by wanting to punish those who attended memorial services .

He pointed out that the nation had rightly honoured a soldier who had been killed in Afghan during July , his mates attending the funeral service . However, in the case of deceased waterfront worker , Stephen Piper, the comparison had been stark and confronting, his colleagues penalised for supporting the dead.

MUA national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, was reported as saying the walk off on the day of the memorial service was not a strike. He said there was a yawning gap and inadequacies in state and federal safety legislation covering the nation's wharves, especially in bulk and general operations, after years of neglect and deregulation under the Howard Government years. "We're not copping inaction," he said. "The industry's safety record is appalling. We need national legislation. We need regulation that establishes a robust compliance and enforcement regime, supported by guidance material covering the full range of stevedoring hazards. We need the Federal Government to intervene."
Since the previous two deaths, the union had held national stevedoring conferences of workers to examine the safety issues and lobbied the government for national regulations.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


From a reliable source, Little Darwin recently received a tip that men in TNI uniforms had crossed into the Timor Leste enclave of Oe-Cusse and burnt down three buildings. The incident, we were told, had taken place about a month ago . Straddling the border between the Indonesian part of the island and Oe-Cusse is a manganese deposit which is being mined in a wildcat fashion . Today comes confirmation that there is indeed a potentially explosive situation in the area.

****** Naktuka residents call for increasing numbers of police*Suara Timor Loro Sa’e, July 27, 2010 .- Local residents of Naktuka border have called on the Government to increase numbers of the Timorese Border Police Unit (BPU), so that it could protect them in the border area, as they have many times been intimidated. During a meeting with the state secretary for defense and the F-FDTL chief of staffs , a local resident, Joaquim Ninas , called on the Government to recruit more police officers to increase number of security in the border area. Another resident, Joao Mauno ,who had been many times intimidated by TNI soldiers called on the Government to set up security post in that area, so that they could remain calm.

Furthermore, here is a television report about the episode which is an issue causing growing concern in Darwin's large Timorese community and has not been reported in the Northern Territory.

*Naktuka residents call on F-FDTL soldiers’ deployment* Televizaun Timor-Leste, July 27, 2010 . -Following the recent threat by the Indonesia’s TNI soldiers, Naktuka local residents have called on the Government to deploy the Timorese Defense Force (F-FDTL) soldiers to provide them security in the border. The local residents made the call after meeting with State Secretary for Defense, Julio Thomas Pinto , and the F-FDTL Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Lere Anan Timur, in the area. State Secretary, Pinto said the Government had made policy on the deployment of the F-FDTL in Naktuka border, yet would take a longer time, as it would be discussed at the Council of Ministers’ meeting. Pinto stressed that the deployment of the defense soldiers would be in Oe-Cusse, not in Naktuka. Pinto called on Indonesia’s TNI soldiers not to make trouble in the border, as the border demarcation issue ought to be resolved amicably. F-FDTL’s Lere also called on the Nakatuka local residents to keep building good relationships with the local residents of the neighbouring country, because the border issue was the resonsibility of the two country’s governments to resolve.

Another report which highlights the seriousness of the situation is as follows :

*Nakatuka case, Horta blames Govt and condemns TNI* Diario Nacional, July 27, 2010 . President Jose Ramos Horta has blamed the Timorese Government, mainly the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Ministry of Agriculture, as they constructed infrastructure in the area which is still under dispute. Horta said the Timorese Government had made fault, yet Indonesia’s TNI soldiers should not use force in the border. “If there is any problem we can talk to each other, the armed force should not enter the country, no reason for this. Although Timor- Leste is guilty, as any ministry does not coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, yet is not reasonable the TNI uses force to destroy these houses. This should be about state relations, diplomacy ,not doing this,” Horta said. Horta also condemned the TNI soldiers that had used force to destroy social houses constructed [recently made the Government] in Naktuka area. Meanwhile, State Secretary for Defense, Julio Thomas, has called on the Indonesia authorities to investigate the TNI soldiers who had created a problem in the border.

Monday, July 26, 2010


A veteran activist who often made the headlines in Darwin has driven into town pulling a Caribbean pirate’s ship disguised as an innocent fishing smack with more stickers on the hull for worthy causes and appeals for justice than barnacles on the Queen Mary. The skipper is Dr John Tomlinson, former Senior Lecturer-Social Policy, School of Humanities and Human Services, Queensland University of Technology . On arrival back in his old hunting ground, he promptly fired a broadside , via a letter to the NT News editor, at the “ rich and powerful ” over the pollution of NT waterways and plans for development of Darwin Harbour which includes blasting the bottom three times a day for 14 months to clear the way for super tankers.

From Brazil to Bobonaro , Borroloola , Bagot , Berrimah , the bush and beyond , Dr Tomlinson has campaigned long and hard for oppressed people and against the entrenched arrogance and blindness of institutions, governments, politicians and big business . Many of his Territory campaigns were carried out in company with another well known Darwin activist , Rob Wesley-Smith.

In fact , the two were arrested by Customs when attempting to run medical supplies by boat to East Timor. Another amazing episode - their move to set up the NT Council of Civil Liberties – so upset the police that the gendarmes stacked the first meeting , elected most of the interim office bearers , and thought they had stymied those annoying twosome. What transpired is now unclear because of the passage of time and varying recollections. However, along came Cyclone Tracy, and in the chaos which ensued , a strategic advert appeared saying there would be another meeting of the NT Council of Civil Liberties in Brown’s Mart , which went unnoticed by the police. Not so John and Wes , who forced entry to the building with supporters and voted in a new committee . The present NT Administrator was somehow involved in the amusing caper .

The man-o-war which Dr Tomlinson brought to Darwin is currently careened in the leafy Wesley-Smith rural estate , waiting for the wind to drop to enable a fishing trip to the Peron Islands.

This one-eyed writer had the pleasure of a salty session with Dr Tomlinson and the recently doctored Wesley-Smith during which an inspection was made of the doc’s vessel,called the White Knight , which conjures up the image of a dashing crusader who , with a theatrical flourish, gallantly picks up a damsel’s stray garter from the cobblestones .

Alas and alack , there is no such honourable story behind the boat’s entry in Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping. Originally , the boat was merely painted white . Dr Tomlinson’s previous boat bore the unusual name, Yellow Peril , because it was painted in that hue. A military alert went out each time he returned from a Top End fishing trip and over the radio announced , This is Yellow Peril about to enter Darwin Harbour. ”

A feminist , who obviously delights in cutting sea-going males down to size, suggests the current vessel name is too chauvinist . As John tows the White Knight with a Toyota Troop Carrier , she maintains she should be entitled to announce , “Here comes Droopy , driving his Troopie , dragging his White Nighty.”

* Part 2 of this sea shanty shall appear before the doldrums arrive and residents begin voluntarily walking the plank. It will include details of Dr Tomlinson’s paper recently delivered to an international organisation in Brazil to advance the living conditions of a large part of the world , Darwin newspaper anecdotes , assorted Wesley-Smith inventions and the story behind the hat with a hole in the crown

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The many skills of artist Royle Salt were praised when we unveiled Little Darwin's new home page with the above striking drawing of our editorial luminaries. At the time of launching the blog front we did not realise that Salt can also predict the future . We wondered why he included candles in the cartoon , now we know - he could see the Casuarina substation Roman candle exploding during the election debate . We are negotiating a table for the artist at the Nightcliff Sunday market so that he can corner the fortune telling market and we will only deduct 25 per cent commission .

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Darwin man breaks into hysterics each time he sees the pop-eyed , anxious spider who can never catch the blowfly in the fabulous French Miniscule TV series . Why? Because the sad looking spider reminds him of a certain Territory politician who shall remain nameless . The latest, too short episode involving the thwarted arachnid , the smart blowfly and camembert cheese reduced the couch potato to a giggling loon.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Like the Northern Territory News , Little Darwin has undergone a major revamp which has made it the darling of Japanese anime fans. Pictured above are the two key literary giants on our staff- the tree climbing , banana eating editor and our foreign correspondent who was brought back to Earth and banished to the Top End after an examination of his bloated expense accounts revealed an enormous amount of expenditure on Mars Bars. Incidently, our editor's mother took one look at him when he was born, and immediately sold him to the Barnum and Bailey Circus . A lavish relaunch party was held at the rendezvous for Beautiful People and child prodigies -the swank Sky Tower penthouse - attended by members of Darwin's AAA list, firefighters, police , nurses , teachers, ambulance officers and a one -legged nurseryman from Humpty Doo who was fed to a giant inflatable crocodile by the fun seeking celebrities.

Our talented cartoonist, Royle Salt, is aptly named as he is paid peanuts considering his undoubted skills and will regularly grace this blog with superb artwork. Numerous offbeat graphics , unusual features and a condensed book have been lined up . Of course, the usual satire and spoof , our commentary on a mad, mad mad (exasperating ) world , will continue with contributions from a growing list of local and distant observers.

Monday, July 19, 2010


In a shock dawn raid, Victorian police have swooped on a suspected illegal crematorium operated by a ruthless gang planning to take over Australia.

Police have been informed the coalition of crooks allegedly incinerated some of its members, piles of embarrassing documents and gangland policies . Police also raided the Wollstonecraft, NSW, home of a former godfather of the bloodthirsty group who has been proudly photographed with an urn said to contain the ashes of the notorious London gangsters , the Kray Brothers. This same person wears a bulletproof vest and a box since a rival gang of cricket bat - wielding hit men threatened to rub him out at scenic Silly Point , not far from Kirribilli.

CSI forensic experts examining bones in the crematorium , made to look like a harmless bottle tree, believe they could be the remains of a former gang leader whose strange disappearance during a clam bake in a beach party has never been solved. Initial sifting of ashes has turned up the eye and wooden leg of a missing naval identity and the charred remains of a Republican flag .

Stunned neighbours told Little Darwin’s police roundsman , Elliott Ness, the bottle tree has been belching smoke like an old powerhouse running on clean green coal in the last week. As a result, some residents had wanted it turned into a religious shrine , a memorial to the Spanish Inquisition. Police working round the clock on the spooky true blue crematorium site will be paid triple time, receive dirt money , provided with a large bag of roasting marshmallows and other workers' benefits .

Saturday, July 17, 2010


The extensive promos for the ABC’s new 24 hour news channel have been running footage of the well known former Darwin journalist, the late Mike Hayes, reporting from the Cyclone Tracy devastated city in 1974.

Songwriter, musician, raconteur, comedian, he even won the World Yarnspinning Championship in Darwin from author Frank Hardy . His Prickle Farm ABC radio series , about the happenings at Gundaroo , near Canberra, in which he had a small holding , which rivalled the Vestey pastoral empire , was well received throughout the nation.

He and his brother recorded songs under the name The Fabulous Hayes Brothers. His biggest selling song, Narelle, about the travails of rural women in tough times, such as droughts, was recorded by
Rolf Harris. Mike was 58 when he died in 2003.

In the Little Darwin files is a photograph of Mike , armed with a bow and arrow , to which is attached a fishing reel with a line to haul in the catch, in a Fannie Bay demonstration of a new exciting way to catch killer whales.


Deep inside a popular Sydney Chinese restaurant where Sussex Street assassins and gluttonous journalists regularly disport themselves , the ALP’s secret election weapon -Basil the psychic Balmain Bug - is kept prisoner in a locked room.

Basil is Australia’s answer to the repulsive octopus which became a global celebrity by predicting the outcome of soccer matches in South Africa. Our Basil is the house trained pet of former NSW Premier , Neville Wran, who found the cute creature was still alive when he won a seafood tray in an ALP raffle. Instead of cooking him, Wran made the critter one of the family and taught him all he knows about politics.

It was discovered Basil could predict the outcome of elections anywhere in the world. In an exclusive interview with Little Darwin, Neville Wran said he is proud of Basil because he is a tough little bugger. “Balmain Bugs don’t cry,” he told us-apparently they do not have tear ducts.

When the ALP’s X-lotto numbers man, Richo ,heard about Basil’s amazing powers and encyclopedic political knowledge, he borrowed him from his old mate to head the government’s election campaign. “ If Basil says Julia has to look like a mermaid to win votes, we’ll have her sitting on a rock looking like the Little Mermaid out of Hans Christian Andersen,” Richo , a master tactician , told us.

Each day now, Basil is asked who will win the forthcoming election. The crustacean has the choice of two things: a steamed dim sim , representing hot gospeller Tony Abbott , or an upright springroll with a strip of red Peking Duck on top which, of course, stands for Julia Gillard.

Without exception , Basil darts at the springroll and devours it in a flash. There is concern that if he eats too many springrolls he will end up looking like a magnificent West Australian rock lobster and elope with Magda Szubanski who now looks like Twiggy or a seductive springroll , throwing the entire ALP campaign into disarray.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Darwin man trying to get his affairs in order after death of his wife contacted one of the four pillars of our banking system to arrange necessary change to the joint account. Two months later , after several non-returned calls from the bank, strange requests , being notified that he , a retiree , now had a business account ( never mentioned at any stage , not wanted ) , and a statement that the Sydney office would have to be contacted for instructions about what to do about the piddling amount of $30 , an interview was arranged with the manager.
Not good enough was the mild , if inadequate, verdict by the bank official when the unsatisfactory saga was detailed. It is a wonder the customer, who had been dealing with the bank for 50 years, was not given a complimentary packet or two of Fantales for the stress.
In case you have not noticed, something strange has been going on in banking . Banks have actually been handing money back to customers after it was discovered that they had been illegally , systematically milking the public. The media follow up stories have been few and far between on this subject .
There was a truly bizarre event in Melbourne when a large number of ANZ staff were either sacked or departed after it was alleged some kind of drug distribution had been going on from the premises.
After 10 years of heartbreak and trauma , a Sydney friend recently got settlement of a kind from a bank - one of the four pillars - which enthusiastically urged she and her husband should take a loan against the value of their house and invest it in a recommended property development group which went belly up out west, taking with it the savings of many people. It was subsequently discovered that in filling out the papers for the investment, the bank had given her a bogus occupation - hairdresser . Sounds like the subprime racket in the USA which brought the world to the brink of a depression.
In the attempt to get justice -a hard to obtain commodity when dealing with banks who like to use their money, power and lawyers to crush mere mortals- she went to all the so- called regulators , politicians , and media organisations , the latter tending to quickly drop the matter , apparently because it was a bit involved and involved the Big End of town .
However, one crusader in WA took up the case for many of the people caught up in the smelly affair and kept fighting. During the decade of struggle , the woman and her husband were under constant threat of being evicted from their own house, there was great family tension and the future looked bleak.
In the Storm Finances collapse in Townsville, Queensland, hundreds of millions were lost , people were ruined , marriages broke down when the stockmarket took a dive . Evidence came out at public hearings and TV interviews that false claims were made in documents about the income of people who were advised to borrow more and more money to invest in the stockmarket.
It was claimed that a small Townsville Commonwealth bank was writing amazing amounts of loans and nobody, apparently, at head office or elsewhere thought there was a teensy weensy justification for close examination to see what the hell was going on .
During an early goldrush in nearby Charters Towers it is said a miner who struck it rich rode a horse shod with with golden shoes and a song was written about him and his flash mount . It is not sure which bank thought Townsville's streets were paved with gold during the stockmarket casino run.
The Commonwealth Bank has offered some victims of the Storm collapse a resolution of some kind , secret of course. Others are resorting to class action. America has just passed new legislation to get tough with its outrageous banks which had to be bailed out by the nation to the tune of some $700 billion . There the banks mounted an expensive campaign to try and prevent the government from ending their long running party .
The revealed slick dealings of our own banks and financial industry demands stronger regulations and penalties , more alert regulators with greater powers who react speedily to the complaints of Joe Public , often ruined overnight .

Monday, July 12, 2010


You expect Yanks to butcher English but the local ABC comes up with some excruciating clangers . The island of , sounded liked , Goo-am , is a protectorate of what country ? asked one morning radio presenter. Think she meant Guam , pronounced Gwarm . Another ABC newsreader called the Pfizer drug company Fizzer ,many of which are found after cracker night.

An American techno- optimist who advises a large number of the top 500 US corporations mentioned Armageddon , but the way he pronounced the word it came out not like the end of the world but a medication for treating insomnia and drug addiction – a mogadon . When using the adjective affluent, he twice made it sound like what comes out of the Larrakeyah poo shooter. If I heard him correctly, he repeated the cheery news that during the next millennium there would be three international wars and humanity would survive .

Increasingly , the annoying American way of referring to the French/English word route as ROWT is heard over the Australian airwaves, including some of our academics who must have received a Fullbright Scholarship and swanned about the US of A , picking up the local twang .

Saturday, July 10, 2010


It is sad to learn that WW11 Z Force commando , Jack Sue, who died last year , aged 84, has been accused of fabricating parts of his book, Blood in Borneo, dealing with his part in the campaign against the Japanese forces. Military historian Lynette Silver has claimed there are factual errors and inconsistencies in the book. In particular, she said Sue’s claim to have been a witness to the Sandakan death marches did not accord with the records. Sandakan has been described as the single worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen during WW11. More than 3600 Indonesian slave labourers and some 2400 Allied prisoners died

While doing research on the wartime record of another Z Force commando , the late James Frederick Bowditch, MC, a former editor of the Northern Territory News , Cyclops had several telephone conversations with Sue in WA . Although he had not been on any operations with Bowditch, Sue, who received the DCM for his wartime exploits, was well aware of him.

He was able to supply the name ( which Bowditch had forgotten) and details of the unarmed combat instructor on Fraser Island , Queensland, a former Perth professional wrestler, who used to attack his men at any hour to see if they were alert and battle ready. Bowditch said you would be coming out of your tent first thing in the morning , hear a scream , and it was the instructor, a major, who weighed about 20 stone, flying at you feet first. He described the startling situation as being like a scene from the Pink Panther movie, Peter Sellers playing the crazy Inspector Clouseau , his oriental manservant trying to catch him off guard .

Sue’s cousin, Peter Wong, was on Fraser Island when he heard “mad screaming” within the instructor’s tent , from which he charged , wielding a rifle with bayonet attached , and hurled it at him. Much smaller, but versed in unarmed combat, Wong stepped aside and threw the rifle into a sandbagged sandpit in which much training took place.

The major and Wong then had a wild wrestle in the sandpit, Sue’s cousin becoming so furious after having his head rubbed into the sand, he hurled the major out of the ring three times. This response on behalf of Wong delighted the major.

The book responsible for the controversy was written after Sue suffered a stroke . Historian Lynette Silver came across the claimed inconsistencies in the book when asked to do research for a proposed documentary. As a result of research done by Silver , the former president of the Prisoner of War Association of Australia, Rex Crane, last year was charged with fraud as he had never been a POW .

The WA state president of the RSL , Bill Gaynor , has gone on record as saying Jack Sue had been a man of integrity who would not make any claims that were not true.

Friday, July 9, 2010


A former Northern Territory boxing champion, Tommy McDonald, recently visited Darwin from Canberra and went looking for Charlie’s restaurant in the CBD but was disappointed to hear that it had closed its doors not long ago. He told Little Darwin how a tasty steak at Charlie’s had helped him form the conviction that he would knock out his opponent , Frankie Martin, at a forthcoming professional fight.

After the weigh in for the bout , Tommy headed to Charlie’s and ordered a big steak. While devouring the steak he psyched himself up for the fight against his experienced opponent who had a reputation for going the knuckle.

Both fighters bounced out of their corner and went at it hammer and tongs . Martin hit the deck on his face with blood streaming from two cuts to his face . McDonald , also sporting a cut about his eye, thought it was all over , but referee Tim Angeles, probably thinking fight fans would be annoyed if the bout was over after only one round, delivered a slow count and Martin got to his feet. It was to no avail because Martin went down in the second and was counted out. Both combatants could have done with a platter of Charlie's raw steaks to ease the facial swelling.

An angry fight fan from the Northern Territory News, compositor Bobby Wills, claimed Frankie had taken a dive, having put money on Tommy to win. McDonald rejected this suggestion . Martin had thrown everything at him and had taken a lot of punishment

There were no lasting hard feelings over the fight. Years later , McDonald saw Frankie Martin, running an Aboriginal hostel at the time , in Canberra, with the late Charlie Perkins of the Aboriginal Affairs Department , and they invited him to come and have lunch with them

During this recent visit to Darwin with his wife, Judith , Tommy went out to the McMillan’s Road cemetery to see his father’s grave. While there he came across the grave of a promising Darwin boxer, Johnny Hunter, who was tragically killed during a magpie goose shooting trip before a scheduled fight.

McDonald fought under the name Rocky Mack , some of his bouts taking place in the Rushcutters Bay Stadium , Sydney. He arrived in Darwin from Scotland with his family in l948. As an indication that nothing much has changed in Darwin since those days, he was walking home from the Star Theatre one night and picked up a stray crocodile in the gutter.

Tommy showed Little Darwin an advertisement out of the NT News for the M.V. Johnston Motors WHO’S WHO contest which invited readers to identify six well known Territorians- young Tommy one of them. Others included community fund raiser Billy Pitscheneder , diver Carl Atkinson , Nelly Flynn from Rum Jungle who inspired a character in Xavier Herbert's novel Capricornia, and another girl who was a Miss NT or Miss Australia entrant. The prize, he thinks , was a weekend at Adelaide River .

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The dramatic 1954 Darwin Airport international incident which saw police manhandle armed Russian guards attempting to hustle Mrs Evdokia Petrov , wife of a defecting Russian diplomat, out of the country has been resurrected by the recent death of distinguished Australian public servant and academic, John Burton .

The Petrov Affair was mentioned in the replay of a Burton interview by Phillip Adams in the excellent ABC Late Night Live classic interviews series.

Burton emphatically stated he felt the Petrov Affair, which included a Royal Commission, had been a political stunt to damage Labor. [ It came to light three weeks before a Federal election at a time when it was felt the Menzies government would be voted out and it would have to, as one newspaper putit , pull a rabbit out of a hat not to be swept from office ; Menzies was re-elected . ]

Burton said Vladimir Petrov, Third Secretary at the Russian Embassy, Canberra, had been playing up all the time and it was quite reasonable for the Russian ambassador to want to send him back to Russia . In the case of his wife, she was quite different, and the couple were not getting on well at the time. Her husband had defected and she, escorted by two guards, had been dragged aboard a BOAC flight plane to be taken back to Russia. There were extraordinary scenes at Sydney airport when an angry crowd , many of them European migrants, invaded the tarmac and attempted to prevent the guards from taking the distraught Mrs Petrov aboard the flight.

In Darwin , a deadlock was put on one guard , and they were relieved of their weapons. Mrs Petrov sought asylum and was taken to Government House.

Her husband had been able to make contact with the Defence Department and brought with him a document, which Burton suspected Colonel Charles Spry of ASIO had drafted . “ Petrov could not have drafted it as his English was impossible” he told Adams.[ It was subsequently revealed that Vladimir Petrov had been paid 5000 pound on defecting and promised a similar amount if the document he supplied ASIO warranted it]. That document , said Burton , dealing with many issues, gave the impression that Prime Minister Menzies was going to rescue all of Australia from subversive elements . No one would ever know the truth, he continued but he felt there was strong evidence that it was “ just a political stunt. ”

(An eyewitness account of the Darwin rescue of Mrs Petrov , written by New Zealand journalist and author , Ross Annabell, a former editor of the NT News , was recently published in the Northern Territory Police Museum and Historical Society journal, Citation. It consisted of the actual story he filed covering the event.)

Burton , the head of the External Affairs Department , also had another important link with Darwin. He was involved in the Federal government’s move to establish another newspaper in Darwin other than the union owned and run Northern Standard , regarded as a communist publication, which eventually led to the birth of the NT News. PM Ben Chifley , said to be obsessive about communists, is thought to have originated the idea for a new Darwin paper . In 1948 Burton raised the issue with political reporter Don Whitington, former chief of the Canberra bureau of the Frank Packer owned Consolidated Press, who had close contact with the ALP.

When the Chifley government was voted out, Canberra lost interest in the newspaper proposal. However, it was later renewed and the conservatives arranged for the old tin bank in Smith Street to be made available to Whitington and Eric White , head of a leading PR firm , who had a strong connection to PM Robert Menzies , for the new paper.

Burton died at the age of 95 . During his time he worked round the clock during WW11 in Canberra , was closely involved with the workaholic, demanding and suspicious Doctor Evatt , including the period in which he played a big role in setting up the UN , contributed behind the scenes to the eventual settlement of the Indonesian Konfrontasi with Malaysia and Singapore , pioneered the study of conflict resolution now taught in many universities, and was a contemporary of other influential public servants such as " Nugget" Coombs and Roland Wilson .

Believing in the postwar welfare state set up by Atlee in Britain ,which Curtin and Chifley pushed here, he unsuccessfully stood as a Labor candidate in the federal seat of Lowe, which was won by William McMahon, later to become PM. Burton upset Labor by leading a delegation to a peace conference in China and claimed the US had used chemical weapons in Korea. Interestingly, he opposed the Indonesian takeover of West Papua from the Dutch .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


After three female nurses were assaulted at the Joan Ridley Unit in the Cowdy Ward at Royal Darwin Hospital, is it time to employ male nurses only there ? It is not clear if there was a male staff member in the unit at the time in an area which is predominantly occupied by males. The person who attacked the nurses had been sniffing petrol. The protection of all nursing staff should be paramount but it seems the attack on the nurses was not reported to WorkSafe , as is required under the NT Workplace Health and Safety Act. Unfortunately ambulance officers, police and firemen have to cope with abusive and aggressive people. A taxi driver recently explained on TV the injuries he has received from Darwin passengers.


CANNES : It has just been confirmed that Australian Coalition trick cyclist, Tony Abbott , will play the starring role of brave Joan of Arc in a film to be shot in Paris next year . Unlike the fairy tale ending of Cinderella , poor Joan was turned into cinders by her former pontificating , power - hungry supporters .

Abbott, who moves in religious and hunchback circles when he is trailing the field in the pretend Tour de France at Notre Dame , let slip his surprising new career after the certain election thrashing when he told reporters that as a woman he expects to be treated in a certain way.

Alert journos , ready to pounce on every word uttered by a pollie , including a slip of the tongue, asked him if he was making a special announcement about a gender change . Caught with his petticoat showing and rouged cheeks , he responded thus: “This is gospel- I have signed a great big new contract to play the French Catholic heroine , Joan of Arc. I am currently undergoing a course of botox and dermal cosmetic injections to turn me into a French dairy maid, comely enough to be photographed doing an Apache dance on the the top of Uluru and feature on the front page of the NT News with a crook crocodile."

Little Darwin can reveal that the French film company - Le Grande Prix Nouveaux - has promised to let him have a holiday after the great big election defeat to go surfing with Kevin Rudd .The saltwater will heal the cat-o’-nine tail weals and stab marks. Then it will not hurt when he ties on Joan of Arc’s chastity belt for the film which will be shot in 3D on the same location as the French horror classic, Phantom of the Rue Morgue .

ROME ON THE MOVE +++++++++++++

The renowned Dick Ward Drive unfinished building bearing the sign ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY has been the scene of much activity . Men have been loading things onto a truck . The site is either being cleared of all the building material stored there for so long or else about to be converted into a high rise to rival anything in Dubai , Shanghai and the Vatican.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Minister for Housing and Manager of Government Business in the NT Legislative Assembly, Dr Chris Burns, is apparently a fan of political journalist, author and commentator Mungo MacCallum . After Mungo delivered a speech about the shortcomings of the Australian press, Dr Burns got him to autograph one of his books and they had a short, animated discussion at the podium. Mungo was heard impishly warning the minister there were political situations in the book which he would not like to see duplicated in the Territory. Wonder what they were ?
The veteran journo was on the Canberra political beat when somebody in high office chundered into the swimming pool at The Lodge and the shock horror news came through that Andrew Peacock's hair had turned prematurely black. Nevertheless , he received little media coverage locally- a short interview by Vicki Kerrigan of the ABC. He was, however, seen consorting with other scribes at study luncheons .

UNCLE SAM & MATES DOWN UNDER*****************

To mark American Independence Day-July 4-residents in a Brisbane retirement village were given hamburgers. Here in Darwin, on this important day for the USA, it was not Uncle Sam calling when the telephone rang- it was a recorded survey for INPEX. You were given the choice of answers to questions about the proposed project which you recorded by pressing the appropriate numbered button.

While on the subject of telephone polls , anybody received a hard to hear call from an Asian lady working for a Melbourne firm claiming to be doing a survey for “the government ” about tourism and travel ? It was the same message as about six months ago .

Saturday, July 3, 2010

THE JOY OF (NOT ) FLYING NORTH & SOUTH >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Darwin resident is musing over a flight from Melbourne to Darwin on Tiger. The basic terminal was jam - packed like a convention of jostling terracotta warriors . Once aboard the kite, it was announced that due to headwinds extra fuel was needed, so five passengers would have to get off. Any volunteers ? Not a one . The last five passengers to board were jettisoned .
Some friends went to the Darwin Airport two weekends ago at the start of an overseas trip only to discover that there was a technical problem with the south bound Virgin plane . An engineer had to be flown in from Brisbane to certify the problem and another engineer was then brought from Melbourne with parts . More than 28 hours late, our travellers, satisfied about the way they were treated by the airline , accommodated and given a credit flight for later use, took off Along the way to Blighty they found security checks strict , thorough and touchy feely.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


(Part 2 of the wide ranging talk, Current Politics and Deplorable Media Coverage , given by political journalist , author and commentator , Mungo MacCallum , in the Parliamentary Library, Darwin, on June 29 .)

Refined and demure members of the audience may have had a touch of the vapours when Mungo said questioning of politicians in Australia seemed to be part of a jousting contest to establish who had “ the biggest dick” . [ If this sorry state of affairs be true, then the ascension of Ms Gillard has thrown a spanner in the plumbing.]

Instead of trying to find out details of policies for the future of the country, questioning ran to ones like have you stopped beating your wife yet? Sceptical and severe questioning to point out what may be wrong , was okay , but that was different to the kind of question which started thus, " How does it feel to have blood on your hands ? " [Mind you, Little Darwin recalls that highly regarded reporters such as the late Richard Carleton and Australia's best interviewer, the ABC's Kerry O'Brien , in turn asked Bob Hawke and Julia Gillard if they had blood on their mitts after the demise of the leader .] Other subjects which drew erudite comment were as follows .

Editors -They did not seem to have the same contact with their political reporters that they used to in bygone days, due to the time pressure ; in the internet age journalists were not only expected to write stories for papers , they had to blog and participate in stupid Twitter pieces , giving them no time to think and contemplate what they really should be doing. Bylines- Junior reporters today expected bylines , even for stories that were rewritten from a media release , and often included opinion in their copy . The Australian -The editor in chief , Chris Mitchell , had been “ fanatical” in the desire to get Labor out , several staff members , who he named, being picked for that very reason. Television - There was not much investigative television because it took too much time ; television was designed to be sharp, quick and on the spot .

Whistleblowers – True whistleblowers should be protected . Trying to draw up legislation to protect whistleblowers in all circumstances was a difficult task . Of the many leaks he had received over the years , the majority had come from people motivated by a personal grudge. Internet –Not seen as a vehicle for rational debate; fine for polemic and abuse , for opinionated people. GetUp unashamedly a crusading organisation which selected causes and goes for it, which was fine , but did not supplant political debate.

New Matilda current affairs online publication - Went broke in the same way as so many of the little current affairs magazines. The Monthly and the Griffith Review very good magazines , were surviving but not making a great deal of money, maybe breaking even in the case of The Monthly, for which he writes. A heartening development was that articles in these publications and the Quarterly Essay, another publication to which he contributes, are followed up by the mass media.[ The latest example being David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Kevin Rudd ].

Loss of irreverence in modern journalism reports –Australian journalists used to be good at this , in shows like This Day Tonight and magazines he worked for , but this now passé. People now seemed to think everything is so serious. It was not being political correct , it was being pompous . Current affairs and satire were interwoven , now they were separated, by management direction , except for
Clarke and Dawe on the ABC 7.30 Report .

Influence of Christian fundamentalism on parliament.- Not much on Canberra but a strong fundamentalist group in Liberal Party , NSW , which does have a bit of clout. Senator Fielding , of Family First, tended to be seen as more influential than he really is. A number of pollies were or had been practicing Christians , not fundamentalists. Abbott and Rudd not fundamentalists, certainly Christians . They believed in evolution , not that the Earth was created in six days . [ The new PM has clearly stated she did not believe in God ] . Abbott not obsessive about abortion and homosexuality .While Abbott against abortion , had made it clear that as PM would not seek to change the law… “ and I believe him in that , as he has three young daughters who are fairly feisty .” Politicians might go to Hillsong because there were a lot of people there . but some went to cricket matches and people did not regard them as fundamentalists.

The future of the Murdoch empire after the demise of its head - MacCallum said had no idea who might take over as there were so many internal politics in the Murdoch several families . Whoever did would not regard it so seriously as dad , the same way as James Packer had done on receiving his father’s mantle . “I suspect that. like Alexander the Great , when Rupert moves on the empire is going to splinter. ” .

Statehood for NT –He felt the Territory was treated well by Canberra under the present arrangement and mischeviously asked could we really find 10 senators if we became a state.

NT News - Would you believe crocodiles on the front page of the News got a mention? He also noted that the report of PM Gillard’s first cabinet was run on page 14 of the paper.

Mass media - While it provided the bulk of the community with its news, he said it was doing a “pretty bad job of it.”There was no ongoing real public discourse on such issues as the republic, how to achieve reconciliation with the Aboriginal population, desirable changes to the constitution . These were not sexy issues , so could not generate a front page picture. They were put on the back burner , regarded as second or third level issues of importance . The nation should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Issues should not be neglected until some politician gave them a kick or were raised by a “brave” person like Paul Keating. Anything which encouraged public discourse was thoroughly worthwhile. Keating’s former speech writer , Don Watson, had told him the only place where you could have a civilized conversation was at a writers’ festival.

Compulsory voting –A strong supporter, Mungo said that in countries where it was not compulsory , like America, strenuous, well organized minority groups, such as the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby, gained power out of proportion to their numbers . Where not compulsory , a large amount of time, energy and money had to be expended during an election campaign just convincing people to vote. Democracy was a fragile flower and voting was a small price to pay to hold it together. It was the right and duty of every citizen to take part in the governance of a country . Anyone who did not participate had no right to complain about anything that happened.

The public address system at talks in the parliamentary library needs improvement as at times, especially if you were positioned on the back bench like Kevin Rudd, you could not hear what Mungo was saying , nor the questions being asked.