Thursday, February 24, 2011



Powerful anti war cartoon by architecture student Mike Bastow on the cover of the joint Lot’s Wife /Farrago edition, edited by Ian Robinson and Pete Steedman , which caused another uproar . Before the paper went to press the Vice Squad went to the printery and, invoking so called obscenity powers, insisted a breast on the plate was altered so that it appeared as a smudge . The cartoon shows US president LBJ admitting he had raped Vietnam , but if he had not, the guy on crutches, Chairman Mao , would have done so *. Bastow is now a renowned international artist, has a studio in Paris and is the subject of several books .
Impressed by Lot’s Wife, Gareth Evans, reading law at Melbourne Uni ,a former president of the Student Representative Council, urged Pete Steedman to come on over and jazz up Farrago, Australia’s oldest student newspaper, founded 1925 . Incidently, Steedman points out that Evans ,who became the Federal Attorney -General and Foreign Minister , was christened Gary, by his mother , a fan of the filmstar, Gary Cooper ; he later took the more impressive name of Gareth

While Evans added a few letters to his name , Steedman chopped one off , preferring to be just wee Pete.

Steedman made the switch to Melbourne Uni in 1967 to become the Farrago editor. His enemies said Monash was lucky to be rid of him. To mark his departure as editor from Lot’s Wife in August 1966, the incoming editors, Peter Price and Paul Marriott, ran a full page Q & A interview with Steedman, which gave an insight into the controversial individual. Under the heading AN IMPOLITE INTERVIEW WITH PETE STEEDMAN , it said it had been conducted with great informality , all the vulgarities excised.

His views, he said, had mainly been criticised by people who knew nothing about them.He did not follow any political party line and was completely against US involvement in Vietnam and conscription. Everybody knew the only reason Australians were in Vietnam was because the Americans were there . The Liberal Party was false, soft and had not done much for the country; the Labor Party was in a hell of a mess , tied up with old men and run by fools; the Democratic Labor Party was fanatical and a vicious minority ; Communists were the most reactionary of the lot , a sick joke left over from the thirties .

On the subject of his favourite writers, Steedman named Joyce, Swift ,Shakespeare-“all the usual crap.” His favourite at the time was the American Civil War writer, Ambrose Bierce, whose bitter cynicism and sarcasm was applicable to the world situation today. Contemporary American writers he liked were Terry Southern and Joseph Heller. A prolific reader of local and overseas magazines, Steedman said his room was “crowded” with them, giving him little room for clothes.

Melbourne University may have been apprehensive about the looming arrival of the notorious Steedman and the likely clashes that would take place. After all, his many right wing enemies had demonised him.

Frothing at the mouth, in something like a chorus , critics accused Steedman of being the “ chief pornographer” who had used Lot’s Wife to poison students. Monash University was referred to by one as Monash Soviet . In an article , STOOGES OF THE OLD RIGHT , Noel Turnbull, later chief of staff to the State Labor Leader, Frank Wilkes, now a leading Australian PR consultant and strategist , rejected these attacks .

Turnbull, perhaps tongue in cheek, wrote that while he found Steedman’s aggressive and overt heterosexuality a little obnoxious at times,it had to be realised that most students were more interested in sex than anything else. “Mr Steedman” catered for this interest with one “ remarkably beautiful naked woman in his paper “- a policy with which he could not disagree .

One of those who kept up a barrage , Ray Evans, went on to found ,with Peter Costello, and others, the right wing think tank , H R Nicholls Society, particularly influential in Liberal Party policies, which aggressively pursued a campaign to do away with arbitration , awards, basic wages . PM Bob Hawke described the Society as “political troglodytes and economic lunatics.” Evans also set up other right wing societies in which he was either president or treasurer, and founded the Lavoisier Group which opposed the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

When Steedman strode through the hallowed halls of Melbourne University as a paying student there was an air of uncertain great expectations. At the time of the joint Lot's Wife/Farrago edition a member of the Farrago staff was Graeme Blundell who went on to become an actor-Alvin Purple-producer, author of the Brett Whiteley and Graham Kennedy biographies , currently a regular writer for The Australian .

Merran Anderson handled advertising, later married Gareth Evans- no relation to Ray Evans- and today is deputy vice chancellor at Monash . An incongruous note in the paper was a double column display advertisement showing a successful couple with a snazzy limo being attended by a liveried bellhop , the product being the HARVARD three piece suit , offered at a 10 per cent discount to students , which hardly fits the stereotypical image of university students at the time as scruffy individuals intent on bringing down the capitalist system.

Steedman soon had the university in uproar...just like Alvin. The Age newspaper of September 21,1967 carried a large report headed THE BIGGEST CAMPUS RUMPUS in which editor Steedman was a central figure. It said his supporters regarded him as a "free thinking Angel Gabriel", while his detractors felt he was "Rasputin". There were rumours that he once carried a flick knife and rode with a black jacketed motorcycle gang. Readers were told his unbridled tongue ensured success in verbal duels.

A bare breasted Miss Farrago 1968 on the front page raised eyebrows. To raise money, Steedman wheeled and dealed from the Farrago office as he had at Lot’s Wife. Items which proved popular, delivered under plain wrapper, were birth control pills. Nearby licenced victuallers were made aware that Farrago believed in payola and that the office frig held four dozen .

In the 1960s , Steedman said a small number of students had focussed on other matters than the Vietnam War and anti conscription-such as assisting indigenous youth into the education system to move up the socio-economic ladder. Because there were no underground or alternative newspapers in those days , Steedman received correspondence from people feeling alienated or outside the mainstream political dialogue.

Through Farrago Steedman took a growing interest in the plight of Aboriginals and came to the conclusion that the assimilation policy meant cultural genocide. Making contact with sacked NT Aboriginal Welfare Officer, Bill Jeffery, Steedman commissioned him to write a series about conditions in the Northern Territory. "His stories of exploitation were paramount to slavery , and the arrogance of organisations such as Vesteys horrified me and demanded answers," said Steedman.

After publication of the second Jeffery article , Federal Police arrived at the printer and seized the material under a D-Notice , preventing any further publication. Astoundingly, the government considered the articles a threat to the security of Australia.

As part of the final year at Melbourne University in 2001, students had to write a book , Chiaroscuro, and in the part ,Characters and Controversies, the contribution by law /arts student Jeremy Sears was headed STEEDMAN’S FARRAGO –BOOZE,GIRLS AND BATTLES WITH THE ANTI-COMMUNISTS . It featured a composite photo of Steedman on a motorbike in sunglasses , jeans and T-shirt , a student,Lyndall Hobbs, on the back. Hobbs went overseas at the age of 20 and became a renowned film director and producer in the UK and Hollywood, working with many of the top musical groups, Rowan Atkinson, and for seven years had a relationship with Al Pacino.The illuminating contribution by Sears succinctly, and colourfully, set the scene , opening thus -

When the notorious former editor of Lot’s Wife , Pete Steedman, took over running Farrago in 1967, it was not just the style of the paper that changed . He was the laconic sixties rebel bloke–black leather jacket, sunglasses,motorbike, beer and women , and he was going there to do battle with the sons and daughters of the establishment in their academic gowns . It was an acrimonious fight between the anti-war, free-love, student activists, and the Cold War Warriors...and Steedman’s Farrago was the battle-ground .

It was a hectic period in Steedman’s life, both politically and socially. Zooming about on his motorbike , he was drinking heavily , attracting a lot of female attention and doing very little study . One of his many enemies , the Democratic Labor Party’s Senator McManus went so far as to say Steedman was a student of beer and sex at university and demanded to know why the Commonwealth was spending money on his education . How was Steedman , who had a poor academic achievement at Monash University, after six years , able to sign up at Melbourne, his opponents asked.

Shop, organ of the radical Melbourne Uni Labor Club (not to be confused with Ray Evans and his group) , responded with a spoof -

Caucus Chairman,ageing Pete Steedman,83, has been a student at the university for over 60 years. It is even rumoured that while Menzies( conservative PM ) was a student, Steedman assisted in throwing Menzies into the University pool. How is it that Steedman has been able to hang on so long?

The off campus sheet, Critic, edited by Ray Evans, Bob Browning-later described as a security expert, and Kelvin Devine, of the RAAF, continued the Senator's line of attack on Steedman in a three page blast which called for him to be sent down and linked Farrago with "Nazi thugs."

Farrago ran
several exclusive reports about the Indochina conflict from a female journalist which revealed the true situation in the war, contrary to the information being fed to Australia through the news agencies. Steedman’s involvement in the anti- war, anti conscription movement brought him into contact, sometimes physical conflict, with many people from all walks of life.

One of the more unusual bedfellows in the Vietnam struggle was the flamboyant Francis James , son of an Anglican priest, manager of Sydney’ s Anglican Press , his wife, Joyce, the editor . In 1964 James had printed Oz at the Anglican Press,when most other printing houses had refused to handle the magazine,and was fined 50 pounds($100) for publishing an offensive publication .

In an amazing event given much media coverage, James had managed to thwart and eject members of the Packer media family after they physically occupied the Anglican Press premises when it got into financial difficulties. The ejection, James explained, was achieved through fisticuffs, the use of rubber headed mallets and very hot printers' metal.

James, like Steedman , also tried to change the world in his own way. From 1962 to 1969, he addressed more than 200 public meetings and wrote many articles in the Anglican opposing the war. On two occasions he flew to North Vietnam , the second time in 1968 soon after the Tet offensive, the beginning of the end for the Allies in South Vietnam. ASIO kept a file on him.

James was present at an August 1967 Melbourne University Union debate on the war,the topic for discussion, “That every Australian has the democratic right to send aid to the National Liberation Front ". At the dinner before the debate got underway, Steedman and Melbourne University psychology professor, Dr Frank Knopfelmacher, a strong anti Communist , had a fiery exchange, described as a “conflagration”. Dr Knopfelmacher , at one stage , shouted that Steedman was too good for the gas chamber and should be exterminated .

James, for the motion, wrote a colourful article about the evening and the clash between the two for the Nation , introducing Steedman as “ a reformed ex-member of one of Melbourne’s more deadly bicycle–chain gangs ”; James upset the good doctor calling him “my friend Knocher ”. The article went on to say Steedman was a rather self conscious bohemian, employed four letter words and sick turns of phrase in mixed company and encouraged exaggerated stories about his sexual and drinking exploits... a bit tiresome.

Steedman replied to this unsolicited testimonial by saying "old James " was a rather self conscious ageing rebel; fairly intelligent, but no more; a quite calculated exhibitionist , who encouraged exaggerated stories about himself , but on the whole , a bit tiresome. On the face of the unflattering things Steedman and James said about each other, it would be reasonable to think they had no further contact. But no.

The relationship between James and Steedman grew, Pete being invited to his book- filled Sydney home .

James was actively involved in sending money to North Vietnam and banks refused to handle the cash channelled through him. On a second trip to China , James was locked up by the Chinese in 1969 for his dubious claim to have spied on their top secret facilities , released due to representations by PM Gough Whitlam in 1973.

The audacious nature of James is revealed by the fact that during World War 11 he pretended to be a squadron leader when shot down by the Germans on Anzac Day 1942, suffering burns to his body and face , and received special privileges because of his bogus high rank .

Many moons ago
, when this writer was playing cards in the Police Rounds room at the Sydney Morning Herald, anecdotes flowed about James when he had worked on the paper as a special correspondent and education and religion reporter. While being driven in a Herald office car, James ordered the driver to stop at a school, went inside, presented himself as the Minister for Education, and gave the pupils a holiday . He also instructed a police officer on traffic control duty at a busy Sydney intersection never to stop the SMH car in which he was travelling.

Parked outside the SMH in his Rolls Royce , sitting in the back typing out a story on a drop down desk , a large sombrero to protect his eyes from the sun, because of his war injuries, James looked up and saw a person admiring his vehicle. “Go away, peasant !” he instructed the startled onlooker.

A former SMH religion reporter told Cyclops the only person who could control the theatrical, irrepressible James had been the former Archbishop of Sydney, Sir Marcus Loane, who said Francis had been a born entertainer, a complete extrovert, and a real mischief maker who revelled in controversy. At James’ funeral he was likened to the author Graham Greene- a man of secrecy , ambiguity, and paradox, a person who believed deeply in the Christian faith but declared his support for Asian communist governments.

During the Vietnam War period there was a strong anti war movement in Darwin, activist Rob Wesley-Smith playing a leading part, along with Brian Manning , strongly backed by the NT News editor, Jim Bowditch. ASIO kept a watch on all involved. Bowditch took the cudgels to the Darwin City Council when it tried to block Wesley-Smith holding a moratorium vigil in a city park, Councillor Ken "Slippery " Slide in particular coming in for criticism. The event took place and ASIO reported that Bowditch attended and got into an altercation. A study is said to have revealed that there were more anti war people per capita in Darwin than any other capital city.

Another dynamic and charismatic person that Steedman had dealings with was the politician, Dr Jim Cairns, the most prominent anti war leader in the land, later to become the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer . In 1968 Dr Cairns decided to challenge Gough Whitlam for the leadership of the ALP. Four days before the event, Steedman was informed of the proposal to oust Whitlam as the necessary letters to be sent out to Caucus announcing the challenge were typed up in the Farrago office one weekend . “Here was I, a journalist, sitting on the hottest story going , and could say nothing ,” he told Little Darwin. The letters were mailed out Monday and the Press started to run the news on Tuesday . Whitlam survived the vote, 38 to 32.

As chair of the Vietnam Moratorium,Dr Cairns, the first Victorian policeman to have a tertiary degree, in 1970 led a huge sit down demonstration in Melbourne with an estimated crowd of 100,000. It was regarded as the biggest demonstration in Australia until the anti-Iraq invasion protest in February 2003.

In a twist of fate
, that close relationship between Steedman and Dr Cairns would later place Steedman in a situation where he would warn PM Gough Whitlam that Dr Cairns could bring down the government over the Junie Morosi affair . In Canberra to discuss his extensive report on Cyclone Tracy and how to better deal with future natural disasters (See Little Darwin’s The Cyclonic Newspaper ), Steedman conversed with Cairns and it became abundantly clear that an explosive political situation had developed.

*Because of his strong opposition to the war and conscription,Steedman was often accused of being a supporter of the Chinese communists, even called Peking Pete. The cartoon at the head of this story was meant to symbolise the fact that America’s might far exceeded that of China ,with its recent upheavals, hence Mao on crutches . It also incorporated some of LBJ’s known quirky behaviour when he was down on the ranch swinging dogs around by their ears, pausing now and again to urinate on tumbling tumble weed. NEXT EDITION .- What happened when two whiz kids supposedly met over claret in Carlton.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Heads of organisations and lesser officials often get unusual nicknames. During the Cyclone Carlos flap , one such person , called the “ smiling assassin”, entertained assorted favourites with drinks and finger food up in the gods while staff laboured away downstairs coping with the growing demands of the emergency. It is obvious that Cyclops has led a sheltered ,monastic life because he was told of a person dubbed “camel claw “ and did not know the meaning of the strange moniker.

Monday, February 21, 2011


During the low grade Cyclone Carlos episode in Darwin , word went out in the Health Department to find somebody who could do sign language like that seen in the media conferences dominated by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh , which boosted her ratings no end.

The idea was that a sign language exponent standing next to Chief Minister Paul Henderson would convey information to those hard of hearing about the blow. Thankfully, nobody was provided , so hordes of deaf people , some on crutches- especially that prominent nurseryman who recently underwent a rebore and oil change, trembling with fear , were not seen fleeing to the mountains when Paul Henderson announced on TV that it was the biggest event in 500 years!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Territory tyrant, Adolf Schicklgruber, strutting about in uniform of Rear-Admiral,Larrakeyah Underwaterboten Poo Shooter Flotilla ,poses exclusively for Little Darwin ,his pain in the butt massaged by evil-looking personal valet, Colonel von Dum-Dum Demographics .
KABUL : Australian troops are being rushed back to Darwin from Afghanistan to prevent a military coup by a band of fanatical Territory goosesteppers. The planned putsch is led by Adolf Schicklgruber who believes he is the most powerful person in the Territory .

In his cups, Adolf has been heard mutter that he can make or break anybody in the NT. Schicklgruber is furious that Darwin’s most irresponsible newspaper- The Cullen Bay Cock Up- failed to list him in its 500 Most Demented NT Dingbats .

In an exclusive interview with Little Darwin’s war correspondent, John "True Grit and Sand in the Vaseline Jar " Wayne, Adolf ranted ,“I am the maddest !” He threatened to overthrow the Territory government, burn down the Cullen Bay Cock Up and set up a quisling media regime.

Furthermore , he said he would launch his blitzkrieg soon , possibly April Fools’ Day, and begin by surrounding the Wedding Cake with his own panzer division , now hidden in the rural area , disguised as solar powered red brick dunnies , complete with wind -up ,made- in- China redback spiders .

After getting his autograph , Adolf’s long suffering mother told John Wayne her son became power mad after falling off his rocking horse onto his head when he was a toddler wearing his sister’s favourite pinafore.

In Canberra ,Defence Minister Stephen Smith, described the threat of a dictatorship in the Territory as undermining the very fabric of democracy. “No punk with delusions of grandeur will be allowed to seize power ,” he told us. “ While our forces are deployed overseas trying to spread democracy, it seems there are those within Australia who cynically pay lip service to democracy while plotting to usurp our freedoms.”

Minister Smith said it was reassuring that another Darwin newspaper, the NT News , strongly supports the democratic ideal, often trumpeting democracy in its editorials. Democracy, he said , meant government by the people, not one head case who thinks he is an Egyptian Sun god or Julius Caesar, fiddling like a bloody idiot while Rome burns.

Smith spat chips at an ASIO screening of a video showing Schicklgruber and his swaggering gang of brain-washed supporters carrying out military manoeuvres in the Mitchell Street nightclub precinct

All were wearing jungle greens , purple sneakers, cricket boxes, on the outside , singing Springtime in the Rockies, while line dancing in the middle of the street at 2am in front of puzzled and overworked police .

Schicklgruber’s adoring second in command, Ned Mussolini, had a nasty experience with a whopper crocodile during a night- time mock commando raid on the Lameroo pissoir . He is now in Royal Darwin Hospital being fitted with a field marshall’s wooden leg and swagger stick, giving up all hope of fathering fodder for the Fatherland. MORE EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS AND A FREE PACKET OF FRENCH LETTUCE IN OUR NEXT EXPOSE ABOUT THE DASTARDLY PLOT TO TURN THE TERRITORY INTO A DICTATORSHIP

Thursday, February 17, 2011


During the life of the controversial Oz magazine in Sydney , mentioned in our ongoing series about Pete Steedman, it bravely published a guide to the top members of the underworld, similar to the list of those righteous individuals adjudged the most powerful cleanskins by the NT News.

As a result of the Oz list , in which the top spot was blank, editor Richard Neville received a home visit from hulking "Mr Big"-Lennie McPherson- who seemed upset that a person named “Lenny” had made the No 2 spot and was described as a fence and “ fizz-gig”, a police informant . He also seemed suspicious that the magazine was a front for a gang trying to muscle in on his patch.

A Darwin identity who annoyed Lennie was lucky to escape with his life when a man pulled a gun on him outside an illegal baccarat club and he was shot in the leg . Another Sydney criminal , Jacky Steele, bought multiple copies of the Oz edition with the list which had described Lenny in such an unflattering way. Steele was gunned down soon after and before he died told police that McPherson had ordered his execution

Monday, February 14, 2011


Overheard in Darwin private hospital . Who gave the scones and (now empty) pack of sandwiches to a patient who was on NIL BY MOUTH ?


The career of popular Nightcliff Greek barber, mainly only known as Tony, could be over due to a drunken driver who ploughed into the back of a taxi in which he was the passenger, on his way to work, at the Nightcliff traffic lights. The affable barber had to eventually undergo a nine hour operation on his neck and has a problem with his right arm which may make it impossible for him to return to the tonsorial trade.

The man responsible for his injuries is a 64 year old unlicenced driver . Carrying on the business is his brother-in-law, Michael, who ran the barber shop for 23 years before Toni took over. Michael , in his 70s, came back to Darwin from Greece at Christmas to see family members and unexpectedly found himself running the shop during which time his wife slipped over and hurt her shoulder

Michael was booked to go back to Greece in early February . How are things in Greece? we asked him. Terrible . What about Prime Minister George Papandreou , can he handle Greece’s financial problems ? With a dismissive wave of his arms, Michael replied no , adding that he is “ an American boy”. Papandreou was born in Minnesota, and spent his early childhood in the US and Canada ,studied sociology in Massachusetts . He also continued his study of sociology in Great Britain and attended the London School of Economics . Another barber has been lined up for a year.

Michael’s injured brother- in -law experienced a series of break ins at the barber shop in recent years and was forced to cover the window with a safety grill and guard the premises at night with his blue heeler dog. A nearby cafe has been broken into nearly 40 times . Now that the Nightcliff Police Station has reverted back to the previous unsatisfactory running , without any explanation from the government, police and local member , Tony may have to resume patrolling the premises, this time with a hydra -headed beast from Greek mythology when he is back on his feet and his brother- in- law has returned to unhappy Greece.

Thursday, February 10, 2011



Cover of Lot's Wife for the extensive coverage given to the high powered National Forum on Vietnam at Monash University in 1965, attended by 2000 students . Leading anti-war figure,Dr Jim Cairns, is on the left and External Affairs Minister, a former Territories Minister , Paul Hasluck, later the Governor-General , on the right. The report was compiled by Lot’s Wife co-editor, Phillip Frazer, and Peter Moylan.


Secret 1967 government documents released by Australian Archives after 30 years revealed Pete Steedman had been one of the “most feared”anti-Vietnam War campaigners through his editorship of the Monash University newspaper,Lot’s Wife and,later, the University of Melbourne's Farrago, his media savvy, organisational skills and outspokenness.

The government considered using charges of sedition against him and ordered he be kept under close surveillance by ASIO. Attorney-General, Nigel Bowen , discussed possible new legislation called something like the Treacherous Offences (South Vietnam) Act to silence Steedman and others , but feared a political backlash.

Steedman’s involvement with Lot’s Wife ran for six and a half years and brought him into contact with a band of talented students , many of whom went on to carve out distinguished careers in writing, filmmaking, photography, graphic art, commerce and law . In 1963 he became involved with a ground breaking Sydney “magazine of dissent ," Oz .

Oz first began as a satirical magazine and evolved into a highly controversial journal,resulting in an obscenity trial . The original editorial team included Richard Neville,editor of the University of NSW magazine, Tharunka, Richard Walsh,editor of the Sydney University mag,Honi Soit, art student Martin Sharp and Daily Mirror cadet reporter Peter Grose. The first edition, on April fool’s Day 1963 , parodied the Sydney Morning Herald , where it was printed , and led with a front page hoax about the collapse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge .It included a centre spread about the history of the chastity belt and sold like proverbial hot cakes ,6000 copies by noon .

The key players were charged with distributing an obscene publication. A magistrate even ordered police to burn 140 copies which contained a satirical attack on police bashing homosexuals.

Early contributors to Oz were the future Time magazine critic and art historian,Robert Hughes, and now prominent commentator, political writer , playwright, film maker and ALP supporter, Bob Ellis .

Steedman had met Neville through a mutual friend after the first edition hit the streets and became the Melbourne connection for the magazine , organising a band of enthusiastic sellers at universities, dodging the over zealous Victorian Vice Squad ,led by Sergeant Mick Miller .

The magazine, Steedman said, was like a breath of fresh air to a young would be rebel who wanted to confront society with its contradictions and hypocrisy. In an unpublished account of his involvement with Oz ,Steedman wrote his “ street fighting persona” at times did not go down well with the Sydney artistic licence, sexual freedom direction that the publication and its editors took.

"I wanted to crush the system ,Richard(Neville) wanted to bend it and play with it. I wanted a society of equal opportunity,he wanted desperately to have a sexual revolution,with himself as its major beneficiary . Leather jackets and boots met duffle coats and brothel creepers."

When Steedman went to Sydney to see the Oz brigade, Neville’s parents in the North Shore suburb of Mosman looked askance at this Victorian “bodgie”. An overnight stay at the Sharp mansion saw Steedman sharing a room out the back with a Great Dane,presumably a canine. Nevertheless , Richard Neville in September 1965 described Lot’s Wife under the editorship of Phillip Frazer and Steedman as the most original and exciting student paper he had ever seen . Neville and Steedman would later link up once more , in London, where Oz again created uproar and legal battles .

Steedman became co-editor of Lot’s Wife with Phillip Frazer ( arts, majoring in politics), who later became a highly successful writer, editor and publisher in Australia and America, editing Ralph Nader’s publication, Multinational Monitor and today is publisher-co editor of the influential US political newsletter , The Hightower Lowdown . Frazer taught Steedman the basics of layout and other aspects of production and Pete also took on the job of advertising manager for the commission. Initially, the co-editors received the princely sum of $16 each per fortnightly issue.

The June 15 ,1965 edition, running a picture of an unkempt looking Steedman , said he had been a well known student leader for the past four years ,associated with clubs and societies , president of the Rationalists in 1962 and a member of the Ski Club executive for three years. Recently he had resigned as vice-president of the SRC and had fought strongly against all forms of censorship as a member of the Censorship Reform Committee. In his early days at uni he had taken on both the administration and the SRC to defend students’ rights and had been the first student disciplined , fined 15 pound ($30) by the vice-chancellor,for using language unbecoming a student to an executive officer. The fine was paid by contributions from senior staff of the Politics Department .

Publications he had been connected with included INCUBUS-a radical current affairs –philisophical quarterly that had gained widespread praise and became Monash’s first financially successful magazine . He had been on the editorial board of GRAFFITI, a satirical magazine, edited by Paul Lawson ,which may have only seen the light of day once because of censorship restrictions in 1962.

Steedman,it said, had written many articles for CHAOS (the earlier name for Monash’s journal) and LOT’S WIFE , recent reports for the latter being on police brutality and a page on the League of Rights led by anti semite Eric Butler who said opposition by certain influential Left wing people and Communists at Monash University , where Lot’s Wife was “ depraved” , had prevented him from addressing the Liberal Club on the nature of international Communism. A meeting of another right wing group, the Australian- Rhodesian Association, infiltrated by Butler’s outfit, became agitated when Steedman and another student reporter turned up to cover the proceedings .

Steedman, the paper said, also had the distinction of failing more courses than any other member of the university; at the time he was studying Politics 11 and English 1.[A letter writer, going under the name of James Joyce’s alter ego, Stephen Daedolus (sic) , subsequently highlighted Steedman’s “distinction “ of failing more courses than anybody else: “What a political ,social and economic tragedy it would have been if Monash had been deprived of your service through one of those hideously right-wing conspiracies-examinations.” He was a part time , paying student , who had to work, often not able to attend lectures .]

To pay for his studies , Steedman admits to having been a wheeler dealer entrepreneur in those days , selling all kinds of things through the newspaper’s office. The paper ran a strangely worded for sale notice for a 1957 Ariel motorbike , the owner desperate , out of work and broke, for the bargain price of 50 pound ($100). - See Pete Steedman, Lot’s Wife. Another Steedman advertisement said he had a BSA Gold Flash , needed the money,so why hadn't anybody answered his ad?

Invariably photographs of Steedman in Lot’s Wife presented an unkempt, bleary eyed individual. However,in one baffling shot ,he appeared to be actually wearing a tie- even a suit ! When asked by Little Darwin to explain this conservative attire, he said he had appeared in court , taking on a radio broadcaster who threatened to sue him for $100,00o . On the other hand , Phillip Frazer , with a pipe , a crew neck jumper, and sports coat, appeared clean cut and more academically inclined .

Under the heading , SIX MONTHS HARD LABOUR, one of the newspaper’s staff, Elaine Wheaton, said she had first approached the job in fear and trepidation, having heard “the Steedman Legend”. She had been asked to type words , the meaning of which she had no idea,and ended her piece by saying that ,in the future, old ladies would queue up to see nice young Dr Frazer (he had studied medicine, but gave it up ) by which time he would have cut his locks and have bought a new pipe .

In the case of Steedman, if he kept out of gaol, she said he would go into politics and become Leader of the Opposition. Nearly 20 years later , Steedman found himself in the House of Representatives , so Elaine should have gone into fortune telling on campus .

As for Steedman escaping incarceration, another strange story appeared in the April Fool’s Day edition of Lot’s Wife in 1965.Under the heading WE LOVE YOU,PETE, it said Steedman, the SRC vice president, and an arts student , Kim Lynch,a member of the Red Onions Jazz Band , and his girlfriend, had been arrested outside the Fat Black Pussy Cat .Charges against them were dismissed after police gave their evidence ,which included the fact that there was an ice box containing beer in the back of the police car and alcohol had been detected on the officers’ breath. The article about the case was illustrated with a drawing of cheering girls on bicycles. Most of the Red Onions Jazz Band went on to become The Loved Ones , a legendary rock group.

An indication of the hijinks-creative tension ?- that went on inside Lot’s Wife , was this published statement attributed to Phillip Frazer “...let it be known that now and from now on, that Mr Steedman is not,never has been, and shall not be the Editor of Lot’s Wife .” It went on , "Whatever Mr Steedman may at any time claim behind my back, I trust will be reported to my front , and ,whatever Mr Steedman plots with subversive intention will not go on without my seal of approval .”

In the March 8,1966 edition , Frazer’s departure was announced in an OBITUARY in which his photo made him resemble a healthy Mick Jagger , flanked by a large dollar sign on the left and mortar board and degrees on the other. It said Frazer had resigned as co-editor,which had come as a surprise to most who had expected the other editor, Steedman, to depart. The two, the report said, took office in May 1965,Steedman leaving the uni at the end of that year. Because of lack of finance, Steedman decided to return and continue as co-editor. Three days later, Frazer , the paper said, had found a more profitable venture than Lot’s Wife,resigned, leaving Steedman as sole editor.

Frazer was now doing the layout for a highly successful teenage newspaper ,edited by another ex Lot’s Wife editor,Tony Schauble. Of the original five in the teen magazine, three were ex-editors of the Monash paper, and one, Doug Panther, an ex-student and flatmate of Steedman’s. The item ended : See what great things a job on Lot’s Wife can lead to!

The teen newspaper was Go-Set which sold more than 70,000 copies a week and grew to have a permanent staff of 25, offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Go-Set was responsible for setting Ian “ Molly” Meldrum along the path to fame . Enterprising Frazer used the success of Go-Set to float another publishing venture, a counter culture monthly, Revolution, in which pages from Rolling Stone magazine were run as a supplement. Revolution was eventually turned into High Times . The Digger, another lively, controversial Frazer venture ,upset some , attracted lawsuits and Helen Garner shocked the Victorian government with an article about a sex education class.

Steedman says Frazer, because of his overseas publishing ventures, has never been acknowledged as the successful “father of the alternative press in Australia.”

Through Lot’s Wife , Steedman openly invited students to oppose conscription . His call came three years before the setting up of a Draft Resistance Movement in Melbourne. There was uproar when the Monash University Labor Club decided to collect money to aid the people of North Vietnam. Steedman’s backing of those moves to send funds to the civilian population of North Vietnam via Red Cross International to buy medical supplies and other needs was branded as supporting the enemy , the NLF , helping them “kill Australian soldiers.”Coming from a military family,Steedman said he was always careful not to attack soldiers. Others did, but this was not on as far as he was concerned . In actual fact, his first name is Alan,named after his father who went off to war , so that if he were killed the name would be perpetuated in the family. Australia had a history of volunteer armies, he wrote, and said troops had a job to do . Conscription , however , was outrageous.

A 1967 survey showed that in only two Australian universities the majority of students were against the war - the Australian National University, 55 per cent, and Monash, almost 80 per cent, the latter high figure attributed to the influence of Lot’s Wife. Inevitably, the opposition grew in other universities with the expansion of the Australian commitment to the war.

That Australian opposition was similar to the unrest in America but it was on a much larger scale there. The recent documentary screened on the ABC about Daniel Ellsberg and his leaking of the Pentagon Papers, revealing that five US presidents and other high ranking executives had “ lied through their teeth” to the people for decades , justifying the war on the grounds of bringing “ democracy” to Vietnam, when America had financed the French to take back the colony from the Vietnamese who had fought against the Japanese .

It is axiomatic that the US also lied to Australia and our governments went along with the deception in the Cold War which split the world into two opposing camp. For exposing the truth, Ellsberg was branded the most dangerous man in America , just as Julian Assange is so demonised by the US today. The same opprobrium and vilification was directed at Steedman and others in Australia who opposed the brutal, senseless war which claimed the lives of 2,OOO,OOO Vietnamese , and untold numbers of Laotians and Cambodians , 58,000 US soldiers and 521 Australians.

It is an acknowledged fact that Pete Steedman had a big impact on the design, layout and political content of Australian university publications in the 1960s, which spilled over into other publications. University publication editors from all over Australia had gathered in Melbourne in l966 and Steedman was acknowledged the best student editor in the nation. The National Union of Students proclaimed his techniques and ideas ,especially in offset printing, had been emulated by nearly every student editor since 1965.

A study of Lot’s Wife reveals that while it had a substantial amount of Vietnam war content , much of it was given over to other matters. There was a special cover report marking the 30th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, other in depth features about the tense Indonesian situation, South Africa and life in Malaysia , book, film and theatre reviews , a lengthy article about the reign of Sir Robert Menzies . There was even an analysis of the 266 day Mt Isa mine strike in Queensland in which former NT News editor,Jim Bowditch , and Rupert Murdoch were involved. Aboriginal justice and the Lake Tyler settlement in Victoria were other topics.

Under the heading A TRAVESTY OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM substantial coverage was given to the saga of Professor Sydney Sparkes Orr, centre of a long drawn out storm over events at the University of Tasmania , which revealed political and academic machinations, and an amazing statement by the Bishop of Tasmania that university officers had told him"false" and "scurrilous " stories about Professor Orr . Orr , who criticised the way the university was run , sparked a Royal Commission and was later accused of seducing a student , reduced to working on the wharves before he died .

Fresh-faced Liberal backbencher, Andrew Peacock , with whom Steedman would later clash in parliament , visited the Lot's Wife office, made an impact on the staff, and took out a subscription . He questioned Steedman about the Vietnam war and conscription, agreeing that the paper was not a tool of the Left .

Through the mail from America Steedman received a book about the 1964-65 Berkeley University, California, revolt with its strikes and sit- ins that paralysed the university and caused a nation- wide controversy. Lot’s wife carried a two page illustrated review of the book by Paul Marriot which drew attention to similarities to the situation at Monash.It gave examples of the US media ridiculing and trivialising students , falsifying reports . An American assistant professor said that in matters of political significance the Press could not be trusted.

Barrie Humphries
received several runs in Lot’s Wife , in one posing against Newsweek and Oz posters . Another controversial , irreverent and big selling publication , Sydney’s King’s Cross Whisper, inspired by Darwin’s Waratah Whisper, a lighthearted sporting paper, was reviewed and came to the conclusion that it contained schoolboyish humour mixed with pictures of half naked girls. This criticism came as a blow to Cyclops who had been a contributor to the King’s Cross Whisper, which paid a dollar a column inch, including headings, for all stories run. As a result , I was able to buy a Holden HR station wagon, wonderful cars, and in it made a trip from Sydney to Darwin and back .

Michael Leunig, who lived two doors down from Steedman, began his cartooning career in Lot’s Wife in 1965. Depressed by the war news and the political shenanigans, Leunig soon after drew a man with a teapot on his head . The rest is history, as they say, leading to direction finding ducks, a flighty tickler from outer space, looking like a knobbly Lebanese cucumber, which terrified a city , Mr Curley , the lean, mean ferret of Nation Review , edited at one stage by Richard Walsh from Oz , and even a place in the Commonwealth Games tableau on the Yarra . Associating with Steedman may have made Leunig edgy, depressed and nervous at times .

With the government wanting to put Pete in a dank dungeon, ASIO watching his every move , B.A. Santamaria’s National Civic Council baying for his head, angry fathers of some nubile girls keen to turn young Lochinvar into a soprano , others declaring he was the anti-Christ ,being within a kilometre or two of Steedman could be like ground zero. All this aggressive attention made Steedman exceedingly nimble on the feet , capable of breaking the four minute mile, in sunglasses, at midnight, on a dark and wintry Melbourne night, over rocky terrain.

Steedman made a trip to Perth to make his expertise available to the WA university paper, Pelican, and also spoke to Brisbane university students involved with their journal Semper Floreat . In the case of the University of New South Wales , Steedman had dealings with anothere editor of its magazine, Tharunka, the later well known journalist and 60 Minutes reporter, Richard Carleton . Steedman liked to point out that Carleton was just plain Dick in those early days , later becoming Richard on becoming a media star . Carleton, he said, had been reluctant to run a photo showing him ( Carleton) hiding under a coat, pretending to nail Christ to a cross , actually a large crucifix outside a Catholic school, so Steedman ran it in Lot’s Wife with the caption, Monastic Sport .

There was an enormous outcry and a call for Steedman to be charged with blasphemy and sent down , a refined term for being kicked out of university . A packed special meeting, attended by a group of nuns , was held on a motion to censure the editors of the paper for alleged-anti Christianism, the move failing 202 votes to 193. The close result was seen by Steedman as God working in yet another mysterious way , especially as he thought he was a goner when he saw the nuns sitting up front .

Censorship of films relating to the Vietnam war became an issue in Australia . In the Senate there was a debate over the government’s handling of a TV report on Vietnam by the BBC’s Michael Charlton,formerly of the ABC. The documentary had already been shown in Britain and the US . But here the chairman of the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board referred it to the Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Anderson, for approval to be shown in Australia.

As the minister was travelling in WA , the film was sent out west for him to view . Unfortunately, Senator Anderson was involved in a car accident , the film was sent back to Canberra where Territories Minister , Paul Hasluck, once a reporter ,was delegated to make a viewing and it was cleared for public consumption.

Senator O’Byrne,Tasmania , said he had viewed the film on Four Corners and it had tried to penetrate the truth of the horror of the Vietnam war. Any film on Vietnam would create a controversy in the Press or in television and radio programmes, but if we were to be mature nation, supporting freedom of speech, freedom of thought and worship, there had to be a quicker, more clear cut policy for handling such material. Such debates were grist for the mill as far as Steedman was concerned.

A major conscription forum was held at Monash and speakers on both sides received coverage in the newspaper. One of those against conscription was Ken Randall , a well known reporter,long associated with the Canberra Press Club and Federal parliament TV broadcasts .

At times there appeared to be open warfare on campus between various political clubs , the SRC and individuals. An edition announced that Steedman, pictured, looking bleary–eyed, “in a dramatic, half alcoholic gesture”, had resigned at a wild Student Representative Council meeting . [Soon after he was re-installed as the hard working editor, paid a pittance.]

A letter sent to the paper said it was morally wrong for young Australians to be compelled to fight and perhaps die in Vietnam . It called on the government to stop dispatching conscripts. The signatories were a cross section of Australian society, one being Rupert Murdoch’s uncle ,Professor Walter Murdoch, mentioned recently in Little Darwin, who often supported worthy, and contentious causes.

The names listed included : Meenah Abdullah ,Hugh Anderson, Allan Ashbolt, Martin Boyd ,R.F.Brissenden, Robert Burns, David Campbell, Jon Cleary, Betty Collins, C.B.Christesen, Charmian Clift, Mary Durack, Geoffrey Dutton , John K.Ewers, George Farwell,Pat Flower, Robert D.Fitz-Gerald,Neilma Ganter, Oriel Gray, Rodney Hall, Frank Hardy,Gwen Harwood,Bernard Hesling,Dorothy Hewett,A.D.Hope, Flexmore Hudson, Florence James,George Johnston,Nancy Keesing, Sylvia Lawson,Noel Macainsh,Mungo MacCallum, Donald MacLean,J.S.Manifold,Leonard Mann,Alan Marshall,David Martin,Oscar Mendelshn,Tony Morphett, Myra Morris, John Morrison, Aileen Palmer, Katherine Susannah Prichard, David Rowbotham, Roland Robinson, Thomas Shapcott, R.A. Simpson, Bernard Smith, Stephen Murray Smith, Ivan Southall, Randolph Stow, Kylie Tennant, John Thompson, Margaret Trist, F.B.Vickers, Bill Wannan and Judah Waten

Rupert Murdoch’s new national newspaper ,The Australian , launched in 1966, ran several adverts, one full page, in Lot’s Wife, no doubt trying to attract academic and student readers. Steedman ran an editorial from The Australian headed CONTRADICTIONS ON VIETNAM which said that information PM Holt was receiving from Vietnam about the war may suit him , but not the people of Australia. The Melbourne Herald also advertised in the paper as did other commercial organisations such as the Commonwealth Bank and Time- Life.

There was a special relationship between the editorial department of the paper, Steedman in particular, and the Notting Hill Hotel, the subject of zany display adverts, Rasputin being a regular imbiber . Steedman worked as a casual in the pub at end of term celebrations and said the publican , Kath Byer, who died last year , was a wonderful woman, even given a commendation on John Elliott's website. NEXT EDITION : Gary Evans? Booze and Babes .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


An unusual protest against basics cards has been going on in Darwin for weeks with zero media coverage .

A guitar strumming muso who has composed a protest song against the cards and his offsider have been demonstrating in the offices of Centrelink and NT Senators. At the end of one recent rendition of the clever song, the audience in a Centrelink office were told, “You have have just been treated to a performance by Kris Pistofferson. ” Attempts to get coverage of these protests appear to have fallen on collective deaf media ears.

Each time the campaigners have gone to the ABC, they have been told there are no reporters in the office.

However , they said they believe the fact that Rosemary Kunoth- Monks at far away Utopia this week said it was demeaning for many people on the basics card to have to ask for $50 of their money might encourage the Darwin media to do some basic reporting.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The higher you go in the lifts in the NT Supreme Court building , the nearer you get to the Gods. On the hushed , hallowed fourth floor , which has the elegant atmosphere of a Swiss bank or a Chicago casket seller's showroom, are beaming photos of the bewigged judges who have passed down tablets from on high.

Another more interesting pictorial gallery spreads across two walls and shows many court houses that were built throughout the nation, some bearing the name of the architect . Interested in old buildings, we studied each photo closely until, near the bottom, we came across the familiar Third Reich-like blockhouse , the High Court of Australia , Canberra , the caption on which so faded it was illegible.

The pile, which sports something like a special waterwheel for spawning salmon heading upstream to feed on succulent Bogong moths, was built with the enthusiastic approval and involvement of the Chief Justice of the High Court,Sir Garfield Barwick , a former Liberal Minister for External Affairs .

The edifice became known as Gar’s Mahal and also Barwick’s Mausoleum

Barwick gave the thirsty Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, legal advice just before he sacked the Whitlam Government. Gough Whitlam had angrily clashed with Barwick , a short person, in parliament , calling him a “truculent runt ” and a “bumptious little bastard”. It could be said that height deprived men have long memories when it comes to being called a short- arsed ratfink in parliament.

It would be nice if a Supreme Court tipstaff was directed to remove the High Court pic from the wall and use a royal blue felt pen to ink in the name of the building. The other photos out of square could also be put in alignment to give the impression that somebody is observant about the surroundings, not just interested in musty old files, precedents and the alarming decline in Aboriginal art which impacts on judicial investment and superannuation portfolios.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Early information from contacts on Magnetic Island,off Townsville, indicates that the old jetty at Picnic Bay which served the island for many years may have been swept away. Many trees have been brought down , there is much beach erosion , flooding and power is off. Occupants of the controversial development at Bright Point at the entrance to the so-called safe harbour ferry terminal at Nelly Bay were evacuated.