Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The Dili Weekly newspaper, a conventional 24-page publication, has just posted its first trial online edition for comments . The official launch is expected to take place the third week of September. The Dili Weekly began on January 31 , 2008, due to the efforts of Otelio Ote and Emanuel Braz. It is the only weekly bi-lingual English-Tetum newspaper written by Timorese journalists .

Readers are invited to visit and make suggestions how it can be improved. The vision of the publication is to enable international and national communities living and working in Timor-Leste to be “on the same page” when it comes to information that may well affect the way in which policy and development initiatives are being undertaken.

It strives to provide good quality news according to international journalism standards and is self-sustainable through revenue from limited advertising content and subscriptions . A legal entity, it has been registered with Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Industries as a media organisation business since 2009.

It is to be hoped that the Darwin media will take a greater interest in reporting Timor-Leste affairs once it has an easy online news source with which to refer. Despite the long involvement with Timor going back to the days when it was a Portuguese colony, WW11 and the Indonesian invasion of the country, Timor-Leste receives scant attention by the Darwin newshounds -preoccupied with flim flam like crocs, UFOs, coffee, tits , tinnies and truffles, gigs, gardens, grub and grandstanders .

Little Darwin humbly suggests it would be nice if the Darwin media considered regular news from Timor -Leste, perhaps extracts from The Dili Weekly and other sources for a Timor On Tuesday spot. After all, there are many Timorese living here in Darwin and there are troops from Darwin over there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The online newspaper, Magnetic Times, which is a shining example for an alternative newspaper in Darwin, has just posted an international scoop- the personal account of Christine Assange, mother of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, dealing with her life on the island with her son . It includes early photographs of Julian , one with a dog in a truck tyre and a sketch she made of him when he was four years old . The story was written by the Magnetic Times editor, George Hirst, who alerted Little Darwin to the upcoming article a week ago.

We arranged to run a Julian Assange cartoon by Hirst , dealing with the proposal to erect a statue to Julian on the island, once he posted the major story. Mrs Assange says she had been approached by journalists from all over the world , but gave Hirst her exclusive story because she was impressed by the quality journalism in Magnetic Times and trusted him. In the detailed account she denies she was a hippy when she lived on the island, and did not take drugs. Sensation and distortion had surrounded the life of her son and Wikileaks, she says, and lists four sites where the facts can be obtained. View for the full story .

Monday, August 29, 2011


THERE ARE explosive allegations about goings on in a Darwin institution which if aired will cause an almighty uproar . *** WISE BUT SAD WORDS : Ink-on-paper books, with their second-cousins, newspapers, are destined for the haunts of historians, collectors and atavistic technophobes ***DARWIN MEDIA seems oblivious to happenings in beleagured West Papua where shots were recently fired at people and it is feared Indonesian proposals for palm oil production there will lead to land confiscation and large scale clearing of vegetation. It makes you wonder if there still is an Overseas Correspondents Club in Darwin, its superior members fined for writing anything about crocodiles , a subject which mesmerises local hacks. If so, do any of its illustrious members pen anything at all about the more important life and death , oppression , environmental degradation and poverty issues just across the waters ? *** Comments by the Dalai Lama’s envoy about the timidity of Australian politicians in respect of relations with China are applicable to Darwin’s pollies and media , especially in connection with the French oil company,Total, partner in the Inpex proposal, which deals with the murderous Burmese military junta, many times worse than the Gaddafi regime, China also siphoning off the Burmese energy resources.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Sleeve of ONCE AROUND THE SUN , and other verses by young Australians , above , a circa 1970 long play record , introduced by John Clements , recorded in the Radio 6KY studios , Perth, WA, an oddity recently discovered by Little Darwin in the Nightcliff Uniting Church Op Shop. Clements , a peace activist and social historian, toured Australia taking poetry to schools with readings and cassettes, according to the Murdoch University Library . The sleeve is a design by artist , Koloman Sokol , born 1902 ,described as one of the founders of modern Czechoslovakian graphic art .

The record makes the claim that it is the world’s first recording of poetry written by young people and spoken by secondary and primary students. The titles of the verses give an interesting insight into the subjects which inspired the youth of that time - When I Am Alone, Old People, Witches, The Rabbit, The Crocodile, The Kangaroo , The Dingo, The Gangster, Jokes, Me , Garbage Tin, Frog In A Fog, Black Progression , Hitler’s Dream, Decimals Arithmetic, Drought, Haunted House , Butterfly Catching, The Billboards, etcetera.

Clements , son of a Cambridge solicitor, educated at Cambridge and Oxford , after being disillusioned by “sharp” business practices in London and the General Strike of 1926, sailed for Australia in 1929, arriving in the Depression.

After working on the land , he unsuccessfully stood for parliament on the Douglas Credit ticket .With a love of language and a cultured voice, he obtained a job as an announcer at the ABC in 1936. He became a member of the Communist Party and remained so until the 1968 Prague Spring which ended in the Soviet invasion ; he was watched by ASIO for 25 years . Over the years he was involved in many community development and social justice projects.

In Western Australia he campaigned for establishment of a kindergarten and library at Bassendean, where he lived with his wife and four children in an old house on an acre of land with a large garden ,chooks and a milking cow . He was president of the Children’s Book Council and headed the WA Peace Council for many years. An active member of New Theatre and the Fellowship of Australian Writers , he was associated with FreVideo, which became part of the Film and Television Institute and was manager of the World Record Club .

Murdoch University has the John Clements oral history collection consisting of interviews with a wide range of interesting people – WA Aboriginal politician , Ernie Bridge; Vivian Bullwinkel , only survivor of a Japanese massacre of nurses; controversial journalist , Wilfred Burchett ; British unionist ,Tony Benn; Communist author , Katherine Susannah Prichard ; sprinter Shirley Strickland, who became the WA governor ; American singer,activist, Paul Robeson,addressing the WA Peace Council in 1960; artist Jack Lindsay; Arthur Scargill of the British National Union of Miners ; King Wally Umbilgurri re techniques of playing the didgeridoo; activist actress Vanessa Redgrave.

Subjects covered include... Early days of the BBC and the ABC ; Aboriginal languages; Noonkenbah and mining; POW experiences ; Spanish Civil War; early WA airlines; socialism; Fremantle jail; Turkey’s history and the position of women; Brazil as a young republic ; Peru; nursing in Africa; the Anti Fascists League ; early WA theatre; WA radio from 1924.

Nursery rhymes is the subject of an interview with UK literary identity Norman Isles, who wrote Who Killed Cock Robin? , nursery rhymes and carols restored to original meanings , which revealed the pagan origin of Xmas carols and midwinter festivals.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


New York : Latest information from Darwin firemen here as part of the 9/11 anniverary is that power is expected to be cut off soon in their accommodation near Times Square . The party was in one of the last planes into New York and during the flight there were a few medical emergencies among the passengers .Some have already been to ground zero . Weather was described as being like a rainy day in Darwin during the wet . The street wise Darwin firemen were about to load up with food from a nearby take away food outlet before the power cut .With lifts out , the firemen would have to walk to and from accommodation six floors up. Flooding expected in parts of the city. The claim that New York never sleeps is proving wrong as more and more parts close down. UPDATE : Little Darwin told by NY journalist that the blow was a damp scrib , despite some flooding, compared with a full-blooded Darwin thunderstorm.However, the hurricane is seen as a wake up to global warming as the high ocean temperature fed the tempest, enabling it to draw up huge amounts of moisture, and Texas is in the grip of a fierce drought .


BLOGGING TOWNSVILLE is well worth a look. Little Darwin recently came across it doing some research during the witching hours . In its own words, it provides critique, comment and assorted conversations from a small rural city somewhere east of Mount Isa , its logo including a well balanced banana . Among the interesting items is a contribution -THE MURDOCH LAMENT , with apologies to John Farnham and the writers of YOU’RE THE VOICE , which gives the media empire the rough end of a Queensland pineapple treatment . Also spotted is a poll asking readers if a yearly subscription to the digital edition of the Townsville Bulletin ( a Murdoch paper) is worth twice the cost of the New York Times with its stable of talented writers . Apart for a box saying YES , there is one for ARE YOU KIDDING ? and another cheeky WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE TOWN ? The majority of respondents were in the kidding spot.

Linked to the blog is THE MAGPIE'S NEST, providing robust commentary on the local media, the council and other tasty morsels.Reading Magpie's columns you realise that the Territory is a sheltered workshop when it comes to scrutiny of and commentary about those who think they are masters of the local small universe , including the media.

Little Darwin awards this coveted piece of banana trunk art ,above, to Blogging Townsville for a job well done. It is from a Magnetic Island plantation, which is also east of Mt Isa, and is our equivalent of the Palme d ’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. If only there were blogs like the Townsville one in Darwin. You would think that in a university town like Darwin with an array of activists, dissatisfaction with the local media, many important issues going untouched or poorly covered, there would be a flowering of powerful , spirited , even interesting , innovative and challenging blogs and websites. But no.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Crusading Communist lawyer, Elliott Johnston , who died in Adelaide this week at the age of 93 ,had a close association with the late Territory editor James Frederick Bowditch, pictured right. Johnston , a QC, became a judge of the SA Supreme Court and headed the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

As editor of the Centralian Advocate, Bowditch chaired an Alice Springs Peace Council meeting held by Johnston’s sister , Marjorie , in June 1951. Miss Johnston had recently returned from an international Peace Congress in Warsaw. With her in Alice was Mrs Esther Meaney, president of the Darwin Housewives Association, who was to accompany Miss Johnston in the Territory. Mrs Meaney, the wife of a waterside worker, had been the NT delegate to the 1950 Australian Peace Council in Melbourne , attended by the Dean of Canterbury,dubbed the “Red Dean “ because he had written favourably about Russia .

The Alice meeting was attended by the ASIO Darwin chief ,Mr Mooney, and his secretary who took notes throughout. Also present was Bowditch’s longtime friend,lawyer Dick Ward ,who became a judge of the NT Supreme Court . It being the time of the Korean War and the Menzies Government trying to abolish the Communist Party in Australia,it was a controversial meeting.

In February 1952, Bowditch , facing a crisis in his life following the break up of his first marriage , drove to Adelaide, uncertain of his future. ASIO records seen by Little Darwin show that Bowditch was kept under surveillance and that he was "believed" to be temporarily residing at the Elliott Johnston residence .The Bowditch car was observed parked outside on three nights from early morning until late at night, when surveillance was discontinued.

In 1983,John Mortimer , the lawyer and writer who created Rumpole of the Bailey, met Elliott Johnston in Brisbane, just before he was to be made a judge of the SA Supreme Court . Mortimer subsequently wrote that Johnston’s appointment , without him not having to sever his connection as a paid up member of the Communist Party, was a sign of enlightenment in Australia. His appointment would show that some Communists were not “little Red monsters from outer space” or moles in endlessly incomprehensible English spy stories.

Bowditch was often called a “Commie”, as was Dick Ward –dubbed “ Red Richard” – and both ,like Johnston, his late wife and his sister, fought to make the world a better and safer place and to improve the lives of working people. Penelope Debelle wrote RED SILK The Life of Elliott Johnston QC, published by Wakefield Press. (More details of Bowditch’s involvement with the Johnstons and ASIO comments will be supplied in the continuing Little Darwin serialisation of the Bowditch saga .)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Sales of garters soared and supplies of elastic ran out in Darwin when the outrageous tabloid TROPPO said public servants would receive danger money for wearing garters to keep their long white sox suspended . The rare photograph from TROPPO , above , clearly illustrates the impact on Aboriginal readers of the publication when they were told that public servants would receive danger money as doctors warned longtime wearing of garters could restrict the blood flow and impair their health . The Aboriginals - brandishing spears and sporting scores of garters- rushed into Darwin from far- flung settlements to join the public service and receive danger money.(See Troppo post below .)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Darwin chuckled and had a close dekko at the contents when two irreverent tabloids -TROPPO and the FANNIE BAY WHISPER - hit the streets in the 1970s. Both publications included nude photos from Sydney’s Kings Cross Whisper and sold like hot cakes.

In the case of Troppo, it contained an extraordinary message of good luck to the editor of the publication from her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11 , aka Lizzie Two Stroke . A special beercan regatta souvenir edition of the Fannie Bay Whisper broke the news that a member of the NT legislative Assembly would open Australia’s first hippie –wash in Darwin.

With the help of a sniffer dog , Little Darwin has tracked down people involved in the production of these two ground breaking Territory publications and will bring you extracts, advertisements and zany stories from them over coming weeks as the build up increases in maddening intensity

Sunday, August 21, 2011


General Franco’s manifesto is being used as a template for the secret Conservative policies being drawn up in readiness for a Federal election . Disguised as a bearded nun , a member of Little Darwin’ staff, related to the brave Goon , Greenbottle, penetrated a scream-proof dungeon where the policies are being tried out on a focus group tied to racks powered by heartless men and women , all wearing Cadel Evans masks to hide their identities, on stationary bicycles built for two. A timid young lad, our Aussie Greenbottle convict said the terrifying sight seemed like an Opus Dei inquisition holiday camp where they chanted over and over that there was no (repeat NO) hope for anybody in Australia Felix. Startling details of these policies , with photos , will be revealed in coming weeks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


There are other media voices in America than those which spew out a never ending stream of bile and prejudice. One of these is a website , NATION OF CHANGE-progressive journalism for positive action .

A non profit organisation, it believes in enacting change in the world through progressive journalism, commentary and activism . Peace,social equality,human rights and environmental conservation are basic planks. Furthermore, it believes dedicated individuals armed with knowledge and fuelled by compassion and optimism can enact dramatic change, even in a world fraught with corruption and injustice.

NATION OF CHANGE is an easy to read mixture of news reports and Op-Ed pieces , not only covering America . One of the Op-Ed authors is cowboy hat wearing Texan ,Jim Hightower , an influential activist who produces the HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN newsletter,sold to more than 130,00 subscribers, makes regular radio network commentaries and delivers well attended talks. The" Little Tramp,"Charlie Chaplin, was used in an article run in NATION OF CHANGE in which he strongly criticised the Obama Government, the Republicans ,corporate CEOS and the decision to slash spending to reduce the US deficit.

Rather than cuts, Hightower says the government should be using the Franklin D. Roosevelt Depression attack of spending to give the country hope. Middle America had been crushed and the rich were closing their fat purses to the masses. In part, he wrote :

"Today, we are a dangerously disunited society. Elite CEOs and big investors are grabbing all the gains, leaving the vast majority mired in recession and facing falling incomes. Since the recession technically ended 18 months ago, corporate profits have zoomed, sopping up an unprecedented 88 percent of America's economic growth. Meanwhile, only one percent of the growth that we all help produce has gone to wages and salaries, the primary sources of income for 90 percent of us."

In the MEDIA section of NATION OF CHANGE recent articles have referred to Fox’s history of mainstreaming hate groups, Fox defending the Tea Party from criticism following the Standard and Poor’s downgrade and the " class "warfare : Fox desperately defending the wealthy from tax hikes most Americans support .

Thursday, August 18, 2011


To capitalise on the new mean spirit of Australia, the federal Opposition today announced it will launch a national airline with the catchy slogan WING YOUR WAY WITH SFA if its blitzkrieg against Canberra is successful. The Tories refuse to reveal what the letters SFA stand for.A heel- clicking member of the Opposition said it definitely did not mean SWEET FANNY ADAMS , the origin of which was grisly and the subject of sick British navy humour.

SWEET , however , could be the first word in the airline’s name, he admitted. We leave it to our learned readers to suggest the full meaning . A free packet of French lettuce seeds, gift wrapped and delivered COD by Air Egypt , will be awarded to the person who comes up with the most innovative suggestion .

Little Darwin’s aviation correspondent, Bruce Bigglesworth , points out that the Pommie airline SFA used to fly through Darwin decades ago. It was the subject of a large Paul Rigby drawing in the Hotel Darwin’s Hot and Cold Bar , now a venue for visiting Irish river dancers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts has received more painful treatment than a steer in an Indonesian abattoir. The NT News sliced the Highland part of his DNA from his name, calling him plain Mr Roberts. This was in a letter to the editor from a “real Territorian”-Ricky of Moil- twice calling the commissioner Roberts.

Obviously the editor did not proofread the page before it went to press as he would have immediately picked up the error. Today there is also an "Ed’s note" on the letters page saying there was another blue in Soapbox the previous day . A sweaty Smith Street Mall busker,Louis Armstrong, and a shadowy person , nicknamed Mack the Knife, are helping police in their investigation into the slashing of the top law enforcer. Little Darwin will donate a free packet of French lettuce to any law abiding reader who can help crack this outrageous case.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Universities and libraries in Australia, it seems, are becoming anti-books. Large collections of books amassed by academics and others over their lifetime are going begging for new homes.

One such collection is that of the late Sol Encel, called the Father of Australian Sociology, who for many years was a member of the ALP and an activist, involved in such organisations as the Council for Civil Liberties , the National Health and Medical Research Council, science policy, education, multicultural issues and support for unemployed.

Professor Encel , who wrote landmark books such as Cabinet Government in Australia ( 1962), Australian Society (1965) and Equality and Authority in Australia (1970) died on July 23,2010, aged 85.

Little Darwin has been informed that his vast collection of books and papers has been offered to various universities, including the University of New South Wales , where he was an Honorary Fellow and Emeritus Professor in the Social Policy Research Centre, so far without any takers. A prominent member of the Jewish community,Encel was a moderate Zionist and a member of Academics for Peace in the Middle East.

An Australian academic told Little Darwin that there are several other valuable collections going begging, institutions reluctant to have them. Libraries cited such problems as finding shelf space for large collections, the task of cataloguing , the problem of conservation (which libraries were able to cope with 500 years ago but seemingly not in modern times ), lack of funds and shortage of staff , the trend to electronic books.

The academic said many students undergoing courses today did not handle a book, gazing into screens instead,which he personally felt was a traqedy.Furthermore, he said the National Library of Australia also seemed to be reluctant to accept similar collections .

Another emeritus professor in a southern capital is concerned about the fate of his impressive 12,000 volume collection dealing with South East Asia.His own university where he taught does not want the wide ranging source of information . A Darwin friend mentioned the collection to a contact at Charles Darwin University and received less than a luke warm response. This , he felt, was surprising when the NT Government and the university make much of Darwin being next to the big population and growth areas to the north of the NT, increasing links with China and other countries in the region.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Despite the frequently made statement that there was no reason to suspect that a violent earthquake might hit New Zealand’s second largest city,Christchurch , and cause massive destruction and loss of life , there was clear evidence such an event could take place. The 1971 UBD directory to Christchurch , a copy of which is in the Little Darwin Collection, states that in 1888 an earthquake shook down 30ft of the spire on the All Saints Cathedral in the centre of the city . A New Zealand TV report in the 1990s contained the warning that most of the old buildings in the city centre could be expected to collapse in the event of a major quake. The recent ABC TV documentary on the devastating earthquake raised questions about the construction industry in NZ, highlighting the collapse of the modern Canterbury TV building, which claimed so many lives .

Friday, August 12, 2011


MELBOURNE : Australia's Tour de France hero , Cadel Evans , has been placed in quarantine suffering from a massive dose of tinea contracted during the huge civic reception.A Darwin ABC TV newsreader twice said Cadel was to be “feeted” by adoring cycling fans in the Victorian capital, where sales of valve rubber have soared .

Being feeted , apparently , is a trendy new craze in southern capitals where mould grows like wildfire under armpits, in the groin and belly buttons during winter months . Leading Victorian dignitaries shed their thongs, gumboots , brogues and brothel creepers to impress the cyclist with their feet at the knees up , bigger than the Moomba Festival.

Everyone from the Premier through to Jeff Kennett, Sam Newman and Derryn Hinch rubbed shoulders and tootsies with Cadel . Cadel began to develop an uncontrollable itch in both big toes and was soon bounding about like a frightened rock wallaby as the tinea became more virulent. Barefooted VIPs emulated his hopping, thinking it was a Continental fad Cadel had picked up in on the Left Bank of fashionable Paris.

Eddie Maguire kindly offered to cut the unsightly tinia from Cadell’s plates of meat with his boning knife, or else sign him up as a fleet- footed Collingwood ruckman . ABC head honcho, Mark Scott, said the Darwin newsreader responsible for this foot in mouth gaffe would be towed bare- footed behind Hubert Opperman’s Malvern Star , ridden by the fittest member of the NT Retired Police Officers’ Association from Palmerston to Alice Springs at more than 130kph . Henceforth, Melbourne, will be known as Footrot Flats, which will undoubtedly improve its international image.

Monday, August 8, 2011

LAST OF THE FIGHTING EDITORS: The Big Jim Bowditch Saga, # 10. By Peter Simon

(Tribute to a great NT crusading journalist. )

On the return voyage to Australia from the vicious Middle East fighting , Bowditch became enraged at a port of call when he saw young girls in cages being offered to soldiers. He called on the men not to have anything to do with the prostitution of children and even tried to get through to them by saying they would return home with the pox . Similar thinking men joined him and there was a fight with others who were eager to get at the girls.

During the voyage he was given medical treatment and on arrival back in Australia over the coming months was attended to for bronchitis, traumatic synositis and malaria . He also faced charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, drunkeness, using insubordinate language to his superior officer and resisting an escort whose duty it was to apprehend him .

Bowditch , along with other troops brought back from the Middle East , were sent to do jungle training in North Queensland to prepare them for action against the Japanese . Then Bowditch boarded the corvette HMAS Katoomba at Townsville and sailed to Port Moresby , to take part in the fierce fighting for the strategically important Milne Bay . ( There is a large painting of the Katoomba,by Keith Swan, in Darwin's parliamentary library, showing the vessel, in dry dock at the time, under attack by Japanese planes during the February 19, 1942 raid.)

The Milne Bay battle would result in the first defeat of Japanese on land . The seemingly invincible Japanese had landed at Gona where they beheaded two nuns and a young boy .
Two squadrons of RAAF Kittyhawks were sent to Milne Bay to bolster the battle against the Japanese sweeping down towards them . A convoy of nine vessels landed some 1250 seasoned Japanese marines on the coast and this action was accompanied by a naval bombardment. Rumours came through that the Japanese had broken through .

Fighting was so ferocious Bowditch saw many men go to pieces under the onslaught. The enemy came right up to an important airfield where the canteen was blown up to prevent it falling into enemy hands. Bowditch saw RAAF men , probably ground crew, white and terrified , running away.

He was involved in the savage combat which saw Corporal Jack French posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross . This is Jim’s account , which varies slightly with official records and under the circumstances perfectly understandable. “ I was with the platoon next to that of French , a burly, blond fellow; we were advancing along this coastal area.

"There were camouflaged machine guns and snipers all over the place . Bullets were flying everywhere. Somebody started to shout ,‘ Retreat ! Retreat ! Retreat!, and it caught on like a wave.

"We turned and were running back. One fellow ran past me and ran into a tree , dropped his gun and kept on running. French started to sing out , ‘Hold it! Hold it ! Hold the line !’

" I think he was angry . I saw him take the first machine gun nest. He just lobbed a grenade , fired his gun and appeared to bayonet someone . I saw him go for the second nest and that was when I think he got hit because he appeared to stagger when running at the nest . He went down throwing a grenade into a third nest. In my view, that stopped the retreat from Milne Bay . If it had continued there would have been a debacle . After that brave effort by French we got on top .”

There was , however , further ferocious fighting ahead . The older Japanese , he said , fought like “kamikaze” soldiers , but as they were killed the younger enemy became less fanatical. The smell of death was everywhere as the Australians continued to mop up the enemy. Bowditch was so exhausted at the end of a day’s fighting he slumped down on what he thought was a log and found it was the putrefying body of an enemy soldier. Early in the advance a handsome young officer he had known in the Middle East had half his face blown away and it was obvious he was going to die despite the fact that he was still walking with blood spurting from a horrible wound.

Out front one day with his bren gun at the ready, Jim spotted Japanese up in the hills looking down on the platoon . One of the Japanese produced a white flag and advanced towards him. Bowditch asked his commanding officer what he should do . The officer , in the middle of the platoon, said to signal the soldier to come down : “ I did. We did not know what to expect as we had heard how they had pretended to surrender and then shoot people dead. We had seen where they had tied people to trees and set them alight with petrol. Women had also been staked out and raped .

" I signalled this kid in and he was knocking at the knees. He hardly got past me than the officer drew his revolver and started shooting at him. He missed a couple of times but eventually hit this kid who went down . I finished him off with a quick burst from my bren gun and actually swung around in a rage and pointed it at the officer.

"I was nearly going to shoot him . I don’t know how I restrained myself . That senseless act probably cost the lives of hundreds of Australians because the Japanese then fought to the very last man because the soldier they sent in under a white flag had been shot dead .”

The 2/9th captured an enemy base camp reportedly found detailed maps of Queensland with arrows sweeping from Port Moresby to various towns along the Queensland coast.

Bowditch was in the Milne Bay area for about a month continuing the coastal sweep through Buna and Sanananda and had many grisly experiences. When they took enemy first aid posts they shot wounded Japanese because they were instructed to take no prisoners. However there was one prisoner he saw who stuck in his memory because he was more than six foot tall. This man was brought in for interrogation , but bit his own tongue off rather than talk.

Dysentery swept
through the troops on both sides and the Japanese , because they had little in the way of medical supplies , often fought without their soiled trousers . The bodies of some 2/9th Battalion men were found on wire frames, mutilated and used as bayonet practice.

The Australians learnt early in the piece not to peer into enemy trenches because the Japanese would lie there pretending to be dead and shoot your head off. It was safer to lob grenades into trenches . Bowditch recounted how one day while Australian soldiers were having a well earned rest on a beach , a Japanese holding a sword in his mouth was seen swimming toward them. On reaching shore he took the sword from his mouth and rushed, shouting , up the beach at the soldiers who shot him to pieces.

At Buna
, on the north east coast of Papua , the Allies sent in 660 men from corvettes who linked up with tanks in further battles for strategic airstrips. The Japanese had numerous well camouflaged bunkers and there were many snipers in trees. At times the Japanese threw back hand grenades hurled into their bunkers. In 14 days of fierce fighting at Buna the 2/9th lost more officers and men of other ranks than had been sustained in four months at Tobruk.

But there was no end to their fighting for the battalion then had to march 15 miles to Sanananda along a rough track through swamps, creeks, small rivers and kunai grass. The tanks sent in ahead of them were picked off by heavy Japanese guns. Once again , many of the enemy were trouserless , but fought with fanatical fury. After all he had been through, Bowditch was made a Lance Corporal.

While on leave, Bowditch , 22, assaulted and robbed an American soldier, George Woodrow Curtis, at Lismore, New South Wales. The incident was covered extensively in the local paper, The Northern Star. He was bound over to be of good behaviour for five years , a condition being that he not absent himself from the army . In addition, he was directed to pay (pounds ) 4/4/8 to Curtis , plus fifteen shillings and fourpence compensation .

Both Bowditch and Curtis had been drinking together in various hotels. Curtis claimed Bowditch had hit him with a rock or a brick and demanded half his money . After the assault, the court was told , Bowditch had said , “ Gosh, I am sorry I did that to you , but I needed the money .” Bowditch had been drinking whisky , the American had consumed about “ nine or 10”, his “ safe” limit without getting drunk being about 15 to 20.

Evidence was given by a woman , Winifred May Cox , from the nearby town of Eltham , whom Bowditch later described as “ my fiancee” , that she had seen the two men together in Lismore . Bowditch, she said, had been staying at her family’s home for several days . She, Bowditch and members of her family had come to Lismore the day of the incident. In the afternoon she had seen the American and Bowditch together, and asked Jim to come home. However, he had said he would come home by taxi early the following morning.

When she told Jim he would probably be “ broke” by then , Curtis had told her not to worry as he had plenty of money ,and would make sure he got home safely . Court was told that during their drinking session the two men had gone looking for women. At some stage , it was alleged Bowditch went down by the river , said “ the women” would be arriving soon, then beat up Curtis and demanded money from him .

Later, the battered American had been taken to police , sporting two black-eyes. Bowditch was arrested by police . After at first denying having been with any “ Yanks,”he admitted there had been a “blue ” with Curtis. However, he denied having taken money from the man .

Recalling the episode decades later, Bowditch had another version of the event. He said “Winnie ”, a non drinker of alcohol , her parents and at least one civilian had been with him in a pub. According to Bowditch, Curtis had allegedly made passes at Winnie and she had been embarrassed and felt uncomfortable. Bowditch took the man outside, asked him if he wanted a woman , went down by the river and delivered a king hit.

On seeing what he had done to his drinking buddy , Bowditch said he tried to mop up the blood with his own shirt. Whatever the real story , and who would ever know because of the amount of drink consumed, Bowditch was lucky to escape on a five year good behaviour bond , which he breached several times soon after and suffered no penalty . In the Lismore newspaper which carried the account of the court case was a short item about two young American servicemen sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour by a US Army court-martial for having held up a Lismore hire car driver at gunpoint and stolen three pounds six shillings ($6.60) . The May 1943 NSW Police Gazette shows that another person, Harold George Wishart, 42, of Casino, alias Alfred Kelly and Alfred Wishart, was also charged over the assault and robbery of Curtis , but had been acquitted .

***The illustration at the top of this post shows American and Australian fighting men making a hit over a Coke, according to an advertisement in Man magazine, July 1944, this copy rescued from the Townsville city dump . NEXT-Bowditch joins the Z-Force commandoes, arrives in Darwin for the first time, and is engaged in many dangerous operations behind enemy lines.

Monday, August 1, 2011

DOCTOR WHO SAVED LONDON: Pete Steedman's Extraordinary Odyssey,#6

The malevolent creature which threatened to destroy the throbbing, swinging heart of London, slain by Australian journalist Pete Steedman in a David versus Goliath battle.


After the dangerous trip to Morocco in the dodgy Bedford van with his partner , model Julie Reiter, and intrepid architect/cartoonist , Peter Burleigh , Pete Steedman , back in London , quickly recovered from the delayed trauma of his late night thrashing with the Tree of Life in Tangiers.

What happened to the wretched van which required rocking before engaging the starter motor teeth ? Little Darwin asked Burleigh for details and any photographs taken on the sabbatical . Back came an email from the savant , now residing on an island off NSW, with a large boat that starts first kick, writing a trilogy, and plotting other literary gems .

A box of colour slides he took during the trip had been lost in moves from England to Canada and Australia . The Bedford had been sold to an Australian student in London who responded to Burleigh's proposition ,"Trust me, I'm an Australian too." It started first time when he drove it so Burleigh's luck held. "He never came back with a complaint and for all I know is still somewhere in Alfgarnettstan rocking the van back and forward ."

Steedman was soon knee-deep in the ebb and flow of the stimulating London scene , deeply involved with counter-culture and underground publications . Every waking hour seemed packed with adventure, rare experiences . There were parties galore , nightclub sessions with celebrities, lots of hard work and encounters with a seemingly endless cavalcade of liberated, talented , interesting and off the planet people.

For example, when he and Julie resided in the large Maidavale Rothschild mansion , the American photographer, Annie Leibovitz ,on her first assignment for Rolling Stone , bunked down with them. Photos of John Lennon from this shoot started her rise to international fame . A partner of the late American writer and intellectual, Susan Sontag, an exhibition of her photographic work was held at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art recently and she was interviewed by Virginia Trioli on the ABC’s Artscape last month.

Today Leibovitz provides regular striking covers for Vanity Fair, one such assignment , with Cate Blanchett , in February 2009 , presented the Oscar and Academy Award winning actor in various dress and poses from a diaphanous Cleopatra to a beanpole Pierrot.

On their return from Morocco, Pete and Julie found a permanent pad in a Mayfair studio/penthouse which John Varnom, Richard Branson’s close associate, and Steedman’s best mate in England, put him onto when another tenant moved out. Steedman quickly summed up the potential of the place , tore out the wiring and negotiated the rent down to eight guineas a week and a rewiring. Nowadays you would have to be a potentate to afford a Mayfair address .

Varnom and Steedman spent considerable time together in long lunches , some of the topics discussed at these sittings actually involved serious business, including how to expand Virgin’s record business , re-establishing Student magazine (edited by Branson),and other ventures involving the use of Branson’s newly purchased manor house.

They and their partners , all into good tucker and fine wine, had many nights out experiencing the wide range of food styles available in London. Pete and Julie also went with Varnom to Blackpool (Varnom being a boy from Manchester),which Steedman loved as it reminded him of his early youth growing up in Brunswick,Melbourne. Varnom is now a renowned writer of French cooking books and a record producer.

Among those who called on Pete and Julie in their Mayfair pad were Lindall Hobbs - the Melbourne journalist who became a film director in the UK and Hollywood - and actor ,comedian Dudley Moore, he having to clamber up five floors with his withered leg .

Steedman indulged his interest in fast cars and motorcycles. Taking a Shelby Cobra , for a spin in Maidavale, it took off like a jet , he ran out of road , nearly ending up on top of Branson’s houseboat. Like Arthur Dailey, he had a Cromwell Road lock up where he stashed his assorted motors, which included Lancias and a Maserati, the latter obtained by his attempted carer , Peter Burleigh, going guarantor, the vehicle mentioned on the front cover of Oz , the one which featured Steedman and the topless model brandishing firearms. There is a complicated story involving a Thunderbird. Apart from these salubrious cars, Steedman also had two mini-vans for use around London .

Because of his known experience as the founding editor of Melbourne’s Broadside magazine and deep involvement with and influence on Australian university magazines, his understanding of web offset tabloid printing , he had the reputation of being a “newspaper doctor” who could help underground and counter-culture publications.

This was at a time when another Australian, Rupert Murdoch, nicknamed the Dirty Digger , had only recently taken over News of the World and was having a major influence on the mainstream British print media.

Called in by the Oz magazine principals , under attack on many fronts by the Establishment, Steedman was asked for advice on the future of Ink, a new, hard- hitting weekly tabloid newspaper that had been launched with the assistance of Ed Victor. Steedman was an ideal person to run the rule over the new venture . Looking at the books, he told the editors Ink was fatally flawed and if he came aboard he could only guarantee about 12 issues , depending on current sales and advertising revenue. There would have to be dramatic improvements if it were to survive the predicted short run. After negotiations, he was made managing editor of the newspaper.

He was critical of its content and the way the publication was headed , saying nobody seemed to have any newspaper experience , yet people had grand titles. Attracted to its staff were individuals whom he described as third or fifth generation arty descendants of some old duke or duchess who were swirling about the Oz crew in legions. Ink was intended to be a bridge between the underground press of the 1960s and the national newspapers of the day. However, he felt it clung too much to the counter- culture approach of the 1960s, with little hard political news, and a confusing use of colour and graphicssimilar to Oz - making it difficult to read and detracting from the seriousness of issues it was covering.

The front page lead in the first edition, he said , had been a furphy fed to the paper and did nothing to impress potential readers . The staff found this gruff, straight-talking colonial something of a shock when he voiced his views. Steedman was taken aback years later when he read Stephen Alomes book WHEN LONDON CALLS : The Expatriation to Britain of Australian Creative Artists, which said that the “macho Melburnian” Peter Steedman had perfunctorily disposed of two or three women typesetters at Ink .

This, said Steedman, was “ bullshit”. People with no skills or talent for a tabloid had to go to maintain the viability of the paper. The possibility of running Ink articles in the Sunday Review , Melbourne , edited by Richard Walsh ,formerly of the Australian Oz magazine, came under discussion. In a letter to Walsh, Steedman doubted if Ink would sell in Australia . Ink eventually ran out of money and ink due to the impact of the draining Oz obscenity case . But Steedman had delivered the 12 editions.

While still involved with Ink, respected “ newspaper doctor” Steedman helped another struggling publication, Frendz,which had first been published by Alan Marcuson , a South African, in December 1969 as Friends of Rolling Stone ; later retitled Friends, it closed after a dispute and reappeared as Frendz . The publication, situated in the seedy, run down area of Portobello Road, Notting Hill Gate ( scene of the l958 race riots) , was closely associated with the underground media , including Oz and Time Out.

During Steedman’s involvement with Frendz , he said the office and the surrounding stream of colourful humanity was like something out of Dickens, Oliver Twist , with many “ freaks” , conmen – all lovable individuals. One of the many musos who visited Frendz was the pint- sized singer, songwriter, guitarist and poet, Mark Bolan, founder of the Tyrannosaurus Rex band who helped create glam rock by wearing top hats, feather boas and glitter on his cheeks. A son was named Rolan Bolan. When Mark became popular on both sides of the Atlantic he was given a white Rolls Royce, but hated driving, and was killed, aged 29, when his partner,driving a Mini Cooper, crashed. David Bowie and Rod Stewart attended his funeral.

Another stand out character was “ Barney Bubbles”, a renowned British graphic artist , who produced innovative record sleeves. He leased a three-storey old building next to the Frendz office and designed some covers for the magazine. His downstairs studio was named TEENBURGER DESIGNS . A heavy user of LSD , hounded by the Inland Revenue Department , he committed suicide on the anniversary of his parents’ wedding.

Yet another interesting Notting Hill identity was political activist, journalist Caroline Coon, who founded Release, an agency set up to provide legal advice and representation for young people on drug charges, at one stage burnt down by opponents.In the 1970s, Coon became involved with the punk scene and wrote about bands for Melody Maker and did artwork for groups such as The Clash and The Police. The BBC comedy series, The Goodies, contained a Coon parody , with a character called Caroline Kook. She became one of the witnesses for the defence in the Oz obscenity case , covered in an earlier Little Darwin post.

In a strongly worded letter to The Guardian newspaper editor , Steedman said the Oz directors believed they were the victims of a police vendetta . Drug Squad detectives and dogs had been used in raids on Oz and the home of Richard Neville, the editor. Every copy of Oz had been confiscated ; also seized were most of the files, subscription lists, advertising data and the accounts ledgers. Why, he asked, were police so vehement in opposing bail for Neville, who had no previous convictions?

Receiving extensive media coverage at the time was Michael X. Born Michael de Freitas, in Trinidad, he claimed to be the most famous blackman in Britain. Involved in prostitution, drugs, pimping, he had been an enforcer for the slum landlord , Peter Rachman. De Freitas changed his name to Michael X following the visit of American civil rights Black Power leader , Malcolm X , to London. After setting up the BLACK HOUSE , an alternative lifestyle commune, backed by a young millionaire , Nigel Samuel, Michael X claimed to be head of the British black nationalists’ organisation. He attracted donations from Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis Jnr. and John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave a bundle of their hair to be auctioned .
Off to Amsterdam in a Lancia Aurelia went Steedman for the inaugural Wet Dream Film Festival in 1970.The event was organised by SUCK magazine, the first European sex publication, Germaine Greer a contributing editor. Greer and Richard Neville were some of the international judges at the festival . Steedman was involved with the security of the raunchy films and their movement from venue to venue for screening .

Steedman went to the Isle of Wight Rock Festival from 26-31 August, 1970, at which guitarist Jimi Hendrix was the headline performer. Operating from a tent , Steedman was production manager for the four daily editions of Freak News , copy provided by a collective of underground magazines, Richard Neville being editor and one of the contributors. Tasty Jamaican food was provided by one of Michael X’s former bodyguards.

In a written account of the festival,Steedman said those outside the fenced concert area ,wound up by some French anarchists , crashed the perimeter , but were pushed back by the “oppressed masses” who reckoned that if they’d paid, so should everybody. The “anti-capitalist” dream seemed to have faded, was his ironic observation. In any case, the event became so chaotic that it was eventually thrown open to one and all.

The attendance was estimated at 700,000- more than at Woodstock . There were major problems associated with getting so many people to and from the island . The rich yachting fraternity who regarded the island as their special resort objected to the invasion by so many “ hippies and freaks”. Hendrix, who looked haggard and worn out during the festival, died soon after , on September 18. Janis Joplin followed three weeks later .
The strange world of Michael X began to unravel soon after the festival. There were arrests when it was claimed a person had been detained in a spiked slave collar in the Black House and money demanded. A mysterious fire burned down the house and John Lennon set up the bail for Michael X and four colleagues charged with extortion in January 1971.

Michael X , facing charges of extortion and robbery , fled to Trinidad and started another commune which was again destroyed by fire in February 1972. Investigating police found two bodies –Joseph Skerritt ,a barber, a member of Michael X’s so called Black Liberation Army, said to have been hacked to death with a machete for refusing to attack a police station, and Gale Benson , socialite daughter of a Conservative MP,also reportedly attacked with machetes and buried alive.

Benson was said to have been “mesmerised” by Hakim Jamahl, who called himself God, and had been associated with Malcolm X in the London Black House commune . Despite an appeal for clemency by radical lawyer William Kunstler, paid by John Lennon, Michael X was hanged for the murder of Skerritt . A celebrity committee, which included Angela Davis ,Dick Gregory and Kate Millett, was set up to “save” Michael X. The case was the subject of a chapter in Geoffrey Robertson’s legal memoir,The Legal Game.
Because of his reputation in London as the newspaper medico, Steedman was hired as business manager of Time Out , a weekly guide to London , with radical political content . It had been started in 1968 by a school dropout, Tony Elliott, with 70 pounds ($l40) . (In Little Darwin’s earlier review of the TV series , PAPER GIANTS , the Cleo magazine story, we pointed out that Ita Buttrose’s secretary announced that she was leaving Australia and going to London to work on a struggling publication, Time Out. Last year , Elliott sold half the Time Out company, a global publishing business, to a private equity group which valued the enterprise at 40 million pounds- a great return on the initial investment of 70 quid) .

Steedman produced the first integrated transport Time Out Guide to London and managed major political campaigns promoted by the magazine. Apart from providing a comprehensive coverage of entertainment, dining out and the arts,it was “ into” politics, breaking a lot of mainstream stories. It covered the vicious war in Northern Ireland ,under tight government censorship, from a different angle and had dealings with the fiery nationalist, Bernadette Devlin.

In 1971 Steedman played a major part in Time Out’s TV 4 Campaign to prevent the proposed fourth TV channel going into commercial hands. Vested media interests like Lord Harlech and others started a lobbying campaign called ITV2, so that it would be identified in people’s minds as the new channel. Steedman worked with unions and other groups involved in broadcasting and urged the government to make it a public access station. This effort kicked off with a conference in the Central Polytechnic and rapidly gained momentum. The government took fright and put off making a decision for a number of years.

Steedman headed Time Out’s London for the People Campaign which opposed the redevelopment of historic Piccadilly Circus. He got together a group of activists and said they had to personalise the issue and embarrass the people behind the plan .

There was a problem when it was discovered that they were all Jews , and the campaign could be branded anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, he said the personalised attack had to be maintained. People paraded displaying posters with pictures of the men responsible for the project stating, “All good friends together knocking down Piccadilly to share a multi-million pound bonanza.”

A leaflet said Covent Garden was already under the hammer. Bloomsbury was being sold as a job lot. The auctioneer was now feasting his eyes on Piccadilly Circus. The people who lived and worked in the city were never asked what they wanted, their opinions held worthless by supposed public servants. “ We must stop the destruction of London for the profit of speculators and the prestige of the city planners .” A handful of men would share nearly 100 million pounds out of the proposed development.

A striking Time Out poster, see head of post, drawn by gonzo artist Ralph Steadman ,who illustrated several Hunter S. Thompson epics, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was a parody of the famous statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus. Instead of the lean, naked Greek God of Love archer, it depicted a grotesque, menacing figure clutching the almighty pound sign, the spire of an old building it was knocking over jammed up its rectum. Steadman and Steedman-what a dynamic duo. The developers had no hope of getting their evil way.

The campaign was so successful that brothel owners in Soho formed resident action groups. In three weeks 100,000 signatures against the project were collected . New Society wrote about the campaign and termed it “a component of the cottage industry of community action”. It was another hectic, creative, productive and dangerous period in Steedman’s life. Julie unwittingly added to the danger when, a bit tired and emotional , she made comments which angered an associate of the Richardson Gang , and almost got Steedman "killed" .The Richardsons had been rivals of the notorious Kray brothers and were known to pin victims to the floor with six inch nails and remove their toes with bolt cutters.

Steedman had made contact with many East End crims as he formed the brothel owners of Soho into a political force to oppose the redevelopment of Piccadilly Circus. They invited him to be a guest at a special dinner celebrating one of their favourites who had just been released after a long stretch in the Scrubs (Wormwood Scrubs prison ). Infuriated by Julie’s comments, the mobster indicated he wanted to take Pete apart . Only quick thinking , rapid talking and bluffing by Steedman probably saved him from being dumped in the Thames or nailed to the floor in a warehouse for a painful pedicure.

Freedom and Responsibility in the Media was the name of one highly successful campaign in which Steedman was a key player . Jointly organised by Time Out and The Other Cinema ,it consisted of a one day forum in the Roundhouse and brought together politicians, BBC governors, unionists, journalists and others to discuss vital issues of the day. A leaflet advertising the forum said issues such as Ulster , race and community relations, access to the media, the structure of broadcasting, film distribution, the publishing crisis and the rise of alternative media were some of the subjects to be discussed. It asked what the role of the media was in society at the time .Was it to educate, inform and report, to act as a forum for ideas or, as was often the case, distorted to suit certain political philosophies. (These questions are applicable in 2011 ).

The leaflet said further details were available from Pete Steedman who organised the forum for Time Out and The Other Cinema . Co-sponsors were Rolling Stone, 24 Frames, Visual Programme Systems, Fair Enterprises, Free Communications Group, Kestrel Films, National Union of Students, Ink, Leslie Elliott, Freedom Movement, Frendz, Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians ,Michael White, 7 Days, Quipu Productions, David Hockney, Photographers Gallery , Moore Harness, Vaughan Films, Anthony Balch Films, Victor Herbert , Morning Star,Ron Bishop. Incredibly, the National Union of Journalists did not support the conference.

Censorship in Britain,especially in relation to the war in Northern Ireland was debated as were the ownership of papers in a small number of hands , the influence of advertising on reporting, self censorship by reporters ,etc . In respect of films, the restrictions placed on the screening in Britain of the Peter Watkins controversial 1966 film ,The War Game, which dealt with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the UK, was discussed. The BBC stopped its transmission on the 25th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and it was not shown in full in Britain until 1985.

The well attended event was opened by Anthony Sampson,of The Observer , author of Anatomy of Britain, who told the conference there was a crisis in the media .An illustrated paper was produced during proceedings containing a summary of speeches. Steedman used the forum to also showcase the emerging technology developing in the newspaper game and wrote, edited, laid out and printed the publication , within 30 minutes of the end of proceeding .

It included coverage of a lively exchange when Women’s Lib attacked the male chauvinist attitude of the media and its “tits boost sales” policy. Time Out and the rest of the alternative media , it was said, should be forced to realise that they were not radical at all. The paper was cashing in on hip revolution by pandering to trendy liberals. A girl with a megaphone at one stage shouted : "Fuck off Nick!"

An interjector - gender not indicated- fanned the fiery debate by saying : “The ultimate aim of the alternative media is bigger and better boobs; that’s all.”The cover of the newspaper reflected this interplay with a photographic insert of a man seated next to a woman, he with the bubble text: Fuck this for a lark–I am joining Women’s Liberation .

At the foot of the introduction in the newspaper was a statement which said Pete Steedman had done a lot of work in setting up the forum, and that he hoped people would sign the visitors’ book so that he could boast about how many people were present.

A “Dear Peter” letter from a BBC governor , Tony Morgan , written two days after the conference, said it was a shame the promising forum discussions had been disrupted by the Women’s Lib outburst and that the chairman had not exercised more control. Morgan’s two hours at the Roundhouse had convinced him he needed to learn a great more about the BBC before passing any judgements on its current modus operandi. He asked Steedman to give him three or four months before they next met , perhaps not so formally, and certainly in more congenial surroundings.

Morgan said he had been unaware of the depth of feeling against the BBC-deserved or not. Peter Watkins had promised to stop by for a meal one evening at which time he (Morgan) hoped to learn much more about the frustration he so obviously felt. The letter ended: "Thank you for inviting me . It was not time wasted, I can assure you."

During research for this post , Little Darwin was able to peruse a batch of documents from Steedman’s action-packed time in London, which add weight to the strong belief that there is potential for a TV series about his time and influence in the evolving newspaper world both in Australia and Britain,with its cavalcade of extraordinary people and events .

Minutes of a Time Out editorial meeting held May 16,1972 mentioned that the paper was putting questions to Cuban leader Fidel Castro regarding a forthcoming visit to Moscow.The cover of a future edition would feature Derry, Northern Ireland , and there was discussion about alterations to the masthead, films, the sports page, classified advertisements and a Great Western Festival .

At the directors’ meeting the following day, Steedman was authorised to provide a thorough report for the next meeting on promotion and distribution and also to find a new building for the paper from which to operate. His advice on a new photocopier said it would have to be kept under lock and key to prevent use by “freaks” at all hours of the day and night. The machine, which he described as “this amazing monster,” designed “ to replace 500 English workers and create one for an Australian,” would save a lot of time and , if used properly, “there would obviously be more time to spend in the pub.” Instructions were given to lock the darkroom and Steedman was given the job of getting a better camera. The minutes contained an unusual direction that two named individuals were to be asked to “ fuck off”.

As part of a campaign to bring the troops home from Northern Ireland , Steedman found himself like epic movie producer, Cecil B . DeMille on the fourth floor of a building coordinating the movement of columns of protestors converging on Trafalgar Square from various directions for cameramen . All this frenzied , successful campaigning took place over nine months which Steedman, on reflection , said had to be the most productive period in his varied life.
Somehow , Steedman had time to slip away to a Greek isle to see a friend in a pub when the country was in the hands of the military junta which had seized the democratic country, backed to the hilt by the US during the Cold War period. While there he was trailed by secret police and gathered information about the ill treatment and torture of detainees under the colonels' rule.

With an expanding international transport business , Australian entrepreneur,Gordon Barton, lobbed in London and visited Steedman, discussing various Australian matters, including politics. In his lifetime Barton challenged restrictive colonial laws which hindered interstate trade , reshaped the nation’s transport industry , challenged the Federal government’s favourable treatment of Reg Ansett ( depicted in a cartoon as The Adoration of Ansett ), attempted to reform the Liberal Party, founded the Australia Party , which evolved into the Australian Democrats . Barton bought The Nation and merged it with the Sunday Review , resulting in Nation Review , a campaigning paper with strong political comment and cartoons. Strongly opposed to the Vietnam War, Barton,in the early days of the Australia Party, had conferred with Steedman, at the forefront of opposition to the conflict and conscription through Melbourne university magazines .

Barton negotiated to run an anti-war article from the American Ramparts magazine, a Catholic publication, and Steedman arranged with him to print another 20,000 copies to insert in the Melbourne University magazine Farrago and other publications.

Barton paid for a full-page advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald opposing the Vietnam War the day LBJ arrived in Sydney in October 1966. Steedman wrote to Barton on April 24, 1972 saying he planned to be back in Australia in time to see the McMahon Government fall .He hoped Nation Review, which he opined needed a revamp, was paying its way, and proved “to be a good weapon” in the elections.

Steedman told Barton he had several plans , including setting up a paper based on Time Out . While not looking for a job,Steedman said there was only one qualification, apart from ideology, that it must pay well. “Gone are the days when the talented Left could be bought for a copy of the Manifesto .” The letter ended, “ Best wishes and I’ll see you about August .”

In need of rest and resuscitation –Pete especially, receiving attention from British security - after their full on life in London, Pete and Julie , she pregnant, decided to return home to Melbourne. Customs were unreasonable about the Maserati, so it had to be left behind. Pete and Julie arrived back just in time for the 1972 election which saw Gough Whitlam swept into office as PM. NEXT : More publishing house calls by the doctor , a growing involvement in the cut and thrust of Victorian politics , Cyclone Tracy and into Federal parliament where he monstered National Party members about their close relationship with cuddly sheep.