Ten years ago: Redfern, Sydney, Surry Hills

From October 2008.

Eddy Avenue, Central:

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East Redfern: Jacaranda:

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Sydney Boys High, Moore Park:

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Surry Hills: painters:

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Really another post about my ongoing senescence

Or Google, which is apparently 20 years old! Mind you that puts it around eighteen months ahead of my own getting on the Internet, which still terrified me twenty years ago, though I had by then mastered a Brother Word Processor in pseudo laptop form. I do recall that in my early Internet days — dial-up of course — there were heaps of search engines. My colleague Tony Hannon was an early advocate of Google as the pick of the crop, and it still is. Bing doesn’t really cut it, does it?

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Happens that twenty years ago I was in the last term of my Graduate Certificate TESOL at UTS, part of which was with this man. He much praised my work too: see Looking back 20 years: the Japanese surfer. I was doing the Grad Cert — it has a longer name these days — because my work increasingly between 1996 and 2005 centred on ESL at Sydney Boys High. I liked the impressive row of letters in the staff directory too — this one from 2002:

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But 20 years! I can’t believe it! And I felt old then, being back at — but enjoying — university. Thanks too to M who made it all possible at the time by enabling me to avoid a HECS debt.

Sydney High now… Proud!

While checking the school archives for the previous post, I noted that the 2017 Record was now online. Over 60 years ago I was a student on the Record Committee; happens it was the 75th anniversary of the school. I am now as old as the school was then, a fact I am only just coping with! Last year I posted about my delight in the way the school has progressed in recent years under the watch of Dr Kim Jaggar. This year same again in spades! Get your own copy! A sample:

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Now an extract from Dr Jaggar’s 2017 Presentation Night address:

This evening I would again like to share some thoughts with the graduating Year 12 group about the world High alumni are moving into. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist historian to understand, that first social, and then political movements, have their genesis in changes to economic conditions. The globalisation of economic activity made possible by improved transport and the very rapid growth of technology, particularly in data storage and manipulation in devices, from mobile phones to mainframe computers servicing the cloud, has created international winners and losers. In developed countries, the winners are in services industries and those trading in the internet of things, the losers are in manufacturing. The proliferation of robotics in manufacturing has made many jobs redundant. Companies outsourcing and offshoring have benefitted developing economies by relocating labour intensive tasks to where there is cheap labour by global standards. Nowadays, our economic realities are grounded in interdependence and interconnectedness.

There have emerged political movements led by people who purport to represent the interests of those disadvantaged by globalisation – workers in traditional industries like steel making, car manufacturing and whitegoods. Populist leaders champion pushback against the effects of globalisation, appealing to nationalistic sentiment. They argue that the inexorable changes to economic life, occasioned by globalisation, can somehow be stopped, delayed or at least lessened, in their effects on the forgotten workers, who were the backbone of the superseded industrial economy. People who don’t want the world to be the way it is are finding voice through politicians who say they have a solution – they can fix things and bring back the good old days. They scapegoat minorities and play to xenophobic tendencies….

The Trump presidency might prompt a ‘rebirth of freedom’ style backlash, with republican values reinstated: a renewed reverence for truth, a more sober patriotism, leaders more grounded in duty, a renewed respect for law, a greater commitment to tradition, and a deeper knowledge of US history. Alternatively, Trump might become ‘a subject of horrified wonder in our grand-children’s history books’.

Whatever happens in the USA, Australia needs international free trade and open borders. You will be entering the workforce at a time of great uncertainty and heightened tension…

Sydney Boys High 1985

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I couldn’t recall Scott Morrison, our PM du jour, from my teaching at Sydney Boys High from late 1985. Still true, but I have found some evidence. Yes, he was a prefect — and the Principal there in the front row had been my Maths teacher in 1958-9.



Why think of this today? Because last night I saw someone I do remember from SBHS 1985, a member of the Year 11 class that became the memorable Class of 1986. I might even suggest this person is rather more interesting than SM, but maybe that would be churlish. It was on last night’s The Drum on ABC News 24.

Host: Julia Baird
Panel: by Brooke Boney, Simon Holmes à Court and Samantha Maiden
Guest: Dr Sacha Molitorisz and Pete Goss
The panel discusses $4.5 billion funding for non-government schools, a no confidence motion against Peter Dutton and Australians losing trust in the government.

Sacha looked rather different in 1985 — but then, so did I! Fascinating research he’s been doing:

My expertise spans ethics, media and law, and my goal is to find answers to the question of how, in a digital age, we can shape a more ethical media landscape. At the Centre for Media Transition at UTS, my research (and teaching) areas include digital privacy and trust in news media. In 2017, I completed a PhD into the ethics of digital privacy; previously, I studied law and English Literature.

Very random but related to our new PM

For anyone out there who wonders who the Prime Minister of Australia is this morning, here is the answer: Scott Morrison. See Liberal Party elders lash Tony Abbott for acts of revenge on Turnbull’s government and Scott Morrison’s ministry — who’s in and who’s out.  I see Wikipedia is up to speed. Now for the random bits.

I return to teaching — 1985

For reasons I won’t go into here, I took a break from teaching between 1982-3 and 1985, during which time I was involved in editing a little magazine and, for about a year, in bookselling in Glebe. In the second half of 1985 I recommenced teaching at Sydney Boys High.

In Surry Hills last Monday — 1

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Neil

The other objective of my Sydney trip was to visit my old workplace.

My association with Sydney Boys High goes back [almost sixty*] years to 1955 when I arrived as a pupil, Ken Andrews having just started his term as Principal. Then in 1985 I began teaching English there on a casual basis, after a year spent working at Harkers Bookshop in Glebe: I’ll never forget the Class of 1986! (Or the Class of 2000 if it comes to that!) For the next 20 years much (but not all) of my work was at SBHS. You can find a sample here. – *I wrote the original in 2005 and said 50! How time goes!


So that’s thirty years on now since I first met that class of 1986 when they were in Year 11. (Scott Morrison was in Year 12 in 1985 but I can’t recall anything about him.)

I have mentioned the class of 1986 several times – for example Philip Larkin 1922-1985….

Someone who was at SBHS at the same time, but graduated hence in 1988, is Russell Ward. He has posted a somewhat unfriendly account of Morrison on Facebook. Russell now lives in California.

It seems a boy I went to school with is the new Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. I’ve a few emotions at the news, none of them nice. Shame one of them.

I’m reminded of a lovely guy Tri Phan who was a Vietnamese refugee, a “boat person.” While at school with us he won a state science essay prize on about the cancer-fighting drug interferon that won praise for having scientifically useful insights. Scott Morrison enthusiastically supported the policies that would have put him on an island to rot (a policy btw I protested against all the way over here at the embassy in San Francisco).

I’m also thinking of my brother, a captain of the school while Morrison was there.

My brother and his dear partner Paul O’Grady endured a lot of suffering when Paul came out as the first openly gay NSW politician and in their campaigning for marriage equality. Scott represents the homophobia that causes suffering where there should be love….

I remember (Associate Professor) Tri Phan well, and not just from school. He was a registrar (I think) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital when I had a hernia operation there in 1997. SBHS people tend to pop up like that. (They  — staff and students — account for quite a few of my current Facebook friends!)

Another is Joseph Waugh who commented on Russell’s post:

High had always been a school that welcomed refugees – whether it be from the Holocaust in Europe, from the American war in Vietnam, or post-Tienanmen Square. My vain hope is that he is an outlier (the class of 1992 has a murderer, for example). Had I gone to that outrageous event put on for him, my one question would have been, which gulag would he have condemned Tri and his family to, had he been Minister for Immigration in 1980?

Joseph is referring to Scott Morrison’s time as enforcer of the tough “stop the boats”/Manus/Nauru policy Australia is now (in)famous for. He was invited to some SBHS Old Boys event and many boycotted it/him. Indeed.

Mind you, Tri arrived here, so far as I know, when Malcolm Fraser was in charge, and some on the left were not entirely admirable either back then, as I noted in a comment on a post by Jim Belshaw a few years ago.

On Vietnamese refugees and Fraser: In 1979 I have to confess I worried about Fraser welcoming so many Vietnamese. I wondered how they would, um, assimilate! (We all grow, don’t we?)

And unusual as it is for ne to commend Quadrant, Hal Colebatch is quite right here.

…Labor Senator Lionel Bowen also invoked anti-Asian white Australia imagery on July 27, 1976, claiming Australia was in danger from the “teeming millions in the North … And these people are on the move.”

The leftist Nation Review of June 1–7, 1978, carried an article referring to Vietnamese refugees as “bourgeois capitalist exploiters on the run” and ridiculing efforts to help them. In the issue of August 18–24 it referred to them as “political extremists and soft-life seekers”. The pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia organ, the Socialist, of May 31, 1978, carried a headline: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES VICTIMS AND TOOLS OF ANTI-COMMUNISM and referred to them as “right-wing Vietnamese who betrayed their country”. The CPA’s Tribune of June 7, 1978, claimed: BHP PREFERS VIETNAMESE and quoted South Coast Labour Council Secretary and CPA National Committee member Merv Nixon to the effect that the situation was disgraceful and that: “We can do without these right-wing elements.” Tribune elaborated on this in the following issue and warned of “right-wing people organizing private armies”. At the University of Western Australia, ALP Left Caucus member Graham Droppert published an article in the student newspaper Pelican, Number 4 of 1978, under the heading REFUGEES OR RATS?, claiming they included “the pimps, the wealthy merchants, the racketeers, the standover men and other exploiters”…

I was in Wollongong at the time and recall Merv Nixon very well.

No, the White Australia attitude was not dead and buried, and Fraser’s courage in this is highly significant in the story.

Here is a handy list of our Immigration Ministers, and the mind-boggling series of name-changes over the years.

One possibly good thing Scott Morrison has done right now is to divide that monstrous Home Affairs Department into three parts, restoring in the process a Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs! There is also a separate ministry looking at population policy and congestion. Mr Potato Head has been allowed to retain his black-uniformed Border Force, but not as part of Immigration. Back in January I had noted:

Posted on January 15, 2018  Reposts.

NOTE 2018: On Mr Potato Head’s latest frolic see Peter Martin and Benjamin Miller. Oh, and we no longer have a dedicated Immigration Department in Australia. Did you know that? Instead we have this gargantuan thing….

It is at least encouraging that Scott Morrison has rehabilitated the M-word. I gather Pauline Hanson has noted this with some displeasure.

Enough of my random thoughts. Let’s see if Scott and the government can recover from the dreadful thrashing they are getting right now in the polls.