Après Bob le déluge
was early on Saturday morning when I ran into a dead-end in my search
for further Sydney links in the Romero bribery scandal. I rang Jose,
my contact man at El Mundo, to tell him the bad news. The editor
had gone home, he said.
hacking away, Nick", he urged. "If, if, this guy got
away with it in Barcelona, how likely is it that nothing happened in
Sydney? Have you talked to your Senor Baird? He's obviously anxious
to tell what he knows. Perhaps nobody has asked him about Senor Romero?"
have to get somebody else to ask him. My relations with Bruce haven't
been the best since my investigations into the Sydney tollways",
I replied. I promised to keep trying, and hung up.
was sordidly humid, overcast, and threatening to rain when I dropped
into the Werrong Newsagent and bought a Sydney Morning Herald
on my way to the café for breakfast.
were running the Romero allegations on page one. In the end, I reflected,
Malcolm Fraser had got his wish: sport was back on the front pages
almost constantly but not, of course, in the way he wanted. Even
in mid 70s Malcolm's idea of sport as gentlemanly, honourable, healthy,
apolitical fun was hopelessly nostalgic. Nowadays, to get to first base,
you needed endless corporate sponsorship, government subsidised "sports
institutes", relentless product sales, and a major pharmaceutical
lugged the paper to the café and laid it carefully on my favourite
table by the window. You can't toss the Saturday Herald around recklessly.
It is one of the nation's great environmental disasters. It's three
or four centimetres thick and sometimes weighs in at nearly half a kilo
equivalent to a full ream of paper. Every Saturday 150,000 people throw
away half of it without a glance.
though the state elections are scheduled for 27 March it was hard to
find any actual politics in the paper, but there was a very gentle interview
with Bob Carr by Craig McGregor. The kind where the interviewee gets
to indulge in their fondest view of themselves.
is the master of this style of journalism. Most people believed that
Kim Beazley was another cynical number-cruncher from the ALP Right until
Craig revealed that he was just a gentle modest Christian.
there's too much competition in sport these days but it doesn't have
to be this easy. Craig bowled up a bunch of slow simple ones and Bob
hit them all over the paddock. He was the intellectual statesman, striding
the wilderness, pondering the big issues. The man with the long vision.
This was his land; these were his people.
had always felt that being a Labor MP was "the noblest profession";
he was the "arbitrator" of a "robust quick-moving democracy"
courageously eschewing populism and demagoguery but closely in
touch with popular opinion; the sort of Premier who chats with his hairdresser,
the butcher and the taxi driver about the heroin issue; an intellectual
at home with Bill Clinton, Gore Vidal, Paul Erlich, and especially Norman
Mailer (James Ellroy seems to have dropped off the list).
central assertion is that Bob Carr isn't a natural politician. Oh please.
Consider the following exchange:
you feel you could have made more radical decisions in your time as
When it comes to change we've pushed the social reform agenda
as much as any state government. I'm satisfied with what we've done.
many compromises? -You have to have a measure of compromise
for things to work. The alternative to compromise is either rule by
a dictator, or civil war.
no revelation that Bob has pushed what passes for a 'social reform'
agenda as far as Liberal premiers like Jeff Kennett or Richard Court,
but I had never realised that Bob was the only thing standing between
us and dictatorship or civil war for these last four years. Après
Bob le déluge. What a ham.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 1999