On the origins of the bogan as a species
It was a meeting last week with a fired up General Manager of the Bogan Shire Council, Mike Brady, and the Deputy Mayor Jim Hemstead over the town’s swimming pool which really got me thinking about bogans.
The news was full of chk-chk-boom bogans, and to top it off I even had 30 kids from Bogan Shire’s St Josephs School come into the Parliamentary office whilst on an excursion to Canberra.
After a moment of quiet reflection I am now convinced there is a bit of bogan in every Australian. I realise the statement may shock and dismay some of our nation’s more refined citizens.
Love it or hate it the ‘tribe of bogan’ has long been part of our culture. Even using the word bogan makes us uniquely Australian.
From our Prime Minister down, we all have a bit of the bogan spirit in us wanting to get out. Whether it is a boozy visit to the world’s best strip joint, or telling someone off because the food’s not up to scratch or having a whinge because our personal grooming habits have been delayed, who hasn’t wanted to show off their inner-bogan at some stage? Although I do shudder at the thought of Kevin Rudd with a mullet and believe that just because the inner bogan wants to get out, a bit of self control is needed.
However, the bogan knockers have reached absurd heights in denying their inner bogan. A story in the Daily Telegraph stated; Tired of being smeared because of their address, 12 of the street’s (Bogan Pl, Wahroonga) 16 residents have banded together to beg their council for a name change.
In my electorate of Calare, Bogan has another meaning. Pam Peters, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Dictionary Research Centre at Macquarie University, has found a reference to the ‘tribe of Bogan’, along with a sketch of some Aboriginal people in an 1840’s map and stated; ‘it’s clear that ‘Bogan’ was not just a river name. In fact it must have been a settlers’ designation for a whole area of Aboriginal occupation and culture in northwestern NSW.’
Although not much knowledge remains about this early ‘tribe of Bogans’, folklore around the Bogan district is that the Aboriginal people who lived around Nyngan were one tribe who fought.
And they still are. Which brings me back to Nyngan’s pool dilemma and the feisty General Manager of the Bogan Shire Council, Mike Brady.
The Bogan Shire joins the Bourke Shire in the west and its main town, Nyngan, is one of the hottest places in NSW. In summer the town’s swimming pool is an essential service and at the heart of community life, but now it’s broken.
The GM tells me that there is a hole in the pool which leaks up to 70,000 litres a day and takes two fire hydrants to fill it up. The Council spent $150,000 last year, are on track to spend $200,000 this year and are going to have to spend at least another $200,000 next year. The pool is built on a black soil swamp – plug one leak and another one pops up! The Nyngan War Memorial Pool is 57 years old and has reached the end of its life. It needs to be put out of its misery and a new one built.
The Bogan Shire Council applied for funding to fix the pool under the Rudd Government’s economic stimulus package. All they got was a Dear Kevin letter explaining that the Government loves them, but not enough to give any money towards a new pool.
The Bogan Shire Council has requested through me has a meeting with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, to discuss with him the town’s urgent need for a new pool.
Now Anthony Albanese has a reputation as a class warrior. He is a hater of epic proportions and is acknowledged by some as a good parliamentary performer and by many as a nasty bit of gear. His latest trick is to lambast Members of the Coalition for having the temerity to put forward their constituents concerns and loves nothing more than to make a Members letter supporting their constituents sound like something dirty.
Minister Albanese is not known for meeting with constituents from Coalition seats, and his usual modus operandi is to flick anything to do with regional infrastructure off to his Parliamentary Secretary. So you can imagine my surprise when the Minister’s office agreed to see the Bogan Shire Council on very short notice.
The cynic in me tells me I am being set up.
The Minister’s office explained they would like to meet with the Bogan Shire Council earlier in the week, thus giving him plenty of time to get a Dorothy dixer question up. I could almost see the political hacks in his office eyes light up when they were told a National Party Shadow Cabinet Minister was requesting a meeting with the Minister about money for a swimming pool! No doubt they are salivating at the thought of letting Minister’s inner bogan off the leash during Question Time.
Not only did I vote against the Governments’ stimulus package I would do it again tomorrow. I strongly believe that throwing $12.7 billion in $900 cheques at people was not good public policy. The irony is that despite owning over $1.825 billion of the Rudd Government’s debt the people of Calare have missed out on being stimulated by any projects with a value of over $2 million.
Collectively every man, woman and child in the Bogan Shire will owe $42.75 million as a result of Rudd’s $315 billion debt. With a debt like that the very least they deserve is a meeting with a Minister who is willing to discuss their legitimate concerns, not with a Minister only looking out for his next punch line during Question Time.
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