I guess it shouldn’t have been such a shock to hear at a barbecue yesterday that boys from one of Melbourne’s most exclusive boys’ schools had been heard sledging boys from another school at a cricket match with the chant “Your dads work for our dads”.
And to hear that students from a co-ed school based in an area with a large Jewish population had “Where are your foreskins?” chanted at them, was even more confronting—implying as it does that among those educating our blue-blooded ‘elite’ this kind of anti-semitism is tolerated to the point where it can be yelled aloud.
Of the three sledges raising eye-brows around the out-door setting, the third—a chant back to to the “Your dads” crowd of “Where are your women? Back in the kitchen!”—was possibly the least offensive.
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A private school girl’s family is sueing her elite, extremely expensive private school for not providing her with the necessary tuition and support to get into a law course at an elite university, and so they should.
The girl in question, a pouting, willowy petal by the name of Rose Ashton-Weir, boarded at Geelong Grammar in 2008 and 2009 and was clearly neglected to the point of indifference. The school is Prince Charles’s alma mater, and is Victoria’s most expensive secondary institution with annual fees topping $30k, yet evidence was tabled in court yesterday that Ms Ashton-Weir was never once given a silver spoon with which to imbibe her daily Bircher muesli.
Further, the school patently failed the young lady by refusing to provide an immaculate gravel pathway lined with lovingly-tended hedges stretching all the way from the doors of its Geelong campus to the nearest sandstone university law school. Quite rightly, the family is outraged.
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The Left blame welfare cuts and the moral failure of society’s leaders. The Right blame the bludger mentality and soft policing. As usual, the truth is more like c) neither of the above.
Some have portrayed the riots through the social frame of family decline and fatherlessness, while others viewed it through the racial lens, before hastily backtracking when they saw white faces beneath the hoods.
While many of these viewpoints point to a general sense of unease and frustration among a section of Britain’s youth, none of them explain why half of England ended up looking like a Boxing Day sale where someone forgot to open the store doors, with shoppers forced to smash their way in.
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If you haven’t heard the news, or the outrage, legendary British chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson yesterday became the first non-Australian to deliver the Australia Day address. Here’s his speech.
With due sheepishness, The Punch team admit we didn’t actually know there was such a thing as the Australia Day Address. But apparently it’s been a platform for interesting and prominent Australians for 14 years until clearly, there were no interesting or prominent Australians left. So we got Parky. Who, to be fair, is both an interesting and prominent Pom (oh, and he called himself a Pom in his speech, so don’t anyone complain about the choice of word.)
Parky didn’t exactly drop any bombshells. In post-speech interviews he did suggest we should sever ties with the monarchy when the queen hangs up her white gloves, but surely, the last thing anyone needs today is a debate on republic vs monarchy. There was, however, one interesting point he touched upon very briefly: our so-called classless society.
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Come Christmas Day, many members of the book-reading class are likely to wake up to find a copy of Things Bogans Like (TBL) in their stocking. The book was released in late October but its publicist, Nicola Pitt, is “expecting a spike in sales just before Christmas as people buy the book to give to friends and family. It’s one of those gifts that result in lively Christmas lunch conversation”.
Needless to say, those having lively conversations about Things Bogans Like, which has spun off the wildly popular website of the same name, are not themselves likely to be bogans and any bogan who does stumble upon the book is unlikely to find much to laugh about.
In contrast to Kath & Kim’s Jane Turner and Gina Riley, the six young men (who’ve opted to remain anonymous) behind TBL satirise what they perceive as the pretension, racism, ignorance, unabashed self-interest, clumsy social climbing, sheepish conformism, hyper consumerism and reactionary politics of Australia’s rapidly gentrifying lower orders without the tiniest sliver of empathy or affection for their targets. The vicious humour of the book is irradiated with class condescension of the let’s snigger about what those people watch (trashy current affairs programs), buy (Buddhist-themed home furnishings) and name their children (Chanel or Armani) variety.
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David Penberthy’s health sandwich is laden with a generous helping of cynicism and a pinch of exaggeration.
By calling for a reduction of the harmful fats in our food, Bob Carr is not seeking to ban fast food outlets. Instead, he is highlighting how easy it would be to make our takeaway foods substantially healthier.
Australians love to eat out - nearly one in three of us do so almost every day, which adds up to a massive 3.8 billion meals eaten out every year.
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Our supposedly classless society is showing signs of being divided into two camps where people’s private choices as individuals and their behaviour as families are regulated on the basis of their affluence.
And it’s in the area of nutrition, preventative health and exercise where the working class, for want of a better term, is increasingly being treated like a bunch of babies, while the more affluent members of society continue to live as they please.
It’s only a small thing but it’s a signifier for the times, a demonstration of a mindset which holds that working class people are unable to modify their behaviour, while the gentry can be trusted to keep its conduct in check. But get along to the SCG, that great people’s arena, where our knockabout, egalitarian society lets the members drink as much full-strength beer as they want and limits the great unwashed to light beer.
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Bondi’s finally done it. The powers that be that run Australia’s most famous beach have put up the metaphorical “closed for business” sign and jacked up parking fees to deter the Westies.
(View The Punch - Poser suburbs of Australia in a larger map)
The local council is not even pretending there’s another good reason for the latest fee hike to $5 an hour, with Waverly Mayor Sally Betts saying she wants to “protect residents from visitors.”
“We don’t want people from western Sydney coming here and parking - we want them to take public transport. But I don’t think the 50c is a disincentive,” Ms Betts told yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.
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Standing outside the Unity Hall Hotel, in Darling Street Balmain, Jan doesn’t hold back. She stands for everything that Old Balmain was, working class, down to earth, unpretentious and with a village atmosphere.
Jan doesn’t like how the place has changed. To her Balmain used to be a “kooky” place, with a sense of community but now “we call it Yuppieville… it’s the people moving in that can afford the extravagant rents and the house prices.”
Further down the road at the London Hotel, you can still see the vestiges of the Balmain of yesteryear. It is buildings such as the London Hotel (built in 1870) hold an important place in Australia’s political and social history.
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The people of Frankston, Victoria, deserve full marks for enterprise. But they’ve damaged their bogan credentials by becoming the latest mulletted suburb to jump on the I-Heart-New York-style merchandising bandwagon, with the suburb’s GDP ballooning to several thousand dollars with the sale of I Love Frankston t-shirts, stubbie holders and prophylactics.
The Herald-Sun chronicled the marketing push last week, with residents of “Franga”, “Franghanistan” and “Funky Town” as Frankston is also known hailing the move as a sign their city was on the improve.
It’s the kind of upwardy-mobile stuff which appalls committed westies such as bricklayer Todd Farrawell, from St Marys in Sydney’s West, who went public last month to bemoan the aspirationists who were getting all giggly about the “new buzz” out west.
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It may seem a little odd to some but I am a snob when it comes describing those who are generally referred to as bogans – where I’m from the correct term is booner. So being from Canberra it will always be booner and I rarely make allowances those who may not know what I’m talking about.
This may seem ridiculous but it does makes sense: calling someone a bogan (or booner) is after-all an inherently snobbish exercise in differentiating from others you consider yourself to be better than in some way, so you may as well do it properly.
Another reason for objecting to the term is its ubiquitous use in Australia at the moment is slowly strangling other regionalisms that at least gave a certain colour and flair to our condescension.
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“White underclass” is a term I’ve used often in my writing, and most American readers seem to know what I mean. They’ve got eyes and live in the same nation I do. But in a sudden burst of journalistic responsibility, I decided that if I am going to throw around the word underclass, then I should offer some clearer, perhaps more scientific definition.
So I started writing this with a pile of published research papers before me. Now they a re in the trash can by my side. Looking down on them, I can see the gobbledygook titles, the stuff of which government policy and political platforms are made. They run together in slurry of the language of our society’s commissars: Concerning-Prevalence-Growth-and-Dynamics-Concentrated Urban Poverty Areas- block-level vs. tract-level segregation-800-tract-tables-urban abstracts-Defining-and-Measuring-the-Underclass-from-The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management-s tatistical-summary-of …
What I find is that nobody in social science seems to agree on the term, or, being firmly placed in the true white middle class themselves, even agree if such a thing as a white underclass exists.
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