Chewin' the Gristle


Hello Gristlers! and welcome to Chewin’ the Gristle, the week’s political bits that we found hard to swallow.

This week saw a wave of patriotic fervor when it was announced by the producer of the Big Day Out festival, Ken West, that if you were planning on wearing the Aussie Flag to the BDO and making trouble, then you might want to leave the flag at home.


These outrageous comments were not taken lightly by the pollies, who clearly remembered the unity that the flag brought to Cronulla just over a year ago.

‘If they have got a security problem, they need to deal with that, not with the flag. The flag is a symbol of unity,’ Liberal MP Andrew Robb told the Nine Network.

As Morris ‘Yemina’ Iemma said: ‘The flag is a symbol of national unity and pride.’

Of course, Peter ‘Whitey’ Debnam, Kevin ‘Charlie Brown’ Rudd and John Howard all chimed in quickly to condemn the condemnation of the flag.

So maybe Ken West is wrong. The Gristle proposes that the BDO get anyone who turns up at the gates draped in an Australian Flag to answer a simple multiple choice question:

I wore the Australian flag as a cape to the Big Day Out today because

a) I have modified the Slip Slop Slap strategy for these post-multicultural times (Slip on a Flag, Slop down some bundies, and Slap a wog).

b) I felt it set off my cammo shorts, Vans and Tool t-Shirt just so.

c) I’m going to ask ‘ethnics’ to kiss it and beat them up if they won’t.

d) I want the Aussie bands to know that I am cheering for them to beat the overseas bands.

e) I am a returned serviceman.

f) It’s not the Australian flag, it’s the New Zealand flag.

g) Isn’t Australia day on 25 January?

h) I want to be a superhero.

i) I hunt and I vote.

The information gathered in this way could prove useful to the boys and girls at the newly formed Department of Immigration, Racial Cleanliness and Citizenship.

Yemina’s comments on the flag came as he was taking time out from his NSW election campaign, during which another of his Ministers was found guilty of a criminal offence this time, assault . Based on the likelihood that his whole Cabinet will be in jail by the time the State election rolls around, Yemina has decided the fight with ‘Whitey’ Debnam might be a little tough so he has found an easier opponent. Yep, Morris has challenged the mad Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, to an election tussle in his seat of Lakemba.

‘I am confident, in the end, he won’t run,’ the Premier said yesterday. ‘But if he does, he will find out just how popular his views really are. So, if he wants a challenge with those values, I say: bring it on.’

Now them’s fighting words. Okay, so it seems he’s looking to fight bums, but that’s what they said about Anthony Mundine and he came second in a world title bout. No prizes for guessing what contest Yemina is likely to come second in.

While the Premier was out fixing fights, his Minister for Everything John Watkins has called on the Federal Government to allow NSW police to continue to carry out SMS surveillance, unfettered by pesky requirements such as specific warrants. Now, it’s not often that you have to beg Phil ‘The Cadaver’ Ruddock for increased law enforcement powers but maybe Phil is getting soft in his (unfeasibly) old age.

The Gristle would have thought that the difficult bit would not be accessing the text messages but deciphering that abbreviated language the kids are so fond of these days. For example, how would you decipher ‘Mt U @ BDO 2 bt p sm Wgs “ wr ur flg’ (neatest correct entry wins an Australian flag cape).

Meanwhile, over in Camp X-Ray, the case against David ‘Australian’ Hicks has ramped up with evidence being produced that Hicks was spying on the American and British Embassies in Kabul in August 2001 on behalf of al-Qaeda. He must have been a pretty important operative as well, considering the two embassies were both long abandoned at that time and weren’t re-established until a month after Hicks was detained. It could be just me, but if your organisation is sending you off to spy on empty buildings, your career prospects are probably not all that hot.

Thanks to Sean Leahy

Of course, David’s mistake seems to be that he wasn’t wearing the Australian flag as a cape at the time. If he had then he’d probably be back in Australia now, being feted as a national hero.

Finally, this week, the Spirit of Australia is showing that it knows who its friends are in refusing to carry a passenger wearing an anti-George W Bush t-Shirt. Allen Jasson, 55, an IT specialist living in London, has been refused entry onto a Qantas flight twice for wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Dubya bearing the slogan ‘World’s number 1 terrorist‘. A Qantas spokesman was quick to clarify the reasons for the rejection:

Whether made verbally or on a t-shirt, comments with the potential to offend other customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft will not be tolerated.

The Gristle assumes the ‘security threat’ bit is a furphy, but we do understand how offensive an image of Dubya can be. If only he’d been wearing the national flag …

You can catch the Gristle on Radio 2SER 107.3 in Sydney or on the web at every Friday evening from 6:00 to 6:30.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.