Archive for August 23, 2003

Great Australians

August 23, 2003

Scott Wickstein is asking for reader submissions of your personal list of the top 10 most influential Australians of the 20th century:

So what I humbly ask is that you nominate 10 Australians that you think had the biggest impact on our country in the 20th century. I’d also encourage you to ‘think outside the box’ , rather then list 10 Prime Ministers.

In addition, it would be really interesting if one of your ten was a ‘personal hero’ sort of figure- here, I’m thinking maybe John Quiggin could name an Australian economist type that inspired him, or Ken Parish might name a lawyer/judge that inspired him to take up lawmongering in the first place.

My “personal hero” figure goes to Wilson Tuckey Hugh Victor McKay. McKay invented the Combine Harvester and was Australia’s most successful Industrialist at the beginning of the 20th century.

Here’s the rest of my top ten with short explanations for those that need it:

(in no particular order)

Hugh Victor McKay
Kerry Packer – World Series Cricket has undoubtably had a huge influence, never mind his other businesses.
Weary Dunlop
Sir Robert Menzies
Rupert Murdoch
Shane Warne – Probably the most famous Yobbo in the world. Also, revived the art of leg spin and introduced it to one-day cricket.
Pauline Hanson – Her policies were rightfully ignored, but she changed the face of the Australian cultural debate like no other.
Barry Humphries – Along with Paul Hogan, the primary exporter of Aussie culture.
Germaine Greer
Bob Hawke – World champion beer sculler. Also somewhat involved in Australian politics.

I would love to have included Prince Leonard of the Hutt River Province in this list. Unfortunately, despite his obvious greatness, Prince Leonard hasn’t really been all that influential in Australia, his influence contained mainly inside the borders of the great nation of the Hutt River Province.

You can email Scott your own list if you wish to be included in the survey.

Hugh McKay, Legend.

August 23, 2003

bimg-mckay.jpgBefore you all snort your various beverages through your nose at the controversial title of this post, let me assure you that I refer not to the wet blanket of an ex-SMH columnist Mackay, but rather Hugh Victor McKay, inventor of the Combine Harvester, industrialist, political lobbyist and hypocrite.

McKay was the son of a farmer, but did not enjoy the repetitive and menial nature of the agricultural work at the time. He turned his energies to tinkering with machines instead, and in 1882, at the age of 17, invented the stripper-harvester.

He started production of the machine shortly after, and the Sunshine Harvester Works quickly grew into Australia’s largest manufacturing enterprise. Indeed, at it’s peak, Sunshine was the largest manufacturing plant in the Southern Hemisphere.

Land Of The E

August 23, 2003

The “Ecstasy Awareness Act” is an example of the kind of authoritarian Act of Congress that seems to be standard practice in the United States these days. The Act involves an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act which reads:

`(c) Whoever profits monetarily from a rave or similar electronic dance event, knowing or having reason to know that the unlawful use or distribution of a controlled substance occurs at the rave or similar event, shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the defendant is an organization, the fine imposable for the offense is not more than $2,000,000.’.

Note the wording “having reason to know”, so broad that it could be used by authorities to nail virtually any event promoter they choose. Under this act, it doesn’t matter whether the promoter has made efforts to stop drug taking at his events, and it doesn’t matter how few drug takers are at the event.

With this kind of legislation hanging over your head, would you want to run a nightclub, rave or other dance music event? I don’t think it’s drawing too long a bow to relate this sort of lawmaking to the events of September 11th. There seems to be a consensus in America now that the ends justify the means, that authoritarian law is OK if it’s for a good cause.