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Mark Phillips
Writer, journalist & communicator based in Melbourne, Australia. Author of Radio City: the First 30 Years of 3RRR-FM.
CFMEU health and safety officer Peter Clark.

Inside the CFMEU

Dare to struggle

THEO Theodorou’s week has started off badly and is only going to get worse. The previous Friday, Theodorou woke to find his name in print in Melbourne’s two daily newspapers as the latest CFMEU official to be charged by Fair Work Building and Construction.

The CFMEU organiser is alleged to have acted unlawfully by attempting to force a demolition sub-contractor to sign an enterprise agreement with the union.

The media stories put a dampener on Theodorou’s weekend, which should have been a celebration of his involvement in coaching a young team of footballers to a premiership flag, and the dark…


Originally published in ‘Lockdown: Melbourne Writers’ Group and Friends Respond to Isolation in 2020‘

THE instructions were explicit: Ring or knock twice, and if there is no answer, leave the package with a note on the doorstep.

Deng waited half a dozen heartbeats at the front gate of the Brighton mansion, the second buzz on the intercom still sounding in his ears, then turned back towards his van. He didn’t want to linger too long in this neighbourhood; someone was likely to call the police and report a young black man lurking in the street.

At that moment, he heard the click of the gate unlocking. …


It was inevitable that Trump’s presidency would end this way: in scandal and ignominy, fear, loathing and shame

Donald Trump hugs the US flag as he arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on 2 March 2, 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

THE surprise isn’t that it ended this way, but that it took so long.

From day one way back on 20 January in 2017 — when he ordered his press secretary to lie to the media about the size of the pitiful crowd at his inauguration — it was written in the stars that Donald Trump’s presidency would finish in scandal and ignominy, fear, loathing and shame.

A president who spent his last fortnight hiding in the White House out of sight, if not out of mind; a pariah to his own party, shunned by all but his closest family…


Trump lit the fuse, but scenes from the Capitol on Wednesday are the culmination of an unraveling of US democracy over 40 years

A Trump supporter during the invasion of the Capitol building on 6 January. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

IN the end, even the most rusted on Trump loyalists could bear it no more.

“Count me out. Enough is enough,” Lindsey Graham said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Graham was speaking once order had been installed in the Capitol building, hours after a wild mob in red MAGA baseball caps and waving Confederate flags had broken into the home of American democracy, rampaging through its corridors and chambers with impunity, looting and pillaging at will, and terrorising those within, including elected representatives. …


The signs were there from the very start that 2020 was going to be a year we wouldn’t forget

SO that’s 2020 done with then.

I’ve never been much for celebrating new year’s or for the concept that flicking the calendar over to a new page will magically eradicate all the problems of the past 12 months. After all, on the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rat (how appropriate) does not finish for a few more weeks. These are just arbitrary dates, heavy with the symbolism of a fresh start, but to nature it means nothing. Life goes on, good and bad.

But as a student of history, I am drawn to the idea that years can take…


As we grapple with what has gone so wrong in contemporary America, revisiting Springsteen’s back catalogue helps to begin to explain it all

Eric Meola’s iconic cover shot from Born To Run featuring Springsteen with Clarence Clemons.

BRUCE Springsteen toured Australia for the first time in 1985, when I was 16. Up to that stage, he’d had a couple of minor hits here — ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Hungry Heart’ were already staples of FM radio — but was nowhere near being a household name.

But his seventh album, Born In The USA, released in 1984, had been his global smash breakthrough, and the Brian De Palma-directed video for ‘Dancing in The Dark’ was a regular on Countdown, alongside Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’, various Madonna hits and Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’. …


Trump’s refusal to leave office peacefully is an imminent threat to democracy

The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him . . . He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone . . . he died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming, and crying . . . He didn’t die a hero.*

REMEMBER the liberation of Baghdad from the evil and brutal regime of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in April 2003?

Remember the scenes of jubilation as Iraqis young and…


Celebrate this brief moment in the sun, because storm clouds are already gathering after Joe Biden’s victory

Supporters of Biden-Harris pose for selfies near the security fence on the north side of the White House on Sunday, a day after Joe Biden claimed victory in the 2020 election. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The election of Joe Biden feels as if a dark cloud has been lifted from above the United States. Even if there are further storms on the horizon, now is a time to celebrate Donald Trump becoming a one-term President (although it hasn’t sunk in for him yet).

The unrestrained joy seen on streets across the US has been echoed around the world because Trump was the ugly American personified. This bloated orange buffoon with his fake hair and fake tan was even more unpopular outside of his own country than he was within it.

But the 2020 election has…


The US is sliding into oblivion as a failed state, and the election of Joe Biden won’t save it

A pro-Trump demonstrator with the slogan ‘We The People’ tattooed on his arm carries a semi-automatic at a protest in Detroit on 6 November. A Michigan judge rejected the Trump campaign’s request to halt the count of mail-in ballots, ruling the claims were pointless because the tally was almost over in a state where Biden has already been declared the winner. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

AMERICA, you blew it. You had four years to prepare to deliver a comprehensive repudiation of Donald Trump and Trumpism and show the rest of the world he was an aberration, and you fucked it up.

Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States, but it will be a hollow victory because the tight result is just as much a win for Trump’s brand of fascism. It leaves the US more divided, more polarised and more violent than it was four years ago.

Hunter S. Thompson got it right all those years ago when he wrote shortly…


Only one thing is certain after all the votes are counted: the US will be even more polarised and divided following the 2020 election

Tyrone Carter a former NFL player from Minnesota Vikings leads a group of kids who support presidential candidate Joe Biden take a knee and block the road near a polling place in Minneapolis, Minnesota on election day, 3 November. Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images

THE night before the US Presidential election, I went around to a friend’s house to watch the new documentary about Hunter S. Thompson’s ill-fated 1970 bid to become Sheriff of Pitkin County.

What better way to prepare for the most important election in our lifetime than to revisit that doomed attempt by a ragtag bunch of hippies to take on the Aspen establishment.

The Battle of Aspen was in some ways a proxy for the much larger battle for the soul of America being fought across the nation at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s.

With…

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