All posts tagged history

Rag Tag Army

Published June 27, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

On the 28 June 1969, a rag tag queer army of accidental heroes when confronted by the NYPD during a public morals raid at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s Greenwich Village struck back. The Stonewalls’ patrons at that time mostly drag queens, transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth, the most marginalised of us from within our community and without. This iconic battle known as the Stonewall Riots touted as the birth of the modern gay rights movement ironically was fought stiletto to billy club but not by the homophile organisations but the undesirables demanding the respect and dignity due them as human beings.

In the 1960s and 1970s a time of grassroot political action dominated by calls for liberation or ‘root and branch’ social reform, saw many confrontations between the people and authorities. Times were a changing fast, earlier movements included the homophile organisations whose aim was social respectability through integration and later through the Gay Liberation Movement we voiced demands for social reform.


As we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we see gay rights organisations inheritors of the homophile perspective campaign for marriage equality, while kids kill themselves because of homophobic bullying. It seems unclear how a trip to town hall will change the norms underpinning this discrimination and persecution experienced within and by our communities.  The question here does marriage equality represent for some the opportunity to reconcile with patriarchal institutions in providing them a sense of social acceptance, while us undesirables still suffer the reality of social sanctions.

Reconciliation Week

Published May 27, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land.  I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past, and present, and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians.

From 27th May – 3 Jun we celebrate National Reconciliation Week , this year’s theme “Let’s Talk Recognition”, it is about proper recognition of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In the history of modern Australia our first peoples of occupied a position on the margins of society aliens in their own lands. This is the story of a resilient people whose custom and lore disrupted over generations through waves of violence, persecution and subjugation whose living culture survives.

In 1991, the Commonwealth Parliament voted unanimously to establish the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a formal reconciliation process. Parliament had noted that there had been no formal process of reconciliation and that it was “most desirable that there be such a reconciliation” by the year 2001, marking the centenary of Federation.  This process took place its success seems a matter for history, what it did do was give oxygen to a conversation around the injustice experienced by our first peoples at the hands of successive governments. Sadly, with the election of Howard this process lost all but token political support being bastardised by the re-authoring of history many conservatives engage in.

Then on February 13, 2008, Kevin Rudd, as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia rose in his place and moved the National Apology to the Stolen Generations motion. A moment many had waited a whole lifetime to hear their pain publicly acknowledged and validate. However, subsequently, little has progressed the issue of recognition has seemingly lost political impetus once more overshadowed by an extension of Howard era paternalism and protectionism. This journey towards reconciliation along a corrugated red track stained with the tears, fears and blood of generations continues towards home.

The Republic of Australia

Published April 29, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

The question of an Australian Republic

From time to time people seek to mount a case for Australia to become a republic their reasoning rarely has anything to do with effective government.  As it seems the current model  has served us well in the provision of relatively stable government since federation. The Australian people have rejected this question in several referendums for various reasons the last in 1999.

Points of argument

To sever remaining ties with Britain and become an independent country?

The Constitution of Australia (PDF)  The Constitution of  Australian (HTML)

Time line

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK)

Royal Commission of Assent  1900 (UK)

Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 (UK)

Statute of Westminster 1931 (UK)

Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 (Cth)

Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (Cth)

Australia Act 1986 (UK) Australia Act 1986 (Cth)

Documenting Democracy

This has already happened

Calls for an Australian Head of State

The role of head of state of Australia is divided between two people, the Queen of Australia and the Governor-General of Australia, who is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia. Though in many respects the Governor-General is the Queen’s representative, and exercises various constitutional powers in her name, the office is independently vested with many important constitutional powers by the Constitution.

Confusion about appointment of Head of State

Direct – elected by popular vote – political mandate – separation of executive branch – another lay of government – with separate mandate – powers of PM – would a politician really cede power?

Indirect – parliamentary appointment – political puppet?

If the system works, why fix it?

Kev 07 Has Moved to the Backbench

Published July 9, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

Two weeks seems a lifetime in politics on the 24 June 2010, Kevin Rudd fell on his political sword for the sake of the party. Some may argue a man of honour who saw the writing on the wall, the Caucus elected Julia Gillard to the position of federal leader of the Australian Labor Party and therefore the 27th Prime Minister of Australia. Ms Gillard also became our first women to hold the second highest office in the land as head of government.  This was not without a dash of shock and awe besides the goings of the faction bosses, a party dumped a first term PM. The reasoning for this action a laundry list of both policy and program failures:

Where did Rudd Fail?

  • Consulting widely then ignoring the advice
  • .in pursuing the news cycle rather than managing it
  • Policy on the run without consideration of reasonable checks and balances
  • Keeping your friends close and ignoring everybody else

You could nominate all of the above plus others.

Rudd’s failure is symptomatic of how Labor traded its core values and beliefs for political convenience in becoming another insipid conservative party.

Gillard seemingly is not fairing much better than her predecessor did with little gains in the polls and more knee jerk policies

Ms Gilard righ wing puppet?

9/11 – Eighth Anniversary

Published September 11, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

In life there are many events that stand out, some more significant than others, the September 11 attacks rank among these. On this the eighth anniversary memories of that day came flooding back the ‘Where were you?’ question being the first. I awoke in a motel room in turned on the television to watch a News bulletin, which is my daily habit. The vision of a plan flying into a skyscraper, I was shocked by what I saw and being CNN the replayed the clip which seemed to make it even worse. I hate morning at the best of times but nothing was making sense this day I asked myself ‘was this really happening’.   Then I rang home and Mum said yes it was happening and she filled me in on earlier event, after the call I continued watching the News until I had to leave for an early lecture that morning. I knew this was a significant event and at some level shared in the dread of uncertainty it meant for humanity.

This entry is to remember those who died and the loss this means for their family friends and the community in which they lived.

The healing journey goes on and hope springs eternal

War Against Terror (CNN Special Report)

Death of Sen. Ted Kennedy – Lion of the Left

Published August 26, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

A champion for the people of the margin

“The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on,”

Statement from the Kennedy Family August 26, 2009


“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port.   We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.   We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.  He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it.   He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

The White House

Senate Office

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

As reported by

Sen. Ted Kennedy dies at 77 – The CNN Wire – CNN.com Blogs

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


Ted Kennedy, ‘Lion of the Senate,’ helped shape American politics – CNN.com


Brisbane Ekka, it’s all about the tradition

Published August 14, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

Brisbane Ekka, it’s all about the tradition| The Courier-Mail

The above article gives some commentary on the redevelopment of the EKKA, is the annual show of Queensland, Australia. In Australia, the annual “Show” is a significant event in the life of most towns and even major cities. It is when the country comes to town, be it i.e. cultural exchange, commercial showcase, or simply a distraction from the humdrum of everyday life, the Show serves some purpose. Once a premier entertainment event, a mix of quality tent shows, sideshows i.e. Tent boxing, freak shows , often including a Circus and or a rodeo. It is now a shadow of its former self, what remains is a funfair with all the lights and excitement but long on hype and short on value for money.

The Show holds many fond memories for most people it is our first interaction with the other, those marginal people who colour our vanilla lives.  A personal favourite being Johanna/John a long since gone half man/half woman act, before transgender or intersex was introduced to the vocabulary. Shim was a risqué comedy act that frequented sideshow ally in the early 80s. This perform was made up to look like a woman on one side and a man on the other wearing formal wear. The woman had long red hair with full make up wearing a flimsy cocktail gown during the show she exposed a realistic breast and taunted the crowd to touch. While the man had slick backed black hair, half moustache and wore a dinner suite. This act challenged the status quo it was by default Queer, even if not by intent.

History of the Showmen’s Guild