June 2017 Guest Speaker, Frank Bongiorno

 Frank receives his Vintage Reds mug.

Dr Frank Bongiorno, from the ANU’s School of History, spoke to the Vintage Reds on the topic, “Labor, Labour and Australia’s 1980s”. His talk concentrated on the political and industrial dimensions of the decade.

The 1980s were a very successful period for the ALP. There were some major changes: deregulation; less protectionism. Most spectacularly, in December 1983 the dollar was floated; foreign banks could now operate in Australia, and financial markets grew more important. The Labor government subjected itself to these markets, as part of an effort to distance themselves from Gough Whitlam. There was less universality in welfare, instead the more targeted “No Australian child will live in poverty by 1990”. There was a squeeze on the middle for a decline in real wages for the prices and income accord. Medicare was an exception, a revival in 1984.  Continue reading

May 2017 Guest Speaker, Helen Watchirs

ACT_Human_Rights_Commission.jpgA full room of the Vintage Reds were very pleased to welcome Dr Helen Watchirs, the ACT’s Human Rights Commissioner, and formerly (2004-2016) our Discrimination Commissioner.

Dr Watchirs spoke on the work of the Commission, which aims to engage and educate, and to provide accessible services.

Dr Watchirs said that not enough people were aware of their rights to financial support if they were a victim of crime. Very few applications are received.

In April this year, new or reformed grounds for protection against discrimination were introduced, including sexuality, immigration status, and being a victim of domestic violence.

The ACT’s Human Rights Act is powerful as a day-to-day check on legislation.

April 2017 Guest Speaker, Matthew Stocks

Dr Matthew Stocks, from the ANU’s Energy Change Institute, spoke to the meeting about Australia’s 100% renewable energy future, focusing on pumped hydro. Together with photovoltaic cells and wind generators, a stable and affordable electricity grid is readily achievable.

Matthew’s presentation added a lot of context and clarity to a series of slides illustrating pumped hydro energy storage, which can be found on the Energy Change Institute’s website.

Dr Matthew Stocks with a slide on water consumption.


March 2017 Guest Speaker, Michael Moore

Michael Moore displays his new Vintage Reds mug.

Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association (PHA), and current president of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, began his talk by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people on whose land we meet, and especially Auntie Agnes Shea (a tireless worker for health).

Public health begins with clean water and sanitation. We heard about Dr John Snow and the Broad Street pump in 1854. Cholera was a scourge in unsewered London, but the medical world believed that the disease spread through the air. After one outbreak Snow mapped the cases and found that the outbreak centred on a public water pump in Soho.

Politics moves slowly and a catalyst is needed to make things happen. In London this was the 1858 “great stink”, when the growing problem of untreated sewerage and industrial waste, running straight into the Thames, became so bad that an engineer was brought in to find a solution.

The PHA has a number of policies that it focuses on, renewed every 3 years. Plain packaging for cigarettes was one: the catalyst for this was the Health minister Nicola Roxon’s father’s early death from cancer. Continue reading

February 2017 Guest Speaker, Diana Abdul-Rahman

2017-2-20_Abdul-Rahman_ed.jpgDiana Abdul-Rahman OAM treated us to a very welcome and clarifying exposition on Islam. Diana is a Sunni Muslim, like the vast majority of Muslims worldwide (85% to 90%).   [PhotoJude Dodd]

The word Islam is connected to “salaam“, peace; it implies submission to the will of God. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, recognises Abraham as its first prophet. Jesus (“peace be upon him”) is also seen as a prophet, like Mohamed. There is a whole chapter in the Koran called “Mariam” (“peace be upon her”), the mother of Jesus. Islam and Christianity share some expressions, such as “thanks be to god”. Islam is not named for a prophet, unlike Christianity and Buddhism.

The English word “religion” doesn’t translate well into Arabic; the approximate equivalent, “deen“, means “way of life” [ed. note: “religion” in English has no agreed etymology and the various explanations do not converge on a single theme. Current usage, though, relates to worship of the sacred]. Continue reading

November 2016 Guest Speaker, Penny Lockwood

November’s guest speaker was Vintage Red member Penny Lockwood.lockwood.jpg

Penny spoke about her father Rupert Lockwood (1908-97), a respected journalist who became prominent during the Cold War at the time of the Petrov affair in the mid-1950s.

[Photo by Jack Hickson: Rupert Lockwood at the Royal Commission on  Espionage, 1955. Mitchell Library, State Lib. of NSW]

Lockwood came from a Chartist family, and his father ran the West Wimmera Mail. He moved to Melbourne, working on the Herald (a Murdoch paper, like the Wimmera paper in later years), which sent him to Spain in 1937, and then called him back to a job in the Canberra press gallery. After he called Robert Menzies “Pig Iron Bob” in 1938, during the dispute between Menzies and waterside workers who objected to being forced to load iron to be shipped to Japan, he was recalled to Melbourne to administrative work. Continue reading

October 2016 Guest Speaker, Sue Wareham

20161018_Wareham.jpgWe were very pleased to welcome Dr Sue Wareham as our guest speaker. Dr Wareham is the Vice-President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia).

The Arms Trade as Promoted at Canberra Airport

Visitors arriving at Canberra Airport currently receive a “welcome” in the form of big display ads for some of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers. Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, ThyssenKrupp and others have all been promoted there. So have Austal, proudly stating that its vessels are “delivering Australia’s border patrol capability”.

The ads are inappropriate. They help to normalise warfare and big military spending, and present a sanitised image of what weapons do. They do not represent Canberra.

Canberra has many beautiful natural and cultural attractions and great people. Let’s showcase them at our airport!

Travel author Pico Iyerquoted on Canberra Airport’s website:

“Airports say a lot about a place because they are both a city’s business card and its handshake: they tell us what a community yearns to be as well as what it truly is.”