The Arse End Of The Earth

All lyrics written and copyrighted by Casey Bennetto, 2004.
Annotations written by Loki Carbis, 2009; revised in 2014.
The assistance and advice of Casey Bennetto in the creation of these annotations is gratefully acknowledged.

This page is intended for informational purposes only.

 

PMC = Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.Evans: Another morning in the PMC
CAD = Current Account Deficit.We’ve got the latest on the CAD
GDP = Gross Domestic Product.It’s only four percent of GDP
NAB = National Australia Bank.But it’s causing little tremors at the NAB

AME = Australian Multimedia Enterprise. The AME was a particular favourite of Keating’s, but was forever being sidelined in favour of more urgent projects. The internet revolution that was just starting in Keating’s years as PM went on to leave Australia somewhat behind in the years that followed.You want your funding for the AME?
ERC = Expenditure Review Committee.We’ll have to sneak it past the ERC
PMO = Prime Minister’s Office; GNE = Gross National Expenditure.And the PMO observers of the GNE are nervous
ALP = Australian Labor Party. The party led by Keating.It’s another day of service in the ALP

Keating: My land is burning with bureaucracy, too scared to contemplate its worth
Inert and dreaming of democracy
Too struck by sun
To get things done
In his memoir, published in 1994 while Keating was still PM, Bob Hawke alleged that Keating referred to Australia as The Arse End of the World and claimed that if he were not made leader he’d be quit of it soon – which was widely seen as ‘proof’ of Keating’s lack of patriotism. Whether or not Keating said this, it does sound like his idiom.
(Keating still lives in Sydney today.)
at the arse end of the earth

Evans: Another morning in the monarchy
RAC = Republican Advisory Committee. The group organised by Keating to evaluate what an Australian republic might look like.We’ve got the model from the RAC
About as minimal as it can be
OBE = Order of the British Empire, a well-known decoration often bestowed on its more loyal servants by the Crown.But you might have blown your chances for an OBE

They’re gonna try to pull the train off track
Keating’s conservative opponents were quick to complain about his perceived disrespect toward the Queen, provoking Keating’s sarcastic response:
“I should never have made that remark about independence to the Queen of this continent. I should have had more respect. How dare I even reflect modestly on the British bootstraps stuff?”
They’re lining up to fly the Union Jack
‘Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia’s History’ is the title of an influential book on Australian history written by Geoffrey Blainey.With the tyranny of distance,
the path of least resistance
During a Royal visit to Australia, Keating allegedly touched the Queen’s back – an incident which conservative elements of the media and politics in both the UK and Australia reacted to as if he had defiled some sacred item.And you gave the Queen assistance when you goosed her back

Keating in Parliament on 28/4/92:
I am proud of Australia. It is not Britain. We are not British. We are Australians. That is the point. Honourable members opposite do not understand that this is the Australian nation; this is not the British nation. They can never grasp it. They could not grasp it in the Second World War. Menzies, their founder, tried to separate and distinguish Britain’s interests from those of Australia and, in the end, could not. Curtin, free of any pangs of loyalty to Britain, brought the troops home. This the Liberal Party’s founder called a blunder. To bring our troops back from the Middle East to defend our continent from a Japanese invasion, Menzies called a blunder…
At some stage when Australia has a flag of its own, unambiguously Australian, people will look back on these debates in Hansard and they will giggle at the remarks of the honourable member for Bennelong (Howard) and the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Hewson), just as today we giggle at the ones made in 1943. The fact is that those opposite do not comprehend the notion of nationhood; they do not advance our nationhood; they have never understood it; they have always thought it subordinate and derivative. It is not, and it never will be while ever the flag of Labor flies in this country.
Keating: We have one golden opportunity to see our brand new flag unfurled
To rise with shining eyes in unity
It’s hard to stand
With heads in sand
at the arse end of the world

Keating / Evans: We can move this world
We can change this place
Keating’s early experiences in Parliament and observations of the bureaucracy left him with the sense that incrementalism was the favoured way to make changes by most of his predecessors. As the song suggests, it was not a method he himself favoured – he once commented that “The great curse of modern political life is incrementalism.”Shifting inch by inch
At a glacial pace
Take it step by step
Build it brick by brick
Important innovations
And delicate equations
I’m running out of patience, can we make this quick?
Quick, quick, quick, quick…

ACT = Australian Captial Territory, the area of Australia where Canberra, the national capital, is located.Evans: Another morning in the ACT
The first two lines of Advance Australia Fair are: ‘Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free’.Remind Australia that we’re young and free
But every channel seems to disagree
ABC = Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a government funded channel which has tended over the years to be one of the harshest critics of sitting governments in the Australian media. The three notes that are played after this line are a take on a longtime station identity theme used by the ABC.With the possible exception of the ABC

We’re getting hammered by the tabloid press
Rupert Murdoch is an Australian born media magnate who owns conservative media outlets in Australia, the UK and the US. The Fox network is the best known of these.We must be pissing Rupert off, I guess
‘Cos they’re calling us elitist and the polling is defeatist
SBS = Special Broadcasting Service, a government-funded channel that specialises in programming aimed at non-English speakers. It was originally a Hawke-era initiative, but also a notable favourite of Keating, who presided over a considerable expansion of its services during his years as PM.So we hope that every street is watching SBS – oh yes! – oh yes!

In his Australia Day 1992 speech, Keating stated his belief that “we must re-make Australia”.Keating: We hear the siren song of destiny, a call to rapturous rebirth
On ANZAC Day 1992, Keating visited the site of the Kokoda Memorial in Papue New Guinea. He made a speech in which he called for a re-evaluation of the comparative importance of Gallipolli and Kokoda to the nation, its history and its sense of self.Keating: We dare to recognise our history
The future’s bright
For black and white
at the arse end of the earth

Keating / Evans: What better place to make your base than the arse – end – of – the – earth?

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