The Light On The Hill

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.


The 1996 Federal Election was held on March 2. Keating’s ALP government was swept from power, losing 31 seats.Keating: They’re counting up the votes across Australia
And counting down the seconds of my years
I’ve seen quite a few elections
I know how to read projections
I can recognise a change when it appears
The people make the ultimate decisions
The system says they always get it right
Though it seems like half an hour
Since I stumbled into power
Now it’s time for me to say goodnight

But still I dream
of a country rich and clever
with compassion and endeavour
reaching out towards forever, and I’m still
The Light on the Hill‘ is the term used by the ALP to describe its ideals and intent: that of government as a guide and a shelter for those who need it. It was first used by Prime Minister Ben Chifley of the ALP in a speech in 1949.dreaming of the light on the hill

You start off in your local council chambers
You fight and dream until you reach your prime
And if you should succeed
By the time you get to lead
When he first became Prime Minister, Keating was tired and worn out. He frequently commented that the opportunity had come too late for him during his first year at the top. But the fight against Hewson reinvigorated him.You’re pretty much exhausted from the climb
You only get a moment in the penthouse
Before you find you’re standing on the sill
If you’re sunk in ham and gammon
When it turns from feast to famine
Then you’re lucky if you’ve had your fill

But still I dream
heads are high and hearts are heady
eyes are bright and clear and steady
full of promise that we’re ready to fulfil
I’m dreaming of the light on the hill

They’re counting up the votes across Australia
And this time it seems the verdict is severe
All of these names are those of electorates lost by the ALP in the 1996 election.Swan, McEwen, Fadden, Dickson,
Bass and Paterson and Kingston
Oxley is another electorate lost by the ALP, in this case to independent Pauline Hanson. Hanson was infamous for her outspokenly racist views. She was not returned at the subsequent election.But it’s Oxley with the message loud and clear:
This line refers back to the first song in the show, “My Right Hand-Man”, only now used with greater bitterness. It’s a play on “relaxed and comfortable” was a catchphrase of the Howard government dating from the 2004 election, which has rarely been used without irony since then.Bring us back our comfy bloody country
Take us back to simple days of yore
Both Pauline Hanson and John Howard would engage in a considerable amount of racist scare-mongering during Howard’s years in power, completely reversing Keating’s policy of engagement with Asia.Nothing alien or scary,
In the words of Rodney Cavalier (historian, ALP politician and former NSW state minister:
“His ideas agenda based on the republic, native title, engagement with Asia and multiculturalism cut no ice with the electorate at large, especially core Labor voters. In various ways, these items were seen as being away with the fairies…”
La-di-da or airy-fairy
Just put it back the way it was before

But still I dream
that the stars will be aligning
as our fates are intertwining
until every heart is shining with goodwill
shining like the light on the hill,
shining like the light on the hill.

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