Vol 4

Page 2


Well, another Christmas has come and gone, and we’re now well and truly into the Year 2K, and wasn’t that a yawn - really - bit like the Halley's comet extravaganza. All last year there were country wide expectations of aircraft dropping from the skies, of computers crashing, of everyone’s money disappearing down huge black holes, no food, no beer, cars stopping dead - all supposed to happen on the dot of mid-night on Dec 31, nothing was ever going to work properly again. None of this happened of course, much to the disgust of the Channel 9 news crew. We made it through, the sun came up, the tides continue to go in and out, the sky stayed blue, we won the cricket and footy has started again - much like last year. Funny isn’t it.


Though talking about footy (we were!!) Rabbito supporters reckon the Y2K bug well and truly got them, they don’t care if the footy season starts this year or not, big bucks has finally got into the game, and look out for some more changes  (up the [Richmond] Tigers we say).  And we defied the odds too because we’re still here. The bug missed us as well, we’ve made it into our second year - thanks to your support.


As was mentioned in our last edition - that was last century, several areas did manage to hold ‘mini’ reunions later in the latter part of ‘99, and although people from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth got together and had a good time, it’s a pity that the other areas couldn’t muster the numbers and do likewise.


We’ve got to address that.  


John Mathwin, who organised the reunion in Perth, reckons it’s funny how at these sort of events, you only remember the good times and the times when you should have gone straight to jail. Nothing in between. (I think I can remember 2 of the latter - tb)


He says the function in Perth went well and there was plenty of enthusiasm for the main event in 2000 or whenever it’s held.


This edition we’ll show you some more photos from those nights, and perhaps include one or two that some might wish were not shown - but what the heck.


We received a lot of correspondence from people who went to one of the nights last year and they’ve told us of the good time they had and most offered their time and their advise for when we organise the next one. Some of that advise is definitely worthy of further comment and debate.


A few suggested we open the night up to all ex RAAF’ers. Most of us had some damn good mates from the other trades, so why not invite them along as well. In fact, the “more the merrier” seemed to be the reasoning behind this thinking, and we find that hard to dispute.


Another suggestion, and we think this also has considerable merit, is to revert to our original idea and hold all further “do’s” (for want of a better word) at the one location. Our original plan was to hold one big reunion at Laverton, however, we digressed a bit last year and held the smaller ones to “test the water”. Although those that went to these nights enjoyed themselves, we think the nights were perhaps not as successful as they should have been.


MC in Brisbane, John Broughton, about to read the night’s “orders”



We think, with the benefit of hindsight, that all further reunions be held at the one locality, and that the locality be Brisbane, and that they be monster “do’s”. It will be our intention to make each reunion the best “party” you’ve ever been to.


There is a bit of precedent here in that a bunch of Ex-PNG people hold an annual event in Brisbane and it is a huge success, people come from all over to be there, and perhaps we can beg/borrow/steal (hi Tania) some of their organisational planning. Their event started out 10 years ago as a reunion for ex-PNG people who were associated somehow with aviation but has grown to include all people who spent time in PNG. (If you did and you’d like to be at the next PNG reunion [usually in July] send your details to “The Secretary, Klub Balus, 165 Griffith Rd, Scarborough,  Qld,  4020 and ask to be included in their mail out).



Adrian Heinrich organised the reunion at Laverton.


Timing for our event will be important, and this year seems to be out. There’s just too much happening, but the year after looks good. We’re now looking at holding the first of what will (we hope) become an annual event in mid 2001.


In the meantime, we’ll make some enquires and bring you more on our findings in later editions. If you’ve got any suggestions - we’d like to hear them.



An ill wind!! 


Now that last year’s Indonesian/Timor situation seems to have quietened down, and normal relations have been restored, ie; we’re back to giving them tons of aid, and selling them guns and stuff, it’s probably worthwhile having a look at the fall-out.


Superficially, it looks like the 3 Services have benefited as all 3 have embarked on a recruitment drive to increase their numbers. The “Real People, Real Jobs, Real Life” campaign started late in 1999 and should work very well. At last it looks like the politicians (both persuasions) have started to take the Services seriously and use and equip them for what they were designed and not use them as a gigantic vote gathering enterprise or as a stop gap economic fix for some local economy.  (Does any-one really know what sort of military requirement necessitated a maritime Sqn being sent from Townsville to Adelaide???). It seems that Timor was a bit of a surprise to a lot of them  - or was it!!.


It was reported prior to Christmas that the Army were taking on an extra 3,000 personnel, and the RAAF were recruiting an extra 500 (doesn’t seem many does it??). The Navy too seems to be taking on extra hands, all of which should increase the numbers of people in uniform. And it’s about time, but let’s hope the numbers that expand are the erks - the blokes and blokettes that wear the ‘ralls. For too long now the erks in all 3 services have been replaced with either Civvies or by that growing menace of the 20th Century - the consultant. Clerks, cooks etc - all gone, now the Messes are run by Coles Cafeteria (or the like), L-Group is run by Fletcher Jones, pay section is run by the NAB, and the AMA runs the hospitals. It won’t be long before Jennie George bans work on week-ends.


Is it really true that our Hercs are being serviced overseas by Air New Zealand?


Some of the girls that came along to the Brisbane reunion and helped make it such an enjoyable night.


Though,  perhaps it’s a bit unfair to blame the politicians - or is it??. Basically a politician is a person who is supposed to represent an electorate - a committee member on a damn big committee or a director of a damn big company if you like. He/she could have a  back ground as a train driver, a plumber, solicitor, nurse, school teacher - what ever, but amazingly, we ask (vote) them to represent us on this great big committee which controls and spends billions and billions of our dollars, then the minute they do anything or make any sort of decision we whinge like hell.


But I digress. With diverse backgrounds, the only way they can intelligently assess any situation prior to making a decision is have advisers - experts in a particular field. And perhaps this is where the real problem lies!!!!!


We elect our representatives then tie their hands. Our system of Government doesn’t allow our representatives to select their advisers. They’re already in place, that vast bureaucracy known as the Public Service, un-sackable, un-representative, and un-answerable to almost everybody. These would be the same people who advised dumping the Chinooks, then oops, get some back again, or who left the old C130A’s to rot on the ground at Laverton, or committed the country to those wonderful Collins class subs, or more importantly, wound down the numbers in the services. Stuff ups all of them, but no one accepts responsibility.


Eric Reid, Nick Beeston and Ron Cawley having a cuppa at the Vic reunion

which was held at the Laverton Sgt’s Mess on the 9 October, 1999.


We’ve got a sneaking suspicion that a major cause of the low morale problem in the services (that magic old chestnut) stems from the fact that service blokes much prefer dealing with other service blokes (and blokettes - actually especially with blokettes).  It was ok to see civvies in ASCO, or in the paper shop, or the barber-shop, but we didn’t like seeing them on the tarmac (except in the hungry van), we didn’t like seeing them in “our” hanger - remember the week-end warriors, or in pay section - they had a different outlook to us and they did things differently. The services should be operated by and run by service people. Simple really.


I suppose the economics are there, but we find it very difficult to understand why or how it’s cheaper to employ civvies to do the job of enlisted people. Everyone knows at least someone who has got out, only to be immediately re-employed as a consultant at (at least) twice the original salary and on far better conditions. Doesn’t make sense to us!!!


But — perhaps you’re up on all this.  If so, as always,  we’d like to hear from you. Why is it better to get rid of enlisted people and employ civvies in the services????  

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