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Byron Shire
June 13, 2021

Here & Now #20

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Celebrating 35 years of The Echo

The Echo Awards, held every five years, was a great success on Wednesday night as it celebrated 35 years of local independent journalism in the Northern Rivers and the community that have supported it throughout those times.

Here & Now 20 picS Sorrensen

Larnook. Tuesday, 8.45am

 Today, I’m wearing a toga.

Well, it’s not really a toga. It’s a sarong, which I have draped over one shoulder as well as around my waist. I am more used to sarongs, which I consider to be the epitome of good clothes design, but I’m in a Roman frame of mind since the election, so… it’s a toga.

I thought about wearing a laurel wreath too, but I don’t have any bay laurel trees here at my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world. The Romans used branches from bay laurel or cherry laurel trees to make their headwear. None of those here. I have lantana… but it leaves a rash.

I’m in mourning. A sort of cathartic, celebratory mourning.

I dedicate today to the fall of Australia. In memoriam.

All empires fall. The Roman empire fell in the fifth century.

For some time, the rich had been gaining ever more control of the Roman Empire government. Eventually, these wealthy types determined who became emperor and who became senators (themselves). They exempted themselves from paying taxes. They used the state to create capital-friendly conditions that would favour their business enterprises despite knowing it would degrade the environment and impoverish the people in the long term. The poor went into debt and became indentured workers for their wealthy masters.

Though wise voices warned of approaching calamity, shareholders overrode citizens’ concerns and looked only to the month of Julius (the end of the financial year) when short-term rewards were shared among the bloated.

I don’t blame Tony Abbott.

Well, not for the fall of the Roman Empire, anyway. He is but a pawn, like one of those unimportant Roman emperors during the decline who ran about, in sandals from Persia, perfume from Egypt and Speedos from China, bowing to the wishes of his masters until they tired of him and appointed another.

Tonight I will drink wine from a silver goblet. In vino veritas. If I had a lead goblet I would drink from that. If I drank enough lead I would possibly believe in the corporate vision too. I will farewell Australia as it starts the more rapid part of its decline. Aeternum vale.

The election was won by Murdoch and the mining magnates. Scumbagum totallum. After decades of flogging business values over human values, society has now truly been replaced by an economy, citizens by clients, democracy by oligarchy. Absolutum dominium.

The transition is complete. The sacking of Australia has officially started. The Visigoths invaded and plundered Rome in 410. The corporate invasion of Australia starts now.

Don’t get me wrong; the plundering has been going on since the first boat people arrived in this terra nullius in 1788, but now it’s official. Come one, come all. This is the last great sale before… well, we’d rather not talk about it, would we? The real issues facing us were never election issues.

When the reality of a small planet with a fragile skin of atmosphere eventually impinges on the collective consciousness, the land will have been laid waste and the fat pigs will be offshore or offplanet.

Wow, that sounds pretty glum. But it’s somehow liberating too.

When the government is so obviously against its people, it’s easier to see a path. A line was drawn, and, well, I’m on the other side.

Tomorrow I will dress in samurai sarong (Bali sarong made in China) and sword (Japanese). The battle is on. I am a citizen and the Vandals have breached the gate.

But that’s tomorrow.

Tonight, as a Roman, I will invite a few friends over for a comissatio and perhaps an orgy after The Voice. Check Facebook for photos.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
    Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
    Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
    Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
    Liver of blaspheming Jew,
    Gall of goat, and slips of yew
    Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
    Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
    Finger of birth-strangled babe
    Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
    Make the gruel thick and slab.

  2. I share your reaction and am willing to cause constant irritation to those who seek to deprive my children of the best life, the one which I can still taste. A life which held hope, for compassion and peace, cleaver problem solving and an innovative future. How do we proceed from here?

  3. I love that, Marion: “…willing to cause constant irritation to those who seek to deprive my children of the best life…”
    That, then, is how we proceed from here. The way of the smiling warrior. (Smiling, because if we’re not, we’ve lost.) I shall engrave your quote above the door of my shack under the cliffs, and follow that dictum always.


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