Togatus. September 2012 FREE!
The Rubens . Parachute Youth . The Value of an Arts Degree Asta & Cal . Jelly Bean Sandals . The Economist
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Togatus is published quarterly. Photo by Damien Peck1
from the editor Alexandra Gibson Hello students and followers, Welcome to another Togatus for 2012. We have been so fortunate this semester as we have been given an increase in funding by the University of Tasmania, enabling us to produce and publish at least one extra issue this year. In celebration, you’ll be seeing a few developments in the way Togatus operates. To name a few, we have teamed up with the Faculty of Journalism to involve Togatus in the journalism curriculum. Therefore, next Issue you will see Togatus publish the best five profile pieces completed by students studying the Feature Writing Course at UTAS. We are also expanding the Togatus website (www.togatus.com.au) to not only include other parts of the journalism curriculum – to bring you more content – but we are also planning to team up with the Fine Arts Faculty in order to feature one of their students each week. This will include a display of their work, a brief artist statement, as well as a link to their personal online portfolio so that you have the option to keep tabs on these talented individuals. I hope this will allow Togatus to increase its representation of the student body. This Issue, Togatus is making a stand. We believe that every faculty at the University of Tasmania is of equal importance. Throughout history, it is unfortunately not uncommon for people, institutions or countries that share borders – geographical, emblematic of imaginative – to have some sort of aversion to each other. Think Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, England and Ireland, and pretty much every university faculty against the Faculty of Arts. Having just graduated with my Masters in an arts discipline, I reckon I’ve been witness or subjected to just about all the cracks; I’ve been called a glorified hairdresser, emotional, fast-food outlet trainee, likely to be unemployed for all of eternity, useless, etc. And you know what, this is my public stand. Forget for a minute
that this kind of discourse is blatantly arrogant and elitist; it’s flat-out wrong. Surprisingly, during this difficult time of employment, I’ve seen my friends who have completed a medical degree, law degree, engineering degree, teaching degree or nursing degree, struggle to find work. However, the people I know who have completed some sort of BA (not necessarily combined) are not only for the majority employed, but they have found work that combines their interests with making a living. Personally, I have chosen one of the more volatile career path: writing, and I am yet to be unemployed in that field. Meaning, I have held down freelance or editing work since I began my post-graduate education (during this time my highest qualification was a BA). By all means, some of you may not believe I have the authority to speak on this topic. Therefore, this Issue, we are honoured to have the Dean of the Arts Faculty, Susan Dodds, contribute her thoughts, as well as documented statistics on the success of the arts graduate. You may find yourself surprised. As John Ruskin, leading art critic of the 19th century said, “Industry without art is brutality” and as Dr Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize winner) said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Alexandra Gibson Something I can always rely on is a lack of understanding breeds fear and an air of self-righteousness. 2
CONTENTS From the Editor / 02 Contributors / 04 The Rubens / 06 The Value of an Arts Degree / 12 Cal & Asta / 16 Dead in the Night / 20 Tasmania, the Natural State / 26 The Debate / 32 Parachute Youth / 34 The Forgotten Arts / 37 Jelly Bean Sandals / 40 The Economist / 42 Red Cow Dairies: A Coastal Vanguard / 44 Becoming Tasmanian / 46
Photo by Damien Peck 3
Stacey Armstrong Something that I can always rely on is a Kanye West tweet to bring me back to reality. Armstrong, p.15, 26–33, 42–45
Sarah Foley Something that I can always rely on is my drunk-self requesting the Beastie Boys at any bar, house-party or music festival. Foley, p. 6–14, 34–36,
Hayley Francis Something that I can always rely on is my $100 Nokia phone. It's indesctructable! Francis, p. 4–5, 37–41, 46–48
Sam Lyne Something I can always rely on is my ability to watch endless amounts of Whose Line is it Anyway? Lyne, p. 1–3, 16–25
FEATURES Laura Barry Something I can always rely on is a hot cuppa tea to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…
Alexander McKenzie Something that I can always rely on is butter. It never lets you down.
Hannah Grey Something that I can always rely on is chocolate and music. Preferably numerous rows of Old Gold and Sublime’s self-titled album.
Damien Peck Something that I can always rely on is… mum's lasagne. Full of melted creamy cheese and meat. Nothing beats mum's hot juicy cooking. Delicious.
Michael Jayatilaka Something that I can always rely on is Falls and tequila. Not necessarily together, but they both give you exactly what you expect going in.
Lewis Ringwaldt Something I can always rely on is Optus overcharging me on my phone bill.
Carla Johnson Something that I can always rely on is… that when the world gets too much, I can go to the beach and all will be ok again.
Courtney Wood Something that I can always rely on is…YouTube and its amazing ability to distract me when I have an assignment due.
Lucy MacDonald Something that I can always rely on is chocolate to make everything better.
Photo by Hayley Francis 5
the RUBENS Hannah Grey The Rubens formed just last year and rapidly rolled onto the Australian music scene. The talented four-piece from regional NSW, comprising of three brothers and their childhood friend, formed at the beginning of 2011. In the same year, their first track, “Lay It Down” was uploaded to Triple J’s Unearthed, winning them a spot at Homebake Festival and reached number 57 in The Hottest 100 Countdown. Ready to share more of their sound with the September release of their self-titled debut album, Elliott Margin (keys/vocals) spoke to Hannah Grey about recording in New York, that Black Keys comparison and how chocolate bribery proved to be rather effective.
is also a talented sound engineer. Fate took a different turn when he took our track over to France with him when he was doing a seminar. He showed the track to David Karne during a break and David’s ears pricked up and he said, “what is this!” and it all kind of went from there. It didn’t happen overnight, he is such a busy guy with a big schedule and it took a lot of organisation and effort on our part, but that is how the whole New York thing started.
HG: Your debut album is set to be released early next month. Congratulations! EM: Thanks, we can’t wait! It's been a long time coming.
I read that your brother went over to New York to lock it in and you guys stayed behind to save up money to get yourselves over there? Yeah, we were all working really hard and Sam got enough money to go over, and he and Dean went over to start talking to David, because you can only say so much through email. So Zach, Scotty and I were back here working hard and waiting for that phone call to say that it was time for us to get over there. It was a bit scary for us to be left behind, because we wouldn’t hear word for a while and it would be like, “is this still happening?” We wouldn’t have been able to face the world if it didn’t actually happen.
So the story goes that you guys made a demo, which made its way to the ears of David Karne, New York based, Grammy award winning producer… Do you want to talk a little bit about how everything kicked off for you? Sure. The demo was “My Gun” which is now the release off the album. We were planning to make an album here in Australia with Dean Tuza, who is our good friend and
But then it did work out and you all went over to New York to record! Can you tell me a bit about your experiences in making the album? Yeah! So we all went over there and it was really exciting. We had a month of pre-production which was just us practicing in a rehearsal room in New York with David for about four hours a day. It was full on as we were relearning our songs and everything. 6
Since it all happened so quickly, did you find you had enough material? We had all the songs written except for one. So funnily enough we had more songs than we needed for an album. It was just about making sure each song was as perfect as it could be. One of the songs that we wrote over there has become one of our favourites, called, “Never Be The Same”. Sam wrote it on piano on the last day of tracking. So Sam showed me this chord progression and a couple of lyrics and we were just like, “wow, alright, this song has to be on the album”. We worked on it really quickly and it became our favourite. It was just one of those songs that, in the writing process, made sense from start to finish. What were the challenges in terms of the recording process? It must have been pretty surreal. Yeah, so the whole ‘recording in a studio’ thing was the biggest challenge for us. And the fact that we had only been in a band together since early 2011.
Haha, isn’t it strange that you all grew up together and yet you formed only last year? Haha, yeah! We learned instruments when we were young, but we never thought of playing together until February, 2011. So we didn’t have much experience – we were still learning to play live and writing together and we had never even worked with a producer before and there we were working with a world-renowned producer. So I think they were all the challenges, in trying to make it work and just learn as fast as we could, because we didn’t have time or money to screw it up. All we could do was improve as musicians. So you are one of three brothers in the band. How does that work out in the creative process? Do you reckon it’s an advantage to be in a band with your siblings? Definitely. We are comfortable with each other and we trust each other’s opinions. Whenever we share ideas we can simply tell each other whether we think they are shit or not. There is no kind of, “oh maybe that’s kind of alright”. We can be really honest with one another and
we can say, “that is a terrible idea, let’s move on” [laughs]. Or if one of us shows an idea to another, then we can all get really excited together, because we all have the same taste in music and we all trust each other’s opinions. Especially when we first started recording, because we didn’t set out for a specific sound it just happened. We all knew subconsciously that the music we were making was the kind of music we wanted to make. We didn’t make a conscious decision to make our album a certain way. So I think the whole ‘being brothers’ thing worked in that sense, because it kind of happened from the beginning, because we never set out to sound like a certain band or from a certain era. Does Scott ever feel like the odd one out? Haha, we joke about it. We do the whole ‘friend of the band’ kind of thing. “Childhood friend” as Scott is often referred to in articles. But honestly, we have known each other for a long time and we are all brothers really. There are no exclusions. We are all about including. It is all about the love! Going back to what you were saying about sound, is there a consistent feel to the album or will there be any unexpected or experimental tracks? I think for us the album feels pretty consistent. I mean we are so familiar with the tracks that we feel like this is our sound. For people who only know “Lay it Down” or “My Gun” it might come as a bit of a shock when people hear our album, but that is what we want. We want people to hear that we are a lot more than just “Lay it Down”. We have got a bigger sound than that; we have a bigger scope than that. That is why we are so excited about the album. We love “Lay it Down,” don’t get me wrong, but we want to show people that there is a lot more to be enjoyed from The Rubens and that is what hopefully will happen when the album comes out. What was the inspiration behind the album and is there an overall theme? Not really, because we were never writing songs for an album. Instead, we were just writing songs as they came to us. All the writing happened before any Triple J play or any talk of New York. So I think I see all that as an
advantage, because there was no agenda to start writing songs for an album or to try to squeeze any songs out of us, which meant that there was no intentional theme to the album. It is really just all our favourites that we love to play. You recently played at Spin Off and Splendour in the Grass. Those festivals must have been good practice for your upcoming national tour in September? Yeah, definitely, especially because they were bigger shows than we have ever played before. It was good to get used to playing at bigger shows and working on bigger sets and making sure that dynamically they flow. Definitely good practice as well. The shows helped us get excited for our tour, because to feel that kind of energy when you play is just an amazing feeling that we hadn’t experienced before. Every time we play to a big crowd it is mind blowing, because we never thought that would happen. Playing at Spin Off and Splendour was something that made us realise that this is our job and we have to keep working at it to make sure we keep getting better, because we love playing shows. We have to promise something new every time. We are playing in all the major cities and also doing some regional shows, which will be good. Yeah, Tassie fans are excited! Yeah, it is good that we will be playing to both big and small crowds – getting the best of both worlds! “Lay it Down” was a track that proved to be really popular and even made its way onto the Hottest 100 Countdown. How have you found the response to “My Gun”? Do you feel any pressure for this new release to have the same level of success? We don’t really feel the pressure, but I guess there is, because “Lay it Down” took off more than anyone expected. I am not sure that anyone wants to think about the pressure. We are kind of just focusing on getting the singles out there and playing the shows and letting our songs do the work and if they like it, they like it and if they don’t then we will probably have to quit our jobs and go and start flipping burgers! 10
Speaking of careers, did anyone else have a different pathway in mind? Has anyone been studying? Scotty has a business degree and he is the only one that is qualified for anything. Sam started pursuing music when he went overseas to London and Zack has played in a few other bands, but I don’t think any of us really thought about music as a career, because it just seemed like such a farfetched idea. It is just the dream of every kid to play to a huge crowd or to write music that people want to listen to. I think that’s why it is really surreal every time we perform. So what is the plan after your national tour? Do you have your sights set on the international stage? That is the plan. We have been playing lots in Australia and we are building a fanbase here. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that if we want to go overseas, whether it be Europe, America or Asia, we can try to make it happen. We would be happy to play anywhere and to anyone. Your parents are said to have bribed you with chocolate from a young age to keep you playing your instruments. They must be so happy that things have kicked off for you. Yeah! They never expected us to be musicians. I quit piano when I was young and then took it up when I was in high school. They never forced it upon us. It is a novelty for them as well. Dad drove us to gigs when we first started and he drives us to the airport now. They are excited, because they get to meet people in the music industry that they never would have ordinarily met.
watched her show and then when we were backstage we were like, “oh crap we have to talk to her!” Your parents were also responsible for your musical diet when you guys were growing up. What artists have you come to hold high as musical influences? Subconsciously… The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, The Doors, Pink Floyd… What our parents played to us as kids definitely helped out. I mean, if we were brought up on Cold Chisel or Tina Turner our album might have been very different! I am just wondering how to describe your sound… It is kind of a bluesy rock soul kind of thing! Can you help me out? Hmm. I think that is pretty much it! Soul, rock and blues is a good way to go. We get a lot of different things. People always say the whole ‘Black Keys’ thing, but there is more to our music than that. I love The Black Keys but when I listen to The Black Keys and then listen to our album, I think there are a lot of differences between them and us. One day I might be able to tell you more about how to describe it. Right now we will just go with the whole ‘rock blues’ thing. Blues and soul. Let’s just do that!
And have you guys met some of your musical idols at festivals such as Splendour? Not really! We aren’t very good at going up to people and saying hi. We will be dancing and then say, “oooh there’s Jack White” or something but we are never going to go up and say hi because we are too scared and we would probably make a fool of ourselves [laughs]. I am sure eventually we will meet someone cool. Oh, but in saying that, at Splendour we met the lead singer from Friends. We were in awe when we 11
Susan Dodds Dean, Faculty of Arts So you want to get the skills that will secure you a good career in an uncertain economic climate? Get an Arts degree. Not only will you get a more interesting job, you’ll make a bigger contribution to your community and have a richer life. At the August Graduation for degrees in the Faculty of Arts, UTAS Professor Imelda Whelehan, whose academic expertise lies in feminist theory, adaptation studies and women’s writing, confirmed that Arts graduates’ degrees are highly valuable. However, Whelehan said students will need to use all the skills they have developed during their studies to convince employers and the world of this fact. The skills shared by Arts graduates, according to Whelehan, are many: “You all possess the power to read, absorb and analyse complex information with speed and accuracy; you are able to weigh up conflicting perspectives and navigate a confident path through the highways and byways of theory and plain old jargon. You write with confidence, clarity and you use evidence to support your own perspectives. You understand that it is important to know who the
message is aimed at as well as who wrote it when you encounter any form of communication. You understand the ways in which social and historical contexts can be useful and when you write about the present and future you are mindful of the past. You communicate by many means and embrace originality and innovation even while you always acknowledge those who inspire you. But you don’t only think clearly, see contrary arguments and write with care, you also know how to listen, encourage others to understand and work both independently and in collaboration. You're articulate and well trained in critical argument. You work to deadlines; you know how to research and access information. In a world that depends more and more on diverse communication platforms and exploits the power of the image, the gesture, and where all public speeches are performances of one kind or another, you excel.” Arts graduates get jobs. According to the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency, for the academic year 2010/2011, 85 per cent of UK graduates in Arts disciplines were either employed or in further study six months after completion of their first degree (www. hesa.ac.uk). The 2011 Australian Graduate Survey (AGS) surveyed forty-four thousand graduates who had competed their first degree in 2010. That survey shows 12
that about 86 per cent of Arts graduates were in full or part-time employment, and that median starting salaries for Arts graduates was over $40,000 (Australian Graduate Survey, 2011). Three years after completing their first degree, over 89 per cent of graduates in Arts disciplines were in full-time employment, earning median salaries over $63,000 (Beyond Graduation Survey, 2011 www.graduatecareers.com.au). On this evidence, Arts graduates are clearly employable. However, it is less likely that Arts graduates who are in full-time employment will report that their jobs are in their area of undergraduate study or that their undergraduate qualifications are seen by the graduates as essential for the occupations they are in. This is in comparison with those graduates who studied courses in Education or Health. 73 per cent of graduates in the broad field of education of society and culture, and just over 56 per cent of those who graduated in creative arts, report that their undergraduate qualification is important to their job (Beyond Graduation Survey, 2011 graduatecareers.com.au). So what is it about an Arts degree that makes graduates highly employable, while not being seen by graduates as a qualification that has led them to the good jobs that they get? Most Arts graduates, like their peers in the natural and physical sciences, are likely to have completed generalist degrees, rather than a vocational qualification (such as Education, Nursing, Law, or Accounting). Generalist degrees are not structured by external accrediting bodies. Rather, they are shaped by educational traditions that have been developed, refined and emerged over centuries. Through the completion of an Arts degree, students study issues, concepts, forms of expression, and social processes through a range of disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches. It is through studying specific issues or disciplines that Arts students learn skills in reading and understanding complex information and ideas. In critically assessing both the form and content of communication, they develop skills in identifying features of different social or historical contexts that are relevant for understanding and responding to different arguments or claims. These
skills in critical thinking, communication and problem solving are developed at the same time as learning the substantive content of specific disciplines, issues or problems. Most Arts students will learn a swag of knowledge, and a suite of different approaches. In addition, they learn the ability to conduct independent research that can take a number of different forms (literary interpretation, aesthetic representation, philosophical analysis, historiography, social theory, quantitative analysis of empirical data). What is particularly valuable about studying Arts is that one knows that this array of skills and substantive knowledge can be deployed in many different combinations to address any number of challenges.
THE ARTS, HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES NOT ONLY PROVIDE GRADUATES WITH A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING – THE ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO THE WELL-BEING OF SOCIETIES AND THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY AND THEY MAKE BEING ALIVE LIVEABLE. It is this ability to understand that certain phenomena in the world can be understood, analysed, critically assessed, explored and considered from a range of perspectives of greater or lesser granularity, that many employers value in Arts graduates – even if they are not able to articulate that these are the skills that they are seeking in applicants. In times of uncertainty, the ability to stand back and make sense of complex information and structural and social changes – as well as a knowledge of the past, of social movements or creative innovation – is needed and can prove much more 13
valuable than knowledge of technical skills or processes for those working in areas of analysis, leadership, policydevelopment or integrating complex political information. A democratic society needs not only skilled workers, but also engaged citizens. In an era of increased “old media” control by rich individuals, critical perspectives and sources of information are uploaded onto the internet by individuals and groups who take a stand for what they believe in and present their views to global citizens who, they hope, will recognise and share their concerns. Graduates who have studied diverse social, political, historical and cultural contexts and perspectives are wellplaced to engage in political life and civil society in their communities and internationally. US philosopher Martha Nussbaum, in her book Not for Profit: Why democracy needs the humanities (2010), laments the crisis in education which has seen it valued solely for its capacity to make graduates economically productive, rather than competent citizens. She argues that healthy democracies require among their citizenry a significant proportion of people who value argument and public reasoning, who can engage imaginatively and empathetically with the situations of others and who recognise and respond to injustice. Students of humanities, social sciences and creative arts ask tough questions of their political leaders: questions that do not reduce readily to competition between individual interests, but challenge politicians to explain the kind of society to which they will contribute and the kind of global relations that will characterise our collective future. These graduates expect answers that convey arguments rather than sound bites and emotional slogans and they will seek to find out which interests or groups stand to benefit from different policy proposals. Health societies need to value the humanities. Studying an arts degree offers a graduate a rich inner life of the mind, an ability to draw on knowledge of a subject that is intrinsically interesting, and enables one to enjoy contemplation, reflection, imagination and deconstruction of concepts. Graduates are able to fiddle around with ideas, words, images, concepts and puzzles that may have been puzzling others for millennia or can construct ideas that are be original and spontaneous. Knowing that one can mine the world’s collective imagination by walking
into a library or gallery and that one is able to identify and assess one’s own reaction to what one finds ensures that life will always offer rich food for thought. The arts, humanities and social sciences not only provide graduates with a way to make a living – they also contribute to the well-being of societies and the global community, and they make being alive more liveable. In a world that values hyper-specialisation, qualification and short-term instrumentalism, it will continue to be difficult to convince people of the value of an arts degree, and arts students will continue to feel pressure to “justify” their educational choices. I, for one, would rather have to spend my days justifying my decision to study philosophy and political science in my BA, than to have missed out on that education and have to rely on a narrow vocational skill to provide me with a living, feed my imagination and be the basis for my engagement with the world.
US PHILOSOPHER MARTHA NUSSBAUM, IN HER BOOK 'NOT FOR PROFIT: WHY DEMOCRACY NEEDS THE HUMANITIES' (2010), LAMENTS THE CRISIS IN EDUCATION WHICH HAS SEEN IT VALUED SOLELY FOR ITS CAPACITY TO MAKE GRADUATES ECONOMICALLY PRODUCTIVE, RATHER THAN COMPETENT CITIZENS. 14
Cal & Asta Things took a turn for the better when Cal Young – one half of the successful Tasmanian duo, The Scientists of Modern Music – met acoustic singer-songwriter, Asta Binnie. Cal gallantly offered to record a few of Asta’s original tracks in his ‘studio’ (some music gear set-up in his tiny bedroom) and after some music workshopping and a couple of coffees, Cal and Asta became an item and remain so today. They didn’t only hit it off relationship wise: with Cal’s help, Asta’s song “My Heart is on Fire” (recorded in Cal’s makeshift bedroom studio) recently won Triple J’s national Unearthed High Competition. Togatus Magazine was honoured to be a fly on the wall while these two young Tasmanian musicians spoke candidly about their music, careers and relationship so far. Where were you born? Asta: I was born in Cygnet in the forest. It was beautiful being surrounded by heaps of trees. It’s quite secluded and very secretive. My dad still lives down there, so I’m still lucky to have such a beautiful place to escape to if I need to. Cal: I was born in the city, which is the complete opposite to you. I’ve lived in the same house for 25 years. I love the city. I guess compared to you, I don’t have the same appreciation of the country, but I love going down there. I think Hobart is my favourite city, by far. I don’t like big cities; I’m more of a quaint city kind of guy. Hobart is the quietist city ever. I appreciate knowing everyone and the laidback attitude of the city. When did you start working on your music? Cal: I’ve been into music for ages, but I began to seriously start working on computer, electronic music when I was about 14-years-old. Before that though, I used to be into a lot of hip-hop and DJing and stuff like that. So, from about the age of 12 I started making music, but didn’t get into music production until I was about 14. Asta: I guess for me it was all about the song writing to begin and then I just sort of picked up the guitar and went from there.
Have people told you to give up music? Cal: Yeah, definitely. Asta: What did they say? Cal: “You’re really shit at music, you should give up.” [both laugh] Nah, I’ve had people question what I do, because I consider myself to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades; there are other things that I’m ok at. So a few people in the past have said, “why don’t you just pick that up instead” or “why don’t you get a real job?” Whenever that’s happened it’s just made me feel stronger and like I want to do what I love even more. What about you? Asta: I’ve never had anyone say that to me. Cal: Well that’s because you seem to make everyone so emotional with your sound and with the way that you are and people really respond to that. I don’t think anyone is ever going to tell you to stop. Asta: Well, having those few hateful comments [posted on the internet about me], that was really hurtful. Apparently I write like a five-year-old in that song [“My Heart is on Fire”]. Cal: Well, you and me both. On our album we had the same comments, like “their lyrics are really immature.” Asta: But that song is the most simplistic song, lyrically, that I have ever written and look how far it’s gone, because it is so simplistic. Cal: Yeah, that’s the thing. Simplicity wins a lot of the time. I’ve always considered “My Heart is on Fire” is smart about using simple words. The way you construct those words is awesome. Do you have any songs that have changed your life? Cal: Yeah, definitely. When I was younger, first hearing the Chemical Brothers was life changing for me. Their song, “The Sunshine Underground” was my favourite and it made me want to do what I want to do today. I mean, I could list so many though; there are so many bands and so many songs that I like. What about you? Asta: I guess for me, I didn’t really have a lifechanging song, as such. I was quite shut off from music until The Veronicas came around and Hilary Duff. I guess they were the most influential for me when I was little and wanting to become a pop singer [both 16
Interview. laugh]. In my teens, maybe Sarah Blasko, because she made me want to go towards that gentle, whimsical side of music and focus more on acoustic guitar. Cal: I think having a life-changing song is a really difficult question to answer, because of the fact that there have been so many songs that have changed my perspective on things and the way that I do things. Not necessarily my whole life. What are the biggest benchmarks throughout your music career that have had the most impact on you? Cal: Being able to meet so many great people. I’ve just been really lucky to have those contacts and that support. Working with Daniel Jones from Savage Garden on our first EP was awesome; he’s such a genuine person. Then probably, playing our first Falls Festival. I think we were the first Tassie band to play both Lorne and Marion Bay Festivals in one year. I mean, achievements for me are mainly meeting people and getting to a point where people really respect what you do, but you’re doing it because you really love it. That’s the most important thing for me. What about you? Asta: At this stage, I don’t have many achievements. Like you, listing all those big ones, I don’t really have those. But I do have those little moments where you do a gig and people come up to you crying or parents are just like, “why do you do this to me? I’ve got goose bumps!” It’s such a compliment. I’m really looking forward to playing the Soundscape Festival, which will be later this year, because that will be my first festival. I’m so excited! I don’t know what to wear. Cal: Don’t worry about that, just go naked [both laugh]. How does living in Tasmania impact your success in music? Asta: I reckon for both of us it’s just having so much support from people. Cal: Yeah, it’s a very community orientated city. Asta: Yeah, people keep pushing you along. Cal: I love the fact that when a new band or singersongwriter comes onto the scene, a lot of people come to support them and it's a really good starting point. And the thing is, especially with you winning Triple J Unearthed High, I reckon Tasmanians would’ve supported that so much more, because it’s not just something exciting happening to you, but to our state. So you’re kind of representing the state. Asta: Yeah, I love that! Even with the voting system on Unearthed High, I’m sure there were many from Tassie. Word spread so quickly. People in Tassie just seem to prick their ears up about cool things that are happening and get so excited about it. Cal: Yeah! I’ve always noticed that. We [TSOMM] used to say at the end of our gigs, “thanks everyone, 17
we’re from little old Hobart” and people would say, “what!” and think that was unique and weird. And I think, knowing that you’re from Tasmania and knowing that the songs are good, they go, “wow” and they actually have a better understanding of the state. Do you think you have to leave Tasmania to be successful in the music industry? Asta: I really don’t think so. I think you can really make it in Tasmania first. I don’t think that when you start getting interest in your music from the public, you should just jump of a plane and go somewhere else. You should make your name in Tassie before you head off on tour and have Tassie backing you. Cal: Definitely, the foundations get laid down here. I don’t believe you have to follow the pack. You don’t have to go to Melbourne or where the music hub is. I mean, fair enough, there’s a lot of stuff going on, but you can easily make success from wherever you are and that makes it more unique, because if you stay in Tassie you will be in the place that you love. Asta: And it’s easier to hone in on your own uniqueness here, I think. Because if you were to go to Melbourne and those kinds of places, you would be constantly surrounded by the artistic culture there and what people had to say. Cal: You’d be following everyone else. The isolation here from the mainland is great, because you aren’t as exposed to all the trends and so you kind of create your own and your own genre of what you want to do. We’re disconnected and that’s beautiful. What have been the worst things you’ve experienced in your career so far? Cal: Shitty people. Asta: Yeah, shitty people, that just want to hone in on what you’ve got… Cal: …and say, “you’re mine”. The music industry is filled with heaps of genuine people, but there are some real wankers. Asta: I never really believed that. I was like, “oh, people aren’t mean” and then they come along and they force their way into what you’ve got and want to claim it and the next thing you know they’re running after you with a contract they want signed for life. I think for financial security mainly. I ‘love’ people that are just happy to help out and then they turn around and say, “oh, you owe me this much.” Get over it. Cal: It’s not like we’re made of money, either. I’m happy to help out and if people are happy to help me out, that’s great. I think the thing that I have definitely experienced, is that you’ve got to pick the right people to be around you; you’ve got to create a family team. Otherwise, you’re not going to get anywhere and it becomes too
business-y and you lose the romance of what you do. What have been the greatest moments you’ve experienced when performing live? Asta: I think what I said earlier – the emotional response. Cal: It’s just a great feeling to invoke those emotions from people when you’re playing your own music. I think for me, the greatest moments have been when you’ve got thousands of people coming to see you and enjoy what you do. That is just so overwhelming in a really good way. Moments like, for TSOMM at Meredith Music Festival when we had our hands up in the air and I’d say, “everyone follow us!” and you control the audience; they’re like your little zombies in a way. What are some of the disparities between what you thought it would be like to be a musician and what it’s like in reality? Asta: The money thing; it seems like you have to be in the industry for a lot of years to be able to actually support yourself financially. Cal: Yeah. Asta: I think the dream is to quit that office job and be able to just make music and focus on that. It’s so hard, because I’ve just got so much going on at the moment – I’m still at school and still working – but I want to pump out an EP by the end of the year and it’s annoying still having to go into that dungeon or cave and try to make money from just a normal day job. I guess that’s the reality of it. Cal: I think for me, my expectations were just too high. I remember starting out thinking, “yeah, we’re going to release this and make a killing on this and I’ll be able to finally move out,” and all that kind of crap, but you’ve got to be realistic. It’s got to be one step at a time; you can’t get ahead of yourself. I think a lot of people think you are more successful than how you feel you are. Whenever I do something with music I kind of feel, “yeah, it was successful, but it could be better” or I was striving for more, but the people around you assume that you’re really successful and you’re famous or something, but really it’s not the case at all. What is your next move? Asta: Well, we’re going to Sydney on Friday [24 Aug], to re-record a few songs and have a play around with the producer there and see what he thinks of a few new tracks. Then I’m going to try and focus on the music and get an EP out. I’m really excited at the prospect of going down this avenue of having a new direction with my music, now you’re involved. I’m really excited to perform live when we actually get a set together for Soundscape Festival, which is going to be so cool, because it’s in Tasmania. Cal: Yeah, I’m also really looking forward to that. I’m also 18
Interview. looking forward to just making more music with you. It’s different for me, because I’m so used to the whole dance/ electronic kind of vibe, which is quite one-sided in a way. Working with you is a whole different avenue for me. Asta: It’s kind of refreshing, isn’t it? Cal: It is; it’s really refreshing. Working with you is different too, mainly because we’re together romantically. We have this great dynamic when we’re working on music. We can churn out stuff and it’s really fun. Asta: Yeah, sometimes we’re really business-like, but then some days it will just be really loveydovey [both laugh]. I keep switching in and out of these different mindsets, which is interesting. Sometimes I’m like, “no! I don’t want to be cuddled and kissed today! I want to make music!” Cal: [laughs] My next move is definitely doing more stuff with you. You even said, “I just want to get away from the acoustic guitar!” So I said, “let’s try electric!” It’s cool to be able to do that. Asta: I really appreciate the songs that I have and the sets that I do, which is acoustic and vocals, but I’ve always wanted to just have a microphone and sing a song and dance on stage. We will mix it up a bit though; I want to rebirth a few of my old songs and include those acoustic elements.
Asta: Yeah, it’s sort of meant to be. Cal: Yeah, I like to think of it like that. Asta: I’m glad I pursued you [both laugh]. Cal: I’m glad I pursued you! I keep saying lately, I’m glad we had that first coffee and I said, “you should come by my ‘studio’ and record some tracks!” Asta: Yeah, your bedroom studio. Cal: [laughs] I love how you say that on Triple J, “yeah, we recorded it in his bedroom.” Asta: It’s because it’s so adorable! And it’s amazing! We made “My Heart is on Fire” in your bedroom. Cal: Yeah, you were sitting on the bed.
Has your relationship changed since you started making music? Asta: I don’t think so. Cal: I think we’ve got more to talk about. We’re involving ourselves in something that we both like and it just so happens that we’re in a relationship together. I think what has changed is that we can have more serious discussions about what we do. Asta: I love the fact that I can just tell you whatever I think, like, “no, that sounds shit!” Cal: Yeah, well that’s the thing – you’ve got to keep the honesty. Honesty within a relationship is a great thing anyway, but just being true to ourselves and not getting too caught up in what we do. At the end of the day we go to bed and it’s just us. As long as we can snap back to reality and take it as it comes. I don’t think it’s changed us really, at all. It’s just improved on what we’ve got and it’s just given us more to focus on. It’s exciting! You don’t see too many couples making music these days and it shows in the music. Asta: I think my relationship with music has changed, if anything. I’m really opening up. Cal: Well, you’re learning more. Asta: Yeah! Cal: When we first met, you were just acoustic and since we’ve started working together your style is different. I just think it works really nicely. 19
Dead in the Night
Damien Peck Hobart is a small city, but at night, it well and truly goes to bed. The ideas and concepts in these photos revolve around Hobart's absence at nighttime and how our capital city never really wakes up. This documentary series shows the emptiness, void, isolation and abandonment of the city. Over the past year and a half, these images have been taken with the intention to look at the void left in spaces and the lonely car parks, streets, and spaces that are unused and at night. 20
Togatus. Damien Peck 23
THE NATURAL STATE? Lucy MacDonald In 1972, environmentalists’ hopes were dashed when Lake Pedder, the natural lake they had fought so hard for, was flooded for hydro electricity. Yet this was only the beginning. The past forty years has seen Tasmania as the battleground for multiple environmental conflicts. It is the birthplace of the modern environmental movement, with the world’s first Greens party and the first environmental conflict to create international interest. There have been unbelievable wins and devastating losses, but still the environmentalists fight on, determined to protect the wilderness. As for the state government, despite numerous changes in leadership, their position has remained for (better or worse) squarely behind the developments. In recent years controversy has followed the government with their handling of the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill and Meander Dam. Their decision to push through these unpopular developments has led to fears that this may happen to future proposals. As mining threatens the Tarkine, the world’s second largest temperate rainforest in the northwest of Tasmania, will the state government honour the environmental assessment system?
Words cannot begin to describe the beauty of Tasmania’s lost lake. Lake Pedder was an untouched jewel of Tasmania's southwest. A glacial lake, surrounded by a distinctive pink quartzile beach and overlooked by spectacular mountain ranges. Protests surrounding Lake Pedder began in 1967 when the Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) and the Tasmanian government announced their intention to flood the lake only a few days before parliament was to vote on the project. An action group called the southwest Committee quickly formed to fight the flooding. They would later become The Tasmanian Wilderness Society. Due to the significant public outcry about the timing of the release of information the government set up a committee to ensure that the region was protected from “undue damage”. However the chairman of the committee was also the chairman of the HEC and it was concluded that nothing could be done to protect the lake. The legislation to flood Lake Pedder passed with ease despite its national park status. In March 1972 campaigners attempted to fight the government on their own turf and The United Tasmania Group, the world’s first Green political party was formed. The national park legal flaw was seized upon by environmental groups, but before they could mount a legal challenge the state government passed a Removal of Doubts Act retrospectively legalising the flood. While Lake Pedder was flooded, it was the knowledge gained from this loss that allowed the Franklin to be saved. The next time environmental groups fought the HEC they were far better prepared and knew how to run a 26
successful campaign. In 1978 the HEC announced their intention to dam the Franklin River. Initially there was community support with 70 per cent in favour. The Lake Pedder groups quickly reassembled under the leadership of Dr Bob Brown. In June 1980 an estimated 10,000 people marched the streets of Hobart, but despite the growing national and international opposition towards the dam, the state government forged on. After numerous changes in state leadership, it was the intervention by the federal Labor government that prevented the dam from being built. During the struggle, Premier Doug Lowe had placed the Franklin River in a national park. In October 1982, federal Parliament concluded that they had the power to stop the construction of the dam under its obligations to the provisions of the UNESCO convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and National Heritage (1972). The Tasmanian government proceeded to mount a High Court challenge but lost. While these cases may be older, they are certainly not the only developments to be pushed through regardless of community opposition. Basslink and the Three Capes Walk are two more recent developments to follow the trend. Basslink was a joint project between the Victorian and Tasmanian Governments. The proposition was for a cable link crossing the Bass Strait connecting the Victorian Loy Yang Power Station and the Northern Tasmanian George Town Station. This would allow a power exchange between the mainland and Tasmania. Environmentalists and the community raised numerous
concerns including financial viability, impact on the Gordon River and the marine environment. Yet the assessment process seemed to focus more on the social, economic and environmental benefits than investigating merits and implications. The development has since been completed yet questions continue to be raised. The Three Capes Walk is an ongoing proposal to create an overnight walking track on the Tasmanian Penisula, one that the government believes could rival the popular Overland Track. Environmentalists and the community have raised concerns surrounding the impact on the native flora and fauna. Particularly focusing on the swift parrot and eagles. Recent studies have also shown that the majority of Tasmanians do not want their national parks invaded by those who don’t appreciate them. A campaign group called “Keep The Capes Wild”, an initiative of the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA), is suggesting an alternate route that will make use of existing walking tracks. Nevertheless the government is forging ahead with the original proposal. Greens MP, Tim Morris certainly believes the history of the state government has been to push development despite opposition. “It seems that twice every decade a development is proposed that requires an environmental trade off, that a large number of Tasmanians are not prepared to make and they are willing to take a stand and attempt 27
to stop or substantially modify it. Usually, the Premier or a Minister publicly declares their support for the development and then does everything they can to make it happen, often putting in government resources. Once this happens then it really is a loss of face if the development does not proceed and a lot of effort is put into avoiding this situation.” Cassy O’Connor, Greens Minister for Human Services, Community Development, Climate Change and Aboriginal Affairs believes it’s the only way the major parties know how to operate.
WHAT PARLIAMENT DOES WHENEVER THERE’S A ROAD BLOCK CREATED BY THE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM IS THAT THEY PASS LAWS BYPASSING THE SYSTEM. THAT HAS BEEN THE HISTORY IN TASMANIA. IF THE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM GIVES YOU THE WRONG ANSWER THEY PASS A LAW GIVING THE RIGHT ANSWER. “Because of the philosophical founding of the major parties they’ve ceased on big developments and projects put forward by big private interests, because they see it as in their political interests to support those projects. They believe those projects will create jobs and economic growth.” However Ms O’Connor argues that more attention should be paid to our community. “There should be more respect for people’s views and objections to particular developments, but our planning system is regarded nationally as quite robust in terms of its public appeal and representation rights. Our concern would be if there was any attempt to change those planning processes that we have in place, because even though they’re inadequate, they have been successful.” Pushing for a controversial development to pass regardless of public opposition is far from commendable, but the bypassing of the environmental system is a far
more critical issue. In 1985, before the environmental assessment system was overhauled, there was a controversial development proposed by Tasmanian Silicon Smelters. At the time, an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) was optional and the public began to panic. An EIS was called for, but the Department of Environment gave approval after only a week. This led to a significant number of appeals including one from the developer. The appeal process dragged on and the state government at the time worried that the development might be rejected. Thus they attempted to introduce a new fast-track law to allow government to approve selected projects. When this failed, another bill specific to the project to override the Appeal Board’s decision was introduced. This turned out to be unnecessary as the development was approved. Four years later the factory shut down. After Electrona there was a major overhaul of the environmental assessment system. A body of legislation was developed to protect the environment and guide developers. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) became compulsory and several bodies were created to oversee the process. This was a significant improvement from the previous system and has certainly been more successful in protecting the environment. However, these changes have not prevented previous state governments from bypassing the system all together. The Meander Dam was a $30 million development proposed by the Rivers and Water Supply Commission, a government enterprise based within the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE). A permit for the dam was initially granted by the Environmental Pollution and Control Act Board whose members included crucial members of DPIPWE. Several environmental groups appealed to the Resource Planning and Management Tribunal, emphasising the negative impact on the endangered spotted-tailed quoll, swift parrot and tree species Epacris. Attention was also drawn to the proposed mitigation measures, which environmentalists argued were superficial. The Tribunal ruled in favour of the appeal concluding that the costs far outweighed the benefits and that there was no guarantee the dam would be economically productive. The state government, led by Jim Bacon, was not prepared to accept this outcome. The Meander Dam Project Bill 2003 was created, allowing the development to bypass the environmental assessment system and effectively overruling the Tribunal’s decision. Three years later, Black Gum, a tree species protected under the Regional Forest Agreement was found in large quantities on the site. This had been 28
missed in the original EIA and permission to clear such a significant area was rarely, if ever given. Regardless, the dam went ahead with no offsets for the cleared trees. Jamie Kirkpatrick is a geography and environmental studies professor at the University of Tasmania. He has much experience with the environmental assessment system and doesn’t believe parliament respects it. “What parliament does whenever there’s a road block created by the assessment system is that they pass laws bypassing the system. That has been the history in Tasmania. If the assessment system gives you the wrong answer they pass a law giving the right answer." “I think the whole environmental assessment system is like a ritual. It’s not seriously there to do much about the environment, it’s there to appease and pretend that the
government is doing something positive.” Possibly Tasmania’s most infamous case involving the state government’s dealings with the assessment system is the recent Tamar Valley Pulp Mill controversy. The mill was a state commissioned research project that was proposed to generate $6.7 billion in spending over 25 years and create up to 1600 temporary jobs during the construction phase. Opposition to the mill quickly grew and in June 2007 a crowd of estimated 10,000 people marched in protest. During the assessment it appeared that the mill would be rejected by Tasmania’s Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC) and was referred to as “critically non-compliant” by panel members. Gunns promptly withdrew the project from assessment. The state government, led by Paul Lennon, developed new fast-track legislation specific to the pulp mill. With the full support of both Liberal and Labor the 29
bill passed both houses with ease. This act allowed the development to proceed without an EIA or community consultation. In October 2007, Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, approved the mill with an extra 24 conditions. The mill has yet to be built as Gunns has had trouble securing finances and have admitted it is unlikely to ever have social approval. Ms O’Connor believes that the Lennon government’s dealings with the system have left people uncertain of its effectiveness. “The Lennon government completely bastardised the planning process when they took the pulp mill assessment out of RPDC and fast-tracked it through parliament. That was an appalling act that completely disregarded the need for a proper and rigorous assessment process, but also ignored overwhelming community sentiment against the pulp mill and we are still dealing with the consequences of that today.” Many are waiting to see how the current government with its Labor-Green composition will handle their first major environmental assessment issue – mining in the Tarkine. Located in northeest Tasmania, the Tarkine is the largest
tract of temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere. It is home to around 60 endangered species as well as having some of the country’s most vast concentrations of aboriginal archaeological sites. It has been recommended numerous times by different organisations for World Heritage Listing. Despite this, the Tarkine is not protected from development and is no stranger to environmental conflict. In 1984, there were investigations into a road through the Tarkine and a year later construction began. There was wide spread opposition to the project and in 1989 it was halted by the Labor-Green accord and was subsequently given the name “the road to nowhere”. Six years later among extreme controversy, construction recommenced and was finished the following year. In 2009, another controversial road worth $23 million was proposed and while the state government was pushing ahead it was ceased by federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, who placed it in emergency heritage listing. When Tony Burke replaced Garrett as federal Environment Minister he allowed this listing to lapse. This was despite advice from the National Heritage Council that recommended the Tarkine be listed in its entirety. After pleas from environmental groups to save the Tarkine, Mr Burke has called for another heritage assessment. While waiting on the results he has publicly voiced his support for mining. There are ten proposed mines with 56 30
exploration licences granted for different companies. The Tarkine National Coalition formed in 1994 to oppose the road and has fought off numerous developments in the Tarkine. Head of the TNC, Scott Jordan, believes the Tarkine should have remained heritage listed. “Tony Burke chose to ignore the report from the Australian Heritage Council that confirmed that that area should be permanently listed. By having that heritage listing revoked at that point he’s basically allowed the state government to pursue any number of developments in that area without having their impact assessed again. They’re only assessed on a case by case basis, not on the impact of 10 proposed mines across the area as a whole – it’s quite inadequate” Two of the mines proposed by Venture Minerals are opencut and are in a reserve area listed under the Regional Forest Agreement. Mr Jordan is perplexed as to how the government is banning forestry, but not mining. “They’ve put them in a reserve category that doesn’t have full protection. It still allows mining and mining exploration. A huge amount of damage is being done in mining exploration alone and the door is being left wide open [for these mines to be actually built]. Our government acknowledges that these areas are precious enough that they should be protecting them from logging yet somehow
they are not so valuable if you want to dig an open cut pit.” The TNC however is open to negotiation and while many organisations are misconstrued as wanting the entire area locked up, this is definitely not the case. They have attempted for the past 18 months to talk to the mineral council and mining companies, however they have been blocked by Lyons Minister, Bryan Green. Mr Green has recently given approval without any EIA to Venture Mining and hopes that the project will be able to start by the end of 2012. Mr Jordan believes that even without state or federal support the Tarkine can be saved. “The Gordon below Franklin Dam was two years into construction, that’s where it was stopped and I think the anger around the Tarkine issue is going to be every bit as strong. The state government can take it upon itself to push through these assessments and in all indications are pushing for a fast-track assessment to get all mines up. But the reality is the environmental movement is ready for this fight and we will take on whatever we need to do to stop it.” Photographs by Dylan Oswin 31
THE DEBATE Lewis Ringwaldt Ah, University. Aside from being a centre for the noble advancement of knowledge and free enquiry, it also includes varied pursuits, such as the odd barrel, inter-faculty rivalry, activism, debate, societies and the scavenger hunt. Time-honoured activities like these are weaved into the fabric of any enjoyable and worthwhile university, where inclusiveness and competition is promoted. These activities are talked about years after by past students in memoirs, around dinner tables, over reunion drinks and are what classify university years as on of the best times of people’s lives. This is why I believe UTAS can step up on two of those listed activities. Firstly, free barrels (maybe limited to those on the Dean's list for added motivation). But as much as I think free beer is worth arguing about (keep the dream alive, people) that is an argument for another time. Because there is an equally important issue we have a greater chance of doing something about: the ancient battle of wits known as debating. Debating provides opportunity for expression and a platform to speak freely and passionately. You experience the unexplainable feeling of elation when you’re party to brilliant rhetoric or destruction of
opposing argument. Tales and conversation that will occur after the fact can also provide ultimate talking points between friends for future barrels. Consider that you don’t even need to actively participate in a debate to gain from it. Just watching a competition between peers can be entertainment enough. Better yet, witnessing opposing teams pick and ridicule each other may spur a want of involvement/popcorn. This is why I write with dismay that UTAS is conspicuously lacking a student debating society, while most mainland university students are reaping the benefits from their own debating organisations (and have been for years). This begs the question, why not us? Are we not good enough? Does anybody care? In pursuit of these questions I contacted the Tasmanian University Union Vice President, Elise Jenkins. “I imagine there are many students at UTAS who participated in debating competitions throughout high school and college, who would be interested in continuing debating at UTAS,’ she said encouragingly. Elyse also acknowledges there is – in her own words – a surprising “gap in the market.” “I imagine many students would have assumed that such a society would exist at a medium32
sized university such as UTAS." “I can't see any reason as to why the TUU would not endorse such a society, provided that the society was established pursuant to the TUU Society requirements (e.g. electing an executive, providing a constitution etc). A debating society could apply to the Societies Council for grants to help fund interstate travel to competition against other universities,” Miss Jenkins said. “I believe there would be a great deal of interest. I Imagine that the TUU could assist with this process by putting a call out for interested individuals. “Once we have a collection of enthusiastic students then they could work together to establish a society.” As Miss Jenkins says, there is the opportunity to found a new society within the TUU. All we require is to utilise some motivation from those with interest to contact their representatives and make the university a more engaged and lively place. “Time spent arguing is, oddly enough, almost never wasted” mused the polarising Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens and his peers cut their teeth in the fabled Oxford Union, the ancient (but not
invincible) debating society that has been, and still is, a training ground for the most charismatic of public figures. And also by which its students, along with Harvard’s, were beat in the international competition two years ago by Sydney University. This then means that debating is an activity which isn’t exclusive, and that can be attempted by anyone with a brain and mere interest. If Sydney can do it, we can do it. Foremost, this demonstrates the immense contribution that structured debate must bring to university life if it is the intellectual core of the most prestigious of universities and leaves such a mark on its students. We at UTAS need to provide the occasion to prove to ourselves what we may already know, but just haven’t been able to show off to others here yet – how good we are at something we care about. So, as said at one point in every movie ever, who' s with me?
PARACHUTE YOUTH Hannah Grey Parachute Youth, made up of Sydney-sider Matt K Von [Mathew Gill] and Adelaide-born Jonny Castro [Johnny Courtidis], have been going from strength to strength. The electronic duo have released two ridiculously popular tracks, one of which has well over two million YouTube views and helped bring in the new year on Triple J. Hannah Grey spoke to Matt K Von off the back of a sold out national tour to discuss their success. HG: You have just finished touring! Would you like to talk about some of the things you experienced while performing around Australia? MKV: No worries. Well, the tour in itself was mind blowing for us. The fact that we did 20 shows in just over two months around Australia is pretty amazing. I never thought to even do 20 shows around the country would be possible for us. I was just so motivated by the whole experience and I think it gave everyone a taste of what Parachute Youth is about and what is yet to come. Every show had something great about it. The big venues were
great, but we also found that the smaller venues often had a higher energy level. Did you enjoy playing in Hobart? You guys played a hectic sold out show down here! Yeah it was big and it really took us by surprise. It was pretty unexpected and everyone was just wild for it. Really fun! “Can’t Get Better Than This” is a track that has been immensely popular, and is one of the most requested tracks on Triple J. Did you anticipate that this song would be such a success? Not the success it had. I don’t think anyone can anticipate the success of any track. I mean you can always be happy with what you have made and what has been put together, but when other people can relate to what you make and appreciate it, that’s a really nice feeling. Especially when people are enjoying our music on an international scale as well. Paris is an expensive city and you guys chose to move there after working together for a few months. Why Paris? Did you make tracks or play shows or both? [laughs] The bio is actually wrong, only I moved to Paris, 34
Jonny [Castro] didn’t actually move. It was more of a wanderlust thing, as I wanted to experience life in another city. I had a lot of French friends who I had met in Australia who were really keen for me to come over and spend time with them. I had the opportunity because I had been working for a while and saved up some money. It was an experience that I wanted to have. So after Jonny and I wrote some songs together I pretty much up and moved to Paris. And then Ajax [DJ] got in contact and said, “hey, you and Jonny should sort this out, because we are stoked on this music and you should make something of it and get it pumping”. And you did! So, do you speak any French? [says something unintelligible in French and laughs] a little bit! I actually went to a French school for a little while when I was over there and it was a lot of fun. You met Jonny in a bar and Julian Paolini, a prominent French film producer at a house party… sounds like you have been pretty lucky! Do you want to talk a little bit about the collaboration with Julian? Julian is a really inspiring guy to be around. We met at a few house parties in Paris and we had a lot of mutual friends. So we started talking about short films and some 35
Interview. of the films that he had been doing and some of the people he had worked with. Julian is a really funny guy with a good sense of humour. We started talking about short film ideas and then one idea I thought, hey, that would make a really good film clip for a song I had recently made with Jonny. I sent the song to Julian and he said, “this will definitely work with what I have in mind”. I pitched the idea to Jonny and I said, “this film clip will make a good song great”. The film clip was shot in Africa! Did you all travel to Africa together and did you have any input into making the clip? We didn’t join Julian and his film crew, but we were involved in every step of the process, as we were sent all the casting photos and everything. When Julian started to edit all the shots down, that’s when it really started to take life and we were really proud of what we had achieved. You have just finished your first tour and now you are set to play at Splendour in the Grass and Parklife. Are you excited to be performing at Australia’s biggest festivals? Have you played at festivals before and do you think there will be a different response to your sound? We have played at two festivals before on the tour circuit. They were quite a good introduction for testing our music in the festival system and just tapping into the energy that playing in a festival brings. We are really amped up for Parklife and Splendour, because coming off the back of this tour we have been able to get everything together. Like any band, we want to keep pushing ourselves. By the time Parklife comes around in September we will have something really special for our fans. You guys have been working together for a couple of years and yet you have only officially released two singles. How come you guys have chosen to hold off on releasing an album? We are still developing as songwriters and producers and we are still just enjoying collaborating with talented people like Sam La More, who has been brilliant, since we have been able to tap into his experience. We are still working on ideas and keen to put tracks out there that are polished products. It’s amazing what you get when you put a dash of experience with talent; you can get so much further. When can we expect an EP or debut album, and what hints can you give us about sound and inspiration? Very soon! [laughs] We have a single coming out very
shortly and we have an EP coming out shortly after that as well, probably around the same time as Parklife. Then we will probably have an album come out six months or so after that. Have you been recording for that? Yeah, we probably have enough material at this stage for an album, but we don’t want to just put everything out now for the sake of it. We want to put something out that really is everything that we have got in terms of our experience and musicianship. Do you guys feel any pressure for your recorded work to continue the success of “Can’t Get Better Than This”? Well we have got our formula down pat and we know whether a song we make has the same sincerity as “Can’t Get Better Than This”. And if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t make it out to the public. Overall, “Can’t Get Better Than This” and “Awake Now” are great representations of Parachute Youth and the songs that we are yet to release will still have that same pace and same sort of sound. In other news, you said that you have been testing out new tracks to see what gets the best response. So what has been the response so far? It has been great. It is so nice when we play a song at a show and people are singing the chorus back to you because they are really enjoying it. We have put effort into providing a lot of variety in the set. Some of the guys from Van She were complimenting our set and saying it has a lot of flow. It was great to get that kind of feedback. It’s good to see how people react to the songs they haven’t heard as well as the favourites. You used to be an avionics technician. Do you miss your job or have you always aspired towards a musical career? Music has never been far from me. It’s funny, being an avionics technician doesn’t sound like it should be directly related to music, but when you are working with synthesizers in the studio you really understand how musical instruments work. So my previous work really does transfer to the work I do in the studio. Have you been working on any remixes? We actually just finished a remix, “This Summer” with Rufus, which is coming out on their remix package. We might have some other collaborations lined up, you will have to wait and see. So a lot of exciting things are coming up ahead!
the FORGOTTEN ARTS Courtney Wood Tasmania is a small island with a population of only 500,000. But we know all good things come in small packages and finally the rest of the world is taking note. Our Island State is becoming increasingly well known as a scenic and artistic tourist destination for travellers around the globe. No longer do we have to trek to Melbourne every time we want to see a band or an exhibition, because these acts are increasingly including Tassie in their itinerates. This is an exciting trend that we don’t want to see fade away. Tasmania has a vibrant art scene, but it seems locals – and in particularly the younger locals – don’t always make the most of what it has to offer. Many of the state’s traditional artistic gems such as the theatre, museum and classical music outlets seem to carry a certain misconception in the minds of young people. We envisage these activities to be strictly for a grey-haired generation with posh voices and slightly upturned noses. Have we been too quick to judge? As the next generation of Tasmanians, we should be continuing these somewhat forgotten art practices among our generation and supporting a culture that helps make our city unique, encourages individual creativity and brings in cultural diversity. Perhaps it is time we broadened our cultural horizons and instead of spending Friday night on the virtual world of Facebook* we should step out into the real world and engage our minds and senses in something we can actually see, hear, smell and touch. In an era where we have seen the resurgence of cable knit jumpers and bottle-rimmed reading glasses, why shouldn’t we also be embracing other creative trends from before our time? Outlined below are a number of unique venues around the state that offer enjoyable outings at free or student friendly prices, so no excuses for being a poor university student. * Or drunk on the Mobius dance floor. 37
The Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery David Walsh has proved to us that not all museums have to be ancient and smell like your grandmother’s house. He has shown us that art can be modern, innovative and even provocative. Tasmania’s more traditional museum, The Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (TMAG) has teamed up with MONA to produce the “Theatre of the World” exhibition. Held from June 23 to April 8, 2013, it is Australia’s biggest collaboration between a public and private museum. There are over 160 pieces from David Walsh’s collection at MONA and around 300 from TMAG. The exhibition is housed at the spectacular MONA gallery in Berriedale and entry is free for locals. If you are not lucky enough to be a Tassie born kid, don’t panic because MONA offers a student entry price of $15. The exhibition runs throughout summer too so catch the ferry out to MONA ($20 return), sink a few beers in the sun and make a day of it! For art viewing a little closer to the city, TMAG is a fantastic day experience – open 10am to 5pm seven days a week. While the art may not be as contemporary as MONA, it is a great place to see where many of MONA’s artist’s have found inspiration from. General admission is free and to take the hassle out of what to see you can join a guided tour from Wednesday to
Sunday at 2:30pm. This is a great way to discover what the museum has to offer and find hidden gems that you might not have found yourself. If creating art is up your alley then head into TMAG’s pARTicipate on the last Sunday of every month! The art classes are held from 1:00pm to 3:00pm in the TMAG art galleries. Art materials are supplied by the museum for a gold coin donation or you can BYO. For all you art lovers in Launceston, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) also has some great exhibitions running throughout the year, as well as free public lectures and participatory events. For further information and details on upcoming exhibitions visit tmag.tas.gov.au or www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/qvmag.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO)
Perhaps the reason we stigmatize classical music is because we associate it with being on hold with Centrelink. For 50 minutes. But contemporary classical music is an experience that deserves to lose this disparaging stereotype. Young musicians such as David Garrett are taking classic music and tweaking it to engage listeners of a younger generation. His violin renditions on YouTube of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and the Beatles “Hey Jude” are pretty remarkable. Unsuspectingly Aussie hip hop boys, 38
Feature. the Hilltop Hoods also created The Hard Road: Restrung, which featured the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. It’s musicians like these that are inspiring Orchestras to entice younger crowds. Earlier this year The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra created for students the Live It Up Live Pass. For just $30 students are able to see up to 20 concerts a year (subject to availability) which allows students to see matinees, evening and family concerts. The TSO also frequently heads north to Launceston. On October 4 the TSO will head to the Princess Theatre for Dreams & Dances. Live music is an experience like no other; something a CD can’t achieve. The price of the TSO student pass is little more than a night out at the movies, something most of us don’t think twice about splashing out on. The bonus? You can go multiple times. To inquire about upcoming concerts Visit tso.com.au or phone the Box Office on 1800 001 190.
The Theatre Royal
In the movies we envisage the theatre comprising mainly of the wealthy, wearing fur coats and donning those little binoculars made of gold. In reality this is far from true. The Theatre Royal houses all kinds of productions from the
annual Uni Review through to frequent shows in dance, music and comedy. With dance performances ranging from ballet to burlesque and music varying from cabaret to rock there are shows to appeal to every taste. Gone are the days where you had to be wealthy to enjoy live stage shows. All performances are different so the prices will vary, but the Theatre Royal offers student prices on all productions, at significantly cheaper prices. By browsing online it is possible to see the upcoming shows and book them on the spot. Some upcoming delights include singer/songwriter Claire Bowditch (Wednesday, 12 September, 2012, 8:00pm, $55) and comedian Jimeoin (Friday, 12 October, 2012, 7:30pm $34.90). Launceston’s charming Princess Theatre will see many of the same shows as Hobart, so keep an eye out! And don’t fret; dress attire is completely casual so you don’t have to suit up. Tickets can be purchased through the Box Office (open 9am till 5pm) or online at theatreroyal.com.au Photos by Hayley Francis
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JELLY BEAN SANDALS Laura Barry After his sister, Zoe found a pair of mini Jelly Bean sandals during a cupboard clean-out, Director of Jelly Beans Australia, Kristian Klein, went on a brotherly mission to find her a slightly larger pair of Jelly Bean sandals to replace the originals. The mission quickly turned into a nightmare; Klein couldn't find a pair anywhere. He then decided to personally resurrect Jelly Bean Sandals from the dead. What started out as a mission to buy one pair turned into a batch of 16,000. According to Klein, “The story goes that they were first produced after World War II due to a leather shortage. They are a practical, stylish shoe – perfect for grand adventures!" What kind of person wears Jelly Bean sandals? We have had such a wide demographic of customers. It’s been really unexpected. We are sending Jelly Beans as far as Denmark, the US and Singapore. Young mums buy a pair for themselves and a pair for their toddlers. Beach goers adore them, teenagers who we would expect to be too young to remember Jelly Bean Sandals
from ‘back in the day’ are buying up and fashionistas are wearing them with funky socks through winter. It’s been a huge surprise to discover just how many people love these shoes. We get many emails, almost every one of them is fun and cheerful. People send us pictures and photos. It’s awesome. We have a wall in our office dedicated to the cool emails we get from people. It’s getting pretty busy, we might need to extend the office! Our customers are a fun bunch of people.
THE STORY GOES THAT THEY WERE FIRST PRODUCED AFTER WORLD WAR II DUE TO A LEATHER SHORTAGE. THEY ARE A PRACTICAL, STYLISH SHOE. What did you need to consider when bringing the sandals out of the 90s and into 2012? The main thing from a business perspective was whether or not people would be open to a revival of these shoes. There is an incredible amount of nostalgia associated with them, but the question was whether or not that 40
Interview. would transform into sales. We took a punt and it paid off. People not only love to remember them, they want to wear them again. We underestimated how popular they would be, Itâ€™s a fantastic problem to have. Jelly Bean sandals used to be for kids, but I spotted the advertisement in Frankie Magazine and your new media approach incorporates the use of Facebook and an online store. Are you marketing more towards the young adult age group now rather than for children? We absolutely are. The market we felt would be most interested in a Jelly Bean sandals comeback would be young adults. Particularly those who had been exposed to those shoes at a younger age. The easiest way to expose them to the brand was via social networks and the Internet. People who are fashion conscious are constantly on the lookout for new brands and products, especially on the net. We were lucky and some of the things we did went a tad viral. He got some great exposure. We will start focusing more on kids for this coming summer and get our sandals on some cute feet!
Would you like to see Jelly Sandals become a cult hit among adolescents and young adults? That would be amazing, but not our overall ambition. I guess we already have a little bit of a cult following among some groups. I would love them to become a part of everyday life, for all ages and all types of people. The same way thongs are now a part of our culture, I would love Jelly Beans to be part of it too. What are your plans for the future? We are headed wherever the wind takes us! New colours and styles are in the works - glitter is on the way! We will be in your favourite stores this summer and we are in the process of establishing distribution channels in the US and Europe. Itâ€™s all very exciting and we are having a ball! Join the Jelly Bean Revolution at www.jbeans.com.au
The Economist Michael Jayatilaka “So what are you doing at University?”
media is popularised, but for want of a better term “fair shake of the sauce bottle” – the press we do get paints a pretty dismal picture.
I’m sure I am not the only university student who gets asked this question. But unlike those doing a degree with a clear career path, as an economics student I always seem to get the follow up question, “so what will you do when you finish?” When you’re a law, med, education or engineering student, people just figure that you’ll be a lawyer, doctor, teacher or engineer. As an economist, however, it’s not a choice that’s as easily understood (I’ll refrain from writing about those who think an economic student and an accounting student go on to be one and the same).
So as a student of economics, with a brief foray into utilising it in a work context, what have I learnt that could better inform the Togatus readership of what economics is? Surpassing the elementary logic that it is the study of the economy, one of the first things drilled into my head is the economist’s problem. Simply stated, it can be written as, “we live in a world with limited resources but unlimited wants”. On the surface, almost no one would disagree with this statement, but as we pass through our studies it begins to embody much more than 11 simple words.
For those who have some idea of a career choice, it’s a pretty topical one given the global context. Some picture the one per cent quants on Wall Street making millions or maybe Glenn Stevens whose hands are on the cash-rate policy. Unfortunately, the picture that most have of economists falls to the political landscape. Economics in the vein of “economic policy” is a hotly contested topic, yet one which is loosely understood by the general masses. In these contexts opposition leaders think little of our qualities nationally, the general public disregards economists as assuming a falsified utopia, and as some commentators sprout, “economics: about as scientific as astrology”. While it’s not surprising that the dismal science is thrown around in a time where financial
It shifts the way we see the world. We interchange between macro and micro perspectives of our society. We begin to see the interconnections between individuals, communities, businesses and countries. We see the incentives that people face to understand why individuals and groups behave the way they do. We see the intermingling of problems and with our great friend ceteris paribus (Latin for holding all else equal) we begin to question what would happen if we changed one simple factor. We question how we can make societies better, given the limited resources available. When you look at the great economists, despite their differences, it is clear that their goal is to maximise benefits, given the limited resources within society. In a normative sense then, an 42
economist’s job is to aid a benevolent planner/government in determining appropriate policy controls to benefit the collective as a whole. Unfortunately, this is where I have to jump off the utopian bandwagon (likely read as wank) and drop back into reality. This headspace is reserved for normative economics (what should be) as opposed to positive economics (what is). After four years, I have succumbed to the reality that while the economics I have learnt, if implemented, could improve society, the constraints – both politically and socially – prevent it from occurring. This isn’t to suggest the insights of Keynes, Friedman, Samuelson, Nash and other great economists are simply whimsical ideologists, it’s about finding how to apply it in a real world context. Given we don’t have a benevolent social planner as a choice employer, economists have to suffice by utilising this understanding of macro – and microeconomics in a commercial or public service context. In these fields we analyse data and propose solutions. In the commercial context, an economist will use their understanding of individuals and firms to see profitable opportunities and to explain current trends in market actions to drive future business ventures. In the public service, it is likely we are closer to the policy controls our studies teach us to wield. Yet rarely in this public service work would our policy proposals go through into legislation unaltered. A recent major public economic policy piece, the Henry Tax Review (Australia’s Future Tax Sytem Report for those in the know) was altered not simply in the Resource Super Profits Tax being changed to the Mineral Resource Rent Tax, but from the political beginning with cherry picking of recommendations in
what was intended as an overarching, bottom-up, tax policy rewrite. So among this waffle, what can you take away? Firstly, what job an econs friend does should not necessarily dictate how you define what an economist is, as it is most likely a watered down version of their potential application. A degree in economics teaches you how to solve problems with the economist’s problem in mind, and to consider the implications of your solution. To put into a context that may be understood, econ grads are in a position that law grads are in when they choose not to become a lawyer. It’s not that their knowledge isn’t useful in many other contexts; it’s just that they have to adapt and apply their knowledge in a less friendly environment. Secondly, if you leave University with a passionate desire to utilise this knowledge to better the collective, then as an econ grad you would be continuously plagued by the internal battle between the desire to live in the normative world you have learnt and understood, and the positive world in which you live and breathe – well, it is for me. So next time you hear someone ask the question, “what will you do when you finish?” and see a confused look on the economics student’s face, hopefully you will have a greater understanding that being an economist doesn’t have a rigidly defined output. Being an economist is more than just a career outcome. It’s the application of economic thinking to everyday problems. Illustration by Stacey Armstrong
RED COW DAIRIES:
A Coastal Vanguard Alexander McKenzie Sitting in the lounge of a small Dutch apartment, I realise that I’m profoundly lucky to come from a place of rolling hills, patchwork paddocks and so much space. A crisp North West weekend morning can easily be spent at one of the many farmers markets that adorn the craggy coastline. From Wynyard through to Latrobe there is a burgeoning trade of local produce: vegetables, dairy and meat. One of the ventures succeeding through entrepreneurial spirit and hard work is the Red Cow Dairy in Oldina, run by Matt and Andy Jackman. They are at the vanguard of what may one day be looked upon as some sort of golden era in the local industry. Matt and Andy, currently running three farms in various guises, moved to the hinterland behind Wynyard some years ago in search of rain. For those of you that have been starved of the chance to see it, the hills surrounding Mt Hicks are dotted with the most dazzling pastures, deep green meadows with old red Murray Ferguson Tractors spluttering along with the happiest livestock you’ll ever
come across. It is some sort of bovine Elysian Fields. And of course, to provide that landscape, water from the sky is rarely in short supply. Apparently it’s something to do with the weather petering out in the lee of Table Cape or drifting out to sea before drenching the Coast too heavily. My father has always responded to southern snobbery with the catchcry that ours was an area more akin to the Mediterranean than the Antarctic Hobart. The fresh produce being grown in the region only amplifies the echoes of the Cote D’Azure. Red Cow Dairies is a small one-room cheese and milk factory some 20 minutes motorbike ride inland from Wynyard. Matt is a quiet, peaceful man, exuding warmth and focus. I have met countless dairy farmers like him – men who say little, but when prodded, will open up with erudite ease. Perhaps the hours spent alone mending fences or milking cows in the very early morning lends the opportunity to think a little more deeply. Andy is the definite talker of the pair, vivacious and gregarious. It seemed to me that Andy was the driving force behind their foray into the cheese making business with Matt an enthusiastic partner. When I arrived there was mozzarella resting in a tub of warm water and washed rinds and wheels of brie being turned on the bench with bottles of milk being filled in the intervals. I was very 44
excited. Cheese making is a fascinating thing. With the addition of cultures and some other enzymes that silky, rich fresh cow’s milk is turned into a robust, somewhat pungent washed rind with a flavour of such intensity that it lingers on the nose and tongue with a surprising tenacity. The Persian fetta, which comes in a variety of marinades, is superb spread across a Captain’s Table cracker or a thick wedge of crusty homemade bread. Andy says that not only are the Aussie Red cows yielding durable high fat, high protein milk, but they are also excellent converters of energy, from grass to milk. They’re a smaller bread of cow, requiring less feed than the larger Friesians – very important when farming in Victorian drought. Matt and Andy couldn’t make the concept of the factory become a reality in the harsh climate conditions across the Strait and so, they decided to bring 250 of their own cows across and set up here. They are the only Aussie Red cheese manufacturers in the country and set that as an important point of difference. Organic farming is the end goal, but at the moment they’re focussing on reducing the number of fertilisers and taking other steps to prevent the milk being chemically tarnished. Further, they sell all their bull calves on to hobby farmers rather than to the abattoir. They care about the lives of all their animals, which to my mind adds
enormous value to the Red Cow Dairies brand. The thought that the same hands that milk the cows, go on to make the wonderful cheese, is nourishing. The connection with the animals and the reliance on the quality of the product output can only benefit us, the consumer. The milk is not chosen on quantity, but quality. A move to improve the cow’s experience must mean that the cheese and the milk is of a higher standard, if only for ethical reasons – but I think it also has a definite, positive impact on the flavour. I was thoroughly impressed not only with the approach of Andy and Matt in their desire to connect and work with the community to produce something that can last, but also that they intend to do it in a way that doesn’t just focus on the bottom line. Red Cow Dairies is now stocked in Lindisfarne’s Aproneers, a palace of all things sustainable; and they are looking to expand further through the state. If you’re one of the lucky ones from the Coast, check out a wider range at the Wynyard and Somerset IGAs, and I’m sure in the coming months many more retailers will follow suit. Alexander McKenzie - foodfullstop.wordpress.com
BECOMING TASMANIAN Carla Johnson Among the political turmoil of asylum seeker and refugee debates are the human faces that get lost in it all. Meet three remarkable new Tasmanians who consider themselves very lucky to call Tasmania home. “People were fighting each other, we didn't even know who was fighting, but so many innocent people were dying, so my family had to run,” says 20-year-old Nene Mannaseh. Nene was only three months old and had no idea of the chaos when her mother ran with her and her three siblings to escape the civil conflict in Sudan. “My dad was working in an army and he got captured by rebel soldiers. They took him to prison and that's where he was killed. My mum decided that it was no longer safe for us,” she says.
Arriving in Tasmania
According to the UNHCR, every 60 seconds, eight people flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia are countries that are often perceived as violent and conflicting places in the western media, but this along with the continuous political debate over asylum seekers and refugees coming to Australia, it is easy to forget that there is a human face behind it all. Around the world there are 33.9 million faces of concern to UNHCR including 10.5 million refugees and 837,000 asylum seekers. Over the past 50 years, Australia has received around seven million immigrants, 700,000 of them arriving under humanitarian conditions. In the last seven years, Tasmania has welcomed 2155 people under humanitarian conditions.
After making their way across hundreds of kilometres they arrived at a United Nations (UN) refugee camp in Kenya, called Kakuma. Here, Nene spent the next 10 years of her life, faced with the daily fear of violence from locals, lack of food and water and the outbreak of disease.
Centacare, funded by the Australian Government and their Humanitarian Settlement Services provide the initial intensive settlement program. They deliver support to humanitarian clients upon first arriving in Australia.
A world away in Burma, William Luri and Jacob Soe were both facing persecution based on their religious beliefs and ethnicity if they did not flee their country.
Centacare support officer and University of Tasmania student, Hannah Ekin says it is very daunting for new arrivals and that they need a lot of support.
“The problem is, there are so many military and rebel groups who crack down on people from the Chin State. Only at night could we have our religious service, but they would still try to capture and force you into hard labour. I had to flee the country,” recalls William.
“Centacare teaches everyone very basic things, like how to access Centrelink, receive their emergency payment, attend the doctor and open a bank account. We support them through that stage when everything is pretty new and scary.”
The two men had no choice but to become refugees and escape to Malaysia. However, life was again filled with torment and fear.
She says in the last 12 months there has been an increase in the amount of refugees coming to Tasmania with around 150 currently under the Centacare program. “The biggest community of refugees we have in Tasmania are Bhutanese refugees. They have come from Nepal and have previously lived longterm in refugee camps there, for up to 20 years. Effectively, all people of Nepalese origin in Bhutan got kicked out even though they had been living there for three or four generations,” Ms Ekin says.
“In 2004, I left Burma and went to Malaysia. I spent six years in Malaysia in the Chin Community Refugee Centre. I was living and working illegally. I had no rights as a refugee and got put in jail. I kept asking for help from the UNHCR and was fortunate enough to come to Australia with all my family,” says Jacob.
Politics for Racism
The debate over dealing with the influx of asylum seekers arriving by boat is now more than ever at the very centre of Australian media and politics. Tasmanian Minister for Community Development, Cassy O'Connor says politicians need to keep up with the compassion of their constituents. “We are talking about people. Not numbers, not statistics, but living, feeling human beings, some of whom have been through hardship that we cannot imagine. It is also important for politicians not to sell their constituency short. Tasmanians are generous and warm hearted people with a history of embracing new arrivals into our community,” Ms O'Connor says. Both William and Jacob say that people in desperate times will resort to desperate measures and the issue is not always black and white. “As refugees in Malaysia there is no hope; we are helpless. Even with the UN refugee card, it means nothing. Some people are tricked into risking their lives on a boat to be smuggled into other countries,”says William. Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition, says there is an increase of people seeking asylum all around the world, not just in Australia. However, Mr Rintoul believes Australia is not fulfilling its duty to protect people, regardless of how they arrive. “It is in no way illegal to seek asylum. The refugee convention and the fact that we are signatories means that we have an obligation to welcome people who arrive regardless of how they arrive.” Ms O'Connor agrees and states the media influence is significant. “The media also has an important role to play here in not demonising asylum seekers as ‘illegal immigrants’. Under international and Australian law, there is nothing illegal about seeking asylum in a country other than that of your birth. It is a fundamental human right.”
IT IS IN NO WAY ILLEGAL TO SEEK ASYLUM. THE REFUGEE CONVENTION AND THE FACT THAT WE ARE SIGNATORIES MEANS THAT WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO WELCOME PEOPLE WHO ARRIVE REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY ARRIVE. 47
Nene wants people to put themselves in the shoes of those arriving and to try and understand the situation. “They need to know that they are people seeking help. They didn't leave their country because they wanted to, they were forced to. If there was no war they wouldn't come, but they are running to save their life,” she stresses. Ian believes that it is a lack of education and ignorance about issues outside of Australia that is the cause of racism throughout this country. “There needs to be an education program. It would be great if the government was willing to do this, to explain the circumstances in countries like Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka that are creating the refugees,” he says. Even arriving as a processed refugee under the UNHCR doesn't mean you escape from racist behaviour. Since his arrival two years ago, Jacob has has been verbally abused and suffered threatening acts of property damage including the burning of his car out the front of his family home. “They don't disturb Australian peoples’ property in the area, but they choose Asian people's property to destroy. I just want to know why? I don't understand it,” says Jacob. Ms O'Connor says that along with ignorance, racism stems from a number of causes including fear of difference and fear of change, but we can all play a role in its eradication. “External manifestations of racism can be countered by all of us in simple ways such as naming racism when we see it occurring in public or by not laughing at the racist jokes just because everyone else is,” she says. Hannah agrees that education is needed, having heard some terrible stories of racism, but states she is often pleasantly surprised by people's reactions to the newest members of the Tasmanian community. “I was with a group of newly arrived refugees in the [Hobart] city and a woman yells at us to wait. I was thinking, ‘oh no’, but she came up to the mother in the group and said, ‘I'm so proud of what you are doing, here are some football cards, these are for your children.’ You get a lot of people like that who don't know really what's going on, but have a lot of compassion.”
Community Development Officer for the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) in Launceston, Alistair Mackinnon says refugees are an undeniable asset to the Tasmanian community; they are boosting the economy, creating jobs and bringing in new skills and knowledge. “Working with refugees brings together lots of different skill sets, that's the intention of our board, to bring as many different people together.” William and Jacob now live in Launceston and are now taking English lessons, furthering their education and looking for work. Both are heavily involved with the Burmese Community Farm, growing and selling fresh produce in the local area. “I use to have a farm in Burma, so its good to be able to use my skills here in Tasmania,” says William. Alistair states that due to the support from the Skills Equity Grant and Tas Community Farmers and the Department of Premier and Cabinet the farm will become a social enterprise where refugees who arrive in Launceston can train in various areas of business, farming and culture. “The produce can be sold in the local community and any profits go back into the farm to buy equipment or provide training,” Mr Mackinnon says. Nene now lives in Glenorchy and says that Tasmania has provided her with a safe place for her to seize opportunity and education and that she has done. This year Nene received the Hobart City Council Australia Day 2012 Young Citizen of the Year for her role as project officer of the Students Against Racism Project where she worked in collaboration with the Tasmanian Centre for Global Learning's 'Living in Between' program. This involved speaking at schools around the State about living between two cultures and educating them about what it means to be a refugee. Nene says she is focused on changing the world through her story and continuing to break down the stereotypes and labels people feel they need to place on people. “When somebody tells me I'm a refugee I'll say that yes, I was, so I don't mind if you call me a refugee, but in Tasmania, I know I'm Tasmanian and you should consider me as a Tasmanian.” Photo by Hayley Francis 48
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