WP Open Day, 11 December 2022

Published in:


1PM … Gorgeous Lunch; catering by Jude Kohn and Ivone Bukorpioper (see menu below)
2PM … Guest Speaker: Author Paul Stewart
3PM … Dr Toscano’s Auction: 2 x hand-crafted furniture for the WP Rent Collective

Plus Book Signing, Coffee & Cake, Good quality Christmas presents from our Shop
Register at www.trybooking.com/CECDM (including for zoom-online)

Paul Stewart’s All the Rage (Melbourne Books, Nov 2022) is a racy memoir by a charismatic ‘bad boy’ who took years to channel his anger and anguish after his brother Tony (and five other newsmen) was murdered at Balibo during Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975. “I resolved at that moment to never take life for granted … live every minute like it counted. Yep, I wouldn’t burn the candle at both ends. I would set the whole thing on fire with a blowtorch” (pp17-18).

All the Rage is also a courageous mapping by an astute music journalist of Melbourne’s rock and punk scene for the past forty years. Everyone and everything is named: bands, musicians, radio shows, venues, roadies, producers, photographers, managers: what they said or didn’t say, and did and didn’t do. Many many facts but still a great read. So many insider-whispers it’s hard not to imagine lawyers sniffing at the trough. Airport bookshops should buy copies. Media lecturers should give it to their students. Melbourne Books might think about publishing an E-version.

All the Rage is also a handbook for social justice activists and an account of what one community in a multi-cultural society can do to change the world. Paul’s vignettes illustrate how to beg beautifully and pointedly for marginalised political causes like East Timor was and West Papua still is. Who knew for instance that The Wiggles built water and sewage facilities in six Timorese villages, and that a Collins St dentist once raced his gold Ferrari around Albert Park for West Papua? (ibid., pp85,167). And what can you can and should do with amoral bureaucrats and politicians like Joe Bjelke-Petersen and Gough Whitlam? (ibid., pp105, 112, 169-171, 189-192). There’s even a par about how not to get ripped off by other activists (ibid., pp218-219) and how Paul manipulated use of his Order of Australia medal to promote ‘liberdade’ (freedom).

PAUL STEWART was music critic for the local Murdoch media for thirty-five years, and even longer as frontman of the infamous PAINTERS & DOCKERS, ‘a nasty-arsed left-leaning anarchist punk band that mounted fun-filled sweaty gigs’, which were, according to the Vancouver Sun in 1989 ‘cheaper and more fun than The Stones’ (ibid., pp88-89). His newspaper job has long gone, but the band, with its popular repertoire of ditty-driven two-chord street-anthems, is still performing, most recently at the Maritime Union’s 150-year celebration in Williamstown, and the Memo Music Hall in St Kilda on 11 November 2022.

Paul found a real friend in GIL SANTOS from East Timor who had his own much bigger story of family loss to the Indonesian military (and before that to the Japanese military for protecting Australian soldiers in 1942). ‘I lost one brother in East Timor but found another in Gil, who I met in an old caravan parked at a protest rally outside the Indonesian Consulate in St Kilda Rd … he changed my life’ (ibid., p114). The young Fretilin activist convinced Paul that sometimes guitars are as important as guns, and together they formed the DILI ALLSTARS, a flexible clique of Australian and East Timorese musicians who toured the world promoting East Timor’s freedom, and the nation’s independence: most raucously as Australia’s representative at the celebration concert in Dili in 2002, most notably touring for the Portuguese Communist Party in 2003, and most sublimely in St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral for the funeral of activist-bishop Hilton Deakin on 13 October 2022 (have a listen, 45:16-minute mark, on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6fOYkJolYo; see also Jacob Rumbiak and Clovis Mwamba at 42:15).

Then there was a MIRACLE, after intercession by an East Timorese nun, when Paul was at the pointy end of an eighteen-month battle with liver disease in the Austin Hospital, with Hepatitis C (yellow skin), Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen) and Encephalopathy (toxin accumulation in the brain). A liver arrived just in time for a life-saving transplant. But a promise hovered over the twelve-hour operation: Sr Helena ‘the little nun in a blue and white habit sitting on the end of my bed’ had warned him “If we pray for you, and do get you a new liver, you must help the women and children in Timor”. So Paul, with his new liver, champions the work of the ALMA religious sisters who care for and educate disabled children in East Timor and West Papua.

The ALMA order of Catholic sisters was founded in 1963 by a Dutch priest, Father Paul Hendrikus Janssen, who spent his life in Asia (working in China and Indonesia, studying in Manila) developing a unique style of professional treatment for youth with special needs, which begins with developing the right attitude of the children’s carers, families and local communities. So the children don’t live in ‘orphanages’, they eat and sleep in ‘homes’ with their ‘mumma’ carer whose first priority is to love them without discrimination. The Jesuit Social Services ‘Just Voices Speakers Program’, who Paul has worked for since 2011, provides platforms for the Alma Sisters in Australia, their most recent awareness and fund-raising visit in November 2022.

On Paul, by his daughter, Aboriginal artist Aretha Brown

Australian Trade Union MOU with West Papua
(Photo: Sunday Herald Sun, 22 October 2000; text: All the Rage, 2022:p167)

Yumi Wantaim Ceremony for the signing of an historic Memorandum of Understanding between Australian trade unions and West Papua’s independence movement at RMIT Theatre, Melbourne, on 24 October 2002. The ceremony began in the street outside the theatre. Two gold Ferraris, carrying Drs Jacob Rumbiak and Pastor Luther Wanma, flew up Swanston St past the theatre, ignoring speed limits and several cops, challenging perceptions of the West Papuan movement as men in penis gourds with bows and arrows. A journalist wondered why Melbourne’s business elite was involved. Ferrari owner, Dr Jon Kozeniauskas, a Collins Street dentist, replied “If my Ferrari can do anything to help prevent in West Papua what we were forced to witness in East Timor, then I’ll ring my friends and get ten more”.

LUNCH MENU ($20 or Donation; gratis for WP Rent Collective)
1. Yoghurt & Beetroot dip with Rice crackers/Afghani bread
2. Sweet potato & Walnut dip with Rice crackers/Afghani bread
3. Börek
4. Tofu Kumu (curry) in Coconut milk and Rice (served in Coconut bowls)
5. Pork & ginger meatballs with Zaatar Salad (served on Bamboo plates)
6. Papuan Cake and Coffee

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