Bob and Paul argue (again)


The long-established customs of the Christmas period have religious and spiritual origins, of course. But how do more recent additions to the customs of an Australian Christmas, such as the yacht races to Tasmania, the Boxing Day test match, lunch with one set of relatives and dinner with another, and traffic jams to get out of the cities become established? And moving on towards New Year, how has it happened that no Government, big or small, Federal or State, no local municipality believes that there can be too many fireworks displays? Amorous cicadas must hate 31 December in the late evening.

New Year’s day also is the day when Government cabinet papers from years gone by lose their confidential status and are released to the public. It is typically a 25 or 30 year cycle. For Australian Federal Government cabinet papers, we now have access to the year 1990.  This cycle has given rise to the annual Bob and Paul recommencement of hostilities. I must say, this version of a Punch and Judy show is one of my favourite more recently added customs. Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, two giants of Australian politics, still banging on at each other about who was right, who said what, who was the better PM, who reneged on a deal, who brought home the bacon and carried the Government etc. Each yearly release of cabinet papers starts off a new round of argy bargy. It is the season for it. Silly old buggers.

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