What do groupers do when they finally realise that the cold war is over? Well, they practise their war craft on their own. The National Civic Council, BA Santamaria’s own battalion in the war against communism in Australia, is about as antiquated an organisation as you can get. Walking into their Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, HQ, is like stepping back 50 years – fifties office kitsch and a fifties modus operandi. “The old ways are the best,” could be the NCC’s motto – if it was rendered in Latin.
With no cold war to fight, NCC supremo Peter Westmore has summoned aides Pat Byrne and Peter Taylor for an imaginary war of his very own – a war against his five faithful NCC state presidents. What they have done no-one seems to know, but it seems that each in turn will go the way of all flesh and be dumped.
This is not the first time Westmore has tackled an imaginary foe. Less than two years ago Westmore sacked a father of seven from the employ of the NSW office on what dissident groupers have called trumped-up charges. It would seem that the NCC’s Christian democrat beliefs in the dignity of labour get forgotten in internal disputes.
This current battle – alluded to by Christopher Pearson in his Weekend Australian column about the Council – may well be the NCC’s end game. There’s little left in the kitty. An organisation anchored in the past cannot deal with the present, let alone the future. Westmore’s behaviour may be an attempt – unconscious, perhaps – to keep the eye of the NCC’s remaining members off the real crisis.
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