Speaking to Crikey this morning, John Coombs said:
They came down and spent a couple of days on the farm with me. In terms of what they were attempting to achieve, we’ve all understood there would be a fair amount of licence applied in how they crafted the story. You would have noticed a statement at the start of the show on both nights indicating that it wasn’t necessarily historically correct and that’s absolutely correct…
They did warn us that they had to make it dramatic. When they first put the idea to the ABC the head of the department said, “What? Fours hours on an industrial dispute, I can hardly wait!” So they’ve had to pick their targets and make sure there was more than one lead character, but the general message is still there and my own personal view is that it’s quite helpful in an election year.
At the preview screenings I said Bill Kelty would be distraught at the manner in which he has been portrayed…For him to be depicted that way is best described as a comic character. By comparison to the other players, they got some fantastic casting. The bloke who played Julian was almost as good as Julian. But I really am disappointed (Kelty) was portrayed so poorly and the casting for his character was so poorly done and that they couldn’t get a better wig than that.
When asked to give it a rating out of ten:
In terms of depicting the horror of the intentions of the federal government…it does that very well. In terms of the damage it does to the reputations of (Peter Reith and John Howard) and the alertness it brings to workers all around the world to not take governments at face value, it rates about 9 out of 10.
Speaking on Radio National’s Late Night Live last night (listen to the audio here), Kelty said:
Firstly in terms of the hair, the compensating factor was that they did portray me as a bit taller. So on balance perhaps the hair and height evened themselves out….
The principal problem I had is that when I picked up the MUA magazine and read about it they said “here was a thoroughly researched piece of work in which they talked to Corrigan, Corrigan’s family, John Coombs, Greg Combet, all the union officials in the MUA and even I think the dogs that were on the waterfront that night and the people who prepared the balaclavas.” But they never talked to me.
Kelty told The Australian: “I am not litigious by nature or inclination…In particular I would find it abhorrent to take on the ABC — it would be like suing my mother. However, you appreciate that I am compelled to reserve my rights.”
Oz journalist Stuart Rintoul writes:
(Kelty) told The Australian last night he had insisted the ABC identify the program as fiction. He was angry that no-one connected with the program had spoken to him about the dispute and that words were put into his character’s mouth that he had not said.
Mr Kelty said that he was not concerned about being portrayed as a minor character in the nation’s most dramatic industrial confrontation, “but don’t have me in it saying things which are simply not true”.
He said Bastard Boys was historically inaccurate and “there is nothing in it about me that’s true. I’m not precious about it, so long as people don’t think that it’s real and that it really happened”.
As reported by AAP:
I thought Rhys Muldoon did a terrific job actually. Watching him, especially in the court scenes was uncannily like being myself. I thought he did a great job, he picked up on my mannerisms with great accuracy.
On the factual accuracy of the show:
I thought the series overall did a very good job. In particular, I thought it made (Patrick Corporation CEO) Chris Corrigan look like the sort of guy you could sympathise with and like…And, I think that’s pretty good because, after all, it was a government in a criminal conspiracy with a big company to break its own laws.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Corrigan said:
It’s a puff for Greg Combet and it just happens to coincide with his run for Parliament. It’s virtually worshipful, putting him in the most favourable light.
I think the Government gets off very lightly, given that they concocted the whole scheme and John Howard personally signed off on it. We have the cabinet documents, and he signed off on the sacking of the entire workforce.
Those comments add to thoughts Mr Corrigan offered Crikey yesterday:
The producers originally told me they weren’t making a boring tale of class warfare but the production serves it up in spades…
I will be surprised if anyone other than welded on members of the industrial left can survive four hours of this tedium.