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Sep 13, 2013

Bandt's Greenstown, the last hipster holdout in our dystopia

Freelance writer Mel Campbell is in Greenstown with Adam Bandt, where everyone is donning ponchos, stockpiling lattes and readying themselves for the culture wars to come.


It’s Sunday. The day after. The Mad Monk has won. Across Australia, political warriors struggle from bed with crippling hangovers. On the TV news, a peach-faced Labor lad sobs openly. Twitter and Facebook are ablaze with recrimination and despair.

But the warm spring sun is smiling on the seat of Melbourne. It filters through the leafy boulevards of Princes Hill and Flemington, and it pierces the CBD’s Hoddle Grid. It gleams on the genteel old mansions of East Melbourne and Parkville as on the tight, terraced cottages that once housed the workers of Abbotsford, Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood. It shines over the old housing commission flats, home to immigrants and the poor, and the new, equally ugly apartment towers for aspirationals and empty-nesters.

Royal Park, Princes Park, grassy roundabouts, median strips, Carlton Gardens, Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, Treasury Gardens — Melbourne is a green and pleasant land. My town. Greenstown. Where the lattes are warm and the welcomes are warmer.

Make no mistake: the sinister, silken tentacles of blue ties are reaching across Australia, choking the nation as they choke the compassion from the men who wear them. But expedient bigotry and budget-slashing hold no sway here. The people of Greenstown are the only ones who will defy the Mad Monk’s brutal agenda.

So says Bandt. Our man in Canberra. Our mild champion. Tieless, arms folded heroically, he smiles encouragingly from billboards and from the corflutes zip-tied to share-house fences.

They called him a one-term wonder, a preference-pilferer, a publicity stuntman. But he’s back now, his 7% swing empowering him with a merciless mandate for social justice. I believe in Adam Bandt.

We’ll need him. It’s baddies versus baddies in Canberra now. In the Mad Monk’s cabinet lurks The Bishop, a terrifying cyborg with laser eyes that burn through Australia’s social fabric. Ice Hockey, the hulking goalkeeper whose razor stick and skates slash at budgets left and right, barring Australians from their national treasure.

Choking off our piratical internets is Turntail Turnbull, who’s constantly given chances to do right by Australia, but he turns his silvertail every time. Ruling rural Australia is The Truss, who ties up transport infrastructure by insisting more roads are the way to go. And Stoptheboats Morrison doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and absolutely will not stop, ever, until people smuggling is dead.

Watching from the shadows is the nest of Labor vampires known as the caucus. The blood of the New South Wales Right flows in their deathless veins as they gnaw viciously upon each other. Their leader, Kevin the Rudd, has several times been resurrected. Now, his powers ebb low, but make no mistake, he still lurks in the Parliament, watching. Waiting.

“Defiant voices murmur around the food vans, through mouthfuls of artisanal vegan gumbo and pulled pork …”

Greenstown is the last bastion of civilisation: a pocket of hope in a desperate country. The Mad Monk knows this — his henchmen in the Victorian state parliament are already planning to wreak vengeful havoc upon Greenstown. They’re bulldozing a tollway through the gentle cottages of Clifton Hill, ploughing violently under Royal Park, even through the Greenstown dead slumbering in Melbourne General Cemetery. And they’re hiding their reasons beneath a cloak of secrecy.

But Bandt won’t be fighting back alone. Our oasis of compassion forges footsoldiers.

Gangs of bearded hipsters patrol the bike path perimeters, latter-day Ned Kellys in T-shirts of shamrock green. They bail up hapless tourists who got lost trying to find the Lygon Street restaurants. “Whaddaya reckon about marriage equality?” They smack AeroPress cylinders against their palms with idle menace.

Middle-aged arts administrators defend the Flinders Line. The winds of change tousle their asymmetrically cropped, salt-and-pepper locks and set their chunky silver earrings and amber beads to clanking, but their feet are planted firm in sensible Camper boots. They’re shoulder-to-shoulder with the art gallerists whose Fitzroy and CBD safe houses are open to receive the inevitable casualties of the coming culture wars.

High in the Ivory Towers, the academics can see the cuts coming. After grading 75 student assignments without overtime pay, they turn furiously to their computers, op-eds burning from their fingertips. Once, knowledge was enough. But those innocent days are gone. These scholars are prepped and ready to Engage With The Public.

Defiant voices murmur around the food vans, through mouthfuls of artisanal vegan gumbo and pulled pork. Yummy mummies share strategy over stall-bought cakes and takeaway lattes at inner-city primary-school fetes. Shouts of solidarity echo across the commish basketball courts where African teenagers lower their baseball caps, ready for three long, hard years.

It’s Sunday. The day after. Bandt stands amid the greenery in Flagstaff Gardens. The city fathers once planted a flag here to mark Melbourne’s highest ground. Now, 173 years on, it’s Greenstown’s moral high ground.

Bandt surveys his domain, jacket flapping heroically in the breeze. There’s something steely in the gaze behind his mild-mannered inner-city lawyer’s spectacles. He will defend Greenstown’s tired, its poor, its huddled masses yearning to breathe free. In a darkening nation, he is the solar-powered light on the hill.


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39 thoughts on “Bandt’s Greenstown, the last hipster holdout in our dystopia

  1. Hamis Hill

    But, but, Bob Brown left, and it was all supposed to go wrong, wasn’t it?

  2. Professor Tournesol

    Congratulations Mel, I think that you’ve just got the Crikey record for the most tired cliches and stereotypes in a single article. It would be nice of you could rewrite something a bit more thoughtful and rigorous.

  3. Professor Tournesol

    Mel, only because all the articles written about Bandt’s win use the same tone, surely someone with your undoubted ability can aim to be different? 🙂

  4. platt jenny

    I loved it Mel !

  5. Martin Marshman

    Blah Blah Blah Melbourne capitulated to the LNP or did you miss that Mel?

  6. Bob the builder

    Can’t tell if it was satire or parody. Or hagiography…?

  7. Ruprecht

    Great pic choice for the article: Centre Place, possibly the hipsterest laneway in the CBD.

    I ate there before it was cool.

  8. Jennifer Herrick

    I really enjoyed reading this. So well written. thanks Mel.

  9. Mark Duffett

    I’m not sure what’s funnier, Green opponents taking this seriously, or supporters doing so.

  10. mikehilliard

    Don’t listen to grumpy old farts, more humor like this please Crikey.

  11. Richard

    Well, that was awkward.

  12. Michael James

    What a self-indulgent piece of tosh.

    Kind of ignores the fact that other parties gained a significant share of the vote there, Labour 27% and the Liberals 22% to Bandt’s 42%. That suggests that the majority of voters in Melbourne aren’t buying into the idyllic fantasy this piece of hackneyed writing suggests and the seat is a lot less left leaning than this writer seems to suggest..

    Hey Crikey, get rid of the party warriors and lets see some journalism at play, god knows this isn’t it.

  13. illywhacker

    Neither funny nor insightful. What an utter waste of time.

  14. mikeb

    Ha – I loved it.

    Seems a lot of bah-humbugers are bothering to grumble online, but never mind Mel, it’s a nice piece of writing.

  15. Kevin

    Ho, hum yes pretty prose, I’m sure. But to what avail? What delusion! Adam Bandt would have been a one term wonder if the Green election budget had not been blown with a disproportionate spend on his seat to the cost of shoring up existing Senate seats or even new Senate seats. Wonder if another $1.0m. is spent on him next election, doubt if the Greens would be doubly foolish. Yes the Senate is where the Greens could be far more effective.

    What good is having Bandt in the House Reps over the next 3 years? He no longer has a bargaining position as with Gillard and the previous minority government. He will perhaps ask one question per year otherwise be totally ignored and can catch up on his sleep – no-one will notice if he does or doesn’t. LNP must be delighted, the Seat of Melbourne remains out for the ALP and the Greens blow the budget not on being a nuisance, but on Bandt up an alley somewhere.

    Bandt’s solar powered light,… yeh well, sorry it just won’t see enough sun to keep powering up.

  16. Mr Tank

    Oh Mel I did enjoy this – I’m glad to see Hunter Rundle’s spirit is alive and well, that there are acolytes out there trolling the mean streets in search of metaphor… But yah but yeah but no, tho… I’m still not sure what it all meant…but…find the underlying universal truth to make it all worth while and the latte’s will be free. More please!

  17. Professor Tournesol

    Kevin, you could use your same reasoning to say what is the point in having yet another anonymous coalition backbencher sitting in the House for the next 3 years, their single vote will make no difference, what is the point in electing yet another ALP MP, they are in opposition, both major duopoly Parties tell their junior MPs how to vote anyway.
    Surely the whole point is for our elected representatives to represent us and our view in the national Parliament?

  18. Kevin

    My point Professor T.is more about the Greens using scarce financial resources where they are needed most. And the Greens can be of the most influence within the Senate not the House of Reps. I travelled through Melbourne in the fortnight before the election and was astounded at the amount of Bandt posters on display, and what the cost must have been. And yet the Greens struggle for Sarah Hanson Young’s seat and to gain traction elsewhere.

    But really, the single vote of a coalition backbencher in a majority government when compared with Adam Bandt’s single vote makes a whole lot of difference. That is what the past 3 years of minority government was about.

  19. Raaraa


    We might as well surrender all 150 seats to the majority party each time it wins.

    The roles of the MPs are more than just to provide votes to a proposed bill. As much as Question Time may appear to be a farce these days, good questions do come out at times to embarrass the government of the day.

    Also representatives of both houses have the powers to dig up information to provide to the people so that they make a better decision at the next election with the ammo of available information.

  20. Professor Tournesol

    Kevin, you have a point, however I imagine that as a party that sees its role as eventually forming Government in its own right, the Greens see having a MHR as very important. The Senate is a house of review and a very important place for the Greens to have representation, however the plan is to hold Melbourne and increase MHR representation, not just to become the Democrats with teeth. The ideal would of course be to support all its representatives with a large budget, however unless the Greens compromise their core principles and accept corporate donations then compromises have to be made with the allocation of resources

  21. shepherdmarilyn

    Sarah was re-elected quite easily in SA thank you Kevin, in fact SA elected three non Laboral senators this time around because the two major parties only got 49.6% of the primary vote between them.

  22. Kevin

    Fair points Prof, et al. I’ve enjoyed the chat. Have a good election-free week-end!

  23. Professor Tournesol

    Kevin, so say all of us:)

  24. Le Masurier

    I liked it Mel. Lovely, funny, creative read for a Friday afternoon. Thanks.

  25. hippiesparx

    Guy’s Hunter is a bit Mungo but (nearly) worth the sub.
    Mel, you’re nice and fresh.
    Good work.

  26. michael r james

    @Michael James at 2:31 pm
    “other parties gained a significant share of the vote there, Labour 27% and the Liberals 22% to Bandt’s 42%”

    So, if Abbott only got 45% of the vote then according to you this “That suggests that the majority of voters in (Australia) aren’t buying into the idyllic fantasy ” of an overall huge win for the conservatives? In fact Abbott’s party only won 31.95% of first pref votes. Yes, that’s right, he relies upon three minor parties to form a coalition government of the type that he swore he would never do. Ah well everyone knows not to believe anything he says (whether written down in blood or not).
    Mel, alas, at my electorate of Brisbane the idiots voted the detestable Teresa Gambaro back in. (Think of a slightly milder version of Sophie Mirabella.) She had a mere 1.2 margin and this was the Greenest electorate outside Melbourne with a primary vote of 23% (Andrew Bartlett in 2010, he didn’t contest this time). I argued that Beattie should have stood here (he lives in the electorate). Although it encroaches on suburbia (Windsor, Ashgrove) a lot of it is inner-city hipster territory of New Farm, Bowen Hills, Fortitude Valley and Teneriffe. Gambaro was against gay marriage–until one week before the election when she had a conversion. Her party heavies told her internal polling indicated she would lose if she didn’t “clarify” her position. Anyone who believed her deserves her.
    Where do I apply for a passport and permanent residency of the People’s Republic of Melbourne?

  27. michael r james

    @Michael James at 2:31 pm
    “other parties gained a significant share of the vote there, Labour 27% and the Liberals 22% to Bandt’s 42%”

    So, if Abbott only got 45% of the vote then according to you “That suggests that the majority of voters in (Australia) aren’t buying into the idyllic fantasy ” of an overall huge win for the conservatives? In fact Abbott’s party only won 31.95% of first pref votes. Yes, that’s right, he relies upon three minor parties to form a coalition government of the type that he swore he would never do. Ah well everyone knows not to believe anything he says (whether written down in blood or not).

  28. AR

    Nice to see that there is someone to fill the gap when Grundle’s verbal pyrotechnics showbag catches fire and explodes into space.
    The pic looked like a still from an Antipodean Dolce Vita, breakfast in the ruins on a society that has ceased to take it self seriously.
    Good work and I look forward to more of the same.

  29. AR

    ..oops, didn’t end after Vita.

  30. Karen

    Loved the metaphors and the humour, Mel. Good to see the cultural left still holding onto the centres of our major capital centres in a wasteland of ghouls, cyborgs, and vampires or to put it less eloquently, thugs and nutjobs who are now running the joint. Omg! How must we look to the outside world.

  31. CML

    Total cr+p. And all the followers of the ‘fairies at the bottom of the garden’, aka Greenies, live in cloud cuckoo land. No connection to reality at all!
    In case you all missed it, the outcome was yet another us+less Coalition government. Good work Green’s supporters, NOT!

  32. Xoanon

    I backed Bandt’s win and am proud of him as my local member. People of my progressive views keep being told we are delusional and should just vote for one of the major parties and be grateful. Well, no, sorry. We’re entitled to have our opinions represented in the national parliament too.

  33. Malcolm Street

    Gawd, makes it sounds like Melbourne is preparing for something like The Battle of Cable Street in 1936 London. !NO PASARAN!

    First Bernard Keane’s report from Vulture Street, now this – is everyone at Crikey being infected with Guy Rundle germs? 🙂

  34. zac48

    The children born of naïve consumption. Comfortably nestled into the snug cotton wool of the lap of luxury, sipping soy lattes, making absolute statements about the buckling reality of an already vastly over-populated world. Living the fantasy of believing a “carbon tax” will solve the surely unfolding, unavoidable cataclysm. Knowing all about computers and experts in playing ‘The Mario Brothers’ but having never read a history book in their lives. History is a quaint, old fashioned interest of the elderly, living in the past, isn’t it? History doesn’t really repeat itself. Ignorant of the real daily existence of the worlds huddled masses. Open borders and a one world government is their way of the future, one person, one vote is the childish ideology of ”Paster Bob Brown” who seems to be blissfully unaware that Australian’s would be outvoted 1000 to 1 by the billions of people in China alone. Australia, a country that speaks Mandarin or Hindi and survives on imported rice from somewhere or other. Understandably, according to the belief of this teeming overflow of humanity, escaping the misery of their own making, already crushed by thousands of millions of people standing on each others shoulders gasping for a breath of fresh air, Australia can surely ‘hold’ 200 million people and Australian’s have ”no right” to resist. We must all be racists if we do…The new Australia…. A land where no-one speaks English and everything’s broken….Who’ll go a’Waltzing Matilda with me.

  35. zac48

    A post script to my above comment….I believe the ‘carbon tax’, any ‘carbon tax’ is an extremely dangerous policy. Any price on carbon is/will ultimately be completely useless and ineffective yet the public has been lulled into the belief the problems have been solved. The miniscule advantage gained by increasing the price of energy will be/is being completely out-run by an ever exploding world population. The unavoidable elephant in the room is “people = pollution and environmental destruction, and even more people = even more environmental destruction” and the increasing inability to simply feed them and find the space to house them. The great ‘carbon tax’ danger is the world has been led into a conveniently false sense of security that the imminent pollution catastrophe and the destruction of all of the planets eco-systems and the inability to provide for existing populations has been avoided by a small increase in the cost of energy. It has not. The problem is the human personality is very good at denying any inconvenient truth. The world’s populations are already experiencing the conflicts arising from the primal need for simple survival. The fact is that sufficient compromise of the living planet, earth, water, air, has already happened to ensure the destruction of ‘most’ of humanity and we are at the stage now that if there were no more children born anywhere from today forward and everyone were to start riding bicycles our destiny has already been set. There are no more never ending horizons and resources. The challenge is to control the most primal, instinctive human drive to procreate. ‘Everyone’ seems to be in complete denial that this seemingly uncontrollable motivation is responsible for the already unfolding and immanent cataclysm. The ‘Petrie dish’ is full to overflowing. Populate and perish.

  36. Professor Tournesol

    zac48, no single policy will fix our environmental problems, this includes a price on carbon emissions, however its implemented. Population certainly is an issue and that’s why we must address all contributions to our problem with appropriate integrated strategies rather than see it as an either/or problem. The population issue is not merely related to the total number of people on the planet but also related to resource use per person, if we can become more efficient with our energy and water use then we can reduce the impact of population.

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