For the young colony of Victoria, the 1850s was a time of optimism and hunger for social change. Buoyed by gold-rush wealth and the freedom to create a new kind of society, key thinkers in government, arts and industry set about creating an ambitious urban vision for Melbourne as a modern city combining the best of old Europe with the spirit of progress, democracy and opportunity for all. One of the grandest innovations at this time was the building of Australia’s first public library in 1853. The Melbourne Public Library (as it was then known) was envisaged as a pantheon of the world’s knowledge, open to any citizen over the age of 14 – provided they had clean hands – and offering free access to self-education unmatched by any other public institution in the nation.
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FEATURE STORY - How Big Oil Conquered The WorldBy James Corbett
The story, properly told, begins somewhere unexpected. Not in Pennsylvania with the first commercial drilling operation and the first oil boom, but in the rural backwoods of early 19th century New York state. And it doesn’t start with crude oil or its derivatives, but a different product altogether: snake oil. “Dr. Bill Livingston, Celebrated Cancer Specialist” was the very image of the traveling snake oil salesman. He was neither a doctor, nor a cancer specialist; his real name was not even Livingston. … He went by “Big Bill”. Others, less generously, called him “Devil Bill”. But his real name was William Avery Rockefeller, and it was his son, John D. Rockefeller, who would go on to found the Standard Oil monopoly and become the world’s first billionaire.
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FEATURE STORY:DEATH OR LIBERTYStanding trial before the High Court of Scotland in Edinburgh, 30 August 1793, on charges of sedition a twenty-eight-year-old lawyer named Thomas Muir declared: ‘WHEN THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE PIKE: REMEMBERING THE EMPIRE’S MARTYRS TO FREE SPEECH’ Extracted from Death or Liberty: Rebels and radicals transported to Australia 1788–1868 by Tony Moore, 2010 The enemies of Reform have scrutinised, in a manner … unexampled in Scotland, every action I have performed—every word I may have uttered—Of crimes most foul and horrible, I have been accused— Of attempting to rear the standard of civil war, and to plunge this land in blood. ‘I may tell you that we think a deal more of Marcus Clarke in our country than I am sorry to think you do here.’ - Mark Twain, 1895
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FEATURE STORY: MARCUS CLARKEWhen Australians now hear the name Marcus Clarke they might--at a pinch--recall that he wrote For the Term of His Natural Life, the convict saga that became an international bestseller in the nineteenth century. Many who have admired the book’s psychological insights and gothic darkness imagine it to be the work of a worthy older Victorian gentleman. In fact Clarke was in his 20s when he wrote the classic, a young iconoclast whose fast life as a celebrity columnist of Melbourne’s urban comedy came to an abrupt end in 1881 when he was only 35. The book’s provenance was far from reverent, first serialised in a magazine, with Clarke’s editor locking him in an office with a bottle of whisky to force the last chapters out of the wayward author. Marcus Clarke was young, hip and dangerous to know, a self-confessed Goth and a punk in the age of steam, an iconoclast not an icon. With an ironic Wildean wit, he ate, drank, and scandalised his way about Melbourne in the 1860s and 70s, setting up a string of underground literary clubs, outraging respectable society and keeping one step ahead of the creditors. Along the way Clarke invented a new Australian character to challenge the bushman -- the urban bohemian writer. “In this society I was progressing rapidly to destruction, then an event occurred which rudely saved me. My father died suddenly, in London, and, to the astonishment of the world, left—nothing, [...] My friends of the smoking- room and the supper-table philosophised on Monday, cashed my IOU’s on Tuesday, were satirical on Wednesday, and ‘cut’ me on Thursday.” ‘I may tell you that we think a deal more of Marcus Clarke in our country than I am sorry to think you do here.’ - Mark Twain, 1895
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FEATURE STORY: THE GREAT WAR“‘Dear auntie, this leaves me in the pink. We are at present wading in blood up to our necks. Send me fags and a life-belt. This war is a bugger. Love and kisses.’”
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FEATURE STORY: GREED, THEFT AND BLOODY MURDER!In the context of an attempt to slap our beloved nation in the face with the shame it deserves for its past and present treatment of the Indigenous population of this country we herein will demonstrate the appalling slaughter visited upon a fairly gentle and friendly people. We say ‘fairly gentle’ because it must be noted that some of the social practices of the pre-settlement aborigines was, to say the least, ungentle. Robert Lyon – Speech at a public meeting in Guildford, June 1833. “You are the aggressors…..They did not go to the British isles to make war upon you; but you came from the British isles to make war upon them. You are the invaders of their country – ye destroy the natural productions of the soil on which they live – ye devour their fish and their game – and ye drive them from the abodes of their ancestors… They may stand to be slaughtered; but they must not throw a spear in their own defence, or attempt to bring their enemies to a sense of justice by the only means in their power – that of returning like for like. If they do – if they dare to be guilty of an act which in other nations would be eulogized as the noblest of a patriot’s deeds – they are outlawed; a reward is set upon their heads; and they are ordered to be shot, as if they were so many mad dogs! If ye have any feelings of compunction, before the die be cast, let the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia live. Ye have taken from them all they had on earth. Be content with this, and do not add to the crime of plundering them that of taking their lives.”
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FEATURE STORY: FROM TEHRAN TO AUSTRALIAThe amazing story of the man who calls himself ‘Slash’, and his account of fleeing Iran - a journey that spanned over a decade. Born in Tehran ‘Slash’ resisted the influence of a heavily authoritative culture from an early age. And Iran was/is most certainly a very religious, political and morally strict environment for any headstrong boy to grow up in. Forget about the freedoms we here in Oz take for granted. “I go special place to try and fix my problem with special intelligence people, very scary place, with big men with beards.”
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FEATURE STORY: Reginald Robert Etherington‘Star Wars and Australia’s Secret Past’. The revelation that Australia was once at the forefront of the optics industry, and led the world in optical skills which made weapons like the intercontinental ballistic missiles, space satellites, ‘smart’ bombs and the ultimate American dream of a Star Wars style missile shield possible. This little known story has emerged from the dusty papers of Reg Etherington’s study. It is a story of secrecy, Cold War rivalry and the loss of a potentially advanced industry for Australia. What is relatively unknown about Reg Etheringon’s life is his classified involvement in the optical defence arms race - producing the worlds most advance camera lenses of the 50’s and 60’s for the Australian Departments of Supply and Defence.