The true story about the war on the Australian waterfront, when on the 7th April 1998, Chris Corrigan and the Liberal Government at the time, conspired and illegally dismissed the unionised...
See full summary »
The true story about the war on the Australian waterfront, when on the 7th April 1998, Chris Corrigan and the Liberal Government at the time, conspired and illegally dismissed the unionised workforce. The series tells the story from both sides, and how the Maritime Union of Australia fought diligently to get the some 2000 sacked workers their jobs back. Written by
Powerful drama very relevant to the current IR debate in this election
I think the writer (Sue Smith)and producers made a bold step to create and televise this mini-series. Recreating, not just a real life event, but one with characters who are still alive and concerning such a controversial issue. Inevitably, it will ruffle feathers as it depicts such an important milestone in our democratic history. A portrayal of living public figures will always be seen as biased, one way or another.
But this was a story that needed to be told. A sanctioning by government of aggressive, potentially violent behavior, towards a group of men and their families who had broken no laws, merely been very successful in their fight for wages and conditions. And yes, maybe some of these had gone further than was healthy for the survival of the industry. (I have to claim ignorance here. I am not an economist or business owner) However I don't hear anyone up-in-arms about those business owners who are in the happy position of taking large slabs of time off to play golf, go overseas etc. We seem to have a different set of values for 'workers' and for business owners.
Back to Bastard Boys. One of the many themes was the portrayal of the personal lives of the main characters - the MUA leader, John Coombs (for which Colin Friels should get an award), Chris Corrigan (owner of Patricks, stevedores coy), Greg Combet, ACTU, the on-site Union rep (name?) and the solicitor, Josh Bernstein.
There are some surprises in store for those of us who felt angry towards Corrigan at the time. Corrigan is portrayed as a man with his back against the wall financially. He takes on the banks very forcefully. But the biggest surprise was some of the writing posted on the screen at the conclusion. It mentioned the friendship that arose between Coombs and Corrigan who met quite regularly after the conflict was over. Obviously, somehow or other, a mutual respect developed between them.
On the other hand, Bernstein is quoted this week in the Age's Green Guide as saying that this was a watered down version of what actually happened. The reality was a lot more heated and more intense. One wonders to what extent lawyers specialising in libel had been consulted and how much footage ended up on the cutting room floor.
Bastard Boys has single-handedly broken new ground in Australian TV - a drama about real events that took place, not 100, 50 or even 20 years ago, but in our recent memories. A story about a time when our democracy was severely tested. Thank goodness our restrictive laws concerning free speech (see Right to Know campaign) didn't stop this one! Don't miss it!
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?