HMAS Bourgeois Bogan
I recently acquired a radio, probably the first one I’ve owned myself for more than 10 years; a little $9 score from Cash Converters. At first it was in the kitchen, and I enjoyed cooking and bopping along listening to RTR FM (bigs ups for a gorgeous In the Pines this weekend just gone!), but then I started to crave it in my bedroom, a shack too far from the house to pick up internet, my music collection just not cutting the mustard. So out the back the little radio came with me yesterday, and I ended up listening to ABC 720 Perth for many hours straight, hearing news updates and discussion and callers from around the state, and you know, I think I now prefer radio as a news source than the internet. I learnt some stuff, thought about some stuff, and then went inside to research a few of them, and I’m going to write about one of those things for you this week.
I heard lots and lots of times the announcement that France won the bid for Australia’s brand new submarine fleet. It’s a big contract. Massive. $50 Billion. Imagine all the people you could feed and shelter and educate with that money! Upon hearing the announcements, some (Rupert’s) media outlets very quickly chose to focus on the fact that Japan missed out on it. Presumably this is important to said media sources because it was Tony Abbot who signed a defence agreement with Japan in 2014, and Tony Abbot seems to still be their champion, and also, pissing off Japan isn’t really a great idea for ongoing ”stability” (see: no obvious warfare) in our part of the world.
I feel like it was a need for regional superiority that lead the government to decided on the winning bid: France can provide “experience” and “propulsion” while Japan’s big sell was on “defence” and “geostrategic advantage”. Very different styles of Submarine, and what those differences look like to me is that Japan was offering a peacekeeping deal to further the defence agreement but Malcolm Turnbull kind of kicked it in their face being all “I’m the boss now and I want to make sure we have complete control over this area if we need it, don’t really trust you guys, France can make us zoom quicker through the ocean to fuck enemies up.”
For actual details on the designs and bids and whatnot, it’s all laid out very clearly in this piece in the Conversation: http://theconversation.com/why-the-french-submarine-won-the-bid-to-replace-the-collins-class-58223
It got me thinking about what’s going on in France at the moment, lots of worker strikes, student strikes, and a protest movement not dissimilar to all that Occupy stuff from a few years ago, all around concerns about treatment of refugees, concerns about workers rights and proposed Employment Law reforms. I got in touch with a friend who lives over there to get an update from a local, and that will all come next week, when I explore FRANCE: AUSTRALIA’S NEW FAVE SUBMARINE DESIGNERS and see what kind of ridiculous connections I can make.
During the hours over which this story developed, for one split second I was worried that Australia wouldn’t actually retain those jobs promised by Japan in their bid. Malcolm Turnbull and France would have to fucking make sure that MOST of those jobs are within Australian borders because goddamn there is a generation of teenagers coming in to adulthood who are gonna need those fucking jobs if the government wants to keep people out of the welfare system. I got riled up and then Bill Shorten was all “KEEP THOSE DAMN JOBS MALCOLM” and Malcolm was like “oh yeah election” so there are apparently a big chunk of jobs coming, despite some stuff having to be done in other countries, just so long as it’s not unethical foreign production; if I was a real journalist I would be demanding transparency for all of that business.
Dotted between segments on 720 was a little fun, “quirky” competition inspired by “Boaty McBoat Face” to name the first French-Australian submarine. The prize? A book called “The Truth About French Women”, no author mentioned. Classy! I was glad my phone wasn’t working, otherwise I would have been compelled to enter via text, simply for a real reaction out of the host, after I cringed for ages hearing her strained and tired laughs at the mind-numbingly obvious suggestions from callers. Here are some examples, for your health:
The Aussie Frog (“a very clever play on words”), HMAS Frog’s Legs (“some wit from Jeff in Bunbury”), The First Canoe, Foie Gras, Oh La La, HMAS Escargot, Esperance (“Fremantle’s got one, Bunbury’s got one, it’s about time a submarine was named after Esperance”), The Soggy Croissant…
I felt like crying after “HMAS Kermit” was offered by a fragile, shaking super-old-man voice, straight after “HMAS Frog’s Legs” by another caller… it’s too much for these people, I thought, France means so little to them. They have no idea what is going on outside of their own lives.
My suggestion for a name for the First French-Australian Submarine, one of 12 they’re spending $50 billion on instead of feeding and housing the nation’s homeless?
The Bourgeois Bogan.
Stayed tuned for FRANCE: AUSTRALIA’S NEW FAVE SUBMARINE DESIGNERS next week :)