'CONSPIRACY ALERT: WORKING DOG FILMS/CONGLOMERATED TAXI COMPANIES OF THE CITY OF MELBOURNE/AUSTRALIAN PACIFIC AIRPORTS CORPORATION LIMITED VS. THE MELBOURNE PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM' by The Egg Party
Okay. This one is for my buddy "Freestyle" Brock "Climbing". It is the first conspiracy I have ever written. The individuals who engineered this massive capitalistic plot are criminals who remain unpunished.
What I am saying is: get a train to the airport Melbourne, it's a fucking embarrassment.
- The Egg Party
(Also: In this piece I talk about the film house Working Dog. 2018 is the year of the Dog. Coincidence? I think not.)
'CONSPIRACY ALERT: WORKING DOG FILMS/CONGLOMERATED TAXI COMPANIES OF THE CITY OF MELBOURNE/AUSTRALIAN PACIFIC AIRPORTS CORPORATION LIMITED VS. MELBOURNE PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM.'
C&S: February 13, 2018 420 Comments
by The Egg Party
Correspondent Writer and Editor-in-Chief C&S Publishing.
In 1997 there was a state wide conspiracy in Victoria, Australia, coordinated by the film production company Working Dog Films, the United Taxi Companies of Melbourne(shadow organisation), and the Australian Pacific Airports Corporation Limited. The plot aimed to prevent the building of a city-to-airport railway link. The success of this conspiracy shows that if you want to influence Victorian public policy, effective lobbying can be funding a movie which sets your issue in a positive, personal light. Describing the protagonist as an 'Aussie battler' also helps.
The 1997 movie, The Castle, centers around a middle aged Australian man, Dale Kerrigan. He is presented as an easy going bloke, an Australian every-man, hard-working, blue-collared, a family man, father, digger, mate, larrikin, dog-owner, battler, tradie, a bloody legend, a proper good cunt, a man. Wikipedia says of him and his family:
The Kerrigan home, in the outer Melbourne blue-collar suburb of Coolaroo, is filled with love as well as pride in their modest lifestyle, but their happiness is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighbouring airport.
This description sets the two sides of the film conflict: the evil developers and the man who choose to stand up to them. I watched the movie first as a ten year old child and I loved it. I though it was funny and clever. It succeeded in making me feel warm and happy when the underdog emerged victorious. But this sweetness is only icing that covers the true spongecake, the true underlying tale, of the conspiracy to block a much needed train to connect the Melbourne CBD to the Tullamarine Airport.
Dale Kerrigan was approached to have his house assessed and then was issued a compulsory acquisition. He was contacted by Hammersley & Laycock, a legal firm representing the company Airlink. This is a private company intended to build a train system to the airport. The Airlink company logo is a stylised image of a train on tracks. Through that process, unfortunately, they needed to relocate a few family units.
"It's called a home ya dickhead!"
- Dale Kerrigan
It is a shame, the forced evacuation of private citizens, but that is the consequence of living in a dense urban environment. The needs of around four million Melbournians must be considered. There are consequences and building essential infrastructure is one of them. In most cases compensation is given to the effected parties. Kerrigan was presented with an additionally extra amount to help with the process of moving his home, described as a 'generous offer', but he did not accept.
The ironic thing is there was a good chance that if the family were forced to move they might have relocated to somewhere in the inner North of Melbourne, such as Brunswick, where prices were significantly lower compared to present day. If Kerrigan had given up his castle he could have been a multi-millionaire.
This brings a the bigger picture. If we look at the conflict between a rail link and the movie itself, what is the aim of film? Why would anyone want to block this service?
The Skybus from Tullamarine Airport, an over-inflated bus transit service, costs $17 one way, $37 return. What a deal! The average price of a taxi for the same journey is between A$55 and $65, including the compulsory airport fee payable by departing taxis and CityLink tollway charges. Short and long term parking pricing is diversely complicated but I will suffice to say it is also very expensive.
The taxi companies get money, the Skybus corporation gets money, the parking garages get money. An easy access train would take away this revenue. These groups joined forces to secretly fund The Castle. In turn they created a character who would provide an easy comparison for a real resident around Tullarmarine. If any compulsory acquisition were to happen after the release of the film, this fictional example would be used as emotional leverage. The Current Affairs headline writes itself "HARD EARNING MODERN DAY KERRIGAN FAMILY KICKED OUT OF HOME BY UNCARING STATE GOVERNMENT".
Those families would need to move. Even if they moved to somewhere in the same vacinity, their lives would be significantly improved. If money was a priority, the new train line would increase the value of their new homes. If family was a priority, children with easy access to public transport have significantly improved educational outcomes. The meta-analysis, Transport and Poverty: a review of the evidence, highlights the effects of public transport:
For students from low income households attending higher education many of the journeys they needed to make to participate fully in academic, social activities were not made because they were not affordable (Kenyon, 2011).
This train line might have allowed more children and young adults to learn about the world around them. For themselves. In this brighter future, maybe there would be less young people with the main hobby of digging holes.
Let us look at the main characters and see how the conspiracy truly comes into into play. Kerrigan's best friend is Farouk, a lovable taxi driver. He is also being ejected from his castle. It is an unlikely coincidence that one of the favourite characters of the movie, who is quoted in the sub-header of this essay, represents taxi drivers favorably. Government is going to take a taxi driver's home? For shame.
Then you have the main character. Kerrigan's day job is a tow truck driver, an owner/operator. Two of his sons also work in this line of work. He takes cars away from areas which have strict parking laws. Tullamarine is a famous example of this practice, boosting parking prices and fining anyone who waits for an arrival without entering the garages. Government is going to take a tow truck driver's home? For shame.
The Kerrigan Towing company is a real company, with the film using trucks from an existing small business so that they would not have to respray them. this company exists to this day. Over the course of the business, the lack of this train line would have certainly provided more towing opportunities. From this review of the company on the Yellow Pages, the money and power has corrupted the business:
"...I called the owner told me just wait the driver will come when he's good and ready?, abusive message left on my phone as the driver forgot my credit card details, truck arrived was nearly as old..."
But this towing company is only a small fry, a low level opportunitist. Kerrigan and Farouk represent a some elements involved with the conspiracy but not all. The conspiracy intended to do one thing: profit off travelers and tourists. When an individual arrives in the city of Melbourne, the very first impression they have of the city is the high cost existence. And naked profiteering. That is one of the greatest travesties in Melbourne. The initial realisation for newcomers is that the city, and by extension the country, is too expensive. Better there were a train, where visitors can arrive and take watch the slow progression of development, from suburb to inner suburb to city. They could see some scope of how the populace lives.
The conspiracy group invested in Working Dog films, a ragtag bunch of five young aspiring producers. The film cost $750,000. Where did this money come from? Investor listings for the film are not available on the internet. What is known is that Working Dogs head office is at P.O. Box 488. South Yarra 3141, Victoria Australia. The head office for Skybus is 29 Francis Briggs Road Melbourne Airport, Victoria, Australia 3045. The main address for the Department of Transport in Victoria is GPO Box 4509, Melbourne 3001, Victoria, Australia. Yellow Cabs is found at 35 Downing St, Oakleigh 3166, Victoria, Australia. The list goes on. Do you start to notice the pattern? All these companies are based in Melbourne, all in Victoria, all in Australia. I want answers but all I find is silence.
I want to remind readers that I love this film. The film gives me a strong sense of attachment to Australia. But many elements do not sit comfortably. It is a reminder that the truth, as always, is hard. I can look past the blatant patriarchal nature of the story(it's a man's castle!). Something even harder to look past is the use of the Mabo v. Queensland in protecting a white man's home. Even knowing these things, I still enjoy the film. But this transport conspiracy is insidious and needs attention. I face the consequences of this problem every time I fly to visit my family.
I want the best for Melbourne and this missing infrastructure is an embarrassment. We need an airport train and we need it now. We need to have respect for our city, the people who live there. Because, as Kerrigan puts it:
Written, edited and developed by C&S publishing.