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A Story About Jack Curtin – “Goodbye Jerusalem: Night Thoughts of a Labor Outsider” – Bob Ellis

September 14th, 2011 · No Comments · Australian, Australian Labor Party, Australiana, History, Politics, Progressive Politics

Jack Curtin lived in Cottesloe and one day he gave his driver a day off. Then he found he needed to go to Perth, so he went out on the road and hitchhiked. And a truck pulled up.

‘Can you give me a lift into Perth?’

‘Sure,’ said the driver, then looked at him startled. ‘Aren’t you the Prime Minister?’ he asked.

‘That’s right,’ Jack said. ‘Do I still get the lift?’

It’s a story, I thought, as I fought my way back down into sleep on that Remembrance night, that should be as well known, as celebrated as George Washington and the cherry tree. But we’re not in Australia, being of secretive convict stock or descended from men on the lam from European scandal or pogrom, as good at celebrating ourselves as, say, Americans are, at saying we are important, at writing 1000 page biographies of people like James Dean who died at 24… we took 30 years to bring out our first biography of Curtin, out Churchill, while the English were already bringing out books on Enoch Powell and Iain McLeod and Bevin and Bevan and Gaitskell and Chuten Ede. We think we’re not good enough, and that’s a fact. Jack Curtin knew he wasn’t good enough, and that’s a pity.

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