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Are Australians Getting Soft

And Work-shy?

By

JOHN BRENNAN

"Men Wanted for Yard    

Gang: Will accept   men up to 60 who   are used to hard  

work "

This advertisement appeared last week tucked away among the thousands which regularly offer employment.

It would pass scarcely noticed ex- cept that it poses a highly-interest- ing social question Is it only the older men among us who know what hard work is? Are Australians as a people becoming soft with good living and too much leisure, which few know how to use? Have we lost not only the desire to work, but the know-how also?

Husband beating, yes, but what woman nowadays ever beats a car-

pet? And how few men drip honest sweat behind a lawn mower. Lawn mowers are electric, or powered with a petrol motor, and if the gardener doesnt own one and can't borrow one from Jones next door then   there's the man who comes around     in a truck to do the job in half an  

hour

And what about the steady drift of our joung people to the cities their search for the amenities and sofiness of living? Has the spirit of ad\ enture for which our pioneers of not three generations ago were known to the world been swallowed up in the 'spread of civilisation"?

*

√úVEN for important works of

national development, such as the Snowy River Scheme, young men ha\e to be lured from the fleshpots of the Big Smoke-and then not \er\ successfully-with fantastic offers of "£12 a week, and keep, and free tobacco." Any large-scale constructional undertaking outside the city has its "Amenities Officer" and its touring picture show Fac- tories hi\e rest rooms and offer a 41 da> week-no work Friday after- noons so as to allow a 2i day week-

end

Spirit of Adventure9 It's disap- pearing from the Australian make- up Eire has advertised that it can offer a seasons employment with travelling expenses paid both ways to two Australian chick sexers-and among the young men qualified for the job there aren't two takers.

There is, too, our appalling sub- missneness to bureaucratic control

We must be the world's finest forms

filler-inners, certainly the most prac-   tised this side of the Iron Curtain And we submit to indignities with scarcely more than a steadily dim- inishing murmuring of complaint.  

We are told that six-footers can  

no longer ride on the back plat-   forms of the go to work buses-a   privilcge they have enjoyed since     buses were invented-and so the   meek descendants of fighting Corn-   stalks bow their necks as they creep  

inside and keep themselves poor buying embrocations to treat the

cricks in their backs.

Our womenfolk stand patiently in queues waiting for costly carrots and precious candles. With docility we eat ill baked bread, and scarcely   growl at all when we can't buy lamb. Tram fares go up, and Penny Postage costs twopence halfpenny.

The hotels close just when we want a drink. Lights go out and the gas fails. But we grin-and-bear-it all. Not so long ago our men tol- erated even a beer strike!

Australians were not always such. There once was William Lane, and Eureka Stockade, and the pipes writers and pamphleteers against the ukases of the early Governors. Even the comic-opera episodes associated with De Groot and his New Guard   were evidence at least of virility and a certain righteous indignation.

*

PERHAPS we've sunk our in-

dividuality and become be- numbed automatons under the in- fluence of the queuing system. Why, at King's Cross young men-young Australians at that-line up in a queue to wait their turn with a barber who has the facility of being more accomplished than his com- petitors in certain modish types of haircut! Their fancy may run to the "Cornel Wilde" (curly and thick at the back), to the "Pompa- dour" (heaped high on the top of the head), or to the short "Crew" or shorter "Cramer."

Other hundreds of pallid, long- haired young males are slaves of a moronic fashion that is taking them out of their out-moded zoot-suits and drape-shapes and putting them into the uniform of the Bodgies, in ankle-tight trousers or a farm- worker's jeans, and forcing them to leave the tails of their plaid-checked shirts waving in the wind.

*.

BUT it isn't only the Bodgies who

wear flaming orange neckties decorated with nude cuties hiding their charms behind champagne bottles and poker-dice. It may be a wharf-labourer or a butcher or an up-and-coming stockbroker.

For to-day there's a "softness" about the staidest of men's attire. The suburban manager dresses for his Sunday morning game of golf quite often in a pale-blue singlet, green milanese undershorts flecked with a design of huge red ants, a lemon-coloured silk shirt spotted with odd-sized orange dots, duck egg blue slacks, a two-tone jacket in fawn and grey, yellow socks checked in green, and tan and while

shoes.

Possibly this zest for colour and comfort in our clothing is sympto- matic of a desire for escape from the harsh realities of living. But does not softness of living breed a softness in our character?

We sleep on "Beauty-Rest" mat- tresses. We don't play hard any more. We may lead the world as players in many sports-or rather a few of us do-but we lead the world, too, in our preference for spectator sports. We hold almost the world's record for the crowd at a football match. We have more people watching others play cricket than have ever been gathered together for the purpose elsewhere. For the rest we like a quiet game of golf or a mixed-doubles at a tea drinking social evening of tennis.

UVEN in our entertainments we've

gone for the soft. Not for us bear-baiting or cock-fighting; a curse

on coursing! We've got film-houses, a little light theatre, and we're so keen on symphony concerts that the subscripition lists are full and no more of us can get in.

*

UEW of us have the energy to go

camping any more. We've forgot- ten how to rough it. We go off now in caravans-which isn't camp- ing at all-and come back and boast about it under the impression that we've been following in the foot- steps of the pioneers who lived in the tray of a bullock waggon or a tent or a slab hut. We don't even

boil the billy. We get Hot Water at so much from the store or take it with us in a thermos flask Sel- dom do we hire a rowing boat It is easier to steer a putt-putt motor launch.

The only beauty spots most of us see are those that are served by a good motor road Hiking, except on a negligible scale, is vaguely re- membered as something that people used to do in Depression days, and round about our near-mountain resorts the footpaths and steps are broken away and blocked ith undergrowth because the people who should use them are staying up on the heights by the hotel

playing golf or tripping in "luxury"

tourist coaches.

Nor is ice cream exclusively a childish treat. It's served, pink and white, to adults now.

Most of us get all the things we want on time-payment-refrigera- tors, washing machines, dish-washers, electric razors. We won't battle for anything. It is too much trouble. Even our divorce rate goes up be- cause we won't strive to make mar- riage work.

. We must have bus shelters to keep the rain off us. We get free medicine and child endowment. We've been sucked in by the Wel- fare State idea and the 40-hour week-and cry for more.

Is it true that we are becoming soft and decadent as all through his- tory other peoples have become soft when they have lived soft? Or is the real answer that we are learn- ing to live as civilised human beings?

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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