John Singleton, “The Sir Robert Askin Story, Slippers and All,”
Quadrant, September, 1975, pp. 75-77.

There is this tough little kid running around tough little Glebe in tough little Sydney town.

This kid’s old man is driving a tram.

His mum is running the house.

This kid’s got two tough little brothers to run around the blocks with.

And the tough little kid running around tough little Glebe with his tough little brothers isn’t a genius but he is no dummy either.

So the kid wins a bursary to Sydney Tech. High.

And the kid does what all kids do at school and the kid passes the intermediate, in the days when it is in the paper and everything when you pass the intermediate.

And because the kid is now possessed of such acclaimed academic background the kid gets a job as an electrician’s apprentice.

But the kid isn’t much of a go when it comes to wires and valves and the kid gives himself one electric shock too many which puts him out of a job which is another shock to the kid.

And now the kid gets a job with the bank in the days when getting a job with the bank is your basic passport to international smoking pleasure and even almost into high society.

And naturally the kid meets his wife Mollie at the bank and naturally goes to war from the bank.

And naturally the war is overseas which is where the kid goes and runs around playing goodies and badies and the kid finishes up five years later with three stripes on his arm and back at the bank.

And no longer a kid.

But so far you are thinking this is a pretty ordinary kid and where does a premier come out of all this stuff.

Now this kid decides this thing life is worth a go and now the kid starts to go like only kids from Glebe know how to go.

In the bank is an association, a sort of union, and who gets to be President?

None other that this young fella Bob Askin who is married to Mollie Askin who you may remember he met at the bank, which is where all nice young people meet in those days.

And when this young fella has been in the war who is his colonel?

None other than Murray Robson who is also none other than MLA from Vaucluse.

Which even in these days is not a real hard seat for the liberals to win.

And the Colonel phones his Sergeant who is Bob Askin who is no longer a kid, who is married to Mollie Askin, who he met at the bank, and the Colonel asks is the Sergeant wouldn’t mind getting the rabble organised in the how to vote card department, and the Sergeant says “Yes”, and what the world doesn’t realise is the Sergeant is already on his way to fame and glory and boots and all.

The young fella Askin quickly sees that the gentry involved in the mighty world of politics are not all that organised and are not all that mighty either.

So, Robert W. Askin joins this particular party and is immediately and also straight away Liberal Branch President, State and Federal President, and whatever you care to name of the Manly Branch of the Liberal Party.

And when, nine elections back, Collaroy gets to be a new state seat it is surprising that twenty-two people run for pre-selection but it is not surprising that Robert W. Askin gets the pre-selection first go.

And young Robert W. Askin takes three months long service leave from the bank and he and Mollie, who he met in the bank, door knock every house and do all those things that politicians do and win by 5,000 votes which was not a bad win for this seat at that time.

When Robert W. Askin lobs in state Parliament the Labor Party is in full control and it looks very much like they’ll be in full control for ever at least.

The Opposition Liberal leader is a gentleman by the name of Treatt and the Labor leader is a gentleman by the name of McGirr and the latter gets the big heave-ho from his party and is succeeded by Cahill.

Cahill tosses Treatt so the Liberals also toss Treatt and everyone is expecting Robson (remember the Colonel) to be a past-the-post proposition.

But instead who runs but the Colonel’s Sergeant, Robert W. Askin and also a gentleman by the name of Pat Morton and the result is a dead heat, thirteen votes all Morton and Askin.

And a week later and four ballots later it’s still thirteen votes all which proves to be unlucky for both parties. New nominations are called.

This time Robson (remember the Colonel) enters the race on the nomination of Askin and wins and Robert W. Askin (remember the Sergeant) is elected Deputy Leader. But Robson tries to run the Liberals like a battalion and gets tossed.

Unopposed.

And then Cahill tosses Robson and the Libs’ new leader is the gentleman by the name of Morton and Cahill is getting very confident as a gentleman will who is winning all the time.

And the gentleman by the name of Robert W. Askin is still No. 2 which beats No. 3 but is also definitely not No. 1.

And then Cahill tosses Morton and then Heffron tosses Morton and as no-one else much wants to enter the ring, the eight-rounder gets the job by the name of Robert W. Askin.

And when the big night and the big fight comes around Robert W. Askin performs like he’s been in main events all his life and even though Heffron wins (“thanks to the Menzies credit squeeze”), it’s looked upon by those who know these things as a split decision.

So the Labor Party is a little shocked by this turn of events and puts Heffron out to pasture and a gentleman by the name of Renshaw into the job of Premier.

But then comes the next election and who is the new Premier? None other than the kid from Glebe, who went to the bank where he met his wife and went to the war.

None other than Robert W. Askin.

And if it isn’t enough that he flukes one election, this Robert W. Askin stays Premier for ten years which is longer than any gentleman in the whole history of this State by the name of New South Wales has ever done before or is likely to do again.

In all that time Robert W. Askin never cops a challenge and he never cops a beating and he never fires not even one minister, which is in the days when ministers are chosen wisely in the first place.

So when Sir Robert Askin retires at the start of this year by the name of 1975, people start to wonder what this man Sir Robert Askin is really like.

And when people are in the public eye and people start to wonder what they are really like, people like to make stuff up to show that they know more than nothing which is really what they know.

And they say that Askin is ruthless and blood and guts and he’s always driving over bastard commies (?) with American presidents beside.

So you are with Sir Robert Askin, just you and him and in the pub.

And you ask him the questions that people want to know in the way that people will, as follows:

Achievements? Greater social benefits especially super and pensions, not as much as I would have liked. Brought Liberal Party from right to centre. Federal governments almost always killed the states, you know if it hadn’t been for me and Bolte etc. etc. as you know. We’re $50 million per annum better off in N.S.W. as a result of perpetual whinging.

Disappointments? Hanging around in opposition. Waste of time.

Menzies? Best Prime Minister we’ve ever had or ever will have.

Holt? Had a hard act to follow. Good judge of men. Bad judge of horses.

Gorton? Second best Prime Minister before he went mad with Canberra power. Used to work it all out the night before the Premier’s Conference. Good fellow Gorton. Sad about him going out like this though. Really sad.

McMahon? Gave the states the best deal of all. Probably his problem, tried to appease everyone. Can’t do that. Have to stand up to people. Like Fraser the other day, standing up to the public servants in Canberra. Good sign that.

Snedden? You’ve got to stand for something clear-cut. Nice man. I liked him. He listened to too many people. Wouldn’t say what he really thought. Had his chance. Would have won if he had stuck to his guns. Don’t forget to remind them we won three seats here in New South Wales last election and they lost two in Melbourne where all the heavies are supposed to be. Don’t forget to put that in.

Chipp? You know what I think of Chipp.

Fraser? He’ll win and win easily. Resolute, knowledgeable and lucid. Much warmer than people think. I reckon there’s every chance he’ll be the best since Menzies.

Whitlam? People think he’s strong. He’s not. Egotist. Worst case I’ve ever struck at top level. Knows nothing about finance. Absolutely nothing. Bloody good actor. But look at his enemy list: Cope, Crean, Cairns, Cameron, Cass. And they’re just the ones starting with “C”. With friends like that he doesn’t need any enemies. He’s gone whether his party kicks him out or the public do. Nothing surer.

Lewis? Not going to comment on my former colleagues. Owe them too much to go around criticising them.

Think it’s ridiculous when old men like Gorton and McMahon go around talking about nothing.

Should give the young blokes a go.

But I got out because I wanted to get out.

Suppose that makes a big difference.

No grudges to be repaid.

Tom runs it his way.

Mightn’t be the way I’d run things but that doesn’t mean it mightn’t be better either.

Willis? If Eric had let me help him he would have won. Insisted he didn’t want me to help.

Specifically asked me not to.

Wanted to win or lose it on his own merits not by “big brother” leaning on members.

I think he got a few shocks when he saw some of the faces in the new Lewis cabinet.

But that’s politics and Eric knows it as well as I do. Very capable.

Future? Still working a full day.

Want to put a gap between retirement from parliament and entering business.

Had numerous Board offers.

Taking my time.

Choosing carefully.

Finance always been my strong suit. That’s where my future will be.

More time with Mollie too. Told the Liberal Party they’ll miss her more than they’ll miss me.

Now you and I know that the kid from Glebe who got the job in the bank where he met his wife and went to the war, where he met the Colonel, who got him into politics knows a fair bit more than he’s giving away.

And you and I know that there are buckets to be dropped if that’s the way it has to be.

But you and I know that when you come from Glebe you look after your mates and you only shit-can your enemies.

And when the enemies are gone or beaten or forgotten, the best way for them to stay is just like that, gone and beaten and forgotten, because one thing you had better get to know about Sir Robert Askin right from the start and that is that there is no way the public will ever get to really know him. A pity.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  212. VIOLENCE, TV BAN, DRINK - SINGO SPEAKS HIS MIND
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  2. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  3. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5