Friday, January 26, 2018

My trip to the AGM

My name is Stuart McDonald. I’m a poker machine addict, and a member of the Alliance for Gambling reform. Inspired by my wonder colleague Dr Susan Rennie, who made a powerful speech at the Woolworths AGM  regarding their ownership of pokies, I decided to nominate myself as a director of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. The Bulldogs operate poker machines, as do all the other Victorian AFL clubs apart from North Melbourne. I love my footy club, but I hate the pokies.

Nominating as a board member is really simple, although the club hide the information deep in their website. You just hunt around, download the appropriate form , print it out and get two fellow members to back your application. I struck a slight problem in that almost all of my friends are hippies, greenies and party animals who have no interest in football. I go to the games on my own. Luckily, the Dogs were hosting an open training session just before Christmas. I went up into the stands at the Whitten Oval and approached a couple of ladies and said ‘Excuse me, but do you like poker machines?’ No, they did not like poker machines and they happily countersigned my form. Thanks Gladys and Glynnis.
Since I was at the club’s home I dropped the forms off at the front desk, but to make sure they got them I posted and emailed them through too.

A couple of days later I received a call from the rather agitated CEO, Ameet Bains, in which he strongly discouraged me from running. His main argument was that board elections were usually uncontested, and that for me to run would cost the club $25,000. I wavered, but after I called Susan Rennie and a brief pep talk, I hardened up.I ran. It later transpired that the $25,000 had been spent on employing two scrutineers from Ernst & Young, but more of that later.

The three board nominees were myself; Chris Nolan, an advertising executive; and Matthew Croft, an ex-Bulldogs player.

I arrived at the AGM at the appointed hour. My speech was first up. The first part consisted of me reading  this document , as it had originally formed my nomination pitch to members, but the Bulldogs hierarchy only allowed me to put the first two paragraphs on their website. Then I launched into a very angry speech. I told the club their ownership of poker machines was shameful and hypocritical. I detailed how gambling had affected my life so adversely. I asked for a concrete, five year plan to get out of the poker machine industry.

When I got down from the dais, there was a smattering of applause and a look of shock from some attendees, especially a group of well dressed elderly people in the front row, mouths agape. I tried to connect with some of the attendees, but many averted their gaze, and it was impossible to talk while all the other speeches were on. There were a lot of speeches. I had been told that the AGM was only going to last for an hour, and it lasted well over two.

What surprised me was that a large part of rest the AGM was devoted to little old me. I must have really struck a nerve.

The next speaker, board nominee Chris Nolan, spent the first part of his speech belittling me as a ‘single issue candidate’ who didn’t have the experience to run as a board member. He then made a very long and very boring footy club speech about how wonderful everything was at the club. He defended the club’s stance on poker machines, and told us they ‘aspired’ to get rid of them but only at a time of their choosing.

I waited for the next nominee, Matthew Croft, to make his speech but he stayed rooted to his chair. I have no idea why he didn’t speak. Did he have laryngitis? I found this strange, and I wonder if anyone else at the AGM did so too.

We then went to the vote. This process was rather quaint. Everyone was given a different coloured card with the names of the three nominees. They were asked to raise the cards with their chosen nominees above their heads, as club officials roamed around to collect them. There were lots of Matthew Croft and Chris Nolan cards, but few, if any ,for Stuart McDonald. I wonder if the ballot had been private rather than so public, would I have received any more votes? There was an unsettling element of groupthink.

Peter Gordon then talked for a very long time. I love Peter, he saved our club from extinction, but by golly he could speak underwater. He devoted several minutes of his speech to my campaign, particularly a comment I had made on where I’d accused the club of ‘treating members like mushrooms - feeding them shit and keeping them in the dark' over the failed Edgewater development. I must have really pissed him off because he defended himself strongly against my attack.

The tone changed when Mr Gordon said that I reminded him of himself, and that he was ‘ambivalent’ about my stance. He got nostalgic and went back to 1988, when he became determined that our club should stay at the ancestral Whitten Oval when the then VFL wanted to move our club to Princes Park in Carlton. He reminded the listeners that he was a single-issue campaigner himself, and even though he didn’t know how to change things he formed a grassroots campaign. I get the impression that even though I’m a pain on the arse, he respects me.

After a while, it was announced that Chris Nolan and Matthew Croft were duly elected to the board. I’ll have to take the club’s word on that, as the voting tallies weren’t announced, nor was there any mention of the proxy vote. I found it a strange and amateurish method of running an election. What did the two scrutineers from Ernst & Young do to earn their $25,000? Easy money.

I had my two children, aged seven months and two years with me, who behaved very patiently for what must have been a terribly boring outing for them. I had been told that the AGM would last an hour, but two hours later, after the umpteenth speech, the kids were desperate to go home. As was I. So I left without mingling and chatting to the board and members, unfortunately.

The club's report of the AGM is here; I’ve been airbrushed out of history. Perhaps a man dressed in red white and blue will bundle me into a car one day as I’m walking down the street and ferry me to a remote Bulldogs camp for ‘reeducation’


Bulldogs board nominee

My name is Stuart McDonald. I'm originally from Ireland. When I migrated to Melbourne in 1999 I soon realised I needed to choose an Aussie Rules team. I lived first in St Albans and then Sunshine, becoming an adopted Son of the West. I fell in love with the sport and with the Doggies. I became a member and travelled to Docklands to cheer on the boys every week they played in Melbourne. I had a spell back in Ireland but returned to Australia in time for Bev's reign and our glorious finals run. I'm a social club member and I was lucky enough to be at the MCG to watch our Grand Final victory. Through bigfooty.comI've sponsored a number of players over the years.
I'm a primary school teacher. I have three children aged sixteen, two and six months. The two year old is mad about the Doggies and accompanies me to games. I love the footy - but I hate pokies.
The Western Bulldogs operate 63 poker machines across two venues, Club Leeds in Footscray and Club Dromana. Community members lost nearly $6 million on Bulldogs pokies in 2016/17. The Club operates these pokies, despite research which tells us that 40% of this money comes from people with gambling addiction. About 60% comes from people experiencing harm with their gambling.
I'm a pokies addict. So are many others in our community. That's not surprising. Poker machines are deliberately designed to ensnare and addict users. Their sole purpose is to extract money from the user as quickly as possible.
I've lost thousands of dollars to these misleading and addictive machines over the years. Some of this money was lost at venues operated by our club. I consider myself fortunate. Other people have lost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The pokie machines operated by the Western Bulldogs are responsible for immense harm within our community. They contribute to family violence, divorce, alcoholism, criminal behaviour and suicide.
New AFL chairman Richard Goyder has declared he hates the pokies and has established “Project Fruit” inside the commission which is aiming to reduce AFL club dependency on pokies revenue. The Bulldogs should be a leading advocate for reform through this process and ultimately join North Melbourne in being proudly pokies free.
This club stands for community. The sons and daughters of the west do not want our club operating these machines. Our club captain Easton Wood has publicly stated he "couldn't stomach" gambling. We have record membership and many revenue streams.Help me kick the pokies out of footy. We don't need them. We don't want them.
Regards and Go Dogs!
Stuart McDonald

Thursday, November 02, 2017

My classroom

This country, the 'lucky country.' One of the richest nations on earth. A nation where there's an eight month waiting list to buy the latest Mercedes Benz, and the mortgage averages a cool million dollars in many suburbs. Yet here I am stuck in this shithole of a classroom. The window blinds seem to be made of paper, and are permanently stuck downward. We learn with the electric lights on all the time. I've got this weird red and white 'danger' tape strung along the back wall, like an episode of 'Law and Order.' That's to remind the kids to stay away from the exposed wiring and crumbling plasterwork, lest they injure themselves. I've got a flimsy wood and glass partition separating me from the class next door, meaning I have to negotiate with my colleague as to when my students can be noisy or quiet. The school was built in 1915 and whilst the exterior is solid and imposing, the interior is in need of some serious love and attention.

 At least a quarter of the students in my class are indigenous Australians. The government pays lip service to 'closing the gap' but here in the heart of fabulously wealthy Melbourne, in a fashionably expensive northern suburb, I'm teaching in conditions you'd find in the developing world. My top reading group are working on Roald Dahl's 'The BFG' this week. A great book, but I've only got three copies for five kids. The other two editions have been read to shreds. And yet our elite private schools continue to siphon money from the private purse, to squander on a new swimming pool, a rifle range, an ICT learning hub or even a fucking wellness centre. 

Australia you disgust me. My students deserve better. Support public education.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cool Change

The cool change just blew through Melbourne. All day the temperature has been hovering in the discomfort zone - mid thirties in the day, then a sticky twenty-five at night. It's been a still, airless day covered in a blanket of soft cloud. The weather has been drifting from the hot, arid interior on the back of northerly winds.

Just before midnight,  as the maligned Bureau of Meteorology predicted, the wind shifted to the south-west. Cooled by the waters of the great Antarctic Ocean, the weather suddenly plummets by a good ten degrees in a couple of minutes. We open doors and windows to greet the change and welcome it into the house. It arrives not with squalls and vicious rain or thunder, as it often does, but just a gentle breeze.

The cool change. Something you never quite get used to as an immigrant to this land. For days the wind can blow hot like opening a fan forced oven door; then just as suddenly whip round with sheeting rain.

Embrace the change. I'm off to bed, with new hope of sleep.


Monday, July 04, 2011


On Sunday afternoon, I walked to the Brunswick Library. I needed to hire out a book called "The Slap" by Christos Tsiolkas. This is because it's a very good book, and also because I was a quarter of the way through my own copy when I inadvertently left it at Southern Cross Station.
In the toilets, along with a packet of Chicco D'Oro coffee.

So I hired out 'The Slap' and read a little of it in a comfy chair in the library. Then I was called by nature to answer an urgent call, one that required a lengthy sit down on the porcelain throne. The library provides such facilities and I went to work, reading 'The Slap' as I did so.

The toilet was peaceful but I did seem to hear one person enter and leave, quiet like.

After I had finished my business and exited the cubicle, I was faced with an unusual sight: there was a bloody sanitary napkin, aka fanny pad, right in the middle of the floor.

Thoughts immediately crowded my brain, first of these being 'Wha...?'

Had a bloody/bleeding woman taken a wrong turn, suddenly realised she was in the wrong bogs, thought 'Feck it!' and whipped the offending item out and surreptitiously dumped it on the floor?

Was it a statement? An art statement? A test for me? A practical joke?

Had some poor bloke suffered a terrible injury forcing him to wear lady's jam rags? Perhaps he'd been riding a bicycle when he suffered a seat malfunction, sending the saddle post straight through Biffin Bridge. That would smart a little.

Still, no excuse for depositing his butcher's dishcloth right on the floor, no matter what sort of pain he/she was in.

I kicked the offending item to the wall and went to wash my hands. Just as I was about to leave I was overcome with a feeling of civic duty.


What if a child or a disabled or a sensitive person walked in and saw that on the floor?

I'm of a sound and steady disposition, but others could be psychologically broken by such a sight.

I knew what I had to do.

I got a load of paper towels from the dispenser on the wall, scrunched them up, and gingerly picked up the blood sponge and deposited it in the bin.

Responsibility: a six syllable word that's moderately easy to say, but means so much. I had done my duty.

Later, I went to the supermarket and picked up a packet of dried French lentils. The bag split and the contents started to spill on the floor.

Did I leave the bag on the shelf, to continue to cause a nuisance to staff and customers? No, I picked it up and sealed the split with the firm grip of my manly hands. Then I took it to the checkout operator and explained what had happened.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Good chat up lines

I've been working at meeting more memebers of the opposite sex, so these are some of the chat up lines I've been using on ladies recently. I've been getting mixed response. I use them in clubs, pubs, the supermarket, parkland, doctors' surgeries and front porches and even through open windows.

Have you ever been to this venue before?

Where is this venue we are at?

Can you help me, I'm lost, is this a food outlet?

What time is it? Is that a good time for you?

Have you ever been to the moon?

Have you been to another planet?

What's the highest number you have ever counted to?

Can you see me? (Duck down) - playful move

Do you piss standing up?

Do you believe in me?

Where do you see us in twenty years time?

Where is your mother?

Have you ever killed someone?

Can I cut your hair?

Why is your nose like that?

Do you want to go for a walk around the club?

Can we please swap shoes?

Do you belong to any societies?

Have you ever seen a monster?

Have you ever found something and kept it?
If so, what was it? Was it a coin?

Do you like blood?

Can I kill you?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


So I went to the YMCA gym on Saturday night. Yes, Saturday night. When ordinary people are at the pub, I was pumping iron. I'm a member of the YMCA, young man. I'm looking ripped and gnarled these days, like a young Johnny Weissmuller. After I'd finished my contortions, I went for a swim and sauna.

When I got back to the change rooms, my socks and shoes were lying scattered on the floor.

"That's strange," I said to myself, "why are my shoes and socks lying scattered on the floor?"

The answer soon made itself apparent. Someone had broken into my locker. There was no sign of a forced entry, but the door was swinging open.

I had placed my wallet inside the pocket of my attractive and practical yellow cycling pac-a-mac. I went to the pocket. It was gone.

I looked through my sports bag and everything else was there - my keys, a lottery ticket I had just purchased, a bottle of ALDI Old Tawny Port ($4.99 and not bad at all, as I later found out) and all my clothes.

But the wallet was gone.

I felt a bit sheepish as it clearly says on the lockers 'DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES.' They must have a history of break-ins. You're supposed to sign anything worthwhile to thieves to the staff behind the desk. Oh well.

The attendants were very helpful and helped me look round about the lockers and in the bins, but in vain. I filled out an incident report at the gym and then headed up to the police station. A lady constable took down my details in a black book. She told me should would definitely call me if she found my wallet.

The thief had only taken about $7 in change. That's all I had. I hope whoever it was spent it wisely. Meanwhile, I've got to apply for a new bank card, driver's license (learner class, I'll pass someday), bank card, library card etc. And when I do get my cards, I'll have to get a new wallet to put them in. It's the inconvenience that gets me. Thieves are so inconsiderate. It's as if they don't care about other people, eh?

The gym is beside a railway track, so the next day I decided to search in the long grass by the cuttings, just in case my crook had taken the money & chucked the wallet. Almost immediately, I found a five dollar note, a little damp but otherwise sound. I later used it to buy a dozen free range eggs at the supermarket.

Then I found an attractive red lady's handbag, with the price tag still on - $29.99. It came from a local shop. Maybe a shoplifter had discarded it. I hung it on a fence so that a lady might take it, as I had no use for it.

The last item I found was a dead rat. This put me off further searching. However, the previous findings have encouraged me, and I might hoke around in the railway cuttings again. I doubt I'll find my wallet, but maybe I'll find another banknote.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What would you rather do?


Would you rather live as a battery hen for 6 months and receive $1 million at the end of it or just live your life as you are now?

You can communicate with the other chickens and become friends with them but at the end of the 6 months they are all killed.


a.) Be chased by a swarm of invisible bees that only you can see, which sting you every time you think about sex for the rest of you life. The bees sting you arpound five times a minute. The sting effect lasts for 24 hours.

b.) Have your head swell up to twice its normal size like a grotesque balloon whenever you engage in sex. Your appearance is quite off-putting for any prospective partner. As soon as you achieve orgasm, your head deflates to its normal size.


a.) Be chained to an annoying man for one day (Tuesday) the rest of your life, who carries a notebook & writes down everything you do this day. He reviews the day between the hour of 10pm - 11pm where he tells you how he thinks you could have done stuff more efficiently. You can argue, but that only adds on extra minutes. You can't harm him. He arrives at 7am and leaves at midnight.

b.) For half a day every week, between your voice is amplified so that it becomes really loud & everything you say comes out in a huge shout. It's as loud as a Metallica gig or an air raid siren. Everything you say can be heard several blocks away. This happens between 9am and 1pm.


a.) Have your whole immediate family - mum, dad, brothers, sisters - become hardcore junkies. They decide that heroin is the best thing ever. They love it so much that they sell all their possessions and yours to score smack. They even turn their house into a sort of shooting gallery and it becomes all full of junkies, all passing out and being sick everywhere. Even your pets become addicts.

b.) Have your whole immediate family - mum, dad, brothers, sisters - become hardcore scientologists. They decide that scientology is the best thing ever. They love it so much that they sell all their possessions and yours and give the money to scientology. They even turn their house into a sort of scientology temple and it becomes all full of scientologists, all being silent or humming and contacting aliens. Even your pets become scientologists.


a.) Go back to grade 1 knowing everything that you know now. You just have to go through growing up trying to convince everyone you're just an ordinary kid.

b.) Go back to grade 7 knowing everything that you know now. You just have to go through your middle years trying to convince everyone you're just an ordinary teenager.


a.) Be forced at gunpoint cut off all the fingers on your right hand, have a guard roll them in flour and batter, deep fry them in front of you, and then make you eat them.

b) Be forced at gunpoint to bite off a genteleman's balls and eat them raw, with a little soy sauce.


a.) Be forced to change allegiance to the team you hate the most - buy a season ticket, wear all the replica gear, have their most hated player become your favourite player, tell all your mates about how much you love them. And your team now becomes your most hated team.

b.) Eat a catshit sandwich


a.) Become enslaved down a silver mine where you never see the light of day, as your slave owners keep you chained up underground all night. All you ever do is cut & haul rocks. If you are too slow you get beaten. You work fourteen hours a day for no pay. After a few years you die from overwork. You never see anyone from the opposite sex or have opportunity of escape. You never have any holidays.

b.) Be crucified to death immediately


a.) Be forced to hunt down & kill a random child, you are just given his name and address and you have to do it otherwise you will be killed. The child lives in upstate New York. Once you kill him, you'll be given a new identity and be safe from prosecution

b.) Have your face become a giant grinning crocodile face, all covered in thick scaly hide


a.) A set of two dice that you roll once every morning. If you roll a double six, then you become official Lord Of Nudity for the day. No sechs, unless the other party agrees, but anyone has to strip entirely naked in front of you if you so command it. Providing they are above legal age, no paedos please.

However, if you roll snake eyes (double 1) you have to walk around entirely naked for the day as a forfeit. If you own the dice, you have to use them. Oh, and all the other combinations just mean an ordinary day.

b.) No dice


a.) Have a small talking bird that who can read your mind and, once per day, will fly on to your shoulder and loudly announce what you are thinking about. This will always occur at the most awkward or embarrassing time. You cannot kill or otherwise get rid of this bird, and he will appear out of nowhere. However, he is restricted to one embarrassing revelation per day.

b.) Have the emotions you display reversed. For example, if you are actually sad, you will be smiling and laughing, but if you are happy, you'll be in tears. This is permanant.


a.) Have your mum & dad throw a big birthday party for all your friends & family, but when you got there the room is decorated with pictures of your mum & dad doing sex. Some photos, some good quality oil paintings. And then they strip naked and start doing sex in front of everyone as your birthday cake is brought out.

b.) You have to leave work early every day, as something weird happens near the end of the day. A big portion of your work colleagues turn against you and start chucking stuff at you, then this extends into outright violence with quite severe kicks and punches until you leave the workplace. Once in a while, random people from outside the workplace come in off the street and join in too. It's a really frightening experience as you never know why it happens. Police ignore your problem.


a.) Get to ride on a mechanical elephant for the rest of your life :- top speed 60 kmh, weather-proof little cab on top, laser eyes for shooting at pedestrians (set to stun), fully road legal with rego, able to climb right over small cars (but no crushing)

b.) Be pulled around the sky in a carriage by six flying unicorns for 6 months, go wherever you want, unicorns are on go-faster pills and never get tired.


Would you rather piss gentle, cool streams of solid gold or shit $100 bills from your clacker?


a.) Everytime you enter a supermarket to buy anything, a ghostly talking dog turns up who follows you around the aisles, criticising your purchases. He has the power to either refuse two of your purchases at his choosing, or manipulate your wallet/visa card to ensure that you are temporarily 85 cents off your total at the till, leading you to leave an item back. He has a voice & manner like Richard E Grant, and most other shoppers think he's your dog. He also shits on the supermarket floor.

b.) At a random point each afternoon, you are overcome with the urge to believe that the nearest person to you is the living embodiment of a god who can grant you whatever you want out of life, but only if you prostrate yourself before them and worship at their feet. You are overcome with the urge to offer them little gifts, like 20 cent pieces or keyrings or Mentos, as a sacrifice. The feeling is so strong you can't overcome it, but it only lasts 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you snap out of it and can either explain yourself or brush it under the carpet. This might be difficult if you work afternoons.