Literature Fiction

Re: Publican Movement

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

This short story is an *IA Writing Competition (fiction category) entry.

 

RE: PUBLICAN MOVEMENT

"Angry publicans... so many angry bloody publicans."

He fumed and spun his top hat onto the leather sofa and stumbled straight to his office drink bar to pour himself a long scotch whiskey.

Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington had been a disaster for the Governor-General. The incessant booing and calls for democracy had unsettled him. He grimaced at the high pile of correspondence on his desk and summoned the Official Secretary.

"This Publican Movement is way out of control. There were thousands of publicans at the races today. I didn’t realise there were so many hotels in Australia, and that, in itself, says something about the drinking culture in this country. Look at this pile of correspondence. All from the Publican Movement.”

He fumed.

The Official Secretary deferred.

"Your Excellency, with due respect, I think you mean Republican Movement."

The Governor-General groaned.

"Of course. Of course. Re: Publican Movement is how every letter on that pile starts. What are you talking about?"

"Sir, there is no colon being used in the term... the movement is all about..."

The Official Secretary paused and took a deep breath.

 "It is all about a rep..."

The withering look from the Governor-General cut him short.

"Listen here. You are really out of touch. The average publican does not even know what a colon is, let alone where to put it in a sentence and I’m mindful of that. A big part of this job is reading the mood of the people. Anyhow, I’m not very happy about the advice you gave during the Constitutional Crisis, so I’ve decided to act on this matter. Get me a bottle of 1961 Grange Hermitage. I need to draft a letter to fix these demonstrations."

The Governor-General leaned back in his chair and scratched his chin.

"Sir, there is actually no vintage wine left in the cellar prior to 1975. There is a glass or two left in the Coolabah wine cask, however, to take you through until the next shipment arrives."

The Governor-General sighed.

"Ah... 1975."

He shuddered slightly.

"A very thirsty year."

He waived away the Official Secretary, who smiled slightly at the thought of another glass from what the Government House staff referred to as "His Excellency’s handbag".

The Governor-General picked up the dictaphone:

"Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Publican Movement of Australia

 

As you would be aware, the above movement has become quite vocal in recent times and, in particular, at events where I have been in attendance.


The publicans’ demands can be summarised as follows: a right to democratically choose the brand of beer they wish to serve at their respective licensed premises.

Following my own extensive research on this matter, at the moment, each licensed hotel in Australia is linked to a major brewery.

 

Those frequenting a ‘Tooheys’ hotel can only drink Tooheys Beer. Those partaking of a beverage at a Queensland hotel can only drink XXXX. In Victoria, it is even more specialised, with only VB or Fosters being served at respective public houses.

 

In essence, the breweries of Australia are dictating to the publicans the beer that must be served at their premises.

 

Understandably, the cry goes up by publicans for the democratic choice to choose beer served at their establishments and in line with customer preferences. It is an increasingly hostile cry I hear whenever I attend an event.

 

Given the practice of 'non-choice of beer brand' is sanctioned by our laws (which, of course, are signed by me) has led to some very rowdy demonstrations by publicans, some even go as far as to claim the King is choosing the beer to be consumed in this country.

 

The right of the publican and, indeed, the public to choose their own beer should be a fundamental democratic right of Australians.

 

 I strongly support their position.

 

Consistent with recent historical events, I have sought advice on this matter from the Chief Justice of the High Court Of Australia. He concurs that the following provisions of Section 92 of the Constitution of Australia should prevail: '...trade, commerce and intercourse among the states, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free'

 

Further, he advises I have sufficient reserve powers left to act on this matter alone.

 

My preferred course of action is to recommend a change in legislation to allow the people of Australia to select the brand of beer they wish to drink at a hotel of their choosing.

 

Yours sincerely (etcetera, etcetera).”

He summoned the Official Secretary and handed him the dictaphone.

"Type that up and send it off. Also, draft a formal response to all those publicans and let them know I support their freedom to choose and serve any beer, at their own discretion, anywhere in Australia. It’s not as if I choose the P..."

He shook his head.

"It’s a democracy, after all."

He then enjoyed a long drink.

John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.

* Full IA Writing Competition details HERE.

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