After WWII the Australian Government offloaded a massive amount of military equipment in a giant fire sale – everything from heavy army vehicles to boots and catering equipment. Many of the smaller items ended up in so called ‘war surplus stores’ which proliferated in Australia for decades to come. Whilst the stores continued to stock some ex-military gear, they soon expanded to sell everything from jeans and duffle coats to sleeping bags and tents.
They still exist today, but nowhere in the numbers they did back in the 70s and 80s when Stolliar Bros at 752a George St, Sydney, was a city institution, beloved by any buyer of Doc Marten boots or camouflage hats. All last week we had treasurer Joe Hockey trying to sell us on the idea of a ‘surplus’, somewhere down the line, but what we really need is a surplus now. It may seem a tenuous collection but a genuine retail opportunity for the cash strapped Government awaits in every city and suburb across the country.
Australian Government Surplus Stores, staffed by the long term unemployed, would be stocked with everything that the Government deems ‘surplus’ or might be considering flogging off to replenish the coffers. When the hideous detention centres on Nauru and Manus are finally shut down (we can only hope), we’ll have thousands of camp tents, rolls of barbwire and cooking pots to dispose. As a gesture of reconciliation the Government might even consider allowing the refugees it has exiled to Cambodia to return and help run these stores, imparting cheery anecdotes of human suffering as they flog off camp beds and reconditioned portaloos.
We wouldn’t stop at detention camp surplus, and the Government should be totally ruthless when it comes to selling off the ‘farm’, so to speak. Clear out the PM’s houses in Canberra and Sydney of any unnecessary bric’a’brac, cutlery and tacky gifts from foreign leaders. He seldom stays there and could shack up at the AFP Training College again, for the remainder of his term. The same applies to his stockpile of spurious knighthood gongs, like the one delivered to the Duke of Edinburgh. Straight to the disposal stores along with the portrait of Joko Widodo from the National Portrait Gallery.
Get the picture? We’re not just cashing in on the poles and wires. We’re stripping the Federal Government of any fat and excess whatever and selling it off to the public. And it’s not all about the current LNP coalition. Labor has left us a legacy of thousands of ‘surplus’ (there’s that word again) pink batts, which could surely go on sale as an opening special complete with a special endorsement from Peter Garrett.
Once we finally decide that interfering in the politics of foreign countries like Iraq is highly questionable, we’ll have a massive flood of ex-military gear to add to the inventory. If we can persuade the current generation of bearded hipsters that balaclavas, army boots and night vision goggles are an essential accessory then we are in for a real economic boom. Australia – the surplus awaits you!
THE HIT LIST: Pianist Bridie King delivers some very funky soul and blues grooves at the atmospheric Lord Wolseley Hotel in Ultimo this Saturday 23 May. Joining Bridie will be master percussionist Samila Sithole and vocal legend Pat Powell. If you have yet to experience the vibe of Australia’s narrowest pub with some very hip music, then this is one trip you need to make.
By Coffin Ed, Jay Katz and Miss Death