Hockey: Not Your Average Joe

Hockey: Not Your Average Joe by Madonna King Read Free Book Online

Book: Hockey: Not Your Average Joe by Madonna King Read Free Book Online
Authors: Madonna King
doesn’t elaborate on what his son might think now, with Joe the nation’s treasurer, but it was a rare take on the boy from Northbridge. Other lecturers and tutors describe him as friendly and interested.
    It was 3 a.m. on the day the final votes were being tallied, when Joe asked Anthea how he was faring, whether there was a chance he would be the new SRC president at Sydney University. ‘She just laughed at me,’ he says. ‘She said I didn’t stand a chance.’ The early figures showed this to be true. Joe scored low on the primary vote, but beat the Christian candidate by a handful of votes. His preferences flowed to Joe, and pushed him ahead of the Labor nominee. In turn, Labor preferences came to Joe, too, ahead of the Liberals’ Michael Hughes, whose preferences helped Joe to get ahead of the Socialist candidate. The preferences mimicked a koala scrambling up a tree from branch to branch, eventually smiling, sitting atop it. Joe, the Independent candidate for the Varsity Party who had corralled the votes of college students, had won the prestigious position of SRC president. What’s more, he’d made it as an Independent. ‘He’s dined out on that ever since,’ Anthea says.
    Damyon Lill, who had been at school with Joe since Year 3, but who had not become a good friend until university, remembers the moment Joe was declared the winner. ‘No-one expected it. And I’ll never forget his father. He was full of absolute pride and joy. I didn’t appreciate it until that night and then it clicked how much it meant to Joe’s father, too.’
    Joe had been elected to head the 59th University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council for 1986–87. If it wasn’t in Joe’s plan, he had played it beautifully. Accepted into Duntroon. Tick. Accepted into Sydney University, whose alumni boasted prime ministers, governors-general and Nobel laureates. Tick. Accepted into St John’s College, the former home of a gold-plated network of men across a range of disciplines. Tick. Accepted into law. Tick. And now he had become the first Independent president in Sydney University’s 136-year history.
    Jeremy Melloy walked into the SRC president’s office the next day to see his best friend sitting in the president’s chair. Behind him sat a huge photo of a chimpanzee with the word BOSS scrawled across it. ‘I nearly burst out laughing,’ he says.

    The surprising success of Joe’s first political campaign left him on a high, but it was soon replaced by an audacious bid to take on the federal government over student fees, an ill-conceived campaign that propelled Joe both onto the national television news and the national political stage.
    The protest had started hours earlier, when 40 kegs and hot weather had lured thousands of students onto the front lawn of Sydney University. It was 25 March 1987, the day students in Sydney had decided to tell Bob Hawke and Susan Ryan what they thought of the government’s plan for a $250 tertiary ‘administration’ fee. Joe addressed the students, many of them as uninterested in the fee debate as they were interested in the free beer. But that didn’t stop Joe’s fiery speech. He yelled and demanded better action. He warned of the thin edge of the wedge, and used every other clich é he could think of. He told the throng of students that the government didn’t care about them. And then he told them to drink up. ‘On the buses,’ he yelled, urging the huge crowd to climb aboard one of the 40 coaches his team had organised. Like sheep, and with both the hot sun and beer beginning to take effect, they climbed aboard, and the buses poured into Central Station to join other students ready to roll down to Town Hall.
    Union activist Jack Mundey took to the stage before Joe, providing a speech that ignited a passion for free education even in those who were expressing disappointment that the free beers hadn’t followed them down to Town Hall. As Joe walked onto the stage he was

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