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Eric Shackle Writes: The Rudds Of Australia

The name Rudd has echoed down he years in Australian public affairs, as Eric Shackle reveals in his intriguing article.

For dozens of ineresting columns please click on Eric Shackle Writes in the menu on this page. And you are missing a huge treat if you don't visit Eric's world-famous e-book www.bdb.co.za/shackle/


’T is the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.
- Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet (1777-1844).

Chapter 1 (c. 1890)

Arthur Hoey Davis (1868-1935), who had dropped out of Emu Creek School in outback Queensland at the age of 12, wrote a series of skits about rowing, published in the Brisbane Chronicle, using the pen-name Steele Rudder, later shortened to Steele Rudd.


Chapter 2 (1895)

The Sydney Bulletin, which was Australia’s top literary magazine, published the first of many accounts by Davis of life on his dad’s outback property, under the heading On Our Selection. The sketches, written originally about different families, were presented as the experiences of the Rudd family, by Steele Rudd.

The stories became so popular that in 1899 The Bulletin published an illustrated collection, On Our Selection, followed by Our New Selection in 1903.

In later years, Davis wrote 24 books and six plays and lived to see three silent and four sound-film adaptations of his stories about Dad Rudd.


Chapter 3 (1940)

The Sydney film company Cinesound released one of a series of comedies about the Rudd family, entitled Dad Rudd. M.P. [Member of Parliament].

Here's a review from Your Movies website: http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/?action=movie_info&title_id=5717

Dad Rudd M.P. - The final of the Cinesound 'Dad and Dave' series. Dad Rudd decides to run for Parliament to protest the sitting M.P. who is using his influence to control the water supply to the local farmers. However Dad's daughter Ann Rudd is in love with the M.P.'s son, causing friction in the Rudd household. Along the way there are laughs galore when Dave and the rather delicate Mr Entwistle form their own volunteer fire brigade, and devise some original strategies to counter their opponent who is out to undermine Dad Rudd's election campaign.

Fast forward 66 years, to...


Chapter 4 (2006-2007)

The man widely tipped to become Prime Minister of Australia at next year’s Federal election claimed that his mother had been evicted from the family farm in Queensland after his dad died. Like the character in the 1940 film, today's leading politician has made many speeches about Australia's water supply problems.

By a mind-blowing one-in-a-zillion coincidence, showing how coming events cast their shadows before, and that real life sometimes copies art, the politician’s name is (drum roll, please) ... Kevin Rudd, M.P. He's Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party... And he's a Dad!

Kevin Rudd's father was a battling share-farmer in Eumundi, Queensland.

Kevin described his early days in a revealing Sunday Profile interview with the ABC's Julia Baird, aired in March 2006.

Here are a few edited excerpts:

Julia Baird:
You grew up poor in the back blocks of Queensland. Whereabouts was that exactly?

Kevin Rudd:
A little place called Eumundi. If you've ever drunk a brew called Eumundi Lager, that's where I come from, Black Snake country it's called... it's probably about 15 kilometres inland from Noosa. We had a farm there, my father was a share farmer. We didn't own the property, but as a kid growing up we had 500 acres to roam on, I had a horse, my job was to go and get the cattle and I would toddle off to school. I don't recall wearing shoes often, and that was an idyllic childhood right to the end of my primary school days.

Julia Baird:
From observing you, a lot of people have said, "You'd never be able to tell that you came from kind of outback Queensland." There's not as much of the bushie about you ..... where did that rough and tumble go?

Kevin Rudd:
For people listening in Queensland they would probably not think Eumundi is outback Queensland, it's only an hour and a half from Brissy [Brisbane]. When I finished school I decided I wanted to go to University. That was a bit unusual in those days from where I came from.

Julia Baird:
Your father was a dairy farmer who didn't finish primary school, your mother never finished secondary school and it seems that your father was hoping that you would stay on the land.

Kevin Rudd:
Yes, I remember actually sitting with my father on a horse one day... I was sitting at the gate of the property and looking down the road coming in from town and he said, "Well Kev, have you made up your mind yet?"

Like I'm about ten years old at this stage and I thought, "I'm not sure what you mean Dad", and he said, "Well you're coming to that fork in the road", and as a ten year old you look down the road and you see no fork, you don't know what the hell he's talking about. He said, "No, have you made up your mind - the big choices in life, is it going to be beef or is it going to be dairy?"

Julia Baird:
Were you close to your father? I mean he died when you were only eleven as you have said, it was because of a car crash and an infection that developed some weeks later... that must have been difficult?

Kevin Rudd:
I think my father's death was difficult at an early age. Being evicted actually was the harder bit. Because we were share farmers, we didn't own the property, so bury Dad one day and get tossed off the property virtually the next with nowhere to go and no assets, because you don't own a house if you're a share farmer either.

My mother had been a nurse during the war in Brisbane and then in the early 70s had to retrain as a nurse to bring us up, so she has semi-hero status in my life.

You can read or listen to the whole of that very interesting interview by visiting http://www.abc.net.au/sundayprofile/stories/s1583524.htm


Arthur Hoey Davis (biography) http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A080259b.htm

Journey into limelight http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/extras/oq/book4main2.html

Dad Rudd M.P. (1940 film) http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/library/exhibition/rudd/directions/text_16.htm


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