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The Australia Day Honours List

Look … I’m not jealous, BUT … Why are there never any tradies given the gong for “job well done” when it comes to recognition of one’s efforts? Why is a fast runner, a media queen, a diligent scientist or even a bee-keeper held in higher esteem than your local honest tradie … OK, OK … your local tradie?

Why are accolades of swooning compliments pasted with wincing obsequiousness icing-like over those selected from elite and popular pastimes while the merits of great … even supreme sacrifice to one’s trade skills overlooked for the glittering prizes … whhyyyy? I don’t like to boast or to blow my own trumpet on such sensitive issues, but I have distinct recall of certain customers back in my trade-working days who would heap praise upon my carpentry skills when a solution for a particularly tricky bit of construction was called for.

“Joe, you’re a genius!” was more than once heralded upon my skills with saw and mallet. ”How did you think of THAT?” was another fulsome acknowledgement toward my capacity and dedication to my trade … AND … not just me! There were others, I’m sure. I mean … look at Keith the plumber who worked out the re-routing of the black-water septic under the floor of Jack Androlopolous’s granny-flat secretly into the neighbours sewerage pipe … They toasted a retsina or two to THAT idea. Or Ron-th’-brickie, when he suggested it would be a better thing if they plastered over his brick-work for appearances sake … a solution avoided before out of mistaken sensitivity. No praise there for HIS self-sacrifice … where were the accolades for those great achievements? Where are the glittering prizes? Not for the tradie the PM’s handshake … the trophy upon the wall … the embossed certificate or that piccy in the paper. Nothing, save a disgruntled phone call of “So where the hell are you?” Or “WHAT, more materials!” and it’s back to the blood sweat and tears on the job without the least thanks.

And don’t even mention the cultural contributions gifted to the nation by the tradie f’rinstance … I suppose many of you have heard the expression used in surfing mythology of “hanging five” … being, of course, the practice of hanging five toes over the nose of the surf-board whilst skeeting down the face of a wave. Well, I bet you don’t know where THAT little icon of surfabillia came from: Tony Simmioni and the fifth-floor concrete pour of the Waymouth St Telephone exchange. Yep! Hard to believe, eh? But there you go … it happened that Tony Simmioni, the carpenter foreman in charge of the pour there, was standing on a plank on the edge of the concrete pour observing, when the concrete pump hose did a sudden flick – like they do – and knocked the edge of the plank he was standing on and it swung out of a sudden over the edge of the scaffolding and Tony was suspended out over the edge of the building, five floors up, in a crouching position, arms akimbo as he kept his balance and his front left blunstone boot was hanging over the edge of the end of the plank whilst it pivoted and hovered over the abyss. And for just that short moment, before he was swung back to safety, he held that now well-known classic position of the surfer in juxtaposition with the wilds of nature at his back and his trusty surfboard under his feet, a mile-wide smile upon his face and those five toes hanging over the nose of the board … ”hangin’ five”.

One of the labourers there at the time … a shortish blond-haired young bloke named “Farrelly” (“Midge” was his nick-name if I recall) was heard to comment upon the sight of Tony Simmioni wobbly-legged hanging over the edge of the plank..

“I reckon I could maybe hang five toes like that upon my Malibu surfboard down at Moana.”

And so history was born. But did Tony Simmioni get a mention in the song? Noooo way … no accolades for the tradie. And another thing … I bet not many of you really know how the discovery of the “X-ray” really happened … but “Smokey” the electrician could enlighten you. But hey … that’s another story. Right now I gotta go back and listen to ANOTHER boring story of the development of Quantum computer physics or something …

It’s SO unfair!


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  1. Rob

    Joseph,i think we should have our own Alternative Order of Straya. The best and worst qualify. Be awarded a golden banana or cheap 9ct gold plated, cubic zirconium, dog dropping. Mounted on freshly lacqured 40mm MDF.blocks. Aw wonderful addition to anyones desk or book shelves.

  2. Keitha Granville

    Ordinary people rarely feature in honours lists anywhere. The ones that really get to me are the politicians who are praised for their outstanding contribution to their country. The fact that they are handsomely rewarded for that FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES is never considered.
    In my opinion the top honours should go to volunteers who give up their free time for no financial reward to help others. These are the honourable Australians

  3. Jack Russell

    Never deny the glitterati their 15 minutes?

    I take your point though … Go the tradies! (the ones in bluntstones and toolbelts, not the ones in suits)

  4. Rob

    Volunteers and carers are as you say rarely if ever recognised Keitha. Both groups are a goldmine for charities / business alike. Sadly, successive Federal Governments have taken advantage of carers and volunteers. The cost savings to the Federal purse are into the millions of dollars a month. Centrelink actively encourage people to opt for Carers Payments as its even less than Newstart, which is one of the lowest in the OECD.

    We do need to acknowledge and reward volunteers and carers a gong is nice the certificate yeah ok. Something more tangible would be appreciated as well.

  5. Ken Butler

    Get a life, Joe. Hopefully, I am trying to detect enough tongue in cheek to make your post acceptable.
    These were wonderful recipients and well recommended.

  6. Arthur Tarry

    Australians of the year, honours lists etc are boring and irrelevant to many Australians as they simply reflect the opinion of an elite cadre of insiders used to manipulating things for vicarious reasons. Recipients are all good people, no doubt, but there are millions of good people in Australia that are doing worthwhile things everyday that never attract any honours attention, nor do they seek such recognition. I advocate scrapping the whole useless system, with its overtones of archaic regal awards and class, as well as its stupidity. How can you really identify, say the teacher of the year, or the volunteer of the year, let alone the real Australian of the year.

  7. Joseph Carli

    Too right, Arthur…and it’s not that the tradie isn’t an inventive sort of chap…contributing to the level of technology of society…why even myself, I can humbly claim an inventive streak that remains totally unappreciated by the main-stream..For instance, not many know of my unique solution to the problem of “grip fatigue” after a day on the hammer nailing together stud-work frames for the walls of houses..a most tiresome job before the invention of the nail-gun, I can tell you!..Well, I invented the “strap-on tendon”…now be nice, be nice..It consisted of a leather strap of slim weave that clipped around one’s wrist and stretched over the back of your hand, past the fingers to clip again around the head of the hammer, thereby acting as a artificial tendon that held the hammer from flying out of your grip when and if it weakened from all that hammering…and it worked a treat!…a bloody beauty!

    You can see the use of such an invention, surely?..I mean, all those arthritic handymen and women who would like nothing better than to get stuck into those loose palings on the fence. but for those arthritic fingers that can no longer get a good grip on the hammer…well with my “strap-on-tendon”, you no longer needed to grip the hammer, you could just hold the handle loosely and let the tendon do the restraining…you get it?

    But there was a flaw…The lady whose place we were building at the time of my developing the idea, was a maker of those ornate leather handbags and purses…beautiful pieces..original and hand-made..well, she made that artificial tendon to my specifications very nicely and soundly..a nice job indeed..but to finish off and to “personalise” it, she constructed and fixed on the wrist clasp as a ..a..what would you call it…a totem..perhaps?..a most beautiful in-proportion imitation of a Red-backed Spider..a most singular piece I have to say..Well..my first wife..a sort of spiritual lady (at the best of times), took a shine to that spider totem and it had effect upon her most aphrodisiac!…very much so!..she swooned over it I’m telling you!…and she insisted on us making love there and then when she first laid eyes upon it!..lucky we were home!..and there-upon insisted that I wear it whenever the urge for “spiritual connection” took her…LOOK!..don’t ask me how women think of these things!..I don’t make the rules!!…I’m just telling you how it happened FFS!…and she claimed it as her own and took it away from me so I never got to use it on the job…..the work job..the work job!…

    And so there you go…

  8. Malibu Mick

    Joseph – Ken Baxter makes a good point – get a life and get over it. Also its clear you like telling stories but as I’m close to the Farrelly family, Midget (not midge) never worked or lived in South Australia. But why let facts get in the way of a good story

  9. Joseph Carli

    Ah!..Malibu Mick..you’ve found me out!…and there I was thinking I’d be taken seriously…and you and Ken saw straight through me in a flash…

  10. Roswell

    Malibu Mick, it was Ken Butler, not Ken Baxter.

    See … everyone gets names wrong.

  11. Roswell

    And further, Malibu Mick, Joe was talking about a bloke he worked with in South Australia … NOT the famous surfer.

    I don’t see in the story where Joe said that Midget Farrelly ever did live in SA.

  12. Jack Arnold

    The Prim Monster and Chief Hypocrite for the Liarbral Party is basking in the glow of reflected glory from the hard work of others like the especially talented Professor Simmons, a Pommie refugee! Meanwhile, the NLP misgovernment continue their underfunding of tertiary and state VET institutions and jailing refugees without offence simply because they can …. bring on the double dissolution election so that doubly disillusioned voters can despatch this motley lot of self-serving egotists to the International Court for crimes against humanity … and the Australian people!!

  13. lawrencewinder

    …and the Harpy Cash could present the award…. only to be “gonged” with it, to much applause, in return.

  14. wam

    everyone knows tradies work on a gift no brains no schooling just like the Aborigines whose gift, 150 years ago made them the best cricketers in Australia so we sent them packing back to the reservation. A couple of Aborigines in qld broke out and eddie bowled bradman but that was not skill it was not learnt it was just nature.
    Your personal gift is tainted by being the only chippie in my FFF(family friend foes) experience with a caring right side of the brain.
    Consequently chippies have buckley’s of a gong and you have even less of a chance.

    As for x-ray we all know ted was involved in the classification of the tradies’ bum crack.

  15. Joseph Carli

    You know how it is, wam..we all just stumble along banking on chance and circumstance..lucky we know how to breathe..

  16. wam

    My brother in law was hopeless at school and became a chippie he denies any knowledge of maths but is an absolute measuring genius and he knows the mathematical calculations of stairs beyond a maths teachers I have met.
    Education is given the status of a school but, whilst it is possible to get educated at school, most education does not involve school or school teachers.

  17. Joseph Carli

    Was having an argument with an academic on the advantages of genetic testing of lambing stock against an olden days lay-farmer’s “on-ground” experience..and we had to agree to disagree that I have seen a almost illiterate cocky pick a genetic fault in a flock of wethers at a sale-yard auction faster than a laboratory could test for such…my argument rested on the grounds that the human eye is so very quick to pick out a physical fault in both humans and animals..and then experience could detect whether such a fault was a pattern in a flock of animals…we had to agree to disagree because they had no confidence in the accuracy of the illiterate farmer’s “un-educated guess”.

    Talking about bum-cracks..it was a great joke to surreptitiously drop a cold 3″ nail down the bum-crack when the tradie squatted…Christ!..did that make them jump…you could hear their bum-cheeks slap back together like a clap of thunder in a summer storm!

  18. helvityni

    We love our sports people, don’t we. If we can’t give awards to the new ones, we always find some oldies to honour….

    I’m all for that nice young soccer player girl, Sam K, to get her well-earned award….

    Pleased for Eddie Woo too…those foreigners have brought a lot talent to Oz…could someone tell that to Dutton…

  19. Phil

    Love your writing Joe.

    The pic of Turnbull in hi viz and eye protection is hilarious. I wonder if politicians who dress-up as real people have any inkling of how stupid they look with their business burka covered in hi-viz. Absolute dicks.

  20. helvityni

    Is that constant finger-pointing ( of Turnbull) trying make it clear to the hoi polloi what he is trying to say when he’s once more ‘ensuring’ us about something or other…

    I find it patronising…not ensuring or endearing…

  21. Joseph Carli

    Thanks, Phil…onyer…and you , helvityni…welcome back!..have you been on holidays back to the “old country”…?

    BTW…I don’t do the pics at the head of page..the moderator usually chooses them..and good on them too, I say!

  22. win jeavons

    I don;t believe any job that yields a nice income should be up for awards. There are many unsung heroes – often women – who have made their corner of the nation a better fairer place. They receive little or no pay and never get rich for their efforts. Sportsmen would only qualify if they seriously sacrificed for those less fortunate. (Glenn McGrath and cancer come to mind) entertainers get their reward, as do businessmen and politicians ( many of whom are over rewarded) . There are so many people who give more than they take, but so few are ever recognised except perhaps locally.

  23. wam

    I am unskilled at writing but hell WTF was I trying to say 3 years ago?? It is our 55 anniversary today so my darling deserves a gong???

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