Rod Quantock, OAM

^^^ Research Associate, Research Unit in Public Cultures, University of Melbourne ^^^ Associate, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne ^^^ Patron of Tandem ^^^ Patron of Ardoch Youth Foundation's Numeracy Program ^^^

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Rod was recently made an Honorary associate of the MELBOURNE SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY INSTITUTE at the UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE FOR HIS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM.

Rod’s contribution to Australian cultural life was rewarded when he received A Sydney Myer Performing Arts Awards in 2004, putting him in the company of such arts luminaries as Geoffrey Rush, Robyn Nevin, Nick Enright, Lucy Guerin and Paul Grabowsky.

ROD was recently Knighted - not officially (OH, IF WISHING MADE IT SO) but by himself in a drunken stupor late the third quarter of a Collingwood-Carlton match.

In 1981 Rod presented the first season of his internationally acclaimed ‘BUS’ show. He has described the show as follows: “I TAKE A BUS-LOAD OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO VISIT PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW THEY ARE COMING.” In doing so, he created a whole new performance genre and has been visiting strangers successfully ever since.

Rod likes Tim Tam but he's pretty sure we'll run out of them soon,

Rod has a dog but (and some grown-up children) but he's protecting their privacy by not posting any pictures of them here. 

Education is important to Rod.

Education is important to Rod.

Look how much Rod loved school!

Look how much Rod loved school!


FAN MAIL

Here's a delightful exchange between Rod and his biggest fan - be sure to read his reply...

Reader Janie has a message for Rod Quantock, one of the protesters at the violent s11 blockade who got a secret payout from the Bracks Government:

Dear Mr Quantock,

I wonder if you remember me?

I was the mature age mother of two standing there in a blue uniform, fear in my eyes, as pieces of 3 x 2, bits of baseball bats and glass bottles rained down on my co-workers and myself from several hundred people grouped in front of us. 

We had just been directed to attempt a clear way for buses about to leave the venue.  On the opening of the gates, the crowd swelled around us. Each of us had hold of the belt of the officer in front, knowing that if that grip were broken, we would be lost to the crowd shouting threats and abuse at us. 

It was dark, and I could feel members of that crowd striking at my arms, head and face, attempting to break my grip of safety.  I could not see the ground or more than the back of the head of the officer in front of me.  I focused on the officer in front and gripped his belt for dear life. One officer fell, or was knocked over, and I tripped over him or her, as did several others in front and behind me.  Then we lined up, those with hard helmets in the front row, the rest of us arms length behind them.  Thats when the bottles, timber and bats rained down. 

That’s when I saw you, standing to my left, near the front of the crowd.  You had a loudspeaker in your hand, and you looked me straight in the eyes for several seconds.  Your face was contorted with hatred, and you glared at me like you wanted to really hurt me. You were yelling something at me, I couldn’t hear for the noise. It seemed strange that this seemingly affable character from the telly hated me so much. 

Our eye contact was broken when a glass bottle headed for my face was deflected at the last moment by the helmet of the quick thinking officer in front of me.  You went on to glare at another officer and yell at them. 

Earlier, I saw some of the crowd attempting to insert the pointy ends of umbrellas under the face guards of the police horses to poke at their eyes. 

I had to go home and explain to my children why the friendly character on the telly had shown such hate toward their mother and her friends, and why peace loving people could be so cruel. 

You state your daughter now has a fear of police.  Shame on you!  Mine now have a fear of their mother going to work, and anyone selling matresses.

ROD'S REPLY

 

 Last Thursday Andrew Bolt was fearless enough to publish a letter addressed to me under the headline, “Rod’s ugly S11 face”. The letter was from “Jamie”, a country policewoman and mature-aged mother of two.

 “Jamie”, not her real name, began by asking if I remembered her. Well. “Jamie”, I don’t, and not just because you weren’t wearing a name badge. (In fact I seem to remember not one of the hundreds of police present that night had a name badge on. I wonder why?)

The reason I don’t remember you, “Jamie”, is because you clearly weren’t there. Indeed, having read your letter a number of times, I am beginning to think you might not even exist. (If Mr Bolt can facilitate a meeting I’ll take that back.) Nothing in your florid and, let me say, extremely well-written description of that night matches what I saw, what the many cameras recorded, what other witnesses attest.

 Let me you tell you my story, “Jamie”.

I’m a more than mature-aged father of two. And on the evening of Tuesday, September 12th, 2000, I was standing in the middle of Queensbridge St, facing Crown Casino. There were perhaps a dozen other people in the street and a small group of 60-80 quietly standing against the security fence blocking the entrance to Crown on the far side of the road. They were chatting to each other and passers-by and to the uniformed police behind the wire.

 Around 7.30 the uniformed police moved quietly away leaving the space behind the protestors clear. The protestors had not been asked or ordered to move.

Without warning, police in riot gear with batons filled the space left by the uniformed police, climbed to the top of the fence and began beating the protestors on the other side around the head and shoulders from above. There was screaming and yelling. Some who escape ran towards me in the middle of the road.

 At the same time a line of mounted police moved in behind me forcing me and those around me back towards the batons and the HUNDREDS of police pouring from the casino engulfing the terrified protestors in an ocean of black-clad, helmeted, baton-wielding mayhem.

I ended up on the footpath on the south-east corner of the Power and Queensbridge Sts and this is where “Jamie” says she saw me:

You had a loudspeaker in your hand and you looked me straight in the eyes for several seconds. Your face was contorted with hatred and you glared at me like you really wanted to hurt me.

 I looked two members of the Victoria Police in eye that night, “Jamie”. One was the male Force Response Unit member who hit me with a baton and the other was a horse. Neither was wearing a name badge and neither was a mature-aged mother of two, although I don’t know enough about horses to be sure. Oh, and “Jamie”, there’s footage of me too: No loudspeaker.

In the aftermath of that evening I have talked to many people who were there, some who were injured. I have read reports and have viewed all the publicly available private, commercial and police camera footage.

 None of the footage in the public domain supports “Jamie’s” account of the evening. There is no footage of protestors hitting police. Not one frame of the 3x2’s, baseball bats or glass bottles “Jamie” says were thrown. No umbrellas under the visors of horses. But there are some very graphic and sickening images of police viciously attacking defenceless people. I’ll be showing them at the Comedy Festival. (If the police have unreleased footage that contradicts my account, it mightn’t be a bad time to give it an airing. Perhaps at my show.)

So “Jamie” next time your daughters are frightened by a mattress salesman tell them about a young woman I saw being repeatedly hit by your fellow officers until she fell to her knees after which she was pulled up by her hair, hit across the legs and dumped on the footpath as police pushed across the top of her.

Your cruel fiction is an insult to me and to all those who carry the physical and mental scars of that calculated night of unprovoked police violence. And it’s also an insult to all those police men and women I have met over the years who have been invariably professional, courteous and a credit to their uniforms.