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About the Author

Kevin Rennie
Citizen journalist, Teacher (retired),Volunteer (Melbourne, Australia)

I am a retired secondary teacher and unionist. I have been an Australian Labor Party member since 1972. After teaching in Victorian schools from 1975, I spent 8 years teaching in the Northern Territory: 4 in Katherine, followed by 4 in Maningrida, an aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. Returned in June 2008 to Melbourne to live after 15 months in Broome. Now live near Red Bluff which overlooks Half Moon Bay on Port Phillip Bay's eastern side. I am a Global Voices author.


Bob Geldof Rouses Australia’s Rich

Published 23rd May 2010 - 9 comments - 4661 views -

The role of celebrities in promoting developing world issues is controversial, to say the least. Entertainers, actors, royalty and sports stars frequently act as ambassadors, spokespeople or lobbyists. Many have their own foundations or charities. Bono, Bob Geldof, Princess Diana and more recently the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, and former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh are just a few of them.

The following is a crosspost of my Global Voices article on Bob Geldof's activities this week.

Aid celebrity Bob Geldof caused a stir on a visit to Australia this week:

SIR Bob Geldof says Australia is economically stupid for importing labour while Aboriginal talent goes to waste. Speaking at a breakfast for West Australian mining entrepreneur Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest’s nation-touring GenerationOne movement, which aims to halt indigenous disparity within this generation, Geldof likened indigenous affairs in Australia to situations he’d witnessed in third-world Africa.
Sir Bob Geldof slams Australia's 'absurd' treatment of Aborigines



Greg Tingle at Australian Sports Entertainment seemed tickled by Geldof's irreverence to the big end of town:

Geldof urged the "rich bastards" (Mr Packer et al) in attendance at the breaky to contribute wholeheartedly and dig deep re Mr Forrest’s fight to end indigenous disparity. It's a shame 'Our Richard' (Branson), Steve Wynn (still winning big), and billionaire 'Google Guys' weren't in attendance.
Australian Aboriginals And Casinos Generate Bob Geldof Heat

CairnsBlog voiced the concerns of a local historian:

Dr Timothy Bottoms says, that a foreigner like Sir Bob Geldof has the nerve to identify that ‘Australia has exiled indigenous Australians from the nation’ is not an effrontery, but an insight that we should have recognised ages ago. "He’s absolutely bloody right!" Dr Bottoms says. "What he does not go into is one of the pivotal reasons for this."
BOB GELDOLF: Australia's treatment of Aborigines is 'economically stupid and absurd'

Dr. Bottoms' explanation of those reasons is quoted in detail in the post. There were a number of bloggers, including A Western Heart, who attacked Geldof's own wealth and his alleged hypocrisy:

Such hatred of success and wealth bob, maybe you should have the bong back, contrary to what an angry fascist like yourself might think, those who are wealthy have no obligation to part with their money, if they want to they can, if they don't want to then you can't make them. Feel free to give all your money to them though, I'm sure you're not a "rich bastard", are you bob.
Go home bob

His motives had been canvassed in Bigpond LiveNews:

There are reports that Mr Geldof has been doing the rounds of business conferences and charity events in Australia this month, reportedly receiving very large payments for some of his speaking engagements.
Sir Bob Geldof at Melbourne Fundraiser

Geldof also echoed calls by Oxfam Australia for Australia to increase its overseas aid:

Bob Geldof still thinks Australia is one of the meanest countries on Earth when it comes to its foreign aid program. The outspoken singer gave an emphatic response when asked if Australia was shouldering its weight of the world's international aid.
Australia's foreign aid 'pathetic': Bob Geldof

Love him or hate him, Bob just won't go away.

Category: Aid | Tags:


  • Helena Goldon on 23rd May 2010:

    Hi Kevin, that’s a very interesting approach. While thinking about the developing world we tend to split it into Global North and Global South, whereas within each country some communities tend to discriminate some others!

  • Kevin Rennie on 23rd May 2010:

    By most measures, indigenous communities in remote and regional Australia are part of the developing world. I hope to post about this now that I’m back home. Warwick Thornton’s acclaimed film Samson & Delilah deals with some of the issues. Please watch this space.

  • Clare Herbert on 23rd May 2010:

    Oh Bob! I think himself and Bono have a lot to answer for in terms of the developed world’s views on poorer nations. Endless aid is not the answer and they have made pity an artform. These are complex issues but there’s no room for nuance in pop culture. As I said elsewhere, an electric guitar often drowns out common sense when it comes to development policies.

  • Kevin Rennie on 23rd May 2010:

    The original Global Voices post is now available in Dutch:
    Australiƫ: Bob Geldof veroorzaakt ophef onder Australische rijken thanks to Percy Balemans, a Lingua author/translator and the editor of Global Voices in Dutch. More multi-lingual Th!nk3 posts should be one of our goals.

  • Ian Sullivan on 24th May 2010:

    @clare - nice sound bite on the electric guitar and agree with your comment. Makes it more difficult for supporters of aid as they make out that aid is the sure all - and yes they promote pity!!

    But I like the fact that Geldoff storms around the world in noisy indignation….

  • Clare Herbert on 26th May 2010:

    Is it for the entertainment factor, Ian?

  • Kevin Rennie on 26th May 2010:

    As long as the sound and the fury signify something!

  • Ian Sullivan on 26th May 2010:

    @clare - it is generally entertaining! And he has to do somethnig with his days. In seriousness I think Geldoff and Bono help promote awareness of development but itfeels tlie it’s sometimes more about tem than the cause….

  • Clare Herbert on 27th May 2010:

    @ Ian: Pretty entertaining alright, and it certainly doesn’t hurt their careers. Awareness raising is always good, but I think their over-simplification of development issues has been damaging.

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