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Extreme Vetting podcast – Episode 22 – David Hunt

Welcome back to another season of Extreme Vetting with The Chaser – the only podcast to torture its guests. Below is a transcript of our interrogation of David Hunt, the historian behind the bestselling Girt, who claims that Australia’s governments have often been corrupt, racist and utterly hopeless. Can Border Force bully him into changing his mind?

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Interrogation Notes

Subject: DAVID HUNT
Under Investigation For: LEARNING FROM HISTORY

 

Charles Firth:

David Hunt, thank you for agreeing to this involuntary interrogation.

David Hunt:

What am I doing here?

Introduction:

The level of sedition, anti-authority behaviour and advertiser-unfriendly thought crime has reached record levels, especially amongst Australian’s elites. Luckily, the men and men of The Chaser have been commissioned by Border Force to conduct interrogations and sort out the subversives from the patriots. In conjunction with ASIO and the Five Eyes intelligence sharing protocols, this is Extreme Vetting with the Chaser.

Dom Knight:

Today we’re interrogating one of Australia’s leading historians, the author of the brilliant, hilarious and best-selling book Girt, David Hunt.

Charles Firth:

Oh, I don’t read books.

Dom Knight:

Charles, you need to understand history so we can repeat it.

Charles Firth:

Yeah right. Like what?

Dom Knight:

Well, he’s written very scathingly and amusingly about how since Europeans arrived here, the government has been hopeless, corrupts and really quite racist.

Charles Firth:

Oh yeah. That does sound like us.

Dom Knight:

Our mission, comes from Minister Dutton himself. We have to get him to change his mind and hopefully also, some facts.

Charles Firth:

Alright. I’ll make sure the taser is fully charged for this one.

Charles Firth:

We’ve brought you here because you’re well-known for your history books, Girt and True Girt.

David Hunt:

Yeah. Should be a very quick, quick involuntary interview then.

Charles Firth:

Yeah well. The thing that actually sparked our interest was that you’re also a speech writer for Joe Hockey. Can you tell us about that?

David Hunt:

Look. It was one of those … I think I was probably on drugs at the time that Joe called me and called me in for a cup of coffee. He said, “David, come and have a cup of coffee.” And then while I was having a cup of coffee and as at my weakest, he said, “David, would you be my speechwriter?” And I said, “Joe, I’m going to think about it.” And I thought the money would be quite good and I’d only have to sell out all of my political principles and so then I said, “Yeah, sure. Send a contract through.” And before anything happened, before I signed on the dotted line, somebody leaked it to the press, front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, my own mother trolled me on Facebook. And that was the end of my career as a liberal party speechwriter. It lasted about six hours, I think.

Dom Knight:

How would you have gotten yourself into Joe Hockey’s head? Did you have a plan in mind?

David Hunt:

I was going to take over, if not the world, Australia or if not Australia, at least Hunter’s Hill, which I think is where Joe was living at the time. No look, I actually really like that bloke. I thought he is a smooth conversationalist. He is a charming, witty and erudite man and he brews a decent coffee, or he has a functionary to brew it for him.

Dom Knight:

And when was this? Was this before the lifters and leaners line? That was somebody else because that was a classic.

David Hunt:

Oh I did Poor People Don’t Drive Cars. It was actually about a week after Poor People Don’t Drive Cars that I think he realised that perhaps he needed a sensitive, left-leaning speechwriter.

Charles Firth:

Had he read your book?

David Hunt:

He did. Yeah. Yeah. That’s why he invited me in for a cup of coffee.

Dom Knight:

Can we have a chat, actually, Charles?

Charles Firth:

Yeah, sure.

Dom Knight:

We’ll just step outside. This is going better than I could have imagined. He has no principles.

Charles Firth:

None at all.

Dom Knight:

He’s even worse than us.

Charles Firth:

Yeah.

Dom Knight:

Well we work for Border Force. Yeah, maybe about the same. This is going to be great. What can we get him to do? Probably anything.

Charles Firth:

I think, if he’s an historian right, we should just get him to write the correct version of history.

Dom Knight:

Oh, no black armbands.

Charles Firth:

No black armbands.

Dom Knight:

Oh, that sounds fantastic. All right. Let’s go back in and butter him up, shall we?

Charles Firth:

Yeah.

Dom Knight:

David. Mate. Buddy. Where did it all start for you?

David Hunt:

Where’s my coffee?

Dom Knight:

Tell us where the Dave Hunt story began.

David Hunt:

Sorry. I’ve been called into an interview by conservative forces and I’m used to getting a coffee.

Charles Firth:

Okay. Here’s a coffee and I promise you it’s not spiked.

Dom Knight:

They won’t let us near the booze, that’s why. So when you were a kid, did you get in trouble? Were you a law-abiding kid or did you push the envelope?

David Hunt:

Oh look, I pushed the envelope in terms of fashion sense. I had … I used to wear a big blue raincoat and dirty white sneakers to school and I had long hair, almost down to my elbows in sort of a strange print valiant cut, fringe at the front and my nickname was Stench. So that probably tells you a little bit about my childhood.

Charles Firth:

And what’s the worst thing you ever did as a kid?

David Hunt:

I still have the occasional recurring nightmare, year five improvised school performance. We were all doing little musical things and skits on stage for other kids in the school. And I thought it would be really funny to get a bucket of water and throw it on an unsuspecting friend of mine. I thought this would lighten up the mood and he burst into tears. And I felt terrible. I actually still have the occasional … I actually bounced off a mini tramp with a bucket of water and then poured it all over him. And I still have the occasional dream about that and the feeling of wretchedness and guilt.

Dom Knight:

We can help with that. The buckets of water are very common around here. But the guilt, we can absolutely help train away if you need us to.

David Hunt:

You’ve been to the Malcolm Frazier School of Waterboarding, have you, with the buckets of water?

Dom Knight:

Yeah, well it’s all there is to do on Nauru, it’s all they’ve got is water, really, in the middle of the ocean. When did you start your interest in history?

David Hunt:

There was this little ginger guy I went to uni. He was four years behind me uni Charles Firth and he said, “I’ve got this really, really good idea for a history television show, a sketch comedy history of Australia called The Complete and Utter History of Australia.” He says it’s going to be great. You can work on it as a script writer because you’re unem- well you’re unemployable and yeah. I actually got into history through Charles Firth as a comedy writing gig and of course, Charles’ project went nowhere and I’ve become an internationally renowned Australian history writer.

Dom Knight:

And your books sell really well, haven’t they, Girt and True Girt.

David Hunt:

Yes. Well Girt sold really well and True Girt has been something of a qualified disappointment to my publishers.

Dom Knight:

Can I have a word, actually, Charles?

Charles Firth:

Yeah. Sure.

Dom Knight:

Charles, you idiot.

Charles Firth:

I know.

Dom Knight:

What have you got to say for yourself? You could have been Dave Hunt.

Charles Firth:

The thing is that when we were doing the TV project, before he arrived we just used Wikipedia for all our research for the history show and then he arrived and he started doing actual proper research, which was very disconcerting.

Dom Knight:

How could you let this happen?

Charles Firth:

I know. I know. I should have …

Dom Knight:

You could have been the one being interviewed instead of the interviewer.

Charles Firth:

Yeah. If only I’d been as talented as him.

Dom Knight:

Yeah, that might have been a sure thing. All right. Let’s go back in.

Dom Knight:

So you owe Charles a lot is what you’re saying.

David Hunt:

Well, he didn’t actually pay me for the writing gig, so I think it’s probably the other way around.

Charles Firth:

But Dave, can you tell us about Wikip- Why did you object to us using Wikipedia as our primary resource for writing a history sketch show?

David Hunt:

I think I was more concerned that you did not know that there were other resources. It was primary, secondary and tertiary, as far as I can make out. So when I came in and said maybe I should actually read a book and you said, “What’s that?” Then I thought jeez, I’d better provide some intellectual ground to this foul project that never went anywhere.

Charles Firth:

To write good, you actually spent a lot of time in the library, didn’t you? You actually went to Mitchell and went through the diaries of dead white males. I remember you went through the Eureka Stockade entry on Wikipedia. It’s only about a page and a half long and you discovered 54 errors in that page. Do you remember that?

David Hunt:

I couldn’t possibly comment. I suspect you are now trying to trick me into revealing revolutionary sentiments and I’m not going to do that because you guys work for the wrong crew. I’m utterly opposed to the Eureka Rebels. I’m a law-abiding Australian citizen.

Dom Knight:

So you don’t like unions?

David Hunt:

I don’t like who?

Dom Knight:

Unions.

David Hunt:

Oh okay. Can’t stand them. I occasionally do speaking gigs for them. I’m prepared to take their money, as well as Joe Hockey’s, but no. I hate them all.

Charles Firth:

David, let me make it quite clear to you. You’re already in a lot of trouble. You’ve already admitted to hanging out at libraries and that is in itself sort of seditious behavior in our book.

David Hunt:

That’s because the current government dislikes and distrusts all educational institutions where learning may be on offer.

Charles Firth:

Yes.

Dom Knight:

I used to think Australian history was very boring and dull until I read your books and found that it was entertaining. And it seems as though the whole history of Australia since Europeans arrived is basically a bunch of dodgy blokes doing dodgy stuff and getting away with it. Is that true?

David Hunt:

I think that would probably account for about 85% of Australian history.

Dom Knight:

A guy like MacArthur.

David Hunt:

Yeah, the sheep whisperer.

Dom Knight:

So can you tell us … give us some examples of dodgy blokes getting away with stuff because we want to learn from this. Mr. Dutton has asked us to get some precedence to how someone incompetent can triumph.

David Hunt:

Well I think MacArthur bears many parallels to Trump. When he was put on trial by the government, he simply said this is an illegitimate process. You’ve got no right to try me. The jury was stacked with military officer allies of his and they basically rebelled and said we’re not going to try this bloke who’s been bringing rum and other goodies into the country and making us rich. So he basically ignored the entire justice system and then engineered Australia’s one and only military coup against Governor Bligh.

David Hunt:

So he was a guy who would never back down. If you said white, he said black and was prepared to lie through his teeth to get what he wanted and was an incredibly effective behind-the-scenes operator in turbocharging the Australian economy, turning us in from sort of convict here, you have a turnip or here, you have some goat milk to actually buying and selling stuff and making money. So he made Australia great again before it was even called Australia.

Charles Firth:

How did he get the ear of the military?

David Hunt:

He was a military officer in the New South Wales Corp, otherwise known as the Rum Corp. So he came out on the second fleet and realised that there was a gap in the market. He was an inspector of public works out of Parramatta and his idea of supervising public works was getting all of the convicts who were doing public works and putting them all on the farms of soldiers and getting them to do private works.

Dom Knight:

Brilliant.

David Hunt:

Yeah. And then illegally importing goods and selling them at markups of up to 1000%.

Dom Knight:

We can work with this, I think.

David Hunt:

Yeah.

Dom Knight:

At another point in our history of reading your books, I know that we actually went to cannibalism. Is that something that you could see us using?

David Hunt:

We all went … If we all went to cannibalism, there wouldn’t be any of us left.

Dom Knight:

If Some of us went to cannibalism.

David Hunt:

Some of us went to cannibalism.

Dom Knight:

The way things are going with Border Force and the IFP, we’re willing to try anything new just to get some comfort.

David Hunt:

Alexander Pierce, the finest cannibal convict, his last lines as he was hanged from the gallows in Hobart in the 1920s were “Man’s flesh is delicious. It tastes far better than fish or pork.” Those are pretty immortal last lines. Tasmania, in fairness, was the seat of Australian cannibal culture. There were several prominent Tasmanian cannibals and I think up on the mainland, we only did when we were desperate. In Tasmania, they did it for fun.

Charles Firth:

Why don’t we have that? That feels like it should be front and centre of Australian identity.

Dom Knight:

If they taught me that in Year 9, I would have loved Australian history, I think.

Charles Firth:

Why do those stories just fall through the gap in Australia? Why don’t we have more of the sense of oh, that’s a great story; that’s so metal?

David Hunt:

Metal. It is metal. I think probably you say to the educational institutions, “We need to educate our year five kids more about psycho guys eating each other in Tasmania.” And they say their curriculum is looking a little bit crammed at the moment, can’t we talk about gender equality or why not take drugs instead? And I think that’s perhaps where the cannibal convict bit of our curriculum has been edged out. And I think that’s very unfortunate.

Dom Knight:

Well what about cous? Because Mr. Dutton was going to launch a bid and he did, in fact, launch a bid. It didn’t work out. Scomo got the gig. Obviously, he’s lying in wait and plotting.

David Hunt:

Obviously. It’s what they do.

Dom Knight:

That’s what they do. Of course. That’s what he’s doing right now. But at one point in New South Wales history, a very, very insipid rebellion came up. Can you tell us about that? Because I think Mr. Dutton could perhaps do it again.

David Hunt:

He could learn from the Rum Rebellion. He could. So we’re talking the 26th of January, which is a very important day for conservative politicians. It was the day that they say is Australia day, 26th of January 1908.

Dom Knight:

Call it Rum Day, shouldn’t they?

David Hunt:

Call it Rum Day. And so Governor Bligh has tried to persecute John MacArthur for his various crimes. The soldiers of the Rum Corps have said no. George Johnson, who is the leader of the corps had a drink riding accident the night before, crashed his carriage on the way back to his home in Annandale, as one does and actually got out of his sick bed, came into Sydney and organised Australia’s only military coup after springing MacArthur. And it’s really unusual because there were no weapons drawn. There were soldiers marching on government house playing flutes, singing, playing drums. It was sort of a musical affair. And the only armed resistance comes in the form of Governor Bligh’s daughter, Mary Putland, who stands at the gates of government house and assaults the poor soldiers with her parasol.

Dom Knight:

Scomo’s got two daughters. This could be difficult.

David Hunt:

Two parasols.

Charles Firth:

We need parasols. We need to get some parasols.

Dom Knight:

Rum and parasols.

Charles Firth:

Was it an effective weapon? It wasn’t an effective weapon.

David Hunt:

It didn’t stop the coup, but if you think about what other nations do when they have a military coup. You’ve got America, you’ve got the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the Declaration of Independence. You’ve got the French King and Queen beheaded at the guillotine. Russia, millions killed in bloody purges. And we’ve got a bit of a sing along and a crazy chick with a small paper umbrella. And I think that’s what makes Australian history great and what will make Australian history great again.

Dom Knight:

Is there some way that into this history that you’re writing, is there a time in history you could paint a very heroic picture of Border Force, the camps. If you make it seem more larrikin, because the moment people object to us locking up people indefinitely without trial and stowing them on islands, is there a way we could make it seem heroic, fun and larrikin-esque?

David Hunt:

Well, we’ve been doing it ever since we arrived. The first thing we did when we arrived is we said hey, we’re going to set up a camp on Norfolk Island. And so we moved our most unpleasant convicts away from Sydney and we parked them on Norfolk Island. Then in the 1830s, we thought there are actually some aboriginal people in Tasmania, we don’t want them here, we’re going to go and park them all on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait.

Dom Knight:

So we’ve been dumping people on islands for years.

David Hunt:

We have. And we’ve been putting them in reserves. And in terms of camps, during World War I, if your name was Schmidt or Fritz, chances were you were going to get rounded up and put in our very, very own enemy alien camps that we set up throughout Australia. So we have a proud tradition of taking people who’ve done absolutely nothing wrong at all, apart from the convicts who were sent to Norfolk Island because they were a bit dodgy and parking them on islands or in heavily controlled camps on the mainland before we came up with the idea of saying islands weren’t actually part of Australia and it became much easier to park people.

Dom Knight:

Maybe we should look at a slogan. Nauru – it’s the new Norfolk Island. There you go.

David Hunt:

Norfolk Island was originally founded because it was believed that the British could grow hemp there.

Dom Knight:

Hello!

David Hunt:

Hello! Maybe if the good folk of Nauru grew hemp for us …

Dom Knight:

If only they had any soil at all that could be used for any purpose.

David Hunt:

You can plant a bit of the good gear in the bird shit that they have there.

Dom Knight:

Still a little bit left, I think. Look, this could be interesting. This is the first idea. Can I just have a word, actually, Charles?

Charles Firth:

Yeah. Let’s go.

Dom Knight:

Charles, this notion of hemp. This is the first idea I’ve heard in a long time that actually might help Minister Dutton be popular. He could be the hemp guy.

Charles Firth:

Yeah. And he sort of looks like … He looks a lot like Bob Marley if you think about it.

Dom Knight:

He looks like a smokeable bud, doesn’t he?

Charles Firth:

Yeah. He does.

Dom Knight:

This could be good. I know it’s unconventional, but if people instead of thinking of him as the potato guy, thought of him as the hemp guy.

Charles Firth:

The hemp guy.

Dom Knight:

This could be pretty interesting.

Charles Firth:

He could wear a kaftan. That could be his new thing. Unbutton with Dutton.

Dom Knight:

Kaftan Pete I’d call it. All right.

Dom Knight:

Now David, look. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of Australian history and no principles. Can we cut a deal?

David Hunt:

You got to offer me more than a coffee.

Dom Knight:

It’s not going to be …

David Hunt:

I’ve never been offered more than a coffee before.

Dom Knight:

I can’t.

David Hunt:

Charles didn’t even offer me a coffee when we did the TV thing.

Dom Knight:

Obviously, we’re going to compromise all of your principles and whatever respect you’ve earned in the past few years, but it’s going to be better than working for Joe Hockey.

David Hunt:

Possibly not. What are you putting on the table?

Dom Knight:

Would you be prepared to write a correct version of history for us?

Charles Firth:

Yes. That’s all we want.

David Hunt:

So I’ve written an unauthorized history of Australia. You want me to write an authorized history of Australia, authorized by …

Dom Knight:

Border Force and the IFP.

David Hunt:

By Border Force. Yeah. That sounds like a good gig. Yeah.

Charles Firth:

What we want is to sort of revise revisionism.

David Hunt:

Post revisionism.

Charles Firth:

Yeah.

Dom Knight:

It’s more redaction-ism. Minister Dutton’s vision for history of Australia is almost entirely redacted, but quite complimentary.

David Hunt:

Look. I think that will be actually easy for me to write because I can just knock off about 120 pages and then black most of it out so you won’t actually know if I’ve written anything or not.

Charles Firth:

Except that we don’t like the colour black.

David Hunt:

Oh, okay.

Charles Firth:

In fact, ideally, you wouldn’t mention black at all.

Dom Knight:

Particularly black armbands, David. You can’t have them in there. Can we maybe redact in, I don’t know red or green?

David Hunt:

White.

Dom Knight:

White out.

David Hunt:

Well I can just … covers, some blank pages, insert history here and then you can make your own history.

Dom Knight:

This book intentionally left blank.

David Hunt:

A history according to Border Force.

Charles Firth:

Because the thing is, you wouldn’t … one thing we don’t want is the idea that Australia has any sort of racism in it’s history at all.

David Hunt:

What’s racism?

Charles Firth:

Exactly. Thank you.

Dom Knight:

Well it was in your previous book and I wanted to talk to you about that. You have …

David Hunt:

What was my previous book?

Charles Firth:

Exactly. Oh, this is very good. We’ve got him hook, line and sinker.

David Hunt:

Who’s David Hunt?

Dom Knight:

It’s been said of David Hunt that he’s the one man Peter FitzSimon’s fears. Can you take down Fitz because he doesn’t help our cause. He’s such a lefty.

David Hunt:

Look, I tried to sneak into his gated compound on the leafy North Shore one night wearing a black bandana in the hope that would stop the moonlight reflecting off my bald pate, just to see what sort of industrial history-making machine Fitzy has going there. He has 20 people that he has kidnapped from an Indian call centre that he has installed in his basement to just write Australian history.

Dom Knight:

Is that how he managed to get a whole book out of Kim Beazley because frankly, I was thinking pamphlet.

David Hunt:

Basically, he’s a big bloke. He’s wrote the book. In fact, he’s probably wrote two or three volumes.

Dom Knight:

There may be no hope for you, David.

David Hunt:

No. No. I think Peter is comfortable and secure in his publishing power and has nothing to fear from the historian formerly known as David Hunt and now known as whatever Border Force wants me to be known as.

Dom Knight:

Mission accomplished, I think Charles?

Charles Firth:

Yeah. I think that’s it. We didn’t even get to tase him. Can we just tase you once? Here we go.

Dom Knight:

David Hunt, it’s been a pleasure. Be prepared to be scrubbed from history and your books taken off the shelves.

David Hunt:

Thank you.

Dom Knight:

It’s got to beat Joe Hockey.

Voiceover:

Extreme Vetting with The Chaser was written and presented by Dom Knight, Charles Firth and Andrew Hansen, recorded in collaboration with PodcastOne Australia, produced by Alex Mitchell and audio production by Darcy Thompson. For all episodes, search Extreme Vetting Podcast. Listen for free at podcastoneaustralia.com.au or download the new PodcastOne Australia app.

 






 

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