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The last remnant of the Rum Corps

October 20th, 2005

I spoke today at the conference of the Finance and Treasury association[1] about risks to the Australian economy. Regular readers will know my concerns, but Ill try to post the presentation once I can get my FTP software working properly.

As is pretty much standard for such events, I got paid in alcohol, in this case in a very nice presentation case. Academics (and other speakers at such conferences) must be about the last group who stick to this great Australian tradition, dating back to the first days of European settlement. Even garbos don’t get beer so much now that they operate retractable arms rather than picking up bins. The custom still survives here and there (I’ve slung the odd slab for favours of various kinds) but public speaking gigs are the only ones when you can count on it.

fn1. The name refers to corporate accounting functions, not to the government departments.

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  1. October 20th, 2005 at 22:41 | #1

    Maybe with the new IR laws I can cash my holidays in for a few slabs?

  2. brian
    October 20th, 2005 at 23:44 | #2

    When I read the title of this segment,I thought it must have been about the NSW Parliament ..sorry !

  3. Katz
    October 21st, 2005 at 08:17 | #3

    In line with the traditions established by the much-esteemed Rum Corps, perhaps people who make speeches but don’t drink could ask for a flogging instead.

  4. October 21st, 2005 at 20:18 | #4

    There is a tradition at Westminster that alcohol should not be consumed in the chamber, with one exception: the Chancellor of the Exchequer may do so when reading his budget speech. I have heard that one was once seen with a pint mug of sherry on such an occasion.

  5. Terje Petersen
    October 22nd, 2005 at 05:24 | #5

    The rapid emergence of rum as a form of currency in the early command economy of the NSW colony demonstrates:-

    a) The natural emergence of money.
    b) The natural need for trade.


  6. October 22nd, 2005 at 12:25 | #6

    Not a need for trade so much as a reversion to non-monetary systems like those in the middle ages under feudalism, whereby certain groups got privileges in return for undertaking certain activities – a decentralising of the command economy. The money aspect arose out of that.

    It’s curious to note that something very similar happened with the winding back of the USSR, with hospitals being given certain importing privileges to give them a resource base to keep going. But the Rum Corps approach was better, since working the privileges needed a group with its own power base. Without that, the Russian mafia rapidly moved in on their hospitals.

  7. Andrew Reynolds
    October 22nd, 2005 at 22:28 | #7

    PML – it was simply an example of the old maxim that bad money will drive out the good – nothing more.
    Strange that the FTA would join in on it, though.

  8. Patrick
    October 24th, 2005 at 10:16 | #8

    What tradition are you talking about PM Lawrence?? My collections of speeches are dotted with references to the quantities of Gin or Sherry that Churchill or the respective Pitts needed to complete a speech!

  9. October 25th, 2005 at 13:39 | #9

    I can’t quote chapter and verse, but my recollection is that all those famous drinkers had to do their drinking outside the chamber proper (there are lots of bars in the Palace of Westminster).

  10. Patrick
    October 26th, 2005 at 10:36 | #10

    well, mine was that they spoke glass in hand – maybe the popularity of gin was that you could plausibly say it was water if asked 🙂

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