October 13, 2003


Jim Cairns has died at 89. He was a friendly old man, although possibly the worst treasurer Australia ever had. I had a long conversation with him once at Prahran Market, where he was selling books.

We spoke about shoes.

UPDATE. As William Bowe points out in comments, The Age’s obit unfortunately refers to Cairns as “a died in the wool left-winger”.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 13, 2003 04:20 AM

Why didn't you ask him what it was like to chock Juni Morosi? Or couldn't you think of a way to bring it into the conversation?

Posted by: The Mongrel at October 13, 2003 at 09:56 AM

Goodnight, Funnyman!

Posted by: FirstIraqThenChirac at October 13, 2003 at 10:04 AM

Foolishly naive, but a very nice guy.

And anyone who knows their Australian history appreciates he was working under very difficult circumstances, to put it mildly.

Posted by: William at October 13, 2003 at 10:59 AM

Tim, you spoke about shoes? Did you ask him if he supported his Prime Minister's decision to cut tariffs on clothing and footwear, throwing thousands of Labor voters out of work?

Posted by: ilibcc at October 13, 2003 at 11:20 AM


My footwear gambit was designed specifically with that Morosi question in mind. I figured Cairns would soon become bored with shoe talk and change the subject as soon as possible ... but I underestimated his interest in soles and heels.

Posted by: tim at October 13, 2003 at 11:22 AM

At least he lived a lot longer than 500 of the Viet Nam veterans he protested against.

Posted by: gaz at October 13, 2003 at 11:35 AM

Shoes: A worthy topic and a great leveller I find. You can look at a persons politics, wealth, gender and still never know how they are going to feel about shoes. If you wanted to get him to talk about Juni Morosi you picked the wrong topic. If you were a shoe person you'd know.

A shoe person would come across Jim Cairns in a vulnerable moment when he felt he needed to confide in someone about Ms Morosi and deflect the conversion with: "Chicks mate, theyre hard to fathom alright. Hey are those Churches youre wearing?"

Posted by: James Hamilton at October 13, 2003 at 12:03 PM

Rot in Hell, Cairns, you evil old bastard.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at October 13, 2003 at 01:33 PM

The Age article linked to here refers to Cairns as a "died in the wool" leftie - an unfortunate typo for an obituary, you would think.

Posted by: William Bowe at October 13, 2003 at 03:07 PM

Great catch, William!

Posted by: tim at October 13, 2003 at 03:37 PM

Bad grammar, I would have thought- a "dead in the wool leftie" is more accurate, but only if his coffin lining is made from natural fibres obtained from certian animals; if the lining is synthetic, however, he would be a "dead in the nylon/rayon/polyester etc leftie", depending on what polymer or copolymer the fabric was made from. An interesting aside would be if the lining was silk, as he would be in the embrace of worms twice over. (Thrice if he was infected with hydatids when he popped his clogs).

Posted by: Habib Bickford at October 13, 2003 at 04:52 PM

Not if he's buried at sea or cremated.

Posted by: pooh at October 13, 2003 at 05:19 PM

"died-in-the-wool" heh? Nearly as good as the photo I saw in USA Today before the Californian recall of Clinton and Davis embracing, with the caption "Here comes the calvary" (sic). At that point, I figured Davis was going to be "crucified" by the electorate!!
Geoff - stuck in Korea...

Posted by: Geoff Birchall at October 13, 2003 at 06:21 PM

Do you mean Camberwell market? Never saw him amongst the fruit and veg at Prahran...

Posted by: Anthony at October 13, 2003 at 07:10 PM

Didn't Dr Cairns try to sue a newspaper for claiming that he had sex with Morosi?
Didn't he come out quite lately and admit that he had?

Reminds me of another lefty federal minister from SA, Neal Blewett who successfully sued a magazine which said he was gay.
Said ex-minister now lives openly with his gay lover in the Blue Mountains. I don't think he paid back the money.

Posted by: bai ren at October 13, 2003 at 11:11 PM

Then Gareth Evans sued someone for suggesting he would want to have sex with Cheryl Kernot.

Posted by: pooh at October 14, 2003 at 12:03 PM

Re Evans/Kernot
Can we sue the media for bringing that story out ? Just the thought of those two insane bush pigs banging each other made me sick enough to take two days off work

Posted by: Osamas Psychotic Proctologist at October 14, 2003 at 03:38 PM

I hate to say the Age is correct about anything, but "died in the wool," not "dyed in the wool" is correct. It is a reference to an ancient piece of English industry protectionism to help wool-growers which laid down that bodies must be buried in wool shrouds. The main thing is that the old crook is dead, and doubtless talking things over with his hero Pol Pot in the appropriate place.

Posted by: Hal GP Colebatch at October 15, 2003 at 12:41 AM