Ra­zor­back rebel

Ted ‘Green­dog’ Stevens has writ­ten a book about his role in the Ra­zor­back Block­ade of 1979. He tells Ta­mara Whitsed about the ac­cu­sa­tions, con­dem­na­tion and a miss­ing man­u­script

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

Ted ‘Green­dog’ Stevens has writ­ten a book about his role in the Ra­zor­back Block­ade of 1979

Ra­zor­back rebel, Ted ‘Green­dog’ Stevens, has copped a lot of abuse since he in­sti­gated the Ra­zor­back Block­ade in April 1979.

He hopes his re­cently self-pub­lished book, Ra­zor­back – the Real Story, will set a few things straight.

“Hope­fully it stops a lot of the bull­shit and gossip that went on af­ter,” Ted says. “Peo­ple be­lieved it was done for ul­te­rior mo­tives. It wasn’t.”

We are sit­ting at Ted’s kitchen ta­ble at his home in Dig­gers Rest, Victoria.

The 38 years since Ra­zor­back have left their mark on Ted’s health. He suf­fered a stroke in 2013, glau­coma is af­fect­ing his eye­sight, and he is un­der­go­ing tests to ex­plain re­cent weight loss.

But in many ways Ted is still the tough-talk­ing truckie he was back in 1979 when he and his mates parked their trucks across the Hume High­way at the top of Ra­zor­back Moun­tain.

NO RE­GRETS

To­day the 73-year-old is adamant he has no re­grets about the block­ade. If he had his time over, he would do it again “in a heart­beat”.

“[We were] sick of get­ting locked up for road tax; sick of be­ing per­se­cuted on the high­way.”

He likens the Ra­zor­back Block­ade to a bet­ter­known Aus­tralian re­bel­lion.

“The only dif­fer­ence be­tween Eureka Stock­ade and what hap­pened back then at Ra­zor­back was that at Eureka Stock­ade they were shoot­ing each other. Well we weren’t shoot­ing each other. But it was a sim­i­lar sort of protest. Eureka stock­ade

I didn’t know what I was do­ing.

was against un­just taxes, and that’s what our protest was about.”

But his­tory hasn’t hon­oured the ma­jor play­ers at Ra­zor­back in the same way it re­mem­bers the he­roes of Eureka Stock­ade.

“The things peo­ple said about me and how this all came about – there are so many lies, in­nu­endo, con­dem­na­tion. So I thought I’d put it in print. They can be­lieve it or they can choose to dis­be­lieve it. What­ever they like. But there’s not one word of lies in there,” he says.

Ted has been try­ing to pub­lish his book for al­most 38 years. He be­gan writ­ing the book soon af­ter the block­ade and sent the only copy to a pub­lisher. He says they were ini­tially in­ter­ested in the book but changed their mind. When Ted asked them to re­turn the man­u­script they told him it had dis­ap­peared.

Years later (he thinks the late 1980s or early 1990s) a movie stu­dio gave Ted a token pay­ment of $1– a sym­bolic first pay­ment for the movie rights to his story. The movie was never made, but the in­ter­est in­spired him to buy a type­writer, learn to type, and re­write the man­u­script.

In hard times – like when his first mar­riage ended and when he lost his busi­ness – Ted dreamed the book might earn money for his fam­ily. As the years passed and his health de­te­ri­o­rated, the idea of prof­it­ing from the book be­came less im­por­tant. He just wanted it pub­lished so he could tell his side of the story.

Ear­lier this year his friends Spencer and Glo­ria Watling and Phil Robin­son stepped in to help

Ted self-pub­lish the book. Spencer was an­other Ra­zor­back rebel, and Phil is an old truck­ing mate. They spread the word on Facebook and pre-sold enough books to war­rant the first run of 250 copies.

Th­ese have all been sold and an­other 1000 books have been pub­lished. The feed­back has been “very pos­i­tive”, Ted says.

FRUS­TRA­TION

Ra­zor­back – the Real Story de­scribes the frus­tra­tion which led Ted, Spencer, Colin Bird, Barry Grim­son and Jack Hib­burt to block the high­way at Ra­zor­back Moun­tain in 1979.

Ted writes in the book: “When all was said and done, what could they do to us? Lock us up? We risked that ev­ery night we spent on the high­way.”

In the days be­fore the in­ter­net and mo­bile phones, the block­ade or­gan­is­ers used CB ra­dios to spread their mes­sage from the top of Ra­zor­back. They re­lied on news­pa­pers and ra­dio sta­tions for news about the block­ades set up by other frus­trated truck­ies at strate­gic lo­ca­tions through­out Aus­tralia. Thou­sands of driv­ers had parked their trucks in sol­i­dar­ity. Oth­ers just wanted to get home, but the protestors wouldn’t let their trucks through the block­ades.

At a meet­ing on the sec­ond day, Ted nom­i­nated Barry Grim­son to be spokesper­son. Barry de­clined, and Ted ended up as the mouth­piece of the re­bel­lion.

“Here I am, a busted-arse truck driver with an eighth-grade ed­u­ca­tion, speak­ing to pre­miers and union lead­ers. I didn’t know what I was do­ing. I had no idea. And you’ll read that in the book, warts and all,” he re­calls.

The book is set on the moun­tain and at sev­eral of the other block­ades in New South Wales that Ted vis­ited by car and he­li­copter dur­ing the protest. He also takes the reader into the heated ne­go­ti­a­tions with politi­cians, large trans­port com­pa­nies and trans­port as­so­ci­a­tions, in­clud­ing the Trans­port Work­ers’ Union (TWU).

NINE DAYS

“It was just one day that lasted nine days to me,” he tells Deals on Wheels. “I didn’t get any sleep or any­thing. I was beamed up to the eye­balls half the time. It was pretty dif­fi­cult.”

The truck­ies had sup­port from ra­dio an­nouncer John Laws, en­tre­pre­neur Dick Smith, and lawyers David Gal­bally and Frank Gal­bally. Frank was con­sid­ered Aus­tralia’s great­est crim­i­nal lawyer at the time.

They had en­e­mies too. Chief among them was NSW Premier Neville Wran.

There were times when the at­mos­phere at

We were far bet­ter off af­ter Ra­zor­back

Above: (From left) Ra­zor­back del­e­gates Carl Good­fel­low, Jack Hib­burt, Ted Stevens, Col Bird, Barry Grim­son and Spencer Watling in April 1979, cel­e­brat­ing the end of the block­ade

Above: Ted ‘Green­dog’ Stevens: in­sti­ga­tor of the 1979 Ra­zor­back Block­ade

1. Ted Stevens tells the story of the 1979 block­ade in Ra­zor­back – the Real Story 2. Plaques at Ra­zor­back Moun­tain com­mem­o­rate the 1979 block­ade 3. To­day there is a truck rest at Ra­zor­back Moun­tain

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