Pig City is an episode of "Hindsight" produced by Tony Collins for ABC Radio National (broadcast on Sunday 2 December 2007 at 2pm).
In the late 1970s Brisbane was known to the rest of Australia as a big country town, and on the surface it was a citadel of conservative rural Australian values.
The Country Party had been in power for nearly two decades, and the premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, ruled the state with an iron fist, never hesitating to use the Queensland police force to stamp out any resistance to his notoriously corrupt regime.
It was in this context that a smouldering culture of rebellion was born among the students and other residents in the city's inner suburbs, which manifest in public protests, acts of civil disobedience, and -- in defiance of a legislated ban against them -- in sometimes violent street marches. This growing wave of dissent also found expression in the energetic and distinctive music which began to emerge from Brisbane at this time, and which kick-started Australia's wider punk and alternative rock scenes.
The Saints, the Go Betweens and the Riptides, the Laughing Clowns, the Hoodoo Gurus and Gangajang all had their roots in the Brisbane punk scene of the 1970s, and would go on to have a huge influence on Australian music, paving the way for some of Australia's most successful later acts, including Savage Garden, Powderfinger, Screamfeeder and Regurgertator.
The 2004 book Pig City by Andrew Stafford was the first serious attempt to tell the story of Brisbane's coming of age through this potent mix of music and politics. The opening of the city's first community radio station, 4ZZZ-FM, in 1975, became a vehicle for the emergence of this powerful nexus between music and politics in Brisbane during this era. It's been argued that, at the time, 4ZZZ offered the only alternative and articulated voice of opposition to the prevailing state government of the day in Queensland.
Tony Collins recalls his own experience of Bjelke-Petersen's Queensland, during the years that he spent living in Brisbane, working as a young broadcaster at 4ZZZ.