Few names in Australian criminal history are as redolent as the Painters and Dockers. They were a union gone to the bad. From their outset in the early years of the 20th Century, they attracted more than their fair share of shady waterfront characters, and by the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s they had become a fully fledged criminal fraternity of some of the most violent and dangerous men in Australia. Standover, smuggling, gambling, prostitution and drugs were the daily trade of the Painters and Dockers, whilst arguments and old scores were more often than not settled with the lethal blast of a sawn-off shotgun.
From famous criminals of the past such as Squizzy Tailor, through the recent gangland wars in Melbourne, the story of the Painters and Dockers touches almost every part of our violent and bloody underworld history. Their members and associates are a roll-call of some of Australia’s most brutal and violent offenders: Brian and Les Kane, Ray Bennett, Billy Longley and the Moran family among many others. Written by James Morton, author of the best selling Gangland Australia (MUP 2008) and Russell Robinson, Shotgun and Standover brilliantly tells the story of the Painters and Dockers in a definitive work of true crime.
Of course, standover tactics have a tried and tested place in Australia and the master practitioners used to be the Painters and Dockers, the union which dominated the waterfront of the eastern seaboard for three decades from the 1960s.
Their standover tactics, gambling, prostitution, drugs, smuggling – all stock in trade – set the scene for the most recent gangland dramas that have subsequently plagued Melbourne’s criminal underground.
Reviewed By Toni Whitmont, Booktopia Buzz Editor