The man with the booming voice

A year or two ago, there was a man with a booming voice in the streets of Melbourne. He would stand outside banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions and cry out “corruption”, “conspiracy” and “criminals”

He was a lone voice set against the hubbub of the CBD. Some of you may remember him.

He had a makeshift display board filled with tight print and some newspaper clippings. It was difficult to read. His handouts were also difficult to follow. English was not his first language but it did not matter, as there was emotion and anger pouring off those pages.

But by far the most compelling feature of his presentation was his booming voice. It had a deep and rich timbre that carried a great distance. He could proclaim for hours without any faltering in that voice.

It was a force of nature.

“corruption”, “conspiracy” and “criminals”

Some people stopped to speak to him. Most just walked on by.

The man with the booming voice must have been badly hurt by these institutions as his protest burned bright for over a year. I used to wonder how he supported himself.

He once boarded a tram I was on. With his prop under his arm and a clutch of flyers in his hand he joked with the other passengers. At one point he leaned down to ruffle a child’s hair. This was a side of him I had not seen before.

I heard a rumour that some companies were considering court action to remove him from the front of their buildings. They said he scared away customers and frightened staff.

But no such action was ever taken.

“corruption”, “conspiracy” and “criminals”

Then one day he was gone.

Prophets from the Old Testament were often scorned and despised. Their predictions were not welcome. Their wisdom made the populace uncomfortable. They were often harassed out of town.

What would a modern prophet look like?

As the Hayne Royal Commission uncovers the unscrupulous activities of our banks and financial institutions, I think back to the man with the booming voice.

“corruption”, “conspiracy” and “criminals”

Was the man with the booming voice right after all?