WA author Tim Winton has come out swinging in defence of so-called cashed-up bogans who have profited from the State's extraordinary mining boom.
As his gritty urban novel Eyrie hits shops today, Winton said cashed-up bogans - usually highly paid tradespeople or mine workers who flaunt their wealth with flashy cars, boats and toys - were ridiculed because they were different from other middle-class people.
"The cashed-up bogan is just the latest inclusion to a middle class forced to absorb the tradespeople who have become prosperous from the boom," Winton said.
"They're middle-class people with middle-class incomes. They just don't speak the old middle-class lingo - hence the opportunity for TV comedy.
"I think a culture that has cashed-up bogans is a culture to be proud of."
The four-time Miles Franklin winner suggested it was wrong to assume tradespeople and other workers associated with the mining industry did not read or were uninterested in books.
"I pull into a carpark at a beach and there'll be tradies getting out of utes or a guy in high-vis gear and they'll want to talk to me about my books," he said.
"On the same day I can have an old lady in a pearl necklace come up to me wanting to chat about Cloudstreet. That says something about our culture and it makes me feel very lucky."
Set in Fremantle and Perth, Eyrie tells of Tom Keely, a spokesman for an environmental NGO who is suddenly unemployed, divorced and dragged into a world of drugs and violence.
But it is also about class - a dirty word in Australian politics, according to Winton.
"It's disingenuous to say there are no class barriers," he said.
"It's just that nobody wants to think about the have-nots. It challenges the lazy, comfortable assumptions of the rich, not all of whom created their wealth."
Well-known for environmental causes, Winton criticised WA's reliance on mining and the wealth it gave the super-rich.
He said the money came from nature and was finite. "We're still content to rob the unborn and live selfishly and greedily," he said. "It depresses me a bit."