• Ross with Archibald Prize winning Australian artist John Olsen
    Ross with Archibald Prize winning Australian artist John Olsen
  • Lyndal, Ava and Ross
  • Lyndal, Emerald and Adrian with our grandchild, Ava
  • Ross's dog Maddie
  • Ross and Lyndal's 40th anniversary
  • Daughter Emerald with our grandchild Ava
  • Standing for the Senate in NSW with The Australian Sex Party
  • Ross becomes a member of The Order of Australia.
  • Ross with Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin.
    Ross with Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin.

Books »

[24 May 2017 | No Comment | 8 views ]

A book set in a fictitious Queensland that seems frighteningly familiar is up for the country’s only award for humour writing which is held every two years.
Local writer Ian McFadyen and Sydney-based historian and author, Professor Ross Fitzgerald, collaborated on GOING OUT BACKWARDS, which is subtitled A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE. It has been short-listed for the 2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing which is run by the State Library of New South Wales.
The book is set in Mangoland and in it the protagonist, the shambolic Dr Professor Grafton …

Reviews »

[20 May 2017 | No Comment | 17 views ]

Smile, Particularly in Bad Weather
By Prudence Black
UWA Publishing, 310pp, $29.99
The air hostess was an immediate symbol of the jet-set era. The hair, the uniforms, the fashions were all synonymous with the world of glamour and international travel.
We don’t call them air hostesses any more because that’s politically incorrect. Prudence Black’s fine book about Australian air hostesses is a nostalgic and engaging backwards glance at their heyday.
Some years ago, a friend in Brisbane put a personal ad in a paper that read: “Wanted — grounded Qantas hostie.” It worked. He …

Columns »

[19 May 2017 | No Comment | 9 views ]

Liberal? Labor? Is there any visible difference between our two major parties?
The budget week just gone has marked the moment when both sides of politics officially gave up on budget repair and economic reform. Barring a change of leadership on the Coalition side or a change of heart from Labor, Australia now faces budget deficits as far as the eye can see and is set on an indefinite period of ever higher spending chased by ever higher taxes.
Going down the European path is likely to give us the European …

Columns »

[4 May 2017 | No Comment | 15 views ]

Conventional wisdom holds that an elected government’s first budget should be its bravest. Albeit with a micro-majority, Malcolm Turnbull is an elected prime minister, rather than merely a coup leader. So next week’s budget should be an opportunity to place his economic stamp on the country.
It’s becoming clearer what the budget is likely to contain: there’ll be ‘good’ borrowing to fund more infrastructure, especially railways; there’ll be some superannuation concessions for seniors who downsize the family home; there’ll be some savings that will annoy the hell out of the impacted …

Columns »

[30 Apr 2017 | 2 Comments | 26 views ]

Despite a long career as a professor of history and politics, I am still fascinated by the spread of, and resistance to, evidence-based policies that work to reduce crime.
In the Western world, pills have been tested at youth music dance events for almost 20 years, improving public safety and saving scarce resources. Yet Australia has been slow to accept such testing, while rushing to adopt expensive, tough, anti-crime policies not backed by evidence. Having accepted these expensive ways of making a bad problem worse, our governments often persist with such …

Reviews »

[22 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on The ‘spies’ who never came back from New Guinea | 20 views ]

Line of Fire
By Ian Townsend
Fourth Estate, 309pp, $29.99
Ian Townsend’s third book, ‘Line of Fire’, a work of nonfiction, is excellent. It follows two fine novels: ‘Affection’ (2007), based on the 1900 plague outbreak in north Queensland, and ‘The Devil’s Eye’ (2008), centred on the worst cyclone in Australian history.
The Queensland radio journalist and author has a talent for discovering little-known events and fleshing them out to make history come alive. His new book is a gripping yarn of espionage and war.
Townsend meticulously mined research archives in Australia, Japan and Papua …

Columns »

[20 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on We’ve lost faith in pollies. Only Abbott can stop the back-stabbing. | 21 views ]

IN the recent NSW by-elections, 23 per cent of the electorate ­either failed to vote at all or voted informal. At last year’s federal election, 23 per cent voted for minor parties or independents, 5 per cent voted informal and 9 per cent didn’t turn up. That’s well over a third of the electorate that ­declined to vote for the two big parties that have governed Australia, in one form or another, since Federation.
It’s hard to recall a time when people have been so disillusioned with politicians. This matters because …

Reviews »

[8 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Disposing of leaders, Australian-style | 14 views ]

Disposable Leaders
Rodney Tiffen
NewSouth Books $34.99
Coups are becoming increasingly common in Australia. This in turn means that, in recent years, party leadership has become much more precarious.
Rather clumsily subtitled “Media and Leadership Coups from Menzies to Abbott”, Rodney Tiffen’s ‘Disposable Leaders’ begins with the claim that in 1941 the later long-serving federal Liberal luminary, Robert Gordon Menzies was “the first Prime Minister to be overthrown by his own party.”
This is questionable on two counts.
In early 1923 W.H. (“Billy”) Hughes was forced to resign as Prime Minister due to the refusal of …

Columns »

[7 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Judging Turnbull | 15 views ]

Recently, Malcolm Turnbull has from time to time tried to act like the centre-right leader of a centre-right government, which is what is needed if the Coalition is to have any chance of being reelected.
After rejecting any change during the last election campaign, last week the Turnbull government had a good go at reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. In this, the PM had the public support from Tony Abbott that Abbott never had from him last time round. Then last Friday, Turnbull achieved success in passing significant …

Columns »

[7 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Ross Fitzgerald: Time to let the Pies’ go, Eddie McGuire | 12 views ]

TONIGHT, with both sides yet to register a win, Collingwood and Sydney play a crucial game of Aussie rules at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Sydney/Collingwood contest under lights has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, especially as it will see Sydney’s superstar Lance (‘Buddy’) Franklin celebrate his 250th senior AFL game.
And yet something doesn’t feel quite right.
Perhaps it’s the oddly quiet build-up to the match from two teams usually all too happy to trade barbs across the border. Or perhaps it’s just the calm before the storm?
Collingwood’s president has …

Reviews »

[2 Apr 2017 | Comments Off on Red Ted’s Fall and Recovery | 28 views ]

The Curse of Mungana
by David E. Moore
Boolarong Press, 2017, 336 pages, $34.99
Widely known as “Red Ted”, Edward Granville Theodore was Queensland Premier from 1919 to 1925 and federal Treasurer during James Scullin’s federal Labor government from 1929 to 1931. He was arguably the greatest Australian politician never to become prime minister.
In large part Theodore’s political career was killed by what became known as the Mungana Mines scandal. The Mungana mining leases were situated twenty kilometres north-west of Chillagoe, a north Queensland town which was part of Theodore’s state electorate from …