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Articles Archive for October 2011

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[29 Oct 2011 | Comments Off on Academic satire cuts to the bone | 1,023 views ]

Academic satire cuts to the bone
TOM Waits, the greatest composer-performer of our era, is said to have recoiled from the film This is Spinal Tap because it came too close to the reality of musical touring. My initial negative reaction to reading Fools’ Paradise, which tells the story of a middle-aged humanities scholar in a thinly disguised Queensland – sorry, “Mangoland” – university, is based on a similar feeling. And although that feeling remained, it took on more positive hues before I had finished reading this novel.
For a work of …

Columns »

[24 Oct 2011 | 5 Comments | 3,897 views ]

ONE of the interesting side- effects of the Federal Parliament’s obsession with immigration and taxation issues this year has been that serious discussion of social policy has been sadly neglected. Especially around drugs. It’s been about 40 years since marijuana, LSD and heroin made their way into Australian society and about 30 years for cocaine and ecstasy. Methamphetamine has been with us for a little more than 15 years and in the past couple of years we’ve started to see the advent of synthetic analogue drugs such as Kronic.
Three inescapable …

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[22 Oct 2011 | Comments Off on The Lyons redrawn: PM gets his due | 765 views ]

FOLLOWING her excellent 2008 biography of Enid Lyons, Anne Henderson has produced an eminently readable life of Joseph Aloysius (Joe) Lyons, United Australia Party prime minister from January 6, 1932, until his death on Good Friday (April 7) 1939.
This thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated biography explains how Lyons was the first PM to win and survive three consecutive elections and is one of only two politicians to be a leader of both sides of federal politics.
Labor premier of his native Tasmania from 1923 to 1928, Lyons entered federal parliament in …

Columns »

[22 Oct 2011 | One Comment | 1,430 views ]

WHEN Labor finally got its carbon tax through the lower house, the government rightly was quite relieved. But astute political watchers were taken aback, indeed amazed, at the level of self-congratulation and jubilation that followed.
It’s one thing to mark the passing of key legislation. Both political parties have done that: take as examples Mabo, Wik, the sale of Telstra and the GST. But the scenes witnessed when the carbon tax was narrowly passed through this federal parliament may prove quite damaging for Labor in time.
Seeing those images on the television …

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[15 Oct 2011 | Comments Off on Misguided vote of no confidence | 1,551 views ]

THE screaming subtext of Susan Mitchell’s political potboiler, Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man, is that no woman should ever vote for him. Yet almost no one who knows Abbott, however much he or she might disagree with him, would dismiss him as a misogynist.
The judgement of Adele Horin (no fan) was that Abbott was ”easy to hate” but also ”easy to like”. Mia Freedman – whose reaction to Abbott’s accession to the leadership was: ”PS Libs, are you on crack?” – said after actually talking to him: ”I did like …

Columns »

[8 Oct 2011 | Comments Off on Points on foreign policy, but miles to go on trade | 905 views ]

JULIA Gillard’s recent announcement of a white paper to guide national responses to the rapid changes occurring in Asia is a small but noteworthy attempt to garner some credibility on foreign policy.
It’s also an attempt to make her own way, distinct from that of her predecessor, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.
Policymakers in Australia in recent years generally have been slow to grasp the significance of the social and economic revolution under way to our north.
There are far-reaching consequences for the course of Asian history and for Australia’s future.
The need for long-term …

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[1 Oct 2011 | Comments Off on Everest scales new heights | 850 views ]

Excess and success are one and the same for this ranting anti-hero.
“This is just the book to give to your sister – if she’s a loud, dirty, boozy girl.” wrote the Irish playwright and drunkard, Brendan Behan, of Irish novelist and fellow drunkard Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds (1939). The same might be said of Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan’s Fools’ Paradise (hereafter, ”Fitzgerald”, the joint authorship never being explained, though the two have co-authored A History of Alcohol in Australia).
The hero, or anti-hero, or protagonist of this novel is one …