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Articles Archive for November 2013

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[30 Nov 2013 | Comments Off on Mermaid Coast dives into a summer of dangerous sirens | 436 views ]

AS a child, I was obsessed with mermaids. As I got older, I was also much taken with selkies: seals, who on coming ashore, so the legend goes, shed their skins to become human. The 1994 film ‘The Secret of Roan Inish’ is based on this myth.
So imagine my delight when I came across ‘The Mermaid Coast’, the debut novel of US-based Australian writer Robert Woolcott. Set mainly in East Hampton on New York’s Long Island, this enthralling tale begins in a mansion with the discovery of the body of …

Columns »

[30 Nov 2013 | One Comment | 664 views ]

JUST as on the footy field, a fundamental rule of international relations is that if you drop the ball, someone else will kick it or pick it up and make it difficult for you to regain the initiative. The Russians, of all people, have just demonstrated that. Tony Abbott has had a painful lesson in the law of unintended consequences.
The spark may have been the revelation that the Australians had bugged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s mobile phone and that of his wife for 15 days in 2009. But it’s …

Columns »

[16 Nov 2013 | Comments Off on Red Ted Versus The Big Fella | 932 views ]

Politicians nowadays are often so carefully managed and so terrified of offending that many are mere cardboard cut-outs whose minders do everything they can to suppress their personalities.
Former New South Wales Premier J.T. (“Jack) Lang wouldn’t have put up with that. This larger than life politician with a bristling black moustache and a distinctive rasping voice was utterly unforgettable.
Lang was perhaps our most feisty parliamentarian – who served two terms as NSW Premier from 1925-27 & 1930-32.
Another equally fascinating character was the reformist Labor Premier E. G. (“Red …

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[16 Nov 2013 | Comments Off on Triumph of a fledgling navy | 1,140 views ]

MIKE Carlton is a well-known journalist and broadcaster who has a passion for naval history. His previous book, ‘Cruiser’, the story of the HMAS Perth in World War II, was a bestseller.
For his follow-up, Carlton initially had planned to write an account of the short and bloody 1914 sea battle between the dreaded German raider Emden, which had been wreaking havoc on the maritime trade of the British Empire, and the HMAS Sydney, the result of which represented an emphatic, and widely celebrated, first victory for the newborn Royal Australian …

Columns »

[16 Nov 2013 | 2 Comments | 1,035 views ]

JOSH Frydenberg, the energetic 42-year-old federal MP for the affluent inner-Melbourne electorate of Kooyong, is the first Liberal Jewish member of the House of Representatives.
On the face of it this seems remarkable, especially as eight Jewish convicts were transported to Botany Bay in 1788 on the so-called First Fleet.
The talented Frydenberg, who champions a modern version of classical liberalism, is heavily influenced by the humane and civil ideas of Zelman Cowen, – our second Jewish governor-general, – and especially by Australia’s longest serving prime minister, Robert Menzies, who held Kooyong …

Columns »

[12 Nov 2013 | Comments Off on Standing up to the politically-correct bully boys | 452 views ]

FREEDOM of speech has never been more threatened in Australia. A raft of ostensibly well-meaning anti-discrimination legislation is casting a pall of censorship and political correctness over the nation.
Everywhere you look some person or group is metaphorically taping someone else’s mouth shut.
Not so long ago a member of the Greens attempted to muzzle the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, for daring to instruct NSW Catholic MPs that therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research are morally wrong. While many of us disagree with Pell’s views, it is wrong to attempt …

Columns »

[2 Nov 2013 | Comments Off on Punter’s curse: a drinking and gambling habit of biblical proportions | 940 views ]

WITH the horse race that stops a nation, indeed the race that now captivates the world, happening on Tuesday, I’m reminded of a time, many years ago, when I was a prodigious punter.
While I was on the booze, one of the worst questions to ask me was, “Who are you? What do you do?”
If I was playing Aussie rules football I’d say I was a philosopher; if I was with philosophers I’d say I was a footballer; with straights, I’d be gay; with gays, I’d be straight. But deep down …