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[15 Oct 2017 | One Comment | 28 views ]

By ROSS FITZGERALD
Surely it is time for Australia to abandon its punitive approach to people struggling with illicit drug problems. This should include rejecting the draconian Welfare Reform Bill in its entirety.
The Senate is expected to vote on the Turnbull government’s bill on October 18, with a proposal to trial drug-testing applicants for income support, as well as including the use of a cashless welfare card for some recipients.
This trial has attracted overwhelming criticism from professional groups.
The Welfare Reform Bill also proposes some harsh exclusions for the receipt of …

Columns »

[12 Oct 2017 | No Comment | 10 views ]

Ten More Newspolls To Go…
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Thirty Newspoll losses in a row: this is the leadership test that Malcolm Turnbull used to justify his coup against Tony Abbott. Turnbull has now lost twenty Newspolls in a row and there seems to be no light at the end of his tunnel. So what does the Prime Minister do when he fails his own leadership test? This is the question that must be haunting Turnbull. And what does the Liberal Party do when its leader fails the leadership test that he himself …

Featured »

[10 Oct 2017 | No Comment | 11 views ]

My friend, the historian and author Ross Fitzgerald, has written a series of novels about a character who lets himself go regularly.
Grafton Everest is an academic who is somewhat akin to Sir Les Patterson. He stars in a string of fictional adventures, the latest of which was entitled Going Out Backwards, written by Ross in collaboration with the comedian Ian McFadyen.
Some people have noted vague similarities between the author and his creation but there is a big difference between the two. Ross says Grafton Everest is what he would …

Reviews »

[5 Oct 2017 | No Comment | 19 views ]

Captain James Cook:
Claiming the Great South Land
By John Molony
Connor Court: Queensland
196 pages, $49.95
By ROSS FITZGERALD
Despite an unpleasant resurgence of anti-British, anti-European political correctness, Captain James Cook (1728-1779) remains one of the world’s greatest explorers.
And just when we thought there was nothing new to be known about this intrepid English mariner, John Molony has written a fascinating account of Cook’s first voyage on the HMS Endeavour.
This voyage from August 1768 to July 1771 had two purposes. Cook was first to sail from England to Tahiti to observe the Transit of …

Columns »

[28 Sep 2017 | One Comment | 59 views ]

As 38 public universities face budget cuts from federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham where can they find their own cuts?
With the taxpayer salary bill for Vice Chancellors (VC) in excess of $34 million each year, the superstructure of Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors (DVC), and Pro-Vice Chancellors (PVC) is an obvious starting point.
Reducing VC’s salary packages from an average $1 million per annum to only just over three times the average salary for a full Professor, or about twice the salary of a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, would …

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[22 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 32 views ]

From The Courier-Mail, September 22, 2017 by Terry Sweetman
As Queensland premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s savage use of defamation writs not only silenced his political critics, it made the media understandably gun-shy when it came to looking under rocks.
Not even history was safe from his baleful glare.
In 1984 when Professor Ross Fitzgerald published the second volume in his history of Queensland, the first print run had to be recalled and pulped because of defamation action threatened by Bjelke-Petersen’s government.
The alleged libel concerned the government’s pursuit of conservationist and schoolteacher John Sinclair, who …

Reviews »

[16 Sep 2017 | Comments Off on Ups and downs of persistent Pauline | 24 views ]

Review
‘Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson’
By Anna Broinowski
Viking, 312pp $34.99
Anna Broinowski’s revealing documentary ‘Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!’ ran on SBS television a year ago. Throughout 2015 the award-winning filmmaker had unfettered access to Hanson and her Fed Up campaign, as Hanson attempted to win a Queensland Senate seat at the 2016 federal election.
This involved following Hanson on the hustings as she flew from Rockhampton to Sydney to Great Keppel Island and other parts of rural and regional Queensland in her Jabiru two-seater …

Columns »

[14 Sep 2017 | Comments Off on Our energy farce | 28 views ]

Our energy farce
by ROSS FITZGERALD
What a mess! Australia has the world’s largest readily available supplies of coal, gas and uranium yet our power prices are among the world’s highest. Moreover it looks like the lights are likely to go out this summer, especially in Victoria and South Australia. This is what happens when our energy policy is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions rather than to produce the most affordable and reliable power.
The absurdity of our position and its implications for our future as an industrial economy seem …

Reviews »

[2 Sep 2017 | Comments Off on Sky was no limit for extragalactic explorer | 19 views ]

Radio Astronomer: John Bolton and a New Window on the Universe
By Peter Robertson
NewSouth, 432pp, $59.99 (HB)
The moon landing was an American-led space adventure but it also shone a spotlight on an Australian scientific success story.
The Parkes radio telescope in rural NSW became world famous when, in July 1969, it relayed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.
Science writer Peter Robertson is known for his 1992 book on the telescope, ‘Beyond Southern Skies’. He spent much of his working life with the CSIRO Publishing group in Melbourne. Now he has …

Columns »

[31 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on When Communists Invaded Cold War Canberra | 25 views ]

When Communists Invaded Cold War Canberra
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The seemingly endless second prime ministerial stint of Liberal Party stalwart Robert Gordon Menzies from 1949 to 1966 was not, as it is now often portrayed, a period of unbroken certainty, somnolence and solidity. The first years of the Menzies restoration in particular were quite rocky.
For a start, when Menzies won the 1949 federal election, his incoming government faced a hostile Senate. Sixteen months later a double-dissolution defeat for Labor ended the impasse. But success on this front was shortly …

Reviews »

[30 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Review of ‘On the Wagon’ | 27 views ]

A ROMAN CANDLE IN THE NIGHT
‘On the Wagon: Following in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac, sober’
By Lennox Nicholson
Publisher: Affirm Press: Melbourne, 2017
ISBN: 9781925344578
RRP: $24.99 (pb)
Reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
When I was drinking alcoholically I thought that I was a writer. But in those years I couldn’t even write a note to the milkman! However, since I became alcohol and drug free in Alcoholics Anonymous 47 years ago, I have written 39 books. They may not be “War and Peace” but they exist.
As it happens, I was introduced to AA in Cleveland, …