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[22 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 8 views ]

REVIEW
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 | No Comment | 18 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 | No Comment | 13 views ]

POLITICS
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 | No Comment | 13 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 | No Comment | 11 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 | No Comment | 19 views ]

The Curse of Mungana
by David E. Moore
Boolarong Press, 2017, 336 pages, $34.99
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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 …

Reviews »

[25 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller | 37 views ]

The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller
By Carol Baxter
Allen & Unwin, 410pp, $32.99
Jessie Miller is one of our most fascinating adventurers, even if she is little known today. In the 1920s and 30s she was world famous.
She was born in Western Australia in 1901, the year Queen Victoria died.
Four years earlier Mark Twain published Following the Equator, a nonfiction travelogue about his whistlestop tour of the British Empire. Of his time in colonial Australia Twain wrote: “It is full of surprises, and adventures, and incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are …

Columns »

[23 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on Tarnished Crown Jewel | 21 views ]

By ROSS FITZGERALD
With Malcolm Turnbull hanging on by a one-seat majority federally, the devastating result in the Western Australian state election leaves the Liberal/National Party coalition in power in only one mainland state in Australia.
The party jewel that the conservatives retain is a significant one, the government of the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful state, New South Wales.
Media reporting of the Liberal/National government there generally has been benign; memories of the debacle that characterised the previous Labor governments in NSW still represent fresh wounds in the memories of many …

Columns »

[2 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on One Nation’s chief recruiter | 55 views ]

The Prime Minister is driving away Liberals and conservatives in droves
ROSS FITZGERALD
Most of the media just don’t ‘get’ Tony Abbott. They think he’s critical of Malcolm Turnbull because he wants his old job back. But after all Abbott’s been through, why would he want, for a second, to have to again work closely with the likes of Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison?
Actually, Abbott is thinking of the future of the Liberal Party and the fate of the government in trying to alert his colleagues to their peril while it may …

Reviews »

[1 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on Reality Trumps Satire | 30 views ]

‘Way Beyond Satire’
by Rowan Dean
Wilkinson Publishing, 2016, 160 pages, $34.99
Reports of the death of satire have been grossly exaggerated. Indeed in an age when fact is much stranger and more preposterous than fiction, satire is still alive and has never seemed more pertinent. Despite this, some of my writer friends still contend that satire is deceased.
I do understand why some are saying this, because satire now seems to have been eclipsed by reality. Hence the timely title of Rowan Dean’s book ‘Way Beyond Satire’— a collection of satirical essays, which …

Speeches »

[22 Feb 2017 | Comments Off on ‘Dying with Dignity: A No-Brainer.’ | 63 views ]

‘Dying with Dignity: A No-Brainer.’
by Professor Ross Fitzgerald AM.
Speech to Dying with Dignity, New South Wales at Port Macquarie.
Tuesday 21 February 2017.
Ever since having seen my late mother suffer so much when all she wanted was to slip away peacefully, I have been a strong public advocate, for others and for myself, of Dying with Dignity.
After a long struggle in the 1990s with a series of hospital physicians, my mother, Edna Fitzgerald (nee Beecher) of 41 Charles Street, East Brighton, in suburban Melbourne, eventually died in her mid-80s.
A few years …