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[27 Sep 2014 | One Comment | 19 views ]

AS someone fascinated by the great split in the Australian Labor Party in the mid-1950s I was delighted to read Julian Croft’s satirical novel ‘Out of Print’, which deals in some detail with the background to the split.
Most of the action takes place in Newcastle in about 1953-54 and deals with a female protagonist, a reporter for the fictional ‘Sydney Morning Times’, who covers the activities of the industrial groupers and the communists in the trade union movement and the sectarian divisions of the time.
The novel does this by featuring …

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[13 Sep 2014 | One Comment | 24 views ]

EIGHTY-FIVE per cent of Australians support the idea that a human being who is terminally ill, with no hope of recovery, should be able to get medical assistance to die. Moreover, there are plenty of medical practitioners who would be willing to provide this ­assistance.
This is the reality of today’s Australia. As a baby boomer entering my twilight years, I have a vested interest in our federal parliament facing up to this reality and passing the necessary legislation without undue delay.
The Medical Board of Australia’s suspension of Philip Nitschke, the …

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[7 Sep 2014 | One Comment | 28 views ]

Not Anonymous Anymore
1.The Spirit of Things, ABC Radio National
Sunday 7 September 2014 6:05PM
PROF ROSS FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF ‘MY NAME IS ROSS, AN ALCOHOLIC’S JOURNEY’ 2012.
Drug addicts and alcoholics make the news when their lives spin out and they land in jail, but recovering from addiction receives little or no attention. The Rev Bill Crews, Director of the Exodus Foundation in Sydney says that the courage, conviction and honesty of those in recovery have a spiritual dimension that is lacking in many churches.
Recovering alcoholics Ross Fitzgerald AM and Jessica M …

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[30 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 101 views ]

LAST year an independent, feature-length documentary, ‘The Anonymous People’, focused on the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions.
For decades, deeply entrenched social stigma has kept the voices of recovery largely silent in the US and elsewhere in the Western world.
However, in this groundbreaking film, a cross-section of sportspeople, politicians, film stars and others came out publicly as recovered or recovering addicts. They explained how, through Alcoholics Anonymous and its offspring — including Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-step …

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[16 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 94 views ]

IN a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”.
“The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.”
This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the …

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[2 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 43 views ]

IN Australia, Labor has been much better than the Liberals at remembering its history and, in the process, denigrating its opponents. Witness the sustained historical work of leading leftist historians, the prolific Professor Stuart Macintyre and Dr David Day — which in part at least has effectively undermined previous conservative governments, especially those of Robert Menzies and John Howard.
This is despite the fact that since the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944 the Coalition has been in power for two-thirds of the time — in particular, Menzies from 1949 …

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[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 27 views ]

Campbell Newman’s iron grip on Queensland government is now looking decidedly limp-wristed following the disastrous Stafford byelection result.
The Premier’s Liberal National Party suffered an 18.6 per cent swing in the Brisbane bayside electorate, Labor’s victory giving it a ninth MP in the Queensland Parliament.
Historian Ross Fitzgerald predicted Mr Newman would definitely lose his own seat of Ashgrove at the Queensland election, expected within 11 months.
”‘When they say the swing is on in Queensland, it goes bananas. And historically, it is most certainly is on,’’ Professor Fitzgerald said.
‘‘The Premier won the …

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[19 Jul 2014 | One Comment | 43 views ]

AS many Australians, including federal Attorney-General George Brandis, are now fully starting to realise, protecting free speech and freedom of expression is an uphill struggle that needs to be fought over and over again.
These days in this country, as in much of the West, fewer and fewer people actually believe in freedom of speech. They may believe in freedom of speech for themselves, but they tend not to believe in freedom of speech and expression of opinion that contravenes their own deeply held beliefs, be they religious, political, racial or …

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[5 Jul 2014 | 2 Comments | 37 views ]

THE democratic process in Australia is driven by two competing, often conflicting, imperatives. Governments are often faced with critical decisions for the long-term good that are potentially unpopular in the short term.
For politicians it would seem there is little point in making decisions for the long-term national good if it results in an election loss, with an incoming government reversing any gains. In recent history two federal governments have managed the competing demands of the short-term electoral cycle and the longer-term national interest.
The Hawke-Keating government floated the Australian dollar to …