Reviews »

[30 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Review of ‘On the Wagon’ | 32 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, …

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[26 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Overlanders tale also peddles nationhood | 25 views ]

Tour de Oz
By Bret Harris
HarperCollins, 322pp, $29.99
Circumnavigating Australia by bicycle sounds like a grand folly, something that could form the basis of one of those amusing films about unlikely journeys.
But the story happens to be true. Four years before the inaugural Tour de France, four cyclists, widely known as overlanders, embarked on a race around Australia.
Bret Harris’s Tour de Oz is about their heroic attempts to “circumcycle” our vast continent. The timing is interesting. This pedal-powered adventure took place shortly before the colonies became a nation in 1901. In one …

Columns »

[25 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Why safe drug-consumption rooms make more sense than drug-testing welfare recipients | 31 views ]

Why safe drug-consumption rooms make more sense than drug-testing welfare recipients
BY ROSS FITZGERALD
Sparked by a spate of overdose deaths of young people, there is currently a debate about establishing a ‘Drug Consumption Room’ (DCR) in Richmond, in Melbourne.
This follows MP Fiona Patten introducing a bill in February in the Victorian Parliament for an Australian trial of such a facility.
But it is not only in Melbourne that debate is raging. It is now occurring nationally, and especially in western Sydney where, at Canterbury-Bankstown, the federal government is planning to drug-test welfare …

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[24 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Stopping Shorten | 76 views ]

SPECTATOR AUSTRALIA: Australian Notes
Stopping Shorten
by Ross Fitzgerald
For once, Malcolm Turnbull’s current travails are not all his own fault. The Prime Minister could hardly be blamed for questions over the Deputy Prime Minister’s eligibility to sit in federal parliament. Indeed, it’s hard to see Barnaby Joyce’s culpability either: he could not be expected to know what his father – who had left New Zealand as a youth and never held a Kiwi passport – also didn’t know and had no reason to suspect.
The dual citizenship crisis is the kind of bolt-from-the-blue …

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[12 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on The inner workings of Santamaria’s Movement | 52 views ]

The Show: Another Side Of Santamaria’s Movement
By Mark Aarons, with John Grenville
Scribe, 265pp, $32.99
BA Santamaria was one of the most influential unelected Australian political figures of the 20th century. ‘The Show’ is a sometimes controversial reassessment of the role in labour history and Labor politics of this Melbourne-based Catholic layman who loomed large in our political and cultural landscape. From 1942, Santamaria (1915-98) helped organise and orchestrate anti-communist activities throughout Australia, especially in Victoria.
Mark Aarons’s previous book, ‘The Family File’, was a riveting account of four generations of his …

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[9 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Review of GOING OUT BACKWARDS: A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE | 19 views ]

GOING OUT BACKWARDS: A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE
By Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen
Hybrid Publishers 2015
ISBN: 9781925272109
RRP , $26.9 pb
Reviewed by Gerard Henderson
Barry Humphries has described Grafton Everest as “a wonderful creation in the same ranks as Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.
Dr Everest (for a doctor he is) makes a welcome return in ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure.’ This is the fifth appearance by Professor (for a professor he also is) Grafton in print. On this occasion via the combined work of Ross Fitzgerald (the Sydney-based Emeritus …

Columns »

[27 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Abbott’s mission | 53 views ]

Abbott’s mission
The Liberal party now needs saving from itself
ROSS FITZGERALD
As Adam Smith once observed, in most nations there’s often a lot of ruin. His point was that it takes much more than a short period of bad government to inflict major damage on a strong country.
In a well-developed civil society, very little requires the express say-so of government. People are always trying to improve their lot, and largely succeeding, even when the government of the day is consistently getting it wrong. That said, government matters because it …

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[18 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Geoffrey Bolton & Cazaly reviews | 88 views ]

TELLING STORIES AT THE PERIPHERY OF A NATION
‘A Historian For All Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton’
Edited by Stuart Macintyre, Lenore Layman and Jenny Gregory
Monash University Publishing 2017
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-925495-60-7
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-925495-61-4
RRP $39.95
by Ross Fitzgerald
When our daughter Emerald was little, the only person she called by their full name was Geoffrey Bolton. She was obviously impressed by him and why wouldn’t she have been? After all Bolton, my friend and intellectual mentor, was tall and full-bearded and looked like an Old Testament prophet. He cut a striking figure.
In 1963, when his …

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[8 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Heysen put into perspective, by gum | 32 views ]

‘Hans Heysen’
By Lou Klepac
The Beagle Press, 216pp, $120 (HB)
The author of this impressive book, Lou Klepac, has had a long association with the life and work of German-born Hans Heysen, a pioneer of Australian art who transformed how we see, draw and paint the Australian landscape.
Indeed, when Klepac became curator of paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1966, Heysen was still on its board of trustees. Before he died in 1968, the then 90-year-old artist invited the author to The Cedars, a 60ha property near Hahndorf …

Columns »

[6 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Point of no returnbull | 46 views ]

It’s over
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The first duty of a leader is to keep the team together. This is Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest failure. The federal parliamentary party is split, some of its strongest talent is banished to the backbench, party members are resigning in droves and the government is pursuing policies it would condemn coming from Labor.
Turnbull has never understood that loyalty is a two way street. You’ve got to give loyalty in order to get it. This involves fidelity to principles as well as loyalty to people. As leader of the …

Columns »

[28 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Manning Clark and the Vanishing Archaeologist | 27 views ]

by Ross Fitzgerald
Students of Australian prehistory were once thin on the ground and interest in the field was equally limited. But that all began to change in the 1960s when work opportunities in the field began opening up. The search for archaeological traces of Australia’s ever more remote inhabited past was at last taking off as a discipline in the nation’s expanding universities.
Importantly, the subject already had acquired a dynamic exponent and champion in the person of John Mulvaney from Melbourne University. Mulvaney had completed …