Columns »

[7 Jun 2014 | One Comment | 23 views ]

WITH a new federal upper house due to convene on July 1, minor parties will be in the spotlight. Five minor parties, plus Nick Xenophon, will be represented in the new Senate and will hold the balance of power between them. The voting blocks that form out of these parties will not only determine the fate of Tony Abbott’s first budget but they could give us an insight into just how far the Senate may change in future years.
The days of the Senate being a house of review where senators …

Speeches »

[2 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 22 views ]

“Austen Tayshus : Merchant of Menace” by Prof Ross Fitzgerald. An address for Melbourne’s first Jewish Writer’s Festival, the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, 306 Hawthorn Rd, South Caulfield. 4.30pm Sunday June 1, 2014
LAST YEAR` marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of Australia’s best-selling single ever, ‘Australiana’.
Performed by Sandy Gutman (aka Austen Tayshus), this subversive spoken-word piece is filled with an array of Australian puns, including ‘How much can a Koala bear?’, ‘Do you want to go Anna?’ and ‘Tryin’ to Platypus!’

Born in New York on St Patrick’s Day …

Reviews »

[31 May 2014 | No Comment | 12 views ]

Review of ‘Carrier Attack: Darwin 1942′.
By Tom Lewis and Peter Ingman
Avonmore Books, 368pp, $49.99 (HB)
THE surprise air attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was unforgettably described by then US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “a day of infamy”. A few weeks later we had a similar brush with infamy. On the morning of February 19, 1942, four days after the surrender of Singapore, 242 Japanese aircraft savagely bombed the isolated, lightly defended port of Darwin and its two airfields, especially targeting more than 60 Allied …

Roundup »

[27 May 2014 | No Comment | 8 views ]

HECTOR’S DIARY, ‘Bali Advertiser’ May 28, 2014
by 8 Degrees of Latitude
Bad Burghers
A new Facebook group has appeared in cyberspace, dedicated to curbing crime in Ubud. This is an unpleasant sign of the times. Ubud may be where everyone goes to commune with the fairies, go Vegan, try to find anything that remotely resembles the purported revelations in Elizabeth Gilbert’s bodice-ripper book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, and get in touch with their inner Pilates, but it’s also catching up with the modern world.
Some of the good burghers of Ubud, local and foreign, …

Books »

[25 May 2014 | No Comment | 33 views ]

Tony Abbott has remade the $600,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in his own image, with a line-up of mostly like-minded judges, including his publisher Louise Adler, conservative columnist Gerard Henderson and former Liberal MP Peter Coleman.
The names were announced by press release after Mr Abbott spoke at the Australian Book Industry Awards dinner on Friday, ending a delay that stirred concern he might drop the awards started by Kevin Rudd. Mr Abbott chose the judges from a list of suggested candidates.

At the dinner in Sydney, Mr Abbott and his Arts …

Books »

[24 May 2014 | No Comment | 28 views ]

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has announced a radical shake-up of the judging panels for the nation’s richest book prizes, the $600,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
The nonfiction and history panels will be chaired by conservative commentator Gerard Henderson. He will be joined by former politician and editor Peter Coleman, who is Peter Costello’s father-in-law, Ross Fitzgerald, a professor of politics and history, Ida Lichter and Ann Moyal.

The fiction and poetry panels will be chaired by publisher Louise Adler, who published Mr Abbott’s political memoir. She will be joined by Margie Bryant, …

Columns »

[24 May 2014 | No Comment | 56 views ]

SOON Queensland will again dominate our political agenda. In the next nine months, Queenslanders will go to the polls in an election that will be a referendum on the performance of Premier Campbell Newman’s first term in office.
Although no one seriously ­expects the Liberal National Party to lose, political interest will focus on just how many seats, out of its record majority, that the Queensland government will retain.
Newman has the advantage of presiding over a traditionally conservative state, but he would do well to study Queensland’s history as he ponders …

Reviews »

[17 May 2014 | No Comment | 13 views ]

Stoker’s Submarine: Australia’s Daring Raid on the Dardanelles on the Day of the Gallipoli Landing, Anzac Centenary Edition
By Fred and Elizabeth Brenchley
Australia Teachers of Media, $280pp, $49.95
THE little-known stories of war are an important part of our ongoing fascination with the two global conflicts of the 20th century. The adventures of an Australian submarine in the Dardanelles on the eve of the Gallipoli campaign is one such story, and in Fred and Elizabeth Brench­ley’s hands it is a ripping yarn indeed.
The story begins on the morning of April 25, 1915, …

Columns »

[10 May 2014 | No Comment | 15 views ]

AUSTRALIA’S political orthodoxy may be heading for a shake-up, with rising volatility in the electorate combining with a slowing economy to create difficulties for the major political parties.
The declining dominance of our so-called two-party system has been predicted many times, most notably when new parties rise to prominence.
The Australian Democrats, founded by ex-Liberal Don Chipp, once appeared likely to remain a long-term force, based on its platform of “keeping the bastards honest”.
Pauline Hanson also exploited cynicism about the major parties when she founded One Nation, which for a short time …