Reviews »

[9 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 13 views ]

Review of ‘Tony Windsor: The Biography.’
By Ruth Rae
Allen & Unwin, 336pp, $35
ACCORDING to author Ruth Rae, this book — an authorised biography of the former independent federal MP for New England, Tony Windsor — was written “because there was a gap in (our) political history”. Fair enough. But whether its subject, who before he was elected to federal parliament in 2001 had previously been an independently minded independent member in the NSW Legislative Assembly, deserves a 300-plus page treatment is moot.
What is indisputable is that Windsor, a popular state member …

Columns »

[2 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 41 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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[24 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 86 views ]

Review of AUSTRALIA’S SECRET WAR: HOW UNIONS SABOTAGED OUR TROOPS IN WORLD WAR II BY HAL COLEBATCH
QUADRANT BOOKS
H/B, 2013, RRP $44.95 ISBN 9780980677874
It is useful to be reminded that, as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, signed on 21 August 1939, Hitler and Stalin were allies. This meant that, at that time, Australian Communists loyal to Moscow were obliged to support the German war machine.
As Hal G P Colebatch points out, in his provocative new book ‘Australia’s Secret War’, this arrangement lasted until Hitler invaded Russia on 22 June …

Columns »

[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 24 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 | No Comment | 40 views ]

Review of ‘Gravity: Inside the PM’s Office During Her Last Year and Final Days’
By Mary Delahunty
Hardie Grant, 242pp, $29.95
ON the night of June 24, 2010, Labor’s then deputy prime minister, the popular and respected Julia Gillard, was catapulted into office to become Australia’s first female PM.
The next morning, Gillard emerged to a stunned nation, as award-winning journalist Mary Delahunty aptly puts it, “like a butterfly from its chrysalis”.
It is intriguing to remember that at the time Gillard didn’t fully explain why she was there, saying only that “a good government …

Columns »

[19 Jul 2014 | One Comment | 41 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 …

Columns »

[5 Jul 2014 | 2 Comments | 36 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 …

Reviews »

[28 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 54 views ]

Review
Menzies at War
By Anne Henderson
New South, 263pp, $34.99
WHATEVER you think of Robert Menzies, he is one of the towering figures of Australian politics. In ‘Menzies at War’ Anne Henderson has written a compelling account of the first prime ministership of the future founder of the Liberal Party, who between April 26, 1939, and August 29, 1941, led Australia during the troublesome beginnings of World War II.
Although sometimes repetitive, this well-researched and finely illustrated book follows on from Henderson’s previous work about Aus­tralia in the 1930s. In particular, she has illumin­ated …

Columns »

[21 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 17 views ]

THIS afternoon, in a do-or-die struggle at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, my beloved Collingwood battles against the injury-wracked Hawthorn — who last year won the AFL grand final.
The task of the Hawks today will be made more difficult by the prolonged absence of their senior coach, Alastair Clarkson, who is suffering from a rare auto-immune condition, called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
From as long as I can remember I was taught that Aussie Rules was of the utmost importance to our family life and to life in general.
Indeed, although I couldn’t have …