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[29 Jun 2015 | 2 Comments | 193 views ]

Reflecting on his incumbency, former American President George W. Bush has made clear that he has learnt that “shock and awe” is not a good recipe for waging war or running government. Many Australian voters, it would appear, are also learning this lesson.
Although Labor leader Bill Shorten is currently on the ropes, polls show that the two-party vote, unlike in 2013, is neck and neck. Rather than “shock and awe”, these days voters are looking for more thoughtful government.
The wider electorate has little confidence in the current crop of …

Columns »

[27 Jun 2015 | No Comment | 72 views ]

The people who run universities bang on about excellence but the fact is university standards are plummeting. And it’s a national disgrace.
This is connected to the fact an increasing number of students, from Australia and overseas, are functionally illiterate in terms of their use and understanding of Eng­lish. This is exacerbated by the fact that, once they are accepted for tertiary study, students are no longer required to think for themselves and often have no passion for the subjects they are studying. Add to this the fact there are far …

Columns »

[20 Jun 2015 | 5 Comments | 488 views ]

Alan Reid (1914-1987)
Alan Reid was one of the most influential political journalists in 20th century Australia. Working for most of his long career as Canberra correspondent for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, he not only reported key events in Australian politics, but also from time to time actively participated in them.
As far as can be ascertained, Reid’s roman a clef about the 1950s Labor Split, The Bandar-Log, holds the dubious title of being the only Australian novel legally judged defamatory without having been published.
As myself and Stephen Holt point out in …

Reviews »

[13 Jun 2015 | One Comment | 149 views ]

Review of ‘Joh for PM’
By Paul Davey
Newsouth Books, $29.99
As well as being a former journalist, for many years Paul Davey was a senior staffer for the National Party of Australia at state and federal levels. In particular, he was the National Party’s federal director during the tumultuous time of controversial Queensland premier Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen’s brief and spectacularly unsuccessful tilt at the highest office in the land.
Hence ‘Joh for PM’ is marketed as an insider’s story , of what is indisputably an extraordinary Australian political and parliamentary melodrama. Whether …

Columns »

[13 Jun 2015 | One Comment | 80 views ]

The reality is that, in recent years, no political party in Australia has won a federal election without the backing of small business. It is also true that a disunited government is extremely unlikely to be returned to office.
Led by the Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, the Abbott Government’s comprehensive small business package is proving to be an important vote winner which is now giving the Coalition the best possible shot at winning the next federal election.
It also shows the power of positive teamwork. As Billson, Abbott, Joe Hockey and …

Reviews »

[6 Jun 2015 | No Comment | 81 views ]

REVIEW
‘Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s’.
By Stuart Macintyre
NewSouth, 596pp, $34.99
Stuart Macintyre’s latest book examines the vast reconstruction and nation-building project in Australia after the end of World War II and throughout almost all of the 1940s.
‘Australia’s Boldest Experiment’ is dedicated to the historian’s wife, Martha — also an esteemed academic — who was born early on August 16, 1945. Martha’s mother, born the year the Great War ended, went into labour as the news broke in Australia late in the morning of Aug­ust 15, 1945, that World …

Columns »

[1 Jun 2015 | One Comment | 180 views ]

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen two of Australia’s most established minor political parties deregistered by the Australian Electoral Commission. First there was the Australian Democrats and then the Democratic Labor Party.
Like many people I was quite surprised to hear that neither of these parties had a minimum of 500 members , this being the magical number that the Electoral Act defines as indicative of enough public support to register a party. But when it was announced that one of the rising stars in the political firmament, …