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[22 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 178 views ]

Ever since having seen my late mother suffer so much when all she wanted was to slip away peacefully, I have been a strong public advocate, for others and for myself, of Dying with Dignity.
After a long struggle in the 1990s with a series of hospital physicians, my mother, Edna Fitzgerald (nee Beecher) of 41 Charles Street, East Brighton, in suburban Melbourne, eventually died in her mid-80s.
A few years before her death, due to a combination of glaucoma and cataracts, my mother went blind. She was then hospitalised in Melbourne …

Columns »

[15 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 159 views ]

The best Malcolm Turnbull could say of his first anniversary as prime minister was “so far so good”. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement. So far, his only real achievement is not quite losing the election to Bill Shorten. And this week, for the first time, the Labor leader’s net Newspoll unpopularity was better than the Prime Minister’s.
Along the Parliament House corridors, Labor MPs are now displaying in their office windows caricatures of a glum Malcolm Turnbull with the caption “fizza”. As a gay-marriage, climate change and republic-supporting man of …

Reviews »

[10 Sep 2016 | No Comment | 185 views ]

Evatt: A Life
By John Murphy
NewSouth, 451pp, $49.99 (HB)
Deeply flawed but intellectually brilliant, yet often foolish, grandiose and out of control, former federal Labor leader Herbert Vere “Doc Evatt is one of 20th-century Australia’s most puzzling, complex and contradictory political figures.
Written with the aid of research assistants Carla Pascoe and Bill Garner, Evatt: A Lifemakes excellent use of many archives, in particular the voluminous Evatt collection at Flinders University in Adelaide, which perhaps surprisingly contains few private papers. However, as previous biographers of Evatt have noted, he rarely wrote or replied …

Reviews »

[3 Sep 2016 | No Comment | 174 views ]

The Drowned Man: A True Story of Life, Death and Murder on HMAS Australia
By Brendan James Murray
Echo Publishing, 384pp, $32.95
One of the highlights of Mike Carlton’s magnificent naval history ‘Flagship’, which I recently reviewed in these pages, is its exploration of the murder of a young, homosexual crew member that took place on board HMAS Australia in March 1942. Now an entire book, although not quite as fine a work as Carlton’s, has been written on the subject.
In many ways a 70-year-old naval mystery, the details of which have never …

Columns »

[3 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 380 views ]

When Robert Menzies lost power in 1941 after having headed an ineffective federal government for just two years, no one gave him a chance of again being prime minister. Yet in 1949 Menzies was not only re-elected, but remained in power for 18 years , a record term.
Bearing this in mind, what are the odds of a comeback by Tony Abbott?
If Liberal MPs weren’t loyal to a leader who won eight seats from Labor at his first election and a further 17 seats at his second, they’re quite capable of …