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Articles Archive for April 2017

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[30 Apr 2017 | 2 Comments | 208 views ]

Despite a long career as a professor of history and politics, I am still fascinated by the spread of, and resistance to, evidence-based policies that work to reduce crime.
In the Western world, pills have been tested at youth music dance events for almost 20 years, improving public safety and saving scarce resources. Yet Australia has been slow to accept such testing, while rushing to adopt expensive, tough, anti-crime policies not backed by evidence. Having accepted these expensive ways of making a bad problem worse, our governments often persist with such …

Reviews »

[22 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 114 views ]

REVIEW
Line of Fire
By Ian Townsend
Fourth Estate, 309pp, $29.99
Ian Townsend’s third book, ‘Line of Fire’, a work of nonfiction, is excellent. It follows two fine novels: ‘Affection’ (2007), based on the 1900 plague outbreak in north Queensland, and ‘The Devil’s Eye’ (2008), centred on the worst cyclone in Australian history.
The Queensland radio journalist and author has a talent for discovering little-known events and fleshing them out to make history come alive. His new book is a gripping yarn of espionage and war.
Townsend meticulously mined research archives in Australia, Japan and Papua …

Columns »

[20 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 92 views ]

IN the recent NSW by-elections, 23 per cent of the electorate ­either failed to vote at all or voted informal. At last year’s federal election, 23 per cent voted for minor parties or independents, 5 per cent voted informal and 9 per cent didn’t turn up. That’s well over a third of the electorate that ­declined to vote for the two big parties that have governed Australia, in one form or another, since Federation.
It’s hard to recall a time when people have been so disillusioned with politicians. This matters because …

Reviews »

[8 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 90 views ]

POLITICS
Disposable Leaders
Rodney Tiffen
NewSouth Books $34.99
Coups are becoming increasingly common in Australia. This in turn means that, in recent years, party leadership has become much more precarious.
Rather clumsily subtitled “Media and Leadership Coups from Menzies to Abbott”, Rodney Tiffen’s ‘Disposable Leaders’ begins with the claim that in 1941 the later long-serving federal Liberal luminary, Robert Gordon Menzies was “the first Prime Minister to be overthrown by his own party.”
This is questionable on two counts.
In early 1923 W.H. (“Billy”) Hughes was forced to resign as Prime Minister due to the refusal of …

Columns »

[7 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 69 views ]

Recently, Malcolm Turnbull has from time to time tried to act like the centre-right leader of a centre-right government, which is what is needed if the Coalition is to have any chance of being reelected.
After rejecting any change during the last election campaign, last week the Turnbull government had a good go at reforming section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. In this, the PM had the public support from Tony Abbott that Abbott never had from him last time round. Then last Friday, Turnbull achieved success in passing significant …

Columns »

[7 Apr 2017 | One Comment | 142 views ]

TONIGHT, with both sides yet to register a win, Collingwood and Sydney play a crucial game of Aussie rules at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Sydney/Collingwood contest under lights has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, especially as it will see Sydney’s superstar Lance (‘Buddy’) Franklin celebrate his 250th senior AFL game.
And yet something doesn’t feel quite right.
Perhaps it’s the oddly quiet build-up to the match from two teams usually all too happy to trade barbs across the border. Or perhaps it’s just the calm before the storm?
Collingwood’s president has …

Reviews »

[2 Apr 2017 | No Comment | 201 views ]

The Curse of Mungana
by David E. Moore
Boolarong Press, 2017, 336 pages, $34.99
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Widely known as “Red Ted”, Edward Granville Theodore was Queensland Premier from 1919 to 1925 and federal Treasurer during James Scullin’s federal Labor government from 1929 to 1931. He was arguably the greatest Australian politician never to become prime minister.
In large part Theodore’s political career was killed by what became known as the Mungana Mines scandal. The Mungana mining leases were situated twenty kilometres north-west of Chillagoe, a north Queensland town which was part of Theodore’s state electorate from …