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[12 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 8 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
Is former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull a wronged hero, as he obviously thinks he is? Was he a brilliant businessman who never really made the transition to politics, as some of his erstwhile admirers think? Or was he a dud who would have been better off in the Australian Labor Party, as some conservative Liberals think?
Right now, almost everyone has an opinion about our 29th prime minister but, as time passes, it will be the facts that shape history’s judgments. Here’s my stab at how history will …

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[8 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 14 views ]

by Kate Legge
I was interstate when my elderly neighbour Sid rang. Fire, burglary or dead cat immediately crossed my mind. “There’s a guy looking for you,” Sid informed me with a paternal air. “He reckons he did some work on your house 13 years ago. Says he overcharged you. He’s left his number.” We both wondered at an ulterior motive. Who owns up to financial deceit more than a decade after the fact, unless they’ve been dragged before a royal commission?
The algorithms in my brain began wheezing like an early-model …

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[28 Nov 2018 | No Comment | 9 views ]

by Ross Fitzgerald
Stephen Harper, the former Canadian conservative prime minister, has been in Australia talking about politics and leadership in the age of disruption. Harper is the first senior political practi­tioner, as opposed to commentator, who has tried to make sense of where the conservative side of politics is headed in the age of Donald Trump and Brexit.
For eight years, until 2015, Harper ran an orthodox centre-right government cutting taxes, balancing budgets, signing free trade deals and maintaining high immigration. But he accepts that this won’t work any more. …

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[5 Nov 2018 | One Comment | 30 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
It hasn’t taken the former prime minister long to work out that his successor had a role in his downfall. The spill vote against Malcolm Turnbull carried 45 to 40. The leadership vote went to Scott Morrison over Peter Dutton 45 to 40. Do the sums: Turnbull had 40 votes; Dutton had 40 votes; but Morrison had five votes that he first used against Turnbull and then added to Turnbull’s votes to make himself Prime Minister.
But that’s politics, as Turnbull should know, having played it …

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[15 Oct 2018 | No Comment | 39 views ]

BY ROSS FITZGERALD AND STEPHEN HOLT
Sins of political commission (alienating the base, for starters) and omission (standing for nothing other than ruinous energy prices) sealed the former PM’s political fate. But there was an element of bad luck as well. Rather than Sydney, he should have been born in Manhattan, island of the main-chancers.
Soon after the change of prime minister on August 24, Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull decamped to spend six weeks or so at their Upper West Side apartment …

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[11 Oct 2018 | No Comment | 32 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
For the crucial Wentworth by-election on October 20, the high-profile independent Kerryn Phelps is currently in with a chance of beating the well-credentialed Liberal candidate, ex Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma.
This is why Labor is running dead in Wentworth. It is also a reason why some mischievous medicos and MPs have suggested to me that Dr Phelps might fall foul of the same constitutional issue that Labor said should disqualify Peter Dutton. Remember: Labor engaged a top QC to argue that the …

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[26 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 26 views ]

Readers will find it even harder to take ‘The Saturday Paper’ seriously after its shameful shenanigans in trying to censor its own nonfiction award, the $15,000 Horne Prize for reportage on contemporary Australia. On Monday The Saturday Paper’s editor-in-chief, Erik Jensen, capitulated after The Weekend Australian exposed the competition’s ban on entries about the experiences of Aborigines, gay people and other minorities unless the author was a member of such a group.
Exposure of the rules also prompted the resignations, to their credit, of two of the judges: author Anna Funder, …

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[24 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 25 views ]

By Justin Burke
Celebrated author Anna Funder has quit the judging panel for the Horne Prize for essays, after rule changes were made banning entries about the experiences of Aborigines, gay people and other minorities without the writers belonging to these respective groups.
Funder, who won the Miles Franklin Award in 2012 for her work of fiction set in Nazi Germany, told The Australian the judges weren’t consulted in advance about the controversial changes to the $15,000 award.
“I really disagreed with them, and I felt like a lot of my work would …

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[24 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 25 views ]

BY ROSS FITZGERALD
By-elections matter. The Bass by-election in 1975 presaged the defeat of the Whitlam government. The Canberra by-election in 1995 predicted the defeat of the Keating government. The Aston by-election in 2004 foreshadowed the recovery of the Howard government. And most recently, the Longman by-election set in train the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull.
On the other hand, winning the Flinders by-election in late 1982 didn’t save the Fraser government at the general election just a few months later.
Winning next month’s Wentworth by-election won’t improve the Morrison government’s fortunes, but losing …

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[23 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 37 views ]

TURNBULL’S POLITICAL SUICIDE
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The Canberra press gallery can’t work out why their favourite Liberal is no longer prime minister because they have almost no understanding of how the Liberal Party actually works. Political journalists rarely talk to anyone outside the Canberra bubble and their Liberal contacts are nearly always from the party’s progressive wing. That’s why they didn’t see Malcolm Turnbull’s demise coming and have difficulty grasping what actually happened. It was much less …

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[30 Aug 2018 | One Comment | 85 views ]

Here’s my lead article in Spectator Australia.
Thanks for nothing, Malcolm.
by ROSS FITZGERALD
One thing we can be sure of is that the Liberal prime minister who once tried to join the Labor Party won’t be attending too many Liberal party gatherings in his retirement.
Before he moved too far to the left, even Malcolm Fraser had accepted life membership and had a retirement tilt at the Liberal party presidency. John Howard is still a rock star at party fundraisers, campaigns for key candidates, and chaired a committee recommending …