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[15 Jan 2019 | No Comment | 62 views ]


There’s been another death of a young woman caused by consum­ption of illicit drugs at a music event, this time in western Sydney.

Yet despite some impassioned opposition, including letters to this newspaper, the debate about pill testing in Australia appears to have reached a tipping point.

It now seems more a matter of when rather than if trials will commence across the country. Indeed the family of the 19-year-old woman who died on Saturday have come out begging NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to allow a pill testing trial.

Every year …

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[7 Jan 2019 | No Comment | 42 views ]

The government can use the opposition’s tax agenda as an election-winning plank


The Coalition has done its best to make itself unelectable. But voters don’t just ask whether the government deserves to lose, they also ask if the opposition deserves to win — and a good look at the Labor Party’s policies should make it even less electable than today’s government.

The Liberal Party needs voters to be thinking about their immediate economic self-interest rather than whether or not Malcolm Turnbull should still be prime minister.

The challenge for Scott Morrison …

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[26 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 23 views ]

Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and, yes, Julie Bishop are among the most talented, experienced and energetic Coalition MPs. Yet, for different reasons, they are seen by some as among the most divisive. Nonetheless, if Scott Morrison is to have any chance of winning next year’s federal election, he should bring them into his cabinet; or, if not, offer them each an influential position outside of federal parliament.

The political reality for the Prime Minister is that they should be in or out.

In relation to Abbott, Joyce and Bishop, Morrison — who obviously …

Columns »

[22 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 21 views ]

ROSS FITZGERALD, emeritus professor and author.
Fiona ­Patten’s ‘Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll’ (Allen & Unwin) is the most provocative memoir yet written by a sitting member of an Australian parliament.
The book opens with Patten’s maiden speech in the Victorian Legislative Council in February 2015, where she declared: “I may be the first former sex worker to be elected to a parliament anywhere in this country.” And then, after a short pause: “However, I am sure the clients of sex workers have been elected in far greater numbers before …

Columns »

[16 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 30 views ]

Ross Fitzgerald is the author of 40 books, most recently ‘So Far, So Good’, co-written with Antony Funnell and published by Hybrid.
While attending St Mark’s Anglican Church in Brighton in Melbourne in the 1950s, I started reading ‘The King James Version of the Bible.’ This inspiring translation had a huge impact on my appreciation of the wonders of the English language and the possibilities of reading and writing about history. Although I have been a devout atheist for decades, reading the King James Bible …

Reviews »

[15 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 45 views ]

‘Mutiny on the Bounty’
By Peter FitzSimons
Hachette Australia, 613pp, $49.99 (HB)
‘Mutiny, Mayhem, Mythology: Bounty’s Enigmatic Voyage’
By Alan Frost
Sydney University Press, 336pp, $40
‘By Sea & Stars: The Story of the First Fleet’
By Trent Dalton
Fourth Estate, 138pp, $24.99 (HB)
It’s an epic tale of human frailty and alleged tyranny that has fascinated us for two centuries. The mutiny on the Bounty may have occurred in a remote part of the western Pacific on April 28, 1789, but it is well known and not just by history buffs.
The Bounty continues …

Columns »

[12 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 22 views ]

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 …

Reviews »

[8 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 36 views ]

‘King of the Air: The Turbulent Life of Charles Kingsford Smith’
By Ann Blainey
Black Inc, 377pp, $49.99 (HB)
by Ross Fitzgerald
If you happen to be in Brisbane rushing to or from the airport, take a slight detour on Airport Drive and have a look at the Kingsford Smith Memorial. It’s a hidden treasure that most travellers pass by.
Dedicated to our greatest aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith, the memorial features his preserved Southern Cross aeroplane. Brisbane Airport is a custodian of this important relic for the commonwealth and the memorial is free …

Columns »

[8 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 32 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 …

Reviews »

[1 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 32 views ]

‘Honeysuckle Creek: The Story of Tom Reid, a Little Dish and Neil Armstrong’s First Step’
By Andrew Tink
NewSouth, 264pp, $34.99
Stories about the first men on the moon continue to attract our attention. Those of us who were alive at the time probably remember exact­ly where we were and what we were doing when the Apollo 11 moon mission’s lunar module ‘Eagle’ landed on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC.
This story is on screen at the moment in the moving film ‘First Man’ starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the …

Reviews »

[1 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 25 views ]

‘John Curtin’s War. Volume II: Triumph and Decline’
John Edwards
​Viking, $49.99
History has a surprising way of coming up with individuals who seem able to face momentous challenges on behalf of us all. As we used to say, cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Britain had Winston Churchill when it needed him and we had John Curtin. The first volume of John Edwards highly accessible John Curtin’s War showed us how Curtin was the right man at the right time, even if – like all of us – at times he …