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Articles Archive for May 2011

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[28 May 2011 | One Comment | 2,914 views ]

SANDY Gutman always had a sardonic Aboriginal character in his arsenal, and was keen to introduce the character to a wider audience.
He had been developing a series of word-play jokes and ironic taglines that added a new dimension to the character , who now became part Jewish kvetcher. The routine was laced with venom and cunning. Comedy writer Trevor Farrant seized on the subject and, together with Gutman and Michelle Bleicher (Gutman’s then girlfriend and whip-smart manager), wrote the spoken-word comic song Highway Corroboree. The single came out in early …

Columns »

[28 May 2011 | One Comment | 1,961 views ]

DESMOND Ball’s important account of a crucial conversation with historian Manning Clark provides significant new information about Clark’s close friend Ian Milner.
It makes it clear that Clark withheld the inconvenient truth that he knew about Milner’s close connections with the Communist Party from at least as far back as 1944.
Milner was a significant player in communist espionage. Yet right until their deaths in 1991, and including in the historian’s memoir The Quest for Grace, Clark seems to have chosen to put his friendship with Milner ahead of telling the truth. …

Columns »

[21 May 2011 | No Comment | 2,476 views ]

NSW Labor’s demolition at the recent state election confirms a national voting trend at state and federal level.
Labor’s incumbent governments are all behind in the polls and the NSW result has sent a shudder through the ranks.
The thumping election win delivered the NSW Coalition 69 of the 93 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The incoming government, in the full blush of its honeymoon, clearly has a mandate to deliver on its commitments. The outcome reflects voter disgust with Labor and an endorsement …

Reviews »

[14 May 2011 | No Comment | 1,110 views ]

HAVING held the seat of Melbourne for the ALP since 1993, the minister for finance, Lindsay Tanner, retired from parliamentary politics at the 2010 federal election. Since then, Tanner, a politician of considerable talent and integrity, has given much thought to the sorry state of politics in Australia.
In its own way, Sideshow is as revealing as Tony Abbott’s important 2009 book Battlelines, which was also part memoir, part analysis and part impassioned critique. Tanner argues that the degradation of civic culture and the dumbing down of democracy is …

Columns »

[14 May 2011 | 3 Comments | 3,655 views ]

THE celebration of the birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous is a cause for joy and sometimes sad reflection.
Of the millions of lives saved and transformed by this extraordinary organisation, just as many have failed to grasp its simple message and the result has been personal hell and untimely death. Such is the destructive power of alcohol, society’s most pernicious drug.
On May 12, 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous had its fragile beginning in the US city of Akron, Ohio, when a recently sober New York stockbroker, Bill Wilson, fearful that being alone on a …

Reviews »

[7 May 2011 | No Comment | 1,915 views ]

AIDED by a bevy of research assistants, A.J. Brown has produced a comprehensive biography of one of Australia’s most controversial judges and public intellectuals.
The subject’s co-operation in this project was achieved by Brown’s agreement that the book would not be published until after Kirby’s retirement from the High Court of Australia in March 2009. This meant the biographer and his helpers gained access to voluminous materials — personal and professional — that otherwise would have remained inaccessible, as well as to many third-party sources who would not have participated had …

Columns »

[2 May 2011 | 5 Comments | 7,790 views ]

TOWARDS the end of fifth form, after I had devoured The Communist Manifesto and endeavoured to understand Das Kapital, I tried, unsuccessfully, to join the Communist Party of Australia. Along with my fellow student at Melbourne Boys High School, Alan Piper (with whom I had played cricket for the Victorian schoolboys team and who later became a multi-millionaire Brisbane car dealer) I met a CPA organiser outside the Bryant & May match factory in Richmond, near Melbourne High.
That afternoon after school I’d had a few beers but I wasn’t drunk. …

Reviews »

[1 May 2011 | No Comment | 1,678 views ]

THE reality is that Manning Charles Hope Clark was never an objectively inclined academic scholar. Thus his magnum opus, the six-volume A History of Australia, had more in common with the vision of 19th-century English writer Thomas Carlyle, whose three-volume History of the French Revolution was inspired by a distinctly personal vision spelled out in an epic narrative style.
Indeed, Clark sometimes admitted there wasn’t very much difference between literary fiction and “his kind of history”.
As academic Mark McKenna tellingly puts it, in the romantic tradition of Carlyle, who spoke from …

Reviews »

[1 May 2011 | No Comment | 3,463 views ]

FOR reasons that are unclear, the University of Queensland Press parted company from Philip Luker over publication of his biography of “the ideas man”, Phillip Adams.
Perhaps some clues can be found in Luker’s acknowledgements to this controversial book. There he states that the veteran columnist for The Weekend Australian Magazine and long-running broadcaster for ABC’s Radio National “seemed to believe that I had agreed not to delve into his private life. He never asked me to agree and I did not do so, either verbally or in writing.” Luker continues: …