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Articles Archive for December 2014

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[29 Dec 2014 | 2 Comments | 166 views ]

ON January 5, a new state Labor leader will be elected in NSW. Had rank-and-file members had a vote, deputy leader Linda Burney would almost certainly have run and, in my opinion, would have walked it in.
Unfortunately the Labor caucus alone will decide the NSW leadership, because a plebiscite cannot be held within six months of a state election.
The ALP introduced a vote for members in the election of its national parliamentary leader. Burney’s mentor, the Labor Left’s national leader Anthony Albanese, trounced Bill Shorten by a margin of nearly …

Columns »

[27 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 125 views ]

AT this time of year, many Australians find themselves in trouble with the booze. But the silly season merely accentuates what is already a massive problem.
Why, then, do our governments respond so inadequately to helping people addicted to alcohol and other drugs?
Private, non-government org­anisations and government-funded treatment centres don’t have the capacity to deal with the demand for intensive alcohol and drug treatment.
This is despite the fact governments at all levels know that funding such treatment saves the community much more than it costs. Sadly, there are few votes in …

Columns »

[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 634 views ]

Tony Abbott has achieved plenty in his first year, thanks to some of his key ministers. Ross Fitzgerald rates them.
This year, despite his many critics, and despite the fact that the federal budget is very much a work in progress, Prime Minister Tony Abbott managed to get rid of the carbon tax, stop the boats, keep his parliamentary team relatively stable, and make considerable progress with infrastructure reform and deregulation.
This was achieved with the aid of some key ministers and of one parliamentary secretary in particular.
The strongest ministerial performer is …

Reviews »

[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 280 views ]

‘The Nashos’ War: Australia’s National Servicemen and Vietnam’
By Mark Dapin
Viking, 470pp, $39.99 (HB)
DURING the Vietnam War almost 64,000 young Australians were drafted into national service across a seven-year period. Beginning on March 10, 1965, the “‘nashos were chosen by chance, their birth dates drawn from a lottery barrel at the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. As journalist and author Mark Dapin points out, not all of these conscripts were sent to Vietnam, but their random fate came to symbolise the war and divide a nation.
This fine book …

Columns »

[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 162 views ]

AS an alcoholic teenager living in the petit-bourgeois Melbourne suburb of East Brighton, my idea of a good Saturday night was to go on my own, armed with a flagon of claret, to the Brighton Cemetery.
There I would sit in front of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s obelisk reading his best-known verse: “Life is only froth and bubble / Two things stand like stone / Kindness in another’s trouble / Courage in your own.
These days I find it revealing that, of all the people buried in the cemetery, I wasn’t attracted to …

Books »

[14 Dec 2014 | One Comment | 471 views ]

WHEN the nonfiction prize at the 2009 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was awarded to two books, Kevin Rudd “went apeshit, to quote someone who was a judge at the time, and ordered there never again be joint winners. If we needed further evidence that we’re not in Rudd-land any more it came at the 2014 awards this week, the first under a Liberal prime minister, when three of six prizes were split.
Tony Abbott, who was in good spirits at Monday night’s awards dinner at the National Gallery of Victoria, made …

Reviews »

[6 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 61 views ]

Private Bill: In Love and War
By Barrie Cassidy
MUP, 192pp, $29.99
WRITERS often hit their straps when they tackle subjects that have deep emotional resonance. So it is for Barrie Cassidy with his third book, Private Bill, a testament to his father.
Best known as press secretary to Bob Hawke when he was prime minister and now as host of the ABC’s Insiders program, Cassidy is also an accomplished author and this book is his best yet.
The hero of this beautifully conceived and multi-layered tale is his beloved father, Bill, who arrived on …

Columns »

[1 Dec 2014 | One Comment | 127 views ]

Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities are all in capital cities. Victoria and NSW each have two Go8 universities, while the other states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory, each have only one. Tasmania and the NT have none.
The richest pickings for universities are in the large capital cities where most Australians live. This will be even more the case following fee deregulation. Several regional and smaller universities have sought to cash in on the big city market with mini-campuses. Central Queensland University, for example, has mini-campuses …