Columns »

[30 Jun 2021 | No Comment | 51 views ]

At the National Press Club in Canberra at the start of the year, Scott Morrison said the government’s main task this year would be getting everyone vaccinated so life could return to normal. Well, the year’s half over yet life is as disrupted as ever; and with scarcely a third of Australians with their first shot, and scarcely 5 per cent fully vaccinated, there’s no end in sight.

Initially, the problem was that we didn’t have enough vaccines. Now the problem is we don’t have enough of the “right” vaccine; …

Reviews »

[31 May 2021 | No Comment | 39 views ]

Mutineers: A True Story of Heroes and Villains
By Robert Hadler

Wilkinson Publishing, 320pp, $29.99, PB
Any tale of mutiny on the high seas is bound to get some attention. In fact, one of the most famous stories in maritime history was about a mutiny, the one on the Bounty under Captain William Bligh.
But mutinies didn’t just happen in the days of sail and many people wouldn’t be aware that just after the Great War, we had our own naval mutiny – in Fremantle.
Melbourne-based Robert Hadler’s latest tale of derring-do, …

Uncategorised »

[27 May 2021 | No Comment | 18 views ]

I’ve been heartened by the support I’ve received for my call in The Australian (25/5/21 p 10) for my beloved Collingwood Magpies to appoint a new coach.

This is a matter of some urgency.
Our performance so far this season is as bad, if not worse, than in 1976 when Collingwood finished last on the ladder.

But in 1977, when the legendary Tom Hafey took over as Collingwood’s coach, the Magpies turned things around, finished first on the ladder, and played in a dramatic drawn grand final with North Melbourne.
These days, our …

Uncategorised »

[25 May 2021 | No Comment | 27 views ]

As a lifelong Collingwood supporter and the author of four books about Australian Rules football, it is blindingly obvious to me that, as well as having removed Eddie McGuire as the Magpies president, we urgently need a new coach.
It is utterly bizarre that there is even talk in the club about extending Nathan Buckley’s contract for another two years.

Ross Fitzgerald, Redfern, NSW
Last Post
Letters to the editor, The Australian, May 25, 2021, p 10.

Columns »

[13 May 2021 | No Comment | 26 views ]

There were a heap of euphoric headlines in response to the federal budget. And what’s not to like in a budget that spends more money on just about everything, including much more on aged care, disability care, childcare, and the unemployed? The only noticeable lack of enthusiasm came from a few fiscal conservatives who persist in thinking that budget responsibility is what distinguishes the Liberals and Nationals from the Labor Party.
This really was an extraordinary budget coming from a government that had campaigned against its predecessor’s “debt and deficit stretching …

Reviews »

[12 May 2021 | No Comment | 24 views ]

The Gypsy Economist: The Life and Times of Colin Clark

By Alex Millmow
Palgrave Macmillan, 396pp, $135 (HB), $80 e-book
The name may not ring a bell but more people should know about Colin Clark. Why? Well, for one thing Clark is the person who pioneered the use of gross national product as the basis for studying national economies, and that alone makes him an important figure.
Author Alex Millmow has produced the first biography of Clark, the Anglo-Australian economist whose work in the area of applied economics, economic theory and …

Reviews »

[16 Apr 2021 | No Comment | 63 views ]

Untold Stories of the Australians Enslaved in Japan during World War II
By Mark Baker,
Monash University Publishing, 223pp, $34.95 (PB)


Many of us are aware of the obscenities of the Thai–Burma Railway and of the notorious Sandakan prisoner-of-war camp established by the Japanese in Borneo.
   But until the publication of Mark Baker’s latest offering, The Emperor’s Grace,  little has been known about thousands of Australians who were sent to work as slave labourers in the factories and mines of Japan during World War 11.
   Ideally suited to …

Columns »

[30 Mar 2021 | No Comment | 63 views ]

It’s my observation that most women come at politics from a fundamentally different perspective than men – as they do with career, relationships, sex and even driving cars. Generally, they do it with less rancour, without abusing men and without sexist language. Despite this, many women in federal politics have now come forward with mind-numbing stories of sexist and misogynist behaviour. However, some of the worst behaviour is seen at state and local government level, beyond the scrutiny of the federal parliamentary press gallery. 
After recently casting her deciding …

Reviews »

[26 Mar 2021 | No Comment | 54 views ]

Curious Obsessions in the History of Science and Spirituality
by Rachael Kohn.
ATF Press, 2020.
184 pages, $29.99.
For author and broadcaster Rachael Kohn spirituality is certainly a broad church.
Even though I am a confirmed atheist, Kohn’s inclusiveness led her to ask me to keep, and then read on air, a ‘spiritual diary.’ That was back in 2012 on her long-running ABC Radio National Program ‘The Spirit of Things.’ This daily diary of mine began on Christmas Day (my birthday) and finished on  Australia Day, which is when, in 1970, with the aid of Alcoholics Anonymous, I finally stopped drinking …

Columns »

[19 Mar 2021 | No Comment | 48 views ]

A Maoist, an anarchist and a Trotskyist walk into a bar. Make that a book. Add communists, socialists, feminists, two lesbians, a gay man, and three Indigenous activists; all appear in Radicals.

Sydney-based Meredith Burgmann and Nadia Wheatley are contributing editors of this often intriguing book they have dedicated to “all those comrades who were part of the radical Sixties” and who, “despite their differences, fought for a better world”.
Rather idiosyncratically, this critical decade is defined by Burgmann and Wheatley “as roughly spanning the years between 1965 and 1975”. In …

Columns »

[1 Mar 2021 | No Comment | 31 views ]

Like the poor, gambling will always be with us and it’s certainly a huge problem for our nation.
Although gambling undeniably brings pleasure to some,  it also greatly damages the lives of many gamblers and their families.
Hence compulsive gambling is a serious threat to the health and well being of Australians.
The Whitlam’s famously recorded a song about problem gambling aptly entitled ‘Blow Up The Pokies’, Tim Freedman’s response to the destructive affect compulsive gambling had on a close friend.
Gambling has much in common with alcohol and other drugs. Indeed, ‘Gambling …