Columns »

[29 Jun 2020 | No Comment | 267 views ]

Serious interest in the voting patterns of Eden-Monaro long predates next Saturday’s by-election. It goes back to the mid-1950s when the study of voting outcomes was starting to take off as a field of research in Australia.

In 1954 Professor Leicester Webb from the Australian National University in Canberra published a study of the failed 1951 referendum campaign to legalise the banning of the Communist Party. In the same year Webb’s colleague Joan Rydon together with Henry Mayer from Sydney University published a study of the …

Columns »

[10 Jun 2020 | No Comment | 616 views ]

From The Australian newspaper online, June 10, 2020. 
The great characters of the AA movement
Since it began, Alcoholics Anonymous has saved the lives of millions of people across the globe. That’s something worth celebrating today (June 10), which is Founders Day on the AA calendar. 
The inspirational story of AA began in 1935 when a newlysober New York stockbroker, Bill Wilson visited Akron, Ohio on a business trip. Afraid he might drink again, he decided to talk with another alcoholic.  The person he found wasa seemingly hopeless alcoholic  physician, Bob Smith. Afterlistening to Bill tell the story of his alcoholism he was so …

Reviews »

[30 May 2020 | No Comment | 428 views ]

‘Cry Me a River: The Tragedy of the Murray-Darling Basin’
By Margaret Simons
Quarterly Essay 77
Black Inc, 250pp, $22.99
The Murray-Darling Basin is often in the news and seldom for the right reasons. It is troubled by drought and climate change and the unquenchable thirst of agriculture. Yet belief in it is an article of faith for politicians, causing regular scraps over its management and its future.
In ‘Cry Me A River’, journalist and author Margaret Simons chronicles the results of her decision to take a close look at it herself. …

Reviews »

[28 May 2020 | No Comment | 447 views ]

The Defeat of Literary Censorship
The Trials of Portnoy : How Penguin brought down Australia’s censorship system
by Patrick Mullins
Scribe Publications, 2020, pp 329, $35
It took a book about masturbation to bring down Australia’s repressive regime of literary censorship. Philip Roth’s hugely controversial, highly sexualised novel Portnoy’s Complaint is a book about the habit that in the 1960s scarcely dared speak its name.
Unseemly subject matter in the eyes of some, but that’s the point really. Patrick Mullins, author of Tiberius with a Telephone, the award-winning biography of Liberal prime minister ‘Billy’ McMahon now explores how, in August 1970, Penguin Books Australia published Portnoy’s Complaint.
  Philip …

Reviews »

[1 May 2020 | No Comment | 461 views ]

             A smaller man
              Malcolm Turnbull, A Bigger Picture, Hardie Grant, 704 pages, $55.
              Review by ROSS FITZGERALD

Never trust a person who keeps a diary. After all, who keeps a diary other than someone who wants subsequently to tell a story where the diarist is the hero, while everyone else, almost invariably, falls lamentably short of the hero’s expectations and deserts?
And so it turns out with Malcolm Turnbull’s political memoir. Like the lawyer he once was, the diary entries …

Books »

[30 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 385 views ]

Re Ross Fitzgerald’s memoir FIFTY YEARS SOBER.

From Hybrid Publishers in Melbourne

“With alcoholism one of our major public health issues it’s an important book that may shine a light for those still suffering and their families.”

–Phil Brown, QWeekend, The Courier-Mail, 21 March 2020

“… a valuable handbook for the alcoholic who wants to stop drinking.” –Richard Whitaker

“By turns sad, ironic, disturbing and sometimes amusing, this is the ultimate sobering read.” –Steven Carroll, the Age 18 April 2020.

To celebrate 40 years of sobriety, Ross Fitzgerald published My Name Is Ross (2010) – the …

Reviews »

[29 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 345 views ]

Book Review
Ross Fitzgerald Fifty Years Sober: An Alcoholic’s Journey
Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2020, $27.50.
reviewed by Alan Gregory 
   Ross Andrew Edward Fitzgerald was born on 25 December 1944, and attended Melbourne High School from 1958 to 1961.
A highly intelligent student, he won the Economics prize in year 12 and gained Honours in every Matriculation subject and so gained a Commonwealth scholarship which, as he came from a poor family, enabled him to attend university.  
He had a great admiration for his teachers at the school, particularly Neville Drohan, Norton Hobson, Graham Worrall, Arthur Cocks, Ben Munday, Brian Corless and David Niven. He was a contemporary of Gareth Evans. He was also good at sport, football and cricket and he captained the school second XI and also featured in debating.
His left wing political bent meant a close association with Graham Worrall who he kept up with in later life. 
He was also close to Norton Hobson who told him he was an ASIO man.
Fitzgerald, who is now one of the best known public intellectuals, became also well known as an alcoholic. 
He states that his first  alcoholic drink was as a school boy in school uniform at the Her  Majesty’s hotel which was near the school.
Before being served, the barman for his first drink asked him to take off his school cap!
He also had his last alcoholic drink at  Her  Majesty’s hotel, commonly know as Maisy’s, where a group of Melbourne High teachers regularly drank after school.
He also seemed to collect a number of high profile friends like Barry Humphries, and on his many overseas trips recounts (to his great advantage) being mistaken for the eminent Dr Stephen FitzGerald, a former Australian Ambassador to China. 
His university days at Monash University were taken up mainly drinking alcohol and the dreadful consequences of his frequent drunkenness. Intellectually brilliant he still managed to do well. 
While no Adonis he seemed to be attractive to people and especially women and somehow engendered something in people who helped him out of his frightening escapades.  
He treated …

Books »

[29 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 333 views ]

Fifty Years Sober : An Alcoholic’s Journey

by Ross Fitzgerald – Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, $27.50

Alcohol sales have reportedly risen dramatically since everyone is staying home. Unfortunately, for those addicted to alcohol, it can be a life-long struggle not to drink. As Ross Fitzgerald clearly explains in his new memoir ‘Fifty Years Sober : An Alcoholics Journey’, it’s not a matter of willpower; it’s important to get the right support – and Ross pays exclusive tribute to Alcoholics Anonymous in keeping him to the straight and narrow.

“When he was 20 and …

Reviews »

[18 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 287 views ]

Non Fiction

Fifty Years Sober

Ross Fitzgerald

Hybrid, $27.50

When he was 20 and studying at Monash University, Ross Fitzgerald and a bloke he met at a pub stole a car and drove it off a bridge.


It was one of many incidents, including attempted suicides, that led him to AA.


This updated version of his 2010 memoir, My Name is Ross, charts in plain-speaking, detached writing, which accentuates the gravity of the tale, the path to alcoholism.


There was the difficult childhood, troubled relationship with his mother, first drinks in school uniform at 15, …

Reviews »

[11 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 256 views ]

City On Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong
Antony Dapiran
Scribe, $35Review by ROSS FITZGERALD
These days, there’s a lot to bash China about, but the protesters in Hong Kong have hardly bathed themselves in glory, either.
Most of us have seen footage of the mass movement that began in Hong Kong in June 2019, as a protest against a proposed bill extraditing lawbreakers to mainland China. Protesters claim this resulted in a march 1 million strong on Sunday, June 9, and then of 2 million a week later.
But after the extradition bill was …

Books »

[27 Mar 2020 | No Comment | 238 views ]


FYI : This version of my letter appeared in today’s Australian Financial Review.

Given the lifesaving work of Alcoholics Anonymous, AA should be regarded as an essential service and its meetings still be open to its members.

Otherwise many alcoholics and other addicts will fall off the program

Surely attending AA is more important than attend the hairdresser!

Ross Fitzgerald,

Redfern, NSW

The Australian Financial Review, 27 March 2020, p 35.