Judith Brett

Judith Brett

Judith Brett is a political historian and Emeritus Professor of Politics at La Trobe University. Her most recent book is Doing Politics: Writings on public life (Text Publishing, 2021). Her biography of Alfred Deakin, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, won the 2018 National Biography Award (Text, 2017).

Judith Brett reviews 'No Children by Choice' by Berwyn Lewis and 'Mature Age Mothers' by Gloria Frydman

May 1987, no. 90 01 May 1987
Judith Brett reviews 'No Children by Choice' by Berwyn Lewis and 'Mature Age Mothers' by Gloria Frydman
To have or not to have children: a dilemma made possible by technological advances and the consequent loosening of social roles. Once, having children was both an almost inevitable result of adult sexual activity and, generally, a desired one. For most people, being an adult member of a society implied having and taking responsibility for children. And for many people it still does. But it is now ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'No Children by Choice' edited by Gloria Frydman and 'Mature Age Mothers' edited by Berwyn Lewis

May 1987, no. 90 01 May 1987
Judith Brett reviews 'No Children by Choice' edited by Gloria Frydman and 'Mature Age Mothers' edited by Berwyn Lewis
To have or not to have children: a dilemma made possible by technological advances and the consequent loosening of social roles. Once, having children was both an almost inevitable result of adult sexual activity and, generally, a desired one. For most people, being an adult member of a society implied having and taking responsibility for children. And for many people it still does. But it is now ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'The Accidental Prime Minister' by Annika Smethurst, 'Top Blokes: The larrikin myth, class and power' by Lech Blaine, and 'The Game: A portrait of Scott Morrison' by Sean Kelly

November 2021, no. 437 21 October 2021
Scott Morrison has now been prime minister longer than any of his four predecessors: Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, or Malcolm Turnbull. He has won one election by the skin of his teeth and faces another by May next year. So what sort of man is he and how good a prime minister? These three publications give us slightly different takes on these questions. The Accidental Prime Minister by ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'Vera Deakin and the Red Cross' by Carole Woods

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
Judith Brett reviews 'Vera Deakin and the Red Cross' by Carole Woods
Vera Deakin was Alfred and Pattie Deakin’s third and youngest daughter. Born on Christmas Day 1891 as Melbourne slid into depression, she grew up in a political household, well aware of her father’s dedication to the service of the Australian nation, not only in the Federation movement but later as attorney-general and three times as prime minister. Carole Woods recreates the life of this Mel ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'My Place' by Sally Morgan

August 1987, no, 93 01 August 1987
Judith Brett reviews 'My Place' by Sally Morgan
Reading My Place by Sally Morgan reminds one of how powerful a book can be when there is an urgent story to be told. This book, let me say at the outset, is wonderful. Sally Morgan and her four brothers and sisters grew up in Perth in the 1950s and 1960s. They are part Aboriginal, but didn’t know it then. They knew they were darker, different, perhaps they were Greek; their mother and grandmoth ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'The Ministers’ Minders: Personal advisers in national government' by James Walter

September 1986, no. 84 01 September 1986
Judith Brett reviews 'The Ministers’ Minders: Personal advisers in national government' by James Walter
The official myth of the relationship between the elected political leaders and the bureaucrats charged with the administration of their decisions has been that it is for the politicians to set the ends, choose the values, and for the bureaucrats to advise on the means for the implementation of those values. The bureaucratic advice is to be objective and impartial as bureaucrats are there to serve ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'A Politics of Poetry: Reconstituting social democracy' by Dennis Altman

November 1988, no. 106 01 November 1988
Judith Brett reviews 'A Politics of Poetry: Reconstituting social democracy' by Dennis Altman
The cover story of the first issue of The Australian’s new coloured magazine was of five people who had made a million dollars in their twenties. These young people’s achievements were presented for us to admire and to envy. Nowhere in the interviews with them was it suggested that people might be motivated by different values from the ones that drive these lives. The growing cultural legitim ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'A Bigger Picture' by Malcolm Turnbull

June–July 2020, no. 422 25 May 2020
Judith Brett reviews 'A Bigger Picture' by Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull looks us straight in the eye from the cover of this handsome book, with just a hint of a smile. He looks calm, healthy, and confident; if there are scars from his loss of the prime ministership in August 2018, they don’t show. The book’s voice is the engaging one we heard when Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott in July 2015 and promised a style of leadership that respected people ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'From Fraser to Hawke: Australian Public Policies in the 1980s' by Brian Head and Allan Patience and 'The Hawke–Keating Hijack: the ALP in Transition' by Dean Jaensch

October 1989, no. 115 01 October 1989
Judith Brett reviews 'From Fraser to Hawke: Australian Public Policies in the 1980s' by Brian Head and Allan Patience and 'The Hawke–Keating Hijack: the ALP in Transition' by Dean Jaensch
The debate about the costs and limitations of power is as old as the ALP, but it has been given new urgency by the changes in the Party since Labor won government in 1983. So far this year, three books have been published which deal wholly or in part with the Hawke government’s relationship with the traditions of the Australian Labor Party: Carol Johnson’s The Labor Legacy, Graham Maddox’s T ... (read more)

Judith Brett reviews 'George Seddon: Selected Writings' edited by Andrea Gaynor

December 2019, no. 417 26 November 2019
Judith Brett reviews 'George Seddon: Selected Writings' edited by Andrea Gaynor
A young George Seddon smiles boyishly from the cover of his Selected Writings, a mid-twentieth-century nerd with short back and sides and horn-rimmed glasses. This collection of Seddon’s writings on landscape, place, and the environment is the third in the series on Australian thinkers published by La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc. The other two, Hugh Stretton and Donald H ... (read more)
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