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Neal Blewett

Neal Blewett

Neal Blewett has had a varied career as academic, politician, and diplomat. A Tasmanian Rhodes scholar, he taught successively at the Universities of Oxford and Adelaide and became Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at Flinders University. He has written books and articles on British and Australian history and politics. As Health Minister in the Hawke government he was responsible for the introduction of Medicare and Australia’s Aids policy. His diary of the Keating government was published in 1999. From 1994 to 1998 he was Australian High Commissioner in London as well as a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. He now writes, gardens, and walks in the Blue Mountains.

Neal Blewett reviews ‘The Howard Factor: A decade that transformed the nation’ edited by Nick Carter and ‘The Longest Decade’ by George Megalogenis

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
The provenance of The Howard Factor – a collection of essays by senior writers from The Australian newspaper – is not promising. The Australian is after all part of Mark Latham’s ‘Evil Empire’, cheerleader rather than critic of the Howard government. Yet its sympathy for the régime stems not from partisanship but from the newspaper’s philosophy: neo-liberal in domestic matters, neo-co ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'What’s Wrong With The Liberal Party?' by Greg Barns

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
Greg Barns shares with Pauline Hanson the distinction of having been disendorsed as a candidate by the Liberal Party. Hanson was deselected in 1996 on the grounds of racist remarks; Barns was removed in 2002 for protesting against the ruthless policies of the Liberal government towards sea-going asylum seekers. This is perhaps a measure of the trajectory of the Liberal Party under John Howard, whi ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews ‘My Reading Life’ by Bob Carr

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Books may furnish a room but they also furnish the mind. As somebody once said, ‘A man is known by the company his mind keeps’. One of my first moves on visiting a home is to check out the bookshelves, to discover something about the owner’s mind. Bob Carr, New South Wales’s longest-serving premier, has conveniently outlined his reading life in this opinionated, sometimes infuriating but a ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'The Costello Memoirs: The age of prosperity' by Peter Costello and Peter Coleman

November 2008, no. 306 01 November 2008
For Labor ‘true believers’, the night of 24 November 2007 was one to cherish. In the north, Brough the Rough was despatched and a host of lesser figures swept away, pork barrels and all; in the very heartland of the Howard battlers, the Wicked Witch of Penrith and her minions perished in a jihad of their own devising; above all, in his fortress of Bennelong, the Vampire King was slain by the G ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Malcolm Fraser: The political memoirs' by Malcolm Fraser and Margaret Simons

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
It is unusual for a political leader to figure in the demonology of both the left and the right. Malcolm Fraser bears that distinction. For Labor he was the arrogant Western District squire, trampling on the rights of the workers; the hardline Cold War warrior and the abuser of the constitution. For Liberals he was the leader who denied them their Thatcherite moment in the sun and who, embittered ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'The Howard Years' edited by Robert Manne

March 2004, no. 259 01 March 2004
Do John and Janette choke on their cereal at the name of Robert Manne as they breakfast in their harbourside home-away-from-home? They have every reason to do so. No single individual has provided so comprehensive a challenge to Howard and his ideological claque in the culture wars now raging in this nation. Manne was early to denounce Howard: for his soft-shoe shuffle with Pauline Hanson; for the ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Seeking A Role: The United Kingdom 1951–1970' by Brian Harrison

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
The sixteen volumes of The Oxford History of England provided the authoritative synthesis of English history for two generations of students. A few volumes of this reminder of my undergraduate days, some still in their austere pale blue dustcovers, sit on my bookshelves. The first volume, Roman Britain and the English Settlements, was published in 1936, and the series was completed thirty years la ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Mungo: The Man Who Laughs' by Mungo MacCallum

December 2001–January 2002, no. 237 01 December 2001
By the time I arrived in Canberra in the late 1970s, Mungo MacCallum was already a legend in his own lunchtime, which, as he admits in this latest book, ‘frequently dragged on towards sunset’. He was famed for introducing a new style of political journalism into Australia: irreverent, opinionated, witty, at times scurrilous. He was impatient of cant, and punctured pomposity. These qualities ar ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews '51st State?' by Dennis Altman

March 2007, no. 289 01 March 2007
That quintessential Australian–American, Rupert Murdoch, recently counselled Australians against ‘the facile, reflexive, unthinking anti-Americanism that has gripped much of Europe’. While I confess to a certain Schadenfreude when the chief propagandist for the second Iraqi war, which has contributed mightily to that European alienation, seeks to come to grips with the war’s consequences, ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Kevin Rudd: The biography' by Robert Macklin and 'Kevin Rudd: An unauthorised political biography' by Nicholas Stuart

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 August 2007
One of the hazards of election years these days is the quickie biography of the latest Opposition leader. As Simon Crean missed out on an election, so he missed out on a quickie. On the other hand, in 2004 his successor Mark Latham scored two – or three if we include Michael Duffy’s comparative study of the two political bruisers Latham and Abbott. Not that it did Latham, or probably the reput ... (read more)
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