Peter Hartcher: The Sweet Spot; and Frank Sartor: The Fog on the Hill

The trouble with Canberra

Joel Deane

 

THE SWEET SPOT: HOW AUSTRALIA MADE ITS OWN LUCK – AND COULD NOW THROW IT ALL AWAY
by Peter Hartcher
Black Inc., $29.95 pb, 288 pp, 9781863954976

 

THE FOG ON THE HILL: HOW NSW LABOR LOST ITS WAY
by Frank Sartor
Melbourne University Press, $34.99 pb, 378 pp, 9780522861068

 

On 7 November, Paul Keating appeared on ABC TV’s 7.30 to promote his new book of speeches,  After Words. Keating’s response to Leigh Sales’s first question about political leadership was instructive:

Keating: Leadership’s always been about two main things – imagination and courage. Imagination to divine a bigger schematic, a bigger world and then having the political equipment to get the changes through. And sticking with them. And a conscientious public, and I think the Australian public is conscientious, pick up a storyline pretty quickly. And they know whether they’re getting value or not. And if they think they’re getting value, they’ll stick with you.
Sales: Well, at the moment, they seem to not think that they’re getting value from either side.
Keating: That’s what they think. I’m pretty sure of that. It gets back to where we are. I mean ... Australia’s a country in transition. The seminal event of our time is the return of China to a position of primacy in the international system, back to where it was before the Industrial Revolution. This is going to change the way the world works, but not just the world, our part of the world. And so, therefore, our economy, our society, our cultural attitudes, the psychology with which we approach the region, all this, I believe, is the overarching story of the modern Australia.

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Joel Deane

Joel Deane

Joel Deane is a speechwriter, novelist, and poet. He has worked in Australia and the United States as a journalist and political staffer – covering the 2000 Democratic National Convention, serving as principal speechwriter to Labor Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby, and lecturing widely on politics and public language. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award. His new non-fiction book, Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power, will be published by the University of Queensland Press in July 2015.

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