Paul Tilley classes the Treasury, now housed in Canberra, as ‘one of Australia’s great enduring institutions’. It began humbly in 1901, in a smallish stone building that still stands at the corner of Collins and Spring Streets in Melbourne. That handsome structure appears to be just about the correct size for its initial staff of five. Just across the street stands a statue of Sir William Clarke, a rich pastoralist of that era who, had he sold some of his properties and sheep, might easily have paid for all the salary cheques signed by the nation’s Treasury in its first weeks.... (read more)
An earlier version of this history of Victoria first appeared in 1984 as Our Side of the Country. Though for the past sixteen years Sydney-born politicians Paul Keating and John Howard have usurped Victoria’s former almost constant ‘top position’ in Canberra, the possessive pride reflected in that early title still runs through this modern version ...... (read more)
Unlike an autobiography, which tends to be time-bound and inclusive, the memoir can wander at will in the writer’s past, searching out and shaping an idea of self. Although Geoffrey Blainey’s memoir, Before I Forget, is restricted to the first forty years of his life, its skilfully chosen episodes suggest much more ...... (read more)
Australian football has lost its magic, a unique quality existing in the 1950s, and even as late as the 1970s. It derived from the fixed positions that players adopted and from their physical diversity. In their competing forms, they became metaphysical constructs – good versus evil, beauty versus ugliness, benign innocence versus malevolent experience – constructs limited only by the human imagination ...... (read more)
General ‘Pompey’ Elliott was a famous Australian in 1918, half forgotten seventy years later, and is now a national military hero. This Anzac Day he stood high. On French soil he was praised by France’s prime minister, Édouard Philippe, in one of the most mesmerising and sensitive speeches ever offered by a European leader to Australian ears ...... (read more)
Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Three Duties and Talleyrand’s Dictum: Keith Waller: Portrait of a working diplomat' by Alan Fewster
Keith Waller was one of the top ambassadors in a period when Australia urgently needed them. During the Cold War, he served in Moscow and then Washington, where a skilled resident diplomat could be more important than a visiting prime minister ...... (read more)
For maybe one century the subject called Economics was monarch of the social sciences. Then the Western world was poorer than it is now, and many economists promised to find a pathway towards the abolition of hunger and unemployment. They also hoped to abolish war: the eager ideologies of free trade were believed by their disciples to be long-term recipes for intern ...
Brian Matthews reviews 'The Story of Australia’s People: The rise and rise of a New Australia' by Geoffrey Blainey
The seminar, as far as I can remember, took place in what was then the Melbourne Teachers’ College on Grattan Street. The late-afternoon sunlight slanting through ornate ...... (read more)
This impressive collection of knowledge ranges from the history of newspapers and the biographies of radio and television stars to the rise of media owners (the first of whom, Andrew Bent, arrived as a convict in 1812). It covers war reporting, food and sports coverage, children’s radio, blogging and podcasting, and even the life of the radio serial Blue Hills< ...
Rupert (‘Dick’) Hamer proved to be one of Australia’s most innovative premiers. One sign of his unusual prestige is that this history of his life and times has perhaps been publicly praised more by Labor leaders than by his own Liberal colleagues.
Hamer’s family background was in the church, law, business, and politics. His paternal grandfather was t ...