Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Trials and Transformations, 2001–2004: The Howard government, Volume III' edited by Tom Frame
Queensland MP Charles Porter’s book, The ‘Gut Feeling’ (1981), relates the story of former prime minister Billy Hughes being pressed in the 1940s to pass judgement on a Liberal Federal Council statement on an industrial issue. ‘No bloody good,’ he pronounced. ‘Not sufficiently ambiguous!’ If, as Hughes implied, ambiguity is a key virtue needed for political survival, then by 2001 the Howard Liberal–National Party Government appeared to have embraced it. Indeed, any objective analysis of the Howard era is fraught with difficulties because of these two factors: the verbal, unrecorded nature of some political incidents, and the emotive left-versus-right culture war that marked John Howard’s prime ministership (1996–2007).... (read more)
Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'The Manner of Their Going: Prime ministerial exits in Australia' by Norman Abjorensen
How many of us would really want to be prime minister? The road to The Lodge is littered with depressing tales of ambitious politicians abandoning their friends, principles, and even their own authentic voice in order to secure the Top Job. Then, once you’ve fulfilled your life’s ambitions, voters and your own supporters are liable to tire of you and seek a new political hero. Nevertheless, prime ministers become accustomed to the power, public attention, and perks of office; they find it difficult to choose the ‘right time’ to leave office.... (read more)
Lyndon Megarrity reviews Elections Matter edited by Benjamin T. Jones, Frank Bongiorno, and John Uhr
The atmosphere among Australian electors lining up to cast a vote at a school, hall, or similar institution is generally relaxed and informal, a ‘vibe’ enhanced by the friendly banter of local party members handing out ‘How to Vote’ cards. But the casualness of the Australian way of voting cannot ...... (read more)
Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Back from the Brink, 1997–2001: The Howard Government Volume II' edited by Tom Frame
Back from the Brink is the second volume of a projected four-volume series that investigates the performance of the four Howard governments (1996–2007). The first dealt with the Liberal– National Party coalition’s election in 1996 and their first year in power. The work under review focuses on the period from ...... (read more)
Born in 1825, Brisbane is an elderly lady who has been to a surprising number of ‘coming of age’ balls. Numerous historians, officials, speechmakers, and journalists for several decades have implied that Brisbane (as of 1982, 1988, or whenever) is now not only the belle of the ball, but she ...... (read more)
The Boy from Baradine is one of the latest Australian political memoirs to hit the shelves. Craig Emerson, a prominent minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments between 2007 and 2013, has some interesting stories to tell about life as a political adviser, a pragmatic supporter of the environment, and an ambitious ...... (read more)
Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'The Show: Another side of Santamaria’s movement' by Mark Aarons and John Grenville
The Movement was a secret organisation which radically reduced the power of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) within the union movement during the 1940s and 1950s. Initiated by B.A. Santamaria, the Movement was very active in several Australian states and worked with the general knowledge and approval of key Catholic Church bishops. The Movement (or the Show) u ...
Papua New Guinea is so close to Australia, and yet so far away. We rarely hear about our near neighbour, unless there is a crisis reported in the media. Julius Chan's highly readable memoir should encourage more Australians to develop more curiosity about PNG, its complex history and multiple cultures.
Twice prime minister of Papua New Guinea (1980–82, 199 ...
All Fall Down, set in 1980s Queensland, chronicles the direct and indirect links between officials and local criminals exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–89). It is the last volume in a trilogy that largely focuses on police corruption between the 1940s and 1980s, but there is also som ...
After a substantial career as a minister in the Beattie government, Anna Bligh served as Queensland Labor premier from 2007 to 2012. She was the first female premier in Australia to lead her party to victory at a state election. These experiences have given her many interesting tales to tell about winning elections, retaining community and party support, as well as ...