John Byron reviews 'The Long Haul' by John Brumby

John Byron reviews 'The Long Haul' by John Brumby

The Long Haul: Lessons from Public Life

by John Brumby

Melbourne University Press, $34.99 pb, 270 pp, 9780522868531

Alongside the current boom in political memoir, with its tendency to self-aggrandisement, score-settling, and justification of the indefensible, there grows quietly a small but compelling genre of books that explore the craft and policy purpose of various types of political work. Notable examples from Melbourne University Press include James Button's Speechless: A Year in My Father's Business (2012), Kim Carr's A Letter to Generation Next: Why Labor (2013), and Allan Behm's No, Minister (2015). John Brumby's The Long Haul is the next instalment.

Regrettably, Victoria's forty-fifth premier (2007–10) succumbs to the temptations of legacy-maintenance before attending to his avowed intentions. Brumby's 'lessons from public life' are preceded by a lengthy biographical account, starting with the moocow coming along the road and finishing with the defeat of the Brumby government at the 2010 election. He insists that he had no great ambition to enter politics, no grand plan, and was invited to serve at every turn (although he did suffer at the hands of careerist scoundrels). Nearly everything that went wrong was someone else's fault: when Brumby erred, it was in trusting the wrong people; or trusting the right people too much; or in being too modest, too scrupulous, too candid.

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John Byron

John Byron, who now lives in Melbourne, has worked in and around federal politics for over fifteen years.