Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

James Walter

James Walter

James Walter is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Monash University, and has published widely on leadership, biography, and political ideas. Volume two of his history of the Australian prime ministership (with Paul Strangio and Paul ‘t Hart),The pivot of power: The Australian prime ministership 1950 –2016 (Miegunyah Press), was published in 2017.

James Walter reviews ‘Terms of Trust: Arguments over ethics in Australian government’ by John Uhr

August 2005, no. 273 01 August 2005
There are two approaches to public affairs. The first assumes that élites ‘have and have always had the same passions’ (Machiavelli): leaders will do whatever it takes to retain power and to attain their objectives, tempered only by knowing that the popular verdict will depend on success. Success is judged by results: resort to devious or ruthless means will be excused if the people see benef ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'The Hawke Government: A critical retrospective' edited by Susan Ryan and Troy Bramston

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
This is a fascinating, inspiring and disquieting book. It is fascinating because it succeeds so well in its comprehensive overview of policy making and policy intentions during the Hawke government (1983–91). That success derives from the unparalleled mix of insiders (former ministers, public servants, leaders of unions and NGOs), journalists and academic analysts, though the voice that is notab ... (read more)

James Walter reviews ‘Reconnecting Labor’ by Barry Donovan and ‘Coming to the Party: Where to next for Labor?’ by Barry Jones

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
The Liberal Party, in its barren years (1983–96), was consumed in battles over beliefs. The dries took up the cudgels in a war over the nature of liberalism and effectively gained control of the party room. As Paul Kelly has described it, the party torched its Deakinite heritage. John Howard was not central to these battles, but he was the inheritor. His brilliance has been to take the neo-liber ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Political Lives: Australian prime ministers and their biographers' by Chris Wallace

April 2023, no. 452 27 March 2023
We live in an age of leader- and media-centric politics. There is a name and a personality attached to every significant political initiative, and chief among them are prime ministers and premiers. Political junkies will be familiar with the torrent of ‘leader’ profiles generated by the press and well versed in identifying implicit bias. Yet we constitute a ready market for biographies of curr ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Dreamers and Schemers: A political history of Australia' by Frank Bongiorno

November 2022, no. 448 21 October 2022
'The history of the Victorian Age,’ wrote Lytton Strachey a century ago, ‘will never be written: we know too much about it.’ Instead, he continued, he would ‘row out over that great ocean of material, and lower down into it, here and there, a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen … to illustrate rather than to explain’ (Eminent Victorians, ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Harold Holt: Always one step further' by Ross Walker

October 2022, no. 447 26 September 2022
If Scott Morrison taught us nothing else, it is that we must pay attention to the behaviour of leaders who can take decisions that potentially impact us all. That is reason enough to welcome serious political biography. Yet a reader new to the field might be puzzled to find on her bookshop shelves (or in an online search) multiple volumes on, say, Robert Menzies or Bob Hawke and now Harold Holt ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Leadership' by Don Russell and 'A Decade of Drift' by Martin Parkinson

July 2021, no. 433 22 June 2021
In 1958, the Australian political scientist A.F. Davies (1924–87) published Australian Democracy: An introduction to the political system, one of the first postwar attempts to combine institutional description with comment on the patterns of political culture. It introduced a provocative assertion: Australians have ‘a characteristic talent for bureaucracy’. Disdaining the myth of Australians ... (read more)

'Minding the Minders' by James Walter

August 1986, no. 83 01 August 1986
From The Ministers’ Minders by James Walter, published in June 1986 by Oxford University Press. Prof. Walter's book was reviewed by Judith Brett in the September 1986 issue. This book is about the role played by ministerial staff in Australian federal government. It is particularly concerned with the potential influence on policy making that this group may have through their capacity to ad ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Malcolm Fraser on Australia' edited by D.M. White and D.A. Kemp

September 1986, no. 84 01 September 1986
There have been two major cycles in Australian political rhetoric since the war. The first occurred during the postwar reconstruction period, from 1943 until 1949, when contest over a new social order impelled an unusually clear articulation of philosophy and policies by the contenders for influence – represented in public debate by Curtin and Chifley on one hand, and Menzies on the other. The e ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Lionel Murphy: A political biography' by Jenny Hocking

November 1997, no. 196 01 November 1988
Lionel Murphy was a prominent and colourful figure in the ALP renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s, and a significant legal intellectual. The extraordinary saga of his final years, when he was hounded by political foes and the press, created a farrago of misunderstanding and innuendo that clouded his reputation. Jenny Hocking has set out to recover Murphy’s public life and to correct the record. C ... (read more)
Page 1 of 2