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Stephen Mills

Stephen Mills is honorary senior lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. He has written widely on Australian politics and election campaigns, including The Professionals: Strategy, Money and the Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia (2014). He served in the office of Prime Minister Bob Hawke as speechwriter (1986–91).

Stephen Mills reviews 'Handbook of Political Party Funding' edited by Jonathan Mendilow and Eric Phélippeau

Online Exclusives 31 December 2018
At its best, political science research is empirical, systematic, comparative, and provides cogent and durable explanations – not just descriptions – of political behaviour wherever it is observed. What a pity then that the Handbook of Political Party Funding, for all its strengths in these areas, also exemplifies one of the pathologies of contemporary academic research and publishing. With it ... (read more)

Stephen Mills reviews 'Run for Your Life' by Bob Carr

September 2018, no. 404 23 August 2018
The latest publication by former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, a prolific author since leaving federal politics in 2013, is a political memoir that defies the norms of this often-predictable genre. Largely abandoning chronological narrative, Carr offers a disjointed sequence of nearly fifty short chapters that sing, in his own description, like jazz-inspired improvisations. These fragments – ... (read more)

Stephen Mills reviews 'Making Modern Australia: The Whitlam government’s 21st century agenda' edited by Jenny Hocking

November 2017, no. 396 25 October 2017
In his powerful eulogy for Gough Whitlam at the Sydney Town Hall in November 2014, Noel Pearson described the former prime minister – this ‘old man’ – as one of those rare people who, though he never suffered discrimination, understood the importance of protection from its malice. Pearson speculated on the apparent paradox. How was it that Whitlam, an upper-middle-class white man, carried ... (read more)

Stephen Mills reviews 'Settling the Office: The Australian Prime Ministership from Federation to Reconstruction' by Paul Strangio, Paul 't Hart, and James Walter

May 2016, no. 381 26 April 2016
In the early years after Federation, Australia's first prime minister, Edmund Barton, was accommodated on the top floor of the Victorian Parliament in Spring Street, in a converted garret. At the end of a parliamentary day, the convivial Barton would invite ministerial colleagues up to the flat where they would talk long into the night. Then, as one senator later recalled, before going home they w ... (read more)

Stephen Mills reviews 'The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political leadership in the modern age' by Archie Brown

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
A remarkable feature of the concept of political leadership is its apparently infinite elasticity: it stretches over presidents and prime ministers, dictators and popes, revolutionaries and reformers. Take the concept beyond politics, and its reach effortlessly expands to include business executives, platoon commanders, primary school principals, the captain of the cricket team, and many more. But ... (read more)