Accessibility Tools

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

Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins is a Visiting Fellow at the ANU’s National Centre of Biography. His most recent book is Who needs the ABC? (2022), co-authored with Matthew Ricketson. He is also the author of Tiberius with a Telephone (2018) and The Trials of Portnoy (2020).

Patrick Mullins reviews ‘Bad Cop: Peter Dutton’s strongman politics (Quarterly Essay 93)’ by Lech Blaine

May 2024, no. 464 22 April 2024
Bill Hayden might today be recalled as the unluckiest man in politics: Bob Hawke replaced him as Labor leader on the same day that Malcolm Fraser called an election that Hayden, after years of rebuilding the Labor Party after the Whitlam years, was well positioned to win. But to dismiss him thus would be to overlook his very real and laudable efforts to make a difference in politics ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews ‘The Menzies Watershed: Liberalism, anti-communism, continuities 1943–1954’ edited by Zachary Gorman and ‘Menzies versus Evatt: The great rivalry of Australian politics’ by Anne Henderson

March 2024, no. 462 22 February 2024
Bernard Cohen’s satirical novel The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies (2013) begins shortly before the 1996 election with the titular character stepping ‘through a breach in time’ to help his successors win government. But while John Howard’s double-breasted jackets and headland speeches initially soothe this ‘large and benevolent plasmic entity’, the revenant Menzies soon becomes fru ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'Storytellers: Questions, answers and the craft' of journalism Leigh Sales

October 2023, no. 458 24 September 2023
When the first season of Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom premièred in Australia in 2012, Foxtel had its own onscreen news talent cut a series of promos. A bevy of ageless news anchors – all dense hairdos and blazing white teeth – talked admiringly of how the series portrayed their profession. Journalism, in their telling, was fast-paced, often self-righteous, occasionally fallible, but ultimat ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'Media Monsters: The transformation of Australia’s newspaper empires' by Sally Young

July 2023, no. 455 26 June 2023
In 1968, Rupert Murdoch was one step from acquiring his first international media holding, in the British tabloid The News of the World. That Murdoch was so close was a personal coup, given that his press ownership had begun sixteen years earlier with a much-diminished inheritance, largely based in Adelaide. To pull off the News of the World acquisition, however, Murdoch needed government approval ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'The Morrison Government: Governing through crisis, 2019–2022' edited by Brendan McCaffrie, Michelle Grattan, and Chris Wallace

June 2023, no. 454 23 May 2023
In June 1971, Sir John Bunting, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, observed that new prime minister Billy McMahon was ‘the most political of all politicians’: demanding, difficult, always reacting to new, feverish urgencies. The result, according to Bunting, was constant crisis. ‘In fact,’ he went on, ‘I have come to look forward to each new crisis because it is t ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'Tanya Plibersek: On her own terms' by Margaret Simons

April 2023, no. 452 27 March 2023
In early March 2023, Tanya Plibersek fronted an audience at the Australian National University to question historian Chris Wallace about her newly released account of twentieth-century prime ministers and their biographers. Coming shortly before the publication of Margaret Simons’s biography of her, Plibersek’s interest in the dynamics of writing about a living, breathing, vote-seeking politic ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'The Successor: The high-stakes life of Lachlan Murdoch' by Paddy Manning

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
In the 1990s, seeing a ‘hot-red weapon’ of a motorbike being ridden into the News Corp car park in Sydney, journalist Paddy Manning could not help but ask, ‘What’s that?’ Still wearing his helmet, the rider answered that the bike was an MV Agusta – at which point Manning realised he had yelled at Lachlan Murdoch. This encounter, described in the acknowledgments of The Successor, hin ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'A Sense of Balance' by John Howard

October 2022, no. 447 26 September 2022
Since his (involuntary) retirement from politics in 2007, John Howard has gone to some lengths to encourage comparisons with Robert Menzies. He authored a lengthy paean to Australia’s longest serving prime minister (2014), appeared in a television series to appraise his leadership and era (2016), and curated an exhibition on him at the Museum of Australian Democracy. And while he does not don th ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'Ego: Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s civil war' by Aaron Patrick

August 2022, no. 445 26 July 2022
When out of government, the Coalition parties resemble nothing so much as an ill-disciplined horde, by turns bombastic and bilious, riven with discord, forever tearing down putative leaders and searching for scapegoats to explain their losses and lot. The blame almost always falls on the departed. In the 1980s, it was Malcolm Fraser’s unwillingness to undertake proper economic reform that they m ... (read more)

Patrick Mullins reviews 'Bob Hawke: Demons and destiny' by Troy Bramston

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
Curators at old Parliament House – now known as the Museum for Australian Democracy – have for many years maintained the prime minister’s suite much as it was when Bob Hawke vacated it in 1988. Visitors can gaze at a reproduction of the Arthur Boyd painting that hung opposite Hawke’s desk, gawk at the enormous, faux-timber panelled telephone Hawke used, and cast a wry eye over the pri ... (read more)