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Book Reviews - 2

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Carrick principlesCarrick: principles, politics and policy by Graeme Starr.
Reviewer: David Clune is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

Carrick's life certainly provides rich material: as a young man he successfully launched himself on a business career through talent and hard work, his behaviour as a prisoner of war of the Japanese was nothing less than heroic, he played a major role in establishing and steering the Liberal Party and finally was a senior Minister in the Fraser Cabinet.   Read more ...

The Australian Policy Handbook: Fifth Edition
Catherine Althaus, Peter Bridgeman and Glyn Davis, Allen & Unwin, 2013
Reviewer: Kevin Rozzoli, is a former Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly and is President of the Australasian Study of Parliament Group.

This is the fifth edition of the Australian Policy Handbook which says a lot for its usefulness to what is a discrete readership. After the first three editions the authors, Peter Bridgeman and Glyn Davis, were joined by Catherine Althaus, a policy analyst who is again a co-author. They readily acknowledge that policy development in any sector is an imperfect craft but particularly so in the stressful and often chaotic world of government. As they point out, there are no definitive answers to the many questions raised by those given the task of developing policy. They are to be commended for staying with the task. Read more ...

For the True BelieversFor the True Believers: great Labor speeches that shaped history edited by Troy Bramston.
Reviewer: David Clune is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

Labor historian and journalist Troy Bramston has gathered together 88 speeches which 'give voice to Labor's enduring values, philosophy, history and achievements'. As well as researching comprehensively to harvest famous and some not so well known speeches, he has provided an introduction to each placing it in its 'historical context, recalling its immediate impact, arguing why it mattered, explaining how it helped to shape history and why it deserves to be remembered'. Read more ...

Tales from the Political TrenchesTales from the Political Trenches by Maxine McKew
Reviewer: Mary Crawford PhD is a Visiting Scholar at the School of Management, QUT Brisbane, and the former Labor MP for Forde (1987–96)

In Tales from the Political Trenches Maxine McKew explores the political environment of the Rudd Labor government's win in 2007 and its demise in 2010. In it she details her own decision to run for the seat of Bennelong to move 'from questioning to governing' (84). She relives her excitement at defeating the sitting Prime Minister, John Howard and then her disappointment at her loss. She highlights the tension that exists for individuals in trying to balance their own values and the demands of the electorate with the requirements of being a team player in a political party.   Read more ...

Politics, Society, SelfPolitics, Society, Self by Geoff Gallop
Reviewer: David Clune is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

Geoff Gallop's Politics, Society, Self is a collection of speeches and occasional writings. Such volumes can vary greatly in quality, from the disconnected outpourings of those who are convinced that every word they write should be immortalised in print to collections that fit together so well they seem purposewritten, for example, John Hirst's Sense and Nonsense in Australian History. Gallop's book is more in the latter category, containing lucid, intelligent and thought-provoking essays about politics and religion, the future of parties and governments, ‘left liberalism', social policy, post-New Public Management public administration, federalism, human rights and mental health.
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What is to be Done?What is to be Done? The struggle for the soul of the labour movement by Jim Macken
The current travails of the Labor Party have had the side effect of producing some interesting writing. Jim Macken has had a long involvement with the labour movement as a unionist, ALP Industrial Group activist, barrister and Judge of the Industrial Commission. Macken has produced a fiery, opinionated tract in the tradition of pioneering Labor publicists such as George Black and Henry Boote.

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Minority Government: The Liberal Green Experience In TasmaniaMinority Government: The Liberal Green Experience In Tasmania
Edited by Kate Crowley (ed) ISBN: 9780646572871
Publisher: Unitas Uni of Tasmania - free delivery Australia wide
Non-Members: $32.95 Members: $30.64
Format: Paperback

Available from

Minority Government: The Liberal Green Experience in Tasmania (Australasian Study of Parliament Group 2012) is a provocative book which suggests that the Liberal Party in Tasmania can work well in minority government when supported by the Greens. Indeed such government can be dynamic, cooperative and reformist, as well as subject to the greater uncertainty and more intense politics that accompanies minority government.

The book includes a number of case studies which demonstrate both the policy productivity and economic stringency of the green supported Rundle Liberal minority government (1996-98). It finds that this was indeed a reformist government, with major impact across very many policy portfolios, operating in the most difficult of political circumstances which ultimately led to its downfall. It is a critical study of the conservative Tasmanian Liberal Party attempting to govern with the support of their ideological opponents, the Tasmanian Greens.   Read more ...

History of the Aboriginal Legal ServiceJustice: A History of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia
Fiona Skyring, UWA Publishing 2012

Reviewer: Quentin Beresford

In January 2008 a shocking tragedy was reported to the public of WA that revived the worst memories of the state's long history of abusive and racist treatment of its Aboriginal people. At that time, Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder from Laverton in the goldfields was being transported to Kalgoorlie to face charges of drink driving, having been denied bail a few days earlier. Placed in the back of a police van operated by a private security service, Mr Ward perished in the oppressively hot conditions because the air conditioning was faulty, he was without water and the operators did not think to stop to check on his condition.   Read more ...

Reluctant DemocratReluctant Democrat — Sir William Denison in Australia 1847–1861
Federation Press, 2011, Annandale

Reviewer: Anne Twomey

When Victoria held its celebration for the sesquicentenary of responsible government in 2006, it spent its celebratory fund on fireworks. In contrast, in New South Wales, the Premier, Bob Carr, decided to use the money instead to support works of serious scholarship on the history of Parliament and Government in New South Wales and the development of the political system over that 150 years. The result has been the publication of an extraordinary collection of books, sponsored by the Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government Committee ...   Read more ...

Mr Big of BankstowMr Big of Bankstown, The Scandalous Fitzpatrick and Browne Affair
Andrew Moore, UWA Publishing, 2011, 251 pages, ISBN 9781742582788

Reviewer: Dr Elaine Thompson, former editor of the Australasian Parliamentary Review and retired Associate Professor of Political Science, UNSW

Reading this book for review has been a confronting experience. It centres around a infamous (especially in legal circles) event in 1955 when two men, Ray Fitzpatrick and Frank Browne were gaoled for breach of parliamentary privilege on the grounds that they had conspired ‘to blackmail a member of Parliament into silence (p119). Picking up the book for the first time I was delighted that someone had published a non-legal book on this apparent outrage of free speech and the most basic of democratic rights, that of a public fair trial with legal representation. Even if these men had ‘merely' been fined these events were prima facie outrageous. The fact that they had been imprisoned for three months, made the denial of legal representation and public trial even worse.

The author, Andrew Moore is an associate professor of Australian history at the University of Western Sydney, and author of four previous books two of which were shortlisted for important awards. Thus my expectations were high.  
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Inside the Canberra Press GalleryInside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the wedding cake of old parliament house
Rob Chalmers, edited by Sam Vincent and John Wanna, ANU Press 2011. ISBN 9781921862366 (pbk), includes bibliographical references (p. 241–2) and index. Also issued in electronic version via the Internet.

Reviewer: Dr June R Verrier, former head of the Parliamentary Information and Research Service.

Political junkies and everyone who has worked in Old or New Parliament House, will read and enjoy ‘Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House', the memoir Rob Chalmers, the longest serving member of the Canberra press gallery, completed just before he died. Chalmers himself does say that the book covers ‘events and people who have stuck in my memory' by way of explaining what at worst could be seen as a series of rollicking stories, and at best a collection of fascinating and unique observations from a ringside seat on history.   Read more ...

Come the Revolution: A MemoirCome the Revolution: A memoir
Alex Mitchell. New South Publishing, 2011, xv + 536 pp, RRP $39.95

Reviewer: David Clune, an Honorary Associate in the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

Alex Mitchell is perhaps best known as a commentator on NSW politics with a racy, hard-hitting style. Some may have heard hints of an adventurous past as an investigative journalist and radical activist. Mitchell now reveals all in this forthright and engaging memoir.

Mitchell grew up in a middle class, although politically open-minded, family in North Queensland. As a teenager he became a journalist, first in Townsville then Mt Isa. In 1962 Mitchell hit the ‘Big Smoke' when he landed a job on Sydney's Daily Mirror, recently acquired by a young Rupert Murdoch, who emerges as an innovative and even likeable figure. Mitchell provides a valuable inside account of the ‘too much checking spoils a good story' tabloid rivalry between the Mirror and its Fairfax competitor The Sun. He writes vividly of the vanished era of preelectronic age journalism ...   Read more ...

From Carr to Keneally. Labor in office in NSW 1995–2011.
Edited by David Clune and Rodney Smith. Allen & Unwin, 2012.

Reviewer: Jennifer Aldred, editor of the Australiasian Parliamentary Review.

Few Australian citizens would know, when Robert John ‘Bob' Carr entered the federal parliament in 2012, it was some 25 years overdue. From the time Carr started his parliamentary career — entering the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1983 — he was coincidentally being groomed for the safe federal seat of Kingsford- Smith held by Labor's Lionel Bowen. The 1988 election dealt a heavy blow to the NSW parliamentary Labor party and Carr was marked a ‘doomed man' when he reluctantly took on the role of leader in opposition. Doom it was not to be, leading the ALP back to government in 1995 where Carr remained Premier for ten years.

As Carr the person was called upon to restore the fortunes of Labor in 1988, then Carr himself took responsibility for the drop in popularity of his Government. He resigned as Premier and from parliamentary service in August 2005. Life after Carr, however, was turbulent. In the five and a half years until the 2011 election, NSW had three Premiers — Morris Iemma, Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally. In a baffling gesture of goodwill, the NSW electorate turned a blind eye to publicallyaired internal party friction over policy (amongst other problems) and returned the government in the 2007 election. By 2011 time was up and Labor lost in a crushing defeat with a woman Premier (Keneally) and deputy (Carmel Tebbutt) at the helm. Read more ...

The Ayes Have ItThe Ayes Have It; The History of the Queensland Parliament 1957—1989, John Wanna and Tracey Arklay, ANU Press, 2010. pp x + 744, paperback, $39.95 print version

Reviewer: Emeritus Professor Roger Scott, Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland.

I agreed to review this book out of a sense of professional duty as a Brisbane-based member of the editorial board of the journal. When the book arrived, it had lots of features which put me off a mundane title and a cover which together promised an emphasis on arcane processes and architecture; it was well over 700 pages long, with only seven muddy photographs and no cartoons; it was based on a project dating back to 1995. What kept me interested was the reputation of the authors ...

The title gives no hint of the breadth of the discussion of Queensland politics which has been achieved by viewing events through the prism of parliamentary debates. The insights and analysis of these events is similar in kind to that provided in the Chronicle entries and, viewed at a distance in time, this aggregation here still knock the socks off the number of standard histories which claim a broader compass. Go to this book first, not afterwards, if you want to know anything about the politics of Queensland between the end of Gair via Bjelke-Peterson to the arrival of Goss.    Read more...

Book: The Fog on the HillThe Fog on the Hill: How NSW Labor Lost its Way
by Frank Sartor, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 201, pp x + 373, rrp $34.99

Reviewer: David Clune, Honorary Associate, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

There are a number of facets to Frank Sartor. There is the public image created by his — shall we say? — vigorous personality. There is also behind the scenes the diligent, hard working Minister who inspired respect and admiration. Then there is the side most on display in this book: Sartor the man of ideas and passionate vision. This is not to say that there isn't dogmatism, self-justification and denigration of foes, but this aspect is not predominant. At first sight, Sartor's book is a rather indigestible mix of memoir, insider's account, analysis of the political process, essays on public policy — yet somehow it works. One reason is Sartor's writing style: racy, engaging, argumentative, expository, magisterial. Even the most intractable material is dealt with lucidly. Detailed analyses of complex policy issues are leavened with interesting personal examples and anecdotes from Sartor's long experience as Lord Mayor of Sydney (1991—2003) and State Minister responsible for a variety of areas: energy, cancer research, planning, environment (2003—2011).     Read more ...

by Muiris MacCarthaigh and Maurice Manning (eds), Institute of Public Administration 2010,
Reviewer: Kevin Rozzoli, former Speaker NSW Legislative Assembly and ASPG President.

The history and practice of other parliaments is essential reading for those who want to understand the challenges facing so many of our parliaments today. This study of the Irish Parliament, the Oireachtas, is timely. The struggles which have faced the Irish people to deliver good governance to its people are the same struggles facing so many national groups today.   Read more ...

by Joo-Cheong Tham, Brian Costar and Graeme Orr (eds), Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2011,
PBK rrp $49.99, E-book rrp $39.99
Reviewer: Jennifer Aldred

This is a fine collection of work which brings us up to date with the complex issue of determining how to detect and respond to the changing circumstances and new values which may distort fairness in our electoral process.   Read more ...

Book - Gavel to GavelGavel to Gavel by Kevin Rozzoli AM

The first book of its kind explaining what parliament was about from a practical point of view written by someone who has been there and done it.   Read more ...

BookAustralia The State of Democracy by Marian Sawer, Norman Abjorensen and Phil Larkin

Australia was an early pioneer of that form of democracy now prescribed as inseparable from good governance, as a recipe for accountability and as an antidote to corruption. Read more ...

Ernest GowersErnest Gowers - Plain Words and Forgotten Deeds by Ann Scott.
The book should be available in Australia by mid-November 2009.  It will be published in England during the last week in September 2009. Read more ...

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