The Dim-Post

May 5, 2016

Best books about Australian politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:02 am

Re-enabling comments for this post because I want answers, dammit: what are the best books about Australian politics?

36 Comments »

  1. Current or historical?

    Comment by robhosking — May 5, 2016 @ 9:05 am

  2. Fairly current, I suppose. But if there are any great historical ones I’ll take them too.

    Comment by danylmc — May 5, 2016 @ 9:11 am

  3. Too many to name. They really go for one another viciously. The Peter Garrett one is really good as a recent example. Older is Bob Hawke’s insanely narcissistic effort with its bitter and twisted account of his rivalry with Keating. Our politicians simply lack the same nastiness, alas.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — May 5, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  4. Historical, fascinating and flawed were the books journalist Alan Reid wrote in the late 60s-70s on the Gorton and Whitlam govts. ‘Flawed’ because there were some grubby media politics behind them as well as actual politics, and also because he couldn’t under under the conventions of the time say precisely why Country Party leader McEwan was so bitterly opposed to McMahon, who seemed to be front runner, becoming PM in 1968 (answer: it was widely believed McMahon was gay) .

    But Reid writes a cracking yarn, the personalities (Gorton. Fraser, Whitlam to name but three) are huge and colourful and the events are dramatic.

    Comment by robhosking — May 5, 2016 @ 9:19 am

  5. I recommend the Shane Maloney books featuring Labour party staffer Murray Whelan. Aussie politics at its feral, grassroots best. Very funny whodunnits https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shane_Maloney

    Comment by Marion — May 5, 2016 @ 10:07 am

  6. Can’t we vent on the Weldon thread? Pretty please?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 5, 2016 @ 10:07 am

  7. Can’t we vent on the Weldon thread? Pretty please?

    Oh all right, comments open on Weldon

    Comment by danylmc — May 5, 2016 @ 10:18 am

  8. Want to understand why the ALP is so brutal? Whatever it takes by NSW factional warrior Graham Richardson. Aussie politics is great.

    Comment by Conor Roberts — May 5, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  9. I concur with Marion – read them all and you will want more of Murray. However, I was present when Shane Maloney spoke to a book group about how Australian politics had became so ‘fictional’ that there was nothing left for him to say about the nature of politics in context of a mystery genre.

    Comment by Stephanie — May 5, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  10. Smith, Vromen and Cook’s “Contemporary Politics in Australia” is very good

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — May 5, 2016 @ 10:45 am

  11. Anything by John Quiggin or Irfan Yusuf.

    MH: “Our politicians simply lack the same nastiness, alas.”
    “Alas”? Surely you didn’t mean “thankfully”?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — May 5, 2016 @ 11:20 am

  12. John Pilger’s A Secret Country came out in 1989 and is a very good read. It’s about more than just politics but it does go into some detail about the rein of Bob Hawke.

    A taste of it can be found here http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/gough-whitlam-1975-coup-ended-australian-independence

    Comment by Ross — May 5, 2016 @ 11:45 am

  13. Or reign even! The book discusses the efforts to remove Gough Whitlam which is briefly covered in the linked story above.

    Comment by Ross — May 5, 2016 @ 11:51 am

  14. Is there a First Dog on the Moon collection? In all seriousness for NZ in the 70/80s Tom Scott is a great resource.

    Comment by Richard — May 5, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  15. Triumph and Demise by Paul Kelly on Rudd vs Gillard.

    Comment by Jimmy — May 5, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

  16. Try “He Who Must be Obeid” by Kate MClymont of the SMH about Eddie Obeid the NSW Labor MP and Minister who used his political leverage to advance his family’s fortunes. Published in 2014

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

  17. Oops, pressed Post too soon

    The Family File by Mark Aarons. Four generations of the family were members of the Communist Party and Aarons, later a NSW Labor staffer, obtained ASIO’s files on his family including the four volumes on himself – started when he was 13 – and the 85 volumes on his Dad, Laurie, the national secretary of the Australian CP. A great insight into the CP and how the Australian security services work. Interestingly, a NZ CP member was in charge of the Australian’s party’s secret membership which, as in NZ, was mainly secret for the purpose of infiltrating the Labor Party. Another CP family featuring in the book and close to the Aarons were the Browns, including Lee Brown – now Lee Rhiannon – a Green Senator in the Australian Federal Parliament.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

  18. And Mark Aarons’s The Family File about his family, the first family of Australian communism, and their many,many volumes of ASIO files

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 12:47 pm

  19. Anything by Sandy Stone.

    Comment by NeilM — May 5, 2016 @ 12:49 pm

  20. “Our politicians simply lack the same nastiness, alas.”

    And the same level of narcissism, thank god. David Cunliffe being the exception of course

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

  21. Graeme Richardson’s “Whatever it takes” is pretty dated these days but showed how rough they were.
    It was published in, I think, 1994.
    Rather shocked me in places and I was pretty cynical.

    Comment by alwyn — May 5, 2016 @ 1:39 pm

  22. Tinakori: You left out Aaron Gilmore and Bob Clarkson.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — May 5, 2016 @ 1:58 pm

  23. Paul Kelly’s “The End of Certainty” is the go to book for explaining the intra party politics of the Hawke Keating era and “The Accord” with the Australian trade unions – a big difference between the Australian experience of the reforms.

    For something more current George Megalogenis’ books may explain the current rut from the view of Aussie political journalists.

    But I can’t go past The Piping Shrike’s essay in Meanjin (Aussie magazine) on the state of the parties. His blog too is also recommended.

    Comment by Nfpsheppard — May 5, 2016 @ 2:02 pm

  24. The Fatal Shore

    Comment by richdrich — May 5, 2016 @ 2:04 pm

  25. Oh, I just remembered. Anything by John “Fred Dagg” Clarke & Bryan Dawe.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — May 5, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

  26. @ kumara republic- or binge youtube Clarke & Dawe

    Comment by unaha-closp — May 5, 2016 @ 3:24 pm

  27. This comment is for the ‘housing’ post. I went to a mortgage approval meeting on Monday and was literally offered $700,000 after my deposit of 20% which would have meant I was paying 90% of my income. ‘What do you think of that?’ my friendly mortgage manager said. I said I thought that was insane. I lived in America during the financial crisis and saw such offers so it’s hard for me not to believe we are at the tipping point.

    Comment by Tim C — May 5, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

  28. Not strictly about politics, but about politics by way of housing and architecture: The Australian Ugliness by Robin Boyd.

    “The Australian ugliness begins with a fear of reality, denial of the need for the everyday environment to reflect the heart of the human problem, satisfaction with veneer and cosmetic effects.”

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — May 5, 2016 @ 3:49 pm

  29. The book list from the AskHistorians subreddit is a good resource https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/wiki/books/australia

    Comment by Ovid — May 5, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

  30. “Tinakori: You left out Aaron Gilmore and Bob Clarkson.”

    I was thinking more at the top level of the parties. Perhaps Judith Collins qualifies but although she does lack self awareness I am not sure she trumps David Cunliffe.

    Another book: The Family File by Mark Aarons, a book about the many, many ASIO volumes on what has been described as the first family of Australian communism. Mark’s Dad Laurie was the national secretary of the CP for more than a decade and Mark’s own file was started when he was 13.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

  31. “Tinakori: You left out Aaron Gilmore and Bob Clarkson”

    I was thinking more of the top level of politics not bottom feeders like those two. Judith Collins certainly lacks self awareness but Cunliffe’s narcissism is Olympic standard.

    Another book:

    The Family File by Mark Aarons his account of reading the ASIO files on his family. His Dad, Laurie, was the national secretary of the Australian CP for more than decade.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

  32. “Tinakori: You left out Aaron Gilmore and Bob Clarkson”

    I was thinking more of the top level of politics not bottom feeders like those two. Judith Collins certainly lacks self awareness but Cunliffe’s narcissism is Olympic standard.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 5, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

  33. Tim C: “I lived in America during the financial crisis and saw such offers so it’s hard for me not to believe we are at the tipping point.”

    We agree. We’ve been around for a long while, and we’ve seen the market’s ups and downs before. This is a bubble and bubbles burst. Always. Tulipmania, I saw somebody describe it recently. And to our eyes, the signs of an impending crash are there.

    Comment by D'Esterre — May 5, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

  34. David McKnight’s Beyond Right & Left, Allen & Unwin, 2005. Subtitled ‘New politics & the culture wars’, author spoke at Greens AGM in 2006, the one when Russel Norman was elected co-leader of GPANZ. McKnight is from U Tech, Sydney.
    Dissects neoliberalism & the old socialisms. Puts Aussie pollies in context of global leadership trends – Clinton, Major, Blair.

    Comment by anarkaytie — May 6, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

  35. And for light relief: the inestimable John Clarke and Bryan Dawe’s version of the documentary Labor In Power. https://youtu.be/DZYbF4p75CY

    Comment by robhosking — May 7, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

  36. Mark Aarons, the Family File, in which Aarons trawls through the many ASIO volumes on he and his parents, once dubbed the first family of Australian communism – his dad was the national secretary of the party for more than a decade.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 10, 2016 @ 9:24 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: