‘Those who stand for nothing fall for anything’ – Jeff Rich

Australian Prime Minister (1983–1991) and Labor leader. BOB HAWKE was Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister. He led the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to victory in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1990. A graduate of the University of Western Australia and Oxford University (where he learned to skull far too much beer), Bob was appointed research officer of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1958 and became its president in 1970. In 1973 he rose to the presidency of the Australian Labor Party. Elected to the parliament for the first time in 1980, in 1983 he led the Labor party to victory in the national elections, replacing Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister. Hawke’s handling of a recession-plagued economy was felt to be not good enough and it led to his resignation in 1991, when he was replaced by Paul Keating. Probably no one before or since has captured the attention and affection of the Australian public as much as Bob Hawke did, and anyone who fails to raise a glass of something to his life and work is a bum. (Bob Hawke Montage by L.J. May)


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Saturday, 18 May 2019

 ‘Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.’ – Robert Byrne


Not an easy thing to do among the lies, evasions, pollie spin and media bias.  Here are a couple of websites where you can at least be sure that contributors have done their homework and have some expertise in the areas about which they are commenting.


Pearls and Irritations – John Menadue

JOHN MENADUE is a former senior public servant, diplomat, and journalist, and is currently an Australian businessman and public commentator. John also publishes the public affairs blogsite Pearls and Irritations, which is influential and widely read, with outstanding authors writing about important current events. There are no sponsors and subscriptions are free.

John says: ‘Our editors and authors are independent, dedicated and generous.’ There is no charge to visit the website and view the articles. These are attributed with the name of the contributor, their area of expertise, and details of their career, which helps readers to decide what weight they should give to the author’s opinion.

To keep up with what’s going on, you can subscribe on the P & I website for free to receive emails daily or weekly. Go to the website to read the latest news at See the menu at the top of the home page to see the wide variety of topics covered. 

John Menadue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1985 for public service. In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal ‘for service to Australian society through public service leadership’.

Menadue worked for Gough Whitlam for a time, saw the events of the dismissal unfold first hand, and then moved into the private sector for seven years as general manager at News Limited, publisher of The Australian. In October 1999, Menadue published his autobiography Things You Learn Along the Way. Read a transcript of the Menadue interview with Radio National’s Mark Colvin at

Mungo MacCallum – Australian political journalist and commentator.

Veteran journalist MUNGO MacCALLUM was once described by Gough Whitlam as a ‘tall, bearded descendant of lunatic aristocrats’. In September 2014 there was a minor sensation when a fellow journalist and friend sadly announced his death on Twitter. This was a great surprise to Mungo, and his premature death was denied within the hour. Within the same hour a trending hashtage #mungolives had sprung up on the same site.

Yes, Mungo lives, and his incisive yet witty commentary on all things political continues and may often be found in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations. Luckily for his fans, at you can find many of his articles. Also, go to The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely. Mungo MacCallum with Kerry O'Brien for a thoroughly entertaining and informative interview at

Mungo has also authored several books, including Run, Johnny, Run written after the Australian federal election, 2004. His autobiographical narrative of the Australian political scene, Mungo: the man who laughs – is currently in its fourth reprint. How To Be A Megalomaniac or, Advice to a Young Politician was published in 2002 and Political Anecdotes was published in 2003. In December 2004, Duffy & Snellgrove published War and Pieces: John Howard's last election.


There seems to be so much wrong in the current climate that it’s hard to know where to start to define the problems and decide how you feel about them. Here are a couple of books to help you sort out your head. Both are available in libraries – if there’s a rush on them, you can always buy them and keep them on your home library shelves – you’re sure to need them in the future.


HAS THE LUCK RUN OUT? What’s going wrong. What’s going right. What we can do to redefine Australia’s future – by David Fagan, published by Hachette Australia in 2019. Stan Grant says: ‘David Fagan takes Donald Horne into the 21st century. The “Lucky Country”? In spite of our worst efforts, we still may be.’

DAVID FAGAN is an author and a veteran journalist with a three-decade career behind him. David is the father of three daughters, and it was their questions about the world they will inherit that bore the seeds for this book. He says: ‘We need to talk about... Australia. Has the luck really run out for the lucky country? The mood in Australia right now is one of gloom... people are distrustful. And we need to know why.’

Given the publishing date of 2019, the topics covered in depth are up-to-date and include: A Leading Question, Government, Sport, Business, Professions, Unions, Work, Media, Faith, Health, Education, Families and Friends, Tolerance, The Bush, The Weather, Law, Retirement, Culture, and the Conclusion: Give it a Go. This is an accessible and thoroughly researched book which will help you to crystallise your opinions.  

GAME OF MATES, by DR CAMERON K. MURRAY and PROFESSOR PAUL FRIJTERS. Why do we distrust politicians and do we have good cause? You bet! This book describes the problem thusly:

James is our most mundane villain. His victim is Bruce, our typical Aussie, who bleeds from the hip pocket because of James’ actions. Game of Mates tells a tale of economic theft across major sectors of Australia’s economy, showing how James and his group of well-connected Mates siphon off billions from the economy to line their own pockets.

In property, mining, transport, banking, superannuation, and many other sectors, James and his Mates cooperate to steal huge chunks of the economic pie for themselves. If you want to know how much this costs the nation, how it is done, and what we can do about it, Game of Mates is the book for you.

DR CAMERON K. MURRAY is an economist and consultant who specialises in property markets, environmental economics, and corruption. He teaches at the University of Queensland, blogs at and tweets as DrCameronMurray.

PROFESSOR PAUL FRIJTERS is a prominent research economist and has published over 70 papers in fields including unemployment policy, discrimination and economic development. He regularly commentates on economic issues in newspapers and on television, including articles in the New York Times and on the BBC. Currently, Paul is a Project Director and Professorial Research Fellow in the Centre for Economic Performance Wellbeing Programme at the London School of Economics.

A REVIEW: 'If you want to understand what is going in the corridors of power in Australia and how deep networks of insiders are using governments to line their pockets you need to read this book. In my own area of urban planning, the richly documented cases described in the book clearly show how potential public benefit and potential revenue is being siphoned off into the arms of selected members of the development industry.

Governments need to be held accountable for these processes. This book will help Australians understand what is going on – it describes how a small but powerful group of insiders have their noses in the public trough in a range of industries.' ­– Professor Peter Phibbs, University of Sydney.

Can’t find the book in time to read it before you vote? Nil desperandum – go to the Game of Mates website at to read about the book and the authors. You also can take a shortcut to knowledge by viewing the authors’ VIDEOS to give you the gist at which cover:

  • Introducing the Game of Mates
  • What are ‘Grey Gifts’?
  • The Great Property Development Game
  • The Experiments
  • Interview with Professor Paul Frijters.


Some politicians tend to make up facts as they go along! No! Yes! They also seem to suffer the same failure of memory in relation to their claims, particularly about the opposition. Of course they rely on the supposition that you can fool most of the people all of the time, voters are not informed, don’t know any better, and that you won’t check. Is that true?


While traditional journalism draws on facts for stories, fact checking the facts is at the heart of the stories. ABC FACT CHECK is a partnership between RMIT University and Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, which determines the accuracy of claims by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate.

It’s not so much about ‘gotcha’ moments but informing and adding value to the national conversation. The official Australian Broadcasting Corporation Facebook page is

Q & A is an Australian television program bringing Australia's energetic and opinionated egalitarian and larrikin spirit to current affairs as panels debate the hot issues of the week. Go to to watch some of the latest programs, and Fact Check some of the more questionable claims and statements at and


Now that you know how you feel about the issues, you will want to know whose policies match up with your beliefs and expectations. So many issues, so many policies, so much burbling – it’s hard to find out who stands for what. Luckily, someone has done most of the hard work for you. Thank God for the ABC!


VOTE COMPASS is a tool developed by political scientists for exploring how your views align with those of the candidates. It’s a civic engagement application run during election campaigns.

Based on their responses to a set of policy propositions relevant to a given election campaign, users are provided with a real-time assessment of their position and their proximity to each of the parties included in the application.

Vote Compass is brought to you by Vox Pop Labs (data collected is used in accordance with their privacy statement – link to view this is available on the website), the ABC (Australia’s public broadcaster), and the University of Melbourne. The ABC does not collect or retain the data that you provide by using Vote Compass.

The application aims to stimulate democratic participation by offering the electorate an opportunity to engage with and compare the policy platforms of political parties in a clear and accessible manner. As of Thursday, 9 May 2019, some 1,050,000 Australians have answered the questions and found their nearest match. Find yours by heading for




‘One of the criticisms I've faced over the years is that I'm not aggressive enough or assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I'm empathetic, it means I'm weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong… I really rebel against this idea that politics has to be a place full of ego and where you're constantly focused on scoring hits against each one another. Yes, we need a robust democracy, but you can be strong, and you can be kind.’ ― Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. (Photo courtesy of Brainy Quotes)