It is unlikely that The Fixer will be on display at ALP fundraising stalls. This is a different work to Graham Freudenberg’s A Certain Grandeur, the masterful, unashamed hagiography to Gough Whitlam. As a portrait of a major player in the ALP over the last decade, Marion Wilkinson’s book is a fierce critique. But is it accurate and fair?
It is interesting to reflect on why the 1996 federal election campaign is so boring relative to the high passion of past elections. A high number of undecided voters in the opinion polls, especially in the marginal seats, indicate that there is a fair swag of the electorate still to make up their minds. This means that Labor is still in with a chance of winning.
Lloyd Ross’ impact on the Australian labour movement has been as protean as it has been significant. The socialist incendiary, adult education activist, unionist, communist turned anti-communist, Grouper supporter turned opponent of the Right in the ARU, journalist and theoretician – all these appellations could have applied to Ross at different times.
Richard Prebble is not very well known outside of New Zealand. As a result of his recent bestselling (in New Zealand) book he deserves to be better known across the Tasman. Although Roger Douglas got most of the credit and the publicity for the Rogernomic reforms in New Zealand under the fourth Labour government of David Lange from 1984 to 1990, Prebble played just as important a role.
Early next century Peter Costello is likely to be Australia’s Prime Minister. What sort of leader will he be? Tracey Aubin’s unauthorised biography attempts to answer that question by looking backwards, at his development and the issues that he wrestled with in emerging as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, the Coalition government’s Treasurer and their most lethal parliamentary performer.