Category Archives: Community

MUNGO MacCALLUM. The bodgie.

Bob Hawke did not suffer from false modesty. He always knew he was the smartest person in the room – and, unlike many egoists, he was usually right, which is saying something, given the stellar ministry over which he presided … Continue reading

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JACK WATERFORD. Bob Hawke: A larrikin, chairman and nation builder (Canberra Times 17.5.2019)

Bob Hawke’s lasting monument is the Australian society of today. A modern open economy, which he skippered out of sheltered waters, for good or ill, mostly good, into the open sea. Reformed national institutions, some now, sadly, in poor shape … Continue reading

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IAN DUNLOP. The Best of 2018: The Monash Forum – of Coal & Horses.

Sir John Monash was a visionary engineer, military leader and much more, who succeeded in spite of the prejudices of the conservative Melbourne establishment (read: The Coalition right wing), to become, in Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s view, “the best general … Continue reading

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ANNETTE GORDON-REED : What We Lost. Martin Luther King

“Well, they killed King.” The matter-of-fact statement hung in the air of the kitchen where a roomful of women—including my mother (I was the lone child)—had gathered on that April day in 1968 to learn to make hot tamales for … Continue reading

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JENNY HOCKING. The Best of 2018: Royal distortions of history: why the Queen’s secret “Palace letters” about Gough Whitlam’s dismissal should be released.

The long-running ‘Palace letters’ case over the Queen’s secret correspondence regarding the 1975 dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam heads back to court on Wednesday 28 November, with an appeal hearing before the full bench of the Federal Court in … Continue reading

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Peter Drake- Vale FRANK HAMBLY AM.

Francis Sutherland Hambly, the doyen of university education in Australia, died in Canberra on 21 November 2018, aged 83.  Frank served the universities as Director and Secretary of the Australian Vice-Chancellor’s Committee (AVCC) from 1966 to 1996; indeed he personified … Continue reading

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PAUL DALEY. The moment that forever changed my perspective on Anzac mythology (The Guardian).

The Surafend massacre shows that the core business of good history must always be the preservation of memory. 

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CECILIA MERRIGAN.“Is That an Advent Wreath?”

An Advent tale about a small father-less family from South West Africa that has been granted asylum in Australia. This is their first Advent in a new country. 

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IAN BURNET. ‘Friends in Australia’ – a message from Sutan Sjahir, the Prime Minister of the newly declared Republic of Indonesia, November 1945.

On 17 August 1945 and two days after the Japanese surrender, Soekarno and Hatta unilaterally declared Indonesia’s Independence and became the first President and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia.

Posted in Asia, Tributes, World Affairs | 1 Comment

ADAM WAKELING. Tokyo Trial: how an Australian judge sentenced a Japanese leader to death (ABC NEWS).

“Accused Hideki Tojo, on the counts of the indictment of which you have been convicted, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East sentences you to death by hanging.”

Posted in Asia, Tributes, World Affairs | 2 Comments

GEOFF DAVIES. Lest We Also Forget.

The women who tried to stop the slaughter; the vibrant young nation crushed; that a nation’s soul cannot be sponsored by arms manufacturers; the Australian war.

Posted in Tributes | 4 Comments

JOHN HANNON. What is good leadership? Lest we forget.

Can’t we see parallels in leadership today, both in the Church and in society, where it can easily get more enmeshed in its own self-importance and self-interest, than in the rights and the good of the ordinary people, whom they … Continue reading

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Lest We Remember traces the history of how Australia was drawn into wars by the British and the Americans, and looks at how poorly the strategies had been thought out and how poorly the troops themselves have been treated.  The … Continue reading

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WILLIAM BRIGGS. A century of remembrance days: will the guns ever fall silent?

One hundred years ago ‘the guns fell silent’ or at least WWI ended. Since the end of the war to end all wars, however, 120 million more people have died as a result of armed conflict. Well might we remember, … Continue reading

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DAVID WOLPE. The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting.

What the astonishing Chiune Sugihara teaches us about moral heroism.

Posted in Asia, Tributes, World Affairs | 3 Comments

TONY STEPHENS. Freda Whitlam: educationalist passionate about her girls.

Freda Whitlam, a formidable educator and church leader, was principal of a prominent Sydney private girls school, helped establish the University of Western Sydney and the University of the Third Age, and became Moderator of the Uniting Church of Australia. … Continue reading

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CAROL SUMMERHAYES. At a tribute to Graham Freudenberg.- A REPOST from June 8 2017

Graham revealed in his memoir that he wrote his first speech in Brisbane in May 1945, aged 10, at the time of VE Day, and delivered it to his mother. In 1946 he scored a job with ABC Radio reading … Continue reading

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JENNY HOCKING. Harold Holt: The legacy is evident, 50 years after his disappearance.

It was a quintessential Australian death. On 17 December 1967, Australia’s 17th prime minister, Harold Edward Holt, waded into the churning surf at Victoria’s Cheviot Beach, defying a swift current and a strong under-tow that left others in his party … Continue reading

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PETER BROWNE. Historian of the present.Ken Inglis

When I visited Ken Inglis early last month, a few weeks before he died, I found him engrossed in the day’s edition of the Sunday Age. It was perhaps eighty years since he’d begun reading the papers as a schoolboy … Continue reading

Posted in Media, Tributes | 3 Comments

CAROL SUMMERHAYES. Another Trans-Siberian experience.

John Tulloh’s post brought back memories of my Trans-Siberian train journey, some twenty-three years after his.  He was there in 1967, and not a lot had changed when I was there in 1990, travelling in the reverse direction.

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BOB CARR. Tribute to Johno Johnson. ‘Keep the faith…both of them’

The separation of church and state was not a fetish of John Richard Johnson.  He adored the Cross on Calvary.  And rallied to The Light on The Hill.

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MICHAEL KEATING. An appreciation of Ian Marsh.

Ian Marsh who passed away last week, was a highly original thinker with the genuine curiosity of a true intellectual. Ian liked to describe himself as one of the last ‘Deakinite Liberals’. This apt description reflected: Ian’s contributions to industrial … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Tributes | 6 Comments

ALBERT MISPEL. 1938-2017

Pearls & Irritations advises the sad news that Albert Mispel, who was instrumental in getting this blog started (and indeed, suggested its name) has passed away. Albert had an exciting life during which he taught school in New Guinea, was … Continue reading

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PETER GIBILISCO. Where are the public intellectuals like Hugh Stretton.

“The worst kind of bad social science, Stretton argues, purports to select the things to be explained, and the ways of explaining them, without resort to values and valuation”  

Posted in Education, Health, Tributes | 1 Comment

IAN WEBSTER. A tribute to Anne Deveson – understanding the homeless mentally ill

Anne Deveson’ s media presence spearheaded the media’s involvement in public health and mental health. She contributed at so many levels – social commentaries and documentaries -which challenged our sensibilities.

Posted in Health, Human Rights, Tributes | 3 Comments

BINOY KAMPMARK. Des Ball: The man who sank the myth of controlled nuclear warfare

The late Professor Des Ball of the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre came as close as any on being a public intellectual on nuclear strategy. While some of his counterparts in the United States felt that using … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics, Tributes | 1 Comment

NICHOLAS FARRELLY. What is King Bhumibol’s legacy?

New Mandala co-founder Nicholas Farrelly reflects on a remarkable and contentious reign. The 70-year reign of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej started and ended inauspiciously. It was a family tragedy that unexpectedly brought Bhumibol to the throne. He went on to … Continue reading

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GRAHAM FREUDENBERG. On Gough Whitlam’s 100th birthday, 11 July 2016.

This tribute is being published as a foreword to the book ‘Not just for this life’. Wendy Guest has put together all the tributes paid to Gough Whitlam in the House and the Senate in October 2014. This tribute to … Continue reading

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Eric Walsh. Tribute to Brian Johns.

The death of Brian Francis Johns, 79, in the early hours of New Years Day marked the end of one of the most impressive Australian media careers of the last half century. During this period Johns engaged in and excelled … Continue reading

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John Menadue. Vale Malcolm Fraser.

Repost from 21/03/2015 I am sure that Malcolm Fraser’s concerns for human rights were always there. But as he grew and matured, that concern flourished and became obvious to all. He became our moral compass on human rights. I was … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Immigration, refugees, Indigenous affairs, Politics, Tributes | 4 Comments