Articles on Political history

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Gareth Evans, foreign minister in the Hawke government, brought an ambitious vision for Australia’s international diplomacy to cabinet. AAP

Cabinet papers 1990-91: the new world order that fizzled

There is little of Gareth Evans’ sweeping analysis in the cabinet papers of 1990-91 of a rapidly changing world order or of his vision of good international citizenship.
In a new book, former prime minister Paul Keating makes it clear that, from a young age, he was interested in power and the gaining of it. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Book review: Keating, by Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O'Brien has provided the platform for Paul Keating to define his political career, explain what drove his reform agenda and cement his position as one of Australia's greatest leaders.
In many important areas of Australia’s system of government, much is determined by unwritten rules – or what we call ‘constitutional conventions’. Archives New Zealand

How unwritten rules shape ministerial accountability

Australia’s Constitution sets the ground rules for its system of government. But many things one might expect to be in the Constitution are simply not there.
German migration to South Australia provides a useful comparison point on how to comprehend and work with the Muslim community today. State Library of South Australia

The German migrant story holds lessons for Australia’s Muslim community today

The story of German migration to South Australia can highlight the experience of diverse communities, and what can happen to them in a time of serious conflict.
Malcolm Turnbull’s potentially most dangerous opposition has begun to emerge from inside his own party. AAP/Lukas Coch

Albanese offers Labor a counter to Turnbull’s polished charms

If Anthony Albanese becomes Labor leader, Australians will have the strongest ideological and stylistic contrast in major party leaders since Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke 33 years before.
One of Tony Abbott’s first acts on coming to office was to remove Martin Parkinson (left) as Treasury secretary. AAP/Saeed Khan

Review: Political Amnesia – How We Forgot How To Govern

Debate, serious discussion and deliberation are valued highly in a democracy not just for their own sake, but because they are considered essential to testing the quality of ideas and arguments.
Mutual admiration between big businessmen like Alan Bond (left) and the Labor Party was a double-edged sword for Bob Hawke in the 1980s. AAP/NAA

Book extract: The Eighties – The Decade That Transformed Australia

In the 1980s Australians grappled with the challenges of living in an era that brought together boom and crisis, nationalism and globalisation, confidence and anxiety, and conservatism and exuberance.
What distinguishes Australia is the extraordinary extent to which people of different cultural backgrounds work, play and form families together. AAP

Australia’s multicultural future is a story in three parts

The story of Australia’s multicultural future needs to be informed by an understanding of the past. Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
The 1975 crisis surrounding the dismissal of the Whitlam government was brought about in part by the nature of Australia’s constitutional arrangements. NLA

What might The Dismissal’s legacy mean for an Australian republic push?

Is the Dismissal a moment that will become even more significant if the push for Australia to become a republic gains momentum?
Gough Whitlam speaks on the steps of parliament on November 11, 1975, surrounded by radio reporters’ microphones. Screenshot

The story behind the footage of Whitlam’s ‘Kerr’s cur’ speech

The way in which Bob Wilesmith’s footage has come to dominate Australians’ recollection of The Dismissal is a story of prescience, luck and the limitations of the TV news technology of the day.
Gough Whitlam, pictured here in 2008, looks at the original letter that dismissed him from office in 1975. AAP/Alan Porritt

Archive records shed new light on UK role in Whitlam’s dismissal

Sir John Kerr probably made his own decision to dismiss the Whitlam government much earlier than he acknowledged publicly while alive – but he came to this conclusion in discussion with others.
What do we learn about Labor leader Bill Shorten from David Marr’s new Quarterly Essay? AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Review: Faction Man – Bill Shorten’s Path to Power

Faction Man is a product of Black Inc. From their perspective, Bill Shorten – and his fascination with grimy Labor machine politics – is an alien figure.
Malcolm Turnbull is promising a change in leadership style from Tony Abbott, but that alone won’t be enough to qualify as government for the 21st century. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Turnbull must break with past attempts to keep the future at bay

The Abbott government resisted the disruptive changes of the 21st century. To succeed, the Turnbull government will need to shed this reactionary mindset and embrace inevitable change.
Niccolo Machiavelli recognised the absolute importance of dealing with necessity – what we know today as ‘reform’. Santi di Tito

What is this thing called reform?

In our modern age, reform means essentially mastering necessity – taking what steps are necessary to ensure that one’s country survives and prospers.

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