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Politics by the book

By Everald Compton - posted Thursday, 9 October 2014

It is fast becoming an essential building block of an aspirational political life to write a book about your career at a carefully chosen moment.

By spinning your achievements, or arranging with a famous author to include you in a book, you may convince voters that you are the right person to go the top, or return there, if they will back you right now. Tony Abbott did this successfully with his book Battlelines.

Perhaps, you may just want history to treat you favourably.


So, let me comment on a few of the latest political epistles, some written by MPs, and others by eminent commentators, in the hope that a debate can be generated on the value, if any, of politicians to the life of the nation.

It could help us evaluate where politics should be reformed in the years ahead.


I will start with Triumph and Demise, a massive tome written by legendary journalist Paul Kelly, now Editor-at-Large for The Australian.

Twenty years ago, Kelly wrote a splendid book called The End of Certainty, which I regard as one of the best and most informative political books I have ever read. He wrote it admirably from the centre of the political divide, with no apparent bias to the left or right.

Now, he has moved decisively to the right, so it is necessary to water down some of his more one-sided comments and spend a little time calling a few of the participants in the political battles to check on what actually happened. Perhaps Kelly has been working for Rupert Murdoch for far too long.


Nevertheless, this is a very readable book, filled with interesting background to major events and containing astute observations that are worth knowing and debating.

It covers the period from when Rudd defeated Beasley for the leadership of the ALP through to the election of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

You won’t be surprised when I tell you that Kevin Rudd comes out of it badly. He is depicted accurately as a very flawed personality who is a great campaigner, but a hopeless manager of people, policies and projects. The book leaves the clear and correct impression that Julia Gillard had absolutely no option but to remove him, not just to save the government or promote herself, but to protect the nation from his incredible irrationality.

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This article was first published in Everald@Large

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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