December 7th 2013

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Abbott and the Indonesia espionage row

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Australia's enemies at home and abroad

AGRICULTURE: Fighting to keep families on their own land

SCHOOLS: Economy held back by lack of skilled tradesmen

LIFE ISSUES: Tasmania widens scope for abortion, restricts free speech

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Middle-class families struggling on two incomes

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Joe Hockey and the ADM takeover bid for GrainCorp

POLITICAL LANGUAGE: Defending the indefensible by sugar-coating killing

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China takes leading role in new 'scramble for Africa'

CULTURE: 'Tis the season to give the imagination free play

LITERATURE: How George MacDonald's fantasy fiction illuminates reality

BOOK REVIEW When science poses as a religion

BOOK REVIEW Family decline behind loss of religious faith

CINEMA: Nostalgic retrospect on Sixties radicalism

LETTERS Why it matters who owns Australia's GrainCorp

LETTERS Expatriate Australian intellectuals

LETTER Practical fuel-reduction tip to prevent bushfires

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Expatriate Australian intellectuals

News Weekly, December 7, 2013


I read Warren Reed’s Trafalgar Day address (News Weekly, November 23, 2013) with interest.

It is a necessary corrective to those who have alleged that early Australia was nothing but a penal hell hole.

The late Robert Hughes, for example, in his best-selling book, The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding (1987), completely distorted the nature of the settlement at Sydney Cove.

Hughes did not appear to have conducted archival research, or he would not have arrived at the conclusions he did.

I almost despair sometimes that Australia’s image overseas is constructed by intellectual lightweights-cum-journalists such as Hughes, Clive James and Germaine Greer.

Even Tim Flannery, hardly a rightist, pointed out in a recent review in the Sydney Morning Herald (November 9, 2013) that Greer’s latest book, White Beech: The Rainforest Years, is riddled with inaccuracies.

I have no particular bone to pick with Greer — she is a controversialist who is no doubt occasionally bemused at the seriousness with which her offhand comments are taken in Australia — but rather with the credulous Australian opinion-forming class.

Clive James, the Kid from Kogarah, would be modest enough, I’m sure, to class his works as journalism, but his offerings are seemingly elevated to the status of belles lettres, instead of a few paragraphs tossed off about the latest book he has read, as his stories usually are.

In all, I am amazed at the lack of intellectual seriousness shown by Australia’s international standard-bearers. But I doubt that they are fooling themselves. They are not that dumb.

Jeffry Babb,
Essendon, Vic. 

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November 14, 2015, 11:18 am