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PM – 20th Anniversary Program

The ABC radio program PM has been a staple program since I was a schoolboy.

I think I began listening to it in 1972, possibly in 1971. Its coverage of the massacre at the Munich Olympics sticks in my memory. Those were the days when news and current affairs was what we now call “appointment” broadcasting. The programs that accompanied breakfast, lunch and dinner were the times you found out what was happening in the world. No internet, no 24-hour television, no mobile phones, no social media.

Throughout my life, PM has been ever-present, one of the essential programs I turned to, not just in times of momentous events, but on a daily basis. As a university student during the Whitlam and Fraser years, and as a teacher through four separate decades, it was vital, not just personally, but professionally. For me, teaching English, Politics and History always required an up-to-date grasp of current events. Everything is relevant.

For many years, I listened to it in the car. The years began with Huw Evans as host, and then Paul Murphy, with Monica Attard and Ellen Fanning preceding the arrival of Mark Colvin. I loved it when a 5pm edition began on Radio National, with the local radio version continuing after the 6pm news. The duplication enabled me to leave work at different times and still listen to the whole program, albeit out of order.

Like many, I appreciated the authority and knowledge of Colvin. He made the program his. It is no reflection on him or any of the other hosts, but Evans will always be the voice of PM for me. Perhaps it was the November 11, 1975 live broadcast that did it. [Read more…]


John Fahey, Former NSW Premier and Howard Finance Minister, Dies, 75

John Fahey, the former Liberal Premier of NSW, and Finance Minister in the Howard government, has died, aged 75.

FaheyFahey was first elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1984 as the member for Camden. He transferred to Southern Highlands in 1988 and was a minister in the Greiner government following the 1988 election.

He became Premier on June 24, 1992, following the forced resignation of Nick Greiner, in the aftermath of an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Coruption.

As premier, Fahey is best remembered for the role he played in securing the 2000 Sydney Olympics for NSW.

Fahey’s Liberal-Nationals coalition was defeated in the 1995 election and Bob Carr became Labor premier. Fahey transferred to the federal division of Macarthur at the 1996 federal election and became Minister for Finance in the Howard government, a position he held until he retired at the 2001 election.

His career after politics is notable for his role as president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He also served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University. [Read more…]


Hard Quiz: Scomo and Big Mac

One of the questions on tonight’s edition of “Hard Quiz” evoked memories of a different time and the original “Big Mac”.

Hard Quiz

A question on the theme of branding asked what Scott Morrison wanted to call Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, in the light of the success of his own branding as ScoMo.

The answer was “Big Mac”. It clearly didn’t take off. Last week, there was media speculation that McCormack’s leadership of The Nationals may not survive the year. David Littleproud could be deputy prime minister by Christmas. We shall see.

"But the Big Mac some of us remember is Frank McManus, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) senator from Victoria from 1956 until 1962, and again from 1965 until 1974.

Born in 1905, McManus had a career as a teacher and Education Department official, before becoming Secretary of the Victorian branch of the ALP in 1950. An anti-communist “grouper”, McManus split with the ALP and joined the group that would become the DLP. In the aftermath of the 1955 split, he won election to the Senate at the December election, taking office in July 1956.

McManus was Deputy Leader of the DLP from 1956 until 1973, finally succeeding Vince Gair, a former Labor premier of Queensland, as leader in October 1973. The double dissolution election of May 1974 saw all five DLP senators lose their seats. With the exception of the late John Madigan, who won a Senate seat at the 2010 election, before quitting and setting up his own party, the DLP has never been represented in the Commonwealth parliament since 1974.

This is one of the DLP ads from the 1974 election touting Frank McManus as “Big Mac”.


The Darwin By-Election – 102 Years Ago Today

Today, June 30, is the 102nd anniversary of the Darwin by-election, in Tasmania, in 1917. It was the 21st by-election since Federation in 1901.

Darwin was the electorate now known as Braddon. Located in north-western Tasmania, it included the towns of Devonport and Burnie.

The by-election is notable because it was caused by the unexpected death of Charles Howroyd, the shortest-serving member of the House of Representatives, the man who ended the career of Labor’s King O’Malley.

The by-election led to the return to parliament of W.G. Spence, a union leader and one of the founders of the ALP, now sitting on the other side of the political divide.

The by-election was held in a climate of political upheaval following the split in the Labor Party over conscription. It was a time of bitter political infighting and sectarian conflict.

There are no particularly significant historical effects arising from the by-election, but the interplay of individuals and electorates is fascinating in its own right.

Charles Howroyd – MP for Five Days

Howroyd
Charles Howroyd – photo from Psephos

The by-election was caused by the death of Charles Howroyd, a Nationalist (Liberal). Howroyd won Darwin at the May 5, 1917 federal election. He died five days later, on May 10, aged just 50. To this day, Howroyd remains the shortest-serving member of the House of Representatives.

Howroyd had been a state Labor member, holding North Launceston in 1906 and then moving to Bass in 1909. He was a founding member of the ALP, one of many who left the party over conscription in 1916-17.

The by-election caused by Howroyd’s death was held just seven weeks after the 1917 federal election.

The Hughes Landslide of 1917

The 1917 election was a victory for Billy Hughes and the Nationalist Party. The party had only just been formed after ALP members who split with the ALP, or were expelled from it, over the issue of conscription, joined with the Liberals. The former Labor prime minister was now the leader of his former opponents. [Read more…]


No, William McWilliams Wasn’t The Last Country Party Member From Tasmania

The man shown here is Llewellyn Atkinson. He was the Country Party member for Wilmot (Tas) from 1921 until 1928.

He’s been dead since 1945 and now not even Nationals leader Michael McCormack knows that he was the last Country Party member from Tasmania.

Atkinson
Llewellyn Atkinson; Photo credit: Psephos

Yesterday, Tasmanian Senator Steve Martin joined The Nationals. Elected in a recount of Jacqui Lambie Network votes a few months back, Martin briefly sat as an independent before signing up to the former Country Party.

Martin was welcomed into the party room yesterday as the first-ever Country Party/Nationals senator from Tasmania.

According to an ABC report, McCormack told the media: “The last National Party member in parliament (from Tasmania) was William McWilliams, a former Country Party leader all the way back in 1927.”

Umm, no. McWilliams left the Country Party in 1922 and only returned to Parliament in 1928 as an independent.

The misinformation was dutifully repeated by Guardian Australia and The Australian.

The Land also repeated the fake history and then made it worse by suggesting that McWilliams had been the Country Party’s “inaugural leader in 1903”, at least fifteen years before the party was formed.

In a variation on the theme, The Conversation told us there had been no Country Party representation in Tasmania “since the early 1920s, when William McWilliams was briefly leader of the Country Party”.

Again, no. There were two lower house Country Party members – in Braddon and Wilmot – between 1921 and 1928. [Read more…]


1911 Was The Last Time A Government Won A Seat From The Opposition. Oh, Really?

On numerous occasions last week, I heard journalists and media commentators say that no government has won a by-election from the opposition since 1911.

It was repeated over and over. It was asserted again on Insiders yesterday and on Sky News last night.

The context, of course, is the batch of four by-elections – in Mayo, Longman, Braddon and Fremantle – that are about to take place following the resignations flowing from the High Court’s Section 44 decision on former Senator Katy Gallagher. A fifth by-election will take place due to the resignation for personal reasons of the ALP’s Tim Hammond in Perth.

The Liberal Party has decided not to contest Perth or Fremantle, so these seats should now be easily retained by the ALP.

The Liberals are favoured to retake their traditional stronghold of Mayo, especially given the Xenophon implosion.

So attention centres on Longman, in Queensland, and Braddon, in Tasmania. Can the ALP hang on to these two seats it won back last time? Could the government take one or two seats off the opposition?

A swing of just 0.8% would see Longman return to the government. Braddon needs 1.5%. It’s do-able but it’s tricky. Afterall, it hasn’t happened since 1911…

Well, no… [Read more…]


Doug Everingham Condolences

Three members of the House of Representatives offered condolences for Doug Everingham in the Federation Chamber today.

Everingham, the former ALP member for Capricornia (Qld) from 1967 to 1975 and from 1977 to 1984, died on August 24, aged 94. He was the Minister for Health in the Whitlam governments (1972-75).

Mike Freelander (ALP-Macarthur) spoke of the influence Everingham had on his medical career, particularly during the implementation of Medibank. He paid tribute to Everingham’s commitment to community health centres, mental health and his anti-smoking campaign.

The current Health Minister, Greg Hunt (Liberal-Flinders), spoke of Everingham’s contribution to Medibank and Medicare, and his work on behalf of Westmead hospital.

The current member for Everingham’s seat, Michelle Landry (LNP-Capricornia), spoke of her predecessor’s preselection at a time when Gough Whitlam was reforming the ALP and of Everingham’s commitment to spelling reform.

  • Watch the condolence speeches (15m – transcript below)
  • Listen to Mike Freelander’s speech (5m)
  • Listen to Greg Hunt’s speech (4m)
  • Listen to Michelle Landry’s speech (6m)

Hansard transcript of proceedings in the Federation Chamber.

Everingham, Hon. Douglas Nixon ‘Doug’

Consideration resumed of the motion:

That the House record its deep regret at the death, on 24 August 2017, of the Honourable Douglas Nixon Everingham, a former Minister and Member of this House for the Division of Capricornia from 1967 to 1975 and 1977 to 1984, place on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement. [Read more…]


Death Of John Bourchier, Former Liberal MP, Announced To House

The death of John Bourchier, a former member for Bendigo, was announced to the House of Representatives today.

BourchierThe Speaker, Tony Smith, announced that Bourchier died on August 31. He was 87.

Bourchier represented the Victorian division of Bendigo for the Liberal Party for five terms from 1972 until 1983. He was a backbencher throughout.

Bourchier’s arrival in the House coincided with the election of the Whitlam government. Bourchier defeated David Kennedy, who had held the seat for the ALP since 1969. A campaign against Kennedy over the abortion issue is widely regarded as contributing to his defeat. Whilst Kennedy topped the primary vote with 47.7% to Bourchier’s 26.7%, Bourchier was elected with the aid of Country Party (17.3%) and DLP (8.4%) preferences. He defeated Kennedy by 165 votes (50.2%). [Read more…]


Doug Everingham Condolences: House Remembers Whitlam Minister

The House of Representatives today offered condolences following the death of Doug Everingham, the former Labor member for Capricornia and Health minister in the Whitlam governments.

Everingham died on August 24, 2017, aged 94. He represented the Queensland electorate from 1967 to 1975 and from 1977 until 1984. He was one of the original Whitlam ministers and held the Health portfolio throughout the Whitlam period.

Everingham

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to the former doctor during a condolence motion prior to Question Time. Both acknowledged Everingham’s commitment to health issues, especially mental health, and his work in establishing Medibank, the original universal health insurance scheme.

They acknowledged Everingham’s interest in linguistics, including his devotion to Esperanto and spelling reform.

Everingham’s death leaves just three of the original Whitlam ministers still living and five overall.

Everingham was first elected at a by-election in 1967. There are now just 16 members of the 26th Parliament still living.

The death of Doug Everingham means there are now 28 House members from the Menzies era (1949-72) still living. The oldest of these is Henry Pearce, who is also a former member for Capricornia. Pearce, a Liberal, will turn 100 on September 17, 2017. He held Capricornia from 1949 until he was defeated by the ALP’s George Gray in 1961. Gray’s death in 1967 precipitated the by-election won by Everingham.

  • Watch the Turnbull and Shorten speeches (10m)
  • Listen to Turnbull and Shorten (10m)

Hansard transcript of condolence debate for Doug Everingham.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:01): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death, on 24 August 2017, of the Honourable Douglas Nixon Everingham, a former Minister and Member of this House for the Division of Capricornia from 1967 to 1975 and 1977 to 1984, place on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement. [Read more…]


John Howard, Historian Of Menzies, Addresses National Press Club

Ahead of the broadcast of his television documentary on Sir Robert Menzies, former prime minister John Howard has addressed the National Press Club.

Howard

It was Howard’s 40th appearance at the Canberra press club. The documentary on Menzies will be shown on ABC television at the end of this month.

Howard spoke about the Menzies period but also commented on contemporary politics.

He said Senator Sam Dastyari had become a liability for the ALP. He also warned the major parties against embracing identity politics and cautioned against too much legislative interference in political donations. [Read more…]