Vale Colin Powell

In my book Winners Don’t Cheat I caution against finding role models that only look like you. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell — who passed away aged 84 — was my rare exception. Powell, of West Indian heritage, cast a unique figure on his road to becoming a four-star general, chairman of the joint chiefs (1989-93), national security adviser (1987-89) and his nation’s chief diplomat (2001-05). His image with US President Ronald Reagan, inset with this article, is a favourite of mine. It shows Powell — then as national security adviser — briefing Reagan, whose counsel Reagan clearly […]

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Avoiding a return to history: Lessons for the ‘post’ post-911 world

It has become something of a cliché tagging historical events to personal experience.  ‘Where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ offered an entire generation sombre reflection and a point in time.  ‘Where were you on 911?’ is the catch cry for mine – or at least for some of us taking stock to ponder, reflect or ‘think hard’ about the trade-offs and competing interests of the past two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’ll never forget arriving to school – Australian-time – the following day, buzzing from an early morning paper delivery round, entering the school gates and revealing the […]

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A Statesman in Australia’s Council of Elders

Published at The Menzies Research Centre This month marks 50 years since the first Indigenous Australian – the late Senator for Queensland Neville Bonner – sat in the nation’s parliament. This was a triumphant achievement from Bonner, serving as a Liberal Senator from 1971 to 1983. Yet most Australians won’t quite be able to pinpoint what makes Bonner a truly ground-breaking Australian – his centre-right disposition at a time of overbearing radical politics, a denial of cynicism despite a tough life, the unique blend of Indigenous culture with character. Indeed, his story reveals not just a great Indigenous Australian but […]

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An Australian conservative ascendance? In 2021?

It has long been held that demographics would pave the way for progressive politics and ideas. Old beliefs, from capitalism to climate change, to identity politics and immigration, would eventually cave to ‘gen next’, with conservative parties, and conservative politics, becoming a thing of old. The reality, at least measured by recent Australian politics, has been somewhat different. Labor, for example, in attempting to ‘carry the torch’ for progressive politics, often at the expense of blue-collar traditional voters, finds itself unable to connect and build traction. To be sure, primary votes for both major parties have long been on the slide (33 percent ALP, 41 percent Coalition – neither […]

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Three unknown knowns: Vale Donald Rumsfeld

Like many of my era, I came of age politically in the shadow of 911. Donald Rumsfeld was a key figure in this period. To ‘get a grip’ on things, I read as much as I could from someone who, as twice-US Secretary of Defense, and a former Congressman, could impart a great deal. Remembered exclusively by some as the sole ‘architect’ of the Iraq War, or the puzzled source of ‘unknown knowns’ – an easily dismissed but highly philosophical point – I found Rumsfeld offered a great deal more. There are three things that stood out to me, which […]

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A sad farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip once said that his job – first, second and last – was ‘to never let the Queen down’. The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Born on 10 June 1921, in Corfu, Greece, it was likely that a life of perennial devotion to the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith – wasn’t the ‘job description’ a young Philip had aspired to. Evacuated from Greece, literally, in a fruit box, Philip was educated in France, England and Scotland, before taking […]

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Renewing the fusion: How Australia’s conservatives and liberals can remain a united and potent force 

Tim Wilson, The New Social Contract: Renewing the Liberal Vision for Australia (Connor Court, 2020) Small ‘l’ liberals can be as clear on the things they do say as they don’t say. Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson, in The New Social Contract: Renewing the Liberal Vision for Australia (Connor Court, 2020), offers readers a keen example of this, while also casting light on the policy and philosophical tensions within the modern Liberal Party. Wilson does well to highlight the traditions of Australian liberalism. He is entirely accurate on the need for reducing concentrations of power, a framework for individuals to […]

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