Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Reviews / May 2017 / Part 1

Tony Abbott was a very aggressive Liberal/National Party Coalition (conservative) opposition leader in the Australian parliament specializing in obstructionist tactics.
He was English by birth, a failed catholic theological student and mediocre journalist who had received a Rhodes Scholarship on very dubious grounds.
What else could he be in the end other than a politician?
In September 2013 he came to power as Prime Minister of the country with the demise of the Rudd/Gillard/ Rudd Labor (liberal) government.
He turned out to be a strange kettle of fish, loose with the truth and had a habit of making what were known as 'captain's picks' ie. making decisions without consultation with his cabinet. Many were bewildering eg. awarding Australia's highest honour to the Duke of Edinburgh (a foreigner) on Australia Day!
Among his many conservative views he was a climate change denier, anti gay marriage, anti abortion, anti stem cell research, anti Union/pro free market and a staunch monarchist.

He was ably supported in all his political endeavours by his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. In fact rumour had it she was the one who pulled the strings. Her husband at the time was the Liberal Party federal director. Be that as it may she did run a tight ship and seemed to have excessive control over the PM. It was mooted, but never proven, that the relationship extended beyond business.
For two years this farce continued. Not only did he and Peta alienate the electorate but also his own party.
In the end the the parliamentary party dumped him as Prime Minister replacing him as with someone who has turned out to be just as hopeless. But that is another story..
Niki Savva is an Australian journalist, author and former political staffer of the Liberal Party.
Her husband is a Liberal political staffer in the office of the current Prime Minister so you cannot get a more conservative duo.
The Road to Ruin documents the bizarre goings on in the PM's office, Abbott's dependence on Credlin and the disarray it caused within the government as well as the consternation throughout the country.
Of course the protagonists have have denied the claims made with it being described as  "dispiriting and self-serving revenge tale".
I liked the book immensely, a tale of female Svengali and a male Trilby. 
One for the Australian political junkie.
I liked Niki Savva's writing style so much I sought out her autobiography.
She was born in a small village in Cyprus. Her father emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1951 and she followed with her mother and brother several years later.
So Greek  details her childhood and school years in one of Melbourne’s working-class suburbs where at the time locals were suspicious of olive oil and 'strange' food and Greek kids spoke Gringlish to their parents.

A few decades later, despite all the challenges of being a migrant woman in Australia, Savva rose through the ranks of political journalism at major Australian newspapers going on to head the Canberra bureaus of two of them.
When a family tragedy struck in the late 90s she decided on a career change.
She became Liberal treasurer Peter Costello’s press secretary for six years before moving on to join prime Minister John Howard’s staff.
This is a book about Australian political life written by an insider with decades of exposure to its major players. It can be hilarious or moving but is endlessly fascinating,
This is a great book for students of  Australian politics, the media and for lovers of scuttlebutt.

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