SPENCER ZIFCAK. Three Ministers vs. Three Judges: Executive Government gets Flattened | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

  In Victoria’s Court of Appeal last Friday, an encounter unprecedented in Australian legal and political history played itself out. Through the Commonwealth Solicitor-General (SG) three Commo…

Source: SPENCER ZIFCAK. Three Ministers vs. Three Judges: Executive Government gets Flattened | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Gonski’s troublesome twin | The Saturday Paper

The reason I supported the original Gonski schools funding formula was because it was both needs based and sector blind. The formula wasn’t perfect, but what is? Implementing it, for example, was more expensive than it should have been because of the ridiculous condition that no school – no matter how high their fees or luxurious their resources – should lose a dollar. That was a waste of scarce funds, but even with its flaws, at least Gonski provided badly needed money to the schools – and students – that needed it most and where it would really make a difference.

Source: Gonski’s troublesome twin | The Saturday Paper

Ache by Eliza Henry-Jones

‘Annie has never been the sort of person to have nightmares.  But since the fires on the mountain, her dreams have changed.’

A bushfire twelve months ago has ripped Annie’s world apart.  Her grandmother Gladys is dead, her daughter Pippa is traumatised, and her mother Susan’s home was half destroyed.  Although Annie, her husband Tom and Pippa live in the city, she’s never really settled there.  The mountain is her home, and after her uncle Len calls her, she takes Pippa back to Quilly for an extended visit.  The pressure of work means that Tom can’t join them, and he’s frustrated that Annie hasn’t thought this through.

‘It’s too easy to forget how good it feels to have purpose.’

Back in Quilly, we meet Annie’s eccentric mother Susan, her uncle Len and his wife Rose.  Gradually, we learn more about Annie’s life on the mountain, her relationship with Gladys, and the fire that has devastated the lives of so many.  And Pippa, so traumatised by the fire, starts to open up to her grandmother and find her way gradually through her own trauma.

It took me a while to adjust to the rhythm of this novel.  Ms Henry-Jones tells the story gradually, revealing pieces of information about people and events.  There are several finely drawn characters, each dealing with the consequences of the bushfire the best they can.  Some within the community see Annie as an interloper, and this undermines her sense of belonging.  Can individuals within the community move on?  Can Tom and Annie’s marriage survive this separation?

For me, this novel captures some of the trauma of catastrophe, as well as some of the issues individuals and communities need to deal with as a consequence.  The devastation is clear, the grief understandable.  There’s hope, as well, for the future – for the land and for at least some of the characters.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith


BRIAN TOOHEY. Building submarines in SA simply sinks Australian dollars | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Despite claims to the contrary by the defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, this sector is not driving growth in the economy or jobs. A defence economics specialist Mark Thompson has debunked…

Source: BRIAN TOOHEY. Building submarines in SA simply sinks Australian dollars | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Flame Tip by Karenlee Thompson

Flame Tip by Karenlee Thompson

‘I’ll tell you about my neighbourhood on the 8th of February 1967 …’

In this collection of seventeen short fictions, linked to the Black Tuesday bushfires in Tasmania on 8 February 1967, Ms Thompson explores many different themes.  For those of you who weren’t around fifty years ago, this tragedy left 62 people dead and injured 900 others.  More than 7000 people were left homeless and 1400 homes were destroyed.  Most of the destruction was caused within a five-hour period.  It was horrific.  I was a school-aged child living in Launceston at the time, watching the local community mobilise to help those affected.

These fictions involve different people, with their different reactions to the fire and its aftermath.  There’s one woman, in ‘Lost’, looking for the life she lost when the fire destroyed her home.  In another, ‘The Keeper of the Satchel’, a man remembers the fire (and its impact) through his own regulated life.  He wonders.  In other stories, communities come together after the fire as differences that seemed important beforehand are erased.  For the storytellers – danger, fear, loss and memories play a part as do empathy, humour and resilience.

This is a book to dip into.  I will revisit these stories as a reminder of both the events of Black Tuesday (and other catastrophic bushfires) and the different ways in which such catastrophes continue to affect people long after the event.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith