Maxine McKew’s favourite book is about herself

March 4, 2010

are the favourite non-fiction authors of Canberra MPs according to this great new survey by Andrew Leigh published yesterday. Tolstoy, Harper Lee, and Tolkien are the MP’s most popular fiction writers.

Never heard of Robert Caro? – he’s the biographer of Lyndon Johnson. I gave this talk about Caro at the IPA’s Liberty Sessions last year. Here’s our review of Carlyon’s The Great War.

(Maxine McKew’s favourite book – The Battle for Bennelong – is about herself. And Bill Heffernan reckons he hasn’t read a book since he left school.)

Our politicians enjoy reading about individuals. Funny then the new national history curriculum doesn’t mention a single historical figure. It’s all ‘movements’ (16 mentions) and ‘groups’ (13 mentions). Supposedly this is what the PM means when he says it’s ‘back to basics’. (If you’ve got audio listen to him say ‘basics’ – 23 times – in this press conference.)

On Monday on The 7.30 Report I said the national curriculum was a terrible idea. And IPA Review contributor Greg Melleuish had this important piece on the history curriculum.

For some MPs class warfare is all there is to politics. At a Senate Committee last month, the ALP’s Doug Cameron wanted to know where the Productivity Commission’s employees went to school. You think I’m joking? Here’s the transcript (on page 24):

Senator CAMERON…Could you now provide the committee with the mix of employees between public and private schools—not the tertiary institutions but the schools?

(You’d remember Doug – he told the IPA’s Sinclair Davidson taxpayers weren’t allowed to question politicians.)

This is something good I’ve read recently – Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal on the revival of John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith may have loved big government, but he did know how to write – ponder his advice in The Atlantic before you start your next novel.

Here’s what IPA staff have been writing about this week: In The Australian today, Sinclair Davidson said Rudd’s health takeover will lead to higher taxes. In the ABC’s The Drum, Tom Switzer said that climate politics was changing, and Alan Moran documented all the climate scandals. In The Australian Financial Review on Friday I said the new IR legislation unfairly targeted employers, and in Online Opinion Richard Allsop asked why Sydney needed yet another transport plan.

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