Law & Culture - 2011 - Vol 36(2)

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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Graeme Orr reviews Political Daze: 2010 Election Diaries

Graeme Orr

Bob Ellis - Suddenly, Last WinterSuddenly, Last Winter: An Election Diary
Bob Ellis; Viking, 2010; 377 pp;
$32.95 (paperback)

Barrie Cassidy, The Party ThievesThe Party Thieves: the Real Story of the 2010 Election
Barrie Cassidy; Melbourne University Press, 2010; 248 pp;
$34.99 (paperback)

Paul Howes, Confessions of a Faceless ManConfessions of a Faceless Man : Inside Campaign 2010
Paul Howes; Melbourne University Press, 2010; 240 pp;
$24.99 (paperback)

2010 was a bamboozling year in Australian politics. First there was the rise of an unlovably belligerent yet effective Opposition leader. Then there was the swift demise of a Prime Minister who had enjoyed Olympian popularity, and the overnight anointing of our first Female Prime Minister. All this culminated in a rushed election, followed by a 17-day wait before two rural Independents shored-up a brittle Labor administration. The rapid turnover of leaders on both sides of politics, the Greens achieving power in the Senate, the splintering of the left (so that the Labor government barely commands twice the support of the Greens), the miasmatic policy dance in the face of climate change: all are signs of a system that is both open and uncertain, a system in search of an equilibrium after the long and stolid years of the Howard governments.
(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 137

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Money And Politics: The Democracy We Can’t Afford

Zim G Nwokora

Joo Cheong Tham, Money and PoliticsJoo-Cheong Tham; UNSW Press, 2010; 336 pp;
$49.95 (paperback)

The effects of money in politics are topics of heated debate in media and political circles in most liberal democracies. Yet despite, and perhaps because of, this controversy we remain unsure of how money percolates politics and the best ways to reduce its harmful effects. Most of the efforts to investigate these issues, and thereby improve our knowledge of the financing of politics, have focused on the United States. In other liberal democracies there are similarly complex money–politics issues but less has been written about them. Tham’s book is a bold attempt to shed light on the significant political finance debates in Australia.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 138

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The Law Of Politics: Elections, Parties And Money In Australia

Rosemary Laing

Graeme Orr, The Law of PoliticsGraeme Orr; The Federation Press, 2010; 320 pp;
$125 (paperback)

As a young recruit to the Commonwealth public service in 1984, I recall being taken to the National Press Club to hear an address by ‘our’ minister, the late Mick Young, Special Minister of State, on major changes to the electoral law including the creation of the Australian Electoral Commission, the first general increase in the size of the federal parliament since 1949, above the line voting for the Senate and the registration and public funding of political parties and candidates. At the time, it seemed, the subject matter was eclipsed for dullness only by the then-notorious rubber chicken of the press club; but perspectives change. After many years’ involvement in supporting legislative and committee processes in the Senate, including as secretary to the Select Committee on Political Broadcasts and Political Disclosures (inquiring into the so-called ‘ad ban’ Bill, successfully challenged in Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth [1992] HCA 1), it is impossible not to be drawn by Graeme Orr’s new book, The Law of Politics: Elections, Parties and Money in Australia.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 140

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The Protectors: A Journey Through Whitefella Past

Melissa Castan

Stephen Gray, The ProtectorsStephen Gray; Allen & Unwin, 2011; 296 pp;
$29.99

This powerful and provocative book explores an unspoken but important part of Australia’s history: the motivations and the role of the administrators and patrol officers who carried out the Indigenous ‘protection’ policies in Northern Australia. In short, Stephen Gray uncovers another side of the ‘Stolen Generations’ debate, the as-yet unheard voices of the ‘protectors’. Gray starts by juxtaposing the two national apology speeches of February 2008 in order to capture the dramatic divergence within white Australian views about our Aboriginal past. On the one hand, newly-elected Prime Minister Rudd alluded to racism, pseudoscientific theories of racial superiority and the profound injustice and inequality of past policies. In contrast, opposition leader Nelson spoke of benign intentions, goodness and acting in the best interests of the child. Gray describes this divergence as representing two Australian tribes, in a ‘war of words, perspectives and views of the world’ (p 5).  He then confronts the question of what white Australia really meant when it apologised for its past? Why is mainstream Australia still so equivocal about the Apology?

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 140

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Rockwiz National Tour 2010

Mike Daly

Rockwiz National Tour 2010 Official DVDVarious artists; Liberation DVD/CD;
$29.99

For music fans and masterminds alike, `RocKwiz’ has become a Saturday night staple. This feisty SBS TV show, recorded at St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel, combines a pop trivia quiz and live music, moderated with raucous humour by hosts Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis. At its heart is the Orkestra: James Black (keyboards/guitar), drummer Peter Luscombe and bassist Mark Ferrie. This pro threesome has a prodigious repertoire, from baby boomer to contemporary hits as they provide musical clues or back a succession of guest players.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 141

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Car Tape 2

Mike Daly

Lisa Miller, Car Tape 2Lisa Miller; Raoul;
$25.00

Lisa Miller’s first `Car Tape’ CD started out as a covers side project in 2002 during a career lull, but became the Melbourne singer’s most successful recording. Nowadays, although the cassette tape concept seems even more retro — when iTunes playlists are the go — Miller embarks on her follow-up with characteristic chutzpah, revisiting old, occasionally unfamiliar songs with often audacious arrangements that owe much to co-producer and guitarist Shane O’Mara and his Yikesville home studio. O’Mara loves to crank up the effects and he turns it on for the opener, a gritty makeover of the Willie Dixon blues ballad `Hidden Charms’, while on David Crosby’s evocative `Traction in the Rain’ he kicks in the reverb.

(2011) 36(2) AltLJ 141

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