The march of the insider

Paul Kelly is the ultimate insider: editor, journalist, historian, commentator. How does he combine these roles? And how might we explain his relentless rise? What does this story tell us about politics and letters in contemporary Australia?

By any estimation, his is an extraordinary career. Graduating from the University of Sydney with a BA and a DipEd, Paul Kelly worked in the Prime Minister’s Department before holding senior positions at the major broadsheets, including five years as Editor-in-Chief at the Australian. He was the Graham Perkin Journalist of the Year in 1990 and received two Walkley Awards for excellence in 2001. That same year he presented a five-part television documentary series for the ABC, later published as a book, on Australian history and the national character. Kelly is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, holds honorary doctorates from both UNSW and Griffith University, and in 2006 was awarded a DLitt by the University of Melbourne. He was Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland from 1999 to 2005, has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, is a regular participant in the Australian American Leadership Dialogue and received the Dunlop Medal in 2005. He was appointed to the board of Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) in 2004 and has been an editorial advisor for the Australian Literary Review. In 2006 he participated in John Howard’s History Summit.

Kelly’s analysis, delivered in sonorous, apocalyptic tones, dominates the Australian political sphere. Each Saturday his commentary appears in the Weekend Australian and the following morning he often returns to offer his version of the week’s political events on the ABC’s Insiders program, as he has done since 2001. His contemporary political histories are greatly anticipated and invariably acclaimed.

The reception of his latest work, The March of Patriots, is no exception. The story of the book begins with a rumoured massive advance from publisher MUP (presumably offered after Kelly relinquished his seat on the company’s board). As the publication date neared, MUP’s publicity machine cranked into gear, strategically dropping references to the book’s looming appearance in news articles and television interviews. Kelly himself was adept at this latter technique, earning a jovial rebuke from Insiders frontman Barrie Cassidy for advertising on the ABC.1 In August 2009 Kelly, aided by future Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, promoted the book at the Melbourne Writers Festival and the following month it was formally launched by the Prime Minister himself.

Subsequently, the book has been welcomed in a series of positive reviews. ‘This is one of the most revealing books so far written on contemporary history in Australia,’ wrote historian Geoffrey Blainey in the Weekend Australian. In the Adelaide Advertiser, political scientist Dean Jaensch wrote ‘[Kelly] has woven this material into an excellent book which is surgical in the analysis of the tumultuous politics of the period. He combines a fascinating narrative and an analysis of contemporary politics.’2 The book was also endorsed, ahead of publication, by Laurie Oakes, one of the giants of the press gallery, and by Les Carlyon, like Kelly a journalist-cum-historian of substantial repute. Younger Murdoch stablemate George Megalogenis included Kelly’s latest work in a panegyric survey of recent political writing.3 Of course The March has not won universal praise: Robert Manne and Guy Rundle, among others, have drawn attention to its major flaw – an exaggeration of the continuities between Keating’s and Howard’s policies, especially their foreign and cultural policies.4

At the launch, Prime Minister Rudd described The March as ‘a monumental account that will become a benchmark for future research on this period in Australian history’.5 It is not a dubious projection. Why is Kelly’s work so elevated? From what traditions does it draw? How might he rework them? And what are the consequences for Australian political history?

Kelly and the historical tradition

Though Kelly’s position in Australian letters is pre-eminent, his books fit into a well-developed tradition of fusing journalism and history.

The international progenitor of the form is John Gunther, whose ‘Inside’ series began with Inside Europe in 1936 and eventually covered the entire globe. Gunther identified as a reporter and considered his books ‘a bridge between history and the news’.6 Australian journalists took up the form soon after. First, there was Warren Denning, author of Caucus Crisis (1937). This volume elicited few immediate successors, and it was not until the late 1960s that an ageing Alan Reid became the form’s local champion with The Power Struggle (1969), The Gorton Experiment (1971) and The Whitlam Venture (1976). Laurie Oakes was his obvious challenger, with a trilogy of works spanning Whitlam’s rise and fall: The Making of an Australian Prime Minister (1973), Grab for Power: Election 74 (1974) and Crash Through or Crash: The Unmaking of a Prime Minister (1976). Over recent years, additional works within the genre have proliferated.7

Kelly’s prodigious output shares generic characteristics with all of these earlier volumes. Traditionally, the form is publisher-driven, newspaper-friendly, personality-focused, dramatically rendered, interview-based and insider-oriented. Though Kelly’s focus is obviously particular, he faithfully follows each of these conventions, and his adherence to a time-honoured formula is undoubtedly one significant explanation of his success.

Journalistic histories are commodities designed to maximise profit for publishers and newspapers. The seminal Inside Europe was not written for submission, but commissioned with an eye for sales (Gunther was then a humble American correspondent stationed in Vienna). Extracts were published in leading newspapers and, with the appearance of the second title in the series, Inside Asia, a more elaborate and munificent arrangement was established with Reader’s Digest that would persist for many years.8

Kelly clearly follows in the master’s footsteps here. The Hawke Ascendancy (1984) was serialised in the Sydney Morning Herald and his current employer has run excerpts from subsequent volumes. Moreover, his works are increasingly packaged and re-branded as a ‘series’ or a ‘collection’. The End of Certainty (1992) was at first marketed as the third element of a trilogy. In 2008 The Hawke Ascendancy was reissued as the first instalment of Kelly’s ‘compelling analysis of modern Australian politics’ (the words are the publisher’s, and they would make The End the second, and not the third, in a series). More confusingly, MUP regards The March as a ‘sequel’ to The End (according to the dust jacket), while the author describes it in the preface as the first of a ‘two-book project’.9 Even if these comments are contradictory, the intent is obvious: to link the current volume to its most successful siblings, to heighten expectation and to maximise sales. The nakedly commercial and haphazard nature of the literary enterprise is clear.

From a certain perspective, the process of commodification embraces not simply Kelly’s output, but also the writer himself. His journalism and histories each support the other: Kelly’s major works of history elevate his prestige and underlie his authority as a weekly sage; at the same time, the daily round of reportage provides a storehouse of copy, an opportunity to develop interpretations and a public recognition most useful to the publisher and the bookstore. Kelly himself is a commodity, and large-scale commercial enterprises have an economic stake in his continuing prominence, recognition and success.

Secondly, Kelly’s histories follow convention in their privileging of personalities as the drivers of history. Clearly, this reflects the practice of reportage. Personalities are, in the words of Gunther, ‘newsy’10 and profiles are easily packaged for extracts. Inside Europe was presented as an ‘intimate story’ of Europe’s leading men, an examination of ‘the personal sources of their power’ and a review of ‘the reasons for their impact on history’. Written in the ‘age of the great dictatorial leaders’, its close attention to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin was certainly defensible.11

Australian works have loosely adhered to these conventions. Denning’s study of the Scullin government, Caucus Crisis, surveyed ‘The Men’, their ‘Aspirations’ and their ‘Destiny’, with only an initial chapter sketching out the ‘Background’.12 His primary themes were the personal weaknesses of Labor’s leaders and the absence of a ‘great statesman’ to forge another way (p. 12). Similarly, Reid’s conception of politics in The Power Struggle was expressed as a ‘changeless’ and ‘never-ceasing’ battle for power, with ‘personalities’ the primary source of its ‘unending fascination’ (p. 5).

Kelly’s work conforms to the custom. The Hawke Ascendancy is ‘the story of the power struggle between three men’ (p. x): Malcolm Fraser, Bill Hayden and Bob Hawke. Pen portraits of leading players (some very good) enliven the text, and there is an untheorised attempt to explain political personalities as a product of family backgrounds.13 November 1975 (1995) is likewise a ‘story’, and Kelly asserts that it ‘can only be understood in terms of the personal relationships between the principals’ (p. vii). The personal ‘traits’ of Whitlam lead to blunders and thereby to his government’s dismissal (p. 5); the ‘personality’ and ‘beliefs’ of Fraser fuel the crisis (p. 25) and his ‘governing mentality’ contributes to victory (pp. 38–9); the ‘complex personal relationship’ between Whitlam and Kerr is the ‘key’ to the entire episode (p. 66). Unsurprisingly, The Unmaking of Gough (1976) traverses similar territory: ‘John Kerr the man’ explains ‘John Kerr the governor-general’ (p. 15) and the conservatives’ deeper knowledge of ‘their man’ underpins their successful strategy (p. 25). In The End, the Labor Party bears ‘the stamp’ of ‘its leaders’ (p. 19) and the battle for the Liberal Party is played out in the conflict of dominant personalities (p. 103). Likewise, The March is the story of ‘Two Men’ Kelly depicts as ‘Personality Rivals’.14

A general view is evident across these many texts. The ‘most potent mixture’ for ‘political upheaval’ is not, according to The Hawke Ascendancy, economic or social dislocation but a force apparently more elemental: ‘power rivalry’ fed on ‘personality conflict’ (p. 10). Contexts are only lightly sketched. This is political history as a chronicle of great, flawed individuals and of the world that they make. The rest is background.

Thirdly, journalistic histories like Kelly’s are composed as dramas. Again the contemporary champion here proves himself highly derivative. The original master, Gunther, treated his major subjects as ‘characters’.15 His approach was to compose each chapter of a book as a ‘story’ and to give it ‘a news significance’.16 It was an approach shared with Reid, who organised his accounts as a ‘democratic political drama’.17 Each of his books told recognisably generic tales: the rise to power of a new leader (The Power Struggle), the failure of a break with the past (The Gorton Experiment), the self-destruction of the newly powerful (The Whitlam Venture).

Kelly’s earliest works followed this well-established formula. The Hawke Ascendancy is structured as a drama, with the four parts establishing the cast (‘The Men’), their conflicts (‘The Battle’), a resolution (‘The Climax’) and catharsis (‘Epilogue’). Shakespearean analogies are pursued and the lives of Hayden and Whitlam are explicitly interpreted as tragedies (pp. 26–7). It is a somewhat laboured allusion that Kelly often recycles. In The Unmaking of Gough Fraser’s career is a ‘tragedy’ (p. 139) and Whitlam is ‘Banquo-like’ (p. 346). In The End John Howard bears a ‘fatal defect’ (p. 228) and his career is thought a form of ‘tragedy’ (p. 229). Bob Hawke’s career apparently has its own ‘tragedy’ (p. 637). Paul Keating? His response to the 1993 election was, according to The March, a ‘tragedy’ (p. 215).

The fourth feature of journalistic history is its reliance on the interview as the primary source of evidence. Gunther’s books relied upon access to world leaders and an unchanging template of questions, and Denning and Reid were newshounds of the old school. Kelly’s works emphasise the value of conversations with key players (his latest book rests on more than 100 interviews) and ‘material obtained while working in the parliamentary press gallery’.18 Kelly’s footnotes are typically thin and almost devoid of secondary sources. By a considerable margin, the phrase ‘personal interview’ serves as the most frequent authority for any of his claims.

Finally, journalistic histories like Kelly’s cultivate what could be called an ‘insider’s viewpoint’. Gunther, the intellectual godfather of the method, described his approach as treating ‘gossip’ in ‘the grand manner’.19 He ‘broke the taboo’20 previously protecting well-known leaders and aimed to provide an ‘intimate’ or an ‘inside’ perspective – hence the then original title. Reid was the insider par excellence, and he referred frequently to his own place in the unfolding of political episodes. Though he explicitly ruled out interest in private lives, Reid’s books drew attention to rumours sweeping the press gallery and to his conversations with the powerful. His references were littered with ‘insider’ sources: nameless ministers, confidential sources, conversations with prime ministerial intimates, his memory of events or ‘notes I made at the time’.21

Kelly again recycles these techniques. His sketches of key personalities are adorned with anecdotes and backstairs rumour,22 and he emphasises the importance of ‘personal conversations’ and the presence of ‘confidential footnotes’ as the basis of his work.23 He also draws a contrast between public images and private realities (thus elevating the value of his penetration of ‘the outside’).24 In the preface to his latest work, the journalist-historian thanks Keating and Howard for their cooperation and their ‘frankness’. The text privileges the insights of ‘those who watched at close quarters’ over ‘[f]uture historians’ apparently condemned to remain puzzled over events (p. 36). In a recent defence of his method, Kelly boldly claims: ‘My view is that this period is misunderstood precisely because it lacks an “insider” perspective. The March of Patriots tries to explain what happened and why’.25

The techniques developed over many decades of journalistic history provide its practitioners with an imposing palette. Compared with often distant and theorised academic works, a dramatically rendered narrative history promoting insight into usually hidden realms is likely to be greeted with some acclaim. When the same work is graced with laurels from fellow journalists, extracted in major papers and supported by vigorous promotional efforts, the likelihood of success rises higher still.

Nonetheless, it would be wrong to depict Kelly as simply a disciple of earlier journalists attempting to write history. While consistently working within a common framework, his writing has also changed in significant ways. The transformation has not brought improvement. On the contrary, his work has become less detached and more inflated over time.

Kelly’s break with tradition

Kelly abandoned journalistic detachment in the mid-1980s. Falling under the spell of Keating, he became a willing participant in the treasurer’s plan to sell the neoliberal ‘reform’ program to sceptical Australians.26 As editor-in-chief of the Australian, Kelly continued to spruik for Keating on a range of issues including Asian engagement and the republic.27 When Keating fell, he found himself out of favour with both the new government and his employer, hence his demotion to international editor. Once relegated to his present post, Kelly shifted his standpoint. Awed by power and needing to retain his access to it, he began to justify Howard and criticise the Opposition.28

These changes no doubt contributed to a transformation in Kelly’s histories. Journalists conventionally claim ‘objectivity’, and Kelly’s first published works evince commitment to the value. The Unmaking of Gough was promoted on the dust jacket as ‘the first full and impartial account … written without fear or favour’. Kelly also claimed that The Hawke Ascendancy was ‘written not to favour any individual or party over another’ (p. x). Here, he affirmed the position of ‘historical cynicism’ (that is, ‘all governments make mistakes’) and of ‘political optimism’ (that ‘there should be a better way’) (p. x).

The End marks a break with this position. While Kelly maintains his detachment from the parties, he now clearly supports particular political ideas as well as their public champions. The 1980s is apparently a ‘milestone’ in the ‘redefinition’ of ‘the ideas and institutions by which Australia is governed’ (p. ix). Practices as diverse as White Australia and Industry Protection are lumped together with Wage Arbitration, State Paternalism and Imperial Benevolence as common pillars of an ‘Australian Settlement’. For Kelly, these are now equally obsolete and their destruction cannot be denied. Still, some resist the inevitable. This has produced a new divide in Australian politics, more ‘fundamental’ than the distinction between the major parties, which pits ‘internationalist rationalists’ (those on the side of History) against ‘sentimental traditionalists’ (who aim to preserve the indefensible) (pp. 1–2).

Kelly’s arguments here have been justly criticised for their promulgation of a false consensus around ‘the Settlement’ and for his persistent elevation of economic efficiency as the sole measure of political evaluation.29 His neologisms signify that on the ‘fundamental’ question of public policy, he is anything but detached. Those policies Kelly has dubbed ‘old and failed’ (p. 14) need apparently to be banished from the polity. The ‘old model’ is ‘not a viable option’ (p. 15); the ‘solution’ to Australia’s problems lies in ‘basic institutional change’ (p. 14). A ‘new era’ in Australian politics has emerged (p. 196), and this is all for the good.

The March extends the argument. Now, compulsory arbitration is presented as a policy of ‘utopianism’ that has brought an unexceeded ‘toll’ of ‘ruin’ (pp. 134–6). In contrast, the policies adopted by governments since 1983 constitute a ‘new model’ of ‘Australian Exceptionalism’ (p. 267): pragmatic, egalitarian and practical. The model absorbs ‘global intellectual currents’ but rests on our ‘own solutions’ and ‘own values’. It is, in short, ‘the essence of patriotism’ (p. 271).

Kelly’s political judgements have become more frequent in his latest work. Prime ministerial appointments are adjudged ‘brilliant’ (p. 174), apparent ‘achievements’ catalogued (p. 228), efforts ranked (‘an impressive effort but not a perfect one’, p. 318), excuses rejected as ‘untenable’ (p. 356), judgements critiqued as ‘flawed’ (p. 363) and legacies weighed. Audiences miss the point (p. 152) and observers miss the ‘main story’ (p.228). At times, his language is extreme: Keating’s views on the history of war and nation are ‘astonishing nonsense’, ‘absurd’, ‘unsubstantiated by history’ and ‘a despicable violation of the motives of the troops’ (pp. 155–6). Throughout, historical villains are clearly identified. The ‘progressive media’ is ‘self-righteous’ and ‘devoid of perspective’ (p. 369). John Howard’s ‘progressive opponents’ demonstrate ‘shallowness and absurdity’: they ‘metaphorically blew their brains out’ (p. 340).

Traditionally, journalistic histories are modest compositions. In Caucus Crisis, Warren Denning admitted: ‘I do not claim that [the book] does anything like justice to the history of those crowded times’ (p. 11). Reflecting convention, Kelly also presents his first books as partial and minor contributions: The Unmaking of Gough is ‘instant journalism’ and ‘premature history’ (see untitled prefatory note), while The Hawke Ascendancy is a ‘selective account’ that ‘does not pretend to be comprehensive’ (p. x).

But The End again marks a change. The book is not presented as a particular or partial version of the past but, as its subtitle confirms, ‘the story of the 1980s’. Kelly’s teleological view of economic history (the inevitable rise of the market) grants him the confidence to survey political careers and policies and to claim the authority of History. The Hawke-Keating government apparently occupies ‘a unique place in Australian history’ because of its embrace of ‘the global free market economy’ (p. 648). Yet Labor, lacking ‘courage and imagination’, could ‘have gone further’: ‘history will record that the times demanded more and would have given more’ (p. 227). Those who argue that ‘the market agenda’ has failed are ‘intellectually dishonest’ (p. 665). Traditionalists have ‘misjudged’ history and ‘misread’ international trends (p. 683).

November 1975, published a few years later, confirms that Kelly’s self-regard was now considerably inflated. The book, largely identical with his earliest works in terms of method and approach, is unconcerned with large-scale economic change. Now, he scorns the modesty that once distinguished his prose. This is not a selective account but an attempt to provide ‘a comprehensive narrative’ (p. vii). The youthful scribbler has become the Olympian surveyor.

The March is the most pompous and self-regarding of all the journalist’s compositions. The footnotes have now multiplied to more than 2000, yet fully half reference Kelly’s own interviews, journalism or books (his first footnote is to The End). Later, he cites Keating’s reference to what ‘[y]ou called’ the ‘Australian Settlement’ (p. 25) and to debates on ‘my Australian Settlement argument’ (p. 629).

The author is keen to demonstrate his originality. Kelly claims to discover ‘universal’ truths that have been ‘long denied’ (p. 2). He advances interpretations apparently met with ‘fierce refusal’ by ‘polemicists’ (p. 3). And he confidently claims to speak for ‘history’ (p. 3), to arrogate to himself the ‘historical view’ (p. 77), to arbitrate what ‘history’ will sustain (p. 26), to relate what ‘history tells’ (p. 273), to adjudge ‘the toll of history’ on protagonists (p. 544), to dismiss major interpretations of history as ‘dubious’ (p. 72) and even to define its future (‘their like will not be seen again’ [p. 6]; ‘a national project that will have no end’ [p. 176]).

It seems a breathtaking confidence, but it stems from more than a personal arrogance. In claiming to discern long-term changes in polity and policy, Kelly also differentiates his compositions from the work of fellow journalists. This is a matter that the author is quick to amplify in personal interviews: he sees his books as dedicated to a ‘longer view’.30 As political commentary and journalistic history proliferate, this is Kelly’s point of difference. His books are longer, grander in scope, more ponderous in tone and more certain of interpretation than any other work. The inflation of Kelly’s histories is not a coincidence: it reflects the intensity of his own difficult march to the summit of journalistic authority.

Does any of this matter? Viewed most simply, journalists report political happenings. Any light cast on the activity of elites therefore enhances knowledge and potentially strengthens debate. But viewed in another, deeper sense, the claim of political journalists to a special ‘insider’ knowledge might be considered an impediment rather than a spur to full democratic participation. The ‘inside’ requires an ‘outside’. The same rhetoric that elevates the journalist and the politician thereby also positions the voter as a perpetual outsider, sending the message that there is a separate political sphere of which they are not, and never can be, a part. Such an approach serves to make politicians seem more remote, their decisions impossibly complex and their lives the stuff of a great drama, far beyond ordinary understanding.

In part, this is an accurate reflection of the way it is. But the method by which journalists so overlook the role of ‘external’ events, so deprecate the contribution of social movements and so strongly affirm the inevitability of ‘reforms’ can serve to confirm and not simply describe the limits of political life. A chronicle of a deracinated politics, imbued with pompous authority, is also a warning that there is no other way.

Kelly’s personal hegemony imposes further limits. His method rests upon an incestuous relationship with political elites: they grant him access and he provides weekly copy and sustained historical treatment. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement that subordinates intellectual freedom to power. If his informants were too strongly criticised, then the flow of information would stop; if Kelly conceded the importance of events beyond the ‘inside’ of the Canberra court, then the authority of his chronicle would face an intellectual challenge of its own. And the interests of Kelly’s notoriously interventionist employer, Rupert Murdoch, must also be weighed. The journalist-historian has his position as ‘Editor-at-Large’ for the Australian to uphold. In this sense, the march of the insider is also the silencing of the genuine critic.

Has the advance finally begun to slow? Kelly’s column in the Weekend Australian was recently moved from the front page of the ‘Inquirer’ to a less prominent spot inside the main newspaper. At sixty-two, the grand old man of political commentary is perhaps beginning to make way for a younger generation. But his influence will undoubtedly endure. Kelly’s career provides inspiration to many of the younger brigade,31 and a book contract has become an essential career move for any aspiring political commentator. In consequence, the method is likely to outlive the man. Kelly’s fatal flaws – his pomposity, intoxication with the powerful, lack of detachment and undisguised self-regard – have become models of journalistic and historical practice. Even if the champion tires, as he surely will, another ‘insider’ seems certain to emerge from the ranks, to take up the standard, and to march boldly on.

Thanks to Murray Goot, Nathan Hollier, Stuart Macintyre and Jeff Sparrow for comments on an earlier draft.

  1. Insiders transcript, 20 September 2009, See also, which criticises the ABC for its free advertising of The March.
  2. Both quoted on MUP’s online catalogue. See, accessed 10 December 2009.
  3. George Megalogenis, ‘Authors of their own destiny’, Australian Literary Review, 7 October 2009, pp. 6–7.
  4. Robert Manne, ‘The Insider: Paul Kelly’s The March of Patriots’, Monthly, 50, 2009; Guy Rundle, ‘The long, plodding March of Patriots’, Crikey, 6 November 2009,, accessed 23 December 2009. See also Clinton Fernandes, ‘Paul Kelly’s patriots’, Dissent, 31, 2009/10, pp. 4–9. Fernandes takes issue with the interpretation of the East Timor crisis presented in The March, commenting perceptively that ‘Kelly is more stenographer than journalist’ (p. 9).
  5. ‘Launch of “The March of Patriots” by Paul Kelly’, speech transcript, 7 September 2009,, accessed 4 December 2009.
  6. John Gunther, The Story of the Inside Books: A Fragment of Autobiography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1962, pp. 1–2.
  7. For a full survey, see Jackie Dickenson, ‘Journalists Writing Australian Political History’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 56, March 2010.
  8. John Gunther, The Story of the Inside Books, op. cit., p. 27.
  9. Paul Kelly, The March of Patriots: The Struggle for Modern Australia, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2009.
  10. Gunther, The Story of the Inside Books, op. cit., p. 42.
  11. John Gunther, Inside Europe, rev. edn, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1936.
  12. These terms are all chapter titles.
  13. This is evident in the accounts of Hayden and Hawke.
  14. ‘Two Men’ is the title of the introductory section beginning on p. 7. ‘Personality Rivals’ is the subsection beginning on p. 14.
  15. Gunther, The Story of the Inside Books, op. cit., p. 9.
  16. Gunther, p. 28.
  17. Alan Reid, The Power Struggle, Tartan Press, St Ives, 1972, p. 171.
  18. See untitled prefatory note in The Unmaking of Gough.
  19. Gunther, The< Story of the Inside Books, op. cit., p. 10.
  20. Gunther, p. 23.
  21. Reid, The Gorton Experiment, Shakespeare Head, Sydney, 1971, p. 243.
  22. For example, Billy Snedden’s popularity was based on his entertainment of journalists and other Liberals; senior Treasury figures leaked material to Malcolm Fraser; there was a growing contempt for Jim Cairns among political insiders throughout 1975. See Kelly, The Unmaking of Gough, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1976, pp. 44, 151, 183.
  23. See ‘Preface’ in Kelly, The Hawke Ascendancy, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1984.
  24. This distinction is mobilised in Kelly’s discussion of Fraser’s desire for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 1974. See The Unmaking of Gough, op. cit., p. 58.
  25. Paul Kelly, ‘A Longer View’ (a response to Robert Manne’s review), Kelly’s employers have marketed his work as ‘the inside story’ from at least 1984. See Sydney Morning Herald, 3 March 1984, pp. 1, 33–4.
  26. Kelly praised Keating’s ‘stunning economic performance’, Weekend Australian, 12 April 1986, p. 1.
  27. Kelly supported the republican side in the 1999 referendum, see Australian, 2, 20 October and 6 November 1999. For the contrast between his views on engagement with Asia and those of the Howard government, see Australian, 6, 8 March, 26 April and 10 May 2000.
  28. For Kelly on the benefits of an open market, see Australian, 2, 19 February and 17 June 2000. For Kelly’s support for the Howard government’s approach to other issues, see Australian, 11, 14–15 and 18 September 2002.
  29. For a recent criticism, see Stuart Macintyre, ‘Whatever Happened to Deakinite Liberalism?’, in Paul Strangio and Nick Dyrenfurth (eds), Confusion: The Making of the Australian Two-Party System, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2009, especially pp. 233–6.
  30. Interview with Foong Ling Kong, 27 May 2009; interview with Paul Kelly, 19 May 2009.
  31. Interview with Annabel Crabb, 18 May 2009. See also How the demise of traditional journalism will affect this reverence for Kelly is not yet clear.

Sean Scalmer and Jackie Dickenson

More by Sean Scalmer and Jackie Dickenson ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays