Gadfly 160

By Robert Macklin


The imbroglio in Parliament House will probably end badly for the Morrison Government, but it could change for the better the way we all approach the difficult terrain of intimacy between the sexes. And in the bigger picture it’s part of a revolution in Australian society over the last 20 years.

So, let’s take stock of the astonishing changes that have already occurred.

Today women are everywhere in the media, be it radio, television or print, news and current affairs or entertainment generally. Just think Laura Tingle, Carrie Bickmore, Wendy Harmer, Leigh Sales, Ros Childs, Julia Baird, Ellen Fanning, Jane Norman and the world’s best news presenter, Juanita Phillips…on and on it goes…

They adorn the world of science, from the extraordinary Veena Sahajwalla turning waste into recyclable building products to astrophysicist Tamara Davis guiding us to Mars, to any number of marine biologists on the Great Barrier Reef or their equivalents in the bush or the labs.

In sport they get great billing in cricket, rugby, Aussie Rules, soccer, netball and all imaginable athletics events. Still a lot to be done in business, but already the female profile is rich with entrepreneurs like Janine Allis (Boost Juice) and Naomi Simson (Red Balloon).

In education they have long dominated the school-teaching profession and now have added a greater dimension to universities throughout the land. In medicine we need go no further than the very impressive women fronting the response to the Covid pandemic. And two of the biggest States have women as Premiers.

Everywhere you look, Australia has benefited from the rise of that previously unappreciated half of the population taking its proper place in society with all the respect they so richly deserve. And there’s more to come as we fill in the empty boxes.

Some are painfully obvious for while Federal Labor can boast such luminaries as Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher in a Caucus almost evenly split, the Libs are lagging. But just watch this space – the Parliamentary imbroglio means they will fall over themselves to remedy it in the next election.

So, what about our men? We have a perfect illustration of the potential problem from the hostile invasion of Aboriginal Australia. The British ethnocide tore down the fabric of a society in which men pretty much ran the show. And for at least a generation it left them devastated - utterly bereft of self-esteem, a kind of PTSD of the soul. It took a long time – and much heartache – to find the way back. And while it might have given Aboriginal women the opportunity we see now in their powerful and growing presence, it was part of their struggle too.

Australian men of all stripes and colour today will need time to adjust to the new reality. The danger is that elements will combine in a kind of rearguard action of violent retaliation; others will hit the booze; still others simply drop their bundle and opt out of all responsibility - Americans call them the ‘Deadbeat Dads’.

But I think we’re better than that. They’ll survive like the First Australians did in a world that seemed to be racing down the straight towards some invisible finishing post. And I can’t help shouting, ‘Go Australia, you good thing!’


robert@robertmacklin.com













Robert Macklin has carved out a unique place among Australia’s literary biographers and historians. His Dark Paradise swept aside the curtain of euphemism to expose the horror of colonial sadism on the penal colony of Norfolk Island. His monumental history of Australia’s Special Forces – Warrior Elite – is required reading in the fields of Military Security and Intelligence. His best-selling biography, SAS Sniper revealed as never before the battles against Islamist fanatics. And these are just a few of the highlights among his 28 respected and popular works of fiction and non-fiction.

He has won numerous literary prizes including the 2009 Blake Dawson award for business literature with Peter Thompson for their classic THE BIG FELLA – the Rise and Rise of BHP Billiton. His Kevin Rudd: The Biography was shortlisted for the ACT Book of the Year; and he has won three Critics Circle Awards for his military biographies and histories. He has completed a lecture tour of three Chinese universities based on his works and is presently writing a history of Australia/China relations over the last 200 years.

Queensland born, he has been a journalist at the highest level, a confidant and biographer of two Australian prime ministers; a documentary filmmaker in 32 countries of Asia and the Pacific; and is also political columnist and commentator in the nation’s capital. He presently divides his writing time on fiction, non-fiction and screenplays between Canberra and Tuross Head on the NSW South Coast. https://robertmacklin.com/

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