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Gadfly 168

By Robert Macklin


In December 2018 I published a column supporting a suggested ‘women’s caucus’ to include female MPs and Senators from all parties. It came to nothing. Today, I suspect, the sentiments are even more germane. Here is an update:

The women’s ‘taskforce within the Morrison Government is a good one; but it’s only the beginning. The time has come to face the simple fact that the Prime Minister and the men in his Cabinet are uniquely unsuited to the business of politics. It is an occupation much more suited to women.

Men are prey to fragile egos and testosterone pomposities. They should not be trusted to govern nations. They can’t even govern their own flailing vanities. What’s worse, they conflate their own fortunes with those of their country: ‘Après moi, le deluge.’

They have built our political systems in their own psychological image – as competitions with all prizes to the winner. They have divided themselves into teams with ‘captain’s calls’ and parliamentary gamesmanship with little room for sensible compromise. Worst of all, they have accepted the Clausewitz principle that ‘war is politics by other means’.

In truth, war is the abandonment of politics for a descent into savagery.

But the male politicians speak of ‘glory’ and ‘heroism’ and ‘patriotism’ to disguise the horror of war’s barbarity, its terrible inhumanity.

Consider the twentieth century. The early decades were dominated by what men call the ‘great’ war. Yet it was an appalling bloodbath over the German pique that others were enslaving more ‘colonies’ than they. And 60,000 young Australians were slaughtered. When the Allies declared ‘victory’, their leading men so scorned and humiliated the defeated Germany that they laid the foundation for the next ‘glorious’ war that slaughtered no fewer than 70 million men, women and children. And the maps they drew in the Middle East set the scene for the ‘terrorism’ that infects the world today.

Does anyone really believe that women would have caused such horrors if they had been the guiding hands on the helms of state?

But enough of history. We need look no further than the two biggest countries on the globe today where China in is in the thrall of a throw-back to its imperial past when the dynastic emperor demanded unquestioning allegiance from ‘his’ people and tribute from ‘his’ neighbours. And America?

Well…Donald J Trump plans a comeback.

Here at home we have watched in horrified fascination as male plotting has given us six unelected changes of prime minister in 10 years, including one woman urged on by the ambitious, ruthless men around her. And truth be told, hers was the only prime ministership that made a difference – its Royal Commission exposed the horror of twisted men preying on the children in their charge.

If only the women’s taskforce could loosen the fierce grip that their male colleagues have on the levers of power, it could start a movement that brings the sanity of compromise and the greater good into the world. However, I fear that pigs will fly before that happens…lipstick notwithstanding.

NB: In similar vein, when we finally get around to welcoming our Aboriginal compatriots into the polity via Constitutional recognition, Makarrata and Treaty, let’s be fair dinkum about it and mandate an Aboriginal as our Head of State. And if it’s merit-based, the obvious first up would be the truly distinguished Gudanji-Arrernte woman, Pat Turner.


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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