History – Written by the winners or just those with friends in the RIGHT place?

PMLA2014WinnersThe old saying of history being written by the winners has added another notch to its belt with the PM’s Top History Award being awarded to Mr Colebatch for ‘Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged our troops in WWII‘.

Mr Hal Colebatch, prominent right-wing extremist, and the publishing house of Quadrant have managed to put together what is no more than a hysterical rant based on lies, hearsay and suppositions.  What is worse is due to bias on the judging panel for these awards this book took out the top prize for history in the Prime Ministers Literary Awards.  As Mike Carlton explained:

The chief judge of the non-fiction and history awards for this year was Gerard Henderson, ringmaster of the right-wing Sydney Institute, long-time culture impresario and an Abbott confidante. His right-hand man on the judging panel was a former Quadrant editor and Liberal MP, Peter Coleman.


It may serve a purpose after all.

The reviews it received came from those equally enamored of the far right who seem to feel that belonging to a trade union somehow ranks with dabbling in the dark arts.  Miranda Devine, right-wing commentator, defended the decision and accused Mike Carlton of sour grapes due to his book also being listed for the prize.

I don’t know Mr Carlton but my opinion of the book is based around the fact that it’s only possible reason for existing is either as a tool for the Right or toilet paper during a survival situation. Either could be true but Ms Devine response on Twitter today to the furor over this particular prize and her review of this book seems to point in the direction of the political.  She stated that:

As the Abbott government begins to take on union power and corruption, a timely new book reveals the union movement’s role in one of the most shameful periods of Australian history,” she said. [courtesy of the SMH]

fact-fictionSo much of it is obviously fabricated and lacking in provable sources either of the oral or documented kind, by which I mean providing the ability to be confirmed by a third-party.  It’s referencing wouldn’t pass muster grades wise for a history essay by a high school senior let alone anything more complex and is a disgrace to historical scholarship.

If it were a work of fiction I would still rate it low on the scale due to the laborious manner in which it was written, overflowing with clichés and lacking any originality or even point as it never really came to one.  It’s more an anit-union treatise or manifesto of the kind found in bunkers after a police raid on the homes of conspiracy theorists.  Sadly as a possible story line for a fictitious book it could have quite easily made a good story if it weren’t so badly written.

However it is meant to be a work of non-fiction, a historical text describing Australia’s history with trade unions. Its obvious bias makes any attempt to claim historical objectivity of the topic impossible and while one does not have to be objective always to report it is usually best to be accurate.  Ironically what is so ridiculous is there are plenty of times when unions have ‘gone over to the dark side’ in their work, just as governments and businesses employed equally dark methods to retaliate.

kudoslogo_smYet here we have a ridiculous collection of tales that no rational person would believe. Now that does not make such things untrue – we’ve all heard terrible stories about historical events that shocked us BUT the difference here is there is no proof that withstands even a cursory glance or fact check.

It smacks of intellectual laziness to not utilize what is there and even worse it is contemptuous of the readers to treat them with so little respect by attempting to force feed fictitious mantra rather than expend the energy to actually research your topic.  So congratulations Mr Colebatch in proving once again that to succeed in this country at this time is more to do with who you know than any actual talent you may have.


13 thoughts on “History – Written by the winners or just those with friends in the RIGHT place?

  1. Liked your post though I question many portions of it. I maintain the publication process, the link below your primary logic, controls the total parameter and therefore result. I would suggest the tone of your article will definitely appeal to people who share your ideology, but if you’re trying to open minds I’d suggest more substance and less emotion. Many of the things you say are very true, however many will discount it because of presentation.


    • Thanks – and I know it was showing a lot of bias on my part but it was meant to. I wasn’t trying to inform, it was more a case of having a personal rant about the issue, although in the case of presentation I will stand with the concept of giving the book the respect it deserved, which was little to none.

      My writing style has always been personal, as if I’m actually talking to a friend. I can do the scholastic or literary approach quite well but emotive description mixed with snark is my comfort zone I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmm.So the Abbott Gov’t has little helpers, eh? Sounds like they are getting desparate – using fiction to try and make their stand stronger is a pretty last resort tactic. It takes only a short time to show the discrepancies in the book.and once it is debunked, then it acts as a point against rather than for the gov’t.

    They may be trying to create a new history but that is a pretty lame effort and can only harm them in the long run.

    Keep up the good work Jenni – the more public the efforts of those who want change, the more likely that change will occur.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fact or Fiction…Fiction is one of the best form where we can communicate the fact without fear and favor…It is always not easy to state the fact or the truth in it’s original form, many may not like it and many may oppose at the outset and it is difficult to make them understand, as they are not in a position to listen and learn…we enjoy reading fictions as we needn’t have to be judgmental on the facts…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, fiction are also a reflect of our society…subtly and sub-consciously we think and act shades of reality through fictions…and we have freedom to play with the reality and truth is a manner without affecting the sentiments of many…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The subtitle of the Award winning book is pathetic. How could it win such a prominent award? Who would not be ashamed to grant it merit?

    You might recall that one novel that I’m writing was in part motivated by reading historians declaring that my ancestors failed: they failed to establish metropolitan areas, and remained on their farms, farming instead of populating the land. I was disgusted that the few historians at the time got to write the few history books at the time, using their own definitions for success.

    I hope that this “non-fiction” book raises more questions than answers, especially by its promoters.


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