The 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.
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]
So 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.
Yet 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.