By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Tales from the Political Trenches
By Maxine McKew (Melbourne University Press, $29.99, softcover, 250 pages)
Award-winning journalist Maxine McKew went from “underdog to giant slayer” overnight, but her brief time in Australian politics left an indelible mark.
She made history when she walked into the arena and ousted sitting Prime Minister John Howard from the seat of Bennelong in 2007. Three years later, in a drastic turnaround, she was voted out in Labor’s disastrous election.
It was an insensitive lesson in the notions of the Australian voter.
McKew’s political memoir discusses a number of parliamentary Labor Party happenings, the mining tax chaos, damaging opinion polls and explains the coup to unseat Kevin Rudd as Labor leader.
Some extracts are not sympathetic to Prime Minister Julia Gillard or Treasurer Wayne Swan.
This insider’s account speaks of the thrill, the “sheer chutzpah of what turned out to be one of the most audacious of political campaigns”.
She wanted to build on the future and redefine the ‘light on the hill’ for a new generation of activities for the new government—to be creative, challenging and positive. Instead, while it lasted, she learned some lessons about the Australian Parliament which she describes as “intoxicating, joyous, humbling, but also brutish, backstabbing and marked by betrayals and dishonesty”.
Tales from the Political Trenches focuses on matters more malicious than touching, but multi-layered through all the pages are the different guises for McKew: a little girl facing life without her mother; the journalist with a rewarding career; the one who toppled an incumbent PM in his own seat; an MP who was thrust into despair after her electoral defeat; and now an older, judicious woman, living a renewed life in Melbourne, eight months short of her 60th birthday.
Crucial lessons validate the fact that “there are no certainties” in life.
Edition 400, 11 March 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.