By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Politics with Purpose: Occasional observations on public and private life
By Lindsay Tanner (Scribe, $32.95, softcover, 351 pages)
When Lindsay Tanner retired from Federal Parliament in 2010, he was emphatic about not writing a memoir. However, his collection of speeches and articles highlight that what matters in “politics is ideas not personal dramas”.
Candid about the politics that he’s interested in, the former Labor minister Lindsay Tanner says the battle of ideas is at an “all-time low in Australian public life”.
“With Australian political debate drowning in vacuous narcissism, I have no wish to impose my inevitably self-serving recollection of mostly forgettable events on the reading public,” he states. “Nor do I wish to gratuitously undermine leading figures in the party that has given me so much.”
Instead, through this compilation he strives to improve the situation a little by discussing a range of major subjects from Labor’s problems and prospects, the relationships that bind to globalisation and its discontents, the need for compassion and facing up to important values.
He remains loyal to Labor, but espouses incisive criticisms of its performance.
There’s a mix of lengthy and solemn pieces with concise and carefree ones. Whatever the subject—reforms, political, economic or personal—his range of interests and insights is remarkable.
Covering a period of more than 20 years, included are his first and last speeches to parliament, a number of major public lectures, many newspaper opinion pieces, several articles written specially for this book.
Lucid writing coupled with sagacity, Politics with Purpose sheds some lighton Tanner’s broader outlook on lifecycle.
Evident are Tanner’s careful thinking and empathy.
He points out that no particular individual can be blamed for “modern Labor’s malaise”. Everyone is under the sway of “politics without purpose”—which then is “pointless”.
Edition 405, 15 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.