X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Australian Notes

Australian Notes

8 December 2012

9:00 AM

8 December 2012

9:00 AM

So we sat on the fence in Australia’s first vote in the UN since winning a seat on the Security Council. We abstained. To have been on the same side as Israel against the Palestinians, according to Senator Carr and Gareth Evans, would have put us ‘on the wrong side of history’. (Evans was the foreign minister best remembered for supporting Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor.) What stand will we take if, in coming weeks and in the absence of US action, Israel is compelled to ‘take out’ Iran’s nuclear bomb-making facilities before Iran is in a position to obliterate Israel and the Israelis? As the British writer David Pryce-Jones put it at a Quadrant dinner last week, if someone says he is coming to kill you, you do not open the door and proffer your throat. But what options does Israel have? It has waged cyberwar and assassinated Iranian bomber scientists. This has slowed, not stopped, the Bomb. Any Israeli attack means a 1,000-mile flight, partly through Russian anti-aircraft fire, and would have to be surgically accurate. It would set the Shia world ablaze. (Sunnis’ reaction will be mixed.) By far the best alternative is democratic regime change in Teheran and abandoning the Bomb. But when in 2009 the Iranians rose against President Ahmadinejad, the Obama administration did nothing to help. If the Israelis make a pre-emptive strike, Australia will probably not abstain again but vote against Israel. So is the Iranian Bomb ‘the right side of history’?

During his recent tour David Pryce-Jones promoted his latest book Treason of the Heart, about British traitors from Tom Paine to Kim Philby. Speaking at the Sydney Institute, he referred to the list of British Nazi agents of influence which General Walter Schellenberg had prepared for use during the planned German occupation of Britain in 1940. But whenever a historian seeks to consult it, he is told it is held in the Cabinet Office, never to be released. Maybe it is just as well. But it means the history of those years will never be comprehensively written. The same applies to the list of Soviet agents of influence eagerly waiting to collaborate in the Soviet occupation of Britain. Similar lists exist of Australian would-be collaborators with Japan, the Soviet Union and Mao’s China. But scholars may never see them.

[Alt-Text]


‘You never retire!’ declared the great painter John Olsen when he opened the annual exhibition of paintings by students of the Julian Ashton Art School. He was referring to artists, not to critics or judges. He told the inside story of how back in 1956 he and other students from the school forced a change to the judging of the Archibald Prize. The ever-popular William Dargie, who had won the prize seven times, won it for the eighth time in 1956. The students prepared placards with slogans like ‘Don’t hang Dargie, hang the Trustees’ and ‘How Much is that Dargie in the Window?’ Olsen charged through the State Gallery chanting ‘Let Art In!’ and ‘Three Cheers for Picasso!’ When the police arrived, the students bolted across the Domain. But the demo, as Olsen recalls it, led to changes in the appointment and retirement of judges. It was almost 50 years before Olsen himself won the prize — with his self-portrait in 2005: ‘It’s still a chook raffle,’ he said.

Literary prizes are also often a chook raffle. Take the Waverley Library Award for Literature ($20,000). Jamie Grant, poet, critic and chief judge, put it well in his popular annual report on the state of Australian letters. It’s easy to weed out mediocre books, he said, but when it comes to settling the shortlist, let alone the winner: ‘At heart we know all good books are equal.’ Some of the country’s most acclaimed writers did not make it to the Waverley shortlist this year. Those who did included Fiona Harari’s novel-like account of the Marcus Einfeld case and the extraordinary Teresa Brennan, A Tragedy in Two Acts; Robin de Crespigny’s The People Smuggler, about the terrible adventures of an Iraqi refugee (from Saddam Hussein’s Abu Ghraib jail) who smuggled his family to Indonesia and finally to Ashmore Reef (in the Darwin trial, the judge found his character so decent and his story so moving that he imposed a very light sentence); Kate Grenville’s novel Sarah Thornhill, about her ancestors on the Hawkesbury as told by an illiterate girl; Adrian Hyland’s Kinglake-350, about the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009; and Danielle Wood’s Housewife Superstar, about a sad, obsessive, larger-than-life Tasmanian home-maker. The winner was Jane Gleeson-White’s Double Entry, her compelling history of accountancy from the medieval Merchants of Venice to Enron in America and ABC Learning in Australia.

The NSW Premier’s Literary and History Awards were also announced last weekend at a grand dinner in the Mitchell Library. The judges made awards in 16 categories as well as a Premier’s Special Award to Clive James, ‘a great son of Sydney’. (Pity the Premier could not be there.) I missed the usual Guest Speaker — not the soporific lefties, but the likes of Peter Porter, David Malouf or Pierre Ryckmans. And is it a great idea to have as master of ceremonies a television comedian who appears to have little interest in literature or literary audiences? Waverley usually has the ebullient broadcaster and writer Richard Glover.

Writing from Sydney about the Cairo crisis for New York’s National Review, David Pryce-Jones contrasts it with the Canberra crisis over the slush fund. Australian conservatives tell him the Prime Minister cannot survive. The Left tell him there’s nothing to it. ‘Happy the nation,’ he writes, ‘with that sort of worry!’

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. click here.


Show comments
Close