Political Partners

Niki Savva’s new book, The Road to Ruin, has just been released and is all over the news this morning. It deals with the close relationship between the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his chief of staff Peta Credlin. ‘Uniquely close’ is the term used – but was it? PM Chifley’s relationship with his personal assistant was pretty close too, while Elizabeth Chifley was sidelined in Bathurst.

Historians are Past Caring

In June 1951, Ben Chifley, the former Labor Prime Minister and now Leader of the Opposition, had a massive heart attack in his rooms at the Hotel Kurrajong.  The Hotel Kurrajong was essentially an up-market boarding house, built at a time when Canberra was still a country town without many places for its floating population of politicians and public servants to stay.  Chifley was moved to Canberra Hospital, but died later that night.  He was 65.

L. F. (Fin) Crisp was the professor of political science at Canberra University College.  He was working on The Australian Federal Labour Party, 1901-1951 (1955), and was fascinated by the story of Chifley, self-educated and rising from extreme poverty in the 1890s to become an engine driver, then a union leader, and finally Prime Minister.  Crisp was already gathering materials for Ben Chifley: a biography (1961).

Crisp knew that a lot of papers dealing…

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4 responses to “Political Partners

  1. I am tired of these breast-heaving revelatory books about politicians, published so hastily after events that we have barely had time to draw breath after their publication in the tabloid trash. (I refer to the ABC, which since generational change at all levels is now just as tabloid as the commercials).
    I think Mrs Chifley was right to have her bonfire. Any relationship that Chifley had outside the marriage is of interest only to the prurient, and good on her for frustrating them. It was an assertion of *her* values and a repudiation of the idea that being married to someone important meant she had to subsume them.
    The current interest in Credlin is just a variation on the well-worn biblical trope Blame a Woman, as if Abbott were not fool enough to make mistakes all by himself.

  2. Hi Lisa – I hear you! And the feminist in me sympathizes, but the historian in me always feels sad when personal papers are destroyed though – Cassandra Austen may have had the best possible reasons for burning Jane’s letters too, but I’m still sad that they are lost.

  3. Best wishes on International Women’s Day.

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