For more than two decades, from mid-1987 to the end of 2008, no one had greater access to our national parliament and its politicians than Alan Ramsey. Informed, insightful and unafraid, his Wednesday and Saturday columns in The Sydney Morning Herald were always essential reading for many thousands of Australians.
Here are 150 of his unflinching views of key political events of that era, among them: the often turbulent Hawke/Keating years, the 1990 recession 'we had to have', Labor's stunning dumping of Bob Hawke in December 1991 after he had led his party to four successive election victories in eight years, the Howard Government's slavish subservience to the Bush White House, the insidious channeling of Hansonism, John Howard's 'never ever' GST, the invasion of Iraq, the disintegration of the Democrats as a political force after the 1997 defection to Labor of its leader, Cheryl Kernot, the manipulation by both sides of politics of the 2001 children overboard incident, and the scandal of the Governor-General who ultimately resigned after the cover-up by the Anglican Church in Queensland of serial child abuse in church schools.
Yet Ramsey's keen eye often observed with affection the values and behavior of others in national life, and he was as ready to give credit as he was to lay into the humbug, pomposity and deceit of political, personal and sectional self-interest.
Some 'matters of opinion' of Alan Ramsey
'There is no one now, and no one coming along, who can write like this.'
'I'll miss his profound dislike of hypocrisy and his instinct for plain speaking.'
'A lion of a journalist in every way.'
'In an arena of journalism where sameness is a vice, Ramsey is entirely his own man.'
'For years his column has been an essential, often enjoyable, frequently uncomfortable, part of my Saturday morning regime.'
'He always added to my Saturday morning enjoyment.'
'A must read.'
'Grumpy old bastard. Seriously unique.'
Cover photograph: Andrew Taylor
Cover design: Blue Cork
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