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  Issue No 81 Official Organ of LaborNet 08 December 2000  

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Review

Mauled in the Bear Pit

Review by Mark Morey

Vengeance may be sweet but it is always made better when you are able to write a book about yourself that also provides the opportunity to dump a bucket load on those who undertook your removal.

 
 

And let me say, no one is spared.

This book is an entertaining read about the life of our recently depart state opposition leader, the Hon. Peter Collins. The autobiography provides an insight into Collins' life from growing up in rural New South Wales, his time at Waverly College and Sydney University, his career as an ABC journalist and of course his political career. It is true that Liberals don't write a great number of books, probably because they are so boring, but The Bear Pit is successful in opening the door into some of the machinations of the NSW Liberal Party over the last 30 years.

The book deals with Collin's experiences in the Greiner and Fahey governments, including the ICAC report into Greiner and the Metherell Affair and the politics behind this process, his time as both a Minister and shadow Minister and his love of the arts. Collins outlines his perception of the events that lead to his removal as Opposition Leader and the manoeuvrings that went on to orchestrate his demise as leader of the party. Whilst writing about hiss experience, Collins' provides numerous anecdotes to illustrate the commentary on his life. Such as where he describes the period just prior to being dumped as opposition leader and each of his shadow ministers are coming to see him one at a time to inform him that he no longer has their support.

Jillian Skinner's approach at least showed some individuality. 'Hugs! Hugs! When my children have something go wrong that's what I do', she said her arms outstretched. 'Hugs, yes. Votes, No. What can I say? It's all over. It's no use fighting. Polls. Business.' 'Your support in the Party Room, Jillian?' 'No.'

Thankfully, not a lot of time is spent outlining the ups and downs of his relationship with his second wife. The only thing that detracted from the book for me was that there were times when I felt Collins could have provided more detail on the cut and thrust behind some of his more interesting political experiences in both government and opposition. This lack of detail at different points is the only criticism I have of the book.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has more than a passing interest in politics, especially New South Wales politics. The book provides many anecdotes and goes some way to providing an understanding of the workings of the New South Wales Liberal Party and one man's journey as a politician from the Liberal side of politics.

4 out of 5

The Bear Pit - A Life In Politics By Peter Collins MP (Allen & Unwin)


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*   Issue 81 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Back to Work
After a stretch of unemployment following the 1996 election, former Keating Minister Robert Tickner is now helping others find work.
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*  Media: Reality Check
Aiden White, head of the international journalists' union, argues that online journalism presents a new set of challenges for organising.
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*  Economics: In the Same Boat
In an unprecedented move, a coalition of industry, community and trade union groups have joined forces to address long-trerm unemployment.
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*  International: Nepalese Hotel Workers Ask for Support
Hotel workers in the small Himalayan nation of Nepal have finally decided to vent their anger and call a general strike for Monday - over a 21 year old dispute.
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*  Unions: Speaking in Tongues
Labor Council's Mark Morey outlines the successful campaign by local government workers for a community language allowance.
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*  History: Fighting Words
The anti-conscription campaign of 1914-18 tore the ALP apart; but this was not the first time the labour movement took a militantly anti-war stance.
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*  Politics: A New Socialism
In an extract from his new book, political economist Frank Stilwell argues the need for a new radicalism to counter the Third Way
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*  Satire: Roy Slaven on the Rampage
John Doyle's history of the ABC stretches back to a 1958 evening in Lithgow on which he was "scared shitless" by Blackboard on Mr Squiggle.
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*  Review: Mauled in the Bear Pit
Vengeance may be sweet but it is always made better when you are able to write a book about yourself that also provides the opportunity to dump a bucket load on those who undertook your removal.
*

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Letters to the editor
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