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Book review: 'still not sorry' by Andrew Bolt

By Darlene Taylor - posted Thursday, 23 February 2006

At a forum at the Woodford Folk Festival last December, Dr Martin Hirst revealed himself to be a strident critic of the Iraq War.

Not content to simply oppose the conflict, Hirst declared himself to be on the side of the insurgents. I was reminded of the gruff revolutionary, who managed to upset a few of the pacifists present, when perusing Andrew Bolt’s still not sorry. After all, the book contains many references to Hirst’s ideological comrades such as John Pilger.

still not sorry is a collection of some of Bolt’s Herald Sun articles from the past seven years or so. The volume is arranged thematically, with topics including the environment, Islam, the “stolen generation”, the grants industry and the unweaned arts community possessing sections of their own.


The premise that this nation is usually united, bar the divide “elites” have constructed between themselves and ordinary people, dominates the book, as does the notion that these “elites” (actors and activists and so on) haven’t learned a thing from “failures” like the Republican referendum and the electoral successes of John Howard.

A radical like Hirst epitomises this reality with his declaration that it’d be sad if our service personnel died in Iraq but … well, it wasn’t hard to deduce the rest. How does anyone think they’re going to win over the general public voicing such opinions?

In his introduction to “Their Australia” Bolt argues, “The Australia I know is, on the whole, happy, hard-working, easy-going, kind, practical and ready for a laugh. But the one I read about, or see in films, is usually racist, dull, cruel, shrunken in spirit and grim.”

The chapter about Mark Latham follows an interesting trajectory, beginning with Bolt’s predictions in 2003 that the notorious politician’s leadership was destined to be a catastrophe, to the release of The Latham Diaries and the former leader’s unpleasant appearance on Enough Rope. All the vitriol, erratic behaviour, admirable appeal to aspirationals and diminishing attractiveness to the electorate experienced during Latham’s career is discussed.

With hindsight, only the most virulent hater of the prime minister would fail to agree with Bolt’s thesis that “Latham lost because he was Latham”.

Many readers undoubtedly will examine first the pieces that have made Bolt one of this country’s most (in)famous columnists such as “Rabbit-Proof Myths”: a refutation of Phillip Noyce’s assertion that his award-winning movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence, is more than just a politicised-fictionalised account of the lives of three Indigenous girls who were taken by law-enforcement authorities to the Moore River Native Settlement in 1931.


Although challenging a filmmaker who seems intent on reinforcing the victim status of Aborigines through the use of questionable history, is worthy, it was the more personal items contained in “Ceremonies and Celebrations” that first attracted my attention.

Bolt’s reflections on marriage and children are enjoyable if idealistic, with the underlying message about the importance of community and duty lending them depth. When he documents the moment a father touches a photograph of his late son and utters “bless him”, it evokes beautifully the need the bereaved have to connect with the departed.

His writings on grief rank among the best of the compilation, while the notorious commentary on female irrationality and affirmative action in the ALP, “Labor Spellbound”, is fun and deliciously contentious, but makes connections that are a tad loose.

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About the Author

Darlene Taylor writes for the popular group blog, Larvatus Prodeo.

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