Quadrant magazine, the self-described “leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia” has published a book titled The Howard Era.
The book is co-edited by Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle, University of Queensland academic David Martin Jones, and the Australian Right’s Man Of A Thousand Causes, Ray Evans. The contributors are Tony Abbott, James Allan, Chris Berg, Ian Callinan, Sinclair Davidson, Bob Day, Kevin Donnelly, Michael Evans, Ray Evans, David Flint, Gary Johns, David Martin Jones, John Kunkel, Barry Maley, Gregory Melleuish, Alan Oxley, Ken Phillips, Andrew Shearer, John Stone, Tom Switzer and Michael Wesley.
As you will see, this book is the collective effort of 22 men and no women.
Quadrant, of course, has form on this front. The December edition carries 23 articles and reviews whose authors include 22 men and one woman. In the Letters pages, eight letters are by men and one (by far the shortest) is by a woman. The two main themes of the letters are also revealing – primal screaming about legal abortion leading to a “eugenic resurgence” and complaints that the Pope is a dangerous lefty.
One of the articles is titled “Celebrating Quadrant“, and begins:
To mark our 500th issue in October, Quadrant held a celebration dinner at Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour on Wednesday, October 16, attended by 180 guests. Several people spoke to mark the occasion
The several people were (drumroll) John Howard, Keith Windschuttle, Peter Coleman, Les Murray and a certain gentleman named Tony Abbott.
Now I don’t know which of Ray Evans’ significant others are female writers and intellectuals. However, Keith Windschuttle’s wife Elizabeth Elliott is an accomplished author and educator and could doubtless have contributed something to the collection and/or suggested names of other accomplished female authors if asked. As for David Martin Jones, I once worked in the same academic unit at UQ as Professor Jones and can attest that it is full of accomplished and well-connected female scholars in political science and international relations who could doubtless have contributed to the book if asked. Indeed, Tony Abbott might have drawn the project to the notice of his colleagues Julie Bishop, Fiona Nash, Peta Credlin and others, any one of whom could no doubt have produced an insightful and informed perspective on aspects of John Howard’s life and times.
And why are there no contributions by Judith Sloan, Julie Novak, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Angela Shanahan, Bettina Arndt, Grace Collier or even Quadrant‘s own Philippa Martyr?
I suspect that this is one of those books that one doesn’t need to read in order to know what’s in it. The nearest hypothetical left-wing equivalent I can imagine would be an anthology on the life and times of Chairman Mao written and edited by a collective of former BLF officials – which, needless to say, would have much the same gender balance.
Howard himself is quoted in the book as saying “a conservative is someone who does not think he is morally superior to his grandfather”. One has to ask whether an Australian male conservative is someone who thinks he could have come into being without his grandmother.