The infamous culture wars sank to a sorry new low last night. At the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, handed out in Melbourne, the prize for history went to a right-wing rant against Australian trade unions, an ideological tract that includes errors, hearsay, exaggeration and in some cases, sheer fiction and fantasy. History it is not.
The book is Australia’s Secret War, subtitled How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II, by Western Australian writer Hal G.P. Colebatch and published — no surprise here — by the right-wing Quadrant magazine. It was a joint winner of the history award with Broken Nation, Professor Joan Beaumont’s splendid book about Australia in World War I. Prize: $40,000 each.