Ever since news of the Campbell Newman book project broke on the front page of The Courier Mail on February 24, so many people from right across Australia have asked me what the book will be about.
The intent of the book has remained the same since Campbell and I first spoke about it shortly after the January 31 state election, but that intent was somewhat lost in the quick little media frenzy that followed that initial announcement.When the University of Queensland Press controversy started getting attention a couple of days after the initial news of the project, and then REALLY started getting attention over the ensuing 48 hours, the details were put to one side and mostly lost, as is often the case when a news item starts going crazy.
When I got an email from a lady in Tasmania who read about the story in her local newspaper down there – she emailed me to say she’d like to contribute her fond memories of Campbell’s father Kevin during his time as a Federal Minister – I knew the issue had gone much crazier than I thought!
Campbell will be at the centre of the story. I’ll be using his decade in politics as both Lord Mayor of Brisbane and State Premier of Queensland, plus the experiences and stories of his parents who both were both Federal Ministers stretching back to the Fraser Government.
Through the lens of Campbell’s insights, ups and downs, achievements and follies, I’ll survey broader issues facing the Australian political landscape.
Those issues will include the extreme difficulty of making difficult decisions and introducing reform, the psyche of the electorate, the parlous state of public budgets and the electoral poison of fiscal repair, the involvement and influence of social and mainstream media and the volatility of voters in this day and age.
The book will ask questions and (hopefully) provide insight from Campbell’s experience about the almost impossible challenges for any government to get spending, waste and inefficiencies under control. It will look at how difficult it is to fix budgets, debts and deficits.
Given the “one term” nature of politics these days, whether it was the LNP in Queensland or the Napthine Government in Victoria, the book will aim to explore just how governments can make hard decisions, and ponder whether those hard decisions will be avoided just so parties can stay in power and avoid the wrath of voters.
And when you Consider how much pressure and strife the Abbott Government is facing as it attempts to fix the fiscal mistakes of past governments, the broader issues to be explored in the book are timely and nationally significant.
I certainly believe Campbell’s extraordinary political story provides a unique way to explore these broader issues facing our nation and the way we are governed.
So that’s a bit of an outline on what the book proposes to be about and it’s what we’ve been in discussions with publishers about.
Given Campbell Newman’s experience as Queensland Premier and his family’s history – which stretches across a remarkable four decades of Australian politics at the highest levels – we intend to provide an entertaining, truthful and insightful look at Campbell’s time in politics, and how that might relate in the broader context of governance and politics in contemporary Australia.
Hope that clears up a few things for all those people asking and wondering!
Watch this space for behind-the-scenes updates on the book project as it develops.