Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Guardian oped on excessive CEO pay

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Friday’s Guardian Australia oped on excessive CEO pay what we can do about it.



New role as Executive Director of the John Curtin Research Centre

Monday, February 13th, 2017

I’m delighted to have recently taken up the role as the inaugural Executive Director of a new social democratic thinktank, the John Curtin Research Centre. We kicked off our work with the official launch of the centre on Australia Day Eve with special guest speaker, the Hon. Bill Shorten, Leader of the federal Labor Opposition. Our chairman is the distinguished Labor activist, medical doctor and businessman Dr Henry Pinksier. We have a busy few months of activity ahead of us. Please share and give us a like on our official facebook page:


Or follow us on twitter


and Instagram:


Our webpage is at:



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Recent The Monthly pieces

Monday, February 13th, 2017

On Malcolm Turnbull’s recent tirade in parliament.


The dangers of ‘bubble’ thinking in Canberra.


The meaning of President Trump for Australian politics.



Guardian Australia opinion piece

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Today’s Guardian Australia piece on Paul Keating’s legacy.

Daily Telegraph opinion piece on UNESCO’s Jerusalem resolution

Monday, November 7th, 2016

My Daily Telegraph oped on UNESCO’s recent Jerusalem resolution (not available online)


Back writing again

Monday, November 7th, 2016

After an enjoyable period working in politics again I’ve returned to writing for myself.


First up is a piece for my resumed online column for The Monthly:


‘In search of Turnbull’s mojo’

The Age silly season opeds

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

A trio of opeds published by The Age in and around the silly season. Happy new year!


The captain’s calls continue under Turnbull (1 January 2016).

We’ve fallen hard for personality politics (22 December 2015).

PM’s colleagues prove to be the chink in the armour (3 December 2015).

Inaugural John Cain Foundation Annual Lecture

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

I was honoured to deliver the inaugural John Cain Foundation annual lecture ‘The Power of Ideas: rediscovering Australian Labor’s lost traditions’ at The University of Melbourne on 11 November. Some higher quality pics and the full text of the address to come …


Catching up

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Various The Monthly blogs


Back to the people (27/11/2015)

Lest we forget (11/11/2015)

Malcolm the Messiah (28/10/2015)

A man for some seasons (23/9/2015)

Don’t write off Tony Abbott yet (13/8/2015) (Yes, even I get things wrong occasionally ;))

The Prime Minister of the Opposition (2/6/2015)


The Saturday Paper feature piece


Shorten Selling (19/9/2015)


The Age oped


Jeremy Corbyn’s nostalgia not the way to take British Labour forward (25/8/2015)


ABC Radio National broadcast of ‘Mateship and Crime’ live from the Brisbane Writers Festival (5/9/2015)




Bendigo Writers Festival

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

I am a guest of the Bendigo Writers Festival taking place this weekend.


On Saturday I join journalist Latika Bourke and author Paul Daley in conversation with Anthony Radford to discuss  how politics is stranger than fiction. The next morning you can find me alongside Paul and academic Judy Brett to talk about the uses of mateship, riffing off my book of the same subject.


See you there!





The Monthly blog

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I started writing a fortnightly blog for The Monthly, one of Australia’s best publications, in late January. Here are the nine pieces published thus far from Labor’s travails to the Bali executions, tax policy and Ricky Muir.

Loser takes all’ 17 June 2015.

‘The prime minister of the Opposition’, 2 June 2015.

‘Labor’s British Blues’, 19 May 2015.

‘Capital Punishment is wrong’, 30 April 2015.

‘Taxing Times’, 9 April 2015.

‘Even Laborites get the blues’, 26 March 2015,

‘Why rev-head Ricky Muir is really a Labor man’, 6 March 2015,

‘Labor must go boldly’, 19 February 2015.

‘Dead Generations’, 28 January 2015.

Boycotting Israel is Wrong launch, review, publicity and newspaper extracts

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

My new book with Philip Mendes was released in May. Haaretz, the ABC and Israel Hayom each ran extracts of ‘Boycotting Israel is Wrong: The progressive path to peace between Palestinians and Israelis’ found here, here and here. Our ABC piece stirred two ‘Sydney staff for BDS’ activists to action. We demolished their arguments here.

Our book was thoughtfully reviewed by Dennis Altman for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald here.

A debate on ABC Radio National took place between myself and pro-BDS academic Peter Slezak.

Finally the book was successfully launched in Melbourne by the Hon. David Feeney, Shadow Minister for Justice, and in Sydney by Australian Workers Union national secretary Scott McDine.



Saturday Paper feature on ‘Labor’s Right Mess’

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

My April feature piece for The Saturday Paper on why Labor needs the party’s Right faction firing again.

Why the silence of the Left on anti-Semitism

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

My opinion piece in The Age on the reemergence of European anti-Semitism and silence of aspects of the Left.

Guardian Australia opinion pieces

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I had a couple of Guardian Australia opinion pieces published earlier this year, one in February on the ‘matehoods‘ hoopla and another in March based upon my address to the Australian Republican Movement.


Australian Fabians pamphlet

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I’m in the latest Australian Fabians pamphlet along with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and former ALP National President and now Senator for NSW Jenny McAllister writing on the topic of Labor’s socialist objective.


Australia Day Eve launch of Mateship: A Very Australian History

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

My book was launched in Melbourne by the Hon. Bill Shorten, Leader of the federal Opposition on Australia Day Eve. The Sunday Age published an opinion piece from the book on the day which can be found here. Bill’s excellent speech and the extensive coverage which followed his re-ignition of the republic debate can be found here, here, here and here. The Chifley Research Centre’s Michael Cooney did a sterling job as MC – see his contribution here.

Reviews of Mateship: A Very Australian History

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

I’ve been rather slack updating this site but here are a number of mostly excellent review of my book:

The Australian: ‘[a] provocative and insightful book’ and ‘the first significant exploration of what the author terms “our secular egalitarian creed” since Russel Ward’s path-breaking 1958 work The Australian Legend.’

The Conversation (14.2.2015): ‘a thoughtful and thorough contribution to the literature on Australian identity.’

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (22.2.2015): ‘An interesting take on Australian history.’ [no link]

Virgin Australia’s Voyeur Summer magazine: ‘Dyrenfurth turns the history of mateship upside-down as he explores the history of this Aussie ideal’. [no link]

The Age/Sydney Morning Herald: ‘[A] detailed, nuanced and readable study, which charts the evolution of the concept in all its complexity’.

Brisbane’s Courier-Mail: ‘Laudably [Dyrenfurth’s] history and study of mateship is not partisan. His view is balanced and he acknowledges that neither side of politics has exclusive rights to mateship … [it] belongs as equally to the right as to the left and for everyone in between’. [no link]

Cargo Art magazine: ‘Nick Dyrenfurth has provided a valuable account of mateship, a concept which curiously dominates how Australians think about themselves but which can be very divisive and contested. The centenary of Anzac will no doubt be dominated by the idea of mateship.’

Canberra Times: ‘Dyrenfurth’s scholarly but ultimately fond analysis of …”Australia’s pre-eminent national ideal” never tells us what to think … But we do to his credit, come away from the natty little book with a clearer notion of how and why mateship concepts and words came to arrive here and to be kept so busy in our national conversation.’

Cooma/Monaro Express: ”This is a fascinating history, not just of mateship, but of Australia.’ [no link]


Mateship book interviews

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

I recently appeared on Channel Nine’s Weekend Today talking about ‘Mateship: A Very Australian History’ as well as on ABC Radio National’s Summer Breakfast show (my interview begins at the one hour 41 minute mark).

Mateship book feature (Courier-Mail)

Monday, January 12th, 2015

A feature on my mateship book appeared in the Courier-Mail:


Courier Mail, The (Brisbane, Australia) – Saturday, January 10, 2015
Author: Phil Brown

A new book explores our national secular religion, where mates come first, writes Phil Brown

If Australia has a national creed it is most probably mateship according to author Nick Dyrenfurth .

This Melbourne academic explores the history and influence of our “secular religion” in his book Mateship.

The book has a telling subtitle – A Very Australian History – and Dyrenfurth says that what he has written could only really be written here.

“But the strange thing is that nobody had actually written a book about the subject,” Dyrenfurth says.

“The subject has been covered to a certain degree in other books, including by Russell Ward in his 1958 book The Australian Legend, which is a classic, but no-one has focused just on mateship.” There is certainly a book in it though as Dyrenfurth , an adjunct research fellow in the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, found out.

He is the author of a number of books on Australian politics and history including A Little History of the Australian Labor Party (co-written with Frank Bongiorno) and Heroes and Villains: the rise and fall of the early Australian Labor Party.

If you sense a leaning to the left here Dyrenfurth is happy to concede that he has been “a Labor mate”.

“I have worked for the Labor Party and was a speech writer and adviser to Bill Shorten in 2013 and Bill will officially launch the book later this month,” Dyrenfurth admits.

That established it must be said that rather laudably his history and study of mateship is not partisan. His view is balanced and he acknow-ledges that neither side of politics has exclusive rights to mateship despite shearers, gold miners and unionists claiming the creed as their own as our nation formed.

Nope, mateship belongs as equally to the right as to the left and for everyone in between according to the author.

Dyrenfurth explores this dichotomy by offering us case studies of two influential prime ministers – one Labor, One Liberal – both of whom valued and emphasised mateship.

“My earliest political memories are of Bob Hawke, the Labor mate who landed in the Lodge,” Dyrenfurth says. “I was fascinated by his blend of intellectualism and larrikinism.

“Then as a young man coming to some semblance of political maturity in the mid to late 1990s I was fascinated by John Howard.

“These politicians were ideologically opposed in many ways but each was drawn to this idea of mateship as a secular creed.” Howard intrigued Dyrenfurth . On the one hand he was seeking to destroy the Maritime Union of Australia, an organisation of mates, while on the other hand he was proposing that mateship be enshrined in the constitutional preamble. That never happened but the fact that a Prime Minister wanted it to says a lot about mateship, “the eight letter word that so dominates our history”.

Dyrenfurth points out that there are plenty of books devoted to Australia’s national identity but that no-one has honed in on something that is so essential.

As he points out in his introduction, mateship is part of our creation story. Mateship, that legendary bond between Australian men, became something of a rival genesis story. Dyrenfurth goes on to write that … For better or worse, mateship is part of our cultural DNA. In a nation supposedly hostile towards spiritual or ideological dogma, mateship has acted the part of a de facto religion. Symbolically speaking, mateship is said to embody our secular egalitarian predilections.

In The Australian Legend, Russel Ward argued that the origins of Australia’s national identity were to be found in the anti-authoritarian and egalitarian values of convict society.

These traits were also exhibited by the labouring men who roamed Australia’s outback during the mid-19th Century.

Later writers such as Henry Lawson and others enshrined values of mateship in literature and Dyrenfurth explores the wider cultural context of mateship as well as the history.

The term mateship is coloured by feminist responses and Dyrenfurth points out that while both sides of politics agree about the value of mateship, there is plenty of argument about that.

“Through exploring the idea of mateship what I am really trying to do is tell a story that is uniquely Australian,” Dyrenfurth says. He is not without a sense of humour either and cites “that fabulous, funny song about mateship from Keating! The Musical” as something worth reflecting.

Meanwhile he points out that the word mate comes in handy at times. “It’s a very useful word when you are at a party and you have forgotten someone’s name.”

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