Broinowski, Alison: Incorrigible Optimist review: Gareth Evans’ account of his public life

Alison Broinowski

Incorrigible Optimist review: Gareth Evans’ account of his public life‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 2018

This book was launched by Bob Hawke and has been widely reviewed. (See especially Norman Abjorensen in the Canberra Times and Jock Given in Inside Story.) This latest (brief) review is from Alison Broinowski, Honest History’s vice president, who says the book is cheerful, truthful, organised around important themes, rueful, and at times equivocal. Evans remains the pragmatist and seeker after compromise – perhaps that was why he was once known as ‘Gareth Gareth’.

Evans is good at self-deprecation (and probably says so). I recall and respect Evans as the second-best Minister I encountered as a public servant. For a time, Evans ran the super-ministry of Transport and Communications, which showed more prospect of being a force for good than does Home Affairs, the latest entrant in that column.

My best Minister was Michael Duffy, Evans’ predecessor on the Communications side. Duffy always gave the impression there were things he didn’t know and was willing to be told, except perhaps regarding the security of Cabinet documents: receiving a draft submission late on a Friday, and having already locked his safe, he shoved the submission under the cushion of his chair, muttering ‘C-class container’. C for cushion.

David Stephens

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