Colebatching: a previous joint winner on the PM’s award

Peter Stanley, Honest History President and previous joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for History, has written on The Drum about the work of the most recent joint winner, Hal GP Colebatch (Australia’s Secret War).

Colebatch’s Australia’s Secret War offers [says Stanley] a dubious version of the industrial history of Australia in the Second World War. It is based on an inadequate range of sources. It fails to question the evidence of oral history. It presents a view of unions that is determinedly antagonistic and unsympathetic, and in failing to explain why “unions” and their members might “sabotage” their nation’s war effort is deeply unsatisfactory.

Honest History’s note on Colebatch’s book is here; our collection on the other joint winner, Broken Nation, by Joan Beaumont, is here. Our earlier note on the awards is here and remarks by Martin Shaw in Guardian Australia are here. A 1997-98 Parliamentary Library note on wharf disputes during wartime is here. Quadrant Online‘s roundup is here, including Colebatch’s acceptance speech. Peter Stanley responds to Colebatch. More from Colebatch. Mike Seccombe writes in The Saturday Paper. Jane Sullivan in The Age. Peter Rose in Australian Book Review. Peter Cochrane, a former joint writer of the history prize, in Fairfax Media. Cochrane says of the history awards:

We desperately need a better balance between our military and democratic past in the national memory, but we’ll never get that from the drum-beaters who know the political mileage to be extracted from the slouch hat.

Further response from Colebatch, 6 January 2015. And another for Anzac week.

11 December 2014 and updated

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