Leading article Australia


7 April 2018

9:00 AM

7 April 2018

9:00 AM

According to his biographer Geoffrey Serle, in the 1920s Sir John Monash was ‘broadly accepted, not just in Victoria, as the greatest living Australian’. Monash is still, rightly, lauded as our greatest military mind. Less well known is his role in building the energy infrastructure of Victoria, including its coal-fired power plants.

Given his extraordinary career, and his famed ability to think both strategically and independently, it is safe to assume Monash would be less than impressed by the current state of energy policy in his beloved Australia.

The cleverness of the Monash Forum choosing his name as their ‘brand’ for their backbench coal-lobbying group is self-evident. But it is not only Monash’s engineering and other civilian skills that the name evokes. It is, quite simply, the fact that if you want to win a war, who better to draw your inspiration from?

And Australia does indeed find itself in a war. A war on stupidity and greed, courtesy of both major parties’ climate change policies. The chronic idiocy of progressive Australia’s arrogant and absurd belief that driving up our energy prices to make them the most expensive in the world will have some kind of osmotic or supernatural effect on reducing global carbon emissions (which even Chief Scientist Alan Finkel admits they cannot) would surely have Sir John spinning in his grave. But the real insult is the greed of those speculators – many of them with links to progressive politics – who are forcing the poor, the elderly and retirees to finance these renewables fantasies and emissions targets to the tune of billions of dollars. This scam takes us from the absurd to the obscene.

The ultimate irony is that were the Coalition government to copy Donald Trump and withdraw from the harmful but pointless Paris Agreement in order to single-mindedly pursue cheap energy, it would win the next election in a 2013-style landslide. Clearly, when it comes to strategic thinking and a determination to fight to win, Malcolm is no Monash.

2017 Thawley Essay Prize winners

It is with great delight that we announce the winner and the runner-up of the 2017 Spectator Austraia Thawley Essay Prize. Now in its fourth year, the prize was established by Sam Thawley in order to foster new talent in Australian essay writing. Michael Thawley, the former head of PM&C under Tony Abbott, along with former Prime Minister John Howard and the editor of The Spectator Australia are the three judges. On top of an extremely generous $5,000 prize for the winner, both the winner and the runner-up will be published in the magazine over the next few months and will also get to enjoy a slap-up dinner with the judges.

Each year the essay has a set theme; this year it was, as the entry guidelines explained, ‘The great Australian speech that never was’ – write or tell us about a great Australian speech that never happened, or should have happened, or could have happened – or might still happen yet!

Clearly the theme was a popular and challenging one. We received a record number of entries this year (which may explain why it took us a few extra weeks to read them all!) and the standard was exceptional. In the end, the judges looked for a mixture of imagination, wit, a strong and persuasive argument and a novel idea.

Although we were unaware of the ages of the essayists as we judged the work, it is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of this year’s Thawley Essay Prize is Tom Grein, a 23 year-old student. This is the second time that a student has won the prize, suggesting that perhaps not all Australian schools have yet sunk below the educational level of Kazakhstan.

The winning essay is ‘Observations from the Grave’, by Tom Grein, with the runner-up being ‘A Change of Wind’, by Thomas Fitz-Simon.

Tom Grein is studying political science at the University of Sydney, and is currently on an exchange program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He plans to undertake an honours year in 2019. His main areas of interest include political philosophy, civilisational politics and Jewish history. Thomas Fitz-Simon has worked as an electrical engineer and enjoys travelling, bush walking, art and reading.

Our heartiest congratulations to both writers, and our thanks to all those who entered the essay prize. You made it a very difficult choice! And our gratitude to Michael Thawley, Sam Thawley and John Howard.

The theme for the 2018 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize will be announced mid-year.

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