Well, that’s one way to see. This supposedly exclusive story in today’s Murdoch Australian outlines the reading habits of Australia’s new Attorney General. And yes, in his collection is the book I co-edited last year with Jeff Sparrow, Left Turn. I dearly hope George Brandis is taking the ideas in there to heart, including backing boycotts, sanctions and divestment against Israel:
When … Attorney-General George Brandis travelled to the NSW central coast to attend the wedding of a former radio presenter at taxpayers’ expense, he had plenty of reading material to keep him occupied.
An analysis of the senator’s use of a “publications entitlement” shows he has amassed an extensive book, newspaper and periodicals collection reflecting an eclectic mix of taste – all paid for with taxpayer funds costing almost $13,000 over four years.
Whether it is books of cartoons, volumes of law reports, biographies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, political novels, scholarly accounts of ancient history or George Orwell’s essays, Senator Brandis has billed the cost to taxpayers.
The senator, who this week repaid $1683.06 in taxpayer-funded entitlements he had claimed to attend former 2UE broadcaster Michael Smith’s wedding, did not even put his own hand into his pocket to purchase former prime minister John Howard’s memoir Lazarus Rising or Tony Abbott’s book Battlelines. The taxpayers put those books on Senator Brandis’s bookshelf.
According to parliamentary guidelines, senators are entitled to $4948 a year to meet “the costs of purchasing publications” provided they are related to “parliamentary, electorate or official business”. The guidelines indicate that newspapers and magazines are the types of publications that are expected to be claimed back.
Political blogger Stephen Murray, who has analysed Senator Brandis’s book purchases, says the Attorney-General has spent $12,808.35 on publications between 2009 and last year. More than half of this amount was spent on books. This has been verified by The Australian.
Senator Brandis’s book collection includes Christopher Hitchens’s memoir Hitch-22, Simon Schama’s Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill, and My Mother and David Plouffe’s The Audacity to Win, about Barack Obama’s run to the presidency. There are books on World War II, the Spanish Civil War, MI6, Byzantinism, modern China and Russia, the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis.
Some biographies bought include HW Brands’s biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Traitor to His Class, US vice-president Dick Cheney’s memoir In My Time and former British prime minister Edward Heath’s autobiography. Also bought were books on Pitt the Elder, Pitt the Younger, the popes, the Tudors, Stalin and Trotsky.
Australian political tomes include Barrie Cassidy’s The Party Thieves, Maxine McKew’s Tales from the Political Trenches, Peter van Onselen’s Liberals and Power and David Marr’s controversial Quarterly Essay on Tony Abbott, Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott.
A thesaurus and a dictionary were bought along with The Art of Great Speeches and Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon on the politicisation of literature. Other purchases include John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and The Subjection of Women, Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and a book of radical left essays, Left Turn. The Best Australian Political Cartoons was bought in 2011 as well as several novels on politics.
Senator Brandis is also a regular purchaser of magazines, including The Spectator, Time, Quadrant, Prospect and The Economist.