Book Review: Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics

Dominic Kelly takes a closer look at the growing prominence of the hard right in Australia.

Named after Bob Hawke’s infamous “political troglodytes and economic lunatics” diss of the HR Nicholls Society, Dominic Kelly’s debut book clinically charts how a small clique of powerful figures pushed Australia to the right.

Like an Australian Dark Money (Jane Mayer’s investigation into the Koch brothers’ influence on the American right), Kelly shows how a select few mainstreamed fringe right thinking. This wasn’t done through dumping millions into pet causes like the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends but through cheap single-issue advocacy groups.

With help from friendly politicians, media outlets and think tanks, these ‘new right’ groups were able to target industrial relations (HR Nicholls Society), promote Australian federalism (Samuel Griffith Society), challenge Indigenous land rights (Bennelong Society) and push climate change denial (Lavoisier Group). Meticulously researched and featuring interviews with key new right figures, Kelly’s book shows how far a democratic country can drift thanks to the work of so few.

Author: Dominic Kelly
Publisher: La Trobe University Press

Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics (La Trobe University Press)

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