Booming insight to WA's political history focus of book by Peter Kennedy

Former Western Australian Premiers, Richard Court AC and Geoff Gallop AC,
launch the book Tales from Boomtown authored by Peter Kennedy (centre).

01 May 2014

Veteran political journalist and Adjunct Professor in The University of Notre Dame Australia's School of Arts & Sciences on the Fremantle Campus, Peter Kennedy, explores the tales, triumphs and tribulations of the past 11 Western Australian Premiers in his first book, Tales from Boomtown.

Launched at Aquinas College on Wednesday 23 April 2014, the book recounts the most prominent issues in WA's political past including the jailing of two Premiers and a Deputy Premier; the election of WA's first female Premier, Dr Carmen Lawrence; and the WA Inc saga involving former Premier Brian Burke. The book was launched by two other former Premiers – Richard Court and Geoff Gallop.

In his book, the first of its kind in WA, Mr Kennedy shares stories and personal recollections from his 40 year history as a leading political journalist in WA and New South Wales.

Interviews with former WA Premiers, including Mr Burke and Dr Lawrence, as well as unique insight into WA political life by Commonwealth politicians such as the former Prime Ministers John Howard and Paul Keating, provide readers with insightful commentary on the State's post World War Two development, concentrating on the years since the iron ore boom of the 1960s.

"The book includes the WA Inc Royal Commission, which ran for almost 18 months in 1991-92, and was one of the most significant political issues in WA's history. The hearings produced sensational disclosures, resulting in the first premiers to be jailed. Its impact continued to reverberate in WA political circles for many years," Mr Kennedy said.

Currently sharing his wisdom with the next crop of journalists at Notre Dame's Fremantle Campus, Mr Kennedy said "conversational" interviews with politicians in a relaxed environment tended to yield more useful insights and helped to develop improved rapport between the journalist and the politicians.

"The challenge for any journalist is to be as objective as possible. Reporters must candidly assess the news value of the material they have and present it on that basis," Mr Kennedy said.

"For example, in 1980 I covered a long speech by Bob Hawke in Sydney on the Labor Party and its plans for business. There wasn't much in it that was new, but when he reached for a glass of water he sighed that 'being on the wagon was pretty boring' – meaning he had given up drinking.

"For a noted drinker like Mr Hawke who was moving from his ACTU leadership role to Federal Parliament, this was big news, and became a page one exclusive for my paper, The Sydney Morning Herald.

"I remain committed to the journalism profession and the continued investigation of the political landscape here in WA and nationally. I hope Tales from Boomtown can serve as a tangible reminder of WA's political history and be a positive influence on the need for both reporters to continue to hold politicians to account, and for MPs to always act in the best interests of the State."

Tales from Boomtown can be purchased from UWA Publishing and at all good book stores.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;