Bob Ellis

4 Apr

Bob Ellis has died after a valiant struggle with liver cancer.

His talent was enormous and wide-ranging. He delighted, entertained, alarmed, offended, confronted, infuriated, and spoke truth to all kinds of power. I will miss his work so very much.

Vale Bob.

Bob Ellis

57 Responses to “Bob Ellis”

  1. Galavanting Gran April 4, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    As will I. He had such a distinctive voice – in both senses of the word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn April 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

      I met Bob in the family court in SA on 25 August 2003 the day the full court led by Alistair Nicholson ordered the release of the Bakhtiyari kids from Baxter prison.

      We danced in circles when Julian Burnside and Jeremy Moore got off the lift with the news and continued to help and support ”our” family even after their brutal and illegal deportation to Pakistan on Australian government generated fake papers.

      He helped us raise $40,000 in 2 days to keep the family alive after they sent word from Kabul that they were all in one tiny room, sick, hungry and exhausted – he and others saved their lives and he mourned them till the day he died, as I will until the day I die.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. paul walter April 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    I knew of him beforehand, but what catapulted him into my imagination was a 7.30 Report interview, or whatever it was called back then, after Howard tossed Keating in 1995, where he began to float his Äbbott and Costello thesis. The 95 defeat was shattering, and Bob brightened up a dreadful night, but the Establishment revenged itself on him via a slapsuit type effort in the courts.

    I absolutely accept Marilyn’s anecdote, that ‘s exactly how I would read him also.

    Yes, Jennifer- one with fire in his belly who “spoke truth to…power”.

    Ive loved his blog, which has been full of ideas and observation on the game of life and its expression through politics and the arts at different levels. I will miss the confected rudeness, outrageous satire and his joyful stoushed with various contributors who tried to knock off Aunt Sally. I really am sad, I think a genuinely unique person has left us and I for one feel the worse for it, and his defacto crucifixion via cancer has been cruel to watch and a fearful test for him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

      Yes, PW. All of that.


    • helvityni April 5, 2016 at 6:45 am #

      paul, I mostly agreed with his views, and liked some of the contributors there, but I often wished that the blog were a little bit better moderated. The banned came back in a new disguise and the abuse continued…

      And so it went, perhaps it all made us tougher, after all I stayed till the bitter end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter April 5, 2016 at 7:14 am #

        There were only a few scumbags. Bob Ellis some times wound people up a little and there were stoushes, but only a few genuinely malicious types over time. Besides, generally people had some idea of of the subjects we talked over and trolls sometimes got rolled hard by other contributors.

        Some of the stuff was fiery and the stoushes could drag on for days, even weeks, but as long as folk had some relation in their posts to a real topic I didn’t much care, apart from observing how others reacted during stoushes.

        It has been a great blog and I feel sad thinking of its demise.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 1:01 am #

    I came to know Bob Ellis through interactions on The Drum Unleashed, when it really was a useful forum (ie before about 2011) and then or thenabouts on his Table Talk blog. I was there the day it started.

    I hadn’t actually met him in person until about 2014 – but we were so comfortable with each other, like old friends meeting rather than for the first time.

    We had our disagreements, especially early on but quickly found a modus vivendi.

    Perhaps he influenced me; perhaps I influenced him. He thought Abbott was wonderful in 2009 to 2012; my deep abiding dislike and detestation of Abbott and all he stands for may have rubbed off eventually.

    Vale Bob Ellis – a National Treasure still.

    Liked by 1 person

    • helvityni April 5, 2016 at 6:34 am #

      I too met Bob on Unleashed, liked what and how he wrote. Loved his mostly very astute observations of Oz politics. He was also funny, at times naughty, and almost nice, I’ll miss him.

      May I add that you and I were amongst the few who were never banned,
      my badge of honour.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 6:44 am #

        I was never banned either, Helvi. Mind you, I rarely left a comment. 🙂
        I’ve only read one negative reaction to him after his death, and that was from Bernard Keane, who has not forgiven Ellis for something he wrote about Gillard, I gather.


        • doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 8:37 am #

          Guinevere, do you have any suggestions as to where Bob’s Table Talkers can go to relieve their political itch? We’ll soon get withdrawal symptoms!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 8:48 am #

            DQ, Bob was a unique voice, anyone else will be a disappointment to his fans.
            I can’t think of any blog that would satisfy. He spent so much time engaging with his readers, and that’s not easy to do.
            Maybe one of you could set up a blog in his honour, and everyone can contribute?


            • doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

              It’s very sad. He was unique, I know, and I really didn’t bother commenting anywhere else but there and here.

              I’ll await developments.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn April 6, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

          He called out Gillard for what she is, a racist, and the racist Bernard Keane got upset and said we luvvies had to suck up the torture and abuse of refugees ”because the public want it'”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • paul walter April 6, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

            He did indeed, although I think not so much for racism as cowardice, as to refugees and other issues to do with foreign affairs, out of fear of offending our so-called off shore “friends”and their media buddies and a badly misinformed and slyly fired-up public here.

            It is interesting to recall that we had all of four PMs over roughly a thirty year period up till 2007, averaging out about nine years per PM. Since then we have had five PM’s in nine years.

            To me, it is about a loss of autonomy and disempowerment for us ( parallels the refuge experience is a very mild way) with resultant uncertainty, as it becomes more and more obvious that todays politics is about shopfronts and retail politics and management of decline rather than a national project aspiring to something better, for both us an dthe world in general.

            Perhaps the next question to ask is, was Gillard an anomaly for the accumulation of her flaws (she did NO good, on ANYTHING?), or an example or representation of a political type manufactured by a failing system, represented by all our so-called leaders over the last generation.


    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 6:41 am #

      That he found Abbott wonderful gives some indication of Bob’s complexity!
      Ellis’s ability to admit to his “mistakes” and see them as material for his work was a mark of his intelligence and character, for mine. I got very angry with his attitudes at times, but how uninteresting to always agree, and uninteresting is not a word that was ever applicable to Bob Ellis.


      • helvityni April 5, 2016 at 6:56 am #

        Yes Jennifer I was pleased that he was able to admit to his mistakes, not very men can…
        I was surprised that he was a bit of an Abbott fan, I never could stand the man. I think he also softened his views of Gillard.

        Maybe some older Aussie men are not happy to have female PMs…?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim Fitz April 5, 2016 at 7:11 am #

    And this morning, following a NewsPoll, I almost automatically clicked Table Talk for Bob’s insights. Alas, no more. Thanks for your short article, Jennifer, allowing some of us to express our sadness at his passing. And yes, he did get cranky, and I for one, did tolerate it instead of challenging him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • doug quixote April 5, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      Cranky! And he did not suffer fools gladly.

      Disagree with him if you would, but be prepared to back up your disagreement with cogent arguments.

      I think at times he played devil’s advocate, or at least was deliberately controversial to excite counter arguments from the regulars, and even from the trolls who wandered in.

      DQ sighs . . .

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2016 at 8:52 am #

      Jim, I wondered what he would write about the alleged Kevin Andrews leadership tilt?!


      • Jim Fitz April 6, 2016 at 7:39 am #

        Ha Ha, Jennifer. We can delight in contemplating his words. There would be an historical account of Andrew’s right-wing foibles enlightening us all with insights about another confident-incompetent widening the socio-economic gap as much as possible… and on and on. We would all,smugly, enjoy Bob’s information knowing that we know a little more. There is still some fantastic stuff on Table Talk and it is worth reading.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fiona April 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    I had and have great respect for Bob Ellis – such an amazing body of work.

    However, I totally disagree with his assessments of Julia Gillard and tny abbtt (delib.).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 10, 2016 at 6:31 am #

      Yes, and I have objections to some of his attitudes to women as well but that doesn’t damn all of his work or his prodigious talent, as you say, Fiona.

      Liked by 1 person

      • helvityni April 10, 2016 at 8:43 am #

        I so wish that Gillard were still our PM….

        Many Aussie bloke, especially the older ones, still don’t see or treat women as their equals. That was one of the first weird things I noticed as a new-comer to Oz, it still lingers on. Sad.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn April 13, 2016 at 2:03 am #

          I don’t, she was a monster. Under her disability pensions were so degraded that even being nearly dead is now no reason to get it. My brother is crippled, has diabetes, an aortic aneurism, high blood pressure, all sorts of diseases related to a life time of grog and is 60 years old.

          He does not qualify due to the depravity of Gillard and Macklin and their evil changes in the name of ”cracking down on frauds’. All the refugees still with no assessments done here after 3 years and living in limbo is down to her racist no advantage test in case proper migrants like her parents get pissed off (that is the statement she made in 2010 that had Bob calling her a racist), the racist intervention she made even worse than under Howard has seen an epidemic in youth aboriginal suicides and tens of thousands of single parents lost massive incomes and ended up in their damn cars.

          Please stop pretending Gillard was any good to minority groups, she was a monster.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson April 13, 2016 at 7:43 am #

            She wasn’t a monster but she certainly was problematic in some of her attitudes.


          • helvityni April 13, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

            Marilyn, you want a monster, I give you Morriscum.

            I would not like to meet Michaelia in a lonely lane late at nigh either.

            I’m not brown or black, but even so I prefer to keep at a safe distance from Dutton.

            I’ll have Gillard any time, none of us are perfect, why do you expect perfection from her.

            Liked by 1 person

            • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

              The middle comment sums it up. human too human, like the rest of them..its actually the system.

              Liked by 1 person

            • m November 12, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

              You would … as for you hero, glad he’s dead


              • paul walter November 13, 2017 at 1:10 am #

                Wish you were…


                • paul walter November 13, 2017 at 1:18 am #

                  By the way, how about having the guts to put your name up next time.


  6. paul walter April 10, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Let’s see if Marilyn turns up. She generally has a fair bit to say about the ex PM. I’ll reiterate previous fence-sitting and suggest that Gillard is neither a villain nor heroine; “human, too human”, on some issues, gormless.

    On the other hand, nearly three years of tory government has demonstrated relatively speaking, what a better government that was on most issues in comparison to the desolate, bankrupt Coalition.

    I rather liked his attitude toward women- refused to be dominated or bowderlerised by the more aggressive and self-opinionated of them when they tried to hector or bullshit him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter April 10, 2016 at 8:49 am #

      Sorry, Bob Ellis, that is.

      Liked by 1 person

    • helvityni April 10, 2016 at 9:44 am #

      Paul, there were some very strident ones over there, I was almost stoned when I said something slightly critical about Hong Gong sexual abuse case…we women are not helpless, why would a Liberal civil servant not know how handle one drunken Aussie ‘sailor’….


      • paul walter April 10, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

        Just a few… never quite figured why some seemed to resent you also, you always tried to be even-handed. Perhaps THAT was the flaw.

        There was a committee of sorts, if your comments involved female public figures who had slipped up, these could only be seen through the lens of “misogyny” and you’d be bucketed, snubbed, blanked or railled at regardless of the relevance of your comments.

        Some of them were bright, but you could never get objectivity on gender issues.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

          Are you talking about Table Talk?


          • paul walter April 10, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

            Well, it is in reply to Helvi’s comment. Did you never get an urge to don the raiments of a meat puppet and turn up for some of the stoushes?

            The worst were reminiscint of Larvatus Prodeo at its worst, and ALL participants, including myself, probably deserved a clout round the scone with a rolled up newspaper for it.

            Btw, I observe you have failed to “like” my most recent postings, which I assume to be an oversight.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 11, 2016 at 7:14 am #

              PW, it is indeed an oversight. I’m writing a book: this takes my time and attention away from Sheep and you. I’m going to go back to your posts and like them.


              • paul walter April 11, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

                Good girl.

                In the meantime, it appears from a glance through TT last night that one person previously banned, perhaps unfairly but an at times obnoxious poster, with inside help from a confratere, breached the final thread starter there to launch a personal intrusion(?) on Ellis at a time when his family asked certain people out of respect to avoid that, If I have read the comments from the posters Mal Kukura and Dali correctly.

                But I should not have cavilled at the lack of acknowledgement, since you likely adore ALL my posts, even the spam and a tick is a mere formality.

                Best of luck with your book.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Jennifer Wilson April 12, 2016 at 10:36 am #

                  I miss you terribly when you disappear, PW.


                  • paul walter April 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

                    Just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I am not there.

                    As for Bob Ellis, he was kind to me provided I picked up the cues and went along with him a little. People who got in strife there were folk who didn’t quite twig to his weird humour and how he operated.

                    Last week was black for several reasons and I got rid of the button for TT last night, feeling sad, then came back later anyway.

                    They were, just about, ALL good people and I realise I will miss them, so back I went for yet more reading.

                    You know, if you are into a big project, I hope you can let us know what it is about. I admire your feist, despite a lousy run and would die a dogs death to bring such a person to any grief. If you are about less, I get it now.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Jennifer Wilson April 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

                      I am into a big project and will talk about it when I’m further along. Saying too much feels like jeopardising it atm.
                      I wish you’d write a piece for the blog one day PW.


                  • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

           a headache?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Jennifer Wilson April 14, 2016 at 6:40 am #

                      No I never miss my headaches I’m euphoric when a headache goes away


    • Jennifer Wilson April 10, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      The Gillard government is looking damn fine in retrospect.


      • doug quixote April 10, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

        Just one example is the disaster that is the Coalition NBN. Australia is installing a broadband network that is second rate and obsolescent already.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 1:57 am #

        Jennifer, your idea for piece from is out of the blue. Am stunned and also honoured but have to recall that I am not a trained first tier mind like yours.

        Are you sure you want to risk a good blog with an inferior product?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 13, 2016 at 7:39 am #

          PW That’s a trick question. 🙂
          Send a post to the email address & if it works I’ll publish it.
          Anyone else interested?
          I’ve always wanted Sheep to be a blog with guest writers.


          • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 8:03 am #

            No tricks this time.

            Fiona, one of your posters who comments here occasionally, is actually that rarest of rare individuals who could match you for brains, heart and accomplishments.

            Years ago she moderated a fairly solid blog, Webdiary, and invited me to post a thread starter. I ended up writing a post on the Bill Henson adolescent pics event that had commenced with an attack from Miranda Devine.

            It did succeed in getting a good flow of postings, but as happens with these sorts of issues, the discussion was polarised and increasingly fractious, with a sharp row at the end and erstwhile friends going their seperate ways.

            I say this because I do have in mind a current event involving media making headlines, that says something of where this place goes wrong on both ethnic issues and media poduction and presentation of such things….I could challenge my own objectivity and my computer skills for linking and so forth are now a long distant memory, but its your blog.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 14, 2016 at 6:36 am #

              You don’t have to be objective I hardly ever am. As for linking, I can do that when I upload if you give me the info.


          • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 9:15 am #

            Sorry Jen, have been battling with it for an hour or and so rusty on the word process- last time was using windows 99 at uni. I just keep losing the page though I push save to go and find and copy links links. I had a good idea but am just not competent on the technical side, way too rusty.

            Liked by 1 person

            • paul walter April 13, 2016 at 11:29 am #

              ha! my tech wizard neighbour has answered the call and helping me sort this maye some thing will happen yet.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 14, 2016 at 6:37 am #

              Ah, ok, PW, no problems. If you change your mind, the offer still stands.


              • paul walter April 14, 2016 at 7:08 am #

                So it didn’t get through after being sent after Telstra tinkered with my email? No “Barcelona Tonight?

                Anyway, if I had checked MW other night there would have been no point to writing it anyway.

                I’ ve decided to instigate further action on computer repair, just out to grab the axe.


  7. paul walter April 19, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    Amazing, what reach this bloke had. Here is a contribution from yet another public figure mourning Bob Ellis’ passing.,8887

    He’d have loved the election run in, the sardonic posts on a day like yesterday would have flowed like cold mountain spring water with many spirits raised.

    Liked by 1 person

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