Book Review: Penny Wong by Margaret Simons

Interestingly this book was published in 2019 before the world spun into total unpredictability. But it’s taken that long for me to pick this one up despite being a fan of Penny Wong.

Nevertheless, I knew little about her until she was recently appointed as our Foreign Minister. After the election in May, she hit the ground running, impressing me even more.  

This biography reveals a lot about her background, her mother, Australian with ancestors dating back to the 1800’s and her father of Chinese descent. The history of her childhood is fascinating and her battle with racism heartbreaking. Yet this is where her passion and her ethics were created making her into the person she is today.

I was fascinated to learn the machinations of the party and her role in it and reminded of the disgusting behaviour by the Liberal Party under John Howard (who could forget his role in dividing the country on race by the pictures of the children overboard scandal).

I don’t often read biographies let alone ones on politicians but I’m glad I read about this inspiring woman.  I’ve seen her interrogating politicians on the Senate’s committee asking the questions I wanted answered.  No wonder she is seen as formidable. Because she is and a whole lot more.

This biography goes beyond the personal as it delves into Australian politics forcing the reader to confront the past, the good, the bad and the ugly, particularly when it comes to the slow and painful machinations of change such as marriage equality, climate change and our indigenous voices. At times it is dry, plodding and insightful, sometimes all at once.

I will certainly be taking a lot more notice of what Penny Wong does, now that I understand her just that little bit more. If you like your politics then this one is for you.

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