World News – AU – Alan Ramsey, former Herald journalist, dies at the age of 82


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The incredibly irascible writer spent his final months in a nursing home on the south coast of New South Wales.

Ramsey had a 56 year career in journalism and wrote a weekend column for The Sydney Morning Herald between 1987 and 2008.

He began his career in 1953 as a copy boy and then as a cadet journalist for the Daily Telegraph.

Ramsey was 28 years old when he worked in the Canberra Press Gallery in 1966 after serving as a war correspondent in Vietnam in 1965. He wasn’t clean skin, however. He has been in journalism for 13 years, working in Sydney, Melbourne, Mt. Isa, Darwin, Port Moresby and London as well as on publications such as The Australian and Time.

He returned to the gallery and retired in 2008 as the oldest and longest-serving reporter writing on federal politics.

One of Ramsey’s most famous moments came when he was nearly kicked out of parliament in 1971 as a political correspondent for The Australian.

He was sitting in the press gallery and shouting « You liar! » to then Prime Minister John Gorton, who accepted his later apology and saved him from being removed by the sergeant.

David Marr wrote about Ramsey when he retired 12 years ago that no one is around now and no one comes along who can write like this:

« The end of the line. Remember the Herald headline a few weeks ago after one of the public opinion polls raised the government’s lousy positions by a point or two? « Lazarus is stirring, » said John Howard optimistically. Not correct. It was only the flies that moved.

« Yesterday, in the nation’s parliament, with hardly any politician to be seen anywhere, we have a certain electoral realism. Three rows of wastebaskets beating big green with yellow lids. More than 300 of them.

« Where? In the basement corridor of the Ministerial Wing. The trash cans seemed a more apt comment than all of the last-minute coalition desperate wind dredgers happening across the country over what after 33 years in public life and nearly 12 years of Australia returning to its own wretched, disfigured state shows up, will pass to the Prime Minister image.

You arrived two days ago and whoever you are, 48 hours before a single vote is cast today, you feel like someone somewhere finally got it right.

« Alan was gruff, argumentative, stubborn, and never satisfied. But he was a loyal friend, always great company and loved by many, « he said.

« He was hard on himself and hard on those around him. He was never shy of giving advice to his editors, usually in a blunt way. « 

Former colleague Geoff Kitney recalls sharing « a tiny, smoke-filled office » with Ramsey at the Old Parliament House when he returned to journalism after working for Hayden.

« Alan was passionate, honest, and a brutal critic of anything he considered cant or humbug. He hated pissants – one of his favorite words, « Kitney said.

« He was a very private and sometimes difficult person, but he was driven by a keen sense of the importance of holding political leaders accountable.

« Alan wrote with great clarity, using words like lasers, without missing a target. At best, he was the country’s most feared political journalist. « 

« He’s had an impressive reporting career and has been insightful, tough and uncompromising as a commentator, » she said.

« Often times, his columns have taken up topics or stories that others in the gallery have overlooked or overlooked. His SMH columns, which on Friday evening sometimes put the nerves of punctual submarines to the test, were an absolute must on Saturday morning. « 

Herald editor Lisa Davies said Ramsey’s long-running column was the reason many readers bought the Saturday paper.

« Alan’s column was a mainstay of the Herald for 21 years. His fearless criticism of governments and politicians of all political directions earned him the reputation of an uncompromising and razor-sharp commentator, « she said.

Ramsey was married twice, most recently to the chief political correspondent of ABCs 7. 30 program journalist Laura Tingle until her divorce in 2017.

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Ramsey was married to journalist Laura Tingle until her divorce in 2017, not as previously reported in 2012.

Alan Ramsey, Laura Tingle, Media

World News – AU – Alan Ramsey, former Herald journalist, dies at the age of 82


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