A Political Career

Barry Cohen, How to Become Prime Minister, Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria, 1990

Barry Cohen, a Minister in Australia’s Hawke Government, published this book back in 1990. Behind the playful title sits some rare advice that may help anyone considering a career in politics.

The kernels of wisdom come from Cohen and his interviews with Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and John Howard (who would not become prime minister for another six years). Both place a high premium on life experience. Here is Hawke, for example, on whether there’s a ‘correct age’ for people to enter politics:

People ought to have established themselves to a reasonable extent out there in the world. Whatever you do, you’ve got to have had the opportunity to have been exposed to the Australian public, because Australians more than most nationalities are not prepared to take a person or politician for granted. You’ve got to have earned your stripes.

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