22.5 C
Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Writer Bob Ellis dies, aged 73

Latest News

Tweed Council rejects Casuarina disability viewing platform

Issues of queue jumping, the allocation of Tweed Shire Council’s resources in both time and money, and responding to...

Other News

Research takes the vegan option to a new level

A project by Flinders University will see their Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development fishing for new vegan ideas.

Interview with James McMillan, founder of the Byron Surf Festival

With the Byron Bay Surf Festival just days away, founder James McMillan took a few minutes to talk to Seven about the awesome things planned for the coming weekend.

Amber alert for blue-green algae at Lake Ainsworth

An amber alert has been put in place for Lake Ainsworth near Lennox Head in relation to the presence of blue-green algae.

Bringing down the heat in our ‘hood

How well we survive the future depends on our vision for our towns and suburbs – and on how we bring that vision about.

Police confirm Main Arm drug operation

NSW Police have finally confirmed what pretty much every one in Main Arm already knows – they are conducting drug operations in the north of the Shire.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum…

The Zombies of the Climate ApoCOALpse have today swarmed around Queensland's Parliament House this morning to highlight impending climate chaos.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

[AAP & other sources]

Prolific writer and former Labor speechwriter Bob Ellis has died at his home in Sydney at the age of 73 after a battle with liver cancer.

A Seventh Day Adventist who grew up in Lismore, Ellis wrote speeches for Labor leaders including Paul Keating, Kim Beazley, Bob Carr and Mike Rann. He was also a political commentator, author, screenwriter and playwright.

His son Jack confirmed that Ellis died surrounded by family at his Palm Beach home in Sydney on Sunday afternoon.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Ellis was a ‘literary true believer’ who had ‘blessed Australia with more than four decades of brilliant phrases.

‘Bob’s writing moved people to tears and drove others to litigation. At every turn he confounded and delighted, he shocked and awed,’ Mr Shorten said in a statement on Sunday night.

‘There was truly no such thing as a dispassionate Ellis piece. With Bob, it was always personal, it was always emotional, it was never dull,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘Bob was Labor, and Labor will miss him.’

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd tweeted that ‘Bob Ellis was the Truest of the True Believers’.

Ellis was educated at Lismore High and Sydney University and married writer Anne Brooksbank in 1969. They had three children.

In a long writing career he wrote for Sydney newspapers, an advertising agency, the theatre and film and television, including screenplays for Newsfront and The Nostradamus Kid.

He also penned six novels and 13 volumes of non-fiction.

In 1994 Ellis unsuccessfully ran as an independent against Bronwyn Bishop – who was trying to move to the lower house – in a by-election for the seat of Mackellar.

But he won more than 23 per cent of the vote in the safe Liberal seat, an achievement he said derailed Bishop’s leadership ambitions and therefore ’caused the Howard era’ and, in turn, Abbott’s.

In January this year Ellis offered to help entrepreneur Dick Smith challenge Ms Bishop again in Mackellar.

One of his novels, the 1997 Goodbye Jerusalem, was pulped after Tony Abbott and Peter Costello and their wives took defamation action and were awarded $277,000 damages.

Former South Australian premier Mike Rann tweeted on Sunday night that Mr Ellis was ‘a great writer and film maker, political activist and the best of friends’.

‘He could write like an angel. At times outrageous and iconoclastic but also insightful, caring, poetic, sweet and melancholic. Naughty.’

‘Bob charted his own course. He didn’t obey the “rules”’.

Bob Ellis also wrote a series of articles in 2005 for The Byron Shire Echo on the USA’s military incursions into the Middle East and participated in the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. One of the greats! A real person with passion, authenticity and talent. Farewell Bob, there will never be another true believer like you. ?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Bringing down the heat in our ‘hood

How well we survive the future depends on our vision for our towns and suburbs – and on how we bring that vision about.

Resilience through biodiversity and awareness

The Byron Shire Resilience and Regeneration Roadshow will be in Brunswick Heads this Saturday, as part of a series of events across the region tackling the question: ‘How do we create more resilient communities in 2021?’

Housing affordability on agenda at Ballina

With the housing crisis worsening in Ballina and across the Northern Rivers, councillors agreed that something had to be done about the problem at their meeting yesterday.

Final stage of Lismore Base Hospital gets underway

The redevelopment works commenced in late 2016 and the final stage is now getting underway to complete the Lismore Base Hospital refurbishment.