We are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Ken Wolff. For readers of The AIMN Ken will be remembered for his many wonderful articles we were privileged to publish. Long-term bloggers will also remember Ken for his years with The Political Sword, where his articles were originally published. Ken’s family, the blogging community, and Aboriginal Australia – to whom he devoted decades of tireless service – have been enriched by knowing him.
The Political Sword team has penned this tribute to Ken. It is fitting that we share his memory on The AIMN.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our close colleague and dear friend, Ken Wolff. His last published article at The Political Sword was What to watch for in 2017: his sudden death was not what we anticipated.
Ken joined the team at The Political Sword in September 2013 at a time when its future was uncertain. Keeping a political blog site vibrant over a long period takes a lot of effort. Those who contribute to it come and go. It was just when we wondered how the site could be sustained that Ken joined us.
At that time Jan Mahyuddin (@j4gypsy) was deeply involved in the reorganization of the site, and in establishing a protocol for editing. Ken contributed much sound advice about how The Political Sword could be managed by a team. Then it was but a small team, comprising Ken, Bacchus, who codes pieces for the site, 2353NM, who writes pieces regularly, Jan Mahyuddin who at that time assisted with editing, Casablanca, who took up Lyn’s role of posting links in a segment titled ‘Casablanca’s Cache’, Web Monkey, who keeps the site running behind the scene, and updates it regularly, and Ad Astra, who created the site in 2008. Ken quickly became an enthusiastic writer of penetrating articles that contributed so much to the vibrancy and appeal of The Political Sword.
Here is a selection of Ken’s outstanding pieces, from the last six months:
The barbie bigot looks back on the year
The buck stops where?
The rise of political staffers: how people disappeared from policy advice
Statistics are people too
All hail the mighty banks
An economy without people
Modern economics has lost sight of people
A once and future Senate
The election in numbers
The election in numbers 2: minor parties and independents
The democratization of opinion
The Liberals are dreaming
The Liberal lie continues
Turnbull’s Medicare backflip – or is it?
Time for a new economic model
What economic plan?
Ken is a retired federal public servant who worked for 30 years in Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, mainly in policy areas. That background gives him an understanding of socio-economic issues. An Honours degree in social anthropology also influences his thinking on our society. His politics was moulded in the western suburbs of Sydney where he grew up and where Jack Lang was a local hero.
In addition to his writing role, Ken undertook the responsibility of Production Manager, following the initial re-organisation of the site by Jan Mahyuddin. He was responsible for scheduling pieces for publication on The Political Sword and our companion site TPS Extra. The schedule was documented on TPS Sandpit a separate WordPress site, established by Jan.
His editing of others’ writing was inspired, never putting the author down but providing gentle encouragement and providing that little bit of magic that has made The Political Sword a social commentary site that other blog sites regularly re-publish.
When Ken’s health made it difficult for him to write, he continued as Production Manger, even though undergoing a tough regime of chemotherapy.
We shall be forever indebted to Ken for all he has given to The Political Sword over a long period. He was dedicated to the site and to its mission of holding accountable our politicians and political commentators. So often they let us down through poor decisions and faulty communication. Ken was always ready to call them to account, and to point the way towards better decision-making and more honest communication.
Ken will be irreplaceable. His unique style, his honesty, and his dedication will remain with us as happy memories of a remarkable gentleman who gave so much, even as illness affected his capacity to contribute as he would have wished. He was consistently cheerful, collaborative and helpful; his articles were always very lucid, thought provoking, and constructive.
The team here at The Political Sword extend deepest sympathy to Ken’s wife Gillian, and his family, his extended family, and his friends.
Vale, dear Ken. We shall miss you. You are a precious friend and colleague who gave so much so cheerfully despite your long illness. We shall always remember you for the wonderful person you are.
The TPS Team
Ken’s service will be held in the Chapel at Norwood Park Crematorium, Sandford Street, Mitchell, ACT on Monday 27 March 2017 at 12:00 noon.