Vale Ken Wolff

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?

This selection of just a sample of Ken’s writings illustrates his versatility, the depth of his knowledge, the variety of his offerings, his expertise in economics, his persuasiveness, and his skill with the pen.

Ken was incisive in his policy analysis and evaluation of the current issues in our polity. This was an innate ability and intelligence further developed and honed during many years as a senior federal public servant. Here is an excerpt from his bio:
Ken is a retired federal public servant who worked for 30 years in Aboriginal 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 Manager, 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.

Rest in Peace dear Ken

Comments (11) -


    3/22/2017 9:56:52 AM |

    Such a sad loss.

  • Michael Taylor

    3/22/2017 10:12:40 AM |

    I am shattered. I am in shock.

    As a fellow ATSIC, Ken will be remembered for his devotion to Aboriginal Australians. And who at ATSIC could forget his great sense of humour.

    I am lost for words.

  • David Wolff

    3/22/2017 12:49:35 PM |

    Thank you to the TPS team
    What a wonderful tribute to my brother

  • NormanK

    3/22/2017 1:31:24 PM |

    I am deeply saddened to hear of Ken's passing. My sincere condolences to all of his friends and family.

  • totaram

    3/22/2017 2:39:29 PM |

    Deeply shocked and saddened. My condolences also to all friends and family.

  • Gravel

    3/22/2017 4:32:00 PM |

    Condolences to all for this sad loss.

  • Gravel

    3/22/2017 4:33:04 PM |

    Condolences to all, very sad.

  • Ad Astra

    3/22/2017 8:24:52 PM |

    I thank you for the tributes to Ken that you have left.

    Ken was an outstanding gentleman, who worked collaboratively with the TPS Team since he joined it in 2013. He was a pleasure to work with, always helpful, always courteous.

    Ken was a talented and prodigious author. He gifted readers of The Political Sword with many erudite pieces, exploring and explaining the intricacies of economics. His knowledge and understanding, garnered through years of experience as a federal public servant, was apparent in everything he wrote.

    He had a particular affinity and affection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander folk, with whom he worked as a public servant. His writing about them was always supportive and sympathetic.

    Apart from the scores of pieces he wrote for The Political Sword, many of which were also published on The Australian Independent Media Network, he was our Production Manager, in which role he organised and scheduled pieces for the blog site.

    Apart from his formal roles, which he carried out so proficiently, he was always a fine colleague and supporter of all of us who contributed to The Political Sword, a central member of the TPS Team. Always cheerful, even when he was ill, he was ready to do whatever was asked of him.

    Ken’s death is a sad blow to us all. We shall miss him every day.

    The whole team extends condolences to Ken’s wife, Gillian, their family, his brother David, and the extended family.

    We will never forget our dear friend and colleague Ken.

  • 2353NM

    3/22/2017 9:44:27 PM |

    I echo Ad Astra's comments above and wish to express my personal condolences to Ken's family and friends.  In the time Ken & I have worked on TPS together, I have admired his courage, clear thought and sheer class.

    As most regular readers of TPS would be aware, I live in South East Queensland and Ken lived in Canberra.  It is unfortunate that we only met in person once, Ken was charming company, I remember fondly and will cherish the afternoon we spent chatting together into the future.

    Ken's family have lost a really special (in the nicest possible way) person and I will miss his bright and breezy emails and his general outlook on life.  Farewell Ken - it was a real honour to know you.

  • TalkTurkey

    3/22/2017 11:56:33 PM |

    The Political Sword has lost one of its best friends. Ken's writings here are an eternal reminder of his experience and humanity. Our thoughts are with those who loved him.  

  • Bacchus

    3/23/2017 4:27:58 AM |

    I've been trying to put fingers to keyboard to write something about Ken and our relationship. I think Michael Taylor found the right word for me to express how I feel on his comment over at the AIMN - devastation.

    Ken and I worked very closely together over more than three years, editing and coding the pieces that appear here. Sadly, unlike 2353NM, I didn't get to meet Ken in person and only spoke to him on the phone once, but we communicated several times a week via email. Happily I still have all of those emails to look back on to remember this wonderful man.

    Ken's good humour and counsel were very much appreciated over this time - I learnt a lot about a lot of things through him!

    He lives on through his writing - and that always amazed me. He wrote pieces about  difficult economic concepts, pieces using humour to get his point across, and even a form of fiction with his tales of 'Tiny Napoleon O’penmouth' and 'Mal C’od-turn-a-bull'.

    We have lost a truly amazing and inspiring man. I echo Ad astra's words:
    "Ken’s death is a sad blow to us all. We shall miss him every day.

    The whole team extends condolences to Ken’s wife, Gillian, their family, his brother David, and the extended family.

    We will never forget our dear friend and colleague Ken."

    and 2353NM's also:
    "Farewell Ken - it was a real honour to know you."

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