I wanted to write to say how shocked and saddened I was to hear of Michael’s sudden passing.
I had been speaking with him over recent weeks about an article he was working on relating to the Referendum Council. And it was not so long ago he came to see me to chat about his future and life after The Age, a prospect that challenged and excited him.
Reading all the tributes, it seems that my own feelings towards Michael mirrored those of many others, in that I both respected and liked him enormously.
His understanding of Indigenous affairs and reconciliation was unparalleled in my view – I’ve not dealt with another journalist whose personal and professional commitment was matched by such a clear-headed grasp of the complexity.
We shared the precious experience of being at Uluru for the closing ceremony of the National Constitutional Convention, where delegates adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart by acclamation. We agreed that it was one of the most moving and exhilarating moments of our lives.
We also had in common an absolute antipathy for the demonization of asylum seekers, and would compare notes regularly on the low cynicism of people who played that card.
I’m not sure whether Michael didn’t have an ego or whether he’d just mastered the rare art of taming it. Whatever the case, his humility earned my complete trust, whether we were speaking on or off the record, on any number of sensitive issues.
For his family, for journalism and for the pool of human goodness, the loss is inestimable.