Peter FitzSimmons and Stan Grant's falling out over “unfair” chapter
Peter FitzSimons and his former mate, Stan Grant, have had a major fall out over his portrayal of the Wallabies player turned author and his wife Lisa Wilkinson in a new book.
Grant contributed to The Australian’s serialised murder mystery, Oh Matilda : Who Bloody Killed Her? – and mentioned “Fitzy and Lisa’s Australia Day barbecue at their grand house overlooking Sydney Harbour”.
What unfolded was an unflattering description of FitzSimons and his wife, which in result reignited a deep-seated rift between the pair.
The former friends publicly fell out in April of 2020 over a disagreement about Captain James Cook’s legacy, and traded barbs in the pages of The Sydney Morning Herald.
In an opinion piece at the time, Grant, who is a Wiradjuri man, accused FitzSimons of making Cook “the prototypical Aussie good bloke”.
He added that his description of the explorer as being far from “an enthusiastic imperialist” was “ludicrous”.
However, FiitzSimons defended his work and said that it had been meticulously researched by his team over the course of four years.
Grant’s Oh Matilda chapter set their relationship on fire again, with reports claiming it resulted in a terse text message exchange and “the complete collapse of their relationship”.
FitzSimons’ and Wilkinson’s annual Australia Day party has been renowned as one of Sydney’s most prestigious socialite events of the year and was also the backdrop of Grant’s piece of fiction.
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“It’s like one of those ‘end of year cartoons’ you see in the newspapers: every time you turn around, you bump into somebody more famous than the last person,” one former guest told The Australian today.
In Grant’s piece of work, he described one of the characters as “what a woke leftie love-in that was”.
“Journos, actors, writers, a couple of ex-Wallabies (well it was the north shore), a few washed up politicians, even a couple of Liberals (small 1 of course) and a former managing director of the ABC for good measure,” the chapter reads.
“Everyone there voted yes for same-sex marriage – the year before last, they’d all tearily applauded their first gay married couple guests – they hated the Catholic Church and had cried when Kevin Rudd said sorry.”
When referring to FitzSimons and Wilkinson, jet said they “adored Indigenous culture. There were dot paintings on the wall, a photo with their arms around Cathy Freeman at Sydney Olympic Stadium and a framed copy of Paul Keating’s Redfern Statement signed by the last great Australian Prime Minister himself.”
Things “did get a bit weird” for the novel’s character, Indigenous woman Matilda Meadows, “when Fitzy excitedly gave her a copy of his latest book, a biography of Captain Cook”.
“Apparently Cookie was actually not a bad bloke once you got past his order to open fire on the blacks at Botany Bay,” the character said.
Woke Grant told the paper he was trying to “be a bit silly and have a crack about race, political correctness, left-lovey society”, it may have just hit a little too close to home for FitzSimons.
“It’s always been Chatham House (rules) – nobody takes photos or tweets or hashtags; it’s private hospitality, and I think what’s put Pete out is he invited Stan into his home, and three years later got sideswiped,” the former party guest said.
The Australian has reported that FitzSimons felt Grant’s words were unfair.
He was also reportedly concerned that many of the details – like him owning a framed copy of the Redfern Speech or a picture of himself with Cathy Freeman – were completely untrue.
But Grant has maintained the chapter was obviously and clearly fictional, telling The Sydney Morning Herald: “I mock myself as much as anyone else in it”.
The 57-year-old told friends “there are more important things to worry about in the world” than FitzSimons’ reaction to the piece.
“People who can’t laugh at themselves aren’t one of them,” he also said.
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