The Australia Institute Essential Reading List 2020
As the year draws to a close, the Australia Institute team has compiled a list of essential reads looking at the big issues and big ideas that helped shape 2020
by Louise Milligan
From the best-selling author of CARDINAL comes a searing examination of the power imbalance in our legal system — where exposing the truth is never guaranteed and, for victims, justice is often elusive.
A masterful and deeply troubling expose, Witness is the culmination of almost five years’ work for award-winning investigative journalist Louise Milligan. Charting the experiences of those who have the courage to come forward and face their abusers in high-profile child abuse and sexual assault cases, Milligan was profoundly shocked by what she found.
During this time, the #MeToo movement changed the zeitgeist, but time and again during her investigations Milligan watched how witnesses were treated in the courtroom and listened to them afterwards as they relived the associated trauma. Then she was a witness herself in the trial of the decade, R v George Pell.
She interviews high-profile members of the legal profession, including judges and prosecutors. And she speaks to the defence lawyers who have worked in these cases, discovering what they really think about victims and the process, and the impact that this has on their own lives. Milligan also reveals never-before-published court transcripts, laying bare the flaws that are ignored, and a court system that can be sexist, unfeeling and weighted towards the rich and powerful.
Witness is a call for change. Milligan exposes the devastating reality of the Australian legal system where truth is never guaranteed and, for victims, justice is often elusive.
The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam
by Jenny Hocking
A political betrayal.
A constitutional crisis.
A hidden correspondence.
Gough Whitlam was a progressive prime minister whose reign from 1972 proved tumultuous after 23 years of conservative government in Australia. After a second election victory in May 1974, when a hostile Senate refused to vote on his 1975 budget, the political deadlock that ensued culminated in Whitlam’s unexpected and deeply controversial dismissal by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr.
Kerr was in close touch with the Palace during this period, but, under the cover of being designated as personal, that correspondence was locked away in the National Archives, and embargoed by the Queen — potentially forever. This ruse denied the Australian people access to critical information about one of the most divisive episodes in the nation’s history.
In the face of this, Professor Jenny Hocking embarked on what would become a ten-year campaign and a four-year legal battle to force the Archives to release the letters. In May 2020, despite being opposed by the Archives, Buckingham Palace, and the full resources of the federal government, she won her historic case in the High Court.
The Palace Letters is the ground-breaking account of her indomitable fight. Drawing on material from the Palace letters, Kerr’s archives, and her submissions to the courts, Hocking traces the collusion and deception behind the dismissal, and charts the secret role of High Court judges, the leader of the opposition, Malcolm Fraser, and the Queen’s private secretary in fostering and supporting Kerr’s actions.
Hocking also reveals the obstruction, intrigue, and duplicity she faced during her campaign, raising disturbing questions about the role of the National Archives in fighting access to these historic letters and in enforcing, against Australia’s national interests, royal secrecy over its own documents.
Top End Girl
by Miranda Tapsell
A deadly memoir about being bold, black and brave in work, life and love
‘Sharing my story is important … I think it is true that you don’t aspire to be what you cannot see. I would like this book to show you that you can push yourself to do things you never dreamed you would do.’
As a young Larrakia Tiwi girl Miranda Tapsell often felt like an outsider. Growing up, she looked for faces like hers on our screens. There weren’t many. And too often there was a negative narrative around First Nation lives, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women especially. As she got older, Miranda stopped expecting others would help change things and set about doing something herself. Combining her pride in her Aboriginality and passion for romantic comedies with her love of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands and the Top End, Miranda co-wrote, produced and starred in the box office hit Top End Wedding.
In this engaging memoir, Miranda shares the path she took to acting and how her role in The Sapphires and then in Love Child inspired her to create a film about coming back to family and culture. And, it would turn out, that as she was writing her romantic lead she was also conjuring up some magic that saw a real-life love ignite. This deadly, ballad-loving rom-com nerd also asks us all to open our minds and our hearts to the importance of country and culture, In doing so, Miranda shows us how we will all be richer for it.
Funny, wise and thought-provoking, Top End Girl will have you at hello.
by Jack Charles
Jack Charles has worn many hats throughout his life: actor, cat burglar, musician, heroin addict, activist, even Senior Victorian Australian of the Year. But the title he’s most proud to claim is that of Aboriginal Elder.
Stolen from his mother and placed into institutional care when he was only a few months old, Uncle Jack was raised under the government’s White Australia Policy. The loneliness and isolation he experienced during those years had a devastating impact on him that endured long after he reconnected with his Aboriginal roots and discovered his stolen identity. Even today he feels like an outsider; a loner; a fringe dweller.
In this honest and no-holds-barred memoir, Uncle Jack reveals the ‘ups and downs of this crazy, drugged up, locked up, fucked up, and at times unbelievable, life’. From his sideline as a cat burglar, battles with drug addiction and stints in prison, to gracing the nation’s stages and screens as he dazzled audiences with his big personality and acting prowess, he takes us through the most formative moments of his life.
By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Jack Charles: Born-again Blakfella is a candid and uplifting memoir from one of Australia’s finest and most beloved actors.
Beyond the Newsroom
by Geoff Kitney
Newspapers are daily miracles. They start as a book of blank pages and turn into a living, breathing organism full of life, drama, colour, revelation, information and entertainment by the end of the day. No day is the same as the one before. Beyond the Newsroom is a collection of Geoff Kitney’s work covering more than 50 years of his career in journalism with newly-written reflections. It starts with the most intimate end of the newspaper business, small, local news, to metropolitan daily news, to national political affairs, and to the great canvass of the world beyond our shores. The majority of his career was spent as a correspondent, remote from the head office, reporting on such events as the Kosovo War. Geoff’s career spanned arguably the greatest era of Australian newspaper journalism. A career path that is almost impossible to contemplate now in the changed and rapidly transforming media world. He is one of a dying breed.
Cathy goes to Canberra
by Cathy McGowan
Whenever anyone tells you that only the big parties or star candidates have a chance of winning a seat in federal parliament, just say ‘Cathy McGowan’. Running as a community-backed independent candidate, Cathy won the previously safe Liberal seat of Indi in 2013 and again in 2016 and passed Indi on to another independent in 2019 — a first in Australian history. Cathy tells how thousands of ordinary men and women in north-eastern Victoria got together, organised themselves and made their voices heard in Canberra.
An inspiring tale and a primer for other communities looking to create change.
by Samantha Maiden
How did Labor lose the unlosable election?
Secrets, lies, lawyers and covert recordings. If you thought the 2019 election was just about a death tax that didn’t exist, you’re in for a surprise. From the dark arts of the dirt units to the role of billionaire Clive Palmer, this is the untold story of an election debacle. The Labor Party was the unbeatable favourite to win the 2019 election right up until the polls closed and voters delivered the surprise verdict.
If the results staggered pundits, they also shocked Bill Shorten and his frontbench, who had spent the final weeks of the campaign carefully planning for their first days in office. Party Animals uncovers the secret history of a Labor fiasco, the untold story behind Scott Morrison’s miracle
How to win an election
by Chris Wallace
The 2019 Australian election produced a surprise result showing, not for the first time, that every election is there for the winning — including the next one. Labor’s surprise loss in 2019, like the Liberal and National parties’ defeat in the so-called ‘unloseable’ 1993 election, showed how careful attention to basic political craft can yield big dividends — and how inattention to it can turn apparently certain favourites into losers. With the vast challenges of climate change and social and economic equity in the post-pandemic world ahead of us, Australia cannot afford any more costly election accidents.
How To Win An Election spells out the ten things a political leader and their party must excel at to maximise the chance of success, and against which they should be accountable between and during elections.
Better performance in even a few of the areas canvassed in this book can change an election outcome, so full attention should be paid to each of them, all the time, every time, without fail, Wallace argues — in real time when it counts. How To Win An Election is a crucial insurance policy against overconfident leaders imposing learner errors on their supporters over and over again, and for getting the best results from Australia’s democratic system.
A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés
edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau
In A Secret Australia, nineteen prominent Australians discuss what Australia has learnt about itself from the WikiLeaks revelations — revelations about a secret Australia of hidden rules and loyalty to hidden agendas. However Australians may perceive their nation’s place in the world — as battling sports stars, dependable ally or good international citizen — WikiLeaks has shown us a startlingly different story.
This is an Australia that officials do not want us to see, where the Australian Defence Force’s ‘information operations’ are deployed to maintain public support for our foreign war contributions, where media-wide super injunctions are issued by the government to keep politicians’ and major corporations’ corruption scandals secret, where the US Embassy prepares profiles of Australian politicians to fine-tune its lobbying and ensure support for the ‘right’ policies.
The revelations flowing from the releases of millions of secret and confidential official documents by WikiLeaks have helped Australians to better understand why the world is not at peace, why corruption continues to flourish, and why democracy is faltering. This greatest ever leaking of hidden government documents in world history yields knowledge that is essential if Australia, and the rest of the world, is to grapple with the consequences of covert, unaccountable and unfettered power.
Among the contributors are former senator Scott Ludlam, former defence secretary Paul Barratt, lawyers Julian Burnside and Jennifer Robinson, academics Richard Tanter, Benedetta Brevini, John Keane, Suelette Dreyfus, Gerard Goggin and Clinton Fernandes, as well as journalists Andrew Fowler, Quentin Dempster and Helen Razer.
Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark
by Julia Baird
The national bestseller, Phosphorescence is a beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness — the ‘light within’ — which will sustain us even through the darkest times.
Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?
And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most — finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril — how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light — a light to ward off the darkness?
Fight for Planet A
by Craig Reucassel
The climate challenge and what we can do when there’s no Planet B.
Most Australians accept that climate change is real, but many don’t know what to do about it and feel powerless to make a difference. In Fight for Planet A, the book of the ABC series of the same name, Craig Reucassel shows that it isn’t as scary as we think, and we can make a difference to help protect the world for future generations.
The Chaser comedian and presenter of War on Waste sets out solutions and practical day-to-day changes we can make to reduce our carbon footprint, as well changes our governments need to make without further delay.
Featuring a few shocking statistics to make you sit up and take notice, plus many more pro-active tips and strategies for everyday Australians who want to make a difference, Fight for Planet A is for anyone who has no Planet B — which is most of us.
The Capricorn Sky
by Colly Campbell
A century on: sea levels have risen, the weather is lethal, and AuZtralia is a lot more complicated.
Andaman Marko lives in the Jointly Administered Territory of Capricornia — a new homeland for millions of climate refugees from Asia. Marko is a playboy by day, fraudster by night: making millions of $New by decoding corporate and diplomatic komms to illegally trade on the markets.
Then, in a society where prolonged peace and stability is enforced by AuZgov through mass surveillance, eugenics and political engineering, a bomb explodes and Marko and his mysterious girlfriend, Flick, flee north from unknown enemies to the climate ravaged badlands of Cape York Peninsula.
Marko leads both assassins and his guardian angel, Dr Madrigal Phipps, in a wild pursuit through a world where the peace is cracking apart.
This is a blistering thriller crammed with action, revenge, future politics, crazed characters and some very bad weather.
Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
by Jason Hickel
A groundbreaking exploration of the best possible solution to the climate crisis: a new economic model, and a new way of viewing our relationship with the natural world.
The world has finally awoken to the reality of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Now we must face up to its primary cause.
Capitalism demands perpetual expansion, which is devastating the living world. There is only one solution that will lead to meaningful and immediate change: DEGROWTH.
If we want to have a shot at halting the crisis, we need to restore the balance. We need to change how we see nature and our place in it, shifting from a philosophy of domination and extraction to one that’s rooted in reciprocity and regeneration. We need to evolve beyond the dogmas of capitalism to a new system that is fit for the twenty-first century. But what does such a society look like? What about jobs? What about health? What about progress?
This book tackles these questions and traces a clear pathway to a post-capitalist economy. An economy that’s more just, more caring, and more fun. An economy that enables human flourishing while reversing ecological breakdown. An economy that will not only lift us out of our current crisis, but restore our sense of connection to a world that’s brimming with life. By taking less, we can become more.
Men at Work
by Annabel Crabb
When New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced her pregnancy, the headlines raced around the world. But when Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg became the first prime minister and treasurer duo since the 1970s to take on their roles while bringing up young children, this detail passed largely without notice.
Why do we still accept that fathers will be absent? Why do so few men take parental leave in this country? Why is flexible and part-time work still largely a female preserve? And what have we learned from the parental experiment of the COVID-19 lockdowns?
In the past half-century, women have revolutionised the way they work and live. But men’s lives on average have changed remarkably little. Is it because men don’t want to change? Or is it because, every day in various ways, they are told they shouldn’t?
Annabel Crabb deploys political observation, workplace research and her characteristic humour and intelligence to argue that gender equity cannot be achieved until men are as free to leave the workplace (when their family lives change) as women are to enter it.
Caste: The Lies that Divide Us
by Isabel Wilkerson
A startling and transformative account of how we are all tied up in a caste system, from NYT-bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson
‘The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power — which groups have it and which do not’
Beyond race or class, our lives are defined by a powerful, unspoken system of divisions. In Caste, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson gives an astounding portrait of this hidden phenomenon. Linking America, India and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson reveals how our world has been shaped by caste — and how its rigid, arbitrary hierarchies still divide us today.
With clear-sighted rigour, Wilkerson unearths the eight pillars that connect caste systems across civilizations, and demonstrates how our own era of intensifying conflict and upheaval has arisen as a consequence of caste. Weaving in stories of real people, she shows how its insidious undertow emerges every day; she documents its surprising health costs; and she explores its effects on culture and politics. Finally, Wilkerson points forward to the ways we can — and must — move beyond its artificial divisions, towards our common humanity.
Beautifully written and deeply original, Caste is an eye-opening examination of what lies beneath the surface of ordinary lives. No one can afford to ignore the moral clarity of its insights, or its urgent call for a freer, fairer world.
Women and Leadership Real Lives, Real Lessons
by Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words.
As a result of their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women who lead.
Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.
Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.
Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.
People Without Power: the war on populism and the fight for democracy
by Thomas Frank
An eye-opening account of populism, the most important — and misunderstood — movement of our time.
Everything we think we know about populism is wrong.
Today, populism is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.
The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Taking us from the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing US Populist Party fought plutocrats, to the triumphs of reformers under Roosevelt and Truman, Frank reminds us how much we owe to the populist ethos.
Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns; today’s moral panic in liberal circles is only the latest expression. Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. People Without Power is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution.
The Anarchy: Relentless Rise of the East India Company
by William Dalrymple
In August 1765 the East India Company defeated and captured the young Mughal emperor and forced him to set up in his richest provinces a new government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a vast and ruthless private army.
The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. In less than half a century it had trained up a private security force of around 260,000 men — twice the size of the British army — and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company’s reach stretched relentlessly until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London.
The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas and answerable only to its shareholders. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.
Three hundred and fifteen years after its founding, with a corporate Mogul now sitting in the White House, the story of the East India Company has never been more current.
China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order
by Geoff Raby
‘Australia’s former ambassador to China provides insight on Australia’s future position in global affairs.’
Disruption has blown the old world apart. The rise of China, Trump’s America First policies, division within Europe and successful defiance by authoritarian states are affecting the shape of the emerging new order. Human rights, rule of law, free media and longstanding global institutions all seem set to be weakened. Autocracies are exercising greater control over world affairs. Australia will need to engage heightened levels of diplomacy to forge relations with countries of opposing principles. It will need to be agile in pursuing a realistic foreign policy agenda. China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order contains answers for how Australia must position itself for this possibly dystopian future.
by Bob Woodward
Woodward, the No 1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump’s head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans.
In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months — an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind — the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the ‘dynamite behind every door’. At key decision points, Rage shows how Trump’s responses to the crises of 2020 were rooted in the instincts, habits and style he developed during his first three years as president.
Revisiting the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Rage reveals how Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats struggled to keep the country safe as the president dismantled any semblance of collegial national security decision making. Rage draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with first-hand witnesses as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.
Woodward obtained 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who describes the bond between the two leaders as out of a ‘fantasy film’. Trump insists to Woodward he will triumph over Covid-19 and the economic calamity. ‘Don’t worry about it, Bob. Okay?’ Trump told the author in July. ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll get to do another book. You’ll find I was right.’
Not quite books but still great reading
by Rick Morton
Money makes the world go round, but does it make us happy?
Money is one of the most fraught subjects; it raises powerful emotions in all of us. Too much money often corrupts people — too little can make people feel desperate.
Growing up in rural Queensland, journalist Rick Morton has known poverty from the inside. Now he isn’t poor, but his spending habits and attitude to money are still informed by growing up without it. In On Money, Morton examines the meaning of money and exposes the lie behind the government’s mantra: have a go, get a go.
by Linton Besser, in Meanjin Winter 2020
In the twenty-first century, confronting what was then the worst drought on record, the Australian Government embarked on its most expensive, most ambitious nation-building project: the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. A $13 billion realignment to rescue the nation’s food bowl and to restore its rivers. In 2007 John Howard promised a ‘complete overhaul’ of the interior ‘to confront head-on the overallocation of water’. And because this was that kind of pastoral undertaking that relied on the mettle of farmers, and not a little because Canberra was handing out fistfuls of cash, a story of reform took hold. Primary producers were to be protected and the rivers returned to life. The paradox of how both could be simultaneously possible was put to one side. [Read more…]
The High Road: What Australia Can Learn from New Zealand
by Laura Tingle
Australia and New Zealand are often considered close cousins. But why, despite being so close, do we know so little about each other? And now, in the wake of COVID-19, is it time to change that?
“Jacinda Ardern is not the first reason we have had to look across the Tasman and wonder whether there is another way of doing things . . . New Zealand — perhaps the only place in the world that has suffered isolation and the tyranny of distance more than Australia — has repeatedly jumped out of its comfort zone and changed direction harder, faster and for longer than Australia has done in the past half-century.” Laura Tingle, The High Road
The End of Certainty: Scott Morrison and Pandemic Politics
by Katharine Murphy
Epidemics are mirrors. What has COVID-19 revealed about Australia, and about Scott Morrison and his government? In this gripping essay, Katharine Murphy goes behind the scenes to tell the story of the response to the crisis. Drawing on interviews with Morrison, Brendan Murphy, Josh Frydenberg, Sally McManus and other players, she traces how the key health and economic decisions were taken.
Her account is twinned with a portrait of the prime minister. She explores his blend of pragmatism and faith, and shows how a leader characterised by secrecy and fierce certainty learnt to compromise and reach out — with notable exceptions.
Now, as the nation turns inwards and unemployment rises, our faith in government is about to be tested anew. What does “We’re all in this together” truly mean? Will Morrison snap back to Liberal hardman, or will he redefine centre-right politics in this country?
“Morrison’s a partisan, blue team to the core, but his political philosophy is hard to pin down, because it is predominantly trouble-shooting. By instinct, Morrison is a power player and a populist, not a philosopher; a repairer of walls, not a writer of manifestos … [his] conservatism is extreme pragmatism in defence of what he regards as the core of the nation.” Katharine Murphy, The End of Certainty
And last but not least… Some oldie but highly-relevant goodies
Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s
by Stuart MacIntyre
Winner of the NSW Premier’s Australian History Prize 2016
A major account of the 1940s in Australia. In this landmark book, Stuart Macintyre explains how a country traumatised by World War I, hammered by the Depression and overstretched by World War II became a prosperous, successful and growing society by the 1950s.
An extraordinary group of individuals, notably John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Nugget Coombs, John Dedman and Robert Menzies, re-made the country, planning its reconstruction against a background of wartime sacrifice and austerity.
The other part of this triumphant story shows Australia on the world stage, seeking to fashion a new world order that would bring peace and prosperity. This book shows the 1940s to be a pivotal decade in Australia.
At the height of his powers, Macintyre reminds us that key components of the society we take for granted u work, welfare, health, education, immigration, housing u are not the result of military endeavour but policy, planning, politics and popular resolve.
Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and What Comes Next
by Richard Denniss
An updated and expanded edition of the bestselling Quarterly Essay
How did the banks run wild for so long? Why are so many aged-care residents malnourished? And when did arms manufacturers start sponsoring the Australian War Memorial?
In Dead Right, Richard Denniss explores what neoliberalism has done to Australia. For decades, we have been led to believe that the private sector does everything better, that governments can’t afford to provide the high-quality services they once did, but that security and prosperity for all are just around the corner. In fact, Australians are now less equal, millions of workers have no sick leave or paid holidays, and housing is unaffordable for many. Deregulation, privatisation and trickle-down economics have, we are told, delivered us twenty-seven years of growth … but to what end?
Denniss looks at ways to renew our democracy and discusses everything from the fragmenting Coalition to an idea of the national interest that goes beyond economics. This is a sparkling book of ideas, and the perfect starting point for thinking about how we can best shape Australia’s future.
If you are wondering why other great reads such as Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do are not featured, have a read of our 2019 Essential Reading list.
From everyone at the Australia Institute, happy reading.