In the second Quarterly Essay of 2002, John Button looks at what has gone wrong with the Labor Party. What has happened to the faith of the True Believers and why is the ALP so bad at recruiting new members? He offers a tough-minded analysis of what went wrong in the last election and asks why the Labor Party has turned its back on its destiny as a party of reform. Here is a very cool account of the factions which seem to stand for nothing but their own power bases, and the unions who both give and get little from the ALP. In a withering analysis, John Button looks at the quality of Labor members and the short-sightedness of a party turning its back on ideas. This is an essay by a man who still believes in Chifley's light on the hill but who thinks the only hope lies with New Believers. "Beyond Belief represents one of the coolest and most disheartening accounts of a great political party this country has seen. This is the Australian Labor Party seen from the perspective of an elder statesman who has an absolute belief ... in the moral superiority of the Labor cause but who seriously doubts whether the ALP will ever achieve government again and who distinctly implies that in its present state it is not fit for it." —Peter Craven, Introduction "After the election debacle some people blamed the Tampa and September 11. But the simple fact is that the ALP had not built an adequate policy profile or built up sufficient enthusiasm and respect for its style of politics. Without these, it had no hope of differentiating its position on refugees and asylum seekers from the government's when this became the key issue of the election." —John Button, Beyond Belief
In the first Quarterly Essay of 2006, Clive Hamilton throws out a challenge to Australia's party of social democracy - to both its true believers and right-wing machine men. Will it be business-as-usual and creeping atrophy, or will the Labor Party find a new way of talking to individualistic, affluent Australia? According to Hamilton, Labor and the Left must acknowledge that the social democracy of old - with its strong unions, public ownership of assets and distinct social classes - is dead. Prosperity, more than poverty, is the dominant characteristic of Australia today. Given this, should governments confine themselves to stoking the fires of the economy and protecting the interests of wealth creators? Or is there room for a political program that embodies new ideals but can also withstand economic scare tactics? This is an original and provocative account of our present political juncture by a man of the Left who accuses the Left of irrelevance. Any new progressive politics, Hamilton argues, will need to tap into the anxieties and aspirations of the nation, find new ways to talk about morality, and thereby address deeper human needs. "The Australian Labor Party has served its historical purpose and will wither and die as the progressive force of Australian politics." —Clive Hamilton, What's Left?
In the fourth Quarterly Essay of 2004, Raimond Gaita confronts essential questions about politics as it is practised today. What do politicians mean when they talk about "trust"? Why is truthfulness important? Are we as politically and morally divided as the Americans? Does the war on terror authorise leaders to do things that once were considered beyond the pale? Gaita argues for a conception of politics in which morality is not an optional extra. He discusses why successful politicians must at times be economical with the truth, but shows a way beyond cynicism on the one hand and moralising on the other. Politics, he says, is conceivably a noble vocation, as well as potentially a tragic one. He looks closely at patriotism and its distortions, and the temptation to betray our deepest values in the act of protecting ourselves. Combining gentle evocation with gloves-off argument, Breach of Trust is a clarion call from one of Australia's leading thinkers. "I have never met anyone who believes that politicians should never lie ... But of course there are limits. They are not set in the heavens, but in culture." —Raimond Gaita, Breach Of Trust
A perfect election-year book: four groundbreaking Quarterly Essays on the people and ideas at the centre of Australian politics. In What's Left?, Clive Hamilton challenges the Labor Party to find a new way of talking to affluent Australia. In Relaxed and Comfortable, Judith Brett explores the Liberal Party's core appeal to voters and offers an original account of the Prime Minister. In Groundswell, Amanda Lohrey tells the fascinating story of the Greens and Bob Brown. And in Breach of Trust, Raimond Gaita looks beyond party politics to consider morality, truth and the war on terror. Following up on the successful first QE collection, this is a book that contains some of the finest Australian political writing of recent years.
In this national bestseller Robert Mane attacks the right-wing campaign against the Bringing them home report that revealed how thousands of Aborigines had been taken from their parents. What was the role of Paddy McGuinness as editor of Quadrant? How reliable was the evidence that led newspaper columnists from Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph to Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun to deny the gravity of the injustice done? In a powerful indictment of past government policies towards the Aborigines, Robert Manne has written a brilliant polemical essay which doubles as a succinct history of how Aborigines were mistreated and an exposure of the ignorance of those who want to deny that history. 'In Denial is not a book of history. It is a political intervention. By holding an influential section of the Right to account-Manne was exercising the kind of responsibility often demanded of public intellectuals.' --Raimond Gaita 'In complex intellectual conflicts, there will always be argument about whether the antagonists are committed to finding the truth or to winning the battle. This essay tells us that Robert Manne is intent on finding the truth.' --Morag Fraser 'In Denial is a work of both the head and the heart. It is carefully researched and powerfully expressed. It needs to be widely read.' --The Hon. P.J Keating 6 April 2001 'Robert Manne has made an important contribution to the continuing debate and in doing so has helped launch a new and important venture.' --Henry Reynolds
The top job is within Bill Shorten’s grasp. But who is he? How did he rise to become Labor leader? And does he have what it takes to beat Malcolm Turnbull and lead the country? In this dramatic essay, David Marr traces the hidden career of a Labor warrior. He shows how a brilliant recruiter and formidable campaigner mastered first the unions and then the party. Marr presents a man willing to deal with his enemies and shift his allegiances, whose ambition to lead has been fixed since childhood. But does he stand for anything? Is Shorten a defender of Labor values in today’s Australia or a shape-shifter, driven entirely by politics? How does the union world he comes from shape the prime minister he might be? Marr reveals a man we hardly know: a virtuoso with numbers and a strategist of skill who Labor hopes will return the party to power.
Author: John Button
Publisher: Black Inc.
In the second Quarterly Essay of 2002, John Button looks at what has gone wrong with the Labor Party. What has happened to the faith of the True Believers and why is the ALP so bad at recruiting new members? He offers a tough-minded analysis of what went wrong in the last election and asks why the Labor Party has turned its back on its destiny as a party of reform. Here is a very cool account of the factions which seem to stand for nothing but their own power bases, and the unions who both give and get little from the ALP. In a withering analysis, John Button looks at the quality of Labor members and the short-sightedness of a party turning its back on ideas. This is an essay by a man who still believes in Chifley's light on the hill but who thinks the only hope lies with New Believers. 'Beyond Belief represents one of the coolest and most disheartening accounts of a great political party this country has seen. This is the Australian Labor Party seen from the perspective of an elder statesman who has an absolute belief ... in the moral superiority of the Labor cause but who seriously doubts whether the ALP will ever achieve government again and who distinctly implies that in its present state it is not fit for it.' - Peter Craven, Introduction 'After the election debacle some people blamed the Tampa and September 11. But the simple fact is that the ALP had not built an adequate policy profile or built up sufficient enthusiasm and respect for its style of politics. Without these, it had no hope of differentiating its position on refugees and asylum seekers from the government's when this became the key issue of the election.' - John Button, Beyond Belief
In the first Quarterly Essay for 2007, Peter Hartcher discusses the fantasies and realities at the heart of our politics. When our political leaders look at us, what do they see? What are the hopes, fears and dreams of the Australian electorate, and how might they be turned to election winning advantage? What, most fundamentally, do we want in a prime minister? In this scintillating and original essay, Peter Hartcher investigates today's "bipolar nation", where Australians are more economically secure, yet existentially as anxious as ever. He explains how the Lucky Country and the Frightened Country will be the two grand themes of the election year, and discusses how John Howard will set out to craft an election winning strategy on that basis. He revisits Donald Horne's Lucky Country, looks at the legacy of Paul Keating, and analyses Kevin Rudd's many layered effort to out-manoeuvre the Prime Minister. "The Lucky Country finally started to make its own luck, and Howard has taken out a political monopoly on it. The Frightened Country still harbours dark anxieties, some old and some new. Howard, the necromancer of our national psyche, conjures our fears to frighten us, and then offers to banish them again to soothe us. He understands the Bipolar Nation." —Peter Hartcher, Bipolar Nation
Author: David Marr
In the June 2010 Quarterly Essay, Australia's leading journalist delves deep into the life, character and style of Kevin Rudd. This irreverent, controversial account is sure to be one of the most talked-about publications of election year 2010 - a ground-breaking, in-depth profile that traces Rudd's years in Queensland, in China, in opposition and finally in government. Based on extensive research, observation and interviewing, it examines the forces that have made Kevin Rudd and the way he wields his power. Marr investigates both the fragility of Rudd's hold on the Labor leadership, and considers what he might do with his popularity - if it is to be translated into a legacy of true achievement. Is he playing a long game? What manner of leader is he?
America is fading, and China will soon be the dominant power in our region. What does this mean for Australia’s future? In this controversial and urgent essay, Hugh White shows that the contest between America and China is classic power politics of the harshest kind. He argues that we are heading for an unprecedented future, one without an English-speaking great and powerful friend to keep us secure and protect our interests. White sketches what the new Asia will look like, and how China could use its power. He also examines what has happened to the United States globally, under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump – a series of setbacks which Trump’s bluster on North Korea cannot disguise. White notes that we have got into the habit of seeing the world through Washington’s eyes, and argues that unless this changes, we will fail to navigate the biggest shift in Australia’s international circumstances since European settlement. The signs of failure are already clear, as we risk sliding straight from complacency to panic. ‘For almost a decade now, the world’s two most powerful countries have been competing. America has been trying to remain East Asia’s primary power, and China has been trying to replace it. How the contest will proceed – whether peacefully or violently, quickly or slowly – is still uncertain, but the most likely outcome is now becoming clear. America will lose, and China will win.’ —Hugh White, Without America Hugh White is the author of The China Choice and Quarterly Essay 39, Power Shift. He is professor of strategic studies at ANU and was the principal author of Australia’s Defence White Paper 2000.
Author: Edward Bulwer Lytton Baron Lytton
Where were you when America elected Barack Obama? Kate Jennings was in New York, eyes wide open, completing her take on an amazing time: "the run-up to the election ... a time when every day felt like a year and we became slightly crazed from worry but also mesmerised, unable to switch off the cable news stations, obsessively tracking the DOW, VIX, LIBOR spreads, polls in red states. So much at stake." American Revolution is a dazzling and perceptive look at the United States between hope and despair: an election-year kaleidoscope. Jennings describes how and why the US economy fell off a cliff and how an apparently endless run of primaries and an increasingly rancorous campaign culminated in a world-changing victory. She surveys the characters - Obama, Palin, McCain and the Clintons - and conveys the concepts - derivatives, bailouts and moral hazard. This is an essay that shows America in fascinating flux: it is witty and poetic, acute and evocative. "The television networks are justifiably in raptures about the historic election of an African-American as the president. All the same ... to reduce Obama to a label, to 'African-American,' does him - and us - a disservice. He wasn't elected for the colour of his skin; he was elected because he offered the hope of a wise, steady and healing leadership to a country bullied and battered in the name of patriotism, plundered and pillaged in the name of free markets, neglected and abandoned in the name of small government." —Kate Jennings, American Revolution
In the fourth Quarterly Essay Don Watson takes an analytical look at the ways in which the Australian imagination has always been dominated by America. Why are they so much better than we are? Even when it comes to producing books like the Updike "Rabbit" sequence that tell us what we are like? Why are they also a land of executioners who have nevertheless created the least bad empire the world has seen? Can we really expect to be deputies to America? And what about our own sacred story (the progressive one) that we have sold for the sake of the Americanisation of our own society? If we can't have a friendly independent relationship with America, why don't we go the whole hog and join them? In a dark, brooding, moody essay, Don Watson plays on the paradoxes of Australia's feeling about America and offers a scathing view of an Australian culture that is asking to be engulfed by its great and powerful friend because the mental process is already so advanced. This is a brilliant meditation round a set of paradoxes that are central to our long-term anxieties and hopes. "... this is a Quarterly Essay that plays on our most fundamental fears, including the most terrifying of all, that we shall cease to exist because we have never been." Peter Craven, Introduction "The Australian story does not work anymore, or not well enough ... to hang the modern story on ... The most useful thing is to recognise that ... we took the biggest step we have ever taken towards the American social model. And this has profound implications for how we think of Australia and how we make it cohere." Don Watson, Rabbit Syndrome
In Australian Story, Mungo MacCallum investigates the political success of Kevin Rudd. What does he know about Australia that his opponents don't? This is a characteristically barbed and perceptive look at the challenges facing the government and the country. MacCallum argues that the things we used to rely on are not there anymore. On the Right, the blind faith in markets has recently collapsed. The Left lost its guiding light with the demise of the socialist dream. In entertaining fashion, MacCallum dissects the myths that made Australia: the idea of the Lucky Country, with endless pastures, a workingman's paradise, a new Britannia, and more. In newly uncertain times, MacCallum argues, Rudd has sought to tap into these myths, in the process reclaiming them from John Howard. Australian Story is both a canny assessment of the Rudd government's election - winning approach and a broader meditation on the nation's core traditions at a time of major change and challenge. ''Rudd has made it clear that he is looking forward to a long time in office … If the polls are to be believed, he is still seen as the best man for the job by an overwhelming majority of Australians. But why? What is it about this repetitive, boring, God - bothering nerd that appeals to the proverbially laid - back, cynical, disengaged public?'' - Mungo MacCallum, Australian Story This special Christmas issue also includes Robert Manne's Quarterly Essay Lecture, Is Neo - Liberalism Finished?