David Marr Quarterly Essay Bill Shorten Dog

Podcasts 

We are now uploading recordings of selected upstairs literary events. Click to stream, or right-click and 'save as' to download.  

Recent events: 

Thursday February 11th 2016 - First Dog on the Moon discusses A Treasury of Cartoons with Fiona Katauskas

Wednesday 10th February, 2016 Barry Jones discussed "The Shock of Recognition" with Michael Kirby

Thursday January 28th 2016 - Garth Callender discusses After the Blast with Leigh Sales

Tuesday November 24th 2015 - Kerry O'Brien discusses Keating with Fran Kelly

Thursday November 19th 2015 - Jenny Hocking discusses The Dismissal Dossier with John Faulkner

Friday November 13th 2015 - Patrick White Award Ceremony

Thursday November 12th 2015 - Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston discuss The Dismissal

Tuesday November 10th 2015 - Debra Adelaide discusses The Women's Pages with Cath Keenan

Tuesday November 17th 2015 - Don Watson discusses Worst Words

Friday October 23rd 2015 - An Evening Without Clive James (part 1)  - with Bob Ellis, Terry Clarke, Andrew Sharp, Monroe Reimers and Kate Reid
 Wednesday 30th September 2015

David Marr discusses his Quarterly Essay on Bill Shorten with Julia Baird
 Monday 21st September 2015

George Megalogenis discusses Australia's second chance with David Marr  
 Thursday 3rd September 2015

Mark Butler in conversation with Anthony Albanese on the politics of ageing.        

  
  Wednesday 5th August

Speeches from David Malouf and others at our 40th  birthday party.

19 April 2015 - Orators (part 1)

19 April 2015 - Orators (part 2)

Bob Ellis, joined Bill Charlton, Andrew Sharp, Monroe Reimers and Mark Connelly with Robbie Murphy on keyboard, in this banquet of the best of human eloquence. Script by Bob Ellis and Mark Connelly. A world premiere.

 

18 March 2015 - Event on Quarterly Essay 57: Dear Life: On caring for the elderly

Karen Hitchcock in conversation with David Marr

 
  

10 September 2014 - Event on Inside the Hawke-Keating Government: A Cabinet Diary

Gareth Evans in conversation with Geraldine Doogue

  

9 September 2014 - Event on Triumph and Demise: The broken promise of a Labor generation

Paul Kelly in conversation with Sarah Ferguson

  

5 September 2014 - Dreaming to Order: A Journey Round Ralph Richardson

Starring Bob Ellis, Terry Clarke, Tony Llewellyn-Jones and Brandon Burke.

27 August 2014 - Queer and Sports

In association with The Lifted Brow. Simon Copland, Kate Doak, Monique Schafter and Danielle Warby, chaired by Patrick Abboud. Timed to coincide with Sydney's international gay rugby tournament, The Bingham Cup, we held a panel to celebrate sexual diversity in sport.

 
 Wednesday 18 June 2014 - The Jet Lag Monologues
A reading in four voices with songs from Bob Carr's black comic adventures as foreign minister. Starring Bob Carr, Bob Ellis, Simon Burke and Terry Clarke.
 Thursday 19 June 2014 - Ian Bedford - launch of The Last Candles of the Night  
  Tuesday 11 March 2014 - David Malouf eightieth birthday celebration   Wednesday 20 November 2013 – Launch of Beloved Land and Andy McNaughtan Memorial Lecture – Gordon Peake and others
 Tuesday 5 November 2013 – A Country Too Far – Panel: Tom Keneally, Gail Jones, Debra Adelaide and Rosie Scott
 Wednesday 25 September 2013 - David Marr in conversation with Geraldine Doogue on George Pell 
 Thursday 22 August 2013 – Event on Big Coal
Guy Pearse and David McKnight in conversation with Jonathan Holmes
  
    

  

   

 

 

 

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'

Event: Wednesday September 11, 6 for 6:30pm

$10/$7/gleeclub free
In conversation with Phillip Adams

The extraordinary life of Australia's most controversial doctor.

This is the revealing, personal story of the man behind the controversial pro-euthanasia movement, told in his own words. Medical doctor, humanist, author and founder/director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke's life has always been in the spotlight.

The books spans Philip's early days, from his curious, activist student days in Adelaide, to working with Aboriginal land rights groups in Australia's Far North; to his successful campaign to have euthanasia legalised in Australia and his assistance in four people ending their lives before the law was overturned.

It covers the controversy surrounding Philip's work, including the banning in Australia of his international bestselling book The Peaceful Pill, and disturbing reports that many young people overdosed on Nembutal, the drug that Exit International recommends for suicide.

Ultimately, Philip believes that the right to one's own death is as fundamental as the right to control one's own life: 'It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish whereas we are kinder to our pets when their suffering becomes too much.'


Barry Jones discusses The Shock of Recognition with Michael Kirby, Wednesday 10th February 2016 

Barry Jones discusses The Shock of Recognition with Michael Kirby, Wednesday 10th February 2016 

Barry Jones discusses The Shock of Recognition with Michael Kirby, Wednesday 10th February 2016 

Barry Jones discusses The Shock of Recognition with Michael Kirby, Wednesday 10th February 2016 

David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten – entitled Faction Man – has come out at just the right time. Malcolm Turnbull’s recent ascension to the prime ministership has sharpened the focus on Shorten.

Marr struggles to get to grips with his subject. In part this reflects Shorten’s own ordinariness, but it is also because of Marr’s position as a sceptical Sydney intellectual.

Faction Man is a product of Black Inc, the incarnation of high-minded Victorian left liberalism. Its patron saint is Robert Manne. From their perspective, Shorten – and his fascination with grimy Labor machine politics – is an alien figure.

What do we learn about Shorten?

Shorten’s personal story is a familiar one of a strong mother and an absent father. Also significant is the simple fact that Shorten never doubted his allegiance to the Labor Party. In this he reflects many Australians. A substantial portion still regard themselves as “rusted on” Labor voters.

This inertia contrasts with the milieu of the Quarterly Essay “brand”. Manne went from right to left. Left intellectuals once agonised over Labor and the Greens before siding firmly with the latter. Even Shorten’s left-wing rivals in the Monash ALP club fretted over the Hawke-Keating Labor Party before nerving themselves to make a final commitment.

Shorten is unencumbered by doubt, whereas the certainty of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott obscured a private uncertainty. Thus, Shorten is a “people person”, unlike most intellectuals. He is undaunted by knockbacks and disappointments.

Shorten is, Marr notes, the master of the small room and inherited his father’s knockabout skills. Often those skilled in one-on-one politics struggle to appeal outside a small group environment. Julia Gillard exemplified this, while Rudd appealed to the masses. Shorten faces the dilemma of balancing both.

The downside for Shorten in Marr’s description of his political faith is the absence of any intellectual basis. This is perhaps unfair. Marr has clearly interviewed many people and sifted through trade union royal commission testimony, but he has not examined Shorten’s parliamentary speeches.

Marr is not a historian of ideas. It is true, however, that Shorten’s political philosophy has never been expressed with the coherence of Rudd’s musings on social democracy or even Gillard’s clunky neolabourism.

The only significant intellectual figure that Marr identifies for Shorten is a high-school history teacher. In conversation, Shorten evokes lessons of military strategy rather than political philosophy. Progressives despair at this lack of curiosity, but it also insulates Shorten from the clunky exercises in “social conservatism” of some of his party colleagues.

Shorten’s critics evoke the mystifying concept of authenticity, but all politicians are strategic.

Shorten, Labor and the unions

Marr treks with bemusement through the intricacies of union politics but rather misses the key issues. Shorten represents the modernising Victorian Labor right, whose approach was pioneered by future ACTU leader Bill Kelty’s Storemen and Packers in the 1970s. Shorten reshaped the moribund Australian Workers Union in this image.

Despite all the wheeling and dealing and personal battles within the Victorian right that Marr lovingly describes, the faction has, in the end, re-unified, as it expresses a coherent political project. The NSW Labor right remained trapped in a Cold War hostility to the left and a faith in the industrial arbitration system with its strategic implication of a hostility to strike activity. All of these bulwarks collapsed in the 1980s and 1990s.

The NSW right has since become so disorientated that it has had to recruit parliamentary leaders from the party’s left. Victoria’s modernising Labor right knew how to use union militancy in a globalised and deregulated economy. Yet this has costs – in the US, unions have increasingly become dependent on the support of sympathetic governments and employers.

The wheeling and dealing with employers that Marr discusses at length is a product of this. It has preserved a niche for unionism when many anticipated its collapse, but it also offers little prospect of an upsurge of union membership.

Shorten is comfortable with history. It is no coincidence that the intellectual he is closest to is Labor historian Nick Dyrenfurth. In a speech to launch Dyrenfurth’s Mateship, Shorten evoked the ideal of a modern non-racial mateship of inclusion and fairness.

Abbott, in the words of William F. Buckley, too often aspired to stand aside history, yelling “stop”. Labor had an easy task against him, but in Turnbull it faces a leader comfortable with progress.

The history of Australia is not just the tale of mateship Shorten absorbed in high school history but a story of capital and power in the world’s first globalised state. In 1984, the ANU’s Kosmos Tsokhas noted that:

… those concerned with the introduction of radical reforms in Australia … [would] come against … [a] stubborn yet flexible system of power.

In the past 30 years that structure has developed remarkably. And Shorten, along with Marr, has little idea of how to make an effective challenge to it.

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