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Alfred Deakin and the Art of Minority Government

Listen to Alfred Deakin and the Art of Minority Government

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Judith Brett

Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second Prime Minister, spent 32 years in politics. Renowned for his oratorical ability, superb negotiation skills and workable minority governments, he served as Prime Minister for three separate terms in the turbulent first decade of the new Commonwealth.

As questions of dual citizenship threaten the Commonwealth Government’s majority today, Sally Warhaft speaks to Judith Brett about Deakin’s legacy and the link between the early days of federated Australia and the contemporary situation.

What does it take to govern successfully without a majority? And, if minority governments are the norm in many advanced democracies, why does the prospect loom as a bogeyman in Australian public conversation?

Photo of Sally Warhaft and Judith Brett

Sally Warhaft and Judith Brett

Who?

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Portrait of Judith Brett

Judith Brett

Judith Brett is emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University. A former editor of Meanjin and columnist for the Age, she won the National Biography Award in 2018 for The Enigmatic Mr Deakin. She is the author of four Quarterly Essays: Relaxed and Comfortable, Exit RightFair Share and The Coal Curse. Her other books include From Secret Ballot to Democracy SausageRobert Menzies’ Forgotten People and Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.