The Fifth Estate
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On the Bench
If you want a friend in Washington, the famous saying goes, get a dog. Is the same true of Canberra? With a sometimes cynical electorate and a particularly hostile parliament, is it hard to hold onto one’s belief in politics as public service? What keeps long-time politicians in the game?
Sally Warhaft is joined by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne (who was, until a recent reshuffle, Minister for Education) and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen to discuss life on the front bench. In a wide-reaching conversation, the two Christophers reveal their motivations, their views on Australian political culture today and their personal political heroes in their respective portfolios: education, industry, innovation, science and treasury.
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.
Christopher Pyne is the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and Leader of the House of Representatives in the Turnbull Government. Under Tony Abbott's leadership, he served as Minister for Education. Christopher was elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Sturt aged twenty-five. He was Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Minister for Ageing in the Howard Government. During that time he founded headspace: the youth mental health initiative. In Opposition he served as a senior Shadow Minister, most notably in Education and as Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives. Christopher is married to Carolyn and is the father of Eleanor, Barnaby, Felix and Aurelia.
He is the author of A Letter to my Children, published by Melbourne University Press in 2015.
Chris Bowen was elected to federal parliament as Member for Prospect in 2004 and McMahon in 2010. He was appointed to the federal Labor Party’s frontbench as the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Revenue and Competition Policy in 2006, and appointed Treasurer by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2013. He is the current Shadow Treasurer.
He is the author of The Money Men, published by Melbourne University Press in 2015.
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.