The Wheeler Centre
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Crabb and Marr: Power and Personality
Flashback to pre-election 2010: Malcolm Turnbull, the recently ditched Liberal Party leader, was unsure if he’d stand again for the seat of Wentworth. Meanwhile, Bill Shorten was among the first-term ‘faceless men’ who’d removed a sitting Labor Prime Minister and installed another.
'The question with Shorten is: what is the price of his compromises? It's the same question with Turnbull.'
A week is a long time in politics, but six years is an eternity. Today, Turnbull and Shorten are the dominant figures on the political landscape. In this discussion at the Athenaeum Theatre, two of the sharpest minds in Australian journalism – Annabel Crabb and David Marr – discuss two of the most powerful men in Australia: Turnbull and Shorten.
Marr’s incisive 2015 Quarterly Essay, ‘Faction Man’, traced Shorten’s career as a formidable campaigner, recruiter and Labor warrior to factional heavy and eventual leader. Crabb has drawn on extensive interviews with Turnbull himself for her new book, Stop at Nothing, which details his past lives and adventures, as well as the challenges he’s faced from within the Liberal Party. If anyone can shed light on these fascinating and powerful figures, and their recent political manoeuvres, it’s these two writers.
So: what's changed since they wrote their essays? What do Crabb and Marr see as the most pressing complications for both Turnbull and Shorten, and for Australia's voting public? Who and what influences these politicians … and what's love got to do with it?
Listen as Marr and Crabb share a lively, illuminating conversation about political personalities and the will to power.
Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s most popular political commentators, is the presenter of Kitchen Cabinet and wrote for The Drum. Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and has appeared on Insiders,The Drum, Gruen Nation, Q&A and as stand-in host for 7.30.
David Marr is the author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic, The High Price of Heaven and Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson). He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Saturday Paper, the Guardian and the Monthly, and been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch.
He is the author of five bestselling Quarterly Essays in addition to the latest, Quarterly Essay 65, The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.