The Fifth Estate: Democracy in Action
‘Democracy is the worst form of government,’ Winston Churchill famously said, ‘except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time’.
But democracies come in very different shapes and sizes. And they’re always evolving; sometimes in response to pressure from within the body politic, and sometimes because of shifts outside sovereign control. Lately – with the emergence of Donald Trump, the shock Brexit result and Australia’s confusing recent turn at the polls – talk of democratic dysfunction has been on the rise. But are things really worse than they were in the past? And what can we learn from other models of democracy around the globe?
For this conversation, host Sally Warhaft speaks with two observers deeply familiar with democracy here and abroad – academic, lawyer, international policymaker and former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, and the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan.
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.
Gareth Evans is a writer, academic, lawyer and former cabinet minister.
He was a Cabinet Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments for thirteen years, as Attorney General, Minister for Resources & Energy, Transport & Communications, and Foreign Affairs; Leader of the Government in the Senate for four years; and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representative for three years. After 21 years in the Australian Parliament, he led the Brussels-based International Crisis Group from 2000-2009.
Greg Sheridan is the Australian’s foreign editor, and one of the most influential foreign affairs analysts in Australian journalism. After 35 years in the field, he is a veteran of international affairs who has interviewed leaders all over the Asia Pacific and America.
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