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at The Capitol

Australian Democracy in 2013

It’s been a tumultuous term in the federal government – and now it’s time for us voters to decide if we’re ready for change. And as we prepare to exercise our democratic duty to vote our government in (or out), the Wheeler Centre is hosting a robust look at Australian democracy in action.

What does it mean? Does democracy work? What does democracy mean to different people, and does everyone in Australia truly have access to it?

Prominent Australians will each share a snapshot of what Australian democracy means to them in 2013.

Renowned feminist – and firebrand – Anne Summers will talk from the perspective of women’s rights. Margaret Simons, director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at The University of Melbourne, will talk about democracy and the media. Kon Karapanagiotidis of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre will explore the contentious ground that he has made his life’s work. Former speechwriter and Age journalist James Button will give his own unique perspective, as will left-wing historian Humphrey McQueen.

We’re inspired by the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka – which will explore the evolution and future of democracy, through interactive and immersive exhibitions.

Immerse yourself in some of the issues that will be crucial to the next government.

Hosted by Peter Mares.

Twitter: #AusDemocracy


Portrait of Margaret Simons

Margaret Simons

Margaret Simons is Associate Professor in the School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University. In 2015, she won the Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism. Her recent books include Six Square Metres, Self-Made Man: The Kerry Stokes Story, What's Next in Journalism?, Journalism at the Crossroads and Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, co-written with former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser. The latter won both the Book of the Year and the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2011. 

In addition to her academic work, Margaret regularly writes for the Saturday Paper, the Age, the Sydney Morning HeraldGriffith Review, the Monthly and other publications.

Portrait of Peter Mares

Peter Mares

Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Urban Transitions. He is a former ABC broadcaster and the author of three books, including No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018).

Portrait of Kon Karapanagiotidis

Kon Karapanagiotidis

Kon Karapanagiotidis is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. They assist thousands of people each year, with the help of over 1200 volunteers and 125 staff.  

Portrait of Anne Summers

Anne Summers

Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of nine books, including the classic Damned Whores and God's Police, Ducks on the Pond, The Lost Mother, and The Misogyny Factor.

Portrait of James Button

James Button

James Button is a former journalist and speechwriter.

Portrait of Humphrey McQueen

Humphrey McQueen

Humphrey McQueen is a freelance historian and cultural commentator. Widely known in Australia through his books, radio commentaries, articles and public speeches he is in demand as a guest lecturer, critic and consultant.

Portrait of Jane Smith

Jane Smith

Jane Smith is inaugural Director of M.A.D.E (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) which opens on 4 May 2013 in Ballarat.