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Live-stream: Breaking the Climate Stalemate


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What might the economic and social upheavals of 2020 mean for climate policy in Australia? For this Fifth Estate conversation, host Sally Warhaft will bring together two writers who have undertaken in-depth research into the resource economy and Australian climate scepticism.

Judith Brett’s recent Quarterly Essay, ‘The Coal Curse’, traces the history of Australia’s resource dependence and its impact on our political culture. Marian Wilkinson’s book, The Carbon Club, explores the loose but powerful alliance of Australian media, mining and political figures whose scepticism has hindered meaningful climate policy development for decades.

There are signs, though, that the stalemate might be starting to shift. Amid widespread criticism during the bushfires earlier this year, Scott Morrison began to soften his climate rhetoric, speaking of ‘adaptation’ and ‘resilience’. James Murdoch spoke out against News Corp’s climate scepticism in January and, more recently, dramatically resigned from the board. Will the seismic impacts of Covid-19 set us back into our entrenched economic habits, or could 2020 mark a turning point?

Our online bookseller for this event will be Readings.



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 ... Read more

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 Right, Fair Share ... Read more

Marian Wilkinson

Marian Wilkinson is regarded as one of the most distinguished journalists in Australia. A member of the Australian Media Hall of Fame, Marian was a pioneer in the resurgence of Australian investigative journalism. She was a senior journalist for many years with the Sydney Morning Herald, servin... Read more

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