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Dumbing Down Democracy: Lindsay Tanner and George Megalogenis


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“The two key rules that now govern the practice of Australian politics are: (1) look like you’re doing something; and (2) don’t offend anyone who matters.”

In 2010, one of the Wheeler Centre’s most popular events saw former ALP federal minister Lindsay Tanner interview senior political journalist George Megalogenis about his Quarterly Essay. Tanner put Megalogenis under the spotlight, questioning his analysis of the failures of leadership in Australian politics.

In 2011, the tables are turned. The former politician and the respected journalist return to duke it out again, this time focusing on Tanner’s new book Sideshow, part memoir, part analysis, and part critique of the media. In his first book since leaving political life, Tanner lays bare the relentless decline of political reporting and political behaviour that occurred during his career. On media, on politics, on Australia today, Megalogenis and Tanner are a formidable double-act.


George Megalogenis

George Megalogenis is an author and journalist with three decades’ experience in the media. The Australian Moment won the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Walkley Award for Non-fiction, and formed the basis for his ABC documentary series Making Austral... Read more

Lindsay Tanner

Lindsay Tanner was the minister for finance and deregulation in the Rudd-Gillard governments, and held the seat of Melbourne for the ALP from 1993 to 2010. Having retired from politics at the 2010 federal election, he is now a special adviser to Lazard Australia, and is a vice-chancellor’s fel... Read more


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