Festival day passes are now fully booked – but single session tickets are still available. Browse individual sessions below.
Treat yourself to The Festival of Questions – a series of thoughtful, quick-witted and exhilarating discussions that will change how you see the world. It’s one whole day of querying, questioning, wondering and asking why.
In four sessions across one day, we’ll bring together some of the sharpest and funniest thinkers we know. They’ll wrestle with the big questions facing Australia, and the world, today. Think: culture, class and climate; politics and punditry; philosophy and feminism. What are the issues that divide and unite us? Do terms like ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’ still have meaning today? Is the world changing too fast, or not fast enough?
Join us for a day of storytelling, comedy, debate, discussion and … possible disarray. We’ll open our minds and mind the whole world’s business. #festivalofQs
Single session tickets now available
12pm–1.30pm – Questions for the Nation
What are the most important questions facing Australians – today and in the future?
At the first Festival of Questions session, we’ll scan the horizons, break deadlocked debates and dust off the issues rotting for too long at the bottom of the nation’s too-hard basket. And we’re bringing together some of the sharpest thinkers we know to help us do it.
Each of our speakers will present their ideas on the issues Australia needs to confront head-on. Then it’s over to you. Should there be a citizenship test to buy property in Australia? Should the public really have a say about ‘marriage equality’? Is compulsory voting bad for democracy? The Wheeler Centre has travelled the country asking these questions, and now it’s Melbourne’s turn.
As Australians, who do we want to be and how are we going to get there?
Featuring Gareth Evans, Julian Burnside, Shireen Morris, Helen Razer, Jamila Rizvi, Geraldine Doogue and Jack Latimore. Co-hosted by Deborah Frances-White and Rebecca Huntley.
2.30pm–4pm – What is Right? What is Left?
The times, they are … confusing. Trump and Brexit have shaken up traditional definitions of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in politics. In Australia, the extreme right wing embraces a protectionist platform in the figure of Pauline Hanson. What has happened to the old political spectrum?
At this essential debate, our speakers will put forward their ideas about the evolving political landscape in 2017, both in Australia and internationally. Dissecting hot-button topics from immigration to economic protectionism, they’ll argue for new political forces, formations and possibilities.
How will we define our obligations to ourselves and to each other in the future? What kind of leadership can emerge in a new political landscape, and where do we look for hope?
Featuring Lauren Duca, Kenan Malik, George Megalogenis, Tim Wilson, Shen Narayanasamy, Rita Panahi and host Sally Warhaft, with live drawing by Oslo Davis.
5pm–6.30pm – Philosophical Fight Club
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Our diverse line-up of intellectual heavyweights will go to the mat and wrestle with some of the biggest, ugliest and toughest philosophical dilemmas facing Australians today.
Host Geoffrey Robertson will thoroughly grill our panellists, delving into questions of cultural memory, citizenship, populism and more. Join us for a session of scrutiny, speculation, supposition and squabbling as we delve into the spikiest moral problems of our time.
Featuring Anna Krien, Julian Burnside, George Megalogenis, Celeste Liddle, Quinn Eades, Jordan Raskopoulos and host Geoffrey Robertson.
7.30pm–9pm – What the Hell? The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017
This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.
We’re concluding the Festival of Questions with an evening of readings, rantings, debate and discussion inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale. Why has Margaret Atwood’s uniquely disturbing vision of feminist dystopia struck such a chord in 2017?
Does the overwhelming response to the new TV Handmaid’s Tale series reflect a moment of unprecedented panic among feminists? Or are we waking up to our complacency?
At the Melbourne Town Hall, we’ll pull apart and rebuild The Handmaid’s Tale with our panel of aunts, including Deborah Frances-White, Lauren Duca, Celeste Liddle, Quinn Eades and Krissy Kneen. They’ll take us through key moments of the novel and discuss the TV series’ most poignant, powerful and hands-over-the-eyes-horrific scenes.
Join us for an exploration of the surreal, the sinister and the speculative in popular culture today. BYO white-winged bonnet and paranoid outlook.
This event is produced in collaboration with The Guilty Feminist podcast.
Featuring Deborah Frances-White, Lauren Duca, Krissy Kneen, Celeste Liddle and Quinn Eades.
All sessions of The Festival of Questions will be Auslan interpreted.
Presented in partnership with Melbourne Festival and City of Melbourne.
Julian Burnside is a Melbourne barrister. He joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He specialises in commercial litigation, and has acted in many very contentious cases – the MUA Waterfront dispute; the Cash-for-Comment enquiry; cases for Alan Bond and Rose Porteous – but has be... Read more
Oslo Davis is an illustrator, cartoonist and artist who has drawn for a number of organisations worldwide, including the New York Times, the Age, the Monthly, Meanjin, SBS and the Guardian. He has also been commissioned to draw for the National Gallery of Victoria, the Golden Plains music fest... Read more
Geraldine Doogue is a highly accomplished Australian journalist and presenter whose career in print, television and radio includes Four Corners, the Australian, Life Matters, Compass and Saturday Extra. While originally planning a career as a schoolteacher after completing her Arts degree, in 1972 G... Read more
Lauren Duca is an award-winning and -losing freelance journalist best known for her viral piece ‘Donald Trump is Gaslighting America‘, and calling Tucker Carlson a ‘partisan hack’ on national television. In addition to working on her Thigh-High Politics column for Teen Vogue,... Read more
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 Se... Read more
Deborah Frances-White is a stand up comedian, writer, speaker and podcaster. She is best known as the creator and host of The Guilty Feminist Podcast – which has had 20 million downloads in its first 18 months. It has just been nominated for a 2017 Aria Award for Best Podcast. She is currently ... Read more
Rebecca Huntley is one of Australia’s most respected researchers on social and consumer trends, and head of research at Essential Media. She is the author of Still Lucky: Why You Should Feel Optimistic About Australia and Its People.
Krissy Kneen is the award-winning author of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, including An Uncertain Grace, which was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. She has written and directed broadcast television documentaries and is the current Copyright Agency Ltd Non-fiction Fellow. The Three Burials of L... Read more
Anna Krien is the author of the award-winning Night Games and Into the Woods, as well as two Quarterly Essays, Us and Them and The Long Goodbye. Anna’s writing has been published in The Monthly, the Age, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Stories and The Big Issue. In 2014 she won the UK Will... Read more
Jack Latimore is an Indigenous researcher with the Centre for Advancing Journalism. He is currently involved in the development of several projects aimed at improving the quality of Indigenous representation and participation in the mainstream media-sphere. His journalism work has appeared in Koori ... Read more
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Analysis on BBC Radio 4, and a panellist on The Moral Maze. He has taught at universities in Britain, Europe, Australia and the USA, presented many TV documentaries and writes regularly for newspapers across the world includi... Read more
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
Shireen Morris is a lawyer, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School, and a senior adviser on constitutional reform to Cape York Institute. She is the author of Radical Heart (MUP, 2018), the co-editor of The Forgotten People: Liberal and Conservative Approaches to Recognising... Read more
Shen Narayanasamy is GetUp!’s Human Rights Campaign Director. She founded the No Business in Abuse project, targeting corporate involvement in offshore detention of asylum seekers, and led #LetThemStay, which prevented the deportation of hundreds of asylum seekers to Nauru. Recently, she ... Read more
Rita is a Herald Sun columnist. She can be heard on radio 3AW, 2GB with Steve Price and appears regularly on Sunrise on Seven, and Sky News.
Jordan is a world class comedian, actor, singer and digital content creator. She is best know for her work as the front woman for comedy rock band The Axis of Awesome. Jordan has written about transgender issues and spoken about her personal experience for numerous publications and media programs,... Read more
Helen Razer was a broadcaster and is now a writer. Her appointments in radio were at the Triple J national network and ABC Melbourne. Her books include A Short History of Stupid, co-authored with national affairs correspondent Bernard Keane, a 2015 work on the history of bad Western thought shortlis... Read more
Jamila Rizvi is a best-selling author for adults and children and an opinion columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She is the Chief of Content, Community and Online Learning at Nine’s Future Women and hosts a number of podcasts, The Weekend Briefing, Anonymous Was A Woman and Th... Read more
Geoffrey Robertson QC is founder and head of the world’s largest human rights practice, in London. He has prosecuted Hastings Banda, defended Julian Assange and acted for Human Rights Watch in the proceedings against General Pinochet. He served as the first president of the Special Court for Sierr... Read more
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
Tim Wilson is the Member for Goldstein. He was first elected in 2016 and achieved the strongest result in the Goldstein’s history for the Liberal Party. As a proud liberal he is committed to economic and social freedom, underpinned by the preservation of our culture and institutions. He formerly s... Read more
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