The Fifth Estate
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Lord John Acton’s famous remark is among the most oft-quoted in politics: ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. But did Acton take the cynicism too far when he later wrote that ‘great men are almost always bad men’?
At this special Fifth Estate event, presented in partnership with Bendigo Writers Festival, host Sally Warhaft will be joined by three guests whose careers have brought them into close proximity to power for many years. Journalists Dennis Glover, Kerry O’Brien and Margaret Simons will share their thoughts and observations on the nature of power in Australia today.
What kind of people seek power? Are our politicians overstating their capacity to influence economic events that are largely out of their control? Is the nature of power changing in the 21st century? How much influence is wielded by people the public didn’t elect? And why is power so difficult to relinquish?
Hunger for power has been at the heart of the last tumultuous decade in Australian politics. Join us for a conversation about this irresistible force; its allure and its pitfalls.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. 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.
Kerry O’Brien is a prominent Australian journalist and author whose long career includes 28 years as a national current affairs television presenter and interviewer.
He has specialised in politics, but has also built a strong base in economics and business journalism, as well as investigative reporting. He has interviewed presidents and prime ministers across the world. Kerry has worked for every free to air television network, but has spent more than 30 years in public broadcasting.
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 Herald, Griffith Review, the Monthly and other publications.
Dennis Glover is an Australian writer and novelist. The son of factory workers, Dennis grew up in the working class Melbourne suburb of Doveton before studying at Monash University and King’s College Cambridge where he was awarded a PhD in history. He has worked for two decades as an academic, newspaper columnist, policy adviser and speechwriter to Australia’s most senior political, business and community leaders. An often outspoken political commentator, his books include An Economy is not a Society, The Art of Great Speeches and Orwell’s Australia. His debut novel The Last Man in Europe tells the dramatic story of how George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Sally Warhaft has been the Wheeler Centre’s in-house news anchor since 2012. In 2018 – over 100 episodes in – the anthropologist, broadcaster and intrepid interviewer’s fortnightly live series continues, as she responds to the most important debates of the day and reignites stories that have fallen off the front pages.
Every second Tuesday, Sally hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs. It’s an event series and a live podcast taping rolled into one. Topical guests are announced in the weeks prior to events: keep an eye on our website (or in the Wheeler Weekly) for updates.
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