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Powers That Be


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

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

Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O’Brien is one of Australia’s most respected journalists, with six Walkley awards including the Gold Walkley and the Walkley for outstanding leadership in journalism. In a career spanning more than fifty years, Kerry has worked for newspapers, television and a wire service, and as... Read more

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 ... Read more

Dennis Glover

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, new... Read more


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