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Quarterly Essay: David Marr on Bill Shorten


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How does it feel to find out you’ll be the next subject of a Quarterly Essay by David Marr?

The good news is that you’re joining the ranks of some of the most influential people in Australian public life – Marr’s previous subjects include John Howard, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and George Pell.

The bad news is that Marr is an incisive writer and a fiendishly thorough researcher with a knack for digging up surprising biographical details. What you’d like is a rather dull record of your achievements in public life; perhaps some nice quotes from your colleagues. What you might end up getting, as Kevin Rudd learned, is a page-turner.

For Issue 59 of the Quarterly Essay, Marr turns his attention to Bill Shorten. Marr’s essay examines the background and leadership style of the zinger-generating opposition leader and also looks into the future of the Australian Labor Party’s ties with the union movement. It’s a movement that has shaped the party’s past as well as its present leader. Will it continue to shape the future? Join Marr for a conversation about the man who would be Prime Minister.

Presented in partnership with Quarterly Essay.


David Marr

David Marr is the author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic, The High Price of Heaven and Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson). He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Saturday Paper, the Guardian and the Monthly, and been editor... Read more

Sophie Black

Sophie Black is a journalist, broadcaster, writer and editor with a focus on the environment, politics, media, the internet and parenting in the end times. She writes regular features and opinion for The Guardian and The Monthly. Black has worked in senior management across cultural and media organi... Read more


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