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The Numbers Game


The Fifth Estate is the Wheeler Centre’s new series of fortnightly forums: a more measured approach to news and current affairs. Provocative and studied, authoritative and unhurried, this is real analysis that will be pulling no punches. Hosted by broadcaster, journalist and anthropologist Sally Warhaft, The Fifth Estate is indispensible live journalism.

And to kick things off, Lindsay Tanner, former Finance minister and ALP heavyweight, talks with Sally about the state of the democratic process in Australia. Together they’ll ask: how robust is our democracy?

Australia’s economy is one of the world’s most stable, but the same can’t be said about our government.

Since the knife-edge federal election of 2010, the ALP has held minority government with the support of a loose coalition of very different interests: the two rural independents, anti-pokies maverick Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Adding fuel to that volatile mix is the uncertainty at the head of our major parties: the recent leadership tussle – and the contrast between public campaigning and party politics it exposed – may have left Australian voters more baffled and disillusioned than ever.

What are the implications of our vote? Has it all just turned into a numbers game? Does it matter who’s in charge, anyway? And is our democratic process in peril?



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

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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