Video/Podcast of ‘Quarterly Essay’ Event Now Online

(Click to watch video.)

(Click to watch video.)

Throughout the year, the Wheeler Centre holds events to coincide with the publication of each Quarterly Essay. Given the subject matter of Robert Manne’s latest essay, we felt that it was appropriate to offer The Australian right of reply, and to hold the event as a debate rather than a straight interview with the essayist. We were thrilled when Paul Kelly, the newspaper’s editor-at-large, agreed to be part of the event, and, in Crikey editor Sophie Black, the event had a moderator who was agreed upon by both sides. The event booked out, making Paul Kelly’s decision to pull out of the debate (and The Australian’s decision not to send anyone else to participate in his absence) at such a late stage regrettable. In the end, an act of ventriloquism seemed to be called for.

On 14 September, 2011, The Australian published several pieces - adding up to some 14,000 words - defending itself against Manne’s 40,000-word essay. Among them was a piece by Paul Kelly entitled, ‘Robert Manne throws truth overboard’. In place of its author, Paul Kelly’s response at the event was read by actor Max Gillies. The version read by Gillies was edited for time: no meaning or context was altered, but the section of the article discussing the Larissa Behrendt affair was removed.

Although there was no one from The Australian on stage, the newspaper did send a reporter to the event and published his report within three hours of the event’s conclusion (read it here). We should add that the free event was booked out, and the capacity of the Wheeler Centre’s event space is 330.