Australian politics, society & culture


Iain McCalman is a social historian and a research professor at the University of Sydney. His latest book, The Reef: A passionate history, tells the story of Australia’s wondrous Great Barrier Reef, and what has happened since human contact with it.   Not distant theoretical history, but passionately engaged, this is a book that sweeps across several centuries. It’s informative and bold, but it is in the best tradition of naturalist chronicles. McCalman’s warmth and intelligence permeate every page.   McCalman discusses The Reef, and his other books, including Darwin’s Armada, with Robert Manne in this La Trobe University Ideas and Society session at the Bendigo Writers Festival 2015.   Bendigo, August 2015
How charities transform the clothes we throw away
By Delia Falconer
The many talents of a much-maligned rodent
By Anne Manne
Too many kangaroos loose in Canberra
By Sam Vincent
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth: it’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism. It’s time climate change was a campaigning priority outside the environment bubble. This panel from the Progress 2015 conference features Naomi Klein (award-winning journalist and author of This Changes Everything), Anna Rose (national manager of Earth Hour) and Robert Manne (emeritus professor of politics, La Trobe University) and is convened by David Ritter (CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific). Melbourne, May 2015
To preserve Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne should learn from Sydney
By Tim Flannery
Is it possible that the world’s songbirds all come from Australia? Yes, according to biologist Tim Low in his fascinating ornithological history of Australia, Where Song Began. Low’s wonderfully readable book literally turns the map upside down and makes a compelling case for the origin of birds in the antipodes. Join him in conversation with Caroline Baum at Adelaide Writers’ Week 2015. Adelaide, March 2015
For the 40th anniversary of one of Australia’s worst natural disasters, Sophie Cunningham has written a fascinating history of the event, Warning: The story of Cyclone Tracy. Drawing from eyewitness accounts of those who experienced the devastation, Cunningham has created an exhilarating and deeply compassionate narrative. Join her in conversation with Sarah Tooth at Adelaide Writers’ Week 2015. Adelaide, March 2015
Rugby star David Pocock says sport and politics are always mixed
By Sam Vincent
Hugh Mackay is a passionate chronicler of human interactions. At the Perth Writers Festival 2015 he reads from and discusses his new book, The Art of Belonging, which reignites the conversation about how we want to live. Drawing on 50 years’ experience as a social researcher, Mackay creates a fictional suburb, Southwood, and populates it with characters who – like most of us – struggle to reconcile their need to belong with their desire to live life on their own terms. He chronicles the numerous human interactions and inevitable conflicts that arise in a community when characters assert their own needs at the expense of others. Perth, February 2015
George Marshall is the author of Don’t Even Think About It: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change. As part of La Trobe University's Ideas and Society program, he joins Professor Robert Manne at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne to discuss the complex psychology behind climate change denial. George Marshall has become one of the leading European experts in climate-change communications. Throughout his research he has sought to answer a number of questions, including why most people never talk about climate change, even those with personal experience of extreme record breaking weather, and why scientists – normally the most trusted professionals in society – have become distrusted, hated, and the targets for abuse. Melbourne, February 2015
Are we generally optimistic or are we tending more and more towards pessimism? Despite the current state of environmental and political affairs, former Greens leader Bob Brown (author of the memoir Optimism) seems firmly entrenched in the positive camp; having just completed a book on the influence of original sin in Western thought (Born Bad), James Boyce knows how enduring and pervasive a more pessimistic understanding of human capacity is. They share their views with Lawrence Apps. Perth, February 2015
The BARK program at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre sees prisoners taking care of dogs
By Andrew McMillen
The Adelaide Zoo has a chequered past
By Anna Goldsworthy
Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’
By Robert Manne
Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, on Svalbard.
The president of Kiribati goes on a fact-finding mission in the Arctic
By John van Tiggelen