by Tom Phillips (Hachette)
As the editor of the UK-based independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact, Tom Phillips deals in truth. And according to him, there was never an age before the ‘post-truth’. While politicians may appear to be lying more openly today than in recent memory (and with seemingly fewer concerns for the consequences), and the internet has made the dissemination of untruth on a mass scale easier than ever before, Phillips argues that humans have been lying to each other as a matter of course for our entire history. Truth tracks that history — ‘the sheer variety of untruth’ our world offers us — in an entertaining and revealing depiction of what it means to be human. It asks why, in so many of our interactions, we are often averse to the truth, and how we might collectively look to remedy that.
by Adele Ferguson (HarperCollins)
In 2018, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry captured the attention of the nation. The dramatic revelations showed a depth of unconscionable behaviour that surprised even those who supported the banks. In Banking Bad, Adele Ferguson — the journalist whose Four Corners program (from which the book takes its title) was instrumental in sparking the review — describes the abuses of power within an industry so central to Australian life; the efforts of victims, whistleblowers and political mavericks to bring the truth to light; and the outcomes of the royal commission. Australians have some of the highest household debt in the world; this book is an important reminder of what that means — or ought to mean — for banks, for governments, and for everyday people.
by Naomi Klein (Penguin)
Naomi Klein’s keen critical eye has been fixed on climate change for the last decade or so. On Fire brings together some of her most pressing, resonant writing on the issue of how to move forward in a warming, polluted world paralysed by relative policy inaction. Klein takes the Green New Deal — a congressional resolution put forward by US senators Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey — as the most inspiring example of a set of concrete actions for zeroing out carbon emissions and developing energy and community infrastructure aimed at maximum efficiency and resilience. The result is not just a measured analysis ignited by a necessary urgency, but also an ode to the inspiration we can draw from collective imagination and action.
by Annabel Crabb (Quarterly Essay)
When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her pregnancy while in office, it made headlines around the world; yet, just over the Tasman, the fact that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg became the first Australian prime minister and treasurer to have young children while in office since the 1970s passed without notice. Taking this contrast as her case in point, Annabel Crabb explores how, in the last half-decade, women have revolutionised the way they work and live, and asks why men’s lives have changed comparably little. Rather than simply suggesting men need to be more involved in domestic life, Crabb examines the everyday — and in particular, the workplace — pressures placed on men to be the breadwinner, and suggests that unpicking this could be a step towards a more equitable society.
by Caroline Criado Perez (Penguin)
Did you know that the standard formula for air-conditioning in offices and public buildings may overestimate the female metabolic rate by up to 35 per cent, setting the temperature at 5 degrees lower than optimal for women? In Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez gives dozens of examples such as this — many with serious repercussions for health and wellbeing — to highlight the presence of the ‘default male’ in the way our world is designed. Perez argues convincingly that this often-invisible bias is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women that profoundly affects how their lives are lived. Her solution? Data collection that properly accounts for women, and the use of that data in design and policy-making undertaken by gender-balanced parties.
by Amy McQuire (Griffith Review)
In 1991, Kevin Henry — aka ‘Kurtain’ — a 22-year-old Indigenous man from Woorabinda, Queensland — was sentenced to life in prison for a rape and murder to which he confessed. However, since his conviction, he has continued to claim his innocence, as have many in the community where his crime allegedly took place. In this haunting essay — a finalist in the 2019 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism — Amy McQuire revisits Kurtain’s case through the memories of her father (a former prison guard where Kurtain was held), the details of the case, and an emerging body of evidence about the prevalence of false confessions being extracted by police. Australia’s rates of Indigenous incarceration are among the worst in the developed world; here, McQuire shows the importance of truth-telling in beginning to address this.
by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant)
In May 2017, more than 250 delegates gathered near Uluru for the First Nations National Constitutional Convention. The convention culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a document that speaks to the ‘torment of [the] powerlessness’ of First Nations Australians and posits constitutional reforms ‘to empower our people to take a rightful place in our own country’. Thomas Mayor was one of those delegates; since then, he has travelled around the country to promote the Statement’s vision for a better future for Indigenous Australians. Through Mayor’s own journey, and his conversations with twenty key figures, Finding the Heart of the Nation taps into ‘the pulse of this beautiful country’ while making clear what the Statement is, and why it matters to all of us.
‘How good is Queensland? Voices from the state that has turned against Labor as a party of federal government’
by Lech Blaine (The Monthly)
In the aftermath of the federal election that sparked #QUEXIT, Lech Blaine took a 7,000-kilometre road trip in order to better understand what makes Queensland different from the rest of Australia, and why the former Labor stronghold has turned its back on the party at the federal level. ‘Make no mistake. This [election] wasn’t a coronation of Morrison, but a mutiny against Labor.’ Covering electorates from the apple-growing south to the tropical north, Blaine captures the thoughts and lives of Queenslanders — including local members, former prime ministers, diesel fitters and Indigenous musicians — with warmth and sharp insight. He finds mixed sentiments, but a general conclusion: for many Queenslanders, Bill Shorten’s Labor party was the latest player in a long history of selling the state short.
by Sally Rugg (Hachette)
After years of campaigning and intense public debate, when the Turnbull government’s marriage law postal survey returned a clear public desire for marriage equality the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 was quickly passed. According to Sally Rugg, who was the marriage equality campaign manager for GetUp, the focus on Turnbull and the postal survey as the components of success was like ‘gas lighting on [an] industrial, national scale’. With How Powerful We Are, Rugg ensures that the years of work by LGBTIQ+ communities and activists are not forgotten. Importantly, she commits to record the many lessons learnt in the process — in particular, the importance of solidarity in the face of criticism and abuse, from both within a campaign and without.
by Peter Hoysted and Pat Sheil (Penguin)
In 1984, Queensland’s Eagle Farm race track was the setting for ‘Australia’s dodgiest horse race’. What was supposed to be a simple race fix (involving swapping a slower horse for a faster one covered in hair dye) became a national scandal and an Australian legend. Peter Hoysted and Pat Sheil’s horrifying yet hilarious account details the characters who attempted to defraud bookmakers of millions of dollars, and how their plan went drastically wrong. The outcome not only alerted Australians to misdoings in the horse racing industry, but also shed light on the extent of police corruption in Queensland three years before The Moonlight State was aired and the Fitzgerald Inquiry was launched.
by Al Jazeera
Documentary series looking at how journalists across the world are coming to terms with a new media landscape that is in constant flux and rife with fake news and ‘expert’ opinions.
by ABC iView
Award-nominated six-part drama, starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths, about an Indigenous woman catapulted into the political arena as a senator, only to discover it was part of a cynical powerplay by a corporate-influenced government.
by Griffith University Policy Innovation Hub
Podcast series that provides independent analysis by Australia’s best political scientists and policy researchers, and includes interviews with political figures such as Natasha Stott-Despoja, Deb Frecklington, and Anthony Albanese.