Book Club / Culture

Lean into Australian politics with these essential cultural resources

I don't know if you've heard, but there's an Australian Federal Election coming up. However you feel about the last three years and the collective trauma experienced during this period, soon you'll have a chance to voice your thoughts at the ballet box. Admittedly, politics can feel accessible at the best of times. There's no shame in feeling bogged down by terms and political jargon, and if you do know that it's no coincidence — this is by design.

What's important is that when the opportunity to vote presents itself, you are doing so confident and informed. Considering that the last time many of us refreshed our understanding of Australian politics was in year six, there's no time like the present to bulk up our knowledge and do a little revising. That's why the RUSSH team has put together this handy guide on the podcasts and books we turn to when it comes to all things #AusPol. From books that cut through the meaningless ramblings of politicians to podcasts that flag proposed new legislation, these are the resources to arm yourself with as we approach the Federal Election and beyond.


Econobabble - Richard Denniss

Prominent Australian Economist Richard Denniss breaks down what politicians really mean when they talk about the economy. He sheds light on the jargon they use to keep regular, economy-illiterate folk out of the conversation and the logic they draw on to prove their points. Which you'll soon find out is incredibly illogical. Read for a straight-talking take on political spin and economic nonsense.


Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class & Power - Lech Blaine

For his piece for The Quarterly Essay journalist and author Lech Blaine picks apart the mythmaking and marketing Australian Prime Ministers have leaned on during their stints in politics. A timely read for those wondering how a man who grew up in Bronte and attended an inner city selective high school manages to align himself as an everyday, working class Australian. Blaine digs into the archetype of the battler and larrikin, questioning which Australians they serve and what this tells us about who gets to be considered Australian.


Sex, Lies and Question Time - Kate Ellis

In the last three years we've been bombarded with myriad miserable realities. One of the more salient being just how toxic Parliament is as a workplace for women. If gender equality is of significant interest to you come election time, be sure to get your hands on a copy of Sex, Lies and Question Time by former MP Kate Ellis. Here, she lifts the lid on just how toxic politics can be for women in Australia, drawing on the stories of her contemporaries like Julia Gillard, Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young.


Lies and Falsehoods - Bernard Keane

If you're sensing a pattern here, you don't have to look far for your answer. Here Crikey journalist Bernard Keane begins his book with all the on-record lies Scott Morrison has told while holding public office. As Keane argues, lying has always been present in politics but in the era of Donald Trump and his contemporaries, excessive, blatant lying has become the norm for our heads of state. For all who have found themselves equally fascinated and exhausted by our "post-truth" era, Keane highlights how we got here and how we can climb out.



No Silly Questions - The Daily Aus

As the title suggests, there are no silly questions when it comes to the next Federal Election according to The Daily Aus. Listen in here for informative and straightforward explanations on all this Australian politics. With episodes breaking down how elections even work and what the government actually does, this is a great place to start before you cast your ballot.


Left Right Out

Politics is for everybody. At least it should be. This is the premise underpinning Elfy Scott and Justine Landis-Hanley's podcast. After all, if we can't understand the process that governs us, then that's a one way ticket to hoards of disenfranchised people. Here they unpack common questions like what's the deal with the United Australia Party and why do they keep texting us, plus more.


Australian Politics - The Guardian

With a focus on the state of Australian politics more broadly, notable journalist Katharine Murphy will hold our hand as the temperature reaches boiling point ahead of the next election. So far she's interviewed Jacqui Lambie on the political landscape in Tasmania, spoken with Penny Wong about Labour's plans to mend foreign relations, prodded Josh Frydenberg to reflect on his term as treasurer during the pandemic and updated us on how both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese are currently polling.


The Party Room - ABC Radio

For The Party Room, Fran Kelly and Patricia Karvelas feed news from parliament directly into our listening spaces. As we approach the Federal Election no doubt conversation will focus on how each party is polling, what they're promising, with considered election analysis weaved throughout.



ABC Vote Compass

If you're new to voting or interested in sizing up each candidate and their policies against each other, this is a powerful tool to know. First, you can measure where you stand on issues like Gender Equality and the Environment and see how your values correspond to the campaigning parties. You can also see where you fall on the spectrum as a voter. Do you lean left of right? Are your economic views conservative or progressive? Give it a try.

The Australia Institute Essential Reading List 2021

While we're always here to update you on the Australian voices and books we consider essential reading, we have to admit that The Australia Institute's own annual reading list is a great resource for those looking to sink their teeth into public debates at the centre of our political discourse.

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