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Words & Ideas: City vs Bush

Sheila Drummond Memorial Lecture: How do we keep city and bush together in the 21st century?

Panel Discussion and Q&A with George Megalogenis, Don Watson & Sally Warhaft

This event is made possible by Keatings Real Estate.

City versus bush. It’s one of Australia’s oldest divides, reflecting two very different ideas of who we are as a people. How do we build a bridge between the two in the 21st century when our cosmopolitan capitals and parochial regional towns and country areas have never been further apart in terms of age, ethnic make-up, income and cultural outlook?

Sally Warhaft will chair a discussion with Don Watson, a country boy who lives in Melbourne and George Megalogenis, who left Melbourne just once, to work in Canberra.

George Megalogenis is an author and journalist with more than three decades’ experience in the media, including 11 years in the federal parliamentary press gallery.

He is the author of five books, including The Australian Moment which won the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Walkley Award for Non-fiction, and formed the basis for his three-part ABC documentary series Making Australia Great. He also wrote and presented the documentary tribute to former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, Life Wasn’t Meant To Be Easy which aired on the ABC in the same year, 2015.

George’s other books are Faultlines, The Longest Decade, Australia’s Second Chance, and Balancing Act, which contains his first two Quarterly Essays, No. 40: Trivial Pursuit – Leadership and the End of the Reform Era and No. 61: Balancing Act – Australia Between Recession and Renewal. His most recent book is The Football Solution, and his most recent Quarterly Essay is No 82: Exit Strategy – Politics After The Pandemic.

Among the newspapers he has written for are The Australian, The New York Times and, since 2020, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne interviewer, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, and a former editor of The Monthly magazine. Sally is a regular broadcaster on ABC radio. Her bestselling book is titled ‘Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia’.

Don Watson, writer, is an authority on aspects of Australian history, culture, politics and language. Educated at La Trobe and Monash universities, he was an academic historian until 1983, publishing Brian Fitzpatrick: A Radical Life in 1979 and both The Story of Australia and Caledonia Australis in 1984. Throughout the 1980s he wrote political satire, particularly for the actor Max Gillies, and speeches for the Victorian premier, John Cain. Since then his serious and satirical writing has appeared in most of Australia’s major journals and newspapers and on television, radio, stage and screen. He joined Paul Keating as speechwriter in January 1992 and stayed until his fall in 1996, gaining a reputation as a speechwriter without peer through efforts such as the ‘Redfern Speech’ of 1992. His biography of Keating, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (2002) won the National Biography Award, the Courier-Mail Book of the Year Award and the Age Book of the Year Award. He has since published Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language (2003) an attack on the progressive obfuscation of language by politicians and the media, and Weasel Words: Contemporary Clichés, Cant and Management Jargon (2004).

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