Delve into danger
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With six prime ministers in eight years, democracy in Australia is looking decidedly unwell. Add to this a political class whose interests seem divorced from voters and plummeting trust in government, and things are even worse. Are the polarised, opinion-driven media and the 24-hour news cycle to blame? With highly concentrated media ownership and vigorous partisan players, Australia now has home-grown problems with ‘fake news’. Will the media be the death of our democracy?
Chaired by Darren Goodsir, Chief Communications Officer for UNSW, Sydney.
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Darren Goodsir is the Chief Communications Officer for UNSW, Sydney – responsible for the university’s global brand, reputation, media and content, digital strategy and all internal and external communications. He has spent more than 30 years in journalism, communications and public affairs, having led The Sydney Morning Herald through transformative digital change, including technological reforms and wholesale organisational restructuring. He was The Herald’s editor-in-chief for four years, the culmination of nearly 20 years with Fairfax Media. Before this, he worked on The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, The Daily Telegraph, and as a policy advisor for the NSW Police Commissioner and a press secretary for a state government minister. He holds a law degree from the University of Technology, Sydney, and is a twice-published author. His true crime novel, Line of Fire, published in 1991, formed the basis for the acclaimed ABC mini-series, Blue Murder.
John Hewson is a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader. An economic and financial expert with experience in academia, business, government and the financial system, he has worked as an economist for the Australian Treasury, the Reserve Bank, the IMF and as an advisor to two successive federal treasurers and the prime minister. Hewson’s political career includes seven years as a ministerial advisor and a further eight years as the Federal Member for Wentworth in the Federal Parliament. He was Shadow Finance Minister, Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce, then leader of the Liberal Party and Federal Coalition in Opposition for four years. Since leaving politics in early 1995, Hewson has run his own private investment banking business, including as director/advisor of a wide range of companies. He writes opinion columns for a number of newspapers and online news services, and is a regular commentator on a wide range of radio and television programs.
Dr Rebecca Huntley is an author, columnist, broadcaster, adjunct senior lecturer at UNSW, and one of Australians foremost researchers on social trends. After nine years as Director of The Mind & Mood Report – Australia's longest running social trends report – she now heads Vox Populi research. She has authored numerous books, including Still Lucky: Why you should feel optimistic about Australia and its people, and has written extensively for essay collections, magazines, newspapers and online publications including Australian Vogue and BRW. She currently writes for The Guardian, and a twice-monthly column for ABC Life. In 2017, she co-presented The Guardian's podcast Common Ground with Lenore Taylor. She also co-hosts with Sarah Macdonald a comedy storytelling night and podcast calledThe Full Catastrophe.
Dee Madigan is an award-winning Creative Director with over 20 years experience working in the advertising industry. As well as campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands including HSBC, Diet Coke, J&J and Rexona and Nestle, Dee has extensive social marketing and political campaigning – she has worked on 11 election campaigns, including the 2015 and 2017 QLD elections, the 2016 NT and ACT campaigns, and the 2018 Longman by-election. Dee runs her own Advertising Agency, Campaign Edge, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin. She is a panellist on Gruen, and political commentator on Sky. She is the author of The Hard Sell (MUP 2014) as well as a contributing author on Mothermorphosis (MUP 2015), Perspectives on Change (ANU 2015) and Unbreakable (MUP 2017).