Telling the story of Australia as it is today, Gabrielle Chan has gone hyper-local. In Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up, she looks to her own rural community’s main street for answers to the big questions driving voters. Why are we so fed up with politics? Why are formerly rusted-on country voters deserting major parties in greater numbers than their city cousins? Can ordinary people teach us more about the way forward for government?
In 1996 – the year Pauline Hanson entered parliament – Gabrielle, the city-born daughter of a Chinese migrant, moved to a sheep and wheat farm in country New South Wales. She provides a window into her community where she raised her children and reflects on its lessons for the Australian political story. It is a fresh take on the old rural narrative, informed by class and culture, belonging and broadband, committees and cake stalls, rural recession and reconciliation.
Along the way, Gabrielle recounts conversations with her fellow residents, people who have no lobby group in Canberra, so we can better understand lives rarely seen in political reporting. She describes communities that are forsaking the political process to move ahead of government. Though sometimes facing polar opposite political views to her own, Gabrielle learns the power of having a shared community at stake and in doing so, finds an alternative for modern political tribal warriors.
Meet Gabrielle Chan in conversation with Katharine Murphy
Tickets: $12 (includes a complimentary glass of house wine or soft drink)
Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years, including at The Australian, ABC radio, and The Daily Telegraph. She has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and even a recipe book. In 1996 she married and sheep and wheat farmer and moved to country NSW, observing many differences to life and views in Canberra, so in September 2017, she swapped interviews with politicians, for interviews with ordinary people on her main street to discover why they think politics has moved so far from their lives. The result is Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up.
Katharine Murphy has worked in the parliamentary press gallery since 1996 for Fairfax Media, News Corp and Guardian Australia, where she is currently political editor. She is the host of the podcast, Australian Politics Live, a regular on the ABC's Insiders program, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Canberra, and a director of the National Press Club. She is the author of On Disruption, published by Melbourne University Publishing.