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Cathy Goes to Canberra

Getting Elected: The first national convention for community-minded independents

For candidates planning to run as independents, community members keen to support a community leader to run, and others with a commitment to help Australian politics reach its potential.

An Australian first, this online convention will be a unique opportunity to network, share skills, knowledge and experience and learn more about how community independents can change Australia for the better.

Join us online from Friday evening to Sunday lunch on the last weekend of February 2021. Be inspired by those who’ve run campaigns including independent candidates, campaigners and community voices groups.

Sign up on the Getting Elected website and we’ll email you when registrations open, along with ticket costs and our program details including workshops, speakers, and panelists.




Cathy Goes to Canberra: Doing Politics Differently

Cathy McGowan – Cathy Goes to Canberra

A conversation with Kerryn Phelps and Van Badham about independent, community-driven politics.

In 2013 Cathy McGowan became the first female independent to sit on the crossbench, where she would represent the Victorian rural electorate of Indi for six years. Winning the seat of Indi, after the Coalition had held the seat for 82 years, was a watershed moment. Indi became ‘Exhibit A’ for future political campaigns – from Kerryn Phelps as the Member for Wentworth to Zali Steggall in Warringah.

Cathy Goes to Canberra tells both the story of the campaign to win Indi around the community’s kitchen tables and the subsequent realities of negotiating good policy with the major political parties.

The book is a handbook – a ‘how-to-be-elected’ and a ‘how-to-survive’ Canberra. It is a manifesto for an alternative community-based politics told through the prism of the story we know as ‘Cathy McGowan Goes to Canberra’.

In 2004 McGowan was made an Officer of the Order of Australia ‘for service to the community through raising awareness of and stimulating debate about issues affecting women in regional, rural and remote areas.’ McGowan was also a recipient of the Centenary Medal in 2001.



Newman Bradley Haydar

Louise Newman and Michael Bradley in conversation with Nour Haydar

Rape Culture
The revelations and allegations of sexual harassment and assault in the Australian Parliament have prompted furious responses. Political leaders have attempted to limit the damage by referring to the lack of criminal charges, resisting a discussion of entrenched misogyny. Advocates for survivors of abuse see this as a continuation of the long history of normalising the abuse of woman, perpetuating it through legal mechanisms and the exercise of power. This impasse represents the workings of a ‘rape culture’ where the abuse of women is accepted as commonplace. Psychological theories of repression have been misused, contributing to the recycling of the so-called theory of ‘false memories’ whereby the recall of trauma is seen as invented, perhaps implanted by therapists. It is concerning that this complex issue is being ventilated by journalists, politicians and lawyers without any clinical understanding of trauma, memory and the implications for support. Women must not be represented as mentally unstable, untrustworthy or ruled by their hormones while their abusers take refuge in legalisms, obfuscations and the dark art of political calculus.

System Failure: The Silencing of Rape Survivors
One in five Australian women has been the victim of a sexual assault. For these women, there is less than a 1 per cent chance that their rapist has been arrested, prosecuted and convicted of the crime. These are the bare numerical facts of system failure. We offer rape survivors a stark choice: go to the police, or remain silent. In recent times, the public pressure on survivors to report has increased, alongside a growing focus on two other options: civil action against the perpetrator, or going public. These evolving social responses are intended to offer an alternative to the tradition of silencing. However, each of these choices, for survivors, involves a further sacrifice of what they have already lost. The legal system’s responses to rape were designed without survivors in mind, and they do not address, in any way, the questions that survivors ask or the needs they express. Simply put, on the systemic response to rape, we are having the wrong conversation.

RSVP Essential. Zoom links will be sent 24 hours ahead of time.

Labor People launch

Book Launch: Labor People by Chris Bowen (Gleebooks, Sydney)


With moderator Louise Adler

In Labor People, Chris Bowen brings to life six great Australians and servants of their party and tells their story. Spanning the 1890s to the 1970s, in paying tribute to these Labor warriors, he also tells an important part of the history of Labor and Australia.

Read more about Labor People here

*Please note this is an online event. RSVP here

Chris BowenChris Bowen is one of Labor’s most experienced parliamentarians.  He entered Parliament in 2004 and has held a wide range of portfolios, including being Treasurer, Shadow Treasurer, Minister for Immigration and Minister for Tertiary Education.

He served as Interim Leader of the Labor Party in 2013 and is currently Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

He has degrees in economics, international relations and the Indonesian language.  He is the author of three previous books: Hearts and Minds (2013), The Money Men (2015) and On Charlatans (2021).

He lives in Smithfield in Western Sydney with his wife Rebecca, their children Grace and Max and two very cheeky Labradors Ollie and Toby.

John FaulknerJohn Faulkner joined the Labor Party as a teenager and worked as a teacher of children with severe disabilities.

In 1980 he became the NSW ALP Assistant General Secretary and then a Senator – from 1989 until his retirement in 2015. He was a cabinet minister in the Keating Government holding the Environment, Sport and Territories portfolio from 1994 to 1996. After the defeat of the Keating Government he was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate until 2004.

John was elected National President of the ALP in 2006 and remained in that position until the election of the Rudd Government.

He served in the Rudd & Gillard Governments – as Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State (2007 to 2009) and then as Minister for Defence (2009 to 2010) until his retirement from cabinet.

Louise AdlerLouise Adler is a Vice Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at Monash University and Publisher at Large for Hachette. She is the proud publisher of four books by Chris Bowen.

The Case for Courage

Kevin Rudd in Conversation

Reading’s Carlton is delighted to be hosting a conversation between former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Radio National’s ‘Big Ideas’ presenter Paul Barclay to discuss the future intersects of politics, democracy, and the media in Australia.

For some time, Australia’s democracy has been slowly sliding into disrepair. It’s tempting, but distracting, to point to the usual list of reasons – anything from the declining calibre of the political class to the growing polarisation of politics. In reality, we can’t begin to understand the current predicament of our ailing democracy without recognising the central role of Murdoch’s media monopoly. Join us at this live and in-person event to discuss this very issue.

Tickets are $25/$30 per person and include a copy of Kevin Rudd’s book, The Case for Courage. Places are strictly limited.

Please book here.

Please note this event will be recorded for Radio National’s Big Ideas show.





Bill Bowtell in Conversation

Please note: This is an online event.

Readings is delighted to be hosting an evening with Bill Bowtell, to discuss his recent essay Unmasked: The Politics of Pandemics. Bowtell will be in conversation with microbiologist Brendan Crabb and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and current leader of the investigation into WHO’s COVID-19 response, Helen Clark.

In Unmasked: the Politics of Pandemics, Bowtell draws on four decades of experience in the global and local politics of public health to examine why some countries got it right with coronavirus while others collapsed into misery and chaos.

This event is online and ticket entry is $5 per person, which is redeemable off purchase of the book when purchasing in store or online from the Readings website. Attendees will be sent a promo code to claim $5 off the price of the book when they book their ticket. This code will be valid until 24 hours after the event has ended. when purchasing in store, simply mention the discount code or show your digital counter to receive the discount.

Please book here.

How to ‘attend’ a virtual event at Readings

This event commences online at 6.30pm using the video conferencing platform Zoom.

To book for this event, you must provide your email address.

To ensure the Zoom event stays private, participants will be emailed a unique zoom link and a password 30 minutes before the event begins on the day of the event. Please check your email.

All bookings for online events will be closed one hour before the event begins.

You do not need to have a Zoom account to join a meeting, but mobile users will need to download the Zoom app for their device. Desktop and laptop users can either download the Zoom application or access the event via their web browser.




Bill Bowtell and Kevin Rudd

Bill Bowtell & Kevin Rudd – In the National Interest


Join Bill Bowtell, the Hon. Kevin Rudd and Fran Kelly for a conversation around the new essay series In the National Interest.

In Unmasked: the Politics of Pandemics, Bill Bowtell draws on his four decades of experience in the global and local politics of public health to examine why some countries got it right with coronavirus while others collapsed into misery and chaos. He looks closely at the critical weeks when poor planning brought Australia to the brink of disaster, until the Australian people forced their governments to put public health before politics. Unmasked reveals how and why our politicians failed us during the greatest public health crisis of this century to date.

In The Case for Courage, the Honourable Kevin Rudd writes that we can’t understand the current predicament of our democracy without recognising the central role of Murdoch’s national media monopoly. He lays out three key tasks required for the Australian Labor party to be returned to office; Labor must significantly broaden its political base; demolish the entire rationale for the conservative political project now that the Liberal Party has abandoned its position on debt, deficit and government intervention in the economy; and put forward a clear plan dealing with the challenges ahead. Now is the time for women and men of courage to act.

Free RSVPs essential to receive Zoom link.





Cathy Goes to Canberra

Women doing politics differently

In partnership with La Trobe University, WAM presents Jennifer Jones in conversation with Judith Brett, Cathy McGowan and Kat Bennett.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, La Trobe University and Write Around the Murray present a panel discussion on the historical and contemporary experience of women in politics. Featuring Judith Brett, Emeritus Professor of Politics at La Trobe; Cathy McGowan AO, who recently chronicled her experiences in Cathy Goes to Canberra: Doing Politics Differently; and Cr Kat Bennett, City of Wodonga. Moderated by Dr Jennifer Jones of La Trobe University.

Numbers for this event are limited to 50 people to comply with social distancing restrictions. Bookings are essential. Ticket price includes a complimentary drink.

Note: This event will also be live-streamed free of charge. Links will be published on this page prior to the event.




Michael Mintrom

CANCELLED – Michael Mintrom in conversation with Chris Pippen-Neff (Online via Gleebooks)

Human rights come into question in times of crisis. But should we wait for crises to arise before we discuss these rights? Michael Mintrom pushes the envelope and argues that advancing human rights should be everyone’s business, not just that of a select group of public interest lawyers, conspiracy theorists or those who prefer tinfoil hats.

In his latest book Advancing Human Rights, Michael Mintrom raises the quality of care in nursing homes, the treatment of illegal immigrants, and police practices towards Indigenous people in custody—as examples of crises that demand remedies and receive less than satisfactory solutions.

He argues that the advancement of human rights is an investment: our efforts today will create ongoing benefits for society. He finds the answers in enhancing the quality and accessibility of early childhood education, shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline, and assisting former prisoners during their re-entry into society. Beyond these powerful examples, he also suggests other candidates for policy change that will lead to the progression of human rights.

In a caring society, the question of how to advance human rights should lie at the heart of public policy making. But does our political class have the will to make the changes needed to ensure a fairer and more just society?

Michael Mintrom is Professor of Public Policy at Monash University, where he serves as the inaugural Director of Better Governance and Policy, a whole-of- university initiative to improve the policy impact of academic research. Michael has
extensive experience as a policy designer.

His two books with Oxford University Press discuss the importance of treating public policies as investments and key elements of contemporary policy analysis. His other books have considered effective policy advocacy, the spread of policy innovations, and the factors that produce enduring, successful public policies. He has served as a policy adviser in New Zealand and as the Monash Chair at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, where he
was Academic Director of the renowned Executive Master of Public Administration degree. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an MA in Economics from the University of Canterbury.

Dr. Christopher L. Pepin-Neff is an American-Australian teacher, research academic, writer, and commentator on a number of public policy issues.

Dr. Pepin-Neff is a senior lecturer in public policy at the University of Sydney.

He received his Ph.D. in public policy at the University of Sydney (‘14) and also held a Masters Degree in Public Policy (‘07) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from James Madison University in Virginia (’99). His research looks at agenda-setting in the policy process through an analysis of emotional issues in public policy and the role of lobbyists and activists in LGBTQ politics.

Is Australian media weakening democracy?

Is Australian media weakening democracy?

Two of our featured authors, Kevin Rudd and Cathy McGowan, join this discussion on a bold plan to rebuild truth and integrity

7-8pm | 14 Feb | Online event

No matter how we consume it, we’re surrounded by news. But how many of us know exactly how the news is created, how it’s shaped and manipulated by journalists, businesses and politicians? Does that process affect or even damage culture and public opinion? And what happens when the creation of that media begins to undermine the institutions that our democracy rests on?

With one of the most consequential elections looming, how the media works is a crucial question that we all need to engage with. To help us understand the answer, the Community Independents Project has assembled a peerless — and fearless! — panel who know intimately the impact of the news media on Australia’s democracy.

Join storied former ABC journalist, Kerry O’Brien, as he hosts an incredible discussion with two former Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, and pioneer of the independent movement, former MP for Indi, Cathy McGowan.