Friday, 9 September 2011

Nine Australia public intellectuals, for the benefit of non-Australia journalists

UK journalists sometimes ask for me recommendations about people to interview in Australia about culture and politics. Here's nine names for the pool:

1. Clive Hamilton, former director of the Australia Institute, now Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. Author of "Requiem for a Species"; great radio talent. One of the sharpest intellectual in the country (now that Peter Singer lives in the US), even though I don't agree with everything he says.

2. Stephanie Dowrick, international best selling writer of "Intimacy and Solitude" and other titles, is great on meaning, spirituality in modern life, and of course intimacy in relationships. Also founder of the Women's Press in the UK. Erudite.

3. Prof. Ghassan Hage, highly regarded academic and writer of "One Nation", a provocative take on the politics of multiculturalism and identity in an Australia of migrants ... and many other books.

4. Lindsay Tanner. Former Australian Minister of Finance, one-time leadership contender. Author of a number of books on politics and social issues, including loneliness. Thoughtful economist, deep thinker.

5. Mark Latham. Former Labor Party opposition leader, now writer and irascible critic of that Party. Provocative, garrulous, well-read and learned - with a larrikin's voice. Now writes for the Financial Review.

6. Mike Rann. Former Premier of South Australia after 9 years in the job; former National President of the Labor party. A rare independent (non-factional) leader in the Labor Party. Was a Greenpeace anti-nuclear testing activist in the Pacific before moving to Australia and entering politics - and his last act as Premier is to negotiate a big uranium mining deal. A journey to explore.

7. Dr Tony Moore. Culture studies academic and author on "larrikin" culture, cultural history, public broadcasting. Good on radio.

8. David Marr. Journalist, best-selling author and biographer, public intellectual, political commentator. Brilliant intellectual entertainer; razor sharp. I am a big fan.

9. Prof. Dennis Altman. Pioneering gay rights activist and author; considered one of the global founders of the movement.

Of course I appreciate there are so many great public intellectuals in Australia - this is just a taster from my own address book. Let me know who you think I should add for the benefit of visiting overseas journalists.

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