Lone Wolf: Albanese and the New Politics: Quarterly Essay 88 | Katharine Murphy

I would like to be a regular Quarterly Essay reader. Every time I read one, I admire the format and find the content fascinating, challenging or enlightening. It’s a fairly quick and easy way to absorb a current topic, yet I rarely prioritise them in my reading schedule. Insert shrug.

Although it looks like it took me over a week to read this 100 page essay, Lone Wolf, in fact it only took three reading sessions. My motivations were many, but primarily I wanted to know more about our latest Prime Minister – a man I have pinned many, many political hopes on.

Anthony Albanese is also my local member.

For the first time in my voting life, at our latest federal election, my vote not only elected in my local member of choice, it also paved the way for said member to become our 31st Prime Minister of Australia.

As you might expect in Australia’s smallest electorate (geographically), I have been to many local events, openings and meetings that Anthony Albanese (Albo) also attended. Our boys attended the same senior highschool, in fact Albo took our family photo at B22’s highschool graduation (when he was B18) and we took his.

Mr Books and I also managed to be at our local public school polling booth at the same time as Albo visited during the past few elections. Each time he kindly agreed to a selfie with us. Below is the pic from 2016.

I knew the basics about his childhood and background plus a little bit more about his politics and social justice concerns. So in some ways, Katharine Murphy’s essay going into these details and more in far more depth, was tailor-made for me.

Those of another political persuasion may accuse Murphy of being biased or pro-Labor, but I found the essay even-handed and informative. It also helped me to understand how and why the 2022 election played out the way it did, from the deplorable lack of climate policy from the previous government, to the surging professional female vote, the backlash against Morrison & Frydenberg by the Chinese-Australian diaspora and a move away from the antics of professional politicians and partyroom manoeuvering.

Other factors affected specific electorates and states.

Murphy finishes her essay with analysis on the ‘new politics’, the impact of the independents and what the Liberal party needs to come to terms with before the next election. I found it absorbing and insightful.

You can also see and hear Katharine Murphy in discussion with David Marr on the Roaring Stories Youtube channel here.

Title: Lone Wolf: Albanese and the New Politics: Quarterly Essay 88
Author: Katharine Murphy
ISBN: 9781760644147
Imprint: Quarterly Essay
Published: 28 November 2022
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160 (103 p are dedicated to the essay, the rest are responses to the previous essay)
Dates read: 28 November 2022 - 7 December 2022

To complete my pre-Christmas post-election catch-up, I also read The Teal Revolution by Margot Saville.

It was a quick, easy recap about the who, what, why and where of the female Independents who ran so successfully in the latest federal election.

Each of the canditates was treated to a basic bio, plus the various motivations and meetings that led to them deciding to run. She outlined their funding models and the specific issues within each electorate. It’s fair to say that each one was a grass-roots, community-based campaign that evolved organically as each woman realised that the only way to effect change was to stand up and do something.

The fact that all these women were well connected, highly educated and lived in electorates that enabled them to draw on a wellspring of experienced and well-resourced volunteers, was a significant factor in their favour.

All these campaigns raised far more money from the communities that they ever did from Climate 200, Coper said. ‘The value was in the timing of Climate 200 and the security of being able to say that at least we have a certain amount of money secured from one donor.’

Saville then went on to provide an insight into Climate 200 and the three guiding principles that brought these diverse players together – climate change, integrity in poiltics and gender equality. As with Murphy, she reiterated why Scott Morrison lost the election – the professional female vote, inner city renters, the Chinese-Australian diaspora and anyone who was concerned about the environment.

Teal volunteers however lived in the electorate and were motivated by altruism, not ambition. They held in-depth conversations with the voters while admiring babies, exchanging local news…the contrast could not have been more stark.

Saville has provided a compact summary of how to run a successful, independent, grassroots campaign.

Title: The Teal Revolution
Author: Margot Saville
ISBN: 9781743799307
Imprint: Hardie Grant (The Crikey Read series)
Published: 1 December 2022
Format: Paperback
Pages: 116
Dates Read: 19 December 2022 - 21 December 2022
This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

12 thoughts on “Lone Wolf: Albanese and the New Politics: Quarterly Essay 88 | Katharine Murphy

  1. I’ve got this sitting on my coffee table too, along with the latest Australian Foreign Affairs journal.
    I have good intentions of reading it, though past performance is not a good indicator!
    I think that many of us were mightily relieved to see the back of the last government, but I do not have high hopes. Australians will only vote for the middle-of-the-road, which means that if Albo doesn’t want to frighten the horses, he will only do what he promised to do. Alas, I don’t foresee any meaningful improvement in wealth inequality or any climate change initiatives that will impact on those climate change deniers in Qld.


    1. Reading this essay actually gave me hope. Murphy states that one of the big lessons that Albanese has learnt is how to get his big picture ideas via incremental steps.
      I have to hope, otherwise I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning!


  2. I’m like you Brona … I’d like to be a regular reader of QE but it doesn’t happen. I too have hopes of Albanese’s government but I’m also with Lisa in not having high hopes. But having some hope is better than what we had. It’s painful but we have to accept that not everyone wants the same thing and that government is always going to be a compromise. I just hope that most of it is in the “right” direction for the majority of humanity.


      1. Maybe Murphy attends to this point: with the Libs in total disarray, perhaps he can take more ambitious goals to the next election and win it. That is grounds for hope.
        But the Libs are going to fight hard to get their constituency back and the Teals, for all the brouhaha, will have nothing to stand for at the next election. Firstly, conservatives voted for them to get rid of Morrison, and he’s gone. (Melburnians like me donated to their campaign to get rid of Frydenberg too.) Secondly, Labor already had all three aspects of the Teals’ shared platform in their agenda, and they have already dealt with two of them, and the third (respect for women) is already an impressive work in progress. The Teals have nothing left to do though the femocrats at the ABC will keep their flag high in their current affairs programs. So I think that if the ALP is hoping to do a John Howard and get a vote for an ambitious policy (as with the GST) they are going to have to be very careful indeed. Two things need urgent attention: inequity in education funding and the haves/have-not state of the housing market — but both of those are very high hip-pockets risks IMO.
        I’d better get on with reading Murphy!


        1. I guess it will depend how their electorates feel in three years time – whether they feel they have been well represented or not by the Teals and what the alternatives are. Certainly the Libs will have to think about how much longer they let their minority partner continue to dictate terms to the whole.
          I’m not sure any government has the backbone to tackle what really needs to be done with housing.
          I look forward to hearing what you make of the essay.


  3. I get enough politics from the usual sources without reading long-form essays. I think it is safe to say Murphy leans a little bit left, she does write for the Guardian (is she Politics editor, I forget). Sadly, the only politician I have had such a close connection to was Malcolm Fraser who was my local member when I was in (junior) high school. I imagine mum and dad voted for him, I was at school with various of his cousins/cousins’ children, and he gave me a badge in Scouts.


    1. I guess you’ve just summed up why I don’t usually read the QE, but every now and again I dive a little deeper into the politcal waters. It’s rarely an edifying experience. Maybe that’s why I’m spruiking this one so much, it gave me some hope!


  4. Pingback: 2022 | The Books

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