Quarterly Essay 26 His Master's Voice
The Corruption of Public Debate Under Howard
by David Marr
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John Howard has the loudest voice in Australia. He has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced NGOs, censored the arts, prosecuted leakers, criminalised protest and curtailed parliamentary scrutiny. Though touted as a contest of values, this has been a party-political assault on Australia's liberal culture.
In the name of "balance", the Liberal Party has muscled its way into the intellectual life of the country. And this has happened because we let it happen. Once again, Howard has shown his superb grasp of Australia as it really is.
In His Master's Voice, David Marr investigates both a decade of suppression and the strange willingness of Australians to watch, with such little angst, their liberties drift away.
‘More than any law, any failure of the Opposition or individual act of bastardry over the last decade, what's done most to gag democracy in this country is the sense that debating John Howard gets us nowhere.’ —David Marr, His Master's Voice
‘This is an essay born of despair, an angry cry from the heart about the impoverishment of mainstream public debate in this country, delivered with passion and eloquence.’ —Julianne Schultz, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Marr’s analysis … clearly delineates the national somnolence and the consequences for the country when its people are sedated: power is unchecked.’ —the Age
‘With customary eloquence, it mourned an Australian public service cowed by the Prime Minister into abject fear and supine silence.’ —Peter Shergold, Canberra Times
David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic and The High Price of Heaven, and co-author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Monthly, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He is also the author of five bestselling biographical Quarterly Essays.
- Schwartz Publishing Pty. Ltd, May 2007
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