Edition 36

What Is Australia For?

  • Published 26th April, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781921922534
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

In a powerful memoir, Frank Moorhouse confronts his own mortality when a routine trek through the bush at the back of Bourke takes a wrong turn; Cameron Muir argues for an urgent marriage between health and agriculture; David Hansen investigates the token Aboriginality of a Melbourne residential tower; and Nick Bryant takes the temperature of our cultural cringe.

Dennis Altman asks if Australians have lost the will to create a better society; Robyn Archer contends that sustainability and resilience must be at the heart of our national debate; Kim Mahood offers a lacerating account of white workers in remote Aboriginal communities; David Astle and Romy Ash deliver two outstanding pieces of short fiction.

What Is Australia For? asks the big questions to encourage a robust national discussion about a new Australian identity that reflects our national, regional and global roles.

Other contributors include: Peter Mares, Leah Kaminsky, Jim Davidson, Frances Guo, Bruce Pascoe, Maria Papas, Pat Hoffie, Charlie Ward, Michael Wesley and more.

Free ebook download

Don’t miss What Is Australia For? Some Provocations – a special e-book, published in conjunction with The Conversation, to contribute to a lively, proactive discussion.

There is an odd disjunction in Australian public life at the moment. We know we are doing better than the rest of the world economically, but this is failing to translate into a sense of well-being or ambition about the future.

The problem is that golden moments like this do not come around very often – if we fail to grasp this one to think and act ambitiously about the future, the moment will pass; other countries will fill the gaps and we will look back and wonder how we let it slip through our fingers.

It is time to be bold and pragmatically ambitious.

Download the complete e-book (PDF format) HERE. Featuring:

Brendan Gleeson, ‘Not beyond imagining’ – continued in The Conversation

Alison Broinowski, ‘For us all’ – continued in The Conversation

Julian Meyrick, ‘F**k popular culture’

Cathy Hunt, ‘Beyond the smell of an oily rag’

Paul Newbury, ‘Perspectives of identity in being Australian’

Marcia Langton, ‘Mining the Mabo legacy’

Gary Clark, ‘From little things social catastrophes grow’

Dale Spender, ‘Spelling and making sense’

Caroline Lenette, ‘From this time forward I pledge’

John Armstrong & Carsten Murawski, ‘Merchants of light’ – continued in The Conversation

Robert Nelson, ‘Thinking for money’ – continued in The Conversation

Ann Moyal, ‘A necessary marriage’

Tapan Sarker, ‘Securing tomorrow’s Australia today’ – continued in The Conversation

Chris Gibson, ‘A country that makes things’ – continued in The Conversation

David Ritter, ‘A market for a nation’

Rodney Crisp, ‘The Republic of Australia and New Zealand’

Nadine Hood, ‘Collective solutions for collective problems’

Rae Norris, ‘Blind prejudice, blinkered vision’


Expanding on his essay in What Is Australia For? with a lecture at the Wheeler Centre, historian and biographer Jim Davidson examines the complex history of Australia’s relationship with the British monarchy, and the various attempts to make it a real presence here. He concludes by asking, when will Australian society and polity face up to the inevitable and move on?

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