In conversation with Martin Parkinson

Martin Parkinson will be in conversation with Katharine Murphy on Martin's essay A Decade of Drift from Monash University Publishing's new In the National Interest series. The erosion of public trust in government has been a characteristic of liberal democracies in recent years. How much have the twists and turns in climate change policy over the past decade contributed to this in Australia? As a senior public servant during six prime ministerships, Martin Parkinson had a front-row seat from which to watch the inability of successive governments to tackle climate change.

From an emissions trading scheme through to a National Energy Guarantee, this is a story of science and expertise ignored, short-termism, wasted opportunities and international disappointment. Climate change demands both a local and a global response, just as do pandemics, mass migration and ocean pollution. The increasingly urgent question is whether governments are up to the challenge or are prepared to bear the consequences of inaction or indifference. The history of climate change policy in Australia is a sorry story which should leave Australians demanding more courage and commitment from their political leaders.

Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM served in Commonwealth Government leadership positions on all facets of economic, social, foreign, defence and national security policies for almost forty years. As the secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet between 2016 and 2019, Martin was Australia's most senior public servant. He served as secretary to the Treasury between 2011 and 2014, and before that was secretary of Australia's inaugural Department of Climate Change from 2007. During his tenure, Martin led our key public sector organisations through a period of considerable political uncertainty, serving under five different prime ministers.

Katharine Murphy has been Guardian Australia's political editor since 2016, working in Canberra's parliamentary press gallery for 23 years. She is a regular commentator on television and radio and is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Canberra, from which she was awarded an honorary doctorate in October 2019. Katharine has won the Paul Lyneham award for excellence in press gallery journalism and has been a Walkley finalist twice. Katharine's latest publication was her 2020 Quarterly Essay, The End of Certainty: Scott Morrison and Pandemic Politics.

Professor Helen Sullivan, Director of the Crawford School of Public Policy ANU, will deliver the vote of thanks.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, registration for this event is essential and social distancing must be adhered to.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop and books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event until 7.30pm.

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