Ben Eltham on avoiding the issues this election

British historian Tony Judt died last week. CPD fellow Ben Eltham turns to Judt’s monumental career to find out what’s missing from this federal election campaign.

As Judt argues in Ill Fares the Land, the stage-managed and media-centric nature of modern election campaigning is not just the product of a televisual and multi-mediated society. It’s also the result of a fundamental suspicion amongst voters about whether modern elections actually mean anything. With the end of the Cold War and the exhaustion of the great political conversation of the second half of the 20th century, politics in Western democracies has settled down a smaller, more modest and more pragmatic affair. As left-leaning governments like those of Tony Blair and Bob Hawke and Paul Keating implemented privatisations, tariff deregulations, industrial relations liberalisations and other pro-market, pro-globalisation reforms, many of the really big questions about how we should structure our society went by the wayside.

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