2022 Oration: ‘How good are Australian elections?’

Emeritus Professor Judith Brett

Monday 24 October 2022
In partnership with the Museum of Australian Democracy, Canberra ACT

Driven by radical young colonists like Henry Parkes, the Australian colonies were pioneers of democratic elections, adopting manhood suffrage and the secret ballot and establishing non-partisan electoral administrations. Australia’s tradition of majoritarian democracy continued into the 20th century, with votes for women, and preferential and compulsory voting.

In this oration, Professor Brett will outline the history of these achievements and consider some arguments for improvement.


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Judith Brett is emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University. A former editor of Meanjin and columnist for The Age, she won the National Biography Award in 2018 for The Enigmatic Mr Deakin. She writes regularly for The Monthly and is the author of four Quarterly Essays: Relaxed and Comfortable, Exit RightFair Share and The Coal Curse.

She has written extensively on the history of the Liberal Party, including Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People, and Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class, as well as a history of Australia’s electoral system, From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage. In 2021 she published a collection of her essays and articles, Doing Politics: Writing on Public Life.