Friday, 16 August 2013

Featured eBooks: Australian politics

Democratic decline and democratic renewal: Political change in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The story of liberal democracy over the last half century has been a triumphant one in many ways, with the number of democracies increasing from a minority of states to a significant majority. Yet substantial problems afflict democratic states, and while the number of democratic countries has expanded, democratic practice has contracted. This book introduces a novel framework for evaluating the rise and decline of democratic governance. Examining three mature democratic countries – Britain, Australia and New Zealand – the authors discuss patterns of governance from the emergence of mass democracy at the outset of the twentieth century through to its present condition. The shared political cultures and institutional arrangements of the three countries allow the authors to investigate comparatively the dynamics of political evolution and the possibilities for systemic developments and institutional change.

The misogyny factor. This provocative examination by a media-savvy writer who remains at the forefront of the political debate surrounding gender equality explores why equality between men and women has failed to be achieved in Australia. In 2012, Anne Summers gave two landmark speeches about women in Australia, attracting more than 120,000 visits to her website. Within weeks thereafter, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s own speech about misogyny and sexism went viral and was celebrated around the world. However, Summers makes the case that Australians are still uncomfortable with the idea of women with political and financial power, let alone the reality, and she dismisses the idea that progress for women - as opposed to outright success - should be celebrated. She then offers an idea of what truly successful gender equality should look like.

Money and politics: The corrosive effect of money on politics in Australia. Arguing that money plays a controversial role in Australian politics, this volume dissects how political parties raise and spend money. Written by a leading expert in the field, this account examines a number of topics, including claims of secret contributions and corruption, criticism of public funding for political parties, and allegations that corporations and trade unions have undue influence over parties for which they provided funds. In addition, this comprehensive record raises crucial questions about whether the current regulation meets democratic standards.

Way they were: The view from the hill of the 25 years that remade Australia. For many years reading Alan Ramsey’s vitriolic, confronting but always engaging and insightful pieces in the Sydney Morning Herald was a standard feature of Saturday mornings for many Australians. He may have disappeared from our Saturday papers but he certainly hasn’t been forgotten– by those who applauded his opinions, those he enraged, and by the politicians he wrote about. From mid-1987 to the end of 2008, no one had greater access to our national parliament and politicians than Alan Ramsey. From the granite quarry of national politics in Canberra, Ramsey wrote 2273 columns for the Sydney Morning Herald. This collection of his best reveals how twenty-five years of national leadership by Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard changed Australia forever, as the Labor Party stopped being the Labor Party and became just another meaningless political label like the Liberal Party. It also includes a new essay, reflecting on the tumultuous political events of 2010.

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