Deals, Disinformation and Democracy

WED 25 AUGUST 2021, 7.30-8.45PM | ONLINE

Interest groups have always played a role in influencing governments. But how far has this gone in Australia and at what cost? We invited multi-award-winning political journalist and The Carbon Club author Marian Wilkinson and Craig Reucassel of The Chaser, Fight for Planet A, and Big Deal: Is our Democracy for Sale? to unpack why Australia is lagging behind on essential policy reforms in areas such as climate change and political integrity.

In this conversation, moderated by local Walkley Award winner Catherine Fox, we looked at how donations and access have influenced decision making in federal politics and how disinformation has become a political tool to win elections and undermine our democracy.


  • Big Deal, Is our democracy for sale? – Craig Reucassel’s documentary [link]
    Big Deal is a wake-up call about the frightening extent to which money has infiltrated politics. Christiaan Van Vuuren’s unlikely journey shows us why we should care, and how we might work together to ensure our democracy is safeguarded from being sold”. Watch the official trailer in the link above.
  • The Carbon Club – Marian Wilkinson’s book [link]
    Investigative journalist Marian Wilkinson’ s book The Carbon Club sets out how a network of influential climate sceptics, politicians and business leaders fought to control Australia’s climate policy. See Marian discuss the book with Paul Barclay on ABC’s Radio National in the link above.
  • Gridlock: Removing barriers to policy reform – Grattan Institute [link]
    This report discusses the slow erosion of Australia’s institutions and how unpopularity, tribal beliefs and vested interests stand in the way of the public interest and impact on our prosperity. It explores what can be done to break the deadlock. 
  • Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2020 [link]
    Helen Haines MP has introduced a Bill to Parliament to create a strong and independent Federal Integrity commission. You can read more about the Bill, its history and how to support it. 
  • Climate for Change [link]
    This organisation helps people speak with their friends, colleagues, and elected representatives about climate change to build public support for climate action. It helps people host “Climate Conversation” parties at home, has a great newsletter summarising climate news and hosts MP letter writing sessions.

What can we do?

Write to your federal MP:

  • Asking for stronger action on climate change. Join Climate for Change’s Zoom letter writing session 7.30pm next Tuesday 31 August. They will share  templates, research and tips. [link]
  • Asking that the government restore public integrity in federal politics by preventing corruption through a National Integrity Commission, protecting the integrity of our accountability institutions and eliminating the undue influence of money in politics. Use these fact sheets from the Centre for Public Integrity. [link]

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Business and technology journalist. Sydney, Australia.