What a lucky country we are – sunburnt, egalitarian, no worries. But look beyond the marketing slogan and you may start to wonder: where the bloody hell are you? In a battle of wit, some of the finest arguers in the country will put the great Canberran credo ‘How good is Australia?’ to an old-fashioned debate. Under the unsparing eye of MC Jennifer Byrne, the nation’s virtues and shortcomings will be laid bare and minds will be changed as decisively as a word in the national anthem. Featuring Elaine Crombie, Don Watson and Benjamin Law in the affirmative corner, and David Marr, Annabel Crabb and Nakkiah Lui in the negative.

Face masks are mandatory inside Sydney Town Hall for all patrons 13 years and older. This includes while inside foyers and theatres and during events.

This event is Auslan interpreted.

Supported by the City of Sydney.

David Marr (Australian)

David Marr

David Marr is a journalist and broadcaster who writes for The Guardian. He’s published a couple of biographies and a number of books about politics, censorship and immigration. Over the last 10 years he has written a number of Quarterly Essays. His latest is The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race. He previously presented Media Watch and appears regularly on Insiders and The Drum. His most recent book is My Country, an anthology of essays.

Elaine Crombie (Australian)

Elaine Crombie

Elaine Crombie is a Pitjantjatjara, Warrigmal, South Sea and German descended woman and proud mother of two brilliant sons. Elaine is an actor, singer, songwriter and writer with a career that spans over 20 years, with extensive theatre work. Elaine started with Queensland Theatre Company and has since worked with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre Company and other various theatre companies. Elaine has also work on television productions such as 8MMM Aboriginal Radio, Redfern Now, Kiki and Kitty and Black Comedy – a second series with others is due to be released later this year. 

Don Watson (Australian)

Don Watson

Over the past 40 years, Don Watson’s essays and reviews on politics, history and culture have appeared in most major Australian journals and newspapers. He is the author of acclaimed bestsellers Recollections of a Bleeding Heart and The Bush, and Quarterly Essay, Enemy Within on the 2016 US Presidential Election. He has twice won The Age Book of the Year and has also received a Walkley Award, the NSW Premier’s Award and the Phillip Hodgins Medal for Australian Literature. His latest book, Watsonia, was published in 2020.

Annabel Crabb (Australian)

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a writer and presenter for the ABC. She's also a keen amateur podcaster and co-hosts the inexplicably popular Chat 10, Looks 3 podcast with her colleague Leigh Sales, who lends credibility to the exercise. Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and TV as a political journalist and won a Walkley Award for Stop At Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull. She published a bestselling book about gender and work, The Wife Drought, in 2014 and has published two cookbooks with childhood friend Wendy Sharpe, the latest of which is Special Guest. Her most recent Quarterly Essay is Men at Work.

Benjamin Law (Australian)

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law is a journalist, columnist, TV screenwriter and author of The Family Law, Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East and Quarterly Essay 67: Moral Panic 101. The Family Law is an award-winning TV series for SBS that Benjamin created and co-wrote over three seasons. His debut stage play, Torch the Place, premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company in 2020.

Nakkiah Lui (Australian)

Nakkiah Lui

Nakkiah Lui is a writer/actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. Amongst her stage and screen credits are ABC’s Black Comedy, her latest TV series Kiki and Kitty and her award-winning play Black is the New White. Nakkiah’s many accolades include The Dreaming Award from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council, the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright Award, the Malcolm Robertson Prize and a Green Room Award for Best Independent Production, the Patrick White Playwrights Award and Fellowship for 2018, and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting. She has appeared on The Guardian, Junkee, Q&A and The Drum, and she co-hosted the BuzzFeed podcast series Pretty For An Aboriginal with Miranda Tapsell.

Jennifer Byrne (Australian)

Jennifer Byrne

Jennifer Byrne is a senior journalist and broadcaster who has worked in all arms of the media: print, radio and television. Having done her cadetship at The Age and worked on UK’s Fleet Street, she was a founding reporter with Channel Nine’s Sunday program and spent some 12 years travelling the world for 60 Minutes and as an anchor for Foreign Correspondent. She was publishing director of Reed Books, morning presenter on ABC radio, won national awards as interviewer and columnist for The Bulletin and, in May 2006, returned to TV to create the country’s first televised book club, which ran on the ABC for 11 years until 2019.