At the exhausted end of a six-week political campaign, Sydney Writers Festival will be a space for a different type of conversation.

Whether you’re still in full political swing or looking for a shred of normalcy, we have the people – speakers and audiences alike – we’d most advise bunkering down with. Readers: curious, generous, well-informed, imaginative and empathetic. Speakers: prescient, well-versed, vigorous and rousing. It’s a match made in heaven if we do say so ourselves.

Did we mention there would be a sausage sizzle at Carriageworks on the Saturday?

Polling stations

Multiple polling stations will be located within walking distance of our Festival Hub at Carriageworks on Election Day, the closest of which are Darlington Public School and Redfern Town Hall.

Use this interactive map to help you locate the most convenient one for you.

  • Darlington Public School (3-minute walk)
  • Redfern Town Hall (9-minute walk)

 

Discussion, debate and democracy

For those with a fire in their belly, unable to shake off the fever dream of the political horse race, we have a bevy of sessions that speak – with intelligence and care, consideration and empathy – to the kind of society we are and how we might plan for what comes next. Whether it’s last-minute policy unscrambling or post-election kick-ons – we’ve got you covered.

Church & State – Thursday 19 May, 12pm

What roles do faith and religion play in the leadership, governance and decision-making of our political figures? And what roles should they play? 

With a leader who says he was called by God to be Prime Minister, and recent debate over a new religious freedoms bill, the separation of church and state in Australia is murkier than ever. 

Unpacking these questions are Interfaith Minister and author of Intimacy and Solitude and Seeking the Sacred, Stephanie Dowrick; journalist and author of Beyond Belief, Elle Hardy; and The Australian foreign editor and Christians author Greg Sheridan with Crikey’s David Hardaker.

 

Barrie Cassidy & Friends: Independents’ Day – Thursday 19 May, 10am

Shifting the legislative focus to debate specific issues and dismantling the two-party system have emerged as hot topics ahead of this election. 

Barrie Cassidy talks to the new force in Australian politics: the independents.

 

ABC RN: The Party Room LIVE – Thursday 19 May, 6pm

Join the host of ABC RN Breakfast, Patricia Karvelas and her predecessor, former host of ABC RN Breakfast Fran Kelly as they cut through the noise to sort the policy from the politics and the platforms from the grandstanding. 

Much-loved long-running podcast, The Party Room is live at Sydney Writers’ Festival. This is your chance to see Fran and Patricia make sense of federal politics in real time, two days out from the election.



The Theatre of Politics - Friday 20 May, 2pm

In a campaign so focussed on character, reputation and appearances, it’s evident our political leaders are expert performers in the theatre that politics so often is.

But can leadership and vision compete with choreography and a script?

Two of Australia’s leading political reporters and writers, Judith Brett (Doing Politics) and Sean Kelly (The Game) sit down with ABC political reporter Nour Haydar to examine questions of game-playing, the performative and the authentic in Australian politics.

 

Barrie Cassidy & Friends: Election 2022 - Saturday 21 May, 10am

How better to make sense of our latest national orgy of democracy than with veteran journo and Festival favourite Barrie Cassidy and his hand-chosen team of the country’s best commentators?

As essential as a democracy sausage, there is no better panel with which to unpick the state of national discourse and national politics on election day itself. Joining Barrie are Fran Kelly, Niki Savva and Amy Remeikis.

Antoinette Lattouf & Amy Remeikis - Sunday 22 May, 2pm

Offering a more intimate account on structural power imbalances and a busted political system, this conversation between acclaimed journalists Antoinette Lattouf (How to Lose Friends and Influence White People) and Amy Remeikis (On Reckoning) pulls essential topics away from abstract concepts, grounding them through lived experience.

They come together to discuss their work: Antoinette on how to make a difference when championing change and racial equality with witty yet confronting analysis of how to prepare for the popularity contest you’ll lose; and Amy on her investigation into the fallout of allegations of sexual assault in Parliament, and the power and potential of anger and non-conformity in the face of injustice. They appear in conversation with Ellen Fanning.

 

I Was Wrong - Sunday 22 May, 4pm

An election campaign drinking game where the magic words are “I was wrong” would be an exceedingly dull affair. The phrase doesn't exist in the vernacular of many public figures, but David Marr says it ought to. 

The process of changing minds – individually, collectively and culturally – is made that much harder by a political landscape in which admitting uncertainty, confessing error or revealing a change of heart is actively discouraged.

Hear from some of Australia’s most respected holders of deep-seated beliefs, including David Marr, Jane Caro and Marcia Langton, as they each present a short talk on a topic that deepened their learning, evolved their thinking or flat out changed their mind.

 

Looking to escape the political mania?

For those wanting to escape for the rest of the weekend, who don’t believe there’s anything left to say, we have joy and art, laughter and imagination.

Distractions aplenty, conversations lofty and delightful company, we offer you a worthwhile place to rest your attention.

 

Small Town, Big Secrets – Saturday 21 May, 2pm

There’s no greater thrill than opening a crime fiction novel to find it’s set in a small country town in the vast, beguiling outback. Be transported to a world of tightly held family secrets and an ominous sense of isolation, a world of gripping crime fiction. 

Hear three exceptional crime writers, Garry Disher (The Way It Is Now), Aoife Clifford (When We Fall) and Hayley Scrivenor (Dirt Town), sit down with ABC RN’s Kate Evans to discuss the small-town settings of their new crime novels.

 

The Limits of Imagination – Saturday 21 May, 4pm

Join a vital, expansive discussion centred on the generations-old writerly imperative to ‘write what you know’. And as the cultural sphere expands and more voices are finding new avenues to publication and readership, that advice has become much more loaded. 

Concerns about cultural appropriation, integrity and authenticity – about who gets to tell a story, and who owns it – now dominate conversations about literary endeavour and value. 

Booker Prize–winner Damon Galgut (The Promise), Larissa Behrendt (After Story) and Paige Clark (She Is Haunted) join host Sisonke Msimang to ask: what are the responsibilities and opportunities of the creative writer and artist, and does imagination have its limits? 

 

On Second Thought - Saturday 21 May, 6.30pm

What if Twitter were a parlour game, and instead of adding to a rapidly refreshing timeline you had a chance to rethink that thought?

Bound to amuse, entertain and interrogate, watch some of your favourite writers think out loud. Sydney Writers’ Festival Guest Curator Fiona Murphy is joined by Rick Morton, Osman Faruqi and Amy Thunig.