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The John Button Prize seeks to enhance the quality of political writing and debate in Australia. It will be presented at this year's Melbourne Writers Festival, on the occasion of the inaugural John Button Oration. It is managed by the John Button Literary Foundation, and funded by public donation. The Foundation is still seeking significant donors to ensure that the Prize is presented in perpetuity.

The Prize, created in memory of the late Industry Minister, Senator and writer, awards $20,000 to the best piece of non-fiction writing on politics or public policy in the previous 12 months

Donate to the John Button Prize. This prize is in the position to make a significant contribution in stokeing the fires of political debate and passion within Australia. Please consider making a tax deductible donation. More

2010 |2009 Winner | 2009 Shortlist | 2009 Books Longlist | 2009 Articles & Essays | Judges | Fishpond Books Australia |ebooks | top | home page

2010 - John Button Prize Winner

Winner: Peter Sutton, The Politics of Suffering

The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the End of the Liberal Consensus

In this groundbreaking book, Sutton asks why, after three decades of liberal thinking, has the suffering and grief in so many Aboriginal communities become worse? The picture Sutton presents is tragic. He marshals shocking evidence against the failures of the past, and argues provocatively that three decades of liberal consensus on Aboriginal issues has collapsed. He combines clear-eyed, original observation with deep emotional engagement. The Politics of Suffering cuts through the cant and offers fresh insight and hope for a new era in Indigenous politics.

2010 Other Shortlisted

The March of Patriots | Radical Hope (Quarterly Essay) |

Paul Kelly, March of Patriots
Noel Pearson, Radical Hope
Laura Tingle, Tensions escalate over Rudd’s kitchen cabinet

2010 Judges

The Hon Kevin Rudd is patron of the Prize, and the winner will be chosen by a panel of judges comprising:

  • Bob Carr, former New South Wales Premier;
  • J.M.Coetzee, Nobel-Prize winning novelist and twice winner of the Booker Prize;
  • Morag Fraser (chair), Miles Franklin Award judge and former Eureka Street editor;
  • Julian Leeser, Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre;
  • Kerry O'Brien, 7.30 Report presenter;
  • Sally Warhaft, anthropologist and former editor of The Monthly magazine

2009 Winner - Tall Man by Chloe Hopper Wins Inaugural Buttonbuy_from_fishpond

Chloe Hooper: The Tall Man -- Death and Life on Palm Island (Penguin)
The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm IslandIn 2004 Cameron Doomadgee, a 36-year-old resident of Palm Island, was arrested for swearing at a white police officer. Within 45 minutes he was dead. The main suspect was well respected Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley. This is the story of what happened, the trial, and the Aboriginal myths around the case. More

2009 Other Shortlisted

Blind ConscienceMarcia Langton: The end of `big men' politics (Griffith Review) - Early this year I was approached by many young women, mothers,
grandmothers, and those who work with them. At first I was nervous
about what they may say: I knew I had stepped beyond what was
expected of me in my Griffith REVIEW essay ‘Trapped in the Aboriginal reality
show’. I had prepared myself for hate mail and abuse, and that came, but for each abusive comment there were at least an equal number of women who contacted me and said, ‘You spoke for me’. Continued

Margot O'Neill: Blind Conscience (UNSW Press) -Reveals the untold story of the people who struggled to get assylum seekers out of detention and change government buy_from_fishpondpolicy. Some like Petro Georgiou, Julian Burnside & Phillip Ruddock, are very well known. Others are not as famous but felt compelled to follow their consciences. More

Geoffrey Robertson: The Statute of Liberty -- How Australians can take back their rights (Vintage Books) -The Australian people emerged from a polyglot mixture of nationalities and other races: a kind of human minestrone. Not only a race, but a race apart, thanks to the kindness of distance. What distinctive moral vision have we attained from the struggles and sacrifices of our forebears? If we are to preserve the part of our heritage to do with freedom, we must write down the entitlement of every citizen in a way that politicians and public servants will respect. That means they must be turned into law. If they are not capable of legal enforcement then they are not 'rights', they are empty promise.

Eds note: The Statute of Liberty is not showing-up properly in the Fishpond data base. More details can be found at Random House

Galarrwuy Yunupingu: Tradition, Truth and Tomorrow (The Monthly) -I was born in 1948 at Gunyangara, a beach on a beautiful headland near what is now known as Nhulunbuy, in east Arnhem Land. My father was Mungurrawuy Yunupingu, of the Gumatj clan, and my mother, Makurrngu, was of the Galpu clan. My parents gave me the name Galarrwuy, which means ‘the area on the horizon where the sea merges with the sky'. As I grew older my father would call me Djingarra, which means ‘crystal clear'. My elder sisters still call me this special name. Continued


To the Bitter End: The Dramatic Story Behind the Fall of John Howard and the Rise of Kevin Rudd | Howard's End | Black Politics: Inside the Complexity of Aboriginal Political Culture | Seven Seasons in Aurukun: My Unforgettable Time at a Remote Aboriginal School | The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty

Peter Hartcher - To the bitter end - On 24 November, 2007 Australia resoundingly changed government. If you think you know what really happened during that tumultuous year behind buy_from_fishpondthe closed doors of the Liberal Party, in the back rooms of the ACTU and deep in the campaign war room of the Labor Party, think again. 2007 was a year to remember in Australian politics. It saw the dramatic fall of John Howard and the unexpected rise of Kevin Rudd. More

Peter Van Onselen and Philip Senior - Howard’s end: The unravelling of a government - From the co-writer of "John Winston Howard", the definitive biography of the buy_from_fishpondPrime Minister, comes "After the Election", which takes us behind the scenes of both parties on the announcement of the election campaign.Peter van Onselen and Phillip Senior have been offered unprecedented access into the Liberal and Labor camps as John Howard and Kevin Rudd prepare to fight the battles of their careers. More

Sarah Maddison - Black politics - Why do Aboriginal communities struggle so hard to be heard in mainstream politics? How do remote and urban communities respond to frequent buy_from_fishponddramatic shifts in federal and state Aboriginal policies? Since the early 1990s Aboriginal Australia has experienced profound political changes with very real and lasting implications, from the Mabo land rights case in 1992, to the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 2005, to more recent attempts to reduce the autonomy of remote communities. More

Paula Shaw - Seven seasons in Aurukun - Arriving in a tiny Aboriginal community in farbuy_from_fishpond north Queensland, Paula had little idea what to expect. Seven Seasons in Aurukun is her very personal story of teaching at the local school and making a life for herself in a challenging new world. In the unrelenting tropical heat, she discovers there's an immediacy and intensity in everything. From the mischievous children in her bilingual classroom to the local politics, nothing is quite what it seems. More

Peter Singer - The life you can save -Singer, named one of The 100 Most Influential Peobuy_from_fishpondple in the World by "Time" magazine, uses ethical arguments, provocative thought experiments,and case studies of charitable giving to show that the current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but ethically indefensible. More

2009 Winner | 2009 Shortlist | 2009 Books Longlist | 2009 Articles & Essays | Judges | Fishpond Books Australia |ebooks | top | home page

A Question of Power: The Geoff Clark Case | The Godfather: The Life of Brian Burke | The Land of Plenty: Australia in the 2000s | Tasmania's Wilderness Battles: A History | The Henson Casebuy_from_fishpond

Michelle Schwarz - A Question of Power: The Geoff Clark Case At the centre of this book are the rape and assault charges brought against Geoff Clark, the former chairman of ATSIC. The book includes an account and analysis of the court case, interviews with the parties involved, and an analysis of the media response to the case. The book asks: what does this case tell us about who we are as a society today? Although indigenous issues will be a part of the book, this is not a general study of Aboriginal politics. Rather, it looks at issues in the community as they relate specifically to this case. Morebuy_from_fishpond

Quentin Beresford - The Godfather- The story of the rise and spectacular fall of the former Western Australia premier and ruthless behind the scenes powerbroker, the man in the Panama hat; Morebuy_from_fishpond

Mark Davis - The Land of Plenty - Provides a definitive snapshot of Australian life during the prime ministership of John Howard. Australia, it argues, is built on a dream. A unique democratic experiment, we were once world leaders in developing a uniquely pluralist society. But this during the Howard years, has become a dream unfulfilled; a dream betrayed. Morebuy_from_fishpond

Greg Buckman - Tasmania’s wilderness battles -Tasmania's old-growth forests, its wild, untamed rivers and its remote, rugged mountain peaks are etched in the minds of most Australians. But these wilderness areas have been the focus of bitter conflict between government, big business and environmentalists for the past 30 years. Although told mostly from an environmentalist's point of view, this book is a factual record of events. Beginning in the 1970s with the flooding of Lake Pedder, it takes the reader through the heady days of the Franklin River blockade and the more recent battles for Tasmania's old-growth forests, culminating with the controversial proposal for the Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. Morebuy_from_fishpond

David Marr - The Henson case - On Thursday 22 May 2008, Bill Henson, one of Australia’s most significant artists, was preparing his new Sydney exhibition. It featured photographs of naked adolescent models. That afternoon, triggered by a newspaper column and the outrage of talkback radio hosts, a controversy exploded in response to these images.

The exhibition opening was cancelled. Police raided the gallery, seized photographs and indicated that charges were imminent. On national television the Prime Minister described censored versions of the works as ‘revolting’. Within twenty-four hours public galleries began to remove Henson photographs from their walls. More

2009 Winner | 2009 Shortlist | 2009 Books Longlist | 2009 Articles & Essays | Judges | Fishpond Books Australia |ebooks | top | home page

The Clean Industrial Revolution: Growing Australian Prosperity in a Greenhouse Age | The Times Will Suit Them: Postmodern Conservatism in Australia | Politics Parties and Issues in Australia | The Racket: How Abortion Became Legal in Australia | Denial: History Betrayedbuy_from_fishpond

Ben McNeil - The clean industrial revolution- The world is in the midst of a seismic shift in the way we generate energy. Since the first industrial revolution we've been burning carbon to run our lives, but climate change and dwindling supplies of oil are now forging a new clean industrial revolution which will end our reliance on carbon for good. So where does Australia's economic future lie in this rapidly changing world? In this compelling book, climate scientist and economist Ben McNeil demonstrates the immense economic opportunities which will open up if Australia leads the new clean industrial revolution. Morebuy_from_fishpond

Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe - The times will suit them - For over a decade John Howard took advantage of international crises and local anxieties to not only stay in government, but to radically reshape Australian public life. The Times Will Suit Them digs behind the headlines to explain the success of Howard's radical new conservatism. It shows how the Howard government and its small legion of culture warriors responded to deep changes engendered by two decades of economic reform by importing moral agendas from the US. The result was a brand of deeply postmodern' conservatism which undermined much that traditional conservatives hold dear. Morebuy_from_fishpond

Andrew Scott - Politics, parties and issues in Australia: An introduction -A new textbook by RMIT University academic Dr Andrew Scott offers a comprehensive and lively introduction to modern Australian political issues and their historical origins.

Politics, Parties and Issues in Australia – An Introduction aims to give tertiary and secondary school students a broad understanding of the many ways politics touches our lives.

Dr Scott, who has taught politics and related subjects at RMIT since 2000, said the book was created as a resource for students and teachers but would appeal to anyone looking for an overview of Australian political issues. More from RMITbuy_from_fishpond

Gideon Haigh - The Racket: how abortion became illegal in Australia - Chronicling the rise and fall of an extraordinary web of influence, this account documents the events that culminated in the landmark ruling that made abortion legal in Australia and caused a public inquiry that humiliated a powerful government and glamorous police force. With forensic skill and psychological subtlety, this is a story of corruption, suffering, murder, suicide, courtroom drama, and political machinations. More

Tony Taylor - Denial - Denial is the first book to draw together the ideological and buy_from_fishpondpsychological elements involved in historical denial. Tony Taylor surveys major cases in 20th- and 21st-century historical denial that illustrate the nature of prejudice and how it relates to techniques of the instigators of denial, including their use of popular media and the Internet. Among the issues canvassed are denial and the Armenian atrocities as a governmental phenomenon; Holocaust denial in Australia and overseas as a racist phenomenon; Stalinist denial by Marxist historians post-1945 as an ideological phenomenon; Japanese ultra-nationalist denial from the 1960s to date as a cultural phenomenon; Serbian denial of 1990s Balkan atrocities as an ethnic phenomenon, and others. More

2009 Winner | 2009 Shortlist | 2009 Books Longlist | 2009 Articles & Essays | Judges | Fishpond Books Australia |ebooks | top | home page

2009 Other Longlisted Articles and Essays

Robyn Archer - Industry that pays, and art that doesn’t

Don Watson - Once upon a time in America

Geoff Russell - J’acccuse…. CSIRO

Michael Fullilove Hope or glory? - The Presidential election, foreign policy and Australia

Laura Tingle - On our selection

David Heatherington - Reimagining the Australian settlement

Annabel Crabb - Stop at nothing: The life and adventures of Malcolm Turnbull

Kate Jennings - American revolution

Tim Flannery - Now or never

Paul Toohey - Last drinks

Guy Pearse - Quarry vision


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is patron of the Prize, and the winner the 2009 panel of judges is:

  • Bob Carr, former New South Wales Premier;
  • Kerry O'Brien, 7.30 Report presenter;
  • Morag Fraser (chair), Miles Franklin Award judge and former Eureka Street editor;
  • Judith Brett, Professor of Political Science at LaTrobe University;
  • J.M.Coetzee, Nobel-Prize winning novelist and twice winner of the Booker Prize.

2009 Winner | 2009 Shortlist | 2009 Books Longlist | 2009 Articles & Essays | Judges | Fishpond Books Australia |ebooks | top | home page

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