The modern Australian political story. This book is both the broad and the narrow, the personal and the public. There is no other book like this in Australia and I am the only person to write it.
Telling the story of Australia as it is today, Gabrielle Chan has gone hyper-local. Unpacking the small towns around where she lives and the communities that keep them going through threat and times of plenty. With half her year spent in Canberra, reporting from Parliament House and half her year in the sticks, she really does have a unique perspective.
The Great Divide between city and country is only one subject that arises. The National Party talks about farmers, but what about those who live in regional towns? Her forensic focus in the nearby towns is on ordinary lives not often seen, and the conversations in this book are broad, national and at times international; immigration, transport, health, the NBN, globalisation and tariffs.
Gabrielle also draws on her own observations about community. Newcomers initially face strong distrust based on money or race, but once you are accepted, there is a strong belonging and interaction, much more so than her experience in the city. Middle class people in the city, like Gabrielle, show compassion for poverty or racial difference, but there is little interaction with the “other”. That is the gift the country gave her.
Gabrielle has spent 30 years covering politics and lived 20 of those years in the country. Her kids were raised in a small country school, where she did her time on school councils watching the lives of fellow parents and their kids from the poorest to the richest rural families - before crossing the education divide into large city boarding schools. Gabrielle served on community groups grappling with loss of population, economic recession and mundane parking issues. She has witnessed fiery town meetings dealing with bank closures and doctor shortages. She has felt parents' extraordinary losses to ordinary causes like car accidents, drugs and crime in a small town. And all this while documenting the modern Australian political story. This book is both the broad and the narrow, the personal and the public. There is no other book like this in Australia and Gabrielle is the only person to write it.