Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s reading plans include News Corp executive Siobhan McKenna’s racy novel Man in Armour, Indigenous musician Archie Roach’s autobiography Tell Me Why and another musical biography, Paul Kelly: The man, the music and the life in between by Grayndler constituent Stuart Coupe. He’s also planning to read Obama adviser and former UN diplomat Samantha Power’s memoir The Education of an Idealist.
Labor’s Tanya Plibersek will settle in to watch Bump, “with one of my favourites, Claudia Karvan” on Stan, and the British political thriller Roadkill, and read Jonathan Haidt’s 2012 social psychology book The Righteous Mind.
Meanwhile, independent MP Bob Katter will relive Queensland’s highs and lows by rewatching State of Origin highlights and games from 1980 to 2012. But he also has a bookish summer planned.
Katter said he would re-read his own 2012 memoir, An Incredible Race of People, which he claims to have read a hundred times. He’s also planning to take in Elizabeth Fysh’s book about Qantas founding chairman Fergus McMaster, When Chairmen Were Patriots, Thomas Piketty’s Capital, Niall Ferguson’s Civilization and Peter North’s Growing For Broke.
Victorian senator James Paterson is looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman 1984, “because I haven’t been to a movie in 12 months”, while his Sydneysider Liberal colleague Fiona Martin has strong female protagonists on her list with The Crown, Veep and a re-watch of Borgen. “I’m sure I’ll be watching lots of tennis, cricket and Bluey with my kids,” she says.
Greens leader Adam Bandt plans to binge watch Difficult People, with Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner as jaded comedians living in New York. He’s also a crime novel buff and plans to read several from Australian author Garry Disher’s Wyatt series once he’s finished Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light.
Bandt’s colleague Larissa Waters says she’ll seek out “anything with sharks, bonnets, zombies, strong female protagonists or sci-fi”, though is disappointed the pandemic is making her wait another year for the remake of movie Dune.
Australian author Trent Dalton appears on several pollies’ lists, with Ruston and Labor’s Stephen Jones planning to crack the spine on his sophomore novel All Our Shimmering Skies. But first Jones will finally tackle Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, “given to me some time ago but not read”. He’s also diving into Peter Hiscock’s Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants to indulge a new hobby growing aquatic plants.
Katie Allen also has Dalton’s debut novel on a tall stack she’s taking to the beach, along with Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, and non-fiction titles 2020: The year that changed us from The Conversation, The Forgotten People by Damien Freeman and Shireen Morris on conservative approaches to recognising Indigenous people, and Blackout: How is energy-rich Australia running out of electricity? by Matthew Warren.
McKenzie wants to finish Edward Wilson’s memoir Naturalist before getting to JD Vance’s rustbelt memoir Hillbilly Elegy and, “if I have time” Nick Bryant’s When America Stopped Being Great and Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never. She also said she would re-read her own just-published biography of John McEwen, Right Man, Right Place, Right Time.
Barnaby Joyce is reading the NSW Premier’s History Award winner Surviving New England, a story of Indigenous resistance written by his constituent Callum Clayton-Dixon –“great source document work by the author,” the Nationals MP says. He’s also looking to revisit the “brilliant word craft” of Catholic literary revivalist GK Chesterton with The Man Who Was Thursday and The Napoleon of Notting Hill.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack is working his way through the output of Victoria Cross recipients, with Daniel Keighran’s memoir Courage Under Fire next up.
Meanwhile, cabinet minister Michaelia Cash plans to read Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s examination of identity politics, The Coddling of the American Mind, and Michael Rectenwald’s Google Archipelago.
Liberal MP Dave Sharma has lined up Martin Amis’ new novel-memoir Inside Story and ancient poem the Epic of Gilgamesh, “because I always read a classic over the summer”. Meanwhile Labor MP Josh Burns is already “a couple of chapters in” to Barack Obama’s hefty memoir A Promised Land. “What he makes up in style, he lacks in brevity,” Burns says.
Finally, independent senator Rex Patrick – who has come under pressure as the swing vote on several key pieces of legislation – will read about the barrister who sent King Charles to hang in Geoffrey Watson’s The Tyrannicide Brief, plus Mike Miller’s Living Aboard A Boat, billed as a book to “help potential liveaboards decide if it’s the right lifestyle for them”.
“It’s future planning for when I leave the Senate – I don’t want to have to deal with federal or state governments ever again, and especially not councils,” Patrick says.
Katina Curtis is a political reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.