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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | June 5, 2020

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Avid Reader Launches “Downfall”

Ash Hauenschild

Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart is Aaron Patrick’s unflinching account of the ethical bankruptcy at the heart of Labor’s woes.

It’s also a book with uncanny timing.  Between upcoming elections, buckets of parliamentary resignations and June’s Shakespearean (albeit bloodless) coup, Canberra is less boring than ever!

Making the most of it all, Harper Collins have fast-tracked the release by several weeks, with Aaron launching the book at Brisbane’s Avid Reader on Wednesday. Honestly, their cover designer even had the foresight to include tiny arrows in Gillard’s back – life imitating art, or what?

Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart

Something like this was always going to be written, of course. In 2007 Labor held power federally and in every state and territory; in 2013 it’s lost the majority of states and territories, and faces a punishing last stand in Canberra. What went wrong?

I was fortunate enough to have a few words with the author: investigative reporter, senior journalist, and former Young Labor member – Aaron Patrick.

CD: From a marketing point of view, are recent events in Canberra a dream come true for you?

Aaron: I think it’s highly fortuitous… The book came out before there was a leadership change in the Labor Party. It just gave us the extra momentum we needed right at the start, and I think it’s helped build buzz in the book.

CD: What kind of unethical behaviour does Downfall describe?

Aaron: I don’t try to define ethics. I hope the reader will form their own views about what’s ethical and what’s unethical. But we’re not just talking the normal kind of tough behaviour you see in any political party. We’re talking about possibly corrupt behaviour: spending union members’ money on prostitutes or getting yourself elected to parliament; serious allegations of sexual harassment of employees; doing deals with political allies to enrich beyond the dreams of any ordinary person.

CD: Are these problems particularly endemic within Labor?

Aaron: I focus on the Labor Party because it’s been in power – federally, as well as the states – for a long time now. That’s created a greater opportunity for unethical behaviour to show itself. I think there are good people and unethical in all political parties.

CD: Was being a working journalist a help or a hindrance in writing this kind of book?

Aaron: I think it was absolutely vital… What I tried to do was bring the journalist’s eye for detail to a kind of dramatic writing ability. I wanted to make this book really fast-paced and enjoyable to read. In a way I was hoping it would read a little bit like a detective story, or even True Crime.

CD: Are there many opportunities for this kind of work in modern journalism?

Aaron: It’s a pretty tough industry at the moment, and it’s hard sometimes in a 500 word news story to give a fuller picture of the day’s events – purely because of space constraints – and that’s always been the case. So I think a book can certainly be vital in terms of understanding the political process and what really goes on.

Aaron Patrick

The Details:

Who: Aaron Patrick in conversation with ABC Radio National’s Paul Barclay

What: Launch of Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart

Where: Avid Reader, West End

When: 6PM Wednesday, 10th July

Cost: $7.50

Website: Avid Reader