Peter Hartcher is the political and international editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. His books include Bubble Man, The Sweet Spot and To the Bitter End. His first Quarterly Essay, Bipolar Nation, was published in 2007.
By the author
China has become a key nation for Australia’s future – for our security, economy and identity. But what are China’s intentions when it comes to Australia?
In this gripping account, Peter Hartcher shows how Beijing stepped up its campaign for influence, over hearts and minds, mineral and agricultural resources, media outlets and sea lanes. Reactions so far have included panic, xenophobia and all-the- way-with-the-USA, but the challenge now is to think hard about the national interest and respond with wisdom to a changed world.
In Bipolar Nation, Peter Hartcher discusses the fantasies and realities at the heart of our politics. When our political leaders look at us, what do they see? What are the hopes, fears and dreams of the Australian electorate, and how might they be turned to election winning advantage? What, most fundamentally, do we want in a prime minister?
In this scintillating and original essay, Peter Hartcher investigates today's "bipolar nation", where Australians are more economically secure, yet existentially as anxious as ever. He explains how the Lucky Country and the Frightened Country will be the two grand themes of the election year, and discusses how John Howard will set out to craft an election winning strategy on that basis. He revisits Donald Horne's Lucky Country, looks at the legacy of Paul Keating, and analyses Kevin Rudd's many layered effort to out-manoeuvre the Prime Minister.