A break from the federal election

I can’t help being focused on the federal election, but decided early this week to write about other things. There are many issues around, and we know from what you read on our website that while you are following the election, you are keen for a break from it, too.

One thing I’m excited about is a new guide to what you can see and do in Melbourne. It will be monthly, so you can plan ahead, and will offer a curated list of the best and most interesting things on – from big shows, events for children, markets, music gigs, festivals and author interviews. I know our readers have national and international interests, but The Age is embedded in this city and one thing we must offer you is a one-stop shop for what’s on. Our culture team publishes many stories on this already, but the guide will be a new monthly feature at theage.com.au.

Keep an eye out for May’s highlights including a musical version of Cinderella opening at the Regent, the Long Walk, Yoga at the LUME, a new musical based on the hit ’90s movie Cruel Intentions, Girl from the North Country, music gigs including Baker Boy and Guy Sebastian, an interview with author Liane Moriarty and the Big Vegan Market. Let’s say it’s eclectic.

Election or not, one of The Age’s missions is public interest journalism, broadly defined as the pursuit of stories in the public interest, journalism that citizens have a right to know and that powerful interests would prefer to remain hidden. Often it is journalism that if not for the reporter’s digging would never have come to light.

I see The Age’s role as a broad one, from smart pieces on popular culture, to useful information about what is going on around town, to profiles of up and coming AFL players. But public interest journalism is central, and I want to highlight a couple of recent examples.

One was Nick McKenzie’s story this week about the anti-corruption commission’s draft report into whether the Victorian Labor Party has rorted taxpayer resources to fight its factional wars. This is what we call a scoop, and I never cease to be astonished at Nick’s ability to dig out stories like this.

To go back, it was Nick’s original reporting with 60 Minutes in 2020 that led to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) inquiry. This was one of those stories that could be waved away as “oh, all politicians do this” but it’s not true that all politicians branch stack or use taxpayer-paid staff to do factional work.

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As citizens, we cannot accept that our democracy operates like this, and that this is the way our elected representatives may be selected. These wrongdoings chip away at the trust in our democratic system and I am proud The Age pursues these stories with rigor.

The draft report revealed that Premier Daniel Andrews had been secretly questioned by the watchdog, and that he and other senior Labor leaders conceded that “significant cultural reform is required within the ALP” to rid the party of a culture that encouraged the misuse of public funds. , nepotism and other wrongdoing.

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