Labor ideas for a better Australia

2019-20 Federal Budget Review RSVP

Budget 2019-20_Artboard 57.jpg

The John Curtin Research Centre in conjunction with the Chifley Research Centre, Per Capita and the McKell Institute presents the 2019-20 Federal Budget Review featuring panellists Nick Dyrenfurth (JCRC), Brett Gale (Chifley), Emma Dawson (Per Capita) and James Pawluk (McKell) and moderated by Kara Keys (ACTU).

About our panellists

Brett Gale has three decades of experience in senior roles comprising; policy, issues management, crisis management, communication, and project management roles in the government, corporate and education sectors. Prior to being appointed Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre, Brett worked as the Group Head of Government Affairs and Communication Strategy for the Westpac Group. He also worked as a Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff in the Hawke, Keating, Carr and Rudd Labor Governments. Brett played a senior role in organising the Sydney Olympics and headed up the office of International Affairs at Yale University. Brett holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from Sydney University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University. He has a strong policy background in finance and banking and the transport and tourism sectors.

Emma Dawson is the Executive Director of Per Capita. Formerly, she was a senior advisor on Digital Inclusion at Telstra, Executive Director of the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society at the University of Melbourne, and a senior policy advisor in the Rudd and Gillard governments. Emma has published reports, articles and opinion pieces on a wide range of public policy issues, which have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Guardian, The Australian, and a number of online publications. She is a regular panellist on The Drum on ABC TV and various Sky News programs. Emma holds a BA with First Class Honours from LaTrobe University and an MA with Distinction from Monash. She sits on the board of the Prader-Willi Research Foundation Australia.

James Pawluk is the Executive Director of the McKell Institute Victoria. Prior to taking on the role, James was Manager of Business Development for Australia Post, focusing on developing business strategies for the company’s parcels business including overhauling its domestic air freight arrangements. James has also served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to various Federal Cabinet Ministers with experience across areas such as government service delivery, digital transformation, budget processes, policing and customs.

Dr Nick Dyrenfurth is the Executive Director of the John Curtin Research Centre. He is an academic, former Labor advisor and the author or editor of seven books, including A Little History of the Australian Labor Party (2011, with Frank Bongiorno), Mateship: A Very Australian History (2015), ‘A powerful influence on Australian affairs’: A new history of the AWU (2017), Heroes and Villains: the Rise and Fall of the Early Australian Labor Party (2011), and All That’s Left: What Labor Should Stand For (2010, co-edited with Tim Soutphommasane). He is a leading commentator, having written for The Age, The Saturday Paper, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, Daily Telegraph, and The Monthly, and regularly appears on television and radio. Nick authored the JCRC Policy Reports, Make Australia Fair Again (2017), Super Ideas: Securing Australia’s Retirement Income System (2018), Curtin’s Wish: 7 big ideas for a better Australia (2018) and #Changethestats: a new way of talking about unemployment (2019).

Kara Keys is the ACTU’s National Campaign Coordinator. Kara is a descendant of the Yiman and Gangulu peoples of central Queensland. She commenced at the ACTU in February 2013 as the ACTU Indigenous Officer and now leads campaigns as an ACTU National Campaign Coordinator. Before becoming a union organiser Kara had many jobs ranging from administration work to order picking in manufacturing workshops and warehouses. In 2004 Kara achieved a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and Public Policy and Human Rights from Griffith University where she worked as a researcher and tutor to Indigenous students. Kara’s union experience spans over a decade.  She cut her teeth as an organiser for white collar unions organising administrative workers and federal public servants.  She worked at the QCU as the Indigenous Industrial Officer, where the two key campaigns were local council amalgamation in remote Qld communities & the Qld Stolen Wages dispute. She worked for Unions NT as the OHS Officer and then the Australian Education Union as the Federal Aboriginal Officer when she re-joined the workforce in 2011 after maternity leave. Kara believes that a positive, self-determining future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is fundamentally entwined with a strong, progressive trade union movement. In her role at the ACTU, Kara works to build a better future for Australian workers; a future where workers earn equal pay and conditions; where workers and their families are respected and diversity is embraced and where we are all building a better, fairer Australia.


Wednesday 3 April 2019, 6:30pm for 7pm start


Victoria Room
Queen Victoria Women's Centre
210 Lonsdale Street


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