Melbourne Festival and the Wheeler Centre present

George Orwell's 1984


Event extended! Start time is now 9am.


Walk-ups in to the Gallery are available at any time. Join us!

‘Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.’

The year 1984 has been and gone, but George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel remains an evergreen cultural reference point. Published in 1949, many of the book’s characters and coinages (including Big Brother, doublethink and Thought Police) have become idiomatic. 1984 is a novel that has been ransacked for inspiration by political speechwriters, reality TV executives, fashion designers and musicians (in 2009 the band Muse released a whole concept album based on the book).

Readers keep returning to 1984, too. In 2013, there was a huge sales spike following Edward Snowden’s leaks relating to America’s domestic surveillance operations—and as debates rage here in Australia around topics such as power creep and political correctness, the term ‘Orwellian’ is getting thrown around these days more than ever.

In a special event presented by the Wheeler Centre and Melbourne Festival, we’ll revisit Orwell’s prescient novel of power and politics in a very apt setting—Parliament House. Join us for a live reading of 1984 by journalists, politicians, actors, writers and Orwell fans over the course of eight hours in the apex of power and politics in Victoria, the Legislative Assembly on Spring Street.

Order of Speakers

Part One: Chapter 1: Barrie Cassidy
Part One: Chapter 1 (continued): Clementine Ford
Part One: Chapter 2:                                                 Catherine Deveny
Part One: Chapter 3:                                                 Tonya Roberts
Part One: Chapter 4:                                                 Jane Garrett
Part One: Chapter 5:                                                 Don Watson
Part One: Chapter 5 (continued) & Chapter 6:      Erik Jensen
Part One: Chapter 7:                                                 Gillian Triggs
Part One: Chapter 8:                                                 Lindy Burns
Part One: Chapter 8 (continued):                            Hilary Harper
Part Two:Chapter1                                                  Joan Merenra
Part Two: Chapter 2                                                  Graeme Simsion
Part Two: Chapter 3                                                  Jess McGuire
Part Two: Chapter 4:                                                 Janet Rice
Part Two: Chapter 5                                                  Tony Birch
Part Two: Chapter 6 & Chapter 7                            Tim Watts
Part Two: Chapter 8                                                  Heidi Victoria
Part Two: Chapter 9:                                                 Andrew Moran
Part Two: Chapter 9 (continued):                            Phoebe Bond
Part Three: Chapter 1:                                               Adam Bandt
Part Three: Chapter 1 (continued) & Chapter 2:    Andrea McCall
Part Three: Chapter 2 (continued):                          Julian Burnside
Part Three: Chapter 2 (continued) & Chapter 3:    Judith Troeth
Part Three: Chapter 3 (continued):                          Matthew Spencer
Part Three: Chapter 4 & Chapter 5:                         Martin Foley
Part Three: Chapter 6:                                               Jaclyn Booton

Who's reading?

Adam Bandt, Lindy Burns, Julian Burnside, Barrie Cassidy, Bryan Dawe, Catherine Deveny, Martin Foley, Clementine Ford, Jane Garrett, Hilary Harper, Erik Jensen, Andrea McCall, Janet Rice, Tonya Roberts, Graeme Simision, Gillian Triggs, Judith Troeth, Heidi Victoria, Don Watson and Tim Watts.

Reader bios

Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt is a Greens MP and the Federal Member for Melbourne. He was elected in 2010 when he made history by becoming the first Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives at a general election. Adam was elected Deputy Leader in April 2012 and is the federal Greens spokesperson on industrial relations, banking, science and industry spokesperson. He was also participant in the government’s Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change.

Julian Burnside AO QC

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who specialises in commercial litigation and is also deeply involved in human rights work, in particular in relation to refugees. He is passionately involved in the arts and is Chair of Fortyfive Downstairs and Chair of Chamber Music Australia.  

Barry Cassidy

Barrie Cassidy has been host of the ABC’s popular political discussion program Insiders for 14 years. He has worked as a political correspondent in Canberra and a foreign correspondent in Washington and Brussels. Before that, he was for four years in the 80s and 90s senior press secretary and political adviser to Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

Bryan Dawe

Bryan Dawe is one of Australia’s finest political satirists. He has enjoyed a long career on radio; television, film and the speakers’ circuit, with his much loved characters Sir Murray Rivers QC and Roly Parks’ ‘Letter from Kalangadoo’. On television he is best known for his work with fellow satirist John Clarke—on ABC TV's Clarke & Dawe segment, just before the 7pm news – and for his role in the acclaimed ABC TV series The Games.

Catherine Deveney

Catherine Deveny has been a comedian, writer and professional speaker for 23 years, and has been named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians. She’s the author of seven books and over 1,000 columns for the Age newspaper, and is an ABC regular appearing on Q&A five times.

Clementine Ford

Clementine Ford is a freelance writer and columnist for Fairfax. She has been thrice selected as one of Daily Life’s Women of the Year and has won an EVA award for excellence in reporting on violence against women. Clementine’s work focusing on gender inequality frequently challenges people to think more critically about how society and culture influences our choices and beliefs about women and femininity.

Hon Jane Garrett

Jane Garrett is the first female Emergency Services Minister in the history of Australia. She has responsibility of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority – covering both metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria.

Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper has presented the Saturday breakfast radio program on 774 ABC Melbourne for seven years, during which time its focus on books and food has noticeably grown. She recently stopped hiding her love of Young Adult fiction, which she reviews. She is shacked up and lives in Melbourne.

Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen is the founding editor of The Saturday Paper. He has won the Walkley Award for Young Print Journalist of the Year and the United Nation’s Media Peace Award. He is the author of Acute Misfortune: the life and death of Adam Cullen.

Andrea McCall

Andrea McCall is a former Victorian politician, and a consultant to small business, not for profit organisations and the education sector, working with both public and private companies. She spent three years working for the Premier of Victoria before going into the Victorian State Parliament for seven years. Since then, she has worked in academia and continued her training and consulting business. She is a member of a state government board related to adult education and is a passionate sponsor of the creative arts including the Melbourne Festival.

Janet Rice

Janet Rice, Senator for Victoria, has been a passionate environmentalist and activist for over 30 years. Janet took her seat in the Senate in 2014 and works with her Australian Greens colleagues in Parliament to be a strong voice for people and our environment. As the Greens spokesperson for transport and infrastructure, Janet advocates for fast, frequent and reliable public transport, and policies aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, creating sustainable jobs and protecting our environment.

Tonya Roberts

Tonya Roberts is a well known former ABC Radio broadcaster in Melbourne. A background and qualifications in agriculture led to her joining the ABC's rural department, followed by many years as a prime time host. Keen on hiking, crime fiction and political podcasts, Tonya now works as an executive communications coach and speechwriter. She first read 1984 sailing around the world on a tall ship in 1992.

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion was born in Auckland and is a Melbourne-based writer of short stories, plays, screenplays and two non-fiction books. The Rosie Project began life as a screenplay, winning the Australian Writers Guild/Inscription Award for Best Romantic Comedy before being adapted into a novel. It went on to win the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and has since been sold around the world to over 40 countries.

Gillian Triggs

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs is the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, taking up her appointment in 2012. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007—2012 and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005—2007. She is a former Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and a Governor of the College of Law.

Hon Judith Troeth AM

Judith Troeth AM, was Liberal Senator for Victoria in the Federal Government for 18 years. She was the first female Member of Parliament in the Agricultural portfolio, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 1997 to 2004.

Hon Heidi Victoria

In November 2009, Heidi Victoria was made Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Arts, and in November 2010, she was given the honour of becoming Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, and Assisting the Premier with the Arts in the Baillieu led Coalition government. In March 2013, Heidi advanced into the Natpthine Coalition Cabinet as the Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women’s Affairs and Minister for Consumer Affairs.

Don Watson

Don Watson is an author, essayist and speechwriter. Don's books, articles and essays have been widely acclaimed. His bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, which won The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year; Death Sentence, which won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year; Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words; and American Journeys, which won the Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Book of the Year, the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and the Walkley Non-Fiction Award.

Tim Watts

Tim Watts is the Federal Labor Member for Gellibrand. Prior to being elected in September 2013, Tim was a Senior Manager at Telstra. He was also a corporate lawyer at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Senior Advisor to former Victorian Premier John Brumby and Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Stephen Conroy.