Quarterly Essay 83 The Monthly Discount

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The figure of the larrikin goes deep in Australian culture. But who can be a larrikin, and what are its political uses?

This brilliant essay looks at Australian politics through the prisms of class, egalitarianism and masculinity. Lech Blaine examines some “top blokes,” with particular focus on Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese, but stretching back to Bob Hawke and Kerry Packer. He shows how Morrison brought a cohort of voters over to the Coalition side, “flipping” what was once working-class Labor culture. 

Blaine weaves his own experiences through the essay as he explores the persona of the Aussie larrikin. What are its hidden contradictions – can a larrikin be female, or Indigenous, say? – and how has it been transformed by an age of affluence and image?