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Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender

Kieran Pender is an Australian writer and lawyer, based in Canberra. He is a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, a visiting fellow at The Australian National University's Centre for International and Public Law and a consultant lawyer at Bradley Allen Love Lawyers. He regularly contributes to Australian Book Review, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and Times Literary Supplement. He was previously based in London, as a senior legal advisor at the International Bar Association.

Kieran Pender reviews 'Law in War: Freedom and restriction in Australia during the Great War' by Catherine Bond

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
As with many authors, Covid-19 forced Catherine Bond to cancel the launch event for her new book. But unlike most authors’ work, the contemporary relevance of Bond’s latest book has been considerably heightened by the ongoing pandemic. Indeed, in the midst of this crisis it is hard to imagine a historical text timelier than Law in War: Freedom and restriction in Australia during the Great War. ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an age of fraud' by Tom Mueller

May 2020, no. 421 27 April 2020
Whistleblowing has a long history. The Ancient Greeks had a term for it: parrhēsia, or fearless speech. In the seventh century, a British king introduced the world’s first whistleblowing law, encouraging his citizens to report those who worked on the Sabbath. Ever since the phrase ‘whistleblower’ was coined in the 1970s, the concept has gained renewed salience. In an era of widespread fraud ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Secret: The making of Australia’s security state' by Brian Toohey

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Cass Sunstein, a noted American constitutional scholar, once lamented: ‘The notion that the government may control information at its source is at odds with the idea that the purpose of a system of free expression is to control the conduct of representatives.’ In a liberal democracy – supposedly of the people, by the people, for the people – political opacity is inconsistent with the centr ... (read more)

'The war on journalists and whistleblowers' by Kieran Pender

November 2019, no. 416 21 October 2019
  'It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.’    David Hume, 1742   It is a famous parable. If a frog is dropped in boiling water, it will immediately leap out. But if placed in tepid water that is gradually heated, the frog will not notice the increasing temperature until it is boiled alive. The parable may be biologically inaccurate, but it remains inst ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Gun Control: What Australia got right (and wrong)' by Tom Frame

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
This is an unusual book. It is, so the title indicates, about guns and firearm regulations in Australia, with some comparison to the United States. But, as a prefatory note to readers cautions, ‘this book is less about guns and more about the continuing tension between the authority and power of the state and the responsibilities and entitlements of citizens’. It is also a treatise on state– ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Moneyland: Why thieves and crooks now rule the world and how to take it back' by Oliver Bullough

May 2019, no. 411 18 April 2019
The world, according to writer Oliver Bullough, has a problem. One unexpected consequence of globalisation and the liberalisation of financial policy has been an increasing flow of money across borders. This has given rise to a new global élite. Aided by seemingly respectable lawyers, bankers, and real estate agents, it operates largely beyond the reach of domestic regulation. That would be conce ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'Crossing the Line: How Australian cricket lost its way' by Gideon Haigh

November 2018, no. 406 08 October 2018
‘To me,’ Shane Warne once said, ‘cricket is a simple game.’ Australia’s best-ever bowler may not be a renowned sporting philosopher, but his words echo throughout Gideon Haigh’s latest book. In recent years, governing body Cricket Australia and an army of corporate consultants have sought to complicate the country’s summer game. An alphabet soup of abbreviations – ACPPs, IPPs, PONI ... (read more)

Kieran Pender reviews 'The Long Hangover: Putin’s new Russia and the ghosts of the past' by Shaun Walker

April 2018, no. 400 05 March 2018
Winston Churchill once famously said of Russia: ‘It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’ The aphorism is still cited regularly today by analysts and commentators confused by the opaque Russian state. Regrettably, the sentences that followed have been largely consigned to history. Churchill continued: ‘But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.’ Shaun ... (read more)

'When sport and politics collide' by Kieran Pender

December 2017, no. 397 16 November 2017
Politicians in ancient Greece were well acquainted with the alluring intersection between sport and politics. Alcibiades, an ambitious aristocrat, entered seven chariots in the 416 BCE Olympics, aware of the potential political benefits. He came first, second, and fourth, later citing this ‘splendid performance’ to the Athenian assembly while lobbying for a senior military appointment in the P ... (read more)
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