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A Whirlwind Experience at the Liberty Hub: Exploring Politics and Research in Melbourne

Picture of Luke Derrick

Luke Derrick

2022 Mannkal Alumnus

Where to start? While I was only in Melbourne and at the Liberty Hub for a few short weeks there was so much going on I feel like I was there for so much longer. The Liberty Hub is a great initiative that has brought several like-minded liberty focused organisations under the same roof – The Samuel Griffith Society, The Centre for Independent Studies, and Change Victoria. For me this meant a whirlwind of different opportunities, projects, and experiences as I tried to keep up with everything that was going on around me!  

Arriving the weekend before the Victorian State Election I got to see politics in Melbourne firsthand. Stepping outside the airport I saw corflutes and posters everywhere. It certainly felt as if I was jumping into something completely different. I was fortunate enough to see some of the city before work started – I walked up and down the Yarra River and went to see some of the gardens around the city. It continued to surprise me how large the city centre is and how much history there is to see everywhere one looks. 

A definite highlight of my experience was the lunch we held for The Hon. Dr Brendon Nelson’s new book, Of Life and Of Leadership. We had the opportunity to host the former federal leader of the opposition and hear from him as he spoke about his experiences, his inspirations, and the fascinating work he is doing now. A particularly inspiring story was that of Neville Bonner, the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to parliament and whose portrait now hangs in every office in which Dr Nelson works. A few weeks later, at the Samuel Griffith Society’s end of year drinks, we were joined by The Hon. Dr Gary Johns who had served as a minister in Keating’s government. Dr Gary Johns spoke briefly on his new book The Burden of Culture – which I am still working through! Nerve-rackingly I was asked to speak before Dr Johns about my experience at the Liberty Hub and interning with the Samuel Griffith Society. 

Luke with The Hon. Dr Gary Johns

Melbourne is a busy city, and I never ran out of things to do. I also had the opportunity to spend some time with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and the Robert Menzies Institute. It wasn’t all hard work though, The Robert Menzies Institute held a Christmas drinks event as a new exhibition was launched. The institute serves as a library and museum paying tribute to Sir Robert Menzies and his legacy. I also attended the annual John Howard Lecture delivered by The Hon. Alexander Downer. I often felt like I was running from one event to another, but it was inspiring to get a wider picture of the different organisations working across Melbourne and Victoria. 

I had the opportunity to contribute to a variety of topical research and a number of interesting reports. Some of my tasks involved legal research, which was quite stretching for me since I don’t have a legal background, but I very much enjoyed developing these new skills and growing my knowledge of Australia’s legal system. After all, the Samuel Griffith Society’s main goals are to promote education about the Constitution, defend it, and promote the benefits of federalism. Some of my research included referendum voting patterns through Australia’s history and First Nations’ treaty processes and the results in other Commonwealth nations.  

During my time in Melbourne, I was never short for anything to do. There was always something going on at work or something I wanted to go see in the city. From Christmas lunches to end of year drinks, with a plenty of work squeezed in, I was always making new connections and meeting fascinating people. Whilst I am happy to be home for Christmas, I am excited to return one day to Melbourne! 

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