Keynote Two: Democracy, Tolerance and Reason: has ‘woke’ defeated them all?

Racism is rampant in Australia, according to activists who persist in painting a picture of our society that few of us recognize as we go about our daily lives. But the problem that needs to be addressed, they tell us, is not so much the individual sort of racism mouthed by bigots. It is the ‘structural’ racism supposedly embedded in our laws, policies, systems, and institutions that perpetuates oppressive imbalances of power without any of us being alert enough to notice. Welcome to the world of ‘woke’ anti-racism, just one manifestation of the phenomenon of wokeness that has swept across the West, transforming school curricula, workplace relations, competitive sports, policing, politics, history, the media and the administration of justice.

Defenders of woke will always cloak their efforts to denounce and cancel their critics with claims of protecting freedoms of the vulnerable. But opponents of woke see through this ruse, and must gird themselves for a long march if they are to reverse woke’s advance. British author and columnist, Joanna Williams, reminds us there is a great deal at stake. In a timely call to arms, she warns that we must take woke very seriously and be prepared to defend vigorously the freedoms which underpin our society.


Director and Founder of the Centre for Independent Studies

Professor of Public Policy and Director, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University


Sociologist, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.
Author of The New Authoritarianism

Director, Free Market Foundation, (Hungary)

Health Director, Health and BioSecurity, CSIRO

Director and Founder, Academy of Ideas, London, (UK)

Founder and CEO, Cognoscenti Group

Executive Director, The New Zealand Initiative (NZ)

Australian writer and columnist for the News Limited Press

Research Director, CIS

Programme Co-ordinator of the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, The University of Western Australia

Chinese Canadian human rights advocate

Senior Research Fellow, Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society Program, CIS

CEO and Founding Director, China Matters

Former Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives and Cabinet Minister

Pro Vice-Chancellor Arts and Academic Culture, and Professor of History, Australian Catholic University

Cancer researcher and clinical oncologist, with Genesis Care Newcastle

Founder and President, Middle East Forum, publisher Middle East Quarterly Journal, (US)

Professor of Economics, University of Melbourne

Senior Research Fellow and Director, Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society Program, CIS

Internationally acclaimed novelist and journalist, (US)

Head of Economic Research, Reserve Bank of Australia

Executive Director, CIS

Professor of Economics at Stanford University; Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and Chair of the Working Group on Economic Policy, (US)

UQ-CSIRO Chair in Personalised Nanodiagnostics, Professorial Research Fellow, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland

Diplomat, American Board of Pathology

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure

Liberal Party Member for Berowra

Australia’s Ambassador to China from 2007 to 2011, Chairman & CEO of Geoff Raby and Associates Ltd based in Beijing

Director of China and Free Societies program, CIS

Senior Research Scholar, Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University, (US)