David Marr (journalist)

David Ewan Marr FAHA (born 13 July 1947)[2] is an Australian journalist, author and progressive political and social commentator. His areas of expertise include the law, Australian politics, censorship, the media and the arts. He writes for The Monthly, The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia. He also appears as a semi-regular panellist on the ABC television programs Q&A and Insiders.

David Marr
David Marr 2007.jpg
David Ewan Marr

(1947-07-13) 13 July 1947 (age 72)
Sydney, Australia
EducationUniversity of Sydney (BA, LLB)
Partner(s)Sebastian Tesoriero[1]


Marr attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School in North Sydney and subsequently graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1971.[3] Whilst at university he was a resident of St Paul's College.[4] He worked for a time as an articled clerk at the law firm Allen, Allen and Hemsley, and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor before turning to journalism.

Marr began as a journalist working for The Bulletin magazine and The National Times newspaper in 1972 before being appointed editor in 1980.[3] During this period, he oversaw the publication of the articles by David Hickie which detailed long-suppressed allegations of corruption against former New South Wales premier Robert Askin. The first article, headlined "Askin: friend of organised crime", was famously published on the day of Askin's funeral in 1981.

In 1980, Marr published his first book, Barwick, a "hostile" biography of Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick. It won the NSW Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction,[5] but was received poorly by its subject, who accused the author of fabricating quotes.[6]

Marr was a reporter on the ABC TV program Four Corners (1985, 1990–91), a role in which he won a Walkley Award, and presenter of Radio National's Arts Today program (1994–1996). From 2002 to 2004, he hosted the ABC TV program Media Watch.[3] He is a frequent guest on ABC TV's Insiders program. During his term as presenter of Media Watch he played a key role in exposing the ongoing cash for comment affair, which Media Watch had first raised in 1999, concerning radio commentators Alan Jones and John Laws. In 2004, the program's exposé of Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) head David Flint – who had written letters of support to Jones at a time when Jones was being investigated by the ABA – played a significant role in forcing Flint's resignation.

In 2002, Marr stated on Media Watch that conservative newspaper columnist Janet Albrechtsen had misquoted a French psychiatrist, Jean-Jacques Rassial, and claimed that she had done this deliberately to make it look as though violence and gang rape were institutionalised elements of the culture of Muslim youths.[7] Albrechtsen did not deny the misquote, but responded by accusing Media Watch of inherent left-wing bias and of deliberately leading a witch-hunt against contrary views. When the Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan, appointed Albrechtsen to the board of the ABC in February 2005, Marr publicly questioned whether she was qualified for such a position in light of what he described as "breaches of proper conduct as a commentator and as a journalist".[8]

In 2008, Marr was named by Same Same as one of the 25 most influential gay and lesbian Australians for his coverage of the Bill Henson case.[9][10]

Marr has advocated drug law reform and has written candidly about his life experiences: "I've had a lot of fun on drugs ... I've had a lot of marvellous experiences. I've danced a lot. I've had a great time. I'm not ashamed of it. And I don't see what's wrong with it."[11]

Marr announced his resignation from the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 July 2012, saying "People underestimate what a deeply conventional person I am. I'm turning 65 and that feels like the right time to go."[12]

However, in April 2013 it was announced that Marr was joining Guardian Australia.[13]


Marr has published a number of books, including a critically acclaimed biography of Australian writer Patrick White, which won The Age Book of the Year award and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. More recently, Marr wrote, along with Marian Wilkinson, Dark Victory, an account of the 2001 Australian election campaign in the wake of the Tampa affair.

Marr's books include:

  • 1980 Barwick, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-86373-269-7
  • 1984 The Ivanov Trail, Nelson, ISBN 978-0-17-006405-7
  • 1991 Patrick White: A Life, Vintage Classics, ISBN 978-1-74166-757-8
  • 2000 The High Price of Heaven
  • 2004 Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson), ISBN 0-14-300258-9
  • 2007 His Master's Voice: The Corruption of Public Debate under Howard in the Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, ISBN 978-1-86395-405-1
  • 2008 The Henson Case, The Text Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-921520-03-7
  • 2010 Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd, in the Quarterly Essay, Issue 38 [14][15]
  • 2011 Panic, Black Inc, ISBN 978-1-86395-551-5
  • 2012 Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott,[16] in the Quarterly Essay, Issue 47, ISBN 978-1-92187-094-1
  • 2013 The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell, in the Quarterly Essay, Issue 51, ISBN 978-1-86395-405-1
  • 2015 Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Path to Power, in the Quarterly Essay, Issue 59,
  • 2018 My Country: Stories, Essays & Speeches, Black Inc, Hardback ISBN 9781760640804 eISBN 9781743820674



  1. ^ melaniesuzannewilson (20 May 2015). "David Marr: A man of conviction". wordpress.com.
  2. ^ Sydney Church of England Grammar School; Shore Old Boys Union (1994), Sydney Church of England Grammar School register, 1889-1994, Shore Old Boys Union, ISBN 978-0-646-19369-4
  3. ^ a b c Who's Who in Australia – entry on David Marr
  4. ^ Who's running the elite scandal-plagued St Paul's college? https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/whos-running-the-elite-scandal-plagued-st-pauls-college/8581562
  5. ^ Barwick book wins NSW award, The Canberra Times, 23 September 1980.
  6. ^ Tom Frame (2005), The Life and Death of Harold Holt, Allen & Unwin, p. 125.
  7. ^ "Janet Albrechtsen's View". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 September 2002. Archived from the original on 25 April 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
  8. ^ Caldwell, Alison (24 February 2005). "ABC critic appointed to board of directors". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
  9. ^ Bryant, Joel (2008). "David Marr, Journalist and author". The 25 most influential gay and lesbian Australians. Same Same. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  10. ^ "The 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians for 2008". 17 December 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  11. ^ Marr, David (3 December 2011). "The great debate that no one's talking about". Sydney Morning Herald. Farifax. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
  12. ^ Nick, Leys (13 July 2012). "David Marr to leave Fairfax". Australian. News. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  13. ^ Leys, Nick (10 April 2013). "David Marr joins Guardian Australia". The Australian. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  14. ^ Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd, Quarterly Essay 38, Black Inc. Books, 7 June 2010
  15. ^ We need to talk about Kevin ... Rudd, that is, extract of Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2010
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
Paul Barry
Presenter of Media Watch
Succeeded by
Liz Jackson