It is with great delight that we announce the winner and the runner-up of the 2017 Spectator Austraia Thawley Essay Prize. Now in its fourth year, the prize was established by Sam Thawley in order to foster new talent in Australian essay writing. Michael Thawley, the former head of PM&C under Tony Abbott, along with former Prime Minister John Howard and the editor of The Spectator Australia are the three judges. On top of an extremely generous $5,000 prize for the winner, both the winner and the runner-up will be published in the magazine over the next few months and will also get to enjoy a slap-up dinner with the judges.
Each year the essay has a set theme; this year it was, as the entry guidelines explained, ‘The great Australian speech that never was’ – write or tell us about a great Australian speech that never happened, or should have happened, or could have happened – or might still happen yet!
Clearly the theme was a popular and challenging one. We received a record number of entries this year (which may explain why it took us a few extra weeks to read them all!) and the standard was exceptional. In the end, the judges looked for a mixture of imagination, wit, a strong and persuasive argument and a novel idea.
Although we were unaware of the ages of the essayists as we judged the work, it is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of this year’s Thawley Essay Prize is Tom Grein, a 23 year-old student. This is the second time that a student has won the prize, suggesting that perhaps not all Australian schools have yet sunk below the educational level of Kazakhstan.
The winning essay is ‘Observations from the Grave’, by Tom Grein, with the runner-up being ‘A Change of Wind’, by Thomas Fitz-Simon.
Tom Grein is studying political science at the University of Sydney, and is currently on an exchange program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He plans to undertake an honours year in 2019. His main areas of interest include political philosophy, civilisational politics and Jewish history. Thomas Fitz-Simon has worked as an electrical engineer and enjoys travelling, bush walking, art and reading.
Our heartiest congratulations to both writers, and our thanks to all those who entered the essay prize. You made it a very difficult choice! And our gratitude to Michael Thawley, Sam Thawley and John Howard.
The theme for the 2018 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize will be announced mid-year.