Magabala’s Dark Emu talked about at first Parliamentary Book Club

Making history, MPs and Senators discussed Bruce Pascoe’s book, Dark Emu at the first Australian Parliamentary Book Club last night.

During a nation-wide call out for nominations, Pascoe’s award-winning non-fiction book was a clear favourite.

Bruce Pascoe and Anna Moulton, CEO of Dark Emu publisher Magabala Books, attended the evening and had a conversation with MPs and Senators about the book over pizza and drinks.

Bruce Pascoe and Anna Moulton from Magabala with Grahame and Hollie, holding the Dark Emu book

Pascoe said “The reading and lively discussion of Dark Emu in the Parliamentary Book Club, will I hope, add momentum to the discussion on how all Australians can take better care for our country. This is our shared country we are talking about, she deserves our most considered thought.”

Anna Moulton said, “Dark Emu has played an important role in helping Australians reconsider long-held beliefs about pre-Colonial Australia.  Of course it’s not just about the past, and we’re very hopeful that the discussions will have positive ripple effects. All Australians have so much to gain by embracing the achievements, culture and wisdom of First Australians.”

A spread of the books Dark Emu, Young Dark Emu, Dark Emu In The Classroom spread out on a table

The Parliamentary Book Club is a new, bi-partisan initiative led by Senator Hollie Hughes and Graham Perrett MP as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers group.

NSW Senator Hollie Hughes said “Dark Emu is a fascinating account of ancient practices that remain relevant – and the timing of the spotlight on Bruce’s remarkable text is poignant.”

Graham Perrett MP, Federal Member for Moreton said, “Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ made my deep love for Australia even more profound.  Through the prism of more than 60,000 years of carefully laid out history of First Nations People I re-discovered the essence of a home that I thought I knew.  Now I know it better and even more proudly.”

Pizza in open boxes in the foreground as polliticians listen to and talk to Bruce Pascoe and Anna Moulton from Magabala books about Dark Emu as part of the first Parliementary Book Club

The call out for recommendations and nominations for the next Parliamentary Book Club book begins Monday 17 February. The next book will be announced in March.

“We will be calling for books, that like Dark Emu, will help us ask deeper questions and have broader conversations about our great nation” said Perrett at the end of the book club.

Perrett shared one of the lessons he learned in reading Dark Emu, “that lesson is encapsulated in the title Dark Emu itself. It stands as a metaphor for looking at the same beautiful southern sky, but seeing from a different perspective. Whether we focus on the bright stars, the constellations named by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, or the deep dark of the universe in between in the shape of an emu. The idea is that we are open to seeing both. And that is part of the great gift of our first Australians.”

What should our politicians read and talk about at the next Parliamentary Book Club?

Find your MPs by postcode here and let them know your recommendation for a reading nation. Email them or tag them on socials!

You have until March 6 to nominate a book by an Australian author published in the last five years.


Dark Emu selected as the first book for Parliamentary Book Club

Front cover of Dark Emu

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe has been selected as the first book to be read at Parliament House by politicians for the inaugural Parliamentary Book Club.


During a nation-wide call out for nominations, Pascoe’s award-winning non-fiction book was a clear favourite on social media; which involved a two week campaign with a reach of well over a million.


Dark Emu was announced as the chosen book at the launch of Australian Reading Hour at Parliament House on 17 September 2019. 


The book challenges preconceived ideas of Australia’s Aboriginal past. The book explores the complex and sophisticated land management systems of pre-colonial Aboriginal society and calls for a recognition of this past as a way of addressing our shared future.


On his book being chosen author Bruce Pascoe says, “I’m looking forward to the conversation. Dark Emu analyses the past but it is about the future, how we manage the land, how we care for each other.” 


Rachel Bin Salleh publisher at Magabala Books says, “We knew how important Dark Emu was when we first published it in 2014, but to see it gathering momentum and taking hold in the hearts and minds of so many Australians gives us hope. We believe that Dark Emu can be the catalyst for meaningful change.”  


The Parliamentary Book Club is a new initiative led by Senator Hollie Hughes and Graham Perrett MP. Both Co-Chairs are thrilled by the overwhelming response from Australians and the discussion the campaign sparked.  


Senator Hollie Hughes says “This is the first time Federal Parliament, or any Parliament in Australia (that we know of), has run a book club which invites the general public to nominate books for politicians to read. It is a unique opportunity to deeply engage with both our constituents and some of our leading Australian authors.”


Graham Perrett MP says, “Dark Emu has already generated a lot of important discussion in our country. It is fitting that, we as representatives of the Australian people, be engaged in that public and private dialogue. I am looking forward to reading Dark Emu, meeting with 


Bruce Pascoe and his publishers at Magabala Books, and having lots of great conversations about our Indigenous past and how it can inform our future.”


The first Parliamentary Book Club will be held in early 2020. The author and publisher will travel to Canberra and join the discussion with the participating politicians. 


Other books with a high number of nominations include: No Friend But The Mountains by Behrooz Boochani (Pan Macmillan),  Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee (Allen & Unwin), Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (University of Queensland Press) and Call of the Reed Warbler (University of Queensland Press) by Charles Massy. 




For an interview with the Parliamentary Book Club leaders, and with Bruce Pascoe and Magabala Books, please contact: 


Alex Christopher | Australian Publishers Association | 0491 269 049  OR,

Sarah Runcie | Australian Publishers Association | 0402 107 043