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Event Details

The Price of COVID

22 January 2022
2.00pm – 3.00pm AEDT
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Tune into The Price of COVID livestream here.

Richard Holden | Benjamin Law | Sam Mostyn 

While many of us (sorry Melbourne) spent 2020 believing we had escaped the worst of the pandemic, 2021 brought forth the ugly reality of living with the virus. Even as the nation returns to something that feels like normal, beneath the thrill of gigs, gatherings and barista coffee, it’s clear the pandemic has changed the picture for good.   

We’ve seen our governments and fellow citizens succeed at some things, fail badly at others, and discovered who ‘essential’ workers really are. After two years of arguing about how to ‘balance’ public health and the economy, what have we actually learned?  

Chaired by author and broadcaster Benjamin Law and featuring economist Richard Holden and business leader and CEO Sam Mostyn, this talk will explore how the last two years have challenged our health systems, and shown us what went missing as we globalised our economy.   

What will happen as fortress Australia wakes up from the COVID spell? 

Yasmin Poole has withdrawn from this event.

The Reckoning is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Sydney FestivalUNSW Sydney is the Education Partner of Sydney Festival. 


This event will be closed captioned.

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Sydney Festival 
To register for tickets and for event enquiries, please call Sydney Festival on +61 2 8248 6500 or email

UNSW Centre for Ideas
For UNSW Centre for Ideas enquiries, please call + 61 2 9065 0485 or email

National Relay Service
The Centre for Ideas and Sydney Festival are happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. 

Richard Holden

Richard Holden

Richard Holden is a Professor of Economics at UNSW Sydney and President of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He was formerly on the faculty at MIT and the University of Chicago, and earned a PhD from Harvard University. He has published numerous papers in top economics journals and is a regular columnist at The Australian Financial Review.

Sam Mostyn

Sam Mostyn

Sam Mostyn AO is a businesswoman and sustainability adviser, with a long history of executive and governance roles across business, sport, climate change, the arts, policy, and NFP sectors. Sam is the President of Chief Executive Women. She serves on the board of Mirvac, is the chair of Citi Australia’s consumer bank, and chairs the boards of the Foundation for Young Australians, Australians Investing in Women, Ausfilm, ANROWS (the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety) and Alberts.  

She also serves on the boards of the GO Foundation, the Centre for Policy Development, The Climate Council, Tonic Media, and until recently as an inaugural board member of Climateworks Australia, and was a Commissioner with the Australian Football League for over a decade until 2017. 

Previously, Sam has served on the Global Business & Sustainable Development Commission, and on the boards of Reconciliation Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Swans, Transurban, Virgin Australia, Australian Volunteers International, and has chaired Carriageworks and The Australian Museum. 

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law is an Australian writer and broadcaster, and is the author of The Family Law, Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East, the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 and editor of Growing Up Queer in Australia. Benjamin created and co-wrote three seasons of the award-winning SBS TV series The Family Law, based on his memoir, and wrote the sold-out mainstage play Torch the Place for Melbourne Theatre Company. In 2019, he was named one of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit’s (AALS) 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians – winning the Arts, Culture & Sport category – and one of Harper Bazaar’s Visionary Men. He has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies.

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