Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
At home with Rosie Batty
By Helen Garner

One hot afternoon in February 2014, in the pleasant Victorian township of Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne, an 11-year-old boy called Luke Batty was playing in the nets after cricket practice with his father, Greg Anderson. Without warning, Anderson swung the bat and dealt the child a colossal blow to the back of his head, then crouched over him where he lay, and attacked him with a knife. The police shot Anderson and he died in hospital the following morning.

August 2014
Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination
By Malcolm Knox
Marco and Nick Nikitaras
The Nikitaras brothers’ corner store has a hallucinatory shine, like a set from a period movie. Staff in navy blue uniforms and white net caps smile from behind jars of preserved clementines and glacé peaches, pineapples and cherries.
October 2014
By Mungo MacCallum
Gough Whitlam may have taken great delight in designing his own funeral arrangements – or at least a self-mocking fantasy version of them.
How the Abbott government is funding a high-culture war
Steve Dow
On a stormy Monday morning in August, the Australia Council released its strategic plan for 2015–19 at the Sydney Opera House. Heavy, angled rain battered the panorama of bridge and harbour visible through the wall of windows as everyone in the northern foyer of the Opera House stayed on message: Australia is “a culturally ambitious nation”.
Sharri Markson's silly gonzo
J.R. Hennessy
It seems, after years of uninhibited Bolshevist subversion, that the jig is up.
How outrage at overt racism helps to hide the more pervasive kind
André Dao
A drunk woman on a train screams abuse at a man of African descent. “It’s my fucking country,” she slurs, gripping onto the hand strap to stop herself from falling over. “This is what us original Aussies fought for,” she yells, “to keep you black cunts out.”

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Current Issue
Contesting Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’
By Robert Manne
Paul Kelly and Kevin Rudd laughing together at the launch of The March of Patriots in 2009
Paul Kelly’s The End of Certainty, published in 1992, is probably the most influential book of contemporary Australian political history written in the past 50 years. In it, Kelly married a detailed chronology of the surface politics of the Hawke–Keating era with a compelling...
Current Issue
Remembering a man of letters, and a friend
By Murray Bail
“Dying is so banal,” Pierre Ryckmans said from his bed in Sydney a few weeks before he died.
Current Issue
In central Victoria, locals are taking up arms against the invading wheel cactus
By John van Tiggelen
Pigeon Hill, a granite outcrop just west of Maldon, in central Victoria, overlooks plains that roll out all the way to the Murray. These can look lovely in early spring.
Current Issue
Early examples of gene silencing in transgenic plants
Gene silencing, miracle cures and Balmain’s biggest biotech company
By Michael Lucy
Mick Graham was working at CSIRO’s plant industry labs in Canberra in the 1990s, trying to genetically engineer virus-resistant potatoes, when he had his big idea about RNA interference. RNA is ribonucleic acid, DNA’s less-famous sibling and a fundamental cog in the machinery of all living cells. RNA interference is one of the body’s natural antiviral defence systems.
October 2014
Truth, fiction and psychotherapy
By JM Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
JMC “The stories we tell about ourselves may not be true, but they are all we have.”
September 2014
The brief life and quiet death of Tony Abbott’s love of liberty
By David Marr
Portrait of Tony Abbott by Neil Moore
In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a young woman faces jail because word got out that one of his daughters was given a $60,000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. This scholarship was never advertised. Students at the college in Sydney had no idea such largesse...
September 2014
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
Umeewarra Mission
In a bluestone former school building in Port Augusta, now a campus of the University of Adelaide, four generations of Barngarla people sit conference-style around a table. Harry Dare, a local elder, wears a snug beanie pulled down to his eyebrows: a ganoo-ganoo moona, or “warm...
September 2014
What drives Edward Snowden, the world’s most wanted whistleblower?
By Robert Manne
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” proclaims the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, adopted in 1792, “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon pro

New

October 2014
Bloomsbury; $25.99
By Claire Corbett
“Without the bone and sinew of wings, no flight,” muses one character in Stone Mattress, the latest book of stories from Margaret Atwood. This line, a reflection that all we are can only be felt and expressed through the body, also serves as an artistic credo, on the way the detail and grit of the mundane give force to the imagination.
October 2014
Macmillan Australia; $32.99
By Richard Cooke
“The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. The political theorists of the past fantasised about what governance could solve in conditions of universal learning and material abundance.
October 2014
A century of Dylan Thomas
By Kevin Rabalais
The young Dylan Thomas
It sounded like a hoax. In June, more than half a century after the poet died following yet another marathon binge, the Guardian reported the discovery of a drinking song “dashed off in pencil by Dylan Thomas while seated at a London bar” in 1951. The impromptu “song”, found in...
October 2014
Black Inc.; $32.99
By Geordie Williamson
Robert Hughes’s notorious 1988 demolition of the New York art-world darling Jean-Michel Basquiat was called ‘Requiem for a Featherweight’. Erik Jensen’s brief, episodic biography of Adam Cullen could not be further from Hughes’s article in tone: neither lordly in condemnation...
October 2014
A journey through time and mind in Hugh Sullivan’s ‘The Infinite Man’
By Luke Davies
“You want blood and guts?” says Dean (Josh McConville), an intense, over-thinking brainiac who seems to be in the process of losing his girlfriend, Lana (Hannah Marshall), to her ex-boyfriend, Terry (Alex Dimitriades). “I’ll give you blood and guts!”