Australian politics, society & culture

April 2015
Tony Abbott was right that fear and greed shape Australian attitudes to China
By Mungo MacCallum

The Chinese in Australia have always been stereotyped, but at least the stereotypes vary from time to time and from person to person.

The most recent oversimplification came from Tony Abbott, who reportedly told his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, that Australia’s approach to China was based on greed and fear. Apparently this produced great hilarity among the bystanders, although whether they laughed with Abbott or at him remains unclear.

April 2015
On opinion polls and other props of political theatre
By Malcolm Farnsworth
Take four examples of politics as ritual and performance. This week we’ve had Tony Abbott sitting on children’s play equipment, delivering a homily on his “no jab, no play, no pay” vaccination policy.
April 2015
What exactly is our navy for? Not even the top brass seem to know
By Claire Corbett
“I can’t wait to hear what that lunatic is going to say this year,” said one of the journalists at my table.
An extract from ‘Between You & Me: Confessions of a comma queen’
Mary Norris
Has the casual use of profanity in English reached a high tide? That’s a rhetorical question, but I’m going to answer it anyway: Fuck yeah.
An encounter with the former High Court justice
Chips Mackinolty
I’m of an age when getting messages about people dying is commonplace. News of former High Court Justice John Toohey’s death came by text message from Australia, a long way from the ancient market district in Europe where I’m living.

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When is a beer just a beer?
Sean Kelly

China and other big emitters challenge Australia over its climate change policies  “In the latest sign of diplomatic pressure over Canberra's stance on global warming, China accused Australia of...

States spoiling for fight at COAG over schools, hospitals, and GST “Relations between the commonwealth and states have sunk to their lowest level in years going into the meeting, with Western Australia initially gaining qualified...

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March 2015
The BARK program at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre sees prisoners taking care of dogs
By Andrew McMillen
A handful of inmates are gathered in the library of the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre in Wacol, 20 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. The centre of attention is Kia, a boisterous young Staffordshire bull terrier. As the dark-brown dog does laps of the group, sniffing at...
March 2015
Behind the scenes of ‘Maximum Choppage’, a new kung-fu comedy
By Benjamin Law
You wouldn’t have seen many Asian faces on Australian television in the late ’80s and early ’90s, despite the fact that by 1990 roughly a third of all new immigrants were Asian. Soap operas had their moments.
February 2015
In gold-rush California, Aussie diggers were unwelcome boat people
By Peter McAllister
How their spirits must have soared as they sailed through the Golden Gate. After the interminable, vomitous passage from colonial Sydney’s slums, the calm of San Francisco Bay must have seemed heavenly, the sprawling, gold-rush shanty towns the anterooms of a promised land.
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What’s next for the perpetual deputy?
By Chris Wallace
It is a late summer evening, and a woman in a silver gown glides towards the Sydney Opera House. Nicholas Milton observes her as he walks to work. He will conduct Puccini’s Tosca for Opera Australia that night, but the regal quayside progress of Julie Bishop and her companion has his attention right now.
March 2015
The meteoric career of Kaiadilt painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda
By Quentin Sprague
By any measure, Mrs Gabori’s rise was stellar. When the Kaiadilt artist began painting in 2005 she was aged in her early 80s, already a long-term resident in her community’s old people’s home.
December 2014
Gambler and MONA founder David Walsh has written a book
By Amanda Lohrey
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart is an underground labyrinth, often dimly lit, but its founder’s domestic apartment is a glassy sunlit box, the light so bright I consider killing eye contact and putting on my sunglasses. David Walsh is warm and engaging, quite...
February 2015
One mother’s campaign to fix overcrowding in Sydney’s schools
By Ceridwen Dovey
Steph Croft never set out to become a whistleblower. But in 2012 the financial analyst and mother of two teenagers began to realise something was going horribly wrong with schools planning. As president of the parents’ association at Willoughby Girls High School, she sent...
December 2014
Does the future belong to “sharing economy” companies like Uber and Airbnb?
By Linda Jaivin
My introduction to what is now called the “sharing economy” came in the mid ’90s on the road to Byron Bay. My boyfriend at the time was a candle-maker; we were driving up to the first Homebake music festival in a Kombi packed with candles, candelabras and an inflatable boat.

New

April 2015
Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’
By Luke Davies
French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who was 20 when he made his bold debut feature I Killed My Mother (2009), has just turned 26. His new film, Mommy (in national release 9 April) – his fifth in six years – won the Jury Prize at Cannes, where it received a rapturous 13-minute standing ovation. The rapture is deserved, since the film is at times a revelation.
February 2015
The Gothic horror of Bennett Miller’s ‘Foxcatcher’
By Luke Davies
“I want to talk about America, and I want to tell you why I wrestle,” says a very awkward Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to a class of bored, bemused but polite primary schoolers, in Foxcatcher (in national release), Bennett Miller’s largely compelling dramatisation of
December 2014
Black Inc.; $29.99
By Simon Caterson
Our ancestors are always with us. It is precisely this enduring if elusive presence, inscribed in our genetic inheritance and manifested in sometimes less rational aspects of humanity, that interests Christine Kenneally. Like many of us at some point in our life, Kenneally is...
February 2015
The Gothic horror of Bennett Miller’s ‘Foxcatcher’
By Luke Davies
“I want to talk about America, and I want to tell you why I wrestle,” says a very awkward Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to a class of bored, bemused but polite primary schoolers, in Foxcatcher (in national release), Bennett Miller’s largely compelling dramatisation of a strange...
December 2014
Nick Drake
By Anwen Crawford
Forty years ago, the ashes of the English singer-songwriter Nick Drake were interred in the graveyard of St Mary Magdalene parish church, in the Warwickshire village of Tanworth-in-Arden.