Australian politics, society & culture

October 2014
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.

September 2014
Race, recognition and a more complete Commonwealth
By Noel Pearson
Had Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his dilak elders been present at the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, there might have been a scene like this:
Australia Day in Pyalong
By Alice Pung
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
On the morning of Australia Day, the people of Pyalong notice their flag is missing. Pyalong is in central Victoria, loosely suspended between Tooborac and Tallarook.
John Hirst
With all the changes wrought by World War II, Australia was in the 1950s still a British society. I can testify to that. In school I learnt British history, geography and poetry. At recess we played a rough game known as British bulldog. On Monday morning we sang ‘God save the King’ and after 1952 ‘God Save the Queen’.
What the current rise in whistleblower activity says about our democratic process
Bec Zajac
Karen Wells never thought she would be a whistleblower. She had spent 11 years working in the prison industry and two years at the Woomera and Curtin detention centres before taking a position as a guard on Manus Island. “In corrections,” she says, “we just didn’t dob on anyone.”

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It's hard to imagine a worse start to the political year for Tony Abbott, who is now – not yet 18 months into his first term as prime minister – facing the kind of leadership speculation that dogged John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia...
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Ukraine cedes Donetsk airport to rebels as fighting continues "The airport, the scene of fierce battles in recent days, is nonfunctional, the terminal and runways having been destroyed months ago. Nonetheless, it has retained high symbolic value in the ongoing...

My 'Charlie Hebdo' by Philippe Lançon "Right now I have nothing left but three fingers wrapped in Band-Aids, a heavily bandaged jaw, and just a few ounces of strength, a few minutes in which to express to you all my affection and thank you for your friendship and your support."

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November 2014
When the death of an old friend becomes tabloid fodder
By Luke Davies
“One man dead, another in hospital following Redfern double stabbing,” the headline read. I glanced over the story. It sounded seedy, brutal. As the news unfolded during the following days in August, it was revealed that the injured man was in a critical condition in hospital,...
November 2014
Choosing an aged-care home is not easy
By Sarah Day
On the other side of the glass doors, a dozen or so women with the same length neat, bobbed white hair are looking out like a welcoming committee. I pass through the doors, preparing to smile and offer greetings, but rather than meet my eye they look right through me.
October 2014
Contesting Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’
By Robert Manne
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.
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.
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.
October 2014
A trip through the Torres Strait to see the Coming of the Light festival
By Thornton McCamish
Warren Entsch at the Coming of the Light festival on Thursday Island, July 2013. © Aaron Smith
Just before dusk on 1 July 1871, the Reverends Samuel McFarlane and Archibald Murray of the London Missionary Society, together with eight New Caledonian mission teachers, arrived off the coast of Erub, or Darnley Island, in the far eastern Torres Strait. Their vessel, the...
November 2014
Tanya Plibersek plays it cool
By John van Tiggelen
In her recent autobiography, the former prime minister Julia Gillard conceded that back in 2006, when she was manoeuvring to install Kevin Rudd as the leader of the ALP, she’d mistaken Kim Beazley’s “more nuanced understanding of electoral politics” for a “lack of interest in...
October 2014
How the Abbott government is funding a high-culture war
By Steve Dow
On a stormy Monday morning in August, the Australia Council released its strategic plan for 2015–19 at the Sydney Opera House.


December 2014
Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’ and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’
By Luke Davies
“Will this be on television?” Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) asks a news stringer who is shooting footage of a woman being freed by police from a burning car. “Morning news,” says the cameraman. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
December 2014
Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne
By David Neustein
It’s too early to judge the success of MPavilion. This is not because its pilot program of events, taking place in and around the first of the architect-designed temporary pavilions that will be replaced each year, is ongoing.
November 2014
Virago Press; $29.99
By Gretchen Shirm
The first two instalments of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series, Gilead (2004) and Home (2008), won her the Pulitzer and Orange prizes respectively. Despite the weight of expectation on this third volume, Lila lacks none of the deep modesty that has characterised Robinson’s...
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. Drake grew up in the village, in a comfortable country house named Far Leys, and, after a...
November 2014
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s ‘Two Days, One Night’ and Damien Chazelle’s ‘Whiplash’
By Luke Davies
“I don’t exist,” says Sandra (Marion Cotillard) to her husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione). “I’m nothing.