Australian politics, society & culture

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A decision on our underwater fleet cannot be put off much longer
By Claire Corbett

If Australians felt blindsided in April when the federal government announced its purchase of an additional 58 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets for $12 billion, they’ll want to sit down with a strong cup of tea to contemplate the cost of our future submarine fleet. The new vessels will need to enter service by the early-to-mid 2030s in order to replace the ageing Collins Class submarines. It will be one of the biggest and most expensive infrastructure projects in Australian history, as ambitious as the Snowy Mountain Hydro-electric Scheme or the National Broadband Network.

Archive
By Robert Manne
The meaning of John Howard’s ten years as Prime Minister of Australia – how Australia has been changed, how the era will eventually be seen – can most easily be grasped if it is accepted that the period of his rule can be divided into two almost equal halves.
Current Issue
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.
How network companies lined their pockets and drove electricity prices through the roof
Jess Hill
In the past few years, our electricity prices have doubled. While the media has feasted on the likes of pink batts, Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson, the astonishing story behind these price hikes has been all but ignored. And yet, it may be one of the greatest rorts in Australia’s history.
Proponents of anti-poor policies have ice in their veins
Michaela McGuire
Over the past few weeks, as all of North America and Instagram have been taken over by people dumping buckets of iced water over their heads, I’ve been trying desperately to figure out how Charlie Sheen isn’t the voice of reason in all of this. For once though, he appears to be on point.
Today Education Minister Christopher Pyne will introduce the Abbott government's proposed university reform legislation to the House of Representatives. By the time it goes to the senate in September, the government hopes that the growing...
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Military skill and terrorist technique fuel success of Islamic State "The group has quietly built an effective management structure of...

Cease-fire extended, but not on Hamas's terms "After 50 days of fighting that took some 2,200 lives, levelled large areas of the Gaza Strip and paralysed Israel’s south for the summer, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached an open-ended cease-fire agreement..."

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Current Issue
Behind the scenes with the young Aussie comedian
By Ronnie Scott
Illustration
The sharehouse on the corner looks normal from the outside, like any of the sharehouses found all over Melbourne’s inner north. Its interior, though, is crammed with upwards of 30 people who are mainly concerned about a dog – John, a cavoodle – that is appearing in an episode of...
Current Issue
Many online daters are trapped in a pornographic shopping mall
By Michael Currie
Jeff, a patient who had come to see me for psychotherapy, had problems with love. The night before our session, Jeff had been on his fifth date in a fortnight. Each had been with a different woman.
July 2014
How neonatal intensive care units rescue the tiniest infants
By Rachel Buchanan
I stand in the quiet corridor and wait for permission to go in. Minutes pass. Carl Kuschel pushes the swing doors open and nods. He squirts green disinfectant on his hands. I do the same, rubbing my palms together. We enter the realm of the tiny.
Current Issue
Margaret Inamuka
Being a magistrate in the Eastern Highlands is not for the faint of heart
By Alana Rosenbaum
Early on a Monday morning, Margaret Inamuka woke to the sound of her mobile phone ringing. “The boys are on their way,” the caller confided, and then hung up. A raid on Inamuka’s village, Aseoka, was imminent. Hundreds of men were planning to charge down the dirt road, setting fire to houses and slaughtering livestock.
August 2014
Catching a ride with strangers is harder than it looks
By Robert Skinner
I stood outside Pakenham a hopeful man, trying to hitch a ride from Melbourne to Sydney. I watched all the sensible people drive past. After two hours I was so sunburnt I looked embarrassed to be there.
July 2014
How the end of Gunns cleared a new path for Tasmania
By John van Tiggelen
Ship-loading tower, Triabunna mill wharf. © Mike Bowers
Four years ago, Greg L’Estrange, the chief executive of the Tasmanian forestry behemoth Gunns Ltd, raised the white flag in the state’s so-called forest wars. Environmentalists had triumphed, and Gunns, he announced to the stunned audience at an industry conference in Melbourne...
July 2014
Behind the wobbleboard
By Peter Conrad
Rolf Harris performing 'Jake the Peg' in 1966. © Bill Orchard / Rex Features
“Guilty on all counts, Your Honour.” So said Rolf Harris, weeping in contrition.
July 2014
Remembering “the oldest living transsexual in captivity”
By Meshel Laurie
Claudette was one of the oldest transsexual ladies we had on offer in our brothel. One of the oldest, but unchallenged for the title of meanest.

New

August 2014
FKA Twigs
Timbaland and Boyz II Men haunt FKA Twigs’ ‘LP1’ and How To Dress Well’s ‘What Is This Heart?”
By Anwyn Crawford
A spectre is haunting contemporary pop music – the spectre of Timbaland. America’s R&B super-producer – real name Timothy Mosley – is still very much alive, but his astonishing work at the millennium’s turn with artists like Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Ginuwine hovers in the atmosphere. Its futuristic promises have not so far been improved upon, not even by Timbaland himself.
August 2014
David Gulpilil brings Rolf de Heer’s ‘Charlie’s Country’ alive, but Nick Cave can’t save Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s ‘20,000 Days on Earth’
By Luke Davies
“You’re going to report to me weekly,” says a parole officer (Bojana Novakovic) to Charlie (David Gulpilil). He’s about to be released from a stint in a Darwin prison in Rolf de Heer’s new film, Charlie’s Country (in national release).
August 2014
Netflix; Foxtel Showcase
By Anwyn Crawford
Orange Is the New Black
In the concluding scene of Orange Is the New Black’s first season, we left the show’s ostensible protagonist, Piper Chapman, in a prison-yard fight to the possible death with her fellow inmate Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, a wild-eyed, rotten-toothed, Bible-bashing former meth...
August 2014
At the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, ‘Augmented Australia’ fails to impress
By David Neustein
The 'Augmented Australia' app in action. © Alexander Mayes Photography
Draped across the construction site of the new Australian pavilion in Venice’s Biennale gardens is a banner that brashly proclaims, “UNBUILT LEGENDS”. On the opposite side of the nearby canal, a vivid Uluru-orange tent houses Australia’s exhibition at the 14th Venice...
August 2014
Anne Manne’s ‘The Life of I’ takes aim at a modern epidemic
By Linda Jaivin
A recent cartoon by Alan Moir depicts four people sitting around a table: a woman in a wheelchair, an elderly man, a youth and, taking up as much space as the other three put together, a large middle-aged man in an expensive-looking suit.