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.

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.
February 2014
On science, religion, politics and ideology
By Judith Brett
In the middle of the 19th century, science forced a massive readjustment of the West’s temporal imagination. Geology and the theory of evolution expanded time from the Bible’s thousands of years to millions, of which humanity had been around for a mere sliver.
Andrew Charlton
At 10.45 p.m. my phone rang. “The Danes are switching to the back-up plan,” a voice said. “Room 20. 11.30 tonight.” I pulled on my suit jacket, took up my warm coat and ventured downstairs into the night.
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. But the pleasure of reciting his epitaph rested with a colleague, the acerbic New South Wales premier Neville Wran, although in all probability it was penned by the great speechwriter Graham Freudenberg, who acted as an amanuensis to both men.

Keep up-to-date with Australian politics, society and culture, for FREE.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday introduced into Parliament the third tranche of the Abbott government’s new “national security” laws: those requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to keep what security authorities...
Read More

Violent protests topple government in Burkina Faso "Demonstrators protesting President Blaise Compaoré’s plans to stay in office after 27 years surged through the streets of Ouagadougou, overrunning state broadcasters, setting fire to Parliament..."

...

The GST trap "Opposing changes to the GST is unlikely to benefit Labor’s election prospects."

Read More
Current Issue
Gary Quinlan and Julie Bishop have done Australia proud at the UN Security Council
By Nick Bryant
In July, hurriedly convening his national security team in Canberra as the scattered wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 still smouldered in Ukraine and looters picked at the bodies of the dead, Prime Minister Tony Abbott started to push the idea of a resolution at the...
Current Issue
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.
Current Issue
As captain of Team Australia, Tony Abbott has plunged us into war without debate
By Judith Brett
I happened to be in London the day the British prime minister, David Cameron, recalled the House of Commons to request its support for British air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq.
Current Issue
The poor face onerous rules while rich corporations avoid tax with impunity
By Richard Cooke
Australian politicians love the idea of mutual obligation. But the disparities underlying it are becoming more and more extreme. Welfare recipients are painted as getting “something for nothing”, and pushed into more and more restrictive versions of the social contract.
Current Issue
How World War One came to Broken Hill
By Nicholas Shakespeare
Even in Australian terms, Broken Hill – 850 kilometres north of Melbourne, 1150 kilometres west of Sydney – feels a long way from anywhere. Yet in its boom days, the sweltering main street boasted more hotels than any city in Australia.
October 2014
Gene silencing, miracle cures and Balmain’s biggest biotech company
By Michael Lucy
Early examples of gene silencing in transgenic plants
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...
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.” I am interested in our relations with these stories we tell about ourselves, stories that may or may not be true. Let me select three cases. (a) I have a story about myself which I sincerely...
October 2014
A trip through the Torres Strait to see the Coming of the Light festival
By Thornton McCamish
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.

New

November 2014
The perverse attraction of autobiographical fiction
By Ceridwen Dovey
“I was ruthless,” Karl Ove Knausgaard, the now infamous Norwegian author of the volumes of autobiographical fiction, My Struggle, said at last year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. “All writers are ruthless.”
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.
November 2014
Vintage Australia; $32.99
By Brenda Walker
Joan London’s third novel, The Golden Age, is about the love between Frank and Elsa, two polio-stricken children at a rehabilitation facility in suburban Perth in the early 1950s. Frank, or Ferenc, is a Hungarian refugee who makes the connection between illness and his time as a...
November 2014
Bloomsbury; $29.99
By Kevin Rabalais
He introduced himself in one of the most memorable and direct voices of contemporary American fiction: “My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.” Readers first met Bascombe, recently divorced and aged 38, in The Sportswriter (1986). The book established Ford as a major...
November 2014
Annabel Crabb’s ‘The Wife Drought’
By Anne Manne
It took me many months to complete my recent book, hunched over the keyboard, eyes glazed with concentration, fingers flying – except, that is, when I paused to sip a cup of tea made by my husband.