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.

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

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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. I keep...
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
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.
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. From the ironwork verandah of the Palace Hotel, I look out at the gigantic slag heap that dominates every street like a frown.
Current Issue
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
The Sydney Opera House lit up during the Vivid Sydney festival, May 2014
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...
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...
October 2014
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.

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November 2014
Hamish Hamilton; $32.99
By Guy Rundle
Public-key data encryption depends on one astounding fact: multiply two large prime numbers together and you will get a number so large that there is not enough computer power in the world to reduce the product back to the original primes. The two numbers thus make a lock and key for senders and receivers to secure their information; without them, it just comes out as gibberish.
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).
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
The long decline of U2
By Anwen Crawford
U2 first put themselves forward as rock ’n’ roll crusaders of a very particular kind on War (1983), their third studio album. From the beginning, their songs had religious resonances, but now they came forth as Christian pacifists in single-minded pursuit of a more honourable...
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.