Australian politics, society & culture

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Joe Hockey, Mathias Cormann and Kelly O'Dwyer gather around the Intergenerational Report in March. © Mick Tsikas / AAP
How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate
By Richard Denniss

Most people think it is hard to put a dollar value on a human life, but they’re wrong. It’s easy. Economists do it all the time.

Most people think that all human lives are equally valuable. And most think economic modelling is boring, irrelevant to their busy lives, and unrelated to how our democracy is functioning. They’re wrong about those, too.

About ten years ago, a lawyer rang to ask if I would do some (economic) modelling. “It depends,” I said. “What’s the job?”

Current Issue
Fancy bottled water is sometimes worth the price
By Richard Cooke
Cape Grim is not the most outlandish gourmet bottled water in the world. The claim that its Tasmanian rainwater is so pure that “even the ice you put in it will pollute it” seems restrained compared to those of some of its competitors.
Current Issue
Rugby star David Pocock says sport and politics are always mixed
By Sam Vincent
On a Sunday at the start of last summer, David Pocock and eight other activists were arrested at the Maules Creek coalmine in north-east New South Wales.
An extract from ‘Dear Life: on caring for the elderly’
Karen Hitchcock
A hospital is a place where a sick individual and their loved ones are taken in and shoved up against a group of strangers – clinicians – with whom they develop a relationship which is hugely intimate and has difficulties on both sides.
The costs and causes of domestic violence
Jess Hill
After decades of ignoring domestic violence, Australians have learnt to condemn it. The statistics are now well known: a woman is murdered at least every week, another hospitalised every three hours. We say we’re horrified, and wonder what could possibly make a man hurt a woman he claims to love. Does he drink? Take drugs? Was he stressed, unemployed, frustrated? Did she provoke him?

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Don’t believe everything you hear about the NSW election
Sean Kelly

The gangsters of Ferguson "Officer Darren Wilson was innocent. If only the city's cops offered their own citizens the same due process he received."

US calls on Ferguson to overhaul criminal justice system "The Justice Department declared that Ferguson had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could...

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March 2015
Rita Zammit is Victoria’s newest Supreme Court justice and a soccer tragic
By Tony Wilson
In the hours before the Asian Cup semifinal in Newcastle, Rita Zammit was in a travelling circle of ten, debating Socceroos team selection and whether her friend Dianne’s corna [n. orig. Italian; dark power summoned by waggling the index finger and pinkie in the direction of...
February 2015
Cultures clash over pipis at Venus Bay
By John van Tiggelen
On the last Sunday afternoon of 2014, Victorian police officers blocked the one long road out of Venus Bay, a hodgepodge surfside community in South Gippsland of about 600 permanent residents.
January 2015
Love Makes a Way are taking a seat against asylum-seeker policy
By Stella Gray
On the morning of 10 December 2014, an assortment of pastors, ministers and priests entered the electoral office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Perth, rang the bell, and sat down to pray.
Current Issue
New light on the wreck of the ‘Batavia’ and its savage aftermath
By Jeff Sparrow
At the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Forensic Science in Perth, the skeletons lie on tables, stretched out beside plastic tubs of pelvic fragments, bags of unmatched toes and samples of island sand. Daniel Franklin, the forensic anthropologist, gestures at one of the skulls, which is grinning at me on its small pillow. “Just here.”
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.
November 2014
Australia has produced only six true rock stars
By Robert Forster
Marc Hunter
April 1981. The Brisbane-based band The Go-Betweens, with whom I am a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, are in Sydney to record a single. We are staying with friends in Darlinghurst, and early on a Sunday morning I go for a walk. The sun is up and the sky is cloudless and pale...
December 2014
The president of Kiribati goes on a fact-finding mission in the Arctic
By John van Tiggelen
Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, on Svalbard.
In the late 16th century, the Dutch mariner Willem Barents spent three consecutive summers in the Arctic Ocean, scouting for a shortcut to the East Indies. The midnight sun, he figured, would surely blaze him a path. Yet he struck only ice beyond the 80th parallel. On top of...
December 2014
Road freight is expensive, dirty and dangerous. Why are our governments addicted to it?
By Paul Cleary
The reach of the billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox extends far beyond the distinctive red and gold Linfox trucks that operate on the nation’s highways in ever increasing numbers.

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April 2015
Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’
By Anwen Crawford
 
February 2015
‘Pop to Popism’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
By Julie Ewington
What goes around comes back differently. Refracted by the times. In 1985 I reviewed the only other substantial exhibition of pop art held in Australia, also at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).
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. Nor is it because we have yet to see whether the...
February 2015
‘James Turrell: A Retrospective’ at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
By Benjamin Law
Deep in the Arizona desert lives a man who has spent half his life creating an observatory at the dead heart of a 389,000-year-old volcano. His motivation isn’t religion or science, but art. After spotting Roden Crater from a plane in 1974, the American artist James Turrell knew...
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.