Australian politics, society & culture

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The Abbott government has achieved only chaos in its first year
By Nick Feik

So what has the government actually done,” asked News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt in early August, “to reassure the party faithful that, yes, this is a Liberal government?”

It was a testament to how badly Tony Abbott’s government was faring, as it approached its first anniversary, that even its most strident ideological supporters were starting to sheer off in anger and disappointment.

September 2014
GPs should not be prescribing antidepressants
By Karen Hitchcock
I was at a party. The host stood up, thanked everyone for coming, toasted his family and then told us he had been diagnosed with depression. He turned his head away and pressed his fingers into his eyes. No one moved. “But it’s OK,” he said.
September 2014
Helen Garner’s ‘This House of Grief’
By David Marr
Robert Farquharson leaves the Supreme Court in Melbourne, 30 December 2005. © Joe Castro / AAP
On Father’s Day 2005, Robert Farquharson drove his car into a dam on the flatlands west of Geelong, Victoria, and drowned his three young sons, Jai, Tyler and Bailey.
Anwyn Crawford
Cinema is an art form uniquely bound up with the qualities of time: time’s duration, time’s passing, time’s continuities and its elisions. There is the time it takes to make a film and the time it takes to watch it — and, most interestingly, the passage of time that we understand to be taking place onscreen, whether that be a single minute, a day, or several years.
The best and worst of the Minister for Social Services
Michaela McGuire
Kevin Andrews, minister for social services in Tony Abbott's Coalition government, was to be named Natural Family Man of the Year at this weekend's World Congress of Families annual conference in Melbourne before he
Over the weekend Prime Minister Tony Abbott committed Australia's military to Iraq for the first time since its combat forces were withdrawn in July 2009. Abbott says 2014 is nothing like 2003, and there are indeed major distinctions. The...
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US and Iran unlikely allies in Iraq battle "Should such military actions continue, they could signal a dramatic shift for the United States and Iran, which have long vied for control in Iraq...

Russia sends tanks and troops into Ukraine, seizes a strategic town "Russian tanks and troops fired their way into eastern Ukraine on Thursday and seized a strategic gateway town on the road to the heavily militarized Crimean peninsula."

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Current Issue
In the rush online, newspapers have deleted yesterday, today and tomorrow
By Robyn Annear
Every morning, before daybreak, a clapped-out Holden labours up the street and an unseen hand lobs a missile at my front gate. Sometimes the thud breaks my sleep: wake up, it’s the news.
Current Issue
Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews keeps his head down
By John van Tiggelen
It’s tempting to surmise that Daniel Andrews acquired his hunched appearance by keeping his head down so much.
Current Issue
Sydney's CB radio scene is a battlefield
By Richard Cooke
Listen,” my friend said, “to this.” He’d taken some walkie-talkies with him on a beach holiday and idly switched one on when he came back to Sydney. “Ready?” A male voice, so gravelly it was chilling, let fly a florid, minute-long insult into the ether.
Current Issue
Umeewarra Mission
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
In a bluestone former school building in Port Augusta, now a campus of the University of Adelaide, four generations of Barngarla people sit conference-style around a table. Harry Dare, a local elder, wears a snug beanie pulled down to his eyebrows: a ganoo-ganoo moona, or “warm and sheltered hat”.
Current Issue
What drives Edward Snowden, the world’s most wanted whistleblower?
By Robert Manne
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” proclaims the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, adopted in 1792, “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon pro
August 2014
Being a magistrate in the Eastern Highlands is not for the faint of heart
By Alana Rosenbaum
Margaret Inamuka
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...
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. After five hours they were still roaring past, and when a car did finally...
August 2014
Adventures in the artefact business
By Peter Robb
When you approach the entrance to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) on the edge of Sydney’s Domain, you see exactly what the local establishment had in mind when they commissioned its design in the last decade of the 19th century.

New

September 2014
Taika Waititi’s ‘What We Do in the Shadows’
By Luke Davies
Taika Waititi’s Boy (2010) was a simple tale, beautifully told. Eleven-year-old James Rolleston was raw and authentic as the eponymous Boy: fierce at times, a vulnerable child at others. Waititi’s performance as Boy’s hopeless, fantasist dad, recently released from prison, only added to the film’s disarming charm.
September 2014
Hardie Grant; $39.95
By John van Tiggelen
While still a senator, Bob Brown had a “simple philosophy” printed on the back of his business card: “Caring Optimistic Defiant. We strive for peace democracy and a fair go for everyone. We champion future generations and life on Earth in all its brilliance.
September 2014
Black Inc.; $34.99
By Michael Cooney
At the end of Born Bad: Original sin and the making of the Western world, James Boyce tells us where he stood at the start. When the Tasmania-based historian began researching this ambitious survey, he was “scornful of a barbaric doctrine”. No surprise there – this is billed as...
September 2014
‘The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece’ at Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria
By Bill Henson
The discobolus from the Roman emperor Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli. © The Trustees of the British Museum
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece (until 9 November) contains some of the greatest pieces of classical sculpture from the British Museum. The weight of these works is balanced perfectly within the beautifully lit, elegant spaces of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s new wing. The...
September 2014
The everyman charm of Justin Timberlake
By Anwyn Crawford
Justin Timberlake, who tours Australia this month, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s the city where Elvis Presley began his musical career, and, like Presley before him, Timberlake is besotted with the sounds of black American music.