Australian politics, society & culture

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Electricity workers in Brisbane. © Tim Marsden / Newspix
How network companies lined their pockets and drove electricity prices through the roof
By 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.

July 2014
Dying with dignity means different things to different people
By Karen Hitchcock
Before I started studying medicine, my grandmother was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I had no idea what that was. “Scarring of the lungs,” she said. When I announced my plan to become a doctor, she was ecstatic with pride. She’d tell anyone who listened.
July 2014
By Michaela McGuire
The Commonwealth Games have begun in Glasgow, a fact that has been largely buried in the news cycle by the horrors of Gaza and flight MH17.
James Boyce
Richard Dawkins published The Selfish Gene in 1976, the book that established his reputation and which, his closest supporters maintain, ‘takes pride of place among his achievements’. With it, he helped popularise the idea that not only the human body but all behaviours, beliefs and emotions are, to a large extent, products of evolution.
How the end of Gunns cleared a new path for Tasmania
John van Tiggelen
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, was finished with old-growth forests.
Dr Philip Nitschke has for decades been synonymous with the debate over whether a person has a right to die. For the most part this debate has taken place in the narrow context of people suffering terminal illness. Between 1 July 1996 and...
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Air Algérie plane crash brings week's airliner death toll to 450 "An Algerian aircraft carrying 110 passengers and six crew crashed in northern Africa early on Thursday with the apparent death of all on board – the third airliner disaster in a week."

Also: ...

Malaysia's risky talks with rebels in Ukraine paid off "As attempts to retrieve the bodies and flight recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 dragged on over the weekend, prime minister Najib Razak risked a gambit that European leaders wouldn't: sending officials into a war zone to...

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Current Issue
Many online daters are trapped in a pornographic shopping mall
By Michael Currie
Illustration
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. “She was very nice, good job, caring, interested in me, good looking, a nice...
Current Issue
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.
Current Issue
Behind the scenes with the young Aussie comedian
By Ronnie Scott
The sharehouse on the corner looks normal from the outside, like any of the sharehouses found all over Melbourne’s inner north.
Current Issue
The Art Gallery of New South Wales
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.
Current Issue
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.
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. In this ramshackle cartoon of a place, which clung on defiantly in a gentrifying bayside suburb of Melbourne, Claudette insisted we...
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...
Current Issue
Behind the wobbleboard
By Peter Conrad
“Guilty on all counts, Your Honour.” So said Rolf Harris, weeping in contrition.

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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.