Australian politics, society & culture

January 2015
Will Campbell Newman squander what began as a 71-seat majority?
By Mark Bahnisch

Desperate times make for desperate measures, and the measure of Campbell Newman the man has been front and centre in the Queensland state election campaign in its final week. Having accused Labor of receiving bikie money funnelled through unions in the “People’s Forum” at the end of the penultimate week of campaigning, the premier’s response when asked to provide evidence was to say, “google it”.

January 2015
Leadership speculation is rife again in Canberra. Backbenchers are complaining to journalists; frontbenchers are saying it's all nonsense; media companies are feeding it all with cheeky push polling. The nation united against Tony Abbott's decision to award an Australian knighthood to...
January 2015
The major parties need ideas for today, not nostalgia for yesterday
By Nick Dyrenfurth
‘The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living,’ wrote Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, ‘[who] anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes.’ But
At home with Rosie Batty
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.
Why does the right want to Americanise Australia?
Russell Marks
Last June, the American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss appeared on the ABC’s Q&A.

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Premier Campbell Newman and opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk are in the midst of their final day of campaigning before tomorrow's state election in Queensland. When Queenslanders last voted, not quite three years ago, they...
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The prisoner swap has only one purpose for ISIS militants "The Jordanian pilot, the failed Iraqi suicide bomber and the Japanese journalist are all part of Isis's...

Tsipras's debt plan sends Athens stock market sliding "Investors made clear on Wednesday the depth of their concerns about Greece’s new leftist-led government, driving up its borrowing costs, pushing down stock prices and highlighting the risks in the country’s banking system."

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December 2014
Remembering Gough Whitlam puts modern Labor to shame
By Don Watson
Gough Whitlam had just died, and on the ABC TV program The Drum John Hewson and Craig Emerson were offering us their thoughts. During his time as leader of the Liberal Party 20 years ago, Hewson was a febrile embodiment of everything that Whitlam wasn’t. On this night, though,...
December 2014
The world’s biggest radio telescope is under construction in Western Australia
By Michael Lucy
At Boolardy Station, 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton, on Wajarri Yamatji land in the remote West Australian shire of Murchison, scientists are slowly reconfiguring a patch of the Earth’s surface into a gigantic eye gazing outward.
November 2014
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
Cincinnatus Abandons the Plow To Dictate Laws in Rome (1806), by Juan Antonio Ribera
How online organisation can give power back to the people
By Tim Flannery and Catriona Wallace
In 458 BC, with Rome facing imminent defeat by the combined forces of the Aequi and the Sabines, the Senate declared Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus dictator of the city for six months. The retired statesman, an aristocrat of reduced means, drove off Rome’s enemies. Fifteen days after being appointed, he resigned his dictatorship and returned to his humble family farm.
Current Issue
One mother’s campaign to fix overcrowding in Sydney’s schools
By Ceridwen Dovey
Steph Croft never set out to become a whistleblower. But in 2012 the financial analyst and mother of two teenagers began to realise something was going horribly wrong with schools planning.
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...
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...
November 2014
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


February 2015
The Gothic horror of Bennett Miller’s ‘Foxcatcher’
By Luke Davies
“I want to talk about America, and I want to tell you why I wrestle,” says a very awkward Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to a class of bored, bemused but polite primary schoolers, in Foxcatcher (in national release), Bennett Miller’s largely compelling dramatisation of a strange true story. The real Schultz won gold in wrestling at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
December 2014
Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’
By Anna Goldsworthy
There are many things people hate about Lena Dunham, the young creator and star of the hit HBO series Girls: her privilege, her chubbiness, her unapologetic nudity, her on-screen sex with better-looking people, the fluffy pink dress she wore to the Emmys.
December 2014
Frank Moorhouse’s ‘Australia Under Surveillance’ and David Horner’s ‘The Spy Catchers: The official history of ASIO, 1949–1963’
By David McKnight
Much of Australia’s secret history lies in the archives of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). As Australia sharpens its focus on terrorism, two new books trawl through the archives to reach quite different conclusions. In Australia Under Surveillance (...
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...
December 2014
Black Inc.; $29.99
By Simon Caterson
Our ancestors are always with us. It is precisely this enduring if elusive presence, inscribed in our genetic inheritance and manifested in sometimes less rational aspects of humanity, that interests Christine Kenneally.