Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
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.

Current Issue
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.
October 2014
The conversation about mental health that Australia has to have
By Rachel Nolan
I have to say it. I have had it up to here with the mental health bonanza currently running on the ABC. They promised a week. It’s now in its second. If the network carries on like this, I’ll be driven quite up the wall.
Laura Jean’s ‘Laura Jean’ finds the Melbourne singer-songwriter finally feeling at home
Anwen Crawford
The opening song on Laura Jean is called ‘June’, and is set at Penders Park in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury. “My kelpie doesn’t tire as easily / As in the summer months down by the sea,” sings Laura Jean.
From stick insects to swagmen in Don Watson’s ‘The Bush’
John Hirst
Out of what he calls his “confused and contradictory affections”, Don Watson has written a loving rumination on Australia, the landmass, and those who live on it and from it.
Last night, New Matilda published a selection of the emails which on Friday led to Professor Barry Spurr’s suspension from the University of Sydney. Even if they are being presented and read out of context, as Spurr claims, in New Matilda’...
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Joko Widodo, 'man of the people', to become Indonesia's president "But before stepping into the role on Monday, Mr Widodo has already been dealt a bruising by the nation's political elite."

Spectre of renewed crisis polarises Europe “Just when eurozone leaders should be pulling together, there seems to...

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Current Issue
In central Victoria, locals are taking up arms against the invading wheel cactus
By John van Tiggelen
Cartoon showing man fighting cactus
Pigeon Hill, a granite outcrop just west of Maldon, in central Victoria, overlooks plains that roll out all the way to the Murray. These can look lovely in early spring. The explorer Thomas Mitchell, casting his eyes over them in 1836, thought them lush: so lush, he called them...
Current Issue
The chimes they are a-changing at the Sydney Opera House
By Darryn King
One piece of music has been heard at the Sydney Opera House more than any other. It is played sometimes dozens of times a day and more than 1000 times a year. The entire composition consists of two alternating notes, A and F sharp, in a plodding loop on a fake xylophone.
Current Issue
Contesting Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’
By Robert Manne
Paul Kelly’s The End of Certainty, published in 1992, is probably the most influential book of contemporary Australian political history written in the past 50 years.
Current Issue
Early examples of gene silencing in transgenic plants
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. RNA is ribonucleic acid, DNA’s less-famous sibling and a fundamental cog in the machinery of all living cells. RNA interference is one of the body’s natural antiviral defence systems.
October 2014
Truth, fiction and psychotherapy
By JM Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
JMC “The stories we tell about ourselves may not be true, but they are all we have.”
September 2014
The brief life and quiet death of Tony Abbott’s love of liberty
By David Marr
Portrait of Tony Abbott by Neil Moore
In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a young woman faces jail because word got out that one of his daughters was given a $60,000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. This scholarship was never advertised. Students at the college in Sydney had no idea such largesse...
September 2014
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
Umeewarra Mission
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...
September 2014
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


October 2014
Bloomsbury; $25.99
By Claire Corbett
“Without the bone and sinew of wings, no flight,” muses one character in Stone Mattress, the latest book of stories from Margaret Atwood. This line, a reflection that all we are can only be felt and expressed through the body, also serves as an artistic credo, on the way the detail and grit of the mundane give force to the imagination.
October 2014
A century of Dylan Thomas
By Kevin Rabalais
It sounded like a hoax. In June, more than half a century after the poet died following yet another marathon binge, the Guardian reported the discovery of a drinking song “dashed off in pencil by Dylan Thomas while seated at a London bar” in 1951.
October 2014
A journey through time and mind in Hugh Sullivan’s ‘The Infinite Man’
By Luke Davies
“You want blood and guts?” says Dean (Josh McConville), an intense, over-thinking brainiac who seems to be in the process of losing his girlfriend, Lana (Hannah Marshall), to her ex-boyfriend, Terry (Alex Dimitriades). “I’ll give you blood and guts!”
October 2014
Black Inc.; $32.99
By Geordie Williamson
Robert Hughes’s notorious 1988 demolition of the New York art-world darling Jean-Michel Basquiat was called ‘Requiem for a Featherweight’. Erik Jensen’s brief, episodic biography of Adam Cullen could not be further from Hughes’s article in tone: neither lordly in condemnation...
October 2014
Penguin; $29.99
By Robyn Annear
As is often the case in a Sonya Hartnett novel, the kids in Golden Boys know too much.