Australian politics, society & culture

October 2014
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.

September 2014
Race, recognition and a more complete Commonwealth
By Noel Pearson
Had Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his dilak elders been present at the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, there might have been a scene like this:
Archive
Australia Day in Pyalong
By Alice Pung
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
On the morning of Australia Day, the people of Pyalong notice their flag is missing. Pyalong is in central Victoria, loosely suspended between Tooborac and Tallarook.
John Hirst
With all the changes wrought by World War II, Australia was in the 1950s still a British society. I can testify to that. In school I learnt British history, geography and poetry. At recess we played a rough game known as British bulldog. On Monday morning we sang ‘God save the King’ and after 1952 ‘God Save the Queen’.
What the current rise in whistleblower activity says about our democratic process
Bec Zajac
Karen Wells never thought she would be a whistleblower. She had spent 11 years working in the prison industry and two years at the Woomera and Curtin detention centres before taking a position as a guard on Manus Island. “In corrections,” she says, “we just didn’t dob on anyone.”

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It's hard to imagine a worse start to the political year for Tony Abbott, who is now – not yet 18 months into his first term as prime minister – facing the kind of leadership speculation that dogged John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia...
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Ukraine cedes Donetsk airport to rebels as fighting continues "The airport, the scene of fierce battles in recent days, is nonfunctional, the terminal and runways having been destroyed months ago. Nonetheless, it has retained high symbolic value in the ongoing...

My 'Charlie Hebdo' by Philippe Lançon "Right now I have nothing left but three fingers wrapped in Band-Aids, a heavily bandaged jaw, and just a few ounces of strength, a few minutes in which to express to you all my affection and thank you for your friendship and your support."

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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. I keep...
November 2014
As captain of Team Australia, Tony Abbott has plunged us into war without debate
By Judith Brett
I happened to be in London the day the British prime minister, David Cameron, recalled the House of Commons to request its support for British air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq.
October 2014
Remembering a man of letters, and a friend
By Murray Bail
“Dying is so banal,” Pierre Ryckmans said from his bed in Sydney a few weeks before he died.
December 2014
Gambler and MONA founder David Walsh has written a book
By Amanda Lohrey
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart is an underground labyrinth, often dimly lit, but its founder’s domestic apartment is a glassy sunlit box, the light so bright I consider killing eye contact and putting on my sunglasses.
December 2014
Does the future belong to “sharing economy” companies like Uber and Airbnb?
By Linda Jaivin
My introduction to what is now called the “sharing economy” came in the mid ’90s on the road to Byron Bay. My boyfriend at the time was a candle-maker; we were driving up to the first Homebake music festival in a Kombi packed with candles, candelabras and an inflatable boat.
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
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...
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.”

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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
Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’ and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’
By Luke Davies
“Will this be on television?” Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) asks a news stringer who is shooting footage of a woman being freed by police from a burning car. “Morning news,” says the cameraman. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
November 2014
Hamish Hamilton; $32.99
By Guy Rundle
Public-key data encryption depends on one astounding fact: multiply two large prime numbers together and you will get a number so large that there is not enough computer power in the world to reduce the product back to the original primes. The two numbers thus make a lock and...
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 (...
November 2014
Annabel Crabb’s ‘The Wife Drought’
By Anne Manne
It took me many months to complete my recent book, hunched over the keyboard, eyes glazed with concentration, fingers flying – except, that is, when I paused to sip a cup of tea made by my husband.