Australian politics, society & culture

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Marco and Nick Nikitaras
Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination
By Malcolm Knox

The Nikitaras brothers’ corner store has a hallucinatory shine, like a set from a period movie. Staff in navy blue uniforms and white net caps smile from behind jars of preserved clementines and glacé peaches, pineapples and cherries. Glass cases present dioramas of stuffed olives, mushrooms and peppers; above them hang fragrant salami; the shelves are packed with Tasmanian wine and crusty loaves. In the fresh vegetables section, greens glisten and truss tomatoes blush.

July 2014
How network companies lined their pockets and drove electricity prices through the roof
By Jess Hill
Electricity workers in Brisbane. © Tim Marsden / Newspix
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.
August 2014
By 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.
An exegesis on unintended consequences
Mat Keneally
This month Tony Abbott squibbed the greatest moral challenge of his age and shelved plans to amend the Racial Discrimination Act.
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
Australia's minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, has withdrawn from tomorrow's World Congress of Families in Melbourne. He was to open the Congress and be presented with its “Natural Family Man of the Year” award. Announcing his...
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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."

Military skill and terrorist technique fuel success of Islamic State "The group has quietly built an effective management structure of...

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Current Issue
Behind the scenes with the young Aussie comedian
By Ronnie Scott
Illustration
The sharehouse on the corner looks normal from the outside, like any of the sharehouses found all over Melbourne’s inner north. Its interior, though, is crammed with upwards of 30 people who are mainly concerned about a dog – John, a cavoodle – that is appearing in an episode of...
Current Issue
The science is clear, but the way forward is not
By Judith Brett
In April this year, Fiona Stanley told ABC’s Radio National that she was “anxious and angry” because the politicised climate-change agenda had led to the denigration of climate science and scientists.
Current Issue
Many online daters are trapped in a pornographic shopping mall
By Michael Currie
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.
Current Issue
Margaret Inamuka
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. Hundreds of men were planning to charge down the dirt road, setting fire to houses and slaughtering livestock.
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.
July 2014
How the end of Gunns cleared a new path for Tasmania
By John van Tiggelen
Ship-loading tower, Triabunna mill wharf. © Mike Bowers
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...
July 2014
Behind the wobbleboard
By Peter Conrad
Rolf Harris performing 'Jake the Peg' in 1966. © Bill Orchard / Rex Features
“Guilty on all counts, Your Honour.” So said Rolf Harris, weeping in contrition.
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.

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August 2014
Mass murderer Anders Breivik on trial. © Frank Augstein / AP
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. All four have straws in their mouths, and a bucket labelled “Entitlement” sits on the table.
August 2014
Netflix; Foxtel Showcase
By Anwyn Crawford
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 f
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
Timbaland and Boyz II Men haunt FKA Twigs’ ‘LP1’ and How To Dress Well’s ‘What Is This Heart?”
By Anwyn Crawford
FKA Twigs
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...
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).