Australian politics, society & culture

November 2014
Will the Left now finally leave Malcolm Turnbull?
By Mark Bahnisch

I don’t watch Q&A very often. My efforts to do so, as a matter of perceived public duty, often fail within the first five minutes: if I’m not infuriated by the answers, the questions get to me. That may be unfair, as sometimes there are genuinely interesting unscripted enquiries, but far too often for my taste at least, questions are twists on the commentariat talking points of the week.

March 2014
Why do Andrew Bolt and company love to hate the national broadcaster?
By Don Watson
Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott. © Jason Edwards / Newspix
It’s such an ABC discussion to end with a discussion about “Lou Reed”. This, you know, heroin addict and transgressional. So ABC … What about Dvořák? … Or Tchaikovsky? … Well?
November 2014
The perverse attraction of autobiographical fiction
By Ceridwen Dovey
“I was ruthless,” Karl Ove Knausgaard, the now infamous Norwegian author of the volumes of autobiographical fiction, My Struggle, said at last year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. “All writers are ruthless.”
Tony Abbott at the G20 leaders' retreat
Russell Marks
Tom Switzer, former editor of Spectator Australia magazine, yesterday urged his readers on the Guardian’s website to look deeper at Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s performance over the G20 weekend.
The poor face onerous rules while rich corporations avoid tax with impunity
Richard Cooke
Australian politicians love the idea of mutual obligation. But the disparities underlying it are becoming more and more extreme. Welfare recipients are painted as getting “something for nothing”, and pushed into more and more restrictive versions of the social contract.
How World War One came to Broken Hill
Nicholas Shakespeare
Even in Australian terms, Broken Hill – 850 kilometres north of Melbourne, 1150 kilometres west of Sydney – feels a long way from anywhere. Yet in its boom days, the sweltering main street boasted more hotels than any city in Australia. From the ironwork verandah of the Palace Hotel, I look out at the gigantic slag heap that dominates every street like a frown.

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Western Australia's assault on the rights of Aboriginal people continues. After this week's announcement by Premier Colin Barnett that he would de-fund more than 150 remote communities, the Guardian reports on proposed...
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Egyptian president suggests he may pardon al-Jazeera journalists "Human rights groups condemned the trial of the journalists as a sham, western governments have decried the verdict, and the UN questioned Egypt’s judicial independence."

Peter Costello defends Future Fund's investment in fossil fuels "Costello also used his appearance to expand on the subject of tax reform. He said governments were better placed to raise revenue at home than to nail down profit shifting."

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Current Issue
Gary Quinlan and Julie Bishop have done Australia proud at the UN Security Council
By Nick Bryant
In July, hurriedly convening his national security team in Canberra as the scattered wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 still smouldered in Ukraine and looters picked at the bodies of the dead, Prime Minister Tony Abbott started to push the idea of a resolution at the...
Current Issue
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
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.
Current Issue
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 the work of opposition”.
October 2014
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.
October 2014
How the Abbott government is funding a high-culture war
By Steve Dow
The Sydney Opera House lit up during the Vivid Sydney festival, May 2014
On a stormy Monday morning in August, the Australia Council released its strategic plan for 2015–19 at the Sydney Opera House. Heavy, angled rain battered the panorama of bridge and harbour visible through the wall of windows as everyone in the northern foyer of the Opera House...
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.” I am interested in our relations with these stories we tell about ourselves, stories that may or may not be true. Let me select three cases. (a) I have a story about myself which I sincerely...
October 2014
A trip through the Torres Strait to see the Coming of the Light festival
By Thornton McCamish
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.


November 2014
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s ‘Two Days, One Night’ and Damien Chazelle’s ‘Whiplash’
By Luke Davies
“I don’t exist,” says Sandra (Marion Cotillard) to her husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione). “I’m nothing. Nothing at all.” She’s been off work on sick leave, and has just learnt that the boss at the small solar-panel factory where she works has made a proposal to her 16 colleagues. Times are tight, the boss has said to them. You can take a €1000 bonus, and we’ll make do with 16 workers.
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.
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...
November 2014
Virago Press; $29.99
By Gretchen Shirm
The first two instalments of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series, Gilead (2004) and Home (2008), won her the Pulitzer and Orange prizes respectively. Despite the weight of expectation on this third volume, Lila lacks none of the deep modesty that has characterised Robinson’s...
November 2014
Bloomsbury; $29.99
By Kevin Rabalais
He introduced himself in one of the most memorable and direct voices of contemporary American fiction: “My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.” Readers first met Bascombe, recently divorced and aged 38, in The Sportswriter (1986).