Australian politics, society & culture

April 2015
On the Mediterranean, refugees are still fleeing the legacy of last century’s wars
By Chips Mackinolty

Last New Year’s Eve a boat landed at Gallipoli carrying around 700 people. It went unnoticed by most of the world. It certainly went unnoticed in Australia, where a different kind of Gallipoli is being commemorated.

The Gallipoli of New Year’s Eve was a port town in the province of Lecce in Italy, at the heel of that nation. The 700 passengers were Syrian and Kurdish. As an ironic footnote, the vessel – optimistically called Blue Sky – had left with its payload of refugees from Turkey.

April 2015
The huge mistakes of the big rating agencies have not damaged their business model
By Satyajit Das
Markets rely heavily on credit ratings from major rating agencies like Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. The judgements of these agencies determine whether investors will purchase particular securities and the cost of raising money.
April 2015
Alex Ross Perry’s ‘Listen Up Philip’ and Noah Baumbach’s ‘While We’re Young’
By Anwen Crawford
Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip and Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young are films about young male artists who become involved in difficult relationships of patronage with older male artists.
Tony Abbott was right that fear and greed shape Australian attitudes to China
Mungo MacCallum
The Chinese in Australia have always been stereotyped, but at least the stereotypes vary from time to time and from person to person.
What exactly is our navy for? Not even the top brass seem to know
Claire Corbett
“I can’t wait to hear what that lunatic is going to say this year,” said one of the journalists at my table. It was late March, and we were at the Australian War Memorial for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Future Surface Fleet conference dinner.

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It’s not just Australians who are concerned about Australia’s immigration policies
Sean Kelly

West-led world order ‘obsolete’: Indonesian president  “President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo showcased a new face of Indonesia before Asian and African leaders on Wednesday by delivering a strong yet straightforward speech criticizing inequality resulting from the unjust West-led world. During...

Chile's Calbuco volcano erupts (with video)

“The Calbuco volcano has erupted for the first time in 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over a sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile. Authorities have ordered the evacuation of the 1,500 inhabitants of the nearby town of Ensenada,...

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Rugby star David Pocock says sport and politics are always mixed
By Sam Vincent
On a Sunday at the start of last summer, David Pocock and eight other activists were arrested at the Maules Creek coalmine in north-east New South Wales. I started following the rugby player on Twitter that afternoon, and the social networking service surmised that I might also...
Current Issue
Fancy bottled water is sometimes worth the price
By Richard Cooke
Cape Grim is not the most outlandish gourmet bottled water in the world. The claim that its Tasmanian rainwater is so pure that “even the ice you put in it will pollute it” seems restrained compared to those of some of its competitors.
March 2015
The BARK program at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre sees prisoners taking care of dogs
By Andrew McMillen
A handful of inmates are gathered in the library of the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre in Wacol, 20 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. The centre of attention is Kia, a boisterous young Staffordshire bull terrier.
Current Issue
Noel Pearson and Tony Abbott
Ten years of struggle and success in indigenous Australia
By Noel Pearson
I’ve been to many remote places in Australia, but this is entirely new to me. I don’t know the desert. From the air, the vastness of the rolling dunes, green after the summer rain, is beguiling, as is the mild weather when we land. But I’ve been to enough places in the north of the country to know that come October this land is harder than any place I know. I’m travelling to the Pilbara with a...
Current Issue
A life in accidents
By Tim Winton
One summer night, after a few hours surfcasting for tailor, my father and I were driving home along a lonely road between the dunes and the bush. I felt snug and a little sleepy in the passenger’s seat, but it was my job to keep the gas lantern from tipping over, so I clamped it...
February 2015
Life outside the detention centres on Manus Island
By Jo Chandler
In December 1928, settling into village life on Manus Island, the anthropologist Margaret Mead sent a gleeful letter home to the United States via the boat that visited every three weeks. She was living in “a primitive Venice, the streets are waterways, the houses set on high...
March 2015
The meteoric career of Kaiadilt painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda
By Quentin Sprague
Dibirdibi Country (2012), Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda (Mrs Gabori).
By any measure, Mrs Gabori’s rise was stellar. When the Kaiadilt artist began painting in 2005 she was aged in her early 80s, already a long-term resident in her community’s old people’s home. Her big, brashly colourful and seemingly abstract renderings of her traditional...
February 2015
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.

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May 2015
‘Wolf Hall’
By Benjamin Law
Several months back, the United Kingdom fell victim to an illness so contagious that it tore through the adult population at an average rate of 4.4 million people per week. They had come down with Wolf Hall fever.
April 2015
Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’
By Luke Davies
French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who was 20 when he made his bold debut feature I Killed My Mother (2009), has just turned 26.
February 2015
‘No Cities To Love’: The triumphant return of Sleater-Kinney
By Anwen Crawford
People were cheap,” writes George Packer in his book The Unwinding: Thirty years of American decline (2013). “They’d never pass up a rock-bottom price.” Packer is writing of Walmart from the perspective of its founder, Sam Walton, whose retail empire made him the richest man in...
April 2015
Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’
By Anwen Crawford
Why don’t I hate Sufjan Stevens? He plays the banjo. He plays the oboe. His stage shows have included hula hoops and cheerleaders. He has yet to meet an encyclopaedia entry that he couldn’t turn into a concept album, and he has released two five-disc box sets of Christmas songs...
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