Australian politics, society & culture

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© Nick Moir / Fairfax Syndication
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 tight between my heels and resisted the urge to drift off. We’d gone down at sunset and caught a feed, but at the age of nine I could take or leave the fishing. The chief attraction of an outing like this was the chance to be alone with my father.

Current Issue
Ten years of struggle and success in indigenous Australia
By Noel Pearson
Noel Pearson and Tony Abbott
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...
May 2015
It is not alarmist to think that Australian Labor is sleepwalking to electoral disaster
By Nick Dyrenfurth
On 7 May, the British people delivered a devastating verdict on Ed Miliband’s Labour Party: simply unelectable.
Tech giants’ utopian branding drifts ever further from their amoral reality
Elmo Keep
The image of the new tech corporations such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon is as precisely calibrated as any other brand’s. ‘Branding’ has been a key element of all these companies’ corporate PR strategies; they have stoked the cult of the user’s personal brand, essentially putting the bulk of building their business onto the shoulders of users.
Is Bill Shorten Australian Labor’s Ed Miliband?
Malcolm Farnsworth
“You actually watched the budget?” a friend asked me on the weekend, his incredulity all the more startling given he’s known me for decades. I had to pathetically concede that I had watched or listened to every budget speech since I was at school. I didn’t dare tell him I’d also watched Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech.  

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The budget is as good as gone already – just what the government wanted
Sean Kelly

Islamic State starts beheadings as fears deepen for Palmyra treasures “Islamic State militants carried out public beheadings in the main square of Palmyra on Thursday after capturing the city. Analysts said that the jihadists now controlled...

Malaysia, Indonesia to scrap policy of turning away asylum seeker boats “Malaysia and Indonesia say they will no longer turn away migrant boats, responding to world pressure by offering to take in a wave of asylum seekers provided they can be resettled or repatriated within a...

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April 2015
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...
April 2015
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 Adelaide Zoo has a chequered past
By Anna Goldsworthy
When we visit the Adelaide Zoo, I usually have a destination in mind, but my two-year-old has his own agenda. It begins with the capybaras, the world’s largest rodents: doleful, improbable creatures, like guinea pigs re-imagined by Lewis Carroll.
Current Issue
The mysteries of the microbiome
By Jo Chandler
The tapas was a mistake. Or maybe the wine that washed it down? Suffice to say that come morning, at the business end of a flying trip to Brisbane, I’m a bit embarrassed about my specimen. But I’m on a deadline. Done is better than perfect.
April 2015
What’s next for the perpetual deputy?
By Chris Wallace
It is a late summer evening, and a woman in a silver gown glides towards the Sydney Opera House. Nicholas Milton observes her as he walks to work.
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. David Walsh is warm and engaging, quite...
March 2015
Which hill is Labor’s light on again?
By Rachel Nolan
Tanya Plibersek, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. © Neil Moore
We’re squeezed in, hundreds of sweaty bodies pressed against one another in the aptly named Greenhouse tent. It’s 30 December 2014, and two days of tropical downpours have been followed by a full day’s searing heat. We’re at Woodford Folk Festival, north-west of Brisbane,...
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.

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May 2015
David Malouf’s extraordinary musings on life and art
By David Marr
For the past year Knopf has been publishing elegant collections of David Malouf’s essays, reviews, speeches, prefaces and, now, libretti. You strain to tell one volume from another. The covers are absurdly sober and nothing is made of that famous face. Malouf’s schnoz is tucked out of sight. The message of these handsome books is plain: what matters is the words.
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.
February 2015
‘James Turrell: A Retrospective’ at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
By Benjamin Law
Deep in the Arizona desert lives a man who has spent half his life creating an observatory at the dead heart of a 389,000-year-old volcano. His motivation isn’t religion or science, but art. After spotting Roden Crater from a plane in 1974, the American artist James Turrell knew...
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. His new film, Mommy (in national release 9 April) – his fifth in six years – won the Jury Prize at Cannes, where it received a rapturous 13-minute...
February 2015
‘Pop to Popism’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
By Julie Ewington
What goes around comes back differently. Refracted by the times. In 1985 I reviewed the only other substantial exhibition of pop art held in Australia, also at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).