Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
Portrait of Tony Abbott by Neil Moore
The brief life and quiet death of Tony Abbott’s love of liberty
By David Marr

In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a young woman faces jail because word got out that one of his daughters was given a $60,000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. This scholarship was never advertised. Students at the college in Sydney had no idea such largesse was available. News of Frances Abbott’s win provoked a two-month investigation by the New South Wales Police and a charge of accessing restricted data without authorisation. Penalty: imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

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:
By Galarrwuy Yunupingu
My land is that of the Gumatj clan nation, which is carefully defined, with boundaries and borders set out in the maps of our minds and, today, on djurra, or paper. We have our own laws, repeated in ceremonial song cycles and known to all members of our clan nation.
Kanye West, Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney, 13 September 2014
Anwyn Crawford
A man stands alone on stage, illuminated by a shaft of brilliant white light. In front of him is a plinth, and displayed atop the plinth like a sacred relic is an Akai Music Production Centre. The MPC is a hybrid sampler, drum machine and electronic instrument, and it’s the piece of gear that, over the past 25 years, has made much popular music possible. 
Taika Waititi’s ‘What We Do in the Shadows’
Luke Davies
Taika Waititi’s Boy (2010) was a simple tale, beautifully told. Eleven-year-old James Rolleston was raw and authentic as the eponymous Boy: fierce at times, a vulnerable child at others. Waititi’s performance as Boy’s hopeless, fantasist dad, recently released from prison, only added to the film’s disarming charm.
As Prime Minister Tony Abbott oversees Australia's deployment of troops to Iraq from his temporary office in the Garma Knowledge Centre on the Gulkula plateau, politicians and observers are looking for the right frame to describe...
Read More

New Zealand launched mass surveillance project while publicly denying it "Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the government worked in secret to exploit a new internet surveillance law." (Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher)

Also: ...

Oscar Pistorius found not guilty of Reeva Steenkamp's murder "However, Judge Thokozile Masipa said it was clear that his actions were ‘negligent’ and said he had ‘acted too hastily’ and used ‘excessive force’ the night Ms Steenkamp died."...

Read More
Current Issue
The Abbott government has achieved only chaos in its first year
By Nick Feik
So what has the government actually done,” asked News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt in early August, “to reassure the party faithful that, yes, this is a Liberal government?” It was a testament to how badly Tony Abbott’s government was faring, as it approached its first...
Current Issue
In the rush online, newspapers have deleted yesterday, today and tomorrow
By Robyn Annear
Every morning, before daybreak, a clapped-out Holden labours up the street and an unseen hand lobs a missile at my front gate. Sometimes the thud breaks my sleep: wake up, it’s the news.
Current Issue
Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews keeps his head down
By John van Tiggelen
It’s tempting to surmise that Daniel Andrews acquired his hunched appearance by keeping his head down so much.
Current Issue
Umeewarra Mission
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
In a bluestone former school building in Port Augusta, now a campus of the University of Adelaide, four generations of Barngarla people sit conference-style around a table. Harry Dare, a local elder, wears a snug beanie pulled down to his eyebrows: a ganoo-ganoo moona, or “warm and sheltered hat”.
Current Issue
What drives Edward Snowden, the world’s most wanted whistleblower?
By Robert Manne
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” proclaims the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, adopted in 1792, “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon pro
August 2014
Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination
By Malcolm Knox
Marco and Nick Nikitaras
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...
August 2014
Adventures in the artefact business
By Peter Robb
The Art Gallery of New South Wales
When you approach the entrance to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) on the edge of Sydney’s Domain, you see exactly what the local establishment had in mind when they commissioned its design in the last decade of the 19th century.
August 2014
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.


September 2014
Random House; $35
By Kevin Rabalais
His name carries a cultural cachet rarely granted writers today, much less those of the literary variety. As a brand, Haruki Murakami infiltrated the West with the English translation of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997), but in his native Japan he had been a celebrity since Norwegian Wood (1987).
September 2014
Black Inc.; $34.99
By Michael Cooney
At the end of Born Bad: Original sin and the making of the Western world, James Boyce tells us where he stood at the start. When the Tasmania-based historian began researching this ambitious survey, he was “scornful of a barbaric doctrine”.
September 2014
Helen Garner’s ‘This House of Grief’
By David Marr
Robert Farquharson leaves the Supreme Court in Melbourne, 30 December 2005. © Joe Castro / AAP
On Father’s Day 2005, Robert Farquharson drove his car into a dam on the flatlands west of Geelong, Victoria, and drowned his three young sons, Jai, Tyler and Bailey. To this day, Farquharson claims he blacked out at the wheel, but after two trials and two appeals over eight...
September 2014
The everyman charm of Justin Timberlake
By Anwyn Crawford
Justin Timberlake performing in New Orleans, February 2013. © Christopher Polk / Getty Images
Justin Timberlake, who tours Australia this month, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s the city where Elvis Presley began his musical career, and, like Presley before him, Timberlake is besotted with the sounds of black American music.
September 2014
Hardie Grant; $39.95
By John van Tiggelen
While still a senator, Bob Brown had a “simple philosophy” printed on the back of his business card: “Caring Optimistic Defiant. We strive for peace democracy and a fair go for everyone. We champion future generations and life on Earth in all its brilliance.