Australian politics, society & culture

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How long can Australia ride in the coal wagon?
By Paul Cleary

It’s raining cats and dogs in the gentrified Southern Highlands, two hours’ drive south of Sydney, and even though flood warnings abound and school pick-up time approaches, more than 300 locals file into the Moss Vale RSL to respond to a presentation about a proposed coalmine. Hume Coal, a subsidiary of South Korean steel giant POSCO, has plans to build an underground mine to extract 3 million tonnes of coking coal a year, amid rolling green hills and the extensive aquifers that form part of Sydney’s water catchment.

Current Issue
Brian & Karl make films that speak their own languages
By Sam Twyford-Moore
In 2011, a short film titled Skwerl, but published under the tag ‘How English sounds to non-English speakers’, was uploaded to YouTube by ‘Brian and Karl’.
October 2015
In business and in politics, the prime minister has a long record of playing hard with the media
By Andrew Fowler
With the possibility of a change in media laws that would tear up former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s division between print and TV ownership, understanding Malcolm Turnbull’s role in the murky business of media politics has a new urgency.
Children’s lit heroes Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton and Jill Griffiths step off the page and onto the stage
Ashley Hay
The first thing you see inside Ipswich Civic Centre’s auditorium is a set of magnificent burgundy curtains, not draped across a stage to obscure its magical other-world but hung behind the seating. Audiences have to navigate the curtains – as if sneaking backstage themselves – to reach the performance.
Tony Abbott won’t be quiet and he won’t go away
Mungo MacCallum
I watched (through gritted teeth, naturally) last week’s slobber fest between Tony Abbott and Ray Hadley, and the slightly less cloying effort a couple of days later with Neil Mitchell; and I was immediately reassured.

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Malcolm Turnbull told us a lot about his vision for Australian society today
Michael Lucy

Indonesia seeks Australian help on fires “Indonesia has asked Australia to help it fight forest fires raging through Kalimantan and Sumatra that have created dangerously high levels of air pollution in the region. Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Australia was among five ‘...

Russia fires cruise missiles in Syria as Assad begins a ground attack “Russia and Syria unleashed a coordinated assault by land, air and sea on Wednesday, seeking to reverse recent gains by rebel groups that were beginning to encroach on President Bashar al-Assad’s last bastion of power. Moscow said it...

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August 2015
Body Electric’s jazz ballet for adults
By Nikki Lusk
“It’s like a cult,” a friend says of Body Electric. Backstage at the Melbourne Pavilion, a venue more used to wedding receptions than adults doing jazz ballet, the true believers are making final preparations. For the past three months, eight groups have been learning and...
July 2015
Meet the Melburnians keeping Esperanto alive
By Jeff Sparrow
I’ve come to Melbourne’s Federation Square this Sunday afternoon searching for the followers of a man who had called himself Dr Hopeful.
June 2015
A win for David Cameron and the Conservatives in the UK was inevitable
By Guy Rundle
“Pull over here,” I told the driver of the black cab as I spotted a bottle shop. We were headed out of the tangle of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the boho-prosperous calm of Primrose Hill, an old haunt of threadbare leftists, now gone upmarket.
Current Issue
A British author’s complicated relationship with the island continent
By Will Self
When, early this year, I was invited to give an address at the Melbourne Writers Festival, I didn’t hesitate to accept – nor did I prevaricate when asked what subject I’d be tackling. Such alacrity on my part is uncommon: my writing room, at the top of my house in south London, hasn’t been cleaned since we moved there in 1997.
September 2015
The US and China’s struggle for power in Asia
By Hugh White
China is not the first country to build military outposts on tiny rocks and reefs in the South China Sea. Several other countries laying claim to these contested flyspecks have done so before.
July 2015
The children left behind by Australian sex tourists in the Philippines
By Margaret Simons
© Dave Tacon
The sky bruises at the same time each day in Angeles City. Then the rain comes. The weather is so similar – steamy heat, then rain and evening relief – that it can seem as though time is circular, and the same day recurs. It can seem that life in this Philippine city is lived on...
August 2015
IBAC investigates Victoria’s rotten education bureaucracy
By Catherine Ford
In early June, Nino Napoli, a senior executive with the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET), stepped into a witness box and began to answer some long overdue questions.
July 2015
Too many kangaroos loose in Canberra
By Sam Vincent
The eastern grey kangaroo has a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour. By the end of its life, my ute could do 80.


October 2015
Corruption and collusion in Scott Cooper’s ‘Black Mass’
By Luke Davies
James “Whitey” Bulger, the ruthless Boston crime boss who for more than 15 years was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list before his 2011 arrest, has been portrayed in a number of movies and TV series.
September 2015
‘The Complete Works of Primo Levi’ reveals the Holocaust memoirist’s extraordinary breadth
By Ramon Glazov
“As you know, meat was scarce, and my wife thought it a shame to throw all the test animals into the incinerator. So every once in a while we would have a taste of one or another: several guinea pigs, a few rabbits; dogs and monkeys no, never.”
August 2015
Emma Kowal’s ‘Trapped in the Gap’ examines the ‘White anti-racist’ in indigenous Australia
By Kim Mahood
A few years ago, a friend of mine worked as a nurse for a men’s health organisation in a remote Aboriginal community. One of his responsibilities was to accompany the men when they travelled to other communities for ceremonial business, and attend to any illness or injury that...
September 2015
Catherine the Great still reigns in the NGV’s ‘Masterpieces from the Hermitage’
By Julie Ewington
Remarkably, 250 years after it was established as the world’s first art museum, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg still seems to be following the edicts of its founder, Catherine the Great. One of the largest museums – only the Louvre in Paris exceeds its gargantuan...
August 2015
Marina Abramović in Australia
By Fiona McGregor
You enter on condition of silence, leaving your possessions in a locker. A video instructs you to perform exercises that will release the stress from your body. It is the deep, sonorous voice of Marina Abramović, with the body of someone else doing the movements.