Australian politics, society & culture

October 2015
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel takes on ‘Macbeth’
By Peter Conrad

The heroes – or perhaps the villains – of Justin Kurzel’s films are dangerously charismatic men, on the surface quite unlike the reserved, thoughtful and soft-spoken director. First in the series is John Bunting, the psychotic Messiah in 2011’s Snowtown, for whom murder is a purgative moral crusade. Next comes the self-destructive but sexually alluring ruffian in ‘Boner McPharlin’s Moll’, Kurzel’s contribution to the 2013 adaptation of Tim Winton’s The Turning.

October 2015
Central banks are flooding markets with money, but at what cost?
By Satyajit Das
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner captured the paradox of scarcity amidst plenty: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”.
October 2015
Cold Chisel reconsidered
By Anwen Crawford
Someone somewhere in Australia is listening to a Cold Chisel song right now. Perhaps it’s you, tarrying with the ever-present ‘Khe Sanh’, or with ‘Choirgirl’, ‘Cheap Wine’, ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’ or ‘Forever Now’.
The Australia Council’s history of challenges and challengers
Julian Meyrick
Imagine a house built in 1968, nearly 50 years ago. Imagine the changes that have happened since: new windows, new roof, an extension out the back. But it is the surrounding community that has really transformed. So what to do with the house? Preserve it? Knock it down? Keep renovating so that it suits contemporary needs?
Lee Lin Chin’s rise from SBS newsreader to queen of satire
Benjamin Law
It’s often said you should never meet your heroes, as they’ll invariably disappoint. Occasionally, though, you meet someone famous who doesn’t so much disappoint as disorientate, leaving you unsure as to whether you’ve actually just met them or a counterfeit version from another dimension.

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Change is hard. Just how hard, Malcolm Turnbull is about to find out
Sean Kelly

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks deadlocked over biological drugs “Hopes were fading late on Sunday that the latest round of pan-Pacific free-trade talks would reach agreement amid deep splits over key pharmaceutical and agricultural access deals. After...

Ten killed in college shooting in Oregon “Ten people have been killed and seven injured in a shooting at a college in the US state of Oregon. The 20-year-old gunman opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning. There were conflicting reports on the casualty numbers but Douglas County Sheriff John...

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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.
July 2015
Favours and foreign affairs: Joko Widodo’s first year as Indonesian president
By Hamish McDonald
There comes a moment in a long evening of wayang orang, the theatre of Java based on the great Hindu epics, when the drama cuts from strident speeches by gorgeously costumed warriors and princes against painted backdrops of palaces.
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.
Current Issue
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.
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. The comparison is not academic: driving home from parties in my early 20s, my muffler farting through Canberra’s northern fringe, mobs of 10, 20, 30 roos would slip...
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.
August 2015
Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Greece’s economic crisis
By Christos Tsiolkas
Down the road from my studio, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, there is a small cafe next door to a tobacconist. Both are owned by Australians of Greek heritage.


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.
August 2015
Icon as exhibit at ACMI’s ‘David Bowie Is’
By Anwen Crawford
Having travelled for nearly 5 billion kilometres to the outer limits of our solar system, the New Horizons space probe sent back its first data from a fly-by of Pluto on 14 July 2015, nine and a half years after its launch.
July 2015
Power and resistance at the 56th Venice Biennale
By Julie Ewington
The Venice Biennale is the biggest show in town, in any town. Of all the international biennials and triennials that showcase contemporary art, it is the oldest, the grandest. Established in 1895, the year before the modern Olympics (it is often said that the Venice Biennale is...
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
Why we keep watching ‘The Americans’, ‘Veep’ and ‘House of Cards’
By Luke Davies
It’s been 16 years since the launch of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s frenetic, intelligent, densely worded political soap opera.