Australian politics, society & culture

July 2016
Don’t believe me? Watch this
By Sean Kelly

There is a bit of an idea going round at the moment that 2016 is the Worst. Year. Ever.

It’s been driving me slightly crazy, mostly for its obvious ahistoricism, but also for its narrow focus on a few western nations. You don’t have to go too far back to find obviously worse years (in either of the world wars, for starters), and you don’t have to go back even two decades to find worse times in, say, Rwanda, or Darfur, or Israel, or East Timor, or Kosovo.

It’s true that I may be losing my sense of humour.

Current Issue
The Newtown Jets rugby league team has a loyal – and increasingly urbane – suburban following
By Alex McKinnon
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Eighth Wonder of the World! Henson Park, the home of RRRRUGBY LEAGUE and the mighty NEWTOWWWN JETS!”
July 2016
A plebiscite will confirm the Australian public’s support for marriage equality and marginalise bigots
By Jeff Sparrow
When Tony Abbott proposed a plebiscite on equal marriage last year, it was quite obvious that he intended a popular vote as a dodge, a stalling mechanism to defer reform while his conservatives allies figured out how to derail it entirely.
Media heat obscures weak support for the played-out Pauline Hanson
Richard Cooke
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, a Financial Times journalist noted that it was a “rather strange day. The Prime Minister resigning is only our third most important story”. By that metric, it’s been a rather strange week over here.
‘Pokémon Go’ makes a relentless, clear call for players to reclaim their own sense of time, space and place
Christian McCrea
The inescapable shadow of a fad is lurching over us. Pokémon Go has all the hallmarks of a phenomenon we’ll look back upon and laugh at in a few years.

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Don’t believe me? Watch this
Sean Kelly

Crisis on high “Deep in the Himalayas sits a remote research station that is tracking an alarming trend in climate change, with implications that could disrupt the lives of more than 1 billion people and pitch the most populated region of the world into chaos. The station...

Evidence of ‘torture’ of children in Darwin detention centre uncovered “Video of the tear gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 exposes one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in...

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May 2016
The mystery of a man, a tree and an umbrella
By Leigh Sales
I am sitting on a park bench, reading, when a closed umbrella thwacks onto the path next to me, seemingly falling from the sky. It is one of those flimsy, collapsible black numbers that you dash into the chemist to buy when it’s pouring, inevitably to leave forgotten under a...
May 2016
Melbourne Museum’s Thomas Rich has devoted more than 30 years to Australia’s polar dinosaurs
By Chloe Hooper
On a fine March morning, while staff at Melbourne Museum put the finishing touches on its blockbuster exhibition Jurassic World, eminent palaeontologist Dr Thomas Rich, 74, grey haired and bearded, strides to the Royal Exhibition Building next door.
April 2016
IBAC investigates the Victorian education department’s failed Ultranet
By Catherine Ford
In late February, Dr James Watterston, the director-general of Queensland’s Department of Education and Training, gave evidence to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
Current Issue
Lynette Daley
Ms Dhu, Lynette Daley and the alarming rates of violence against indigenous women
By Marcia Langton
Two Aboriginal women speak to us from their graves. One died from horrific injuries in a police cell in Western Australia, and the other bled out on a beach in New South Wales after an alleged violent sexual assault.
June 2016
On the road with Bill Shorten
By Chloe Hooper
Bill Shorten is in the passenger seat of a Comcar being driven west of Brisbane along the Warrego Highway.
March 2016
Alan Moorehead, Australia’s forgotten literary giant
By Thornton McCamish
Alan Moorehead image
Every book lover knows the thrilling experience of discovering a writer whose work changes the way they see the world. It can happen more than once; it had already happened to me several times before I picked up Alan Moorehead’s A Late Education in my late 20s, so I knew what...
May 2016
When human nature and the law intersect
By Jenan Taylor
Georgie Stone
At a Saturday farmers’ market, two little girls in floral sundresses gaze up at a tall, red-lipped, ponytailed busker with a guitar. Among the stalls, crowds and opportunistic seagulls, Georgie Stone is performing hits by artists such as Taylor Swift, as well as songs she’s...
April 2016
The Greens senator with mass appeal
By Sam Vincent
DJ S-Ludz would rather you not call him that.


July 2016
Presenter John Hamblin on Play School
‘Play School’ celebrates 50 years of preschool education and entertainment
By Russell Marks
Allan Kendall, an Australian Open quarterfinalist, university dramatist and qualified teacher, returned to Sydney from the European tennis circuit in the mid 1960s and was given the task of bringing Play School, a BBC show for preschoolers, to the ABC. He’d seen Play School in production at the BBC in London and thought it had potential.
May 2016
‘Batman v. Superman’ v. the internet
By Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens
“Humankind deserves a better blockbuster.” However many times you read Michael Phillips’ lacerating Chicago Tribune review of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this closing line remains strangely overblown.
April 2016
The economics of Everest in Jennifer Peedom’s ‘Sherpa’
By Luke Davies
Still from Sherpa
“We need help here,” a panicked, crackly voice calls out on a two-way radio, over a black screen, in the opening moments of Jennifer Peedom’s Sherpa (in national release). “Many people have died.” It’s 18 April 2014, and Peedom and her crew are at Everest Base Camp, shooting a...
June 2016
Scaling the IVF mountain in Julia Leigh’s ‘Avalanche’
By Anna Goldsworthy
In Julia Leigh’s 2008 novella, Disquiet, a woman escapes a troubled marriage in Australia for her family chateau in France. Shortly after her arrival, her sister-in-law returns from hospital, cradling a stillborn child she and her husband wish to “get to know” before the funeral...
May 2016
Beautiful suffering in PJ Harvey’s ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ and Anohni’s ‘Hopelessness’
By Anwen Crawford
English singer-songwriter Polly Jean Harvey, known professionally as PJ Harvey, released her first album, Dry, in 1992. Harvey’s rock songs, formed around her rasping electric guitar lines, bore a superficial resemblance to the then-dominant grunge style.