Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
James Lovatt
Lovatts Crosswords gave its profits to employees. What went wrong?
By Richard Cooke

“The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left,” wrote the libertarian conservative economist Thomas Sowell, “is that they do not work.” Before writing this off as a typically abrasive overstatement, we must make a small concession: most of the time the purer egalitarian models of the harder left haven’t worked very well in practice. That failure doesn’t always look like cranes pulling down Lenin statuary, either. Sometimes they are much smaller, basic breakdowns of co-operation. The free-rider problem. The tragedy of the commons.

October 2016
The debate around housing affordability is shifting
By Sean Kelly
We are experiencing a radical shift in the politics of housing affordability.
October 2016
A week of dithering over the Adler A110 brings the government’s incompetence into focus
By Mungo MacCallum
In the normal world, the question of whether a gun could fire seven rounds or five rounds would be largely academic; if there was a dispute it could be expected to be settled swiftly and uneventfully.
Cuts to welfare are just another way of keeping the poor in their place
Eleanor Robertson
I haven’t telephoned Centrelink in over three years, but I still have a conditioned reaction of immediate panic whenever I hear the Centrelink hold music. The number of hours I spent listening to the cheery Mozart string arrangement over tinny mobile phone speakers doesn’t bear thinking about; it must be in the hundreds.
Six stories of 100 words
Paul Connolly

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The debate around housing affordability is shifting
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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September 2016
A cat-detection team are doing important work on Dirk Hartog Island
By Nicole Gill
The stars are bright over Western Australia’s Dirk Hartog Island, which sits within the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Zoologist Sue Robinson shovels muesli into her mouth without enthusiasm, wipes dew off her quad-bike seat and corrals her gear for the morning’s work. From...
August 2016
Why are our pets so pampered?
By Anne Manne
As I was walking into the local vet’s to buy some cat food, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman stroking what looked like a large fluffy white cat tucked under her arm. The sight of a devoted owner and their pet is unremarkable.
July 2016
Bruce Munro’s ‘Field of Light’ brings 50,000 LED spheres to Uluru
By Ashley Hay
In the new-moon black of early winter, a coach draws up on a hillside just outside the Northern Territory town of Yulara, and four dozen or so of us clamber down into the night. The sky is cloudy and the air cold. But something special shimmers in the land’s wide dip below.
Current Issue
Image of Nauru
Richard Flanagan delivers the inaugural Boisbouvier Lecture
By Richard Flanagan
Every day we hear grim and grimmer news that suggests we are passing through the winter of the world. Everywhere man is tormented, the globe reels from multitudes of suffering and horror, and, worst, we no longer know with confidence what our answer might be. And yet we understand that the time approaches when an answer must be made or a terrible reckoning will be ours.
September 2016
The life and legacy of Roald Dahl
By Anwen Crawford
The late Roald Dahl, who was born 100 years ago this month, had many qualities that made him an outstanding children’s writer, including an eccentric sort of humour, an acute sense of fairness and a delight in words.
June 2016
The coral bleaching signals a defining environmental shift
By Jo Chandler
Many of today’s marine scientists blame Jacques Cousteau, who surfaced in their lounge rooms during their formative years, for luring them into the water. Others were hooked by the psychedelic barrage of coral gardens and sea creatures in National Geographic. Through the ’60s...
August 2016
What did the party deliver?
By Paddy Manning
Image of Richard Di Natale, Adam Bandt and Jason Ball
On election night, crouched over their laptops in a tatty old make-up room in the bowels of Melbourne’s Forum Theatre, Greens campaign workers were fielding calls from scrutineers at polling booths in the city’s inner suburbs and trying to make urgent sense of the count. The...
July 2016
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.


October 2016
Image of Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ bemuses but rewards
By Anwen Crawford
What makes an album? With every passing month this year, the answer has grown more intricate.
September 2016
Angel Olsen’s ‘My Woman’ and Sarah Mary Chadwick’s ‘Roses Always Die’
By Anwen Crawford
“Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done,” sings Angel Olsen on the opening track to her third full-length release, My Woman, “still gotta wake up and be someone.” The song is called ‘Intern’, and in it the self is a kind of business, while romance may be a bad
August 2016
The Avalanches’ ‘Wildflower’ isn’t the comeback we needed
By Anwen Crawford
Image of The Avalanches
Who can but marvel at the 16 years of work that has gone into creating Wildflower, the second album by The Avalanches? Nations are built in less time. Children born at the turn of the millennium, when the Melbourne-based electronic group first charted, are now hale teenagers. No...
September 2016
Matt Ross’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ is a portrait of a family in the wilderness
By Luke Davies
Still from Captain Fantastic
The opening moments of Matt Ross’ Captain Fantastic (in national release 8 September) introduce us to the rugged, pine-forested world of an ideal – or idealised – family living far off the grid in the woods of Washington State. The father, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), rules over...
August 2016
Ciro Guerra’s ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ brings together two Amazonian encounters
By Luke Davies
“You devote your life to plants?” an ancient shaman asks his young American visitor.