Australian politics, society & culture

July 2014
Electricity workers in Brisbane. © Tim Marsden / Newspix
How network companies lined their pockets and drove electricity prices through the roof
By Jess Hill

In the past few years, our electricity prices have doubled. While the media has feasted on the likes of pink batts, Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson, the astonishing story behind these price hikes has been all but ignored. And yet, it may be one of the greatest rorts in Australia’s history.

March 2015
Will the ALP be looking to Maurice Glasman, purveyor of “dangerous ideas”, for inspiration?
By Nick Dyrenfurth
Maurice Glasman is a dangerous man to know. The resolve of recovering smokers, including that of yours truly, can weaken in the company of the chain-smoking, bespectacled British Labour Party life peer in the House of Lords.
March 2015
The costs and causes of domestic violence
By Jess Hill
Tony Abbott presents Rosie Batty with the 2015 Australian of the Year award, 25 January 2015. © Mick Tsikas / AAP
After decades of ignoring domestic violence, Australians have learnt to condemn it. The statistics are now well known: a woman is murdered at least every week, another hospitalised every three hours.
Why compulsory superannuation benefits the financial industry and the rich at the expense of everyone else
Warwick Smith
Superannuation is mostly a con. It involves the funnelling of vast amounts of wealth from wage-earners to the financial sector, and continues the neoliberal project of fracturing and individualising our hopes and ambitions.
An extract from ‘Dear Life: on caring for the elderly’
Karen Hitchcock
A hospital is a place where a sick individual and their loved ones are taken in and shoved up against a group of strangers – clinicians – with whom they develop a relationship which is hugely intimate and has difficulties on both sides.

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George Brandis sensibly reversed his planned cuts to legal services yesterday, but he didn’t explain why it was Coalition policy for 18 months
Russell Marks

The gangsters of Ferguson "Officer Darren Wilson was innocent. If only the city's cops offered their own citizens the same due process he received."

US calls on Ferguson to overhaul criminal justice system "The Justice Department declared that Ferguson had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could...

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March 2015
The Adelaide Zoo has a chequered past
By Anna Goldsworthy
When we visit the Adelaide Zoo, I usually have a destination in mind, but my two-year-old has his own agenda. It begins with the capybaras, the world’s largest rodents: doleful, improbable creatures, like guinea pigs re-imagined by Lewis Carroll. The zoo has a fraught history...
March 2015
Rita Zammit is Victoria’s newest Supreme Court justice and a soccer tragic
By Tony Wilson
In the hours before the Asian Cup semifinal in Newcastle, Rita Zammit was in a travelling circle of ten, debating Socceroos team selection and whether her friend Dianne’s corna [n. orig.
February 2015
Cultures clash over pipis at Venus Bay
By John van Tiggelen
On the last Sunday afternoon of 2014, Victorian police officers blocked the one long road out of Venus Bay, a hodgepodge surfside community in South Gippsland of about 600 permanent residents.
Current Issue
One of the skeletons recently unearthed on Beacon Island. Photo courtesy of Shipwrecks of the Roaring 40s. © Paul Bourke
New light on the wreck of the ‘Batavia’ and its savage aftermath
By Jeff Sparrow
At the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Forensic Science in Perth, the skeletons lie on tables, stretched out beside plastic tubs of pelvic fragments, bags of unmatched toes and samples of island sand. Daniel Franklin, the forensic anthropologist, gestures at one of the skulls, which is grinning at me on its small pillow. “Just here.”
Current Issue
How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate
By Richard Denniss
Most people think it is hard to put a dollar value on a human life, but they’re wrong. It’s easy. Economists do it all the time.
December 2014
The president of Kiribati goes on a fact-finding mission in the Arctic
By John van Tiggelen
Anote Tong, president of Kiribati, on Svalbard.
In the late 16th century, the Dutch mariner Willem Barents spent three consecutive summers in the Arctic Ocean, scouting for a shortcut to the East Indies. The midnight sun, he figured, would surely blaze him a path. Yet he struck only ice beyond the 80th parallel. On top of...
February 2015
Life outside the detention centres on Manus Island
By Jo Chandler
In December 1928, settling into village life on Manus Island, the anthropologist Margaret Mead sent a gleeful letter home to the United States via the boat that visited every three weeks. She was living in “a primitive Venice, the streets are waterways, the houses set on high...
December 2014
Road freight is expensive, dirty and dangerous. Why are our governments addicted to it?
By Paul Cleary
The reach of the billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox extends far beyond the distinctive red and gold Linfox trucks that operate on the nation’s highways in ever increasing numbers.

New

April 2015
‘Transparent’
By Anna Goldsworthy
The title of Jill Soloway’s new comedy-drama series for Amazon Studios, Transparent, speaks of a desire to be seen as who you truly are. It also refers, literally, to a trans parent. Soloway, a former writer and executive producer for Six Feet Under and United States of Tara, was inspired by her father, who came out as transgender late in life.
February 2015
‘Pop to Popism’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
By Julie Ewington
What goes around comes back differently. Refracted by the times. In 1985 I reviewed the only other substantial exhibition of pop art held in Australia, also at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).
December 2014
Frank Moorhouse’s ‘Australia Under Surveillance’ and David Horner’s ‘The Spy Catchers: The official history of ASIO, 1949–1963’
By David McKnight
Much of Australia’s secret history lies in the archives of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). As Australia sharpens its focus on terrorism, two new books trawl through the archives to reach quite different conclusions. In Australia Under Surveillance (...
February 2015
‘James Turrell: A Retrospective’ at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
By Benjamin Law
Deep in the Arizona desert lives a man who has spent half his life creating an observatory at the dead heart of a 389,000-year-old volcano. His motivation isn’t religion or science, but art. After spotting Roden Crater from a plane in 1974, the American artist James Turrell knew...
December 2014
Black Inc.; $29.99
By Simon Caterson
Our ancestors are always with us. It is precisely this enduring if elusive presence, inscribed in our genetic inheritance and manifested in sometimes less rational aspects of humanity, that interests Christine Kenneally.