Australian politics, society & culture

April 2016
The ex-PM’s latest failed apology shows he still has no idea where he went wrong
By Eleanor Robertson

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to spend an hour or two inside Tony Abbott’s head. What’s going on up there? What does the world look like? What textures, meanings, memories and emotions flavour the broth of his experience? How did he feel when his daughter called him a “lame, gay churchy loser”? Why did he eat that onion?

April 2016
The PNG “bombshell” will change nothing for asylum seekers
By Sean Kelly
An old piece of political wisdom suggests that you shouldn’t worry about whether you’re winning a particular debate – your main concern should be ensuring you’ve picked the right debate to have.
November 2015
Deterrents and resettlement may be the only way to break the asylum-seeker gridlock
By Robert Manne
For many years Australia’s asylum-seeker debate, or, more exactly, the debate over those asylum seekers who reach our shores by boat, has been in gridlock.
The return of the unlamented Sophie Mirabella
Mungo MacCallum
It is fair to say that the revenant candidate for the seat of Indi, Sophie Mirabella, would never win a nation-wide popularity contest. At the end of the 2013, the normally placid independent Tony Windsor bade her farewell from parliament with the salutation: “She is the nastiest – I reckon if you put it to a vote to all politicians, she’d come up number one.”
Prince at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, 21 February 2016
Anwen Crawford
And there he was, life-sized, circling the piano in anticipation, as 2000 or so concert-goers screamed and clapped and whistled fit to bring the roof down. He carried a silver-white cane, and his shoes lit up in the dark, of course. Would you expect anything less singular?

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Is it a curse or a blessing in disguise?
Sean Kelly

Manus Island camp to be closed, refugees likely to be relocated to Christmas Island and Nauru “Christmas Island and Nauru are firming as the likely destinations for the detainees on Manus Island, with the closure of the detention centre imminent, according to...

Cancer: The final frontier “Condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of cancer’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. If it were 50 years old, human beings would know very little about its first 49 years, except that it killed men and women with the ease of a scythe slicing...

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March 2016
The Watson family take on ‘Family Feud’
By Paul Connolly
The set of Channel Ten’s Family Feud has all the subtlety of Las Vegas at night, and as we take our seats within its glow the crowd-warmer fills us in on game-show audience etiquette: in essence, smile no matter what. The studio crew, wearing hospital booties over their shoes to...
February 2016
The language of menus
By Aaron Timms
At LuMi Bar & Dining, a newish harbourside restaurant beloved of Sydney’s crisp white shirt dining set, a carefully stubbled chef presents a dish of crab meat, highlighted, he explains, with puffed rice.
February 2016
How do emergency services respond to the LGBTI community?
By Jenan Taylor
In a classroom at the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, 17 students stand in an untidy teardrop pattern around a series of cards set out on the floor.
Current Issue
West Coast Eagles 2006 premiership team
Ten years after the Eagles’ 2006 premiership, a culture is laid bare
By Martin McKenzie-Murray
It was the morning of the 2005 Australian Football League grand final, and nerves were shredding the bowels of two of the country’s finest midfielders. Chris Judd and Daniel Kerr, in between numbly staring at music videos, were making earnest trips to the bathroom. Other players responded differently.
March 2016
The dominance of baby boomers is becoming total
By Richard Cooke
Mike Baird, the premier of New South Wales, can’t have been prepared for this. Two months ago he was probably the most popular politician in Australia, presenting a wet Liberal surfer persona that gelled with the state’s better nature.
December 2015
Australia blurs the lines with Timor-Leste
By Mark Aarons
Robert Domm interviews Xanana Gusmão, October 1990.
My latest journey to Timor-Leste (East Timor) began on 16 October, the 40th anniversary of the murder of five Australian-based journalists in Balibo by Indonesian special forces. My first trip there was in March 1975, six months prior to their deaths. I was reporting for Radio...
December 2015
Why have we failed to address climate change?
By Robert Manne
Unless by some miracle almost every climate scientist is wrong, future generations will look upon ours with puzzlement and anger – as the people who might have prevented the Earth from becoming a habitat unfriendly to humans and other species but nonetheless failed to act.
December 2015
The creative memorialisation of Gallipoli
By Mark McKenna and Stuart Ward
“Could you explain to me this custom?” We had spent three days with our Turkish colleague, and by our final evening together in Çanakkale, on the eastern shore of the Dardanelles strait, the conversation had become more expansive.


April 2016
The Drones
Gareth Liddiard on The Drones’ ‘Feelin Kinda Free’
By Anwen Crawford
Early on 1 December 1948, a man was found dead at Adelaide’s Somerton Beach. His pockets contained cigarettes, matches and chewing gum, but he had no wallet, and his clothing tags had been removed. The man has never been identified, and, though a 1949 coroner’s inquest entertained the possibility that he may have been poisoned, the cause of his death has never been determined.
March 2016
True crime and entertainment in Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer’
By Anna Goldsworthy
Sometimes, while giving workshops on life writing, I’ve had conversations that seem – at the very least – morally suspect. How much detail would best convey the marriage breakdown?
February 2016
The Triffids’ ‘Born Sandy Devotional’ 30 years on
By Anwen Crawford
Thirty years ago this month, Perth band The Triffids released their fifth single, ‘Wide Open Road’. It remains not only The Triffids’ best-known composition but also one of the most beloved of all Australian popular songs. It is a driving song, a dreaming song, a weeping song, a...
March 2016
Why is Australia planning so many new casinos?
By David Neustein
Crown Sydney image
Whale migration is set to have a significant impact on the character of Australia’s cities over the next few years. This elusive breed of mammal, the VIP international gambler – or “whale”, as it is called in casino circles – is known to wager millions a night on games of...
February 2016
John Blaxland’s ‘The Protest Years: The Official History of ASIO 1963–1975’
By David McKnight
Following David Horner’s The Spy Catchers, John Blaxland’s The Protest Years (Allen & Unwin; $49.99) is the second volume of The Official History of ASIO.