Australian politics, society & culture

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© Nick Moir / Fairfax Syndication
A life in accidents
By Tim Winton

One summer night, after a few hours surfcasting for tailor, my father and I were driving home along a lonely road between the dunes and the bush. I felt snug and a little sleepy in the passenger’s seat, but it was my job to keep the gas lantern from tipping over, so I clamped it tight between my heels and resisted the urge to drift off. We’d gone down at sunset and caught a feed, but at the age of nine I could take or leave the fishing. The chief attraction of an outing like this was the chance to be alone with my father.

Current Issue
Ten years of struggle and success in indigenous Australia
By Noel Pearson
Noel Pearson and Tony Abbott
I’ve been to many remote places in Australia, but this is entirely new to me. I don’t know the desert. From the air, the vastness of the rolling dunes, green after the summer rain, is beguiling, as is the mild weather when we land. But I’ve been to enough places in the north of the country to know...
May 2015
It is not alarmist to think that Australian Labor is sleepwalking to electoral disaster
By Nick Dyrenfurth
On 7 May, the British people delivered a devastating verdict on Ed Miliband’s Labour Party: simply unelectable.
Tech giants’ utopian branding drifts ever further from their amoral reality
Elmo Keep
The image of the new tech corporations such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon is as precisely calibrated as any other brand’s. ‘Branding’ has been a key element of all these companies’ corporate PR strategies; they have stoked the cult of the user’s personal brand, essentially putting the bulk of building their business onto the shoulders of users.
Is Bill Shorten Australian Labor’s Ed Miliband?
Malcolm Farnsworth
“You actually watched the budget?” a friend asked me on the weekend, his incredulity all the more startling given he’s known me for decades. I had to pathetically concede that I had watched or listened to every budget speech since I was at school. I didn’t dare tell him I’d also watched Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech.  

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The budget is as good as gone already – just what the government wanted
Sean Kelly

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in ‘last stage’ “A Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is edging closer to completion, with Andrew Robb saying the finish line was now more clearly in view after the passage of legislation in the US on Friday. Speaking from...

Islamic State starts beheadings as fears deepen for Palmyra treasures “Islamic State militants carried out public beheadings in the main square of Palmyra on Thursday after capturing the city. Analysts said that the jihadists now controlled...

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April 2015
Even tattoos don’t last forever any more
By Alice Pung
Buddhists believe that everything is impermanent, so it’s ironic to see this sort of wisdom tattooed on someone’s bicep or back. Quite a few people who get tattoos when they are young are under the influence of the “end of history illusion”, a term coined by a team of Harvard...
April 2015
Child survivors of the Holocaust meet in Melbourne
By Jaye Kranz
In September 2013, a tri-colour ad in the Australian Jewish News asked in bold all-caps: “Are you or is a member of your family a child survivor of the Holocaust?” It continued, “Urgently seeking the number of child survivors … as part of negotiations with the German
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.
Current Issue
The mysteries of the microbiome
By Jo Chandler
The tapas was a mistake. Or maybe the wine that washed it down? Suffice to say that come morning, at the business end of a flying trip to Brisbane, I’m a bit embarrassed about my specimen. But I’m on a deadline. Done is better than perfect.
April 2015
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
Does the future belong to “sharing economy” companies like Uber and Airbnb?
By Linda Jaivin
My introduction to what is now called the “sharing economy” came in the mid ’90s on the road to Byron Bay. My boyfriend at the time was a candle-maker; we were driving up to the first Homebake music festival in a Kombi packed with candles, candelabras and an inflatable boat....
March 2015
The meteoric career of Kaiadilt painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda
By Quentin Sprague
Dibirdibi Country (2012), Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda (Mrs Gabori).
By any measure, Mrs Gabori’s rise was stellar. When the Kaiadilt artist began painting in 2005 she was aged in her early 80s, already a long-term resident in her community’s old people’s home. Her big, brashly colourful and seemingly abstract renderings of her traditional...
February 2015
How online organisation can give power back to the people
By Tim Flannery and Catriona Wallace
In 458 BC, with Rome facing imminent defeat by the combined forces of the Aequi and the Sabines, the Senate declared Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus dictator of the city for six months. The retired statesman, an aristocrat of reduced means, drove off Rome’s enemies.


May 2015
How the television adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’ transcends the usual Tudor tale
By Benjamin Law
Several months back, the United Kingdom fell victim to an illness so contagious that it tore through the adult population at an average rate of 4.4 million people per week. They had come down with Wolf Hall fever.
April 2015
Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’
By Luke Davies
French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who was 20 when he made his bold debut feature I Killed My Mother (2009), has just turned 26.
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). Thirty years later I’m struck by the radically different propositions put...
April 2015
Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’
By Anwen Crawford
Why don’t I hate Sufjan Stevens? He plays the banjo. He plays the oboe. His stage shows have included hula hoops and cheerleaders. He has yet to meet an encyclopaedia entry that he couldn’t turn into a concept album, and he has released two five-disc box sets of Christmas songs...
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.