Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
An Australian author writes for Burmese television
By Phillip Gwynne

It was my second day in Yangon and I was in a small, paint-peeled office, drinking sweet milky tea. Across the table a woman was telling me her story through a translator.

“My mother sold my virginity to an old man when I was 14 years,” she said.

The laborious interview process – the translator converting the woman’s words into English, my words into Burmese – seemed to add poignancy to her story.

“And then I was trafficked to the Thai border to work in a brothel.”

“How long were you there?” I asked.

October 2015
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel takes on ‘Macbeth’
By Peter Conrad
The heroes – or perhaps the villains – of Justin Kurzel’s films are dangerously charismatic men, on the surface quite unlike the reserved, thoughtful and soft-spoken director.
October 2015
Central banks are flooding markets with money, but at what cost?
By Satyajit Das
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner captured the paradox of scarcity amidst plenty: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”.
Cold Chisel reconsidered
Anwen Crawford
Someone somewhere in Australia is listening to a Cold Chisel song right now. Perhaps it’s you, tarrying with the ever-present ‘Khe Sanh’, or with ‘Choirgirl’, ‘Cheap Wine’, ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’ or ‘Forever Now’.
The Australia Council’s history of challenges and challengers
Julian Meyrick
Imagine a house built in 1968, nearly 50 years ago. Imagine the changes that have happened since: new windows, new roof, an extension out the back. But it is the surrounding community that has really transformed. So what to do with the house? Preserve it? Knock it down? Keep renovating so that it suits contemporary needs?

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Penalty rates and the trouble with Bill Shorten
Michael Lucy

Trans-Pacific Partnership: ‘50/50’ chance of trade deal today as negotiators lock horns over medical patent protection “Pacific nation ministers and negotiators are scrambling to lock in a major Pacific trade deal, as talks come to a head in the US city of Atlanta. Negotiations...

Ten killed in college shooting in Oregon “Ten people have been killed and seven injured in a shooting at a college in the US state of Oregon. The 20-year-old gunman opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning. There were conflicting reports on the casualty numbers but Douglas County Sheriff John...

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September 2015
How charities transform the clothes we throw away
By Delia Falconer
In 1813, as the Napoleonic Wars created a yarn shortage in Great Britain, a Yorkshire weaver called Benjamin Law worked out how to add rags to virgin wool to create an inferior yarn called “shoddy”. By 1855, factories were grinding 35 million pounds of rags annually, though a...
August 2015
The many talents of a much-maligned rodent
By Anne Manne
One day, as I opened a barrel of chaff to feed our horses, a large rat with a long, grey slithery tail emerged on the rim. I expected him to flee, but he just looked at me for several seconds, twitching his whiskers and eyeing me with a relaxed, even insouciant, air.
July 2015
What’s next for the entrepreneurial Josh Lefers?
By Antoni Jach
In September, Josh Lefers is going to jump out of a plane naked (apart from a parachute) and land somewhere in New York. “Why naked?” I ask him when we meet in Melbourne.
Current Issue
A British author’s complicated relationship with the island continent
By Will Self
When, early this year, I was invited to give an address at the Melbourne Writers Festival, I didn’t hesitate to accept – nor did I prevaricate when asked what subject I’d be tackling. Such alacrity on my part is uncommon: my writing room, at the top of my house in south London, hasn’t been cleaned since we moved there in 1997.
Current Issue
How long can Australia ride in the coal wagon?
By Paul Cleary
It’s raining cats and dogs in the gentrified Southern Highlands, two hours’ drive south of Sydney, and even though flood warnings abound and school pick-up time approaches, more than 300 locals file into the Moss Vale RSL to respond to a presentation about a proposed coalmine.
July 2015
The children left behind by Australian sex tourists in the Philippines
By Margaret Simons
© Dave Tacon
The sky bruises at the same time each day in Angeles City. Then the rain comes. The weather is so similar – steamy heat, then rain and evening relief – that it can seem as though time is circular, and the same day recurs. It can seem that life in this Philippine city is lived on...
August 2015
IBAC investigates Victoria’s rotten education bureaucracy
By Catherine Ford
In early June, Nino Napoli, a senior executive with the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET), stepped into a witness box and began to answer some long overdue questions.
August 2015
Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Greece’s economic crisis
By Christos Tsiolkas
Down the road from my studio, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, there is a small cafe next door to a tobacconist. Both are owned by Australians of Greek heritage.


October 2015
The femaleness of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels
By Helen Elliott
“Naples,” Elena Ferrante has said, “should always be in the spotlight.” Ancient, eternally new, the uncontainable Italian city spills down to the sea, the fabled Bay of Naples. To one side Vesuvius slumbers. And here, in August 1944, four months after the volcano’s last eruption, Ferrante’s Elena Greco (known as Lenù) and Raffaella Cerullo (known as Lila) are conjured into life.
August 2015
Why we keep watching ‘The Americans’, ‘Veep’ and ‘House of Cards’
By Luke Davies
It’s been 16 years since the launch of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s frenetic, intelligent, densely worded political soap opera.
July 2015
The literary comic novel and Steve Toltz’s ‘Quicksand’
By Richard Cooke
“Well, the comic novel, I feel, is perhaps the most difficult form a writer can attempt. I can think of only three or four successful ones – Cakes and Ale, Count Bruga, and Lucky Jim.” That’s SJ Perelman talking to the Paris Review in 1963. Ben Hecht’s Count Bruga has evaporated...
September 2015
Bringing Timothy Conigrave’s ‘Holding the Man’ to the screen
By Steve Dow
In 1995, an Australian memoir was published posthumously. Its author had died the previous year. Holding the Man, by Melbourne-born actor and playwright Timothy Conigrave, was a balm to thousands of gay men, many of whom had lost friends and lovers in the AIDS crisis. The book...
August 2015
Icon as exhibit at ACMI’s ‘David Bowie Is’
By Anwen Crawford
Having travelled for nearly 5 billion kilometres to the outer limits of our solar system, the New Horizons space probe sent back its first data from a fly-by of Pluto on 14 July 2015, nine and a half years after its launch.