Australian politics, society & culture

November 2015
Farewell to a man who tried to connect indigenous and non-indigenous Australia
By Robyn Davidson

To respect the protocol surrounding Aboriginal mourning, I will call him “Eddie’s son”.

He died on the morning of 27 August, at a tiny aged-care facility in a tiny settlement in the Western Desert, just over the Northern Territory border. It is a difficult place to reach from Alice Springs, from anywhere – hours of rattling over corrugated roads, swallowing red dirt. His year of birth, registered as 1947, is uncertain. He had suffered a stroke five years ago, which left him paralysed and almost unable to communicate.

November 2015
Critics of a Muslim political party are misguided
By Mungo MacCallum
The formation of the Australian Muslim Party to give a political voice to the Islamic community has produced a predictable backlash, especially from the conservatives.
Current Issue
On the road with the irrepressible Nick Xenophon
By Anne Manne
Nick Xenophon’s small white car is stuffed with what looks like rubbish. I climb in and immediately conclude that his famous refusal to ever invite journalists to his house is probably wise.
Following the indigenous seasonal calendar
Jenan Taylor
If all goes well this spring, hundreds of glossy young eels will swim into a river mouth near Portland, Victoria, and navigate their way up old lava-flow channels into the wetlands of Gunditjmara country, where they will live for the next ten to 20 years. “But they’ll only swim into the river with the freshest water,” adds Tyson Lovett-Murray, a Gunditjmara ranger.
Central banks won’t admit that low interest rates can’t go on forever
Satyajit Das
Isaac Newton believed that truth is found in simplicity, not in multiplicity and confusion. Based on current interest rate policies, central bankers in developed market clearly believe the opposite to be true.

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Bill Shorten’s burst of activity
Sean Kelly

Asylum seekers return to Indonesia after Christmas Island turn-back “A boat has arrived in Indonesia carrying the same asylum seekers as a boat turned around at Christmas Island last week, the ABC has confirmed. The boat arrived in Kupang on Indonesia's Timor Island yesterday...

“Bad news for the planet” amid fresh temperature records “Global temperatures are continuing to climb to fresh records, adding to the urgency of curbing greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause, the World Meteorological Organisation says....

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October 2015
Brian & Karl make films that speak their own languages
By Sam Twyford-Moore
In 2011, a short film titled Skwerl, but published under the tag ‘How English sounds to non-English speakers’, was uploaded to YouTube by ‘Brian and Karl’. For three and a half minutes a young man and woman have a discussion over dinner in a completely nonsensical version of...
October 2015
Lee Lin Chin’s rise from SBS newsreader to queen of satire
By Benjamin Law
It’s often said you should never meet your heroes, as they’ll invariably disappoint.
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”.
Current Issue
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.
Current Issue
The strange life and tragic death of Julia the gorilla
By Anna Krien
In May 1982, Ineke Bonjer and Henk Lambertz, posing as a rich, childless German couple, borrowed a silver BMW coupé and drove up to a house in Westerlo, Belgium, that was surrounded by warehouses and security.
September 2015
Meeting the Dalai Lama in the Blue Mountains
By Barry Hill
“How did you get on with the Buddha?” my daughter asked when I got back from the Blue Mountains. She caught my hesitation and let out a laugh, embarrassed at her slip of the tongue. “Well,” I said, “many people have thought of him as a Buddha, the Buddha reborn, actually, ‘a...
October 2015
Has classical music become irrelevant?
By Anna Goldsworthy
Sometimes, while performing the Funeral March from Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, I am struck by the fact that everyone in the auditorium is marching towards death at the exact tempo of the piece: 54 crotchets per minute or thereabouts, one foot in front of the...
October 2015
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.


December 2015
Alan Bond, 1987.
Deconstructing a decade in Frank Bongiorno’s ‘The Eighties’
By Judith Brett
Cliff Young running off the farm to become a marathon celebrity; Bob Hawke celebrating the America’s Cup victory in a logo-festooned jacket; the spidery designs of Ken Done; the Bicentenary “celebrations”; computers entering the workplace; the Neighbours wedding of Scott and Charlene; the rise of INXS; big hair and padded shoulders … Frank Bongiorno’s The Eighties (Black Inc.;
November 2015
Rediscovering the novels of Randolph Stow
By Geordie Williamson
The Text Classics series has had some coups since its inauguration in 2012 – re-publication of works by David Ireland and Elizabeth Harrower spring to mind – but nothing on this scale.
October 2015
Cold Chisel reconsidered
By 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’. Maybe, without even needing to tune the radio to the nearest...
December 2015
Paul Mason’s ‘PostCapitalism’ and the future of economics
By Scott Ludlam
Supermarket in Oregon.
Paul Mason’s PostCapitalism (Allen Lane; $49.99) is an almost absurdly ambitious work. Parallel histories of Western industrial development, economic theory, the labour movement and the evolution of technology serve as the foundation for Mason’s principal thesis: that capitalism...
November 2015
The personal and the political in Tim Winton’s ‘Island Home’
By Tim Flannery
Tim Winton grew up in circumstances that will be instantly recognised by many baby boomers. His childhood home lay on the ragged edge of Perth’s rapidly expanding suburbia.