Australian politics, society & culture

October 2016
And some unpleasant questions about the Abbott government
By Sean Kelly

The email from the office of justice minister Michael Keenan to the office of senator David Leyonhjelm confirming their deal on a sunset clause for the Adler gun ban was sent on 12 August 2015 [paywall].

October 2016
Cuts to welfare are just another way of keeping the poor in their place
By Eleanor Robertson
I haven’t telephoned Centrelink in over three years, but I still have a conditioned reaction of immediate panic whenever I hear the Centrelink hold music.
October 2016
Six stories of 100 words
By Paul Connolly
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the prime minister is simply not up to the job
Nick Dyrenfurth
In September 2015 I found myself in unusual solidarity with the conservative pundit Andrew Bolt. As the Canberra press gallery and much of the general public salivated over the prospect of the then new prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull, Bolt and I stood almost alone in exercising a note of caution, albeit for differing reasons.
Bertram Wainer inspired a young Tim Flannery to take on the establishment
Tim Flannery
Sometimes unlikely heroes appear in our lives and change things forever. For me, one such person was Dr Bertram Wainer. Not that I ever met the man, who died in 1987, but in 1972 he taught me a powerful lesson that changed my life.

Keep up-to-date with Australian politics, society and culture, for FREE.

And some unpleasant questions about the Abbott government
Sean Kelly

Crisis on high “Deep in the Himalayas sits a remote research station that is tracking an alarming trend in climate change, with implications that could disrupt the lives of more than 1 billion people and pitch the most populated region of the world into chaos. The station...

Evidence of ‘torture’ of children in Darwin detention centre uncovered “Video of the tear gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 exposes one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in...

Read More
September 2016
A cat-detection team are doing important work on Dirk Hartog Island
By Nicole Gill
The stars are bright over Western Australia’s Dirk Hartog Island, which sits within the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Zoologist Sue Robinson shovels muesli into her mouth without enthusiasm, wipes dew off her quad-bike seat and corrals her gear for the morning’s work. From...
August 2016
Why are our pets so pampered?
By Anne Manne
As I was walking into the local vet’s to buy some cat food, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman stroking what looked like a large fluffy white cat tucked under her arm. The sight of a devoted owner and their pet is unremarkable.
July 2016
Bruce Munro’s ‘Field of Light’ brings 50,000 LED spheres to Uluru
By Ashley Hay
In the new-moon black of early winter, a coach draws up on a hillside just outside the Northern Territory town of Yulara, and four dozen or so of us clamber down into the night. The sky is cloudy and the air cold. But something special shimmers in the land’s wide dip below.
Current Issue
Image of Nauru
Richard Flanagan delivers the inaugural Boisbouvier Lecture
By Richard Flanagan
Every day we hear grim and grimmer news that suggests we are passing through the winter of the world. Everywhere man is tormented, the globe reels from multitudes of suffering and horror, and, worst, we no longer know with confidence what our answer might be. And yet we understand that the time approaches when an answer must be made or a terrible reckoning will be ours.
September 2016
Where has demand driven our universities?
By Thornton McCamish
Earlier this year Professor Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, published an essay in which he warned that Australia’s public universities should heed the fate that befell the monasteries in England under Henry VIII.
July 2016
An indigenous leader reflects on a lifetime following the law of the land
By Galarrwuy Yunupingu
Galarrwuy Yunupingu
Our song cycles have the greatest importance in the lives of my people. They guide and inform our lives. A song cycle tells a person’s life: it relates to the past, to the present and to the future. Yolngu balance our lives through the song cycles that are laid out on the...
August 2016
A region returns to earth
By Hamish McDonald
Image of mining workers flying from Perth
To get the optimistic view in Port Hedland, 1600 kilometres north of Perth, you go to the little park at the end of Wedge Street and look out to the harbour channel at high tide. That’s when it’s deep enough for ships fully loaded with iron ore. One night recently, tugboats...
July 2016
The Arrernte Women’s Project is preserving vital songs and culture
By Rachel Perkins
I am standing in a supermarket in Alice Springs, comparing the width of my upper arm to a frozen, foil-wrapped kangaroo tail. I’ve been instructed that this is a good guide for selecting a suitable size.


October 2016
Image of Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ bemuses but rewards
By Anwen Crawford
What makes an album? With every passing month this year, the answer has grown more intricate.
September 2016
Angel Olsen’s ‘My Woman’ and Sarah Mary Chadwick’s ‘Roses Always Die’
By Anwen Crawford
“Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done,” sings Angel Olsen on the opening track to her third full-length release, My Woman, “still gotta wake up and be someone.” The song is called ‘Intern’, and in it the self is a kind of business, while romance may be a bad
August 2016
The Avalanches’ ‘Wildflower’ isn’t the comeback we needed
By Anwen Crawford
Image of The Avalanches
Who can but marvel at the 16 years of work that has gone into creating Wildflower, the second album by The Avalanches? Nations are built in less time. Children born at the turn of the millennium, when the Melbourne-based electronic group first charted, are now hale teenagers. No...
September 2016
Matt Ross’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ is a portrait of a family in the wilderness
By Luke Davies
Still from Captain Fantastic
The opening moments of Matt Ross’ Captain Fantastic (in national release 8 September) introduce us to the rugged, pine-forested world of an ideal – or idealised – family living far off the grid in the woods of Washington State. The father, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), rules over...
August 2016
Ciro Guerra’s ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ brings together two Amazonian encounters
By Luke Davies
“You devote your life to plants?” an ancient shaman asks his young American visitor.