Australian politics, society & culture

February 2016
Survival tactics in ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Big Short’
By Luke Davies

“Is there even a movie here, or is the film just the by-product of a particularly masochistic film crew spending some time in the woods?” This question, posed by American film blogger Devin Faraci, of Alejandro G Iñárritu’s The Revenant (in national release), is not entirely unfounded. The by-all-accounts gruelling shoot lasted nine months, including a long Canadian winter, and Iñárritu’s desire to shoot in the magic hour afforded him at times only a small window of available light. It went $40 million over budget too, topping out at $135 million.

February 2016
Malcolm Turnbull should stop using trade unions for political theatre
By Mungo MacCallum
If the government is serious about reconstituting the Australian Building and Construction Commission – the tough cop on the beat to combat the “louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts” whom Judge Dyson Heydon believes
February 2016
Sometimes you need to swear on the radio
By Red Symons
I said a very, very bad word on the radio.
The case for marriage equality
Penny Wong
In 2001, when I was first elected to parliament, it wasn’t legal to discriminate on the basis of race or gender in Australia. The Racial Discrimination Act was enacted before my childhood migration from Malaysia, a quarter of a century earlier.
Our asylum-seeker system has been taken over by a rigid, irrational mindset
Robert Manne
Now that the High Court has decided that the offshore detention of asylum seekers is lawful, reports suggest that the Turnbull Government is considering returning 234 asylum seekers to Nauru along with the 33 babies of these asylum seekers born in Australia.

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Some tax advice for Malcolm Turnbull
Sean Kelly

The Noma way: How Danish superstar René Redzepi created an entirely new restaurant in Australia “Redzepi and his team had spent an accumulated two months in 2015 exploring the corners of Australia, meeting people in the cities and the bush, getting a feel for the continent and grazing on whatever they found. Any...

Syrians flee Aleppo to escape Damascus offensive against rebels “Tens of thousands of Syrians were fleeing the province of Aleppo and heading north toward the Turkish border, trying to escape a regime offensive backed by Russian airstrikes after the latest international efforts...

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December 2015
The last Aussie-themed pub in London
By Celina Ribeiro
At the Walkabout pub in the Temple district of London, the busiest night of the week is Monday: Brazilian night. Two large Australian flags hang above the bouncers at the entrance ropes, and a road sign by the till reads “NO WORRIES. Official motto of Australians.” A faux-rustic...
December 2015
Nick Schlieper illuminates a Shakespearean tragedy
By Darryn King
The State Opera of South Australia 2004 production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen began with almost three minutes of utter darkness. The pesky glow of seat markers and air-conditioner LEDs had all been painstakingly obscured or extinguished.
November 2015
Following the indigenous seasonal calendar
By 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.
Current Issue
Managing child sex offenders in the community
By Sam Vincent
On a Saturday morning, I wake in the dark and drive seven hours to a support session for “fellas”. “We don’t use the P-word,” the organiser had explained over the phone when I’d asked how many paedophiles were coming.
December 2015
Shen Narayanasamy takes on Transfield
By Chloe Hooper
It’s 5 am on a pitch-black inner Melbourne street. Two small children are sleeping inside a weatherboard house as their mother, the lawyer and corporate activist Shen Narayanasamy, creeps into a taxi and asks the driver to hurry to the airport.
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. Such alacrity on my part is uncommon: my writing room, at the top of my house in south London,...
November 2015
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. The independent senator for South Australia absent-mindedly hands me an empty take-away...
October 2015
Has classical music become irrelevant?
By Anna Goldsworthy
Sometimes, while performing the Funeral March from Chopin’s Piano Sonata No.


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. This instalment sheds light on the organisation’s reaction to the radicalisation and protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
December 2015
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 Sc
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. It was the 1960s, and as he recounts in Island Home: A landscape memoir (Hamish Hamilton; $39.99) he had...
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...
December 2015
Five days with David Foster Wallace in ‘The End of the Tour’
By Luke Davies
Early in James Ponsoldt’s small but oddly luminous The End of the Tour (in limited release 3 December), writer David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) is hypothesising about his work and world view to a Rolling Stone journalist as they drive through the snow-cover