Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
Image of Sydney University graduate
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. Like the ancient monasteries, he wrote, universities are places apart, places that can become preoccupied with their own concerns. It is easy for them to forget that tradition does not protect them from politics. They, too, are vulnerable to worldly power, and to survive they might need to find new ways of serving their communities.

September 2016
Or why silence can be golden
By Sean Kelly
Today, my editor reminded me, is the equinox, that moment when the sun shines directly on the equator, day and night are of equal lengths, and – in the northern hemisphere – the seasons are said to pass from one into the next.
September 2016
Is the government committing criminal offences by failing to ensure the safety of detainees on Nauru and Manus Island?
By Max Costello
Australia’s two regional processing centres (RPCs) that house asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island are offensive in three ways, according to most critics.
Ron Howard’s ‘Eight Days a Week’ catches The Beatles and their fans in a dazzling, imperishable youth
Anwen Crawford
Between 1964 and 1966, the most documented people on earth were surely The Beatles. During those years the group toured the world, visiting Europe, Asia, Australia – a quarter of a million people lined the streets of Adelaide just to see their motorcade – and the United States on four occasions.
The new managing director’s vision isn’t clear
Margaret Simons
In the early weeks of her tenure as managing director of the ABC, Michelle Guthrie took her executive team “off site”, away from the public broadcasting palace in Sydney’s Ultimo, to think big about the future of Australia’s most important cultural institution.

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The Liberal Party attempts to defend its election campaign
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...

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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. Some...
June 2016
Trackside at a 24-hour ultramarathon
By Paul Connolly
“Are we there yet?” quips first-time ultramarathon runner Angelo Portelli, 46, at 10.01 am. He is one minute into the Coburg 24 Hour Track Championships being held at the Harold Stevens Athletics Track in suburban Melbourne.
June 2016
Australia’s changing place in Britain’s EU deliberations
By Stuart Ward
This month, the British people will finally cast their vote in the long-anticipated “Brexit” referendum, to decide whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union.
Current Issue
Image of Roald Dahl in his writing hut
The life and legacy of Roald Dahl
By Anwen Crawford
The late Roald Dahl, who was born 100 years ago this month, had many qualities that made him an outstanding children’s writer, including an eccentric sort of humour, an acute sense of fairness and a delight in words. But a lifelong sweet tooth may have been his most vital characteristic.
August 2016
A region returns to earth
By Hamish McDonald
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.
May 2016
On Stan Grant’s radical hope
By Anne Manne
Stan Grant
Stan Grant strides towards me. It is easy to see why the television camera so loves his face. We meet at the plush Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne, where tea is poured from an elegant pot. Halfway through our conversation, the NSW honorary consul for Mongolia comes up for a chat. He...
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...
June 2016
On the road with Bill Shorten
By Chloe Hooper
Bill Shorten is in the passenger seat of a Comcar being driven west of Brisbane along the Warrego Highway.


September 2016
Still from Captain Fantastic
Matt Ross’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ is a portrait of a family in the wilderness
By Luke Davies
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.
August 2016
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary ‘Weiner’ charts the fall of a congressman who can’t keep out of the spotlight
By Leigh Sales
There has surely never been a greater gift to the singular headline writers at the New York Post than Anthony Weiner, the Democratic congressman compelled to stand down in 2011 after tweeting explicit photographs – including one of his bulging underwear – to
July 2016
Briggs on hip-hop, humour and a new generation of Aboriginal leaders
By Anwen Crawford
Adam Briggs – better known simply as Briggs – is a rapper, writer, performer and record label owner. As a rapper he has released two solo albums, The Blacklist (2010) and Sheplife (2014), and is working on a third. He acts in Cleverman, the dystopian drama screening on the ABC,...
August 2016
Tom Griffiths’ ‘The Art of Time Travel’ is a thoughtful look at some of Australia’s most prominent historians
By Barry Hill
Cover of The Art of Time Travel
This is not so much a history, as an epic poem; and notwithstanding, or even in consequence of this, the truest of histories. – John Stuart Mill, ‘Carlyle’s French Revolution’
July 2016
Cultural conflicts in Ivan Sen’s ‘Goldstone’ and the ABC’s ‘Cleverman’
By Luke Davies
In the famous crop-duster scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), Cary Grant’s hapless character Roger Thornhill runs for pitiful cover on an isolated stretch of road as a biplane repeatedly sprays him with machine-gun fire.