Australian politics, society & culture

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The constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians requires meaningful consultation
By Noel Pearson

It’s all about the process. The politicians, their advisers and their spin doctors have alighted on the importance of process. The substantive policies and politics of a complex public issue are now subservient to process.

It is perhaps unsurprising. The political and policy cacophony in social and traditional media is too much for the mob to absorb and understand. There is simply too much happening. Even the political and media players outside of an immediate issue can’t keep up with the details.

Current Issue
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.
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.
The children left behind by Australian sex tourists in the Philippines
Margaret Simons
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 a vast wheel of actions without consequences.
The absurd double standard behind the government’s “sovereignty” message
Richard King
It may surprise you to know (but then again it may not) that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were in favour of free trade.

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Yes, the PM sacked Bishop too late. But at least he didn’t sack her too early
Sean Kelly

Charlie Hebdo’s multi-million-dollar pile of tragedy money “Gérard Biard, the new editor in chief, remarked in his first editorial after two jihadist killers, the Kouachi brothers, murdered a dozen people at the paper on January 7 to avenge the caricatured Prophet Muhammad: ‘For a week now, Charlie, an atheist...

In a Yemen hospital, malnutrition menaces young lives “Born just before the outbreak of Yemen's devastating war, Ali Mohammed al-Tawaari may well not survive it. Damaged by a lack of skilled medical care at a critical moment in his early weeks, the six-month-old infant struggles for life...

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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. “Because we come into this world naked,” he replies. “We start literally with nothing.”
June 2015
Master perfumer Jonathon Midgley concocts some unusual scents
By Ceridwen Dovey
The scents of the seven deadly sins, in miniature sampling vials of varying shades of amber and green, are arranged on my work desk.
June 2015
The Corporate Fighter course gets white-collar workers in the boxing ring
By Alex McClintock
An old-timer could be forgiven for not recognising the Corporate Fitness Centre in Sydney’s Surry Hills as a boxing gym. It’s too clean, for one thing, and too well lit.
Current Issue
Australia and the war on refugees
By Richard Cooke
When asked if Australia would resettle any of the stranded Rohingya refugees, this was Tony Abbott’s response: “Nope, nope, nope … Australia will do absolutely nothing that gives any encouragement to anyone to think that they can get on a boat, that they can work with people smugglers to start a new life … I’m sorry.
Current Issue
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.
April 2015
New light on the wreck of the ‘Batavia’ and its savage aftermath
By Jeff Sparrow
At the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Forensic Science in Perth, the skeletons lie on tables, stretched out beside plastic tubs of pelvic fragments, bags of unmatched toes and samples of island sand. Daniel Franklin, the forensic anthropologist, gestures at one of...
June 2015
On pregnancy and birth, tradition and family
By Alice Pung
“What are you doing?” my hospital roommate asks. I’m standing by the door of our shared bathroom, towel in hand, waiting for the nurse to return with a shower cap. In antenatal classes I was told a warm shower is comforting when going into labour, but I don’t want to give birth...
May 2015
A life in accidents
By Tim Winton
One summer night, after a few hours surfcasting for tailor, my father and I were driving home along a lonely road between the dunes and the bush. I felt snug and a little sleepy in the passenger’s seat, but it was my job to keep the gas lantern from tipping over, so I clamped it...


August 2015
Emma Kowal’s ‘Trapped in the Gap’ examines the ‘White anti-racist’ in indigenous Australia
By Kim Mahood
A few years ago, a friend of mine worked as a nurse for a men’s health organisation in a remote Aboriginal community. One of his responsibilities was to accompany the men when they travelled to other communities for ceremonial business, and attend to any illness or injury that occurred. At one of these events, a young Aboriginal man approached him.
July 2015
Musicians on film in Asif Kapadia’s ‘Amy’, Bill Pohlad’s ‘Love & Mercy’ and Mia Hansen-Løve’s ‘Eden’
By Luke Davies
“She didn’t really know how to be that thing that she had been pushed to become,” says Yasiin Bey (aka rapper and producer Mos Def) of singer Amy Winehouse.
May 2015
How the television adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’ transcends the usual Tudor tale
By Benjamin Law
Several months back, the United Kingdom fell victim to an illness so contagious that it tore through the adult population at an average rate of 4.4 million people per week. They had come down with Wolf Hall fever. Like the “sweating sickness” that ravaged 16th-century Tudor...
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...
June 2015
Adapting Kate Grenville’s ‘The Secret River’ for the screen
By Steve Dow
“Yeah, that’s right!” yells a tall, bearded former convict wearing a green vest, brown pants and knee-high boots. He is standing at the bottom of a valley, in long grass surrounded by gum trees, waving a rifle.