Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
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 English – sample dialogue: “No, crustacean is trap. I mean, why the crest soldier for the Magdalene nation?” Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston originally created Skwerl for a Sydney anthology film night called Kino, held in a dingy warehouse.

October 2015
In business and in politics, the prime minister has a long record of playing hard with the media
By Andrew Fowler
With the possibility of a change in media laws that would tear up former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s division between print and TV ownership, understanding Malcolm Turnbull’s role in the murky business of media politics has a new urgency.
Current Issue
Children’s lit heroes Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton and Jill Griffiths step off the page and onto the stage
By Ashley Hay
The first thing you see inside Ipswich Civic Centre’s auditorium is a set of magnificent burgundy curtains, not draped across a stage to obscure its magical other-world but hung behind the seating.
Tony Abbott won’t be quiet and he won’t go away
Mungo MacCallum
I watched (through gritted teeth, naturally) last week’s slobber fest between Tony Abbott and Ray Hadley, and the slightly less cloying effort a couple of days later with Neil Mitchell; and I was immediately reassured.
An Australian author writes for Burmese television
Phillip Gwynne
It was my second day in Yangon and I was in a small, paint-peeled office, drinking sweet milky tea. Across the table a woman was telling me her story through a translator. “My mother sold my virginity to an old man when I was 14 years,” she said.

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After seven years of fierce negotiation, the Trans Pacific Partnership is a still an enigma
Michael Lucy

Doctors Without Borders airstrike “US special operations forces – not their Afghan allies – called in the deadly airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, the US commander has conceded. Shortly before General John Campbell, the commander of the...

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Ministers and negotiators lock in major TPP trade deal “The Federal Government says a new 12-country trade deal which covers 40% of the global economy is a "very big win" for Australia. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was clinched in the US city...

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August 2015
Body Electric’s jazz ballet for adults
By Nikki Lusk
“It’s like a cult,” a friend says of Body Electric. Backstage at the Melbourne Pavilion, a venue more used to wedding receptions than adults doing jazz ballet, the true believers are making final preparations. For the past three months, eight groups have been learning and...
July 2015
Meet the Melburnians keeping Esperanto alive
By Jeff Sparrow
I’ve come to Melbourne’s Federation Square this Sunday afternoon searching for the followers of a man who had called himself Dr Hopeful.
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
How long can Australia ride in the coal wagon?
By Paul Cleary
It’s raining cats and dogs in the gentrified Southern Highlands, two hours’ drive south of Sydney, and even though flood warnings abound and school pick-up time approaches, more than 300 locals file into the Moss Vale RSL to respond to a presentation about a proposed coalmine.
Current Issue
Has classical music become irrelevant?
By Anna Goldsworthy
Sometimes, while performing the Funeral March from Chopin’s Piano Sonata No.
July 2015
Joe Hockey and the myth of Coalition economic management
By Richard Denniss
I remember my first lesson in economics like it was yesterday. I’d never heard a bigger bunch of crap in my life. It made no sense. The assumptions were flawed. The examples were ridiculous and the conclusions worse.
August 2015
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.
August 2015
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.


October 2015
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel takes on ‘Macbeth’
By Peter Conrad
The heroes – or perhaps the villains – of Justin Kurzel’s films are dangerously charismatic men, on the surface quite unlike the reserved, thoughtful and soft-spoken director. First in the series is John Bunting, the psychotic Messiah in 2011’s Snowtown, for whom murder is a purgative moral crusade.
September 2015
Catherine the Great still reigns in the NGV’s ‘Masterpieces from the Hermitage’
By Julie Ewington
Remarkably, 250 years after it was established as the world’s first art museum, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg still seems to be following the edicts of its founder, Catherine the Great.
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. A day later, with photos of Pluto’s icy terrain newly...
September 2015
‘The Complete Works of Primo Levi’ reveals the Holocaust memoirist’s extraordinary breadth
By Ramon Glazov
“As you know, meat was scarce, and my wife thought it a shame to throw all the test animals into the incinerator. So every once in a while we would have a taste of one or another: several guinea pigs, a few rabbits; dogs and monkeys no, never.”
August 2015
Why we keep watching ‘The Americans’, ‘Veep’ and ‘House of Cards’
By Luke Davies
It’s been 16 years since the launch of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s frenetic, intelligent, densely worded political soap opera.