The Monthly Essays

How a lovestruck teenager, an angry man and an ambitious baron made sure bad news was no news on the path to Iraq
By Robert Manne
On the road to the invasion of Iraq, and through the two and a half years of bloody chaos since Baghdad’s fall, almost every Australian news-paper owned by Rupert Murdoch has supported each twist and turn of the American, British and Australian...
The battle for the Timor Sea, home of oil, gas, hot air and hope
By Tony Clifton
Now here’s a puzzle, and it’s right on Australia’s sea-girt northern doorstep. Under the sea between Australia and Timor – but much closer to Timor than Australia – sits a huge geological formation known as Greater Sunrise. It contains perhaps $50...
Plaques and decay. Can Kings Cross survive a $30 million facelift?
By Linda Jaivin
“Enjoy Coca-Cola.” The massive red-and-white command flashes from the top of William Street and over the three-way intersection where William meets Darlinghurst Road meets Victoria Street, the “cross” of Kings Cross. The Coke sign is a landmark, the...
Tomorrow’s Liberal leaders have issues with gays, greenies, young mums, Malcolm Fraser - and each other
By Chloe Hooper
A group of Young Liberals are touring Hobart’s Cadbury chocolate factory. They are warned – along with the other guests – not to take photographs or use recording equipment. They must not put their fingers in the giant vats of cocoa, touch any...
Dobbing on Dr Raad
By Nicholas Shakespeare
Dr Maurice Raad was a large, chubby South African, 53 years old, with a prominent mole on his right cheek. He appeared harassed on his first morning. As he bustled about the room, opening and closing cupboards, he chatted about Tasmania. He was new...
As destitute universities count their pennies, students at one Australian institution count their blessings
By Charles Firth
I am standing in the kitchen of the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, worrying whether you can contract diabetes simply by looking at too many sweets. Roy Kirkland, ADFA’s pastry chef, is showing off the desserts he has been making to...
Still comfortable but relaxed no more in John Howard’s Australia
By John Birmingham
It’s a hell of a thing, to see the dead come back to life. But that’s what it felt like driving through my hometown. When I left Ipswich in the early 1980s the place seemed to be teetering on the edge of a death spiral. Steam-age industries that had...
By Margaret Simons
Modern ABC buildings show their bones. Their innards seem exposed to the light. The architecture is a thing of soaring, light-filled atriums, the foyers like stripped down cathedrals or airport departure lounges, without the comings and goings. One...
Ken Trewick and the amazing race sting
By John Harms
Ken Trewick is late. Which is very unlike Ken Trewick. He told me he’d pick me up at 9.30. And as I stand in the sunshine on the footpath outside my brother’s old Queensland house, I wonder what’s going on. Not that I know Ken too well. I’ve met him...