Australian politics, society & culture


The major parties need ideas for today, not nostalgia for yesterday
By Nick Dyrenfurth
Abbott's warning to colleagues is not backed by history
By Mungo MacCallum
Tony Abbott determined not to repeat Gough Whitlam’s mistakes in Queensland
By Mungo MacCallum
Tony Abbott's political suicide
By Mungo MacCallum
Will the Left now finally leave Malcolm Turnbull?
By Mark Bahnisch
Tony Abbott at the G20 leaders' retreat
By Russell Marks
By Michaela McGuire
Macmillan Australia; $32.99
By Richard Cooke
Hardie Grant; $39.95
By John van Tiggelen
Portrait of Tony Abbott by Neil Moore
The brief life and quiet death of Tony Abbott’s love of liberty
By David Marr
By Michaela McGuire
In October 2013, ABC TV and Screen Australia announced a call out for ‘Fresh Blood’, an initiative that offered twenty aspiring comedy creators grants of $10,000 to nurture talent from a new generation of Australian comics. Last week, the fruits of the project launched on iView, and the Australian public were treated to taxpayer-funded vignettes covering the gamut of comedy; some satirical, much of it absurd. This week the Coalition went one better in terms of inexpensive but winning political satire by appointing The Australian's Janet Albrechtsen and far-right ideological colleague Neil Brown to the panel overseeing appointments to the ABC and SBS. Sure, at first it seems counterintuitive to the health of the beleaguered national broadcaster to make one of its principle gatekeepers a conservative commentator who has said that aspects of the ABC's governance structure are reminiscent of a “Soviet-style workers collective” and who has called on ABC managing director Mark Scott – who also sits on the board – to resign for reporting the news. However, when you consider that she sat on the ABC board from 2005 to 2010 at the behest of the Howard government, then the whole adventure fits neatly into the Abbott administration’s ‘Back to The Future’-style reasoning. Same goes for Mr Brown, a former Liberal MP and long-standing conservative apparatchik, who recently wrote an article for Spectator Australia calling for the ABC to be privatised to avoid leftist bias. While history shows that the privatisation of national assets by conservative administrations always works out just tickety-boo, I can’t argue against the logic of two ideological warriors with a proven track record of hostility to the ABC being given the reigns. This will no doubt go some way to addressing the rats’ nest of Bolshevik sympathies that currently makes up the ABC. Whether it’s failing their duty to uphold home-team affection, cravenly lapping up Andrew Bolt’s crocodile tears, or sombrely apologising to Chris “I’ll be remembered as the journalist called a dog fucker who stood up for his rights” Kenny, there can be little doubt in the Australian taxpayer’s heart that the ABC under Mark Scott’s stewardship has become a hotbed of pinko foment. Perhaps, with the clear-eyed, unbiased, Ayn Randian purview of Dr Albrechtsen et al, the ABC can finally steer the national conversation away from the far-left enclave it’s drifted into. And letting right-wing ideologues lead with their moral compass is a proven formula for success. Like that time Scott Morrison saved all those lives by being not at all draconian and insane but actually very brave in standing up to those yucky and inconvenient human rights conventions with his super-effective Operation Sovereign Borders. Or that other time Tony “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation” Abbott made himself Minister for Women, thereby redressing the sexism and misogyny that helped him win office. It’s not like there could be any reason for the Abbott administration wanting to thump the ABC. It’s not like Abbott and friends owe a debt to an aging and irascible media oligarch, whose commercial interests are in direct competition with the ABC, for putting them in government or anything. Relax everyone! Take a load off! Watch some iView! Or if that’s not to your liking, there’s ample lolcats to be found online, or, I hear, some very good images of Chris Kenny.
How the Liberal Party has exiled its last reasonable man
By Amanda Lohrey
Detail from St George and the Dragon (circa 1435), Rogier van der Weyden
Tony Abbott's aggressive monarchism
By Mark McKenna
The Liberals' winner-takes-all political payback
By Judith Brett
Adam Bandt at his election-night party, 7 September 2013. © Paul Jeffers / Fairfax
Government or activism?
By Guy Rundle
A bromance for the ages
By Greg Sheridan
The prime minister is sorry about everything
By Don Watson