Inside the Liberal Party’s dirt unit

“Everything hasn’t been thrown at Shorten. There’s more than enough on him already to run a savage attack campaign. The real problem is, is it going to move a single vote?”

As the Liberal Party dirt unit that helped win the NSW election opens up about tactics, key players are moving to the federal campaign.


Art trust wins in election budget

“The political nature of this week’s federal budget was confirmed officially even before it had been tabled, with Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann revealing inside the media lock-up that they would not try to get it through parliament until after the election.”

Scott Morrison’s pre-election budget has gifted $22 million to a small arts organisation in the country’s most marginal seat – Gilmore – where the Liberals hope Warren Mundine can hang on.


Police informants inquiry

As a royal commission investigates the use of informants by Victoria Police, questions are being raised again about corruption in the force.


Campaign to keep women out of jail

A new campaign is calling on Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to show his progressive values by drastically reducing the number of women and children in jail.


Labor’s climate change and EV plan

“We really have no option. We don’t build cars anymore. The fact that we import all our vehicles means we need to prepare ourselves for a day when we won’t be able to buy petrol and diesel models anymore.”

The government was quick to deride Labor’s latest action plan on climate change, particularly its electric vehicle target. Meanwhile, experts, including the NRMA, say the policy didn’t go far enough and that Australia risks falling woefully behind on motoring technology.


Joko Widodo aims for holo election win

Election setback for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Joko Widodo using holograms to sell his message. Brunei introduces anti-gay laws. Gerrymandering in the US.



Richard Ackland
The media and contempt of court

“In essence, we now have a full-scale turf war between two crucial components of the democratic state – an independent judiciary and a free press, both seeking to defend their respective territory.”


Paul Bongiorno
Coalition banks on infrastructure

“Consolidated Newspolls show a swing against the Coalition in every state. Government MPs are hoping that the budget will give them some momentum to save them, but that is optimistic.”


Not beyond regional doubt

Already the leaflets from people chasing votes are flooding into citizens’ inboxes. Former Labor man Warren Mundine, now the Liberal Party pea for Gilmore, is up and at it. His email to electors claimed: “I’ve spent my entire life in regional Australia, helping to create jobs and build communities. I’ll fight for you and stand up for our region’s needs.”

Letters, Poem & Editorial


Maxine Beneba Clarke

and when all’s razed to ash

after fire season



                 the heat



cracks open the seed

Read More

Turning a blind eye

On the United States news site The Verge, a story recently appeared, a months-long investigation, in which content moderators employed by Facebook detail the cruel nature of their work for the tech giant. Witness to the most violent impulses of humanity on a daily basis, they spoke of emotional strain, paralysing anxiety, panic attacks and even PTSD-like symptoms that have stemmed, they believe, from their work. Not least from the brutal videos and images they must review – one after another – for hours on end.


Time for courageous leadership

Thank you, Barry Jones (“Death of debate”, March 30–April 5), for reminding us of the need for long memories to see and understand the changes in our nation’s politics. I also …

Social media consequences

Barry Jones, in his excellent article, is right all along, including the fact he was wrong in his optimistic outlook for the Digital Age. He says: “The ubiquity of the internet has reinforced the …

Read More



Remaking history with novelist Jordy Rosenberg

In his intricate debut novel, Confessions of the Fox, Jordy Rosenberg entwines the lives of an 18th-century transgender thief and the academic who becomes obsessed with his story. In doing so, Rosenberg aims to counteract the historical erasure – and the continuing persecution – of trans people. “There are many things missing from archives but sometimes even what is there can obscure more than it reveals.”


Waiting: The Van Duren Story

A chance introduction to little-known ’70s Memphis power pop musician Van Duren on YouTube led two Australian fans on their own journey of filmmaking discovery.


Andrea Goldsmith
Invented Lives

Samanta Schweblin
Mouthful of Birds

Gianni Russo
Hollywood Godfather



Abalone steamed in kelp with black pepper sauce


Dad’s Excel diary

Reading a summary of his father’s life in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet prompts a reflection on memory, connection and the strange profundity of small moments.


Spinning the sandpapergate scandal

As Steve Smith and David Warner’s 12-month ball-tampering ban ends, what lessons have been learnt from Australian cricket’s darkest hour?




“I know what Borat would think of the Labor Party’s policies on emissions reduction, Mr Speaker. ‘Very nice!’ ”

Scott MorrisonThe prime minister invokes Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakh character to attack the opposition’s environment announcements. While not a great impression, it was still more convincing than his attempts to impersonate Robert Menzies.


“It has been disappointing to see some government ministers being prepared to fan prejudice for political purposes.”

Penny WongThe senator speaks on a motion to censure Fraser Anning for his comments after the Christchurch massacre. In the other chamber, the prime minister practised his Borat impression.


“You couldn’t pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 per cent of the avocados in the US right now.”

Steve BarnardThe executive of the world’s largest avocado supplier warns America would run out of avocados in three weeks if Trump closed the border. If anything can get out the millennial vote, it’s this.


“Every permutation of identity politics [is] catered for from the ‘diverse’ families to the woman in a hard hat and high-viz tending to a concrete mixer.”

Miranda DevineThe News Corp columnist criticises Josh Frydenberg’s first budget for being “ostentatiously woke”. She’s the only person left who believes this government is insufficiently cruel or small-minded.


“I don’t have a log cabin story like so many in this place. Although I did have to get my own lemon for a gin and tonic once.”

Christopher PyneThe member for Sturt gives his valedictory speech to parliament. At age 51, he’s excited to decide what he will do when he grows up.


“A pseudonym including the word ‘Frontbottom’ was used, which I found to be inappropriate.”

Ray HadleyThe broadcaster responds to allegations he bullied staff at his top-rated 2GB show. Hadley said you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hadn’t “lost their cool” in the workplace – and he will scream profanities at anyone who claims otherwise.