December 21, 2019 – January 24, 2020

Firefighters tackle a fire in Braidwood, New South Wales.


The long, hot summer

“It is hard for everyone and I’m not just talking about our shed. Every shed in New South Wales, everyone is pushed to the limit.”

Australia is on fire and the volunteers on the front line are sounding an alarm. Lacking vital resources, they are exhausted and quickly draining their annual leave. And the season has no end in sight.


Image for article: David Savage’s Comcare case


David Savage’s Comcare case

New information confirms mistakes were made in the lead-up to the suicide bomb attack that left David Savage severely injured, but questions remain about who should take responsibility.

Examining the second draft of religion bill

“This could potentially embolden far-right groups to ramp up their vitriol and continue their campaigns of hate.”

Five years after George Brandis declared ‘people have the right to be bigots’, the government wants that proposition enshrined in law.

Image for article: Australia stalls on climate action


Australia stalls on climate action

In Copenhagen in 2009, Australia took a leadership role in the fight against climate change. Ten years on, at COP25, the winds have changed.


2019: The year that was

“How good’s Australia? Pretty bloody good, unless it’s burning or parched or you’re in aged care. Or if you’re Indigenous, or a child in offshore detention, or a journalist investigating war crimes.”

In a year when we reckoned with climate catastrophe, hypocritical world leaders and the increasing erosion of our privacy, we also witnessed the resistance of the Hong Kong protesters and the triumph of Ash Barty.

Image for article: Trump impeachment trial set for January


Trump impeachment trial set for January

Donald Trump impeached. Boris Johnson looks to Brexit. Bougainville’s independence referendum. India protests over anti-Muslim bill.



Julian Burnside and Mikele Prestia
The secret trial of Witness J

“Too few Australians know about the case of Witness J – not to be confused with the case against Witness K and Bernard Collaery, itself a disgraceful overreach of the law. But a veil of secrecy shrouds the case of Witness J that should be of concern to all of us.”


Paul Bongiorno
PM travels as country burns

“Scott Morrison’s year of living miraculously ended with our elected leader disappearing from view and his whereabouts being treated like a state secret. The attitude that the prime minister’s location is nobody’s business is a strong indication of the arrogance – indeed the contempt – he and his government have demonstrated since their May election triumph.”


Another year at St Brutes

There’s a carnival atmosphere at St Brutes (motto: Tabula in naufragio) as the end-of-year speech day gets under way. Parents, boys and staff are assembled in a marquee on the oval. Professor Flint on the Wurlitzer falls silent as the headmaster, Mr Morrison, strides to the lectern, droplets of lunchtime pie and sauce on his chin catching the afternoon light. Pastor Houston is invited to say a short and meaningful prayer.

Letters, Cartoon & Editorial


ReadCartoon image, links to full cartoon page

The Canada Project

After the United States resettlement deal it is likely there will be 250 refugees in Papua New Guinea and on Nauru, still unsettled and held in stasis. Often it feels as if there is nothing that can be done. In this case, however, there is. A little-known part of Canada’s immigration system allows for refugees to be sponsored for resettlement. For about $20,000, a person can be considered as part of a special intake. There is a quota each year, which is about to be refreshed. Some 200 places are expected to be available in 2020. So, as the year comes to an end, The Saturday Paper is raising money to ensure the people held by Australia in offshore detention are included in this sponsorship process.


Lagging behind on renewables

As Karen Middleton writes (“Coal custody”, December 14-20), Labor leader Anthony Albanese sees the future of coal in Australia as a choice for or against jobs in the coalmining industry. It …

Coal comfort from election result

I cannot sit back and read “Coal custody” and the editorial “This is an emergency” in the December 14-20 edition without comment. It has to be noted that despite Shorten’s …

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Brook Andrew.


Sydney Biennale artistic director Brook Andrew

For the 2020 Sydney Biennale, artistic director Brook Andrew is challenging the dominant narratives of this country, instead bringing together perspectives that have been unjustly relegated. “Australia is on a precipice of change in this present moment, with people renegotiating and confronting histories which shift dimensionally. It’s about who we are today, and there is a moral question that arises in this, which is: Where do you stand in the face of change?”

Image for article: Best stage performances of 2019


Best stage performances of 2019

While Australian artists face challenging times, brilliant work is still being staged.

Image for article: The Horne Prize: Diary of a wildlife carer


The Horne Prize: Diary of a wildlife carer

“November – My first rescue. I hold the ladder while a baby tawny frogmouth is retrieved, no parents in sight. It opens its tiny mouth, pink inside with opalesque green mottling. “Stay away, I’m dangerous!” or “Feed me!” It is light as air despite the puff of feathers.”


Maxine Beneba Clarke
When the decade broke

             the stroke of midnight,

december thirty-first, nineteen ninety-nine,

    was going to end the world


at the hospital,

     they brought generators in


even the food service staff

were kept till late evening


none of us would get to


at the most expensive fireworks on earth,

        lighting up a new century:

Read More

Image for article: Best films of 2019


Best films of 2019

Streaming services increased their domination of the film industry this year, but the big screen still holds a vital place in cinema.



“My mother cared for my grandmother, Elsie, every day of the last 10 years of her long life – feeding her, washing her, listening to Elsie’s petty complaints about the poor quality of the television reception and answering the same question over and over with a degree of patience that wore other family members down. She wouldn’t hear of having Elsie put into a nursing home, even after my grandmother wandered out of her government flat one Christmas Day.”

Image for article: The burial belt


The burial belt

If death is a certainty, so is the fact that the Earth is running out of space for cemeteries. Two Australians are trying to design a solution.


Image for article: Best books of 2019 #1

Maria Takolander
Best books of 2019 #1

Image for article: Best books of 2019 #2

Ronnie Scott
Best books of 2019 #2


Image for article: Vegan Christmas recipes


Vegan Christmas recipes

Image for article: The best wines of summer 2020


The best wines of summer 2020

The beverage director for Andrew McConnell’s restaurants selects her favourite wines, and non-alcoholic beer, for this summer.

Image for article: Tennis champion Sam Stosur


Tennis champion Sam Stosur

She won her first WTA singles match in 2003 and went on to become a doubles world No. 1 and US Open singles champion – by beating Serena Williams, no less. But Sam Stosur isn’t done yet.


The Quiz

1. Which two singers will perform the half-time show for Super Bowl 54 in Miami in February?
2. What nickname was given to actress and activist Jane Fonda after she visited North Vietnam in 1972?
3. The Treachery of Images is a painting by which surrealist artist?
4. According to Greek mythology, Zeus, Hades and which other god (their brother) divided up creation?
5. Which gland in the human body is often called the master gland?
6. In “Suzanne”, Leonard Cohen sang that the tea and oranges came from where?
7. The playing periods in polo are known as what?
8. Who was Australia’s longest-lived prime minister?
9. To the nearest million, what is the population of London?
10. Which Canadian province’s name contains the names of two dog breeds?
11. Name the two main stars of the TV series Killing Eve, plus the series’ creator.
12. True or false: Elvis Presley had a twin brother who died at birth?
13. Who headed the special counsel investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election? 
14. The characters Uriah Heep, Betsey Trotwood and Mr Micawber appear in which Charles Dickens novel?
15. Which 1990s pop hit features the lyrics: “I turned the radio on / I turned the radio up / And this woman was singing my song”?
16. Solid carbon dioxide is commonly known as what?
17. Who was captain of HMS Bounty when it was mutinied in 1789?
18. What word beginning with ‘r’ refers to the oxidisation of metal?
19. How many hours are in four weeks?
20. Which actress has been named People’s Most Beautiful a record five times?
21. Is a black mamba: (a) a dance; (b) fighter plane; or (c) a snake?
22. Who is the minister for Indigenous Australians?
23. In which field is Australian Nancy Bird-Walton renowned?
24. Cartography is the study and practice of making what?
25. What does the internet or text message abbreviation WDYT stand for?
26. The flag of the United Nations features branches from what type of tree?
27. Ben Simmons is associated with which sport?
28. A Malagasy is a native or inhabitant of which African country?
29. Who starred as Wild Bill Hickok opposite Doris Day in the 1953 film Calamity Jane?
30. In cricket’s Big Bash League, what is the name of the Brisbane team?
31. Garter, moss, rib and stocking are all types of what?
32. Name the Australian author of The Lost Man, The Dry and Force of Nature.
33. Which 16-letter word beginning with ‘p’ means sleight of hand?
34. In which war did the Charge of the Light Brigade take place?
35. Which company owns the Argyle diamond mine in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia?
36. In the film and television industry, the abbreviation SAG stands for what?
37. Leopold Bloom is the protagonist of which James Joyce novel?
38. Which Guns N’ Roses song in 2019 became the first music video from the ’80s to reach one billion views on YouTube?
39. Typically a starfish has how many arms?
40. Which 1987 Mel Brooks film features the line: “May the Schwartz be with you!”?

Click through for answers.