February 8 – 14, 2020

Isaac and Susan Wakil.


The biggest party donor you’ve never heard of

“The money was notable for its scale – the largest individual political donation in Australian history. More than that, however, it was unusual for the fact there were no other terms: no quid pro quo, no favours asked or given, none wanted.”

Liberal insiders say Isaac Wakil was never present in high-end donor circles. So what prompted the reclusive 92-year-old to donate $4.1 million to the Liberal Party?



Inside Palmer’s campaign to thwart Labor

“Given that Palmer spent most of that money on anti-Labor advertising, says Grattan Institute fellow Kate Griffiths, one might reasonably add it to the Coalition’s spending. ‘And that amounts to a much bigger division between the major parties … than we’ve ever seen before.’ ”

Clive Palmer spent almost $84 million on his party’s failed tilt at the 2019 election, but former UAP candidates now say the real goal was to prevent an ALP victory.

Image for article: Nuclear waste site selected in SA


Nuclear waste site selected in SA

The government’s decision to build a nuclear waste facility in Kimba has divided the South Australian town, with detractors questioning the millions spent on building community support.


Universities and the China ban

“Anything that has a significant effect on the Australian university sector will have a significant effect on employment and tourism.”

A taskforce that was set up to deal with the effects of the bushfire crisis on overseas student numbers is now examining the fallout from the coronavirus breakout – with repercussions predicted far beyond the university sector.

Image for article: Bridget McKenzie falls on sports grants sword


Bridget McKenzie falls on sports grants sword

As Bridget McKenzie’s resignation brings about a surge in the Coalition’s conservative wing, new analysis confirms the bias of the sports grants program.

Image for article: Nancy Pelosi rips into Trump’s SOTU address


Nancy Pelosi rips into Trump’s SOTU address

Coronavirus toll rises as impact spreads across world. James Marape’s hard line on PNG gas deal. Donald Trump acquitted at impeachment trial. App causes chaos in Iowa caucuses.

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Osman Faruqi
Christmas Island and the rise of mandatory detention

“On Monday, Australia’s director of human biosecurity issued the dryly named Biosecurity (Human Health Response Zone) (North West Point Immigration Detention Centre) Determination 2020. The legal instrument designated the detention centre on Christmas Island a ‘human health response zone’ – no one is allowed to enter the facility unless they have been sent there due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.”


Paul Bongiorno
Climate wars return amid Coalition chaos

“The old tautology ‘deja vu all over again’ has become a jarring reality for the Coalition. And shattering the promised peace and stability are all the same factors that destroyed the prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull: climate change, energy policy and competing egos. The big difference this time is that hostilities broke out among the Nationals rather than the Liberals. But the collateral damage is much the same.”


Chef’s def mission

Tony Bilson, the great chef, restaurateur, raconteur, flâneur, dreamer, trendsetter and bohemian was laid to rest this week with a big Sydney sendoff. Gadfly remembers Bilson for his generosity when as an editor and publisher of a small but mighty organ your correspondent was sued for defamation. Tony leapt to the defence, saying he would provide a fundraising dinner at Kinselas to help defray eye-watering legal bills.

Letters, Cartoon & Editorial


ReadCartoon image, links to full cartoon page

Change of leader

Even Adam Bandt’s staunch critics, and there is no shortage of them, would be hard-pressed to describe the newly elected Greens leader as one to shy from a fight. He’s been called the party’s “attack dog”. Drawn ire for going after Senator Jim Molan’s war record. He’s battled alone in the lower house for years, since his 2010 election to the seat of Melbourne, increasing his margin in the inner-city seat with each passing election.


Tied up in red tape

The recent changes to the application process for Commonwealth-funded grants are ridiculous in the extreme (Karen Middleton, “Sports grants expose broken system”, January 25-31). The 2019-20 Commonwealth …

We must make multinationals pay tax

Thanks, Michael West, for your comprehensive report of the ongoing tax rorts the top mining companies continue to exploit under this current “do nothing” government (“Top miners …

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Tilda Swinton attends the 18th Marrakech International Film Festival.


Actress Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton has often been drawn to roles that explore transformation – a fascination that led her to become one of the world’s finest actresses. She speaks about her unconventional career, her love for Scotland and her upcoming trip to Australia, where her mother was born. “For me, the whole joy is working in collaboration, working in conversation … I love dreaming things up with my friends and I’ve always been lucky enough to work with people who are interested in this stuff and continue to find new people who are interested in this sort of shapeshifting.”

Image for article: A Hidden Life


A Hidden Life

Through the story of a farmer who refuses to swear allegiance to Hitler, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life reckons with the horrors of the Nazi regime in a quiet, powerful way.


Image for article: The Bass Rock

Evie Wyld
The Bass Rock

Image for article: The Lotus Eaters

Emily Clements
The Lotus Eaters

Image for article: Shirl

Wayne Marshall


Image for article: Grilled prawns with orange coronation dressing


Grilled prawns with orange coronation dressing

Image for article: French lessons at the Calade


French lessons at the Calade

When an Australian woman moved to a village in southern France, she joined a class to help her learn the language. But her time spent with an eclectic group of fellow students held lessons of its own.

Image for article: AFLW superstar Erin Phillips set to return


AFLW superstar Erin Phillips set to return

Olympic basketballer turned Adelaide Crows star Erin Phillips has made a habit of winning: premierships, league best and fairest awards and adoring fans. Now, following knee-reconstruction surgery, she eyes her next prize.




“Meritless political referrals to key law-enforcement agencies waste resources that could be allocated to the investigation of serious matters, such as homicides.”

Christian PorterThe attorney-general joins calls for Labor to apologise to Energy Minister Angus Taylor after the AFP dropped its investigation into him. Presumably someone will apologise to Annika Smethurst, Dan Oakes and Samuel Clark any day now.


“Whatever I thought of a person, I would never say, ‘Hey, you should take their name off a building.’ ”

Margaret CourtThe grand slam winner objects to any talk of renaming her arena. She would also, of course, never say that a fellow tennis great shouldn’t have kids with her female partner.


“Our headline was in no way intended to single out Chinese people.”

Ben English

The Daily Telegraph editor deflects criticism of his newspaper’s headline “China kids stay home”. A simple misunderstanding: the tabloid isn’t racist; it just hates children.


“The boil has been lanced, let’s move on.”

Barnaby JoyceThe Nationals MP reflects on his failed bid for the party leadership this week. He should really come up with a nicer nickname for himself.


“I tore it up.”

Nancy PelosiThe Democrat is asked for her thoughts on Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. The president raved that the speech was the most torn-up SOTU in American history.


“I just want to ask them to apologise properly, that’s all.”

Steven Maymuru

The Yolngu man says Sunrise hosts Samantha Armytage and David Koch should apologise in person over a discussion of the merits of the Stolen Generations. When they said it was a good thing, they meant for ratings – except they were wrong about that, too.