January 23 – 29, 2021

Workers at CSL handle AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine at a facility in Broadmeadows, Victoria.


Did Australia put its money on the wrong vaccines?

“It feels like a theme is developing, where the feds get to make the shiny announcement and disappear when things get tough.”

As the realities of Australia’s vaccine choices set in, tensions are rising with the states and territories over the program’s rollout.


Image for article: The Biden era begins, but the shadow of Trump remains


The Biden era begins, but the shadow of Trump remains

With his inauguration this week, America’s 46th president has vowed to heal the US. But Joe Biden inherits a country more paranoid and polarised than ever.

Image for article: Sailors caught in Australia–China trade war


Sailors caught in Australia–China trade war

China’s escalating trade war with Australia has left dozens of coal carriers stranded at sea for months, their international crew trapped in distressing conditions. So who is responsible for the seafarers’ welfare?


The inequalities of grand slam tennis

“We didn’t come here as normal citizens that just chose to come to Australia and do the hard quarantine; we came with certain expectations, and maybe that’s what the problem was.”

The Australian Open is shaping up to be a very different tournament in 2021, with dozens of competitors forced into strict hotel quarantine. While some players have taken to social media to vent their frustration, others say the move has only widened a gulf that has always existed between tennis’s stars and the rank and file.

Image for article: Tech giants and regulating social media


Tech giants and regulating social media

As debate rages internationally over the question of whether the social media giants can self-regulate, Australia’s attempt to force big tech to share revenue with media companies is meeting intense pushback from Google, Facebook and the US government.


Political donations and the resources sector’s influence

“For the price they pay, they’ll get access to x number of meetings, or x number of events where these politicians have been attending. The most obvious example of that currently is talk about the ‘gas-fired recovery’.”

The fossil fuel industry’s outsized influence on Australian politics is confirmed by a new report, which tracks the millions of dollars spent by the sector in political donations over the past two decades.


Putin rival lands back in Moscow and back in jail

Alexei Navalny urges Russians to protest this weekend. New US president ready to work with allies on China. Indonesia opts for youth appeal on Covid-19 vaccinations.

Image for article: Putin rival lands back in Moscow and back in jail

Australia's No.1 news podcast.



Claire G. Coleman
How political fear erodes Indigenous rights

“Most Australian politicians, particularly those in the two major parties, lack the political will to do what the majority support. Instead, they pander to conservative ideologies, driven by the morbid fear of criticism from a small but vocal minority. Australian politics is, for the most part, power without passion. And nowhere is this more stark than in Aboriginal affairs.”


Richard Cooke
The Facebook Uncle Caucus in the Coalition

“As Joe Biden prepared to take office as the 46th president of the United States, promising to ‘restore the soul of America’, his mission statement found an echo in Australia. The language was less portentous, and the crowd more mundane. But in a speech to the Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese found a local variation on the theme. According to Albanese, Trumpism had tarnished not only the former US administration, but the current Commonwealth government as well.”


A bird in the handcuffs

As America grappled with the coup at the Capitol, Australia began the year with a coo of its own as the whole nation found itself obsessed with the survival of a pigeon. To recap this classic tale of Nanny State v Freedom of Flight, a man named Kevin Celli-Bird – because there is no subtlety in this poorly written reality – found a pigeon in his backyard.

Letters, Cartoon & Editorial


ReadCartoon image, links to full cartoon page

A useful excuse

The iconic image is of Kenneth Hayne in an office with Josh Frydenberg. The former High Court justice is presenting the treasurer with the final report of his royal commission into banking. A photographer asks if the two men might shake hands. Hayne does not break eye contact with the table. He says, simply: “Nope.” Two years on, this grim photo opportunity is perhaps the most lasting outcome of the banking royal commission.


Gas fields worsen climate change

Rick Morton correctly identifies a range of reasons why gas should not be extracted from the Beetaloo Basin (“Nerve fracking”, December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021). A more fundamental …

Left vulnerable by dependence

The front-page story on the trade war with China (December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021) has Michael Wesley asking, “Can the relationship be salvaged?” Perhaps a better question to ask …

Read More


Antony Hamilton (right) at a Chunky Move rehearsal in their studio space.

In Progress

Antony Hamilton

Running a dance company under lockdown presents unique challenges, but that hasn’t stopped Chunky Move’s Antony Hamilton.


The jacket

“I usually bought warm, sturdy jackets that I imagined railroad workers would’ve worn in the ’40s. The new jacket wasn’t sturdy and it wasn’t warm. It was made out of pale blue, faux-crocodile print vinyl. It was so blue that you could sort of still see the blue of it when you closed your eyes. I couldn’t conceive of any occasion when it would be appropriate to wear it, even in normal times – unless I was somehow transported to whatever German bar Lou Reed and David Bowie were hanging out in 1976, or to Grace Jones’s birthday party at Studio 54. ‘Hello!’ the jacket said when I took it out of the crackly plastic. ‘Hello,’ I said, putting it straight on a hanger.”


Image for article: Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu
Interior Chinatown

Image for article: maar bidi: next generation black writing

Elfie Shiosaki and Linda Martin (eds)
maar bidi: next generation black writing

Image for article: Beowulf: A New Translation

Maria Dahvana Headley
Beowulf: A New Translation


Image for article: Zucchini paste with toasted nori and capers


Zucchini paste with toasted nori and capers

Image for article: The Brewarrina Aboriginal fish traps


The Brewarrina Aboriginal fish traps

An engineering marvel and a site of astonishing antiquity, the Aboriginal fish traps at Brewarrina bear witness to the survival of an ancient culture.

Image for article: Stacey Marinkovich’s title fight


Stacey Marinkovich’s title fight

In the world of sporting KPIs, those of Stacey Marinkovich, the new coach of the Australian Diamonds netball team, couldn’t be more clear – wrest back the game’s most coveted trophies from England and New Zealand.



January 26

“You know, when those 12 ships turned up in Sydney all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.”

Scott MorrisonThe prime minister explains why Australia’s national day is marked on January 26, reaffirming his commitment to honouring the country’s history by adding an extra ship to the First Fleet.


“We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.”

Amanda GormanThe poet recites her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Donald Trump also expressed a desire to feature poetry at his inauguration but was thankfully convinced that reciting the lyrics to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” did not count.


“We are in a happy relationship and have been open about it.”

Bridget McKenzieThe former Sport minister responds to questions about her relationship with veteran News Corp journalist Simon Benson after the pair were photographed together at the Wodonga Bunnings. Neither wore a mask, in contravention of Victoria’s Covid-19 rules, proving they are perfect for one another.


“A strong warning to promoters here: Do not promote an event until you have everything in place.”

Jacinda ArdernThe New Zealand prime minister responds to news The Wiggles may have to cancel their tour after the promoter failed to organise quarantine places for the children’s entertainers. If only someone had offered this sage advice to the organisers of Fyre Festival.


“Today the federal government finally is listening to reason.”

Jana FaveroThe Asylum Seeker Resource Centre director praises bridging visas granted to 26 medevac refugees held in hotel detention for more than a year. But fear not, tomorrow the government will surely return to listening only to Sky News after dark.


“They don’t have to change all of them, but they’ve got to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.”

Alice O’LenickThe Republican chair of Gwinnett County’s elections board calls for legal changes to improve her party’s poll chances. The Biden team’s commitment to transparency has inspired even the GOP to be honest about attempts at voter suppression.