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politics August 18, 2018


Red flags and crossing the line

“If we’d gone into battle earlier, seriously and united, we might have got somewhere. We were too slow to recognise the threat. Too late, and probably too polite, in pushing back.” Given the task of this column is to summarise the week in politics,...

religion August 18, 2018


Fraser Anning and racist politics

Oh, but doesn’t Australia have a lot of them? These watershed moments of lines crossed and politics forever changed, where the bar set for public discourse is not so much lowered but dispensed with altogether. This week it was crossbench senator...

immigration August 11, 2018


Pushing the limits of acceptable debate

In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory, many people sought to persuade themselves it wasn’t as dramatic a result as it seemed. If only a few thousand votes in a few forgettable states had gone the other way, they posited,...

immigration August 11, 2018


Manus prison theory

Last week, my book No Friend But the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison was finally released. It’s the product of five years living in exile on Manus Island, depicting the raw and unadulterated experience of incarceration in a remote prison...

politics August 4, 2018


How Turnbull is stuck in reverse

After a brief period in which it seemed the only issue that mattered in federal politics was immigration – immigration and infrastructure, immigration and gangs, immigration and refugees, immigration and surrendering our sovereignty – this week,...

politics August 4, 2018


Fairfax and Turnbull’s Potemkin village

All over Italy the oleanders are in summer bloom. Great galleries of pink, red and white flowers cascade through Rome’s Villa Borghese gardens, flourish high on the terraced streets above the Bay of Naples, march along the E90 autostrada from...

politics July 28, 2018


Negative reinforcement for Super Saturday

We are in a period of barren, defensive politics. The byelections that take place today bring to an end a long campaign – it has been nine weeks since we learnt the date – and lines have been locked down. At an event in Tasmania this week Bill...

law & crime July 28, 2018


Laa Chol and racist fear

We have seen it all before. Moral panic too often stimulates governments to adopt extreme and racially based responses to social problems. Victoria’s 19th-century gold rush led to an explosion in the state’s Chinese population. Forty thousand people...

politics July 21, 2018


Turnbull backs in the race favourite

In April, excitement rippled through the ranks of politics-watchers. There had been a reported sighting of that unicorn of Australian politics: Malcolm Turnbull saying no to Peter Dutton. Dutton had, according to a story in The Australian , told...

politics July 21, 2018


Socialism’s newfound popularity

They raised the roof in Queens, New York, a few Tuesdays ago, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won. Not an election, simply a primary for the candidacy. But the seat’s safe, the opponent was an establishment Democrat heavy, and Ocasio-Cortez is a...

immigration July 14, 2018


How racism diminishes humanity

I remember the last time “African gang crime” was front-page news. It was a warm summer’s day in January – just after New Year – and I decided to take my daughter to a park close to our home. There was no one around, just the two of us, and we sat...