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diary February 15, 2020


Gadfly: Services? Oh myGov!

Pensioners were excited to get letters last month from Centrelink asking for details of their “account-based income stream/s”. After spending hours of research working out what is meant by “account-based income stream/s”, it turns out, basically, to...

indigenous affairs February 15, 2020


The High Court and the “aliens” power

The decision by the High Court of Australia this week on the “aliens” power cast my mind back to my work in 2011 on the prime minister’s expert panel on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution...

immigration February 8, 2020


Christmas Island and the rise of mandatory detention

While most political observers were focused on the leadership machinations playing out in the ranks of the Nationals and Greens on Monday, Australia’s director of human biosecurity issued the dryly named Biosecurity (Human Health Response Zone) (...

diary February 8, 2020


Gadfly: 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. The morning started off grey and drizzling, but by the time the encomiums finished the air was...

diary February 1, 2020


Gadfly: Masking for trouble

By now it is clear the face mask is the object that most defines this new decade. From an unfashionable item confined to special conditions in specific geographies, it is fast becoming ubiquitous. It is the facial accessory du jour, filtering the...

politics February 1, 2020


Bettina Arndt and the Australia Day honours

On Australia Day, I was standing at a bus stop in Sydney’s inner west with an old friend I’d just met up with, on my way back from Yabun, the day of mourning event, when he asked what I thought of Bettina Arndt receiving a Member of the Order of...

environment January 25, 2020


Climate and the Coalition’s new denialism

In recent months the federal government’s position on climate change has shifted. Not in policy terms: the change has been restricted to its rhetoric. It has a new strategy to avoid responsibility. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has become adept at...

diary January 25, 2020


Gadfly: A Scott in the dark

It’s not been an easy time for Scotty from Marketing. He is supposed to be a PR genius, yet the art of public relations suddenly got too complicated for him. PR is the place people end up when all other professional options fail, and now Schmo has failed at the failures’ last resort.

environment January 25, 2020


Scott Morrison’s efforts at hazard reduction

On Tuesday, Australia’s chief medical officer announced that new screening measures would be implemented for high-risk flights from China. Passengers would be asked to identify whether they were suffering particular symptoms. The aim was to stop “a...

diary December 21, 2019


Gadfly: 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.

law & crime December 21, 2019


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...