editorial

editorial December 22, 2018

The edge of chaos

Always, there was some spectre, some looming threat – a capricious American president, the North Korean nuclear arsenal, Russia’s cyber sabotage, the possibility of Brexit’s economic devastation, the inevitability of climate disaster. We lived, in 2018, at the edge of chaos. Faced with chaos, it is human to attempt to find order. The impulse is one that tends from sense towards containment, control. It is no coincidence this year of ataxia spurred authoritarianism.

editorial December 15, 2018

Mighty men of values

We know, now, a little more of what the election will look like. We know that it will be desperate. We know the Morrison government will do anything to win, except develop policies that address the concerns of the electorate. The stories are already being placed. In The Daily Telegraph is spurious legal advice that says Labor’s “softened border policy” would invite criminals into Australia.

editorial December 1, 2018

The man who wasn’t there

It is as if Scott Morrison is getting smaller. With each passing week, the member for Cook shrinks into his leadership. His government has lost its majority. It intends hardly to sit next year. Its early budget seems to promise a May election, and on all accounts Morrison will likely lose it. His prime ministership is set to last no more than nine months.

editorial December 8, 2018

Abbott’s tour of himself

Amid the chaos that was parliament’s final sitting day for the year, Tony Abbott got to his feet and cleared his throat. “Back when prime minister,” he said, introducing himself with a descriptor as unnecessary as it was telling of what was to come, “I used to observe that to live in Australia is to have won the lottery of life – and that’s true, unless you happen to be one of those whose ancestors have been here for tens of thousands of years.”

editorial November 24, 2018

Fear factory

Scott Morrison is afraid. He fears losing the prime ministership he fell into. He fears Muslims. He fears the looming threat of Australia being caught out with no baseload power. This week, the familiar spectre of gender stirred fear in our prime minister. Not the “gender whisperers” being deployed into our schools, but the choice by Tasmania to change its laws around gender on birth certificates.

editorial November 17, 2018

Granting injustice

The euphemism in the documents calls the grants “departmental approaches”. Everywhere else in Indigenous affairs, the money has to be begged; here, it is given freely. Possibly because here it can be used to fight Indigenous interests. By Nigel Scullion’s own admission, the money was for “legal fees, effectively … to put forward a case of detriment to the land commissioner”. That is, to object to native title claims.

editorial November 10, 2018

Tactical assault

To glance at this week’s headlines was to see just how much Australian gender relations have shifted in the past year. No longer are we ignoring women’s stories – the approach is now one of control, minimisation and punishment.

editorial November 3, 2018

The dark room

When this story was published in 1973, it was as a thought experiment. The idea of perpetual suffering, forced on a child for the benefit of an otherwise benign society, of endless detention and terrible deprivation, was science fiction. And yet here we are. Even as the children are slowly pulled from Nauru, Peter Dutton defends the Omelas he has built. He refuses to accept there are humanitarian reasons for closing the camps.

editorial October 27, 2018

Fair bunkum

The condescension in this video is not just to the Avrils and Colins who people Morrison’s Australia, whose bills and service records he uses as props. The condescension is to climate change and to energy policy. The price control is a fiddle: some bills will go down, others will go up. The cost to the environment is the cost of a country with no policy on climate change, willing to destroy the Earth for politics. “Renewables are great,” Morrison says, his expression unchanged, as if calibrating a polygraph. “But we’re also needing the reliable power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.”

editorial October 20, 2018

Prisoners’ dilemma

Psychiatrist Dr Beth O’Connor was Médecins Sans Frontières’ longest-serving mental health professional on Nauru until she left the island last month: “Held in indefinite detention and effectively in a perpetual state of limbo for the last five years, these people have been stripped of any hope for a meaningful future, resulting in shocking levels of severe depression and anxiety in the population – with many having lost the will to live.”

editorial October 13, 2018

Faith palm

Asked if he were comfortable with a child being expelled from a school because of their sexuality, he said: “It’s existing law.” This is how faith works. It is a kind of surrender to that which has already been written down. In politics, it functions as a defence of that which cannot otherwise be defended – a perfect link back to the past and to the morals that resided there.