editorial December 4, 2021

The smallest man in the room

In February last year, Mike Seccombe reported what at the time seemed incredible: Australia had a net-zero emissions target for 2050. This was in spite of the Morrison government. The story added up the commitments of every state and territory and found that Australia would reach the global target irrespective of Scott Morrison’s then refusal to endorse it.

editorial November 27, 2021

The Nauru rapes

The first reports were about the guards themselves. They were allowing asylum seekers longer showers if they could watch them naked. Some were trading cigarettes for sexual favours. Credible reports followed of children being sexually assaulted in the detention camp on Nauru. Subsequent files would show at least seven children had been abused.

editorial November 20, 2021

The flat man

In his excellent portrait of Scott Morrison, titled The Game, Sean Kelly writes about a theory of literary characters suggested by E. M. Forster in a series of lectures delivered just before the Great Depression. Forster argued that there were two sorts of characters, either flat characters or round characters. Persuasively and in sharp detail, Kelly makes the case that Morrison is a flat character. Such a character could be “captured in a sentence or two”. They might have a catchphrase. Their advantage to the novelist is “that they never needed to be reintroduced, because they were so easily recognised”.

editorial November 13, 2021

Standover law

The request itself is obscene. It is the kind of tinpot thinking you might expect in a failing dictatorship, maybe for a show trial after the coup. The attorney-general, Michaelia Cash, wishes to introduce evidence in the prosecution of Bernard Collaery that could not be known to Collaery or his lawyers and would instead be assessed by a special counsel engaged by the Commonwealth. It would form the secret basis for a secret trial, the premise of which has already been rejected by a court.

editorial November 6, 2021

Lonely and innocent

Omid Masoumali was 22 when he arrived on Christmas Island. Days later he was taken to Nauru. When interviewed, he said he had no existing mental health issues. He was found to be a refugee but was not offered settlement in Australia. The Queensland coroner heard that he was warm and funny. His partner described him as optimistic, confident and cheeky. His mother described the death of her only son as an “eternal, unbearable grief”. The coroner said: “Her son had died in a foreign country, lonely and innocent.”

editorial October 30, 2021

Roll reversal

The Morrison government’s intention to institute identification checks at polling booths is an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist. There is no evidence of voter fraud affecting elections. It is hard to see it as anything other than voter suppression. Or worse: a chance to claim that vote rigging occurred, to borrow the great lie of contemporary politics.

editorial October 23, 2021

Human lessons

When a person is burnt, it is not just their skin that is affected. It is not just the muscle or bones or tendons, the nerve endings that are deadened and become numb. In an immolation, the lungs are also damaged. These respiratory injuries are hugely painful.

editorial October 16, 2021

Moral capacity

The number on its own is terrible enough: in the past seven weeks, 100,000 Afghans have sought asylum from Australia.

editorial October 9, 2021

Last resort

The Nationals have always been a party of opportunists. Now they are a party of last resort. That is how Resources Minister Keith Pitt envisages the slush fund he wants in exchange for agreeing to a net-zero target.

editorial October 2, 2021

The journalist and the mumbler

Scott Morrison’s smile lasts four minutes. He is offended by a question on the Quad. If co-operation is needed between India, Japan, the United States and Australia, the journalist asks, who is it needed against?

editorial September 25, 2021

Rupert bare

It’s a coincidence that as rioters were marching through Melbourne Scott Morrison was dining with News Corp executives in New York. It’s a coincidence, too, that the city’s Shrine of Remembrance looks a little like the United States Capitol Building.