editorial

editorial May 18, 2019

Time to choose

Both leaders have attempted to cloak themselves in the charisma of their predecessors in this campaign. Scott Morrison with Menzies, then Howard. Bill Shorten first with Keating, now Whitlam. Neither has managed to breathe life into the public imagination in the way these leaders did. The way Bob Hawke, who passed away on Thursday, was able to do so effortlessly – with his extroversion and his boundless energy.

editorial May 11, 2019

Equal measures

In rebuking The Daily Telegraph’s editorial about his mother, Ann, Bill Shorten conjured a rare moment in Australian politics. He said: “My mum would want me to say to older women in Australia that just because you’ve got grey hair, just because you didn’t go to a special private school, just because you don’t go to the right clubs, just because you’re not part of some backslapping boys’ club doesn’t mean you should give up.” It is not rare, of course, for male politicians to relate the discriminations faced by women to their own families, to flatten to the personal: I wouldn’t want this to happen to my daughter/my wife/my mother. The test for Shorten, if elected, is how broadly his empathy can be cast.

editorial April 27, 2019

Mining both sides

Publicly, Bill Shorten said he doubted the Adani coalmine would go ahead but that he wouldn’t change the law to prohibit it. “I don’t think the project is going to materialise. The Adani mining company seems to have missed plenty of deadlines. It doesn’t seem to stack up financially, commercially or indeed environmentally.” This has been his line since, a way of avoiding the question on something he doesn’t think will happen. He won’t criticise the mine directly, but he says it needs to satisfy science and the environment. It also needs to be financially viable. In reality, it is none of these things.

editorial May 4, 2019

Our cost to bear

There is a nuanced debate playing out over Brian Fisher’s analysis of the cost of Labor’s climate policy. In the corner of Twitter where economists and climate pundits squabble, opinions fly back and forth – on cost curves, on the assumptions of Fisher’s model and even on his professional standing in the field. What is likely to stick with voters, though, are the numbers pulled from Fisher’s report, published on the front pages of papers around the country.

editorial April 20, 2019

Nothing to see here

Scott Morrison is a man without promise or promises. It is not clear why he wants to lead the country. He has yet to lay out a plan for it and gives no sign that he will. When he talks about Bill Shorten, he warns Labor will change everything. His own undertaking is that he will not. His proposition is the status quo.

editorial April 13, 2019

Untold damages

Eryn Jean Norvill never wanted to be there. And yet there she was, sitting in the front row of the packed Sydney courtroom, waiting for the judgement to be handed down in Nationwide News Pty Limited v Rush. There she was, against her wishes, waiting to hear Justice Michael Wigney label her an incredible witness, one “prone to exaggeration and embellishment”.

editorial April 6, 2019

Turning a blind eye

On the United States news site The Verge, a story recently appeared, a months-long investigation, in which content moderators employed by Facebook detail the cruel nature of their work for the tech giant. Witness to the most violent impulses of humanity on a daily basis, they spoke of emotional strain, paralysing anxiety, panic attacks and even PTSD-like symptoms that have stemmed, they believe, from their work. Not least from the brutal videos and images they must review – one after another – for hours on end.

editorial March 30, 2019

Rise of the outsiders

In 2002, Mark Latham delivered the Menzies Lecture at London’s Kings College, canvassing the rise of Pauline Hanson, among other things. Pointing to the growing divide in our politics, he sought to explain her accumulation of power. “I would argue that the political spectrum is best understood as a struggle between insiders and outsiders,” he said, “the abstract values of the powerful centre versus the pragmatic beliefs of those who feel disenfranchised by social change.”

editorial March 23, 2019

Media’s new lie

There is an urgent desire to blame internet forums for Brenton Tarrant’s bent interpretation of the world. The bigger concern is that many of the thoughts expressed in his manifesto have appeared, in one form or another, on the opinion pages of most mainstream publications in this country. Tarrant is an aberration, as is all terrorism. But he is produced by a culture that has normalised hate, that is built from division, whose politics routinely exploits fear and whose press caters enthusiastically to it.

editorial March 16, 2019

Carbon copy

To the streets, tens of thousands of students went on Friday, picketing for climate action. We cannot wait, their common refrain. There is no time. Meanwhile, unimpassioned, our leaders squabble still over coal. And the deja vu sets in – the climate battles of the past two decades, hashed and rehashed, an endless circular argument as the stakes and the temperatures rise.

editorial March 9, 2019

Body politic

It is March of 2019, and the prime minister refuses to talk about publicly funding access to abortion services for women. He says it would not be ‘good for the country’ to speak of such things. Labor promises to link public hospital funding to abortion access, only to baulk at the first sign of disquiet from Catholic health providers. ‘