editorial February 15, 2020

Respect and a little bit of fear

There is something in the Australian psyche that craves punishment. Perhaps it is in the fact that White Australia began as a penal colony. Perhaps there is a deeper thread of inferiority and submission in the British settlement. Whatever it is, the society we have is an orderly one – deeply so. We created the myth of the larrikin so we might feel less bad about our deference to power. He is a sort of court jester who makes the draconian more comfortable.

environment February 15, 2020

Coal-blooded attacks on Coalition unity

When a prime minister has to appeal for unity in his ranks, not one but two weeks running, you know there isn’t any. And the awful reality for Scott Morrison is that he’s got one hand tied behind his back as he tries to restore the promised...

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...

letters February 15, 2020

The legacy of the Wakils

On so many levels, it’s a cautionary tale for the ages (Rick Morton, “The biggest party donor you’ve never heard of”, February 8-14). Childless migrants make good and seek ways to show gratitude to their adopted country. Through their legacy,...

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 be payments from superannuation funds. The information had to be given to Centrelink by February 6, otherwise “your payment may be stopped”.

politics February 8, 2020

Climate wars return amid Coalition chaos

The old tautology “deja vu all over again” has become a jarring reality for the Coalition. And shattering the promised peace and stability are all the same factors that destroyed the prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull: climate change, energy...

editorial February 8, 2020

Change of leader

Even Adam Bandt’s staunch critics, and there is no shortage of them, would be hard-pressed to describe the newly elected Greens leader as one to shy from a fight. He’s been called the party’s “attack dog”. Drawn ire for going after Senator Jim Molan’s war record. He’s battled alone in the lower house for years, since his 2010 election to the seat of Melbourne, increasing his margin in the inner-city seat with each passing election.

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. Gadfly remembers Bilson for his generosity when as an editor and publisher of a small but mighty organ your correspondent was sued for defamation. Tony leapt to the defence, saying he would provide a fundraising dinner at Kinselas to help defray eye-watering legal bills.

letters February 8, 2020

Tied up in red tape

The recent changes to the application process for Commonwealth-funded grants are ridiculous in the extreme (Karen Middleton, “Sports grants expose broken system”, January 25-31). The 2019-20 Commonwealth Volunteer Grant scheme administered by the...

editorial February 1, 2020

Tricks and spin

Scott Morrison has been criticised for his failures of leadership. For being devoid of the nous required to steer the country through crisis. But there are one’s personal shortcomings, and the choices one makes. Morrison made a choice not to plan for the bushfires, nor for his three years in power.