media September 8, 2018

Speaking for freedom

Online, in forums around the world, at the United Nations and beyond, the Australian government is quick to point out how important free speech is to a functioning democracy. The Liberal Party’s own website proudly proclaims, “We believe in those...

religion August 18, 2018

Fraser Anning and racist politics

Oh, but doesn’t Australia have a lot of them? These watershed moments of lines crossed and politics forever changed, where the bar set for public discourse is not so much lowered but dispensed with altogether. This week it was crossbench senator...

immigration July 14, 2018

How racism diminishes humanity

I remember the last time “African gang crime” was front-page news. It was a warm summer’s day in January – just after New Year – and I decided to take my daughter to a park close to our home. There was no one around, just the two of us, and we sat...

immigration August 11, 2018

Pushing the limits of acceptable debate

In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory, many people sought to persuade themselves it wasn’t as dramatic a result as it seemed. If only a few thousand votes in a few forgettable states had gone the other way, they posited,...

media June 16, 2018

Murdoch and Trump, sons of oligarchy

Fans of Rupert Murdoch will be relieved to know he and wife Jerry Hall enjoyed a date night at Scott’s in London’s Mayfair this week. Looking like Stanley Tucci’s benign granddad in a bright blue suit and trainers, friends were relieved to see the...

media July 29, 2017

Opinion journalism and clickbait

In the age of viral videos, you never quite know what will become the next internet sensation. It could be a North Korea expert being upstaged on camera by his children while conducting a live interview, or a police shooting of an unarmed black man...

media July 22, 2017

Comments and the discourse of distraction

At what point does a hangover become cirrhosis? Perhaps it was the revolting public kicking of Yassmin Abdel-Magied, or MP Craig Kelly’s claim that renewable energy was killing elderly people, or Rowan Dean’s “fuck off we’re full” invitation for...

media May 6, 2017

The ABC’s unchartered waters

In Ken Inglis’s forensic history of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, he quotes then communications minister Neil Brown as saying in the early 1980s that the ABC “jealously guarded their independence and resented any intrusion”. It “went into...

law & crime March 18, 2017

Brandis’s plan for metadata in civil litigation

New tricks are in store for your private information. As if having the entire nation under surveillance for potential criminal offences was not sweeping enough, George Brandis and his department have fresh thoughts about...

media March 11, 2017

Flame war is over. If you want it.

The overwhelming negativity of Facebook’s newsfeed did little to assuage my growing suspicion that the 21st century’s great social media experiment is doomed to be remembered as a failure.

religion February 25, 2017

Yassmin Abdel-Magied and the Australian crucible

It doesn’t matter how moderate or modern or feminist or liberal or patriotic one is – if they are also proudly Muslim, they are a problem.