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Real estate agents and the crime of locality theft

5 Comments
20 August 2015 | Brian Matthews

Sydney City of Villages signWe set off towards the beach and the esplanade that meanders towards what the better class of resident likes to call the 'village'. 'I prefer "township" – it's more Australian,' I said. Roy scoffed at what he called 'this "village" nonsense.' Referring to electronic theft of credit card numbers, online personal details, he said: 'I reckon there's also a phenomenon you could call locality theft.'


What might have been for the toddler in the suitcase

8 Comments
06 August 2015 | Jen Vuk

SuitcaseBehind scrub on a nondescript South Australian highway lay a battered suitcase. It had been abandoned and largely forgotten, yet its presence was incongruous in this vast, unforgiving landscape. Last month, one passer-by was so disturbed by what he found after peering inside that he contacted police. Just off the Karoonda Highway in Wynarka, in South Australia's Murray Mallee region, a terrible secret had lain in wait.


Future shock is the new normal

8 Comments
23 July 2015 | Brian Matthews

Shocked manThey are ‘coming to get us’, warns our Prime Minister, adapting the ‘bogey man’ mode of our childhood fears to the contemporary narrative of terrorism and violence. The effect of related intrusions on our daily lives is being gradually dulled. The neoliberal dispensation under which we now live both relies on, and encourages, new episodes of normalisation that go far beyond what we've known in the past.


Zen and the art of wealth amassment

4 Comments
16 July 2015 | Ellena Savage

There is a suburban myth about migrant families. The first generation toil, the second become professionals, and the third artists. Like all dynasties, the Rineharts are destined to one day represent the crusty relics of former glory. That's fine. I mean, why would the beneficiaries of other people's obsessive toils and struggle work, if they didn't have to?


All deaths great and small

25 June 2015 | Brian Matthews

Cover of 'A Small Death in Lisbon'Many deaths of course are not small deaths. They evoke distinction, achievement, leadership, innovation, creativity or, in some cases notoriety, quixoticism or eccentricity. Yet placing some names above many, some in a class of their own, others in a ruck of the scarcely memorable, one indispensable criterion unites all the characters and places them beyond our imaginative, intellectual or descriptive reach: they are dead.


There's hope for mediocre women

13 Comments
18 June 2015 | Ellena Savage

Corporate womanI have a friend who tells me she loves seeing what she terms 'mediocre women' at the top of their fields, especially in public, because it shows that feminism is working. Some women have made a success of themselves as men have always done, through acquiring privilege and seizing opportunities with a sense of entitlement, rather than by the myths of brilliance and sacrifice. I like this perspective. 


The snob who snubbed Australia's Indigenous imagination

13 Comments
30 April 2015 | Brian Matthews

George Herbert CowlingMrs Cowling was formidable. Her significant physical presence was accentuated by a commanding mien, impeccable English enunciation, and an impressive depth and breadth of literary reference supporting rock-firm opinions. All these years later, I wonder just how burdened she was in teaching literature to Australian students, which she continued to do into her 80th year, by her husband's notoriety.


Australia's friendship with Indonesia is bruised but should not break

13 Comments
30 April 2015 | Emily Mitchell

Stained Indonesian flagToday, the relationship between Indonesia and Australia — the 'most important relationship' espoused by our Prime Minister — is aching. People are saying we must boycott Bali, that we must not go to Indonesia. While I understand these sentiments, I do not think this is the answer. To stay within our borders would only maintain the status quo. Instead we must embrace our neighbours and rekindle our friendship.


The ignorant courage of the anti-vaxxers

22 Comments
26 April 2015 | Jen Vuk

VaccineWhen my friend Lena told me she wouldn’t be vaccinating her newborn son Sammy, I admit I was fascinated but not surprised. Lena was always going to do motherhood her way. There are many like her who decided with a clear vision and level-head. But I can no longer accept these decisions. Since having my own precious boys, my world view has shifted and I am less ignorant.


Europe's more humane approach to on-water matters

13 Comments
23 April 2015 | Ellena Savage

North African immigrants in SicilyAustralian references to 'boat people' is simplistic and offensive. 'Queue jumper' inaccurate and moralising. Even the term 'asylum seeker' has become politically complicit. European coverage of this week's Mediterranean boat tragedy describes the victims and survivors simply as 'migrants', which is an open description of a person on a boat crossing borders.


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