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  • AUSTRALIA

    Whose rule book is Abbott playing from?

    • Neil Ormerod
    • 15 May 2014
    48 Comments

    It took John Howard until his third term before he let his personal leanings completely off the leash. It led to his electoral demise. Abbott is doing much the same in his first term, over-reaching, thinking himself invulnerable to a political backlash. Whereas Machiavelli's prince could rule through force, Abbott must face an electorate whose trust in political promises has been completely eroded. Our political system will take a long time to recover.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    China syndrome haunts Abbott's Japanese jaunt

    • Walter Hamilton
    • 09 April 2014
    3 Comments

    The two powers in Asia on whom our economy and security depend, Japan and China, have reached an impasse. That should not constrain Australia from reaching out to both on the basis of mutual interest and shared values. China has a keen appreciation of the former and an abiding suspicion of appeals to the latter. Distinguishing one from the other and acting accordingly is the first great test of Abbott's statecraft.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Rhyme and ruin in Tony Abbott's court

    • Brian Matthews
    • 28 March 2014
    11 Comments

    Thomas Wyatt, poet and prominent figure in the court of Henry VIII, found life there not only perilous but repugnant and dreamed of escape. There is much that Wyatt would recognise in the court of Tony Abbott: the obsessive secrecy, the suspicion of foreigners, the cruelty, the ecclesiastical connections, the dames and knights, the aggressive Anglophilia. At least he wouldn't have had to encode his unease in poetry.

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  • RELIGION

    Chords of community in a country church protest song

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 13 March 2014
    9 Comments

    The conflict began with falling church attendances and a decision by the Koroit parish priest to rationalise resources. Although Regina Lane describes in detail the battles to save St Brigid's, her book is far more than a protest song against the power of the Catholic Church. The larger stories embodied at St Brigid's, the immigrant groups who formed the first congregation and their relationship to the first Australians, have continuing importance.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Unwinding the Coalition's economic pantomime

    • David James
    • 12 March 2014
    10 Comments

    Economics is full of circular arguments. The Government is on the one hand arguing — most notably with the SPC Ardmona case, the exit of the car manufacturers and Qantas — that it will not get involved in supporting Australia's industry base. But then it argues that its policies will boost Australia's industry base. Lower unemployment will inevitably follow. For the first time ever it is apparently possible to have it both ways.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Certified at 35

    • Isabella Fels
    • 26 February 2014
    19 Comments

    I felt less than five, little more than three. They dragged me kicking and screaming, raging into the psychiatric ward. I felt like an accident waiting to happen, a bomb about to explode. I shrank the more I talked to my shrink. I could no longer pretend I was fine. I could no longer shine. How I wished I could shrug off my illness. But it held me tight.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Don't rob the poor to pay the rich

    • Bruce Duncan
    • 04 February 2014
    14 Comments

    The budget problems are not caused by Newstart or disability pensions, which have been declining as a proportion of economic activity. Had the Howard Government not been so generous with its tax cuts to upper and middle income groups, there would today be no budget deficit.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Best of 2013: Mandela crosses the burning water

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 15 January 2014
    1 Comment

    I said my own private goodbye almost two years ago, when I visited Robben Island on a trip back to my homeland of South Africa. That journey across Table Bay, towards the tiny green cell in which you lived for much of your 27-year incarceration, took me not so much to an outpost of apartheid as to the birthplace of democratic South Africa.

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  • RELIGION

    Best of 2013: Advice for the Pope on reforming the Church

    • Geraldine Doogue
    • 14 January 2014
    13 Comments

    I wish he would invite me to be his temporary consultant, to offer him advice for his next 500 days. I'd begin by proposing a substantial Vatican-led inquiry, into why the Church has been so troubled by sexual abuse across various countries. Then I would point to the experiences of several large secular institutions, including the New York Times and US Army, that have rebuilt after crises.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: It's time to recognise secular same sex marriage

    • Frank Brennan
    • 08 January 2014
    59 Comments

    The US Supreme Court and our newly installed Prime Minister have put their weight behind legal recognition of same sex marriage. In California alone there are already 40,000 children who are being brought up by same sex couples. In this debate we need to be mindful of the wellbeing and dignity of these children as well as the unknown number in future who will be created in a test tube.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Lament of the 21st century man

    • Michael McVeigh
    • 06 January 2014
    1 Comment

    His body itself is a symbol of his inherited power and privilege. He hears women talk about being afraid to go out at night alone. He sees the great strides women have made in the workforce, yet sits in management meetings where nine out of ten leaders are men. He sees bikini clad women on his television screen and feels guilty at admiring their bodies.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Four poems for Seamus Heaney

    • Various
    • 10 December 2013
    3 Comments

    I was brought up to become a Scottish Protestant boy in exile from the country that was my father's homeland. You grew up to be at home in your history and tongue; my father banned your accent, set me to elocution, as if your speech was my speech-defect. Our history lay elsewhere, even as we were living it.

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