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  • AUSTRALIA

    To work for police is to stare into the abyss

    • Paul Coghlan
    • 17 February 2016
    6 Comments

    Having worked at Victoria Police for 25 years, I have great empathy for Wade Noonan, who stepped down as Victoria's Minister for Police to undergo counselling due to his exposure to traumatic incidents in this work. I have long felt that job advertisements for police should carry a health warning: This position may be dangerous to your mental, physical and spiritual health. Whether it be trawling through crime statistics or investigating crimes directly, police work means filling your soul with dark things.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Turnbull's techno-optimism is a tad hasty

    • Ketan Joshi
    • 17 February 2016
    7 Comments

    A government campaign declares 'we've always been good at having ideas. Now we need to get better at innovation: turning ideas into successful products and services.' The message is that we are on the brink of a technological revolution, driven by government. But really we've some way to go. As we have seen with wind turbines, the communities that host new technologies can react with anger and fear. If they are left out of the process, visions of grand, sweeping change can be undermined.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Greg Hunt and the Sheikh Back-Scratching Theory

    • Greg Foyster
    • 15 February 2016
    16 Comments

    It would have made a great April Fools joke, if it wasn't February. On Wednesday, we woke to the news that Greg Hunt, environment minister in the most anti-environment government in Australian history, had been awarded 'World's Best Minister' at an international summit in Dubai. But maybe the award had nothing to do with Hunt's track record at home. In the grubby way of politics everywhere, maybe it is a favour returned. A thank you from an oil-rich nation for making it look good in the past.

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  • RELIGION

    Meeting Pope Francis

    • Frank Brennan
    • 25 January 2016
    22 Comments

    Hailing from Argentina, Francis puts his trust neither in ideological Communism nor in unbridled capitalism. We need to enhance international security, building the rule of law within multilateral organisations, and fostering the climate for investment sensitive to the triple bottom line - economic, social and environmental. I return from Rome grateful that we have a pope prepared to open these questions, accompanied by senior prelates happy to mix it with business and community leaders.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    2015 in review: 'Unhappy' Abbott years end

    • Tony Kevin
    • 13 January 2016
    5 Comments

    Now is an exciting moment for Australia, after all the low points of the past two years. We can look forward to a real return to greater civil discourse and intellectual integrity in politics. It will be good if the parties can set aside the negative energy that was brought to the Parliament and return to an informed contest of ideas, for there is much to debate.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Vulnerable countries leave mark on Paris agreement

    • Fatima Measham
    • 18 December 2015
    5 Comments

    It has been an exercise in managing optimism and reality in the week after the Paris Agreement on climate change. One thing that can be certain is that COP21 is pivotal in terms of the model it offers for solutions to global problems. The Paris summit departed from a top-down approach, enabling the 43-member Climate Vulnerable Forum, led by current country-chair the Philippines, to work persuasively. 'We were more united,' says Tony La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Ai Weiwei is the cultural hero that China needs

    • Jeremy Clarke
    • 16 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Ai Weiwei might be more Dada than Dao and a hirsute satirist of Beijing's rulers, but he is no mere trending hashtag. Since his birth in 1957, his life history has moulded him, and given him the courage to speak up for a reformed China. And while he might appear the court jester that a simplistic West wants, he is in fact a clever and pragmatic political operator in his own world pursuing a rights agenda in a systematic, constructive and humorous way, often through artistic production.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Fragile earth will not be saved by Sunday

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 10 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Located in Paris in the aftermath of the attacks, COP21 spookily mirrors how climate change politics occurs within complex and pre-existing power structures that determine its effectiveness. Social and environmental wars merge with increasing intensity: from Syria to the Arctic, from Indonesia to Paris. Climate change complexity matches the complexity of terrorism. Causal chains of social conflict are as complicated as carbon movements that result in environmental distress.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The long haul

    • Lisa Brockwell
    • 08 December 2015
    3 Comments

    There is another life where we end up together. We wake in the same bed, startled but not sorry; the timber frame is warm, hand-caulked with the day-to-day dedication of the long haul. The air between us no longer electric, all now sanded smooth. But whose dog jumps on the end of that bed: yours or mine? I don't plan to think about my husband or your wife; let's leave my son right out of it. Fantasy, no more dangerous than eating gelato and dreaming of Mark Ruffalo.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No alarms and no opinions

    • Ellena Savage
    • 04 December 2015
    7 Comments

    In November I did not change my profile picture to a European flag. I did not post a link to a fresh journalistic insight into a gang of men with machetes who are desperate to feel relevant in the empty ravine of history. I felt mild joy for Myanmar, but if I am honest, I don't know enough about Myanmar. I felt indignant that no-one changed their profile pictures to the Mali flag after 170 people were taken hostage there. Then my indignation dissolved when I realised I didn't know what the Mali flag looked like.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Human faces from Indonesia's killing fields

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 03 December 2015
    2 Comments

    Adi was born after the 1965 atrocities, but his older brother Ramli was killed during them. He watches filmed interviews in which the perpetrators laughingly detail Ramli's murder, before going to confront and question them. These encounters are emblematic of a new generation of Indonesian seeking enlightenment from a former generation who find it less painful, or simply more beneficial, to forget. But Adi doesn't seek to humiliate or denigrate. He seeks the seeds of reconciliation in shared humanity.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Working mum contemplates balance amid chaos

    • Jen Vuk
    • 27 November 2015
    1 Comment

    The tweet I sent that afternoon pretty much summed things up: 'Running late for work-life balance seminar. Why? Life, of course.' The irony was not lost on me. While officially I work part-time, I also freelance as a writer, volunteer regularly at my kids' primary school, have increasingly frail elderly parents who I feel terribly responsible for, and try to keep fit and maintain some semblance of a social life. On the day of the seminar on work-life balance, I'd managed to fill my schedule to breaking point.

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