A few years ago I received a phone call from the current Energy and Resources minister, Josh Frydenberg. He called me in response to an email I had sent only hours earlier on behalf of Jews for Refugees (JFR), drawing his attention to the case of the MV Struma. The Struma was a ship carrying 781 Jewish refugees from Romania that, on 23 February 1942, was towed from the harbour in Istanbul to the Black Sea, leaving the ship adrift. The next day the Struma was torpedoed and sunk by a Russian submarine.
Literature is especially endangered right now: the arts have been underfunded by successive governments, and literature has always received, in the words of Stephen Murray-Smith, the least ‘superphosphate’.
Originally a women-only tradition, this branch of occultism is now dominated by queer – and particularly trans – people. They’re young, they’re politically engaged and they’re embracing spiritual experiences. They are melding together, in the nature of their tradition, their politics and their spirituality.
Yes, Dutton’s comments were insulting. But more inclusive language won’t change the brutal reality of the detention regime. Refugees don’t need an apology from the immigration minister and they don’t need verbal acknowledgements of their capabilities. They need release from the camps in which they’re languishing.
Until last Friday, around twenty homeless people had set up camp in Melbourne’s City Square, creating shelter where it elsewhere eluded them, as a public petition for more secure, affordable housing in Australia’s second most populous city. The presence of the camp was also a visceral risposte to claims, which appeared in the mainstream media last week, that homeless people had been behaving unpalatably, including asking passers-by for money in an aggressive fashion.
Invoking literary nationalism, the ASA petition argues that removing ‘PIRs on books will allow the mass importation of lower-royalty and royalty-free editions of Australian authors’ books into the Australian marketplace’ and suggests that keeping PIRs are necessary to ‘protect Australian stories’. While I support national culture and understand the utility of protectionism in a time of globalised financialisation, the rhetoric here – which maintains an uncomfortable proximity to the right-wing language of border policing (‘Protect Australian stories!’) – should give writers on the left pause.
Growing up in the bush, surrounded by gum trees, red-belly black snakes and hairy huge huntsmen felt as natural to me as picking parsley, or trying to decipher Arabic when my parents were talking in secret or watching my aunties laugh as they belly danced to terrible 90s pop music. Those many worlds felt like they fit together. Still, I didn’t feel like I fully belonged.
To respond to Storrar’s question by showering him with money – so much money, in fact, that it may potentially impact his benefit payments and require the assistance of a financial manager – seems to misunderstand the nature of the problem, no matter how well-intentioned the many donors may be.
I’ve been so bored with realist Australian fiction; sleepy stories that perhaps have one eye open, but aren’t looking at anything worth seeing. I’m guilty of it too. You should see the piece I’m working on at the moment; it’s terrible, and leaves me wanting to turn the pages inside out. Still, I summoned the nerve to plead for something different.
With Sanders’ eventual defeat, all of the spectacular fails of the party and punditry can be forgiven in the ritual rebirth through the primary process. My God, how liberals love process. As a loser, Sanders can be a liberal hero, a testament to big-tent neoliberalism as the party consumes his eccentric youthful wing. ‘See, the system works!’
All of this hinges on the fate of Bernie’s database.
This $20,000 prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to be part of setting a new agenda for Australia. Winning entries will be published in a special Fair Australia supplement in Overland 225, to be launched in Melbourne in early December. Entry is free.
Arguing over whether criticising Israel or Zionism is a form of racism is an almost insane inversion of reality: 58 per cent of Israelis think Israel practices apartheid in some (or many) ways. Israel has ruled over millions of Palestinians since 1967 without granting them basic civil or political rights. Jewish settlers in the West Bank have rights under Israeli law denied to Palestinians living in the same territory.
The geography of tax avoidance and evasion – far-flung yet interwoven – means reform is, in isolation, ineffective. The structures merely move. Gabriel Zucman, an academic from the London School of Economics and the author of The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge Of Tax Havens, estimates that $7.6 trillion (8 percent of individual financial wealth) is held in tax havens. That means approximately $190 billion is lost in tax revenue.
We thought of circles as inclusive and egalitarian, but of course, that was not quite right. A circle includes with open arms all that are part of it, but anyone stuck on the outside sees only backs and arses. If you had the misfortune to make the kind of error that would put you in the centre of the circle, you experienced the spotlight of attention of every one of your comrades, with no escape.
The Twitter bio for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union reads: ‘We are Australia’s oldest and biggest union for manufacturing workers’. It sits directly above an image of Bill Shorten’s head superimposed onto a cartoon frog riding a unicycle. The Bill Shorten/frog hybrid exclaims, ‘Here comes dat boi!!!’ Welcome to Australian politics in 2016.
Come 2030 – or 2040, or 2050 – when the region’s geopolitical environment will look very different than it does today, what will the submarines actually be used for? Who will be in our sights? The Chinese? Terrorists? Nobody asks; nobody says; in truth, nobody knows. This is the basis on which billions of dollars of federal money is shovelled into the raging furnace of the military-industrial machine. Conversely, our painters, writers, editors, and directors must endlessly, and minutely, articulate everything they do in the increasingly forlorn hope of securing even a small amount of funding from an ever diminishing pool.
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the fiction that appeals to women, reflecting wider cultural changes in the way men and women relate to each other in neoliberal, post-feminist times. The new chick lit is far more daring, dark and subversive. It reflects back the harsh realities of an increasingly competitive and individualistic post-GFC economy and society. While chick lit still addresses the dilemmas of being a modern woman, it increasingly includes noir elements, merging with crime fiction and psychological thrillers. There is a new woman in popular fiction and she is nobody’s fool.