A ‘good caricature, like every work of art,’ said the Italian Baroque painter, Annibale Carracci, ‘is more true to life than reality.’ This is why, I think, Bill Leak’s cartoons are so often failures. Like several pundits that take up column inches at the Australian these days, his views are so out of touch with the majority of the population that they can – in moments of ideologically charged rage – seem almost deranged.
At very least, the choice of historical inspiration is suspect. Brutal moments from the past are overrepresented on television: there’s a Manson murders show, a Hatfields-and-McCoys show, and angry history-inspired action-sex dramas set in a lot of different time periods. If an alien tried to understand human history based on our cable shows, they would probably think we have spent most of our time on top of this planet trying to hurt one another. We do not seem like a very cool species.
Yet in Wood’s novel we get the feeling that her dystopian future is not so far away, that the brutality that is levelled at the women in the book is right around the corner. So when I finished reading Wood’s novel, I was relieved and grateful that it had won The Stella. And I wondered if a book like this would have won a prestigious national prize in Australia before Stella was established.
Under the strict guidance of Australian Border Force, occupants of MITA – more commonly known as Broadmeadows Detention Centre – have been segregated. Single men, single women and families, and ASIO detainees have all been placed in separate, locked compounds and are unable to socialise or move freely through the facility.
Indeed, what is most illuminating about the World Aid report is the difference on display between company policy and company practice when it comes to the rights of production workers. Almost all of the companies evaluated by Baptist World Aid had supply and production policies in place, and 23 of the 87 companies (73 per cent) received an A rating or above for those policies. Despite that, only 4 companies received a rating over a C+ for ‘worker empowerment’: a rating based on workers receiving at or above a living wage.