Overland goes to press with the federal election some weeks away. Yet, while the parliamentary winner remains uncertain, it’s already perfectly apparent who will lose. The poll marks a renewed demonisation of asylum seekers, with the major parties competing to heap cruelties upon the heads of those with the temerity to seek refuge in Australia. The entirety of the political establishment remains committed to a neoliberalism that produces a noxious mixture of consumerism and repression – as George Steiner put it: ‘The knout on the one hand; the cheeseburger on the other.’
According to the website slaveryfootprint.org, my lifestyle requires twenty full-time slaves to support it. These are not imaginary slaves but actual persons who work in other countries to produce the conditions of affluence under which I live.
The novel I’m currently finishing has a fiendishly complex plot. Cleverly, I didn’t plan it out in detail beforehand, so I’m now spending lots of time sitting in front of the computer wondering, ‘What happens now?’ and ‘Why didn’t I plot this properly earlier?’ Sometimes I think, ‘Why aren’t I smarter?’ but mostly it’s ‘Is there chocolate in the cupboard?’
This summer has been tough time for anti-fascists and groups like Unite Against Fascism (UAF). After several years in which British far-Right organisations seemed to be in relative decline, that situation has reversed. Electoral success has made racism acceptable once more. The killing of British soldier Lee Rigby outside his barracks in May by two young black British converts to Islam has been used by our opponents against the Left.
When I started to develop severe neck pain and headaches last year, I visited a physiotherapist. After crunching away at my upper back and making worrying exclamations (‘Yikes! Whoa!’), she advised me that I needed to get back into a regular exercise routine. For the past several years, I just hadn’t been exercising. Each weekday I drove to work; on weekends I also tended to drive, rather than use public transport, ride my bike or walk to wherever I needed to go.
In the hours before the riot, Nauru’s justice minister, David Adeang, suspended the country’s police commissioner – Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer Richard Britten. People may be surprised to learn that an Australian was leading the police force in Nauru – but over the last decade, the process of warehousing asylum seekers in the small Pacific nation has increased the number of Australian and expatriate officials in key departments within the country’s administration, including finance, policing, utilities and planning.
Five years on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, global capitalism remains mired in its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. This has produced not just economic breakdown but also a crisis of politics, with governments destabilised in their attempts to force austerity onto their citizens. Yet for the Left, which expected to benefit from capitalist crisis, the situation is less than rosy.
When Campbell Newman won the 2012 Queensland election in a landslide that all but annihilated the ALP, one of his first policy announcements was to abolish the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. This saved a mere $244 000. Newman followed the announcement with more major cuts, ripping $20 million from the arts budget, particularly from education programs.
With the launch of the new national insurance scheme, DisabilityCare, disability is for once high on the public agenda. Many Australians now agree that the previous system failed those in need and they thus support this long-overdue reform. What is more, there is finally real money on the table, money that can help address the entrenched disadvantage experienced by people with a disability.But what will DisabilityCare really do? Or, more to the point, what will it do differently?
Figures from the Productivity Commission show that at 30 June 1997, the year of Bringing Them Home, 2785 Aboriginal children were in out-of-home care. At 30 June 2012, there were 13 299 – almost a five-fold increase. For each of the last five years, approximately a thousand Aboriginal children have been coming into the ‘out-of-home care’ system long-term. This is a higher number than were removed during any time in the twentieth century. Half of the children have not been placed with kin or relatives.
Can writers tell another’s stories? Or, more accurately, should they tell another’s story? A debate between Peter Polites and Stephanie Convery.
Peter Polites: On one occasion, Sweatshop director Michael Mohammed Ahmad and I were having dinner at Volcanos. Sweatshop is a critical literacy movement that works within the western suburbs of Sydney. Volcanos is a steakhouse, and its customer base is the Arabic-speaking communities of Bankstown.
Harlem legs it from the job shop soon as the sour bitch pushes the button for security. Shoots like the fucken wind. She won’t call the coppers, he’s sure of it. Old cow’s just trying to give him a scare. As if he’d been serious anyway about that shit.
We remember my mother’s birthday with red eggs. Grandma shells them with practised fingers. Her lips move, offering thanks to the small plaster Virgin Mary watching from above the sink. She looks tired, the Virgin, the paint peeling from her smock. The radio scratches out its sermons. We eat in the kitchen beside my mother’s photo.
Everywhere Kate looked was saltbush and sea beneath a pan of impossible blue sky. She lifted her face and felt the white light fall on her and let it burn away the thought of Rosie sunk in the black hole of her room. Her parents were walking ahead, her mother somehow evanescent, her father as immutable as the geology around him.
Two weeks after she arrived from Paris, my sister was still coughing up blood, so I took her to the mountains. We headed for Guthega on the headwaters of the Snowy River above the first dam. It was a hot day in late summer.
i.as calmly as a trader buying debt one of us has chosen to come to the sea
garden has a history like the
great white-capped wall built across the horizon
seen from the Snowy Mountains Highway before Nimmitabel
Watching into a window, thinking
what a movie is outside of its soundtrack.