‘The Australian Way’ is a ghost document, sutured from the blood-drained remnants of actual policy and haunted by the unmistakable stench of a once and future PR man shitting himself not over the unfolding climate catastrophe but the threat of carbon tariffs and his political standing at home and abroad.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that a vast majority of people who do the essential work of keeping things ticking along are largely invisible—save for national emergencies, when all of a sudden cleaners and supermarket workers are wheeled out in front of us to ‘tell us what it’s like’. The idea that these same people have larger lives and stories though, is still something that Australia’s literary world struggles to grasp.
My brothers in the Park Hotel prison in Carlton, Melbourne, are living in a hell that is unimaginable to those of us outside. Of the forty-five refugees held in those rooms without fresh air, twenty have so far tested positive to Covid-19. Each of those men is labouring under great pressure on their minds and spirits, the fear that no one will move them to a safe place to stop the transmission and to treat the sick.
While it may be sensible in our climate-threatened world to regard cars as unrestrainable pests choking and exhausting the planet, cars are routinely celebrated in popular cinema as portals for escaping drab reality, their sleek bright surfaces offer a glistening promise of transcendence. Yet Titane conveys a passion for automobiles surging beyond mere commodity fetishism, and an acute hostility toward people.
A kingfisher swallowed a cane toad near Kakadu | A woman in south-east Queensland saw rainbow lorikeets fall from the sky | A flock of brolga fished for frogs in an algal bloom | Just outside Cairns, a bush-stone curlew bounced off the bonnet of a speeding ute | In Broome, a grey nomad pulled a blue-faced finch from the radiator of his 4WD