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If we’re not careful, Melbourne and Sydney will become like London and Paris – places where the international super-rich grow their money while ordinary residents are priced out.
In the weeks following the Federal election the Greens have been subject to a rising tide of media-fuelled speculation focused on the departure of staff and a lowered election vote as evidence the party is in decline and the leadership of Christine Milne is under threat.
When Tony Abbott made the ”captain’s call” to put the Greens last in Liberal preference flows, many people thought he had sounded the death knell for the Greens’ chances of ever again holding a seat in the lower house. But at Adam Bandt’s election-night party in a West Melbourne warehouse on Saturday, a different story unfolded.
Our protests sound hollow as we willingly sacrifice our privacy on social media. While there are good grounds to criticise governments for security overreach and for spying on the online behaviour of citizens, there is also a point at which citizens need to take some responsibility for their own privacy.
In Australia in 2013 we are in danger of allowing progressive movements to descend into indulging the superficial, self-adulating impression of activism, rather than actually posing any kind of tangible threat to anyone.
Eurovision is the contest the world loves to hate. And Australians are not immune. There is something tantalisingly egalitarian about Eurovision that ignores the usual geopolitical hierarchies of Europe.
The tide of history is turning in favour of gay marriage, but in Australia our political and religious leaders seem stuck in the past. The question now is how long those pushing the anti-equality bandwagon will be able to hold out before they do irrevocable damage to the institutions they represent.
Christine Milne’s National Press Club appearance was a milestone in the personal and political evolution of the Greens leader as she announced the power sharing agreement between her party and Labor was dead in the water.
HERE’S a new year’s question – how many times a day do you check your email and ”check in” to social media? According to my calculations, I am probably doing it close to 70 times a day. Or more.
THE news that the Australian Greens are ”softening” their positions on official party policy should not come as a surprise. This is merely the course of action any serious progressive party would take to secure its future on the eve of an election year and in the face of a largely hostile media.
It’s difficult to feel anything but revulsion when pondering the case of former ABC Collectors host Andy Muirhead’s dramatic and public fall from grace. As Kate Legge noted in her lengthy piece in The Weekend Australian Magazine ‘Child pornography sickens to the core’.
On any weekend in one of Australia’s cities, in what has become something of a ritualistic right of passage for aspiring home-owners, crowds of eagle-eyed punters gather on suburban curb sides hoping to secure themselves a slice of residential security, or at least to get a whiff of which way the fickle winds of the housing market are blowing.
The Dark Knight Rises, the last and final instalment in Christopher Nolan’sBatman series, packs a serious punch. For almost three hours audiences are held captivated by the reluctant return of the Caped Crusader to save Gotham City from a neo-fascist Nemesis in the guise of the megalomaniacal Bane. The political subtexts are not standard Hollywood fodder.
The thing that constantly shocks me is that some people seem to resent the Greens for their success. The game they are playing is called democracy – and yet every time the Greens out-manoeuvre the major parties on major electoral reforms they cop a barrage of criticism as though they are doing something wrong.
The first time I visited Bob’s old shack in Liffey in northern Tasmania, I was struck by the now famous sign on the front fence reading ”Trespassers Welcome”. Spending that night out there by myself I heard movement nearby and wondered if someone was in the back shed. I mentioned this to Brown when I saw him later and he confirmed that there was a homeless man camping out back.
Since the huge news of Bob Brown’s retirement last week, new leader Christine Milne has emerged as a leader just as canny as her predecessor, crafting her own stamp on the party leadership rather than walking in anyone’s shadow.
Since the resignation of Bob Brown last week, the media has struggled to string together a coherent narrative as to where the Greens will go from here. To many observers, Brown was the Greens and without his commanding presence, the party will be left floundering.
When David Gonski fronted up to his first day of work as the new Chairman of the Future Fund this week, he walked into a flurry of controversy from unexpected quarters.
In Texas and in many other parts of the US, the government has hit upon a neat new approach to dealing with troublesome students in schools. Instead of old-fashioned methods like detention or sitting in the corner of the classroom, the State has employed a legion of armed police to patrol the state’s school corridors.
In Australia in 2012, it seems that all pernicious roads lead to Martin Ferguson. Whether it’s selling uranium to India, dumping radioactive waste on Indigenous people in the Northern Territory or spying on peaceful protesters – chances are it has his fingerprints all over it.
In case you hadn’t noticed, an increasing number of Australian bars and clubs are introducing security technology that would be more fittingly encountered in a Police state than a casual night out for a drink in one of Australia ‘s cities.
I have heard it said that if Paris is the city of love, Berlin is the city of sex. Well, if recent events are anything to go by, Melbourne must be the city of prudishness and over-regulation of our cultural institutions.
THERE are many instances throughout history when people have jumped to associate the rush on new technologies with panic or moral decline. Even the 19th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner presciently wrote about a web that humans would create in order to foster a community that would ultimately come to choke and asphyxiate us more like a spider’s web than a life support.
EVEN as the steam was still rising from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan last month, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was busy personally signing a $US9 billion ($8.5bn) deal with Belarus for a new nuclear-powered reactor.
‘Call me a wowser, but this technology is oh-so-creepy’ (The Age, July 2010)
What is diminished when we filter our personalities through the interweb is the essential stuff of humanness – a person’s capacity for empathy, their uniqueness and idiosyncrasies, the quirky way they respond to a social environment.
When I toured around the US in 2008 I felt utterly swept up in the optimism of Obama’s election victory. In the Mission District of San Francisco on the night of the victory I will never forget the site of crowds of people of all colours and ages dancing in the streets with firecrackers going off everywhere and raw joyful emotion all over peoples faces.
IN AUSTRALIA we often view Germany as at the forefront of the global green energy revolution. So the news that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat coalition will move a new accord to extend the life-span of Germany’s 17 existing nuclear power plants by 12 years has been reverberating here.
The two young men from Malawi sentenced to jail for the “crime” of loving each other were pardoned at the weekend after intense international pressure and a personal plea from UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon.
A QUEUE of hungry patrons stretches from the vegetarian food buffet right out into the front garden where African musicians play drums and chant reggae songs. The smell of curry mixed with sweet chai (tea) fills the air and an old Charlie Chaplin movie is projected above a packed room of people eating at communal tables.
If one were to try to come up with a symbol that best captured the excesses of the rich and idle at a time of runaway climate change, it would be hard to find a better example than the fireballs that are spewed out of the Crown Casino towers on the hour every night.
When Barack Obama takes the unprecedented step of chairing the UN Security Council in New York tonight, he will be setting in motion a personal vision to rid the world of nuclear weapons. If this vision were to be fulfilled, or even set on a path towards fulfilment, it would come to be regarded as one of the defining achievements of his presidency. But that remains a very big if.
FOR the people of the Maldives, the prediction from the Copenhagen International Climate Congress last month of a sea level rise of one to two metres by 2100 carried extra sting. Sitting just 1.5metres above the sea, the Maldives future existence is at stake.
TODAY climate change has become an issue that even the most conservative political parties in the world — including the American Republicans, the British Tories and the Australian Liberal Party — concede is a major priority for all serious politicians.
AS CONSERVATIVE governments in Australia and the US continue to take a strong stance against gay marriage and civil unions between same-sex couples, a prickly question is raised: is there an inherent oxymoron in being gay and conservative?
There is a new generation of young Australians who have grown up knowing no other political reality in their voting lives beyond that of the present Liberal Party. For those people, the consequences of living for 10 years in the shadow of John Howard are profound and alarming.
THROUGHOUT THE LAST decade stencil graffiti has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis, straddling a tenuous edge between illegal graffiti and coveted commercial art.
IF BILL GATES HAS HIS WAY, those of us who love the tactile pleasures of reading should proceed into 2006 with a degree of caution. The way we read books, and the way they are distributed globally, is about to undergo radical transformation similar to changes in the way we acquire, distribute and consume music. Books are going digital.
“FIGHTING IS DONE in the ring and wars are waged on the board,” claim the creators of the Berlin-based World Chess Boxing Association. Berlin is a city often associated with extremes, and chess boxing, the latest hybrid sport to emerge from the German capital and now sweeping Europe, certainly fits the bill.
Melbourne’s only beachfront apartments! The ostentatious developers sign outside the new Beacon Cove real estate enclave in Port Melbourne is certainly attention-grabbing. They are also part of a bigger trend. Melbourne’s recent urban beachfront development sheds light on an aspect of our city that is only recently showing signs of change.
What a cruel and heartless trick Herald Sun reporter Liam Houlihan played on Melbourne this week. Just as we are gearing up for Christmas, Houlihan saw fit to undermine the very spirit of giving in his special report, “Beggars in our city”. The young journalist dressed as a beggar and hit Melbourne’s footpaths. He dug out his ripped jeans, made signs claiming he needed to get Christmas presents for his kids, “Will work for money” and the like – and sucked the city’s milk of human kindness.
Michael Franti sits barefoot in the glorious Melbourne autumn sun by the sea at St Kilda beach. Thick lined tribal tattoos are visible on his arms and calf muscles, bulging out of loose-fitting Tibetan-style pants and singlet. Beside him sits his wife, Tara, and beside her the “extended family” of Spearhead band members, all chowing down on a vegetarian feast of noodles and mixed vegetables. One stray dreadlock has dislodged itself from under Franti’s Rasta coloured beanie and it hangs free over his left eye.
It’s a clash of wills that has swelled and spread, pitting the arts community against environment and state politics, and putting Tasmania at the centre of an international cause celebre as the island gears up for its third annual Ten Days on the Island festival.
A Melbourne stencil artist who calls himself dlux, wearing a hooded windcheater, tracksuit pants and formidable no-brand runners, leads the way to a warehouse in North Melbourne. A few empty cans of scotch and Coke lie among the clutter of cardboard and plastic cutout stencils. There are bubble-wrapped canvasses against a wall and a shabby ping-pong table in the foyer.
Even from her hospital bed, artist Vali Myers, 72, and recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, dreams of the future. Myers is Australia’s bohemian high priestess. Born in Sydney, she moved to Box Hill with her family when she was 11. At 19, she moved to Paris, where she spent time as a Left Bank dancer and a vagabond.
What chance would you give yourself of finding an out-of-print Australian novella from the early 20th century? Or a rare academic text? Until recently – short of wading through the dust and disorder of every second-hand book store in town – millions of out-of-print books from the vast history of publishing have been almost impossible to acquire.