A. Odysseus Patrick

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Wild brumbies running through Australia’s high country. Credit Fairfax Media, via Getty Images

Since this country’s founding in the early 20th century, the packs of untamed horses that roam freely through our beautiful and hostile alpine landscape have captured the public’s imagination. The savage grace and freedom of the horses — known here as brumbies — have made them into a popular symbol of the national spirit.

Today, environmentalists want the brumbies shot.

Not since cattle roamed the mountain parks (before a ban in the 1950s) have animals done such damage to the alpine regions that Australians proudly call the “high country.”

A 2014 survey estimated there were more than 9,500 wild horses in the Australian Alps.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Sydney, thousands of banned firearms were collected in 1997 as part of the Australian government’s buyback program after the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, in which 35 people died when a gunman went on a shooting rampage. Credit David Gray/Reuters

The rampage at a high school in Parkland, Fla., has prompted calls for an Australian-style response, as have previous massacres in the United States. Australia introduced a comprehensive gun control regime after a massacre in Tasmania 22 years ago, and mass shootings here dropped to zero. Some experts regard it as the most effective gun control system in the world.

But the Australian model won’t work in the United States. Here’s why: We Australians have a profoundly different relationship with weapons. Americans love guns. We’re scared of them.

This difference explains why a conservative prime minister was able to confiscate some 650,000 privately owned firearms and ban semiautomatic weapons without a single reported act of violence.…  Seguir leyendo »

A rally demanding justice for refugees in Melbourne, Australia, last month. Credit Rex Features, via Associated Press Images

Like many Western countries, Australia has agreed to resettle refugees from the wars in Syria and Iraq. Unlike other countries, Australia explicitly favors Christians, even though they are a minority of those seeking refuge.

The Australian experience is a case study for Europeans grappling with an influx of refugees and for Americans considering the long-term implications of the Trump presidency: When Muslims are demonized, state-directed prejudice is more likely.

Data I obtained through Australia’s freedom of information law shows that 78 percent of the approximately 18,563 refugees from Syria and Iraq granted entry from July 1, 2015, to Jan. 6 of this year identified themselves as Christian.…  Seguir leyendo »

Australian players celebrated their defeat over Pakistan this month in Brisbane. Dan Peled/European Pressphoto Agency

When young men loiter on street corners or in shopping malls throwing out insults or physically intimidating passers-by, we condemn their behavior as antisocial. When Australia’s top athletes do the same, we celebrate their “wit” and “spirit”.

Sporting prowess is the highest form of status for young men and boys in Australia, as it is in many other places. And in Australian sport there is no pinnacle higher than the national cricket team, which has won four of the last five world cups.

For a cricketing superpower, Australians have a poor on-field reputation. Mutually respectful competition has been replaced by ugly belligerence.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Price of Australia’s Real Estate Boom

One hundred twenty-five years ago, the suburb of Balmain, which juts into Sydney Harbor, represented the aspirations of a young Australia: a society that wanted to be free of the class structure of its mother nation, Britain, with a safety net that would make it one of the most egalitarian countries on earth.

Today, Balmain epitomizes the unexpected conclusion of that political and economic project: a nation where rampant property prices have made society appear richer while leaving it worse off.

Australia is entering the third decade of a real estate boom that has altered the national psyche. Over the past 30 years, housing prices have risen 7.25 percent a year, leaving the country with some of the most expensive real estate in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »