In the Australian bush southwest of Sydney, a wedge-tailed eagle is gliding over the paddocks. He’s on the hunt for prey. Watch a “wedgie” for long enough and you’ll see them suddenly swoop, dive-bombing toward the ground, before lifting aloft a rabbit, wallaby or small kangaroo.
There’s no sign of that today. Today, he circles, looping over hillsides filled with blackened trees. There’s no prey to find.
We’re on Tallygang Mountain Road, in an area called Wombeyan Caves. The bushfires swept through this part of Australia in early January, during a fire season which consumed more than 12.6 million hectares (about 50,000 square miles) of bush, mainly in the country’s eastern states.… Seguir leyendo »
Australians like to see themselves as rebellious people, distrustful of authority — but the coronavirus has changed that.
While small protests against the lockdowns have erupted in the United States, and some in Britain have insisted on their right to party, in Australia we’re mostly doing what we’re told.
In Sydney, public transport use is down to levels not seen for nearly 100 years. Attendance in government schools in Victoria is down to just three percent. In parks, walkers and joggers dutifully arc around each other like passing ships.
Australians have been told to stay at home, apart from a list of designated tasks, including exercise, seeking medical help, buying supplies and performing necessary work.… Seguir leyendo »
There are not many political messages that can slip through a closed window or a locked door, but that’s just what happened last week in Australia’s biggest city. Climate change didn’t just come knocking; it slithered in under every crack, filling houses and offices across Sydney with the acrid smell of burning forests.
The Sydney Opera House, whose white-tiled sails normally sparkle in the sunlight, was seen through a haze of smoke. Asthmatics were advised against exercising. Schoolchildren were kept in their classrooms, away from the smoke-filled playground.
And politicians, especially from the ruling conservative coalition, issued instructions that it was inappropriate to discuss climate change while the fires were actively being fought.… Seguir leyendo »
Back in February 2017, Scott Morrison, now the prime minister of Australia, brought a lump of coal to Parliament. He waved it around.
“This is coal,” Morrison told his fellow legislators. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared.”
Morrison went on to mock the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, over his party’s enthusiasm for renewable energy. “If Bill Shorten becomes the prime minister,” Morrison said, “all the lights will go off around the country.”
Such sentiments may have won votes two years ago, but they seem less sure-fire today. Morrison’s government is facing an election on May 18 and climate change is a key issue among voters.… Seguir leyendo »
Why does it seem so hard for people to grasp the connection between hate-filled speech and hate-filled violence? The alleged attacker who carried out Friday’s massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, was acting on a toxic belief system — one that has been long nurtured by opportunists in politics and the media, in Australia and elsewhere.
Those innocent victims — the toll now stands at 50 — reaped what others had sowed.
The alleged gunman, a 28-year-old Australian, saturated himself in the verbal violence of Islamophobia and white supremacy. His manifesto name-checks figures from outside Australia: people such as the United States’ Candace Owens and Norway’s murderous Anders Breivik.… Seguir leyendo »
Is it okay to celebrate an act of genocide? Is it reasonable to hold neighborhood parties on the day that genocide began — opening crates of beer, cranking up the barbecue and staging colorful fireworks displays?
That’s the question being asked by Australia’s indigenous people ahead of the country’s national day, which falls on Jan. 26. It’s the day the British sailed into Sydney Cove, claiming the country with the purpose of establishing a penal colony.
That first British settlement was the starting point of what — just maybe — is one of the world’s most inspiring stories. The detritus of Britain were discarded on an island 10,000 miles from home, yet they prospered.… Seguir leyendo »
Social conservatism, as an international political movement, may have just scored one of its greatest-ever own goals.
Here in Australia — like in many parts of the world — social conservatives have long argued that they speak for the silent majority, for people silenced by “political correctness.” But on gay marriage in Australia, the silent majority was firmly on the side of inclusion. In the coming weeks, the Australian Parliament will finally legislate in favor of same-sex marriage — but only after a process which traumatised many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Australians, sent shock waves through families, and cost a small fortune.… Seguir leyendo »
Australia thinks of itself as “the most successful multicultural society in the world” — to quote the oft-repeated phrase by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. But now that claim is being challenged in so many ways, all at once, it seems.
For a start, there’s the current political crisis, based on a half-forgotten section of the constitution forbidding those who have dual citizenship from sitting in Parliament. So far, eight parliamentarians — including the deputy prime minister — have been thrown out of office for no greater crime than having a father who was born in New Zealander, a mother who was Italian, or some other similarly unlikely “allegiance to a foreign power.”… Seguir leyendo »