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 »

Centrists may deplore movements like Extinction Rebellion, but it’s activism that gets things done. Photograph: Olivia Vanni/AP

There is an invidious strain of centrism in Australian media and politics that is one of the most powerful forces against effective action on climate change.

It is a strain that has become more virulent in response to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the raised voices of those who care not to genuflect to the systems that have led us to the current crisis.

It is a strain that conservatives use to their advantage.

Two weeks ago, as New South Wales and parts of Queensland burned, the prime minister was at pains to argue that now was not the time to talk about climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Conditions in our immigration detention centres are harsh, punitive and degrading.’ Photograph: Alamy

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on the use of force in immigration detention is the latest chapter in a now familiar story of excessively harsh, punitive and degrading conditions in Australian immigration detention centres.

Once again, we see a disregard for the rights and basic dignity of people who have sought our protection and committed no crime.

The report lays bare the unnecessary handcuffing of women, children, people in wheelchairs, people with mental illness and no history of violent behaviour, and other people needing medical care. It confirms what our clients have been telling us: that handcuffing has become a routine practice for transfers between centres and, alarmingly, for off-site medical appointments.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘If internet traffic is unencrypted, any government, company, or criminal that happens to notice it can – and, in fact, does – steal a copy of it, secretly recording your information for ever.’ Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety.

And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘There is much to be done and the assembly and its role will evolve over time. But it’s the Aboriginal people of Victoria who will give the assembly its strength and legitimacy.’ Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Hope can be in short supply in Australia’s Indigenous communities sometimes. Trust too.

But Aboriginal communities across Victoria are finding hope and putting their trust in themselves to get the treaty process right.

Despite hundreds of years of broken promises, exploitation and the threat of annihilation, Aboriginal Victorians are getting behind the First Peoples’ Assembly election under way around the state. It’s another step in a journey that should see treaties signed between the Victorian government and Aboriginal clans and groups within years.

It’s not been a quick process though. Even if you exclude the more than 200 years before it, the advancing the treaty process with Aboriginal Victorians bill was passed in June 2018, but the work has been ongoing since 2016.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘This isn’t an easy subject. People need time to think about it. Despite the breakthroughs, the politics of this is still fiercely difficult.’ Photograph: portokalis/Getty Images/iStockphoto

We have to remember that any drug reform is about young people’s future health and safety.

Matt Noffs: The Australian Capital Territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, has said that he would contemplate reforming drug laws beyond cannabis, including MDMA. Go on, admit it, you dream about regulating ecstasy, don’t you?

Alex Wodak: Yes, I’ve been dreaming about this and thinking about it for a long time. I think it’s worth discussing.

Noffs: Being involved so heavily in pill testing myself, I wonder if this new development, despite its merits, hurts the pill testing debate?

Wodak: I don’t think it does and I certainly wouldn’t want to harm the pill testing debate.…  Seguir leyendo »

A room where refugees were once housed on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Getty Images.

England and Australia are considered standard-bearers of universal access to health services, with the former’s National Health Service (NHS) recognized as a global brand and the latter’s Medicare seen as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region. However, through the exclusion of migrant and refugee groups, each is failing to deliver true universality in their health services. These exclusions breach both their own national policies and of international commitments they have made.

While the marginalization of mobile populations is not a new phenomenon, in recent years there has been a global increase in anti-migrant rhetoric, and such health care exclusions reflect a global trend in which undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are denied rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

En rugby no existe el gol en contra, pero Rugby Australia (el organismo rector de este deporte en Australia) hizo todo lo posible por anotar uno, al terminar el contrato de Israel Folau. Con ello, se perdió los servicios de un fullback estrella que jugó 73 partidos para Australia.

La razón que adujo Rugby Australia para poner fin a la carrera de Folau es que publicó en su cuenta de Instagram la foto de un impreso que decía: “borrachos, homosexuales, adúlteros, mentirosos, fornicarios, ladrones, ateos e idólatras, el infierno os espera”. A lo que Folau agregó algunas palabras propias: “Quienes viven en el Pecado acabarán en el Infierno a menos que se arrepientan.…  Seguir leyendo »

When the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the headquarters of the country’s national public broadcaster on June 5, it came loaded for bear.

Six agents from the federal police arrived at Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s headquarters in Sydney to execute one of the most extensive search warrants ever carried out in Australia. Disregarding ABC journalists’ commitments to protect the identities of their sources, the warrant gave the agents the power to take any relevant files and recordings, and even gave them power to delete or alter documents.

The AFP gave ABC’s IT experts keywords that they believed would capture any documents or notes that journalists had used in preparation of “The Afghan Files,” a story broadcast by ABC in 2017.…  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 »

L’attentat perpétré dans deux mosquées de Christchurch a inscrit ce pays des antipodes au cœur de l’actualité internationale, tout comme son grand voisin, l’Australie, d’où vient Brenton Tarrant, le terroriste inculpé. Les sociétés néo-zélandaise et australienne s’inscrivent dans une histoire globale de l’Occident en dépit d’une géographie aux antipodes de l’Europe et d’une projection au cœur de ce siècle asiatique. L’arme et les munitions du principal accusé, couvertes de références, sont un bréviaire d’une interprétation de l’histoire centré sur une perspective millénariste d’affrontements entre monde chrétien et musulman, des croisades aux attaques de Québec, et des guerres contre les Ottomans aux attentats d’Oslo et de l’île d’Utoya.…  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 »

On Friday, terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left 49 dead and scores more wounded. The attack, reportedly by an Australian shooter, has cast a spotlight on the global scope of white supremacist rhetoric and violence. The shooter left behind a manifesto riddled with the language of modern white nationalism, and wrote that he chose to commit this horror in New Zealand to show that “nowhere in the world is safe.”

As news continues to emerge about the attacker, many have focused on how the shooter may have been inspired by white nationalist rhetoric from other countries, including the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

The businessman Chau Chak Wing was awarded nearly $200,000 in a defamation lawsuit against one of Australia's biggest media companies. Credit Peter Rae/Epa-Efe, via Shutterstock

In the decade I spent reporting from China, the most immediate obstacles to journalism were often physical. They took many forms: barricades blocking access to certain places; men in military buzz cuts trailing me; plainclothes thugs stationed in front of the homes of people I planned to interview; and of course, the threat of police detention. In one memorable incident, an official threw himself in front of the car I was riding in with colleagues to delay our departure, precipitating an unseemly shoving match. These physical manifestations of state power were designed to muzzle through intimidation and brute force, occasionally reinforced with threats of visa refusal.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fashion boutique on Collins Place, Melbourne, Australia, in an area known as the “Paris” end of Collins Street, famous for luxury shopping and beautiful architecture. Credit Ying Ang for The New York Times

Back in the 1990s, Australia was a little bit daggy. Even that word — Antipodean slang for unfashionable, which in its initial meaning referred to the dried droppings on a sheep’s rear end — now seems quaint, a byproduct of a simpler era, when Magic Eye pictures kept kids entertained for hours and internet was dial-up.

Nowadays, however, Australia is an Instagrammer’s dream destination. Between the global ubiquity of avocado toast, ever more elaborate latte art and a proliferation of luxe-bohemian fashion labels selling the promise of endless summer, living as they do down under has become hashtag goals for many millennials.…  Seguir leyendo »

Australia’s Burning, Flooding, Disastrous New Normal

This is what climate change looks like, Australia style: A viral video, released in early January, of two middle-aged men, one a local farmer, standing knee deep in the stagnant shallows of an outback river, cradling the corpses of two enormous fish.

The river is the Darling, just south of the Menindee Lakes in northwest New South Wales, and the fish are Murray cod, native, iconic and endangered. Given their size, these two could be more than half a century old. Behind the men, who are close to weeping, thousands more fish drift belly-up, asphyxiated in a cold snap that killed the blue-green algae blooming along the river and deprived the water of oxygen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island in 2017.CreditCreditAdam Ferguson for The New York Times

Many writers have earned prison time as well as prizes; the Nobel laureates Liu Xiaobo and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn come immediately to mind. But there seems to be no precedent for what happened in Australia last week, when an author named Behrouz Boochani won the country’s most valuable literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature, but was unable to collect his stipend in person. The same nation praising him is also keeping him in indefinite detention on a small island in the Pacific.

Mr. Boochani is a journalist of Kurdish heritage from Iran who fled the country in 2012 when the pro-Kurdish newspaper he worked for was raided by the Iranian government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wild brumbies running through Australia’s high country.CreditCreditFairfax 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 »

Sunset approaching at Manly Beach, near Sydney, Australia.CreditCreditDavid Maurice Smith for The New York Times

When Mark Twain steamed into Sydney’s harbor in September 1895, journalists peppered him with questions before he had even stepped off the S.S. Warrimoo. “I am going to write a book on Australia,” he proclaimed. “And I think I ought to start now. You always know so much more of a country when you have not seen it than when you have.”

I imagined an exotic menagerie: animals that begin with the letter K frolicking next to shirtless Hemsworths, mostly.

Instead, I found Australia — or rather the teeny, tiny corner of this vast continent that I got the chance to experience this past month — much closer to how David Sedaris once described it: “Canada in a thong.”

It is a place where things just work.…  Seguir leyendo »

Heather Lee in her apartment showing off her perfect plank, a position she has held for “up to three minutes.”CreditMatthew Abbott for The New York Times

I thought I would come to Australia and learn to surf. Instead, I learned to walk.

More precisely, I lumbered, jogged, waddled and generally humiliated my way around a track as I tried — and failed — to keep up with the world’s most exceptional race walker.

That walker, Heather Lee, is 92 years old. She holds five world records and eight Australian ones for racewalking. She is the New South Wales Senior Australian of the Year. And she has big plans for 2019 — namely, breaking her own best times — so she does not kid around when it comes to working out.…  Seguir leyendo »