Showing all posts tagged: Australia

National Dictionary Centre word of 2022 delivered on teal wave

23 November 2022

The Australian federal election, held in May 2022, saw a record number of teal, or independent, MPs elected to the Australian Parliament. Their strong showing has variously been labelled a teal bath or teal wave, after many teal candidates unseated a significant number of sitting members, most of whom belonged to the previous Liberal-National Coalition government.

It perhaps comes as no surprise then to learn the Australian National Dictionary Centre has declared “teal” as their word of 2022:

Previously associated with a dark greenish-blue colour, or even a breed of duck, teal now has another meaning in Australian English. The word came to prominence this year during the federal election. A ‘teal wave’ of independents successfully challenged government members of parliament in a number of seats.


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Dinner by Nagi Maehashi a cookbook selling like hot cakes

20 November 2022

Sydney based Australian chef Nagi Maehashi’s cookbook, Dinner, is quite literally selling like hot cakes. Published only six weeks ago, on 11 October 2022, the recipe collection has already outsold works by the likes of Jamie Oliver, and Yotam Ottolenghi:

Dinner is now leading the cookbook charts for 2022, with more than 74,500 copies sold. That’s three times as many sales as the second most-popular book, Jamie Oliver’s One, at 23,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookData. Even at the end of August, Maehashi had pre-orders that were more than double the first week sales of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Flavour.


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What is in the 2022 Australian budget for the arts sector?

29 October 2022

The arts sector had been keenly anticipating the 2022 federal budget, with hopes Australia’s recently elected Labor government might offer some respite to the arts after a difficult few years.

The government has all sorts of matters to deal with, the return of inflation, rising interest rates, and increasing power costs, to name a few, but in what arts and culture advocate Esther Anatolitis describes as a budget that is safe-ish, while daring to be boring, there is something for the sector.

Again, it’s only election commitments that are enumerated in last night’s Budget; Minister for the Arts Tony Burke has consistently focused our expectations on the comprehensive National Cultural Policy development and not immediate gestures.


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Not Now, Not Ever, a book edited by Julia Gillard

4 October 2022
Not Now, Not Ever, edited by Julia Gillard, book cover

Sunday 9 October 2022 marks ten years since then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered a scathing speech berating blatant instances of misogyny and sexism from the then opposition party, and its leader Tony Abbott. The address — which became known as the misogyny speech — is among the most significant ever made by an Australian Prime Minister.

Not Now, Not Ever, Ten years on from the misogyny speech, a book which will be published on Wednesday 5 October 2022, and edited by Gillard, examines what has changed in Australia since her speech, and what still needs to come.

On 9 October 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard stood up and proceeded to make all present in Parliament House that day pay attention — and left many of them squirming in their seats. The incisive ‘misogyny speech’, as her words came to be known, continues to energise and motivate women who need to stare down sexism and misogyny in their own lives.

With contributions from Mary Beard, Jess Hill, Jennifer Palmieri, Katharine Murphy and members of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Julia Gillard explores the history and culture of misogyny, tools in the patriarchy’s toolbox, intersectionality, and gender and misogyny in the media and politics.

Kathy Lette looks at how the speech has gained a new life on TikTok, as well as inspiring other tributes and hand-made products, and we hear recollections from Wayne Swan, Anne Summers, Cate Blanchett, Brittany Higgins and others of where they were and how they first encountered the speech.


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Re shortlisted for the Worlds 50 Best Bars tackles food waste

3 October 2022

While I usually feature long and shortlists from some of the literary awards, why not change things up a bit? Recently the World’s 50 Best Bars 2022 longlist was announced. Not that you’ll catch me in a bar too often, but it’s worth noting two Australian bars made the cut.

One is Caretaker’s Cottage in Melbourne, as is Re Bar, located in the Sydney suburb of Eveleigh, which I find myself in, or near, on occasion. I’ll have to look out for Re Bar next time I’m nearby.

It also turns out Re owner Matt Whiley is passionate about tackling the scourge of food waste. If you think food waste is a trivial matter, watch the trailer for Never Wasted, an in production documentary on the efforts being made by Whiley, and others, to reduce food waste.


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The 2022 National Young Writers Festival

23 September 2022

The 2022 National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF) runs from Thursday 29 September, through to Sunday 2 October, both in Newcastle, Australia (about one hundred and sixty kilometres north of Sydney), and online.

NYWF is so-called Australia’s largest gathering of young writers, with artists bringing their craft from all around (cities, regional, rural and our beloved regular cohort from Aotearoa). We showcase work in both new and traditional forms including zines, comics, blogging, screenwriting, poetry, spoken word, hip hop, music, journalism, autobiography, comedy and prose.


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Australia will be a republic says former PM Julia Gillard

20 September 2022

Australia will become a republic says Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, though right this minute is not the time to think about it.

Asked if she was still of the view the Queen’s death would be an appropriate time to move away from a British head of state, Gillard said: “Yes, I always thought that when the Queen did leave us, that it would cause a period of reflection. I always thought in Australia too it would unleash a new set of reflections about our own constitutional arrangements. But there’s no rush and I certainly endorse what the prime minister has said. There’s time for measured discussion. It’s certainly too soon for that now.”

An opinion poll taken days after Queen Elizabeth II died, found sixty percent of Australians favoured retaining the British monarch as head of state. While it could be argued the Queen’s death generated some support for the status quo, the republican cause has somewhat floundered in recent years.

I’m in favour of a republic, with an Australian head of state (rather than the reigning British monarch), but maintain public support would need to be the other way around, that is, sixty percent in favour of an Australian republic instead of the monarchy, before that could happen.

A clear majority of Australians would need to support such a momentous change in the way the country is governed.



Five levels of encryption on the Australian Signals Directorate coin

7 September 2022

Sen, an all-round IT professional, writes about decoding messages embedded in the recently issued Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) fifty cent coin. While a fourteen year old boy in Tasmania is credited with making the discovery of four messages “hidden” on the coin, it turns out there is a fifth level of encryption.

The outer ring came close to looking like Morse Code and was giving some output that almost looked like real words, but just a bit too gibberish. After much banging-of-heads-on-keyboards we realised I’d transcoded the outer strings wrong, which meant of course we were trying to break codes that didn’t exist.

Note that Sen’s article contains spoilers, the messages are revealed in their entirety, so read it later if you still want to decode the coin’s messages yourself.



Australian Signals Directorate 50 cent coin with coded message

3 September 2022
Australian Signals Directorate coded commemorative fifty-cent coin

Image courtesy of Royal Australian Mint.

I’d never heard of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) until now, but in short they’re a government intelligence agency.

To mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of their establishment, the Directorate, in association with the Royal Australian Mint, have issued a commemorative fifty-cent coin. But not any fifty-cent coin… this one comes with a hidden, coded, message:

Designed in collaboration with staff from ASD and the Royal Australian Mint, the commemorative coin pays tribute to the evolution of signals intelligence with multiple layers of cryptographic code included in the design. A hidden message will be revealed as each layer of code is cracked; all that is needed is a pen, paper, Wikipedia and brainpower.

Anyone who thinks they’ve cracked the code is invited to submit their answer to the ASD, who will reveal the correct message at the end of September 2022.

Update: well that was quick… ABC News reports a fourteen year old Tasmanian boy cracked the code in about an hour, on the day of the coin’s release.



New Australian Labor government to regulate gig-economy work

29 August 2022

The new Australian Labor government is set to bring reforms to the gig-economy, with the pay rates and conditions of food delivery riders and ride-sharing drivers particularly, who are effectively casual workers, in their sights. Variously referred to as independent contractors, gig-economy, or on-demand workers, the Labor government is seeking to extend them more of the employment rights traditional workers enjoy.

Unlike traditional employees, contractors for gig companies do not have rights to minimum wages, unfair dismissal protections, employer superannuation payments, workers’ compensation for injuries or paid leave. Working conditions in the sector have been under growing scrutiny following five delivery rider deaths in three months in 2020. However, the services have flourished since Uber arrived in Australia a decade ago as minimal government intervention allowed consumers to enjoy cheap and quick food deliveries and more convenient taxi services, and gave gig workers the ability to choose when to work.

Some reports suggest food delivery riders earn little more than ten dollars an hour, well below the minimum wage setting of about twenty-one dollars per hour in Australia. This despite claims by one food delivery service that riders make closer to twenty-eight dollars an hour before expenses. If net earnings equate to ten dollars per hour though, then reform is certainly necessary.

The federal opposition meanwhile believes mandating working and pay conditions won’t suit all gig-economy workers, especially self-employed tradespeople:

In response to the government branding the gig economy a “cancer”, opposition industrial relations spokeswoman Michaelia Cash said Labor was demonising self-employed people in service of the unions. “This attack on the gig economy will end up being an attack on all independent contractors – like truck drivers, plumbers and numerous other hard-working tradesmen and women,” Cash said.

Cash appears to be referring more to workers on platforms such as services marketplace Airtasker, where people can hire anyone to do literally anything, as long as it is safe and legal. Trades people such as delivery drivers, plumbers, and other self-employed skilled workers, can do well on these platforms, as they’re able to ask for hourly rates sometimes venturing into triple figures.

The same goes — to an extent — to unskilled, though experienced, workers carrying out “odd jobs” on such platforms, who have garnered favourable feedback or reviews for their services, and have shown themselves to be reliable. They’re able to negotiate a fair price for the work, or task, they perform, taking into account job and travel costs, provision for taxes (all gig-economy work in Australia is taxable), and a margin for themselves.

No doubt there are instances of worker exploitation though. Those new to the platform, who have less leverage than established workers, and travellers, or backpackers, unfamiliar with minimum pay rates in Australia, possibly stand to lose.


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Kylie Moore-Gilbert: the difficult return to a normal life

15 August 2022

Kylie Moore-Gilbert is an Australian academic who spent over two years in Iranian jails after being accused of spying, despite no evidence backing up the claims ever being published. Last week Moore-Gilbert wrote about being incarcerated, and the challenges of rebuilding her life, on returning to Melbourne in November 2020.

I am a 35-year-old childless divorcee with a criminal record. It was never meant to be this way, of course. A few years ago I was on track to achieving that comfortable middle-class existence of husband, dream job and a mortgage on a house in the suburbs. I was driven, I was hard-working, I was ambitious. After years of juggling full-time study with multiple part-time jobs I had finally gained an unsteady foothold on the precarious academic ladder. I was working on my first book, an adaptation of my PhD. I taught undergraduate and masters courses, and supervised research students. I used to think I had life more or less figured out, and myself too for that matter.

Incidentally, Moore-Gilbert’s memoir My 804 Days in an Iranian Prison, is among shortlisted titles for the 2022 The Age book of the year award. Winners will be announced when the Melbourne Writers Festival opens on Thursday 8 September 2022.


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2022 Australia Council Awards recipients announcement

9 August 2022

The Australia Council Awards recognise artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives whose work contributes to Australia’s diverse cultural life. Among recipients of the 2022 awards announced yesterday, was Robert Dessaix, a Tasmanian based writer of literary non-fiction, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement in Literature award.

Literary non-fiction? I had to look that up. A few of the books I read are classified as literary fiction, but this is the first time I’ve encountered the non-fiction genus.

Literary nonfiction is an elusive creature in literature known by many names. You might hear literary nonfiction called narrative nonfiction or creative nonfiction. Regardless of the name, literary nonfiction tells a story, typically in a creative way. Therefore, creative nonfiction writers use literary devices and writing conventions seen in poetry and fiction, but these accounts are based on actual facts or observations.


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Somerton Man identified as Carl ‘Charles’ Webb

3 August 2022

Derek Abbott, a professor at the University of Adelaide, claimed last week to have identified the so-called Somerton Man, perhaps bringing a close to one of the most intriguing, and lingering, Australian mysteries of the twentieth century.

In December 1948, the body of a man thought to be about forty, was found at Somerton beach in Adelaide, capital of South Australia. His body showed no sign of trauma. He was not carrying any identification, nor were there missing person reports for anyone matching his description.

In the months following his death, a suitcase containing some possessions, was located, but offered no clues as to who he was. A scrap of paper, bearing the words tamam shud, was found concealed in clothing the man owned. The fragment was later found to have been torn from a page of a book of poems titled Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, originally written in the twelfth century.

It was all enough to send the rumour mill into overdrive. People variously believed Somerton Man to be a spy, a displaced war veteran who’d made his way to Australia, or a jilted lover who’d presumably somehow taken his own life at the beach one night.

South Australian police exhumed Somerton Man’s body in May 2021, to further their investigation, but Abbott had been making progress separately. Working with Colleen Fitzpatrick, an American genealogist, he concluded the man to be Carl “Charles” Webb, an electrical engineer from Melbourne.

While mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his death, Abbott believes Webb may have travelled to Adelaide to see his ex-wife, who moved there after the pair separated several years prior.


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A Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians

1 August 2022

The Australian government has undertaken to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Australian constitution. While it is unclear at this stage exactly what form a Voice to Parliament would take, the purpose is clear:

A Voice to Parliament is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.

A referendum, a necessary step in the process of altering the constitution, has been proposed for 2023, giving the Australian people the opportunity to have their say in the matter.

An Indigenous Voice to Parliament is seen as an important step in Australia’s ongoing reconciliation with its First Nations people.


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A no hook-up city: Sydney not the place to Netflix and chill

25 July 2022

Out of fifty-three cities across the world, Sydney, Australia’s most populated city, ranks as just about the worst when it comes making friends — particularly if you were born outside of Australia — and hooking up, say the results of the Time Out 2022 Index.

When it comes to making friends, if you’re not born in Sydney, forget about befriending Sydneysiders. I’m sure that’s not the experience of every last new-comer, but somehow the finding doesn’t surprise me. Some years ago I read a guide for students coming from India — I think it was, I cannot track down the webpage right now — for degree courses in Australia. Long story short, they were told to expect the going to be tough when seeking out Australian born friends.

The guide explained Australians have “posses” of friends that seldom, it seems, mix. Old friends, school friends, uni friends, work friends, sports team friends, the list goes on. Aussies apparently go from one such group to another, but members of each group rarely meet anyone from other groups. Short wonder people from elsewhere have a hard time ingratiating themselves with the locals. If you work with an Australian, you might see them at Friday night drinks, but that’s about it.

The difficulty of befriending locally born Sydneysiders is something Kim Solomon, who moved to Sydney from South Africa in 2004, recently related to Sydney Morning Herald writer Michael Koziol:

A well-travelled 41-year-old who has also lived in London and spent time in the United States, Solomon finds Sydneysiders difficult to engage with on a personal level, whether they be strangers on the train or parents in her daughter’s school community. ‘It’s very hard to break into established groups of people who were born and raised in Sydney,” she says. “I’ve developed a good group of friends, but they’re all from South Africa and the UK.”

I don’t see too many people randomly striking up conversations on the trains in Sydney, so expecting to make friends on public transport might be hoping for a bit much. But the parents of her kids’ classmates? Sydney, what have you become?

When it comes to being more than friends though, people also felt frustrated, with seventy-one percent of Time Out 2022 Index respondents describing Sydney as a hard place to hook-up.

Sydneysiders are also starved for more intimate connections, it seems, with 71 per cent of those surveyed saying Sydney was a hard place to hook up, although Singapore, Stockholm and Porto, Portugal’s second city, all ranked lower when it came to Netflix but no chill.

Here’s a situation where place of birth doesn’t weigh so much I suspect though. If you click, you click. I get the feeling if people spent less time inside, and more time looking at what was going around them when outdoors, instead being focussed on the screen of their smartphone, they might not find hooking-up quite so difficult.


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40% of Americans believe in creationism, 40% of Australians do not

20 July 2022

Recent Gallup research reveals forty percent of Americans believe humanity and the universe were created by a divine act, in the last ten-thousand years. About a third believe we have evolved over millions of years, with divine guidance, while not quite a quarter of Americans do not think a divine being plays any part in our existence.

Forty percent of U.S. adults ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years. However, more Americans continue to think that humans evolved over millions of years — either with God’s guidance (33%) or, increasingly, without God’s involvement at all (22%).

While these numbers are similar to polling carried out about five years ago, a gradual increase in Americans who do not believe in a god has been observed since the late 1940s. This trend mirrors data from the last Australian Census, conducted in 2021, which found about forty percent of Australians have no religious affiliation, up from thirty percent in 2016.


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Australia today, some highlights from the August 2021 Census

28 June 2022

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has begun releasing Census data which was collected in August 2021. Items catching my eye included the revelation there are now as many Millennials, people generally aged 25 to 39, as there are Baby boomers, who are aged 55-74.

There’s also been a significant increase in people stating they have no religious affiliation, with the figure up almost ten percent on the previous Census in 2016. Here’s a rundown of these, plus other, highlights:

  • Sydney is Australia’s largest city by population, with 5.2 million inhabitants
  • NSW is Australia’s largest state by population, with almost 8.1 million inhabitants
  • Australia’s total population is 25.5 million. It has doubled since 1971, when there were 12.4 million inhabitants
  • Australians have a median age of 38 years
  • There are now almost as many Millennials, 5.4 million people, as there are Baby Boomers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.2% of the population
  • English, Australian, Irish, Scottish, and Chinese, make up the top five ancestries of Australians today
  • Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Cantonese are the top languages spoken after English
  • Almost 39% of Australians have no religious affiliation, up from 30% in 2016
  • About 44% identify as Christian, down from about 52% in 2016
  • Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Judaism are the top religions after Christianity
  • There are over one million single parent families in Australia
  • There are almost 25,000 same sex marriages
  • About 31% of Australians either live in rental accommodation, or outright own their dwelling



Photos of the construction of Sydney Opera House

27 June 2022

A collection of incredible photos of the Sydney Opera House, taken during its construction. Today the Opera House is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, but it seems Sydneysiders were not enamoured by the iconic structure while it was being built.

Today the building is loved, yet while it was under construction attitudes were very different. The local press continually attacked its cost, its delays, and its architect; headline writers gave the now familiar white shell roof nicknames such as ‘the concrete camel’, ‘copulating terrapins’ and ‘the hunchback of Bennelong Point’.

What’s also compelling about these photos is both how much has changed, and how much has remained the same, when looking at the areas surrounding the land the Opera House stands on.

Via Things Magazine.


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Remaining mindful of Australian Indigenous reconciliation

7 June 2022

National Reconciliation Week, a celebration of Australian Indigenous history and culture, concluded last Friday, 3 June 2022. But there are still ways we can remain mindful of reconciliation, and the history and culture of Indigenous Australians, daily, and immersing ourselves in First Nations art, film, and literature, are some of the ways we can achieve this.



Is an Australian republic any closer than it was 25 years ago?

4 June 2022

Australian federal MP Matt Thistlethwaite has been appointed to the role of assistant minister for the republic, in the new Labor led government, a move that will put the question of an Australian republic, and an Australian as head of state, rather than the British monarch, back on the agenda.

The push for Australia to break away from the monarchy has received its best news in 25 years after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appointed an assistant minister for the republic. Australian Republic Movement chair Peter FitzSimons says the appointment of Matt Thistlethwaite was a major show of support. It remains to be seen what progress Labor will make on the issue after it confirmed a constitutionally-enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament was its referendum priority.

A break from the British monarchy has long been on the cards. In 1995, then Prime Minister Paul Keating declared Australia should become a republic. But the notion was was rejected by the Australian people in a 1999 referendum, with about fifty-five-percent of the population voting against the proposal. But twenty-three years on, support for a republic could hardly be called overwhelming.

Polling conducted earlier this year in the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland found a little over a third of people supported an Australian republic, while a little under a third were opposed. But closer to forty-percent — a significant margin — said they were “unsure or neutral” on the matter. When posed the question: yes or no, would you support a republic, fifty-four-percent of respondents said yes. But it’s not much of a margin, and I’d contend a minimum of sixty-percent of Australians would need to be firmly in favour for the idea to carry.

But Australians appear to have other priorities, and the matter of a republic is of little interest to many, although that doesn’t mean Australia is a country filled with monarchists:

The biggest hurdle for republicans is the reality that Australia is already an independent nation, with only sentiment and inertia linking us to the British crown. Most Australians, when pressed, struggle to remember the name of the current governor-general or to explain their role.

Interestingly, this week marks the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth’s, seventieth jubilee. I only know because I try to keep up with the news. A month ago I’d have had no idea the occasion was imminent. Certainly I’m not aware of any events locally to acknowledge the milestone. I see no banners flying on the streets, nor detect any sort of buzz of interest generally. People seem to be going their day-to-day affairs as normal.

But another obstacle for those in favour of a republic is what the exact role of any head of state, presumably a president, would be. What sort of executive power would they be invested with, and how would they assume office? Should they be appointed by the Australian parliament, or elected by popular vote? There are many questions to address.

Personally I think Australia should be a republic, and a nation with a head of state chosen by the people. It may only be a symbolic gesture, but it’s an important one.