Burning issues for @TonyAbbottMHR: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #DirectAction

CLIMATE change efforts in Australia have become a matter of simple mathematics. With the Coalition’s Direct Action Bill in place just this week, after a deal struck with the Palmer United Party and Senate crossbenchers, Australia is now attempting to reduce its carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. It’s official: we’re trying, and we won’t have to wait very long to gauge if this policy of financial incentives for major atmosphere polluters to reduce emissions is working. Mind you, the repeal of the perfectly good carbon tax was supposed to reduce my electricity bill. So far, it’s gone dramatically skyward, no matter how many times Environment Minister Greg […]

The man who dismissed dismissal: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #GoughWhitlam

  Gough Whitlam got conservatives in Australia on the move in the late 1960s and they have never stopped running. IT took me almost half my lifetime to work out what I owe Gough Whitlam. The second son of a NSW grazier and a nurse from Sydney’s north shore who gave up her career to have kids, I was a five-year-old when Whitlam was dismissed. At twelve I was given a fearful lesson on what would happen if the Australian Labor Party ever got back into power, which consisted of a darkly-uttered statement: They’ll spend all the money the country has, just like they did under Gough. By then my family was a victim of the D-word […]

Secrets of a Hollywood king from Kiama: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on Orry-Kelly

JUST about everyone I knew as a kid went to Kiama for the school holidays. Apart from its famous blow-hole, through which the ocean mysteriously forces a geyser-like spray to the delight of tourists, there is nothing extraordinary about this sleepy town which has all the caravan parks, bait shops and holiday rentals of every town on the south coast of NSW. At the back of my mind on a nostalgic return trip a decade ago was Kiama’s most famous son, the three-time Oscar-winning costume designer, Orry-Kelly. I half expected to see a worn plaque on an old civic building, or perhaps a statue. After all, it’s not every day an […]

It’s too late for #MarriageEquality in Australia: @burgewords #CreatingWaves

IN April 2013 Guardian Australia journalist Gay Alcorn declared the culture war was over for marriage equality and confidently asserted that after “a year or two” LGBTQI couples would bask in the same connubial rights as straight Australians. She declared the debate “interminably dull” and credited lobby group Australian Marriage Equality’s (AME) latest pitch for support – via the small business benefits of allowing same-sex marriage – with triggering her boredom threshold. Because I didn’t think Alcorn’s angle helped the debate, I began a long analysis of the foot-dragging this political football has endured in Australia. Here we are eighteen months since her boredom levels peaked, and only one thing has changed: support for marriage equality in […]

Don’t f**k with #JudyDavis: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on an Australian icon

LOVE or hate Australian actress Judy Davis, chances are you’ve seen one of her acerbic, riveting, onscreen meltdowns. I recently caught Charles Sturridge’s underrated 1991 adaptation of E.M. Forster’s debut novel Where Angels Fear to Tread on television, and was reminded what a milestone in her career this movie remains. Already a staple in period dramas by that time, Davis had breathed life into array of heroines on the brink of brave new worlds, and had used a decidedly English voice to do so. Her Sybilla Melvin in My Brilliant Career quite matter-of-factly asserted to her suitors that she was never going to marry. Her Adela Quested, when pressed whether Doctor Aziz had actually done anything to […]

Voyage to the new news world: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on online media

Margo Kingston asked me to kick-off a new series on No Fibs about the experiences of citizen journalists working with professional journalists in online media. Here is my response. A WEEK after the 2013 federal election I was driving to my casual sub-editing job on a Fairfax weekly newspaper when I let a brilliant photo opportunity go. During the campaign I’d had to pass a vast billboard of our electorate’s returned sitting member, Andrew Laming, along that route. But on that day, Laming’s face was burning into black ash as a farmer torched his latest crop’s stubble. It was one of those moments when your mind takes the shot, writes the story […]

Call an end to HIV/AIDS weasel words: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #AIDS2014

THE world has been watching Melbourne this week as the city hosts the 20th International AIDS Conference. Despite initial reports from the event focusing understandably on the delegates killed by the missile attack on their flight over eastern Ukraine, the conference agenda hit the airwaves visibly on this week’s episode of QandA. As a result a range of new and unfamiliar language has been presented to mainstream and social media audiences. From ‘Sero-Discordant Relationship’, ‘PEP’, ‘PrEP’, ‘TasP’, ‘ART’ and ‘PMTCT’ to phrases like ‘heteronormative’ and ‘men who have sex with men’, Australians have been getting a higher-than-average dose of HIV/AIDS-related vocabulary. Unfortunately the word use is not coming with enough interpretation. ‘Conference-style’ […]

Thorpie did not have a Sweet Sixteen: @burgewords #CreatingWaves for @IanThorpe

  I WASN’T going to write about Ian Thorpe’s coming out. What more can there be to say about this moment in his life, which has huge ramifications for him but should have none for us? But then I read one article which got me angry, the kind of piece I’d hoped to avoid but which I knew would surface: the ‘Ian Thorpe Lied To Us’ type article. I also wanted to watch the interview he gave to Michael Parkinson before forming too many thoughts. The only unexpected moment was when ‘Thorpie’ recalled being asked about his sexuality at the age of 16. Parkinson picked-up on Thorpe’s affront at this and ran with it, […]

A Murdoch-free household is a galaxy too far: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #NewsCorp

  NEWS sites are getting harder to access for free of late. Paywalls are up and apparently profitable for News Corp and Fairfax. Crikey had one for years and recently Wendy Harmer’s flagship site The Hoopla shut the gate on free reads with its 34 cent per day subscription. Media-hungry online consumers are faced with a choice about where to get value for our money, but despite there being much more on offer than the old Fairfax vs Murdoch choice, the landscape is still dominated by these two big players. This doesn’t matter if we’re not interested in reading anything published by the mainstream media. After all, progressive digital online media consumers have standards, right? The coffee […]

Opera, give it to me straight: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on @Tamar_Iveri

Amid the ongoing flurry about Georgian opera singer Tamar Iveri and the comments she made in the social media about a protest march in Georgia on International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) in May, 2013, there is an assumption the soprano is just one homophobic voice in an accepting international opera industry, an aberration who must be silenced. In an open letter to her country’s president, the singer compared gay people to “fecal masses”, a description picked-up by the social media ahead of Ivari’s scheduled performances for Opera Australia this year. While I believe it’s hypocritical of her to court Western dollars for her performances while condemning Western values which have attained mainstream followings, like […]