Australia

Elon Musk has won a victory for free speech in Australia

In the unedifying clash of heads between billionaire Twitter/X owner, Elon Musk, and Australia’s e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, there could only be one rightful winner. Elon Musk. On Monday, Musk’s X succeeded in having a temporary injunction thrown out by Australia’s Federal Court preventing it and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta from posting images of last month’s Sydney stabbing. An Armenian Orthodox bishop, Mar Mari Emmanuel, was attacked in his church, allegedly by a religiously radicalised youth, in April. The incident was captured by the church’s own livestream of the event and beamed across the internet: the footage is disturbing but already there for the world to see, if anyone chose

Trinity College Cambridge has rushed to judgement on Captain Cook

Cambridge has made a mistake in returning to the tribe that made them some spears collected by Captain Cook’s men in 1770. It is always dispiriting to write something and then discover that no one with the power to act has paid any attention. Last year, I complained on Coffee House that Trinity College, Cambridge and the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology were about to make an ill-conceived mistake by repatriating these spears. It seems no one was listening. The truth is that these spears – which were presented to Trinity in 1771 – would not have survived had they not been kept safe in Cambridge. These were

The truth about Australia’s controversial crocodile cull

The Northern Territory News, Darwin’s daily paper, is known worldwide for its front pages with headlines so cleverly lurid that they outshine the efforts of the Sun’s Kelvin McKenzie in his editorial heyday. Over the years, the newspaper has run front pages highlighting everything from UFO and mythical beast sightings to the bizarre behaviour of Territorians, who, if you go by the NT News, are no strangers to acting oddly. But there’s one hot topic always guaranteed a NT News front page when it comes up: crocodiles. ‘I love crocodiles and anytime we have a good one we put it on the front page,’ a former NT News editor, Matt

Australia is in danger of tearing itself apart

In her new book, Liz Truss says she likes Australia and Australians. The country is, she says, ‘like Britain without the hand-wringing and declinism’. But had Truss cared to scratch beneath the surface on her visits Down Under, she might have realised that Australians today are anything but the laid-back, easygoing, and ‘she’ll be right’ society of our national mythology. Following the Hamas atrocities of 7 October, things have only got worse Far from it. Australians are struggling to keep a lid on social, political, ethnic and religious tensions reflected in their society. Far from being a united nation, Australia is increasingly a nation of tribes, each sticking with their

The Sydney church terror attack is a wake-up call for Australians

Sydney has been rocked by another stabbing rampage – just days after six people were murdered in a knife attack in the city’s Bondi Junction. A bishop of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, Mar Mari Emmanuel, was knifed at the altar during the incident yesterday afternoon in the working-class suburb of Wakeley. Several other parishioners were also injured as they sought to disarm the attacker. Police have arrested a teenager and are treating it as a terrorist attack. The horror was broadcast on the livestream of the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church, meaning that thousands of followers witnessed the attack. News of the stabbings spread fast among the local Assyrian

Australia’s activist governor-general spells trouble for the royals

While the King and the Princess of Wales both battle cancer, the business of monarchy goes on. In the realms of the Commonwealth that includes ensuring the Crown is represented in each respective constitutional government. In Australia, though, the choice of candidate for governor-general is far from reassuring news for the monarchy. Samantha ‘Sam’ Mostyn, an activist and lawyer, was named by Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese as the country’s 28th governor-general. ‘Ms Mostyn is known for her exceptional service to the Australian community. She is a businesswoman and community leader with a long history in executive and governance roles across diverse sectors’, said Albanese. There’s no question that Mostyn is a

The great shame of Australia Day

Captain James Cook has fallen. Not on the shore of Hawaii’s Kealakekua Bay on Valentine’s Day 1779, but in the Melbourne bohemian bayside suburb of St Kilda. His statue was sawn off at the ankles in the dead of night with an angle grinder; his plinth daubed in a blood-red, anti-colonial slogan. The culprits haven’t been caught yet. Their act of vandalism happened on the eve of Australia Day, celebrated on 26 January as the anniversary of the day in 1788 when a British penal settlement was established by a motley crew of seamen, marines and convicts, which ultimately became the great city of Sydney and the birthplace of modern

Why is Australia burying helicopters that Ukraine wants?

What do you do if you have dozens of combat helicopters you don’t want? If you’re the Australian government, you dismantle them and turn them into landfill. That’s the imminent fate of 45 Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, grounded since a crash in Queensland last summer and withdrawn from service. Australia has had something of a troubled history with its European-UK designed MEH-90s, the Taipan being an adaptation of the NH-90 type currently in service with a number of Nato countries. Severe procurement and operating cost blowouts, mechanical failures, high maintenance costs, difficulty in obtaining spare parts, and several whole-fleet groundings have plagued the aircraft. Australian

Australia sees sense on its plan to ditch the monarchy

Australia’s government has been determined to ‘do a Barbados’ and ditch the British monarchy for an Australian republic with an Australian president. But now, it seems, prime minister Anthony Albanese has lost his nerve. In the week that the first Australian coins of Charles III’s reign entered general circulation, and it was confirmed the King and Queen will visit Australia later this year, Albanese and his government scuttled away from his party’s proclaimed republican intentions with a speed that makes even Rishi Sunak look decisive and in control. After campaigning for office with a commitment to put the future of the monarchy to a constitutional referendum in Labor’s second term

Why is Australia turning its back on Israel?

In the days after the 7 October attack on Israel, Australia vowed to stand with Israel. It appears to have forgotten that pledge. When the United Nations General Assembly voted in October in favour of an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza, Australia abstained because the motion failed to explicitly mention, let alone condemn, Hamas. James Larsen, Australia’s representative to the UN, said he could not support the resolution because its failure to name the 7 October culprits meant it was ‘incomplete’. Last night, the UN General Assembly again voted resoundingly in favour of a ceasefire. This time, Australia abandoned its principles, broke with the United States and the United Kingdom, and

Why Australia’s Voice vote failed

Since 1999, asking how many referendums Australia has had – then how many have passed – has been a pair of standard pub quiz questions. Everyone knew we’d had 44 since Federation in 1901 and only eight had ever passed. Well, questioners in pubs across the country will have to make a minor update. Australia has now had 45 referendums, for a meagre harvest of eight changes to its written constitution. The Voice to parliament has been voted down even more comprehensively than the Republic was in 1999. It lost in every state and one of the country’s two sparsely populated territories. If it were possible to kill it any

The crushing defeat of Australia’s divisive Voice referendum

Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, urged his fellow Australians to take ‘the opportunity to make history’ today. And they did, but not in the way that Albanese had so fervently hoped. His government’s referendum, which aimed to change the country’s constitution to entrench an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory voice to Australia’s parliament and executive government, was defeated by a majority of voters in all Australian states. The final margin, 59 per cent to 41 per cent between Yes and No, was not just decisive. It was a landslide of resounding proportions, almost a mirror reversal of the polled support for the Voice as recently as April. The biggest

Fraser Nelson

Why did Australia vote No in the Voice referendum?

I’m in Sydney for the Voice referendum result – and it’s already over. No has won, by what looks to be a 60/40 margin. So an ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice’ will not be added to Australia’s democratic apparatus after an Aboriginal-led campaign asking Australians to reject identity politics. The results had heavy overtones of Brexit: affluent cities voting Yes and the left-behind areas voting No. The Northern Territory, which has the highest concentration of aboriginal Australians, looks to have rejected the proposal by 65/35. Aussies have voted to protect the principle of everyone being equal before the law and in parliament. It’s hard to describe what the campaign

Australia’s Voice referendum is tearing the country apart

Almost 250 years after European settlement, many of Australia’s Aborigines still face appalling socio-economic disadvantages compared to fellow Australians: lower life expectancy and school completion but high welfare dependency and incarceration rates, domestic violence, and endemic unemployment, truancy, alcohol and substance abuse. These are sad realities in such a prosperous nation as Australia. Government statistics show overall per capita spending on an Indigenous person – about three per cent of the total population – is higher that for other Australians, funding health, welfare, education and employment programmes in a national effort known as ‘Closing the Gap’. Yet despite the billions spent over decades, that gap remains intractably wide. Prime minister

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris, Dan Hitchens and Leah McLaren

23 min listen

Matthew Parris, just back from Australia, shares his thoughts on the upcoming referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (01:08). Dan Hitchens looks at church congregations and wonders why some are on the up, while others are in a spiral of decline (08:32), and Leah McLaren describes the delights of audio and tells us why young children should be heard, but not seen (17:57). Produced and presented by Linden Kemkaran

Matthew Parris

Australia’s disastrous indigenous voice referendum

My partner and I have just returned from the most magical trip. As guests of Western Australia’s tourist board we’ve driven almost 1,500 miles across the top left-hand corner of the Australian continent. This is the north-west: a landscape like nowhere else on the planet. Three times the size of England, they call it the Kimberley. I had expected to find Aboriginal people living in these landscapes. They used to, for 60,000 years Starting from a town called Broome (easy to fly there) we made it overland to Darwin in the Northern Territory. We took about ten days in an all-singing, all-dancing Toyota camper van, sometimes sleeping under the stars,

Sydney’s cocaine wars are spiralling out of control

The illicit moment of surreal euphoria from snorting a line of cocaine comes at a heavy price of misery and death for so many others – a dreadful toll that is plain to see on the streets of Sydney. The competition between criminal gangs for the city’s drug users has become deadly on a scale not seen in Australia for years. The latest victim, David Stemler, died in a hail of bullets in the early hours of Thursday. Stemler was the 23rd person to lose his life in Sydney’s drug wars over the last two years. Just why demand for cocaine has skyrocketed in Australia isn’t clear. It’s not as

John Howard is right about British colonialism in Australia

Almost sixteen years after he lost office and his own parliamentary seat, former Australian Liberal prime minister John Howard is still an influential political figure. Idolised by the right and demonised by the left, when Howard speaks, Australians still take notice. When Howard spoke to the Australian newspaper to mark his 84th birthday this week, he told home truths as he sees them, in his trademark plain language style. The focus of Howard’s interview was the Australian Labor government’s drive to change the nation’s constitution to give Aborigines a race-based ‘Voice to parliament’. It is becoming clear that the Voice referendum will be lost or won only narrowly This would

Australia’s Commonwealth games disgrace

In world sport, the Commonwealth games are a bit of a sideshow. In swimming and athletics, at least, they are seen as something of a mid-cycle training event for the Olympics. Australians, however, love the Commonwealth games. Not just because they are about friendly sporting rivalries and promote goodwill between the nearly 60 nations of the Commonwealth and Britain’s remaining dependencies. Nor because they are one of the few remaining institutions that justify the Commonwealth’s active existence.  But because Australia wins big, every time. With only England as a serious rival for intra-Commonwealth supremacy, Australian teams and athletes are guaranteed a shower of gold medals, in a way the Olympics

Steerpike

Watch: Australians mock UK trade deal

Huzzah! The momentous day has arrived at last: finally Britain can reap the Brexit benefits and enjoy some delicious free-trade Tim Tams. For today is the day the UK’s trade deal with Australia comes into force. Unfortunately it seems that not all our friends down under aren’t, er, quite so sold on the mutual benefits that this new trade deal will bring. Announcing the news this morning, Karl Stefanovic – the host of the Today show on Australia’s Channel 9 – seemed distinctly unimpressed by what the UK would be bringing to the table. Explaining that some British products would become cheaper as a result of the deal, Stefanovic exclaimed