Sampling The Monthly

Yesterday I received an email advising that Black Inc.’s excellent magazine The Monthly has begun publishing selected articles online for free access.  I bought a 12 month subscription for my dad as a Christmas present last year.  After reading some of the free access articles last night and this morning, I’m taking out a subscription for myself as well. 

Most of the articles in the free archive are well worth reading and some are superb.  I especially liked Robert Manne’s article Pearson’s Gamble, Stanner’s Dream from the August 2007 edition.  I’ve always seen Manne as something of a bleeding heart “luvvie”, but his evaluation of Noel Pearson’s ideas and the Howard/Brough intervention into Northern Territory indigenous communities is surprisingly hard-headed and realistic, while also delivering an excellent overview of Australian indigenous affairs policy and the ideas that have underpinned it over the last 70 years.

Richard Flanagan’s May article Out of Control on the proposed Gunns pulp mill is also worth reading, though for a slightly different reason.  I’m deeply suspicious of Flanagan’s extreme emotiveness and lack of objectivity, but it’s a truly great piece of passionate polemic, and if the pulp mill, Gunns and the Lennon Labor government are even half as bad as he portrays then it’s a major worry.  You can certainly see why Flanagan’s article captured Geoffrey Couzens’ attention and motivated him to take action, and equally why Malcolm Turnbull is sh**-scared of the consequences of Couzens’ letterboxing it to every home in his Wentworth electorate. 

BTW does anyone know of a reliable, reasonably objective expert evaluation (if such a position exists in this debate) of the sustainability or otherwise of Tasmanian forestry practices, especially with the logging volumes implied by the new Gunns Tamar Valley mill? Flanagan and the Greens claim that logging volumes in old growth forests will need to double to service the mill, until plantation timbers eventually become available in sufficient quantities in 20 years or so.  On the other hand, logging interests and even Mar’n Ferguson reckon it’s perfectly sustainable and “world’s best practice”.  Probably the truth lies somewhere between those two extremes, but I’d like to read an expert evaluation just the same.  As far as I can see, the air and water emissions from the mill can certainly be kept within acceptable limits with suitable conditions on its approval (as even the recent Four Corners doco grudgingly acknowledged).  The real crunch factor, however, is whether its timber demands can be satisfied without putting further pressure on Tasmanian forests.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Amanda
14 years ago

I enjoy the Monthly alot too. Robert Forster is a revelation as a music reviewer, too. The Wendi Deng article a few months back was extremely interesting, pity for Fairfax they canned it.

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Ken, The Forest Wars by Judith Ajani might be worth a look (haven’t read it myself) but others may have.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

The Macquarie piece was terrific.

Sacha
14 years ago

Cousins is going to letterbox the article to all houses in Kingsford-Smith, too.

derrida derider
derrida derider
14 years ago

On the Gunns thing, IMO it’s the logging issue that people should be focusing most on. The “dioxins in the water”, etc issues appear in my reading to be a bit overblown.

Even if it turns out that the assurances from Gunns are to be believed (and given past behaviour and the dodginess of the process you’d be a mug to trust them) you’d have to say Turnbull deserves to lose his seat for his gutlessness in standing up to the chainsaw crowd.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Ken,

I’ve never thought of Manne as a ‘luvvie’. Calling him a ‘luvvie’ is a kind of reflex of the right – which works well as a political tactic.

But I think the quality of his writing has deteriorated a little. His piece on the Americanisation of Australia was very dull – I think you agree with me on that, I think you said the same in your review of the Best Essays.

I thought his piece on aboriginal policy was well judged, but still was kind of crippled because Manne likes to have a strong side to take, and at least here he has the decency not to be sure.

I would contrast that with his friend Raymond Gaita’s article on the same issue in the same edition of the Monthly which I thought was weak and – to coin a cliche I hate – out of touch. He was still going on about an apology.

I have no problem with an apology. Paul Keating effectively offered one unless you take his statement “We stole the children” as a boast. But what with Howard’s infinite lack of generosity, he refused to offer one. Since an apology forced out of someone becomes something other than an apology, it would seem to be time to move on – there is after all a great deal to be getting on with. Unfortunately Gaita goes on with the tired old moralising about what the lack of an apology says about us. I’m afraid I found it seriously underwhelming.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Btw, I like the term ‘luvvie’. I think I came across it first in Andrew Norton’s blogging. Can someone enlighten me as to where it comes from?

jimmythespiv
jimmythespiv
14 years ago

The Commie Monthly. Robert Manne etc Puhleeze !

skepticlawyer
14 years ago

That’s the way we use ‘luvvie’ over at the Cat, too, and since Andrew used to write for us, it’s likely he may have started the Australian usage. He or Jason would be able to say one way or the other.

On Manne/Gaita contrasts: Manne is personally vindictive towards those he dislikes; to my knowledge, Gaita has never been motivated by personal animus.

Pedantic Bastard
Pedantic Bastard
14 years ago

A luvvy is an actor. But the word has been recently adopted, on what basis I don’t know, by rightwingers as a cheap put-down for anyone who subscribes to one of the fashionable causes that they enjoy ridiculing. Because of the original connection to the theatre, the word is probably supposed to invoke more or less explicit associations with shallowness, posturing and hysteria. But it’s essentially in-house terminology for rightwingers – they know what they mean by it even if they can’t explain it; the rest of us need only understand that it’s an insult. For what it’s worth, Andrew Norton once told me he himself only uses the word in the context of theatre.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
14 years ago

I picked up the term ‘luvvie’ from Andrew Norton.

James Farrell
James Farrell
14 years ago

That was me, by the way. I used Pedantic Bastard the other day and forgot to change the name field.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
14 years ago

Pedantic bastard.