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Margret Atwood’s The Testaments is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, the acclaimed novel that described a near-future dystopia where religion has been used to justify the formation of a society predicated on the intense control and subjugation of women.

The Testaments begins with what are three distinct and separate stories, potentially at different points in time, that gradually converge and intertwine.

The deployment of this convergence is a brilliant literary device, that in itself brings forth new revelations in the Handmaids Tale/Testaments storyline, while also serving to intensify the stakes and the pace of the story.

The Testaments provides a glimpse into how the operation of law may look and may be manipulated, under extreme scenarios. How does the law operate when the system of governance is completely overturned? How is then used against its citizens to exert control? What real protection is there for the rights of citizens when there is no longer a responsible government? …

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There is an almost insurmountable chasm that Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu seeks to fill. How do we reckon with the history of Australia that extends unimaginably beyond the known history of European settlement when we barely acknowledge that such history exists?

How do we now appreciate over 60,000 years of history of people on a continent when so much of their evidence was destroyed by settlers that were blind to its value when imposing ideals and practises imported from half-way across the world?

In Dark Emu, Pascoe has provided just an entrée to a trove of the history and understanding of pre-colonial Australia and of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that thrived in its landscape. …

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Young people striking from school for climate change — yet they have no democratic voice on the issue (yet)

Throughout history the right to vote has been denied to some parts of the community under the pretense that they were too dumb, not educated enough or incapable of making an informed decision.

Young people are relentlessly talked down to by the political system. They are told they lack the life experience to vote, too entitled, too lazy and too apathetic. It is no wonder many young people are disillusioned with our political leaders and electoral processes.

They are disillusioned because the political system has failed, and continues to fail, to address the greatest issues of our time, including tackling climate change, growing inequality and the right to safe, decent and affordable housing. …

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Youth led climate movements are a global phenomenon (Credit: Michael Mazengarb)

It takes great effort to get noticed as a young political candidate in Australia. Even more so to be considered as a genuine contender. I know this from first hand experience because I was one recently. I can tell you that the odds of success are against you, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying.

So, it was both surprising and disappointing to read former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane lamenting that apparently Australia is unlikely to see a political voice like that of newly elected US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

There is no dispute that the election of Ocasio-Cortez to the US House of Representatives is an exciting moment for both progressive politics, and as a catalyst for a reinvigorated voice for young people in the political sphere. …

Around this time last year, I packed up my books, clothes and bed into the back of a rented moving van and relocated from my childhood city of Canberra into the inner-west of Sydney.

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While this is not an unusual venture for someone of my age, early thirties, living the Sydney life as an outsider can prove to be impermeable as someone who didn’t grow up in the city.

To some level, Canberra is a much more transient city. Young people come and go, attracted to the city to study, for graduate positions in the public service or have been blown in by politics. So, residents of the bush capital become practiced and comfortable around new arrivals to such an extent that to meet someone who actually grew up in Canberra can become the novelty. …

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Image Credit: Juan Carlos Martins

Australia’s gas market is broken.

Australian’s are paying more than ever for the gas they use to heat their homes or cook, despite production reaching all-time highs. Australia has surpassed Qatar as the world’s largest gas exporter and it is these supplies are sent offshore into an export market that now dictates terms.

It is being described as a crisis, yet it is a “crisis” that was entirely predictable and evolved so slowly and with so much warning, that industry and policymakers only have themselves to blame.

It is worth explaining how it played out.

In the mid-2000s, Australia’s gas industry faced a choice. It could simply continue to supply gas to an established domestic market, allowing gas prices to remain at historical lows. The Australian east coast is well connected with gas pipelines and gas has often been touted as a transition fuel for cleaner electricity generation. …

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Since the treaty was negotiated, Article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, a paragraph that relates to the treatment of emissions from land-use and forestry, has been colloquially dubbed the “Australia clause”.

Article 3.7 was added to the agreement at the insistence of then Howard era environment minister Senator Robert Hill. In short, the clause allows countries that had net emissions from land-use change, usually land clearing, to include those emissions in their baseline calculation.

This was of great benefit to Australia as at the year when the baseline was determined, 1990, Australia was undertaking significant amounts of land clearing. …


Michael Mazengarb

Energy and Climate Change policy analyst and advocate based in Sydney, Australia. I write full-time at RenewEconomy.

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