Welcome to New Matilda 72. This is our first ‘live’ issue for 2006? We hope you enjoyed the two ‘best of’ issues published over recent weeks.

Human Rights Act Campaign
Proceeds from the SEDITION! 2006 performance will go towards promoting New Matilda’s Human Rights Act for Australia campaign. Australia is still the only Western democracy without a Human Rights Act or its equivalent. The Howard Government’s recent ramming through of its hastily drafted, draconian Anti-Terrorism laws underscores the importance of our campaign to have a draft Human Rights Act tabled in Federal Parliament by the end of this year.

After launches in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide, the next State launch of New Matilda’s Human Rights Act will be in Tasmania on the morning of Saturday, 11 February at Hobart’s Salamanca markets. Immediate past president of the United Nations Association of Australia, former Senator Margaret Reynolds will launch the Tasmanian campaign, with other speakers to be announced.

Perth and Brisbane launches are planned for the near future, with Melbourne slated for later in the year.

This Week’s Issue

We open with two views on the death of Kerry Packer on Boxing Day last year. Our media commentator, Emma Dawson, asks what the demise of the Big Guy means for his successor and for us, the consumers of the infotainment produced by his media empire. And regular columnist Andrew West considers the downside of being a billionaire.

Irfan Yusuf compares the radically different views about Australia that surfaced after the Cronulla riots and the Socceroos’ defeat of Uruguay; while Michael Connors reveals a few of John Howard’s more fugitive and private musings.

John Hooker focuses on the clichés that cluster around our military history; and Leslie Cannold looks at recent court decisions that impact on masculinity in Australia (before and after death).

Jane Salmon-Donovan opens up the debate about the psychological effects of abortion; Sharona Coutts discovers that the rebuilding of New Orleans is leaving many residents behind; and Lyn Hughes finds parallels between real and metaphorical walls in both South Africa and Australia.

Graham Willett visits the creative class in Estonia; Rob Simpson worries about the contradictions in East Timorese society; while Joanna Mendelssohn remembers the day when she was asked to eject a Nobel laureate from a gallery; and we offer a second, edited extract from Luke Slattery’s book Dating Aphrodite, that this week examines the many sides of ‘nostalgia’.

Next week’s issue will be edited by New Matilda’s Associate Editor, Marni Cordell.

We hope you enjoy issue 72 and wish all our subscribers, supporters and readers a happy and productive 2006.

José Borghino

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.