This week’s issue is significant in that it marks eighteen months since New Matilda‘s first issue in August 2004.

We continue to grow and now have 4216 subscribers — a healthy number for such a young outfit that can only dream of the marketing and promotional budgets available to other media companies. As the mainstream news media increasingly worries about its business models and circulation, we are confident that online publication is the way to go.

Our break-even target is to reach 5000 subscribers as soon as possible. This is within reach and we encourage all our subscribers and readers to renew (if your subscription is due) and to give a friend or colleague a gift subscription to New Matilda in the next few months. In a mediascape increasingly governed by spin and manufactured news, New Matilda continues to stand out as fresh, critical and opinionated so it’s only natural that we want you to share it with others.

As part of New Matilda’s ongoing growth, we welcome Miriam Lyons to the staff this week as Policy and Administration Assistant. Miriam will assist Nick Carney, New Matilda‘s Policy Coordinator, in gathering and posting the policy pieces that are a unique feature of our weekly offering. Miriam will also help Nick organise New Matilda‘s Human Rights Act campaign. As well as working for New Matilda, Miriam is a postgraduate journalism student at UTS, co-convenor of Network 2024, and a member of the advisory board for the new youth media incubator space — Square One. Miriam has a background in advocacy, political event organising, and coordinating independent media and arts projects.

Readers will notice that this week we are running our first column by internationally acclaimed journalist Robert Fisk, who writes for The Independent (UK). This will be a fortnightly feature on New Matilda and we are very pleased to be the only Australian news site to regularly carry the work of the Beirut-based Fisk, who is generally regarded as one of the world’s best authorities on Middle Eastern politics.

Complementing Fisk, this week we have a second extract from Canadian author and journalist Gwynne Dyer’s latest book, Future: Tense. The Coming World Order, in which Dyer dissects the strategic implications for the rest of the world of the US-led war in Iraq. In Dyer’s view, Iraq is best understood as merely the stage or proving ground on which the Bush Administration is playing out its desire to be the world’s policeman, judge, jury and executioner. The major victims of the Bush Doctrine (apart from the Iraqi people themselves) may well be the United Nations and the international rule of law.

Today’s issue also carries a story by Hugo Kelly about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Victorian Liberal Party, gearing up for a State election in November by contemplating the return of Jeff Kennett. Labor’s Premier Bracks was always going to be well-positioned in the lead up to this election campaign, but who would have suspected that the despair at Liberal Party HQ could be so deep?

Irfan Yusuf reports back this week after his recent DFAT-sponsored visit to Indonesia where the Howard Government’s disdain for and distrust of the word ‘multiculturalism’ is seemingly reversed as the Australian Embassy in Jakarta desperately scrambles to project an image of Australia that is anathema to Howard and his op-ed commentariat boosters at The Australian.

The Howard Government continues to respond to the AWB scandal by performing more backflips, wriggles, twists and turns than an Olympic diver with ants in their speedos. The remarkable thing is that Australian public opinion after ten years of steady erosion by Howard of what was once understood as ‘ministerial responsibility’ is seemingly unperturbed. Howard is still the preferred PM and, this week, John Hooker speculates that it is because the majority of Australians have allowed themselves to be ‘morally neutered’ by the Coalition Government.

Joanna Mendelssohn looks back to a time when the connections between Australian artists and conservative politicians were less unlikely and even friendly.

Harry Horsefield gives examples of the Chinese Government’s suppression of free speech and its increasing attacks on journalists.

John Mathews suffers déjà vu as he reports from Seoul about the struggle of South Korea’s cultural creators who are fighting off Hollywood in the negotiations for a Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.

Anna Hustler tells of the tragic spread of HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea and how Australia’s aid response is being criticised by a number of people on the ground there.

Kath Albury examines our obsession with Reality TV shows, and confesses to her own fascination.

Sharona Coutts takes a cruise to a place called Eden in Patagonia and discovers that the slow death of the local native culture is being used as a kind of attraction for tourists, eager to get their happy snaps before the natives disappear.

And Kirk McKenzie analyses the various votes that took place in the House of Representatives in Canberra last week during the debate on RU486.

As usual, there’s good news and bad news.

Cheers, and keep dancing to New Matilda‘s different tune.

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.