Shorten’s peculiar plan for pesky voters: less participation, not more | Jeff Sparrow

Voters are already disengaged from a parliamentary system that treats them like an annoyance. Bill Shorten’s push for fixed four year terms won’t help

  • Jeff Sparrow is a Guardian Australia columnist

When the Chartists, Britain’s first mass working class movement, formulated their demands back in 1838, they called for elections to be held annually.

The argument expressed in their People’s Charter was simple. If parliament were to reflect the popular will, the electors needed to express that will on a frequent basis.

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Cardinal George Pell expected to appear in person before magistrate

Third-highest ranking official in Vatican has returned from Rome vowing to clear his name over sexual offence charges

The third-highest ranking official in the Vatican and the highest-ranking Catholic cleric to ever be charged with sex offences is due to appear in court on Wednesday morning in Melbourne.

Cardinal George Pell plans to appear in person at Melbourne magistrates court, in an appearance that will be over within a matter of minutes but will be closely watched in Australia and around the world.

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‘Things are getting serious’ Williamtown resident speaks on toxic chemical scandal – video

Neville Franks reveals the stress he and his family have suffered due to the prolonged use of toxic firefighting chemicals at the nearby Williamtown airforce base. He says residents have not been given enough information to assess health risks or interpret test results. Investigations have been carried out or are under way into at least 94 sites around Australia where the chemicals were used for many years, even after evidence emerged that they posed serious medical risks

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‘Look back to the stars’: Taylor Mac’s 24-hour music marathon to headline Melbourne festival

The drag performer was shortlisted for a Pulitzer for the work, which will form the centrepiece of Jonathan Holloway’s huge second festival

Looking back at the culture highlights of 2016 – the moments that unified critics and audiences lucky enough to attend – few moments were met with as much adulation as Taylor Mac’s one-time-only marathon performance of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.

Mac – a musician, playwright and drag performer who goes by the pronoun of “judy” – had been working up to the extravaganza since 2011, with one-hour shows each comprised of 10 meticulously researched songs which would retell an entire decade of US history and politics, through a queer lens.

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