This will be the largest expansion of the Australian welfare state in decades. It really is a milestone for the way our society provides for its least fortunate. And, at least at the moment, it seems as though the package has won cautiously bipartisan backing, most importantly from a newly relaxed Tony Abbott back from his European holiday. In time, these reforms will come to be seen as the single most important social policy reforms of the Gillard government. Pair them up with the carbon tax and the increase to the base rate of the pension, and the long-term reform record of this Labor government begins to look rather more substantial than it has so far been given credit for. Of course, much work is yet to be done. But Gillard, Shorten and the entire government must be commended for signing up to this scheme. Credit must also go to the Productivity Commission, whose monumental report is testament to years of detailed, rigorous policy development, and to the disability sector itself, whose tireless lobbying has finally borne policy fruit.
It has been a long time coming, and it’s still along way away, but the eventual passage of a national disability insurance sheme in this country means that Australians with a disability — and their families and carers — can finally look forward to a future where lives can be lived with a measure of dignity.
Even after I received the Pulitzer Prize, my father reminded me that writing stories was not something to count on, and that I must always be prepared to earn my living in some other way. I listen to him, and at the same time I have learned not to listen, to wander to the edge of the precipice and to leap. And so, though a writer’s job is to look and listen, in order to become a writer I had to be deaf and blind.
I see now that my father, for all his practicality, gravitated toward a precipice of his own, leaving his country and his family, stripping himself of the reassurance of belonging. In reaction, for much of my life, I wanted to belong to a place, either the one my parents came from or to America, spread out before us. When I became a writer my desk became home; there was no need for another. Every story is a foreign territory, which, in the process of writing, is occupied and then abandoned. I belong to my work, to my characters, and in order to create new ones I leave the old ones behind. My parents’ refusal to let go or to belong fully to either place is at the heart of what I, in a less literal way, try to accomplish in writing. Born of my inability to belong, it is my refusal to let go.
indigenous Australian fiction to go to San Francisco via Dave Eggers
From the Victorian Writers’ Centre newsletter:
McSweeney’s quarterly set to publish Indigenous Australian fiction
An upcoming issue of Dave Eggers’s San Francisco-based fiction quarterly McSweeney’s will be partly devoted to contemporary Indigenous Australian fiction. In the past, McSweeney’s has featured curated sections of the quarterly dedicated to Icelandic, Norwegian and Kenyan fiction. In its 13-year history McSweeney’s has featured contributors such as Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Zadie Smith, David Byrne and hundreds of others.
Pregnancy often seems to stretch infinitely for those waiting, hoping and planning. The gestation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been like that, awaited anxiously and with great expectations by a huge range of Australians, including myself and my colleagues, who have played our part over at least three decades.
And as with any newborn, now that it’s here you would hope that it will be nurtured and given every chance to flourish.
"I don’t know what that means. What is an Australianness about writing?" she says. "That is a deadening line of thought for me because I feel dumb about it. I just don’t know what it means when people ask if I’ve been influenced by living in Australia. I spent more than half my life there so it must have influenced who I am, massively. But I don’t know if I would have been a different writer had I stayed in Ireland or indeed London. Most of the fiction I have read has either been Russian or American, if that’s of any use."
Hyland also rails against critics who attempt to read her work as autobiographical, while acknowledging that her debut novel “drew heavily on my experience”. “I want the fact that I have an extraordinary imagination — the one thing I do have — to get some credit,” she says. “It’s important to me that it’s not about all roads leading to the question of how much of it is true.”
”—M.J. Hyland interviewed by Stephen Romei in The Australian. At first here, she is addressing the question of whether living in Australia has influenced her writing. And the second point is fairly made. It is a tiresome side-effect of interviews and writer’s festivals, this assumption that writers haven’t made it up - it’s probably not a long step from that to the assumption that they can’t.
The uneasy accommodations of a corruptible young aesthete to an ambiguous social world might have resonances too with the turn-of-the-century novels of Henry James, with their moneyed but morally seedy milieux. James was my own obsession at the time, and I worked him in in various ways, also taking up the Jamesian challenge of narrating a large-scale novel in the third person entirely from the point of view of one character.
Of course I did many things that would have horrified the Master, but were not I hope inconsistent with paying homage to him.