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Rear Vision

ABC (Australia)

We tease out the complex history behind those baffling events in the news.


Melbourne, Australia




We tease out the complex history behind those baffling events in the news.




Rear Vision GPO Box 9994 Sydney 2001 (02) 8333 5311


Papua New Guinea’s Election—Democracy with a difference

PNG has hundreds of languages groups, almost a thousand tribes and is one of only four nations globally that doesn’t have any women in parliament. Over three weeks the country is holding its national election – the 10th since it gained its independence from Australia in 1975. The PNG political system, like Australia’s, is based on a Westminster model but that’s just about where the similarities end. How do PNG elections work, who are the key political figures and just how free and fair have...


How did it come to this — the energy crisis we had to have?

Australia has everything it needs to produce electricity - coal, gas, sun, and wind. Yet we've wound up with energy shortages and huge price hikes. How did we get here - why is our energy system in such a mess? And what can we do to fix it?


United States Supreme Court

The selection of a new justice to the United States Supreme Court is frequently controversial and almost always political. It’s a 'captain's pick' for the US president and one that can shape American society long after the president’s gone.


The economics of Inflation—Science, Craft, or Snake Oil

None of us need to be told that prices are going up or that interest rates are following. We are clearly now in a period of inflation which may or may not lead to a recession. But what exactly is inflation, why does it occur, how does it relate to interest rates and what if anything can we learn from past inflationary periods?


Not Quite Australian - What’s Australia’s problem with New Zealanders?

Despite being the closest of neighbours, for the last decade there’s been a worsening Trans-Tasman spat as New Zealanders in Australia are refused basic services and often deported. The new Albanese government has signalled this may be about to change, but what caused the spat in the first place, and was race the underlying issue?


The NRA—Its history and its influence on the gun debate in America

It’s hard-to-understand America’s relationship with guns. Gun deaths and school shooting are commonplace in American communities – yet US politicians seem incapable or powerless to implement any type of gun reform. So, what’s going on and what role has the NRA, played in this political debate?


Predicting the weather—a history of the forecast

We take for granted the accuracy of predictions and warnings put out by our weather forecasters. Once, weather predictions were the butt of jokes but today the Bureau of Meteorology can accurately forecast the weather for the next seven to ten days. How did this happen?


Zero-COVID in China—the social economic and political cost

While the rest of the world is learning to live with COVID-19, China is still following its zero-COVID policy with citywide lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine. But there’s a social and economic cost and, potentially, also a political one. Why is the Chinese leadership sticking with the policy?


Sri Lanka—failed state

Street protests and violence have accompanied Sri Lanka’s worst economic downturn since independence in 1948. What is behind the blackouts and acute shortages of food and fuel?


Trouble in the ‘family’—Australia’s relationship with its Pacific neighbours

The recent signing of the security pact between China and the Solomon Island has sent shock waves through the Federal election campaign. Questions are being asked about our relationship with the Solomon Islands and with other Pacific nations. What is behind Australia’s relationship with the Pacific nations?


The Marcos revival—from pariahs to the presidency in the Philippines

If Ferdinand Marcos Junior wins this week’s presidential election as expected, it will cap off a most remarkable come-back for a family exiled in the 1980s after stripping the country of billions and driving the economy into the ground.


Roe v Wade

A draft ruling leaked to the press suggests the US Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling guaranteeing abortion rights. This Rear Vision was first broadcast in June, 2019.


Germany’s Ruhr—from coal mines to culture

For over one hundred years, the Ruhr region was the grimy, polluted heart of Germany’s coal and steel. Today it has no coal mines. Instead, it is a cultural hub more than fifty museums and is a centre for green energy innovation. How did they do it?


The Greens—politics and the environment

In this year’s election campaign, well-funded independents are arguing for a better approach to managing climate change. What might this mean for the political party that’s been urging action on climate change for years – the Australian Greens?


Chocolate—the world’s most seductive treat and its dark shadow

Chocolate is one of our most popular indulgences but there is a darker side to the industry – one connected with colonialism, the industrial revolution and modern-day slavery.


President Emmanuel Macron—his brilliant career

Five years ago, Emmanuel Macron became France’s youngest-ever president at the age of thirty-nine. It was a stunning victory, the result of a bold strategy and a solid dose of good luck. Can he pull it off again?


The history of international criminal law

Human history is littered with atrocities and genocides committed during war and for centuries civilised nations have struggled to deal with this kind of violence.


The far-right in France—where does it come from and why is it so popular?

The two far-right candidates, Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are expected to do well in the forthcoming French presidential election. Why is the Right so strong in France and what is its connection with the Nazi occupation in World War II?


Brisbane—city of floods

Brisbane is a city all too familiar with floods, despite decades of dredging, straightening and dam building. Although each flood is remembered for the community spirit and resilience shown by the people who endured it, they reveal the risks inherent in a city built on a flood plain.


Cyclone Tracy—one of Australia’s worst natural disasters and what the government did

Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin early on Christmas morning in 1974. Within hours, a coordinated national response was underway and within three years the city had been rebuilt - better than before. How did they do it?