Editor's note

The banking royal commission says mortgage brokers are part of the problem. It wants to deny them commissions from lenders, and require them to act in their customers’ best interests (which, oddly, they are not legally required to do at the moment). Yet their customers seem supremely happy. Half of all new mortgages are provided by mortgage brokers, up from hardly any before the industry took off 25 years ago. This morning Mark Humphery-Jenner asks whether there is a problem at all. Yes it is true that they are paid by the sellers rather than the buyers, but so are refrigerator salespeople, and most of them give pretty good service.

Also today is the next instalment in our series Hidden Women of History. The life cycle of a butterfly might seem fairly obvious to most of us but this seemingly basic bit of biology was once hotly debated, writes Tanya Latty. It was the meticulous observations of a pioneering 17th century naturalist, Maria Sibylla Merian, that conclusively linked caterpillars to butterflies, “laying the groundwork for the fields of entomology, animal behaviour and ecology”. But this scientific superhero was erased from science history for centuries. As an artist and mother with no formal scientific training, Merian’s work was sidelined by sexism - until recently.

Peter Martin

Section Editor, Business and Economy

Top story

Most mortgage brokers provide good service. Shutterstock

Honest brokers. Why mortgage broker commissions aren’t the problem

Mark Humphery-Jenner, UNSW

The push against brokers might be right in theory, wrong in practice.

A colour portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian by Dutch artist Jacobus Houbraken, circa 1700. Wikimedia Commons

Hidden women of history: Maria Sibylla Merian, 17th-century entomologist and scientific adventurer

Tanya Latty, University of Sydney

Maria Sibylla Merian's meticulous observations laid the groundwork for the fields of entomology, animal behaviour and ecology. But the legacy of this scientific superhero has been sidelined by sexism.

One of these people is on a wanted list for theft. A super-recogniser may pick them at a glance. from www.shutterstock.com

Super-recognisers accurately pick out a face in a crowd – but can this skill be taught?

Alice Towler, UNSW; David White, UNSW

Even the world’s best available training – used to train police, border control agents and other security personnel – does not compensate for natural talent in face recognition.

Politics + Society

Health + Medicine


  • Living ‘liveable’: this is what residents have to say about life on the urban fringe

    Leila Mahmoudi Farahani, RMIT University; Billie Giles-Corti, RMIT University; Cecily Maller, RMIT University; Melanie Lowe, Australian Catholic University

    Much of the growth in our cities is in the outer suburbs, now home to around 5 million people. And that creates problems like traffic that detract from the advantages residents see in living there.

Arts + Culture

Science + Technology



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