Kerry Murphy | 11 March 2014
When I was young, I remember being encouraged to give up lollies or chocolate for Lent. On the eve of the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday last week, the Immigration Minister announced he would be effectively giving up granting protection visas for refugees for the duration of Lent, and beyond, until 1 July.
Fatima Measham | 10 March 2014
After more than a decade of refugee advocacy, campaigns still cater to small 'l' liberals and progressives. They are of course critical to consolidating support for asylum seekers and sustaining political pressure. Yet the debate has become so polarised that it would seem as if the left has a monopoly on compassion. This is a serious campaign problem because it alienates those who might otherwise be allies.
Michael Mullins | 10 March 2014
The Federal Government plans to change the Racial Discrimination Act to give preference to free speech over protecting individuals and groups from vilification. It is not surprising that there is strong media support for the changes, as they will give investigative reporters and shock jocks alike the legislative freedom they need to do their job. But the Government must include robust legislation to penalise those who get their facts wrong.
Evan Ellis | 07 March 2014
My tutor in Kunming was deeply shaken by the mass stabbings last weekend that left 29 civilians dead. When Chinese authorities put out a request for blood donors in the city, giving blood was all she wanted to do. The city's blood banks have struggled to accommodate the throng of willing donors, the upturned arms of ordinary citizens replacing some of the blood spilt by the long knives. This strikes me as profoundly Eucharistic.
Benedict Coleridge | 07 March 2014
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam this week excoriated Tony Abbott, homing in on Abbott's politics of fear. Whatever you think of the speech, its implication was that politics includes a struggle over the cultivation, control and directing of public emotions. While our instinct is to think of our politics in terms of discussion and consensus, the public sphere also includes forms of expression beyond speech, such as ritual, recognition and mourning.
Andrew Hamilton | 06 March 2014
To call someone a bleeding heart is an insult, not a description. It has no meaning but does have connotations. Those who call advocates for asylum seekers bleeding hearts usually dismiss ethical arguments. Although they may accept in the case of personal relationships that it would be wrong to inflict pain on people in order to deter others, they usually claim without supporting argument that governments are not bound by this ethical principle.
Tony Thompson | 05 March 2014
The museum traces the civil rights protests right up to the game-changing Bloody Sunday killings of 1972. As I looked at the photographs of the terrible day, a man who worked at the museum stood beside me and asked if I recognised the building. I looked again to realise it was the museum itself. 'That's my brother,' he said, pointing to the badly injured young man in the photo. The young man had died ten feet from where we were standing.
Tony Kevin | 05 March 2014
Tony Abbott's 'We warn the Czar' statements were ludicrously over-the-top, though clearly he was responding to a Washington appeal to friendly allies to say something. I hope Australia will not continue to overplay its hand in the Security Council. There is no point in gratuitously offending Moscow on an issue that is outside our strategic area of interest and raises no human rights concerns whatsoever.
John Warhurst | 04 March 2014
The general lessons from the conflict of interest that claimed Alastair Furnival, chief of staff to Assistant Health Minister Senator Fiona Nash, are about the often-hidden world of political insiders. The numbers of Coalition aligned lobbyists has grown greatly, and include many former senior Howard Government ministers. But Labor supporters should not feel smug. There are plenty of examples on that side of politics, too.
Michael Mullins | 03 March 2014
In the face of the Federal Government's resolve to be unemotional in its attitude to financial assistance for Qantas, we have Bill Shorten warning us against 'waving goodbye to an Australian icon'. Underlying mention of Qantas as an 'Australian icon' could be the sentiment associated with the 1990s resurgence of nationalism and its racist undertones associated with Pauline Hanson.
Lyn Bender | 03 March 2014
I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust and have spent years in therapy coming to terms with the murder of my relatives and the destruction my parents' world. I now find myself confronting a future potential holocaust of gigantic proportions. Al Gore has warned us of the danger of moving from denial to despair, while omitting hopeful or determined action. Our only hope is to face the reality.