Benedict Coleridge | 24 October 2014
The repeal of the burka ban in parliament followed woeful comments from ignorant senators and an obvious lack of real government consultation with Australia’s Muslim communities, spotlighted an embarrassing level of illiteracy with regard to Islam. We need to move beyond a token religious ‘tolerance’ that is paired with incomprehension of the religious other, towards promoting a more engaged understanding that entails some comprehension of how religious and other cultural traditions fit together.
Andrew Hamilton | 23 October 2014
Cambodia's agreement with Australia to receive refugees from Nauru is moving to implementation. The UN and other critics are saying it breaches Australia’s responsibility to provide protection for refugees. Clearly the Australian Government is doing it for the political benefit and Cambodia is in it for the money. It can be compared to surrogacy agreements in which poor Asian women are paid to bear children for wealthy Australian couples.
Frank Brennan | 22 October 2014
Reviewing Cardinal Pell's evidence to the Royal Commission in August, I have concluded that Catholics need to accept moral responsibility and legal liability for all child sexual abuse committed by clergy prior to 1996, regardless of what might be the moral or legal position after 1996 when improved measures for supervision and dismissal of errant clergy were put in place.
Andrew Hamilton | 22 October 2014
The Synod was reported in some media as a defeat for Pope Francis at the hands of conservative bishops. Yet for one who had suffered a defeat, the Pope seemed remarkably buoyant at the end of the event. It's likely that he saw it as a victory for his vision of church governance, as it allowed participants to engage in open discussion in which nothing was put off bounds.
Bronwyn Lay | 21 October 2014
The French social scientist Bruno Latour referred to the 'uniquely Australian strategy of voluntary sleepwalking towards catastrophe'. His view conflicts with that of our prime minister, who said last week that coal is good for humanity. Abbott's thinking forgets that humanity lives within the earth's critical zone, a home that's not looking so good for humanity.
Kerry Murphy | 21 October 2014
Successive Australian Governments have created fictions that aim to exclude asylum seekers. The latest example is the case of Baby Ferouz, whose protection visa application was refused in the Federal Circuit Court last week. Normally, a child born in Australia is considered to have the same visa as their parents. But Ferouz’s parents had no visa, so lawyers in Brisbane arranged for her to apply for a protection visa.
Neil Ormerod | 20 October 2014
Conservative elements were quick to criticise the interim 'relatio' of the Synod that opened the door to gay and other estranged Catholics. Undoubtedly there will be pushback, but the Catholic Church is going through something not experienced since Vatican II – a Church willing to debate topics once felt long settled, without fear or favour.
Lin Hatfield Dodds | 17 October 2014
Children of the 1980s are likely to have been cared for full-time by a parent. But most of them are now combining parenting with paid employment as they become parents today. The Productivity Commission has been asked to make childcare and early learning services affordable and flexible, to ensure children don't get in the way of workforce participation. But the other priority, which is perhaps easier to ignore, has to do with the quality of care and learning offered.
Andrew Hamilton | 16 October 2014
Ultimately people will be prepared to accept responsibility for those who are poor only if they know them as persons and not as media fodder. If we do not have some personal acquaintance with the lives of people who are disadvantaged we shall come to see them as an abstraction or a problem to be solved.
Chris Middleton | 16 October 2014
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has supported a national curriculum, while some observers have cautioned that it is not the panacea for improving educational standards that many may hope for. The Federal Review report released in the past week addresses many of the concerns, and on the whole their recommendations seem appropriate and constructive.
Chris Middleton | 15 October 2014
The theory of just war has evolved as a way of laying out the conditions under which a war may be justified morally. The case against ISIS in terms of it being an aggressive force inflicting lasting, grave and certain damage is compelling. Millions of Iraqis and Syrians have been displaced and there is widespread hunger.