Vol 26 No 2

31 January 2016

Various faces of multicultural Australia



Electing a president in an age of superheroes

1 Comment
07 February 2016 | Jim McDermott

Donald TrumpMany Americans want a President who speaks to their deepest dreams and ideals. A champion. Trump's vision of reality is the polar opposite of Obama's, a hellscape where foreigners, the unemployed (and women) are eroding society. But, like Obama, he has positioned himself as a champion of those filled with frustration, insisting it doesn't have to be this way. Bernie Sanders is in many ways the Trump of the left, a political outsider who says what progressive Americans have long been thinking.

Offers of sanctuary brighten Australia's refugee dark age

07 February 2016 | Justin Glyn

Gosford Anglican Church sign offering sanctuary to asylum seekersChurches across Australia have made headlines by offering sanctuary to those who stand to be returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, including 37 babies and a raped five-year-old whose attacker still resides there. In doing so, they have been rediscovering an old concept and reminding the government what refugee law was for in the first place. As in the Dark Ages, where the organs of the state are unable or unwilling to protect the vulnerable, it is the churches who are speaking out.


No retrospective fix for traumatised refugees

04 February 2016 | Kerry Murphy

Refugees Are People, Love Makes A Way protestor placardsThe practice of governments using the Parliament to change the law in order to win court cases is unfair, as only one party to a court case has the power to do this. The M68 case decided on Wednesday, which challenged the detention and transfer to Nauru of asylum seekers, was effectively won by the government because they changed the law retrospectively to make sure they would win. No retrospective fix will be possible for people who fled persecution only to face a punitive and hostile policy.


The Bernie Sanders Factor in US and Australian elections

04 February 2016 | Fatima Measham

Bernie SandersThe Bernie Sanders phenomenon in the US, like Corbyn in the UK and Podemos in Spain, demonstrates the rhetorical potency of renewal; of politics not as usual. It is the sort of thing that resonates with disaffected young people. While it is not entirely sensible to extrapolate developments in the US to Australia, it is worth speculating on the impact of our own changing demographics. Are the major parties equipped to take advantage of these shifts? Are they appealing to a new Australia that is already here?


The problem of privilege in transgender stories

03 February 2016 | Tim Kroenert

As a white, middle-class, straight, cisgendered man, I am conscious of the extent to which the chips of social privilege have been stacked in my favour. As such there are some public conversations that I am patently unqualified to enter. One of these is the sometimes fierce debate that exists between some feminists and some members or supporters of the transgender community. One of the pitfalls of telling a story about marginalisation from a perspective of privilege is that you can overlook ethical nuances.


High Court not the answer to Nauru depravity

03 February 2016 | Frank Brennan

ABC report on Nauru storyFollowing Wednesday's High Court decision, the moral depravity of Australian funded offshore detention of asylum seekers, including children, is to continue. There is no joy to be found in our High Court applying a Constitution even more bereft of human rights protections than that of Nauru. It's time for our politicians to address the political and moral question: what purpose is actually served by sending this mum and her baby back to Nauru, when the boats have already stopped and will stay stop?

There's no cheap path to harmony

02 February 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

World Interfaith Harmony Week butterfly logoOf the United Nations Days and Weeks, World Interfaith Harmony Week is one of the most recent and perhaps the most modestly celebrated. It may also be the most needed. But the conversation cannot be confined to the churches and to those with religious faith. Its claim needs to extend beyond religious faiths to secular views of the world. The obstacle to such conversation is the religious settlement in Australia and Western nations, which can be described as negative tolerance.


GST justice

1 Comment
02 February 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Scott Morrison presents GST revenue to a well-off person as a tax cut instead of to representatives of a public school and hospital. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


What is a brown body worth?

02 February 2016 | Somayra Ismailjee

Stylised brown bodies and white bodies on scalesA perception of Muslims as 'savage' and antithetical to peace accounts for incidents where overtly racist people can rejoice easily at the loss of human life, to little negative reaction. When a person is deemed unworthy or bereft of humanity, their death becomes gruesomely welcome. While Islamophobia itself does not define racism, Muslim people exemplify ideas of a cardinal threat against the Anglocentric West, which laterally affects how brown non-Muslim minority groups are treated.


My Baghdad dreams

1 Comment
01 February 2016 | John Falzon

BaghdadI bite on life. The bitterness will daunt but not defeat me. And I hear you. I can never give you voice. My dreams take speed. My Baghdad dreams take speed. My rest my head against the pillow of the west ... Exclamation bombs my Baghdad ... You don't have long to live sweet parliament.


Republican Turnbull must lead, not wait

01 February 2016 | John Warhurst

xxxxxIt is understandable that Turnbull sees no benefit in a second heroic failure caused by moving too soon. But political leaders who wait for overwhelming popular support are self-serving, because top-down support is needed for success. While January brought unprecedented approval from political leaders and the support of the Australian of the Year, the Australian Republican Movement must continue to be energetic and ambitious, and meet Turnbull's challenge to become still larger and more popular.

Australian of the Year's strong case for empathy

31 January 2016 | Justin Glyn

David MorrisonAustralia woke on 26 January to the news that David Morrison had been named Australian of the Year. One of the most striking features he displays is empathy. It is a quality in vanishingly short supply in public discourse, yet is fundamental. Unless we can put the individual on a broader canvass, our world view is incomplete. I am important, but unless you are recognised as being just as important as I, then you are just a plaything for me. My rights are bounded by your rights, your value as a person.


Kidnapped woman's post-traumatic love

31 January 2016 | Tim Kroenert

For seven years, Joy has been held prisoner in the garden shed of a suburban maniac. During this time she has raised a son, Jack, who is now five, employing elaborate and imaginative methods to nurture and educate him, while protecting him from the reality of their existence. Room is remarkable for its capacity to transmit the bleakness of Joy's situation via the wonder-full gaze of Jack, for whom this makeshift prison is the entire world, bursting with possibilities for recreation, rest and learning.


Downsizing numbers can't silence Indigenous protests

31 January 2016 | Celeste Liddle

Invasion Day rallyOn the day of the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne, I was abused for wearing a pro-Aboriginal rights t-shirt. I wasn't shocked. Indeed, I even expected it. It is not the first time I have been abused as an Indigenous activist on Australia Day. What did shock me were the media reports on the rally. When I read that the densely packed, energetic, noisy crowd consisted of only 150 people, I was surprised, to say the least. I and other seasoned protesters estimated the crowd at around 3-5000.