Vol 24 No 24

08 December 2014


Paul Collins illuminates sectarian divide in Australian history

18 December 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

'A Very Contrary Irishman – The Life and Journeys of Jeremiah O’Flynn' coverThe chasm between Catholics and Protestants is thankfully unknown to my children. Paul Collins' new book A Very Contrary Irishman - The Life and Journeys of Jeremiah O'Flynn is a labour of love that presents a very driven man of the colonial era whose actions - and attributed actions - changed lives and helped shape our culture.


An Aussie Muslim's Taiwan Christmas

18 December 2014 | Irfan Yusuf

Tainan templeChristmas is a fabulous time to spend at home. Even those of us who aren’t terribly Christian can enjoy a free holiday with friends and family. And if you like choral music, you can always come along with me and a Jewish mate to St Mary's Cathedral. But last Christmas I found myself in Taiwan.


#illridewithyou shows the kind of world that is possible

18 December 2014 | John Falzon

'I'll ride with you' posterWhile the horrible tragedy was underway in Martin Place, a remarkable thing happened. We saw, and continue to see, a powerful sense of compassion in the 'I'll ride with you' spontaneous pledges. One one level it was a simple offer of human support. But it was also a deeply profound declaration of a vision for a just and inclusive Australia. 


A messy birth and a vulnerable baby

17 December 2014 | Richard Leonard

‘What Are We Waiting For Finding Meaning in Advent and Christmas’ cover imageAt a Christmas party, I met the charge nurse of the maternity ward. Pleading that because I was a celibate I would never be at a birth, I enquired if I might be allowed to come and see'. … Mary and I met six hours into her labor, which was an unusual circumstance within which to meet your birthing partner.' She had very little small talk, maybe because she had no breath at all.


Ten films that will get you talking

17 December 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Matthew McConaughey in InterstellarIt's December, and film writers everywhere are putting together their lists of the best films of 2014. But best-of lists are so subjective, so here's our take: ten films from 2014 that are guaranteed to get you thinking, and talking!


Bad Christmases are nothing new

17 December 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

The first 'bad Christmas'Shady family members who turn up uninvited, unresolved sibling rivalries, end of working year pressures. In a way they recall the organisational disarray of the first Christmas... A rocky engagement, the man discovering that his fiancée was pregnant with a child that was not his, a long march to fill in tax forms, having to give birth in a paddock and suffer an invasion from disreputable shepherds and odd foreigners.


Santa Abbott

16 December 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Fiona Katauskas cartoon shows skeptical voters looking on as Santa Abbott is towed on his sleigh by a team of flying pigs

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


Aussie diggers' pen as mighty as their sword

16 December 2014 | Gillian Bouras

Cartoon from 'Aussie'A soldier's life is usually one of bursts of brief action followed by extended periods of drudgery and boredom, and never was this more true than during this dreadful war of attrition that dragged on apparently interminably between 1914 and 1918. A book titled Aussie was published in 1920 as a bound collection of AIF soldiers’ own paper of the battlefield, wholly written, illustrated and printed in the field. 


Joe Hockey's prize orchid

16 December 2014 | Marcelle Mogg

Prized orchidIn his Mid Year Financial Economic Outlook statements this week, Treasurer Joe Hockey construed 'The Economy' as a rare prized orchid, requiring careful nurturing. The orchid is to be admired, and the gardener more so for the skill, expertise and craft that gives rise to such a beautiful creation. The trouble with treating The Economy like a prized bloom is that we fail to recognise that the it exists to serve people. 


Martin Place terror belies quiet progress in relations between cultures

15 December 2014 | Zac Alstin

Lindt chocolate shop seigeThe siege at the Lindt chocolate shop in Sydney's Martin Place is frightening for all Australians. It also obscures the progress of relations between Muslims and other Australians, as such events have such an unfortunate polarising 'us and them' effect.


Wee Mary MacKillop minds the shop

15 December 2014 | Brian Doyle

Young Mary MacKillop bronze statueI can tell you that Fitzroy always was and will be a wry wilderness; Every colour and ethnicity and language you can imagine lives there... And now I see wee quiet shy Mary MacKillop there, minding a shop. She is fourteen. Her people are Scottish. She will be legendary, later.


Politics of mediocrity threaten Blake religious art prize

14 December 2014 | Michael Mullins

'Richard' by Hedy RittermanOur fickle politics shows that the majority of Australians are prepared to gloss over serious issues such as how to answer the life and death needs of the refugees whose lives have been disrupted by the wars we wage. Politicians are driven by opinion polls, and most corporate sponsors are inclined to follow their lead. That is why Saturday's 63rd Blake religious art prize may be the last.


Activists strike back against the Empire

11 December 2014 | Sally Cloke

Love Makes a Way badgeOn Wednesday, 53 Christian protesters were arrested staging 'pray-in' actions at politicians' offices around the country. Eight were allegedly strip searched before being formally charged with trespass after praying in the Perth office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. There are echoes of martyrdom in the early church, which involved the refusal to worship the emperor. In contemporary Australia, the resistance is to the border protection regime.


My Christmas cake friend

11 December 2014 | Catherine Marshall

Naively decorated Christmas cakeOn Christmas Eve I will deliver, for the twelfth year in a row, an iced, naively decorated fruitcake to my oldest and dearest Australian friend, Enid. I will pull up into the driveway of her brick home. She will open the front door before I have even knocked, and before she’s even kissed me hello will tell me how beautiful the cake is and how she couldn’t possibly cut into it.

Australia turns its back on a world in need

11 December 2014 | Paul O'Callaghan

Boxing Day Tsunami Sri LankaAs we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami, Australia's proud achievement in being the largest per capita provider of overseas aid at the time is being overshadowed by reports of further devastating government cuts to our aid program. Successive cuts - including 20 per cent in the May Budget - mean that we are starting to be seen as a country turning inwards. 


Drug mule's poo strike stymies bad cops

10 December 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Angus Sampson, The MuleDuring an end-of-season trip to Bangkok, impressionable country footy dork Ray is badgered by one of his teammates into turning drug mule. He is picked up in Melbourne, where a couple of nasty cops detain him under supervision for seven days, waiting for him to pass the heroin-filled balloons he ingested. Ray is beset on all sides by systemic corruption, which makes his refusal to poo — fuelled not by greed but by a kind of everyman nobility — seem truly heroic.


Lessons learned from Phillip Hughes grieving

10 December 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Phillip Hughes media coverageHughes' death became a media event. Media analysis of death and grieving makes it more difficult to respond simply and naturally because we are made self-conscious, aware of what we are doing and how it might be seen by others. It affects the intimate connections associated with grieving, as well as our ability to be touched by hope. A specificity that only exacerbates loss.


The (Mean) Spirit of Christmas

09 December 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Scott Morrison toasts those less fortunate and gives thanks for the political advantage they offer

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


Hapless Joe Hockey

09 December 2014 | David James

Joe HockeyOne of the fascinating aspects of Australia's political pantomime is the manner in which the Federal Treasurer is forced to metamorphose into a used car salesman who is spruiking the Australian economy. One reason for the relative impotence of the Treasurer is that the Federal government only has control over fiscal policy. Monetary policy, the interest rate, is set by the Reserve Bank, not the government.


Fighter who found community on the streets

09 December 2014 | Steve Sinn

Sue will always be for me flesh and blood, her trust I will forever cherish. Hers was a wretched life from the beginning to the end. But for some reason I feel impelled to lift her name out of the anonymity narrative that includes the vast numbers of people who have gone before us. 


Another year bites the parliamentary dirt

08 December 2014 | Frank Brennan

Senator Bronwyn Bishop in Speaker's ChairWhat a dreadful year it has been for parliamentary democracy. Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has taken pride in the number of members she has ejected. Senator David Leyonhjelm has introduced his same sex marriage bill in an orderly fashion, but the decision will rest with the Abbott Government, which won't want to to hand the bouquet for breaking the logjam to Leyonhjelm. To get arrangements for the bearing and nurturing of children right, we need our parliament to be a more considered and dignified place than a battlefield.


God's little twinkler

08 December 2014 | Jordie Albiston

Girl at window —trembly bubble of life —raindrop clinging still to cold window glass —illuminated deity —stunning —hosanna on heat —heaven in a melt —earth on its knees beneath serious sun


Death of a disability dynamo

07 December 2014 | Fatima Measham

Stella YoungDeath loses its abstraction when a person like Stella Young dies. It becomes material. It makes itself manifest in the silence, which it somehow solidifies: the unwritten word, the unspoken retort, the unmade joke. 'Disability doesn't make you exceptional,' she told a TED audience in Sydney last April. 'But questioning what you think you know about it does.' Stella flipped what we thought we knew about many things.


Almost no silver lining in new TPV cloud

07 December 2014 | Kerry Murphy

Asylum seeker protestIt is possible to understand why Senators Xenophon and Muir supported the bad law that reintroduces temporary protection visas. They saw it as a small improvement now for people in desperate circumstances, and that is true. The real culprit is the irrational and punitive policy pursued by the Government. 

Good parents don't make gender stereotypical choices

07 December 2014 | Michael Mullins

Gender stereotypical toysAmong this year's silly season news stories is the trivialising treatment of Greens Senator Larissa Waters' deadly serious call for parents to avoid buying Christmas toys that gender stereotype their children. 'Blue for boys, pink for girls' is a dogma that can do real harm to young people, and parents should focus instead on what makes their children genuinely happy. There is no room for judgment and coercion that seeks to make them someone they are not.