Vol 24 No 20

13 October 2014


Australian history through the eyes of Joe Hockey's dirt digger

1 Comment
23 October 2014 | Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk

Cover of Girt The Unauthorised History of AustraliaSatirist David Hunt's best-selling Girt The Unauthorised History of Australia prompted Joe Hockey to hire him as speech writer. There’s plenty of dirt. Australia was the place to be, writes Hunt, 'unless you were black. Or a woman. Or gay. Or suspected of being Irish. Or even worse, all of the above'.


Toleration must include understanding

23 October 2014 | Benedict Coleridge

Religious tolerance graphicThe 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. 


Journalist martyr's war on drugs

1 Comment
22 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb in Kill the MessengerIn 1996, US journalist Gary Webb claimed in the San Jose Mercury News that the CIA and US State Department had supported the smuggling of crack cocaine into the US, as a way to help fund Contra rebels against the revolutionary government of Nicaragua during the Reagan era. This 'dark alliance', Webb claimed, contributed significantly to the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, and fuelled the War on Drugs that Regan himself famously escalated.


Cash for refugees shames both Australia and Cambodia

22 October 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and Australian Immigration Minister Scott MorrisonCambodia'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. 


Picking your battles

21 October 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Fiona Katauskas' cartoon Picking Your Battles depicts the contrast between Tony Abbott's enthusiasm for two separate causes - the fight against Middle East extremists and Ebola.

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


Church legally liable for pre-1996 child sexual abuse

21 October 2014 | Frank Brennan

Cardinal George Pell video link to Royal Commission from RomeReviewing 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. 

Memories of Gough

21 October 2014 | Frank Brennan

Gough Whitlam 1975What he did for me, he did for countless other Australians who dreamt of a better world and a nobler Australia. Even his political opponents are forever in his debt for having elevated the national vision and for having given us a more complete and generous image of ourselves. 

Synod affirms Francis' vision of church governance

21 October 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Pope Francis arrives a Synod hallThe 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.

The legal fiction that sealed Baby Ferouz's fate

20 October 2014 | Kerry Murphy

Baby FerouzSuccessive 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.

Why coal is not good for humanity

20 October 2014 | Bronwyn Lay

Anti-coal protesterThe 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.


If Jesus was gay

20 October 2014 | Barry Gittins

Jesus figureHope for unseen vistas Peace for travelled paths. Joy for slaughtered innocence. Love for aftermath. Grace for unsought trials. Faith for visions fouled.


Catholic Church returns to pluriformity of Vatican II

19 October 2014 | Neil Ormerod

Session at Synod on the FamilyConservative 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.


Red tape leaves Australia with compassion deficit

19 October 2014 | Michael Mullins

Woman caught in red tapeAustralia has been unable to secure an ‘ironclad’ guarantee from a closer country that it would treat an Australian worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa. Why would they open their hearts to West African Ebola victims and not to Australians?  Thinking that imposes red tape on Australian humanitarian workers with demands of ironclad guarantees defies the logic of compassion.


Mrs Clooney chooses patriarchy

16 October 2014 | Catherine Marshall

Mr & Mrs George ClooneyIt came as a surprise, in our apparently post–feminist world, to hear that human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin had adopted her husband George Clooney’s surname upon marriage. By deleting her own birth name, Amal Clooney is buying into the Western tradition of coverture, established with the express intention of legally constituting women as possessions of their husbands. 


Quality childcare an investment in the future

16 October 2014 | Lin Hatfield Dodds

Father and sonChildren 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. 


National Curriculum a step forward

15 October 2014 | Chris Middleton

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.  


Same-sex marriage on trial

15 October 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Sandra Stier, Kristin Perry, Jeffrey Zarillo and Paul KatamiMothers-of-four Kris and Sandra had wed before a contingent of family and friends, only to be later advised by post that their marriage was void. Paul and Jeffrey refused to embrace an alternative form of legal recognition of their relationship that would render them as 'second-class citizens'. Their conservative lawyer Ted Olson argues that marriage is a fundamentally conservative institution that would only be strengthened by extending it to same-sex couples.


Fix poverty by getting to know a poor person

15 October 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Silhouette of poor personsUltimately 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.


Getting shirty

14 October 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

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


Iraq intervention meets just war conditions

14 October 2014 | Chris Middleton

Crucifixion victimThe 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.


Where it all went wrong for Islam

14 October 2014 | Tim Mayfield

Muslim at prayerActor Ben Affleck was only partly right in his recent take-down of conservative US pundits Bill Maher and Sam Harris for their perceived 'Islamaphobia'. The reality is that there is a battle for the heart and soul of Islam that has been playing out around the globe since the 60s and 70s. It is therefore only natural that an ideology that rejects the failed colonial paradigm of nation-states and instead promotes the grand vision of a resurrected caliphate is compelling to many.


Shooting hoops for the health of it

14 October 2014 | Ben O'Mara

Basketball playerAt 6:30 am I pull on my compression tights, lace up my black and bubble gum blue boots, throw on a crumpled, old t-shirt, and join the early risers to play basketball at my local sports and aquatic centre. This twice weekly ritual has helped me realise that sport heals when I play it on my own terms.


A conundrum for Pope Francis

13 October 2014 | Paul Collins

Synod audienceMelbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart told Vatican Radio that the Bishops currently attending the Synod on the Family in Rome 'want to engage with people and see the needs of families ...  The bishops have been emphasising that we are pastors'. This emphasis indicates Pope Francis' challenge when he asks the bishops to assume the level of leadership necessary to act collegially with him.


The other hero of Anzac

13 October 2014 | Robyn Rowland

Sister Muriel WakefordMuriel Wakeford was stunned to see the ocean suddenly scarlet, a shoal of new-mown corpses that lay face-down in the sea. She saw what few steps most men managed before a grey hail began dropping them like insects sprayed.


Young people can't live on fresh air and sunshine

12 October 2014 | John Falzon

Anti-Poverty Week posterDuring Anti-Poverty Week we're asked to take the side of the people who are made to feel like they are nothing. We join those of us who believe in working towards the kind of society where vulnerability is respectfully shared and supported rather than brutally exploited. We believe that humanity will win against humiliation. 


Who will feel better after Medibank privatisation?

12 October 2014 | David James

Medibank Private advertisingFederal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann announced 'the scoping study found no evidence that premiums would increase as a result of the sale' of Medibank Private. But the sale is being presented as a way to make the fund more efficient. If successful, Medibank Private will become even more dominant than it is at present and there will be pressure to raise premiums to achieve its purpose of keeping shareholders happy.