Vol 24 No 7

14 April 2014


My pop's Anzac nightmares

23 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Silhouette of a soldier playing a bugleAs a stretcher bearer, he tended to two landmine victims, including one who had lost his leg. He spent the night darting between the two men, providing physical aid, and whatever comfort and assurance was possible. Turns out he was lucky that he didn't end up laid out alongside them: the next morning he discovered that the entire narrow ridge was riddled with mines. 'That was fairly close,' he admitted. It was an understatement.


Anzac myths beyond the Alan Bond test

23 April 2014 | Ray Cassin

Soldiers silhouetteIn 1983, when his yacht Australia II won the America's Cup, Alan Bond hailed the feat as the greatest Australian victory since Gallipoli. His ludicrous misspeaking shows that by the 1980s the mythmakers' interpretation of the significance of Gallipoli was dominant. But the notion that the Diggers of Gallipoli and their successors in subsequent wars are somehow the paramount exemplars of Australian virtues does not survive scrutiny.


The peacemaker pope

23 April 2014 | Bruce Duncan

Pacem in Terris book coverQuite striking is the similarity between the warm response to Pope John XXIII half a century ago and to Pope Francis today. Both broke through the gilded cage of outdated conventions and stereotyped expectations. Both stepped over barriers of ideology or religion to evoke bonds of a common humanity committed to promoting the wellbeing of all people, especially the poor and marginalised. The contexts were of course quite different.


Abbott's royal gush

1 Comment
22 April 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Fiona Katauskas' cartoon 'Abbott's royal gush' shows Tony Abbott in a suit of armour kneeling and praising the infant Prince George, who is being fed by his father Prince William

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


A plague of killer robots

22 April 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The TerminatorKiller robots — drones in an advanced stage of development — are now a daytime reality. They will be autonomous in their operation, able to identify targets, track them down, work out the best way to destroy them, and learn from their failures, all without the need for human direction. These qualities raise serious ethical questions. Obama's use of just war theory to defend such drones was misguided at best, pernicious at worst.


My brother the silent veteran

22 April 2014 | Julie Kean

Australian soldier silhouetteI was 13 when he went to Vietnam. There was a kind of perverse status to be derived from having a brother called up for national service, and for him to head north of the equator was a further plus. When I participated in a Moratorium March it remained my secret. What did he see over there? What did he manage to forget over his subsequent 34 years? We'll never know because he never said. And he never participated in Anzac Day.

Sympathy for Barry O'Farrell

21 April 2014 | Moira Rayner

Barry O'FarrellOccupants of public office are expected to act in accordance with their oaths. An anti-corruption commissioner, for example, should be someone whose own conduct is not just seen to be, but is demonstrably, judicious, ethical and proper. Even a minor failure in that was the reason that, several years ago, I resigned as an acting corruption and crime commissioner in another state. In my case, it didn't end there. But in O'Farrell's it should.


Furze fires cast a pall over the coast

21 April 2014 | John Kinsella

Furze lined coastYou can see them cover the red sandstone range and spread over bogs from a vantage point high on Clear Island, furze fires that heat winter to spite itself. And leaving the island you catch an old man igniting a hedgerow, fire sucking light and throwing its carpet of smoke — no yellow flowers, just flame against itself.


In defence of Cardinal Pell

21 April 2014 | Frank Brennan

Cartoon of George Pell on a scooterI write to defend Cardinal Pell in the wake of Elizabeth Farrelly's claim in the Fairfax press that Pell, when appearing before Justice McClellan at the Royal Commission, proposed a 'priestly child abuse insurance scheme'. Pell is not one of my fans, and neither am I one of his. But I think Farrelly has unfairly kicked him when he is down, and muddied the waters about what is a critical issue for the victims of child sexual abuse.

Easter memory loss makes plastic of the present

16 April 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Moses parts the red seaBoth the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter are exercises in memory. The Jewish child who asks why this day is remembered is told a story of slavery in Egypt followed by deliverance by God. He stands in line with other children who asked the same question during the Holocaust. The devaluation of history and memory has a deeply corrosive effect on society. In our society we can see this in our treatment of asylum seekers.


Exploitation in gay adoption story

16 April 2014 | Tim Kroenert

Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming in Any Day NowCloseted gay lawyer Paul operates under a well-founded fear that his sexuality will imperil his career. He and his partner, drag queen Rudy, find that their status as a gay couple is used against them as they fight to retain custody of Marco, an abandoned teen with Down syndrome. This is a story marked by grave injustice, though we are expected to accept on face value that Marco will be better off with Rudy and Paul than in foster care.


Wily Harradine delivered for Indigenous Australians

15 April 2014 | Frank Brennan

Brian HarradineThe great Tasmanian Catholic warrior Brian Harradine did wonderful work in the Senate, the chamber Paul Keating described as 'unrepresentative swill'. He successfully negotiated significant improvements to the lamentable Howard Aboriginal land rights package. Seven years after the Wik debate, Democrats deputy leader Andrew Bartlett said: 'The agreement he reached on the Wik legislation was one of the few cases I would point to where John Howard was bested in negotiations'.

Second chances for AFL's Indigenous prodigal sons

15 April 2014 | Mike Bowden

Liam JurrahSome think AFL football is like a trampoline catapulting young Indigenous footballers into a fairytale life. But the recent resignation of young Indigenous player Dayle Garlett reveals again that success depends on more than talent. The contrasting stories of Liam Jurrah and Xavier Clarke in Darwin offer a salient lesson to players like Garlett and Marley Williams, the young player of Maori descent recently convicted on assault charges.


Push for boycott ban reveals economic double standard

15 April 2014 | Fatima Measham

Young man hold's a placard that declares 'Don't buy'A review of competition laws is allowing the Government and industry groups to push for a ban on environmental boycotts. It is a strange protectionism that portrays industries as victims, defenceless against the barrage of readily available information. It appears the free flow of information cannot be so free as to disrupt capital, and the only legitimate choices within a free market are ones unimpeded by ethics or conscience.


Abbott's political fairytale

15 April 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Fiona Katauskas' cartoon 'A Political Fairytale' shows a long nosed Tony Abbott telling political lies

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


On the way to Golgotha

1 Comment
14 April 2014 | Various

Desolate landscape with three crossesA path of varicose roots rising from sodden ground showed the way to a rock placed upon a rock; a face with random nails stuck like a half-crown of thorns in the roughly groomed clay; the eyes stared out from bulbous sacs, the mouth downturned like any mouth on any face ... I was frightened that he might choose me as a resting place.


Asylum seeker protest models 'habits of the heart'

14 April 2014 | Michael McVeigh

Protestors marchOn Sunday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the Government's treatment of asylum seekers. This wasn't a group of radicals — it was Grandma and Grandpa, Mum and Dad and the kids, making a statement to a callous political elite. Rather than simply asking how we can become more decent towards asylum seekers, it's time to ask: What reserves do we, as a country, have to resist inhumane forces that besiege us?

The people power of Game of Thrones pirates

13 April 2014 | Michael Mullins

Game of Thrones stillLast week's Game of Thrones series four premiere revealed Melbourne as the pirate capital of the world. The downloaders make a 'people power' claim to moral legitimacy because they think pay TV provider Foxtel's business model undermines the access they believe they are entitled to. Stories are not a cultural form of terra nullius, and human nature will not allow them to be wholly appropriated by business interests.

'Normal' royals are not like us

13 April 2014 | Ruby Hamad

'Baby prince' by Chris Johnston shows Prince George sitting on a throneBy clinging to this notion that the royals are just like us, even as we treat them as anything but, we brush aside the inconvenient fact that their status is a relic of a bygone era in which royal rule was enforced through brutal means. Is it right to forget that the British monarchy presided over colonialist expansion with all its associated genocides? A class system that bestows inherited superiority is a remnant of a more oppressive era best left in the past.