Vol 25 No 23

22 November 2015

Charlize Theron and Kate Winslett riding a sewing maching in dystopian Mad Max type scene



Turnbull-Abbott rivalry reveals Liberals' ideological chasm

30 November 2015 | John Warhurst

Cracked blue wallHistorically, it was Labor that was dogged by splits and ideologues, while the Liberals were perceived as practical. But the ideological chasm between Abbott and Turnbull suggests the Liberals are now a broader church than Labor. The party's ideological and factional conflict will continue unabated as the government contemplates the two big public debates of its next term: a referendum on constitutional recognition of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and a plebiscite on same sex marriage.


Not racist but

30 November 2015 | Barry Gittins

Racism written in splashed red paintI'm not homophobic, but if you question my relished prejudice, satirise my hissy fits, you're not playing fair. I'm not racist, but don't you call out my revulsion, or reveal cultural discrimination (not here over there). I'm not sexist but your flaunting of sexual freedom, power, makes me long for lost hour ... If you peer quite closely you will notice I am mostly not a loving breathing person (that's rare).


The changing face of racism

29 November 2015 | Ruby Hamad

Justice weighs POC people against white children, but the POC side of the scale is weighted down by an anvil called Race. Artwork by Chris JohnstonIt is naive to equate racism with individual acts of bigotry. The current anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment for instance goes deeper than sporadic attacks against individuals. Australian jobseekers with Middle-Eastern sounding surnames must submit up to 64 per cent more resumes than someone with an Anglo name in order to secure an interview. People may not actively engage in racist displays against Arabs, but that doesn't mean they are willing to spend time in close proximity to them.

Say no to increasing force against detainees

29 November 2015 | Pamela Curr

Australian Border Force uniformOne of the most disturbing aspects of Border Force takeover of detention camps has been the increased use of force against people seeking asylum. Women have been especially targeted, with physical pat-downs before they come and go to medical or counselling appointments triggering panic attacks in some as it has brought flashbacks of sexual abuse and rape attacks in Nauru. Next week in the Senate, the Government is seeking even more powers to use against women, children and men in detention.


Working mum contemplates balance amid chaos

1 Comment
26 November 2015 | Jen Vuk

Balanced ballsThe tweet I sent that afternoon pretty much summed things up: 'Running late for work-life balance seminar. Why? Life, of course.' The irony was not lost on me. While officially I work part-time, I also freelance as a writer, volunteer regularly at my kids' primary school, have increasingly frail elderly parents who I feel terribly responsible for, and try to keep fit and maintain some semblance of a social life. On the day of the seminar on work-life balance, I'd managed to fill my schedule to breaking point.


Unions may be the answer for exploited garment workers

26 November 2015 | Beth Doherty

Aftermath of Tazreen Fashions fireThis week marked three years since the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, left over 100 garment workers dead. Six months later, Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, and 1134 people were killed. Labels for top brands such as H&M and Benetton were found in the rubble. While steps have been taken by some companies to promote ethical supply chains, it may be that the only way for a more just treatment of garment workers is the proper organisation of the workers themselves.


What led to the trashing of Christmas Island

25 November 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

An image from Christmas Island detention centre released by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's officeQuestions remain regarding the recent death and disturbance on Christmas Island, posed by the responses by New Zealand and Australian government ministers to the unrest. New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne compared the Christmas Island regime to Guantanamo Bay. Australian Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton emphasised the $10 million damage to property. Both responses were partial. At a deeper level the riot was the predictable outcome of a brutal government policy.

Arts need inspiration, not more disruption

25 November 2015 | Esther Anatolitis

Mitch FifieldOne of the few industries lacking a national advocacy platform, the arts, was stunned when a political move was made to undermine the key policy and investment body. The Australia Council is still reeling, and arts leaders from around the country are scrambling to save their organisations and support their colleagues following the Council's drastic cancellation of entire funding rounds. At stake here is the nature of Australian culture and the public experience of it, both now and into the future.


Untangling the murky Turkey plane incident

25 November 2015 | Justin Glyn

Falling Russian warplaneThe downing of a Russian Sukhoi-24 bomber by Turkey reminds us of the risks which attend military intervention. There are, however, a number of additional complicating factors which promise to make the Syrian war even more dangerous and bloody for all sides. The situation could escalate dangerously. If this kind of event is not to become much more common, potentially leading to a much wider war, genuine peace talks with a lot more honesty on each side need to be a priority.


Malcolm Turnbull's confidence trick

24 November 2015 | Tim Robertson

Man in suit pulls ace of hearts out of sleeveThe vitriol with which much of the liberal mainstream media responded to Tony Abbott's Margaret Thatcher memorial speech last month confirmed what many rightwingers have been claiming: that Abbott's problem was not his policies, but his inability to sell them. As communicators, he and Turnbull are poles apart. To date, the most striking achievement of the Malcolm Turnbull confidence trick is that he's rewarded for his apparent progressivism, even when he speaks explicitly against it.


Grandmother activist's turbo charged climate passion

24 November 2015 | Peter Kirkwood

'The people who were most impacted were people in developing countries who I've cared about my whole life. And then I started having grandchildren too, so that passion to do something about climate change was turbo charged. The thought of little kids being swept out to sea because of a typhoon, or killed in a cyclone - they haunt me.' Thea Ormerod, President of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, was arrested last year while protesting the Maules Creek mine site in NSW.


A bigot by any other name

24 November 2015 | Fiona Katauskas

In Fiona Katauskas' latest cartoon, an Australian nationalist and ISIS radical shout identical us and them rhetoric

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


Government haste lays waste to consultation

23 November 2015 | Leanne O'Donnell

Raised hands in front of brick wallIn October last year, in my former role as regulatory manager of iiNet, I responded to a confidential industry consultation paper on the proposed data retention scheme. The Attorney-General's Department provided no response to that 22 page paper beyond an acknowledgment of receipt. It's frustrating to feel like a government is simply going through the motions of 'consultation'. This isn't an isolated case. There's too often a lack of meaningful consultation before bills are introduced into Parliament.


Cardinal Pell, his lawyers and the Royal Commission

23 November 2015 | Frank Brennan

Cardinal Pell before the Royal Commission in March 2014Last week the Herald Sun reported: 'Victims of child sexual abuse look set to be grilled by lawyers for Pell in a bid to quash explosive allegations he was complicit in a widespread cover-up.' As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommences its case study on the Catholic Church in Ballarat, it's only fair Pell have his lawyers cross examine these victims. His reputation is on the line and the commission has spared no effort in scrutinising his past actions.


Worn by remembering, mastered by great age

23 November 2015 | Grant Fraser, Ignatius Kim and Margaret Quigley

Woman with Alzheimer’sNot seven steps from the familiar geography of her room her bewilderment sagged on her walking frame as she shied away from the stern arm that was guiding her ... We composed ourselves upon the couch long enough for her to plead 'But I don't know who you are' as she trembled beneath the insult of my peering eyes and frowned away; and I felt a stranger's smile curdling on my face.


Adjustable ethics at the wheel of a self-driving car

1 Comment
22 November 2015 | Patrick McCabe

Self-driving carThe safety features of self-driving cars could save many lives. But driving also involves making decisions, including ethical ones. Imagine you're in your self-driving car, travelling at speed on a highway. Suddenly an oncoming road train swerves into your lane and thunders head-on towards you. You may just be able to swerve, but unfortunately five men are standing on the side of the road, and you will surely hit them. Should the self-driving car kill five people, or stay the course and kill you?


Australian film industry boys club needs redressing

22 November 2015 | Rochelle Siemienowicz

Kate Winslet in The DressmakerThe success of the Australian comedy The Dressmaker is thrilling to those watching the local film industry. There's more to cheer in the fact the film is proudly female in both story and production. We're not as bad as Hollywood, but even in Australia, there are not enough films for women, about women and by women. Since the 1970s male directors have been responsible for more than 85 per cent of the feature films made. Why does it matter? Because women are more likely to tell stories about women.