Best of 2013

06 January 2014


 

  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Protection visa sequel worse than the original

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 17 January 2014
    3 Comments

    The new TPV is harsher than the version introduced by the Howard Government, mainly because it has no pathway to a permanent visa — once granted, it is likely that the best you will ever get in Australia is a TPV. The TPV is a punishment, not a deterrent; a cruel visa that reflects the cruelty of the politicians introducing it.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Best of 2013: My Philippines typhoon fury

    • Fatima Measham
    • 17 January 2014
    1 Comment

    I may have gotten extremely sweary on social media. Part of it was due to gut-deep fear for people to whom I am personally connected, but also generally for a country that runs in my veins. The other part of it was fury that the growing reality of extreme weather events is still being characterised as natural by climate change sceptics who have the luxury of speculating and refuting links outright.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: NDIS helps the common good

    • Moira Byrne Garton
    • 17 January 2014
    3 Comments

    Dr Maurice Newman, chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council, last week cautioned the Government against listening to certain interests at the expense of the common good. His criticism of the former Government as 'reckless' for establishing and funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme reveals an upsetting indifference and a lack of awareness of the benefits of such a scheme both to individuals and to society as a whole.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Australian democracy needs an intrusion of the excluded

    • John Falzon
    • 16 January 2014
    1 Comment

    Kevin Rudd says we need a 'new politics' or a 'new way'. Tony Abbott says we'll only get a new way by electing a new government. What is missing in both statements is the recognition that what we actually need is a new kind of economic democracy: a reconfiguration of our economic prioritising away from individualism towards the common good, and towards the participation of all rather than the exclusion of many.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Australian connections to drowned asylum seekers

    • Marg Hutton
    • 16 January 2014
    5 Comments

    In 2001 Prime Minister Howard tried to distance Australia from the SIEVX tragedy, in which 353 asylum seekers drowned, by repeatedly referring to the sinking as having occurred in 'Indonesian waters'. If there was any doubt then that SIEVX was an Australian tragedy, in 2013 there is none. There are now young kids growing up in Australia, who were born here and speak with Australian accents, who had brothers and sisters who drowned on SIEVX.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Gillard's game of thrones

    • Jim McDermott
    • 16 January 2014
    1 Comment

    Were you not there when I appointed Lord Slippery to the most honourable office in the land? Were you not there when I travelled to Western Sydney to be with my people and then did only carefully controlled media events? I do not need to make sense. I am Queen! Now, send me my Guild of Faceless Men.

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  • EDUCATION

    Best of 2013: End of the education revolution

    • Dean Ashenden
    • 15 January 2014

    The backsliding began before Gonski even got started: his riding instructions were to ensure that 'no school will be worse off'. Since then one backward step has followed another. What the prime minister wants now from the state premiers when they meet on 19 April is not Gonski but the appearance of Gonski. She may not get even that.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Best of 2013: Mandela crosses the burning water

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 15 January 2014
    1 Comment

    I said my own private goodbye almost two years ago, when I visited Robben Island on a trip back to my homeland of South Africa. That journey across Table Bay, towards the tiny green cell in which you lived for much of your 27-year incarceration, took me not so much to an outpost of apartheid as to the birthplace of democratic South Africa.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Remote Australia's renal refugees

    • John Adams
    • 15 January 2014
    3 Comments

    Kiwirrkurra is 700km of bad roads west of Alice Springs. Renal failure forces many Indigenous community elders from important roles such as presiding over ceremonies and passing down knowledge to future generations. Many choose not to make the long journey into town for dialysis, seeing life away from country and family to be a fate worse than death.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Sticking it to disability

    • Tim Ferguson
    • 14 January 2014
    3 Comments

    The first symbol of my 'outing' as a person with multiple sclerosis was a walking stick. I cringed as I bought one but I soon realised that a walking stick is good for more than balance and strength. One night I was stopped on the street by an angry drunk man. 'You're too young to need a walking stick,' he shouted. 'Are you an idiot?' I replied, 'You're picking a fight in a dark laneway with a tall man who wields a large stick. Who's the idiot?'

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  • RELIGION

    Best of 2013: Advice for the Pope on reforming the Church

    • Geraldine Doogue
    • 14 January 2014
    13 Comments

    I wish he would invite me to be his temporary consultant, to offer him advice for his next 500 days. I'd begin by proposing a substantial Vatican-led inquiry, into why the Church has been so troubled by sexual abuse across various countries. Then I would point to the experiences of several large secular institutions, including the New York Times and US Army, that have rebuilt after crises.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Domestic violence reality check for the 'manosphere'

    • Sarah McKenzie
    • 14 January 2014
    1 Comment

    The 'battered husband' claim has flourished online where aggressive men's rights groups blame feminism for everything from high unemployment rates to shorter male lifespans. There is no doubt that some victims of domestic violence are men, and that these men are equally deserving of resources and support. But to suggest that domestic violence is a gender-equal crime is plainly incorrect, and dangerous.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: The unknown unknowns of the sexual abuse royal commission

    • Ray Cassin
    • 13 January 2014
    3 Comments

    It can't be denied that the chief impetus for the creation of this royal commission has been the appalling record of concealment of abuse in Catholic institutions. If that record did not exist, the royal commission would not exist. And Catholics — especially bishops and major superiors — cannot evade this fact by complaining.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Coalition stirs the ghost of Jimmie Blacksmith

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 13 January 2014
    2 Comments

    More than a century after Federation, Australia has yet to resolve this tension between a romantic notion of what 'Australia' is, and the depravities that were undertaken to attain it. It may be couched in more polite terms, but it rears its head in ham-fisted and fundamentally disrespectful approaches to Indigenous policy, such as recent moves by the Coalition Government that threaten to undercut the spirit of Native Title legislation.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Politicising the bimbo

    • Ellena Savage
    • 13 January 2014
    2 Comments

    The pleasure of not affecting one's native mode of speech to appease a kind of person who means to privilege the privileged, is unparalleled. Try speaking in a playful way to someone who's scared of bimbos, and then watch their brains literally explode. When a listener struggles to understand that when I say I 'literally died', and yet clearly am still alive, that I am using language in a playful and even ironic way, it's not really their fault. 

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: On Seamus Heaney's turf

    • Peter Gebhardt
    • 10 January 2014
    1 Comment

    Ten years ago, my wife and I went to Dublin. Upon our arrival at the hotel there were three notes waiting from Seamus; the first suggested a meeting, the second drinks, the third 'Heigho, we'll have some scrags'. He picked us up in a Mercedes Benz. I said something about a poet and such a car, 'Never mind it's got a broken window'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Sex and power in football and politics

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 10 January 2014

    A young writer has crash tackled the ugly questions of non-consensual sex, coercion and the male privilege and misuse of power that can flow from sporting success. Yet when it comes to our football codes — let alone our political arena — a conversation needs to move beyond gender name-calling or the 'us and them' polemic.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Best of 2013: Margaret Thatcher versus the Scots

    • Duncan MacLaren
    • 10 January 2014

    While any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind', I must admit to pouring a glass of good malt at the news of Thatcher's passing. The Southern English may laud her as the greatest prime minister after Churchill but for us Scots she was a hate figure who in the last days of her premiership scarcely dared to cross the border for fear of being assassinated.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Ja'mie's disability

    • Michael Mullins
    • 09 January 2014

    TV viewers are alarmed that they can so easily identify with Ja'mie King, Chris Lilley's studiously unlikeable comic creation in ABC1's Ja'mie: Private School Girl. In a previous incarnation, Ja'mie was sponsoring underprivileged Third World children about whom she knew little and cared less. People like Ja'mie have a pathological disability to feel the needs of others.

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  • RELIGION

    Best of 2013: Another round of Ramadan lunar-cy

    • Irfan Yusuf
    • 09 January 2014
    1 Comment

    Ramadan is supposed to fine tune your soul, weaken the ties binding you to your physical appetites and test your religiosity. This month unites Muslims around the globe in an envelope of piety and mercy. At least that's the theory. In reality, for most of us Muslims Ramadan is the month of massive weight gain.

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  • MEDIA

    Best of 2013: McGuire ape gaffe exposes Australian tolerance as myth

    • Ruby Hamad
    • 09 January 2014
    1 Comment

    Those who object to Indigenous people being called 'apes' and to white men painting themselves black are dismissed as being politically correct and denying free speech. But how can Adam Goodes choose not to be offended by comments conceived for the very purpose of justifying crimes against the racial group to which he belongs?

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: It's time to recognise secular same sex marriage

    • Frank Brennan
    • 08 January 2014
    59 Comments

    The US Supreme Court and our newly installed Prime Minister have put their weight behind legal recognition of same sex marriage. In California alone there are already 40,000 children who are being brought up by same sex couples. In this debate we need to be mindful of the wellbeing and dignity of these children as well as the unknown number in future who will be created in a test tube.

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  • MARGARET DOOLEY AWARD

    Best of 2013: Slow down, you're just in time

    • Megan Graham
    • 08 January 2014
    1 Comment

    At a certain point, emotional and mental overstimulation leads to a sort of emotional numbness, as the brain and central nervous system can only respond to so much. With enough dopamine hits from 'likes' on Facebook, and adrenalin spikes from sensationalised news stories, one's emotions can become blunted. That is, with the notable exception of general irritability borne of expecting one's real life to be as fast-paced as one's online one.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Losing Chavez the indispensable

    • Antonio Castillo
    • 08 January 2014
    2 Comments

    With Hugo Chavez's death Latin America has arguably lost the most influential political leader of the last two decades. Chavez was one of those men that Bertolt Brecht called the 'indispensible ones'. He has been the champion of the socially and economically marginalised since he came to power in 1999.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Australia's disgusting politics

    • Moira Rayner
    • 07 January 2014
    9 Comments

    Gillard is the most prominent woman in our country. She has been repeatedly humiliated, disparaged and ridiculed for that very reason. We may criticise her decisions, but always aware of the context in which they were made, which is dangerously toxic. Her courage under pressure is astonishing, but we ought to despair at her party which is willing itself into annihilation by adding more poison.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Watching as Iraq crumbled

    • Donna Mulhearn
    • 07 January 2014

    I sat with my Iraqi friend in his photo store. I was his last customer, he said; the bombs would begin tomorrow. And then he began to weep. I remember thinking that his life, and the lives of others like him, would not be given a second's thought once the invasion started. The next day, the bombs began.  

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Best of 2013: Transformed by a boring Brussels Mass

    • Benedict Coleridge
    • 07 January 2014

    The coughing is getting worse; it sounds like the pew behind me is hosting a cardiac arrest. English theologian James Alison described mass as 'a long term education in becoming unexcited', a state that allows us to dwell 'in a quiet place' that 'increases our attention, our presence'. In Brussels, becoming 'unexcited' seems important.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Lament of the 21st century man

    • Michael McVeigh
    • 06 January 2014
    1 Comment

    His body itself is a symbol of his inherited power and privilege. He hears women talk about being afraid to go out at night alone. He sees the great strides women have made in the workforce, yet sits in management meetings where nine out of ten leaders are men. He sees bikini clad women on his television screen and feels guilty at admiring their bodies.

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  • RELIGION

    Best of 2013: A Jesuit learns to live with a Jesuit Pope

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 06 January 2014
    6 Comments

    I indulge a passing self-congratulatory thought that the Pope is, like me, a Jesuit, and will understand our Jesuit ways. And that the Church, of course, will benefit immeasurably from his Jesuit training. That is immediately followed by a touch of anxiety: perhaps he will understand our ways all too well.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Best of 2013: Invisible Icarus and asylum seekers

    • Maureen O'Brien
    • 06 January 2014
    4 Comments

    With his back to the sea, the ploughman negotiates the wooden plough drawn by his horse. If he heard Icarus falling from the heavens it didn't interrupt his routine. The crew of a ship close enough to rescue the drowning boy instead takes advantage of a favourable breeze and sails away. The shepherd daydreams, the angler continues fishing. To all intents and purposes Icarus is invisible to those in his immediate vicinity.

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