Vol 24 No 15

04 August 2014


The shock of the news of Kennedy and Nixon

14 August 2014 | Brian Matthews

Nixon resignation speechLast week, when I heard a Margaret Throsby interview with Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean, I immediately remembered in startling detail where I was forty years ago. It was high summer, a beautiful warm day in Oxford. I was strolling along the banks of the Thames through a leafy camping ground; a voice, tragic yet culpable, retrieved from an unseen radio on 8 August 1974 in another country.


Mexican border reflections on Australian asylum seeker policy

14 August 2014 | Frank Brennan

USA Mexico borderWe Australians confront none of the complexities of sharing a land border with a poor neighbour. Most Americans, I find, consider our policy morally repulsive and just stupid. They cannot believe that we routinely lock up children, that we recently held 157 people on a ship in the Indian Ocean for almost a month, and that we are now going to send up to 1000 asylum seekers to Cambodia.


I am Gaza, I am bleeding

14 August 2014 | Lyn Bender

'Let's Fully Welcome Refugees' banner at St Paul's Cathedral MelbourneIn the last month, an estimated 2000 Palestinians including 400 children have been killed and 10,000 injured.  Much of Gaza is reduced to rubble and rendered uninhabitable. It was a 30 degree day in Gaza as our small band of around 20 kept vigil in the cold night rain at Melbourne’s Federation Square. A Muslim girl recited a poem, ‘I am Gaza I have a dagger in my heart. I am bleeding’.


The Government's high fibre diet of legislation

13 August 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

High fibre foodLast week's legislative flurry was very messy, with few signs of reflection on what kind of a society we want to create, and how far particular legislation will help do so. The arguments for legislation are based on abstractions such as free speech and terrorism. They are not supported by sustained reflection on the way in which human beings interact.


Robin Williams tried to outrun the dog

13 August 2014 | Megan Graham

Robin Williams in Patch AdamsAs human beings we do all kinds of things to avoid suffering. Drink, drugs, hobbies, television, retail therapy. The list is endless. It is our job to survive and avoid suffering: to huddle around our loved ones, to live and thrive and not let the shit of life get us down. For Robin Williams, it seems avoiding suffering was a very hard task.


Sitting in the doors of the powerful

12 August 2014 | James O'Brien

'No Way' Immigration Department CampaignReligious leaders used methods of non-violent protest to respond to the Federal Government's 'No Way' campaign that aimed to discourage Afghan asylum seekers. Calling their movement 'Love Makes a Way', their strategy started to take shape: sit-ins in the electorate offices of federal parliamentarians, asking that justice may 'roll down like waters'. Nonviolent direct action changes hearts.


SMSFs offer 'pension fund socialism'

1 Comment
12 August 2014 | David James

Investment Decision GraphicIn 1976 management thinker Peter Drucker said the real owners of the stock market were workers, through their pension funds. A similar broadening of ownership has occurred in Australia since the creation of compulsory superannuation. But intermediaries called fund managers still stood between the people and ultimate control of their financial destiny, until the rise of the Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF).


Driven to distraction

12 August 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

Fiona Katauskas' cartoon Driven to distraction shows Coalition frontbenchers acting the fool and thereby providing a distraction from the business of government.

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


The wind blew through us

11 August 2014 | Kevin Gillam

Girl on windy beachWe were song that day, free on the stave, note then note, spume and a whiff and dried weed, lick and boom of waves, nudge of groyne. The wind blew through. We were sand that day, sand and salt and shell and curled.


Good Christian morality is better than bad science

11 August 2014 | Matthew Beard

Eric AbetzThe lesson from the Eric Abetz 'abortion causes breast cancer' debacle is that Christians are fools to engage in scientific arguments  they cannot win. They should instead stick to what they know best, and not be afraid to give an explicitly Christian moral voice to public debate. 


We must reconsider our need to fly

11 August 2014 | Thea Ormerod

Airliner emitting CO2We're keenly aware of aviation safety in a way we were not just one month ago. But the real concern is not surface to air missiles fired by hostile armies and paramilitaries. It is the huge contribution airlines make to global emissions and the resulting calamitous situation faced by human civilisation. Why do we continue to idolise air travel?


The unjustified secrecy of the Abbott Government

10 August 2014 | Jack Maxwell

Keyboard 'Access' keyLiberal democracies keep secrecy in check. Where secrecy is justified, this justification should itself be public. The Abbott Government has withheld important information from the public on questionable grounds, and it has shielded itself from criticism by stifling debate on whether that secrecy is justified.


Abbott's Team Australia must include jobless young Muslims

10 August 2014 | Michael Mullins

Young MuslimThe Prime Minister's Team Australia campaign will only work with policies of social inclusion. The Budget’s harsh and divisive welfare rules will drive young Muslim unemployed into the hands Islamic radicals. Church welfare agencies have suggested a solution by way of an independent entitlements commission to ensure welfare payments are fair. 


Signs that East Ukraine has averted mass human tragedy

10 August 2014 | Tony Kevin

On Sunday morning Australian time, we learned that the destructive civil war raging in East Ukraine seemed to be drawing to a close, essentially on Kiev’s terms. It appears that the tense test of wills between Russia and the West generated by the crisis, which briefly last week risked a wider war, has ended in a tacit backdown by Moscow.  

Abbott’s temporary reprieve for hate speech prohibition

07 August 2014 | Moira Rayner

Quite rightly the Section 18C repeal bill was seen to remove all limits on ‘freedom of speech’ without regard to the vulnerability of those targeted. Andrew Bolt was infuriated, Senator Brandis lost face and his new Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson was ‘disturbed’ by the bill being shelved. But the PM is a pragmatist.


Australians don't need to speak proper English

07 August 2014 | Ellena Savage

Mouth speaking letters of the alphabetThere's a view that most Australians, including the Prime Minister, still have poor speech skills, and that there ought to be some kind of standardised verbal communication skill-level as a prerequisite for politicians, educators and advocates. Personally I'm quite content with an Australia that is accepting of vocal particularities, the flexibility of meanings, and often humorous miscommunications.


Learning from the homeless

06 August 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Homeless Persons Week PosterContrary to the message of this year's Federal Budget, there is much more to people than their ability to work. When we come to know the disadvantaged well we are often impressed as much by their resilience as by their great need and their fragility. Their worth is not defined by their economic contribution.


The beauty of hard-won hope

06 August 2014 | Megan Graham

Movie Begin Again publicity photo

Broken and bruised by their respective journeys, Gretta and Dan seize the chance for solidarity. For both, their sense of compassion and resilience allows them to navigate a cold and indifferent New York City that threatens to swallow them whole. They use the creation of music as a mirror to reflect back a version of themselves – and NYC – that they can love. 


The return of the Jesuits

06 August 2014 | Frank Brennan

'IHS' T-shirtEveryone knows the Jesuits have had a rocky history. They were fabulously successful in educating the European elite for quite some time. But things went off the rails badly in the eighteenth century, and in 1773 Pope Clement XIV issued a decree to 'abolish and suppress the oft-mentioned Society'. Eventually his successor Pope Pius VII issued a papal bull restoring the Society, two hundred years ago this week.


Assessing the Catholic Church's child abuse culpability

05 August 2014 | Peter Kirkwood


Mixed messages undermine western solidarity with Gaza

05 August 2014 | Raff Piccolo

Palestine solidarity painted faceThere are messages of support for Palestinians suffering in Gaza. But for every 'condemnation' that is directed at Israel by the President of the United States, the same speech always refers to the 'inherent right of Israel to defend itself'. However well intentioned, the sentiments are being used by Israel to justify all its actions in Gaza.


Spitting the dummy

1 Comment
05 August 2014 | Fiona Katauskas

In Fiona Katauskas' cartoon 'Morrison's refugee rodeo' the Immigration Minister sits backwards on a horse and delivers a group of lassoed Sri Lankan asylum seekers to the Indian consulate

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


Writing a poem is hard work

04 August 2014 | Various

It never looks like hard work. I’ve just rolled my sleeves up while I stare at an old shoe in the corner of the room for hours. I’ve sweated a day in my life as I skewer a stare right through the Friday morning waitress – the brick wall behind her.


Low fat food products are a con

04 August 2014 | Mike Foale

Book cover 'The Big Fat Surprise'The medical researcher who developed the saturated fat theory was Ancel Keys, who had cherry-picked data. He achieved celebrity status in the media through aggressive promotion of his theory. Credible science journals have lately been publishing robust reports that saturated fat is not implicated in heart disease, much to the chagrin of manufacturers of low fat processed food products. 


Scott Morrison's conflict of interest

03 August 2014 | Michael Mullins

Child behind barbed wire fenceThe majority of Australians voted for a government strong on border protection. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is delivering in spades, so it seems they're prepared to turn a blind eye to disputed claims of child neglect, even if he is their legal guardian. Their only hope is that accounts of their suffering will gain the kind of exposure and momentum that led to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Norfolk Island solution

03 August 2014 | Andra Jackson

Norfolk IslandWhile the Federal Government continues to cast around for other Pacific nations and Cambodia to take in refugees held on Manus Island and Nauru, it has one ready solution right on its own doorstep. It is a place that has been calling out for help to counter its falling population and its prolonged economic crisis. It is an Australian territory and one that is already receiving Australia's financial support.