Vol 25 No 19

28 September 2015

Woman reaches out to refugees past legs of authorities. Artwork by Chris Johnston



Data regime will see us funding our own surveillance

08 October 2015 | Leanne O'Donnell

Man with laptop viewed through creepy dataBack in March Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio: 'The only thing the data retention law is requiring is that types of metadata which are currently retained will be retained ... for at least two years.' In fact the laws, which come into effect next week, include an obligation on service providers to 'create' data that falls within the data set to be retained, if they don't already collect it. This isn't nitpicking. The more data that is created, the more the scheme will cost, and the greater the risk of privacy breach.

Breaking the silence in the kingdom of the sick

08 October 2015 | Ellena Savage

Susan Sontag Illness as MetaphorWhile suffering from cancer, Susan Sontag suggested that it, like tuberculosis the previous century, was a disease shrouded in metaphor, morality, and silence. As time passed and the AIDS epidemic raged, she expanded her analysis to include that virus. What would she think of today's culture around mental illness? Like allergies, some of the origins of mental illnesses are societal. And the social and political conditions which produce illness are not generally a part of the medical project.


Devil worship on Boston's mean streets

07 October 2015 | Tim Kroenert

A Black Mass is a travesty of the Catholic Mass in worship of the devil. In this instance it is a metaphor for FBI agent Connolly's devotion to violent criminal Bulger, due in part to the social benefit he attains through his association with this powerful criminal, but running all the way back to a formative childhood encounter that is hinted at but not articulated in detail. Of the flatly villainous Bulger and the morally complex, wilfully compromised Connolly, the latter is the more palpably evil.


Banning repugnant figures reflects a harsh, fearful society

07 October 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Troy NewmanBanning people from entering countries has become the flavour of the month. Two US citizens, hip-hop artist Chris Brown and anti-abortion advocate Troy Newman, were banned from entering Australia. It is sometimes right to exclude people. But unless the processes are transparent and the need clearly demonstrated, such exclusion has costly consequences for the life of the community. It privileges power over reflection, and suggests character is defined unchangeably by past behaviour.


US gun law change can't come soon enough

06 October 2015 | Jim McDermott

NRA article Australia: There Will Be Blood with Australia shaped bloodstainIn July, an NRA article entitled 'Australia: There Will be Blood' described Australia's gun buyback as a 'mass confiscation' that left guns in the hands of criminals and everyone else defenceless. Meanwhile, America has experienced more than one mass shooting per day so far this year. My hope is that we are in that time of unsustainable stasis Malcolm Gladwell talks about, during which nothing seems to be changing, while beneath the surface stability is being eroded, leading to sudden, permanent change.


Growing old in Australia is a difficult business

06 October 2015 | Gillian Bouras

Older hand clasped by youngerWell, I know the dehumanising rot began to set in a long time ago. I have a vision of George Orwell sitting on a cloud and wringing his hands in renewed horror, for now the business model and associated language appears to have taken over the world. In short, the changes in aged care could be counterproductive, as the aims of streamlined access and equity may result instead in the development of barriers and more inequity. Growing old clearly means more hard work, and more adjustment.


Corporate benefit trumps public welfare in TPP

06 October 2015 | Binoy Kampmark

TPP Why So Secret?According to WikiLeaks, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the 'icebreaker agreement' for what will be a 'T-treaty triad' which will ultimately apply to 53 states, 1.6 billion people and two-thirds of the global economy. Each of the countries was being sold the implausible idea that the agreement was too large not to sign, that this was the train of history that needed to be occupied, even if seating was in third class. What was on sale, however, was a dogma of corporate benefit rather than public welfare.


What's at the end of Turnbull's rainbow?

06 October 2015 | Fiona Katauskas

In Fiona Katauskas' latest cartoon PM Malcolm Turnbull watches asylum seekers passing through the Nauru Rapid Processing machine. When the come out the other side they have added 'refugee status' to their 'fear, depression and hopelessness'

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


The red wheelchair

05 October 2015 | Sue Cook

red wheelchairSo much depends upon a red wheelchair lined with black canvas beside the front doorstep. Even more depends upon two ramps to convey a red wheelchair into the world outside.


Pitfalls of Putin troops in Syria

05 October 2015 | Justin Glyn

Aftermath of aerial bombardment by the Syrian government of rebel-held areas of Azaz in Aleppo governorate, 2012.The Syrian government are no angels, and any more bombing raids on an already heavily bombed and traumatised population is unlikely to improve the situation for civilians. However, the American claim that the Russians have a poor record in this respect smacks of hypocrisy, given the US's admitted destruction last week of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Afghanistan at the cost of 22 lives. Moscow's policy at least has the merits of legality, intelligibility and consistency.


Marr stings 'limited' Shorten

04 October 2015 | John Warhurst

Faction Man, Quarterly Essay by David MarrThe polls are still evenly balanced and Turnbull has yet to strut his stuff in any meaningful way. So Shorten should still be the subject of the sort of scrutiny that David Marr has just given him. Marr is appalled by Shorten's path to power through the union movement, the Labor Party and the factions for what it reveals about the modus operandi of these organisations. But he is still somewhat taken with Shorten's talents. Nevertheless, he doubts that Shorten is up to the job.

Border control gulags have had their time

04 October 2015 | Frank Brennan

Manus Island detention centreAnyone hoping a Turnbull government will be more accommodating of boat people than an Abbott government will be sadly mistaken. But that is not the end of the matter. Now that the government has firmly closed the entry door to Australia, there is no warrant for maintaining the chamber of horrors in the Pacific which was set up as a 'circuit breaker' deterrent. Turnbull needs to admit that a purposeless chamber of horrors is not just harsh; it is cruel, and it is unAustralian.

Brown ban helps parents talk about domestic violence

01 October 2015 | Jen Vuk

Chris BrownFairfax columnist Clem Bastow has raised concerns about the campaign to ban US rapper and convicted woman basher Chris Brown from touring here: 'The use of immigration law to "send a message" is something any feminist should be profoundly uncomfortable with,' she wrote. Well, as a feminist and a mother of two young boys, I welcome the ban. I've come to realise that in the dialogue I have with my sons about violence against women, rhetoric, posturing, and even hypocrisy have their uses.

Black, blue and Chris Brown

01 October 2015 | Beth Doherty

Chris BrownThe Chris Brown ban has stirred debate on a number of fronts. GetUp has retreated from its campaign against the entertainer, acknowledging the racial aspect to it. And Brown himself argued that his mistakes should not be held against him, but should serve as a lesson for others: 'I am not the pink elephant in the room anymore.' With one Australian woman dying each week as a result of domestic violence, it is true there are plenty of other 'pink elephants' that need to be confronted.


Blood and the Bard

30 September 2015 | Tim Kroenert

Lady Macbeth is left somewhere in the realm of caricature, her 'Out damned spot' soliloquy oddly decontextualised and the circumstances of her death diminished and confused. That said, the conflation of the Macbeths' conspiracy to commit regicide with an act of discreet marital sex is a potent image of their moral codependency. This faithful adaptation by Australian director Justin Kurzel is grimmer even than Polanski's 1971 version, which it is set to displace as the standard-bearer adaptation.


Search for truth continues 50 years after Indonesia's purge

30 September 2015 | Pat Walsh

Scene from The Act of KillingLike Tony Abbott before him, Malcolm Turnbull is slated to make Jakarta one of his first overseas ports of call as prime minister. His visit will occur as calls grow louder in Indonesia and elsewhere for the truth to be told about the massacres of up to 1 million Indonesians 50 years ago this October. It is assumed that at the time Canberra did not protest the massive miscarriage of justice and international law that occurred. It can now compensate in a small way for that silence by making public what it knew.

Francis sticks in Republicans' craw

29 September 2015 | Fatima Measham

Pope Francis addresses CongressThe only people who regard Francis as radical are those who think popes should only attend to matters of personal conscience. Topics such as abortion and same-sex marriage are safe zones for comment because they don't concern the economic order, or threaten systems that generate wealth for the few. But Francis has smudged the line between faith and economics in a way that many conservatives find inconvenient.


Syrian priest rages for refugees

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29 September 2015 | Peter Kirkwood

'They are people. They are not sheep for slaughter. They deserve to be treated like a human. And that's what Europe stands for.' Born and raised in Syria, Fr Rahal Dergham now serves as chaplain to Syrian and Iraqi Catholic Migrants in the Archdiocese of Sydney. In this interview he speaks about what Australia and the broader international community should be doing to address the present refugee crisis, the persecution of Syrian Christians, and the troubled relations between Syrian Muslims and Christians.


The Chris Brown paradox

29 September 2015 | Fiona Katauskas

In Fiona Katauskas' latest cartoon PM Malcolm Turnbull presents a sign that reads Violence Against Women? It's Unustralian (those on Nauru not included)

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


Dreams, storms and boyhood

28 September 2015 | David Ishaya Osu

ThunderstormA family of four: an ex secret, a doll to share new moons with, a sky-blue diary and a door — nobody does the sign of the cross during sex; a braid of moonlight and shadow directs your head to a pillow, and next to your window hangs a raindrop ready to touch your heart; even a rat cannot feast on a field of vows; can i go outside of this life, you ask.


Third World issues illuminate Synod's first world problems

28 September 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Gathering of bishopsAlthough important to respond to generously, divorced and homosexual Catholics will not be the only people who make a claim on the Synod on the Family in Rome, with bishops of the Third World to want a focus on the life and death issues that face families in their region. But divorced and homosexual Catholics are important, and the divisions between bishops are both real, and generally misread by the media.


Hamid crushed by Australia's immigration laws

27 September 2015 | Kerry Murphy

Flower caught in chain fenceHamid is stateless, and came to Australia by boat in mid 2012. He will never get permanent residence, because of his age or because the law states that if you ever held a TPV, you can never get the permanent protection visa. When I explained this to him, I thought might cry. He is now unable to see a way of getting a long term solution for himself and his family, all because of the need to punish refugees who arrive in Australia by boat.


Oppressing compassion in Europe and Australia

27 September 2015 | Bronwyn Lay

Woman reaches out to refugees past legs of authorities. Artwork by Chris JohnstonWhen refugees walked into Europe, away from distant distress sites, their presence made the global issue visceral for Europeans. Australia doesn't have asylum seekers walking en masse through ordinary streets. Our border is one of established hatred. 'Stop the boats' policy denies ordinary Australians their compassionate impulse, and creates a history that our children will face judgement upon. It denies humanity's collective memory after World War II.