Vol 26 No 3

15 February 2016


 

  • ECONOMICS

    Labor's negative gearing heroics alone won't save us

    • David James
    • 26 February 2016
    8 Comments

    It is not often that federal political parties exhibit courage. Labor's decision to change the rules on negative gearing is a rare instance. It targets what is most dangerous and unfair in our financial system. Expect howls of protests from powerful lobby groups if it ever looks like becoming policy. But these changes alone won't be enough to deal with the ills of the financial system. While they are designed to target the bias away from productive investment, they won't remove the attraction towards property.

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  • MEDIA

    The Kanye West konundrum

    • Jen Vuk
    • 26 February 2016
    4 Comments

    It seems not a week goes by that Kanye West isn't in the news. Over the past few weeks alone, West has among other things disparaged Taylor Swift, announced that 'white publications' had no right to write about black music, and tweeted in support of alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby. Depending on your perspective, West is either the gift that just keeps giving or the twit who just keeps tweeting. How has someone like him managed to flourish in a time in which online shaming has become the norm?

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Good and bad news about the Syria ceasefire

    • Justin Glyn
    • 25 February 2016
    4 Comments

    There is cause for both optimism and scepticism in the news that the US and Russia have agreed a ceasefire in Syria. On the face of it, one of the world's bloodiest civil wars is about to come to an end; an end to be guaranteed by the two biggest, best armed militaries on the planet. This should be excellent news for everybody, not least the long suffering civilian population of one of the most bombed countries on earth. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot.

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  • RELIGION

    Liberation theology in modern Australia

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 25 February 2016
    23 Comments

    Liberation theology was once caricatured as Marxism with a Christian tinge, or the Bible plus Kalashnikov. In fact, thinkers identified with the movement were involved in a serious theological exploration. In public conversation in Australia the theological questions ut it raised are of marginal significance. But secular variants abound in which society is analysed in terms of the discrimination suffered by various minority groups at the hands of the majority or of those with power.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Marriage interrupted by a life-lie disrupted

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 25 February 2016

    As Kate plans a party for their 45th wedding anniversary, news arrives that the body of Katya, Geoff's long-dead first love, has been discovered in a Swiss glacier. The 'life-lie' that emerges turns out to be not so much a concealment but rather a minimisation of truth. The disruption it causes to an ostensibly happy marriage comes not in the form of shocking revelation, but slow-dawning realisation; not that Geoff isn't the man he purported to be, but that Kate may not be what she believed herself to be, to him.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The baby Asha problem in Australia's refugee policy

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 24 February 2016
    3 Comments

    On Sunday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton seemingly relented, allowing the child to be released into community detention rather than carting her off to Nauru. It has, however, been made clear that this is no prelude to settlement in Australia. Dutton's line goes to evenness in policy: 'We are going to have a consistency approach here ... intelligence out of Indonesia recently was that people smugglers were reporting ... there was going to be a change in policy.' None of these arguments passes muster.

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  • CARTOON

    Cycle of despair

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 24 February 2016
    4 Comments

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

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Baby Asha and the pyramid of suffering

    • Kate Galloway
    • 24 February 2016
    4 Comments

    It is right and good that the outpouring of community and professional goodwill has at least delayed the return of baby Asha to what are reported to be the terrible conditions of the detention centre on Nauru. But Australia's asylum seeker laws involve unresolved systemic issues that such wins cannot by themselves resolve. Widespread community focus on individual cases such as that of baby Asha may in fact prevent action on the deeper issues from gaining traction.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Self-care as political warfare

    • Somayra Ismailjee
    • 24 February 2016
    4 Comments

    Feminist writer Audre Lorde wrote that 'Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.' In medical professions, the term 'self-care' originated in reference to the self-management of illness. Self-care, however, also exists in the context of social justice, extending beyond physical wellness to cater for a holistic approach that includes emotional, mental and spiritual fulfilment. The need for this is rooted in the burden of oppression.

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  • RELIGION

    An unholy mess

    • Frank Brennan
    • 23 February 2016
    46 Comments

    McClellan and his fellow commissioners on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have a daunting task in the next fortnight, according due process and natural justice to a high profile witness on the other side of the world who has been publicly labeled 'scum', 'buffoon' and a 'coward', being the subject of unauthorised leaks about uninvestigated complaints from a police service which itself is under scrutiny for its past cooperation with the witness and his Church.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Shedding light on elder abuse

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 23 February 2016
    7 Comments

    Elder abuse resembles child abuse in its iceberg qualities: both have received little attention until comparatively recently. In the case of elder abuse, very few cases ever come to court: old people are as helpless as children, similarly unable to plead their own cases, and afraid to: they have little power. The Yiddish proverb springs to mind: If you can't bite, don't show your teeth. The most consistent offenders, sad to say, are family members, who are often adept at exploiting the fear that is part of ageing.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Today won't be her eternity

    • N. N. Trakakis and Oscar Roos
    • 23 February 2016

    She said she'll never write a book, and she hasn't: that's no book, it's a drop of experience Infused with the spirit of Sabi ... alcoholically she soils God with sour tears. The last time I saw her was in the obituary column: golden as always walking barefoot, cigarette in hand reflecting the sun's anonymity.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Harper Lee and the death of moral certainty

    • Ellena Savage
    • 22 February 2016
    7 Comments

    My friend Z lives in Detroit and is rocked by the racial segregation she's exposed to there. When we were 15, she and I bonded over the passionate conversations Mockingbird inspired. 'I was in awe of Atticus,' she recalled as we reflected on Lee's death. 'I desperately wanted him to save the accused black man. Maybe if I had read it at my age now, I'd substitute the black man for the hero.' She articulated what I couldn't: that as moving a piece of rhetoric Mockingbird is, it is no longer adequate.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ending family violence in culturally diverse Australia

    • Jasmeet Sahi
    • 22 February 2016
    8 Comments

    All cultures have different ways of addressing family violence. What might be suitable for an Anglo population may not be appropriate for other groups. I was raised in India, where women learn early in life that it is paramount to maintain calm and peace in a family home - nobody wants to be that family that airs its dirty laundry in public. Local community-based programs can provide solutions tailored to diverse cultural groups. Sadly many such programs are badly under-resourced.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Reading in end times

    • Ellena Savage
    • 19 February 2016
    5 Comments

    There's a part in Murakami's Norwegian Wood, I told a friend, where a character loses someone, and walks for weeks around Japan until he reaches the beach, where he just stares out to sea. I feel so desolate, I said, that that's what I want to do. I don't know for sure that that's what really happened in the book, or if I was really that desolate ... Maybe that's what reading is for; to build a repertoire of emotional and social situations in order to connect with feelings that don't have words.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Why Australia is missing the revolution

    • J. R. Hennessy
    • 19 February 2016
    23 Comments

    The aftershocks of the late-century push for liberalisation and the GFC have bred generations of dislocated voters who seek answers outside of the limited solutions of centrist governance. This provides ample opportunity for true progressive change, as seen in Europe and Latin America, and now the US and UK. Where's Australia? Nowhere to be seen. It is hard to imagine a truly progressive candidate emerging from our ossified political structures. There are a few reasons for this.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Millennials have allies in the emerging grey vote

    • Fatima Measham
    • 18 February 2016
    5 Comments

    The formative experiences of Australian early boomers include unprecedented access to university education and health care, immersion in feminist discourse, Aboriginal land rights campaigns, environmental activism, LGBT movements and pacifism. Quite remarkably, it mirrors some of the elements that engage millennials. While in some ways anti-boomer sentiment seems well placed, what it misses is that on social issues a 21-year-old might have more in common with a 61-year-old than a 71-year-old.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Gentle view of an Irish-American migrant experience

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 18 February 2016
    1 Comment

    Eilis' profound homesickness is evoked by the letters she composes for and receives from her long distant sister and mother. Her sense of awe at this new world is revealed in her interactions with the other, more brazen boarders; and at work, where she is chided by her manager for being too shy with customers. Gradually, familiarity and opportunity allow her to grow in confidence. Her coming-of-age is defined as gradual self-empowerment through the making of small, and sometimes large, choices.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    When it's right to break the law

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 18 February 2016
    18 Comments

    It is common for people to break the law. People fail to move on when instructed by police, evade tax, drive too fast, keep silent about abuse, trespass on military facilities, and drive when drunk. Many people assert that it is never right to break a law duly enacted by the government. From this principle it follows that anyone offering sanctuary to people who seek protection in Australia is acting wrongly. This blanket condemnation of law breaking runs against our inherited moral tradition.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Turnbull's techno-optimism is a tad hasty

    • Ketan Joshi
    • 17 February 2016
    7 Comments

    A government campaign declares 'we've always been good at having ideas. Now we need to get better at innovation: turning ideas into successful products and services.' The message is that we are on the brink of a technological revolution, driven by government. But really we've some way to go. As we have seen with wind turbines, the communities that host new technologies can react with anger and fear. If they are left out of the process, visions of grand, sweeping change can be undermined.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Men must stand with women to end family violence

    • Donella Johnston
    • 17 February 2016
    18 Comments

    The movement to end violence against women needs men in positions of influence, such as Australian of the Year David Morrison, to add their voices to those of the women spearheading the campaign. Male religious leaders can play an important role, but must first confront an important question: if one of the key causes of family violence is gender inequality, can they speak with authority if they are part of an institution that has no women episcopal decision-makers or leaders?

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  • AUSTRALIA

    To work for police is to stare into the abyss

    • Paul Coghlan
    • 17 February 2016
    6 Comments

    Having worked at Victoria Police for 25 years, I have great empathy for Wade Noonan, who stepped down as Victoria's Minister for Police to undergo counselling due to his exposure to traumatic incidents in this work. I have long felt that job advertisements for police should carry a health warning: This position may be dangerous to your mental, physical and spiritual health. Whether it be trawling through crime statistics or investigating crimes directly, police work means filling your soul with dark things.

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  • CARTOON

    Aussie politics just for laughs

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 17 February 2016

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

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't be disheartened by dismal Close the Gap reports

    • Myrna Tonkinson
    • 16 February 2016
    3 Comments

    Last week, Malcolm Turnbull presented the eighth annual Prime Minister's Report on the government's Close the Gap campaign. The Close the Gap Campaign steering committee also released its 2016 progress and priorities report. While the reports identify modest gains, overall the gaps remain wide the words 'target not met' recur throughout. The results are disheartening but should strengthen the resolve of all concerned to set realistic goals, with consultation at local levels.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Fenced in

    • Cheryl Howard
    • 16 February 2016
    5 Comments

    The lonely horse stands, welcomes the approach with a nod, which doesn't dislodge the flies from his face. The proffered dry grass becomes a gentle brush, freeing him from tormentors ... Simple and pure kindness can be like rain in a land parched of understanding.

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  • RELIGION

    The problem with heroes

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 16 February 2016
    5 Comments

    Periods of anxiety are times for dreaming of heroes. We contemplate our own pedestrian lives and pedestrian politicians, and long for someone who can lead us out of the wilderness into the promised land. Yet although heroes invite us to dismount from our couches, breathe the open air and take on the world as they do, they also persuade us that they are a different breed, urging us to keep within our divinely given limitations and leave the business of change to those sown as lions' teeth.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Greg Hunt and the Sheikh Back-Scratching Theory

    • Greg Foyster
    • 15 February 2016
    16 Comments

    It would have made a great April Fools joke, if it wasn't February. On Wednesday, we woke to the news that Greg Hunt, environment minister in the most anti-environment government in Australian history, had been awarded 'World's Best Minister' at an international summit in Dubai. But maybe the award had nothing to do with Hunt's track record at home. In the grubby way of politics everywhere, maybe it is a favour returned. A thank you from an oil-rich nation for making it look good in the past.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ruddock appointment thumbs nose at human rights

    • Justin Glyn
    • 15 February 2016
    7 Comments

    If Phillip Ruddock's appointment as Australia's first special envoy to the United Nations on Human Rights is about demonstrating the worthlessness of current international human rights protection structures (and the consequent hollowness of their criticisms of Australia), it is a rather short sighted one. Appointing a person with a weak record of upholding human rights in the area where Australia itself is weakest sends the unmistakable signal that Australia is no longer committed to the human rights project.

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