Vol 26 No 8

24 April 2016

Chris Johnston cartoon shows ports commentators view of frienfly biff contrasted with reality of on-field violence


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REVIEWS

Changed by faith in a miraculous child

05 May 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Despite its epic scope it is also deeply intimate and, dare I say, spiritual. Roy regards his son with a mixture of stern, protective love, and helpless wonder. They are joined in their quest by Roy's childhood friend Lucas, a state trooper converted to Alton's cause after literally seeing the light in his eyes. Also by Alton's mother, Sarah, who of all the cohort has the most direct experience of the 'sense of awe' that ultimately unfolds from the 'mystery' of Alton's story.


AUSTRALIA

Election budget fiddling

12 Comments
05 May 2016 | John Warhurst

Australian dollarsIt was a political budget in a special sense, given the forthcoming election. Yet it turned out to be neither an election-winning nor election-losing budget. It was more continuity than change. In that sense it probably was the best the government could hope for given the nation's economic and financial circumstances. However it falls far short of the sort of budget that might have been expected from a prime minister like Malcolm Turnbull whose image is one off a 'big picture man'.


Strong women as self-agents in remote communities

1 Comment
05 May 2016 | Jasmeet Sahi

Clare Wood with members of Kalumburu communityDoreen, a women's leader from the community in Kalumburu, said, 'it is our dream for us women to get up and make the community stronger'. Such determination ought to be facilitated. What this means is making avenues where Indigenous culture and cultural life are at the centre of the conversation to effect change. Instead of adopting a 'helping' attitude, there needs to be a shift towards facilitating self-agency as an economically rational approach when it comes to Indigenous Australians.


Another Coalition budget for the well-off

18 Comments
04 May 2016 | Marcelle Mogg

One scruffy foot, one neat and polished footEven the International Monetary Fund recognises that the best way to grow an economy is to reduce the divide between rich and poor, ensuring that all people have a chance to participate in the social and economic life of a country. The Coalition government remains resolutely opposed to this growing body of evidence, continuing to rely on economic structures that entrench disadvantage, then blame the poor for their fate. The Budget provides tax cuts to the rich and service cuts to the rest.


Kicking corruption in church and police 'closed systems'

10 Comments
04 May 2016 | Paul Coghlan

Hillsborough Stadium disasterHaving worked in closed organisational systems like Victoria Police and various government departments, I have often reflected on how and at what point organisations and their employees become comfortable with the belief that their ideas and attitudes are better informed than those of the general populous - and that their survival is more important. A very stark example of this are the recent court decisions relating to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989, where 96 people were killed.


CARTOON

Tears for Omid

1 Comment
03 May 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton walk past graves of Reza Berati, Hamid Khazaei and Omid and say 'We wouldn't want to get misty-eyed'. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


RELIGION

The divisive life of a pacifist priest

18 Comments
03 May 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Daniel BerriganBy many United States Jesuits including military chaplains, Dan Berrigan was seen as a divisive figure. I also found his actions challenging. I was still to move from my concentration on the goals of military action to focus on what happens to people who make war and have it made on them. Berrigan and others helped me to see the dishonesty in the conduct of the Vietnam war, the cost to Vietnamese civilians and to soldiers on both sides, and the corruption of ethical sensitivity in both societies.


AUSTRALIA

Being popular is not the same as leadership

3 Comments
03 May 2016 | Fatima Measham

Malcolm TurnbullIn democracies, public sentiment is meant to be taken seriously. Describing something as populist is a refusal to engage with the sentiment, including its source and complications, usually because we find it disagreeable. The subtext is: people are wrong about the things they care about. They are not being rational or realistic. It is a brave thing to say these days about support for a royal commission into banks, or softening public attitudes toward detention-bound children.


ENVIRONMENT

Dumped-on Elders down but not despairing

11 Comments
02 May 2016 | Michele Madigan

Aboriginal elders oppose dumpAs fifth century BC Athenian historian and general Thucydides said: 'The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.' 'I'm sitting here trying to eat my weetbix and keep my thoughts calm,' said Enice Marsh, Traditional Owner for the Flinders Ranges area of SA. Enice and the other Adynamathanha Elders had just received the news that former Liberal Senator Grant Chapman's property Bardioota is 'at the top of the list' to be the site of Australia's national radioactive waste dump.


Five reasons the LNP's carbon scare campaign is doomed

6 Comments
02 May 2016 | Greg Foyster

Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt throws lumps of coal from a bag held by Tony Abbott at Bill Shorten's solar panelsIt was as if Australian politics had regressed four years overnight. No sooner had Labor released its new climate change plan than the Coalition was resuscitating Tony Abbott's 'carbon tax' line. The Coalition's attempt to revive the defining debate of the 2013 federal election won't work. As other commentators have noted, Labor's plan has been carefully crafted to avoid the carbon tax sledge. More importantly, external factors have changed to make a scare campaign less potent.


CREATIVE

No life without if

6 Comments
02 May 2016 | Yuan Changming

Stylised letter YNo belief without a lie. No business without sin. No character without an act. No coffee without a fee. No courage without rage. No culture without a cult. No entrance without a trance. No epicenter without an epic. No Europe without a rope. No freedom without a reed. No friendship without an end. No fundamentalism without mental fun.


MEDIA

Channel 7 needs to get with AFL's non-violence program

4 Comments
01 May 2016 | Garry Westmore

Alex Rance hit on Jack WattsArguably, as a society, Australia's tolerance for violence is waning, and both the AFL and the NRL have been proactive in diminishing the prevalence of deliberate and reckless violence that might endanger players' safety. Unfortunately, despite the AFL's desire to stamp out the more dangerous incidents, many televised football commentators are hindering the cause by making excuses for players, playing down the severity of their actions, and failing to condemn them.


AUSTRALIA

Legislating for human dignity without being misty-eyed

23 Comments
01 May 2016 | Kate Galloway

Peter Dutton on Sky NewsI have often wondered at the likely success of entreaties to compassion for asylum seekers. This is not because I do not personally feel compassion for these people. And it is not because I do not believe that it is morally correct to show compassion, including through government policy. Rather my response is partly a factor of my training as a lawyer. Through my legal eyes, I can see little hope for appeals to politicians to show compassion. My conditioned response instead is to appeal to law.


INTERNATIONAL

Face to face with the dark side of paradise

3 Comments
28 April 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Samoa cyclone skyIt can be a dangerous thing, travelling to paradise. Those turquoise lagoons and white beaches and lush hills often conceal a more sinister side, a Mr Hyde to the brochures' bright-and-shiny Dr Jekyll. So it was on Samoa this week, when Cyclone Amos skirted by. We were told it was headed for Samoa's main island, Upolu, where we were staying. Still, we felt calm, for there wasn't a breath of wind in the sky. Later, at the height of it, I stood up in the dark, opened the curtains and looked outside.


Paying for stopping the boats

9 Comments
28 April 2016 | Kerry Murphy

xxxxxThis week we learnt that the human rights protection for asylum seekers in our former colony Papua New Guinea are more protected by the PNG constitution than they would be in Australia. The PNG government has quickly moved not to change the law and constitution, but to make arrangements to close the centre and ask Australia to take back the asylum seekers. Already PNG lawyers are talking about claims for compensation for the unlawful detention, and rightly so.


Cheque book solution on asylum is unconstitutional

33 Comments
27 April 2016 | Frank Brennan

Placard reads Close Australian Concentration CampsA bench of five justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in Papua New Guinea, has unanimously ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is unconstitutional. Yet again, Australia has been complicit in its Pacific neighbours (PNG and Nauru) prostituting their Constitutions and undermining the rule of law in exchange for a fistful of dollars, with hapless asylum seekers, most of whom are ultimately proved to be refugees, being left to languish.


ECONOMICS

Negative gearing is the end of the Australian Dream

14 Comments
27 April 2016 | Kate Galloway

Greg Foyster cartoon shows cross-stich house and motto Tax Break Sweet Tax BreakHistorically, having a largely home-owning population has ensured both the social benefit of housing, and an economic benefit through enforced saving with long-term growth. In contrast, the negative gearing push splits the cultural and economic meaning of home ownership, because it focuses on investment. Negative gearing promotes property ownership but not home ownership. Thus the social benefits of home ownership that we have come to expect give way to bare economic indicators.


MEDIA

No moral mystery to 60 minutes child snatch disaster

10 Comments
26 April 2016 | Ray Cassin

Tara Brown on 60 MinutesThere have been attempts by some in the media to mount a moral justification of 60 Minutes' actions. At least they were trying to do the right thing, by helping a mother who would not have been denied custody in Australia But that opens another slimy can of worms. Do we think 60 Minutes would fund a child abduction in Australia, rather than a Muslim country with religious courts, however much the parent they were purporting to help might seem to have been denied custody unfairly?


CREATIVE

Domestic violence is more than an attitude problem

4 Comments
26 April 2016 | Kristin Natalier

Still from anti DV adThe federal government's new ad aims to 'stop violence from the start'. It sends a strong message that violence is never acceptable. But it firmly positions domestic violence as a problem of individual attitudes of perpetrators, not the social and economic vulnerability of victims. Envisaging an end of domestic violence achieved through 'starting conversations about respect with boys and girls' sidesteps the need for the material resources necessary to stop violence when it happens.


No wonder the warrior-dead still weep

1 Comment
26 April 2016 | Peter Gebhardt

Military hat and poppiesThe children are in the park today, running, skipping and laughing. They slide down the cannon, polishing the past with freshly-pressed pants, a mother's delight. 'Always tell the truth,' the mother says, 'If you lie, you'll burn.' ... The day is closing, patient and gentle in its suffering, but the great lies will not lie down. Lies breed lies like flies on dead sheep and the masquerade of maggots makes its creep.


CARTOON

Little 'bull

1 Comment
26 April 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Malcolm Turnbull shrinks as he becomes less impressive and trustworthy. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


RELIGION

Anzac Day and just war scepticism go together

26 Comments
24 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Australian Soliders marchThe classical arguments originated at a time when casualties were suffered mostly by soldiers. In modern warfare, civilians overwhelmingly suffer. Just war theory is used as spin to give specious justification to military campaigns in whose devising ethical considerations played no part. Wars that governments wage are just; those waged by their enemies are unjust. By joining in such debate churches are co-opted into playing an intellectual game designed to make legitimate killing and destruction.


ENVIRONMENT

The boat people from paradise lost

7 Comments
22 April 2016 | Lyn Bender

Lyn Bender and Ursula RakovaUrsula Rakova told how the sea that had been the friend of her people, was turning against them. It had crashed through and divided her island in two. Coconut palms were collapsing at the new shoreline. Food gardens were lost, as the soil was increasingly rendered infertile by salty tides that washed over them. The land that had been handed from grandmother to daughter, would bequeath no legacy to the granddaughters. The homeland of generations was disappearing before their eyes.