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Revising the idea of Santamaria as Abbott's mentor

31 August 2015 | John Warhurst

Abbott and his so-called mentors, by Chris JohnstonThere is always an appetite for anything linking Tony Abbott and Bob Santamaria. The journalist in Abbott has encouraged observers to play up the links, even though it has never been entirely clear  what he is saying. He has explained that he was impressed as a young man by Santamaria’s courage as an 'advocate for unfashionable truths’, but he also pays his public dues to a number of prominent figures including John Howard, Cardinal George Pell, John Hewson, Bronwyn Bishop and even Pope Benedict XVI.

Don't fence me in

27 August 2015 | Catherine Marshall

White picket fenceAs immigrants settling in Australia, the relative lack of fences and security measures was a sign that we'd chosen a safe and respectful country. This erasing of margins implied at once both mutual trust and an innate respect for the invisible boundaries that demarcated people's personal space. But 13 year later, I'm noticing the emergence of fortified residences boasting shiny black fences and firmly shut gates.

'Vigilante' applies to the government more than environmentalists

23 August 2015 | Fatima Measham

Adani mineThe epithets used against environment groups have been extraordinary after a judge of the Federal Court set aside Environment Minister Greg Hunt's approval of the Adani thermal coal mine. Perhaps legislation has always been an instrument for ideological agendas, but the compulsion and ease with which the Coalition has taken to the law to restrict scrutiny doesn't bode well for us. 

Rich retirees may need the aged pension

30 July 2015 | David James

Chris Johnston artworkThere has been great pressure on both of the major political parties to stop giving so-called rich retirees partial pension income. The conventional view has become that retired millionaires should not be feeding off the public teat. But in terms of income, many of those 'rich retirees' would actually be better off on the pension.

The white male gaze that drives child sex tourism

26 July 2015 | Fatima Measham

The Monthly 'Fallen Angels' photoFebruary's arrest of Australian man Peter Scully in the Philippines has focused concern on the sexual exploitation of Filipino women and children by foreigners. As long as they feel disempowered, when their sense of worth is measured by implicit trust and hope in white saviours and the dollar, they will continue to be preyed upon.

Cold War blinkers threaten MH17 truth

19 July 2015 | Tony Kevin

MH17 wreckageA Russian investigative committee continues to claim that MH17 was most likely to have been downed by an air-to-air missile that was not Russian-made. For their part, Western commentators became increasingly impatient and scornful of Russian ‘conspiracy theories’ on who downed MH17. Whether the identity of who actually shot down MH17 becomes known in the fullness of time could depend upon the extent to which our political leaders can resist using MH17 to prosecute their Cold War enmities.

Intimidated ABC embraces self-censorship

06 July 2015 | Fatima Measham

Former Philippines President Ferdinand MarcosNine days after the Zacky Mallah Q&A episode, the ABC Board said it had censured the program's executive producer. It could have been a failure of the producer's editorial judgment, but there is a worrying sense that it was really a matter of the ABC appeasing the Government. There is a chilling echo of the Philippine media under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The media came to anticipate direct interventions from Malacañang Palace; eventually, none had to be made.

The normalisation of lying in Australian politics

05 July 2015 | John Warhurst

Bill Shorten 'on air'The terms 'lie' and 'liar' have become so completely devalued that there are now far worse sins in modern politics. That is why it's hard to get excited about Opposition Leader Bill Shorten choosing to lie on air to Neil Mitchell about his involvement in discussions with Kevin Rudd to unseat Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

Feminism colluding with religion to manage men's sexual desire

02 July 2015 | Catherine Marshall

Hanna YusufBritish student Hanna Yusuf declared her hijab to be not an instrument of oppression but rather a feminist statement: 'In a world where a woman’s value is often reduced to her sexual allure, what could be more empowering than rejecting that notion?' But reducing a woman to her sexual allure is precisely what the hijab does.

The IMF has failed Greece

30 June 2015 | David James

Christine LagardeInternational Monetary Fund prescriptions have a long history of failing, and countries that ignore them are often the ones that do surprisingly well. Few have been asked to be more servile than the Greeks. When the IMF came in with what is amusingly referred to as its austerity 'plan', the Greek economy was expected to grow at over 2 per cent. After the 'plan' had taken effect, the country’s economy had shrunk by a quarter.

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