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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    A few hot days in the Flinders Ranges

    • John Cranmer
    • 07 November 2016
    1 Comment

    Have you ever noticed the way that book and reality sometimes entwine and become essentially one? It's happening here and now as we contemplate these few hot days in Hawker and the Flinders. Anita Desai's The Zigzag Way creates a context for living here at this particular ephemeral moment. Altiplano Mexico in all it's barren frugality integrates with these hot and marginal plains hemmed in by the cragginess of surrounding scarplands with their many strong stories

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Turnbull's boat ban is crazy and cruel

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 03 November 2016
    20 Comments

    'Will this affect my case?' Hassan was worried about the survey that said nearly 50 per cent of Australians wanted to ban Muslims from migrating to Australia. I was working on his protection visa. He had a strong case. 'No,' I replied. Like any large religion, in Islam there are many variations in practice and beliefs, influenced by cultural and historical events. To simply ban them all is a crazy option. You do not ban everyone just because a minority are involved in criminal activity. Or so I thought.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Tweeting our way back to the Middle Ages

    • Brian Matthews
    • 03 November 2016
    4 Comments

    Curiously, while privacy continues to be valued and sought in the 21st century perhaps more strenuously than ever before, its milieu is once again the furious turmoil of aggressively public revelation, exhortation and threat that distinguished Johan Huizinga's scarifying portrait of the medieval world, in his book The Autumn of The Middle Ages. In our age, 'all things in life' once again have 'about them something glitteringly and cruelly public'. Or to put it another way, we have social media.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Seven warnings for Queensland as it considers a human rights act

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 October 2016
    2 Comments

    'First warning: if you're going to be serious about a Human Rights Act, make sure that your government departments are sufficiently resourced and encouraged to produce meaningful statements of compatibility. Second warning, especially in a unicameral legislature: make sure that your parliamentary committee on human rights has sufficient muscle and status to arrest the progress of any bill until it has been thoroughly scrutinised for human rights compliance.' Frank Brennan's remarks at the Fringe Conference of the 2016 Queensland ALP Convention.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Asylum seeker's long wait for judgement day

    • Shira Sebban
    • 18 October 2016
    12 Comments

    Finally he is having his day in court. After 13 months languishing in limbo in immigration detention, he has been given the opportunity to be heard. Hopefully, it won't be long now before his case is determined and his torment resolved. Or so I thought. But in today's Australia, asylum seekers are not treated the same way as you or me. I meet him not as originally planned in the courtroom itself, but in the bowels of the building where he has been confined for the second day in a row to a tiny cell.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Marriage equality supporters' hope for a free conscience vote

    • Frank Brennan
    • 16 October 2016
    25 Comments

    When the dust settles next year, maybe LGBTI advocates will see the wisdom in trying to convince the Labor party to reinstitute a free conscience vote on its side if only to force the Coalition to do the same. That way the parliament a few years down the track might be able to do what the LGBTI advocates want them to do now. If it were my call, I would have opted for the plebiscite in February with prompt parliamentary legislation to follow. But it's not my call.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The criminal law 30 years on

    • Frank Brennan
    • 13 October 2016
    2 Comments

    With idealism and pragmatism, I invite you criminal lawyers in the next 30 years to imagine and enact a better criminal justice system which alleviates rather than exacerbates the devastating effects of colonisation and marginalisation on Indigenous Peoples, and most particularly their children. An intelligently designed criminal justice system must help secure the foothold of Indigenous children in both the Market and the Dreaming.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Bobbling their way from innocence to experience

    • Barry Gittins
    • 13 October 2016
    1 Comment

    I attempted at one stage to lodge snippets of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience into the minds of our children. Emily complained that 'symmetry' didn't really rhyme with 'hand or eye'; Ben was and is more into dragons than tigers. The question later pondered of Blake's tiger 'Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee?' regularly confronts me, as my wife semi-mourns and I embrace the maturing process that is taking our children towards adulthood.

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  • ECONOMICS

    It will take more than a royal commission to tame the banks

    • David James
    • 10 October 2016
    2 Comments

    The strategy of the Big Four banks' appearance in parliament was clear enough. Blame the whole thing on a need to improve impersonal 'processes', imply that there have been a few bad apples but overall things are fine, and promise to do better in the future. The greatest challenge was probably to hide the smirks. A royal commission is being held up as an alternative, and no doubt it would be more effective. But a royal commission would not address the main issue.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Inquiry into data use asks the wrong questions

    • Kate Galloway
    • 06 October 2016
    3 Comments

    The Productivity Commission was charged in March to inquire into 'data availability and use'. The inquiry holds important implications for Australians because our personal information is collected and stored by business and government in nearly all our daily interactions. The inquiry's terms of reference however make a number of assumptions, making it look very much as though it will find that the benefits of making data available outweigh the costs. And those costs are likely to be our privacy.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Being clear eyed and misty eyed about human rights and asylum seekers

    • Frank Brennan
    • 06 October 2016
    8 Comments

    Australia's policy is unique and unrepeatable by other nations because it requires that you be an island nation continent without asylum seekers in direct flight from the countries next door and that you have access to a couple of other neighbouring island nations which are so indigent that they will receive cash payments in exchange for warehousing asylum seekers and proven refugees, perhaps indefinitely. The policy over which Turnbull presides is not world best practice. It's a disgrace.

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  • RELIGION

    Religious freedom in an age of equality

    • Frank Brennan
    • 23 September 2016
    18 Comments

    'No good will be served by a royal commission auspiced by the state telling a Church how it judges or complies with its theological doctrines and distinctive moral teachings. By all means, set universal standards of practice expected of all institutions dealing with children, but do not trespass on the holy ground of religious belief and practice.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ addresses the Freedom for Faith Conference in Melbourne, 23 September 2016.

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