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    Time to defuse Nauru and Manus Island time bombs

    • Frank Brennan
    • 16 August 2016

    The suggestion that those camps need to remain filled in order to send a message to people smugglers is not only morally unacceptable; it is strategically questionable. Those proven to be refugees should be resettled as quickly as practicable, and that includes taking up New Zealand's offer of 150 places a year - just as John Howard did when he accepted New Zealand's offer to take 131 from the Tampa. It's time to act. Ongoing inaction will send a green light to desperate people to do desperate things.


    Don Dale abuse is a symptom of a sick justice culture

    • Julie Kimber
    • 27 July 2016

    The 4 Corners report into the treatment of children in a NT juvenile justice facility is a stark and grotesque demonstration of state abuse of power. As a result John Elferink, NT Corrections Minister, has been sacked, and the Prime Minister has announced a royal commission into the actions at Don Dale. This is a good start, but there is much more to be done. We need to question a culture that willingly imprisons the most vulnerable, and puts up with a system where not all are equal before the law.


    Yielding and wielding personal information

    • Kate Galloway
    • 06 July 2016

    I once knew of a boy whose birth was not registered. His parents believed this would free him from the strictures of the state: his life would be truly private. But it would leave this boy without the trappings of citizenship that we take for granted. Privacy is likely to become something that we can purchase if we have sufficient wealth. Those without enough wealth will be left exposed through both state and corporate surveillance. We will have an 'underclass' without the choice of privacy at all.


    Youth are speaking, we're just not listening

    • Katie Miller and Caitlin Meyer
    • 29 June 2016

    'I'm doing it for my kids.' This is how some supporters of Brexit explained their position before the referendum. Yet 75 per cent of voters aged 18 to 24 voted to Remain. It seems the message from 'the kids' to older voters was 'thanks, but no thanks'. The same can be seen in domestic politics here in Australia. We often hear politicians and voters talk about the effects of a policy on future generations. Yet the issues of concern to young people themselves simply don't get much attention.


    What if the PM went to Manus Island?

    • Samuel Dariol
    • 23 June 2016

    It is one thing to sit at a desk and make policies that will impact on individuals across the sea whom you do not know. It is another thing to cross the sea, to look into the eyes of people abandoned there, to meet the children and see the pictures they have drawn, and to see in their eyes terror, despair, depression and contempt. For a prime minister to go to Manus Island would require him to throw off the shroud and stare affrighted at the maggots in the flesh of the body politic.


    Reflecting on justice for asylum seekers during an election campaign

    • Frank Brennan
    • 30 May 2016

    'Being in the middle of an election campaign, I will not be making any partisan party political points. However being here in the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro, I will conclude with a critique of both major political parties, and with one piece of political advice for citizens of goodwill seeking a national asylum policy more in harmony with the ideals set out by our bishops in their social justice statement.' Yass Catholic Parish Potluck Dinner, 28 May 2016


    Engaging with Dutton's rhetoric is a slippery slope

    • Somayra Ismailjee
    • 20 May 2016

    The irony of trying to negate these stereotypes is that in doing so, we are still cheapening asylum seekers to political tools, stripping them of their humanity and multiplicity. Aiming to counter such rhetoric as Dutton's with stories of high-achieving refugees plays into a toxic game that legitimises the same negative stereotypes by engaging with them. Just as invisibility dehumanises asylum seekers, so does the hypervisibility we attribute to a select few stories.


    Paying for stopping the boats

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 29 April 2016

    This 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.


    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 April 2016

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.


    Serfs sucked dry in the kingdom of banks

    • David James
    • 18 April 2016

    Three finance-related events are currently gaining great attention in the media. One is the so-called Panama Papers. Another is the proposal to have a royal commission into the banks. And a third is the furore over the unaffordability of homes and the debate over negative gearing. On the surface they would seem to be quite separate issues. But all three issues demonstrate yet again that banks are, if not the most malign organisations on the planet, then certainly among the most dangerous.


    Singing and subverting White American history

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 14 April 2016
    1 Comment

    The show's implicit subversiveness runs deep. It is embodied in the fact that its cast consists of mostly Black and Latino performers portraying White characters, using a vernacular and musical styles popularly associated with these cultural groups. It thus stands as a riposte to the history of black/brownface and whitewashing in popular entertainment. Crucially, in a show about 'founding fathers', it is the story's women who not only provide its emotional core but are also the most fundamentally heroic.


    Time to retire 'magical negro' trope from Aussie sport

    • Erin Riley
    • 29 February 2016

    Sports journalists shape narratives. There is drama intrinsic to sport, but the sports journalist draws it out, identifying heroes and villains, and slotting each performance into a broader arc. The power to influence the way the public understands a game or player ought to be wielded carefully. Too often, it is not. This is best demonstrated by the ways in which commentators and journalists speak about Indigenous athletes. A simple superlative can be loaded with more than a century of cultural baggage.


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