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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    No vacancy at the inn (or anywhere else in Australia)

    • Marlene Marburg
    • 04 December 2016
    5 Comments

    Please god of the fit and strong, forbid we should become 'the un-lucky country'. Help us to conjure the nerve to say, There is no room for you here in Australia. No vacancies. All full up. You will be turned away while you are trying to give your family respite from poverty or war. We have no room for you. We are using our space for shops. And Christmas trees.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    History comes to strife in Stratford-upon-Avon

    • Patrick McCabe
    • 28 November 2016
    3 Comments

    Someone I read in high school, so probably Shakespeare, once said 'The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.' Well, whoever it was clearly hadn't been to Stratford-upon-Avon (so maybe not Shakespeare then). Here, you truly can visit the past, without a passport. As one peruses the shops, houses, supermarkets and ATMs, one cannot help but speculate as to the links between Shakespeare's works and what must have been the commonplaces of his everyday life.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Question your motives when appropriating minority voices

    • Neve Mahoney
    • 24 November 2016
    9 Comments

    In a utopian world, free of racism and bigotry, there would be no problem with writers having complete artistic freedom. It becomes a problem when, for example, a white author takes the experiences of a Ugandan woman and writes a novel that becomes an acclaimed bestseller, while writers of colour struggle to get published and have their own stories told. This is white privilege at its finest. Morally, should the privileged be able to profit from the experiences and oppression of another culture?

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Forestalling disgrace amid a welfare nightmare

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 22 November 2016
    5 Comments

    The welfare system Daniel experiences is a bureaucratic nightmare, populated by condescending Health Care Professionals, shadowy and calculating Decision Makers, managers who loom over their clients like stern parents, and caseworkers who stifle any human compassion for their desperate supplicants. He is grilled by a welfare officer about every aspect of his health except the only relevant one, his heart. Later, he runs afoul of the agency's 'online by default' processes. Daniel has never used a computer in his life.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Seven warnings for Queensland as it considers a human rights act

    • Frank Brennan
    • 30 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

    Human rights acts after Brexit

    • Frank Brennan
    • 27 October 2016
    7 Comments

    Even prior to Brexit, the Conservatives were wanting to replace the UK Human Rights Act with weaker legislation. They have been worried about what they perceive to be a loss of sovereignty. But even the British Conservatives remain committed to some form of human rights act. I commend the Queensland parliament for undertaking its present inquiry, and sound a cautious note of optimism about the modest gains which might be made by the enactment of a human rights act in Australia.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    How the working class became white

    • Evan Smith
    • 26 October 2016
    19 Comments

    While the White Australia Policy attempted to prevent non-white workers from living and working in Australia, people from across the globe continued to do both, although often at the margins of white Australian society. The Australian Labor Party and the trade unions were complicit in maintaining this racial divide. In Australia today, a new wave of migrants is working in convenience stores, driving taxis or cleaning buildings. They are part of the Australian working class, but are often not considered such.

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  • RELIGION

    Heed the echoes of Mussolini's Italy in today's world

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 24 October 2016
    11 Comments

    When surveying one's world it is always dangerous to forget the past. Australian historian John Molony's recent book about Italian priest and politician Luigi Sturzo is an accounting, showing how easily democracy, freedom and respect for human rights can be surrendered both by politicians and by the Catholic Church. It invites reflection on our situation today. The Italy in which Mussolini came to power and in which Sturzo operated has haunting similarities to today's world.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Marriage equality supporters' hope for a free conscience vote

    • Frank Brennan
    • 15 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
    • 12 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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  • AUSTRALIA

    Inquiry into data use asks the wrong questions

    • Kate Galloway
    • 05 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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  • RELIGION

    Pope Francis among other disruptive leaders

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 14 September 2016
    17 Comments

    Is Francis' style of political engagement effective? It has certainly gained him a favourable hearing within church and society. His message and his personality suit the times. Whether it will be lastingly effective will depend on whether he changes attitudes, particularly those of people who will be responsible for governance in church and state. But at the very least he has stressed the ethical and religious urgency of treating refugees, the environment, and the economy with respect.

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