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  • AUSTRALIA

    A Human Rights Day tribute to the Northern Territory's Tony Fitzgerald

    • Frank Brennan
    • 10 December 2015

    I first met this Tony on my regular visits here to Darwin when he was working at the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and then when he set up the mediation services under the auspices of Anglicare. In later years I knew him when he was your Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. He was a quiet, considered, gentle, strong and principled man. On Human Rights Day, it is only fitting that I honour Tony by offering some reflections on the architecture for human rights in Australia, on the contemporary human rights controversies, and on the way forward for better protection of the human rights of Aborigines and asylum seekers, two marginalised groups who had a special claim on Tony's sympathies.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No alarms and no opinions

    • Ellena Savage
    • 04 December 2015
    7 Comments

    In November I did not change my profile picture to a European flag. I did not post a link to a fresh journalistic insight into a gang of men with machetes who are desperate to feel relevant in the empty ravine of history. I felt mild joy for Myanmar, but if I am honest, I don't know enough about Myanmar. I felt indignant that no-one changed their profile pictures to the Mali flag after 170 people were taken hostage there. Then my indignation dissolved when I realised I didn't know what the Mali flag looked like.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Hipster heroes of gentrification

    • Charlotte Howell
    • 02 December 2015
    1 Comment

    I was born into a working class family in Leyton, East London. But in the late 1980s, gentrification in the area forced us to relocate to the poor working class town of Harlow, Essex. In a twist of fate, these days I can't even afford to live there. This time it is not due to gentrification brought about by 'hipster' entrepreneurs, but because powerful construction companies have replaced the historical architecture with new developments and housing estates. I know who I'd rather pick a fight against.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Unions may be the answer for exploited garment workers

    • Beth Doherty
    • 27 November 2015
    4 Comments

    This week marked three years since the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, left over 100 garment workers dead. Six months later, Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, and 1134 people were killed. Labels for top brands such as H&M and Benetton were found in the rubble. While steps have been taken by some companies to promote ethical supply chains, it may be that the only way for a more just treatment of garment workers is the proper organisation of the workers themselves.

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  • RELIGION

    Discerning the place for the churches in the great moral questions of the age

    • Frank Brennan
    • 27 November 2015
    2 Comments

    'The crisis of child sexual abuse in our societies has required that our institutional procedures be more transparent and that we learn from the ways of the world in exercising power openly and justly. This means we have to restructure some of our church arrangements so that power is exercised accountably and transparently. All of us who have positions of influence and power in institutional churches need to be attentive to the voices of those who have suffered within our institutions.' 'Discerning the place for the prophetic voice and pragmatic cooperation of the churches in the great moral questions of the age', address to the Association of Practical Theology in Oceania conference, 26 November 2015.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Government haste lays waste to consultation

    • Leanne O'Donnell
    • 24 November 2015
    7 Comments

    In October last year, in my former role as regulatory manager of iiNet, I responded to a confidential industry consultation paper on the proposed data retention scheme. The Attorney-General's Department provided no response to that 22 page paper beyond an acknowledgment of receipt. It's frustrating to feel like a government is simply going through the motions of 'consultation'. This isn't an isolated case. There's too often a lack of meaningful consultation before bills are introduced into Parliament.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Why Pope Francis is not an anti-Capitalist greenie

    • Frank Brennan
    • 23 October 2015
    4 Comments

    Francis knows there are all sorts of issues inside and outside the Church where for too long people with power have tried to keep the lid on, in the hope that the problems and complexities will go away, often by parodying those who see the problems or complexities as small 'l' liberals or cafeteria Catholics. He delights in being joyful and troubled while contemplating big problems, calling people of good will to the table of deliberation reminding them of the kernel of the Christian gospels. He has the faith and hope needed to lift the lid without fear and without knowing the answers prior to the dialogue occurring.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Data regime will see us funding our own surveillance

    • Leanne O'Donnell
    • 09 October 2015
    5 Comments

    Back in March Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio: 'The only thing the data retention law is requiring is that types of metadata which are currently retained will be retained ... for at least two years.' In fact the laws, which come into effect next week, include an obligation on service providers to 'create' data that falls within the data set to be retained, if they don't already collect it. This isn't nitpicking. The more data that is created, the more the scheme will cost, and the greater the risk of privacy breach.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Search for truth continues 50 years after Indonesia's purge

    • Pat Walsh
    • 01 October 2015
    2 Comments

    Like Tony Abbott before him, Malcolm Turnbull is slated to make Jakarta one of his first overseas ports of call as prime minister. His visit will occur as calls grow louder in Indonesia and elsewhere for the truth to be told about the massacres of up to 1 million Indonesians 50 years ago this October. It is assumed that at the time Canberra did not protest the massive miscarriage of justice and international law that occurred. It can now compensate in a small way for that silence by making public what it knew.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Moving on after two unhappy years

    • Tony Kevin
    • 16 September 2015
    14 Comments

    Now is an exciting moment for Australia, after all the low points of the past two years. We can look forward to a real return to greater civil discourse and intellectual integrity in politics. It will be good if the parties can set aside the negative energy that was brought to the Parliament and return to an informed contest of ideas, for there is much to debate.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    It’s time Mr Heydon was taken to court

    • Frank Brennan
    • 09 September 2015
    7 Comments

    Senator Penny Wong moved a motion requesting the Governor-General to sack Dyson Heydon from the unions royal commission. This is a disgrace. It evokes memories of Governor General John Kerr sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam almost 40 years ago. The unions must appeal Heydon's decision to the courts, or abide by the umpire's decision.

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  • The politics of popular evil and untrendy truth

    • Frank Brennan
    • 01 September 2015
    1 Comment

    If you want to form government in Australia and if you want to lead the Australian people to be more generous, making more places available for refugees to resettle permanently in Australia, you first have to stop the boats. If you want to restore some equity to the means of choosing only some tens of thousands of refugees per annum for permanent residence in Australia from the tens of millions of people displaced in the world, you need to secure the borders. The untrendy truth is that not all asylum seekers have the right to enter Australia but that those who are in direct flight from persecution whether that be in Sri Lanka or Indonesia do, and that it is possible fairly readily (and even on the high seas) to draw a distinction between those in direct flight and those engaged in secondary movement understandably dissatisfied with the level of protection and the transparency of processing in transit countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The popular evil is that political

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