keywords: High Court

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  • RELIGION

    An unholy mess

    • Frank Brennan
    • 23 February 2016
    46 Comments

    McClellan and his fellow commissioners on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have a daunting task in the next fortnight, according due process and natural justice to a high profile witness on the other side of the world who has been publicly labeled 'scum', 'buffoon' and a 'coward', being the subject of unauthorised leaks about uninvestigated complaints from a police service which itself is under scrutiny for its past cooperation with the witness and his Church.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    When it's right to break the law

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 18 February 2016
    18 Comments

    It is common for people to break the law. People fail to move on when instructed by police, evade tax, drive too fast, keep silent about abuse, trespass on military facilities, and drive when drunk. Many people assert that it is never right to break a law duly enacted by the government. From this principle it follows that anyone offering sanctuary to people who seek protection in Australia is acting wrongly. This blanket condemnation of law breaking runs against our inherited moral tradition.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Gospel brutality reborn in our harrowing of refugee children

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 February 2016
    15 Comments

    The High Court decision on detention in Nauru came down just before the Christian season of Lent. It left the government free and determined to deport many young mothers and children to Nauru. For the mothers and children deportation will bring new trauma with renewed threat to their already precarious mental health. For the Australian public it again makes us ask what brutality, even to children, we are ready to tolerate. The savagery of this treatment is a suitable subject for Lenten reflection.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Offers of sanctuary brighten Australia's refugee dark age

    • Justin Glyn
    • 08 February 2016
    16 Comments

    Churches across Australia have made headlines by offering sanctuary to those who stand to be returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, including 37 babies and a raped five-year-old whose attacker still resides there. In doing so, they have been rediscovering an old concept and reminding the government what refugee law was for in the first place. As in the Dark Ages, where the organs of the state are unable or unwilling to protect the vulnerable, it is the churches who are speaking out.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No retrospective fix for traumatised refugees

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 05 February 2016
    6 Comments

    The practice of governments using the Parliament to change the law in order to win court cases is unfair, as only one party to a court case has the power to do this. The M68 case decided on Wednesday, which challenged the detention and transfer to Nauru of asylum seekers, was effectively won by the government because they changed the law retrospectively to make sure they would win. No retrospective fix will be possible for people who fled persecution only to face a punitive and hostile policy.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    High Court not the answer to Nauru depravity

    • Frank Brennan
    • 04 February 2016
    24 Comments

    Following Wednesday's High Court decision, the moral depravity of Australian funded offshore detention of asylum seekers, including children, is to continue. There is no joy to be found in our High Court applying a Constitution even more bereft of human rights protections than that of Nauru. It's time for our politicians to address the political and moral question: what purpose is actually served by sending this mum and her baby back to Nauru, when the boats have already stopped and will stay stop?

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Ai Weiwei is the cultural hero that China needs

    • Jeremy Clarke
    • 16 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Ai Weiwei might be more Dada than Dao and a hirsute satirist of Beijing's rulers, but he is no mere trending hashtag. Since his birth in 1957, his life history has moulded him, and given him the courage to speak up for a reformed China. And while he might appear the court jester that a simplistic West wants, he is in fact a clever and pragmatic political operator in his own world pursuing a rights agenda in a systematic, constructive and humorous way, often through artistic production.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Aboriginal Australians' year of action

    • Celeste Liddle
    • 16 December 2015
    5 Comments

    At the end of 2014, the scene for Indigenous politics in 2015 was set. While it is rare to see a year where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't take to the streets to challenge government policies, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett's announcement in November 2014 of the proposed closure of remote communities led to a large scale movement. It was one of several events that mobilised Indigenous communities during 2015. Next year is shaping up to be just as action packed.

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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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  • RELIGION

    Pope Francis and the face of mercy

    • Frank Brennan
    • 09 December 2015
    2 Comments

    'I joined the Jesuits in 1975 just as the previous 32nd General Congregation (GC32) was concluding. Pedro Arrupe was at the height of his powers. That Congregation asked the question: 'What is it to be a companion of Jesus today?' and answered unequivocally, 'It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.' I have always regarded myself as a GC32 Jesuit. Many of those who gathered for GC33 thought that the GC32 mission was a little too one-dimensional. I suspect Bergoglio was one of those.' Frank Brennan on the eve of the Catholic Church's Jubilee Year of Mercy.

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  • RELIGION

    'Equal laws and equal rights ... dealt out to the whole community'. How close 161 years on?

    • Frank Brennan
    • 04 December 2015
    1 Comment

    'Tonight, gathered here in the Southern Cross Club in the national capital, gathered as Eureka's children. We affirm that there is room for everyone under the Southern Cross. I hope you will return to Canberra carrying the Southern Cross flag when we proclaim the Australia Republic on 1 January 2020 which will be two elections after Australia last had a monarchist leader of a major political party. Tony Abbott is the last of his type. Whether the prime minister honoured to witness the proclamation is Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten or another matters not.' Annual Dinner for Eureka's Children, Southern Cross Club, Canberra, 3 December 2015.

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  • RELIGION

    How do we navigate medico-legal questions without a bill of rights?

    • Frank Brennan
    • 03 December 2015

    The consideration of medico-legal problems in the public square of a pluralistic democratic society keeping pace with profound technological change is often marked by simplistic assertions, precluding considerations of comprehensive world views, whether religious or philosophical. It is now commonplace for doctors to be told to leave their consciences at the door, as their patients are consumers and they are suppliers and of course the market decides. Debates about law and policy are often resolved with simplistic assertions about individual rights and autonomy, with little consideration for the public interest, the common good, and the doctor-patient relationship. Even conscience is said to be a matter for contracting out. This evening I ask whether there are more compelling ways to resolve medico-legal dilemmas, while conceding a limited role for law in determining the range of acceptable answers.

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