Latest articles

  • international

    Salvaging the shipwreck

    • Stephen Minas
    • 18 January 2022

    During his December journey to the eastern Mediterranean nations of Cyprus and Greece, Pope Francis drew attention to the conditions for irregular migration that result in thousands drowning at sea and many more languishing for years in camps. The International Organization for Migration records 23,150 missing migrants in the Mediterranean since 2014.

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  • arts and culture

    Our hopes and fears for 2022

    • Barry Gittins
    • 14 January 2022

    We’ve been in a pressure cooker, these past two years. More than a score of historians had memorably described 2020 as the sixth-most ‘stressful year ever’. Predictions and speculations look ahead; I looked at the past trends of the past two years and make these humble observations. With the stage set for dire times, here are six trends to look for in 2022. Here’s hoping.

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  • Main image: People on their phones (camilo jimenez/Unsplash)
    media

    Best of 2021: Impartial journalism in the age of social media

    • Denis Muller
    • 11 January 2022

    The landscape has changed, and there is no going back. Individual journalists are now integrated into the ranks of pundits, urgers and persuaders who abound online. At their employers’ behest, they blog, they podcast, they ‘engage’ as the current jargon has it, with those who post comments to their articles online.

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  • Broken: A profound study of Christianity and the priesthood

    • Paul Mitchell
    • 09 December 2021
    4 Comments

    Broken first aired on BBC1 in England in 2017. Four years to make it to Australia, but it was worth it. The series is a profound and powerful study of Christianity and what priesthood means, whether for the man holding up the bread at the altar, or that ‘priesthood of all believers’ to which Christianity’s adherents are said to belong.  

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  • Tidings of comfort

    • Barry Gittins
    • 07 December 2021
    3 Comments

    Without Christmas, without that beautiful bookend of closure and celebration for another rather depressing year, where would we be? Speaking for me and mine, ensconced in the oft-locked-down leafy suburbs of Melbourne, 2021 promised much and delivered little more than a continuance of stress, bad blood among some of the tribes that comprise Victorian society, and the hope that heightened vaccination rates will translate into the need for no more lockdowns. That’s certainly a present worth unwrapping.

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  • Ownership

    • Jamie Dawe
    • 06 December 2021

    I own my proclivities and short comings / I own the transgressions of those which have inflicted wounds some unhealed /  I own the sublime moments of subjective joy / I own little but I am rich in compassion / I own not the land it owns me

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  • Legitimised judicial captivity: The Assange case

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 16 December 2021

    The legal pursuit of Assange is disturbingly unique not only for using an archaic law against a non-US national; it is also the first instance of an international application of it against a publisher. The law, if applied in the way suggested by the charges, criminalise the receipt, dissemination and publication of national security information, irrespective of motive. If the US Espionage Act 1917 were applied in this way, it would appear to subvert the free press provision in the United States Constitution.

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  • The thawing of a frozen conflict

    • Justin Glyn
    • 30 November 2021
    2 Comments

    Global warming, much in the news of late, has been accompanied by another unwelcome thaw. The ‘frozen conflict’ in the East of Ukraine between a Western-backed, Ukrainian nationalist government and Russian-speaking rebels with cultural affinity with Moscow, has been heating up alarmingly.

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  • Outgrowing apartheid: FW de Klerk

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 23 November 2021
    21 Comments

    The passing of South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, raises pressing questions about a complex historical character who, according to his brother, Willem de Klerk, slowly outgrew apartheid. In a critical sense, he was bound, understandably, by both time and context: race, the need to defend a racial hierarchy, the historical role of a segregationist system that saw his all-white National Party retain power for decades. 

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  • Best of 2021: Religious discrimination laws coming to the boil

    • Frank Brennan
    • 11 January 2022

    It’s four years since the Australian Parliament amended the Marriage Act 1961 to provide that marriage means ‘the union of two people to the exclusion of all others’. The legislation followed the plebiscite on same sex marriage. To address the concerns of some religious groups, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull set up an expert panel chaired by long time Liberal Party minister Philip Ruddock to report on whether Australian law adequately protected the human right to freedom of religion. 

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  • There will be a next time. We must do better.

    • Cristy Clark
    • 16 December 2021

    Under Victoria’s Border Directions after 23 July, people in NSW, including Victorian residents, were effectively prevented from entering the state. Their only option was to request an exemption for a number of specified reasons including ‘attending a funeral or end of life event or returning home for health, wellbeing, care or compassionate reasons or for any other reason under a general discretion’.

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  • A tale of two webs: A strengths-based approach to place-based disadvantage

    • Sally Cowling
    • 14 December 2021

    In developing an understanding of place-based disadvantage, shame and stigma are transmitted between generations within the small number of communities we collectively fail. And yet no matter the number of indicators of place-based disadvantage, each community possesses some unique strengths. 

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  • Best of 2021: Atheists and God cancellers

    • Michael McGirr
    • 11 January 2022

    I must have time on my hands. I have been thinking about the difference between atheists and God cancellers. I love my atheist friends, of whom I am blessed with many. I relish the existential grist of our talks, the deep sense of substance and mutual respect. I also love the constant jokes. We keep each other honest. I enjoy a rich engagement with the history of thought and I believe we ennoble each other through the kind of trust that is prepared to talk about things that are off limits to others.

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  • Best of 2021: The careful choreography of plenary

    • Francis Sullivan
    • 04 January 2022

    The First Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council held few surprises. The program made sure of it. Proceedings were carefully choreographed and the agenda was deliberately anodyne. It took several days before participants found their feet. The upshot was a week devoid of strategic focus.

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  • Main image: Steeple of church (Akira Hojo/Unsplash)

    Best of 2021: Making space for conversation

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 04 January 2022

    The exchanges within churches echo trends in national life that heighten disagreements, lessen respect, and tend to confine conversation circles to people of similar views. People become annoyed if those opposing their views gatecrash their forums. This trend creates problems for Church sponsored publications.

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  • Main image:  A man wearing the traditional dress of the Solomon Islands march on September 20, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

    Best of 2021: Not just climate adaptation, but genuine transformation

    • Cristy Clark
    • 11 January 2022

    On a superficial level, it makes no sense to commit so strongly to managing the impacts of climate change (adaptation) on the one hand while refusing to significantly reduce emissions (mitigation) on the other. On the other hand, when you start to unpack the logic of so much adaptation policy, this contradiction fades away.

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  • Scott Morrison’s climate PFFT

    • Greg Foyster
    • 27 October 2021
    6 Comments

    After an excruciating few weeks of negotiations with the Nationals — and far too many hours subjected to Barnaby Joyce’s ramblings — the Morrison government has finally announced their predictably underwhelming plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

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  • The right to a healthy environment

    • Cristy Clark
    • 21 October 2021
    2 Comments

    On 8 October, at its 48th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council formally adopted a resolution recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. It emphasises that ‘environmental degradation, climate change and unsustainable development constitute some of the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of present and future generations to enjoy human rights, including the right to life’.

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