Vol 23 No 13

01 July 2013


It's time to recognise secular same sex marriage

11 July 2013 | Frank Brennan

Rainbow-painted hands forming the shape of a love heartThe US Supreme Court and our newly installed Prime Minister have put their weight behind legal recognition of same sex marriage. In California alone there are already 40,000 children who are being brought up by same sex couples. In this debate we need to be mindful of the wellbeing and dignity of these children as well as the unknown number in future who will be created in a test tube.


The small-l liberal tradition of brutal border control

11 July 2013 | Benedict Coleridge

Security camera beside a chain link fenceMany on the left might shudder at the mention of Philip Ruddock or think that his views on migration control were extreme and 'illiberal'. But in fact his views rested on mainstream liberal ideas of limited freedom. In Australia the concepts offered by the liberal tradition have been employed by both sides of politics to give a 'reasonable' varnish to inhumane migration control policies.


Pope's lessons in boldness for Australian politicians

10 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Man with padlock in lipsOne of the intriguing features of Pope Francis is the contrast between his earthy and free way with words and the laboured earnestness of those exploring his words for hidden meanings. It is like watching Martians deploy a bomb disposal unit to deal with the football a kid has kicked into their spaceship. The incongruity is humorous but it also points to a sclerosis in public conversations.


Portrait of an empty marriage and absent God

10 July 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Neil kisses Marina in To the WonderThe sense of God as absent is almost suffocating, but is relieved by the hope that if God is absent from buildings and institutions he may be present 'outside' and in relationships. Father Quintana comes into his own when he comes into contact with the needs of ordinary people, as he prays in voiceover 'Christ before me … behind me' and so on.


Lament of the 21st century man

09 July 2013 | Michael McVeigh

Stencilled messages on steps read 'No Violence, homophobia, sexism' or 'racism'His body itself is a symbol of his inherited power and privilege. He hears women talk about being afraid to go out at night alone. He sees the great strides women have made in the workforce, yet sits in management meetings where nine out of ten leaders are men. He sees bikini clad women on his television screen and feels guilty at admiring their bodies.


Continuity in a changing church

09 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Statue of Pope John Paul II framed against blue skyIn the tension between tradition and change, John Paul II is seen as an emblem of continuity, and Pope John XXIII as a symbol for radical change. In the decision to canonise both former popes, Francis has refocused continuity as a way of honouring different perspectives in the name of a greater common mission.


Democracy reigns in Rudd's participation nation

09 July 2013 | Ray Cassin

Sydney Morning Herald cover: photo of Kevin Rudd pouting slightly, headline reads 'PM takes the knife to spills'Most voters think that when they fill in a ballot paper they are choosing between the prime minister and the opposition leader. And the fact that they think this makes it so, regardless of the niceties of constitutional theory. The system Rudd is proposing would narrow the gap between voter perceptions and the power of parliamentary blocs to ignore them.


Moved and confused by church in a tent

08 July 2013 | Brian Doyle

Red and white striped tentReligions are mesmerised and ruined by power but always pregnant with the possibility of humility. They are so easy to ignore. You'd be wise to sneer, with every reason imaginable for the curl of your knowing lip. Yet here I am, on Sunday morning, in the wedding reception tent, agog; not so much at the earnest idiot of a minister, but at everyone, sweetly, else.


Another round of Ramadan lunar-cy

08 July 2013 | Irfan Yusuf

Plates of fried food at iftar feastRamadan is supposed to fine tune your soul, weaken the ties binding you to your physical appetites and test your religiosity. This month unites Muslims around the globe in an envelope of piety and mercy. At least that's the theory. In reality, for most of us Muslims Ramadan is the month of massive weight gain.


Dusty feet on the road to reconciliation

07 July 2013 | Frank Brennan

NAIDOC Week 2013 artwork: Aboriginal person's fingers break apart charred timber to reveal vibrant flesh150 years ago the David McIver entered Hervey Bay carrying 404 immigrants, including my great great grandmother Annie. Some of the crew rowed to shore, where they were met and helped by two Aboriginal men. Who'd have thought that over a century later, one of Annie's great grandchildren would be a judge in the landmark Mabo native title case.

Inconvenient advice for a business-friendly prime minister

07 July 2013 | Michael Mullins

One of Kevin Rudd's key points of difference with Julia Gillard lies in his determination to project a business-friendly image for himself and the ALP. This may have something to do with his decision to dump former parliamentary secretary Andrew Leigh, who is Australia's leading inequality expert and clearly unsympathetic to the demands of big business on government.

Kevin's bounce

07 July 2013 | John Warhurst

Red bouncing ballNo one knows whether Kevin Rudd's positive impact on Labor's vote will last. While the potential bounce was long predicted by the opinion polls they could never tell us why. But then again he has always been an enigma. His immediate record of popularity after becoming Opposition Leader in 2006 was equally astounding. As the Rudd-Tony Abbott contest begins afresh there is a lot more that we need to know. 


Egyptian democracy a long way off

04 July 2013 | Evan Ellis

Protests in Egypt including green lasersPresident Mohamed Morsi did not govern particularly well. Egypt's rating on the Failed State Index has slipped from 45 to 34 since the fall of Mubarak. But the truth is that this crisis was not merely 12 months in the making, and Egypt's democracy was merely grafted on to a structure in which the military was the real power.


Why Bob Carr is kidding himself about refugees

04 July 2013 | Kerry Murphy

Bob CarrSenator Carr's comments about 'economic migrants' and asylum seekers from 'majority groups' show a lack of understanding of the separation of powers, the rule of law and the refugee assessment process in Australia. It is remarkable that, when confronted with the fact that the numbers of people meeting the refugee criteria are high, Carr's solution is to change the rules.

Husic feels the chill of Australia's racist winter

04 July 2013 | Ellena Savage

IciclesThe media response to the racial abuse Ed Husic suffered after the Qur'an affair in Parliament was as troubling as the abuse itself. Labor MP Stephen Jones called Husic an immigration success story. I wonder what an immigration disaster story would look like. Perhaps the British-descendent bullies who spat on a 14-year-old, headscarved girl in 2004.


Bad teacher's classroom voyeurism

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03 July 2013 | Tim Kroenert

Germain watches Claude kiss his friend's mother'Those who can't do, teach,' declares the unkind truism. Germain is the proverbial failed writer turned English teacher, who has grown jaded and cynical to the point of sociopathy. Education, like art, should enhance humanity, not diminish it — Germain's ultimate failure as a teacher is in neglecting his students' human reality.


Kevin Rudd and Indonesia's Obama

03 July 2013 | Pat Walsh

Joko WidodoRudd's visit to Jakarta this week will be judged on the outcome of asylum seeker discussions. But he needs also to send a clear message about Australia's hopes for next year's presidential elections. Candidates include a former military commander with a dubious human rights record, and a civilian being described as Indonesia's Obama.


Aussie dollar falls to fast money folly

02 July 2013 | David James

Falling dollar signsA currency's value is supposed to represent the state of the country's underlying economy. Yet very little changed about the Australian economy during a week in which the value of the dollar was substantially altered. It is a small instance of how rapidly change occurs in currency markets, sometimes to devastating effect, and another reason why the capital markets are ruling rather than serving.


Holy Rudd

02 July 2013 | Fiona Katauskas

'Saint Kevin walks on water', by Fiona Katauskas. Kevin Rudd holds positive poll results aloft with one hand as he strides across water, using (presumably) asylum seeker vessels as stepping stones. Onlookers say 'And they say he's the new Messiah'

View this week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


Election year open season on refugees

02 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Duck in gun sightsFor refugees election years are like duck hunting season. Even dragon flies tremble. So it is not surprising that Bob Carr brought out the big guns that the Rudd Government will use. His claim that most asylum seekers are economic migrants, come from majority religious and tribal groups, and are too easily given protection visas, is a political response to an intractable situation and should be seen us such.

Canberra's life of lies

01 July 2013 | Walter Hamilton

Man in suit playing shell gameKevin Rudd says he wants to purify politics, and make it kinder and more honest. And yet his own standards when it comes to telling the truth are at least as rubbery as Tony Abbott's. Politicians who tell us they are acting for the higher good or that their brand of dishonesty is less egregious than that of their opponents are deluded and dangerous.

Notes from a boat tragedy inquest

01 July 2013 | Tony Kevin

Driftwood in the shape of the word 'HELP'The WA Coroner's inquest into the sinking of SIEV 358 is shaping up to be the most thorough public examination ever of Australian rescue-at-sea protocols and practice in respect of assisting people on Suspected Irregular Entry Vessels. The Counsel Assisting the Coroner suggested that Australian Maritime Safety Authority's major focus for the first 11 hours of the incident had been to transfer the operation to Indonesia.


Rural prayer

01 July 2013 | Kevin Gillam, Deanne Davies and James Walton

Moreton Bay Fig treeThere is no balm for the yearning of eucalypts. Candlebarks stretch up this vaulted wanting. Dahlias splash an insane chant over a paddock, a calf nods and backs into a startled wander. One day she might raspily lick the mystery of my supplicant salty palm.


Rudd's shifting moral high ground

30 June 2013 | Michael Mullins

Kevin Rudd told colleagues during the week that he would not 'lurch to the left' on asylum seekers. Foreign minister Bob Carr was on message when he said there's been a change and most boat arrivals are now economic migrants rather than genuine asylum seekers. He is boldly asserting that the Rudd Government's moral credentials are intact by framing boat arrivals as a law and order matter and not a moral issue.


Addicted to community

30 June 2013 | Shira Sebban

People with pills for heads holding handsSince time immemorial, philosophers have argued that we are social animals. Yet it was not until my father's death that my longing for community became urgent. I'd once asked him if he would like to be buried in the same cemetery as his parents in Toronto, or in Melbourne where he'd lived for more than 30 years. 'We should be buried within the community where we live,' he replied.