Vol 26 No 16

14 August 2016

Olympic medals podium, with second and third places visibly more exhausted than first. Cartoon by Chris Johnston



Dickensian England lives on in Australia

25 August 2016 | Kate Galloway

Mark Lester in Oliver Twist filmOliver Twist is still used to aid understanding of the trauma arising from poverty, and the suffering of children at the hands of individuals and within institutional settings. In broader Australian society we assume Dickensian attitudes to children have evolved. Aligned with the sentiments behind child protection, society's image of children and childhood is idyllic. Yet beneath this veneer lies a substratum of deeply ambivalent, even malevolent, attitudes towards children with a distinctly Dickensian flavour.


SA power play backfires

25 August 2016 | Greg Foyster

Pollution distribution system, cartoon by Greg FoysterOn 7 July, South Australia experienced a cold snap. As residents turned on their heaters, the still and cloudy conditions meant wind and solar power couldn't contribute much to meeting electricity demand. The last coal plant had closed a few months before, pushed out of the market by renewable energy. As if on cue, the spot electricity price spiked. Instead of a lesson about the danger of too much wind power, it's about the danger of too much market power in the hands of a few big players.


A society that forgives wins

24 August 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Russia's Yuliya Efimova looks on as America's Lilly King celebrates winning the women's 100m breaststrokeAlmost all public conversation quickly turns to transgressors. Olympic competitors growled about proven and suspect drug users. Many wanted people found to have used drugs shamed and shunned. This insistence that transgressors should definitively lose their good name and the right to participate is not confined to sport. If inflexibility and exclusion become the rule in dealing with aberrant speech or behaviour we find unacceptable, they will impose heavy burdens on individuals and society.


Antiheroes of the Bush-Cheney arms boom

24 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

War Dogs is the latest in a string of films from the past few years that are custom made for our cynical times; deeply ironic black comedies and dramas featuring antiheroes who profit to the point of excess off the misery of others. Where those films dealt with the finance industry and gained relevance from the backdrop of the Global Financial Crisis, this one shifts focus to the grimier world of arms dealing, in the context of Bush era conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The world we choose to live in

23 August 2016 | Jim McDermott

Stylised Trump portraitMaybe standing there we weren't afraid about the fight that was happening across the street, but the fraying at the edges that it represents, the insecurity that the gospel both of Trump and against Trump seems to be creating in our society. It echoes the insecurity we hear in the Brexit vote, and the treatment of both ethnic British citizens and immigrants that followed. Likewise, the resurrection of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party. None of it sounds good and where is it all going?


Girls are not to blame for their own exploitation

23 August 2016 | Madeleine Hamilton

Stop blaming victims chalk sloganThe response from police and others in authority to recent cases involving the abuse or exploitation of adolescent female sexuality is depressingly reminiscent of attitudes held more than 50 years ago. While it was no defence to argue that the girl had consented, if it could be proven she had had consensual intercourse with other men previously, the offender could be acquitted. Consequently, in carnal knowledge trials, girls were frequently accused of having rich histories of sexual activity.


Not-so-free speech

1 Comment
23 August 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Andrew Bolt is selective about whose free speech he is defending.  Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


Young George

22 August 2016 | Geoff Page

Young George PellWhat's he doing in my dream, that cardinal from Ballarat? He's in some sort of seventies presbytery or hardwood hall, shirt-sleeved but with collar on and playing ping-pong like a pro, fully-focused, yet relaxed. Forehand, backhand, lob or smash, nothing is beyond his reach. The other player is unseen but plainly worthy of attack. There's just the click of celluloid foreshadowing the rise to Rome. No ball hit that's not hit back.


Truth beyond written records of the Wave Hill walk off

22 August 2016 | Moira Rayner

Yijarni: True Stories From GurindjiI had been in WA for exactly a year when the local newspaper reported that a white guy had led about 200 people off Wave Rock station. Coming out of the comfortable myth that my home country of New Zealand was not racist, I was amazed to learn that Australia's Indigenous people were obliged to work without industrial protections. In 1966 it was the British Vesteys Group that had been exploiting Aboriginal people: today it is the State in the guise of 'community development', aka work for the dole.


Luckily for Australia, winning really isn't everything

21 August 2016 | Michael McVeigh

Ella NelsonAustralia appears likely to fall well short of its pre-games medal target. This has led to criticism of the government's funding strategy, which has seen money poured into elite sports where Australia has traditionally been most successful or where medals seemed most likely. This approach inevitably leads people to calculate whether Australia has received 'value for money' for its investments. But it doesn't have much to do with what people actually get out of watching or being part of the Olympics.


Grandchildren are your children twice over

21 August 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Hands of various agesWhen we were all younger, I wrote about my three sons. In the words of Sir Thomas More, their characteristics strangely tugged at my heart, and like More, I fed them cake, ripe apples and fancy pears. Among other things. But eventually there was a mild rebellion about the writing, in the course of which my eldest threatened to send me a bill. Now I write about my grandchildren, three boys and a girl, who are too young as yet to be so commercially minded.


Israel can't be both abuser and saviour

18 August 2016 | Ruby Hamad

Israeli PM Benjamin NetanyahuThis week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that although 'some of you will not believe' it, he 'cares more about Palestinians than their leaders do'. He is right - I don't believe him, not least because what he is saying is nothing new. Israel has long been claiming that it only harms Palestinians because Palestinians force them to do it. As well as making Israel sound remarkably like an abusive partner (Why did you have to go and make me hit you?) this is also Dehumanisation 101.


Dying with dignity in Madrid

18 August 2016 | Tim Kroenert

The film's quiet humour leaves open many spaces for reflection on getting older, and on mortality. Tomas is uncomfortable with the subject of death, but Julian is determined to confront it with honesty and dignity. His activities during those four short days reveal he possesses a well formed conception of his own humanity and mortality that is not short of admirable. We are as sympathetic to Paula raging against her cousin's resignation, as we are to Tomas' growing acceptance.


Dollars trump humanity in NSW public land purge

17 August 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Sirius ComplexThe Brutalist building - so ugly when I first saw it, now a familiar milestone on the journey into the city - has been condemned to an undignified death; soon it will be demolished, a luxury apartment building erected in its stead. The long-term residents have packed their meagre belongings and gone (though not without a fight). Such is the pattern of progress in New South Wales, under a government that has no compunction in selling public land to the person whose wallet is the fattest.


The cost so far of Filipinos' gamble on thug rule

17 August 2016 | Fatima Measham

DuterteI fret more than ever for friends and family in the Philippines. If life is so expendable, who can be safe? What if my brother-in-law is mistakenly identified as a drug 'pusher'? What if my dad goes to a cockfight and armed vigilantes do a drive-by? It is disheartening that many Filipinos seem to approve of Duterte's methods. This is the purge many had wanted. They see the current campaign as a necessary, painful transition to better things. They are wrong. Nothing personal, just history.


Ignorance is political bliss

16 August 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Peter Dutton discards Nauru Files and says he doesn't believe in inconvenient truths. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


Moving beyond idiocy in US election repartee

16 August 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Trump caricatureYears ago someone defined repartee as, 'I say to you, "You're a bloody idiot", and you say back to me, "No, you're the bloody idiot".' It was then intended as a joke. Today it seems an accurate description of much public exchange, which is adversarial, leaves no room for qualification, and condemns anyone who does not endorse right-minded opinion. The most spectacular current instance of this is to be seen in the way in which those attracted to the cause of Trump or Clinton speak of their antagonists.


Mack Horton vs the People's Republic of China

16 August 2016 | Jeremy Clarke

Sun YangHorton desired to highlight the need for more stringent application of doping policies but in the process he enabled Chinese nationalists to bolster their inflated national pride, at his and Australia's expense. That he used his concern about drug use as a competitive tactic lessened its effectiveness, and only enabled Chinese nationalists to once more don the mantle of victim. Any chance for reform around issues like drugs in sport got caught in the wake of wounded egos and jingoistic pride.


My 102 year old grandmother

15 August 2016 | Isabella Fels, Peter Gebhardt

Old woman's handIs she 2 or 102? She can be either. My grandmother sometimes she looks at me in silence with wide naïve eyes. Other times pearls of wisdom seep from her heart: 'Forgive and forget my sweetheart Isabella. Chocolate is your enemy. A good salad is your friend my precious Isabella. Don't do unto others what you don't want done to you my cherished Isabella.' I hold her warm hand. She understands me. She completes me, now that my mother her daughter has left us behind.


Time to defuse Nauru and Manus Island time bombs

15 August 2016 | Frank Brennan

Peter Dutton on 7.30The suggestion that those camps need to remain filled in order to send a message to people smugglers is not only morally unacceptable; it is strategically questionable. Those proven to be refugees should be resettled as quickly as practicable, and that includes taking up New Zealand's offer of 150 places a year - just as John Howard did when he accepted New Zealand's offer to take 131 from the Tampa. It's time to act. Ongoing inaction will send a green light to desperate people to do desperate things.


The holy sacrament of coffee communion

14 August 2016 | Barry Gittins

Cup of coffeeWithin the first 20 minutes of my morning, I pay homage to life by partaking in that glorious gift to humanity, coffee. As well as the contested space around coffee's possible physical health benefits and purported dodgy effects, going for a coffee is good for the soul. Humans are social creatures, and coffee lubricates our communing. Over a cuppa I have shared hardships, counselled and been counselled, listened to tales of brokenness and celebrated the wins that punctuate our travails.

Humanity meets bureaucracy on asylum seeker Fast Track

14 August 2016 | Shira Sebban

Hand writes in notebookSobs rack his body. Under the Fast Track Assessment process being used to clear the backlog of protection claims, the nondescript official sitting opposite him, or one of his colleagues, will most likely be the one to decide his fate. 'Should you be found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, the government may share your biographical details with the authorities of your country of origin,' the official intones. 'If you give them information about me I will be killed,' comes the chilling reply.