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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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  • AUSTRALIA

    Naming and renaming uni's racist monuments

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 02 December 2015
    7 Comments

    For many years, historian Gary Foley has drawn attention to the racist past inscribed throughout the infrastructure of Melbourne University. Now, some staff and students are campaigning to rename facilities linked to particularly egregious individuals, such as the Richard Berry building, named after a leading eugenicist who stole the corpses of Indigenous people for research designed to prove the racial superiority of whites. While some accuse the campaigners of politically correct censorship, in fact the past has already been censored, and the campaigners are dragging it back into the light.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Say no to increasing force against detainees

    • Pamela Curr
    • 30 November 2015
    31 Comments

    One of the most disturbing aspects of Border Force takeover of detention camps has been the increased use of force against people seeking asylum. Women have been especially targeted, with physical pat-downs before they come and go to medical or counselling appointments triggering panic attacks in some as it has brought flashbacks of sexual abuse and rape attacks in Nauru. Next week in the Senate, the Government is seeking even more powers to use against women, children and men in detention.

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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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  • MEDIA

    A fascist by any other name

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 17 November 2015
    15 Comments

    In journalism, 'he said, she said' often functions as an evasion. Reporters' loyalty should be to accuracy, which isn't about compromise between extremes. When denialists and climate scientists take diametrically opposed stances, the truth doesn't lie somewhere in the middle. Sometimes, one side's right and the other's just wrong. The same can be said of reporting about the rightwing United Patriots Front. While they deny being fascists, that's what they are, and that's what we should call them.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Flapped by computer scam butterfly effect

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 November 2015
    3 Comments

    'Bloody amazing in life, isn't it, how things link up when you don't want them to.' Mac was now talking to me over his shoulder because he was putting mail in the local boxes. 'The man's son is in IT, and his specialty is security. But the young bloke's just got married. He's on his honeymoon and, though he's due back on the very day this scam business happened, he can't come home because where do you think he and his wife are honeymooning? In Bali. Under the volcano. All flights grounded.'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Unskilled immigration is good for Australia

    • Gabriela D'Souza
    • 09 November 2015
    10 Comments

    George Megalogenis describes a protest rally in 1849 organised by residents of Sydney against arrivals of more convict boats. Workers who 'wanted to maintain their high-wage society' made 'the first of countless calls that would be made against migrants who threatened to undercut their standard of living'. It is a familiar refrain today. In a world where three-fifths of a person's income is determined by their place of birth, it defies logic that we place restrictions on people's movement to preserve our standard living.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Housing fantasy quashed by culture of entitlement

    • Ellena Savage
    • 06 November 2015
    23 Comments

    When I was a child, the house I longed for in my adult future was blonde-bricked, double-storied, concrete-paved, white-carpeted. Now I am older, and renting a room in such a house is possible, if I share the place with six other paying adults. Because it is 2015, I live in Melbourne (the sixth-least affordable city to live in in the world), and am not a merchant banker. No concrete plot will ever by mine, I say in tune with the million other people my age who have just assimilated that knowledge.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Contours and prospects for Indigenous recognition in the Australian constitution

    • Frank Brennan
    • 16 October 2015
    2 Comments

    I acknowledge those Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who insist that they have never ceded their sovereignty to the rest of us. I join with those Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who hope for better days when they are recognised in the Australian Constitution. As an advocate for modest constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, I respect those Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who question the utility of such recognition. But I do take heart from President Obama's line in his Charleston eulogy for the late Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney: 'Justice grows out of recognition'.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Corporate benefit trumps public welfare in TPP

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 07 October 2015
    3 Comments

    According to WikiLeaks, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the 'icebreaker agreement' for what will be a 'T-treaty triad' which will ultimately apply to 53 states, 1.6 billion people and two-thirds of the global economy. Each of the countries was being sold the implausible idea that the agreement was too large not to sign, that this was the train of history that needed to be occupied, even if seating was in third class. What was on sale, however, was a dogma of corporate benefit rather than public welfare.

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