AUSTRALIA


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Health gap widens as wage growth falls

6 Comments
25 June 2017 | Amy Coopes

Cardiovascular diseaseUniversal health care is an ostensibly bipartisan prerogative, but what it actually means and how it's achieved is a somewhat moveable feast. Spending, we are told, is unsustainable as the population ages and we move toward ever-more personalised and technologically-advanced treatment paradigms. The objective of this rhetoric is to rationalise the privatisation of our health system by stealth. The latest wages figures are something of an inconvenient truth in this 'unsustainable spending' fiction.


RIP David Passi, last surviving Mabo plaintiff

1 Comment
25 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

David Passi on Thursday IslandAnglican priest, traditional landowner and land rights campaigner David Passi has died. He was the last surviving plaintiff in the historic Mabo decision. A year after the Mabo decision I travelled to the Torres Strait and met James Rice and Passi, the two successful litigants in the case. Returning by boat to the mainland from the island of Mer in the Murray Islands, the waters of the Torres Strait were exceedingly calm.


No minister is an island

7 Comments
22 June 2017 | Kate Galloway

Michael SukkarThree Commonwealth ministers faced the Victorian Court of Appeal on 16 June to make submissions as to why they shouldn't be charged with contempt of court. This extraordinary occurrence arose because the ministers made public comments about a sentencing matter still under deliberation. Andrew Hamilton has in these pages looked at how the ministers' comments might offend the presumption of innocence. However, there is a further issue at stake - a question of good government.


Reimagining work is a project for the unemployed, too

4 Comments
22 June 2017 | Susan Leong

Cartoon by Chris JohnstonWhen I wrote recently that the future of work lies in understanding work as 'pleasure in the exercise of our energies', one reader noted 'these discussions have little meaning when you are poor or dispossessed'. Spending your life doing what you are competent at pales into insignificance when set against the prospect of a life engrossed in one's passions. That is a decision that every worker has it within their power to make. And as it turns out, it should be a concern of the unemployed, too.


Justice is weakened when the court of public opinion reigns

1 Comment
21 June 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Judge's gavel on laptop keyboardThe presumption of innocence has recently been in the dock, notably in the curious affair of the three federal Ministers and the Victorian Court of Appeal. Other cases have raised the question whether in our society the presumption that those accused of crimes are innocent until found guilty is yielding. Is it now the case that people who have been found guilty in the court of public opinion have to prove their innocence, and that courts will be judged to have failed unless they ratify the guilty verdict?


Petty political class is stunting Australia's growth

11 Comments
20 June 2017 | Fatima Measham

Malcolm TurnbullIn the latest Essential poll, the primary vote for Pauline Hanson's One Nation lifted to 11 per cent. It does not bode well when competence is no longer the baseline; though in a leadership vacuum, 'someone else' holds a natural appeal. In any case, there can be worse things than incompetence. There is timidity. Mediocrity. Running up the cost of doing nothing at all. In so many ways, the Australian political class is holding us back. That is the crux of nearly every policy impasse over the past several years.


Political donations reform ignores insider politics big picture

5 Comments
19 June 2017 | John Warhurst

Sam DastyariThe revelations that several billionaires of Chinese origin have sought to influence Australian politics through large political donations have rekindled bipartisan concern to ban such donations. That it took investigative journalism by ABC and Fairfax media to generate such a rush to reform is a reflection on the Australian political class. While it is likely that reform legislation will be introduced and passed before the end of the year that will be only a very partial response to a bigger problem.


Homelessness has many faces

9 Comments
19 June 2017 | Danusia Kaska

Soup van queueThe first thing I noticed was his Mercedes. Then I saw he was also wearing an expensive-looking suit. We don't see the likes of guys like 'John' coming to our soup vans every day. When you've been serving food to many of the city's hungry, lonely and dispossessed for a couple of decades you do get used to seeing the same old faces. But John reminded me of an important lesson. That homelessness hasn't got a 'look', and 'homeless' never describes the person, only their circumstance.


The origins and incoherence of Australia's asylum seeker policy

7 Comments
19 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

Frank Dalton holding a Vietnamese refugee child, Xye Than Hueon the deck of the Tu Do in Darwin, November, 1977. National Library of AustraliaI am resigned to the boats from Indonesia being stopped and staying stopped. But it is high time to stop the cruel treatment of the proven refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, and provide a permanent solution for the asylum seekers waiting inordinately in the Australian community. Their treatment is separable from the stopping of future boats setting out from Indonesia. The Commonwealth's $90 million settlement of the claim brought by asylum seekers on Manus Island should be a wake-up call to us all.


Puritanical citizenship changes promote less inclusive Australia

16 Comments
18 June 2017 | Kerry Murphy

Australian citizenship certificateWhile ideally all Australian should have some reasonable ability to communicate in English, it is unreasonable to expect it at such a high level. Consider parents sponsored to Australia who live here and provide care for their grandchildren while their own children work. I have heard of small businesses in western Sydney owned by Chinese Australians, who have learnt Assyrian, because most of their customers speak Assyrian, not English. They are not having trouble in 'economic participation'.


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