Vol 27 No 1

15 January 2017


AUSTRALIA

Why I don't support changing the date of Amnesia Day

3 Comments
22 January 2017 | Celeste Liddle

Survival Day protesters 2012For many years I felt that by changing the date we might come to a more inclusive national celebration. However the past few years of Indigenous activism have left me cynical. The things we were fighting for decades ago are very similar to the things we're still fighting for. Australia has not acknowledged and rectified its history; rather it seems content to reinforce its amnesia. It's therefore unlikely I will be able to stop protesting this celebration, regardless of the day it's held upon.


Freedom of conscience and same-sex marriage

22 January 2017 | Jack Maxwell

Rainbow coloured rosesTwo issues can be dealt with shortly. First, ministers of religion must be free to solemnise marriages in accordance with their beliefs. Second, there is no basis for extending a similar concession to marriage celebrants. The case of commercial service providers is more complex. Many argue that caterers, florists, reception centres and so on should be free to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, on the basis of their religious beliefs. The case for the commercial exemption is unconvincing.


Pope Francis and the age of automation

4 Comments
19 January 2017 | Michael McVeigh

Pope Francis blesses iPhone photoMany have called for the automated Centrelink debt collection system to be scrapped, but the government is standing by it. One of the reasons for this may be that the system is doing just what it's designed to do - trying to force people away from welfare reliance by making it more onerous. Pope Francis argues that far from a 'neutral' tool, technology creates a framework which conditions people and limits their possible options along lines dictated by the most economically and politically powerful.


Unity on the lamb in the ethnocracy of Australia

11 Comments
19 January 2017 | Ann Deslandes

Aboriginal people at barbecue in lamb adLike all authorised generalisations, this luminous, unified vision of Australia contains truth, exaggerations, and lies. As well as being a globally known story, it's also the story Australia most likes to tell itself; it sings through ideas like the lucky country, the land of the fair go, the land of the long weekend. Social research on Australia tells a more complex story. Australia is in fact an ethnocracy - a state that is formed in the image and for the benefit of a dominant ethnic group.


INTERNATIONAL

Manning mercy belies double standard on whistleblowers

5 Comments
18 January 2017 | Binoy Kampmark

Chelsea ManningManning became the victim of an institutional drive to target whistleblowers, with the centrepiece of the prosecution focusing on computer crimes and the Espionage Act. Despite the eventual commutation of her 35 year sentence, the severity of that sentence demonstrated the gulf between the cosy, public relations air of an administration keen to project certain achievements and its stomping on those keen to disclose inappropriate and illegal conduct in the security and intelligence services.


MEDIA

Language is the first and last contest of the post-truth era

5 Comments
18 January 2017 | Fatima Measham

Donald TrumpIn the weeks before the US election, Salena Zito wrote of Donald Trump: 'The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.' Not being able to take consequential public statements as meant - that loosens threads that bind democracies. The work cut out for US journalists is in fact cut for all who live in this era. If language no longer organises reality in a way that meets basic agreement, not much holds us together.


INTERNATIONAL

Obama's shining light in sombre times

11 Comments
17 January 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Barack ObamaIn an otherwise sombre start to the year Barack Obama's final speech has been a shining light. He celebrated what he saw as the successes of his administration without sneering at his political opponents. He spoke graciously and decently, and evoked hope for the future. Obama is right in insisting that empathy is the necessary starting point for reconstructing a broken economic framework. It enables a global perspective from which the good of individuals and groups is set within the flourishing of the whole community, and especially the most disadvantaged.


REVIEWS

Jackie, JFK and the making of American myths

2 Comments
17 January 2017 | Tim Kroenert

The perspective is Jackie's at all times; JFK himself rarely appears onscreen, and often is just a shoulder or a jaw glimpsed in profile at his wife's side. Portman's is a fine portrayal, displaying at all times an abiding grace and dignity, whether she is washing her husband's blood off her face, or facing down the questions of an astute journalist who may or may not be on her side. In the making of the Camelot myth, Jackie models the presidential funeral on Abraham Lincoln's, by this very process rejecting her brother-in-law Robert's doubts that the Kennedy presidency ultimately amounted to much at all.


INTERNATIONAL

Timorese have had a win but could still lose big-time

12 Comments
16 January 2017 | Frank Brennan

Map of Timor SeaWithout any media fanfare, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop published a statement on 9 January 2017 announcing that Australia and Timor Leste had agreed to terminate the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea. This news is more welcome to the Timorese government than to the Australian government. But the uncertainty created by this Timorese win might in time impact more adversely on Timor than on Australia. Only time will tell.


CARTOON

Fingers on the pulse

16 January 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Donald Trump is sworn in with effusive praise for his large and manly hands.

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


CREATIVE

What I did in my holidays

7 Comments
16 January 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Idiosyncratic snowmanIt seems incredible that there were ten of those summers, consecutive ones when three generations coexisted happily. My siblings and I had an idyllic Ocean Road beach practically all to ourselves, the men went fishing every afternoon, except when, to Grandfather's annoyance, an easterly was blowing, and the women, in time-honoured fashion, kept everybody fed. Of course change was inevitable, although I didn't really believe it, and started with my grandmother's death. I was 19.


AUSTRALIA

Twenty-two years on the run from abuse

11 Comments
15 January 2017 | Elise Power

Line drawing of abused womanWe packed our bags in the black of an early morning. We ran from a house on the beach to a house in Frankston. Me, my mum, and my younger brother. My father had four intervention orders to his name, a law degree and all the bravado and lack of empathy typical of a perpetrator of domestic violence. For many women and children domestic violence doesn't end after you've run away. That is only the beginning. I'm 33 and I've been running away from my dad ever since I was 11.


Arts face growing uncertainty despite momentous year

2 Comments
15 January 2017 | Esther Anatolitis

Face peers through rain-wet window2017 is set to be a momentous year for the arts in Australia. On 1 November we commemorate 50 years since Harold Holt announced the creation of an independent body to champion 'the free play of our cultural interests and enthusiasms at all levels' — an announcement that meant bringing together disparate focuses and isolated funds with a national vision. Yet today's Australia Council faces an uncertain future, and the free play of our cultural interests is jeopardised by that uncertainty.


Maintaining children's rights amid youth detention crises

4 Comments
12 January 2017 | Kate Galloway

Dylan Jenkings is a former NT youth detainee who is part of a class action suing the Government.The Minister has committed to improving youth detention facilities, the appointment of 100 more staff, and revision of Victoria's youth detention policy. But in doing so, she has sheeted home blame to the former government, and has accused lawyers for the children of pandering to ideology. The government's discourse continues the tough-on-crime narrative rather than acknowledging the causes and contexts of juvenile offending and the consequences of appalling facilities on the youth who are detained.


Market thinking is not the way to improve prison education

4 Comments
12 January 2017 | Tony Smith

Mike BairdIf the argument about sacking specialist education officers for NSW prisons holds, then perhaps it should be applied to schools. Sacking all permanent teachers and throwing all lessons across the state open to tender should improve educational outcomes. The absurdity of such a suggestion should be obvious. If the government is serious about improving prison education, it should work with the experienced teachers to make those improvements.