Vol 27 No 12

18 June 2017

 Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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AUSTRALIA

RIP David Passi, last surviving Mabo plaintiff

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.


Health gap widens as wage growth falls

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.


CREATIVE

My hospital visit

25 June 2017 | Isabella Fels

Woman in hospital roomLying here in this hole, I try to feel whole, trying to do as I am told, making a few bold moves, as I swing out of bed, and hang onto my mobility devices - which I am getting the hang of, almost like learning how to drive a car - and showing lots of drive. In bed, not even well read, just eating bread, staring right ahead. As you help me pack up my things I no longer feel stuck in the same place, falling steadily in many different ways, no longer feeling the sun's rays ...


AUSTRALIA

No minister is an island

4 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

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.


EDUCATION

Hanson's autism comments miss the value of diversity

19 Comments
21 June 2017 | Madeleine Hamilton

Pauline HansonThe mood was subdued at the gates of our small Catholic primary school at 3:30pm on Wednesday. Ten per cent of our school's students have an autism diagnosis, and for their parents who had read Pauline Hanson's comments to the Senate that afternoon, those familiar feelings - dismay at the ignorance and lack of empathy of some people, worry for the future, and defiant pride in their diverse children - had been activated yet again.


ENVIRONMENT

Finkel and the climate theatre of the absurd

5 Comments
21 June 2017 | Greg Foyster

xxxxxIf politics is theatre, climate politics is a family drama. For the last decade we've watched two rival households having the same endless argument. Political journos call it the 'climate wars' and mostly focus on the lead actors standing in the spotlight - in the Western narrative tradition, characters drive events. Almost no one has noticed the scenery change. Stagehands dismantled the backdrop years ago, but politicians have carried on as if the same circumstances existed when they started this charade.


AUSTRALIA

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

4 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.


REVIEWS

The Lady Macbeth of Northumberland

2 Comments
20 June 2017 | Tim Kroenert

Catherine arrives a new bride, with husband Alexander, to take up residence in his luxurious rural home. Quickly we get a sense of how little control she has over her destiny. Alexander demands she remain inside the house at all times; when one evening she wishes to go to bed early, her father-in-law orders her to remain awake for her husband. In the life of the household, she is merely an attractive object. Yet like her Shakespearean forebear, she is not averse to manipulation and violence in pursuit of her goals.


AUSTRALIA

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.


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.


CREATIVE

Spider shiver

5 Comments
18 June 2017 | Anne Elvey

Autumn leaf in spider webto build the bless of a soul spun in curled leaf left since autumn dry on the stem (another is unstamped in the box beneath the latest literary magazine) my fingers tentatively test it for spinners and for silk that shivers with prey ...


CARTOON

Talking the talkback

18 June 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Talkback radio host and caller rail against World Refugee Day. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


AUSTRALIA

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'.


INTERNATIONAL

Respect and tranquility in a Japanese tea ceremony

8 Comments
18 June 2017 | Penny Garnsworthy

Tea ceremonyIn 15th Century Japan a young man named Murata Shukou, who was studying for the priesthood, began to practice Zen philosophy. His teacher explained that the spirit of Zen was also present in the practice of tea-making, so Shukou began a journey of discovery into making and serving tea. There are almost 40 steps involved in this ancient ritual; time stops and I am mesmerised by the rhythm and the silence, as if I am separated from the world and nought exists save for the movement.


The forgotten people of the Flint water crisis

7 Comments
18 June 2017 | Cristy Clark

Flint bottled brown waterLast Wednesday, five Michigan officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the unfolding health crisis in Flint, Michigan - a crisis that has included at least 12 deaths from Legionnaires' disease, in addition to the possible lead poisoning of a whole population. The people of Flint were aware that something was wrong from the moment their water was switched over to the Flint river in April 2014. They just couldn't get anyone to listen.


MEDIA

Balance vs fairness in giving airtime to conspiracy theorists

4 Comments
18 June 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Alex JonesThe NBC has pushed ahead with its plans to air Megyn Kelly's interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones despite criticism from friends and family whose loved ones were killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, which Jones claims was 'staged by actors' and 'never happened'. This contentious interview has sparked a conversation about which forums should allow dissenting viewpoints and whether dangerous ideas should be given public airtime in a news context.


Shielding kids from Grenfell Tower televised trauma

3 Comments
15 June 2017 | Barry Gittins

Grenfell Tower aflameAn article focusing on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings reported that people 'exposed to more than six hours of daily media coverage of the tragedy were more likely to experience symptoms of acute stress than those directly affected by the event'. News junkies, or those who saw extended coverage, were found to be worse off than those who actually survived the bombings. This is sobering as we consider how we deal with our children's exposure to traumatic events playing out on TV news.