Eureka Street Extra

10 April 2017


Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy

10 September 2017 | Frank Brennan

John Ferguson and Frank Brennan (back)
Susan Pascoe, Bishop Vincent Long, Elsie Heiss (front)The real call of Everyone's Business is to move beyond them and us to admitting that there is only us. If we are truly to build an inclusive and sustainable economy, it can't be just those in full time paid employment who are part of that economy. We take seriously the principles of neo-liberalism, letting the market decide. But we set limits on the market for the common good.

The Copenhagen breakthrough in the Timor Sea

03 September 2017 | Frank Brennan

Timor SeaIt is very good news that the two governments have reached agreement on 'a pathway to the development of the resource, and the sharing of the resulting revenue'. Given the stand-off in the South China Sea, Timor's agent Agio Pereira is right to express pride and satisfaction that 'with our joint success at resolving our dispute through this conciliation process, Timor-Leste and Australia hope to have set a positive example for the international community at large'.

Catholics and the marriage equality plebiscite

02 September 2017 | Frank Brennan

It is important for us to understand that a Catholic could vote 'yes' or 'no' in the forthcoming survey. It is not for me as a priest or for any bishop to tell you how to vote. I have been happy to tell people how I will be voting, but I have no interest in campaigning and urging my fellow Catholics or even my fellow citizens to vote a particular way. As with most public controversies arguments appealing to Catholics of good will can be made for either side in the dispute — as to what constitutes the common good, and as how best to respect the rights and entitlements of all persons, including children.

Citizenship and the Common Good

29 August 2017 | Frank Brennan

'There was one controversy in which Lionel Bowen was involved that does provide good lessons for the contemporary Catholic considering the desirable law or social policy on a contested issue - lessons for the citizen weighing what is for the common good. Back in 1979 there was debate in the Parliament on a motion which was framed to stop Medicare funding of abortions. Bowen, a strict Catholic, was strongly opposed to the motion. He did not think the motion was about abortion. He thought it was about money.' Frank Brennan's 2017 Lionel Bowen Lecture

NAIDOC Week homily

02 July 2017 | Frank Brennan

There is no point in proceeding with a referendum on a question which fails to win the approval of you, the First Australians. Neither is there any point in proceeding with a referendum which is unlikely to win the approval of the overwhelming majority of the voting public, regardless of when they or their ancestors first arrived in Australia. Given that you Indigenous Australians have spoken strongly through your representatives at Uluru in support of a First Nations Voice, it is now for the Referendum Council to recommend to government a timetable for constitutional change with maximum prospects of a 'Yes' vote.

Family matters: Strengthening respectful relationships

25 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

Here in Ballarat, you know better than most other Catholics that respectful relationships in the church community have been rent asunder by the depredations of child sex offenders whose exploits went unchecked by those ordained to exercise tradition, authority, teaching and discipline. We will strengthen respectful relationships only with a voluntary commitment to truth, justice and healing — and not one forced by a royal commission or public odour. 

Live by love and not by fear

25 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

These cardinals have a few strong concerns. They think the pope should be setting down clear universal rules that apply to everyone in every situation. Having spent a life time as a pastor in Buenos Aires, Francis knows life is much more complex and messy than that. These four cardinals pine for the papacy of John Paul II. John Paul was a great leader and a great pope for his time. Francis is also a great leader and a great pope for his time, for our time. John Paul and Francis are very different. But then again, the times are very different.


An inclusive Australia

1 Comment
12 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

This evening, we come together deliberately as people of diverse faiths and none, affirming the blessing of life in an inclusive country where all world views are to be respected. We are able to affirm that our spiritual lives sustain and strengthen our public lives and the vitality of the polis. Our Muslim hosts show us how to give thanks reverently for all the blessings of life, and how to attest publicly the spiritual dimension of all human life. Those of us who are migrants or descendants of migrants need to be particularly attentive to the yearnings and aspirations of those Australians who rightly claim an indigenous heritage with ancestors who have thrived on this continent for up to 60,000 years.

On Aboriginal land: seeking a place at the table

30 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Indigenous leaders this last week have called for the creation of two new legal entities. They want a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata Commission set up by legislation. The Makarrata Commission would supervise agreement making between governments and First Nations and engage in truth telling about history. The envisaged destination is a national Makarrata (or treaty). So the immediate constitutional issue is the creation of the First Nations Voice. There is no point in proceeding with a referendum on a question which fails to win the approval of Indigenous Australia. Neither is there any point in proceeding with a referendum which is unlikely to win the approval of the voting public.


Becoming a church for mission 2030

16 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

As the Church of 2030, we need to be more attentive to the contemplation of believers and our experience of spiritual realities, as well as the preaching of the church. Pope Francis has no time whatever for the notion of the Church as a perfect society. But, there is no way that Francis wants to abandon the ideals and the commitment to truth and justice so well exemplified by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict.

Reconciliation and mission

14 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

The reconciliation of this vertical relationship is possible only through the mediation of Jesus who embodies, lives and dies the reality of this reconciliation. He puts us right with our God and thereby establishes the basis for right relationship with each other. In many countries such as Australia, Timor Leste and South Africa, the public rhetoric and programs for reconciliation have, at least in part, been informed and underpinned by this theological perspective.

Finding meaning in a chaotic/changing world

1 Comment
07 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Our Church is presently a strained, outdated social institution with an exclusively male hierarchy and clergy. But it is also the privileged locus for us to be called to the banquet of the Lord sharing theology and sacrament which have sustained the hearts and minds of similar pilgrims for two millennia. Thank God for Pope Francis who is showing us the way, helping us to find meaning in our changing and chaotic world, putting a fresh spring in the step of all those Catholics holding in tension the prophetic and the practical, the theological and the humanist, the tradition and the contemporary reality.

Remembering John Clarke at Easter

16 April 2017 | Frank Brennan

Following the passing of the Australian comedian and social commentator, John Clarke, his co-presenter Bryan Dawe talked about being on a tram in Melbourne with people nodding compassionately and knowingly at him. Bryan recalled that an old man had once commented to John, 'You know what you two do? It's a secret between you and the audience.' These are not the sorts of things we expect to hear when someone is still alive. Once they are dead, those who love and admire them recall all sorts of details about their life, finding new meaning and new depth even in the everyday things.

The risk and future visioning of sustainable Catholic services

1 Comment
28 March 2017 | Frank Brennan

'We need to be more focused on grace, Christ and God's word, rather than just on law, the Church and papal utterances. But today, I will draw more on law, the Church and the Pope to point us towards those more fruitful domains: grace, Christ and God's word. Our future visioning needs to focus more on the gospel imperatives including the option for the poor and the dignity of all persons, including those who are non-believers.' Address to Catholic Health Australia's Catholic Governance Symposium, 27 March 2017

Luther’s challenge to the Church then and now

05 March 2017 | Bill Wright

Speaking of reform in the church can mean many things. Often it's about practical matters: sorting out the Vatican Bank, changing how bishops are chosen or clergy trained; that sort of thing. Occasionally, however, reform is about seeking real religious change. Martin Luther, I want to suggest, is one of those reformers who was not concerned with tinkering with structures of the church but with reforming the Christian message so that it might reform the believer.

It's time to put past victims and present and future children first

28 February 2017 | Frank Brennan

Make no mistake, our church leaders are not yet out of the blaze of the headlights. They don't have all the answers, not even in relation to matters peculiarly within their jurisdiction. Despite being put on notice, our most senior bishops could not even agree on the limits of the seal of the confessional and on what a priest should do if abuse were reported in the confessional by a child. It's not just our past leaders who needed help. Our present leaders also do.

Ensuring justice for all after the Royal Commission

16 February 2017 | Frank Brennan

The commission's forensic scrutiny of past actions of church officials in no way constitutes an interference with the freedom of religion. Its spotlight is to be welcomed, provided only that it is shone on a truly representative sample of all institutions which have been found wanting and provided the same light filter is applied to all institutions. I do however have a problem with the commission making findings on issues like the want of compassion when those findings are made only against a Church.

Looking for light amid Royal Commission's Catholic wrap-up

05 February 2017 | Frank Brennan

Listening to the media and our church leaders in recent days, we know that there is plenty of darkness ahead for our Church in the weeks ahead with the Royal Commission's so-called 'Catholic wrap-up'. We're told that the statistics will be terrible and we expect that some of our church leaders will appear, looking stunned and helpless. This morning, I think we need to reflect on these stark realities in the light of the scriptures. And this can be done only by holding the victims clearly in focus.


Ethical reflections on seeking sustainable development for India

27 November 2016 | Frank Brennan

'No matter what the economic, political and legal problems confronted by modern day India, our response can be improved by an application of the key principles and norms developed in the international law of trade and human rights, helping to enunciate the realm of law, regulation and political accountability, enhancing public scrutiny providing the right environment for doing business.' Frank Brennan presents the 25th JRD Tata Oration, Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, India, 26 November 2016.


From Caracas to Rome: The story of Arturo Sosa

1 Comment
06 November 2016 |

Two days after his election, the communications team of General Congregation 36 sat down with Father General Arturo Sosa to discuss his life and thought. The conversation introduces the new Superior General in a way that is more personal, to Jesuits and the wider Ignatian family around the world.


Seven warnings for Queensland as it considers a human rights act

30 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

'First warning: if you're going to be serious about a Human Rights Act, make sure that your government departments are sufficiently resourced and encouraged to produce meaningful statements of compatibility. Second warning, especially in a unicameral legislature: make sure that your parliamentary committee on human rights has sufficient muscle and status to arrest the progress of any bill until it has been thoroughly scrutinised for human rights compliance.' Frank Brennan's remarks at the Fringe Conference of the 2016 Queensland ALP Convention.

The criminal law 30 years on

12 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

With idealism and pragmatism, I invite you criminal lawyers in the next 30 years to imagine and enact a better criminal justice system which alleviates rather than exacerbates the devastating effects of colonisation and marginalisation on Indigenous Peoples, and most particularly their children. An intelligently designed criminal justice system must help secure the foothold of Indigenous children in both the Market and the Dreaming.

Being clear eyed and misty eyed about human rights and asylum seekers

05 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank BrennanAustralia's policy is unique and unrepeatable by other nations because it requires that you be an island nation continent without asylum seekers in direct flight from the countries next door and that you have access to a couple of other neighbouring island nations which are so indigent that they will receive cash payments in exchange for warehousing asylum seekers and proven refugees, perhaps indefinitely. The policy over which Turnbull presides is not world best practice. It's a disgrace.


Religious freedom in an age of equality

22 September 2016 | Frank Brennan

'No good will be served by a royal commission auspiced by the state telling a Church how it judges or complies with its theological doctrines and distinctive moral teachings. By all means, set universal standards of practice expected of all institutions dealing with children, but do not trespass on the holy ground of religious belief and practice.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ addresses the Freedom for Faith Conference in Melbourne, 23 September 2016.


The Catholic Church's view on human rights

1 Comment
04 September 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan with the Master of the Dominicans Fr Bruno Cadore OP.'I am a Jesuit amongst Dominicans contemplating the Church's view of human rights. I am a human rights practitioner rather than a theologian, aware that human rights discourse is increasingly more universal and secular. Contemplating, preaching and enacting human rights in the 21st Century Church and World, I come asking two questions.' Frank Brennan's keynote presentation in Salamanca Spain to the International Congress of Dominicans in the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights: Past, Present, Future on the occasion of their 800th anniversary.


Story, event and person: Ignatius and Jesus

31 July 2016 | Frank Brennan

Inspired by the person Ignatius, inspired by the person Jesus, we are motivated to make a difference; we are passionate to seek justice for all, especially the poor and the marginalised; we are convinced that we can find God in all things, even in the Don Dale Detention Centre; we know that all persons are called to a deep interior freedom, even those prison guards with hardened hearts; we are convinced that the law of the Lord teaches us right from wrong and that the ways of the Lord inspire us to do and proclaim what is right and to denounce what is wrong, especially when the wrong is done by the powerful upon the powerless.


Religion and violence in Australian-Indigenous history

26 July 2016 | Frank Brennan

COV&R ConferenceThe violence at the pastoral frontier of the British colonies here in Australia was all pervasive. 228 years after it commenced, we are still experiencing the after-effects. When I started advocating Aboriginal rights here in Australia almost 40 years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that the missions and missionaries were all bad news. It will come as no surprise that I have always doubted that Aborigines were well rid of religion and the missionaries in all circumstances.

Frank Brennan on John Molony's Don Luigi Sturzo: The Father of Social Democracy

25 July 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan and John MolonyJohn traces the political ascent and descent of Sturzo whose first public office was as mayor of his own town. The chapter headings mark each step up and down the Everest of Italy's experiment with democracy and fascism: the emergence of political Catholicism in Italy; the dream takes shape; democracy without direction; democracy in decline; the search for a leader; the stick and the carrot; the voice of the watchman; and enter the night. Sturzo goes into exile; Mussolini takes over; and the Vatican is well pleased because the Roman Question is finally resolved in 1929 with the Lateran Treaties negotiated by Mussolini and Pope Pius XI, each of whom got what they were looking for.


Reflecting on justice for asylum seekers during an election campaign

29 May 2016 | Frank Brennan

'Being in the middle of an election campaign, I will not be making any partisan party political points. However being here in the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro, I will conclude with a critique of both major political parties, and with one piece of political advice for citizens of goodwill seeking a national asylum policy more in harmony with the ideals set out by our bishops in their social justice statement.' Yass Catholic Parish Potluck Dinner, 28 May 2016


The past, present and future of the Easter Rising 1916

01 May 2016 | Frank Brennan

Neerkol orphanage findings and the place of compassion

21 April 2016 | Frank Brennan

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now published its Case Study 26 on the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton. It finds that the response by the bishop and by the Sisters of Mercy to victims making complaints prior to 1996 was often inadequate and lacking in compassion. The word 'compassion' or 'compassionate' appears 21 times in the report. I have no problem with church people or other individuals adversely judging church leaders for a lack of compassion. There may even be a case for politicians doing it. But I don't think it's the job of a royal commission.

Religious thought in sacred secular Australia

21 March 2016 | Frank Brennan

Wayne Hudson's Australian Religious ThoughtI offer no public judgment of Pell, and unlike many other commentators I'll await the findings of the royal commission. I have however been outspoken about his right to a fair hearing and natural justice, not because I am a priest but because I am a human rights lawyer who cares about the universal application of the rule of law. It is when a representative of institutional religion like Pell taps into the generic religious sensibility or moral consciousness that the real work of Australian religious thought is done.

Year of Mercy's opportunity for Aboriginal reconciliation

06 March 2016 | Frank Brennan

'On his last two visits to Latin America, Pope Francis has focused on past and present relationships between indigenous peoples and their colonisers. This Jubilee Year of Mercy perhaps it could be a blessed moment for Aboriginal Australians and descendants of their colonisers to walk together through the Door of Mercy at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, calling to mind the sins and endeavours of the past, the achievements and commitments of the present, and the hopes and aspirations of the future.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Lenten Talk, Norwood Parish, 3 March 2016


A Human Rights Day tribute to the Northern Territory's Tony Fitzgerald

09 December 2015 | Frank Brennan

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.


Pope Francis and the face of mercy

08 December 2015 | Frank Brennan

'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.

'Equal laws and equal rights ... dealt out to the whole community'. How close 161 years on?

1 Comment
03 December 2015 | Frank Brennan

'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.

How do we navigate medico-legal questions without a bill of rights?

02 December 2015 | Frank Brennan

The consideration of medico-legal problems in the public square of a pluralistic democratic society keeping pace with profound technological change is often marked by simplistic assertions, precluding considerations of comprehensive world views, whether religious or philosophical. It is now commonplace for doctors to be told to leave their consciences at the door, as their patients are consumers and they are suppliers and of course the market decides. Debates about law and policy are often resolved with simplistic assertions about individual rights and autonomy, with little consideration for the public interest, the common good, and the doctor-patient relationship. Even conscience is said to be a matter for contracting out. This evening I ask whether there are more compelling ways to resolve medico-legal dilemmas, while conceding a limited role for law in determining the range of acceptable answers.

Challenges and opportunities for the Catholic Church in the 21st century

29 November 2015 | Frank Brennan

'No one doubts the pastoral sensitivity of Pope Francis. But the Church will continue to suffer for as long as it does not engage in open, ongoing discussion and education about the issue of women's leadership. The official position is no longer comprehensible to most people of good will, and not even those at the very top of the hierarchy have a willingness or capacity to explain it.' - Fr Frank Brennan SJ outlines five challenges and opportunities for the Catholic Church in the 21st century.

Discerning the place for the churches in the great moral questions of the age

26 November 2015 | Frank Brennan

'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.


Why Pope Francis is not an anti-Capitalist greenie

22 October 2015 | Frank Brennan

Francis knows there are all sorts of issues inside and outside the Church where for too long people with power have tried to keep the lid on, in the hope that the problems and complexities will go away, often by parodying those who see the problems or complexities as small 'l' liberals or cafeteria Catholics. He delights in being joyful and troubled while contemplating big problems, calling people of good will to the table of deliberation reminding them of the kernel of the Christian gospels. He has the faith and hope needed to lift the lid without fear and without knowing the answers prior to the dialogue occurring.

Contours and prospects for Indigenous recognition in the Australian constitution

15 October 2015 | Frank Brennan

No Small ChangeI 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'.

Speaking for others in the public square

21 June 2015 | Frank Brennan

Indigenous Australians protest rallyWalking towards the courthouse, I heard a cry, 'Hey, Father Frank, over here! You've got to support us mob.' I was torn. I was chairing a national consultation at the request of the Commonwealth Government. I did not want to politicise our presence in town.   But then again, I did not want to abandon Ben and his colleagues in their hour of need. They all stood in front of an Aboriginal flag.  Some were crying out for justice for their deceased loved one.

The path to a successful referendum

27 May 2015 | Frank Brennan

Cropped image from 'No Small Change' book coverWe gather on the 48th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. All major political parties to an agreed referendum question when going into the next federal election, with the understanding that the new government and the new parliament would proceed to put a referendum to the people, perhaps on Saturday 27 May 2017, the fiftieth anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum.


Atheist Pratchett's Discworld has lessons for Christians

15 March 2015 | Michael McVeigh

'You can't go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world. Otherwise it's just a cage.'

When I heard English author Terry Pratchett had died, I immediately jumped online to start looking through some of my favourite quotes from his books. The above, from Witches Abroad, is one of many that have accompanied me over the years.  

His 44 Discworld novels could be broadly described as comic fantasy, or fantasy satire, and yet that's really just the starting point for the immense variety of complicated ideas they explored in such a fun, joyous way.

Perhaps strangely for someone whose work is so grounded in atheism, Pratchett has had a profound impact on my religious faith. Read more


Libs take some image advice from Mad Men's Don Draper

01 March 2015 | Jim McDermott

The inner sanctum of the Prime Minister’s office, filled with smoke. DON DRAPER sits in a chair, cigarette in one hand, tumbler of Scotch in the other.

Across, Prime Minister TONY ABBOTT. Around them, members of his cabinet.

GREG HUNT (coughing weakly): We really don't allow smoking in here.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Plus, how do you still look so good? It’s 2015.

Draper turns Pyne's way. His eyes glitter like steel.

DON: Really, that's what you want to talk about right now, my looks?

TONY: Now listen, Don, I did it all just like you said. Pushed up the spill motion to keep the momentum from building, said I would be more consultative, got on with the business of governing. And yet two weeks later ... Read more


Birdman or (The Totally Expected Sin of Hollywood Narcissism)

28 February 2015 | Michael McVeigh

With Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) winning the Best Picture Oscar, a lot of people are pointing out the fact that three of the last four Best Picture winners are about movies, or the act of making them. That's not including 2011 winner The King's Speech, which was about the art of performance. That Hollywood loves itself a little too much is an obvious, and probably valid, conclusion to draw. But the deeper question to ask is why films like Birdman resonate so strongly. Read more


Finding a just oil and gas settlement between Australia and Timor-Leste

1 Comment
24 September 2014 | Frank Brennan

UCD Dublin CrestThere is nothing to be gained for Australia and Timor as neighbours airing dirty laundry in exalted international fora.  It is time for both countries to agree to put the unresolved boundary issue to bed, seeking an agreement or determination by conciliation of the differences between them concerning the Timor Sea.  The situation is similar to neighbours agreeing not to settle the boundary of their back fence.  That is all very fine unless and until there is a problem. 

Hervey Bay boat arrival from Ireland

21 September 2014 | Frank Brennan

UCD Dublin CrestConsidering my indebtedness to the two Aborigines who met [my family's ship arriving in Hervey Bay from Ireland] 151 years ago, I owe it to all my fellow Australians to agitate these issues of law, morality and politics here in Ireland so that back in Australia, the homeland which, in my religious tradition, was known as the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.


The preferential option for the poor

1 Comment
22 July 2014 | Frank Brennan

'Rohan provides a detailed and accurate analysis and history of the word games that have gone on between the Vatican and the Latin American bishops and theologians wrestling with the concept of the preferential option for the poor.' Frank Brennan launches The Preferential Option for the Poor: A Short History and a Reading Based on the Thought of Bernard Lonergan, by Rohan Michael Curnow. 


Too much order with too little law 30 years on

1 Comment
22 July 2014 | Frank Brennan

'Undoubtedly there are many challenges confronting our elected leaders in dealing with violent crime and with pathological sex offenders. But long-term sustainable solutions must be based on respect for judicial independence and for the role of the legal profession.' Frank Brennan addresses the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties at The Irish Club, 175 Elizabeth St, Brisbane 8 July 2014.


Why Bishop Morris was sacked

23 June 2014 | Frank Brennan

Illustration of Benedict and Bishop Morris'My one new insight from reading Bill's book is that he was sacked because he was too much a team player with his local church ... the Romans hoped to shatter the morale and direction of those who had planned the pastoral strategies of a country diocese stretched to the limits as a Eucharistic community soon to be deprived of priests in the Roman mould.' Frank Brennan launches Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three by Bishop William Morris.

The Jesuits' patient, demanding banker

26 May 2014 | Michael Kelly

Julian SlatteryWhen I first proposed what was to become Jesuit Communications, the organisation that now publishes Eureka Street, Julian Slatterie was the first to respond. 'Now Michael,' he said. 'This proposal rests on five assumptions and three presuppositions and if any of them is voided, the project is likely to fail.' He answered that hesitation with 25 years membership of the board. Julian died suddenly of a heart attack last Tuesday.

The role of the faith based organisation

26 May 2014 | Frank Brennan

'Some of us would question Benedict's assertion that the Church "must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot ... replace the State." But we would all agree that the Church "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines".' Frank Brennan's presentation at the Jesuit Social Services Symposium on 'The role of faith based community organisations in contributing to a civil society'.


Cruelled by the Budget

14 May 2014 | John Falzon

John Falzon'You don't help young people, or older people, or people with disabilities, or single mums, into jobs by making them poor. You don't build people up by putting them down. And as even the OECD acknowledges, you don't build a strong economy by increasing the level of inequality. You don't create a strong country on the backs of the already poor.' Statement by John Falzon

Human Rights, the national interest and the will of the people

1 Comment
10 April 2014 | Frank Brennan

'Whether or not we have a bill of rights, much of our human rights jurisprudence remains partial, failing to extend rights equally to all. Once we investigate much of the contemporary discussion about human rights, we find that often the intended recipients of rights do not include all human beings but only those with certain capacities or those who share sufficient common attributes with the decision makers. It is always at the edges that there is real work for human rights discourse to do.' Frank Brennan's Blackfriars Lecture

Is our morality at sea with the refugees?

10 April 2014 | Frank Brennan

'We should abandon talk of taking Australia off the table. We should also abandon talk of taking the sugar off the table. The collateral damage of that is too great. The best we can do ethically and practically is to put the sugar out of reach while leaving it on the table for those who make it here with a visa or in direct flight from persecution.' Frank Brennan contributes to a Palm Sunday panel at St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne.

Too little law in Newman's Queensland

23 February 2014 | Frank Brennan

'Three decades on, Queensland once again has a premier who finds some political advantage in skewing the balance between law and order, impugning the integrity and vocation of the legal profession. He has described defence lawyers as hired guns.' Professor Frank Brennan SJ addresses the Queensland Law Society Dinner, 30 years on from his book Too Much Order with Too Little Law.

Advancing human rights in the market

1 Comment
10 February 2014 | Frank Brennan

'The market for disability services will need to be underpinned with a strong and robust internal risk management framework. There will be an increasing number of for-profit operators in the sector. Hopefully the not-for-profit operators will make the necessary adaptations competing in the market and providing the ethos for the market to deliver services in a dignified, fair and transparent manner.' Frank Brennan's Leading the Way Seminar for the National Disability Service


Pope's vision for a bruised and dirty Church

01 December 2013 | Frank Brennan

How refreshing to have a pope write: 'It is not advisable for the pope to take the place of local bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound 'decentralisation'.' Vatican monsignori in long flowing robes will be troubled to hear him say, 'mere administration can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be permanently in a state of mission.'

This time in the Church

11 November 2013 | Frank Brennan

'Having thrown off the shackles of compulsion endured by pre-Vatican II Catholics, we relish that we come to the table not because we are forced, not because of social expectations, not because of the mindset of the mob, but because we are graciously called and freely responding.' Frank Brennan's Camino Address, Parish of Our Lady of the Way North Sydney, 12 November 2013

Christian social thinking for Australia

1 Comment
07 November 2013 | Frank Brennan

'Many Catholics wonder how we can maintain our Christian faith at this time in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis and the many judgmental utterances about sexuality and reproduction. The Church that has spoken longest and loudest about sex in all its modalities seems to be one of the social institutions most needing to get its own house in order.' Frank Brennan's address to the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy, 8 November 2013. 


The case for funding legal services with public money

07 November 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

From a liberal perspective the use of public money to fund free legal services to individuals is inherently undesirable. Even if the contracts are awarded under competitive tendering, the funding of the services is a distortion in the market. Ideally they should be left to the market to provide. And by definition they are less efficient than commercial organisations disciplined by a free and competitive market.

Labor's light on the hill

01 November 2013 | Frank Brennan

'There have been innumerable post-mortems and words of advice as to how the party with new structures, election rules, and policies can pick itself up, dust off, and win the next election. Sadly some of those post-mortems have come with more coatings of spite and loathing. It is no part of my role in the public square as a Catholic priest to offer such advice.' Frank Brennan's address to the Bathurst Panthers Club, 2 November 2013.


Church-state issues and the Royal Commission

24 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'The Church should not give any appearance of hiding behind the corporate veil. Justice demands that present church leaders agree to satisfy any judgment debt against their predecessors or their deceased predecessors' estates when there is an allegation of past failure to supervise or adequately investigate a sexual predator in the ranks. Any damages should be paid from church assets.' Frank Brennan addresses the Australian Lawyers Alliance Conference, Rydges Lakeside, Canberra, 26 October 2013.

Pope Francis and Australia’s social justice agenda

23 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'Here is a pope who is not just about creating wiggle room or watering down the teachings of the Church. No, he wants to admit honestly to the world that we hold in tension definitive teachings and pastoral yearnings — held together coherently only by mercy and forgiveness.' Frank Brennan's Wallis Lecture presented in Hobart on 24 October 2013 and Launceston on 25 October 2013.


Miriam Rose's clear vision

22 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

Karel Kupka's portrait of and Aboriginal Madonna and Child'We spent about a week planning the baptism of 12 kids using traditional symbols including the water ceremony to welcome newcomers to country, the firesticks, the smoking, and the ti tree bark to heal and make strong. Miriam has always drawn strength from culture and church no matter what the internal tensions.' Frank Brennan launches the Miriam Rose Foundation at St Mary's Cathedral Darwin.


Costello the great Jesuit teacher

1 Comment
20 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'With Em, we were only one handshake away from the great movers, shakers and events in the Church and the world. Those of us who lived with him were used to history lessons at breakfast when we would be schooled in the shortcomings of the popes, the modest breeding of papal nuncios, and the march of folly of great world leaders.' Frank Brennan's homily for the late Fr Emmet P. Costello SJ, St Mary's North Sydney, 21 October 2013.


Advice for graduating health sciences students

17 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'My sixth piece of advice is for all graduates and not just those of you who are religious. We all need to develop a comprehensive worldview, nurturing the sense of the transcendent in the human spirit, and holding together in tension ideals and reality, dreams and our shortcomings.' Full text from Frank Brennan's La Trobe Graduation Address, Health Sciences, 18 October 2013.


Catholics' radical alternative

09 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'When confronted with moral evil in public policy, church personnel have a choice: to be prophetic sticking to the moral absolutes, or to be practical engaging in the compromises needed to temper the evil. At the moment, the only political parties not wanting to embrace a short term shock and awe approach are the Greens, the DLP and the Palmer United Party. And neither Christine Milne, John Madigan nor Clive Palmer will ever be prime minister.' Workshop paper from Catholic Social Services Victoria's Listening, Learning and Leading conference, October 2013.

Has the Catholic Church in Australia any credibility left?

02 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'What a pope; what a man! ... The credibility of the Catholic Church has been enhanced with this new pope. We see in him many of the finest aspects of the presently battered and ageing Church.' Frank Brennan's presentation for Spirituality in the Pub, Pumphouse Hotel, Fitzroy, Vic. on 2 October 2013.


Equipping students for moral argument

30 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

Full text from Frank Brennan's lecture 'Law teachers as gatekeepers of law, public morality and human rights: Equipping our students for moral argument in a pluralistic legal environment' at the Australian Law Teachers Association Annual Conference 2013.


The Pope who put a spring in our step

19 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

Pope Francis smiling, thumbs-upFasten your seat belts. We are in for an exciting ride with this Pope. He's happy to make mistakes. He's happy to go with the flow. But above all, he is so happy in his own skin and in his religious tradition that he exudes the confidence that comes only from knowing that he is loved and forgiven, and not from thinking that he is always right and has all the answers.

Storm proof: good news for all seasons

19 September 2013 | Clare Boyd-Macrae

Times are no more stormy now than they have ever been. And yet there is a different quality to our storms than there has been in the past. Two things contribute to this. First: it is now a reality, even a likelihood, that we will destroy our planet. Second: we no longer have an assumed, central narrative that informs and inspires us.


Election day reflections on religion in the public square

06 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

How clever of you to choose the day of the federal election for me to offer these reflections.  I come amongst you, not as a publisher or journalist but as an advocate in the public square animated by my own religious tradition as a Jesuit and Catholic priest engaged on human rights issues in a robustly pluralistic democratic society.


Church-state issues and the Royal Commission

03 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

'The Towards Healing protocol is not a substitute for criminal prosecution of sex abusers. Nor is it a cheap alternative to civil liability for damages. It is a procedure available by choice to victims in addition to criminal prosecution of perpetrators or pursuit of civil damages for negligence by church authorities.' Full text from Frank Brennan's address to the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand 47th Annual Conference, 4 September 2013 at Hotel Grand Chancellor Adelaide on Hindley.

Show some respect when talking with homosexuals

18 August 2013 | Frank Brennan

During part of the conversation that was recorded by SBS but not aired, I told Penny Wong I thought her homosexuality was as natural, complex and mystical as my heterosexuality. It is time we dropped the unhelpful, judgmental language of intrinsic and objective disorder when respectfully trying to determine appropriate laws and policies for all people who want to support and nurture each other and their children.


Paradox and possibility: The example of Francis

1 Comment
13 August 2013 | Frank Brennan

'You are the first generation of Catholic educators who will not have members of religious orders or congregations present in any number at all in your staff rooms and in your classrooms. Thus the need for lay Catholic educators to cultivate their spirituality while also being attentive to the demands of Church and the Church hierarchy.' 6th International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership, Sydney, 13 August 2013.


The public, the Church, and asylum seekers

1 Comment
12 August 2013 | Frank Brennan

'Like many Australians, I had hoped that the dastardly plan announced on 19 July would stop the boats in the short term, as a stop-gap measure. It is dismaying to learn that appropriate consultations had not occurred with Indonesia with the result that the very people who were to receive the shock and awe message are yet to receive it. There’s only one thing worse than shock and awe; that’s shock and awe that doesn’t work because you haven’t done your homework.' 43rd Barry Marshall Memorial Lecture, Trinity College Theological School, 14 August 2013.

Rudd's boats blunder is shocking, awful

04 August 2013 | Frank Brennan

Kevin Rudd with Nauru and Australian flagsLike many Australians, I had hoped that the dastardly plan announced on 19 July would stop the boats in the short term. It is dismaying to learn that appropriate consultations had not occurred with Indonesia, with the result that the very people who were to receive the shock and awe message are yet to receive it. There's only one thing worse than shock and awe; that's shock and awe that doesn't work because you haven't done your homework.

Eddie Mabo's legacy

22 July 2013 | Frank Brennan

Bonita Mabo with some of Eddie's descendants

'If my mob were to arrive by boat today uninvited, they would be sent to Papua New Guinea. 150 years ago, the traditional owners helped my ancestors and their fellow passengers to find safe anchorage so that they might settle here permanently calling Australia home.' Frank Brennan speaks on 'Eddie Mabo's legacy of equality, non-discrimination and agreement', Mabo Oration Response at the Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, 21 July 2013 


Why I still love the Catholic Church

14 July 2013 | Frank Brennan

Sean Faircloth, a US director of one of the Dawkins Institutes committed to atheism, raised what has already become a hoary old chestnut, the failure of Francis when in Argentina during the Dirty Wars to adequately defend his fellow Jesuits who were detained and tortured by unscrupulous soldiers. Being a Jesuit, I thought I was peculiarly well situated to respond. I confess to having got a little carried away.


Pragmatic answers to the asylum seeker question

26 June 2013 | Frank Brennan

Image of asylum seeker boat with a question mark'I want to outline the contours for a better approach — better than forcibly turning around boats, better than transporting people to Nauru and Manus Island or to Malaysia to join an asylum queue of 100,000 or permitting people to reside in the Australian community but without work rights and with inadequate welfare provision.' Frank Brennan speaks at the Australian Catholic University National Asylum Summit 2013.


Corpus Christi homily

02 June 2013 | Frank Brennan

Church and ordained ministry in the 21st century

23 May 2013 | Frank Brennan

Fr Frank Brennan's keynote address at the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Clergy Assembly, St Clement's, Gaylong, on 22 May 2013


Catholic communicators navigating new media

1 Comment
06 May 2013 | Michael McVeigh


University as an agent of transformation

1 Comment
21 March 2013 | Frank Brennan

'Transformation and empowerment will come through the exercise of kindness and tenderness, accompanied by the practical abilities inculcated by a rounded Catholic education.' Frank Brennan's address at the Transformation and Empowerment Symposium marking 50 years of the Signadou campus of ACU, 22 March 2013.

Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution

1 Comment
20 March 2013 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan's address 'Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution' presented at the 18th National Schools Constitutional Convention, The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 21 March 2013.

How can the Catholic Church contribute to a better culture for life?

17 March 2013 | Frank Brennan

Change is upon the Church. Just recall the scene when the new pope emerged on the Vatican balcony. He appeared with none of the papal trimmings of office, and did not once did he refer to the papacy. Could something of this new papal style help Catholics engage more creatively with their fellow citizens? Text from Frank Brennan's lecture 'How Can the Catholic Church Contribute to a Better Culture for Life?'

Contemplating Fred Hollows

10 February 2013 | Frank Brennan

Gabi Hollows at Fred Hollows' graveside'I have been asked to provide a spiritual reflection for Fred who was not always given to spiritual conversation. I find the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah helpful. He came to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, bring freedom to the oppressed and sight to the blind. Fred did all these things, sometimes brusquely.' Frank Brennan on the 20th anniversary of Fred Hollows' death.

Eulogy for the 'Martha and Mary' of St Christopher's

1 Comment
26 November 2012 | Frank Brennan

'The sun had finally come to Canberra. Therese was sitting out on the back patio surrounded by children and grandchildren. She had a ticket of leave from the hospital. With grace, humour and gentleness, she recalled that a friend had urged her to live until October when the roses would be in bloom. She schooled us all in beauty and truth even in the midst of adversity.' Frank Brennan's eulogy for Therese Mary Vassarotti.

The Church is not beyond reproach

1 Comment
22 November 2012 | Frank Brennan

'Might not the chief problem with Church language in the public square be that we tend to come from a position of moral superiority, approaching those dreadfully compromised politicians who will do anything to be elected? The abuse crisis reminds us that the Church is not irreproachable.' Text from Fr Frank Brennan's presentation at the Anglican Church of Australia's Public Affairs Commission Conference, November 2012.

Law and justice for abuse victims, Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers

31 October 2012 | Frank Brennan

'Even without the political static which is drowning us all out down there in Canberra, there is real doubt whether the Gillard bluff 'Don't get on a boat because you might end up in Nauru' can do what the Howard bluff could not deliver.' Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's Law and Justice Oration at the Law and Justice Foundation 2012 Justice Awards Dinner, Parliament House, Sydney.

Mabo 20 years on

28 October 2012 | Frank Brennan

'Though land rights and self-determination provide no utopia for the contemporary indigenous Australian community, they have belatedly put right an ancient wrong. The cost and inconvenience are unavoidable. Terra nullius is no longer an option.' Full text is from Fr Frank Brennan's keynote speech at the Central Queensland Law Association Conference, Mercure Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, 27 October 2012.

Advancing human rights in Australia

1 Comment
16 October 2012 | Frank Brennan

Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Advancing human rights in Australia — lessons from the National Human Rights Consultation' at the 'Human Rights Matters!' conference marking Anti-Poverty Week 2012. 17 October 2012, Cardinal Knox Centre, St Patricks Cathedral, Melbourne.

Reflections on the death penalty on the tenth anniversary of the Bali Bombings

11 October 2012 | Frank Brennan

Fr Frank Brennan SJ's paper 'Reflections on the death penalty on the tenth anniversary of the Bali Bombings' presented at the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Australians Against Capital Punishment Dinner, Red Hill, Brisbane, 12 October 2012, Commemorating the 10th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Aboriginal Catholics' culturally enriched living

01 October 2012 | Frank Brennan

'It has been helpful to have the Pope offer the encouragement that there need not be any conflict between Christian faith and Aboriginal culture. But Aboriginal culture is often founded on religious beliefs which find and express God's self-communication outside of Christ and the Church's seven sacraments.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Culturally Enriched Through the Gospel' at the NATSICC Conference on 1 October 2012.

Brennan and Katter's Aboriginal pilgrimage

1 Comment
30 September 2012 | Frank Brennan

'I had the pleasure of the company of Bob Katter at a series of meetings with Aboriginal Councillors before addressing a public meeting on Palm Island. Some say there has been little growth or change on these remote Aboriginal communities. In fact some of what we saw was unimaginable 30 years ago. 

Relic rumination

26 September 2012 | Frank Brennan

'We do not stay focused on a moribund, severed arm. Rather we remember that Francis with this arm always pointed towards Christ, and always embraced all before him, especially the poorest of the poor.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address at St Christopher's Cathedral, Canberra, for the visit of the Relic of St Francis Xavier.

Vatican II then and now

23 September 2012 | Frank Brennan

'Looking to the future, I want to focus on the role of the laity in the growing absence of priests. And I want to insist on the need for due process, transparency and respectful dealing within the Church.' Full text of Fr Frank Brennan SJ's presentation 'Looking Back and Looking Forward Over Church and Life on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II' at the Spirituality in the Pub Goulburn Valley Annual Dinner, 21 September 2012.

Religious freedom and the law

17 September 2012 | Frank Brennan

'The common law leaves a gap between the mandates of the law and the conduct that we choose to engage in according to our individual moral standards. We call that gap 'freedom'. The challenge is determining the width of that gap for groups bound by religious faith which differs from the Australian majority.' Frank Brennan launches Carolyn Evans' Legal Protection of Religious Freedom in Australia. Full text

Seeking a more ethical way to stop the boats and deaths at sea

14 September 2012 | Frank Brennan

In the lead up to the election, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison are sure to continue insisting that the Gillard Government's Pacific Solution Mark II will not work. In all probability this will undermine the efficacy of the Gillard Solution in stopping the boats. Read the full text of Fr Frank Brennan's address to the Migration Institute of Australia, Menzies Hotel, Sydney, 14 September 2012 

There is an ethical way to stop the boats

22 August 2012 | Frank Brennan

Detention centre fenceBehind all the legal technicalities and political argument about boat people, there is room for deeper ethical reflection and a more principled proposal. But first, to clear away some of the debris.

Six challenges for Indigenous researchers

20 August 2012 | Frank Brennan

Text is from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's opening keynote address at the Higher Degree Research Retreat, Rydges Eaglehawk, Canberra, 4 August 2012.

Leadership for justice in health care

20 August 2012 | Frank Brennan

Fr Frank Brennan SJ is board director of St Vincent's Health Australia and professor of law and director of strategic research projects (social justice and ethics) at Australian Catholic University. Text is from his address at Leading the Way, the Catholic Health Australia Conference, Perth 21 August 2012, Governance and Mission stream.


Chivalrous knight

1 Comment
03 July 2012 | Andrew Hamilton

I have always associated Peter with words like chivalrous, knightly, courtly and courteous. He was courteous and elegant in conversation, listening intently to even the most inarticulate of people. But knights’ business is to fight. 

The eloquence of God

03 July 2012 | Brendan Byrne

'And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we saw his glory, full of grace and truth' (John 1:1, 14). In the second-last conversation I had with Peter, we agreed that that text should be the Gospel for his Requiem. There is a sense, I’m sure, in which every poem that Peter wrote was an instance of the Word becoming flesh.

Interviewing Peter Steele for America Magazine

03 July 2012 | Jim McDermott

About four years ago I had the great pleasure to spend four days with Peter Steele while he was at Georgetown. Hearing that he had died, I went back to those interviews, hours and hours we spent on things like the first time he read Billy Collins, growing up in Perth, unexpected blessings, and the never-ending catalogue of characters and words that fascinated and delighted him. 

Peter Steele reads his poetry at Georgetown

1 Comment
03 July 2012 | Jim McDermott

While interviewing Peter in his office at Georgetown University in Washington in 2009, Jim McDermott SJ made audio recordings of Peter reading a selection of his poems.


Greater transparency will evolve the Church

23 May 2012 | Frank Brennan

Frank BrennanBishop Morris wrote at considerable length to Archbishop Chaput, in a highly respectful and fraternal tone. To be fair to Chaput, I will quote his breathtaking response in full. It illustrates what still passes for due process and pastoral care in the Roman Church. We have to insist on something better. And with greater transparency, we will get something better.

Inter-faith perspectives on justice and reconciliation in Cambodia

15 May 2012 | Frank Brennan

'The challenge to a Christian living in a largely Buddhist society has some similarities to the challenge to a Christian living in a society where the public square is largely the preserve of those who argue and agitate with a secularist mindset.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address to the gathering of church and NGO workers convened in Siem Reap by the Jesuit Refugee Cambodia on 12 May 2012. 

On Jesuit collaboration

25 April 2012 | Frank Brennan

'This Jesuit network will not succeed where Copenhagen failed, but it is an incremental contribution to one of the great moral challenges of our age [climate change].' Text from Frank Brennan's paper 'An interpretation and a raincheck on GC 35's call to develop international and interprovincial collaboration', Boston College, 28 April 2012.

An exemplar of Queensland Catholicism

02 April 2012 | Frank Brennan

In the south people love to compare Sydney and Melbourne Catholicism, as if there is no other. But no one does Catholicism quite as ecumenically, quite as incarnationally, and quite as laidback as in Queensland. There is something distinctive and admirable in it, and it is summed up in the life of Fr John Dobson.

John XXIII's half century challenge

26 March 2012 | Frank Brennan

Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Bringing the modern world into contact with the vivifying and perennial energies of the gospel (John XXIII's half century challenge)' at the Catalyst for Renewal Dinner, Hunters Hill, 23 March 2012.

Justice, the Church and the Ignatian tradition

18 March 2012 | Frank Brennan

Text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's Lenten presentation 'Justice, the Church and the Ignatian tradition' at St Ignatius Parish, Norwood, 13 March 2012 and St Michael's, Clare, 14 March 2012.

St Patrick's Day talk

16 March 2012 | Frank Brennan

Text is from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's St Patrick's Day Celebration talk at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, 17 March 2012.

Working out what white Australia wants

29 January 2012 | Frank Brennan

Gillard and bodyguardI have been feeling sad and confused about the happenings in Canberra since Australia Day. On Saturday I got on my bike and went down to the lawn of Old Parliament House. I passed a sign: 'You are now entering or leaving the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy ... Abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.'