Vol 27 No 4

26 February 2017

Malcolm Turnbull weighed down by 'conservative' Tony Abbott. Cartoon by Chris Johnston



Conversations about rape

08 March 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Thordis Elva on QandALast Monday, there was a Q and A discussion about feminism and women's rights. On the panel was Thordis Elva, an anti-violence campaigner known for hosting a TED Talk with her rapist Tom Stranger. The debate emulated my own internal monologue. Is there a place for rapists in the conversation about rape? Did I want to hear what a rapist had to say? At the time I was on the phone to someone close to me who had been sexually assaulted in the past. Would I want her anywhere near her rapist again?


Larger principles underpin Pope's beggar belief

08 March 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Homeless man beggingWe often find ourselves invited to respond to people who ask us for money on the street - beggars, homeless people and so on. We can respond in different ways: give them something, decline as a matter of course, decline as a matter of principle, or not notice them. Last week Pope Francis recommended that we always give coins. To many this will seem to be too categorical. However as has so often been the case, Francis' throwaway lines illuminate much larger social issues.


Interracial romance's antidote to cultural appropriation

07 March 2017 | Tim Kroenert

Mildred would later say of Frank that 'he always took care of me'. Yet this telling of the story shows a more mutual exchange of strength and support than such a statement might imply. The Lovings' entanglement with the state of Virginia would ultimately lead to constitutional change in favour of interracial marriage, and Loving portrays Ruth as the main agent of the battle. At a time when cultural appropriation has become much talked about, this film by a white filmmaker shows a different way.


Penalty rate cuts are the result of thinking small

06 March 2017 | David James

Sign reads 'closed Sunday'Witnessing the debate over Sunday penalty rates, an intriguing pattern of thinking emerged. It can be characterised as a microcosm/macrocosm duality. Those arguing for lower Sunday wage rates demonstrate their case by talking about individual businesses, the micro approach: 'Many businesses would love to open on a Sunday and if wage rates were lower, they would. Unleash those businesses and greater employment will follow.' Superficially impressive, this does not survive much scrutiny.


All minorities are not equal in the fight for justice

06 March 2017 | Moreblessing Maturure

Protester holds up sign reading 'Support your sisters, not just your cis-ters'In the current climate, minorities and oppressed communities are branded as 'divisive' when attention is drawn to the void which exists between those with power and those without. This allegation stands firmly on the understanding that our 'unified strength' against a common enemy will bring about the change we so passionately fight for. But often the assumption is that all parties are to unify with the majority, that those of lesser power should fight for equality in a way that those in power see fit.


To Russia with love

06 March 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Bashar al-Assad, Pauline Hanson, Marine le Pen, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon gather at the Putin Fan Club. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


Feminist 'us first, you later' mentality doesn't work

06 March 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Second wave feminist protestInternational Women's Day was founded in women's rights movements across Europe, demanding better labour conditions as well as calls for suffrage. So though these days it is primarily about celebrating the achievements of women, it is rooted in feminist protest and activism. In the spirit of the 2017 theme #BeBoldForChange, I think we should change it up a little. While it is important to look back on the achievements of feminism, we should also look back to learn how to be better for the future.

Building cultures of equality in our workplaces

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06 March 2017 | Jennie Hickey

International Women's Day photo shows people in a circle with hands joined in solidarityThe theme for this year's International Women's Day is 'Be Bold For Change'. This involves an aspiration for action, assertiveness urgency. Because the changes required are considerable, in number and in scope. Statistics still reflect a 16 per cent gender pay gap. While there has been some movement of gender diversity on boards (25.3 per cent as at 31 January 2017), only 17 per cent of CEOs in Australian companies were women. The attitudes that underpin such dire statistics run deep.

Japan's Olympic dream disrupts disaster recovery

05 March 2017 | Pepi Ronalds

Asuto Nagamachi temporary housing units in the city of SendaiThis week marks the anniversary of the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown) that hit northern Japan on 11 March 2011. The event took over 18,000 lives, and initially displaced 470,000 people. Six years on, 127,000 are still without a permanent home. Delays have been caused by the sheer physical scope, pre-existing regulations and other restrictions. These are all understandable. What is less easy to accept are the disruptions caused by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.


A glimpse of devastated home

05 March 2017 | Susil Pun and William Okello Kadima

Bombed buildings in HomsOnce upon a time it used to be a beautiful city. Suddenly it turned into a yard of sorrow and pity ... No matter which area, nobody ever suffers like people did in Syria.


Weighing in on Abbott's Labor Lite slight

02 March 2017 | John Warhurst

Cory BernardiTwo irreconcilable views of the ideological position of the Turnbull government are now in circulation. One, held by those who once had high hopes that Malcolm Turnbull would lead a small l liberal government, is that the Coalition clearly is conservative. The other, advanced by South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi when he deserted the ship to form the Australian Conservatives, is that the Turnbull government is not conservative enough, maybe not even conservative at all. Both views can't be right.


Scenes from a city picked clean by investors

02 March 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Sirius buildingAn unread newspaper tumbles and breaks apart in the wind. A man sits alone on a park bench wondering what it would be like to hear children riding bicycles through the park. As darkness settles the city's workers commence their long journeys home. Not even the music of the street performers is heard anymore. They were all relocated. Car engines hum and airplanes roar. Somehow the city ecosystem continues despite the investment predators having eaten up all other types of life.

There's life in Ecuador's 21st century socialism

01 March 2017 | Antonio Castillo

Lenin MorenoEcuadoreans will head back to the polls on 2 April after this month's presidential election didn't come up with an outright winner. Against all projections Socialist Lenin Moreno, who served as Rafael Correa's vice president from 2007 to 2013, did very well. While he fell short of winning, there is a sense that the Ecuadorean 21st century socialism, an economic and political model instigated by Correa, is still popular; and in this Andean country of 15 million the majority are poor.


Swift injustice in modest penalty rates proposal

01 March 2017 | Fatima Measham

Artistic rendition of man about to butcher childrenThe Fair Work Commission decision on penalty rates removes any doubt that young people might have still had about their place in the economic order. The four-yearly review of awards in hospitality, fast food, retail and pharmacy found that Sunday penalty rates 'do not achieve the modern awards objective, as they do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net'. But whose safety net? Unfair to whom? These industries are already notorious for exploiting young workers.

No one wins as public discourse thins

28 February 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Winston ChurchillIt is a commonplace that our political discourse is much impoverished. Speeches are built around sound bites. The Trump administration is experimenting with letting go of speeches and communicating within the limits set by Twitter. In such a world there is little space for more complex rhetoric, for cultural reference, for reflection on historical precedents, or for wondering. Our politicians' words leave no echoes. It is worth musing on what may be lost in the thinning of public discourse.


Worst actor in a supporting role

28 February 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Tony Abbott appears on a movie poster for La La Land. Someone says it's about a plucky ex-PM who wouldn't take no for an answer. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


To feel this world

28 February 2017 | Allan Padgett

ThylacineNotes that humans cannot hear include the sound of thylacines crying in a van diemen forest, a dodo's plaintive shuffle on a nearshore kiwi island, a mammoth's woolly orgasm on an ecstatic arctic tundra, an esperance dog weed's silent transpiration, the rumbles of a gastric brooding frog giving birth by burping - these things are far too late for caring. Things we need to see and taste include the surging milk of human kindness, the euphoric rainbow of random caring - these would make a nice day nicer.


Cultural memory points the way through the Trumpocalypse

23 February 2017 | Brigitte Dwyer

The Tetrapylon, one of the most famous monuments in the ancient city of Palmyra, before it was destroyed by Islamic State group militants.To many in the West, we are living in a time of despair, an era of nihilism and meaninglessness, signified by growing violence, environment degradation and, most importantly, political chaos. This combination of events, and the sense of hopelessness that accompanies them, can easily be seen as markers of doom, a sign that the era of Western culture is in terminal decline. But it's also possible to interpret them as indicators of the malaise that marks the very peak of life.


How to survive the crucible of school bullying

23 February 2017 | Barry Gittins

Sad school studentSquarely back into the school year, dinner conversations with our kids have included strategies for dealing with bullies. A 2016 survey of 20,000 Australians students found one in four respondents reported being bullied, and bullying 'was more common for year 5 students and year 8' - the grade levels of our boy and girl respectively. I'd love to be the 'parent nonpareil', with the right words and advice, but it's not that simple. The variables of personality and situation mean there is no easy, perfect answer.


The power of persuasion in confronting fascism

23 February 2017 | Daniel Nicholson

Reclaim Australia protestorsIn the footage of one violence protest, I was shocked to see a handful of my homeless clients, draped in Australian flags, engaged in street battles with anti-racists. These young men had experienced alienation, exploitation and poverty - all the things the Left is supposed to fight against. Long, uncomfortable conversations don't make for good social media content, yet if Australia is to stare down the threat of a rising alt-right it won't be done by yelling at right wing fringe groups across a police barricade.


What the sharia is all the fuss about?

23 February 2017 | Rachel Woodlock

Yassmin Abdel-Magied on QandAOnce upon a time, a proud dad in Dandenong could name his son Jihad, with its ancient meaning of 'striving' in the path of God. Now he might choose a different name to avoid future discrimination. 'Shari'a' has come to mean the forced imposition of medieval punishments on cowering populations, while 'halal' is the torture of sheep and cows. These words have been stolen from ordinary Muslims, the vast majority of the world's second largest religion. I blame three groups for this.


Food waste in the age of hunger

23 February 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Sudanese childThis week the UN announced that more than 20 million people across four African countries face starvation in the coming months. As the World Food Program struggles to feed the starving, they are also reminding people that where there is great need in the world, there is often great waste. In Australia, the Department of Environment and Energy estimates food waste is costing households $8 billion every year. This is twice what the UN predicts it needs to cease a famine in four nations.


Sports Illustrated's plus-sized push is deeply sexist

23 February 2017 | Catherine Marshall

Denise BidotWomen everywhere are celebrating Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Edition for including among the innumerable images of slender young models a picture of a voluptuous woman wearing a bikini which doesn't conceal the stretch-marks on her stomach. This is Denise Bidot - a so-called plus-sized model, though probably average-sized in reality. This response is problematic, for it salutes a publication that objectifies women for widening the definition of those it is willing to objectify.


Turnbull's coal pitch is a Trojan Horse for gas

22 February 2017 | Greg Foyster

Cartoon by Chris JohnstonAustralia's most politically contentious rock is back in the limelight after Prime Minister Turnbull spruiked 'clean coal' power stations in early February, and Scott Morrison brought a lump of the stuff to parliament. It was a juvenile act, but an effective one: here we are again, still talking about coal weeks later, when the real energy policy battle is over gas. But that's how it goes - a pitch for a new coal-fired power station in Australia is actually a clever exercise in repositioning gas as a greener fuel.