Vol 27 No 8

23 April 2017

Homeschooling parent overburndened by government paperwork. Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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INTERNATIONAL

My close-up view of America's other cowboy presidency

4 Comments
03 May 2017 | Brian Matthews

Ronald Reagan dressed as cowboyFor all his demonstrable popularity, Reagan was a divisive figure. His Hollywood and TV show provenance were regarded with enduring suspicion by some, and many doubted his capacity to deal with the dangerous complexities of Cold War politics. Some even considered him a rogue. He was well into enjoying his overwhelmingly approved second term when, unnoticed by the President, his administration or anyone outside the city of Eugene, Oregon, I arrived in the United States.


Unis share blame for profit motive funding model

14 Comments
02 May 2017 | Binoy Kampmark

University of SydneyFor various reasons, 'free' education in Australia has been qualified by HECS, which actually serves to wedge the liquid incentive of government and educational institutions on the one hand with the need for students to obtain affordable education on the other. Even that balance is now under threat, with a pre-budget announcement suggesting cuts to university funding and increasing costs to student degrees are in the offing. Universities are far from blameless in the present distorted funding model.


AUSTRALIA

Cry if you want to as mandatory detention turns 25

10 Comments
02 May 2017 | Kerry Murphy

Bleak looking birthday candlesFriday 5 May is the 25th birthday of the introduction of mandatory detention in Australia by the Keating government. It is by no means a 'happy birthday'. Rather it is a sombre reminder of how control, power and political vilification can be used for political ends. There are now more sections in the Migration Act dealing with statutory bars, mainly directed at asylum seekers, than the total number of sections in the whole of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901.


Businesses need to get serious about gender diversity

4 Comments
02 May 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Chalk outline man and womanWhether to have targets or quotas is a hard question to answer. Quotas have been employed by several European countries to great effect. But in Australia companies are encouraged to set themselves targets, which are optional. Businesses are moving towards targets at a glacial pace, with women in senior executive roles increasing by 2 per cent per annum since 2012. As long as it is up to businesses to create a diverse workplace, they need to put in the effort.


ECONOMICS

Beyond fake news lies the fog of fake figures

6 Comments
01 May 2017 | David James

GDPFake news aside, increasingly, we live in a world of fake figures. There is a cliche in management that 'what gets measured gets done'. In public discourse that might be translated to 'what gets measured is considered real'. One obvious fake figure is GDP, which is taken as a measure of national wellbeing. In fact, it is just a measure of transactions. If money changes hands because something disastrous happens then GDP will rise. That is hardly an indicator of national wellbeing.


CREATIVE

Hardline on soft drink

8 Comments
01 May 2017 | Isabella Fels

Glass of colaIn my late 20s when I became seriously unwell and diagnosed with schizophrenia, Coca-Cola was like an ever flowing fountain of happiness for me. How I loved sipping it. I would even quickly down it with my meds. I could feel life getting better and speeding up. Having Coke was magic. But lately, with all the publicity surrounding the dangers of drinking fizzy, sugary soft drinks, I am trying to cut down. It is not easy trying to fight an almost lifelong addiction.


EDUCATION

Reading, writing, and stifling homeschool regulations

14 Comments
30 April 2017 | Kate Moriarty

Homeschooling parent is overwhelmed by government paperwork. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonI decided to homeschool for one year, to give my daughter a chance to recover and to build her confidence. I never expected to fall in love with the lifestyle. Twelve months later, I gave in to my younger son's entreaties and began homeschooling him as well - just for one more year. In Victoria, the registration process is simple and straightforward. It is not surprising, then, that Victoria has the highest number of registered homeschoolers. But this may soon change.


CREATIVE

Who was that luckless politician?

3 Comments
30 April 2017 | Geoff Page

Steve Fielding pixellatedWho was that luckless politician, federal, I think, gone now from so many memories, including mine? Male, a sort of suited fledgling, older maybe than he looked, the guy who feelingly achieved, while reaching for the aphoristic wisdom of his people, the verbal train-wreck we remember so much better than than the 'issue' or his features as they pleaded with the swooping of a lens: I'm torn between two places and a hard rock?


CARTOON

What the Anzacs fought for

12 Comments
30 April 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Promoters of free speech burn Yassmin Abdel-Magied at the stake. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


MEDIA

Identity on the line in the fallout over Anzac free speech

34 Comments
27 April 2017 | Rohan Salmond

Yassmin Abdel-MagiedEven though the post was quickly withdrawn and an apology issued, the backlash has lasted more than four days. It was enough to warrant a front page story on The Daily Telegraph, a call for Abdel-Magied's dismissal by the deputy prime minister and public repudiations by half a dozen government front benchers and other politicians, including Pauline Hanson. It's ironic that the very commentators who constantly rail against political correctness are apoplectic about a woman being politically incorrect.


AUSTRALIA

Changi war remembrance asks how we keep peace today

2 Comments
27 April 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Two Malarias and a Cholera by Ray ParkinThe air-conditioned bus offers a sanctuary from the tropical temperatures outside. It's hard to believe these are the same temperatures experienced by inmates over 70 years ago on this site. It is not often that we consider peace as something we must constantly work for. Often it is portrayed as something which can be achieved and then passed down to us. Changi reminds us we shouldn't become complacent in our memory of war because it might cause us to lose sight of how we keep peace today.


ENVIRONMENT

Why we will never give up flying

14 Comments
26 April 2017 | Greg Foyster

Aeroplane flies out of a coal power station chimney. Cartoon by Greg FoysterI haven't flown for six years. I didn't feel a pressing need to travel, but most of all I didn't want to make such an enormous contribution to climate change. A return flight from Melbourne to London pumps about 1.8 tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere, wiping out other efforts to reduce emissions at home. But now here I am on a Jetstar flight to Sydney for a climate change conference. As the plane takes off, I squirm with a sense of hypocrisy: I've broken my vow for the same reason I made it.


AUSTRALIA

The counter-cultural, rehumanising work of volunteers

4 Comments
26 April 2017 | Fatima Measham

Vinnies volunteersA significant portion of the work that goes on in our economy is voluntary. It features in many contexts, such as social welfare, mentoring, animal welfare, landcare, local sport, and arts and literary activities. It can be hard to make a case for volunteering at a time when labour exploitation is rife. Students, migrants and Indigenous people, who need to establish work experience, are particularly vulnerable when it comes to unpaid work. This does not mean that volunteer work can never be meaningful.


Youth justice system needs reform not repression

7 Comments
25 April 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Hand print on wallWe need only to imagine ourselves as a child subject to the practices described in these accounts, to find them scarifying. The recurring images of children lying in the foetal position, in solitary confinement, hooded or surrounded by guards say it all. When we set them against the results of research into the biological and psychological development of children, detention, prolonged lockdowns, isolation and a culture of punishment are destructive and counterproductive.


Bad sports and politics

4 Comments
25 April 2017 | John Warhurst

John CoatesRecent adverse coverage of sporting organisations has revealed once again what looks like widespread organisational dysfunction. Sport is such a major part of Australian life that we should all be interested in what goes on within the multi-million dollar organisations that run it, whether it be the big football codes, cricket, tennis or the Olympic sports. The stakes are huge and the issues, including self-interest, interstate rivalries and personality conflicts are eerily familiar in public life more generally.


INTERNATIONAL

East Timorese heroes of Australian wars

19 Comments
23 April 2017 | Susan Connelly

Australian commando in East TimorFearful of the southward thrust of the Japanese, the Australian government entered East Timor against the wishes of its Portuguese colonisers. The move was not to protect the Timorese, but to thwart possible attacks on Australia. A band of intrepid Australian soldiers, never numbering more than 700, successfully held off thousands of Japanese in Timor, but only because they had the support of the local people. Between 40,000 and 60,000 Timorese died as a result of Japanese reprisals.


RELIGION

Easter illuminates Anzac Day rhetoric

3 Comments
23 April 2017 | Michael McVeigh

Jim Caviezel as Witt in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red LineThe transition from Easter to Anzac Day in Australia can be a strange one, particularly when the two celebrations come in the space of two weeks as they do this year. At Easter, we move from the terrible desolation of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday. It's the foundation story for the Christian faith, and speaks of the arrival of new life and hope for the world. Anzac Day forces Christians to confront a different reality - that this new hope has yet to be fully realised.


INTERNATIONAL

Citizenship changes make a new enemy of the migrant

14 Comments
23 April 2017 | Catherine Marshall

Migrant familyAustralia has long had a successful migration program, and the country's economic success is proof of this. So when Turnbull calls a press conference to impart the news that 'membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia', he is making a redundant point. The vast majority of migrants and new citizens already do this.


ECONOMICS

The language of exploitation in the online labour market

3 Comments
23 April 2017 | Daniel Nicholson

Deliveroo bicycle delivery personWhen you are in the business of exploiting people, language matters. A recently leaked document from Deliveroo is geared to emphasising that the people who deliver food for Deliveroo are and should remain independent contractors, not employees. In 2016, a Unions NSW report into the employment practices of gig-economy company AirTasker categorised the online labour market as 'unregulated Taylorism within a Dickensian marketplace where workers compete for bite-sized fragments of labour'.


CREATIVE

Poems for Anzac Day

2 Comments
23 April 2017 | Jena Woodhouse and Ian C. Smith

Anzac Day buglerNow, the forces of annihilation once again cohere, as if this were a valve in history's cardiac arrhythmia that faltered and unleashed a haemorrhage of horror, trauma, fear. The damask roses bloom unharvested in devastated fields. Their perfume cannot mask the stench that permeates the air, the atmosphere of dread, of mute despair. But when the juggernaut of war is redeployed elsewhere, the fragrant fields will come into their own, if there are hands to care.


CARTOON

Soldier of misfortune

23 April 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Hero of 'modern warfare' Peter Dutton is remembered for his motto 'Truth is the first casualty'. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


AUSTRALIA

Take care not to co-opt soldiers' and civilians' deaths

4 Comments
20 April 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Anzac Day Dawn Service at Kings Park, Western AustraliaAt Anzac Day it is common to set the deaths of soldiers into the context of a larger cause; as shaping a template of national identity. This year we celebrate it in a sea of citizen deaths from terrorism and military actions. Such killings are also often set within a broader context such as democracy, national security, or the Western way of life. Deeper reflection suggests that to attribute meaning and value to people through their relationship to a cause does not enhance but diminishes their humanity.


INTERNATIONAL

The relevance of remembrance in the 21st century

8 Comments
20 April 2017 | Kate Mani

Graves at Tyne Cot cemetery near YpresYpres' human collateral damage and displacement of those forced to flee is investigated at Ypres' In Flanders Fields Museum. The museum handbook parallels Belgian's WWI refugee exodus with the plight of refugees today fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and Africa. It's one way In Flanders Fields Museum is adopting a forward-looking approach to commemoration, pulling World War I's messages and themes out of 1918 and propelling them into the 21st century.


AUSTRALIA

It is my duty to remember

16 Comments
20 April 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Spirits of soldiers watch as children pay tribute to their memory. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonEvery Anzac Day there seem to be arguments about the legitimacy of what has been called the One Day of the Year. In the past I have taken my turn at rebutting views that express the belief that such days are part of a wholly reprehensible glorification of war. I've had a great deal of time to think about the matter, and also have a personal involvement: my grandfather and father were in the Australian Army, and both saw active service, about which periods they hardly ever spoke.