Vol 27 No 9

07 May 2017

Malcolm Turnbull steers SS Australia through stormy seas. Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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INTERNATIONAL

Anti-Muslim laptop ban won't make us more secure

13 Comments
17 May 2017 | Catherine Marshall

Person using laptop on a planeAustralia should think carefully about adopting a ban that singles out Muslim majority countries under the guise of keeping its citizens safe. While it might make sense to ban potential bomb-carrying devices on flights from those countries where terrorist groups tend to be based, in reality it negatively profiles these countries and, more oppressively, the people who come from them. This is precisely the kind of dog whistle politics the likes of Trump and Hanson have engaged in.


AUSTRALIA

AFL must take a serious stand against sexist sledging

7 Comments
17 May 2017 | Paul Mitchell

Marc MurphyI was 16 and playing senior football for my local team the first time I doubted whether it was the sport for me. At training, the men's talk turned to the various ways they liked to 'take' their wives. They spoke as if the women in their lives were of a different species. I looked at my friend. We had girlfriends and had never spoken to each other about them in this way. That was in 1984. The abuse of Marc Murphy's wife in the Carlton vs St Kilda match last Saturday shows not much has changed.


ARTS AND CULTURE

Weighing evil in the wake of nuns' war terror

2 Comments
16 May 2017 | Tim Kroenert

'Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope,' says one of the nuns at a 1945 Polish convent. Soon Red Cross doctor and avowed atheist Mathilde learns the details of the predicament: of the terror wrought at the convent by Russian soldiers at the end of the war. Over the coming weeks, she oversees the health of those who fell pregnant during the intrusion. Gradually she wins their trust and, in the process, has her mind opened to a brand of faith that, in such circumstances, can be anything but blind.


AUSTRALIA

Is bipartisan bigotry the new normal?

19 Comments
15 May 2017 | Tseen Khoo

Labor's 'Employ Australians First' advertisementI have never felt as uneasy in Australia as I do now. It extends through many areas of my life, from listening to the low level of our national debate about migration and refugees, to my long daily commute and the many high-profile incidents of racist incidents on public transport. The fact that 'micro parties' with overtly racist agendas are influencing major party messages, such as in Labor's recent 'Employ Australians First' advertisement, is concerning because it points to these parties' success.


CARTOON

Modern fairy tales

3 Comments
15 May 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Scott Morrison in a wolf suit threatens to huff and puff at 'pig' banks. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


INTERNATIONAL

Egypt and Ethiopia river wars be dammed

2 Comments
15 May 2017 | Tuhimi Akebet

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance DamThe building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile by a major Italian construction company remains a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt. Egypt sees the Nile as its sole source for the survival of its population and, historically, has seen itself as its sole natural guardian. Ethiopia argued in response, on the basis of unseen studies, that there would be no reduction of water downstream. Both are mindful of the disastrous war they waged against each other early in the 19th century.


ECONOMICS

Millennials want to change the world through their work

3 Comments
14 May 2017 | Rachel Kurzyp

Millennial and Boomer badger money-focused Senior Manager. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonKids these days. We can't hold down a job, we expect to be promoted before we've proven ourselves and we put our career needs before the needs of an organisation. We're the largest age group, making up 37 per cent of the Australian workforce, yet we're expected to shut up and wait our turn. What is it about millennials that has everyone scared? People claim the stereotype is based on generational cohort, not age. But for young Australians in the workforce, they are one and the same thing.


AUSTRALIA

Unsocial budget fails health test

3 Comments
14 May 2017 | Amy Coopes

ECG pattern in the shape of a heartNext year marks four decades since promulgation of the seminal Declaration of Alma Ata, which declared health to be a fundamental human right and laid the foundations for what are now widely championed as the social determinants of health. Without action on the social determinants, health policy can be a little like that joke about the cyclopean orthopod who, when confronted with a patient suffering fatal internal bleeding, is interested only in fixing their broken leg. So it is with last week's Budget.


ARTS AND CULTURE

Sweat shop sheet

3 Comments
14 May 2017 | Linda Stevenson

Blood-stained sheetThe hem is good to touch, has a firm stitch. I wonder ... who pressed it flat, by whose hand was the white cotton thread sent bobbing, in what factory did my semi-slave breathe, labour? Was it here, a sweatshop in our own suburbs, or a distant forced camp? What lamps burned through hard-pressed nights of work? The sheet's material is light, a white cotton, beckons rest for me. Except, I still think over it ... who dyed, sewed, folded, packed? Who went to their bed dog-tired, with blood-sore fingers?


INTERNATIONAL

Ahok is innocent and Indonesia needs him

10 Comments
14 May 2017 | Pat Walsh

Basuki Tjahaja PurnamaDid he denounce Islam as 'evil' like the American evangelist Franklin Graham? Did he publicly denounce God as 'stupid' like Stephen Fry? On the contrary. Ahok is deeply respectful of Islam and has many Muslim supporters. The affair has done a serious disservice to Indonesia, presenting it as fanatical, racist and sectarian. While these perceptions are unfair, the affair also reveals some aspects of contemporary Indonesia that are obscured by Canberra's often lavish praise of our important neighbour.


Putting a face to the effects of Australia's aid freeze

4 Comments
11 May 2017 | David Holdcroft

African refugee studyingAlain is one of around 11,000 people living in this particular camp in the south of Zimbabwe. It seems an unlikely location to talk of the freeze on funding for Australian foreign aid announced in the budget, but it is in places like these, unseen and therefore unknown by the Australian population, that the effects are often felt. Alain is lucky: the camp where he lives has good education. Worldwide however, only 50 per cent of children in forced migrant situations will attend primary school, 22 per cent secondary and a paltry 1 per cent any institution of higher learning.


AUSTRALIA

Children's flourishing inside and outside the nuclear family

3 Comments
11 May 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Little girl playing TwisterPublic celebrations of family life such as the International Day of Families should be uncontroversial. But they sometimes focus on the definition of the family, with the claims of the stable nuclear family of father, mother and children set against the claims of other kinds of family groupings. These discussions should not distract from such larger questions as: why are families of any description important, and what qualities are needed if they are to be effective?


Palestine's 1948 'catastrophe' is an ongoing daily reality

11 Comments
11 May 2017 | Nahed Odeh

1948 Palestinian exodusOn 15 May, Palestinians and our allies all over the world commemorate the Nakba. In Arabic, Nakba means 'catastrophe', and it refers to the violent displacement of Palestinians that began in 1948. Growing up in Palestine, I know that while the Nakba started in 1948, Palestinians have been living under a continuous Nakba since then: the Nakba didn't end, it's ongoing. For me, the Nakba is when a foreign regime determines my and my family's movements on a land we lived on for generations.


INTERNATIONAL

Mothers of the missing still marching in Argentina

11 May 2017 | Antonio Castillo

Mothers of Plaza de MayoIt began 40 years ago on an autumn day, when 14 mothers gathered in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo, in the city's central square. They were seeking an audience with the military authorities. They wanted to ask the whereabouts of their abducted children. 'Where are our children?' was a question that metamorphosed into a brave act of political resistance and defiance against the brutal 1976-1983 Argentinean military dictatorship. They have been performing this act of defiance ever since.


ENVIRONMENT

Climate change is the elephant in the budget room

7 Comments
10 May 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Bleached Great Barrier Reef coralWhen Scott Morrison announced the 2017-18 Budget this week there was one phrase he didn't dare to utter in his meticulously written and rehearsed speech. It's just two short words, climate change, but when used together they conjure a public debate even our minister for the environment gets tongued tied over. Morrison's omission of climate change in the federal budget has set a tone of ignorance to improving energy policy in a meaningful way.


AUSTRALIA

Firing Comey does not make Trump Nixon

5 Comments
10 May 2017 | Fatima Measham

James ComeyReferences to Watergate are flying thick and fast - again. Earlier this week, Donald Trump abruptly dismissed FBI director James Comey in the middle of a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. It is difficult to overstate how bad this move is, and how much it has rattled political and bureaucratic firmaments. There are differences, however, between then and now. Trump is not Nixon, for one thing. Perhaps we can be thankful for that, in that infantile impetuosity is not paired with a much more cunning mind.


ECONOMICS

Budget's bank slug flouts the property precipice

3 Comments
09 May 2017 | David James

Banks logosThe $6.2 billion the government will raise through a levy on bank liabilities not only shows how out of favour banks have become, it is also, in effect, a de facto tax on property lending - a counterbalance to negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks. It is a tax on property lending because nearly all the banks' loans are mortgages for housing, or business loans secured with property. Of course the banks will pass the extra cost on to their customers, so it becomes a tax on borrowers.


AUSTRALIA

'Labor-lite' budget's social welfare report card

5 Comments
09 May 2017 | Julie Edwards

Drug testing with urine sample'Labor-lite' or not, there are many investments contained in the budget which will work towards a more just society, including the securing of funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme by raising the Medicare levy, and the needs-based approach to school funding, dubbed 'Gonski 2.0'. But among these commitments that seek to create a more equitable Australia, this budget again seeks to vilify welfare recipients, among the most vulnerable members of our community.


Hope versus humiliation in the Federal Budget

14 Comments
09 May 2017 | John Falzon

Client exiting Centrelink officeIt would be nice to believe, as the Treasurer wants us to, that better times are around the corner. But while wages stagnate and company profits surge, inequality is at its highest since the 1950s. This is not going to get any better any time soon. By 2019, the highest income earners will have received an effective tax cut of 1.5 per cent compared to all other taxpayers who will be paying an extra 0.5 per cent. For young people especially, Budget 2017 boosts inequality instead of building a better future.


RELIGION

The sad release of skipping church

11 Comments
08 May 2017 | Ryan Suckling

Church pewsThere came a time for me, as it does for many, when going to church was no longer obligatory. I suspect it's most common in those middle years of adolescence - the time when parents feel the need to loosen their hold over you, but with the blanket of judgement ever fixed. My wane in piety was not unforeseen. Each Sunday, as my family was getting ready, I'd linger by the bathroom. The plan was to tentatively make everyone aware I wasn't quite up for church-going that day. Reactions varied.


INTERNATIONAL

Artificial womb has many possible futures

5 Comments
08 May 2017 | Kate Galloway

Lamb foetus in artifical wombOne of the big science stories in the last month has been the invention of an artificial womb. The device has successfully assisted a number of lamb foetuses to term, and scientists are hopeful it will also assist premature human babies. What a wonderful development, to alleviate the health complications for those tiny babies and reduce the heartache for their parents. But the potential of the invention does not stop there. Like all tools, humans could choose to put it to use in ways that are good or bad.


AUSTRALIA

Steering SS Australia through the doldrums is serious work

11 Comments
07 May 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Malcolm Turnbull steers the SS Australia through turbulent watersIn Australian public life we are becalmed in a sea where the trade winds of political will, imagination, ability to agree, trust and firm direction do not blow. We search for portents in the US skies and hope for wind from the budget. The challenge facing the serious person on the ship is to avoid responding to each rumour and proclamation and focus on what matters. What is needed is to sustain the spirits of the crew and to plan the continuation of the journey when the wind again fills the sails.


EDUCATION

A student's view of 'big business' universities

13 Comments
07 May 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Empty lecture theatre'We won't have classes next Monday because of the public holiday on Tuesday.' My tutor tells us this cheerily, as if he has done us a favour. I'm studying a degree that costs $4000 each semester, about $60 per hour of actual teaching time. This includes a subject where instead of being able to meet with faculty members, we must skype them. If that's not the most expensive skype call ever, perhaps the critics are correct, and young people should stop complaining about the potential increase of fees.


ARTS AND CULTURE

Clues so far to the magic in reality

4 Comments
07 May 2017 | Darby Hudson

PathRepeat your name over and over and it doesn't make sense. Being able to hear your name across a noisy crowded room. Being able to see things in the dark by not looking at them directly. Walking down an old path brings back a conversation you had in exactly the same location years ago. Your handwriting looks exactly like your father's. Revisiting a childhood park destroys the memory and paves over it with the newer, boring adult memory. When you chase something you can't have it.


CARTOON

'Twas the night before budget

07 May 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Scott Morrison is haunted by Joe Hockey, the Ghost of Budgets Past, as he tries to write the 2017 Budget. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

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


AUSTRALIA

Seeking a fair go on budget night

7 Comments
06 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Scott MorrisonPart of the cost of the double dissolution election last July has been the creation of a Senate with the largest, most diverse group of crossbenchers ever. This will make the passage of any new contested Budget measures difficult, particularly given the Prime Minister’s vulnerability on his right flank, and the Labor Party's propensity to mimic the Opposition tactics adopted previously by Tony Abbott. The government needs to create a clear narrative as to how it will achieve equitable and sustainable growth through this Budget.


RELIGION

Australian bishops gather in the light of the royal commission

51 Comments
04 May 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

LighthouseThe government and the Catholic Church both face difficulties when commending values. The difficulties will dog events during the next week in which both institutions are on public display: the bringing down of the budget and the meeting of the Australian Catholics bishops. The question Australians ask is whether the bishops and other public representatives of the Catholic Church have the stomach for the changes in governance needed to address the factors that led to child abuse.