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13 February 2017 |
The Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Indigenous incarceration in Australia recognises and validates widely held concerns. On the other hand, it also represents the abject failure of successive governments around the country to pay heed to what we do know about the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including the failure to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
13 February 2017 |
In itself inequality is not harmful. It is part of the diversity proper in any human society. But the inequality that is now in question is toxic because it is extreme when measured by any scale, and because it is programmed to increase. It is self-perpetuating and self-intensifying. The increase of wealth of the few entails the marginalisation and impoverishment of others. Inequality is the enduring root and not the transient blossom of the plant of social division.
09 February 2017 |
In my mid-20s, I sectioned under the Mental Health Act into the public inpatient system. The experience is so etched in my mind that it wasn't until recently, half a decade on, that I finally managed to shake the residual anxiety. A single admission to the public mental health system saw me crippled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. By contrast, I've never had an inpatient admission to a private psychiatric hospital where I haven't been discharged in comparative good health.
07 February 2017 |
Last year, I attended the AFL Pride Match with the LGBTI youth group Minus18. As I walked to Etihad Stadium, there was something profoundly emotional about seeing rainbows mix with football colours. A huge part of my childhood was no longer alienated from my lived reality. Yet as the game went on like any other, the whole experience recast itself. I felt more and more conspicuous, and I wondered how safe I'd feel if I were watching alone, waving a rainbow flag.
05 February 2017 |
The recent viral footage of 'alt-right' spokesperson Richard Spencer taking a punch to the chops caused considerable debate. There is no doubting the moral clarity that non-violent resistance achieved in the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and the Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the real result of justice for African American and Indian people. When it comes to the odd individual act of public pushing and shoving, though, asking 'Is it okay?' is a red herring.
02 February 2017 |
Centrelink's new policy of automated online debt collection has been subject to conflicting reports. The Minister and the department head are sticking to the assertion that everything is working fine. Yet there is another version of the truth, seen in the growing list of people talking publicly about the distress caused to them by being falsely tageted. One difficulty with the process is that the adversarial manner that it set up is unlikely to allow Centrelink to learn from the cases it reviews.
01 February 2017 |
It strikes me as odd that we have mostly withstood anti-establishment agitation, as seen in the Philippines and the UK. It is not like our political class have not earned similar scorn. What if the optimism bias that kept most of us from anticipating the results of the Brexit referendum and the US election are now also in play in Australia? How long will current welfare architecture and the incompetence of nativists keep at bay the destabilising forces that have laid America so low?
30 January 2017 |
The question of proper parliamentary and government work expenses remains unresolved. Whether rural MPs should use charter flights rather than commercial airlines is the latest aspect. Every element of political work expenses is now under sceptical public scrutiny. The recent case of former Minister for Health Sussan Ley is just one of many questionable instances. The central question is what is a legitimate work expense for politicians. The matter of who should then pay is secondary.
30 January 2017 |
2016 was a bumper year for the political double down. Journalist Mark Kenny witnessed a dramatic manifestation: 'Mr Abbott was seen to double down on his recent indirect messaging to Mr Turnbull about a possible return to the frontbench.' A combined 'double down with indirect messaging': perhaps a uniquely Abbott adaptation. Doubling down - otherwise known as repeating yourself - is the public language of aggressive redundancy, drowning out alternative voices and ideas.
26 January 2017 |
Allowing the Catholic Church to investigate itself was once described by an abuse victim as akin to 'putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank'. The Church now largely accepts the value of outside scrutiny, and has even endorsed a national redress scheme that would subject it to independent examination of its complaint handling and treatment of victims. But there is another institution - plagued by rampant child abuse in 2016 - where the vampires in charge are still trusted to mop up the blood.
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