AUSTRALIA


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A common good argument for legalising same sex marriage

17 Comments
30 August 2016 | Alan Hogan

Wedding bandsWhen a traditional marriage breaks down, there is a substantial body of law that has been developed to deal with the consequences. A substantial number of people in the community have already entered into homosexual relationships, monogamous and intended to be permanent. Some will break down, and disputes will arise about matters such as property, maintenance, and access to children. Common law principles are inadequate for settling such disputes fairly and economically.


Plebiscite debate is pure politics

17 Comments
30 August 2016 | John Warhurst

Australia with rainbow filter and question markIf the plebiscite bill is defeated in parliament Labor, the Greens and Nick Xenophon will bear responsibility for not taking the opportunity offered even if it is in their view a second-best option. The government is already labelling them as same sex marriage wreckers. Yet if before too long a parliamentary alternative, such as a free vote, is found to advance the cause of same sex marriage then the rejection of the plebiscite option will come to be applauded as a master stroke.


The case for pill testing at music festivals

8 Comments
28 August 2016 | Susie Garrard

Music festival crowdAs tickets go on sale for this year's round of music festivals - Falls, Defqon, Bluefest, Lost Paradise, to name a few - organisers still have no means to counteract unsafe drug use. Recent years have seen an increase in drug related injuries and fatalities at festivals. The debate as to how to counteract this worrying trend is ongoing, and tricky to navigate due its subjective nature. Yet when zero tolerance policies clearly haven't worked, it's time to turn to harm minimisation measures.


Dickensian England lives on in Australia

15 Comments
25 August 2016 | Kate Galloway

Mark Lester in Oliver Twist filmOliver Twist is still used to aid understanding of the trauma arising from poverty, and the suffering of children at the hands of individuals and within institutional settings. In broader Australian society we assume Dickensian attitudes to children have evolved. Aligned with the sentiments behind child protection, society's image of children and childhood is idyllic. Yet beneath this veneer lies a substratum of deeply ambivalent, even malevolent, attitudes towards children with a distinctly Dickensian flavour.


Girls are not to blame for their own exploitation

14 Comments
23 August 2016 | Madeleine Hamilton

Stop blaming victims chalk sloganThe response from police and others in authority to recent cases involving the abuse or exploitation of adolescent female sexuality is depressingly reminiscent of attitudes held more than 50 years ago. While it was no defence to argue that the girl had consented, if it could be proven she had had consensual intercourse with other men previously, the offender could be acquitted. Consequently, in carnal knowledge trials, girls were frequently accused of having rich histories of sexual activity.


Truth beyond written records of the Wave Hill walk off

9 Comments
22 August 2016 | Moira Rayner

Yijarni: True Stories From GurindjiI had been in WA for exactly a year when the local newspaper reported that a white guy had led about 200 people off Wave Rock station. Coming out of the comfortable myth that my home country of New Zealand was not racist, I was amazed to learn that Australia's Indigenous people were obliged to work without industrial protections. In 1966 it was the British Vesteys Group that had been exploiting Aboriginal people: today it is the State in the guise of 'community development', aka work for the dole.


Israel can't be both abuser and saviour

10 Comments
18 August 2016 | Ruby Hamad

Israeli PM Benjamin NetanyahuThis week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that although 'some of you will not believe' it, he 'cares more about Palestinians than their leaders do'. He is right - I don't believe him, not least because what he is saying is nothing new. Israel has long been claiming that it only harms Palestinians because Palestinians force them to do it. As well as making Israel sound remarkably like an abusive partner (Why did you have to go and make me hit you?) this is also Dehumanisation 101.


Dollars trump humanity in NSW public land purge

6 Comments
17 August 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Sirius ComplexThe Brutalist building - so ugly when I first saw it, now a familiar milestone on the journey into the city - has been condemned to an undignified death; soon it will be demolished, a luxury apartment building erected in its stead. The long-term residents have packed their meagre belongings and gone (though not without a fight). Such is the pattern of progress in New South Wales, under a government that has no compunction in selling public land to the person whose wallet is the fattest.


Humanity meets bureaucracy on asylum seeker Fast Track

13 Comments
14 August 2016 | Shira Sebban

Hand writes in notebookSobs rack his body. Under the Fast Track Assessment process being used to clear the backlog of protection claims, the nondescript official sitting opposite him, or one of his colleagues, will most likely be the one to decide his fate. 'Should you be found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, the government may share your biographical details with the authorities of your country of origin,' the official intones. 'If you give them information about me I will be killed,' comes the chilling reply.


The holy sacrament of coffee communion

12 Comments
14 August 2016 | Barry Gittins

Cup of coffeeWithin the first 20 minutes of my morning, I pay homage to life by partaking in that glorious gift to humanity, coffee. As well as the contested space around coffee's possible physical health benefits and purported dodgy effects, going for a coffee is good for the soul. Humans are social creatures, and coffee lubricates our communing. Over a cuppa I have shared hardships, counselled and been counselled, listened to tales of brokenness and celebrated the wins that punctuate our travails.


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