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30 August 2016 |
When 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.
30 August 2016 |
If 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.
28 August 2016 |
As 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.
25 August 2016 |
Oliver 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.
23 August 2016 |
The 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.
22 August 2016 |
I 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.
18 August 2016 |
This 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.
17 August 2016 |
The 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.
14 August 2016 |
Sobs 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.
14 August 2016 |
Within 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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