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Europe rejects the 'Australian Solution'

14 May 2015 | Nikolas Feith Tan

Migrants seeking refuge in LampedusaSince the drowning of around 800 people on 19 April, politicians in the UK, France, Italy and Denmark have been suggesting that the European Union adopt our hardline asylum policy. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has advised the EU that 'only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats'. But last week, the EU denied it was in talks with Australia, saying 'the Australian model can never be a model for us'.

Raul Castro's diplomatic love match with Pope Francis

12 May 2015 | Antonio Castillo

Pope Francis and Raul CastroThey spoke in Spanish and there was genuine Latin American warmness between them during Sunday's historic 55 minute meeting at the Vatican. They will meet again when Francis visits Cuba in September. Castro promised Francis that he would be attending every one of his masses, reminding him that he is a Jesuit alumnus: 'I'm as Jesuit as the Pope'.

Scots' UK election command good for democracy and compassion

06 May 2015 | Duncan MacLaren

Nicola SturgeonIt has certainly been an extraordinary election where, for once, Scotland has played a central role, especially in the realm of new ideas. It will be good for democracy in the UK if the predicted SNP landslide occurs, to put progressive policies ahead of party advantage and ensure the neo-liberals in Cameron's team are stopped from unleashing the same chaos as Mr Abbott in Australia, and compassion, care for the most vulnerable and services such as the NHS remaining in public hands return to centre stage again.

Australia's friendship with Indonesia is bruised but should not break

30 April 2015 | Emily Mitchell

Stained Indonesian flagToday, the relationship between Indonesia and Australia — the 'most important relationship' espoused by our Prime Minister — is aching. People are saying we must boycott Bali, that we must not go to Indonesia. While I understand these sentiments, I do not think this is the answer. To stay within our borders would only maintain the status quo. Instead we must embrace our neighbours and rekindle our friendship.

A wedding and an execution

28 April 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Gun barrelThe last days of Andrew Chan spoke more powerfully than words can about the meaning of execution. On Monday he married Febyanti Herewila. On Tuesday he was taken out and shot. In the wedding service he may have heard the words, 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' A few hours later men had sundered man from both wife and life.

Indonesia shows its ugly side with regressive executions

28 April 2015 | Pat Walsh

President Joko Widodo speaks with CNN's Christiane AmanpourIndonesia is a country of great promise with a significant, maybe crucial, contribution to make to our troubled world. As a very large, pluralist, Muslim-majority democracy it offers a template for other societies in transition. President SBY was acutely aware of this opportunity and through his democracy forums and other initiatives did much to re-brand Indonesia in this positive light. All this good work is being undone by the anal, small-town thinking the executions represent.

Diplomatic lessons for Julie Bishop in Tehran

14 April 2015 | Justin Glyn

Julie BishopThere are few things less palatable – or likely to persuade others to see your point of view – than public humiliation. This week, as Julie Bishop visits Tehran, there are already some signs that these lessons may not have been well learned. If Australia really wants to make a positive difference in the Middle East, it would be better to listen carefully to the many voices than try to push its tired and cruel demands for the boats to stop and for the world to be remade in its own image.

The General of the poor and the Iron Lady of industry

31 March 2015 | Barry Gittins

Maggie Thatcher caricatureFormer Australian Salvation Army world leader General Eva Burrows, who died on 20 March, tried in vain to engage the former British PM in making the preferential option for the poor. ‘Margaret Thatcher was a disappointment,’ the General said. ‘I felt she didn’t have a deep, true feeling for the poor. I invited her to come out on the soup run indirectly and said it wouldn’t be a media event, we’d go incognito, but the answer was no.’

Women are not responsible for violent crimes against them

31 March 2015 | Maureen O'Brien

Jill MeagherJudgmental attitudes towards women who are victims of male violence are never far from the surface. A crass example occurred recently when a priest suggested to his congregation that if rape-murder victim Jill Meagher had been more ‘faith-filled’ she would have been home instead of out late on the night when she was raped and murdered. There is greater public moral outrage when acts of violence are committed against women considered 'virtuous' than others such as sex industry workers.

Paying tribute without creating war narratives

23 March 2015 | Justin Glyn

Operation Slipper posterThe emotional parades welcoming troops home from the end of 'Operation Slipper' in Afghanistan leave us contemplating the horrific effects of war on veterans and their families. It is absolutely right, indeed imperative, that we grieve with them and count the costs. In doing so, however, we should beware the danger of selective empathy.

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