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Greens could learn a thing or two from larrikin Nationals

30 October 2016 | John Warhurst

Barnaby JoyceThe Nationals are the under-rated story within the Turnbull government. From the moment the party negotiated its binding agreement with Malcolm Turnbull, it has stood strong and determined. After about 30 years the Greens are still finding their way and learning their trade. They remain the outsiders looking in, whereas the Nationals are the ultimate insiders. Perhaps the Greens try too hard to be responsible, and would benefit from a dose of some of the larrikinism which the Nationals offer.

Reimagining manhood after ABC's Man Up

27 October 2016 | Adolfo Aranjuez

Chris Johnston cartoonAfter sending me to live in Australia, my father tasked my then brother-in-law (a true-blue 'bloke') with teaching me to 'be a man'. He failed, but here was evidence of hegemonic masculinity's perpetuation. My father and I were born into a masculine culture that, unlike Australia's stoicism, is characterised by braggadocious chest-puffing. Yet underpinning both Australia's and the Philippines' conceptions of masculinity is the masking of vulnerability: emotions hide behind silence and bravado.

Human rights acts after Brexit

27 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

Diverse AustraliansEven prior to Brexit, the Conservatives were wanting to replace the UK Human Rights Act with weaker legislation. They have been worried about what they perceive to be a loss of sovereignty. But even the British Conservatives remain committed to some form of human rights act. I commend the Queensland parliament for undertaking its present inquiry, and sound a cautious note of optimism about the modest gains which might be made by the enactment of a human rights act in Australia.

How the working class became white

26 October 2016 | Evan Smith

7 Eleven storeWhile the White Australia Policy attempted to prevent non-white workers from living and working in Australia, people from across the globe continued to do both, although often at the margins of white Australian society. The Australian Labor Party and the trade unions were complicit in maintaining this racial divide. In Australia today, a new wave of migrants is working in convenience stores, driving taxis or cleaning buildings. They are part of the Australian working class, but are often not considered such.

Men's rights activists need to take a chill pill

26 October 2016 | Neve Mahoney

The Red Pill movie posterThe 'men's rights' documentary The Red Pill has been pulled from Melbourne's Palace Kino cinema, sparking debate over censorship and what constitutes partisan reporting. The men's rights movement holds that 'feminism has gone too far', to the point that men are discriminated against. Since the internet and the third wave of feminism, the majority of MRA groups seem to be little more than a veil for misogynists to legitimise their sexism. It's a shame, because there are some MRA groups who raise real issues.

In praise of local councils

26 October 2016 | Fatima Measham

Craigieburn LibraryUnless you have lived elsewhere, where taxes and rates rarely manifest as a tangible and permanent benefit, it is easy to take councils for granted. I grew up in a town where potholes are forever, healthcare is ad hoc and libraries are private. The things that I see my local council do as a matter of routine are wild luxuries in other places around the world. Such competencies arguably measure the health of a democracy - it means that most of the money has not been lost to corruption and fraud.

Stand with heroic Gillian Triggs

24 October 2016 | Moira Rayner

Gillian TriggsThis damnable pursuit of Gillian Triggs must stop at once. Triggs is an outstanding independent statutory office holder, one of the many appointed by governments over decades to remind them of Australia's international human rights obligations and to oversee the functions of laws to mitigate social wrongs such as age, race, disability and sex discrimination in public arenas. But no government likes watchdogs on the moral and legal limits on its power.

Middle class privilege is more than material

23 October 2016 | Sonia Nair

Child gets a leg-up from 'cultural capital' as they try to climb a wall. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonSocial theorist Pierre Bourdieu posited the disturbing finding that academic underperformance in lower-class students could be traced back to their lack of cultural capital, defined as 'familiarity with the dominant culture in a society, and especially the ability to understand and use 'educated' language''. According to Bourdieu, the mainstream education system assumes a certain level of cultural capital and as a result, educators speak in a manner that is only understood by a privileged few.

Balance and boundaries in 21st century work

19 October 2016 | Megan Graham

Laptop at a cafeWhile once it was honourable to put your work first, it's now seen as a fool's errand. Not to say staff should discount their employer's interests, but put them in their proper place - important, yes, but not more important than health, for example, or family. Unions have built memberships on these kinds of ideas for decades. But the current movement is not so much about grouping together as it is about individuating: 'My particular needs are important, too.'

Tapping the wells of compassion that exist in the nation

18 October 2016 | Samuel Dariol

Contrasts a free child playing on the beach with a detained child sitting forlornly behind a fence. Cartoon by Fiona KatauskasA policy that deliberately inflicts harm on one group of people to deter others from coming to Australia is ethically obnoxious. It is now time to bring the people detained offshore to Australia. The Australian Catholic bishops have promised the resources of Catholic organisations to help educate the children, care for the health and meet other needs of the people who are detained. When a significant sector of the community is ready to help care for vulnerable people, it is proper to allow them to do so.

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