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Respect and relationships in forming identity

18 October 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Colourful thumbprintPromos suggest you can choose your identity. Join a tour to Kurdistan and you can become an adventurer. Buy an Aussie flag, sing loudly about boundless plains, and you can become a dinky di Aussie. Identity, however, is more subtle. It is formed by relationships, to the human race, to body, to place of birth, to language, to the significant adults of childhood, to possessions, to education and work, to hobbies, religions and political parties and to all the people met through these relationships.

The man who sank the myth of controlled nuclear warfare

17 October 2016 | Binoy Kampmark

Des BallThe late Professor Desmond Ball of the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre came as close as any on being a public intellectual on nuclear strategy. While some of his counterparts in the US felt that using nuclear weapons was feasible and sound, Ball issued his pieces with mighty caveats. 'Controlling escalation', Ball ventured, 'requires both adversaries to exercise restraint, and current US policy is to offer a ... mixture of self-interest and coercion.'

Asylum seeker's long wait for judgement day

17 October 2016 | Shira Sebban

Hands in handcuffsFinally he is having his day in court. After 13 months languishing in limbo in immigration detention, he has been given the opportunity to be heard. Hopefully, it won't be long now before his case is determined and his torment resolved. Or so I thought. But in today's Australia, asylum seekers are not treated the same way as you or me. I meet him not as originally planned in the courtroom itself, but in the bowels of the building where he has been confined for the second day in a row to a tiny cell.

There's room at the table for the poor if we make it

16 October 2016 | Julie Edwards

Cartoon by Chris JohnstonOne of the most misused passages of Christian scripture tells us we shall always have the poor with us. It is often repeated by those who are not poor in order to dismiss any project that involves public expenditure or private generosity to people who are poor. When we do not focus on the good or bad conscience of the observer but on the lives of the people who are poor, we can see that the statement is not a justification for a modern society that allows people to live in poverty. It is an indictment.

Left shares blame for the rise of the rogues

15 October 2016 | Fatima Measham

Donald TrumpMuch has been made about how Republicans benefited from the 'birther' campaign and the Tea Party. It suited them to have proxies undermine the executive branch. In other words, the political right only has itself to blame for the nihilism which now engulfs it - and potentially, the nation. But the failures of the left also bear examination. While Clinton's current lead cannot be attributed entirely to her virtues, the polling gap between her and Trump should have been much wider, earlier.

The criminal law 30 years on

12 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

With idealism and pragmatism, I invite you criminal lawyers in the next 30 years to imagine and enact a better criminal justice system which alleviates rather than exacerbates the devastating effects of colonisation and marginalisation on Indigenous Peoples, and most particularly their children. An intelligently designed criminal justice system must help secure the foothold of Indigenous children in both the Market and the Dreaming.

Western Bulldogs' example for the common good

11 October 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Western Bulldogs flagsThe best writers on sport show that it is a metaphor for life. Perhaps that is why the triumph of the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Grand Final has been so ruthlessly milked for larger significance. But I would like to exploit it once more for the way in which it illustrates the weakness of a liberal politics that assumes that all will benefit from the economic growth that unfettered competition between individuals yields. The joy of the Western Bulldogs victory lay in its challenge to these assumptions.

Funding policies silence Indigenous DV victims

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11 October 2016 | Dani Larkin

Bashed Aboriginal woman with man's hands over her mouthLabelling it a 'domestic violence epidemic', Mundine questioned whether Indigenous parliamentary ministers were adequately advocating for Indigenous peoples. His remarks were ironic given that, as Linda Burney points out, 'these things have happened on his watch'. Without government funding to support grassroots, community based early intervention programs, family violence will continue. In particular, how those programs are actually being funded should be reviewed.

Responsibility for royal commissions' effectiveness lies with us

10 October 2016 | Ann Deslandes

Don Dale detention centre sign'Finally!' we might think, regarding the commencement of the royal commission after the mainstream revelation of the abuses at Don Dale and other juvenile detention centres. But is this just another deferral to a disinterested power? What can we hope will come of moves like this from leaders whose own legitimacy feels so craven and thin? I suspect not much. There are already claims the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT is on shaky ground.

Being clear eyed and misty eyed about human rights and asylum seekers

05 October 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank BrennanAustralia's policy is unique and unrepeatable by other nations because it requires that you be an island nation continent without asylum seekers in direct flight from the countries next door and that you have access to a couple of other neighbouring island nations which are so indigent that they will receive cash payments in exchange for warehousing asylum seekers and proven refugees, perhaps indefinitely. The policy over which Turnbull presides is not world best practice. It's a disgrace.

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