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Prognosis negative as election health debate stagnates

13 June 2016 | Melissa Sweet

#healthelection16When politicians and journalists speak about 'health' in an election context, they invariably are referring to healthcare, and usually hospitals at that. However, the health of individuals and communities is the result of many factors, of which access to healthcare is just one determinant. Climate change - the defining issue for public health this century, according to the World Health Organization's outgoing director general Dr Margaret Chan - barely figures in election health debate.

The moral conundrum of casting a vote on 2 July

09 June 2016 | Frank Brennan

Raised hands with hearts on palmsSadly, the major political parties have forfeited any claim to govern in their own right because they have caused such disillusionment among so many voters about other policy issues with strong moral overtones. Any voter impressed with Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' or inspired by his visits to asylum seekers on the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos could not blithely vote for either of the major parties, without first determining how to place some continuing political and moral pressure on them.

What lies beneath election campaign ethical silences

08 June 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

xxxxxElection times are full of sound and fury, much of it broadcast on a loop. But they are also marked by silences. These silences indicate concealed perils in society. Asylum seekers and young Indigenous people are spoken about, often noisily, but always as the object of policy, not as people whose lives have been blighted by policy. The human beings who suffer are shrouded in silence. This silence is an ethical silence that covers people whom we want to keep out of mind.

'Elitist' democracy not the answer to Trumpism

07 June 2016 | Jeff Sparrow

Banner image from Andrew Sullivan essay in New York MagazineWill Clinton defeat Trump? Perhaps - but the polls already show him doing far better than anyone expected. More importantly, an electoral loss might mean the end of Donald Trump but it won't destroy Trumpism. The constituency into which the Donald has tapped will almost certainly grow under the administration of a corporate Democrat like Clinton, even if it manifests in a different form. And what then? How much larger and heftier will the barriers against the popular will have to become?

Remembering forgotten wars as fallen soldiers return

06 June 2016 | Binoy Kampmark

Soldiers carrying coffinThirty-three bodies returned to Australia last Thursday in the country's largest repatriation of dead servicemen and their dependents, including six children. All of the dead were connected with Australia's involvement in overseas conflicts which have been archived and, in some cases, forgotten altogether. Returning the fallen has been a contentious matter. In some cases, the issue has been politicised, with dead soldiers discarded for being the immoral instruments of disputed foreign policy.

Australia's little sepia book of dead political tricks

05 June 2016 | Bronwyn Lay

Bleached Great Barrier Reef coralLiving within the United Nations community I've witnessed Australia fall from a well-respected international citizen, to becoming the spoilt, sneaky brat of international relations. Even the most blasé glance at the geo political currents moving through the planet reveal complexities this election pretends don't exist. Australians fighting about jobs and growth in the corner comes across as deeply deluded isolationism. The Great Barrier Reef is dying. The world is watching. Hello Australia? Anybody home?

Engaging portraits of the men who would be PM

01 June 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

David Marr's Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Pursuit of Power and Annabel Crabb's Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm TurnbullDavid Marr describes Shorten at work in the claustrophobic world of the Labor factions and the unions where great haters abound. Annabel Crabb has a lighter touch, describing the career of Turnbull, with all its energy, intellectual and tactical brilliance, and victories with obvious enjoyment and in sunlit prose. The accounts raise two questions: Do the qualities of leaders matter much? And what insight do the leaders' stories provide into the likely achievements of the government they would lead?

A closer look at the AFP's shady Labor raid

31 May 2016 | Justin Glyn

Australian Federal PoliceIt has puzzled me that the constitutional implications of the AFP's raid on the offices of the official opposition and one of its senators two weeks ago has not been explored in more detail. The uncomfortable fact is that the leaks about which NBN Co is complaining are not damaging because they relate to competition nor to national security, but because they expose cost overruns and reflect badly on the government of the day - the same government which holds all the shares in NBN Co.

There's no shame in minority government

30 May 2016 | John Warhurst

Julia Gillard graffitiWhen the big parties condemn the idea of a hung parliament it is just self-interest, as when both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten expressed their horror at the prospect of any sort of alliance with the Greens. It was surprising that Shorten missed the opportunity to defend the legacy of the Gillard government, a successful minority government which executed a considerable legislative program. If he allows 2007-13 to be portrayed as disaster years it will hurt his chances of becoming prime minister.

Reflecting on justice for asylum seekers during an election campaign

29 May 2016 | Frank Brennan

'Being in the middle of an election campaign, I will not be making any partisan party political points. However being here in the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro, I will conclude with a critique of both major political parties, and with one piece of political advice for citizens of goodwill seeking a national asylum policy more in harmony with the ideals set out by our bishops in their social justice statement.' Yass Catholic Parish Potluck Dinner, 28 May 2016

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