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The economic case for greater diversity in media

04 August 2016 | Fatima Measham

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force AwakensPerhaps what will ultimately convince media and entertainment companies that it is in their interest to be sincere about diversity is that there's money in it. A UCLA study found that in 2014, eight films that had diverse casts (out of 163) also had the highest median global revenues and returns on investment. In addition, TV shows with majority non-white casts rated extremely well, even among white households. This challenges conventions around what media consumers find appealing.

The cold wind that blows on the homeless chills us all

03 August 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Mural of homeless familyNational Homelessness Week comes around each year. And each time it is an embarrassment. We pride ourselves that we are a respectful society, but there is no greater sign of disrespect than to allow people to be homeless. Too many people sleep on the streets; too many families sleep in their cars. What must change in us is our tolerance of an economic and political ideology that assumes it is all right for the vulnerable and ill to be neglected in order to protect the entitlements of the wealthy.

Australia's 'alien' relations then and now

02 August 2016 | June Factor

the DuneraIn 1940, Prime Minister Robert Menzies received a letter from a woman in Western Australia: 'I have heard on the wireless the news that Australia would be willing to receive internees from England. I beg to protest; we have enough of the scum here already, too many in fact ... I sincerely trust that a U-boat gets every one of them.' The 'scum' she rejected so emphatically were the German and Austrian refugees, predominantly Jewish, soon to travel to Australia as 'enemy alien' prisoners.

Turnbull's Senate challenge is about more than numbers

01 August 2016 | John Warhurst

Pauline HansonTurnbull had hoped to bring about a new Senate with most of the 'troublemakers' gone. But the new cross-bench seems certain to be both larger and more diverse. Commentary since the election has concentrated primarily on how the numbers in the new Senate will make it difficult for Turnbull. A better focus would be to look back at Senate-government interaction over the past two years for some positive lessons for Turnbull about what actually happened. It was not just a numbers game.

Census scepticism as privacy comes under threat

31 July 2016 | Kate Galloway

Census logoGovernment wishes to capitalise on our data using new data mining technologies. The ABS uses the language of efficiency and public interest in justifying the changes. It even implies that the new online census is environmentally friendly. It may well be that collecting and retaining our names along with our personal information is efficient, but that does not address the foundation question of whether we as citizens retain the privacy that constitutes us as members of a liberal democratic society.

A cautious response to mass killings and police violence

27 July 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Ali David SonbolyWhen confronted by violent killings we should be appalled, identify sympathetically with the victims and with those affected indirectly by these tragedies, and also take a respectful interest in the complex lives of the perpetrators and the relationships that contributed to the shootings. The pause before making larger judgments respects the complexity of motivation and of social interactions involved in the killings, and offers a base for reflecting on how we may lessen the possibility of them happening in future.

Don Dale abuse is a symptom of a sick justice culture

26 July 2016 | Julie Kimber

Don Dale prisonerThe 4 Corners report into the treatment of children in a NT juvenile justice facility is a stark and grotesque demonstration of state abuse of power. As a result John Elferink, NT Corrections Minister, has been sacked, and the Prime Minister has announced a royal commission into the actions at Don Dale. This is a good start, but there is much more to be done. We need to question a culture that willingly imprisons the most vulnerable, and puts up with a system where not all are equal before the law.

The changing face of the law across generations

24 July 2016 | Frank Brennan

Cathedral College student Terrence Sullivan and Frank BrennanNext year marks the 50th anniversary of the amendment to the Constitution which took out the adverse references to Aborigines. Following our recent election, we are assured at least six, and possibly seven, members of our national parliament who proudly claim an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage. They are represented in all parties and none. How good it would be if our elected Aboriginal politicians could come together across party lines and propose an amendment to the Constitution which recognises them.

Prisoners of their own stories

24 July 2016 | Brian Matthews

Primo LeviHolocaust survivor Primo Levi wrote If This is a Man to carry out what he saw as the critical task of bearing witness, and he became one of the greatest writers of the 20th century as he continued to bear witness one way and another in later books. Some day, one of Australia's asylum seekers will, like Levi and with the same sense of dread and horror, tell his or her story to ensure that someone bears witness; and to confirm that all of us are implicated.

Hanson supporters must accept world has changed

07 July 2016 | Fatima Measham

Pauline Hanson cartoon by Fiona KatauskasRather than her reprise, it was the appeals for civility that I found more disconcerting. Katharine Murphy, Margo Kingston and Tracey Spicer ran variations of the argument that confronting the things that Hanson and her party stand for would inflate her status (as if getting elected into the senate has not already done that). Kingston suggests seeking out Hanson supporters for a chat. Unfortunately, that is not a thing black and brown Australians do, sit down for a cuppa with people who despise them.

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