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Positivity key to the new Shorten's rise

29 May 2016 | J. R. Hennessy

Bill ShortenLabor has built a small poll lead over the Coalition as led by the eminently more marketable Malcolm Turnbull, and in this case the commentariat are willing to give Shorten and Labor the credit. They're the ones controlling the policy conversation and setting the agenda, and it feels like the government are just responding in turn. Who is this Bill Shorten? This is someone who even a few months ago would be largely inconceivable in the top job, but now seems at the very least plausible.

Banking royal commission is popular, not populist

25 May 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Australian banks logosThe evidence of misbehaviour by banks has become public at a time when the underlying ideology has also been criticised. The inherent unlikelihood that an economy based on individual greed will benefit the whole of society is now patent. It is seen as much more likely that unregulated competition for material gain will lead to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthy and powerful. Evidence now suggests that inequality hinders the economic growth it was presumed to nurture.

Setting subeditors' slights to rights

24 May 2016 | Brian Matthews

Newspaper with Correction headlineUnder election campaign pressure, some names have been misprinted. Mr Malcolm Ternble of Naracoorte wishes to point out that he has not made any public statements on negative gearing and is unsure what negative gearing means. The error was made by a Gen Y subeditor and should have read 'Prime Minister Malcolm Ternbull'. The Foreign Minister was cited as Ms Julia Bishop. The correct nomenclature is Ms Julia Bronwyn. Ms Bronwyn was inaccurately described as a part-time helicopter pilot.

Good leaders need the confidence to listen

23 May 2016 | Esther Anatolitis

Expert offering adviceUniversities and the CSIRO are attacked and funds cut while the government promotes an 'ideas boom'. Creative industries and the Australia Council are diminished and investment slashed while the government talks of an 'innovation agenda'. It takes confidence in your own skill as a decision-maker to recognise the expertise of others as something you don't share but can benefit from. Instead we see nervous leadership, too anxious to trust in those who can build that future.

Conversations with homeless protesters

22 May 2016 | Tim Robertson

Site of the homeless protest campI asked John, a tall, articulate man with long hair and well-maintained hipster beard, if he'd had a chance to read the most recently published Herald Sun think-piece arguing that what they are doing is not a demand for help, but a political protest. He smiled wryly, expelled a couple of bursts of laughter and said that that may be their most accurate reporting of the unfolding situation to-date: 'This has always been a political protest ... that's always been our intention.'

Engaging with Dutton's rhetoric is a slippery slope

19 May 2016 | Somayra Ismailjee

Image from the I Came By Boat campaignThe irony of trying to negate these stereotypes is that in doing so, we are still cheapening asylum seekers to political tools, stripping them of their humanity and multiplicity. Aiming to counter such rhetoric as Dutton's with stories of high-achieving refugees plays into a toxic game that legitimises the same negative stereotypes by engaging with them. Just as invisibility dehumanises asylum seekers, so does the hypervisibility we attribute to a select few stories.

Recognition or treaty ... Why not both?

17 May 2016 | Kate Galloway

Aboriginal woman with Recognise balloonsNewly appointed Senator for Western Australia, Pat Dodson, in his first week on the job, raised the thorny political question of treaty. I see the need for both treaty and constitutional reform, which support each other in promoting justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. But the limitations of my understanding are both that I am a lawyer, and that I am not an Indigenous Australian. I need to heed the diverse voices of Indigenous Australia in understanding what is truly at stake.

Inequality in Australia is dental as anything

12 May 2016 | Barry Gittins

x-ray of teethBritish research presented at the 2013 International Association of Dental Research posited 'a link between missing teeth and a patient's quality of life' and cited other research on observers' 'perception of men and women with straight and crooked teeth'. Furthermore, research by the Salvation Army in Australia records that 66 per cent of the Salvos' welfare clients could not afford dental treatment and two in five could not afford a yearly dental check-up for their children.

What kind of society does this budget enable?

11 May 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Scott MorrisonIt is important constantly to move from the budget to consider the plan it enables. If the budget is for the whole nation, it should look to the good of all, with each person and business having a responsibility for the good of others, particularly the most vulnerable. When budgets are constructed in such a way that the cost of their balancing is gross inequality and the exclusion of vulnerable people from participation in society, they should be rejected. They do not serve but betray the economy.

New nationalist myths entrench white denial

10 May 2016 | William Scates Frances

The defaced cameleer portraitDismantling white myths about history is a positive step, a potential pin in an ethnic nationalism which lingers here. Yet these posters pop up often not in bastions of that denial, but rather on walls across Western Sydney, in suburbs whose demographics hardly tell tales of fortresses of white privilege. It seems that, less than a project to dismantle white myths about history, the popularity of these stories is more an attempt to bring non-white Australians into a new myth in the making.

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