AUSTRALIA


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Petty political class is stunting Australia's growth

13 Comments
20 June 2017 | Fatima Measham

Malcolm TurnbullIn the latest Essential poll, the primary vote for Pauline Hanson's One Nation lifted to 11 per cent. It does not bode well when competence is no longer the baseline; though in a leadership vacuum, 'someone else' holds a natural appeal. In any case, there can be worse things than incompetence. There is timidity. Mediocrity. Running up the cost of doing nothing at all. In so many ways, the Australian political class is holding us back. That is the crux of nearly every policy impasse over the past several years.


Political donations reform ignores insider politics big picture

5 Comments
19 June 2017 | John Warhurst

Sam DastyariThe revelations that several billionaires of Chinese origin have sought to influence Australian politics through large political donations have rekindled bipartisan concern to ban such donations. That it took investigative journalism by ABC and Fairfax media to generate such a rush to reform is a reflection on the Australian political class. While it is likely that reform legislation will be introduced and passed before the end of the year that will be only a very partial response to a bigger problem.


Homelessness has many faces

9 Comments
19 June 2017 | Danusia Kaska

Soup van queueThe first thing I noticed was his Mercedes. Then I saw he was also wearing an expensive-looking suit. We don't see the likes of guys like 'John' coming to our soup vans every day. When you've been serving food to many of the city's hungry, lonely and dispossessed for a couple of decades you do get used to seeing the same old faces. But John reminded me of an important lesson. That homelessness hasn't got a 'look', and 'homeless' never describes the person, only their circumstance.


The origins and incoherence of Australia's asylum seeker policy

7 Comments
19 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

Frank Dalton holding a Vietnamese refugee child, Xye Than Hueon the deck of the Tu Do in Darwin, November, 1977. National Library of AustraliaI am resigned to the boats from Indonesia being stopped and staying stopped. But it is high time to stop the cruel treatment of the proven refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, and provide a permanent solution for the asylum seekers waiting inordinately in the Australian community. Their treatment is separable from the stopping of future boats setting out from Indonesia. The Commonwealth's $90 million settlement of the claim brought by asylum seekers on Manus Island should be a wake-up call to us all.


Puritanical citizenship changes promote less inclusive Australia

16 Comments
18 June 2017 | Kerry Murphy

Australian citizenship certificateWhile ideally all Australian should have some reasonable ability to communicate in English, it is unreasonable to expect it at such a high level. Consider parents sponsored to Australia who live here and provide care for their grandchildren while their own children work. I have heard of small businesses in western Sydney owned by Chinese Australians, who have learnt Assyrian, because most of their customers speak Assyrian, not English. They are not having trouble in 'economic participation'.


Remembering, dismembering on World Refugee Day

3 Comments
13 June 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

A group of rescued people on the deck of an Italian naval vessel as the sun sets in the Mediterranean. ©UNHCR/A. D'AmatoWorld Refugee Day is a time for remembering. We remember we live in a world of millions of refugees, and that many of our fellow citizens arrived as or are the children of refugees. We may remember refugees, but in their own lives they are dismembered. The tiles we take for granted in the mosaic of our ordinary lives have been hacked out of refugees' lives. Many people lost parents, siblings and children in the persecution and terrors they endured. With each loss part of themselves also died.


An inclusive Australia

1 Comment
12 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

This evening, we come together deliberately as people of diverse faiths and none, affirming the blessing of life in an inclusive country where all world views are to be respected. We are able to affirm that our spiritual lives sustain and strengthen our public lives and the vitality of the polis. Our Muslim hosts show us how to give thanks reverently for all the blessings of life, and how to attest publicly the spiritual dimension of all human life. Those of us who are migrants or descendants of migrants need to be particularly attentive to the yearnings and aspirations of those Australians who rightly claim an indigenous heritage with ancestors who have thrived on this continent for up to 60,000 years.


High school racism in the merry old land of Oz

10 Comments
12 June 2017 | Tseen Khoo

Alice Pung: Growing Up Asian in AustraliaI was told in grade nine I shouldn't bother trying out for the lead of our school play, The Wizard of Oz, because there's no way Dorothy would be Asian. Though I had no intention of trying out for the play, the fact that she told me not to bother made me arc up. The reason she gave - my incongruous Asianness - made me feel angry and ashamed. Angry because it was stupid and unfair. Ashamed because it felt somehow like it was my fault for not being white enough.


Know your enemy (and it's not Islam)

12 Comments
07 June 2017 | Fatima Measham

Rescued Christian evacuees from Marawi huddle with Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr, who supplied them with relief provisions before sending them to an evacuation center. Philstar.com, fileSince 9/11, as well as more recent, atomised attacks in Europe and the UK, our judgment about what is against us has been clouded. It is not Islam, no matter what politicians and commentators say. To believe them is to take seriously the notions that it is ever possible to 'fight' religion as if it were a nation-state, that religion holds a single interpretation, that the only legitimate victim of religious violence is white and non-Muslim, and that human motivation is simple and direct.


Cashless Cards and other salvos in the war on the poor

10 Comments
05 June 2017 | Michele Madigan

Cashless cardIn 1978 Kaurna/Narungga woman, Georgina Williams, said to me that Aboriginal people tend to be first on the receiving end of governmental oppressive practices and, when that works, the practices are extended to other poor Australians. Thirty-nine years later, almost every day brings new evidence of a relentless campaign against the poor, of which Cashless Cards are but one particularly vindictive example.


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