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30 March 2017 |
Australia was rated as the top destination for millionaire migrants in 2016 for the second year in a row. Meanwhile the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal high correlations between prison entrance and indicators of entrenched poverty and discrimination. If we want our system for justice to amount to something more than a mirror of our inability to distribute wealth and opportunity evenly, we need to address the undeniable role wealth inequality has in putting people in prison.
29 March 2017 |
The announcement by Kate Ellis, the 39 year old federal Labor MP for Adelaide, of her retirement at the next election to be with her young son came as a surprise. Several Fairfax journalists were dismayed. Stephanie Peatling issued a challenge: 'It's not people who should have to change to make their lives fit politics as we know it. It's politics as we know it that should change.' The immediate issue is gender balance, but the wider context is all types of diversity in parliament.
23 March 2017 |
Many of the kids in the juvenile justice system have been abused, come from dysfunctional families or state care, or have untreated behavioural or mental health problems. Warehousing them in punishing idleness and expecting passive compliance, let alone any recovery, is fanciful. I have begun to think about how we could respond to these kids in a holistic way, with a strong emphasis on prevention and diversion. These proposals relate to current the system in Victoria, but generalise easily.
23 March 2017 |
In 2015, Four Corners exposed the misuse of migrant labour in Australian horticulture. It found evidence that the labour hire providers routinely underpaid these workers. Once working on-site, some of these workers were required to work excessive hours and endure unsafe conditions. There is great potential for a licensing scheme to bring a degree of regulation. But there are complex reasons behind the prevalence of migrant worker exploitation in the industry, and a licensing scheme is no cure-all.
22 March 2017 |
In the face of historically low levels of Indigenous representation in our parliaments, the Indigenous caucus between Commonwealth, State and Territory Labor representatives points to some progress. It is aimed at increasing Indigenous voter engagement figures, increasing Indigenous Labor candidacy, and developing strategic plans that encourage Indigenous students to become young leaders in Parliament. Those are all necessary and noteworthy causes. But we have a long way to go.
21 March 2017 |
The Prioress in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales had a brooch alluding to Virgil's phrase, 'love conquers all'. In her case, her love for her two lapdogs beat her affection for mere people. But in public life one wonders about the truth of the epigram. Indeed a good case could be made that hatred conquers all, and that it is stronger than love. The advent of Donald Trump with his individual style has occasioned lament that the public world is now dominated by hatred and contempt. But there is nothing new in it.
20 March 2017 |
Last week, an interview by the BBC with a scholarly expert on Korea was interrupted by the scholar's young family. What fascinated me most was the assumption in certain commentaries that the woman in the video was the nanny. Or, even when that was resoundingly countered, that there would be trouble for her when the interview was over. Because she is Asian, and her husband is white. And we all know what that means, right? Whether she's the nanny or the wife, she must be oppressed.
19 March 2017 |
ACTU secretary Sally McManus' comments about the rule of law have sparked a lot of chatter on news and social media. While the rule of law arguably does assume citizens will obey the law, it also assumes government will behave lawfully. Further, it might be argued that the rule of law encompasses the principled application of government power. In this respect, the Australian government is itself falling well below adhering to the rule of law. I offer Centrelink #notmydebt as a case study.
15 March 2017 |
A new round of anti-union chest-thumping is underway, following ACTU secretary Sally McManus' remarks that 'I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair ... But when it's unjust, I don't think there's a problem with breaking it.' If any other person had said this in the context of civil and political rights, the words might not be so incendiary. Laws are not as neutral as we imagine them to be. They are constructed by individuals of immense power, with their own set of values and connections.
14 March 2017 |
At present the tornado that has raged in youth justice has abated. Disturbing images from Don Dale led to a royal commission in the Northern Territory. In Melbourne, public fears about gang violence, carjackings, robberies and youth detention centre riots were followed by the placing of many young people in an adult facility and a pledge to build a new prison for young offenders. This pause offers time for reflection on the human reality and needs of children who are involved in the justice system.
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