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25 June 2017 |
Universal health care is an ostensibly bipartisan prerogative, but what it actually means and how it's achieved is a somewhat moveable feast. Spending, we are told, is unsustainable as the population ages and we move toward ever-more personalised and technologically-advanced treatment paradigms. The objective of this rhetoric is to rationalise the privatisation of our health system by stealth. The latest wages figures are something of an inconvenient truth in this 'unsustainable spending' fiction.
22 June 2017 |
Three Commonwealth ministers faced the Victorian Court of Appeal on 16 June to make submissions as to why they shouldn't be charged with contempt of court. This extraordinary occurrence arose because the ministers made public comments about a sentencing matter still under deliberation. Andrew Hamilton has in these pages looked at how the ministers' comments might offend the presumption of innocence. However, there is a further issue at stake - a question of good government.
22 June 2017 |
When I wrote recently that the future of work lies in understanding work as 'pleasure in the exercise of our energies', one reader noted 'these discussions have little meaning when you are poor or dispossessed'. Spending your life doing what you are competent at pales into insignificance when set against the prospect of a life engrossed in one's passions. That is a decision that every worker has it within their power to make. And as it turns out, it should be a concern of the unemployed, too.
21 June 2017 |
The presumption of innocence has recently been in the dock, notably in the curious affair of the three federal Ministers and the Victorian Court of Appeal. Other cases have raised the question whether in our society the presumption that those accused of crimes are innocent until found guilty is yielding. Is it now the case that people who have been found guilty in the court of public opinion have to prove their innocence, and that courts will be judged to have failed unless they ratify the guilty verdict?
20 June 2017 |
In 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.
19 June 2017 |
The 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.
19 June 2017 |
The 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.
19 June 2017 |
I 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.
18 June 2017 |
While 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'.
13 June 2017 |
World 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.
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