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17 November 2016 |
Having a sense of something as right or wrong, good or bad, is the essence of humanity. We get it from home, from education, religion, friends, the media. It's the sniff test or the pub test or the gut feeling or the Bible or Quran or Torah. We all have it. And just as people have a sense of right and wrong, we also have a very good humbug detector, and it's clanging loudly when politicians unctuously claim all their 'stop the boats' strategies are driven by desire to prevent drownings at sea.
14 November 2016 |
It is an enduring personal tragedy that I can never think of 'zinger' responses to hurled insults until having turned them over in my mind for some time. The white male hoon in his 20-year-old unroadworthy car has long-since roared away from the traffic lights after shouting some unremarkable and unoriginal statement: 'Go back to where you came from you [expletive] terrorist.' Kilometres later I'm ready to shout out: 'I would, but Doncaster East is becoming way too pricey for the likes of me.'
13 November 2016 |
Just as the 'wealth management' industry is based on the lie that anyone can be wealthy if they are prepared to take enough individual risk, the modern lie about work is that your place depends on vicious competition with those around you. This sort of sociopathic individualism denies the collective project, where even the team resembles more a gangster faction than a collective. Success is said to be a function of your own efforts, rendering solidarity not just foreign but inimical to your interests.
13 November 2016 |
The government has struck a deal with the USA which provides hope at last for the 1600 proven refugees on Manus and Nauru. There's still a lot of work to be done before these refugees can get on with their lives after three years of hopeless agony. Gone are the days of presuming that those who arrive without visas are in direct flight from persecution. Gone are the days when they get first option on the available humanitarian places. I welcome the government's decision, and await the detail.
10 November 2016 |
'We're not going to allow people who have sought to come by boat to come to Australia through a backdoor and we are not going to allow sham marriages to facilitate that,' said Peter Dutton. Given all the existing checks and hurdles, why have a ban? It would only affect about 2000 people; the other 35,000 who came by boat before 19 July 2013 or were not sent to Nauru and Manus Island are not affected. The true intention is to further punish the people we dumped on our Pacific neighbours.
07 November 2016 |
It would be interesting to know how many of our forbears were illegal immigrants. One of my great-great-grandfathers was. From County Down in Ulster, he was only 16 when he used his thumb print to sign on as a seaman; it was 1847, midway through the Great Famine. Throughout the long journey he was persistently bullied by a petty officer. One morning he snapped, and clobbered the bully with a deckscrubber. Convinced he had killed the man, my ancestor jumped overboard.
06 November 2016 |
Growing up in Geelong, many friends worked at Ford, or Alcoa, Pilkington or any of the other allied suppliers. As each of these stopped manufacturing in Victoria's second city, employers and governments promised retraining. But where are the jobs? Factories are quickly moving to a 'lights out' operation, with no lights, no air conditioning — and no humans. Modelling suggests nearly 5000 Geelong residents will lose their jobs to the decline in manufacturing before the end of 2017, and 200,000 nationwide. Can we find new-economy jobs for every one of them?
02 November 2016 |
'Will this affect my case?' Hassan was worried about the survey that said nearly 50 per cent of Australians wanted to ban Muslims from migrating to Australia. I was working on his protection visa. He had a strong case. 'No,' I replied. Like any large religion, in Islam there are many variations in practice and beliefs, influenced by cultural and historical events. To simply ban them all is a crazy option. You do not ban everyone just because a minority are involved in criminal activity. Or so I thought.
02 November 2016 |
Curiously, while privacy continues to be valued and sought in the 21st century perhaps more strenuously than ever before, its milieu is once again the furious turmoil of aggressively public revelation, exhortation and threat that distinguished Johan Huizinga's scarifying portrait of the medieval world, in his book The Autumn of The Middle Ages. In our age, 'all things in life' once again have 'about them something glitteringly and cruelly public'. Or to put it another way, we have social media.
30 October 2016 |
'First warning: if you're going to be serious about a Human Rights Act, make sure that your government departments are sufficiently resourced and encouraged to produce meaningful statements of compatibility. Second warning, especially in a unicameral legislature: make sure that your parliamentary committee on human rights has sufficient muscle and status to arrest the progress of any bill until it has been thoroughly scrutinised for human rights compliance.' Frank Brennan's remarks at the Fringe Conference of the 2016 Queensland ALP Convention.
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