AUSTRALIA


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Weighing in on Abbott's Labor Lite slight

18 Comments
02 March 2017 | John Warhurst

Cory BernardiTwo irreconcilable views of the ideological position of the Turnbull government are now in circulation. One, held by those who once had high hopes that Malcolm Turnbull would lead a small l liberal government, is that the Coalition clearly is conservative. The other, advanced by South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi when he deserted the ship to form the Australian Conservatives, is that the Turnbull government is not conservative enough, maybe not even conservative at all. Both views can't be right.


Swift injustice in modest penalty rates proposal

13 Comments
01 March 2017 | Fatima Measham

Artistic rendition of man about to butcher childrenThe Fair Work Commission decision on penalty rates removes any doubt that young people might have still had about their place in the economic order. The four-yearly review of awards in hospitality, fast food, retail and pharmacy found that Sunday penalty rates 'do not achieve the modern awards objective, as they do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net'. But whose safety net? Unfair to whom? These industries are already notorious for exploiting young workers.


No one wins as public discourse thins

18 Comments
28 February 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Winston ChurchillIt is a commonplace that our political discourse is much impoverished. Speeches are built around sound bites. The Trump administration is experimenting with letting go of speeches and communicating within the limits set by Twitter. In such a world there is little space for more complex rhetoric, for cultural reference, for reflection on historical precedents, or for wondering. Our politicians' words leave no echoes. It is worth musing on what may be lost in the thinning of public discourse.


The power of persuasion in confronting fascism

9 Comments
23 February 2017 | Daniel Nicholson

Reclaim Australia protestorsIn the footage of one violence protest, I was shocked to see a handful of my homeless clients, draped in Australian flags, engaged in street battles with anti-racists. These young men had experienced alienation, exploitation and poverty - all the things the Left is supposed to fight against. Long, uncomfortable conversations don't make for good social media content, yet if Australia is to stare down the threat of a rising alt-right it won't be done by yelling at right wing fringe groups across a police barricade.


Netanyahu visit drives the Palestine wedge deeper

15 Comments
21 February 2017 | Andra Jackson

Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Australia this week is having precisely the opposite impact to what he no doubt intended. Instead of shoring up support for Israel's flagrant disregard for United Nations resolutions condemning its continual annexation of Palestinian land, it is driving a deep wedge into what was previously unflagging bipartisan Australian political party support for Israel. Australia's connection with Palestine actually predates the creation of the state of Israel.


Trump's 1984 is Turnbull's Animal Farm

14 Comments
19 February 2017 | Brian Matthews

Pigs from Animal FarmIn these duplicitous times it's not surprising to find Nineteen Eighty-Four cited. In Airstrip One, WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - a Nineteen Eighty-Four equivalent of a Tweet with plenty of character space left to add insults. And all facts are alternative, as in the news, 'Oceania is at War with Eurasia', which becomes before your very eyes, 'Oceania has never been at war with Eurasia.' For events closer to home, Orwell's Animal Farm is disturbingly apposite.


Making space for diversity in the cultural square

1 Comment
19 February 2017 | Tseen Khoo

JLF Melbourne logoRecognising the necessity of initiatives and events in which you would not participate but that others find exciting and worthwhile is partly about social generosity. It's also about acknowledging that the public culture that surrounds you is not - and should not - only reflect you and your priorities. Ideally, it would involve knowing about, and potentially advocating for, the presence of groups and voices that are currently absent or misrepresented.


Catholic voices against runaway capitalism

20 Comments
19 February 2017 | Michael Walker

Finance Catholique by Antoine Cuny de la VerryèreThe presidency of Donald Trump should bring a renewed focus on the dangers of unbridled capitalism. The Catholic Church has a rich trove of teachings on the subject that have been missing in action for the past 30 years. Now is the time for a well-articulated Christian message addressing such issues as widening wealth inequality fuelled by stagnant wage growth, the privatisation of public services, the financialisation of the economy (which fuels both of those trends), and tax justice.


Hansonism is normal and everything is not fine

10 Comments
16 February 2017 | Tim Robertson

Pauline HansonThis is not the beginning of the normalisation of Hanson and One Nation: it's the end. In a piece for The Monthly, Dominic Kelly highlighted how large swaths of the rightwing commentariat have embraced the 'more mature', 'disciplined' and 'principled' Hanson 2.0. Despite this rhetoric, for the Right, appeasing One Nation has always been a balancing act. They're guided by one question: How much racism is permissible before it has to be condemned?


We all benefit from having migrant workers

9 Comments
15 February 2017 | Fatima Measham

Migrant workersThere's not enough jobs because foreigners are stealing them. Wages aren't going up because foreigners drag them down. Graduates aren't finding positions because skilled worker visas are being given out too easily. Such answers are potent in pockets of Australian society that would rather blame outsiders than demand their government create new jobs, lift the minimum wage, improve work conditions and training, and mediate skills transfers from industries that are contracting, such as mining.


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