Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s endorsement of Philip Ruddock’s appointment as Australia’s Special Envoy on Human Rights to the United Nations characterised him as “well-qualified to advocate and represent Australia’s human rights views and record”. The devil is in the accuracy of this statement. Over the past fifteen years, Australia has risen as a human rights violater to become an international pariah, with Ruddock entwined in many of the policies that have created this reputation. Indeed, the announcement came on the heels of the High Court legitimising offshore detention, a system of which Ruddock was one of the original architects, and which has been central to international criticism of Australia.
In 2004 there was a family living in Adelaide: the Bakhtiyaris. They were asylum seekers who had been through the mill of trauma: mother and five children in detention indefinitely; father initially in the community but put back in detention; a sixth child born under guard. People may remember them as two of the boys escaped the Woomera detention centre during a fracas sparked by Australian protesters, made their way to Melbourne and sought asylum at the British High Commission. Eventually an order by the Family Court saw the Bakhtiyari’s placed in the community under the care of a Church organisation, enabling the children to attend school and have some semblance of a normal life. However the dark cloud of detention and deportation remained over their heads. Continue reading “High Court offshore detention ruling highlights why Australia needs a Bill of Rights”
In the debate about marriage equality, one argument put forward by proponents of traditional marriage is pushing its way to the fore: that marriage equality is undesirable because it denies a child knowledge of and access to both his/her mother and father. This is an argument that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
It is not just that the parenting issue for same sex couples has (for the most part) already been resolved, with adoption, sperm donation, co-parenting amongst male and female same sex couples, and recognition of two same sex parents on a birth certificate already accepted, and that this means the marriage equality debate is quite literally one about whether we as a society believe in equal recognition of same sex relationships. It is also that society, as a whole, has long since moved on from the concept of a traditional nuclear family unit (biological mother, father, kids). Continue reading “The marriage equality debate is no longer about children”
Like many people of my age (30s) with a large social acquaintance circle comprising a range of demographics, I have been exposed to a broad array of drug use and problems over the last decade or so, and I’m conscious of the ongoing discussions in society about the drugs issue.
I don’t support the “war on drugs” because I don’t think it works. There hasn’t been a reduction in illicit drug use or problems as a result of the weighty focus on law enforcement and it predominantly punishes individuals and small time or middle rung dealers while doing very little to combat manufacturers and distributors. An individual caught with ice ends up with a criminal conviction that impacts on future employment and relationships, only pushing them towards the drug again, while a supplier evades detection and, if caught, has the finances to hire legal expertise to limit conviction and sentencing, then returns to the same life they had beforehand. Ultimately, Continue reading “War on drugs: dogma rather than real solutions”
There was a logical reason for Greeks to vote NO in their Referendum: if they genuinely believed that an exit from the Euro and return to their own currency was the best way forward. It’s fraught with risk, but is a viable solution. It’s also a very possible (some would say probable) consequence of the NO vote and therefore necessary to consider. Instead, the celebrations in Greece by those who voted against the proposal under consideration seem to be either vested in a belief they have backed Europe into a corner or based on ideology rather than practical reality.
It’s all very well for the Greeks to be crowing about their democratic rights. But becoming part of the Eurozone was always a compromise: a more stable currency, freedom of movement and greater prospect of investment in exchange for collectivity rather than simple sovereignty. Greece, like every other country that joined the Euro, knew this.
Continue reading “Greek Referendum: selfishness trumps responsibility; ideology trumps reality”
The new season (3) of the TV Series Wentworth has a story-line around the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
For those unaware, Wentworth is a critically acclaimed Australian TV Series on Foxtel’s Soho Channel about a women’s prison. It draws its inspiration from the groundbreaking 1980s Australian TV Series Prisoner. The emphasis is important: the deliberately confronting and challenging nature of this series (and its predecessor) means complex, and often otherwise ignored, issues are at the core of its storytelling.
The HCV story arc began Continue reading “TV & HCV (or Aussie TV Series Wentworth & the Hepatitis C Virus)”