Rage against the dying of the Light

The public opposition to the pending execution of Van Nguyen by the Singapore government appears to be getting larger. I hope the outrage remains and spills over into stronger ongoing activity against the death penalty being carried out against anyone, not just Australians. Last night’s Lateline on ABC TV (transcript here) had a very powerful…

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Light some candles in the darkness

The Senate rises again today. Over the following two weeks, Senate Committees will be required to conduct full inquiries into the workplace relations laws, the terror laws and the welfare laws – not to mention legislation enabling a nuclear waste repository to be set up in the Northern Territory. Then the Senate sits again and…

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Displaying my seditious intent – Urging disaffection against the Commonwealth Government

Having recalled the Senate yesterday, at one day’s notice, to pass an ‘urgent’ amendment to the Criminal Code, the Government also finally tabled the formal version of their terror legislation. The government also finally recognised that a Senate Committee Inquiry of less than five days duration into major legislation impacting on the freedom of every…

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Death Penalty

Good to see the major parties voting together in the House of Representatives yesterday calling on the Singapore government not to execute Australian man Van Nguyen. I wrote a piece – Death to the Death Penalty – earlier this year. Read that if you want to know my views, but in short, opposing the death…

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Catholic church and child assault

If you wanted to predict a headline for a mainstream newspaper article in Ireland, you wouldn�?Tt expect something like �??Church Role in Schools Must End�??, but that was an article in Thursday�?Ts edition of the Irish Times. While removing the church from schools won�?Tt happen, the fact that it can be seriously proposed gives an…

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Unarmed truth

After getting back from Canberra last weekend, I went to a dinner to mark the retirement of Tony Kelly, one of my lecturers from when I studied Social Work at the University of Queensland. His focus is community development, which is something I always felt was linked to but separate from most aspects of the…

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Give me liberty or give me death

I have a sinking feeling about how the public ‘debate’ around terrorism and security is going to play out and the inevitable power grab that is coming from the federal (and possibly state) governments under the guise of greater community safety. The square-jawed rhetoric from John Howard – and Tony Blair in the UK –…

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I is for ID Card

Peter Beattie and John Howard seem to be boosting the idea of a national ID card with the enthusiasm the major parties often seem to have (when they are in government) of giving governments more power. The Democrats – under Janine Haines’ leadership – were crucial in stopping a national ID Card being introduced in…

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Some Thoughts on the London Bombings

Tragedies such as this are awful not just for those directly killed and injured and their friends and families, but because they engender such fear in everybody. Fear and uncertainty creates dangers of their own and it is important that these natural reactions are not exploited or responded to irrationally. I’ve received a few emails…

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Update: Chen comments withdrawn

My previous item expressing concern at some threatening comments about Chen Yonglin on a website run by Chinese students in Australia has led to the site being shut down by the site’s administrator. He explains his action in the comments section of the previous entry. I saw this development whilst checking my site on a…

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Serious Threats or just false bravado?

Chen Yonglin’s request for asylum is an issue which quite understandably has become a cause celebre for many people, and I am wary of his interests being put secondary to the consequential issues people are raising. If the reports of how DIMIA initially handled his claim are even half-true, I don’t blame him at all…

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China cracksdown further on bloggers

China’s poor record on human rights and the threats to dissidents have been receiving a rare degree of serious attention from the mainstream media following the defection of Chinese Consul official Chen Yonglin. It should be mentioned that there are many other asylum seekers in Australia whose cases aren’t in the public domain (and it…

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Accommodating Tyranny

As I’m on an overseas delegation at the moment, it isn’t surprising that the name of Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, comes up from time to time. I guess I should be diplomatic myself and say that I feel his performance in this very important role is less than consistent in its level of adequacy….

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Self-determination – West Papua

Following on from my long piece on self-determination and the situation facing the Kurdish people, I thought it appropriate to briefly emphasise a situation a bit closer to home with the West Papuans. I regularly point to East Timor as an example where their aspiration for a simple act of self-determination appeared to be an…

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Housing – A Human Right?

I spent all day in Melbourne being part of the panel for the first half of a two day ‘ Housing Rights Tribunal‘, organised by the Victorian Council of Social Services. Eleven people – a couple from housing organisations but most of them individuals – told of their experiences today with insecure or inadequate housing….

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