I have listened with great interest to this week’s parliamentary debate about Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, just as I have listened with great interest to this debate for the past nine years, since October 7th, 2001, when Operation Enduring Freedom was launched by the United States and its allies, including Australia, so that freedom so bravely won by the people of Afghanistan from communist oppression, and so cruelly lost over the following decade to civil war and Taliban misrule, may indeed return, and this time endure.
I have listened to this debate and heard many arguments that we should abandon our mission in Afghanistan.
Some of these arguments are passionate, others cold and rational; some seem sincere, while others callous. And all of them are wrong.
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In his new role as the self-styled Salvador Allende of the Lower North Shore, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has had an interesting couple of weeks in his battle with the banks.
He’s been teased by his opponents, white-anted by his colleagues, endured the accidental embarrassment of being labelled part of the “lunatic fringe” by Liberal backbencher Don Randall, who mistakenly assumed the call for government intervention on bank profits had come from the Greens.
Yet out there in punter-land, Joe Hockey is being hailed as a hero. Say what you like about cheap populism, it’s certainly popular.
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Shortbread and crust-less sandwiches are unlikely arsenal but they’re about to be deployed by an army of angry tea drinkers in a little pocket of Great Britain this weekend and they mean business.
Tomorrow afternoon around the tables of a tiny tea shop in Cambridgeshire, little fingers will be raised in solidarity against a recent fluctuation in “coffee bars” that many fear have contributed to “the lost art of drinking tea”.
“We are losing sense of ourselves with coffee bars like Starbucks and Costa Coffee where you slurp coffee through spouts in paper cups or rushed tea in mugs or chunky cups. The whole experience of sitting down with a proper china cup and saucer and having a good natter - which of course it what used to happen - is in danger of being lost,” says Tania Baker, the owner of By Jove! Tea Rooms in Burrell who is hoping to inspire tea drinkers everywhere with her “very proper” protest that involves dressing in period costume and “taking tea”.
But it could be a very lonely little protest; according to the Telegraph British people still drink approximately 165 million cups of tea everyday and thanks to the growth of retro tea rooms, traditional tea drinking is actually “back in fashion”.
At least they won’t go hungry.
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As a small group of Halloween-devotees in Martin Place this week protested that October 31 is not a national public holiday like Christmas, you can be sure that thousands of religious folk around the world are right now making the opposite demand: Halloween is evil and should be banned.
I have been asked many times, both as an Anglican minister and as director of the Centre for Public Christianity: Is Halloween evil? Should Christians oppose it?
My general feeling is that Halloween is no more ‘evil’ than Christmas. In fact, the two festivals have a bit in common.
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Costello dropped in to Melbourne office today. Has copy of Howard memoirs. Says he is checking it for errors, misrepresentation, and slander. Book is dog eared and crammed with post-it notes.
Costello asked if I kept any records during Costello/Howard era.
Tell Costello I kept a diary.
Costello asks if I could check it. He is doing a ring around to get source material. Is thinking of writing a scathing review of Howard’s book for The Monthly.
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The new paradigm has begun to play mind games with our federal MPs. Yesterday nobody was quite sure what was expected of them. At times it was a little embarrassing to watch, like some awkward kid consistently dancing out of time at the Rock Eisteddfod
Manager of Opposition Business and chief prosecutor in the case of Gillard v the BER Christopher Pyne copped the worst of it. Pyne didn’t ask for a division on a vote that would have forced a judicial inquiry into the Government’s BER spending. A vote the Coalition lost. Awkward.
No matter, Pyne plans to introduce his bill into the Senate after a session with the choreographer on Thursday afternoon.
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Are the people of Inverbrackie racists? Are South Australians who complain about a lack of consultation in the decision to house 400 asylum-seekers in the Adelaide Hills actually closet rednecks who simply don’t like foreigners turning up unannounced on our shores?
Some of them might be. But overwhelmingly, most of them are not. Whatever you think of Mike Rann, you would be hard pressed to accuse the Premier of racism in questioning the less-than-transparent process by which Inverbrackie was chosen as the venue for a detention centre.
There are plenty of other South Australians with similar concerns, and to suggest that they’re all pitchfork-wielding hillbillies does them a disservice.
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With the average size of Australians increasing, there is continuous call for runways to incorporate “real” body types.
With plus sized models now being included in some fashion shows it seems that things are beginning to change.
However there still remains one group completely forgotten by the fashion industry and it’s time to give them a voice.
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There is little doubt the people of NSW want change at the March State Election.
But recent polls and by-election results reveals that voters know that, to achieve real change, needs a decisive change of government. Only a strong government, with a decisive majority, can start to turn this State around.
The Federal election result provided two lessons: that a vote for The Greens or an Independent can be a vote for Labor and that a hung Parliament leads to instability, inaction and indecision.
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Nauru has been struggling to get a good run in the press of late. Tales of business largesse, overseas trips, and big deals make juicy copy, leaving scant oxygen for any other news about Nauru. Coupled with the reporting on the detention centre which characterised Nauru as a bleak island in the middle of the Pacific, the Australian public could be forgiven for having a dim view of the place.
And yet such a view would not appreciate the deep history and friendship which has existed between Nauru and Australia since Nauru’s independence and before.
Originally known as Pleasant Island for its natural environment and the friendliness of its people Nauru is one of two nations (the other being Papua New Guinea) which has a history of Australian administration pre-independence. This history alone means Australia has a particular role of friendship to play in modern Nauru.
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