In ruling the so-called ‘Malaysia Solution’ invalid, the High Court has delivered a spectacular blow to the beleaguered Gillard government in one of its most vulnerable policy areas – asylum seekers.
After an election in which the Opposition almost knocked off a first-term government on a platform that contained a promise to “stop the boats”, the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was tasked with devising a credible solution to the problem of unlawful arrivals by non-citizens.
The desperate need for new thinking from the government was only underscored by the tragic loss of life when a vessel carrying asylum seekers was wrecked off Christmas Island in December.
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Just for a minute, imagine if David Hicks was charismatic, brilliant, eloquent, and truly, truly remorseful. He came across as precisely none of those things on ABC TV’s David Hicks special on Australian Story last night. But if he had, would Australia forgive him?
We’ll never know. Because what we saw was an unconvincing charade. And some irrelevant shots of Hicks on a motorbike, his wife in soft focus, and his mate making a cup of tea.
The former Guantanamo Bay detainee, by blaming his childhood and talking about his way forward, seems to be seeking some sort of forgiveness. ‘Closure’, even.
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Dear big Hollywood cigar-smoking guys: If you make a cake and everyone likes it, you can make it again. Nobody minds if you use exactly the same ingredients, the same oven, and the same hilarious apron with ‘Kiss The Cook’ printed on it. You could even say that it’s a cake ‘remake’.
Now, this is the important part, so I want you to put down your cigar and read this very carefully:
MOVIES ARE NOT CAKE.
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Bear Grylls makes brilliant telly. If watching a bloke sleep inside a camel carcass doesn’t make for a top night in front of the box, then what does?
And what about the time the former SAS man ate a giant larval worm which he described as tasting like a sausage made up of his mate’s boogers. The guy should try the café at the bottom of our building some time.
For all his showmanship and icky stunts, you sense there is a subtext to the Grylls gross out. By showcasing his own bravado and survival skills in some of the world’s greatest wild landscapes, he’s teaching his global audience of 1.2 billion about the wonder of the wilderness.
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Here we go again - another bank switching package from Wayne Swan. Has Swan got it right this time? Well, yes and no.
There’s no doubt that Wayne Swan’s recent announcement that bank customers will be allowed to sign a single form to switch banks is well overdue. In reality, Swan could and should have pursued the “one form” approach back in 2008 as we all suspected that bank switching can be as simple as filling in just one form.
Should we be excited about Swan’s latest bank switching package? Well, not just yet. Any excitement needs to be tempered by doubts as to whether the latest reforms are to be extended to small business customers.
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Monday, 22 August, 2011
Return from question time. Paul Howes (AWU) is sitting in my office chair. Says he’s checked my office and has found no less than eight items that were manufactured overseas. As a representative of the manufacturing sector he feels I owe him an explanation for my unAustralianness. Ask Howes if I could have my chair back. Howes says he’ll do better than that, he’ll replace it with an Australian made seat. Will invoice my secretary.
Tuesday, 23 August, 2011
Morning: Met with Same Same (marriage equality group) and GetUp to discuss same sex marriage.
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Chances are you’re sitting at your desk while you’re reading this. Chances are you’re wallowing in your own filth at the same time.
A new report by the American Dietetic Association found that your average office desktop has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table. Oh, and 400 times more bacteria than a toilet. It might just be time to crack out the Ajax, eh?
It’s Wednesday. What’s on your desk today? And what’s on your mind?
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It’s a harsh and twisted world if people truly think a young graffiti artist deserved to die. Ryan Smith was 17. He was stupid. He died trying to scale a bridge to spraypaint his tag on it. But he didn’t ‘deserve’ to die.
Radio talkback this morning moved swiftly from tokenistic sympathy for Smith to serious discussions of the ‘war on graffiti’. War? With kids as collateral?
Online, people said his death was ‘natural justice’, that he was an ‘idiot’ who ‘paid the consequences’, that he’s a contender for the Darwin Awards.
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Drugs are bad! Drugs are bad for individuals and they are bad for societies. This seems to be the opinion of most, but it is very hard to get to the bottom of why so many people have this view. In the case of a street drug like heroin it is quite easy to see the high cost to an addict’s life and family, but there are countless other examples where the cost/benefit tradeoff is far more favourable.
Drug use falls into three main categories: 1. Medicine 2. Enhancement, and 3. Recreation. Medicinal use of drugs is not at issue here, as society already seems to be willing to engage in honest and open discussions about the risks, benefits and side effects of drugs for medicinal purposes.
Things get far trickier when it comes to the use of drugs for enhancement and recreation. Drug companies around the world are spending billions of dollars trying to develop drugs that will reduce our need for sleep, bolster memory power and simply make us feel happier. Do we want to live in a society where such drugs are available for everyday use?
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To smack or not to smack? There are few questions more hotly contested in the world of parenting. Nothing has the power to stop a barbecue in its tracks more than the casual admission that you give your kids the occasional clip behind the ear – or conversely, the solemn declaration that you would never lay a hand on your child, which brings with it the explosive suggestion that any parent who does so must be some kind of psychotic thug.
The conversation becomes even more heated when members of the older generation are present, and quickly descends into anecdotes about how they were thrashed repeatedly as kids and turned out OK, and how walking 10 miles to school and 12 miles home wasn’t child abuse but character-building.
In recent weeks we have seen a few events which have thrown light on the issues of child rearing and corporal punishment. I read several pieces which sheeted home the London riots on the fact that a whole generation of youngsters has avoided discipline, with the end result of this life without behavioural consequence being an unprecedented collective act of mass theft and vandalism by people with no political agenda.
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