With each desperate claim about who said what to whom in the unproductive asylum seeker stand-off this week, the case for an election grows more compelling.
This is not to make a judgment of the respective policies of the major parties.
Rather it is to note the obvious: this parliament is deadlocked. It has stopped working.
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When Tony Abbott visited the RSPCA in Canberra on Tuesday, one of the staff introduced him to a pet rat. “Wow!” said Abbott. “I suppose I should show professional respect to an animal like that, shouldn’t I?”
It was a good joke, equating rats and politicians. But by week’s end, most Australians probably thought it was unfair to the rodents. They certainly weren’t laughing. Our politicians brought contempt on themselves and on the institution of parliament. A number of them confessed to feeling shame as they headed off for their six week winter break.
After all the talk, all the tears, all the hand-wringing over the tragic deaths of asylum seeker at sea - nothing! Is it any wonder, as the Lowy Institute found in a recent survey, that Australians are losing faith in democracy, with only 60 per cent now believing it is preferable to other forms of government.
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The first mummy blogger I ever read was a woman called Ree Drummond. A city girl from California who went to live on a cattle ranch in Ohio, when she met and married the man of her dreams, who also happened to be a cowboy.
Her photographs and willingness to share ALL the details of life on a ranch sucked me right in. That was four years ago and since then Drummond has gone on to have her own television show and a cookbook that made the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Now there are women like Drummond everywhere, including the approximately 200 or so currently blogging in Australia.
While that seems like a relatively small number, Aussie mummy bloggers have an impressive span of influence. Some people have described them as a “new social demographic” and they’ve even caught the eye of Julia Gillard, who invited a select few to have tea at Kirribilli House last month.
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This week had some serious undertones. Here at The Punch we’ve been moved by two significant national discussions: the boat people crisis and domestic violence. Penbo tackled the latter by asking whether Grant Hackett really deserved our sympathy in the wake of his Sixty Minutes “tell-all” interview. And an anonymous reader bravely shared her own personal story of domestic abuse.
Our coverage of the boat people crisis started with MP Steve Georganas who implored both sides of politics to break their deadlock on the boats. A plea continued by Mal Farr who told The Greens we simply cannot afford to wait for the perfect time to get a solution.
In lighter news Tory S said we’ve failed in our attempts to make science sexy. Ant gave Bernard Tomic a slap around the ears, Tory M said women should get the same pay to do the same job as men. Lucy complained about our lack of good manners and Dan continued his merry way around the United States of America, even finding time for a beer with Paul Toohey.
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This week Twitter announced a shift toward censorship. The social media outlet, which was instrumental in the recent uprisings in the Middle East and for providing rare opportunities for open communication in parts of Asia and South America, will now consider blocking replies and banning users who don’t provide the site with sufficient personal information such as a picture, bio and even followers.
In a statement released by Twitter yesterday the company explained its decision was based on differing perspectives globally, ‘as we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression’.
However, this caused public uproar particularly by those from countries where governments don’t acknowledge rights to freedom of speech.
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Sorry Maria Sharapova but being hot just isn’t enough. The tennis world has lead the way in gender equality, with the current Grand Slam Wimbledon, for example, introducing equal prize money for the men’s and women’s singles titles in 2007.
This is despite the fact the women only play to 3 sets and the men play to 5. Anyone who has ever watched a Grand Slam will agree there is a huge difference between a five-set battle and a three-setter.
Sharapova maintains the equal pay was hard won. “We women have fought so long to get equal prize money,” the Russian champion said overnight. “It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten that. We’re all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger.”
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Science is thrilling and we are all beneficiaries of advances in technology. But breathless headlines that suggest each latest technological breakthrough in communications is going to make the NBN redundant are extremely wide of the mark.
Yesterday came the news that scientists in California had found a way to transmit data 85,000 times faster than current broadband speeds by twisting beams of light.
It led to renewed criticism that NBN Co was risking taxpayers’ money by building a communications network with fibre optic cable at its core. Fibre, the argument goes, might be easily be overtaken by another breakthrough on the technological horizon.
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Some call it “erotic fiction”. Others, “those steamy books my friends have been buzzing about”. The 50 Shades trilogy by E.L. James is, however, probably best known for popularising one term in particular: “mummy porn”.
Just to save you a possibly embarrassing Google search with potentially bizarre results, that refers to porn for mothers, and has nothing to do with people having a sexy time whilst wrapped head-to-toe in bandages. Although, Rule 34 of the Internet says that’s probably out there somewhere too.
For the very few who are still yet to find out about this whole phenomenon, Wikipedia will tell you the plot of the first book, 50 Shades of Grey, is about:
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It is possible to be so ideologically pure as to be useless, so fixed in your politics that your actions have the contrary effect to your stated intentions. That is the situation the Australian Greens find themselves in over border protection.
Their obstinate refusal to be even remotely pragmatic in their opposition to offshore processing has one obvious effect. It ensures that Australia will remain a beacon for asylum seekers, that the boats will continue to come, and more people will risk death. If you keep telling desperate people that they will be processed onshore, you turn their chances of landing into a deadly lottery.
I am not saying that out of any attempt to lay a guilt trip on the Greens. This debate over the past 48 hours has been more emotive and unpleasant than probably at any stage over the past few years – and it has never been particularly good. I am sure that the Greens are driven by a sense of compassion and humanitarianism. What I’m saying is that that sense is so strong that it blinds them to practical realities.
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Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit, a sporadically regular column that looks at pseudoscience and spin, rorts and rubbish.
This week, inspired by the story that children are being taught that the Loch Ness monster exists and disproves evolution, we’re taking a look at home schooling. Can children be properly socialised if they are home schooled?
The Nessie controversy fired up overseas because school students will start using an Accelerated Christian Education biology textbook that says Nessie the dinosaur is the real. Because she is a dinosaur existing at the same time as humans, her existence disproves the Darwinian theory of evolution by showing God created all creatures some time in the not too distant past. They say.
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