Australian politics these days feels like a story in People magazine. Political journalism, indeed Parliament itself, has been reduced to a forum for rumors about sex.
It all began in February with the sensational news that Barnaby Joyce, then deputy prime minister, had been having an affair with an aide, who is now pregnant. Eventually Mr. Joyce resigned from his leadership post and retreated to the backbench. But the government’s response to the scandal ensured it would linger on.
Having initially insisted that Mr. Joyce’s predicament was a private matter, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull swiftly changed his view and introduced a formal ban on sex between ministers and their staff.… Seguir leyendo »
When pollsters asked Australians a year ago to list three words associated with Australia Day — the country’s Jan. 26 national day — the most popular responses were barbecue, celebration and holiday. But among Indigenous Australians, the most popular words were invasion, survival and murder. That, in miniature, is why the country finds itself in the throes of an intense debate over the timing of Australia Day.
Jan. 26 is the day in 1788 when the first fleet of ships from Britain entered Sydney Cove. Put simply, the holiday commemorates the British colonization of Australia — and with it the dispossession of the indigenous population, a centuries-long story of subjugation and countless atrocities, like the Gippsland massacres in the 1840s, in which up to 1,000 indigenous people were killed by white settlers over the course of a decade.… Seguir leyendo »
As former Prime Minister Tony Abbott stood in Parliament this week complaining that the bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia was somehow being rushed, it represented a moment of profound political defeat for him.
Mr. Abbott has been the most vocal and high-profile opponent of same-sex marriage in the country. In his tenure as prime minister, he tried everything to delay the inevitable, including denying Parliament a vote on the matter before insisting that the public give its opinion on it.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull inherited Mr. Abbott’s plan: a voluntary, nonbinding opinion survey, conducted through the mail. Last month, the survey result revealed what every poll has been screaming for years: a strong public preference in favor of same-sex marriage that hangs around 60 percent.… Seguir leyendo »
No issue has been such a political graveyard in Australia as climate change. At least three prime ministers from the last decade have had their tenure buried there: John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard all lost their jobs, at least in part, for trying and failing to deliver polices to combat climate change.
To this list, you could add Malcolm Turnbull’s stint as opposition leader, which ended when Tony Abbott challenged him as party leader over his acceptance of the emissions cap-and-trade plan of the prime minister at the time, Mr. Rudd.
Today, of course, Mr. Turnbull is prime minister (a role he seized, in turn, from Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
Every now and then you get the impression that Australia is desperate to be under grave threat.
That’s certainly how it appeared when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week announced the creation of a “super ministry” of Home Affairs, choosing as his backdrop a mix of military equipment and soldiers wearing gas masks. There was a time when his predecessor, Tony Abbott, was lampooned for giving national-security-themed news conferences in front of an ever-growing number of Australian flags. Now Mr. Abbott seems a master of subtlety.
It was a shocking yet predictable moment. Shocking because it seemed like a sudden escalation for Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
A routine Australian Senate committee hearing last month on security was never going to be normal in the aftermath of the Manchester terrorist attacks. Still, it is no small thing that the hearing led to a former prime minister lecturing the country’s most senior intelligence official on the causes of terrorism.
At least since former Prime Minister John Howard suggested in 2001 that asylum seekers coming to Australia might include terrorists, the two Australian anxieties of refugees and terrorism have been on a collision course. As the terror risk here has grown, and with the politics of refugees becoming more divisive, that course has accelerated in recent years.… Seguir leyendo »
Tuesday is the sixth anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. When you recall the extent to which Bin Laden dominated the public consciousness in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, it’s remarkable that both his life and death now seem a footnote. Even Al Qaeda barely figures in our thoughts these days.
Yet terrorist attacks have increased significantly since 2001. Attacks in the Western world now arrive with such a numbing frequency that terrorism has long ceased to be something that happens “over there.”
President George W. Bush’s dictum that America had to invade Iraq so that we’d be fighting terrorists in Baghdad rather than Boston looks quaint.… Seguir leyendo »
Governments tend to dislike being called torturers. That’s why the George W. Bush administration went through such legal contortions to exclude waterboarding from the definition of torture. That this relied on a definition too idiosyncratic for anyone outside the Republican Party hardly mattered because it allowed President Bush to say, “the United States does not torture,” with a straight face.
So on one level, when Amnesty International reported last week that Australia’s system of offshore detention — in which asylum seekers heading to Australia by boat are intercepted and sent to camps in Nauru or Papua New Guinea indefinitely — “essentially amounts to torture,” the Australian government’s response was entirely predictable.… Seguir leyendo »
By Waleed Aly, a lawyer and a lecturer in politics at Monash University, Australia (THE GUARDIAN, 08/07/08):
Nelson Mandela was 44 years old when he was arrested in 1962, and subsequently imprisoned for leaving South Africa without a passport. Two years later, while serving this sentence, he was infamously convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to launch violent revolution, and spent his prime in prison as a result.
These facts are frequently rehearsed. More rarely noted is that Mandela’s arrest was made possible by the CIA, which effectively handed him over to the South African security police by revealing his whereabouts and blowing his disguise.… Seguir leyendo »