Australia should brace for a volatile year in foreign policy in 2019

Relationships with China, the Middle East, India and the Pacific will be ones to watch in 2019. AAP By the end of 2019 we should be able to assess how Australia is travelling with the grand plan laid out in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. In this, an election year, I examine the status of our most important international relationships. My...

Avoid a bum steer this summer: here’s what Australian law says about public nudity

Sometimes public nudity is just fine, as it was at the 2018 Sydney Skinny Swim at Cobblers Beach. AAP/Ben Rushton The warm days of summer are almost upon us. Nudity on some Australian beaches is inevitable. But exactly how much of our flesh can we bare, and when, and where? It should surprise no-one that, when it comes to the law...

Rudd says Murdoch media is a “political party”

Rudd and his wife, Therese Rein, were receiving ALP life memberships at the conference. Lukas Coch/AAP At the recent ALP Conference,  former prime minister Kevin Rudd used an address to deliver a fresh swingeing attack on the Murdoch media, declaring “it is not a news organisation, it is a political party”. Rudd said for Labor and for Bill Shorten, “dealing with...

Explainer: what does ‘gaslighting’ mean?

Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in Gaslight (1944), the film that inspired the now widely used term. Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Shortlisted for the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2018 word of the year, “gaslighting” has well and truly found its way into contemporary thought and vernacular. The term has recently been employed to explain the behaviour of contestants on The Bachelor Australia, Monica Lewinksy’s experiences with the...

When a fair trial could be at risk, suppression is the order of the day

The digital age has made the idea of a fair trial, balanced with open justice, even more difficult. Shutterstock Open justice is a fundamental principle of our system of government and central to maintaining confidence in the justice system. But in many of the most high profile trials, when public interest is high, open justice comes into conflict with the potential of...

Sunday essay: identity politics and the case for shared values

A scene from the 1961 film West Side Story. The casting of an Australian performer as Maria in a local production of the musical was recently criticised for ‘white washing’ a story about a Puerto Rican immigrant. The Mirisch Corporation,Seven Arts Productions Recently, a group of respected academics, including Melbourne-born philosopher Peter Singer, announced that they were launching a new academic...

Humbug, tinsel and gravy: in search of the perfect Christmas pop song

The search for the ‘ideal’ Christmas song crosses a very broad range of genres and artists Earlier in 2017, musicologist Joe Bennett took a sample of the top 200 Spotify streams from the Christmas week of 2016 and dissected those that were Christmas-related. The results, analysed according to parameters such as beats per minute, key signature and lyrical content, were passed to...

We’re not as Grinchy as we think: how gift-giving is inspired by beliefs-based altruism

New research shows that when it comes to giving gifts, it really is the thought that counts. Shutterstock 'Tis the season for gift-giving and for the scrooges among us to complain about the wastefulness of gift-giving. Why give gifts, they say, when people know what they want better than anyone else? Others grudgingly admit that, since gift-giving is customary, they...

Labor promises a comprehensive overhaul of federal environmental framework

As environmental laws were foreshadowed at the Labor national conference, outside a climate change rally was in full swing.  Lukas Coch/AAP Australia will get the biggest overhaul of its federal environment laws in two decades if a Labor government is elected next year. Labor would establish a new Australian Environment Act and create a federal Environmental Protection Agency in its first...

Shorten’s subsidy plan to boost affordable housing

Labor would work with community housing providers, the residential construction sector and institutional investors. Flickr Institutional investors would receive longterm subsidies to build new dwellings - on condition they rented them out below market rates - under an affordable housing program Bill Shorten announced on the first day of Labor’s national conference in Adelaide. A Labor government would offer 15 year...