Never a number

Never a number

On the ground floor of the Art Gallery of NSW I saw one of the most moving pieces of sculpture I can remember visiting. It did not surpass the sublime La Pieta, Michaelangelo’s masterpiece of sorrow and loss, but its impact was every bit as forceful. In the dimmed light of the large room, a single exhibit comprising twenty evenly spaced figures in ranks spoke such volume that I was ...

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There are 869 different forms of lying

There are 869 different forms of lying

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmet’s to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now ...

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A fish rots from the head

A fish rots from the head

The most recent public airing of a racist attack on a Korean man and his aunt visiting from his homeland has prompted another round of self-reflection on the Australian psyche. Waleed Aly published his point of view a few days ago and whilst I agree that all nations battle issues of racism, the difference is that they acknowledge the problem exists, unlike Australia. The Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, Canadians, Kiwis and ...

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West Papua - time we were #idlenomore

West Papua – time we were #idlenomore

“We recognize international law …” Every country that is a member of the United Nations recognizes international law, Bob, at least as far as it serves their purposes. It seems to me that every nation also ignores any aspect of international law that puts some aspect of their own commercial or national value at risk. Every nation has at its heart not the rest of humanity, but it’s own nationalistic ...

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"May it ring for justice and change"

“May it ring for justice and change”

I like to learn how to say people’s names properly. Not that I have a particularly good memory for pairing names with faces, but I believe it is a sign of respect when you pay enough attention to learn to say – and spell – someone’s name correctly. Perhaps it’s a legacy of those elocution lessons at primary school … Mrs. Edie would be amused. I also like to learn ...

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Cradle to grave #racism - it's not just Sydney

Cradle to grave #racism – it’s not just Sydney

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu Jeremy Fernandez, I’m sorry your two year old daughter learned, so early, that the colour palette is not always one with which she may paint azure ...

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#Indigenous self determination and alcohol

#Indigenous self determination and alcohol

The news of the week in #Indigenous Affairs is the annual report card on Closing the Gap. Julia Gillard states that she is disappointed with the progress is addressing #indigenous disadvantage; I’m certain that anyone who shares their life with an #indigenous person or organization will disagree with those sentiments. But who is to the blame for this lack of progress? Successive governments have failed to place positive actions in ...

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Pourquoi les coiffeurs or Wingnut v The Ranger

Pourquoi les coiffeurs or Wingnut v The Ranger

We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped ...

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Fatima, Australian of my year

Fatima, Australian of my year

She is a very beautiful young woman, quiet, reserved, cautious and courteous. Her parents have sent her to Australia to undertake tertiary studies, full fee paying tertiary studies. She has no immediate family within these shores, only the family of a cousin more than 1,000 km away where she sometimes visits. Fatima, this industrious young woman with the pale pink head scarf, is isolated in more ways than I care ...

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Magistrate Clisdell v Reality

Magistrate Clisdell v Reality

I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in ...

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Magistrate Clisdell and the NSW ‘just-us’ system

Magistrate Clisdell and the NSW ‘just-us’ system

It is sillier than the vain futile cawing of a senseless crow to try to talk to others about one’s own deep sorrow! (Wakayama Bakusai (1885-1928) trans. Robert Wood Clack) On Sunday afternoon while painting at Palm Beach, I received an email from my good friend Mr Julian Moti QC, the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands. Attached to Julian’s e-mail was one he had received from his friend and former ...

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#IdleNoMore - Transnational Indigenous Solidarity

#IdleNoMore – Transnational Indigenous Solidarity

#IdleNoMore is a growing movement of indigenous activism that started with Canada's First Nations taking a stand against a long history of systematic, institutionalized abuse from the Canadian authorities. ...

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Hypocrisy underscoring the ACT's Bill of Rights

Hypocrisy underscoring the ACT’s Bill of Rights

”Quite often before they get there they have done something quite serious. It becomes quite difficult because the offending behaviour is the first point that you’ve got to address and you can’t say that just because someone is Aboriginal they are excused from any criminal behaviour. Clearly that doesn’t work. You have to go back earlier, to why they are offending in the first place.” Chief Justice Terrence ...

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El-Masri v The Former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia

El-Masri v The Former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia

With the Inauguration of President Obama for his second term fast approaching (20 January, 2013) it is worth considering just how far the United States and indeed the West has fallen from the lofty ideals that underpin the West’s claim to moral, if no longer financial and technological, supremacy. This West’s claim to moral superiority has again been put to the test and has again been found wanting. I’m referring ...

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David Hicks and Lex Wotton – it’s all black and white

David Hicks and Lex Wotton – it’s all black and white

David Hicks and Lex Wotton, two of Australia’s notorious. No I’m not suggesting that they are members of that Sydney based pseudo-outlaw bikie gang allegedly connected with the Ibrahim family, rather I’m suggesting that these men have been outlawed for a very different reason, they challenged Australia’s systemic and entrenched culture of corruption. While Messers Hicks and Wotton may share a certain degree of notoriety based on their past actions, ...

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Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – but, only if you’re white

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – but, only if you’re white

Liberté, égalité, fraternité; the national motto of France, indeed the emphasis on Fraternité during the French Revolution led Olympe de Gouges, a contemporary French playwright, political activist and journalist, to write the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen shortly after the French constitution of 1791 was created. She was alarmed that the constitution, which was to promote equal suffrage, did not address, nor even consider, women’s ...

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The rule of law and the democratic process

The rule of law and the democratic process

“No-one ever argues that governments should have less integrity, that elected officials should not be accountable, or that public servants should behave unethically. Broad statements of the value of integrity, transparency, accountability and ethics gain general agreement from all sides of politics and from all participants in public debate. But government integrity demands more than general expressions of goodwill. Enhancing transparency and accountability requires supportive structures as well as declarations ...

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Promises and passages - it's all an illusion

Promises and passages – it’s all an illusion

  Promises and passage, that what’s they were sold. A truth not realized, the loss of all that was family and home. The South Sea Islanders who came to Australia in the 1800s and early 1900s were referred to as Kanakas. Many were kidnapped by ‘blackbirders’. As the descendents of Anglo-Celtic migrants, those sugar-cane farmers in Queensland may well have listened and danced to tunes such as Sharon Shannon’s jig ...

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The Medusa – the price we all pay for political corruption

The Medusa – the price we all pay for political corruption

Let us venture to advance another truth, a truth useful to the Minister himself. There exists among the officers of the Marine, an intractable esprit de corps, a pretended point of honour, equally false and arrogant, which leads them to consider as an insult to the whole navy, the discovery of one guilty individual. This inadmissible principle, which is useful only to insignificance, to intrigue, to people the least worthy ...

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Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus

Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus

Words Like Freedom There are words like Freedom Sweet and wonderful to say. On my heart strings freedom sings All day everyday. There are words like Liberty That almost make me cry. If you had known what I know You would know why. Langston Hughes (p. 38 of Poetry For Young People: Langston Hughes) Lectori Salutem of Blak and Black, many will recognise the title of this post as being ...

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