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The 'Four Ps' and disposable politics

My son turned 18 recently, so he was eligible to vote for the first time. Although it is tempting to encourage one’s children to vote as one does, I have hoped he will vote not at my suggestion but as a matter of personal conscience. Yesterday, before he went to the polling booths, I offered him some advice.

Despite the way in which Australian election campaigns are conducted, the most recent being the worst example, I asked my son to consider the ‘Four Ps’; principle, policy, party and personality, in that order. It would be reasonable to argue that the Australian election process, which is now in mopping up stages, was constructed in the opposite order. So, why my advice?

How to plate-up Masterchef's success

There's a lot more to the success of Masterchef than the cooking.

 

During the first series of Masterchef, I remember watching a repeat episode on a Sunday afternoon, and thinking that this was going to be a runaway success. I even wrote a letter to the Green Guide editor (which was published) saying that Masterchef was a “revelation” and would be one of the great successes of 2009. It is so nice that I sometimes get my predictions correct (I’m pretty good at guessing the gender of  babies in utero, as well).

 

East Timor warms to asylum seekers

As the policy-lite federal election runs down to the finish line, one issue widely regarded as just so much debate-neutralising fluff – locating an asylum seeker processing facility in East Timor – is now looking a lot more substantial than initially understood. Although talks about establishing a facility in East Timor are on hold due to the government’s caretaker mode, the issue is now being taken very seriously and considerably more favorably within East Timor itself.

Should breastfeeding mums worry about what others think?

World Breastfeeding Week was unfortunately marked this year by a focus on an off-the-cuff remark by Brazilian-American supermodel Gisele Bündchen that there should be a worldwide law forcing mothers to breastfeed their babies for six months.

As ridiculous as the remark may seem, the supermodel’s desire to see other mothers breastfeed for up to six months in fact aligns with the strong scientific evidence of the health and other benefits breastfeeding brings for both mother and baby.

Edu-politics, incredibility and the current political edu-scape

I think I just made up a word – edu-politics – but maybe I didn’t . . . but it doesn’t seem to matter in the madness of the current election campaigns. ...

Australian forces remain in Afghanistan. Why no WikiLeaks coverage?

The leaking of more than 91,000 US military intelligence files on the war in Afghanistan via the whistleblower website Wikileaks has, in all, told us some of what was known, much of what was suspected and all of which was feared by citizens of the states that are contributing to the war.

What might have been hoped for in yesterday’s newspapers was at least an outline of the leaks’ key findings, as reported internationally. This is of particular relevance given the Australia is a party to the war and sustains – and causes -- casualties.

Some of the key elements of the Afghanistan Wikileaks include that, at more than 91,000 documents, it vastly overshadows the 1971 Pentagon papers (a little over 4000 documents) and provides a near complete synopsis of how the war has been conducted between 2004 and the end of last year.

Six Month Anniversary of Haitian Earthquake

Aceh has much to teach the world – including those engaged in the reconstruction of Haiti.

 

It is now six months since Haiti was devastated by an earthquake and six years since the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 devastated Aceh.

 

Attention in Haiti has moved to the reconstruction accompanied by well publicized frustration at how slowly these efforts are going.

 

Julia might be 'going forward', but East Timor is standing firm

The vote by East Timor’s parliament yesterday to oppose the establishment of an Australian off-shore asylum seeker processing centre should not have come as a surprise. Parliamentarians from the government and opposition have been saying they were against the idea since it was announced last week.

The Australian government has certainly acted unperturbed by the vote, with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith saying the vote from the parliament did not necessarily reflect the position of the government. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has similarly said that the process is "going forward".

Answers to asylum seekers to be found in UNHCR, IOM in Indonesia, Malaysia, not Timor

The arrival of Foreign Affairs officials in East Timor this week to discuss a regional asylum seeker processing centre comes as the East Timorese parliament rejects the proposal. While East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has not closed the door on the idea, he has been, at best, polite about it. As an election issue, it will remain alive and kicking.

The government's policy of seeking talks with East Timor about establishing an offshore centre got off to a bungled start last week. Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed, denied and finally confirmed again that East Timor was the government's preferred site.

Offshore processing plan: someone forgot to tell East Timor

The announcement by the Gillard government that it intends to use East Timor as a processing stop-over for asylum seekers is either a very clever political ploy or a blunder that has the potential to derail her run for a second term for her government. At its heart appears to be a qualified endorsement from a man who has no capacity to offer it – East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta.

The asylum seeker issues will no doubt be a central election issue and the Gillard government is looking to neutralize it. Using East Timor as a point of processing asylum seekers is smart because it keeps asylum seekers off-shore and hence satisfies voters who believed the ‘Pacific solution’ was a good idea.

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