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Federal government plans to axe several types of family visas could mean that for some, being able to reunite their families in Australia could become a thing of the past. Clark Fred/Wikimedia Commons

Senate set to decide if family visas will go only to the rich

This afternoon, the Australian Senate will be asked to vote on a Greens disallowance motion, which seeks to stop the Abbott government repealing several types of family visas. These include: the Parent…
Hear no evil? Many politicians have labelled Islamic State ‘evil’, but what does that really mean? See-no-hear-no-speak-no-evil monkeys/Shuttterstock

Unique evil, death cults and War on Terror: do these labels help?

Our time, this decade even, has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. – Then United Nations' Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 1997 Over the past few weeks leading up to the US-led bombing…
Children in state care need stability in their home and school life to develop social attachments and a sense of belonging. Wikimedia/Ranveig

Law offers better care for abused children, given enough support

Children who have been taken into state care need timely decisions on whether to separate them from their birth families. Delayed decisions means leaving children who have suffered abuse and neglect in…
The ultimate test of success of raids such as last week’s is whether those charged can be deradicalised so they do not present a threat after the justice system has dealt with them. EPA/NSW Police

It’s far too early to declare counter-terrorism operations a success

The dust is settling after the extensive police raids across Sydney and Brisbane last week. Authorities say this was the largest counter-terrorism operation in Australia’s history. Not only was it the…
The term ‘medieval’ is being used by politicians to denote others who do not observe modern ‘civilised’ rules and to whom these rules also do not apply. Flickr/Nuno Martins

‘Medieval’ makes a comeback in modern politics. What’s going on?

According to Hansard, in the parliament of John Howard’s first term of government the adjective “medieval” was used eight times. In the following term, however, it cropped up 46 times. What happened? Why…
John Key’s government has been returned for a third term and, remarkably, his National Party increased its vote for the fourth election in a row. AAP/SNPA/Ross Setford

NZ PM John Key makes it three in a row as Labour goes backwards

New Zealand’s centre-right National Party won the general election with an unprecedented boost on Saturday. Going for a third term in office, National increased its share of the party vote in the proportional…
Politicians and parties on Australia’s political fringe would ban the burqa - except, apparently, when it is worn for the purposes of their political campaigns. AAP/Julian Smith

Banning the burqa is not the answer to fears about public safety

The burqa and niqab are often viewed as symbols of extremism. In the wake of the rise of Islamic State, it is unsurprising, therefore, that in recent days a number of Australian politicians have called…
Citing ‘the national interest’ enables Julie Bishop and her government colleagues simply to assert the need for everything from tougher security laws to supplying arms to Iraqi rebels. AAP/Lukas Coch

‘National interest’ figleaf avoids debate on wars and terror laws

“There is no such thing as the national interest,” I tell my first-year Australian foreign policy students. This tends to stop them in their tracks. After all, if there is no such thing as the national…
Australian women of different faiths gathered at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque last month in a show of community solidarity. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with cooperation

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today…
Frank Bainimarama has pulled off the unlikely feat of making the transition from military coup leader in 2006 (above) to Fiji’s democratically elected prime minister in Wednesday’s election. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Fiji coup leader gets the democratic approval he wanted

This was the way it was meant to be, at least in the eyes of Fiji’s self-appointed prime minister and self-styled rear-admiral, Frank Bainimarama. The 2014 election, the country’s first since his 2006…
In Indonesia, ranting online holds the risk of offending thousands of people and even jail time. EPA/ADI WEDA

‘Social media capital’ brews with hatred between us and them

“Unity in diversity” is how Indonesia likes to describe its multicultural country. But cyber-bullying cases in Indonesia’s active social media project a different view of how Indonesia’s diverse groups…
More than one in ten Indigenous Australian adults report having trouble getting around – and current licensing rules don’t help. ZRyzner/Shutterstock

Indigenous Australians need a licence to drive, but also to work

Tony Abbott spent most of this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
There are now around half a million Muslim Australians, who are sometimes blamed for the actions of a tiny minority. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Mosques, Muslims and myths: overcoming fear in our suburbs

Since Australians woke to the news of yesterday morning’s counter-terrorism raids in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan, talkback radio and the TV news have filled with talk of “home-grown terrorism” and “enemies…
Police outside one of the Sydney homes raided earlier today, which has prompted warnings against an anti-Muslim backlash. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Islamic State wants Australians to attack Muslims: terror expert

It’s in the interests of Islamic State for Muslims in Australia to be attacked or for their mosques to be attacked, because doing so would help divide the Australian community. But we should be very clear…
Bundilla elder Aunty Barbara Raymond with schoolchildren in Darwin last year, supporting the cause of Indigenous constitutional recognition. AAP Image/Supplied by Richard Oppusunggu

Explainer: what Indigenous constitutional recognition means

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australia has been on the national agenda for a long time, but is back in the headlines with the news that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader hope to release…
Despite the urging ‘Let’s do this’, it will be entirely in character for Scots to wake up tomorrow and mourn the fact that they didn’t. EPA/Robert Perry

This Scot tips an agonising ‘no’ befitting a melancholy nationalism

On Friday morning, I, an expatriate “British Scot”, could wake up to find that I have lost my identity. Because today Scottish voters might decide that a United Kingdom that includes Scotland ought no…
Since Defence Force chief Mark Binskin and Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the deployment of Australian warplanes, the confused ‘mission creep’ seen in the last Iraq war has begun. AAP/Lukas Coch

Blurred battlelines: our mission to ‘destroy’ Islamic State won’t work

Before committing more troops, the Australian government should be certain about the type of threat Islamic State (IS) poses and whether the Australian Defence Force has a clear and justified objective…
Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie is willing to take a DNA test to prove her Indigenous heritage – but would that do any good? AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Explainer: Can a DNA test reveal if you’re an Indigenous Australian?

Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie recently created controversy by claiming in her first speech to Parliament that going back six generations, she is related to the renowned Tasmanian Aboriginal…
Tony Abbott and his ministers are presenting ‘Team Australia’ as a national response to the global terrorism threat. AAP/David Crosling

‘Team Australia’: a nationalism framed in terms of external threats

Tony Abbott’s “Team Australia” is a confusing concept. The latest image of Australian nationalism is headed by a staunch monarchist who campaigned against a local head of state. The same “captain” recently…
The proportion of women in the Australian news media has grown, but in general men still rule the newsrooms. EPA/Yoon S. Byun

Why men still run newsrooms, defying the influx of women

As I write this I can hear a clique of blokes guffawing at morning news conference. Not a woman at the table … We are marginalised and excluded by the blokes' club because admitting women would change…
‘Freedom of religion’ does not provide a church with any more or less accountability for its actions than a trucking company. AAP/Shepparton News/Verity Lewis

Principles of accountability apply to churches and truckers alike

Some religious groups are feeling under attack. They claim their “freedom of religion” is being impaired. For example, federal Attorney-General George Brandis, speaking to the Law School of Notre Dame…