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Politics + Society — Analysis and Comment

Gough Whitlam took principled revisionism to the very top of Labor politics. AAP/Sergio Dionisio

Whitlam’s hard fight for reform holds lessons for Labor today

There was nothing inevitable about Gough Whitlam’s rise to the top. He had to fight every inch of the way. The fight was not only against born-to-rule Liberals who thought he had betrayed his class but…
In office, the late Gough Whitlam sought to fulfil, rather than to end, the promise of capitalism. AAP/Alan Porritt

Political limits of today intensify rosy memory of Whitlamism

The popular response to Gough Whitlam’s death tells us more about the politics of the present than the past. Whitlam has been cast as a messiah; as Labor’s saviour; and as the slayer of what Paul Keating…
The Ottoman Chief Eunuch was an influential figure. In this and other caliphates, eunuchs supervised the harem, the princes, the financial affairs of the palace and the mosques, as well as controlling access to the ruler. Photo postcard 1912

Islamic State lacks key ingredient to make ‘caliphate’ work: eunuchs

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed Islamic State (IS) as a Muslim caliphate on June 29, 2014, with himself as caliph, a term reserved for a successor to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His would be the newest…
The Whitlam government’s legacy continues to be felt today, close to four decades since it lost office. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Gough Whitlam’s life and legacy: experts respond

Gough Whitlam, Labor prime minister from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98. A giant of modern Australian politics, his passing triggered a flood of tributes on Tuesday morning. In a statement, current Labor…
As the new Indonesian president, Jokowi will need a hardworking and clean cabinet. EPA/Adi Weda

How will Indonesia’s president put together his new cabinet?

In his speech after being sworn into office, Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday called for Indonesians to “work, work and work”. Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, also has to work hard…
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agenda is again being driven by the US on behalf of its major export industries. EPA/How Hwee Young

Trans-Pacific Partnership piles up challenges for democracy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Indonesians are celebrating the inauguration of their new president, Joko Widodo. EPA/Adi Weda

Indonesians have high hopes for their new president

In Indonesia, people are celebrating. Joko Widodo’s supporters joined a parade on Monday to welcome him and Jusuf “JK” Kalla on the day they were sworn into office as Indonesia’s new president and vice-president…
Tony Abbott arrives in Jakarta to attend the inauguration of Joko Widodo as Indonesia’s new president. AAP/Eka Nickmatulhuda

Q&A: Abbott’s hand of friendship to Indonesia’s new president

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is joining in a big party in Indonesia. Indonesia’s new president and vice-president are being inaugurated today. Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jusuf “JK” Kalla are being…
A carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay of baggage is governed by a number of overarching international treaties. Adam Fagen

What to claim for lost, delayed or damaged bags on overseas flights

If you get on a plane and your baggage ends up being delayed, damaged or lost, who’s responsible: you or the airline? And what rules apply when you’re flying between different countries – even if you don’t…
Diplomatic smiles and handshakes are in order when Chinese and US representatives meet, but separate trade talks driven by Beijing and Washington represent a high-stakes contest for influence. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Who calls the tune? Asia has to dance to duelling trade agendas

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Joko Widodo (right) will replace Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Indonesian president. He faces strong opposition in the parliament. EPA/Made Nagi

Jokowi sworn in to tackle a divided Indonesian government

Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will be sworn into office today in a divisive political environment. Jokowi, who won 53.15% of the votes in the presidential election…
A Welcome to Country ceremony opens Darwin’s new $500 million facility last month to house rising numbers of prisoners, 85% of whom are Indigenous, a grossly overrepresented group. AAP/Neda Vanovac

Justice reinvestment saves huge costs of law-and-order auctions

A number of reports, most recently Victorian and NSW crime statistics, show crime rates are falling. But as election time looms in these states, their governments' focus on tough law-and-order policies…
Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi remains in a critical condition after a serious crash earlier this month. EPA/Valdrin Xhemaj

Jules Bianchi and sharing the responsibility for catastrophe

As with most tragic events today, Formula One driver Jules Bianchi’s recent crash in the Japanese Grand Prix has raised the usual frenzy of questions surrounding who is to blame when things go wrong and…
Recent changes to gambling regulation in Queensland will allow for a rapid expansion of the industry. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Effective gambling regulation is not just ‘red tape’

The Queensland government has recently implemented changes to poker machine regulation under the banner of “red tape reduction”. Some of these are relatively minor at first glance; others have more obvious…

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on Ebola

University of Canberra Professorial Fellow Michelle Grattan and Deupty Vice-Chancellor Frances Shannon discuss the week in politics including the Ebola outbreak, the Prime Minister’s comments regarding…
Locking up convicted extremists does not prevent marginalised and angry youth from being radicalised. AAP/Julian Smith

Third wave of global ‘jihad’ challenges community as a whole

The dreadful events in Iraq and Syria and counter-terrorism raids in Australia have alarmed Australians, including the 500,000-strong Muslim community. These incidents represent a new episode of the “third…
Tony Abbott was quick to offer assistance to the US for the action against IS, but has not been so forthcoming on helping with Ebola. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Grattan on Friday: Tony, pick up the phone to Barack on Ebola

Here’s a thought for Tony Abbott. Why doesn’t he ring up Barack Obama and David Cameron and ask them to help remove the impediment that’s apparently stopping the Australian government providing assistance…
What is the legacy left by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as he prepares to leave office after a decade in power? EPA/Mast Irham

Indonesia farewells SBY and his years of wasted opportunities

Indonesian leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will end his 10-year presidency in coming days. The retired general, popularly called SBY, won Indonesia’s first direct presidential election in 2004 and secured…
Premier Denis Napthine has acknowledged to the Victorian parliament that homosexual acts between consenting adults should never have been a crime. AAP/Julian Smith

Expunging convictions for gay sex: an old wrong is finally righted

Almost two years ago, The Conversation published an article, “Wiping the slate clean: historic convictions for gay sex must be expunged”. The article discussed the British government’s moves to remove…
NSW premier Mike Baird’s proposed changes to the state’s electoral funding laws could cost taxpayers more than $10 million extra per electoral cycle. AAP/Dean Lewins

NSW is introducing full public funding of major political parties – by stealth

How much should taxpayers pay to subsidise the running of political parties and their campaigns? If the NSW government gets its way, the answer is going to be quite a lot more. While its proposed changes…
The extraordinary synod of bishops on family is meeting for two weeks at the Vatican. EPA/L'Osservatore Romano

Pope sets off a ‘gay earthquake’? No, the church has hardly moved

A report of debate from the first half of the extraordinary synod of Catholic bishops meeting in Rome has been described as a “pastoral earthquake” and a “seismic shift in Rome” for praising gay relationships…
Thailand’s military coup in May is a sign of political malaise without an obvious cure in the absence of a new social contract. EPA/Pongmanat Tasiri

Asian states in crisis can choose more democracy or more conflict

Rather than a new dawn for democracy, political and social reform in the region has led to less representation and more contestation. This has potentially far-reaching consequences. What does the May coup…
Rural or metropolitan? Communities make a big difference when deciding how independent your kids should be. Peter Gordebeke/Flickr

What do parents fear? Unwrapping the bubble-wrap generation

We hear so much these days about fearful parents who “bubble-wrap” their children. So-called “helicopter parents” try to protect their children from life’s dangers and, in the process, prevent them taking…
Australia’s approach to trade policy is more thoughtful and calculating than it is given credit for by sections of the media, academia and the public who object to current negotiations. AAP/Newzulu/Jeff Tan

Staying engaged on every front: Australia’s trade policy strategy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is the first article in the…