Politics + Society – Analysis and Comment

Usain Bolt (centre) won the highly anticipated men’s 100m event at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing. EPA/Hu Wong

Why are we so opposed to performance-enhancing drugs in sport?

In sport, there seems no reasonable justification for drawing a line in the sand that places drug use on one side and the other performance enhancers on the other.
American journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were shot dead live on air, allegedly by a former colleague. EPA/WDBJ7

Virginia TV shootings: murder as a media event

If someone wants to create panic with a gun and a smartphone, they can. If journalists want to protect the public from disturbing images, they can't.
Former Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick was found guilty of a charge of child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Why does it take victims of child sex abuse so long to speak up?

Many factors are at play in enabling or constraining a child to speak directly about abuse and bringing that complaint to the attention of the authorities.
Tony Abbott has flagged a plebiscite, or ‘people’s vote’, on same-sex marriage. AAP/Mick Tsikas

A plebiscite on marriage? Robert Menzies didn’t need it

Every generation in the last 150 years has seen in Australia a contest over marriage which reflects shifting positions on its defining features, and its associated rights and obligations.
Children from a village in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands Province stand in one of countless sweet potato gardens destroyed by frost across the country, August 2015. Kud Sitango

As Papua New Guinea faces worsening drought, a past disaster could save lives

Papua New Guinea is now facing a drought and frosts that look set to be worse than 1997, when hundreds of people died. So how can memories of 1997 save lives over the next few months?
Most Asia-Pacific governments are more focused on preventing irregular movement of asylum seekers and refugees than addressing the underlying causes of such movement. UNHCR/S.H. Omi

How civil society can improve refugee protection in the Asia-Pacific

In many regional countries there are civil society organisations attempting to fill the protection gap for refugees through service provision, advocacy, or both.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott watches the signing of the free trade agreement with China, which he now accuses Labor of opposing for ‘racist’ reasons. Reuters/Lukas Coch

Playing the race card in the China trade deal debate

Charges of racism against Labor for querying aspects of the free trade deal with China are a mark of how much Australian attitudes have changed and how adversarial politics fuels hyperbolic attacks.
A boy contemplates the guns handed in during an amnesty for gang members in Panama City. How do communities respond to violence? InSight Crime

Preventing violence: maybe communities know better

Many communities struggle with crime, violence and abuse, but they are not all the same. Those that look to local expertise for solutions offer hope in a world where success in preventing violence is rare.
Greater Australian air commitment to the campaign against Islamic State is a low-risk venture, militarily. AAP/Australian Defence

Australian planes are set to wing it over the Syrian cauldron

While symoblic, an increase in Australian firepower in the fight against Islamic State in Syria will not greatly affect the battlespace's fundamental reality.
Dyson Heydon prided himself throughout his judicial career on the robust independence and intellectual integrity he brought to the role. AAP/Renee Nowytarger

Bias and the ‘black-letter’ judge: who is Dyson Heydon?

How has a former judge with an avowed commitment to judicial independence and probity found himself at the centre of a very public controversy over his own impartiality?