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Two sides of the same coin? Convergence theory explains why the Labor and Liberal parties are often closer together on issues than they like to portray. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Convergence theory explains the lack of choice in Australian politics

Convergence theory – which holds that the main Australian political parties will, over time, converge upon near-identical policy positions on most issues – was on full display during budget week.
As economic growth in China moderates, so will its demand for Australia’s raw materials. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Australia’s ‘five pillar economy’: mining

The mining boom is over and the industry is employing fewer workers -- but the outlook for mining in Australia seems generally good.
Harvard has around 20 times the investment of Australia’s top-ranked university. Flickr/Yoshi

Top-ranked universities have more money than Australian unis could dream of

Education Minister Christopher Pyne claimed his plan to deregulate university fees was essential to boosting Australia's place in the rankings. But no student fee rise will give us close to the level of funds of the top ranked unis.
The number of refugee deaths at sea is on the rise internationally. AAP Image/Scott Fisher

FactCheck: did 1200 refugees die at sea under Labor?

It is broadly correct to say 1200 asylum seekers died at sea under Labor. Globally and in our region, however, more asylum seekers than ever are leaving their country by boat.
Schools in Canada are less selective, and therefore the system is more equitable. Sean_Marshall

The lesson from Canada: why Australia should have fewer selective schools

In most English-speaking countries, students are guaranteed a place at their local public high school. Students also have a right to apply for admission to a school of their choice, such as a private school…
Ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment is but the latest act in Thailand’s political tragedy. EPA/Narong Sangnak

Yingluck impeachment is an execution of Thai democracy

No-one should be surprised that Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been impeached by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. This was one more act in a political tragedy…
Detained asylum seekers on Manus Island are searching for ways to communicate and be heard beyond the faceless inhumane bureaucracy. AAP/Refugee Action Collective

Manus Island hunger strikes are a call to Australia’s conscience

Reports continue to emanate of escalating hunger strikes among asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre in protest at the length of their detention and their conditions. The Australian government…
A TV ad featuring an Australian woman travelling to Bali and falling for a Balinese man captures Australia’s love affair with Indonesia. EPA/Made Nagi

Look who’s talking: Indonesian in Australia

Recently, Indonesian language has begun to make an appearance in Australian popular media. There is evidence too that, after years of decline, student interest in Indonesian language and studying in Indonesia…
Asylum seekers with an existing mental health condition who receive negative outcomes during the application process are particularly vulnerable. Barat Ali Batoor

‘Fast track’ asylum processing risks fairness for efficiency

After much controversy, the Senate passed the Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 late last week. One aspect of the law – the “fast track assessment…
Reform within the Indonesian police have been very slow, with discriminatory ‘virginity testings’ and police torture and brutality still rampant. global-citizen-01.blogspot.com/flickr

Indonesia’s police ‘virginity tests’ fit pattern of flagrant rights abuses

Human Rights Watch reported last week that Indonesian police conducted two-finger “virginity tests” on young female police cadets as part of their recruitment process. Following a public uproar, the Indonesian…
Go with the group on trick or treat this Halloween. Sean Locke Photography

Trick or treating this Halloween? Know your group behaviour

Halloween is upon us tonight and it’s all just a bit of harmless fun, right? Or is there truly a dark side to Halloween? What should we make of kids getting together in groups, wearing costumes that hide…
The Abbott governments rush to sign bilateral trade deals with countries including Japan has meant quality has been sacrificed. Alan Porritt/AAP

Australia’s trade negotiating strategy fundamentally flawed

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…
Who read the fine print? US president George W. Bush signs the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in the White House Rose Garden in August 2004. EPA/Matthew Cavanaugh

A decade on, is the Australia-US FTA fit for the 21st century?

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…
Reduced access to generics drugs has contributed to the 80% rise in the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

It’s time to fix the free trade bungle on the cost of medicines

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…
The G20’s impressive declaratory record on energy cooperation hides serious practical shortcomings. www.shutterstock.com

Global commitment issues on display at the G20

With the Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit only a matter of weeks away, Australia is increasingly succumbing to G20 fever. Rarely does a self-declared middle power such as Australia get to play host to such…

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