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Politics + Society — Analysis and Comment

The modern Saudi state rarely steps outside of its borders militarily unless it feels existentially threatened – as it is doing now in Yemen. EPA/Yahya Arhab

Saudi incursion in Yemen more about security than sectarianism

Saudi Arabia's incursion into Yemen is the latest manifestation of a long-standing struggle between it and Iran over statist issues of conflicting national interest, security and regional hegemony.
The Abbott government is running out of time to try to come up with new ideas and refresh its reason for being. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Lacking an agenda, the Abbott government’s time is running out

When it comes to producing a comprehensive, far-reaching policy regime – a coherent vision for Australia’s society and economy and how to turn it into reality – the government is only getting started.
Research has shown that when sex work is illegal, street sex workers who are victims of sexual assault are reluctant to report it to police. shutterstock

Victorian rape law needs reform to protect sex workers

There is a non-binding precedent in Victoria that allows judges to consider the victim's sexual experience when passing sentence on a sex offender – but only when the "victim is a prostitute".
Annastacia Palaszczuk put her government’s future into doubt when she sacked one of her MPs, Billy Gordon, from the parliamentary party. AAP/Matt Roberts

Billy Gordon’s past shouldn’t end the Queensland government

Sacked Queensland Labor MP Billy Gordon has a legal right to remain in parliament and vote, issue-by-issue, as an independent.
Billy Gordon has paid the price for failing to disclose his criminal history after he was sacked from the parliamentary ALP by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. AAP/Dan Peled

By sacking Billy Gordon, Palaszczuk has put her government on the brink

The Queensland government's survival is at stake just two months after it was elected following the sacking of Labor MP Billy Gordon from the parliamentary party.
Mike Baird has been rewarded for being upfront about a difficult issue, while Tony Abbott was less forthcoming before his election and lost many voters' trust as a result. AAP/Nikki Short

Bold Baird’s win in NSW is good news for Abbott, but for how long?

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop said the take out from the result was that "people are ready for reform as long as it's explained to them, and that's what Mike Baird did". It was a pointed comment.
More than two decades after the World Medical Association called for a ban on boxing, knocking a person senseless is still condoned, even celebrated. EPA/Christian Charisius

Why boxing and cage fighting should be banned – but won’t be

The death of a 23-year-old boxer and the lifting of cage-fighting bans in every state but Western Australia raise the question of why we allow violence that would be criminal outside a ring or cage.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird looks likely to keep enjoying the view from the top of the state after the March 28 poll. Mike Baird/Facebook

NSW voters set to back Baird, but upper house is too close to call

With just a day of campaigning left in the New South Wales election, the result is already clear. Mike Baird's government will be re-elected – but the battle for 21 upper house seats will be crucial.
The retrospective nature of the changes to the rules of succession means it ultimately made no difference whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first born was a boy or girl. EPA/Tal Cohen

Power to the princesses: Australia wraps up succession law changes

The Crown has become a little less discriminatory with changes to the rules of succession – and descendants of George II who failed to get permission to wed need no longer fear their marriage is void.
Because their votes may be open to negotiation, crossbench senators often have the final say on the form, and passage, of legislation. AAP/Alan Porritt

Scorn the crossbench, ignore Australian political history

Instead of treating crossbenchers in parliament as a source of chaos and an aberration, we should recognise that they play a crucial role in shaping legislation as the constitution provides.
Premier Mike Baird and Communities Minister Victor Dominello have vigorously pursued their vision for peak body Multicultural NSW. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Multicultural mayhem lurks in the shadows of the NSW election

Multicultural issues are stirring in NSW. They range from education, aged care and health through to political rights to commemorate unresolved overseas conflicts.
The Reverend Fred Nile is a veteran of the NSW Parliament – and many predict that if the Baird government is re-elected, his vote could decide whether power privatisation goes ahead or not. Dean Lewins/AAP

NSW privatisation could hinge on a single upper house vote

A re-elected Liberal National government needs to win 10 upper house seats in this year's NSW election to hold a clear majority. But any fewer than 10, and it may need a Plan B on privatisation.
Coal seam gas has proved a hot topic ahead of the NSW election, not only on the campaign trail but also on social media, where a ‘social mood reader’ can reveal the depth of community feeling. NewZulu/Tony Markham/AAP

Finding new ways to track voters' moods, beyond polls and punters

Beyond polls and betting markets, how else can we gauge how people feel ahead of future elections? Social media is a goldmine, and one of the newer ways to tap into it is with a "social mood reader".
In the countdown to the March 28 New South Wales election, social media is a key battleground for persuading swinging voters. @lyon_brendan/Twitter

The marketing battle for NSW hearts and minds on privatisation

Given the history on privatisation in NSW, and facing a more emotionally powerful campaign, the Baird government is actually doing pretty well to be closing in on polling day in a winning position.
Given Australia’s involvement in Iraq, Tony Abbott cannot dismiss human rights abuses by Iraqi security forces fighting Islamic State militants. AAP/PMO

Australia has an obligation to stop human rights abuses by Iraq

Australia has a clear obligation under international law to take action to stop abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law by the ISF and Shi’a militia.
By bringing together Arab political parties in the Joint List, Ayman Odeh has emerged as leader of the third-largest party in Israel. EPA/Atef Safadi

Arab parties emerge as electoral force in the Jewish state

The emergence of the Joint List as the third-largest party is evidence of both Israeli democracy and a growing awareness among the nation's Arab citizens of their power to influence its direction.
Union-led campaigns across NSW are telling voters to put government MPs last on their ballot papers – a strategy that helped elect Labor in Queensland earlier this year. Stop the Sell Off/Facebook

In a tight NSW election, optional preferences could win the day

The way Queensland voters chose to exercise their preferences was crucial in the shock defeat of the state's first-term conservative government. Could that happen again in this weekend's NSW election?