Politics + Society — Analysis and Comment

Bill Shorten’s support – and that of his party – is almost entirely a function of public perceptions of Tony Abbott’s performance. AAP/Nikki Short

Shorten’s trust deficit is limiting Labor’s opportunities

Bill Shorten has neither built the profile nor provided the performance that renders him prime minister-in-waiting rather than fragile whinger-in-chief.
Karen Nettleton, whose daughter and grandchildren are currently in Syria, has a made a public plea for her family to be allowed to return to Australia. ABCTV

Even Khaled Sharrouf’s family has the right to come home

Whatever we think of the family of foreign fighter Khaled Sharrouf or their circumstances, they enjoy the right to return on the same footing as every other Australian citizen.
No society is immune from the rise of ‘us and them’ intolerance expressed through anger and a desire for brutal revenge. EPA/Ian Langsdon

Is Islamic State evidence we are living in a ‘post-honour’ world?

Islamic State is symptomatic of a disturbed and troubled social order. The vast crisis of dislocated people and communities is being expressed in anger, intolerance and perverted notions of honour.
Persecution based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex variation is recognised as a legitimate ground for seeking refugee status. AAP/Terry Scott

Out of the frying pan and into the fire: the plight of LGBTI refugees

It is estimated that there are 175 million LGBTI persons living in persecutory environments worldwide. Only around 2500 asylum claims founded on sexual orientation or gender identity are successful annually.
Our individual happiness, the quality of our relationships and community well-being are closely interconnected. Shutterstock/Rawpixel

Pursuing happiness: it’s mostly a matter of surviving well together

We now know that we cannot spend our way to happiness nor pursue it as an individual goal. It turns out that happiness is built on the foundations of good relationships and broad well-being.
If a way ahead on constitutional recognition is to be forged, it must be through political leadership and genuine public consultation. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Leadership is key to breaking the impasse on constitutional recognition

The parliamentary committee's report highlights the deep division between those who want to advance Indigenous recognition through minimal constitutional change and those who seek more substantive reform.
Life is naturally sunny for the ‘happy mother’ of social mythology, which makes it doubly difficult for mums when they are miserable. Shutterstock/FamVeld

How happiness becomes a burden of identity as a wife and mother

Women are supposed to be happy about motherhood – if they're not their parenting is open to question. We have seen a 'Parenting Hate' backlash against this, but what's needed most is better social support.
At its core, Islamic State’s runaway success is not down to its military capability. Rather, it is due to Iraq’s political circumstances. Reuters

One year on, Islamic State is here to stay – so what next?

There are three key reasons why success for the West hasn’t followed. Together, these reasons point towards an urgent need to shift strategy to avoid a stalemate.
The government’s bill introduces three means for revoking a dual national’s Australian citizenship under amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Who exactly makes the call on conduct that revokes citizenship? New bill doesn’t say

Should the bill be enacted in its current form, Australian citizenship will be able to be stripped from dual nationals by bureaucratic determination for conduct that is defined with reference to the criminal law.
The determined avoidance of reference to human rights is a tactic, by both sides of politics, to avoid accountability. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Human rights don’t matter in our public debate – but they should

No-one is inclined to refer to human rights in public debate in Australia when its leaders either avoid the idea or attack it, and the news media are silent on it.
Bush tucker is part of the connectedness with the land and each other that nourishes body and soul in Indigenous communities. AAP/Paul Miller

Happiness born of connectedness lifts up Aboriginal Australians

In Indigenous communities beset by tragedy and social problems, the connection to each other and to the land remains a powerful source of shared contentment and happiness.
Kevin Rudd was portrayed as interfering, micro-managing and bullying in his first stint as prime minister – but some painted a different picture. AAP/ABC

The Killing Season exposes multiple truths, but little honesty

Whose "truth" best explains the implosion of the Rudd-Gillard Labor governments? Multiple "truths" are presented in the ABC's The Killing Season as we continue to pick over that era's debris.
He is in a wheelchair, she has multiple sclerosis, but their neighbours know Grzegorz and Magda as a loving couple. Flickr/Dominik Golenia/In sickness and in health

Love and disability: ‘inter-ability relationships’ conquer stereotypes

Our notions of what makes a person a desirable 'love interest' are often superficial and involve an element of deception. For someone with a severe disability, finding love is even more complicated
If their deaths fighting for Islamic State in Iraq are confirmed, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar would be far from the first foreign fighters to be killed in the history of combat. Facebook

Foreign fighters aren’t a new problem, so heed history’s lessons

Foreign fighters have always posed a dual challenge: how to stop them going and what to do if they return. History offers lessons on managing these problems, including that it's hard to stop them leaving.
Seeking constant distractions and identifying with brands and status symbols, we struggle to escape the superficial self. Shutterstock/Sean De Burca

The lies of happiness: living with affluenza but without fulfilment

In the first of our series, On Happiness, the question is whether unsustainable consumption and debt can ever bring us happiness. The global financial question was a chance to take stock, yet did we learn anything?
Would reporter Bob Woodward have been able to protect Deep Throat’s identity from today’s surveillance tools? Reuters/Alex Gallardo

How surveillance is wrecking journalist-source confidentiality

Four decades on, in a digital era of surveillance and data storage, Watergate remains a useful yardstick for assessing the value of source confidentiality.
Blogger and media critic Anita Sarkeesian in a Feminist Frequency video. from www.feministfrequency.com

Rape threats and cyberhate? Vote no to the new digital divide

Cyberhate would deny women their full democratic rights as citizens, yet this is trivialised and dismissed – just as sexual violence, discrimination and workplace harassment have been for decades.