Archive for July, 2011

Australia and ASEAN: partnership for the region

by Dr Nattavud Pimpa

Australia has been ASEAN’s dialogue partner since 1974. In fact, we are the first single nation that partnered with ASEAN for a number of economic, political and cultural reasons. Since the establishment of our relationship Australia has been working with ASEAN on a number of key issues. Some examples include (1) combating terrorism in the region, (2) fighting transnational crimes, (3) aid and development in infrastructure and education, (4) disaster risk reduction, (5) prevention of human trafficking and disaster management in the region.

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‘Can I thee wed?’ Same-sex marriage in Australia

by John Murphy

The issue of same-sex marriage in Australia is fraught with associated problems that confuse the central issue. These problems range from a residual opposition to same-sex relationships on the social and political level to the religious consciences of those who see them as sinful and immoral.

Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that allowing such couples to marry will lead to a degrading of marriage in society and, indeed, to the value of family life itself. Simply speaking, the floodgates will open and society will be consigned to the slippery slope where values and morals become redundant. Understandably, emotions are running high.

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Extreme Desperation: Why Oslo Killer Targeted Young Labor Leaders

Last Friday, Anders Behring Breivik allegedly detonated a car bomb in Oslo’s government quarter before disguising himself as a policeman and carrying out a deadly shooting spree on the island of Utøya. The mass shooting claimed 68 additional lives, an act of violence apparently motivated by the shooter’s hatred of immigration and multiculturalism. Witnesses describe him as methodical, relishing his short-lived power as he shot teenagers who averaged16 years of age.

Breivik’s decision to target a conference for progressive youth, not the immigrants he hated, was no mistake. And if there is a silver lining to the tragedy, it is that it was an act of desperation.

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One voice, one message: Presidentialism in Australia

by Alex Hamilton

There has been a shift over the last ten or so years from a parliamentary mentality to politics, to a more presidential one. Nothing epitomised this more than the national outcry of the axing of a sitting PM by his deputy a year ago; when the nation was aghast at the loss of the ‘president’ they had ‘elected’. Whilst it is an interesting shift for a relatively new country, and it should be debated as to whether it is a good thing or not, what I think is more relevant is the effect it has on policy and messaging in the political sphere.

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Immigration reform Obama style

by Jo Coghlan

America has more than 11 million (and as possibly as high as 20 million) people living inside its borders who do not have legal status. They account for 3.7% of America’s population. For American President Barrack Obama, immigration is the political elephant in the room particularly as he faces re-election next year. Recently Obama has significant speeches on immigration ‘reform’ but it is domestic politics that is driving his policies.

American immigration policy is largely family based. Residency is most commonly granted to the immediate family of existing citizens. For others, visas are granted based on skill levels, with highly skilled immigrants having a much easier time getting work permits than unskilled labourers. Skilled workers, usually people with a university education or professional training have a range of visa options. The most common visa, the H1B class, currently has a ceiling of 65,000 each year: a quota that is easily filled every year. For unskilled labourers, the U.S. grants just 5,000 work visas each year to people employed in fields other than agriculture. For many, the American dream means they live and work in America as undocumented ‘aliens’.

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