March 28, 2020

Clashes in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) formed part of a familiar cycle. At least they did until modern weaponry and foreign energy projects reignited historic tensions and escalated the conflicts with devastating effects. Where disputes were once able to contain themselves, with their own mechanisms for re-establishing relations and peace-building, attacks and counter attacks as well as further retaliation and revenge threaten to push the conflict beyond the point of reconciliation. Something must be done before it is too late. 

The conflicts can be traced back over hundreds of years, however, in its recent history there has been a change from arrows to AK-47s and fire to firepower. Older reports describe villages and crops being burnt to the ground, contributing to the massive displ...

January 17, 2020

My country is burning. 

The Australian bushfires have turned the skies from blue, to a deathly black, to a scorching red. The fires have killed 25 people since September 2019, as well as 500,000,000 mammals, birds and reptiles – the equivalent of burning down the Bronx Zoo 125,000 times. 

Yet, despite the 5 million hectares of land burning in the country, the Australian government’s response has been tone-deaf, unsympathetic and - most importantly - too late. 

In the midst of multiple international news stories, the Australian bushfires find themselves repeatedly fighting to hold onto their presence in domestic and international media. Critically, both the government and the media continually forget this natural disaster in their discourses. This is not coincidental. The bushfires are sufferi...

March 30, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s immediate response to the Christchurch shootings as a far-right terrorist attack have been praised. In vowing to never utter the name of the individual responsible for the killings, calling him an ‘extremist, criminal, terrorist’ in Parliament, in many eyes she has become a model for the world to follow.

Most victims of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees, with 50 people confirmed dead.Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack. The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, praised the handling of the leader of the Labour sister party. Across the pond, President Donald Trump expressed sympathy on Twitter. Most world leaders across the globe offered words of solidarity but failed to explicitly condemn it as a terrorist incide...

January 11, 2019

Even in these heady days of Brexit and Trump, Australian politics continues to lead the way in its example of absolute political chaos. In the time Angela Merkel has been German Chancellor, Australia has had six Prime Ministers, and so it is not surprising that at the recent G20 summit Merkel had to attend a meeting with the latest leader of the ‘ruling’ Liberal party, Scott Morrison, armed with a factsheet about her latest counterpart.

With Morrison and the Liberals expected to lose the next general election, coming in May, Australian politics is stuck in limbo, without a functioning government and with its international reputation in chaos.

The stability of the government has long been compromised by Houses of Parliament which are smaller than those of other nations such as the UK, which has 65...

November 14, 2018

The United States has been the dominant player in the Pacific since the end of World War Two and has a well-established military presence in the region. Knowing this, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been engaging in a systematic effort to draw Pacific nations closer to its sphere of influence by pouring aid into the region.

The PRC clearly hopes to reduce the influence of the United States and its allies. One such ally is Australia, whose Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has recently made it clear that Australia will not sit idly by whilst China gains economic leverage over nations in the South Pacific. They plan to counter China by establishing a ‘Pacific package’ that can be used by Pacific nations to build infrastructure, thus creating a bulwark against Chinese economic influence. In...

September 30, 2018

In 2008 Kevin Rudd came to power in Australia on a Labour Party platform that promised change for minorities and indigenous peoples in the nation. In his famous ‘apology speech’ Rudd apologised for a century of policies that aimed to make Australia a white Europeanised nation. Mr Rudd apologised for what is known as the white Australia policy that prevented Asian immigration and openly persecuted aboriginal peoples until as recently as the 1970s.

10 years on however, the apology that Rudd offered has largely been empty, with race and racism still amongst Australia’s biggest political issues, despite the former Prime Minister being amongst the most empathetic towards minorities in Australian political history.

You only have to look at the speech by Fraser Anning in August this year – in which the...

January 18, 2018

The legalisation of same-sex marriage is an extraordinary achievement for a country with a relatively conservative social policy. However, it has only legally resolved one of the many stigmas that plague all echelons of Australian politics and many sections of Australian society. In order to become a more tolerant and socially liberal country, the nation as a whole has to tackle the rampant sexism and misogyny that some members of the Australian Parliament display.

When Julia Gillard was elected Australian Prime Minister in 2010 as Leader of the Labor Party, it could have been a watershed moment for women in Australian politics. In a profession dominated by males, having a female in the highest political office in the country was remarkable. However, Tony Abbott was elected Prime Minister three...

March 10, 2016

Phtograph: Flickr, Image Courtesy: Freedom House 

Following the recent Jakarta attacks on the 14th of January 2016 in Indonesia it appears that terrorism is no longer an act of terror but is instead an obsession to reach a political goal. The questions that arose proceeding the attacks were more along the lines of ‘ISIS is involved again, aren’t they?’ in contrast to the minority that questioned the safety and security of the country immediately. With the spread of the news across social media, hash tags such as #KamiTidakTakut, translating to #WeAreNotAfraid, were trending. But were these people insinuating they weren’t afraid of another physical attack by ISIS or the possibilities of Islamic Fundamentalism propagating across the globe?

The Jakarta attacks didn’t shake up much of the population...

February 29, 2016

Photograph: Flickr 

Australia Day is a national public holiday celebrated across Australia on the 26th January every year. It is a day to celebrate the first fleet of British ships that docked at New South Wales in 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip came with 11 convict ships and made Australia a British colony by declaring the country terra nullius – a land belonging to no one. This declaration was as troubling as it was audacious, as the land already had caretakers: the indigenous Aboriginal population.

For most Australians it is a day off work to have pool parties, get drunk, listen to Triple J Hottest 100 songs of the year, and celebrate being Australian. There are community events, award ceremonies, and pride of being considered one of the happiest places in the world to live. It is also a joyful...

December 23, 2015

Photograph: Flickr / Veni Markovski 

 

‘Here’ is leadership in Australian politics. As keen observers will note, new Prime Minister Turnbull was leader of the Liberal Party in 2008, and Leader of the Opposition, opposite then Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Both were then ousted from leadership by Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard respectively. Gillard enjoyed a brief stint as Prime Minister herself before Rudd returned to challenge her leadership.

 

As we all witnessed, the same pattern of events happened in September of this year when Turnbull reacquired the leadership from Abbott. Clearly, it seems the ‘revolving door’ of Australian politics may require closer attention. A few preliminary observations can be sketched out, however, Turnbull has been playing his policy cards close to his chest and s...

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