Grace McDunnough. flickr cc.

We need to tell it as it really is!

Editorial Peter Whiting

During the waning years of the Trump presidency, it became fashionable to reference the inordinate number of misleading statements made by President Trump. The Washington Post claimed that, in the four years of his presidency, Trump made 30,573 false or misleading statements. The impact of these claims is all too evident in the USA today, with the nation deeply divided over almost any issue, including just a few – the result of the presidential election, the cause of and solution to the Covid 19 pandemic, the state of the economy.

While Trump may hold some type of contemporary record for misleading information among national leaders, he is certainly not alone, as this issue of our newsletter attests all too clearly. Sadly, Australia is not free from blame in this regard.

US soldier in Iraq. US Army Iraq.

Pope Francis apologises for war against Iraq, but will Australia?

Bruce Duncan

During his recent visit to Iraq, Pope Francis revived hopes for deep reconciliation and renewed collaboration among the ancient religious traditions of that land, but he came as a ‘penitent’ and apologised for the invasion of Iraq and the resulting despoliation over 18 years. Australia was one of the few countries to join the USA and Britain in the illegal invasion. When will Australia apologise for this criminal folly? Has no one been held to account?

Prachatai. US takes in Bagdad November 2003. flickr cc.

The blood-for-oil Iraq war demands a robust public inquiry

Bevan Ramsden

On 20 March 2021, it is 18 years since Australia made the decision to join the United States in the disastrous war of aggression against Iraq. No Australian public Inquiry into the reasons and political responsibilities for that decision has been held, and one is very much needed, as war clouds develop in South-East Asia, and a decision to join the US in another war may be around the corner.

Mika Baumeister. Unsplash. 

Rising house prices putting at risk the economic stability of the nation

Hal Pawson and Bill Randolph

Housing unaffordability is causing real economic damage that governments must treat seriously. Put simply, rising mortgage debt poses risks for national economic stability, while current housing policies contribute to stagnating economic productivity and growth. Furthermore, when lower income workers have access to affordable housing near innovation hot spots and growth industries, the economy benefits.

Solar Power. Bureau of Land Management Nevada. flickr, cc.

Go hard, go early, go renewables

Tim Colebatch

Ross Garnaut’s book Reset: Restoring Australia after the Pandemic Recession aims at creating an Australia with full employment as soon as possible – improved standards of living, sustainable finances, and world-leading new industries based on renewable energy.

Restoring full employment by transforming our international competitiveness is one of the two key themes of the book. But the other is equally central: to achieve this will require business and government rapidly to develop Australia’s new international competitive advantage in renewable energy and the products dependent on it: the hydrogen economy, ammonia and fertilisers, metal refining, and downstream processing in products such as steel and aluminium.

Dan Himbrechts/AAP.

Wake up Mr Morrison: Australia’s slack climate effort leaves our children 10 times more work to do than we have

Lesley Hughes et al

We, some of Australia’s most senior climate change scientists and policymakers, have come together to address pressing questions, informed by sound science and policy.

Our report pinpoints the emissions reduction burden Australians will bear in future decades if our Paris targets are not increased. Alarmingly, people living in the 2030s and 2040s could be forced to reduce emissions by ten times as much as people this decade, if Australia is to keep within its 2℃ ‘carbon budget’.

Photoholgic. Unsplash.

Truth & treaties: the ongoing legacy of the Uluru statement

Henry Reynolds

Australia has a complex history when it comes to truth telling. The brutal reality of colonisation was openly discussed in the C19th. But a strange thing happened during the first half of the C20th. Aborigines were progressively written out of Australian history. And much of the violence disappeared with them. There was no place for them in a national story of heroic exploration and pioneering. The focus was on an epic struggle with the land, not a tragic one. Until the 1960s, leading historians still talked of Australia’s uniquely peaceful history.

James Ross. AAP.

Victoria’s truth-telling commission: to move forward, we need to answer for the legacies of colonisation

Harry Hobbs

In Australia, a truth-telling process should not simply document history and investigate ‘historic abuses’. Rather, it should serve as a bridge to “draw history into the present”. Truth commissions often focus on individual human rights violations.

This might not be appropriate in Australia, where many perpetrators of violence are likely to have died. More importantly, Indigenous peoples see little distinction between individual acts of violence, such as massacres, and the broad structural forces behind the laws, policies, and attitudes which gave rise to and encouraged such violence.

James Ross. AAP.

Australia has a long history of coercing people into work. There are better options than ‘dobbing in’

Frances Flanagan

The notion of enlisting employers to ‘dob in’ people unwilling to enter an employment relationship is likely to be ineffective, given levels of under-employment in the labour market, and the negative response received from some employer groups to the measure.

It is likely, too, to deepen social division and increase the potential for exploitation of already vulnerable people.

Webinar Pax Christi

Sunday 18 April 2021 2–3:30pm

  • The vision of Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti. Fr Kevin Lenehan Master Catholic Theological College.
  • Collaboration not confrontation among faiths. Sr Jan Barnett RSJ Josephite Justice Network.
  • Reflecting on Australia’s relations in South-East Asia. Rev Andy Tiver Uniting Church, Co-chair Philippine-Australia Solidarity Association (PASA).
To register, email Rev Harry Kerr, or Rita Camilleri

Photo John Englart. flickr cc. In 2017 at a City of Melbourne memorial, Joseph Toscano and Carolyn Briggs recall two Tasmanian Aborigines, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, who, during the frontier conflict between Aborigines and new settlers, were convicted for killing two whale-hunters around Western Port. They were the first two people to be judicially hanged in Victoria on 20 January 1842.

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