The Age reports that charities working in immigration detention centres were asked to pay multimillion-dollar bonds that could be forfeited if they spoke out against government policy, as the Coalition sought to maintain secrecy over border protection.
The Turnbull government should hang its head in shame over this policy and Bill Shorten’s ongoing silence further the view that he is unfit for national leadership. He’s too busy worrying about branch stacking (in which most people suspect is deeply implicated) to take a public stand on issues like this.
What is it that the government is so frightened of the Australian public knowing about?
What is going on on these islands that needs so much secrecy and repression?
Why can the Australian people not know what is being done in their name and with the use of their taxpayer dollars?
It’s shameful that charities such as Save the Children and the Red Cross are forced into a situation of humiliating silence simply to perform their key functions: protecting the weak and oppressed.
It is even more shameful that the Australian Government is behind this disgraceful arrangement.
And another thing:
It is time we stop calling them detention centres and named them for what they really are.
They are prison camps.
As a nation, it is time that we faced up to this fact.
Two detention centres: one American, one Australian.
This gorgeous painting by French painter Guillemot Alexandre Charles (1786-1831) depicts the moment when Vulcan is about to cast the net he has forged over the two lovers, Mars and Venus, trapping them in flagrante delicto for all to see.
The beautifully shaped alabaster form of Venus dominates the centre of the painting. The goddess of love is portrayed as a ravishing (and frequently ravished) beauty.
Mars was the archetypical bad boy. hot tempered, always ready for a fight and desperately attractive.
Poor old Vulcan, by contrast, was rather more mundane. toiling away in his forge each day. Think Joe Gargery from Great Expectations.
The central figure, the blushing Venus, with her hand to a head in feigned concern radiates “well what did you expect?”
She is a ditzy Princess Di figure, a narcissist only partially connecting to the drama surrounding her.
The figure of Mars is similarly disconnected from the drama.
He stares at the viewer with sullen aggression saying, “So what are you looking at?”
Only Vulcan appears to be emotionally connected to what is happening.
He stares of Venus in puzzlement as if trying to understand what has happened. Surely this was not the first time. Her list of lovers included Dionysius, Mercury, Zeus, Nerites, Poseidon, and the mortal, Adonis. Perhaps that is what is puzzling Vulcan.
There are two strong compositional structures in this painting linking the three central figures.
The first runs from Mars’ shoulder down the figure of Venus where it connects with a transverse that runs along her right leg her foot, her foot and into the left arm of Vulcan. This structure serves to reinforce emotional content of the painting.
A secondary structure is in the background where the gods view the plight of the lovers from Mount Olympus.
The Gods look on
Once he had ensnared the lovers with his net, Vulcan
…… call’d the Gods to view the sportive pair:
The Gods throng’d in, and saw in open day,
Where Mars, and beauty’s queen, all naked, lay.
O! shameful sight, if shameful that we name,
Which Gods with envy view’d, and could not blame;
But, for the pleasure, wish’d to bear the shame.
Each Deity, with laughter tir’d, departs,
Yet all still laugh’d at Vulcan in their hearts.
Ovid Metamorphoses Book IV
The title of the painting reminds me of the famous anecdote.
The famous Dr. Johnson was discovered one day by Mrs. Johnson in bed with one of her serving maids.
“Why, Dr. Johnson,” said his wife, “I am surprised.”
“No,” said the lexicographer, “my dear. I am surprised; you are astonished!”
Elizabeth “Tetty” Porter, Johnson’s wife: astonished not surprised
The Age reports that Refugees are not raped on Nauru and would riot for the cameras if Australian journalists were allowed onto the Pacific island, the Nauruan government claims.
The government also insists Australian journalists have an “air of racial superiority” and it is under no obligation to respond to their requests for information, despite Commonwealth taxpayers spending billions of dollars on the island’s detention centre.
To be fair, it’s not just the Nauran government’s fault that things are going pear -shaped. Australian policy on asylum seekers is deeply flawed and a detention centre on Nauru was always going to present more problems than it solved.
It’s not reasonable to expect the poverty stricken, poorly governed island community to accept responsibility for Australia’s misplaced policies.
But to deny media access only reinforces the idea that things are not going well on Nauru and that this time for the detention centre to be closed and the detainees brought to Australia.
Tony Abbott is in London trying to seek justification for his hard-line policies on asylum seekers.
The Age reports that Tony Abbott’s controversy-sparking speech in honour of Margaret Thatcher made Conservative cabinet ministers “wince”, a well-connected Tory blogger says.
Tony Abbott looks better in budgie smugglers
It is a pity that someone was not at the Margaret Thatcher speech to remind the audience that Tony Abbott, an elected prime minister, had been dumped by his party because he was leading towards electoral disaster and was probably the most unpopular Prime Minister ever. And that many people found his policies repugnant.
“The imperative to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ is at the heart of every Western polity … but right now this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error,” Mr Abbott said.
The difficulty in accepting that the Australian approach would work in Europe, however, is that Mr Abbott’s argument is built on four highly contestable foundations: one, that people would not flee Syria or northern Africa if there were no people smugglers; two, that asylum seekers should settle in their first country after fleeing to be regarded as refugees, when in fact many of those nations reject them; three, that economic refugees from Syria or Libya are the norm; and four, that some nations – namely, Germany – are saying they will accept all comers.
While in power, Tony Abbott was becoming a national embarrassment. It appears he is now going to turn himself into an international embarrassment.
There is nothing praiseworthy or noble about Australia’s asylum seeker policies and it’s a pity that the discredited ex–Prime Minister is seeking to prove otherwise on an international stage.
Abbott would be well advised to detour through New York on his trip back to Australia and visit the Statue of Liberty where he will read these words by American poet Emma Lazarus:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Or perhaps reflect on this from President Jimmy Carter
SMH reports that Environment Minister Greg Hunt re-approved the controversial mine last week, just two months after the Federal Court set aside a previous approval for the Adani mine.
The Adani mine: Australia makes a continuing contribution to the degradation of the environment
But the mine’s viability remains uncertain due to the slumping coal price and issues around financing the project.
National Australia Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured by green groups to not get involved.
Sixty-one prominent Australians including Wallabies star David Pocock, a trio of former Australians of the year and eminent scientists and economists have pressed the newly turned 61-year-old Malcolm Turnbull to stop any new coal mines and to put an international moratorium on coal on the agenda of the forthcoming Paris climate talks.
The argument from the government is that Australia has a moral obligation to provide coal to India so that people who are not on the energy grid will have access to power.
What is disappointing about this statement is that the policy of the Abbott government of treating the Australian electorate as idiots, appears to be continuing under Turnbull.
The problem is not the source of energy (be it coal, solar, diesel, wind power), the problem is the nature of the grid.
The problem for the poverty-stricken of India is that they have no access to power.
The problem is not that they need more coal.
And there are two important points to remember about contributions to climate change.
The first is that Australia’s contribution, per capita, is amongst the highest in the world. So we do have an option to demonstrate to the world, how a high-polluting country can make a contribution to protecting the environment. It is called international leadership.
The second point that the petition makes is that the extent to which Australia contributes to global warming is not just the level of carbon emissions from Australia. It also must include carbon emissions from Australian coal exports
It is reasonable to argue that if we didn’t sell coal to India or China, then someone else would.
But it’s also equally reasonable to argue that if the world’s coal producers were to say: “Enough” and ban the development of new coal mines, then this would slow the degradation of our environment.
It might reverse the trend. But it will be a start.
Turnbull has the opportunity to become a leader on the international stage by saying: “Australia will develop no new coal mines. We need better solutions to the world’s energy problems.”
Leadership will require a different approach to climate change.
Footnote: Everybody knows that Turnbull has personal views on climate change that are far removed from those of his party. His problem is that he’s doing nothing to turn his personal commitment into policy.
You might not have like Tony Abbott. I certainly didn’t. But he had the power of his convictions.
Alert alert: Google is not searching any results for Tony Abbott. There is a God.
The Age reports that on the last day of summer, September 22, Mr Trump had a towering lead at 28 per cent, then came Dr Carson at 19 per cent. Senator Marco Rubio trailed at 8 per cent, then Mr Bush on 7 per cent. Although the article doesn’t state what the sample group was, it’s reasonable to assume was Republican voters. Given that they are 42% of the 57% who voted in the last presidential election, that gives Trump just 24% of the popular vote. One thing that we don’t know is where the support for Carson, Rubio and Bush will go if Trump is nominated.
His nearest challenger is paediatrician Dr Ben Carson who believes abortion should be banned in all circumstances and dismisses not only climate change, but even evolution. and is deemed more unelectible than Trump.
In Australia, we watch with the mixture of fascination, disbelief and horror as it appears more likely that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination and even if he didn’t, would run as an independent, splitting the vote for the right.
In Australia, we became used to idiotic statements and actions from our Prime Minister: things such as:
Climate change is absolute crap
Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.
I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons
On posing closely with a group of teen female netballers: [a] bit of body contact never hurt anyone’
What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing…
But that comes nowhere near Donald Trump’s statement that he would deport 11 million illegal Mexican immigrants and that he will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.
Most of his campaign statements seem broadcast from a radio station deep and political Lala land.
In all the commentary that I have read, no one has provided a rational explanation for Trump’s success. From the other side of the world, it appears that the situation is developing where a real estate salesman and TV presenter is being seriously considered for nomination as president of the United States.
From over here, he seems eminently unsuitable. But that is clearly not the view of a section of the American population.
Is the answer simply that there is such a profoundest mistrust of government in America that many people would prefer to see a complete buffoon, incapable of governing the country, as president?
Then again, perhaps he is not doing so well. A recent CNN poll of all voters found Mr Trump had favourable rating of 31 per cent and falling, against 59 per cent unfavorable, leaving him 28 percentage points underwater, an untenable position.
If Trump is not successful in gaining the Republican nomination, it seems pretty clear that he will stand as an independent. The man’s ego is too big to walk away and say he’s failed on the biggest stage there is.
He will effectively split the right-wing vote ensuring victory for the Democratic nominee. We can expect to see the contest for this intensify in the coming months. But the Clinton camp must be rubbing their hands in delight.
Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (parents of Achilles who would go on to become the legendary Greek warrior). This was the archetypal Greek wedding. It would have everything, but most particularly it would have guests behaving badly and the potential for a fair amount of family discord.
Eris, goddess of discord, contributed a golden apple which she threw in as a prize for beauty.
Three goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, claimed the apple. They asked Zeus to judge which of them was fairest and eventually, reluctant to favour any claim himself, he declared that Paris, a Trojan mortal, would judge their cases.
While Paris inspected them, each attempted to use her powers to bribe him.
Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia.
Athena offered wisdom and skill in war.
Aphrodite, who enhanced her charms with flowers and song, offered her sister, the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta, who was at this time the wife of the Greek king, Menelaus.
Now this really set the cat amongst pigeons. We have a big Greek wedding and Aphrodite, a well-known tart, offers the wife of the Greek king to Paris, a Trojan.
Aphrodite, the sex goddess, was effortlessly more seductive and more charming than the other two. She probably would have won without throwing Helen into the mix so you can see why people were a bit pissed-off with her.
On top of this, she was a bit of a tart, listing amongst her lovers the gods Mars, Dionysius, Mercury, Zeus, Nerites, Poseidon, and the mortal Adonis. She was also married to Vulcan, the God of blacksmiths, who didn’t seem to mind her infidelities despite catching her in the act with Mars.
As a consequence, she was a bit of a poster girl for artists from the Renaissance onwards particularly if they were searching for something with high erotic value.
Paris accepted Aphrodite’s offer and awards the apple to her, receiving Helen, the enmity of the Greeks and especially of Hera. The Greeks’ expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the mythological basis of the Trojan War.
The story has everything. It is the mythical beginning of the most famous war of ancient times: the Trojan war.
It is also an potent commentary on what happens when the affairs of men and gods collide. Zeus, a renowned pants man wisely decided not to take part in the judgement. Hera is his wife and Athena his daughter. Choosing either would lead to accusations of favouritism, not choosing Hera would lead to increased marital discord, given his long series of infidelities.
Zeus had children with the goddesses Aega, Antiope, Demeter, Eurynome, Gaea, Hera, Metis, Mnemosyne, Maea, Persephone, Themis and as many as 60 off-spring with mortals. His children included Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses.
He once disguised himself as a bull to abduct the beautiful Europa.
He also disguised himself as swan to seduce Leda.
There are echoes of this in Guillaume Guillon Lethière’s painting where a number of swans surround the main figures.
It certainly does help to know your Greek mythology when it comes to looking at paintings like these.
The story is also a tale of male dominance and sexual power. The three goddesses must compete for the prize and they must compete before a mortal male. There is no doubt that Aphrodite probably used some persuasive powers that the other two were not prepared to exercise.
Naturally enough, stories like these attracted the attention of many artists mainly, during the 15th and 16th centuries. Unlike the story of Susanna and the Elders, it has not attracted the attention of more modern painters, despite the fact that there are themes of male power and sexuality inherent in the story and it has plenty to excite feminist outrage.
At a superficial level, the story provides an opportunity for the artist to depict naked females. It was rare, and not socially acceptable, for artists to simply celebrate female beauty. It was always more useful to be able to paint a naked woman in a classical or biblical myth and getting three at once was a bonus.
In many of the paintings, all three of the goddesses are naked, although Athena often wears her helmet and carries a spear. Perhaps she felt naked without them.
The contest has provided the artist with an opportunity to do a comprehensive study of the female form.
This painting by Hendrick van Balen the Elder, (c. 1599) is relatively clumsy effort. The three naked goddesses are depicted in three different poses as is common in many of the paintings. Athena has strangely misshapen back muscles. According to the legend only Aphrodite was prepared to undress to seduce Paris but in this case all three have. It produces no advantage for Hera and Athena, as Paris looks straight past them to make eye contact with Aphrodite who was already being showered with flowers by two small cupids.
There are two key elements to the paintings of the situation. The first is the potential to depict the female from three different perspectives in the same painting and the second is to capture some of the drama inherent in the situation. In this painting, the only dramatic tension is in Paris’ clear intention to choose Aphrodite.
Anselm Feuerbach (1829 – 1880) has taken a similar opportunity to depict the female nude with two stunningly beautiful women dominating the centre of the painting.
In this painting, there is a lush sensuality that is not present in the van Balen and the emphasis is very strongly on the female form. Paris is blended into the background both in terms of the colour tones and the detail that is used to depict him. He lacks the sensuality and vibrancy of the colour of the two nudes who seem preoccupied with their own beauty rather than impressing Paris. The languid eroticism of two goddesses establishes a psychological perspective on the situation and their preoccupation is in marked contrast to Paris who seems almost bored with proceedings.
He’s not bored in in the portrayal by Eduard Lebiedzki (1862 -1915) which, like the Feuerbach, establishes the emotional interplay between the three goddesses and Paris.
Paris has made his decision and is clearly entranced by a rather vacuous looking Aphrodite. Hera and Athena look on, one resigned to the decision while the other casts a contemptuous glance at both Paris and Aphrodite. She is clearly unimpressed with Paris’ choice and the wiles that Aphrodite had used to win. The positioning of the two standing goddesses is similar to that in Feuerbach’s work, one faces the viewer while the other has her back turned. The difference is that in Lebiedzki’s painting, while the goddesses are on display for the viewer, their attention is clearly focused on Paris.
The same is true in Anton Raphael Mengs painting. The goddesses dominate the centre of the frame but their poses are static and Hera, the centre figure, is clearly disinterested in what is going on and Athena, on the right, is patently scornful.
There is mixed in similarity between the two fingers on the right-hand side of these two paintings despite there being painted approximately 150 years apart.
The version by Frans Floris provides an interesting perspective. The foreground is dominated by three figures: Zeus, Hera and Athena who are all portrayed in almost amazonian gorgeousness. On the left, Zeus looks out of the frame of the picture. It’s his party and he shows a proprietorial disinterest in the scene that he has set up. Hera and Athena look on with with bemused contempt.
In the middle background, Paris presents the golden apple to Aphrodite, a diminutive and somewhat less attractive figure compared with the three in the foreground.
Floris Has clearly used a favourite model for Aphrodite and he uses the same one for his painting of Adam and Eve.
Jean Baptiste Regnault produces the most dazzlingly sensual Aphrodite of all as well as a wonderful evocation of the dynamics between the three goddesses.
Aphrodite has an almost narcissistic preoccupation with her own beauty and appears to be ignoring the offer of the apple from the smitten Paris. Hera and Athena are gathering up their clothes and leaving and disgust. Hera appears to be turning and saying, “Well, what would you expect? The hussy has no shame.”
There is a similar dynamic in Fabre’s painting. The two rejected goddesses are showing their contempt as Paris awards the apple to Aphrodite. However, the little Cupid is clearly pleased with the decision.
Peter Paul Rubens painted the scene a number of times.
His interest was clearly in the nuances of the portrayal of the female nude as is shown by the similarities between the two paintings.
There have been more modern interpretations of the judgement of Paris. Enrique Simonet’s furnishing is a typically early 20th century soft core porn version of the legend.
It’s an interesting combination of middle-class concepts of beauty and propriety personified in the stances of Hera and Athena who are standing slightly bashful in the background, while the pure and white Aphrodite stands exposing (and offering?) herself to the view of the sunburnt goat-herd who is appraising her. It’s a collision of the natural purity of women and the savage and animal lust of men. A trite but powerful metaphor of the views of the time.
The version by Max Klinger is far more unequivocal about the nature of female sexuality.
In this painting, Aphrodite is unashamedly demonstrating her charms to Paris while the other two goddesses prepare to do the same. It’s a male sexual fantasy dressed up as a Greek myth. Not great art, but an interesting social and artistic comment.
The Judgement of Paris has survived because, like all the myths that have survived, it taps into primordial and archetypal impulses and emotions. It is about the random nature of human affairs, in this case the will of the gods and the impact that they have on the lives of mortals.
In casting the Gods in the human form, their actions become comprehensible in terms of the experience of ordinary humans. This is the key to mythology.
There are themes that run through the Judgement of Paris, sex, infidelity, male power, female power, female cupidity and male stupidity that resonate thousands of years later.
The work of the great artists serves to highlight key moments in these myths and illustrate the central themes that run through the narrative.
It’s a powerful example of how the combination of word and image can present such powerful psychological insights into the human condition
The Age has reported that Greens leader Richard Di Natale has declared he would “relish” the chance to serve as health minister in a future Labor-Greens coalition government, and suggested colleagues such as Larissa Waters could also serve in cabinet in charge of portfolios such as environment.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale Talking about an alliance with the Labor Party
One of the problems with our democracy is that a party that attracted between 10% and 15% of the popular vote does not enjoy that proportion of the representation in Parliament.
One way to change the situation is to move towards electoral system is similar to that in New Zealand but it is highly unlikely that the two main parties would contemplate something that would mean an equitable power-sharing with minor parties.
One possible outcome is that there is an alliance between the Greens and Labor.
Labor is effectively the beneficiary of Greens preferences, yet has made no attempt whatsoever to incorporate any of the Green’s policies into the Labor Party policy platform, something that must irritate Greens voters who allocate their preferences to the Labor Party
The simple facts of the matter appear to be that Labor will never be able to form government without Green preferences and it might be a good time to consider recognising this political reality.
In the light of Di Natale’s comments, expect a ferocious backlash from the Labor Party. It is probably a long time before these two parties will form what appears to be very natural alliance.
So here’s the scenario.
Labor and the Greens get into bed together and work out an agreement about inner-city seats, who stands where, swapping of references and ensures that Greens voters have 15% of the representation in the lower house.
So here is the other scenario.
Centralist and left-leaning conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decides to do a deal with the Greens. He decides that the future of the Liberal party lies in jettisoning the extreme right and the National party. It didn’t work for Tony Abbott and it isn’t going to work in the future. So he decides to do a political deal that shifts the tectonic plates.
This is the kind of transition to the future that Menzies was able to bring about for the Liberal party in the 50s.
So Turnbull forms alliance with the Greens.
This alienates the right wing of his party which splits off and forms an extreme anti-Islamic, anti-immigration, homophobic, climate denial, right wing, Cory Bernardi based splinter group whose electoral support is minimal.
The new Green/Liberal centralist party also draws in environmentally concerned members of the Labor Party.
Suddenly Turnbull has the Liberal’s party’s 40% of the primary vote plus 10 to 15% from the Greens, plus the left-wing of the environmentally concerned rural National party and an unassailable Parliamentary majority.
The people who think seriously about the future of the Labor Party in Australia should be very concerned about the scenario.
Malcolm Turnbull has the potential to transform the Liberal Party in a way that Menzies did.
The Age reports that: A “yes” vote in a proposed 2017 plebiscite on same-sex marriage equality would deliver the change immediately, with legislation to be put to Parliament before the next election under a new plan being considered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Age reports that Malcolm is weighing gay marriage
This means that the legislative change, which the vast proportion of the Australian population want, is at least two years away.
The Age termed this a “sudden acceleration of the reform process.”
If this is a sudden acceleration, I’d hate to see something being slowed down.
The test will come for Malcolm Turnbull in overcoming the right wing in his party, who are already beginning to raise objections.
Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Social Services Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said that support for same-sex marriage could place under threat some of our most marginal seats which have disproportionately high religious and migrant communities,” she said.
Spokes-person for the Conservative right wing Concetta Fierravanti-Wells , and the puppet master
Surely that’s not the point.
It’s not whether this policy will damage the liberal government in marginal seats, it’s whether this is a socially just and equitable policy for Australia.
The Age also reported that dumped cabinet minister Eric Abetz has unleashed a blistering attack on a proposal to have the current Parliament vote in favour of same-sex marriage ahead of a 2017 plebiscite, describing it as a “thought bubble” and “ambush to boot”.
And Senator Abetz, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, warned the idea would do nothing to heal the wounds caused by September leadership spill.
Poor old Senator Abetz, He seems to think that the change of leadership should not bring about policy change because doing so won’t heal the wounds.
Senator Abetz gay marriage is going to make him feel worse
What about the wounds were made during Abbott’s prime ministership: many and various? The Australian electorate is hoping that Turnbull will now take the opportunityto heal those.
This will be a test of Turnbull’s leadership. If he goes ahead with this particular plan, he will effectively be endorsing the approach that Abbott took.: “Delay it for long enough and it will go away.”
Eventually, Turnbull is going to have to show who was in charge: Him or the right wing of the party.
This plan makes it look as if nothing has changed since Abbott was deposed and a small group of social conservatives remain the dominant power within the Liberal party room.
Turnbull needs to demonstrate that this is not true.