A Day of Great Moral Failure

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 The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed its dismay at changes passed to the Migration and Maritime Powers Acts which will cause greater suffering for those vulnerable people seeking refuge in Australia. “Today is a day of great moral failure for Australia,” said Uniting Church President, Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney, in response to the legislation which passed the Senate in ... Read More »

Julian Burnside: Sydney Peace Prize Lecture

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Law and Ethics ABC Big Ideas Sydney Peace Foundation He says he “grew up breathing liberal air.” He was born in the year Robert Menzies came to power and Menzies was still there when he finished school in Melbourne. Entire Talk watch now listen to audio [29.33 Mb] download video (mp4) [5.68 Mb] He’s Julian Burnside, barrister, human rights advocate, ... Read More »

Atul Gawande: The Smiling Angel of a Happy Death


It is said that victorious Roman generals, on city parades following battlefield triumphs, would be followed by a servant. “Memento Mori,” the servant would say over and over. “Remember that you have to die.” Later, still-life paintings were punctuated by symbols of the finite – rotting fruit, wilting flowers, bubbles – as reminders of life’s transience. Early self-help books, with ... Read More »

Medicine, morality and magnanimity in death

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In May this year, in these pages, Peter Short wrote a forthright opinion piece declaring he was dying of oesophageal cancer, had a supply of Nembutal and would end his own life at a time of his choosing. In January this year, his doctors gave him six months to live. He is still very much alive and is campaigning vigorously ... Read More »

Anniversary of SIEV X sinking a time for reflection

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The notebook is blue, the spine reinforced with tape. The covers are fraying at the edges. The pages list every person assisted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre since June 2001, the month it was opened. The notebook is full. It contains 7579 names. Pick any name at random and Kon Karapanagiotidis,  chief executive and founder of the centre, knows ... Read More »

Why we should still hang our heads in shame over SIEV X

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WHILE we mourn the dead children of MH17 and Gaza, let us remember the dead children of SIEV X. That’s the name, the infamous name given to a nameless Indonesian boat that left Bandar Lampung on an October day 13 years ago – and was to become the name of a great tragedy when, a day after its departure for ... Read More »

Rescue effort launched for hundreds on stricken boat off Cyprus

Cypriot emergency services launched a rescue mission today for about 300 people thought to be Syrian refugees  Photo: AFP

Cypriot cruise ship tries to rescue 300 people, believed to be Syrian refugees, after boat hit rough seas off Cyprus A Cypriot cruise ship was trying on Thursday to rescue hundreds of migrants, most of them women and children, after their boat hit rough seas off the coast of the eastern Mediterranean island. About 300 people, believed to be Syrian ... Read More »

Sinking of Mediterranean migrant boat mass murder, says UN rights chief

Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan, the UN high commissioner for human rights. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

“Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein says survivors’ accounts of incident in which 500 died point to ‘crime that must not go unpunished’ The UN’s new human rights chief has urged Egypt to join with European nations in hunting down the human traffickers who allegedly drowned up to 500 migrants in the Mediterranean by ramming their boat. He said the traffickers are likely guilty of “mass murder” and ... Read More »