It’s rare to hear the phrase “war on terror” these days — it has been seemingly purged from the official lexicon as the superficial certainty of the Bush/Howard years gives way to darker and more ambiguous terrain. Australia is still a nation at war: one and a half thousand troops on the ground in Afghanistan, backing NATO’s installation of a brittle democracy in a violent failed state where the distinctions between friend and terrorist change by the day. But something is going on at home as well: a determined, coordinated expansion of the internal security estate that is permanently
On a dusty street in Lhasa, Tibet, a demonstration has gone bad. Tensions have been escalating for days; murmured opposition and spontaneous flashes of dissent spreading and finally igniting mass demonstrations from the Capital to every regional centre in Tibet. The security forces have been observing, documenting, falling back as numbers have grown.
It’s been a long time since there has been much of a focus on affordable housing by the Federal Government. For many years, Government policy has been skewed toward housing as just another investment instrument, with tax concessions encouraging a speculative bubble which was great for many of those who got into the market and a disaster for those left behind. At the same time, State Governments have cut budgets and run down public housing stock, creating the situation today of interminable waiting lists and the spectre of homelessness alongside some of the wealthiest communities on the planet.
The Rudd Government needs to take a careful look at Martin Ferguson’s handling of the latest tragic chapter of Australia’s 50-year nuclear waste story. A cursory review of the history of Government attempts to force nuclear waste dumps on unwilling communities shows an unbroken record of Government failure. It’s time for new thinking.
All year, the Prime Minister has been waiting for another Tampa to sail over the horizon and provide the Government with a trigger for the same ruthlessly effective campaign themes we saw in 2001.