Rodi Said / Reuters
Australians of conscience are aghast at our treatment of refugees, and they are variously confused and ashamed at the continuing impact of racism, in both policy and the wider culture. But so feeble is the state of the national conscience that those who raise their voices often seem to be shouting into the wind.
For those of us who work in the humanitarian sector, climate change does have a face. It is a child in a barren landscape with no food to eat, or huddled in a flimsy shelter during a violent storm.
Stefan Postles via Getty Images
Conflict, persecution and starvation: these are the common factors that drive people from their homes. Right now, more than 60 million people across the globe have found themselves making this awful choice. And yet this is precisely the time when the Australian Government chooses to spend three years slashing $11 billion from the aid budget.
How you judge today's federal budget depends what you think a budget is for. Conventional wisdom has it that the best budgets stimulate the most growth. Conventional cynicism says the winner budgets are the ones that give enough prizes to the right voters to lock in a majority come polling day.
People in vulnerable situations need sanctuary, and governments that proclaim adherence to liberal and democratic values ought to provide it. Clearly conditions in Nauru and Manus fail to do this.
BULENT KILIC via Getty Images
If we are going to sign up to a commitment to make life better for the world's billions of people, we need to make sure those of us who have the means will foot the bill.
Cassandra Hannagan via Getty Images
It would be wrong to think that we have now done all we need to do. Almost 16 million people in Syria and neighbouring countries are not having their most basic needs met. We must not turn our backs on them.
Increasingly I find my country's past easier to explain than its present. Today's Australia confusingly lacks
a coherent narrative or explanation for how we are doing things, and to what purpose. How do you describe what Australian aspiration looks like in 2015?