Analysis

The federal and Victorian governments announced on March 27 a two-year extension of the controversial Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for East Gippsland, the North East and the Central Highlands. They will be reassessed at the end of the two-year period.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Victorian state government’s March 29 announcement to arm its police with semi-automatic, military-grade weapons was an early April Fool’s joke.

After all, the announcement came in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting in the United States. It also came after the Crime Statistics Agency published data on March 15 showing that crime rates have fallen by 9.9%.

The New South Wales government plans to ban people with a history of drug offences from living in social housing in parts of inner-city Sydney.

The desire to provide an environment that helps people who are trying to minimise their drug use and stay away from drug markets is understandable. The reality is there is no evidence that this is what the policy will achieve.

The recent decision by China to stop accepting low value and contaminated materials for recycling has caused the world price for them to crash. It threatens a crisis for local governments across Australia, which may be forced to send to landfill the stuff that people have sorted and put in their recycling bins.

Politics in Australia, so dominated by the major parties’ conservatism, it is turning people off participating in the political process a survey by the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University has found. However, it also shows more people are moving leftward in their political attitudes.

For nine months I have volunteered at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney.

For the past few months, an African woman has also been visiting the centre. She is Somalian and was once in detention in Villawood. Before that she was on Christmas Island, and before that on Nauru.

On this day we all sat together laughing, as volunteers do. This was the first time I had properly spoken to her. She seemed happy, calm and free.

I was one of the “pro-Palestinian hecklers” that faced off against Alan Dershowitz at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre on February 25.

I heckled because there was no freedom of speech in that United Israel Appeal (UIA) propaganda event. The issues of the stealing of Palestinian land and the killing of Palestinian people were not addressed. I have strong Jewish connections as well as Palestinian friends, some of whom were demonstrating outside, together with the valiant Jews Against the Occupation.

Explaining his call to fast track visas for white South African farmers, the renowned humanitarian Peter Dutton, whose famed concern for those in need of asylum is matched only by his complete lack of potato-like features, explained: “They need help from a civilised nation like ours.”

Sydney is in the grip of "tollway madness" and urgently needs a planning overhaul if it is to become a healthier city, the recent FitNSW forum for planning and health experts was told.

South Australians headed to the polls on March 17 to decide whether they would return the incumbent Labor Party to power after 16 years or hand government to Steve Marshall’s Liberals, with Nick Xenophon’s SA Best as a significant political force.

The results saw the Liberals win, overcoming their recent history of factionalism and disunity marked by ongoing leadership battles. Optional above the line preferential voting was introduced this election, but a redistribution of seats proved more detrimental to Labor.

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