Teaching Law

Friday, 19 September 2014

Terror: abstract and embodied

How do women respond to threats of violence?*
Over the last two days, Australian media have been filled with reports of the execution of search warrants in a number of locations in Brisbane and Sydney. Two have already been charged with terrorism-related offences as a result, and investigations continue. Security at Parliament House in Canberra has been 'ramped up' after 'chatter' revealed a security threat. These events follow the upgrading (downgrading??) of Australia's security status to 'high risk'. For all the talk of terror plots, security experts say that 'lone wolves' pose the greatest threat to our safety.

The public has been told to be alert, but reassured of our safety. The Queensland Premier has gone as far as to proclaim Queensland as the 'safest place in the world'. These reassurances only seem to me to feed into an alarmism surrounding these so-called terror threats. I note also that these events and political responses to them are proximate to the introduction of 'sweeping new powers' for Australian security agencies under the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill. Of some concern, these powers, according to Senator David Leyonhjelm will 'open the door' to torture.

In the face of the wall-to-wall coverage of these recent events, I am left unable to assess either the nature or the extent of the risk of the types of crimes described by authorities. That is principally, random acts of violence. I realise that these possible crimes are truly awful, and that the police and authorities must take action to protect the community.  I cannot, however, seem to stem a skepticism about the reality of the so-called 'threat'. I think my skepticism is borne out of seeing how police so frequently fail to respond to actual and reported threats of violence against women.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ending Feminised Poverty

Here is my piece in Eureka Street on ending feminised poverty. 
Progressive institutional reform requires setting a clear direction confirming the value of women in all social and institutional contexts: the workplace, the home, the parliament, courts and executive, in education, sport, media and culture.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Women's property - the case for ambitious change

Were they ambitious enough?

The proposal for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is in the news again, with Tony Abbott putting the brakes on anything that looks like a 'bill of rights'. At the moment, it's looking like a split argument as between 'minimalists' and others - just as occurred with the republic referendum all those years ago.

I've written about my own views on constitutional recognition, suggesting that a full suite of changes is necessary to achieve the goal. In this post though, I'll explore another minimalist change to rights - that of married women's property. My suggestion is that in failing to be ambitious in the change ushered in, what looks like a win only really reinforces the status quo.