Sir Garfiled Barwick’s Conjugal Rights Problem and other comments on the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1959

“The procedure for an order for restitution of conjugal rights is an ecclesiastical procedure designed to protect marriage and to secure reconciliation of estranged parties. Indeed, according to ecclesiastical rules it was enforceable by attachment of the disobedient respondent. When the possibility of dissolution for disobedience was substituted for other means of enforcement of an order for restitution of conjugal rights, the way was opened, and in many cases taken, to an early, and in the minds of some a too easy, dissolution of marriage.” (Sir Garfield Barwick, speech made to the house of representatives 14 May 1959)

This is one of the many problems that Sir Garfield Barwick sought to resolve through his matrimonial causes bill of 1959. Rather than requiring ‘attachment of the disobedient respondant’ he sought to require one years disobedience of an order for the ‘restitution of conjugal rights. This new method would prevent couples deciding to get and then disobey such an order as an easy way to get a divorce.
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What’s so wrong with people painting their face brown?

Chris Lilley’s new show features him playing a black kid from America. He plays the part with his face painted brown.  Some believe that this is courting controversy, undoubtedly, given the Hey Hey Saturday Blackface performance of a couple of years ago, it is.

I am not sure what the problem is with people painting their faces brown. Is it because racism mistakes correlation for cause, i.e. a racist position concludes that because certain acts have a correlation with certain genetically determined signs those acts are caused by those genetically determined signs? Playing out that correlation could then be seen to be reinforcing that mistake.

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“…this deadly form of promotion…”

In the course of arguing in favour of the latest batch of restrictions to the sale of tobacco David Hill pointed out the dangerous nature of colourful advertising.

“Make no mistake: a cigarette pack is more than just a harmless container. As other forms of tobacco advertising have been banned, cigarette packaging has become the industry’s primary vehicle for appealing to potential smokers, particularly our children. Through the clever application of colour, illustration and design, companies are able to create a point of difference for their carcinogenic products.

The proposed plain packaging legislation will end this deadly form of promotion and make significant inroads into reducing rates of smoking initiation and consumption, thereby saving some of the 15,000-plus lives lost in Australia every year to tobacco.”

So, to recap, the argument is: by creating symbolic differences, cleverly, between cigarettes, tobacco companies are killing people.

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‘the left’, whatever it is, is not democratic?

I read this piece on the overland blog and the comments flowing from it and was taken by a suggestion that seemed to get a lot of coverage.

Specifically, I was interested in the early contributions regarding the thought that talk about the justness of a No Fly Zone intervention in Libya is in some way disingenuous because of the inability of ‘the left’ to force things to happen. That is, those comments that engaged with the following suggestion in Jacinda’s piece:

“In any case, the urgency of this debate is fraudulent, because the Left is, for all intents and purposes, incapable of determining the behaviour of western governments. If we can’t end the war in Afghanistan, we certainly can’t force the government to go to war if it doesn’t want to.”

I am interested in this because of the implications this seems to have as to what ‘the left’ is. Whatever it may be in total, this idea seem to imply that ‘the left’ is not democratic. This is surprising given the common association of democracy with ‘the left’.

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Replying to Jeff Sparrow’s Arguement On the Social Significance of the Arizon Massacre


Jeff Sparrow wrote on the Overland Blog that the Tuscon murders cannot be considered isolated events but are evidence of  “profound social crisis” that seems to go by the name of “the normalisation of violence” and is principally caused by the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not so sure that this is accurate. Doubt comes from indications of a greater age and origin of the crisis, but also, I am generally of the opinion that violent images don’t promote violence, the apparent cause of the crisis in Jeff’s analysis.  Jeff’s prognosis here seems to rely upon questionable assumptions conducive to authoritarian conclusions.

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Smug Pollution Alert

There are many uncertainties that have arisen as a result of the federal election on the 21st of August. On thing that is certain is that for the foreseeable future the people of south-eastern Australia will be dealing with the sever environmental and weather effects of high concentrations of smug. A smug alert has been issued. The pollution is emanating from various locations in Australia but is at dangerous levels of concentration in and around the federal seat of Melbourne. The most common ailment brought about by the smug pollution is choking as a result of incidents of I-vomited-a-little-bit-in-my-mouth syndrome, in some cases this has been so sever as to result in death.

A portion of a documentary on Smug Pollution:

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Gillard, The Mining Tax and the Coming Election

This week Tony Abbott was reputed to have declared that victory was within his grasp and Julia Gillard grasped it. Tony’s comment was derided as a bit impolite – it being generally conceded that to talk up ones chances beyond the avoidance of failure is in some way untoward. Nevertheless, Tony’s comment was given an endorsement in Gillard’s promotion. The drastic Labor leadership change is an attempt to stymie the steady descent of the government’s prospects at the next election.

The seat shuffling was done in the hope that that odd fascination with novelty on the part of the electorate, that phenomenon that saw people vote out Howard because ‘it was time for another guy to have a go,’ will be assuaged with the introduction of Gillard. But if this remains the only change to occur, it will only succeed on the twin assumptions that if Tony and Julia were in a TV soap, Tony would be seen as the bad guy and that Tony and the Liberal party have no coherent belief in what justice is.

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Banning ‘Super Art’: A step in the right direction

In response to a strongly worded letter that I was going to write the authorities have swung into action. Rather than simply warning people of the dubious nature of investments in art, as I argued should be done here, a recommendation has been made that the practice be banned in the instance of self-managed super funds (reported in the Australian here).

In a review of self managed super Jeremy Cooper has recommended that making art works part of an investment portfolio standing as a self managed superannuation fund should be outlawed. In this recommendation the hucksterism of the art world – the fundamentally fraudulent nature of any value being attributed to art works – has been recognised.

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Sex, Lies and Pay Parity

Amazingly, the Australian Services Union lie that they are seeking to establish pay parity between men and women still stands.

As discussed here, the claim that is being made by the union is that workers in the private sector are being paid at substantially less rates than those in the public sector. It is not about women versus men. It is about two different employers.

It would be difficult to discern this from the coverage provided by Fairfax and Murdoch’s people and down right impossible to gain any insight from what ended up on the ABC.

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Battles of Thai Democracy in the 1970s

(This is a brief history of Thai politics during the 1970s. It is largely drawn from the book: History of Thailand by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit. I am reading it in order to gain an understanding of what is occurring there today and am sharing the information I get from those books – as well as my interpretation – here. More posts on this topic may follow.)

For Thailand the 1970s saw the collapse of military dictatorship followed by a period of parliamentary rule dominated by urban business interests and then a bloody return to military dominated rule. These events go someway towards contextualising the current conflict in that nations capital, Bangkok.
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