Australian Politics Foreign Affairs General Perspectives

State Writer’s Perspectives on mid-March – Christchurch Shooting, Brexit and Clean Energy

Writer's of State Magazine provide a review and opinion on the recent news-cycle, discussing Brexit, Christchurch and more.

No matter how much news we consume, how deep we analyse stories we find interesting and how wide we spread our attention, no one person consumes media in the same way. The stories that people are drawn to, and their interpretations of those stories, means that there can be quite a lot of divergence among just a handful of politically engaged individuals. In light of this, we thought it an interesting concept to collect some of our writer’s thoughts on the news-cycle of the past few weeks. While there is some over-lap, I’m happy to have seen a wide variety of issues brought up, and even some that caught me completely unaware.

Ian Tan – Postgraduate Student completing a Masters in Secondary Teaching

It has been three years since Britain voted to leave the European Union; and whether Britain will leave with a deal, without a deal, or at all, is still uncertain. Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a majority of 149 votes. It then, in a non-binding vote, expressed its opposition to a no deal Brexit and for an extension of Article 50. And in a bombshell announcement, the Speaker announced the Brexit deal cannot be brought back for a third vote without changes to the deal.

The road to Brexit was never supposed to be easy and we cannot say definitively how the next few weeks will play out. Powerful forces are seeking to delay, frustrate and even thwart Brexit altogether – dishonouring the explicit instruction of the British people in the referendum. Opposition figures are pushing for a long-delay in Article 50 so that a new deal can be re-negotiated. Others are pushing for a second divisive referendum, while others are keen to take Britain out without a deal.

The splits are deep, the divisions tribal, the differences many. Yet I am constantly reminded of the strength, the resilience and the resolve of Theresa May. She has suffered enough humiliations, embarrassments and defeats that would have finished off any other Prime Minister. But when she could have walked away, she has fought on, defying the critics who said she could not survive, could not strike a deal with the EU or secure further concessions. Indeed, when the history books on Brexit are written, I have little doubt that it will say Theresa May was the one who, despite the roadblocks, took Britain out of the European Union.

Desiree Michelle – 3rd Year Undergraudate majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Communications and Media Studies
On Brexit –

What an absolute shambolic mockery. While I’m not surprised that May hasn’t opted for a second referendum to decide what the final vote is, she did one thing right in the 3 years in Parliament and asked (shamefully) the EU for an extension. I can understand why Cabinet won’t approve of May’s deal, and one point I find vague and worrying is the Irish border issue. May wants an open border on the island of Ireland – meaning that Northern Ireland would continue to operate which would make them remain within the EU customs – making it different from how England/Wales/Scotland would run and can have implications for British sovereignty. It is not ideal, as Brexit rules would not be uniform throughout and could have spill-over effects into Scotland who are considering a second referendum to being independent just to remain in the UK. Though I would think having another referendum would be ideal, it won’t happen and whatever may come in parliament until June, Britain will have to accept whatever may come – no matter how disastrous it might be for the country.

On the Christchurch Shooting –

I think it’s fair to say that the terrorist attack that happened in the past week in Christchurch was horrific and people all around the world have felt the impact, most of us heartbroken – but one person stood out to me in this whole ordeal. No, not egg boy no matter how “heroic” people make him out to be. The grace that Jacinda Ardern has shown throughout this whole incident was at the very least, remarkable. Her true display of empathy when she went down to the mosques and visited family members of the victims was one of respect and calm. This and the swift, concretive legislative change of banning semi-automatic weapons and classifying them as ‘military weapons’ showed a leader who is capable of following through on change, and helping to heal a community in mourning, promising financial assistance to the victim’s families and being a rock when her nation needs her. This is something that other world leaders should aspire to be.

Lloyd Hotinski – 2nd Year Undergraduate majoring in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics

The Australian Prime Minister — Scott Morrison — demanded an apology from the Turkish president — Recep Tayyip Erdogan — after he threatened anyone coming to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in a coffin. He said: “Your grandparents came here … they returned in caskets … we will send you back like your grandfathers” — making reference to the ANZAC troops who fought in Gallipoli. Erdogan thinks that the mosque attacks in New Zealand are part of a wider attack on Turkey and evidence of global anti-Muslim sentiment; he claimed that Australia and New Zealand’s motives for sending troops in WWI were ‘anti-Islam-oriented’.
The Japanese Emperor — Akihito — will abdicate at a ceremony on April 30th, after which the magatama comma-shaped jewel and a sword validating the throne will be returned to the Imperial Palace. On May 1st, the sacred objects will be brought back to the ceremonial site, where the new emperor of Japan will inherit the Imperial Regalia.
The South Korean Prime Minister — Lee Nak-yeon — is hopeful that North Korea could be induced to give up its nuclear program through cross-border economic exchanges. He commented that, “it is possible to seek exchanges in such areas as culture, academia and sports”, and that it is a positive development that the UN Security Council and US recently waved sanctions for shipment of equipment to North Korea for video reunions between separated family members. The South Korean President — Moon Jae-in — is also hopeful Pyongyang will stay on the course of dialogue.

Keegan Nazzari – 2nd Year Undergraduate majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Communication and Media Studies

On the 19th of March, Kassy Dillon wrote an article for the Daily Wire about Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro meeting at the White House. It details their discussions on topics including, “defeating socialism, improving trade, and exposing fake news.” The two leaders professed great admiration for each other, with the article highlighting that Bolsonaro has a statue of both Trump and Ronald Reagan in his offices.
Also, a new study has come out of the journal, Clinical Psychological Science. Emily Zanotti reported on it, according to the study, “ researchers report, that trigger warnings do little to help those who might have experienced real trauma.” However, according to this study, they do not cause any negative effects either. This finding contradicts an older study from Harvard which, “found that trigger warnings actually make people “less resiliant [sic] to trauma,” and in some cases may make certain reactions worse.”
And Wednesday morning in Italy a school bus was hijacked by the bus driver, as The Guardian reports. After terrifying the 51 children and their teachers, the man, “doused the vehicle with an inflammable liquid, reportedly shouting: “Nobody gets off here alive.”” Fortunately, the police managed to safely rescue the terrified children and their teachers whilst the bus was aflame, and there was no loss of life, however, 12 students and 2 adults are in the hospital. The article did not mention any motive for the attack and police are yet to release one. The attacker is now in police custody.

Nicholas Cokis – 2nd year Undergraduate majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Economics

It’s hard not to focus on the tragedy that occurred in Christchurch when making a review of recent news, but there has been a lot said on that topic already. Generally, I have been content with the reaction of the world’s politicians and the media. What I have the most to say about is Australian politics, which continues to be more fascinating the closer we get to the election. As if Morrison didn’t have enough problems already, a little over a week ago former National’s leader Barnaby Joyce undermined the voice of his own party leader by calling for the government to back building a new coal fired power plant in Queensland. National’s leader Michael McCormack carefully tread around this issue; and rightly so you’d think. If the Coalition has any chance of winning the election, they need to appeal to inner-city electorates where climate change and clean energy is a hot button issue.

Unfortunately for the government, Barnaby has stubbornly shown he doesn’t want to budge on this issue, asserting on ABC’s Radio National that Queenslanders shouldn’t have to compromise to satisfy ‘Melbourners’ on the issue of clean energy. Either Barnaby doesn’t have the intelligence to realise that an outdated energy policy will lose the Coalition the election, or he wants to tank the government in the hopes of claiming leadership over his party out of the rubble. The fact that these kinds of things are even happening eight weeks out from an election I think spells doom for the Coalition. In my opinion, the only thing that can save them now is another Tampa affair; but the recent Medivac bill suggests that maybe public opinion has changed on immigration since 2001. Only time will tell, but for Morrison time is running out.

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