Editor's note

Since the Tampa affair in 2001, successive Australian governments have tried to be hard-line on asylum seekers. In our next instalment in our pre-election series Advancing Australia: ideas for a better country, Alex Reilly says our policy responses have been inhumane and untenable. Here, he charts a way forward for the next government, one he says won’t trigger large numbers of boat arrivals. If you’re in Adelaide and want to know what the government should actually be talking about this election, grab tickets to see Alex Reilly and Carol Johnson chat to The Conversation’s editor, Misha Ketchell, about what’s missing from the debate.

And a decision on a $12.7 million claim for damages arising from the 2014 Lacrosse building fire has put architects, certifiers and engineers who work as consultants to builders on notice about their potential liability for the use of flammable cladding. But, writes Geoff Hanmer, governments are also culpable for a deregulatory approach that has created huge problems for the construction industry.

New research has examined the world’s oldest tattoo kit from the island of Tongatapu, Tonga. The researchers found that the 2,700-year-old artefacts contained implements made of human bone.

Alexandra Hansen

Chief of Staff

Top story

Crossbenchers Kerryn Phelps, Julia Banks and Rebekah Sharkie celebrate the passing of the “Medivac” law through the House of Representatives. AAP/Lukas Coch

How the next Australian government can balance security and compassion for asylum seekers

Alex Reilly, University of Adelaide

Since the Tampa affair in 2001, successive governments have been anxious to be seen as "hard-line" on asylum seekers, but the cost – to people and the country – has been too high.

Flames spread rapidly up the external wall cladding at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne in November 2014. More than four years on, the combustible panels are still in use. MFB

Lacrosse fire ruling sends shudders through building industry consultants and governments

Geoff Hanmer, UNSW

Architects, certifiers and engineers who work as consultants to builders are on notice about potential liability for the use of flammable cladding, but governments are also culpable for their actions.

The tattoo tools from Tonga (left to right) made from bird, human, bird and human bone respectively. Author provided

World’s oldest tattooist’s toolkit found in Tonga contains implements made of human bone

Michelle Langley, Griffith University; Geoffrey Clark, Australian National University

Tattooing tools made and used 2,700 years ago include two blades made on human bone.

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