Civil Society

With freedom comes responsibility. A society of free individuals can only function if everyone respects the rights and liberties of everybody else. This means we have to voluntarily limit our own desires and monitor our own behaviour in the hope and expectation that other people will do the same in their relations with us.

But there is evidence that these informal norms governing our behaviour have been fraying over recent decades. The CIS asks what are the causes and consequences of the decline of civility and social cohesion, and what can be done about it?

The research also examines how government is weakening civil society by trying to eradicate risk from our lives and by ‘crowding out’ voluntary activity with state initiatives?

Publications

The Tyranny of Tolerance. Threats to Religious Liberty in Australia
Peter Kurti
18 June 2017 | Connorcourt Publishing

It was a confident expectation for more than a century that religion — its beliefs, doctrines and institutions — would atrophy in the face of growing secularisation. But not only has traditional Christianity survived in liberal western societies; other faiths, most conspicuously Islam, have increasingly…

Terror in the Name of God: Confronting acts of religious violence in a liberal society
Peter Kurti
10 June 2017 | OP154

Acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion have been reported with great prominence in recent times. Scholars of religion continue to weigh whether people who kill or injure others are really doing so in the name of their God, as they claim; or…

Welfare reform beyond decades of dependence, ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘double dipping’
Simon Cowan
31 May 2017 | OP156

Recent attempts to reform welfare have focused on the wrong elements of the system. In some cases, advocating tightening eligibility for unemployment benefits and single mother payments while simultaneously increasing the scope and cost of family benefits and pension payments. Blaming ‘dole bludgers’ will never…

Ending the Violence in Indigenous Communities
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Marcia Langton, Josephine Cashman
05 December 2016 | OP152

Urgent action is need to address the epidemic of violence in Indigenous communities. Aboriginal women are between 37 and 80 times more likely to experience family violence than non-Indigenous women. For too long, the voices of the victims of domestic violence have been oppressed and…

The Battle of Ideas: can the beliefs that feed terrorism be changed?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Denis Dragovic, Tanveer Ahmed, Peter Kurti
19 September 2016 | OP149

Defeating violent Islamic extremism has been a high priority for all western countries, including Australia, since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. However, the threat we face doesn’t so much come from zealots flying planes into buildings as from young people barely out of childhood and…

Media & Commentary

Citizen test overreaction
Peter Kurti
23 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

Any sovereign state can decide who it will admit as citizens. The Turnbull government now wants to beef up the test permanent residents must take if they want to become…

Vale Michael Novak
Peter Kurti
24 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

When CIS hosted Michael Novak in 1995, he noted — with concern — people’s tendency to envy those who are more prosperous than ourselves. Novak, who died last week, insisted…

We want freedom of speech. And we want it now
Peter Kurti
03 February 2017 | Daily Telegraph

Pollies and elite media are finally getting the message: when it comes down to the views of ordinary Aussies, freedom of speech matters — and we don’t want to be…

We're not racist
Peter Kurti
09 December 2016 | Daily Telegraph

Aussies preparing for the festive season had an unwelcome early Christmas present from the United Nations dropped in their laps earlier this week. According to UN special rapporteur on racism,…

From pillory to post-truth
Peter Kurti
02 December 2016 | Ideas@TheCentre

The word designated by Oxford Dictionaries as the Word of the Year for 2016 is post-truth — as in, “some commentators have observed that we are living in a post-truth…