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LYNDSAY CONNORS. Schools Funding: unearthing the facts

The objections raised by Catholic leaders to the Turnbull Government’s Gonski 2.0 funding model raise as many questions about the governance and operation of the Catholic school system as about Gonski 2.0. One of these questions is: who pays for the teachers in Catholic schools?  Continue reading

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ALEX WODAK. How can making drugs easier to access save lives? 10 FAQs about drug law reform. Part 2 of 3.

Police, prison officers and politicians are standing side-by-side with drug users to call for law reform. They say the current practice of jailing people for personal use and possession instead of focusing on their health and safety leads to unacceptable outcomes: lives lost and lives ruined. But it’s hard to get your head around the idea that making drugs more easily available could actually reduce the risks. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about drug law reform.    Continue reading

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QUENTIN DEMPSTER. Slack electoral regulations and the arrogance of power

Senator Pauline Hanson denies any impropriety.  We are told there is nothing to see in the Liberal Party siphoning cash from their MPs’ taxpayer-funded electoral allowances purportedly to fund the party’s voter analysis entity Parakeelia Pty. Ltd. ALP Senator Sam Dastyari’s failure to disclose that a party donor had paid a personal invoice was nothing but a regrettable over-sight. Labor leader Bill Shorten, exposed by evidence at the unions royal commission that he had failed to disclose a $40,000 donation from labour hire company Unibilt is allowed to make a ‘corrected’ disclosure years after the event.   Continue reading

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GEOFF MILLER. The Asia-Pacific: Busy Times, Big Choices

A number of recent, current and in prospect events emphasise the importance of clear thinking in regard to Australia’s policy stances in the Asia-Pacific. They include the Trump Administration’s warming to China (despite pre-election rhetoric) especially in regard to trade, where a major deal has been done very quickly, and cooperation in regard to North Korea; the successful “BRI-fest” in Beijing, which was attended by a US delegation, and by our own Trade Minister; the US “Freedom of Navigation” exercise in the South China Sea, the first for a long time and strongly criticised by China; the US request to us to increase our military assistance effort in Afghanistan; and, coming up, the annual meeting of our Foreign and Defence Ministers with their US counterparts; and the annual “Shangri-la” defence dialogue in Singapore, at which this year our Prime Minister is scheduled to deliver the opening address.   Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. The Merkel moment: wherever that works.

If NATO cannot rely on a Trump administration, should Australian leaders not see this as an opportunity to face the facts?   Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Manchester and terrorism. Part 2 of 3.

In this three-part article, Ramesh Thakur argues that the scale of the terrorist threat to Western societies must be kept in perspective, that Western actions in the Middle East may have fomented more terrorism than they have defeated, and that an attitude of denial regarding the potential for problems of large-scale Muslim immigration feeds mutual paranoia and hostility and is not conducive to social cohesion.  Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Manchester and terrorism, Part 1 of 3.

The swamp fights back

In this three-part article, Ramesh Thakur argues that the scale of the terrorist threat to Western societies must be kept in perspective, that Western actions in the Middle East may have fomented more terrorism than they have defeated, and that an attitude of denial regarding the potential for problems of large-scale Muslim immigration feeds mutual paranoia and hostility and is not conducive to social cohesion.   Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Failed media in the Anglosphere.

That the Australian media gives us saturation coverage of Europe but much less on Asia is obvious but the question is why? Have they done market research which shows this is what the public wants or does it stem from their own beliefs and prejudices? Is this really what most Australians want? Possibly it may be.   Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Menzies’ ‘forgotten people’ and ‘forgotten issues’.

It is all very jolly for Turnbull’s troops to indulge in nostalgia and sentimentality, but they should realize that those times are gone forever. Few Australians were even alive to remember them, and the rest of us don’t want to except in black and white movies.  Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Health Reform and cooperative federalism. Part 1

In the SMH of May 29, 2017, Adam Gartrell reports that ‘The private health insurtance rebate would e abolished, consumers would be charged more for extra cover and the states would be forced to find more money for public hospitals under radical funding changes being considered by top government officials. Documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal the nation’s most senior health bureaucrats are part of a secret task force developing a proposal for a “Commonwealth Hospital Benefit” – a new funding formula for public and private hospitals.’

See below, my post from April 12 2016, about a possible ‘Commonwealth Hospital Benefit’.  John Menadue.  Continue reading

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PAUL BARRATT. Growing momentum for drug law reform. Part 1 of 3.

The war on drugs has failed.

There was a buzz across Australia in March 2017, when former premiers, police chiefs, prison officers and lawyers stood side-by-side with drug users and their families, to throw down the gauntlet on drug law reform. They called for an end to criminal penalties for personal use and possession and a new focus on addressing the health and social issues associated with drug-taking.   Continue reading

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JOHN TULLOH. My first foreign news assignment 50 years ago – the Six Day War.

This article was first published in Foreign Correspondents’ Association Australia and South Pacific website.  Next week, John Tulloh will be writing on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.

It was mid-afternoon Sydney time on a winter’s Monday 50 years ago that events were set in train which to this day remain a major running news story. On June 5, 1967, Israel staged a pre-emptive strike against Egypt to launch what became known as the Six-Day War. It ended with Israel more than trebling the land under its control stretching from the Golan Heights in Syria all the way to the Suez Canal.   Continue reading

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FRANK BRENNAN. Gonski in An Age of Budget Repair

School funding is a very complex issue in Australia. It’s now a poisonous political cocktail. David Gonski who had been the poster boy for Julia Gillard’s bold education reforms has now been showcased by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham announcing their new deal for school funding.   Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. The UN draft treaty to ban the bomb is an important milestone on the road to nuclear abolition

The recently published draft text of a convention to ban the bomb provides a good basis to complete negotiations of a treaty to prohibit the acquisition, development, production, manufacture, possession, transfer, testing, extra-territorial stationing and use of nuclear weapons as major steps on the road to abolition.   Continue reading

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GEOFF MILLER. One dance too many – a new quadrilateral defence grouping.

Recently Paul Keating, in launching Allan Gyngell’s book on Australian foreign policy, said that smart countries did not tie themselves too closely to fixed positions in foreign policy—rather, they “danced around”.  He said this in the course of arguing that Australia should not be so overawed by its alliance with the United States that it felt it had to join in every US policy initiative; some haven’t been successful, he said, and we should decide on what we did based on our own interests and consideration.   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Our White Man’s Media again on display in London (Manchester) terrorist attack.

The following article was posted on 27 March 2017. Substitute ‘Manchester’ for ‘London’ and the story is very similar.  John Menadue

I have often commented that a person from Mars reading or listening to our media would conclude that Australia is an island parked off London or New York. We saw that last week in the coverage of the London terrorist attack. We continue to cling to the coat tails of the London and New York media.   Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Trump Tour: Unbound Cynicism

President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and then Israel served entirely cynical international and domestic political purposes. All contentious issues were ignored. The great power competition in the Middle East: US/Saudi and Russia/Iran has deepened.   Continue reading

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JOHN WARHURST. Catholic Citizens needed within Church

Catholics must stand up and become active citizens not loyal subjects within their own church community. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has pointed to weaknesses in culture and governance within the Catholic Church in Australia. Within the church the normal tenets of liberal democracy, including inclusiveness, transparency, equality and responsiveness do not apply.   Continue reading

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KIERAN TAPSELL. ‘The Attachment’ by Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty.

The subtitle to this book is Letters from a Most Unlikely Friendship, and it consists of a series of letters with some occasional background comment between a “lapsed” Catholic (although none of the authors use that word) turned “agnostic with pantheist leanings” and a well known Sydney Catholic priest, Tony Doherty.  Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Where to for Commonwealth infrastructure policy?

Legend has it that Charlton Heston flashed a Rolex wristwatch during a chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur movie. Some recent Prime Ministerial comments could be considered flashes of a policy Rolex in an infrastructure discussion fitted to the setting of Ben Hur – in ancient Rome.  Continue reading

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DAVID STEPHENS. Afghanistan infinitum or walking away? The possible cost of shared values

Where do Australia’s values come from and what are they? Ten years ago, Australia’s then Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, was convinced that our Australian values were forged on the battlefield:No group of Australians has given more, nor worked harder to shape and define our identity than those who have worn – and now wear – the uniform of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force. They forged values that are ours and make us who we are, reminding us that there are some truths by which we live that are worth defending.   Continue reading

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EMILY FISCHER et al. Playing God: The Immigration Minister’s Unrestrained Power .

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection holds numerous discretionary powers that allow him or her to make substantial and lifelong decisions about the lives of vulnerable people. These powers lack transparency, accountability and are not amenable to review by the courts.  Continue reading

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JEAN-PIERRE LEHMANN. As China and US get closer, Japan is left in not so splendid isolation in Asia Pacific

Tokyo needs to make peace with its neighbours, especially those that were its former victim.

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LAURIE PATTON. The case for mandating governance training for NFP boards

The not-for-profit sector performs a vital role delivering services that meet important social needs. It provides a voice for some of our most disadvantaged groups and individuals. Not-for-profit status also allows organisations of professionals to represent their members under a regulated legal framework. The sector oversees the collection and expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars of other peoples’ money. So it’s critical NFP’s are well run according to the highest levels of good governance.   

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JOHN MENADUE. Miners, taxation and donations. (Repost 17/10/2013)

In my blog of June 3 “the Miners Lament”, I pointed out that the large foreign owned  mining companies in Australia may yet regret that they rejected out of hand the Resources Super Profits Tax that the Rudd Government proposed. Politically of course the miners will never admit it but I suspect that at some point the wiser heads amongst them will look again at a tax arrangement based on profit performance rather than royalty taxes that the States are now increasingly levying. Continue reading

Posted in Australia and Asia, Economy, Education, Politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

LYNDSAY CONNORS. The  Tangled  Education Web. Part 2 of 2: The Catholic Story

‘Sector-blind’ does not mean turning a blind eye to the shortcomings of any sector in distributing public funding received from government.  Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM  So much for the miracle budget

Just a week after, it appears that nothing has really changed – another bad negative Newspoll, war on two fronts with the banks and the Catholics, and, of course, more brawling in the party room. There must be times when even the unquestionably optimistic – and egotistic – Malcolm Turnbull wonders why he bothers. 

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CAVAN HOGUE. Trump and the Wahhabis

President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia does not sit well with a demand to fight the Wahhabi inspired terrorists but support for a dictatorship that suits American commercial and strategic interests is a long standing US practice. We may wonder whether getting involved in religious disputes is a good idea.  Continue reading

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MARK GREGORY.  A new broadband levy in another NBN bungle

The Turnbull government is set to introduce a new levy on telecommunications companies that offer 25 Mbps or faster internet connections to contribute towards regional and remote broadband.  Continue reading

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 JIM COOMBS. Public Goods

Before the advent of the “free enterprise market economy” model’s dominance of economic thinking, there was a distinction made between private and public goods.  The idea was that some things had to be provided for a healthy, well-ordered society: such basics to our notion of civilization as universal water reticulation and sewerage (the most significant public health measure ever), electricity and gas services, public transport, education and telecommunications. These were to be provided generally and largely (as possible) equally to all, and NOT at the direction of “market forces”, which would discriminate in favour of the rich.  For most of the last century these were provided by government monopolies, to guarantee fair and equal access. Seems quite sensible. 

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