Pearls and Irritations is influential and widely read, with outstanding authors writing about important current events.  There are no sponsors and subscriptions are free. Our editors and authors are independent, dedicated and generous.
Please encourage your friends to subscribe on the P&I website johnmenadue.com.
Emails are sent to subscribers daily (Monday to Saturday) or weekly (Saturday).
Please do not reply to these emails as we will not receive your response.
There is a ‘manage your subscription’ link at the end of the email.
To comment on articles, use the link at the end of each post.  
Authors should send their posts to the email address provided in the style guide.

Message to subscribers

A number of subscribers have contacted us about losing their subscription to emails.  We understand that many subscribers no longer receive our daily emails and are unable to re-subscribe.  We are trying to fix this problem with our mail-out provider and will let you know as soon as you can re-subscribe.  In the meantime, could we ask you to check the website to catch up with our latests posts.  Thank you for your loyalty and your patience.  Susie and John.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have been reading and listening to …

Trumps attack on the media and truth are disturbing, says Joseph Stiglitz (the Guardian)

Paul Keating warns that, without imagination, the economy is lost. (Mark Kenny – the Canberra Times)

Writing in the Canberra Times last weekend, Crispin Hull reminds us of the history of upheaveals – from the French Revolution to the recent support for far-right populists – when “the wealthy elites fail to pay a reasonable share of taxes so that the broad mass of society gets decent education, health and housing.”.  Capitalism must be saved from its own self-destructive forces.

Qld Labor ups the ante on renewables, with more ambition and new technology, writes Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy

The citizenship crisis has shown Turnbull in his usual, dreadful form, says Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times.

Last Saturday, 11 November, we published on Pearls and Irritations Douglas Newton’s contribution “Armistice Day – narrow nationalist naiveties and voodoo vindications of war”. On the same day, on Geraldine Doogue’s Saturday Extra, writer and broadcaster Jeff Sparrow recounted the sordid reality of the Dardanelles campaign: it wasn’t about securing freedom or any other noble goal. Rather its goal was to hand over that territory to Czarist Russia, at that time the “most oppressive regime in the entire world”.

Also, lest we forget, 11 November was the anniversary of the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. Christopher Pollard outlines “five facts” about the dismissal. He reveals extraordinary breaches of the Australian Constitution and of parliamentary conventions by those determined to destroy the Whitlam Government.

Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books writes on the “bomb power” of the US presidents

Ross Gittins explains that something has gone badly wrong with teaching.

Catherine Pepinster in her new book, The Keys and the Kingdom reveals that a British diplomat hosted a party of cardinals from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to support the Bishop of Buenos Aires who would later become Pope. Cardinal Pell was not invited. She is interviewed on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Report

Jim Molan is in line to take a NSW Senate vacancy.  He was very active in the Abbott government’s asylum turn-back policy. In 2004 he supervised The Coalition attack on Fallujah in Iraq. See link to earlier post of John Menadue

Tamie Fraser tweets a challenge to Peter Dutton over Manus Island

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RICHARD BUTLER. Eat Your Heart out Marco Polo

“They say in the history of people coming to China, there’s been nothing like that. And I believe it”… President Donald Trump speaking about his Asian travels, to journalists on Airforce One, en route to Hanoi. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

IAN MCAULEY. The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn’t about trade liberalisation: it’s about corporate protection

It’s in Australia’s interests to remain open to the world on immigration and trade, and to cooperate on climate change and labour standards, but when “openness” comes to mean a permissive set of policies satisfying the demands of foreign investors, as proposed in the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”, we risk a political backlash leading to isolation and protectionism.   Continue reading

Posted in Economy, International Affairs | 4 Comments

SOPHIE VORRATH. CBA challenged for “weakest climate policy,” dirtiest investments.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has made $6 billion worth of new loans to coal, oil and gas projects in the 20 months since committing to the Paris climate agreement, a new document has shown – more than four times the amount it loaned to renewable energy projects over that period. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

ANDREW FARRAN. Eternal vigilance or eternal military deployments?

Prime Minister Turnbull recently visited the Philippines to attend regional economic and trade talks attended also by US President Trump. Given the presence of both, what do we know about their commitment of military assistance to their host, President Duterte of the Philippines, to ‘contain’ insurgency in that country?  Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security | 4 Comments

ERIC WALSH. After Turnbull?

Will someone please provide Malcolm Turnbull with a fiddle; something to occupy our leader while his party and possibly his government burn. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

ROGER SCOTT. With Friends Like These …

If Week 2 of the Queensland election campaign was dominated by parochialism and regional development, Week 3 was about statewide preference deals and the price to be paid by the LNP as it seeks to bolster its sagging fortunes by agreeing to a list of One Nation demands. In addition, one or two of the chaotic events on the national stage caught the attention of locals, after Canberra being invisible earlier in the campaign. These also related to the LNP’s new-found friends. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Tamie Fraser, Patron of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre delivers a message to Peter Dutton

From twitter:

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 9 Comments

RICHARD TANTER. The nuclear ban treaty, Pine Gap and the Nobel Peace Prize.

The world is worrying about nuclear weapons more than at any time since the frightening days of Reagan and Brezhnev, and with good reason.  We are all hoping that Kim Jong-un is rational with no ambition for suicide.  And at the same time, we are reduced to hoping that the American military will constrain Donald Trump’s impulses to reach for the nuclear launch button.  Leading politicians in South Korea and Japan are talking up the need for their own nuclear weapons, and Donald Trump is not saying no. So, it’s hardly surprising that 122 countries voted at the United Nations in July to pass the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.  Rather more surprisingly, but gratifyingly, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Melbourne-born International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its work leading to the nuclear ban treaty.  Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | Leave a comment

PAUL FRIJTERS. Advance Australia Fair: ignore the other national histories on offer.

National history is the story that binds ‘us who make up the nation’ into a single entity with a collective memory. It has a purpose and as such we can choose what historical events and realities to put into that story, whilst forgetting the rest. Of the four main current contenders for our national history, I think we should pick ‘Advance Australia Fair’ as the only truly useful one. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

LOUIS COOPER. Trudeau made ‘fall guy’ for TPP ‘sabotage’

Last Friday, the small group of Canadian ministers, travelling South-East Asia with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were in Da Nang, Vietnam, in a room away from where the leaders of 11 countries were trying to get agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Economy, International Affairs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ. America has a monopoly problem – and it’s huge. (from ‘Nation’)

We have become a rent-seeking society, dominated by market power of large corporations, unchecked by countervailing powers. And the power of workers has been weakened, if not eviscerated. What is required is a panoply of reforms—rewriting the rules of the American economy to make it more competitive and dynamic, fairer and more equal.

Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | Leave a comment

FRANK BRENNAN. Same sex marriage and freedom of religion

On Wednesday, the ABS will announce the results of the survey on same sex marriage. The return rate on the survey is a very credible 78.5 per cent. In Ireland only 60.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out.   Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | 11 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Turnbull acts tough while crisis brews.

So Malcolm Turnbull’s big idea to end the dual citizen crisis is to ask (or perhaps tell – it is not clear which) his troops, and presumably the rest of the parliament, to explain openly and concisely whether they believe they are compliant with the constitution or not. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

LINDA SIMON. Productivity Commission shirks real problems in VET

The Productivity Commission has undertaken a five year review of Australia’s productivity performance, identifying skills and the VET sectors as an area of concern.  But have they got the answers? Continue reading

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

ROSS GITTINS. Economists are giving up on smaller government.

You may not have noticed, but the Productivity Commission’s search for “a new policy model” for reform, in reaction to the breakdown of the politicians’ “neoliberal consensus”, offers better prospects for finally getting the budget under control.  That’s because, although the commission doesn’t say so, its reformed approach to reform represents a retreat from a central tenet of neoliberal doctrine for the past 30 years: the goal of Smaller Government.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

JULIAN CRIBB. Can we avert ecocide?

As humans progressively kill off the living creatures which inhabit the planet, do we risk at the same time killing off ourselves?  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Bizarre ‘No’ campaign still trying to grab the controls

Simon Birmingham and other exasperated colleagues are quite right: it is bizarre and dishonest in the extreme for those who have spent the last months – years even –  implacably opposing same sex marriage to now demand the right to determine how it is to be implemented, assuming the interminable plebiscite get a majority this week. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

ANDREW GLIKSON. at 2.5 minutes to midnight, we must defend the planet

On the 27 January, 2017, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the arms of its doomsday clock to 2.5 min to midnight, the closest it has been since 1953, with enormous implications for humanity and nature. A book titled “The Plutocene: Blueprints for a post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth” elaborates the reasons for the decision of the Atomic Scientists. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments

BRUCE DUNCAN. Pope Francis under attack

Despite his immense popularity among most Catholics and many others, not just Christians, Pope Francis is meeting increasing opposition and outspoken criticism, even from some cardinals and bishops, as well as from some prominent academics and writers. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

ROGER SCOTT: Insularity and Environmentalism – The Queensland election campaign

The Queensland election could be occurring on another planet, as far as the locals are concerned. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation may exercise a morbid fascination but the bigger current issue is the link between the infrastructure proposed for the Adani Carmichael mine and the railway which would link it from the middle of nowhere to the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

PAUL FRIJTERS. Why Blockchain has no economic future.

When Bitcoin went public in 2009 it introduced to the world of finance and economics the technology of blockchain. Even the many who thought Bitcoin would never make it as a major currency were intrigued by the Blockchain technology and a large set of new companies have tried to figure out how to offer new services based on blockchain technology. It is still fair to say that very few economists and social scientists understand blockchain, and governments are even further behind. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments

PETER YOUNG: Why Health Professionals in Immigration Detention should stop colluding and speak out

As the situation for hundreds of asylum seekers in the Manus Island continues to deteriorate the harmful consequences of Australia’s punitive immigration detention policies are obvious. Despite the secrecy surrounding immigration detention it is only the wilfully blind who avoid this conclusion. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Refugees, Immigration | Leave a comment

GRAHAM FREUDENBERG says “Sorry”

I want to apologise for a failure going back to the Bicentenary in 1988.  The very fact that 26 January continues to cause controversy is possibly the best reason for keeping it as the national day. The ambiguity of its meaning obliges us constantly to re-examine our modern origins. The new round of debate drew from Malcolm Turnbull the wisdom that it “stands for Australian values”. He managed to say much the same thing at Beersheba of all places. So we are to seek “Australian values” from Botany Bay to Beersheba. All this took place in the middle of the self-imposed fiasco in which his own Deputy Prime Minister (and by extension a huge proportion of us all) is in a legal limbo about his citizenshipContinue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

DOUGLAS NEWTON. Armistice Day – narrow nationalist naiveties and voodoo vindications of war

Every year, in the days leading up to Armistice Day, a little crop of opinion pieces appears urging Australians to do more than merely remember the dead of war. Various writers argue that we should also recognise the justice of the cause. These frankly nationalist opinion pieces are based on a naïve understanding of the Great War. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs, Politics | 6 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Domestic violence, not terrorism, is the big killer in Australia

Compared to other risks, we have little to fear from terrorism. In the last two decades only three people in Australia have died from terrorism. But there is a ‘vividness’ bias in terrorism because it stands out in our minds. Importantly, a lot of politicians, businesses, stand to gain from exaggerating the terrorist threat. It is also easy news for our media.
The Domestic Violence Death Review Team in NSW established by the Coroners Court has given us some chilling information that shows that domestic violence is a much more serious threat than terrorism. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 5 Comments

GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND …

Sorry, but Medicare needs to change” writes Ross Gittins. A fee-for-service model fitted with the nation’s needs in 1974 when the Whitlam Government introduced universal publicly-funded health insurance, but over a half-century our needs have changed. We should be putting more resources to preventing and managing chronic conditions and reducing the need to call on specialists and hospitals, with a policy focus on patients rather than the interests of service providers.

Japan and North Korea may be arch foes but there’s a school in the Japanese capital for Koreans that have remained loyal to the North’s three Kim regimes to learn their language, culture and heritage.  Another perspective on the same school system can be found here.

With Brexit, Britain seems to be embracing an introverted irrelevance, says Steven Erlanger in the New York Times International Edition.

There is nothing wrong with Catalonia becoming independent, says Colm Toibin in the Guardian.

Who bears the brunt of corporate tax cuts asks Kimberley Clausing

What next for the refugees and failed asylum seekers on Manus Island? asks Harriet Spinks

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Letter from concerned Australians to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the Manus Island disaster

9 November 2017

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister Private Bag 18888 Parliament Buildings Wellington 6160 New Zealand

Dear Prime Minister

Warm congratulations on your election as New Zealand’s new Prime Minister.

We are writing to call upon the New Zealand Government to intervene in the entirely preventable humanitarian disaster unfolding on Manus Island. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

JOHN MENADUE How Murdoch extracted concessions from governments.

 Rupert Murdoch claims, falsely, that he has never asked a Prime Minister for anything. Yet his whole business career in three countries has been founded on threatening or seducing politicians for privileged commercial access or opportunities.

I posted an article  earlier this week on how he got favoured treatment from the Hawke Government for Ansett Airlines in which he was a major shareholder at the time.. Today I post extracts from an earlier article on how, with the help of the Keating Government, he got a foothold in Foxtel.in 1995.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments