JACK WATERFORD. Have Australians the heart for the Uluru statement? Losing the referendum would set back indigenous affairs by decades

There are many good reasons to support the latest plans to find a constitutional referendum question to encapsulate the principles of the Uluru statement from the heart. There’s the fact that it represents a good idea and good ideal – perhaps one, as some say, that is essential to a mature nationality for Australia and a reconciliation with indigenous Australia, so cruelly displaced, to this day, by white settlement. Continue reading

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LAURIE PATTON. Barbarians at the gate – don’t let them destroy Murray Valley national park

The New South Wales deputy premier wants to allow logging in a national park in the state’s RiverinaJohn Barilaro says he intends removing statutory protection of the 42,000 hectare Murray Valley National Park – either by de-gazetting the entire area or reducing its size. Continue reading

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STEPHEN DUCKETT.  Private health insurance needs a rethink

Australians are dissatisfied with private health insurance. Premiums are rising and consumers are dropping their cover, especially younger people, who are less likely to need health services. Those who are left are more likely to use services, driving insurance costs up further. Government subsidies for private health insurance and private medical care – currently running at more than $9 billion every year – and financial penalties to encourage people to take out private insurance are becoming less effective. The industry fears a death spiral. Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. Morrison wants Wyatt to shut up on Indigenous Australians

Scott Morrison really likes quiet Australians – as quiet as possible. So it was really no surprise that his response to his minister, Ken Wyatt’s modest and tentative proposal to consider reviving an Indigenous Voice through the Uluru Statement from the Heart was simple and direct: bloody well shut up and do what you are told. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s strategic incoherence on India policy Part 2

In an editorial to mark Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit, The Times of India alluded to US policy incoherence in urging Washington to make up its mind between dealing with India as an ally or a frenemy. Earlier, in February Washington broke from its traditional non-committal stance on India–Pakistan skirmishes to side openly with India’s narrative on the Pulwama militant attack and retaliatory missile strikes on Balakot. This was followed by the successful pressure on China to lift its hold on designating Pakistan-based Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.  Continue reading

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HUGH WHITE. Australia needs to give up its South Pacific dream (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

What can Australia do to restore and preserve our sphere of influence in the South Pacific, and deny it to China?  

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MARTIN WOLF. Legacy of Bretton Woods is under threat (Financial Times 11.7.2019)

Trumpian populism is destroying 70 years of global economic co-operation. What can we put in its place?  Continue reading

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MUNGO MACCALLUM. Supreme Court sets Albanese a real test.

The muffled roar of applause last week was coming from Scott Morrison and the coalition, cheering,, of all things, the Supreme Court of Victoria.  Justice Peter Riordan reserved his decision over the maverick union leader John Setka’s appeal to block Anthony Albanese’s attempt to expel him from the Labor Party. Continue reading

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MELISSA CONLEY TYLER. Will Hugh White Change How We Defend Australia?

Australia’s options for defending itself are in the news with the release of Hugh White’s How to Defend Australia. Will it shake up thinking? Or is it too hard to change the way we do Australia’s defence because there is no appetite for change? Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s strategic incoherence on India policy Part 1

The distance from hubris to delusion is short and the Trump administration is bent on covering it in a sprint in its India policy. Diffuse reciprocity is the diplomatic glue that holds international relationships together. A healthy and long-lasting bilateral relationship rests upon a history of shared interests and values that embody common expectations, reciprocity, and equivalence of benefits across different domains rather than equal benefits in every single sector individually.  Continue reading

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FRANK BRENNAN Constitutional Recognition of the Indigenous Voice

Addressing the National Press Club during NAIDOC Week, Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians said: ‘I will develop and forward a consensus option for constitutional recognition to put to a referendum during the current parliamentary term. That means working through until we reach a point in which there is consensus across all the relevant groups who have a stake in it.’ Continue reading

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JOHN McCARTHY. The Darroch Affair.

The comments from Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to Washington, in a wad of his classified messages to London are a juicy read. President Trump “radiates insecurity” while his administration is “uniquely dysfunctional” and riven by “knife fights”. Trump could very well “crash and burn”. Leaked to the Mail on Sunday, they have cost him his job. Continue reading

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TONY SMITH. Two ears, one mouth. Not quite enough listening yet.

While every Australian must wish Ken Wyatt well in the portfolio of Indigenous Australians, he still must operate in a system which has shown itself unsympathetic to the needs of first Australians. His intention to present a referendum on recognition might be a good one, but he will succeed only if political leadership on the issue is strong. While the Uluru Statement languishes, this seems unlikely.

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HUGH WHITE. Why Pacific nations would host a Chinese military base (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

Our neighbours’ commitment to values and interests shared with Australia might prove feeble in the face of Chinese persuasion.  

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ROBERT MICKENS. Francis continues to make us all a bit uncomfortable – From his stance on migrants to his encyclical Laudato si’, the pope causes controversy

Pope Francis is an equal opportunity offender. No matter where you place yourself along the Catholic Church’s broad spectrum – right, left or center; conservative or liberal; traditional or progressive – if you are not challenged and even disturbed by some of the things this pope says and does, then you are not paying attention.

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 14 July 2019

The ALP supports the Adani mine in the Senate, assisting Australia’s exported carbon emissions to increase greatly. The USA’s coal industry continues to decline but not without first screwing the workers and the environment to maximise short term rewards at the top. Bill McKibben identifies three strategies for tackling the urgency of climate action, while Barnaby continues to express his passion. Fortunately Victoria delivers a couple of pieces of common sense.  

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A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

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SUSAN CHENERY. A Repost: The Scribe: portrait of Graham Freudenberg, author of the speech that changed Australia (The Guardian 9 October 2018))

Legendary Labor speechwriter Graham Freudenberg was at the centre of power for more than 40 years. A new film sheds light on the man who wrote the script.  

(This outstanding documentary will be telecast on the ABC on Sunday night July 14 ,2019 at 9.35  John Menadue)

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ABUL RIZVI: Government reveals details of its net overseas migration (NOM) forecast

The Government has at last revealed some details of its 2019 Budget forecast for a record breaking level of sustained NOM. The key is a significant increase in the net contribution from temporary visa holders. This would mean the current stock of around 2 million temporary entrants in our population must rise even more rapidly. Are we on the way to transitioning from a migrant settler nation to a guest worker society? But if there is a shortfall in forecast NOM, what would be the implications for the Prime Minister’s job creation pledge and for its ten year tax plan? Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE.  Canada, Australia and the USA

Canada tries to differentiate itself from the USA but because of its proximity and similarities this is not easy. Australia has the opposite problem: we try to find similarities. Canada’s geography makes it easier for it to defy requests to get involved in US wars but Australia has the opposite problem. We have to shout to be heard which is why we get involved in wars we should keep out of and votes we should change. But the world is changing and we have not kept up with the changes. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security, International Affairs | 3 Comments

SPENCER ZIFCAK. Journalists, media freedom and the law.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on journalists from News Corporation and the ABC have caused very considerable community consternation. The fact that these raids occurred in the immediate aftermath of the recent election and within a day of each other served only to animate public concern. These events have prompted a re-appraisal of the state of media freedom in Australia. The AFP has defended its actions, journalists have been up in arms, media’s management has complained of intimidation, and the government has denied any responsibility. In their own way, each has responded understandably. The basic problem does not lie primarily with their actions. Instead, it is the law that is problematic.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 3 Comments

FINTAN O’TOOLE. Brexit Britain is wallowing in dangerous talk of national humiliation (The Guardian 15.6.2019)

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Focusing on Washington, glancing at Jakarta

The 17 April Indonesian elections and fallout could have been big news in Australia.  According to some experts they should have been.

Instead media consumers Down Under got more of US President Donald Trump’s distant domestic political shenanigans than they did of the blood and fire crises facing their neighbor nation and its re-elected President Joko Widodo.

The result from the world’s third largest democracy staging the world’s biggest one-day election will impact many countries, but most particularly the adjacent southern continent.
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Posted in International Affairs, Media | 5 Comments

CAITLIN JOHNSTONE. US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience (Medium, 7 July 2019)

In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?”, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the way western media outlets consistently describe the behavior of disobedient nations like Iran as “aggressions”, but never use that label for the (generally antecedent and far more egregious) aggressions of the United States. Continue reading

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TONY DOHERTY. Dancing to my Death.

With the Love called Cancer Continue reading

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SUE WAREHAM. Nuclear weapons must be rejected

Professor Hugh White’s recent suggestion that Australia might need to consider nuclear weapons is highly provocative and dangerous. He is helping to legitimise these instruments of terror, and gives credence to the deeply flawed notion of nuclear “deterrence”. Australia must instead support global efforts for nuclear weapons elimination, especially the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 10 Comments

GREG BARNS AND TONY NAGY: The Troubling Irony: The UK Government Conference on Media Freedom and Julian Assange


On Wednesday and Thursday this week The UK and Canadian Governments are hosting a conference called Defend Media Freedom. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is participating. Yet only a few miles away from the London conference venue Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks and journalist, languishes in Belmarsh Prison as he awaits a request by the United States to extradite him for revealing the war crimes of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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KIM WINGEREI. Facebook Libra Pitching for World Domination

Facebook’s Libra launch has the potential to propel Facebook into a major player in consumer payments and credit services and may turn out to be one of the most profound change to world’s financial systems since the abolishment of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971.

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KERRY BROWN. Whither ‘one country, two systems’? (East Asia Forum)

If reportedly a quarter of the population of the country or city where you live go out on the streets to demonstrate, there is a serious problem. We can quibble about whether it was indeed two million that demonstrated in Hong Kong on Sunday 16 June, or a half of that or less. But for once the eyes could not lie: the whole of the central area was crammed with people, many of whom had already been demonstrating only a few days before. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JOANNE WALLIS. Australia’s one step forward, two steps back in the Pacific (East Asia Forum)

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed Australia’s commitment to a ‘step-change’ in its engagement with the Pacific Islands. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper sketched the skeleton of this ‘step-up’ but it wasn’t until 2018 that those bones were fleshed out. While Australia is set to implement several meaningful labour mobility, security and diplomatic initiatives, simultaneously counterproductive domestically driven policies could undermine the ability of those programs to improve engagement with Pacific Island states. Continue reading

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